Prayers for Howling, Healing, and Hiding

July 19, 2021 at 10:20 am | Posted in James | 1 Comment
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James 5 is a great chapter on prayer, and, specifically, on praying in times of trouble.

Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

James 5:4

1. Cheated workers can cry out to God for help.

The world’s system holds little help for those who have been cheated by others who are already powerful. Taking matters into our own hands only makes things worse, but God is especially attuned to the cries of the poor.

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

James 5:1

The cries of the poor will cause the rich to howl and cry.  

Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

James 5:9

2.  The physically afflicted can cry out for healing.

As my wife once said, we ask for God to turn down the heat, but He says, no, I’m going to turn up the grace.

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:15-16

God graciously uses or allows sickness to prompt us to seek and receive forgiveness. Even the elders are blessed as they must seek to know the will of God in order to pray the right way for the sick person: in order to pray the “prayer of faith.”

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

I John 5:14-15

3. Brothers in Christ can pray for backslidden believers whose sins affect others (the congregation, their families, etc.).

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

James 5:19

Planting a Church?

July 15, 2021 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Biblical farming | 1 Comment
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Question: To what does “planting a church” refer? Is it like an industrial plant?

Answer: “A church plant” is more of an agricultural, than an industrial, metaphor. See I Corinthians 3:6-9. A minister, or an existing church, may help to found a new church in a different location, and the hope is that it will put down roots of Biblical truth in Christ Jesus, and that it will grow and bring forth spiritual fruit (new believers, disciples, growing and maturing Christians, etc.) to the glory of God.

Dancing, Prancing, and a Lack of Romancing

July 13, 2021 at 5:14 pm | Posted in II Samuel | Leave a comment
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It had been approximately 75 years since the Ark of the Covenant had been taken by the Philistines, and David wanted to honor the Lord.

And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims.

II Samuel 6:2

Since its return to the Israelites, the Ark had been kept most recently at the house of Abinadab. WHAT David wanted to do was right, but he forgot to ask the Lord about HOW to do it.

And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.

II Samuel 6:3

God’s work must be done God’s way. The Ark was not carried on the shoulders of the Levites as it should have been. It was carried on a cart drawn by oxen – the Philistine way. When God’s work is done the world’s way, it is a recipe for futility at best and disaster at worst.

And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.

II Samuel 6:5

Is this a picture of most modern churches? Making a whole lot of noise, but trying to do God’s work the world’s way? We’ve got plenty of new carts, and plenty of talented and enthusiastic people, but we are not looking in God’s Book, asking Him how He wants it done. They meant well – but, as a famous preacher used to say, it will not do to say of that which is ill done that it was well meant.

And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.

II Samuel 6:6-7

Uzzah had become too familiar with the Ark of God. He lost his sense of awe and treated it like a common thing – a piece of furniture. Nothing is so delicate as a sense of awe – trifle with it in the slightest and it flees. Seeing the Ark wobble, about to fall, he reached out his hand to steady it, and God killed him.

God’s work must be done God’s way by God’s people. You can’t anoint old Adam for the service of Christ. The problem wasn’t really that Uzzah wasn’t properly trained; the problem was that David had started out all wrong. He needed start all over again. The problem in churches today is not that we are not skillful enough or that we are not well-trained enough. It’s that we’re trying to honor God using worldly methods and the wrong workers.

David had the ark taken to the home of Obededom, a Levite, for three months.

Was Uzzah’s death overly harsh? It reminds us of the deaths of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10, and the death of Achan when he took spoils from Jericho in Joshua 7, and the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. God has shown a pattern in the Bible of getting people’s attention in a very strong way at the start of new dispensations.

Notice where David went to make things right.

And it was told king David, saying, The LORD hath blessed the house of Obededom…

II Samuel 6:12

He went to the Lord. This is where we need to go to learn what God will be pleased with in our church services.

In his exuberance over the second attempt at bringing the Ark from the house of Obededom, David danced.

And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David [was] girded with a linen ephod.

II Samuel 6:14

There is some debate among Bible scholars as to whether David’s showy display of excitement was in fact appropriate, but the Bible seems to place an emphasis on David’s linen ephod. This could be a reference to immodest dress or it could be a reference to the fact that the king (while not a priest himself) was inappropriately wearing a priestly garment.

And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen.

I Chronicles 15:27

And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

II Samuel 6:16

Again, there is some debate as to what it was that bothered Michal so much about David’s display. Was it jealousy over the attention that he was getting (perhaps from female spectators)? Was it pride-wounding humiliation that her husband, the king, was behaving in a way that she considered undignifed, thereby embarrassing her? Did she object to David’s display of a garment that was supposed to be exclusively for priests, not kings? Many Charismatics take David’s behavior as a Scriptural prescription for wild dancing during church worship services, and they take Michal’s attitude as an indication that anybody who would question or challenge such behavior is a judgmental intimidator trying to quench the Holy Spirit. Whatever the particulars of Michal’s motivation, the Bible makes it clear that her underlying problem was her own heart.

Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD.

II Samuel 6:20-21

When Verse 20 specifies that Michal is “the daughter of Saul” it seems to indicate that the Holy Spirit is making a point. Michal, despite her marriage to David, still felt some allegiance to her father, Saul, who was a very different type of king from David, and who she may have felt was being dishonored by the celebration, or at least the raucous nature of it. David did not miss this point when he took offense to Michal’s criticism, and twisted the knife, saying, “It was before the LORD, which chose me before they father…”

There is no good evidence that I can see to indicate that David was lying, though, when he said that his dancing was “before the Lord,” which seems to indicate that in his heart he wasn’t trying to please the spectators or to insult the memory of Saul. Nor do I see anything to indicate that the Lord was displeased with the fact that he leapt or danced.

However, the nature and tone of David’s response to Michal’s criticism is more difficult to defend.

And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.

II Samuel 6:22

David’s awareness of the maidservants may have revealed something about David to Satan, which could later be used against him, and this was definitely not the right way for a husband to speak to his wife.

Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

II Samuel 6:23

It is fairly common to hear Bible commentators and preachers say that Michal was “struck barren” because of her mean-spirited and supposedly Spirit-quenching rebuke of David, but the Bible doesn’t say that. The “therefore” in Verse 22 may in fact indicate that David, angry with her over this incident, chose to never have sexual relations with her again.

Redemption Completed and Beginning

July 7, 2021 at 10:12 am | Posted in Joshua | Leave a comment
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And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.

Joshua 4:19

This date – the tenth day of the first month – matches the date of the Passover some forty years before:

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:

Exodus 12:2-3

This is not a coincidence, and was surely designed by God to show that the redemption of His people, although suspended because of their unbelief, and therefore only partially accomplished during the 40 years between leaving Egypt and crossing the Jordan, was now completed as they stood on the promised-land side of the wilderness. But, remember, our redemption, while a completed act by God, is not the end of our story. In some ways, it is a glorious beginning, as we experientially put into practice the claiming of the promise that God has given us. It is the beginning of a conquest that is certain to be successful, although there will be many battles, trials, tests, and even suffering as we live it out to God’s glory.

In Joshua 5 the pagans on the Canaan side of Jordan now had an added reason to fear God and His people. Not only had they escaped from, and in a sense defeated, the pursing Egyptian army as God parted the Red Sea and drowned their enemies, and not only had they defeated two powerful Amorite kings, but now God had stopped the Jordan River to allow them to cross and start the invasion.

We might expect Joshua, the great general and the newer version of Moses, to capitalize on this fear as the Amorites fled – probably into the fortress-city of Jericho – and on the enthusiasm of the Israelites, and to charge directly into battle, but no: God had other plans.

At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.

Joshua 5:2-3

I am trusting that you know what circumcision is, and that there is no need to go into the details of the procedure. However, I will admit that in our day and age, when it is a common medical procedure and not necessarily thought of by gentiles as having any religious significance, you might well be reasonably puzzled over why it features so prominently in the Bible. I have been asked about it in adult Sunday School classes where men and women are both present, and there are ways to discuss it while being circumspect (no pun intended), but we don’t really have to wonder about WHY God chose this occasion to reinstitute a procedure which apparently had not been done to any of the Israelites alive at this time, other than Joshua and Caleb, because we are told the next verses:

And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.

Joshua 5:4-5

There is a distinction being drawn that is very important. The people who came out of Egypt had the physical mark of God’s covenant, but they would not obey. Their children did NOT have the physical mark of God’s covenant, yet God raised them up to claim the promise and to be obedient. Who were the “real” children of the covenant? Who were the “real” inheritors of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses? The ones who outwardly kept the ordinance, but inwardly rejected God’s Word? Or the ones who appeared to be cast off by God, but who ultimately inwardly believed His Word to the extent that they acted upon it?

We might ask a similar question about Christians: Who are the real Christians? The ones who pray the sinner’s prayer, get baptized, join the church, but don’t have any active faith and who ignore the Word? Or the ones who may not have a pedigree of religion or an appearance of religion, but whose true belief in the Word manifests itself in visible obedience? Let this be a lesson to us.

For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

Joshua 5:6

A careful reading of Verse 6 shows what appear to be two contradictory “swears.” God swore that His people in Egypt would see the promised land, but He also swore that, because of their disobedience, they would not see it. Only those who believe and obey get the blessing and benefit of God’s promises, but the disobedience and unbelief of His people does not stop God from honoring His Word and keeping His promises. God is going to do what He has purposed to do, but He is not bound to do it in ways that we expect or in ways that suit our liking. If God wants a certain local church to have a revival, He might do it by reviving in everyone’s hearts a unified love for Him and each other and a desire to serve Him, or He might do it by getting rid of those who are hindering the revival in their sin and gossiping and backbiting and refusal to submit to His authority. Whether through happiness or through pain – the easy way or the hard way – God’s desire will not be thwarted.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

His ways are not like our ways and His thoughts are not like our thoughts. In what ways are they dissimilar? In what ways are they are “higher” than our ways and thoughts? In both senses of “higher:” more knowledgeable, better able to see the big picture; and “higher” in noble purpose, accomplishing something more righteous and holy and loving and glorious and beautiful than what we could have imagined or hoped.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

I Corinthians 2:9

So, while we expect a triumphant entry into the promised land before fleeing pagans, the narrative pauses – for something like two weeks – while God instructs Joshua to instruct the people to physically debilitate all the boys and men – including the fighting men – with crude stones fashioned into sharp knives used to perform the ancient (and humbling!) sign of God’s covenant with His people.

And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way. And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.

Joshua 5:7-8

Complementary Communication in Marriage

June 22, 2021 at 4:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As a general rule, we don’t like it when people think they see something about us that we don’t see about ourselves. However, our spouses are very like to do just that. When we observe our spouses’ faults, or when they let us know that they have observed ours, we must balance our observations, and our reactions to these observations, with humility. It is easy to fall into the trap of observing our spouses’ faults while maintiaining an unaware (or selective) blindness to our own faults.  

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

The Bible will discern your thoughts and intentions better than you can.

The differences in how men and women in general communicate in vastly different ways have been well documented. The challenge in marriage is to communicate wisely, and in a way that strengthens and helps the relationship.

There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

Proverbs 12:18

God designed men and women (and specifically husbands and wives) to complement each other.

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18

Men and women are fundamentally different, but in marriage they are perfectly suited to each other, apart from sin and its influence in a fallen world. Of course, Gospel marriage is redeemed marriage, so the influence of sin can be overcome with God’s help. Ideally, husbands and wives are designed to complement (not “compliment,” although compliments are wonderful ways to communicate) each other.

Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

I Corinthians 11:9-12

Things that complement each other are not identical. In fact, they are often nearly, if not exactly, opposite. Perhaps nowhere is this contrast between men and women more glaring than in the area of communication. In order to complement each other and to glorify God in our marital communication, it is important that we remember to:

1. Make time for communication.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 3:13

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Hebrews 10:24

2. Set aside pride.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Ephesians 4:29

3. Put in effort.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Titus 2:11-12

4. Crucify selfishness.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

II Corinthians 5:17

Above all, our communication in marriage must be gracious and honest.

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4:6

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:32

Victorious Surrender

June 4, 2021 at 11:07 am | Posted in James | Leave a comment
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James Chapter 4 describes three kinds of wars: wars between Christians; wars within ourselves; and war against God.

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.  There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

James 4:11-12

There is a way to disagree without being disagreeable. As we develop the gift of discernment, we learn to observe our brothers and sisters in Christ with an attitude of love rather than sinful judgmentalism. It is easy to fall into the error of thinking that our judgment (like God’s) can not be wrong. God has appointed us to be many things, but “God-like judge” is not one of them. We must examine ourselves to determine if we have a tendency to be judgmental without knowing all the facts.

Normally wars between Christians are a result of the wars in ourselves.

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

James 4:1

First comes dissatisfaction with what we have, and a desire to have what we don’t have.

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

James 4:2

Then comes the idea that the reason we don’t have it is because someone else has it.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

James 4:3

When we finally get around to asking God for it, we have forgotten the original reason we wanted it in the first place – which was so we could satisfy our lusts, not glorify God. However, God hasn’t forgotten, so He says no.

Beware of selfishness when praying. When you catch yourself praying selfishly go back and examine the reason why you are praying for these things in the first place.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

Are you asking God for the resources to help you be unfaithful to Him? As parents, we want our childern to obey because obedience is for their own good. However, it is possible to be influenced with a selfish motive in this area, too. We don’t want to feel the guilt that would come if we allowed them to be hurt. We need to remember the real reason that we want them to obey, and to avoid being hurt, is that we love them. When you truly love someone, you want that person to be well, AND you don’t want anything to hinder your closeness to him or her. God considers friendship with the world to be adultery committed against Him. It separates us from the fullness of fellowship and presence of the One Who truly loves us.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

James 4:8-9

God says this because He loves us and He wants to lift us up to Himself.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

James 4:10

There is no winning the war against God – EXCEPT – in a twist of supreme irony – when we surrender. This is the only war you win by surrendering.

For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.  But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

James 4:14-15

When we recognize God as our King – after we have truly surrendered – then He proves His trustworthiness.

Against the Law?

May 26, 2021 at 9:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Question: What is antinomy?

Answer: Antinomy is when a statement or a proposition is self-contradictory. Common examples are when a “postmodernist” says, “There’s no such thing as absolute truth,” which begs the question as to whether that statement itself could even be true! Or, the classic example: “This sentence is false,” which leaves us scratching our heads and going “Huh?!”The Greek prefix anti means “against,” and the Greek word for “law” is nomos, so an “antinomy” is a proposition which is “against the law,” meaning against the logical law of noncontradiction. When used in connection with theology, antinomy has taken on the meaning of two Biblical statements which appear to be so at odds with each other that we can’t make sense of how they could both be right. I prefer the term “paradox” over “antinomy,” because there are no true logical contradictions in the Bible. For example, Galatians 2:20 appears on the surface to be full of contradictions: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” How could Paul be crucified with Christ, yet alive? How could Christ live in him, yet he not be alive himself? How could Christ’s faith sustain Paul if Christ had died?” Of course, these turn out to be paradoxical, rather than contradictory, statements when we examine the surrounding verses, Galatians 2:19 and 21, and see that Paul was dead to the demands of the law, but alive by the grace of God to obey the righteousness evidenced by the law.

The Transfer of the Kingdom

May 24, 2021 at 3:32 pm | Posted in II Samuel | Leave a comment
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For a long time there were battles back and forth between the “house of David” the “house of Saul.” During this time, the Bible portrays Abner as this sort of Machiavellian character who liked scheming better than fighting.

And it came to pass, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner made himself strong for the house of Saul.

II Samuel 3:6

During complex negotiations between David and Abner, David tried to unite the kingdom without too much bloodshed, but the problem was that Joab and Abishai still wanted to kill Abner, and David began marrying multiple wives for political purposes. This complicated his family relations.

The negotiation involved the return of his wife, Michal. Joab and Abishai succeeded in killing Abner, but in a devious way which angered David.

David was a man who searched the Scriptures.

Let it rest on the head of Joab, and on all his father’s house; and let there not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, or that is a leper, or that leaneth on a staff, or that falleth on the sword, or that lacketh bread.

II Samuel 3:29

This was from the Covenant in the 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy.

David fasted, and:

And all the people took notice [of it], and it pleased them: as whatsoever the king did pleased all the people.

II Samuel 3:36

He made it clear to the people that, although he was now king, he was God’s King, he loved God’s law, and, to the best of his ability, God and God’s Word will be the standard of rule in Israel.

In II Samuel Chapter 4 Ishbosheth was left helpless and powerless like a puppet without his puppetmaster (Abner). In his city, the people were afraid that David would invade and kill him, and deal with them harshly. Two opportunists who did not know David very well decided to curry favor wtih him. They were Baanah and Rechab, and they went about it the wrong way. They went to Ishbosheth’s house and they lied about why they were there, then they sneaked into his room while he was sleeping, killed him, and cut off his head to show David.

And they brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the LORD hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed.

II Samuel 4:8

They blamed their deed on the Lord, but David was consistent. He dealt with them the same way he had dealt with the Amalekite messenger who told him he had killed Saul. After having them killed, he had their hands and feet cut off, and their corpses placarded in public to show the people that he did not condone their type of treachery.

In Chapter 5 David was anointed king for the third time, this time by all the elders of Israel. He established a new capital in Jerusalem by consulting the Lord and instructing Joab on how to drive out the Jebusites. Jerusalem became the most important city in the Bible.

David then began a series of battles to defeat the Philistines and take back what Saul had lost. He consulted the Lord in these battles.

And David came to Baalperazim, and David smote them there, and said, The LORD hath broken forth upon mine enemies before me, as the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baalperazim.  And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them.  And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.  And when David enquired of the LORD, he said, Thou shalt not go up; but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry trees.  And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines.  And David did so, as the LORD had commanded him; and smote the Philistines from Geba until thou come to Gazer.

II Samuel 5:20-25

What was the sound in the tops of the mulberry trees? Wind? The Lord? Angels? We can only speculate.

Visible and Audible Reminders and Proofs of God’s Faithfulness

May 19, 2021 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Joshua | 1 Comment
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Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel; And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The Lord commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle.

Joshua 21:1-2

This distribution of the tribes’ inheritance in the land of Canaan had been previously emphasized pertaining to Caleb, and to the daughters of Zelophedad.

These were the 12 tribes: Reuben; Simeon; Levi (no land inheritance); Judah; Issachar; Zebulun; Dan; Naphtali; Gad; Asher; Benjamin; Joseph (no land inheritance); Manasseh and Ephraim (two tribes from Joseph’s tribe).

All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs.

Joshua 21:41

Chapter 21 describes the cities of the Levites in great detail, which reminds us of the importance of honoring those in spiritual leadership. Normally, we think we’re really doing something special by recognizing that they have a right to earn a living, but the Bible actually tells us to go beyond that. It tells us to HONOR them and to hold them in esteem.

It was important that the Levites be spread throughout the land, so that they could be an object lesson on seeing the land-inheritance as important, but not the PERMANENT home of the people of God. They would also be available locally to provide specialized instruction in the Word of God beyond even what families would provide to children and spouses, and what individuals would learn on their own.

Chapter 21 ends with one of the main themes in the Book of Joshua: God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises.

And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.

Joshua 21:43

God had promised them the land, and He had been faithful to keep His Word.

And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.

Joshua 21:44

He had promised them victory over their enemies, and He was faithful as they stood victorious.

There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

Joshua 21:45

He had promised them that He would keep His promises, and every Word He spoke to them in this regard came to pass.

Hold Your Tongue

May 17, 2021 at 4:01 pm | Posted in James | 1 Comment
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This may sound overly simplistic, but Christianity involves communicating. In Bible times there was no email or texting, obviously, but the Bible itself, and the narratives, historical accounts, poetry, Gospels, and epistles that make it up are not picture-books. It is full of words. Growing in maturity in Christianity can involve a great deal of talking and written communication: teaching; fellowshipping; defending our faith. The “tongue,” in Bible language, is often a stand-in word for verbal communication.

As Americans (at least until very recently) we like the idea of freedom of speech, but, as Chrstians, we need to be aware that our tongues can be given too much freedom. With out tongues we can praise and worship the Lord. We can pray. We can be used by the Holy Spirit to lead someone to Jesus. We can change a child’s life by telling him we love him. HOWEVER, we can also: trash someone’s reputation; talk someone into destroying his life; or break someone’s heart. Generally speaking, communication is a good thing; manipulation is not (Psalm 12:3). Our tongues can communicate a blessing from Heaven – or spark a fire from hell!

In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

Proverbs 10:19

For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

James 3:2

The tongue can get the whole body into trouble. Has your mouth ever written a check your body couldn’t cash? Little boys begin squabbling on the playground, and, after exhausting their supply of about three really bad names, there is nowhere to go but fists.

Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

James 3:3-4

Bits and rudders are small, but they steer big things. Our unredeemed flesh is like a wild horse: it wants to buck and kick and be what it thinks of as “free,” when, in reality it is in bondage to our fallen sinful condition apart from Christ. The world is like the waves and wind that affect a ship: they try to blow it off course. Tongues have to be held tight. Only Christ can really control our tongues. They steer us, and they have the power to destroy. A little spark from the tongue can start the human-conflict equivalent of a forest fire.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

James 3:6

Hot heads make for hot tongues, and untamed animals are a hazard, whereas tamed animals can be a great help.

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