Is this the end? Malachi 4 ends not with finality but rather an expectation that more is to come.
Friday, December 30, 2016
In the penultimate chapter of the Old Testament, we read of a coming penultimate prophet, a messenger who will appear before the Lord Himself arrives: "See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts" (vs. 1).
Monday, December 26, 2016
Remember the covenant renewed in Nehemiah 10? While Nehemiah is away to see King Artaxerxes, the people quickly fall into their old habits and break the terms that they had so recently pledged to follow. When Nehemiah returns, he is NOT happy.
Nehemiah 10 recounts that moment in Israel's history after the exile when the Jews officially re-commit themselves to the covenant between the people and God. Signing and sealing a document, they "join with their kin, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord and his ordinances and his statutes" (vs. 29).
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Friday, December 23, 2016
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Nehemiah 5 deals with some of the ethical issues going on in ancient Jerusalem at this point in history. Was it right to lay interest on fellow Jews who could not afford to pay? Should Nehemiah as governor exert all the privileges that came with his office? The answer to both questions was no.
Monday, December 19, 2016
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Friday, December 16, 2016
The Book of Nehemiah deals largely with the problems of Jerusalem after the return of the exiles. Its walls and gates have been left in ruins, and the city lies defenseless. Nehemiah, however, is not content to let this situation continue!
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Saturday, December 10, 2016
The Book of Esther ends with a report of how Mordecai is on top of the empire, alongside King Ahasuerus. He was well-regarded, being both powerful and popular, and served as a good second-in-command. Chapter 10 is only three verses long, and closes out the story of Esther with a happy ending.
Friday, December 9, 2016
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Have you ever seen a personal slight or petty offense grow into something much larger and more damaging? Something like that happened in the days of Queen Esther between her cousin Mordecai and King Ahasuerus' right hand man Haman.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
The Book of Esther begins with a royal banquet given by King Ahasuerus. At one point during the proceedings, Ahasuerus summons his wife, Queen Vashti, to appear at the party because he wants to show off her beauty before his officials. When she refuses to come at the king's bidding, she triggers a social crisis.
Friday, December 2, 2016
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Israel's relationship with the Lord has certainly seen its share of ups (exodus, conquest, David, godly kings) and downs (wilderness wanderings, civil war, idolatry, exile). After losing everything to the Babylonians, the people naturally wondered, "Is that it? Is our special relationship with God over?"
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Monday, November 28, 2016
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Monday, November 21, 2016
Saturday, November 19, 2016
In their quest to make Judah great again, the Jews got to work on rebuilding the Temple. While not huge like Solomon's Temple, it was still pretty respectable as the central focus of worship. When questioned about it by their enemies, they held a trump card: permission from Cyrus had been given them many years earlier. Darius researched the Jews' contention and found that it was just like they had said. In fact, Darius agreed that not only was the Temple to be rebuilt, but the cost for doing so was to come out of the royal revenues (vs. 8). The opposition melted away, and the construction was finally completed. A service of dedication was held, followed by a Passover celebration (vs. 16 and 19). The Jews were back, and so was the Temple.
Friday, November 18, 2016
Thanks to the prodding of two prophets (Haggai and Zechariah), the temple construction resumes. As the work gets going again, however, so does the opposition. The governor Tattenai comes along to ask the Jews what they think they are doing. When he doesn't get a satisfactory answer from them, the governor pens a letter to Darius the king asking for guidance. In the meantime, the work continues and the rebuilding project goes forward. As the Jews said to Tattenai, "Then this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem; and from that time until now it has been under construction, and it is not yet finished" (vs. 16). The chapter ends with the expectation of a reply from Darius in this matter. Will the rebuilding be allowed to continue, or will it be put to a stop once again?
The reconstruction of the Temple did not go smoothly. It wasn't like the days of Solomon where David had prepared everything beforehand. Instead, Zerubbabel actually had to face down political opposition from some of Judah's hostile neighbors who were successful in interrupting the work of rebuilding.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Ezra 2 reads like some of the other census records we see in the Bible. Here the ones enumerated are those returning from exile. They are the remnant of God's people that were spared and now have the responsibility of restoring the nation.
Monday, November 14, 2016
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Saturday, November 12, 2016
Everything about Daniel 11 is obvious, so there's no need for me to blog about it. You understand this clearly, right?
Friday, November 11, 2016
Thursday, November 10, 2016
The book of Daniel consists of two parts. The first six chapters are narratives describing events that happened to Daniel and his friends. The last six chapters detail visions that were given to Daniel, along with his prophetic interpretations. As we enter into the second half of Daniel, buckle your seatbelts for some pretty wild images!
Friday, November 4, 2016
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3 is pretty straightforward. They are required to either fall down and worship the statue that Nebuchadnezzar has set up, or be thrown into a fiery furnace. Unfortunately, what the king was asking the Jews to do was idolatry - something forbidden for them by God.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Can you imagine being conquered by another country and then taken away from your homeland to live in exile? For young Daniel and his three friends, this fate was their reality. Their lives were completely upended when they were removed from all that was familiar and brought to the foreign nation of Babylon.
In one sense, Christians believe that God does not dwell on the earth. Even the highest heavens cannot contain Him, as Solomon observed at the dedication of the temple (II Chronicles 6:18). However, from another point of view, God does indeed have an earthly "address" where He has chosen to make His dwelling place known: Zion!
People today joke about the modern-day annoyances and aggravations we face in life. These are called "first world problems": things like not having enough storage space for all our stuff or the time it takes for our web pages to load. But if we go back to the experiences of people who lived thousands of years ago, we might get a whole new appreciation for how devastating real "first world" problems could be.
Monday, October 24, 2016
The Book of Ezekiel ends with the prophet's fantastic vision of the city of God. The Lord's sanctuary is in the middle of the tribes of Israel (vs. 10) and God's presence is there with His people. In fact, the very name of the city shall be "The Lord Is There." After years of struggle against the destruction that sin wreaks in our relationship with God, finally we have peace. Just as Jesus, the One whose name Emmanuel means "God with us" signifies God's presence with His people, so, too, does this holy city reflect that truth. Despite its many chapters of gloom and doom, the book ends on an incredibly positive note. The final verse of Ezekiel reads: "The circumference of the city shall be eighteen thousand cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord is There" (vs. 35). Amen! Hallelujah!
"On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing" (vs. 12). Now, doesn't this sound familiar? Where else have we heard something like this?
...He's the only one you need!
One final theory to consider about Ezekiel's temple vision is that it was only meant to be a conditional prophecy, one that hinged on Israel's repentance and future obedience upon their return from exile. If the people failed this test, the proposed temple would be left as an unfulfilled plan reminding them of "what might have been".
Friday, October 21, 2016
Another possibility that has been advanced regarding Ezekiel's temple vision is that he is speaking spiritually of the Church or perhaps individual Christians, known as the Temple for the Spirit of the Lord in the New Testament age.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
If Ezekiel was not thinking back to Solomon's Temple in his vision, perhaps he was looking forward and seeing a glimpse of the "second Temple" that would be built by the returning exiles from Babylon? This rebuilt structure is often called Zerubbabel's Temple as Zerubbabel was a leader among the captives allowed to return to Jerusalem. Zerubbabel was a grandson of Jehoichin and thus a descendant of David. He was eventually appointed governor by Darius.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Monday, October 17, 2016
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Ezekiel 39 tells of a time coming when the forces of Gog of Magog will oppose Israel. His army will be defeated, however, and his horde buried in the Valley of the Travelers. When this happens, Gog will join the long list of those who attacked the people of Israel and ultimately lost: Egyptians, Midianites, Canaanites, Edomites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Seleucids, Romans, Spanish Inquisitors, Nazis, etc. Many of these groups succeeded for a short time but subsequently faded into history. Israel, however, is still standing.
It doesn't pay to oppose Israel!
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Prophecies can get complicated quickly. In chapter 38, Ezekiel starts looking further down the road and speaks of a coming enemy of God that will threaten Israel. He speaks of "Gog, of the land of Magog" (vs. 2). But just who and where is that?
Friday, October 14, 2016
Ezekiel 36 represents a dramatic switch in God's messages through His prophet. No longer is the word one of doom and gloom, invasion and exile. Instead, Ezekiel reveals that Israel is soon to be blessed with the return of the exiles and a repopulation of the Promised Land - but he takes pains to point out that this is not because of her own doing. It is the Lord's will out of concern for His name. Just as Israel's punishment was a sign of His holiness, her flowering will be a sign of His grace.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Monday, October 10, 2016
Sunday, October 9, 2016
Psalm 140 is a very typical psalm in many respects. It is a psalm of David, who is credited with 73 psalms, just under half the total of 150. It is slightly briefer than most, containing only thirteen verses; the average psalm consists of about sixteen verses. Its main focus is on God's deliverance from one's evil enemies, a frequent theme found among the psalms. In addition, Psalm 140 contains three instances of the word "Selah."
Friday, October 7, 2016
You may be wondering what all these ancient prophecies from Ezekiel have to do with us today. Many of them are about specific situations in the sixth century before Christ to nations that no longer even exist. For instance, in chapter 31, Ezekiel is sharing a message from the Lord to Egypt using a parable about the long-dead empire of Assyria. While it may have been "God's Word" 2600 years ago, is it really still God's Word to us today? How is it relevant?
Again and again in the book of Ezekiel, you may notice that one phrase in particular is repeated: "Then they shall know that I am the Lord." This phrase really stands out when you are looking for it. What if we were to consider this to be God's ultimate motivation for His acts of judgment upon the nations?
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
You may remember an iconic, very R-rated scene from the 1994 movie, "Pulp Fiction." One of the lead characters, a hit man named Jules Winnfield played by Samuel L. Jackson, launches into a fiery speech quoting the Bible. He says, "There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you."
There's only one problem. That is NOT Ezekiel 25:17!
There's only one problem. That is NOT Ezekiel 25:17!
Monday, October 3, 2016
Friday, September 30, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
When I served as an associate pastor, there was one particular hypothetical question that really bothered the Bible study gang. "Suppose Adolf Hitler - right before he died - repented and became a Christian. Would he go to heaven? And what if someone who has led a long and saintly life like Billy Graham commits a single sin and dies before he has the opportunity to repent? Would he go to hell?"
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
God reveals to Ezekiel that four deadly acts of judgment are coming upon Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild animals, and pestilence (vs. 21). Moreover, even if three righteous persons like Noah, Daniel, and Job were in the land, they would only be able to save themselves through their righteousness. Salvation would extend to no one else, not even their sons and daughters.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
You probably have heard the cautionary tale of the little boy who cried wolf. In the end, he paid dearly for his misbehavior. In the days leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, there were false prophets who were crying, "Peace!" They, too, paid dearly for their lies.
God's people frequently struggle with His sense of timing. Whether it's the 400 years that the Hebrews travailed in Egypt, or the "How long?" questions in Psalm 13, or the disciples itchy for God's kingdom to come at last, we have a patience problem. So did the Jews of Ezekiel's era.
Monday, September 19, 2016
Another grand vision of God's glory, complete with the four living creatures and the "wheels within wheels", takes place in Ezekiel 10. The same elements are present as were seen in chapter 1, but this time the setting is the Temple in Jerusalem. Ezekiel hears a voice from the sapphire throne at the top of the vision commanding a man dressed in white linen to take some of the fiery coals from the wheelwork and scatter them over the city. After he does that, the whole image itself lifts up and leaves the Temple! "The cherubim rose up" (vs. 15). The wheelwork, too, lifts up and ascends with the four living creatures (vs. 16). "Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house and stopped above the cherubim" (vs. 18). In one of the most devastating scenes of judgment upon the nation, God's presence vacates the Temple. Just like Elvis, the Lord has left the building!
Psalm 137 is rather infamous in Christian circles for its bloodthirsty final verse: "Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!" (vs. 9) Is this really an appropriate sentiment to be included in the Bible? Is this truly God's Word?
Friday, September 16, 2016
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Has God given up on reaching the people? He instructs His prophet Ezekiel not to address the nation, but the land instead. "O mortal, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, and say, You mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God! Thus says the Lord God to the mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: I, I myself will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places" (vs. 2 and 3).
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
In chapter 5, Ezekiel receives the call to another prophetic enactment. He is instructed to shave off his hair and beard and meticulously divide the hairs into three equal piles. One grouping goes into the fire, another is beaten with a sword, and the third is scattered to the wind (vs. 1 and 2).
"And you, O mortal, take a brick and set it before you. On it portray a city, Jerusalem; and put siegeworks against it, and build a siege wall against it, and cast up a ramp against it; set camps also against it, and plant battering rams against it all around. Then take an iron plate and place it as an iron wall between you and the city; set your face toward it, and let it be in a state of siege, and press the siege against it. This is a sign for the house of Israel" (vs. 1-3).
Being a "man of God" comes with a difficult responsibility. The words that the Lord lays upon His servant's heart must be dispensed. To withhold saying something that we know God has given us makes us culpable in others' sin and liable for their spiritual health. So, even if we face rejection by man, it is better to offend people than God!
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
"I looked, and a hand was stretched out to me, and a written scroll was in it. He spread it before me; it had writing on the front and on the back, and written on it were words of lamentation and mourning and woe" (vs. 9 and 10).
A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew pictures. Occasionally, she would walk around the room to see each child's work.
"What are you drawing?" she asked one little girl who was working diligently at her desk.
The little girl replied, "I'm drawing God."
The teacher paused and said, "But no one know what God looks like."
The little girl replied, "They will in a minute!"
"What are you drawing?" she asked one little girl who was working diligently at her desk.
The little girl replied, "I'm drawing God."
The teacher paused and said, "But no one know what God looks like."
The little girl replied, "They will in a minute!"
There are 26 occurrences of "For His steadfast love endures forever" in Psalm 136, one for each verse (vs. 1-26). Intermixed within a telling of Israel's history, this phrase stands out as a consistent response to the works of God.
Monday, September 12, 2016
I have found that a great deal of wisdom comes from learning the lessons of others. Why suffer the hard knocks and painful experiences that result from bad decisions yourself - when you can instead benefit by applying the truths that others have discovered to your own situation? Such is the case when it comes to the horrible circumstances endured by the residents of Judah when God's judgment falls by the hand of the Babylonians. We can stand in their shoes vicariously and appreciate the salvation that God provides through the grace of His Son Jesus Christ.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
When Christians attempt to explain the problem of evil and suffering in the world, we often paint God as passive, merely permitting or allowing bad things to take place. Jeremiah describes God in starkly different terms: as the primary actor who Himself purposes and directs the tragedy that befalls Judah.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Monday, September 5, 2016
Friday, September 2, 2016
When King Josiah died, the nation mourned and lamented for him. "All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah, and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day. They made these a custom in Israel; they are recorded in the Laments" (vs. 24 and 25).
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
When a book of the law is found in the Temple during a remodeling project, the good king Josiah desperately needs an audience with the Lord. The question is, where can he turn to find someone speaking the very words of God? Who is the prophet that the Lord will provide to be His mouthpiece?
When I was younger, it always used to blow my mind how quickly things could turn from one reign to the next in the Bible. At this point in II Chronicles, we have one of the most righteous kings, Hezekiah, who fathered one of the most evil, Manasseh. How does that happen? What of their ancestor Solomon's wise counsel about training up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it?
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Many times people "get religion" as soon as trouble comes knocking on their door. A refreshing story from II Chronicles 32 shows us that when trouble arrived in the guise of Assyrian king Sennacherib and his army massing outside the gates of Jerusalem, faith had already found a home there.
Psalm 134 is three verses long and contains three references to blessing, two from the people toward the Lord and one from the Lord toward His people. Verse 1 states, "Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord!" These night watchmen are called upon to bless the Lord with their prayers and praises, as verse 2 makes clear: "Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord." Finally, the expected response from God is also one of blessing. "May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion" (vs. 3). That's a whole mess of blessings in one short psalm!
Monday, August 29, 2016
After cleansing the Temple, restoring worship, and celebrating the Passover, Hezekiah continues his program of spiritual reforms by eradicating pagan worship, encouraging offerings to the Lord, and reorganizing the priesthood.
Imagine what it would be like if Christians stopped celebrating Christmas and Easter. The faith would continue, but something would definitely be missing. There would be less joy and celebration to share among family and friends, and valuable aspects of our faith would go unpracticed. As Hezekiah is renewing Judah's spiritual commitment to the Lord, he realizes that an important annual tradition has fallen by the wayside: Passover!
Thursday, August 25, 2016
There is a kind of rhythm to the spiritual life of the nation of Judah. Good king, good king, bad king, bad king, and then restoration with the return of a good king! And with restoration comes a time of ritualistic cleansing, rededication, and renewal.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
When a nation is strong, it can demand tribute from its neighbors as a form of "protection money." When a nation is weak, it usually serves as the one paying tribute to a stronger regional power. There were times in Judah's history where it played both roles.
II Chronicles 26 contains a glimpse of technological progress slowly underway in the kingdom of Judah. Sometimes, as the Bible stories move forward in history, we occasionally spy hints of technological leaps. And, in this chapter, we also find leprosy, as it breaks out upon the forehead of an overly proud king.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Monday, August 22, 2016
Friday, August 19, 2016
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
As a good ruler, Jehoshaphat was concerned about the quality of justice in his kingdom. He instituted legal reforms to this end.
How do you decide what is right? Do you simply go with the majority opinion? Do you follow the wisdom of the crowd? II Chronicles 18 reveals that the majority is not always right. Like your mother used to say, if everyone else jumped off a bridge, does that make it right? Would you do it, too?
Monday, August 15, 2016
I have always considered a mark of wisdom to be the ability to learn through the mistakes of others. The epitome of foolishness, then, would be forgetting the lessons you have already been taught through your own experience. Unfortunately for King Asa, he disregarded the lessons of his earlier reign, forgetting that his trust ought to rest in the Lord rather than men.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
The Chronicler takes a decidedly pro-Judah viewpoint in his historical record. This comes through loud and clear in such places as II Chronicles 13 which highlights a stirring speech that King Abijah of Judah makes against King Jeroboam of Israel. In it, he accuses the Israelites of abandoning the Lord and turning to idols, as well as forsaking the covenant instituting the priests and sacrifices. We don't hear this same information in the I Kings 15 account of Abijah, where the king is simply described as a sinner whose heart was not true to the Lord. It is helpful to have another perspective of the conflict between the nations of Judah and Israel to see what each author includes and emphasizes in their report. Certainly it is clear from this chapter that the feud between these countries could be severe at times.
Saturday, August 13, 2016
A theme that runs through the Old Testament is the connection between the Temple erected in Jerusalem and the Lord's commitment to David that one of his sons would always be on the throne. We see both of these promises reflected in Psalm 132 with David and the Lord making vows to one another.
Monday, August 8, 2016
People are fond of talking about "the ten lost tribes" of Israel, as if every trace of their bloodlines have been lost forever. But II Chronicles 11 reveals that many came to Judah from the northern kingdom to support Rehoboam's reign, thus continuing their representation in the southern kingdom. In addition to the Levites, who left their property in the north to come to Judah, we read, "Those who had set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came after them from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the Lord, the God of their ancestors" (vs. 16). This brings up another point about II Chronicles from here on out: unlike I and II Kings, this book focuses exclusively on the southern kingdom of Judah and David's descendants.
One of the tensions in Christian theology is that of human free will versus divine sovereignty. When something happens, who is more responsible? God or man? II Chronicles 10 indicates that, in a pivotal moment in Israelite history, God works through human decision-making.
Friday, August 5, 2016
Jesus once referred to Solomon in the Gospels. He said, "And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these" (Matthew 6:28-29). Although as the pre-existing Son of God, Jesus could certainly testify about the appearance of Solomon firsthand, He might also have had in mind II Chronicles 9 which describes Solomon's glory and splendor.
Some of Solomon's wisdom can be seen in the way he governed the kingdom after the passing of his father David. So much of what had been laid up and prepared for him, Solomon put to good use. He faithfully followed the plan.
II Chronicles 7 contains a very famous scripture that is typically invoked around the time of the National Day of Prayer: "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (vs. 14). It's a beautiful verse, but we must always take care to remember the pivotal "if" statement that God uses!
The king kneels in verse 13 and dedicates the house he has built for the Lord. His prayer reveals both the promise and the danger of the Temple.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
If you are reading the Bible straight through, you may wonder why so much time is spent on the construction of the Temple. For instance, II Chronicles 4 goes into great detail concerning the Temple furnishings. Why does the Bible dwell on this topic?
Imagine if this psalm read the opposite of its statements: "O Lord, my heart is lifted up, my eyes are raised too high; I occupy my myself with things too great and too marvelous for me" (inverse of vs. 1). This would be the picture of a spiritually proud person.
Because of our modern maps, we have a tendency to say "up" when we speak of the north, and "down" when we talk about going south. In scripture, however, it is almost always "up to Jerusalem" - even though Jerusalem lies toward the southern end of the Holy Land.
When we give gifts to the Lord, such as tithes and offerings, we often do so under the illusion that God is benefiting by receiving the fruit of our generosity. Yet the reality is that we are the ones who received God's generosity in the first place. We can only ever give back to God.
Monday, August 1, 2016
David makes an impassioned speech in I Chronicles 28 before all of his officials and commanders. He publicly charges his son Solomon to construct the Temple that David has prepared. The king gives precise instructions about how the Temple and its furnishings should look, as directed by God, and makes it clear that the people are to support Solomon in this endeavor. David includes a promise that Solomon will enjoy the favor of God for as long as he faithfully follows the Lord's instructions. He says, "And you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with single mind and willing heart; for the Lord searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you forever" (vs. 9).
I Chronicles 27 lists those who held important positions of leadership and service in David's kingdom. The chapter begins with the military then continues on through tribal leaders, agricultural overseers, counselors, and the commander of the king'd army. It is clear that it takes a lot of organized people to be able to manage a kingdom - no less three thousand years ago than today!
I Chronicles 26 continues the look at David's organization of jobs and duties at the temple. There were to be gatekeepers and treasurers for the house of God, along with officers and judges for the people. Everything was detailed for the affairs of the temple to flow smoothly.
Think worship bands are a recent innovation? Think again! Those churches which employ bands are really harking back to an ancient tradition. The organization of musical teams for worship is found in I Chronicles 25. "David and the officers of the army also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with lyres, harps, and cymbals" (vs. 1). As you can see from the rest of this chapter, the organization was very detailed!
Sunday, July 31, 2016
Friday, July 29, 2016
Many generations had come and gone between Moses and David (exactly how many is still a bit of a conjecture). Yet the precedents established in the law under Moses concerning the ritual worship of God with his brother Aaron serving as the high priest had continued, or were at least re-instituted, under David.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
It wasn't just anyone who could serve as a worship leader in ancient Israel. The administration of the temple functions and the leadership of the sacrifices was given to one tribe in particular. You had to be born a Levite in order to be one of the professional religious leaders.
David serves as a role model for us in many ways: courageous warrior, humble worshiper, repentant sinner, gracious king, and true friend. He also demonstrates the beauty of equipping the next generation for their role in God's plan.
Sometimes the questions are asked, "Why are there four gospels, especially when three of them duplicate so much material? Why does the Bible include both the Chronicles and the books of Samuel and Kings when they cover so much of the same ground?" Where some might find unnecessary duplication, I see the value of perspective.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
David's reign was marked with great success and justice. The Bible testifies to both of these characteristics in I Chronicles 18. Success? "And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went" (vs. 13). Justice? "So David reigned over all Israel; and he administered justice and equity to all his people" (vs. 14). Many of Israel's persistent foes were defeated during his rule: the Pharisees, the Moabites, the Arameans, the Edomites, etc. Truly, these were "happy days" for the nation of Israel!
Monday, July 25, 2016
Although the first disastrous attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem ended with the death of Uzzah, David nevertheless decides to try it again. This time, however, he resolves to follow the letter of the law and do things by the book.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
David's fame and power is growing in I Chronicles 14. He receives cedars, along with stone masons and carpenters, from King Hiram in Tyre in order to build a palace. In addition, he acquires more wives and children. He feels established as king (vs. 2). Along with this newfound respect and prosperity, however, also come enemies for David. The Philistines are out to thwart his reign as soon as possible. David's forces counter-attack, and, because he had inquired of the Lord, they prevail over the Philistines. It is clear that David is growing greater and greater, and he is in it to win it for the sake of Israel.
It's easy to feel sorry for Uzzah. The poor guy was just trying to do his job and - BAM! - struck down by the Lord's wrath for reaching out to steady the Ark of the Covenant. I have talked to more than one person who has asked me about the fairness of Uzzah paying the ultimate price for a momentary lapse of judgment.