Chapter 26: Two Sticks Until Joined at Second Coming

Chapter 27: His Servants the Prophets … Speak to Us!Today the tiny nation of Israel is really primarily the tribe of Judah, and most people have no idea where the “lost” tribes of Israel vanished to.  Remember how Jacob, renamed Israel, put his name on Ephraim and Manassah (Gen. 48:16)!

Most Israelites are not Jews.  The first time “Jew” appears in the Bible in 2 Kings 16:6 (King James Version), the Jews are at war with Israel!

For how this all started, we go back to when Saul, David and Solomon ruled a united kingdom of all 12 tribes (David over only Judah for the first seven years of his 40 years).    There was always a distinction between Judah and the other tribes of Israel, such as when David numbered the people (2 Sam. 24:9).

When Solomon sinned, God told him that because of His unconditional promise to David, He would “not tear away the whole kingdom” from his son Rehoboam but leave him one tribe—Judah, the scepter from which Jesus would come (1 Kings 11:13).  Judah and Israel would separate into

Two sticks that would not be united until the return of Jesus Christ (Ezek. 37:15-34), when David would be resurrected to king over them

A tax cut was the sticking point back then also, with Rehoboam’s sheer folly of letting the advice of his “young men” trump that of “the elders.”   “So the king did not listen to the people; for the turn of events was from the Lord” (1 Kings 12:15).

Jeroboam became Israel’s worst king.  He set up two calves of gold (“your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!”)  He made priests out of non-Levites, including himself (13:33).  And he ordained a feast like God’s Feast of Tabernacles in the eighth month instead of the seventh (12:32).  Perhaps he did the same with changing the Sabbath.

“Judah’s nineteen kings were all descendants of David and reigned 345 years.  Israel had nineteen kings of nine dynasties, reigning 210 years, eight of whom were either slain or committed suicide” (The Scofield Study Bible III, p. 463).

Fourteen of Israel’s kings were compared to Jeroboam as not reaching his level of evil.  Even Judah’s righteous kings such as eight-year-old Josiah, Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah did not measure up to David.  The primary difference between the two standards—David and Jeroboam:   David repented and never did the sin again; Jeroboam “did not turn from his evil way” (13:33).  He didn’t care.

Scofield says 1 & 2 Chronicles covers many of the same events as 1 & 2 Kings, written for the most part from the priestly point of view.  “1 Chronicles begins with the most extensive collection of genealogical records in the Bible, the purpose of which is to draw all lines of redemptive history to their focal point in David” (p. 553).  That will naturally then point to Christ to come.

It’s instructive that Josiah, an inspirational model for how youth can follow God, and Hezekiah led Judah to return to God in revival by restoring worship of His Holy Days (2 Chron. 30, 34).  The second main way to “return” is to stop robbing God in tithes and offerings (Mal. 3:7-8).  Our heart follows our treasure! (Matt. 6:21).

When You Just Don’t Know What to Do

When Jehoshaphat was invaded and the whole nation was a-jumpin’, this righteous king appealed to God:  “O our God, will You not judge them?  For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do” (2 Chron. 20:12).  Actually, he did know what to do when we just don’t know what to do!  “Our eyes are upon You.”

The battle was “not yours, but God’s … You will not need to fight in this battle.  Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord (v. 17).  On our knees is the best position!  Till we rise early and heed God to move forward, with the choir in front of the army!

“Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper”—spiritual 20:20 vision!

In one of the most dramatic healings in the Bible, God was pleased enough with Hezekiah’s heartfelt repentance to give him 15 more years to live and make the sundial go backwards 10 degrees! (2 Kings 20:1-10).

For an example of God unleashing amazing mercy:   After God’s prophet Elijah told Ahab that dogs would lick his blood, the wicked king humbled himself with fasting.   God postponed calamity to the days of his son (1 Kings 21:27-29, 22:38).

God sent prophets

to warn the kings that the blessings and cursings would be exacted and national captivity would come if they didn’t repent (Lev. 26:32-39, Deut. 28:47-68).


Chapter 27:  
His Servants the Prophets … Speak to Us
C
hapter 1:    What’s It All About?

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Just Got Off Noah’s Ark

Ark full lengthBroose the Moose here, just back from Noah’s Ark!

I know an expert on the search for the real Noah’s Ark who believes the “mountains of Ararat” are in modern Iran and he’s planning to travel over there in about a year to find it.  I’ll settle for this amazing replica.

Back in 2325 B.C. God called for the animals to gather two by two and board the Ark.  It was a small price to avoid distinction.

Mary and I felt an irresistible urge to drive to Williamstown, Kentucky to see the Ark Encounter.   We already knew the admission, and $38 apiece for a senior citizen plus $10 parking didn’t seem like the end of the world.  We spent way more than that to get there and back from Colorado!  Like the antediluvian trek, this was going to be a one-time boarding!

The Ark Encounter aims to be

An exact replica of Noah’s

Honestly, I don’t comprehend cubits any better than metrics.  All of the stats about the volume went in one of my big ears and out the other.

ark frontBut that baby was big!  Three decks high!  510 feet long, 85 feet wide, 51 feet high!   I’ve heard it described as the size of a modern ocean liner.

But don’t get carried away!  You won’t on this boat!  It wasn’t designed to float.  Propping up the aft are buildings that provide electricity and modern amenities to keep tourists happy.

Replicas were shown of “arks” from the major flood myths—and their obvious fatal design and flaws that would mean none of us are here to give thanks that God’s instructions work and we must faithfully follow them like Noah and his family did!

The most interesting part to me was seeing the enactment of how Noah, his wife, three sons and their wives could have taken advantage of mechanical means and gravity to make it way easier to care for the 7,000 animals (about 875 animals for each crew member).

All “kinds” of room

A key factor is that Noah’s Ark housed Bible kinds (families) rather than specific species.  So alas, there was no moose on board ‘sides me, but seven pairs of deer who would later breed into one.

An interesting theory is that God would have “herded” in a Mickey Rooney giraffe in the most healthy condition rather than a Wilt the Stilt one to accomplish the same survival result in less space.  Maybe that was true for the eight sailors!  So Randy Newman could later sing his big hit.  The Bible doesn’t say, except not believing the Bible is the height of folly.

Mrs. Noah

The Bible names the four men but doesn’t name the women.  The Ark Encounter admits that it’s speculation but gives them names and pleasing images to make it more interesting for the tourists.

Mrs. NoahSome speculate that Noah’s wife was named Barthenos.  The Book of Jasher says Naamah, but it’s considered a forgery.  The Ark Encounter likes calling her Emzara (from The Book of Jubilees) and named their restaurant after her.  Emzara may mean “ancestor of Sarai.”

I think I’d go with Emzara over Joan of Arc.

The Ark Encounter features interesting exhibits showing the folly of evolution.  It promotes “Young Earth” 6,000 years creation, meaning dinosaurs had to be housed on the Ark.  The Ark seems spacious enough with the dinosaurs, so for those of us believing the “creation” 6,000 years ago was actually a re-creation and the dinosaurs had vanished sometime before—talk about roomy!   Noah didn’t start the small house movement, but he did know layout efficiency and cages.

My favorite exhibit was a video of Ham—the Ken one who heads up Answers in Genesis and the Ark Encounter—debating Bill Nye the non-science guy on one specific point about Greenland ice dating.

Like we found at the new Bible Museum in Washington, D.C. when we visited a month ago, people were excited and even thrilled to see the Ark Encounter promoting the truth of the Bible.   While there people treated each other kindly and patiently, noticeably better than in other public places.   Believing in God and the Bible promotes a higher level of golden rule living than evolutionary thinking.

Noah … the Flood … Jesus and Peter said they occurred.  Noah and family lived on the Ark for one year and 10 days.  Four hours helped bring them to life for me!  The Ark Encounter is the only way I’d want to experience it!

Funny, I think every visitor on the boat imagines himself on it along with Noah and his family.  But few consider that Noah was called the only righteous person alive on the earth then, a faithful preacher of righteousness for 120 years no doubt enduring unending derision for building a boat out in the middle of desert where it probably hadn’t rained on Methuselah!   Plus God spared his family.

It was special to ponder the Ark’s door that God Himself closed on the outside evil world so Noah didn’t have to shut out family, friends and neighbors.    Some speculate that Methuselah ended his 969 years clawing at the door!  Jesus is the only door for survival today (John 10:9).

“As it was in the days of Noah,

so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:37, New International Version).

Does Noah’s day (Gen. 6:5, 11) sound like our day?

“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

Perhaps you’d like to read the chapter of What’s It All About?
covering Noah and the Flood
Chapter 14:  As in the Days of Noah

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Chapter 25: Wiser Than Solomon?

David gave his son Solomon the plans for the temple he wanted so badly to build, a detailed structure for serving duties that was observed through the time of Christ, and incredible wealth to build with including his own.  God paves His streets in gold, and Solomon spared no expense.  The first temple was his crowning achievement, taking seven years to build (about 967-960 B.C.).

What God really wants is to live in righteous humans as His temples through His Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16-17).

It’s interesting that the temple was “built with stone finished at the quarry, so that no hammer or chisel or any other iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built” (1 Kings 6:7).  What a picture of how saints will be assembled at the Second Coming—and fit together perfectly!

God liked Solomon’s temple and His Shekinah glory entered it.  All choirs and instrumental ensembles should notice when:  “when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord” (2 Chron. 5:13).   God sticks His choirs out in front of armies!  (20:21).

God promised:  “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (7:14).  People overlook that “turn” part.  Including Solomon.

“Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places…. and God said

“Ask!  What shall I give you?” (1 Kings 3:5)

“I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in…. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.  For who is able to judge this great people of yours?”

“Because you have asked this thing … I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.  And I have also given  you what you have not asked:  both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days.”

“Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt…. He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five” (4:30, 32).

Song of Songs is one of the Megilloth festival scrolls that is read in the synogogues at Passover.  It seems to share Solomon’s frustration that though he had 700 wives and 300 concubines, the shepherd woman was the one who got away!  He is left to write about the Proverbs 31 woman that he never got to wed and hold, though the likes of me have!

A lass and a lack, “his wives turned away his heart” after foreign gods. (1 Kings 11:3).  God had warned Israel about intermarrying foreign women and making political alliances.

Solomon reigned in Jerusalem 40 years (968-928 B.C.).  God made Israel the power of the region and actually of the world.  Solomon’s ships supplied by King Hiram of Phoenicia made sailing trips all over the world taking up to three years (1 Kings 10:22).  Historical accounts such as The “Lost” Ten Tribes of Israel … Found! by Steven Collins speak of his ships journeying to copper mines in Wales and to places in what has become the United States bringing back wealth to Israel.

Solomon means “peaceable” and he built Jerusalem into the closest it’s been to a “City of Peace” until the Prince of Peace returns.

Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, another Megilloth festival scroll that is read in synagogues at the Feast of Tabernacles.  Solomon writes about having the wealth to try everything—even to excess—that humans have always foolishly thought would bring joy and success.  Wine, women and song!  Solomon found all was “vanity of vanities”—seven vanities of completeness!  (1:2).

Did Solomon wise up?

Did the wisest person who ever lived continue like a foolish man?  Let’s hope he finished right with God at the conclusion of the matter:   “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (12:13).   The King James Version puts it “the whole duty of man.”  The Contemporary English Version says “what life is all about”—another way of answering the title of this book!

There is no scripture saying Solomon was given the Holy Spirit or his time of salvation.  It doesn’t look promising that because of Solomon’s disobedience, the unconditional Davidic dynasty was changed to go through David’s son Nathan (Luke 3:31).   My guess is he will be one of the “great” who will rise in the second resurrection at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-12).

Who else wants to be wise?

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27).

Solomon is the one who wrote “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10).   Solomon’s proverbs offer wisdom to youth but also to any who heed.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).  “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (3:17)

Will we just read that and pass on?  God gives us opportunity to be wiser than Solomon.

Chapter 26:  Two Sticks Until Joined at Second Coming
C
hapter 1:    What’s It All About?

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Connections Between Sunday’s Pentecost & the Book of Ruth

Hope you can’t wait for Pentecost, one of God’s wondrous Holy Festivals this Sunday (May 20, 2018).   This one is more widely respected because Acts 2 shows it was the occasion for the giving of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the New Testament Church.

Ruth is a special book of the Writings section of the Old Testament—one of the five Megilloth festival scrolls that are read in synagogues at feast times.   It wasn’t a matter of “What book shall we read?” and Ruth was pulled out of a hat.  Ruth is read at Pentecost because it has many obvious connections with this important Holy Day.

FirstfruitsRuth and her mother Naomi arrived in Bethlehem during the barley harvest which began after the Wave Sheaf (firstfruits) offering during the Days of Unleavened Bread.  Ruth gleaned barley and then wheat which ended at Pentecost (Ruth 2:23).

This is why Pentecost is called
♥   the Feast of Harvest (Exo. 23:16)

It’s interesting that the instructions in Lev. 23:22 about Pentecost tell landowners to leave the corners of their fields for the poor and strangers to glean.  This makes showing kindness and love an obvious emphasis for observing Pentecost.  Boaz (type of Jesus Christ) showed special attention and giving for Ruth (type of the Church) the way Christ loves us His Church (Eph. 5:25).

We learn God’s plan of salvation when we keep His Holy Days.  Let’s not beat around the bush—if we don’t observe God’s Holy Days, we won’t really understand His plan of salvation.  The physical harvests in Israel picture how and especially when God the Master Timer is harvesting His people spiritually for His Family and Kingdom.

This is the smaller spring harvest first of barley, then of wheat.

This is why Pentecost is called
♥   the Feast of Firstfruits

Keeping Pentecost provides the astounding revelation that God the Father is calling (John 6:44) only a few in the years up to the return of His Son who are being trained to serve as kings, priests, judges and teachers in His Millennium on earth and in the ensuing Great White Throne Judgment.  Those events are pictured by the fall Feasts when the big harvest of billions of humans will occur.

So we see from the Bible and its Hall of Faith (Heb. 11) that God selected only Abel, Enoch and Noah up until the Flood.  The New Testament says God has a “little flock” (Luke 12:32) on the narrow and difficult path that few find at this time (Matt. 7:14).  Rev. 14:3-4 specifies that there will be 144,000 firstfruits.  Some theorize symbolism in that figure, but you’d think the God who knows the number of stars and hairs knows how to count!

Pentecost is also called
♥   the Feast of Weeks—seven of them (Exo. 34:22)

It seems that these seven weeks compare to the seven eras of the Church in Rev. 2 and 3 which end in the first resurrection and marriage to Christ.

♥   Pentecost means “count 50”

We can learn from
♦   the tests Israel faced during the 50 days from the crossing of the Red Sea to the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai
♦   the appearances that transpired during the 50 days from Jesus’ resurrection and acceptance by the Father until Acts 2
♦   the courtship in Ruth which covered 50 days of harvesting

Become God’s peopleTradition says the 10 Commandments were given on Pentecost.   When Israel accepted the covenant, they became God’s people.  Ruth chose to accept the laws of God and so became part of God’s people.  “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16).  Orpah obeyed Naomi and returned to her paganism—and who remembers her!   I wouldn’t’ve wanted to name my daughter Heather Orpah!

The surprise is that a Moabite is grafted into Israel and into the line of David and the line of Jesus! (Matt. 1:5).   Ruth becomes the great grandmother of David.  Well, God had already welcomed Rahab the prostitute!   It would seem like Deut. 23:3-6 would have forbidden Ruth—and even David from becoming king since he would come before 10 generations would pass.  The Jewish Midrash implies that the Deuteronomy prohibition related only to women who wed Moabite males.

Marriage—At Mt. Sinai Israel entered into a marriage agreement with YHWH.   Boaz and Ruth marry as a type of the coming marriage of Jesus Christ to His Church (Rev. 19:7).  That marriage will be for all including Gentiles who are grafted into the spiritual Bride.

Kinsman/Redeemer—A major theme in Ruth is kinsman-redeemer, based on Deut. 25:5-10 about Levirate Marriage.  The Hebrew word goel means “one who redeems” and is used 13 times in the book of Ruth.

Naomi guided Ruth to put a move on Boaz—who was sleeping in his work clothes with a coat for a blanket that Ruth pulled over herself as a sign she wanted to be under his “wings.”  There was nothing indecent about Ruth’s proposal!  It aroused the older Boaz to realize that Ruth wasn’t set on a younger man and it was time for him to redeem and marry!  But there was a closer kinsman who had the first right of refusal and could have closed the deal on Boaz!   So all parties controlled themselves and waited to see what God was working out.   God had been doing that all along!  Ruth didn’t just “happen” to choose Boaz’ field (Ruth 2:3).

About a mile east of Bethlehem is a field called “Field of Boaz” and adjacent is the “Shepherd’s Field” where tradition says an angel announced the birth of Jesus.   The place of their courtship follows down the line to Christ!  Who but God could work that out!

Jesus Christ is our Redeemer! (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

A kinsman-redeemer had to:
♣   be a blood brother—Jesus became our brother by His virgin birth
♣   have money to purchase the inheritance—Jesus bought us with a price of His own blood (1 Cor. 6:20)
♣   be willing—Jesus laid down His life of His own free will (John 10:18).
♣   marry the redeemed—Jesus will marry His Bride

None of the good blessings would have come for Ruth if she hadn’t been a hard worker of admirable character.  It is estimated that Ruth gleaned about 31 pounds of barley per day!

Or for Boaz—if he weren’t a godly man who kept God’s laws, he would’ve, as the joke goes, remained ruthless!  Every day he greeted his workers:  “God with you” [the word “be” is in italics—not in the Hebrew (Ruth 2:4)], an interesting tie-in with God’s name of Immanuel (“God with us”).

Boaz prayed that God would reward Ruth, and he got to be the answer to his own prayer (v. 12).

“The reputation we earn opens—or closes—the door of opportunity”—Bible Reader’s Companion.

“The story is set in the difficult days of the Judges, which were marred by appalling spiritual, moral, and social decline.  Yet, as the story unfolds, we discover that within the corrupt society there were still true believers:  simple folk who tried honestly to love and serve God, and to live generously with their neighbors”—Lawrence Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion, 1991.

Are we taking advantage of our opportunity to be part of God’s firstfruits harvest as we keep Pentecost this Sunday?  Are we working hard in God’s fields which are “white for harvest” (John 4:35) to build the Family of God?

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Chapter 24: Today’s Embassy Dedication & Saturday’s Royal Wedding Trace Back to “a Man After God’s Own Heart”

What a moving dedication today (May 14, 2018) of the new embassy with the United States recognizing Jerusalem officially as the capital of Israel!  Feels end-time!

Three thousand years ago God sent Samuel to anoint a son of Jesse to replace Saul as king.   No brainer—God must want the oldest!

Not so!  “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature … For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but

The Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7)

God selected “the youngest … keeping the sheep” to be the one to lead His flock of Israel.   David was “ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking” (v. 12), “skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him” (v. 18).

Off to a giant start

The day David came to the Valley of Elah, Goliath rumbled out, mocked,  challenged and terrorized as he had for the previous 40 days.   But it turns out he should have taken the day off!

There was no World Wrestling Federation to dub him “The Exile” but one look at the seasoned, champion warrior made opponents flee from his imposing height of “six cubits and a span.”  His nine feet looked like a bridge!  His coat of mail weighed 150-175 pounds and Israel wished for a new postman!  The staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam with an iron spearhead weighing 20-30 pounds!  The frightened Israelitish army could only cringe and cry “gathly!”

How did David view him?  “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (17:26).  God had delivered him from a lion and a bear, and would deliver him from this giant.  David prepared for the encounter wisely by rejecting Saul’s armor that he could only waddle about in and by choosing five smooth stones from the brook.  Did he have four extra in case he missed?  Or for killing Goliath’s four brothers? (2 Sam. 21:15-22).

David ran toward his problem.  He attacked!  Not a youth playing with a toy sling.  A sling was “a formidable weapon of war used in the Assyrian, Egyptian and Babylonian armies as well as in Israel…. It has been estimated that stones weighing up to one pound could be projected with uncanny accuracy at speeds up to 90 m.p.h.!” (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) (Judg. 20:16).

Everyone else cowered because Goliath was too big to fight.  David knew he was too big to miss!  Where others saw a shepherd boy, God saw a king!  Don’t tell God how big your giants are; tell your giants how big God is.

“I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you” (1 Sam. 17:45-46).

Saul vs. David

It was never the other way around.  David as king would mean the end for Saul plus keep Jonathan from the throne.  It irked Saul that Jonathan and David made a pact to remain deep and true friends (2 Sam. 1:26).

Lucky for the two friends that Saul was such a terrible aim and kept the remodelers busy patching walls.  Of course, Saul would excuse himself that he was only kindly offering them a stick of gum—when he tossed a spearmint for them! (1 Sam. 19:10).

Twice David spared Saul’s life because he refused to “stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord” (24:3).  The first time, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself and perhaps got too busy reading a magazine to notice David cut off a corner of his robe!  David left it all in the hands of the Master Timer!

“There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David.  Though David was on the run for over a decade, he grew stronger … and Saul weaker” (2 Sam. 3:1).

David was 30 when he began to reign.  He ruled over Judah in Hebron for 7-1/2 years and then over Israel and Judah for 33 years in Jerusalem (5:4-5).  David established Jerusalem as the capital of Israel that Manassah courageously recognized today!

“He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (23:3).

David had the ark of God brought into the City of David.  God killed Uzzah because as a priest he should’ve known not to touch it and the ark should have been carried on staves (6:7).  Again, good intentions don’t make up for disobedience!  David reacted with moves worthy of Dancing with the Stars, “leaping and whirling before the Lord” with all his might (v. 16)—like he always did everything—but got a poor score from Michal.

David always inquired of the Lord before doing anything (5:19-23).  Except the time he saw Bathsheba, taking a ritual bath on a roof (11:2-3).  David couldn’t resist the temptation of this beauty who was the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.  Both men were part of David’s 37 mighty men he would have spent hours around campfires with and would have had as regular guests around his table.  Uriah kept messing up David’s coverup plans by his fair play and loyalty, so David arranged to have him exposed in battle so he would be killed.

“You da man!”

God’s prophet Nathan nailed David (2 Sam. 12:7).  David stands out from all the kings of Israel and Judah because he repented and did that sin no more.  David had “godly sorrow [that] produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted (2 Cor. 7:10).  He wrote Psalm 51 about his experience.   God told him the son born would die, but David had such a great relationship with YHWH that he still fasted seven days in hopes his merciful God might change His mind (Isa. 1:18).

David wrote 73 Psalms with his name on it, most famously Psalm 23,  and may have written many of the ones that bear no author’s name.  He loved God’s law and meditated on it day and night, and prayed three times a day (Psa. 55:17).

God promised David

An unconditional dynasty

lasting until Jesus Christ would return to earth and sit on the throne of David (Psa. 89:34-36).

This explains all the fascination with the throne of England including when

Prince Harry and Meghan Markel will wed Saturday!

at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor.  Harry was royally demoted to sixth in line of succession with the birth of his brother Andrew’s son Prince Louis last month.

Jesus Christ has the key of David, granting access to eternal life (Rev. 3:7).  Jesus will give the Philadelphia era of His Church knowledge about where the tribes of Israel are and empower them with open doors to preach His gospel to all nations and prepare His people for His return.

David will be resurrected in the first and best one at Christ’s coming and will sit on his throne over the 12 tribes of Israel (Ezek. 34:23).

His name means “beloved” and he will become the greatest king of Israel, who the righteous kings will be compared to.  Matt. 1:17 marks time with 14 generations from Abraham to David and 14 from David to the Babylonian captivity.  This is a remez hinting back to Christ’s royal Davidic ancestry.

David bought the threshing floor of Araunah which would become the site of the Temples (2 Sam. 24:24).  He wanted so badly to build God a house.  But God said he was a bloody man and would have to let his son build a Temple in the city of peace.

Will we learn from David to become a person after God’s own heart?


Chapter 25:  Wiser Than Solomon?
C
hapter 1:    What’s It All About?

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Chapter 23: “Make Us a King”

When the grateful people begged Gideon to rule over them, he wisely deferred, “the Lord shall rule over you” (Judg. 8:23).

In the Hebrew canon, 1 and 2 Samuel are one book, as are 1 and 2 Chronicles and 1 and 2 Kings.  The Old Testament totals 22 books paralleling the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  Adding 27 New Testament books totals 49 (7 x 7—the number of perfection squared) rather than the undesirable 66 from the commonly recognized 39 OT books.

Samuel, the last judge, was also a Levitical priest (1 Chron. 6:33-38) and a respected prophet because “the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground (1 Sam. 3:19).   Ironically, Samuel was a direct descendant of Korah who was swallowed up for presumptuously demanding priestly duties (Num. 16:10).

Once again a great servant of God began with a miraculous birth to a barren woman, and a grateful Hannah and her husband Elkanan dedicated Samuel (“heard by God”) to God’s service.

“The word of the Lord was rare in those days” (v. 1), but Samuel always listened to God and always answered:

“Speak, for Your servant hears”

He faithfully delivered God’s hard pronouncements, starting with telling Eli that his house was coming to an end because “his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them” (v. 13).   God killed Aaron’s two sons for offering “strange fire” (Lev. 10:1) and Eli and Samuel didn’t deal well with their minister’s kids either!

In Solomon’s time Zadok will assume the duties of Abiathar (Eli’s descendant) (1 Kings 2:26).  All earthly priests will descend from Zadok, not just Aaron (Ezk. 43:19).

Shocking demand for a king

The elders of Israel astounded the aging prophet:  “Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5).

Israel already had a king—the King!  And we’re not talking Elvis.  The Rock of Israel!  The preincarnate Jesus Christ!  Ever since Moses and the Exodus (12:12).

God’s reaction:  “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”   God told Samuel to warn the people what a king would do:  draft, tax, enrich and oppress.  “Great, four more years!” they begged.

So God set up a limited constitutional monarchy where His prophet gives His king his job evaluation.  God chose Saul (meaning “asked for”) to be their king.  God generally gives the people the leader they deserve (Dan. 2:21).  We ask for it!

Saul was a “choice and handsome son” of a “Benjamite, a mighty man of power” (9:1), but you wouldn’t know it from Saul’s humble analysis (v. 21) when he was “little in his own sight” (15:17).  When installed as king, he was found “hidden among the equipment.”  Was it humility or evasive fear of responsibility?

Impatient rebellion

Samuel had told Saul “Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do” (10:8).  But when Samuel delayed, Saul was in the midst of sacrificing as only a priest could do when—wait for it—Samuel showed up.  Another Elim.  Another Ai.  Saul’s future went up in the smoke.  The would-be leader who was head and shoulders above the people got God’s dandruff up by his impatient rebellion.

What a loss for Saul because “For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom shall not continue … because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (13:13-14).  God could have merged Saul into the line of Judah, perhaps through marriage.  Saul’s daughter Michel will marry David but have no children (2 Sam. 6:23).

Believing that “it may be that the Lord will work for us.  For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few,” Saul’s son Jonathan and his equally courageous and loyal armor bearer rewarded the Philistine garrison with death for inviting them to come up, but his father thought it was a honey-of-a-deal worthy of death for Jonathan!

The final straw was when Saul spared Agag and the best of the sheep instead of wiping them all out as God commanded.  The long-term result of Saul’s sin would be Haman’s perilous threat to Jews and terrorists in the Middle East.

Samuel heard bleating in his ears!  Yet Saul had the audacity to proclaim “I have performed the commandment of the Lord” (15:13).  Oh, the animals?  The people brought them back to sacrifice to God!

Samuel rebuked such wooly excuses:  “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings, as in obeying the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice … For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (22-23).

If God forbids something, we can say we are doing it to His honor all we want but that doesn’t make it so.  Just obey Him! (Luke 6:46).

Saul actually added witchcraft to his rebellion, going to secretly consult the Witch of En Dor.  Samuel had died by this time, and was in his grave unconscious (Eccl. 9:5), awaiting his resurrection at Christ’s return.  Movies to come notwithstanding, there are no ghosts—Casper or otherwise—for anybody to bust.  The spirit called up was a demon impersonating Samuel.  The Bible clearly states that God did not answer Saul “by the prophets” (28:6).

The worst punishment for Saul was that

God took His Holy Spirit

from Saul and gave it to a “man after God’s own heart” who would be careful to obey Him (16:13-14).   That’s Saul He asks of us.  From then on, “a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.”

Will we who are being groomed for service in God’s eternal Family and Kingdom humbly and carefully obey Him so He can make us a king! (Rev. 5:10).

Chapter 24:  Today’s Embassy Dedication & Saturday’s Royal Wedding Trace Back to a Man After God’s Own Heart
C
hapter 1:    What’s It All About?

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Chapter 22: Still Judging for Ourselves Right & Wrong?

Judges spans about 325 years from the death of Joshua to the coronation of Saul.  “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judg. 21:25, New Living Translation).

About 3,000 years into human experience, man is still eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  “So I let them follow their own stubborn desires, living according to their own ideas.  Oh, that my people would listen to me!  Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths! (Psa. 81:12-13, NLT).  It’s a narrow one that few find (Matt. 7:14) and hopefully that includes you!

“Now the Israelites stopped worshiping the Lord and worshiped the idols of Baal and Astarte” (Judg. 2:13, Contemporary English Version).  Today, thanks to the Internet, it gets publicized that our major holidays stem from paganism, but people rationalize that the God who specified His Holy Days in His Bible (Lev. 23) doesn’t mind.  You’d think we’d want to pay rapt attention to what God calls an “abomination” to Him! (Deut. 12:30-32).

“Few periods in Israel’s eventful history are as important as the period of the judges.  During these centuries the nation took the wrong turning … The apostasy of the later generations has its origin in the early years of the settlement … when the nation first went after Baal …” (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries).

“The Lord was so angry at the Israelites” (Judg. 2:14CEV) that he let the enemy nations that Israel failed to drive out plunder them and test them.   But when Israel cried out for help, God would feel sorry for them and raise up 12 men and one woman to judge and deliver them.

Rebellion, retribution, repentance and restoration

Israel might have had more long-lasting results with readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic!  The Judges cycle has also been expressed as sin, servitude, supplication and salvation.  Our merciful God always gave way more years of peace than servitude.

God gave dew diligence to encouraging Gideon.   Then He whittled Gideon’s army down to just 300 men who lapped with their hand to their mouth—an alert position ready for action.  God wasn’t going to have it where anybody would “claim glory for itself  against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved  me'” (7:2).

Jephthah didn’t get to read what Jesus would say about vows (Matt. 5:33-37), or he probably wouldn’t have uttered his.  But he is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as a man who acted in faith.  When the Hebrew is translated clearly, “whatever” should be “the one” and “I will offer it up as a burnt offering” should be “or I will offer Him a burnt offering” (Judg. 11:31).  Jephthah left it in God’s hands whether he would be setting apart a person to God’s service or offering a burnt sacrifice.   Jephthah was probably expecting a household servant, but in faithful obedience—even to his own hurt (Psa. 15:4)—he paid his vow (Deut. 23:21-23) by consecrating his only child to perpetual virginity in temple service, giving up any hope of grandchildren and family line which back then was viewed as a curse from God.

God blessed Manoah’s barren wife to have a son Samson who would be set apart special to God with a Nazirite vow.  “God was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines” (Judg. 14:4).  It was God who gave Samson his supernatural strength, not his hair.  Paul would later teach that “it’s disgraceful for a man to have long hair” (1 Cor. 11:14).  Samson should have chosen a better barber, but in the end he wised up and God used this flawed tool “so the dead  that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life” (16:30).  Samson is mentioned in Hebrews 11.

Deborah was a woman of resolute conviction, like Margaret Thatcher would be for Great Britain.  The “Iron Lady” would tell U.S. President George Bush, Sr. “Don’t go wobbly on me, George!”

The Church of God—Jesus Christ’s woman and bride-to-be—should know why it exists.

Deborah aroused Barak, her general who is mentioned in Hebrews 11, to victory over the 900 iron chariots of Sisera, thanks to God supplying a heavy rainstorm (5:4-5).   And to Jael having a spare tent peg lying around.

God used two other special women to show that

Individuals can live godly lives even in unjust times

Naomi and her daughter came to Bethlehem where our Redeemer would later be born.  Ruth committed herself to Naomi and to the God of Israel.  With God’s blessing Ruth caught the eye and favor of the wealthy and righteous landowner Boaz.  Another kinsman could have redeemed Ruth and ruined the whole fairy-tale ending, but all parties controlled themselves and left it in God’s hands.

Ruth and Esther are the only books in the Bible named after women.  Ruth is a Megilloth festival scroll read by Jews at Pentecost, part of “the Writings” (Hebrew ketuvim).   They didn’t just pick this sweet romantic story out of a hat!  Ruth and Naomi came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest (Ruth 1:22) and gleaned during the wheat harvest which ended near Pentecost.   Boaz (picturing Christ) redeems Ruth (picturing the Church which is neither Jew or Gentile), and their marriage foreshadows the glorious wedding of Rev. 19:7.

Both Ruth and Boaz are listed in Christ’s lineage (Matt. 1:5).  Ruth becomes the great grandmother of David!

Are we eating of the Tree of Life?  Seeking first our King Jesus Christ’s coming Kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33) where we will serve as His godly judges? (Psa. 149:9).

Chapter 23: “Make Us a King!”
C
hapter 1:    What’s It All About?

 

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