Are You Seeking God?

The Bible is unparalleled in its contents, ability, and sufficiency.
2 Timothy 3:16-17.
            -Contents, because it is Truth, inspired by God Himself.
            -Ability, being useful & advantageous to us in:
                        +Teaching: Doctrine, What we need to know.
                        +Reproof: Conviction, How we are wrong.
                        +Correction: Alignment, Setting us straight.
                        +Training: Instruction, Forward in a new direction.
            -Sufficient, God’s Word makes us “adequate”- “thoroughly furnished, qualified to perform a function, well-fitted, complete, capable, able to meet all demands.” This is living life rightly!!!

The Bible must be received if it is to effect change in our lives
How do we get the Word of God within us?

Deuteronomy 6:4-9. All of life is to be conducted by God’s Word. It must get into the heart so that religious legalism is avoided.

James 1:21-22. We must… 1. set aside evil fleshly things (1:21a) and 2. humbly accept what He has already instilled in us (1:21b).
By so doing, we are able to rescue our lives (souls) from worthless living (1:21c; see also 1:19-20).
-We are cautioned to be “doers” and not just “hearers.” To hear the Word apart from doing the Word is to self-deceive.

Ephesians 5:17-21 & Colossians 3:16-17. To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with the Word. The result is godly living, with spiritual motives, thankfulness, and joy! The attitude changes!

Psalm 119:10-11. We benefit from the Word of God in not sinning against God when we “store it up” in our hearts.
Q: Are we seeking God in His Word with all of our heart?
We can start today!

Foundational Framework Part 40 - Losing Sight of the Lord

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
The glory of God is the centerpiece and goal of all existence.
God’s glory is maximally realized in the promised, coming Kingdom.

The details surrounding King David’s reign are worth studying, but for the sake of our overall goal they will not be covered. With the sins of adultery and murder that takes place regarding Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:1-12:23) great disruption and anguish follows David’s reign until the end. I am sure that we are able to look back at choices that we have made that only had ourselves at the center, altering our lives for less than what could have been. This is the power of sin and the consequences that accompany it. For David, the kingdom was never the same.

Due to this egregious sin, the child that was conceived dies (2 Sam 12:15-23). However, a bright moment of grace comes from this terrible instance in the birth of Solomon by Bathsheba (2 Sam 12:24-25). “Solomon” comes from the Hebrew word for “peace” (shalom). The text tells us that Solomon was loved by YHWH, who sent a message by Nathan the prophet that He would name him “Jedidiah” meaning “beloved by YHWH.” Though we do not see a reoccurrence of “Jedidiah,” it has been explained that “it is possible that Jedidiah was his given name, and Solomon was his throne name. It was not unusual in the ancient Near East for kings to reign under a different name than their given name.”[1] It is not until the book of 1 Kings that we see the account of Solomon unfold, finding him anointed as king of Israel to succeed his father David (1 Kgs 1:39). On his deathbed, David gives a final exhortation to his son.

1 Kings 2:1-4. Any time that someone is close to death in the Scriptures, their parting words hold an emotional weight that might otherwise be absent (See 2 Tim 4:6-8; 2 Pet 1:12-15; 3:1-2). It is in these times that the Holy Spirit speaks to people in such a way that leaves an undeniable impression. David’s final recorded words to Solomon call upon him to keep the Law of Moses. David, as evidenced in his personal writings (ex. Psalm 1), understands that fellowship/intimacy with YHWH is the key to a successful and blessed reign as Israel’s king and that the times where this was not valued had resulted in great personal loss and grief. An interesting reason for keeping the Law of Moses is stated in v.4: “so that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’”

This may cause confusion since our previous examination of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam 7:8-16; Psa 89:1-37) repeatedly provided the assurance that David’s house, kingdom, and throne would be established by YHWH “forever.” All concerns are quickly resolved when we think about the disciplinary emphasis that the Lord included in these promises (2 Sam 7:14-15; Psa 89:30-37). YHWH does not excuse sin. It is completely abhorrent to Him and must be brought to justice. This pronouncement is no different than what has been seen with the Abrahamic Covenant in respect to the children of Israel after the Exodus and whether or not they entered the Land of Canaan. “Though the covenant is unconditional with respect to its ultimate goal of bringing in the Messiah from the line of David, each individual king must heed God’s Word from the heart if he would experience the blessing of God.”[2] Responsibility yielding blessing was before each successive king, but the overall plan would find its fulfillment because of the certainty of YHWH’s promise.

1 Kings 2:5-9 finds David calling upon Solomon to tie up the loose ends that he had left undone at his death. As king, righteousness was to be upheld, and sins of treason were to be brought to justice. While Solomon’s reign is known as a reign of peace (and there is a noticeable absence of war), this is largely because of David’s commitment to conquering opposing forces (2 Sam 4:1-12; 8:1-15; 10:1-19).

1 Kings 3:1-15. Verse 1 is troubling and profound. At the time of Moses’ return to Egypt, Pharaoh was the ruler of all of the known world and Egypt was considered the world’s singular superpower, having no rival. In the time of Solomon, the daughter of Pharaoh was given in marriage. This is profound because of the prominence that Israel had attained in the world’s political arena, previously being Egypt’s slaves, but it is troubling for two reasons:

First, Solomon’s marriage to this woman is stated as forming an “alliance” with Egypt. One cannot help but to question why, seeing that YHWH is the Protector and Defender of Israel. Second, the guidelines that would have been handwritten by the king from Deuteronomy 17:17 would have specified that he was not to take many wives unto himself at risk of having his heart turned. This is especially true in being married to a foreigner who may have no appreciation for YHWH’s relationship with Israel. The mention of “high places” (1 Kgs 3:2-4) showed that pagan worship was still active in some sense, with verse 2 specifying that the worship of YHWH was taking place in them. These “high places” were formerly used for Baal worship (Num 22:41, along with other idols- Lev 26:30) and were initially commanded to be torn down by YHWH when the Israelites crossed over the Jordan (Num 33:52; Deut 33:29). It was later the great conviction that the reading of the Law gave to King Josiah that he began cleansing the land of false idols and graven images, even tearing down the places of worship in the high places (2 Kgs 23:15).

The text is clear, Solomon loved YHWH (3:3) even though he still sacrificed at the high places (3:4). The devotion of the heart is right, but the careful manner in which one was to follow the words of the Lord were off. In His grace, YHWH calls out to Solomon in a dream, giving him the opportunity to ask something of Him (3:5). In humility of heart, and with complete understanding of who YHWH is and His relationship with David, Solomon asks for wisdom (discernment) because he recognizes his inadequacies in being a suitable judge over God’s people Israel (3:6-9). This is pleasing to Adonai (notice the change- v.10, 15). Because of his unselfish request, Solomon is granted all of the things that he did not selfishly ask for, which placed him in a category altogether different.

1 Kings 4:29-34. This passage demonstrates the fulfillment of God’s promise to Solomon and the influence that he exercised which attracted nations and their kings. Solomon is credited with great works, both in wisdom and song; some of which are contained in the Bible as the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. We also see in 4:33 that Solomon had understanding in botany and zoology and that his wisdom drew a great and varied audience (4:34).

Solomon was privileged to build a Temple for YHWH, which the details surrounding this are recorded from 1 Kings 5:1-6:38 and 7:13-51. The finest materials and the most skilled laborers were commissioned for the job. Of particular note is 1 Kings 8:5-11. With the completion of the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant was brought in to take up residence in the Holy of holies. YHWH is pleased with this, and the shekinah (meaning “to dwell”) glory of YHWH fills the Temple (v.10-11).

The pronouncement to Israel and the prayer of dedication found in 1 Kings 8:12-53 are worth reading, especially for devotional purposes.

1 Kings 8:54-61. This pronouncement draws attention to Solomon’s posture, but more importantly to the emphasis placed on the fulfillment of God’s Word, just as YHWH had spoken. Verse 58 calls on YHWH to move the hearts of Israel toward Him, which is seen by keeping what God has spoken in the Law. The reason for this plea is so that the nations of the earth would know that YHWH is superior over all, greater than any other god (8:60). The call is then made to the people to devote their hearts to YHWH, committing themselves to keeping His ways.

We need to pause and let this verse linger in our minds. The language here communicates that the people were to let their hearts be “complete with” YHWH, being “intact” and “undivided” in their commitment to Him. Obeying YHWH was of critical importance. Israel’s relationship and intimacy with YHWH was a witness to the nations, speaking of His goodness and grace, as well as His standards that fostered a fellowship between the Creator and His people (Deut 4:6-9). Remember, no other nation had this kind of relationship with their god.

1 Kings 9:4-9. As before, the Lord reiterates His promise, along with His approval of the Temple (9:1-3), but in v.4 the call to faithfulness is made to Solomon again, encouraging him with blessings for faithfulness and with cursing for unfaithfulness (Deut 29:23-27). YHWH is aware that no one is beyond falling away due to the sin nature. The mention of serving other “gods” is seen in v.6 & 9 as the reason that cursing would come. YHWH would not only cast Israel out of the land but would also have the Temple demolished, become a mockery in comparison to its shining glory (9:8a). The ideas of the Temple becoming a “byword,” a “proverb,” and something that people would “hiss” at in astonishment brings the ideas of shame and humiliation to mind (9:8). This would not be misconstrued by the nations as the Lord’s inability to bring Israel into the Land as Moses pleaded with Him before (Num 14:15-16). Instead, the responsibility for such calamity falls squarely on the shoulders of Israel and their chasing after and serving other gods (9:8-9). Despite these warnings and the clear communication of the consequences, the unthinkable occurs.

a. This passage is painful. Solomon, the wisest man on the face of the earth, the man whom the Lord God allowed to build a house for His name when David did not receive this privilege, fell to other gods by way of the many women that he had surrounded himself with, both as wives and as concubines (11:1-2). We are told that Solomon “loved” these women, but also that he “held fast” to these in love. Being the king, and having for himself a handwritten copy of the Law, it would seem ridiculously out of sorts that this should be the world’s wisest man’s folly in life, being led to sacrifice to other gods and to have abandoned his faithfulness to YHWH (See Deut 17:14-20).

In v.2, the author of 1 Kings reminds us that YHWH had previously warned against the intermarriage of Israel with these pagan nations, of which we find recorded in Exodus 23:31-33; 34:12-16; and Deuteronomy 7:3. As was previously told, these women “turned his heart away” when he was old (11:3-4). We are told that “his heart was not wholly devoted” to YHWH, which stings when we consider that the same word used for “wholly devoted” was previously observed in 8:61 as the exhortation that Solomon gave to Israel after the completion of the Temple. What adds to the shame of this occurrence is that the gods that Solomon chased after are mentioned by name. Ashtoreth of the Sidonians is a fertility goddess that was previously worshipped by Israel in Judges 2:13 and 10:6. Milcom and Molech in v.7 are both mentioned as deities of Ammon and are largely considered one and the same. Both names are a derivative of the Hebrew word melek which means “king.” What is frightening about worshipping Molech is that the ritual commonly surrounding him was child sacrifice (2 Kgs 23:10; 2 Chr 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31; 19:5–6; 32:35)! With Solomon, this practice is not mentioned at all, but with the verse references given, we can understand how this redirection toward foreign deities could have served to open the doors of later rebellion against YHWH. The last god mentioned is Chemosh of Moab (Num 21:29) who also had some ties to child sacrifice as seen in 2 Kings 3:27. His name means “subdue” and he was believed to be revered by the Ammonites as well. It is said in 11:7 that Solomon “built a high place for Chemosh” and for Molech, and offerings were made (11:8).

Solomon’s lust for women had led him into grave disobedience. First Kings 11:9-10 show this plainly. Solomon’s heart had turned away. In v.11-13 YHWH speaks of the consequences for Solomon’s infidelity, just as He had promised previously in 9:6-9. The Lord is clear, the kingdom will be taken away from Solomon, but not during his lifetime “for David’s sake,” which is mentioned twice and “for the sake of Jerusalem” being mentioned once. David’s faithfulness and love for YHWH went a long way in protecting Solomon, his son.

The kingdom of Israel is divided, with Judah (and Benjamin) to the south and Israel (being the other ten tribes) to the north. This occurs in 1 Kings 11:14-13:34 with Solomon’s son Rehoboam as king over Judah and Jeroboam as king over Israel. These accounts are worth investing great time in to see the progression of sin that stemmed from Solomon’s folly.

1 Kings 11:6 sums up the situation, “Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done.” We must follow the Lord fully! Being “complete with YHWH,” intact with Him, and undivided. None of us are beyond falling away. Sin, left unchecked, will entice our flesh to act against the truth of God’s Word, whether it is sex, money, power, or notoriety. Sin brings death!

[1] John D. Barry, Douglas Mangum, Derek R. Brown, et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), 2 Sa 12:25.

[2] R. D. Patterson and Hermann J. Austel, “1, 2 Kings,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, Vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), p. 34–35.

Foundational Framework Part 39 - A King to Reign Forever

FOUNDATIONAL FRAMEWORK. PART 39

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
The glory of God is the centerpiece and goal of all existence.
God’s glory is maximally realized in the promised, coming Kingdom.

When we speak of kings and kingdoms, we are always speaking of eternal matters. The descriptions that we have in Scripture with relation to Satan and heavenly beings always speak of thrones, rulership, earthly leaders, and/or crowns in some capacity (Ezek 28:12-26; John 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor 4:4; 11:13-15; Eph 2:2; Eph 6:11; 2 Thess 2:3-4). This concept of ruling and reigning is found throughout the Bible because it is the chief end to which God is working all of history so that His Son will be glorified in ruling over the nations of the earth (Psa 2). Building towards this glorious end, we have the man David as a significant turning point in the history of God’s plan for a future, glorious kingdom!

David is known for two main things in popular Christianity. On the devotional side, he is known as “a man after God’s heart.” This is seen in 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22. On the side of disgrace and sin, David is known for his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her faithful husband Uriah the Hittite (2 Sam 11:1-12:23). While his sin is particularly heinous, we will focus on his heart toward the Lord and the Lord’s promises made to David. This is seen in 2 Samuel 7:8-16 and Psalm 89.

2 Samuel 7:8-16. At the beginning of this chapter, David is disturbed that he lives in a finely-built house with materials of superior quality while the Ark of the Covenant sat in a tent outside (7:1-3). However, the Lord speaks to Nathan the prophet in replying to David, telling him that He is not in need of a house. But it is David’s heart in the matter, his desire to care for YHWH, the love that he wanted to show YHWH, that turns the tables of history with David, seeing that YHWH establishes David’s house and kingdom forever. Notice some of the specifics of this passage.

In the same way that YHWH took Saul from a meager existence and elevated him to king (1 Sam 15:17), so YHWH does the same for David (2 Sam 7:8). YHWH recounts His constant presence in David’s life and begins to unfold the blessings that He has in store for him (v.9). This involves the establishment of Israel in the land (v.10), which is in keeping with the promise given to Abram in Genesis 12:2. The specifics in v.10 obviously point to a future time because there is the promise of Israel not being disturbed and that the wicked would not afflict them “as formerly.” Verse 11 elaborates that the “former time” being spoken of was the time of the Judges (hence the importance of having read through Judges), with the declaration of “rest” from all your enemies.

YHWH then states that He will build a house for David (v.11b)! This “house” (bayit- “house, temple, dwelling place, family, dynasty”) will be a house of people, descendants that will reign (v.12). Many have concluded that the offspring mentioned in v.12 is Jesus, but v. 13-14 show that the person in mind is Solomon, seeing that he builds the temple for YHWH (1 Kings 6:1-38) and that he was chastised by the LORD for his rebellion (1 Kings 11:11-13). Jesus did not build the temple, nor did He sin and need chastisement. YHWH then notes in v.15 that His hesed (“loyal love”) would not depart from Solomon, contrasting this relationship with that of Saul. If Saul is a picture of a kingdom sustained by works, Solomon is a picture of a kingdom sustained by grace.

In v. 16, “forever” is the word used to describe David’s house and kingdom, meaning that it is sure and certain because the Word of YHWH has stated it (v.13). In fact, YHWH goes to great lengths in the Scriptures to reiterate the incontrovertible and indisputable fact of David’s descendant reigning on the throne of Israel and his Kingdom having no end (2 Sam 23:1-5; Psa 89:33-37; Jer 33:14-26). This covenant, like the Abrahamic Covenant, is unconditional in nature, meaning that human failure does not negate its ultimate fulfillment because it is based on YHWH’s Word and not one’s actions. It is possible for human disobedience to hinder the fulfillment of an unconditional promise made by YHWH as seen in Numbers 13 & 14, but this does not mean that the promise will not be fulfilled at a later time by YHWH.

The three main elements mentioned in v.16 are: 1) house, 2) kingdom, and 3) throne. As we have already seen, “house” refers to David’s progeny (v.11b). This is a blood line, being established by YHWH. The “kingdom” would be those in David’s line who had the right to rule over Israel. No one else had legal claim to royalty. This was to be a regal, family-ran ministry of humility and servanthood unto Israel (Deut 17:14-20). The “throne” deals with a literal place of ruling in which David’s descendants were to reign. Jerusalem is the place of this reign. It alone is the center of the universe. No other place is sufficient for ruling, nor has the Lord made such promises to any other people.

The astute Bible student will immediately notice the connection to the Lord Jesus Christ in these designations. Bergen notes that, “Three of Jesus’ claims concerning himself allude to this verse. First, Jesus claimed he would build a temple (cf. Matt 26:61; 27:40; Mark 14:58; 15:29; John 2:19–22). Second, he claimed to possess an eternal throne (cf. Matt 19:28–29). Finally, he claimed to possess an imperishable kingdom (cf. Luke 22:29–30; John 18:36).”[1]

2 Samuel 7:18-29. This passage is David’s prayer-response to what we have just read, which is commonly known as the Davidic Covenant. Of significant observation is the use of “LORD” (YHWH), “God” (Elohim), and “Lord GOD” (Adonai YHWH, meaning “Master, Self-existent One”). The reverence given as a response in prayer is humble and tender, revealing to us the type of man that David was. His transition to “Adonai YHWH” shows the high reverence that he placed upon YHWH and His promise, which he uses eight times in this prayer. In this prayer-response, one will do well to notice the celestial connections made in v.22, 23b, & 26-27.

In His grace, the Holy Spirit has seen fit to give us a complementary passage in Psalms that aids in our study of 2 Samuel 7:8-16.

Psalm 89:1-37. Before reading this Psalm, it is vital that we are acutely aware of the significance of God’s name “YHWH” when it is used in Scripture. This name communicates the understanding that He alone is self-existent and needs nothing else to survive, endure, be, or continue. YHWH alone is completely self-sufficient and the uncaused Cause of history. All else is His creation. This fact stands in awesome opposition to the divine council in the heavenlies, described here as the “assembly of the holy ones” (v.5), those “in the skies” (v.6a), the “sons of the mighty” (v.6b), the “council of the holy ones” (v.7a), and “those who are around Him” (v.7b). The repetition of YHWH’s name is important. Joseph Alexander explains, “The divine name here used implies that what makes him so terrible is his infinite power. The angels are again called holy ones, but furthermore described as the privy council, the confidential intimates, of God himself… Yet even to these, as being endlessly superior, he is and ought to be an object of adoring fear.”[2]

From v.5 to v.18 is a praise unfolding to the superiority of YHWH and the rule that He has because He is the Owner of all things. If the heart does not jump for joy in reading this section, your jumper is broken!

The term “Rahab” in v.10 is a difficult one, commonly understood as “Egypt” (Psa 87:4) but also as “Leviathan” (Isa 51:9). Ross explains that “’Rahab,’ representing Egypt (cf. Isa. 30:7), was probably the name of a powerful demonic force thought to be behind that nation.”[3] With the mention of the divine council in v.5-8, the possibility of “Rahab” being the name of the demon over Egypt (v.10), and a possible reference to the “godly ones” in v.19 being the divine council (or possibly the prophet Nathan), one can see that the covenant made with David has some serious implications as far as the heavenly realm is concerned. More on this in a moment.

In v.17b & 24b, the use of the word “horn” may seem odd but is seen as trumpets, flasks, on the corners of the altars, and can even be understood as the peak of a hill, all speaking in a literal sense. This word is also used to express someone’s kingdom, strength, or honor when understood in a figurative-literal sense.

The Lord is clear in verses 30-37 that David’s son’s disobedience will not negate the promise of YHWH’s Word toward David. The covenant with David’s house does not excuse sin and all sin will be punished. The covenant with David is such that YHWH cannot lie about it (v.33-37). He is faithful to the uttermost in everything that He has spoken.

Two things are certain in reading through this Psalm. First, YHWH has a solidified plan with the house of David that has been sealed in the Davidic Covenant. Second, this covenant rests solely on YHWH’s “loyal love” (hesed- “lovingkindness”) and His faithfulness. Even the disobedience of David’s line cannot negate the promise of YHWH.

The prophecies spoken forth so far concerning the Messiah have been nothing short of damning to Satan and the fallen angels. In Genesis 3:15, the “seed of the woman” is spoken of as crushing the head of the serpent. In Genesis 12:1-3, Abram is promised a Land and worldwide blessing, but it is the Seed, being the Lord Jesus Christ, that would come forward, even though Abram and Sarai were beyond producing offspring. Genesis 49:10 speaks of the privileged position of Judah, from which the scepter of rule will never depart. The obedience of all people will one day be directed to the tribe of Judah.

These prophecies are promises resting on the character of God that await their fulfillment in history. Each step that God takes in revealing more about the eventual triumph of the coming King and the establishment of His glorious Kingdom on earth to rule with a rod of iron (Psa 2) is a threat to the father of lies, the enemy, the murderer, Satan (Col 2:13-15). It is a declaration of victory to the divine council, much of which are demonic spirits overseeing the nations and ruling them in corruption and injustice despite YHWH’s rebukes of them (See Psa 82).

For YHWH to extend such a blessed promise to David is monumental. It is David’s faithfulness that brought him such a privilege in YHWH’s plan for the ages, and it would be through David’s lineage that Christ the Lord would enter into this world, both by blood and by heritage as the only One possessing the right to be the King over Israel.

The message of triumph is: CHRIST WILL BE KING! YHWH’s WORD STANDS FIRM! Victory is as certain as God Himself!

[1] Robert D. Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel, Vol. 7, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), p. 340.

[2] Joseph Addison Alexander, The Psalms: Translated and Explained, The Classic Commentary Library (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964), p. 371.

[3] Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, Vol. 1 (Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1985), p. 857.

Foundational Framework. Part 38 - The Failure of the King

FOUNDATIONAL FRAMEWORK. PART 38

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
The glory of God is the centerpiece and goal of all existence.
God’s glory is maximally realized in the promised, coming Kingdom.

We would often like to think that if we simply had more revelation of God, or if He would just appear to us in a tangible way then we would sin less, love more, forsake the flesh, and live godly lives until our dying day. YHWH has gone out of His way to reveal Himself to Israel in astounding ways, and yet their stubborn hearts were constantly keeping them from following Him fully. Sadly, many have determined that His Word is not enough.

Israel had succumbed to the pinnacle thought of fleshly devices: the conviction that a human being will be able to provide the prosperity, security, and freedom that only God alone promises. With this request, Samuel the prophet warned the people of the ramifications of such a government, causing the enslavement of the people to the wishes of their king, surrendering a portion of their properties (both land and livestock), the taxing of their livelihood to support an earthly regime, and even the distortion of the family structure as their sons and daughters would be removed from the family business and placed into the king’s service (1 Sam 8:10-17). Having previously been freed from such a system, one would figure that Israel’s perspective of a monarchy would have been colored by cruelty, wishing instead to live as truly free people with YHWH as King. In sin, Israel cried out for a king “like all the nations.”

In the Law, YHWH included a proviso regarding the desire for a king.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20. To assume the throne of Israel is to lead in humility. At least this is how the office was designed by YHWH. Though Israel had set YHWH aside, He did not do likewise to them. In His omniscience, YHWH understood the whims of the human heart, even that of Israel’s, and what would happen after their settlement in the Land of Canaan. Clough notes that the “Israelite kingship was to submit to the authority of the Law (Deut. 17:14-20). God’s Law, not a human king, was the ultimate authority. The Creator-creature two-level view of reality had to be respected. Kingship was not supposed to be some midpoint between man and God on a continuous scale of being.”[1] Instead, the king would be subservient to YHWH’s Law, instilling in him a knowledge of the truth by which he would both govern and be held accountable. The Law called for specifications to be met that would ensure this.

First, the king would be chosen by YHWH and not through a political process (v.15a). This would root out any issues of favoritism or any corruption that usually accompanies an electoral process.
Second, the king would be one who was an Israelite national and not a foreigner (v.15b). This would safeguard against reckless decisions that did not consider the history and personal care of the Jewish people. Third, the king was not to collect a great amount of horses, nor was he to send a delegation to Egypt for the purpose of securing a great amount of horses (v.16). The accumulation of horses would be the basis for a military presence to fight battles, which is what Samuel warns the people of in 1 Samuel 8:11. For Israel, victory is not something secured by having more soldiers than the nations that opposed them but in YHWH who solely provides. Even the presence of “many horses” would give a pseudo-security to the people of Israel. Israel’s king was to have none of this.

Fourth, the king was not to have a multiplicity of wives and the reason for such a command is quickly given in 17:17a- “his heart will turn away.” The more women that were in the mix, the more directions that the king’s heart would be taken. The clearest example is in the reign of King Solomon who was the wisest man in the world, and yet was so easily led astray by his multiple wives to serve, worship, and sacrifice to other gods (1 Kings 11:1-8).
Fifth, the king was not to be wealthy (17:17b). This speaks against everything that history has ever seen in the rulers of the world. However, riches provide nothing but false assurance. Proverbs 11:28 is clear, “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.” Money has never brought peace, and unless it is managed wisely by one who gives liberally it becomes a snare (Matt 6:24; 1 Tim 6:10; Heb 13:5).

Finally, the king was to copy by hand the first five books of the Old Testament (17:18). This was to be done before the Levitical Priests so that they could “check his work,” making sure that accuracy was maintained and all questions were clarified and answered. The text is clear that the king was not to make the laws but was to know those given by YHWH and was to enforce them because they are truth. Legislation was not the king’s business. This was not simply a rote exercise, but the textbook by which the king was to conduct his reign. He was to keep it with him (17:19a), he was to read it continually for the rest of his life (17:19b), with such efforts giving way to a healthy fear of YHWH (17:19c), and a careful consideration of all matters being conducted according to the Law’s contents (17:19d). This constant meditation would cultivate humility within the king (17:20a) so that he would not view himself as superior, placing all reverence and authority before YHWH and not himself. Maintaining this course would ensure a long legacy for that line of kings (17:20b).

The first chosen human king of Israel was Saul, a man said to be taller and more handsome than any other man in Israel (1 Sam 9:2). Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin and the Lord called upon Samuel the prophet to anoint him (1 Sam 9:16-17). The language that YHWH uses is intentional: Saul was the “prince” that was to be anointed and he would “rule” over YHWH’s people (1 Sam 9:16-17). YHWH does not relinquish His position as the King of Israel but does delegate responsibility to one that He has personally chosen for the task at hand. Samuel anoints Saul making him the ruler over YHWH’s possession Israel (1 Sam 10:1). This is solidified by the prediction of YHWH’s Spirit coming upon Saul and changing him into “another man” (10:6) and the fulfillment of that prophecy in 10:10. However, Saul shied away from the spotlight, hiding behind a pile of bags when the time came to publicly recognize him as God’s chosen ruler of Israel (10:20-24).

While the beginning of Saul’s reign was full of triumphant victories and careful decisions, such an approach began to wane in chapter 14. The details of Saul’s foolish choices are worth examining but the events of 1 Samuel 15 is really the turning point in Saul’s reign.

1 Samuel 15:1-29. Samuel’s conversation with Saul is pointed to say the least. Samuel begins by stating that Samuel had anointed Saul as the king over Israel by the Lord’s Word. That exact same Word was going to be communicated to Saul, calling for his obedience to whatever is commanded. Saul was anointed because Samuel obeyed God’s Word. In the same way, Saul was to obey the Word of the Lord. Samuel draws attention to the opposition of the Amalekites against Israel from Exodus 17:8-16. This incident is famous for the need to uphold Moses’ arms to secure the victory for Israel.

With verse 3, the call is for harem, for Israel to utterly “destroy” the Amalekites, leaving nothing alive. As mentioned before, the Lord is certainly gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast (loyal) love (Psa 145:8), but He is also a just God who knows the most intimate thoughts of the heart. His pronouncement against the Amalekites is not without cause, nor should we conclude that they are an “innocent” people. Every single person who has ever lived deserves death. That is the only thing that we have earned in our time on Earth. The freely-offered gospel of salvation is the grace of God toward the destitute and undeserving. If YHWH has called for Israel to exterminate the Amalekites, we must trust His Word in the matter, as well as His reasons for such a pronouncement. He alone is the Judge of all.

Saul assembles 210,000 men to handle the command, moving forward in obedience to YHWH’s word (v.4-5). The Kenites were descendants of Midian who resided just south of Judah. Saul notes their kindness (in contrast to that of the Amalekites) shown to Israel as they were traveling to the Land of Canaan. Saul shows them mercy, allowing for them to evacuate the area because of the ensuing calamity. Everything in the text so far directs us to believe that Saul has every intention of carrying out YHWH’s word without reservation.

In their conquest, the entire territory of Ishmael was covered (v.7; see Gen 25:18). All was destroyed… except Agag, the king of the Amalekites. In fact, not only was he spared, but Israel took the best of their livestock for themselves (v.9) in direct opposition to what YHWH had commanded in 15:3. The text notes that attention was given to the valuable and the worthless, with the first being kept and the other being destroyed. This was a critical mistake. Saul was not called to observations and assessments of value, he was called to obedience. Not only this, but v.9 gives us an indication that it was a group effort, seeing that “the people” were right in the thick of these decisions.

In verses 10-11 we find YHWH’s heart-response to what Saul had done telling Samuel that He “regrets” that He has made Saul the king. A comment like this really creates problems for people who think that the Lord is not personal, or that He has so planned out history in such a way where individuals do not have the ability to exercise personal freedom. YHWH is intensely personal and He has emotions, especially in relation to our obedience or disobedience. The regret being expressed is not in the fact that God chose Saul, but in the way that Saul has handled his position as king.

We must remember that election is not a doctrine that determines who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. The Scriptures never use this term in that way. However, election by God is unto a task, mission, or vocation that is to be fulfilled. With 1 Samuel 15 and YHWH’s remarks in v.11 we have an example where the election of God did not work out, just as we see in Romans 9:32. In both instances, it was not YHWH’s election of the person or people that was wrong, but the unbelief of those elected in fulfilling what God had provided for and commanded of them. Saul’s personal responsibility is still intact, and he failed miserably. For this, Samuel is grieved.

To make matters worse, Saul has erected a monument to himself in Carmel (v.12). The man who once hid behind the baggage has now promoted himself through idolatry.

1 Samuel 15:13-21 holds the confrontation between Samuel and Saul. When asked about the campaign against the Amalekites, Saul is oblivious to his error, stating that he has carried out God’s command (v.13). As the words leave his lips, you can hear the sheep and cattle in the background. In verses 15 and 21 Saul refers back to the actions of “the people” as the responsible party for bringing back the spoils. Saul even tries to rationalize these actions by stating that the motive was for the purpose of sacrificing the best that the Amalekites had to YHWH (v.15 and 21). The king had rationalized that worshiping YHWH through sacrifices was somehow separate from obeying Him. Samuel then reveals his conversation with YHWH to Saul (v.16-19). The Lord had taken Saul from being no one to being the ruler of Israel. The command before him was to lead a campaign of harem (used in v.18 and 20 by both men) against the Amalekites as YHWH’s disciplinary tool of judgment. Instead, remnants of the Amalekites remained, including Agag the king (v.20). Verse 19 drives the point home: partial obedience is evil because it is ultimately total disobedience.

1 Samuel 15:22-23. Samuel’s response to Saul’s rationale for his actions should be memorized for our own benefit. YHWH desires obedience over sacrifice. Good intentions and rationalizing sin are evil. Rebellion against His commands is the equivalent to witchcraft in YHWH’s eyes. In v. 23, the word “insubordination” is used. This means “self-will.” It is the pride that comes with living the “self-life,” which is a life lived in one’s desires and not for God. It is corrupt satisfaction. It is sin.

Because Saul had rejected God’s Word, YHWH was removing him as king.

1 Samuel 15:24-26. The reason for Saul’s disobedience is revealed.

First, he feared the people instead of fearing YHWH. This is why the observation of the Law of God was to put the fear of YHWH into people, so that they would not fear anyone else (Deut 17:19c). Saul’s installation was by divine election, not by human politics. He, like we, serve an audience of One.

Second, Saul heeded the voice of the people. Peer pressure had taken precedence over the Word of God. Reasoning through the benefits of keeping the best of the spoil seemed good and right, except that the Lord had commanded otherwise. Only His Word matters.

The remainder of Saul’s time as Israel’s king is a slippery slope downward, finding him tormented by spirits (1 Sam 16:14), paranoid of losing control (1 Sam 18:10-12), commanding the slaughter of the priests of YHWH (1 Sam 22:18), misinterpreting God’s will (1 Sam 23:7), and even consulting a medium for guidance (1 Sam 28:7-14).

Ultimately, Saul ended his life by dying upon his own sword (1 Samuel 31:4).

[1] Charles A. Clough, A Biblical Framework for Worship and Obedience in an Age of Global Deception, Part III (www.bibleframeworkministries.org), p. 101.

Foundational FRAMEWORK. PART 37 - The Cry for a King

Foundational Truths:

  • The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
  • God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
  • Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
  • Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
  • God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
  • The glory of God is the centerpiece and goal of all existence.
  • God’s glory is maximally realized in the promised, coming Kingdom.
  • While it may seem daunting, the best place to start with this lesson is to spend a couple of days reading through the book of Judges. A good place to break in your reading would be with the completion of chapter 10. What makes the book of Judges so interesting is that sin makes it necessary in the canon of Scripture. Let’s explain.

In Deuteronomy, Moses told Israel to “utterly destroy” the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. This is seen most clearly in Deuteronomy 20:16-20. The word used for “utterly destroy” in v.17 is harem which is literally understood “putting these people under a ban.” The word means “ban, devote, exterminate.”[1] This is a difficult teaching for many who come upon it for the first time and it is often used as an argument against YHWH, deeming Him as heartless, reckless, and even evil for bringing such a command against these groups of people. The reason for such a harsh pronouncement is two-fold.

First, if everything that YHWH creates is good and if what He creates is consistent with His character, for Him to make such a pronouncement is to conclude that their sin is so great that this is the only suitable solution to their sin being brought to justice. Being finite human beings, we are not intimately acquainted with the ins and outs of the people of Canaan, their deeds, their worship, their sacrifices, etc. What we do know is that YHWH makes a judgment call against them and that He will only do those things that are consistent with His character. Therefore, it is not wise to presume that He has responded harshly or in injustice for the

people of Canaan, but that their time of grace and their failure to respond to His revelation had run its course.

The second reason for this pronouncement is like the first, but distinct.

Deuteronomy 7:1-6. YHWH warns the children of Israel to abstain from any relationship with the people who inhabited the land of Canaan. The reason for this is given in v.4 being that their culture, beliefs, and practices would lead the Israelites astray, which would cause the anger of YHWH to burn against them, leading to their destruction. Instead, they were to deal decisively with the people (harem is used in v.2), allowing for YHWH to be the warrior God against them while destroying every thing that would constitute their pagan practices (v.5). Sin is like leaven, eventually working its way through an entire batch of dough (1 Cor 5:6; Gal 5:9). The entirety of the leaven must be cleaned out in order for the batch to remain unleavened, so it is with the inhabitants of Canaan. The people of Israel are a “chosen” people, carrying out YHWH’s mission to reach the world. They had been set apart due to the loyal love of YHWH (v.7-8). They were to be holy unto the Lord, undefiled.

When we come to the book of Joshua, the command to go forth in the confidence of the Lord’s provision is clear (Josh 1:1-9). All is well in entering the land as the Israelites began to conquer (Josh 6:1-24) and dealing decisively with any sin that hindered their success (Josh 7). But in chapter 9 of Joshua, a critical mistake is made.

Joshua 9:1-18. With the news of Israel’s victories in Jericho and Ai, the inhabitants of Canaan prepared for battle (v.1-2). The Gibeonites took a different approach, posing as wanderers and foreigners from a distant land. In deceiving Joshua, they were able to secure a covenant with Israel that prevented them from being utterly destroyed. The critical mistake is seen in 9:14 where they did not “ask for the counsel (literally- “mouth”) of YHWH.” Failing to seek the Lord in this matter caused their failure in securing all that YHWH had commanded them to inherit. The result is that the Gibeonites became slaves to the Israelites, leaving their culture, pagan worship, and false gods intact to corrupt Israel. The book of Judges is an extension of this critical moment of disobedience.

When the children of Israel begin settling in the land that is their inheritance, there are inhabitants that are left from the previous people

When the children of Israel begin settling in the land that is their inheritance, there are inhabitants that are left from the previous people groups due to Israel’s failure to follow the Lord fully. This leads to a cyclical pattern in their existence, being simply understood as:
1) a devotion to YHWH while a leader was in place,
2) the death of the leader,
3) the people stray into idolatry,
4) YHWH brings Israel into captivity to another people,
5) the people eventually cry out for rescue,
6) YHWH raises up a judge to deliver them and steer them back to Him.

Judges 2:1-23. The children of Israel failed to obey the Lord in conquering the land. After Joshua’s death (as well as those who were alongside him who witnessed the great works of the Lord) the people went astray (v.11-13). This caused YHWH’s hand to be against them. Due to the constant compounding of their sin with disobedience and idols, v. 21-23 reveals that the nations that were not utterly destroyed would now serve as a means of testing Israel’s faithfulness to YHWH.

With the book of Judges, there are some pertinent points that need to be emphasized for our study in order to give a frame of reference for what we will see in the proceeding books of the New Testament, as well as understanding the attitude of the Jews regarding the Kingdom, and the culmination of the New Testament in pointing to the coming Kingdom, especially as it is lined out in the book of Revelation.

The first interesting point in Judges is the involvement of the Godhead throughout the book. The Holy Spirit is seen in 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; and 15:14. In each of these instances with the exception of 13:25 we are told that the Spirit “came upon” (or “clothed”) the person in question. This is consistent with how the Spirit operated in relation to humans in the Old Testament (See 1 Sam 11:6; 16:14; Psa 51:11). The “angel of the LORD” is mentioned in Judges 19 times, signifying the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ and Him being acknowledged as God by those that He encounters (See Judg 13:1-23; especially v.22).

The second significant theme is the desire of the people of Israel to have a human king. In Judges 8:22-23, the men of Israel call upon Gideon to become their king, and not only this, but in their exuberance due to his victory, they even call upon Gideon to have his son rule after him, calling for a dynasty to take place among the Jews. Gideon refuses, pointing the

people back to YHWH as their king. Sadly, Gideon is corrupted by idols as seen in 8:27.

The third point of significance is the “rest” that was enjoyed each time the people of Israel turned back to YHWH at the deliverance of the judge sent to her. In 3:11, 30; 5:31; and 8:28, we are told that “the land had rest” for a certain period of years, which was usually however long that particular judge lived. It is interesting that the focus is on the land of Canaan and what the disobedience of the Israelites did to the land once they had settled upon it.

A final point that is noteworthy in the book of Judges is the remark of the absence of a king, which led to the foolishness and disobedience of the people. This is not seen until the latter part of the book, in 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; and 21:25. Israel needed to be ruled over. They needed a king. These remarks are what lead us to 1 Samuel 8.

1 Samuel 8:1-22. This chapter is tragic. Samuel the prophet is the last judge. When his sons were found unsuitable to rule the people, they cried out for a king “like all the nations” (v.5). YHWH tells Samuel something profound, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them” (v.7). YHWH is Israel’s King, but He was a king that the people did not want. They desired a king “like all the nations.” Clearly this is a request made in unbelief.

Samuel warns the people about how their lifestyles and economy will change due to this request. Note the cost of having a human king:
1) The drafting of soldiers and personnel (v.11-13),
2) The loss of personal property (v.14)),
3) Taxed one-tenth to feed the king’s army (v.15),
4) Confiscation of private help (v.16),
5) Taxed an additional tenth in livestock (v.17a)
6) Personal enslavement to the king’s purposes (v.17b)

This decision would cost Israel in hired servants, family members, finances, personal property, and personal freedom.

What is ironic about this request is that Israel is rejecting a theocratic kingdom in which YHWH reigns over them. All that Israel desired the Lord could do apart from the need of a human king.

Upon reasoning with the people, Samuel’s list of consequences is disregarded, with the people persisting that they desired to be like the other nations around them. This defeats their calling to be a holy people that were to be set apart from the nations (Deut 7:6).

To make matters worse, but also in revealing the disconnect in Israel’s thinking, the people see a human king as one who will “go out before us and fight our battles” (v.20).

The extent of this insanity is unfathomable, seeing that YHWH states that He “will fight for you” (Exod 14:14), that He alone threw the Egyptians into confusion (Exod 14:25), that He alone is their warrior (Exod 15:3), that YHWH would fight on their behalf (Deut 1:30; 3:22; Josh 23:10), that He alone is the One who fights and saves His people (Deut 20:4); that He alone is the One that is with Israel wherever they go (Josh 1:9); that through Israel, YHWH would be known to the world as mighty, that the fear of YHWH would be known in Israel forever (Josh 4:23-24), and that YHWH alone is the one who gives kings into the hands of His people (Josh 8:1). To ask for a human king who is far less, much less than YHWH God the Creator of the world, is nothing short of a remarkable act of treason.

This leaves an important question before us today that needs to be answered:

Is God enough, or do our hearts covet more?
Is His Word given to us sufficient, or do we need something else?
What is keeping us from leaning wholly into our great God and Savior?

 

 BDAG, p. 355.

 

Foundational Framework Part 36

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
The glory of God is the centerpiece and goal of all existence.
God’s glory is maximally realized in the promised, coming Kingdom.

A prevalent theme in the Scriptures is that of “inheritance,” where, in the Old Testament, the Lord is looking to give a promised piece of land to the smallest of all the peoples in the world, Israel. In the New Testament, an inheritance is promised to those believers who persevere in holding fast to Christ, being understood as a reward to be earned by faithfulness and good deeds in accordance with the Word of God. YHWH, the Creator, the God of the Bible, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a giver.

While Israel’s inheritance is earthly in nature, the inheritance offered to the Church is one that is heavenly. In both instances, each people group has been sufficiently provided for, extravagantly blessed, and has before them a life which they are to steward according to what they have been given. The Lord God has eliminated all excuses for one not receiving the inheritance offered to them, refusing to violate the free-will of each person. In the end, the things of this world, personal apathy and slothfulness, and neglect or misuse of the plenteous resources that have been supplied will be the only reasons that one will not inherit what has been offered. YHWH desires His children to have success. Regardless if the focus is on Israel or the Church, He desires them to take possession of the inheritance that awaits each of them.

The word “inheritance” is used in the Old Testament over 230 times and occurs in the New Testament around 35 times. This concept is significant in Scripture, for with it comes the conversation of “heirs” (Isa 65:9; Rom 8:17), “sons” and “firstborn sons” (Exod 4:22; Matt 5:45),  “rewards” (2 Sam 22:21; Matt 6:6), “ruling and reigning” (Isa 24:23; 32:1; 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 5:10; 22:5), judgment (1 Cor 3:11-15; 2 Cor 5:10), and being partners

 (partakers, companions) with Christ (Heb 1:9; 3:14). Reading Deuteronomy, the words “possess” and “possession” are used 66 times, with the Hebrew word “yerusha” meaning “to take possession, to be an heir, to inherit” (Deut 1:8, 21, 39; 2:5, 9, 12, 19, 24, 31, for example). In Deuteronomy, this word is interchangeable with “inheritance”.

In Scripture, there are actually two types of inheritance regarding both the Israelites and the believer in Christ.

The first type of inheritance is unconditional in nature, being something that the Christian receives at the moment that one believes in Jesus Christ. This inheritance is what is understood as “eternal life” in the Scriptures (John 3:16; 5:24; Gal 4:7). For Israel, this inheritance is YHWH Himself, as found in Psalms 16:5 and 119:57. Both are immediate for each respective group when faith is exercised (Gen 15:6; John 3:16).

The second inheritance is conditional in nature, meaning that obeying by faith (“walking by faith”) is the requirement to receiving it. This can be seen in Colossians 2:6 which says, “as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” “Receiving” is the unconditional inheritance, while the conditional inheritance requires the believer to “walk in Him.” For the Israelites, the conditional inheritance is their resting in the land that was promised to them. Numbers 14:28-30 shows the Lord’s perspective on the failure of the first generation to trust His promises and to move forward in possessing the Promised Land. “As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.”

Caleb and Joshua remained faithful to the Lord’s Word in this trying situation. Therefore, they are granted inheritance of the land. Those who walked in unbelief died in the wilderness.

This Jewish understanding of the kingdom and the inheritance being earthly in nature is seen also in Acts 1:6 where the disciples ask Jesus if it was at this time that the Lord would be restoring the kingdom to Israel. The intentional use of “restoring” tells us that the Jewish mindset of

these early Christians was that of Israel’s former glory when David and Solomon reigned upon the throne of Israel.

This chart from James S. Hollandsworth may prove helpful.

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As with any passage of Scripture that we are looking to interpret, context determines the meaning.

Another summary passage that explains both inheritances can be seen in Romans 8:16-17. It reads, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

Notice the emphasized portions. The Spirit of God testifies that believers are children of God. This is a fact that requires nothing of us but believing in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. The logical conclusion that the Apostle Paul draws is that IF we are children of God, then we ARE heirs of God. To be one is to automatically be the other. There are no contingencies in this matter. To be justified is to be God’s child, and to be God’s child is to be an “heir of God.” This is most important because it reflects the exact type of relationship that was put forth in the Old Testament when it spoke of YHWH being the inheritance (or portion) of the Israelites (Deut 18:2; Josh 18:7; Psa 16:5; 119:57; Lam 3:24). The

children of Israel did nothing to receive YHWH as their inheritance (portion), it is simply because of His love for them (Deut 7:7-8).

However, the second part of Romans 8:17 entails the second inheritance. If we are automatically “heirs of God” we also have the opportunity to be “fellow heirs with Christ,” but such a designation comes with a requirement, namely that of suffering with Christ, or experiencing suffering because we are holding fast to Him and His Word. When speaking of the second inheritance there will always be a contingent factor present, which is seen in the phrase “if indeed we suffer with Him.” The reason for this is found in the emphasized words “so that.” Being glorified with Christ is the culmination of our salvation. Having suffered with Christ, we are qualified to be glorified “with Him,” IF we have suffered for His Name’s sake.

When we talk about or read through passages in the New Testament that exhort the church to obedience, walking by faith, and good works, we are not simply subscribing to a “this-is-what-we-ought-to-do” existence that is without meaning or significance. Embracing the commands of Scripture and living out the New Life that Christ makes possible has monumental value in eternity to come, bringing greater degrees of glory to God! The more a saint lives this New Life in obedience, the more that God’s Word is promoted as trustworthy and sure, the more that He is glorified in the obedience of His children!

For our purposes in the chronological approach of God’s Word, we look to Israel’s historical example regarding the second inheritance.

With the failure of the first generation to trust YHWH in moving forward in inheriting the land, the opportunity was postponed (Num 14:28-33). After wandering for 40 years, the book of Deuteronomy finds Moses and the children of Israel standing on the edge of the Promised Land. This is the 2nd generation, for all that were 20-years-old and older had passed away due to their rebellion (Num 14:29). Only Moses was left to die before the 2nd generation of Israelites could crossover into the land to possess it (Num 20:9-12). Moses’ charge throughout the book of Deuteronomy is that they remain faithful, knowing the Word of God as revealed in the Law and doing all that it commanded them. Some passages to elaborate on the specifics would be helpful.

Deuteronomy 1:8. The command is to go in and “possess” (inherit) the land that was promised to them.

Deuteronomy 4:37-40. What motivates the faithfulness and blessing of God toward Israel is His love! Not only does He fight for Israel, but He has promised an inheritance to them, being the Land of Canaan. They are told in v.39 to “take it to your heart” that YHWH is the only true God and that by keeping His statutes and commandments, they would live long in the land, prospering there, even unto the times of their children.

Deuteronomy 6:1-3. This passage occurs right before the Shema[2] setting the stage for what Israel was about to receive. The people would be taught doctrine and were expected to implement it in their daily lives. This was meant to leave a legacy, directing the family structure and lifestyle into successive generations that fostered a culture of obedience to YHWH, with the entire nation walking in fellowship with Him. The emphasis is found again in v.3 on the importance of listening to what Moses was teaching them and to apply it. Doing so would bring blessing.

As mentioned in previous lessons, these historical events in Israel’s life are vivid pictures of the spiritual realities of the Christian life.

With the death of Moses (Deut 34:5) comes the command for Joshua to assume command in leading the Lord’s people. The exhortations of the Lord toward Joshua hold some valuable secondary applications for us today in regards to receiving the inheritance.[3]

Joshua 1:1-9. The command is given to Joshua to lead the people in crossing over the Jordan River (1:2). YHWH understands that this is a difficult assignment, and the people of Israel have just come off hearing Moses reiterate to them the failure of their fathers in inheriting the land forty years prior when the opportunity was given to them. For Israel, Moses was a symbol of leadership and stability. With Moses’ passing comes a void to be filled but also a new era; one which finds the second generation learning from their predecessors’ mistakes and trusting the Lord in moving forward.

Three times in the passage YHWH encourages Joshua, telling him to “be strong and courageous” (1:6,7,9). Two of those times, the fact that YHWH is with him is communicated to reinforce the command (1:6,9), while the exhortation in 1:7 is one that calls for the keeping of the Law so that he will prosper in the land. The application for the Christian is that the Lord our God is always with us, even more so in the Church Age because the Holy Spirit indwells the believer in Christ (John 14:17; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13-14). We have no need to fear, since the Spirit that we received is not a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). Too often fear has crippled the believer, shutting his or her mouth, and stifling the flames that would otherwise compel us to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These things need not be so because God is with us. Therefore, let us be strong and courageous so that we can move forward in sound obedience.

The inheritance before Joshua is specified in 1:4, noting the boundaries of south, north, east, and west. This is the same designation of land as seen in Genesis 15:18-21. What God had promised years before was coming to fruition in Joshua’s time.

Undoubtedly, the most familiar exhortation in this passage comes from 1:7 where YHWH tells Joshua to “be careful to do according to the law” exactly what it says to do. In taking the land, Israel was to be a beacon of righteousness to the pagan nations around her (Deut 4:6-8). This beacon can only shine forth if Israel is walking in fellowship with YHWH. So it is with the Christian today. While we are not saved by obedience, our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone gives way to a new way of living before the world. This is the New Life, walking in love, operating in joy, confident at every turn because our hope is reserved in heaven, not earth. Such living causes us to inherit the wondrous riches and positions of ruling and reigning alongside Christ (Rev 20:4). Our lives on earth are a time of stewardship. How will you spend it? Jesus states, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” Are we ready?

[1] James S. Hollandsworth, “Two Inheritances,” at http://kingdompreparation.com/2014/09/two-inheritances, accessed 10 April 2018.

[2] Shema means “Hear, O Israel.”

[3] Secondary application is how one who is not part of the originally-intended audience should respond to a command or moral teaching.

Foundational Framework Part 35 - Failure to Inherit

 

  • Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
  • God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
  • Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
  • Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
  • God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.

What is the grand purpose of all history and existence? Many people would point to the salvation of the lost, but this is actually only one piece of the total pie that YHWH will accomplish in history. The grand purpose for all of history and existence is God’s glory! The salvation of men and women is one of many things that contribute unto this end. Ryrie explains, writing, “Scripture is not man-centered as though salvation were the main theme, but it is God-centered because His glory is the center. The Bible itself clearly teaches that salvation, important and wonderful as it is, is not an end in itself but is rather a means to the end of glorifying God (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14).”[1] That being said, the establishment of a literal, earthly, political theocracy in which Christ Jesus reigns supreme is the pinnacle of glory unto God, “when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Cor 15:24b-25). If this is God’s mission in history, and if He has communicated this fact to us in the Scriptures, it should be our driving mission as well, for no purpose is greater than God receiving maximum glory all of the time for eternity!

In Daniel 7:13-14 the thesis statement of the Bible is recorded. The goal of all history and existence is that Jesus Christ would be glorified in establishing His kingdom on Earth, exercising an “everlasting dominion.”

God’s desire is that men and women would have a ruling capacity upon the Earth alongside Christ in this future time. This is first found in Genesis 1:26-28. We are told that God made man and woman in His image, after His likeness, as rulers over the fish, birds, cattle, and

creeping things, being fruitful and filling the earth, subduing it, and ruling over it. Some translations use the term “have dominion” (ESV, KJV, NKJV, Darby). The idea is that man was to dominate the creation in alignment with His Creator. McClain notes, “In the Genesis account of the creation of man, the very first of the divine injunctions laid upon him was regal in character… Thus among other important likenesses to his Creator, man was given a limited sovereignty in relation to the earth.”[2]

Only man and woman were created in His image and likeness. This cannot be said about any other creature that the Lord has made. This creative act was before the Fall of man, making it a pure and holy calling. YHWH was operating with man in a sinless, unmodified environment. Also, this establishes human beings as superior to all other forms of life in creation. Thus, from the very first chapter in Genesis we have YHWH sharing His ruling responsibilities with men and women, establishing a kingdom of rule on Earth.

With the introduction of sin into the human race (Gen 3:1-7), the right to rule was forfeited by Adam and Eve and the mantle was taken up by Satan and his demonic forces (Psa 82:2-7; John 14:30; 2 Cor 4:4). The “kingdom on earth” became a playground for sinful exploits and satanic deceptions as the human rulers of this world were swayed into flesh-patterns of decision-making that satisfied the wisdom of man rather than being in alignment with the holy council of the Creator God by His Word (Gen 6:1-4; Rom 1:18-32). The propensity is toward godlessness.

In Genesis 9:1b, YHWH commands Noah and his descendants to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth. What is noticeably missing from this command is that the call to “have dominion” is absent, showing that this right was forfeited in the Fall.

YHWH is serious about real estate. Every kingdom needs a place in which to reside. For the Jews, this land is in the Middle East, between Egypt and Iraq. With the call of Abraham and the promises that were made to him, we see that “land” is guaranteed to him and his descendants (Gen 12:1d, 7). This is restated again and again (Gen 15:7-21; 17:8) also being communicated to Isaac (Gen 26:3) and Jacob (Gen 28:13). Even by going

into Egypt, Jacob is told that YHWH would “make you a great nation there” (Gen 46:3).

YHWH’s affection for Israel is seen in the Exodus time, calling them His people (Exod 3:10), His son, and His firstborn (Exod 4:22). All of these are terms of personal possession, as well as terms used for those who would be heirs of what was to come.

It is clear that the revelation of Scripture thus far (and throughout the rest of the Old and New Testaments) points to the Lord’s fulfillment of the dominion command with progressive revelation working toward the future coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

The greatest way that YHWH is glorified through people is when they trust His Word and walk forward in obedience. Such obedience causes them to inherit a place of regal responsibility in the coming Kingdom of Christ. In the history of Israel, who are looking forward to the Messiah who will “restore the Kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6), inheritance is conditioned upon obedience. This historical event sets up a perfect picture for the Church Age saint in what it is to “trust YHWH fully” so that he or she will receive an inheritance.

Numbers 13:1-16. YHWH calls upon Moses to send out spies made up from the leaders of each of the twelve tribes to see what the Promised Land looked like since they were being led to inherit it. By selecting leaders, these men already understood the pressures and responsibilities that came with leadership. Some have equated the sending of spies as an act of unbelief by Israel, but this is proven false in Deut 1:21-23. The Israelites wished to plot out a way to go up to the land and see the cities that were to be taken first (Deut 1:22b). We are told that this request pleased Moses (Deut 1:23).

Verses 4-16 give a detailed account of the men selected for this mission. Of particular note is Caleb in v.6 (whose name means “faithful” and is a derivative of the Hebrew for “dog”), and Hoshea (whose name means “salvation, deliverance”) in v. 8, also called Joshua in v.16 (actually “Jehoshua” meaning “YHWH is salvation”), Moses’ 2nd in command.

Numbers 13:17-25. Repeatedly, we have the Land of Canaan referred to as a land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3:8, 17; 13:5; 33:3; Lev

20:24). Was it true? This expedition served in answering many questions about what they were to expect.

o   What is the caliber and number of men that they would be fighting?

o   What places are best for habitation?

o   What is the estimated time of initial survival?

o   What battle strategies need to be considered?

o   What will be required to overcome the structures that they are living in?

o   Is the land abundant or scarce for food and supplies?

This was not haphazard operation. The Israelites sought to be prepared and their surveying the land is in keeping with wisdom.

The journey of the spies is impressive. In the course of 40 days (13:25), the spies journeyed from the Wilderness of Zin, which is the southwestern curve of the Mediterranean Sea, up through the main land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, to the northern point of Rehob located in Lebo-Hamath which is southern Syria (13:21). Just 3 miles north of Hebron, the spies cut down a massive cluster of grapes in the valley of Eshcol to bring back as evidence of the land’s abundance. The length of this journey is roughly 480 miles round trip!

Numbers 13:26-33. When the spies returned, they gave a report to Moses, Aaron, and the congregation of Israel. The land was bursting with abundance just as YHWH had said (13:27)! However, the spies also spoke of the opposition that lay in wait for them. This report was exactly what Moses asked of them (compare the questions of 13:18-20 to the report in 13:27-29). Everything in the spies’ report in 13:27-29 is true. Details are given as to the people and their locations. “The Semitic Amorites and Jebusites lived in the hill country, along with some of the non-Semitic Hittites who had migrated into the region from eastern Anatolia. The term Amorite can refer in general to a number of the inhabitants of the Levant, including those in areas known today as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine.”[3]

Obviously, such a report, no matter how truthful, would cause anxiety among Israel. We must keep in mind that the Israelites are not warriors, or fighters, or generals, but are men and women who had just come out of a slave mentality and who, apart from the Living God, would not be alive at this moment in history. Caleb, who was one of the twelve spies (13:6) brought the people to a hush and immediately called them to walk forward in what YHWH had already told them. YHWH’s promises served as Caleb’s confidence. Caleb demonstrates an excellent leadership principle in v. 30: Clear direction is most needed in a troubled time.

The response from the other spies (being 10 of them because Joshua was siding with Caleb-14:6) showed that they had allowed their present circumstances to overshadow the eternal promises of YHWH. Verse 32 seems to communicate that the 10 spies gave a bad report, seeking to persuade Israel to disobedience. Verses 32-33 also communicates that embellishments were conveyed, telling the people that the land “devours” its inhabitants, that those who live there are overpowering and enormous in size, making the Israelites seem like grasshoppers in their wake. This description is nothing short of elaborate and dramatic for the purpose of stirring up fear in the people.

The mention of the Nephilim in v. 33 has caused some debate. The Nephilim were last mentioned in Genesis 6 as the result of demons cohabitating with human women. While many have written saying that this is impossible, the passages they cite do not serve in giving an explanation of improbability. However, if we simply take God’s Word for what it says and understand that He is telling us the truth about things that we would not otherwise know, we see that this event brought about the great judgment of the Flood!

With the Flood being global, and the Nephilim being mentioned, one would draw the conclusion that the Nephilim perished in the Flood. This is a correct understanding. The reason for their name resurfacing in this situation is because the sons of Anak (13:22, 33) were actual giants that lived in the land (much like Goliath later). The Israelites, knowing their Genesis history, would be further led to not enter the land if the 10 spies used the word “Nephilim” to strike fear in the people. Thus, it is not that the Nephilim survived the flood, but that their name was used for the purpose of persuasion.

Numbers 14:1-5. The Israelites’ response is one of anguish, letting their emotions run the train right off the tracks. In reading v.2-4, it is evident that their responses are thoughtless and careless, disregarding the goodness that YHWH had showed them in setting them free from slavery and providing for them in the desert. Notice the list:

o   It would have been better to have died in Egypt (14:2b)

o   It would have been better to have died in the wilderness (14:2b)

o   What is God doing? Why has He brought us here to kill us? (14:3a)

o   Our wives and children will be taken from us (14:3b)

o   Egypt held a better future for us (14:3c)

o   Let’s get rid of Moses and go back to slavery (14:4)

It is both astonishing and sad. And, it’s not too far off base from how we respond when the emotions are running high and the eternal character of God is questioned because of our present circumstances. The report of the spies had eclipsed the promises of God. Let it sink in for a moment: the Israelites are crying out that slavery in Egypt is a better future than being with YHWH.

Moses and Aaron’s response to the situation is one that is unexpected, but definitely right: They fell on their faces before the Lord, submitting themselves to YHWH before the people.

Numbers 14:6-10. Joshua and Caleb, the two spies that were trusting in the promises of God to them, tore their clothes in disgust at this incident. They pleaded with the people to not lose sight of what God could do in bringing them into the land. One important point communicated in v.8 is the statement, “if the LORD is pleased with us.” Caleb and Joshua knew that the covenant that they had received in Exodus 19 and 20 was conditional and that YHWH was not obligated to bring that particular generation of Israelites into the Land that He had promised them. They continued pleading with the people, “do not rebel against the LORD” (14:9), noting that the people of the land will be the Israelites’ prey, easily devoured because YHWH fights for them!

It is difficult for 2 men to reason with a million or so disgruntled and discouraged people. The response that they received was carnal, calling for their stoning. This is a very possible response in our lives when one’s

 emotions are running the show, the person is not thinking soberly, and truth is asserted to try and bring stability to the situation.

YHWH, in His glory, then appears before the people.

Numbers 14:11-19. YHWH’s response is one of obvious frustration. From v.11, the chief problem in their ranks was unbelief, even though numerous signs had been given to convince them otherwise. YHWH’s anger is understandable, but the response given is in the form of a test for Moses. Does Moses still trust in YHWH? What if YHWH were to wipe out all of the Israelites and start over with Moses? Should this be the way that YHWH deals with unfaithfulness and unbelief? Taking another step that seems unnatural, Moses steps forward. “Moses interceded for Israel to protect the Lord’s reputation with the Egyptians, who would charge the Lord with inability to complete His deliverance of Israel and thus deny His power. Second, the Lord’s loyal love was the basis on which the Lord could forgive His people.”[4]

There are two things that are intriguing in this passage. First, the central point is YHWH keeping His Word, which Moses appeals to in v.16. This is exactly the response that YHWH wants from us every time. God’s Word is paramount and what He has said about a matter, subject, or situation is always right regardless of what the world, politicians, scholars, or fellow Christians may say. Second, this appeal comes to a close with Moses referring to God as Adonai (“Master” v.17). Moses then recites Exodus 20:4-5 to YHWH, praying back His Word to Him and focusing in on His “chesed,” His loyal love for His chosen people Israel.

Numbers 14:20-23. YHWH pardons Israel’s sin. Sin is deserving of death, but YHWH graciously lets them live. The Lord then states clearly that His glory will fill the earth (14:21). This is God’s specific goal for the Israelites, that they would bring great glory to God so as to illuminate the whole planet to His goodness and grace (Deut 4:6-8). YHWH notes that the Israelites had put Him to the test ten times and for so doing, they would not be the ones who inherited the Promised Land. You may say, “but didn’t YHWH forgive their sin and pardon them?” To that, the

Scriptures say, “Yes.” But this pardon resulted in their not dying. This does not mean that there were no consequences for their actions. Because of their unbelief, they would not inherit the Land. YHWH’s seeks to accomplish His promise by bringing the people into the Land to inherit it fully, and He will do so in keeping with His Word (Gen 12:1-3).

Numbers 14:24-35. The Lord notes that Caleb was different. What set Caleb apart was that 1) he had a “different spirit,” with the word for “different” meaning “another” spirit, being contrasted to the people, and 2) he had “followed Me fully,” showing that faithfulness in God’s promises is what gained Caleb his inheritance in the Land.

Starting in 14:25, new directions are given and the children are to go back into the wilderness. There, they would die over a period of 40 years, one year for each of the days that the spies were in the land receiving validation of all that YHWH had promised them (14:33-34).

A harsh lesson to learn is that Moses, Aaron, Caleb, and Joshua were free of guilt in this situation, but because of the disobedience of the people, they still had to lead them through the forty years of wilderness. The unbelief of the Israelites costs these four men and their families dearly, even though they were faithful. 

Numbers 14:36-38. The consequences for the instigators of this travesty were not spared. While they were not responsible for the responses of the Israelites, they were the “tempters” that led them into unbelief. These men “died by a plague before the LORD” (14:37), which means that they dropped dead right before the people. The text then re-emphasizes the fact that Joshua and Caleb would inherit the land.

This passage is a real-life, historical event that communicates an important theological truth to the Church Age saint.

  • The Israelites were “passed over” by applying the blood, being saved from physical death (Exod 12:13). The Church is saved from spiritual death when they apply the blood of Jesus Christ, which can only be applied by faith (Rom 3:23-26; Eph 2:8-9).
  • It is not until after their deliverance (“salvation”) that the Israelites were given instructions on how to live (Exod 20:1-20). 
  • They were fully accepted before this, demonstrating that their obedience was not contingent on their standing before God (Exod 3:10). The Church is justified before God by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Eph 2:8-9). It is not until after one is born from above that they are to be discipled (taught) in all that Christ has commanded (Matt 28:19). Any condition of works or obedience beforehand is not in keeping with the Old Testament picture being painted.
  • Upon receiving instructions, the expectation was for the Israelites to apply what they had learned, having voluntarily agreed to be in a covenant relationship with YHWH (Exod 19:8). Upon receiving instructions, the Christian is to move forward in applying those instructions, having been given a new capacity, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, in living a new life (Heb 5:11-6:3). Believing and obeying are two separate things, properly represented by the terms “justification” and “sanctification” (Col 2:6).
  • Unbelief kept the Israelites from inheriting the Land that they were promised, meaning that YHWH would have to fulfill this promise (for the promise is certain) with another generation of Israelites. This blatant rebellion, despite all of the evidence and provision that had set them up for success, was judged by YHWH ending in the eventual death of all who rebelled against Him (Num 13-14). The Israelites, instead of enjoying the abundance that waited for them in the Promised Land, would wander in the wilderness to the end of their days (Num 14:33-34). The Israelites were never cast out of the family of God, for they were believers in God (Exod 14:31). However, they were disciplined because of their disobedience and rebellion, and did not inherit the Land.
  • For the Church, walking with the Lord (Eph 4:1), loving one another (John 13:34-35), and considering another better than ourselves (Phil 2:3) are all applications of the doctrines that we have been taught. Failure to live this new life will result in believers in Christ not inheriting the future coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ on Earth (1 Cor 3:15; 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5).
  • The concept of “inheriting the Kingdom” is not the equivalent to Heaven. If one believes in Christ, their eternal destiny is already locked up securely in their permanent relationship with the Father (Eph 1:13). However, one’s fellowship with the Father is a different story. Fellowship is cultivated by obeying what Christ has commanded (John 14-16). In fact, a love for God is evidenced in the obedience of the Christian, and no other way. Inheriting the Kingdom is the same as having a rich entrance into the coming Kingdom of Christ. This would be contingent on the Christian being a co-heir with Christ in the Kingdom, meaning that they were given a favorable reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Cor 3:11-15; 2 Cor 5:10). This often entails suffering for His Name’s sake (Matt 5:3, 10-12, 19-20; 6:4, 6, 18 Rom 8:17; 2 Tim 2:12). It is by rebellion, pride, and self-promotion that we lose out on the opportunity to reign with Christ (Matt 6:1-2, 5, 16, 23-24; 7:21-23, 26-27).
  • Will you trust the Lord for your daily life, direction, and decisions? There is no greater place, that yields no greater reward and accomplishes no greater glory for God, than being in the center of God’s will all of the time. This end is inseparable from knowing, trusting, and doing His Word.

 

[1] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Dispensationalism, Rev. and expanded. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1995), p. 48.

[2] Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom: An Inductive Study of the Kingdom of God (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968), p. 42-43.

[3] R. Dennis Cole, Numbers, Vol. 3B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), p. 223.

[4] John MacArthur Jr., ed., The MacArthur Study Bible, electronic ed. (Nashville, TN: Word Pub., 1997), p. 217.

Foundational Framework Part 34 - Perfecting a Tainted Picture

FOUNDATIONAL FRAMEWORK. PART 34

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.

God’s desire is to dwell with people. He loves His special creation and seeks to have intimacy with every single person. Our sin has created a great divide between us and our Maker. Throughout the Bible, we see YHWH taking the steps necessary to teach men and women was it is to be in relationship with Him. This calls for understanding.

When one comes to believe what God has said, most particularly about His Son Jesus Christ, they are brought into a relationship with Him; a relationship that was previously impossible because of the condemnation resting upon man due to sin, thus separating men and women from God. Once that separation has been annulled, YHWH’s desire is that the relationship would develop into fellowship/intimacy. God seeks to paint this picture in various ways while at the same time providing instruction for the restoration of that fellowship when we have entertained sin in our lives (1 John 1:9). It is important to see that the Law does not just give commandments that (if followed by Israel) would demonstrate fellowship with the Creator, but it also provides instructions regarding the proper sacrifices that were required to renew that fellowship when sin occurred. While a relationship with YHWH can never be lost, fellowship with Him is something that can be suffer when sin enters the picture.

Exodus 25:1-9. YHWH calls for contributions for a sanctuary so that He can dwell among His people. The phrase “whose heart moves him” speaks to the willingness of the people of Israel to give freely so that they can be in intimacy with YHWH. The elements and materials requested would be from plundering the Egyptians (12:36), and from Israel’s altercation with Amalek (17:8-16). To get an idea of the spoils of

 

these campaigns, the total weight of gold used for the Tabernacle is 1.65 tons (3,300 lbs) and is valued at a little more than $64 million dollars.[1]

YHWH “wished a dwelling where He would become part of the daily life of His people.”[2] This desire is found in the Tabernacle. This Tabernacle consisted of a courtyard that was 150 feet long and 75 feet wide. It was covered in solid walls of cloth and skins and had only one entrance at the east so that the one entering would be facing west when doing so. This is in direct opposition to those who worshiped the sun in those days,[3] and goes against the teaching of the pagans who believed that there were many ways to the gods that they served. Within the courtyard was another structure that contained the holy place where the showbread, the golden lampstand and the altar of incense were, while the Holy of holies was located behind a thick veil, containing the ark of the covenant with the mercy seat upon it.

The Tabernacle would become a place where Israel’s sin could be forgiven, but also in how they could draw near to the presence of God. The Bible contains 50 chapters of detailed instructions involving the Tabernacle. The specifications are exact drawing attention to His word, noting the importance of paying attention to everything that YHWH said, exactly as He said it. To cut corners on YHWH’s instructions was to distort how a sinful Israelite could come to a Holy God.

Exodus 25:10-11, 17-22. The ark of the covenant (also known as the “ark of the testimony”) is the first item mentioned. In it would be the testimony that Israel had agreed to, the conditional Sinaitic Covenant. On top would be a lid to the ark made of pure gold (no wood) that is known as the “mercy seat” or the “propitiatory.” It would be at this place that YHWH would receive the atonement for sin through sacrifice.

Every piece of furniture in the Tabernacle pointed to Jesus Christ. “The brazen altar pointed to His sacrificial death. The laver typified His cleansing ministry through the Word. The table of showbread pointed to

Christ as the Bread of Life. The golden lampstand spoke of Christ as the Light. The altar of incense pointed to Christ as our Intercessor.”[4]

While the pieces of furniture are highly significant in pointing to God, our main concern is the sacrifice needed to make atonement for sin.

Leviticus 16:2-17. This section details the priest and the offering in relation to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). This was a time, once a year, when the High Priest would offer a sacrifice for the totality of the sins of the people. Entrance into the Holy Place was a serious matter. The offerings required were specific (v.3), while the priest was to bathe thoroughly before dressing in a special attire of “linen,” being all white, and symbolizing purity (v.4). Selecting two goats served to communicate two separate but conjoined pictures of YHWH’s dealing with sin (v.5). The word “atonement” (expiation) in Hebrew is kippur meaning “cover over, pacify, propitiate,”[5] and also carries the meaning of “satisfaction.” It is understood as a “covering” or “satisfaction” for the sins of Israel.

Without first being pardoned by blood, Aaron could not serve in sacrificing for others (v.6). The bull offered for him and his family (v.11) is from v.3. The casting of lots is an ancient practice involving pebbles and was employed for deciding difficult matters. This was done for the two goats, one being for YHWH, in which the goat was sacrificed for sin (v.9), with the other being listed as the “scapegoat.” The word for “scapegoat” is azazel in Hebrew which has suffered some difficulty in interpretation, but most likely means “complete removal.” The High Priest would place his hand on the head of the scapegoat and the sins of the people were confessed, symbolizing a transference of the people’s sins to the goat. The goat was then sent out into the wilderness, showing that the sins of Israel were “completely removed” (v.22).

Three separate times in verse 11, the point is made that Aaron, the High Priest, needed atonement for his sin, as well as his family’s sin. This is also in v.6 and once more in v.17, stressing the impure person of the

High Priest and their need for covering just like that of the people. Two things are clear from v. 11: First, sin brings death and the bull given was a substitute for Aaron’s sin. Second, blood is necessary to cover the sin.

In v.12, Aaron takes a firepan filled with coals from the altar of incense, along with two palms full of incense with him into the Holy of holies before the ark of the covenant. There he would sprinkle the incense over the coals in the firepan and the smoke would “cover” the mercy seat before the presence of YHWH. This would be a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord but is also believed to serve as protecting the High Priest from seeing YHWH due to the smoke. This would keep him alive (v.13b; Exod. 33:20).

The blood of the bull was sprinkled on the east side of the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat seven times with his finger. Seven is the number of divine perfection, coupled with the blood to mean “full covering.” The goat that is sacrificed in v.15 is the second goat in v.9 whose lot fell to YHWH. This goat’s blood is for the atonement of the people, which is also brought into the Holy of holies and sprinkled upon the mercy seat. The sin of Israel is the reason for such measures (v.16). YHWH makes it clear that only Aaron, the High Priest, is to be in the Holy of holies, making atonement for the sins of the people only once a year. This signifies that Christ alone is our High Priest. There can be only one, and He alone is sufficient to atone.

From the examples shown here, atonement was made for the totality of the people. The High Priest was not only atoning for the sins of some of the Jews and not others. No, the atonement was for the totality of the sins of the children of Israel. This example shows that a belief like “limited atonement,” which states that Jesus only died to pay for the sins of certain people, has no merit in the Old Testament example that is put forth. Jesus has “tasted death for every man” (Heb 2:9), therefore salvation can be freely offered to everyone!

Leviticus 23:26-32, The Day of Atonement. This passage has three main points that are most significant for our study. First, the “holy convocation,” being a time of solemn assembly before YHWH, was to be one of fasting. This is described in the NASB as “humble your souls” and is seen in the ESV and NKJV as “afflict yourselves/your souls” respectively (v.27, 32).

Second, no work was to be done on the Day of Atonement (v.28). NONE! This was a day of “complete rest” (v.32) where one is to do “no work at all” (v.31). To work on this day corrupted the point being made: The works of man were insufficient to make atonement. Only the work of the High Priest would bring atonement, pointing to Jesus alone being the sufficient means of atoning for sin.

Finally, if anyone refused to humble themselves, or took up work on that day, severe consequences awaited them (v.29, 30). The one who would not fast would be “cut off from his people” (v.29), while the one who worked would be destroyed, meaning that they would be put to death (v.30). Both penalties are severe because of the message that YHWH is seeking to communicate with His people. V.32 is a summation.

The Gospel accounts of the actual moment of Jesus crucifixion are nothing short of strange, only because such a monumental event in all of history is communicated with very few words. Notice:

Matthew 27:35- “And when they had crucified Him,…”

Mark 15:24- “And they crucified Him,…”

Luke 23:33- “…there they crucified Him and the criminals…”

John 19:18- “There they crucified Him…”

The very moment where the sins of the entire existence of mankind were completely paid for, drawing blood from the veins of God happens in a fraction of a sentence. Yes, much more goes on around it, but the actual moment is put rather plainly. He was crucified.

What was YHWH doing with this moment in relation to all that He had previously shown the children of Israel?

Hebrews 9:1-7. The author of Hebrews is reminding his audience of the Tabernacle and its furniture. He identifies the Holy Place which contains the golden lampstand and the table with the 12 unleavened loaves. From Exodus 30:6, we learn that the altar of incense was placed in front of the veil in the Holy Place and not in the Holy of holies. However, in Hebrews 9:3-4, we read that the altar of incense seems to be behind the second veil, making it a part of the Holy of holies. Is this a contradiction? Not at all.

The Greek word used for “altar” is thymiama which is always translated in the Greek Old Testament (LXX) as “censer,” being “a utensil for fumigating or burning incense.”[6] This word can also be understood as “the altar on which incense was offered (Exod 30:1–10).”[7] Earlier we noted that in Leviticus 16:12, the High Priest was to take a “firepan” full of coals from the altar of incense along with two palms full of incense which were sprinkled over the coals before the mercy seat so that it was covered, preserving the priest’s life (Lev 16:13). The incense is released in the Holy of holies.

Within the Holy of holies, the ark of the covenant rested with the pure gold mercy seat upon it. Within the ark lay three items: A jar of manna, symbolizing Christ as the Bread of Life, being our Sustainer, Aaron’s rod that had budded, representing Christ as our High Priest who makes atonement for sin, and the “tables of the covenant” which contain the Ten Words given to Israel. The first set of tablets were broken by Moses in his anger at the sin of the people (Exod 32:19). This is a perfect picture of man’s inability to keep God’s Law. The 2nd set of tablets (Exod 34:1-28) are the ones deposited into the ark. The mercy seat, being the place where atonement is made for sin, sits on top of the law, concealing it from view. This is another perfect picture of Christ’s sacrifice for the penalty of sin covering over the righteous demands of the Law (Rom 3:21-22; 10:4).

While the priests were continually in and out of the Holy Place, only the High Priest entered into the Holy of holies, and that only once a year. When he enters on the Day of Atonement, he must take blood, both for himself and for the people, to propitiate for their sins (Heb 9:6-7).

Hebrews 9:11-14. Christ is a High Priest of an eternal Tabernacle in the heavens. That which was commanded by God for the Israelites to set up and tear down repeatedly in the desert, calling upon them to observe

the measurements and practices in a strict manner, were only a type of eternal things in the heavenly realm. This would explain the precision that was commanded, the strict penalties for disobedience, and the pictures of redemption that were constantly painted. YHWH was using earthly means to communicate heavenly realities foreshadowing the perfect redemption that is found only in our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ the righteous! He alone can enter once, without any further obligation to offer sacrifices again for the sins of humanity.

This redemption is secured from His own blood and not the blood of any animal. While the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could make one clean on the outside (v.13), the perfect blood of Jesus Christ can actually cleanse the conscience from any obligation to do “dead works” (v. 14) in order to merit acceptance with God. One will also note the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in this verse.

Hebrews 9:24-25. Jesus’ role as High Priest finds Him entering heaven and not the Tabernacle, which is a “copy” of the heavenly realm. He appears before the Father on our behalf, offering His blood as a perfect atonement. This is superior to the former system tainted by the flesh.

Hebrews 10:1-3. The Law could never perfect those who abided by it. Due to an unquenchable bent to sin, the offerings had to be made repeatedly, slaying the conscience with guilt every time.

Hebrews 10:10-14. Christ came to do the will of the Father (John 5:30; 6:38). We are told that because of His commitment to do God’s will, “we have been sanctified.” The word “sanctified” in v.10 is the Greek word hēgiasmenoi meaning “set aside something or make it suitable for ritual purposes.”[8] The author of Hebrews uses the word “sanctify” differently than what many in the church today are used to from reading Paul’s letters. Hodges explains that this word “occurs in a tense that makes it plain, along with the rest of the statement, that the sanctification is an accomplished fact. Nowhere in Hebrews does the writer refer to the ‘progressive sanctification’ of a believer’s life. Instead sanctification is for him a functional equivalent of the Pauline concept of justification. By the

sanctification which is accomplished through the death of Christ, New-Covenant worshipers are perfected for guilt-free service to God (cf. 2:11).”[9] So when we see “sanctify” in Hebrews, we must note the tense and consider that the author is speaking of what we commonly understand as justification.

Jesus Christ is not only the High Priest, but His body of flesh is the offering for atonement. Before, the offering of the priests could only cover sin, but they could not remove it. But this one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ completes the atonement for sin, seeing that He “sat down” now that His work was finished (John 19:30). He now awaits the future time in which all enemies will be under His feet. His sacrifice has relieved the “sanctified” one from the guilt of sin. Those who believe in Him are perfected both in God’s sight, as well as in conscience!

 

[1] http://onlygold.com/Info/Value-Your-Weight-In-Gold.asp. Accessed 3.22.2018.

[2] Edward W. Patton, The Way into the Holiest: A Devotional Study of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), p. 15.

[3] John C. Cross, By This Name (Alberta, Canada: Good Seed International, 2015), p. 185.

[4] Theodore H. Epp, Portraits of Christ in the Tabernacle (Lincoln, Nebraska: Back to the Bible Publications, 1976), p. 133.

[5] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), p. 497.

[6] Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1889), p. 293.

[7] Leon Morris, “Hebrews,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, Vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), p. 81.

[8] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 9.

[9] Zane C. Hodges, “Hebrews,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, Vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), p. 804.

Foundational Framework Part 33 - The Ten Words Part 2

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.

The Theological Truths Surrounding the Law. With the Law comes two important theological truths that are unchanging to this day. First, the giving of the Law comes after Israel’s release from bondage. The declaration that Israel is YHWH’s firstborn son (Exod 4:22) has no bearing on their obedience or disobedience because a rule for obedience had not yet been given. Israel was fully accepted as a son before the call to a righteous life ever took place. So, why is this significant now?

The teaching known as Lordship Salvation places demands of obedience and submission upon a person to either gain acceptance by God or to prove that God has truly accepted them due to the results of their observed behavior. Bing writes, “Lordship Salvation faith goes beyond trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior. Lordship faith includes obeying Him as Lord as a condition of eternal salvation. They have included obedience in their definition and understanding of faith. Therefore, Lordship faith requires works as a necessary condition of faith.”[1] This understanding is never promoted in the New Testament, nor is this a point in the type seen in the Exodus and Sinai events. The biblical order is that the fully accepted son (Israel) is already in a relationship with his Father (YHWH) based on the sufficient work provided by the Father. It is not until the event at Sinai that instructions in holy living are given, some three months after their being set free (Exod 19:1). Lordship Salvation distorts the historical picture that God uses in His Word to clearly communicate to us the free nature of the salvation that He provides. To say that works, submission, or obedience is necessary for salvation/deliverance is to rewrite the Scriptures, putting Sinai before the Exodus.

The Purposes of the Law. The Messianic Jewish scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum has captured the multifaceted purposes of the Law given to the Jews at Mount Horeb.[2] While all of his reasons are not given, the following summary will suffice with some modification added for the sake of providing Scripture references. These purposes are:

(1) in relation to God,

(a) to reveal His holiness (Lev 19:1–2, 37; 11:44; 1 Pet 1:15–16);

(b) to reveal His righteous standards (Rom 7:12);

(2) in relation to Israel,

(a) to keep Israel a distinct people (Lev 11:44–45; Deut 7:6; 14:1–2);

(b) to provide a rule of life for the Old Testament saint (Lev 11:44–45; 19:2; 20:7–8, 26);

(c) to provide for individual and corporate worship (Lev 23);

(d) that by doing them, they would live long in the land (Ezek 20:11);

(3) in relation to Gentiles, to serve as a middle wall of partition and thus keep them strangers to the unconditional Jewish covenants so as not to partake of Jewish spiritual blessings as Gentiles, but only as proselytes to Mosaic Judaism (Eph 2:11–16);

(4) in relation to sin,

(a) to reveal and show what sin is (Rom 3:19-20; 7:7, 13);

(b) to demonstrate the exceeding sinfulness of the flesh (Rom 7:8-11, 13);

(c) to show that living by the Law only breeds living that is fleshly (Rom 7:14-25),

(d) to show that the flesh will never “get better” because it will always serve the Law of Sin (Rom 7:24-25), it will always lead to death (Rom 8:6-8), and it will always be profitless (John 6:63).

A Common Misunderstanding of the Law. The debate over whether or not the church should be keeping the Law has raged on since the founding of the church even though this question was clearly and thoroughly answered in Acts 15:1-35.

In the New Testament, positionally, we are already true law-keepers in Christ because He has kept the Law perfectly on our behalf (Rom 10:4).

Practically speaking, we are keeping the Law when we operate in love with one another (Rom 13:8).

Acts 15:1-35. This passage, known as “The Jerusalem Council,” takes place in AD 50. The scene opens with Paul and Barnabas returning to their home church in Antioch fresh off of their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-4; 14:26-28). “Some men” who came from Judea (Acts 15:1), were teaching believers that they needed to be circumcised “according to the custom of Moses” in order to be saved. Because they were allowed to teach, we can assume that these men were Christians who had possibly come from the Jerusalem Church, especially since they are referred to later as “some of our number” in Acts 15:24.

Immediately, this created great dissension. Having just returned from preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, such a message was not what was being promoted by Paul and Barnabas, so a sharp dispute ensued. Circumcision was a custom that was instituted for the Jews long before the giving of the Law (Gen 17:1-14). This custom was to be a sign of the unconditional covenant made with Abraham (Gen 17:11). By these Judeans introducing this teaching as a requirement to be saved, they were “front-loading” the Gospel. This term means that they were requiring obedience or submission as a necessity for salvation to be an actuality, rather than being by faith alone in Christ alone (John 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-9). In light of this dispute, Paul and Barnabas were sent to the church in Jerusalem (where Peter, John, and James were) to consult them on this matter (Acts 15:2). While on their way, they conducted a “Praise Tour,” encouraging many of the churches that they had planted and sharing about the “conversion of the Gentiles”

 (Acts 15:3). Testimonies of God’s work among people always brings forth great joy in the church.

Upon arriving at Jerusalem and sharing their testimony of God’s grace among the Gentiles, some born-again believers (who were also Pharisees), advocated the position that one must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved (Acts 15:5). As if the problem in 15:1 wasn’t bad enough, now the condition of Law-keeping was being promoted as well! With these differing viewpoints, assurance of salvation was hanging in the balance. Paul and Barnabas had preached the Gospel of God’s grace, and in sharing the results from their first missionary journey, they were met with criticisms from within the church that what they were preaching was not the complete truth! Had they preached in vain? Was their mission a total failure? Were they lost themselves? All confidence of justification before God was robbed with this dissenting claim.

As the leadership of the Jerusalem church conferred (Acts 15:6-7a), Peter stands to make some observations before the elders and apostles. Peter’s message hits two points home.

First, Peter was the first person chosen by the Lord for the task of reaching the Gentiles (Acts 15:7b). This should not surprise us, considering that the Lord Jesus Himself even declared that Peter would be the rock on which the church would be built (Matt 16:18)[3] and that he would receive the keys to the kingdom (“you” in Matthew 16:19 is singular, not plural). In Acts 2, the Jews heard the preaching of Peter and 3,000 were added that day at the birth of the Church Age (Acts 2:14-41). He was also used by God to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the house of Cornelius, the first Gentile converts after the birth of the Church (Acts 10:1-48). It is clear that Peter was instrumental, being used by God to unlock the doors for the gospel to the Jew and Gentile alike. It was not until Acts 9:15 that we find that Paul was being commissioned

with reaching the Gentiles, with him spending at least 17 years off of the scene before beginning his ministry (See Gal 1:15-2:2).

It should also be noted in Acts 15:7b that Peter is clear on the requirements for the Gospel: one hears the word of the Gospel and believes. That’s it, and that’s all.

The second point that Peter makes involves the common results of preaching the Gospel to the Jews and the Gentiles (Acts 15:8-9). Peter notes in 15:8 that the Gentiles were given the Holy Spirit just as the Jews were when they believed. This is something that only God can do, which He does at the moment that one believes in Jesus (John 3:5-8; Eph 1:13). He also states that their hearts were cleansed in the same way that the hearts of the believing Jews were cleansed: “by faith” (Acts 15:9).

Peter then draws a striking conclusion, posed in the form of a question: If the salvation of the Gentiles has come about through faith in Jesus Christ and has resulted in the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and if this is identical to the way that the Jews had come to faith earlier, why is there a temptation to place a requirement upon people that God Himself was not requiring? A direction such as this puts “God to the test,” which is a very serious offense! This is better understood as “trying God’s patience, seeing how far you can go and what you can get away with before pushing God too far and provoking Him to intervene.”[4] Gooding elegantly sums up the implications of what was being considered:

“If God had purified the hearts of the Gentiles by faith and declared Himself so satisfied with that purification that He could give them His Holy Spirit, it was an appalling impertinence and insult to God for anyone—no matter how good their motives might be—to imply that the purification God Himself had effected by faith was not good enough, and could not bring a person salvation and acceptance with God by itself, but must be supplemented by circumcision and keeping of the law. How far could anyone go with insulting God like that and with overturning His own declared decision before bringing down on one’s head His severest condemnation? Preaching ritual and law-keeping for salvation might

sound as if it were morally strict, holy, and commendable. It was, and still is, in fact an insult to God.”[5] The point of contention is clear.

Peter shows that the Jewish fathers were never able to bear such a burden for their salvation (which is not what the Law was ever meant for), so why would someone want to introduce such a distortion to the free grace of God in offering salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord? The historical track record of the Old Testament shows human inability in keeping the Law. Adding works made no sense and served to corrupt the very nature of the grace that offered the free gift of eternal life! Peter’s conclusion is 15:11 is beautiful: “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” If grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone was the way that the Jewish believers were saved, why would the salvation of the Gentiles be more complicated? All are sinners, and all need salvation.

We are told that the people remained silent as Paul and Barnabas related the “signs and wonders” of God among them as they ministered the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 15:12).

James, being the head of the Church in Jerusalem, then stood and summarized the findings of the elders and apostles. James’ application of Amos 9:11-12 is consistent with the whole point of God’s goodness to the Jews and the purpose for which He chose them to fulfill.

Speaking to the 2nd generation of Israel out of the Exodus in regards to the Law, Moses tells them, “So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?” (Deut 4:6-8).

The quotation of the Amos passage by James notes that the rebuilding of the “Tabernacle of David” (Acts 15:16a) is something that will cause the Gentiles to “seek the Lord” (Acts 15:17a). With a “missional

dispensationalism” understanding of what God was doing, and will do through Israel, the purpose of leading people to salvation is crystal clear.

In 15:19, James notes that they should not “trouble” the Gentiles who are “turning to God.” The word “turning” is also used in Acts 14:15. It is the Greek word epistrephō, meaning “to turn to, to cause to return, to turn oneself.” What this word is not is the word for “repent” or “repentance.” In fact, the mention of repentance does not even come up in this entire exchange. This should cause a reevaluation of our Gospel presentations and should encourage us to focus on telling others about faith in Christ, nothing else. If this is a jarring concept to you, it would be good to get a concordance out and do a word study of the use of “repent” and “repentance” throughout the Old and New Testaments, paying careful attention to the surrounding context of each mention. You will be brought to the same conclusion that repentance is not necessary for one to be justified.

Now, a question arises from 15:20. “If one does not have to be circumcised or keep the Law of Moses to be saved, why does James suggest four points of conduct and restriction as part of his judgment in this matter?” Each of the matters listed were not being conveyed as requirements for acceptance by God. In other words, this is not a list apart from the Law of what is required of man in order to be saved. What we do find is that these four points: Abstaining from things (probably food) contaminated by idols, fornication, abstaining from animals that had been strangled (also as far as eating them for food), and from blood, meaning that they were not to eat food with the blood still in it,[6] were all points that would cause great dissension with the Jews in every sector. Such things would create unnecessary obstacles between the Gentile believers and the Jewish believers.

In the church, unity in love is the goal (John 17:20-21; Eph 4:3, 13; Col 3:14). With the exception of fornication, which is clearly sin, the things listed above would weigh heavy on the consciences of the Jewish believers. As those who are free in Christ, the Gentile believers should seek to do nothing that would stumble their brothers and sisters in the

Lord (Rom 14:13). Abstaining from such practices is an encouragement from the Jerusalem Church to the surrounding churches to walk in a worthy manner because of their salvation, and not in order to earn it.

James’ judgment is confirmed by the apostles, the elders, and the whole church (Acts 15:22). A letter is then drafted for the churches, of which Paul and Barnabas and men that were chosen by the Jerusalem Church were commissioned to take back, visiting the Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia congregations (Acts 15:22-23). Judas (Barsabbas, 15:22c) and Silas are sent to personally speak on the matter with the churches. It is noted in the letter that this is something that has been decided and promoted in agreement with the Holy Spirit (15:28). The notation in 15:29 is important, that by abstaining from such things as what was listed, they would “do well.” At no time does the letter confuse faith alone with works for salvation.

Those who received this letter found it encouraging (Acts 15:31) and Judas and Silas used these opportunities for the further encouragement of the churches. It seems that Judas (Barsabbas) went back to Jerusalem, while Silas stayed with the churches, and Paul and Barnabas went back to their home church in Antioch (Acts 15:34-35). With a reinforced decision that had been a means of encouraging the churches of God in the region, Paul and Barnabas were again preaching and teaching, knowing that their message had the full confidence of the church in Jerusalem, as well as the Holy Spirit of God.

Justification before God is by His grace alone, through personal faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Faith is a response to what has been presented, and is a conviction that what has been presented is true. It is impossible to be justified by the works of the Law (Gal 2:16).

Christians have been set free from the Law. It is the perfection of God written out for us to read, and in reading it, we find a great inadequacy in our deeds, thoughts, speech, and decisions. Praise be to God through the Lord Jesus Christ who saves us from this body of death (Rom 7:42-25) and who gives us the indwelling Holy Spirit that allows for us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling in Christ (Eph 1:3; 4:1-3).

 

[1] Charles Bing, “Why Lordship Faith Misses The Mark For Salvation,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Volume 12, no. 22 (1999): 25.

[2] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, Rev. Ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1994), p. 593.

[3] This should not be understood as the Catholic tradition teaches that Peter was the first Pope and all successive popes are descended from him. This is nothing more than a teaching based on tradition, a fabrication having no merit or warrant from the Scriptures.

[4] David Gooding, True to the Faith: Charting the Course through the Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids, MI: Gospel Folio Press, 1995), p. 214.

[5] Ibid.

[6] The reasoning for this is best understood from Genesis 9:3-5, also noting the importance of “blood” and its significance throughout the Old Testament (See also Lev 17:11, 14; Deut 12:23).

Foundational Framework Part 32 - The 10 Words Part 1

FOUNDATIONAL FRAMEWORK. PART 32

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.

Between the death of the firstborn and the meeting with YHWH at Sanai, the Israelites were found complaining against YHWH on four separate occasions (Exod 14:11-12; 15:24; 16:2; 17:2). In each instance, we do not find any divine chastening meted out by YHWH. While He does express His exasperation with the unbelief of the people (Exod 16:28), in each instance careful instructions and provisions are given, tenderly caring for these recently-freed slaves. Having been under oppression for so long, a concept like trusting in a God who they did not have a tangible image of was an extreme contrast, to say the least. Where would their next meal come from? What would they drink? How would their clothes and sandals possibly hold up in the wilderness climate? Marching into their freedom was scary, but YHWH holds their hand, teaching them that He can be trusted. He is their Father; they are His Son (Exod 4:22).

Exodus 19:1-17. Three months had passed and the Israelites had come to the mountain where YHWH had initially called Moses (Exod 3:12). The salvation/deliverance of the people initiates their relationship with YHWH, bringing them to a place where they can live in a covenant relationship with Him. This calling was unlike any among the nations.

“Yahweh confirmed his work of redeeming his vassal people from the overlordship of Egypt by making them his own servants, ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Exod 19:6). Their role thenceforth would be to mediate or intercede as priests between the holy God and the wayward nations of the world, with the end in view not only of declaring his salvation but also of providing the human channel in and through whom this salvation would be effected.”[1]

This covenant proposal is extended to the leadership of Israel who obviously confer with the people, reaching an affirmative agreement (19:4-8). What is important to note is that their agreement to the covenant is not based upon the terms of the covenant. That would not come until Exodus 20-23. The agreement of Israel in the covenant was based off of the salvation/deliverance of YHWH and the constant provision that He had for them while traveling to the Sinai/ Mount Horeb region.

Having agreed to enter into the terms of this contract, YHWH calls for the people to prepare themselves for His presence: YHWH will speak with the people personally (19:9). To prepare themselves, there is a call to “consecrate” themselves, wash their garments (19:10, 14), and to abstain from sexual relations (19:15). On the third day, YHWH would meet them!

While we are not told what the consecration of oneself consisted of, we do know that the ideas surrounding it are holiness and purity, especially in light of their appointment with YHWH (19:11). Washing one’s garments speaks to cleanliness, of which we can all easily understand, but consecration itself and abstaining from sex seems odd. The overall “calling out” of Israel to separate themselves from Egypt (which is a type of the world system) signifies their special relationship with YHWH. Now YHWH was preparing them for intimacy and fellowship with Him.

Dispensation of the Law. The Law was never a means of salvation, for to do so would be to make salvation by works and not as it always has been, and as YHWH had previously revealed it to be, by grace through faith (Gen 15:6). Instead, “Israel was to participate in God’s mission by calling the world’s attention to God’s goodness and righteousness through their obedience (Deut 4:1-8).”[2] YHWH is a missional God and His election of Israel is not any different, seeing that He has called them to a missional task. Ideally, Israel was to walk in fellowship/obedience to the Law, for in doing so, they would be a witness, modeling the intimacy that could be experienced with YHWH. This opportunity became severely compromised when Israel made a covenant with the people who

dwelled in Gibeon known as the Hivites when they had been commanded to “utterly destroy” everything (Josh 9:1-21; Deut 7:1-2).

The “Type” Involved with Israel and the Exodus. The historical events recorded in Exodus are a visual lesson that teaches on the Christian life. By applying the blood of the lamb, death passes over the Israelite (Exod 12:13). This signifies the moment in which a person hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7), and believes it, being rescued from death and transferred into eternal life (John 5:24). In this “newborn” period, there is a testing of boundaries, and a worldly tendency to complain and grumble regarding one’s basic needs (Exod 14:11-12; 15:24; 16:2; 17:2). As with any loving Father, the infant believer is provided and cared for by YHWH. When the instruction for righteous living comes, the opportunity for living the “abundant life” (John 10:10) begins. Israel’s reception of the Law would be a type of the Christian’s growth in discipleship, fostering a greater intimacy with the Lord our God. This comes about by keeping His commandments, which is no different for the Christian, except that the commandments that we are called to keep are not found in the Law of Moses, but in the Law of Christ, which is also known as the Law of Liberty (John 14:21; Jas 1:25; 2:12. This is also known as the “Law of our King” [literal translation of Jas 2:8]).

“The Church is not Israel, and Israel is not the Church. Israel is the chosen nation. It is a race of individuals in which God has founded and advanced His kingdom program throughout its history. The Church, on the other hand, is a Body of all those who are spiritually baptized into Christ.”[3] The Law of Moses was given to govern a nation so that it would be a megaphone of His goodness and salvation for the world (Deut 4:6-8). Being that the Law is the perfect standard of God and that it clearly displays His holiness and righteousness, it is perfect in identifying sin, serving as the grounds for such a condemnation (1 Tim 1:8-11).   

The matter must be settled in the Christian’s mind that they have been set free from the slavery of sin and have been graciously brought into a new life where opportunities for obedience greatly surpass anything that could have been previously conceived of apart from Christ (Rom 6:1-14).

Exodus 20:1-17. This passage is known as the Ten Commandments, but is more properly understood as the “Ten Words” or the “Decalogue.” The order of the Ten Words is theologically intentional.
v.2-6: YHWH alone is supreme and nothing else compares to Him. He alone is unique. It is only by affirming the truths of the first 2 commands that any of the other commands can even be approached.
v.7-11: YHWH is to be revered, with time being set aside for uninterrupted worship of Him.
v.12: The hierarchy of the family falls right after one’s understanding of YHWH. The family is what sets the tone for the culture. This is by God’s purposeful design, with respect being in order.
v.13-17: Interpersonal relationships. Being created in the image of God, each human being is significant and deserves to be treated with dignity.

God reveals Himself to the Israelites in a new way, using His voice. He begins by addressing them with His name: YHWH. This is an audible event in history of which every Israelite heard Him while standing at the foot of the mountain. This personal communication from YHWH to Israel was to serve as a benchmark event when the Creator of all things personally spoke His divine Law to his firstborn son. This is recounted later as a remembrance to the Israelites in Deut 4:10-14.

YHWH places the spotlight squarely on His liberating campaign against Egypt, identifying it properly as a “house of slaves” (v.1-2). The mention of His conquest against Egypt supplies the grounds for what is known as a “hesed relationship,” meaning that loyalty is expected from Israel due to the loyalty that was shown to them.

A pattern that is immediately noticeable is that commandments 1-4 are concerned with Israel’s relationship with YHWH, while commandments 5-10 deal with Israel’s relationships with one another.

The first commandment (v.3) deals with disarming the polytheistic mindset that had infected the Israelites from their stay in Egypt (Ezek 20:5-10). Being held captive for some time, and even though their residing in the land of Goshen did provide some sort of buffer to insulate them from total corruption, the devotion of Egypt to their idols had rubbed off on Israel (1 Cor 15:33). By ageing to be devoted to YHWH alone, Israel is immediately thrust into direct opposition to every surrounding nation and people, causing immediate tension.

The second commandment is closely related (v.4-6), calling for the people to abstain from making idols that resemble created things (See Rom 1:18-23). “Idols and images in all likelihood were merely representations of invisible beings whose reality could be fully appreciated only by their being seen.”[4] To make an idol was to subscribe to another god; a demon, who was in direct opposition to the moral and ethical foundation that YHWH was communicating. (For a Scriptural take on the futility of idols, see Isaiah 40:18; 41:7; 44:9-20).

YHWH calls Himself a “jealous God,” meaning that there is none greater than He and to worship lesser things, especially idols, is to settle for less than the best that is being offered to them. Some are troubled by v.5-6, assuming that the 3rd and 4th generations will be condemned for the sins of their ancestors, but this is not the meaning at all. The idea being conveyed is that those who worship idols and were not holding fast to YHWH’s Law are setting the future generations up for failure. Or, simply put, sin has consequences and repercussions that reach much farther than we ever thought imaginable, even to our children and our grandchildren. Righteousness preserves a people, but idolatry invites their destruction.

Also, the use of “hate” and “love” in v. 5-6 are strong words, but should be understood in conjunction with keeping the Law of YHWH. This idea is not foreign, seeing that Jesus states to believers, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me” (John 14:21a). In the Bible, obedience displays love.

The first two commandments are clear, citing idols and other gods as unacceptable, pagan contrivances of no worth, dispelling all objects of worship so that the people would focus only on the Word that YHWH was giving them.

The third commandment concerns YHWH’s name and its use in daily life. Many have assumed that this is simply avoiding the use of “God” as a four letter word, but this command entails much more than simple curses. Merrill notes that the literal rendering of this command is, “You shall not take up the name of the LORD for an unworthy purpose.”[5] This

would include “name-it-and-claim-it” beliefs, cursing, invoking His name for a promise that is not kept, flippant worship, or attributing anything to Him that is in deviation to His character. A heightened form of this is seen in the unforgivable sin committed by the Pharisees in Matt 12:22-29 by attributing the miracles of YHWH through Jesus Christ to the glory/credit of Satan (Beelzebul- v.24).

The fourth commandment concerns the Sabbath day (literally “a day of cessation”), a day set aside solely for the Lord. This command receives the greatest amount of elaboration by YHWH, yet it is the only command that is not repeated for the church in the New Testament (See Rom 14:5; Col 2:15-17). The command for this day is that it should be kept “holy,” meaning that it is to be set-apart, unique amongst the others, and with a special purpose in mind. One will immediately observe that the Sabbath rest echoes the rest that YHWH employed having finished with creation (Gen 2:2-3). This reasoning allows for Scripture to interpret itself, seeing that Exodus 20:11 is a general commentary on Genesis 1:1-2:3, and clearly shows that the “day-age” theory of creation is a worthless assumption. Otherwise, we would need to allegorize the text and state that “what God is really saying” is that we are to work 6,000 years and then rest for 1,000 years. By allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, this faulty theological idea is put to rest.

The fifth commandment speaks to the respect to be administered in the family. The family is one of the first divine institutions that YHWH initiated prior to the Fall of Man. The integral role that the family holds in society cannot be underestimated. It is the primary target of Satan throughout history and will continue to be so until his demise. This command alone holds drastic differences between today’s bouts of fatherlessness, unwed pregnancies, cohabitation, divorced couples, homosexuality, and government interference with family-based education, all of which are attempts to dismantle the family and corrupt the culture. In the case of Israel, honor was to be shown to the parents by the children, and what constituted “parents” is clearly in line with YHWH’s original design of one man and one woman (Gen 1:26-28). This command is unique in that a promise has been attached to it. Residing in the Land of Canaan, of which the people had been promised by YHWH, was contingent upon their respect for their parents. Only YHWH could allow for Israel to be removed from the land, thus He takes a personal

interest in this commandment, overseeing the consequences that result from its neglect among the people of Israel.

Commandments 6-10 deal with infringing on one’s person and their personal rights. Being created in God’s image (Gen 1:26-28), men and women have significance, hold value, and are meaningful in the eternal plans of God. Murder, being a cold-blooded killing of a person apart from war, revenge, or legal execution, disrespects the image of God. In Genesis 9:6 we read, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” This commandment would deal with the first action of shedding man’s blood.

Adultery tears apart the marriage relationship (Mark 10:9). By God’s design, a man and a woman become “one flesh” (Gen 2:24), being the core of the family structure. Monogamous relationships were truly unusual in Moses’ time, and seems odd when one is familiar with the accounts of Jacob’s life, having two wives and two concubines. Nevertheless, the ideal pattern is one man and one woman, just as it was in the beginning. This commandment would serve as a harsh reminder to Israel when they would be called out by YHWH for their unfaithfulness to Him in bowing down to other gods (Num 25:1; Ezek 16:15; Hos 1:2; 3:1).

Stealing is a violation of one’s private property rights. Against Marxism and Communism, Israel’s Law protected private property and individual rights. Private ownership is a hallmark of a capitalistic society, something that the Bible promotes without shame.

Lying, while terribly commonplace, was considered vile enough to have a warning issued against it in God’s Law. This would be the idea of defaming one’s character or slandering one’s image, both being actions that are wholly apart from truth. Lying is falsehood.

Finally, the coveting of a neighbor’s possessions reveals a personal discontentment. In fact, commandments 7 through 9 could be summarized in this last command, with each action being a result of taking something that is not theirs, whether that be a mate, personal property, or one’s reputation. The possessions of another are not to be obsessed over. It is YHWH who is the Provider of Israel and He alone will give as He sees fit. To acquire anything apart from His provision or guidance is to live apart from Him.

Exodus 20:18-20: Israel’s Response to Audible Revelation. In v. 18-20 we have the response of Israel at the base of the mountain. YHWH has spoken, audibly, and the spectacle that surrounded His convocation caused them to back up and shake with fear. Their cries to Moses were for him to serve as the intermediary between the nation and YHWH, for they feared that if they ever heard YHWH’s voice again it would kill them. Bringing order to the situation, Moses tells them not to be afraid, but to note that YHWH is testing them and this event, coupled with His presence among them, was to bring them to reverence so that they would not sin.

God’s audible revelation of Himself was meant to leave a mark on Israel forever; one that caused them to think before every action and to consider Him before every decision. Stuart provides a perfect summary:

“It was an altogether good thing that the people were terrified of God—their reaction indicated that they would be afraid of offending him through sin, and thus their fear would function as a discipline to keep them from sin. This is, in fact, always the value of the much-encouraged fear of God in Scripture. Being afraid of the consequences of disobeying God is among the most helpful attitudes any believer can possibly have. Those who try to suggest that the various commands to fear God are merely encouragements to hold him in some sort of honor or awe completely miss the point that fear is a beneficial guiding mechanism for human behavior.”[6]

 

[1] Eugene H. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), p. 98.

[2] Grant Hawley, Jeremy Edmondson, Let the Text Speak: An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics (Allen, TX: Bold Grace Ministries, 2018), p. 63.

[3] Hawley, Let the Text Speak, p.59.

[4] Merrill, Everlasting Dominion, p. 333.

[5] Ibid., p. 337.

[6] Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, Vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), p. 469.

Foundational Frameworks Part 31 - Salvation & Worship

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.

SALVATION

“Egypt was one of the most advanced versions of the pagan Kingdom of Man. It offered rebellious man a ‘home’ of his own making in God’s creation. Man appeared to have freedom to live in perfect security… In reality the apparent freedom pagan man enjoys is slavery – slavery to his counterfeit of the Kingdom of God.”[1] It is within this context of an overtly pagan dominion that YHWH demonstrates His salvation.

Exodus 14:11-18. Having “come to their senses,” Pharaoh and his army pursue the Israelites toward the Red Sea. With fear of their oppressors, the Israelites begin to complain against Moses and YHWH. There is no stern correction from YHWH because Israel is in an infantile stage and the “trust relationship” has not had time to grow. Moses tells them not to fear because they will “see the salvation of YHWH” (v.13). Verse 14 is revealing: YHWH will supply the victory, the Israelites need only to be silent and watch His deliverance. This is a perfect picture of the freeness of salvation and that our role is simply to receive that which is provided for us by YHWH alone.

In crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites are “saved” (14:30), delivered from the crucible of Egypt. Salvation means “deliverance.” “Deliverance from what?” needs to be the question we ask when speaking of salvation. The Hebrew word yāša means “be saved, be delivered; save, deliver, give

victory, help; be safe; take vengeance, preserve;”[2] a verb which is first found in Exodus 14:30.

As seen above, the context will always tell you what the “salvation/deliverance” is from. Often times, it is from sickness, physical harm or death, wicked people, or enemies. “’Salvation’ in the Old Testament is not understood as a salvation from sin, since the word denotes broadly anything from which ‘deliverance’ must be sought: distress, war, servitude, or enemies.”[3] 

WORSHIP

Exodus 15:1-19. This deliverance gives way to worship, setting a standard for what proper worship to YHWH should contain.

True Biblical Worship contains two, and only two, elements. All else that would be brought into the worship of God does not have biblical validity. 1. Who God is. This describes His person, power, attributes, and the various names which help us to better understand Him. “Who God is,” being present tense, speaks to His unchanging (immutable) nature.
2. What God has done/will do. This includes such things as creation, His covenant(s), His deliverance and the blessing of His people, His provision in difficult times, His promises, and the excellence of His plan for history. The reason for the “has done/will do” is because of the vital role which prophecy plays in the Scriptures. Worship can look at both His past accomplishments and the future fulfillment of His promises.

We see this same idea in the book of Revelation when we are given a glimpse into the throne room of God and the worship that takes place around His throne. Revelation 4:8b, 11 both show the same contents: v. 8b shows who God is, and v. 11 shows what God has done.

When going through the Psalms, look for these two elements.

[1] Charles A. Clough, “Disruptive Truths of God’s Kingdom,” A Biblical Framework: for Worship and Obedience in an Age of Global Deception, Part III, p. 49-50.
[2] John E. Hartley, “929 יָשַׁע,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), p. 414.
[3] Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. Merrill F. Unger and William White, Jr. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980), p. 93.

Foundational Frameworks Part 30 - YHWH vs. the gods Part 2

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.

With each plague, YHWH shows His outstanding power, rendering the many gods of Egypt impotent in the sight of the Egyptians. It is only when Moses beseeches the Lord that the plagues are averted. YHWH has also made a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites, setting His people apart as a testimony unto Pharaoh.

In filtering through the gods of Egypt, including their histories and relationships, along with the often-vulgar representations that are offered, one gets a sick sense of a pantheon of mythical debauchery, destruction, and sexual perversion that only gives a greater brilliance to who YHWH is as the Self-existent, eternal, and sovereign Creator.

Exodus 9:1-7. This is the fifth plague. The call to “Let My people go, that they may serve Me” is a direct assault against the rulership of Pharaoh. The Israelites served him, not YHWH. This call from Moses, in essence, is calling upon Pharaoh to give up a segment of his authority to YHWH.

This “pestilence” upon the cattle of Egypt is a “very severe plague,” with the Hebrew verb and participle being an unusual rendering. It is a hapax legomenon, meaning that it is the only time that it is used in the Old Testament. The distinction between Israel and Egypt is also reinforced (8:22; 9:4). Despite the devastation, Pharaoh does not relent.

Verse 3 is important, seeing that the plague was upon the livestock of the Egyptians “which are in the field.” Missing this detail could create problems when looking at 9:9, 10 when boils break out on every man “and beast,” or with the command to “bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety” in order to avoid being pelted to death by hail (9:19). How do we resolve this? First, the “beast” mentioned in 9:9, 10 could refer to something other than livestock. Also, with the detail of being “in the field” (9:3), we must not assume that all of the animals

were “in the field,” but there were also some “in the stables,” or “in the pen.” The text does not give us permission to assume that those animals “in the field” are the totality of all that there was.

There are two gods being attacked. The first is Hathor, depicted as a woman with the head of a cow (because she absorbed Bat, who was an ancient cow goddess), and it was believed that her udders supplied the substance of the Milky Way galaxy. She is considered the goddess of joy, motherhood, and feminine love. The second god is Mnevis, who is also known as Nemur, manifesting himself in a literal “sacred” bull of Egypt.

Pharaoh sends a personal inquiry about the livestock of the Israelites.

Exodus 9:8-17. The sixth plague has Moses using “ashes from a furnace” (9:8, NKJV) which brought about boils on the men and beasts through all of the land of Egypt. This is the same word that is used for the “boils” in Job 2:7. The magicians cannot replicate this (9:11).

In this section, two things stand out. First, there is no relief from the boils. At no time does Moses pray for relief, nor are we told that the boils “go away.” Second, YHWH reveals that He could do much worse to the Egyptians but that they were still “able to stand” only for the purpose of YHWH demonstrating His power against them and proclaiming His Name (9:16). Exodus 9:17 is revealing! Pharaoh’s self-exaltation (pride) persists despite the repeated commands to let the Israelites go. If God is hardening Pharaoh’s heart (9:12), how can God hold Pharaoh personally responsible for this as is seen in 9:17? (See “How Should We Understand the Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart?”)

This plague strikes four gods at once. The first is Isis, a goddess of marriage, magic, and medicine. The second is Sekhmet, the goddess of plagues and healing. The third is Sunu, the god of pestilence, which may seem like a misapplication here, but the word “sunu” means “doctor” in Egyptian and is written with an arrowlike symbol which one would use to

lance a boil.[1] The last god is Imhotep, who was once a man that served as the second king of Egypt’s third dynasty, but was deified as a god after

his death. He became known as a god of medicine. None of these gods, in whom they trusted, could help the Egyptians. 

Exodus 9:18-35. The seventh plague involves hail large enough, or plentiful enough, to kill men and livestock. Having covered the “where did the livestock come from?” question earlier, we notice that Moses records the responses of some of the Egyptians. For those who revered YHWH (and rightly so seeing what has happened so far), their servants and livestock were told to take shelter (9:20). Those who ignored this left their servants and livestock in the field (9:21) where they died.

Goshen, which is located in the Delta region and would be the most likely place for a storm like this to occur, was completely spared (9:26). While those outside of Goshen were dying from the hail, peace was found among the Israelites, demonstrating the “set-apartness” of Israel.

In 9:27, Pharaoh’s response is different than ever before. He cries out, “I have sinned this time.” He identifies YHWH as righteous and he and his people as wicked. Clarity and sobriety cannot be overestimated when crisis hits. Pharaoh calls on Moses to intercede and he gives his word to let the people go. Moses intercedes “that you may know that the earth is YHWH’s” (9:29). As before, Pharaoh hardens his heart.

This plague attacks the goddess Nut (or in some cases Mut), the goddess of the sky from whom all goodness for growth came from.

Exodus 10:1-6. The overthrow of Egypt would be a teaching tool for the Israelites, leaving a generational legacy. We need to be reminded often about who YHWH is and what He has done. This introduces us to the eighth plague, the plague of locusts, devouring all that remained.

While Pharaoh considered letting Israel go, he sought to put stipulations upon their leave, not obeying YHWH fully, and ultimately not letting them go to worship Him.

Exodus 10:12-20. Pharaoh’s refusal to obey brings the locusts, covering everything in sight, even making it impossible to see the ground that they were walking on. Locusts can be in egg form for up to twenty years

before they hatch and they can eat as much as their own body weight in a day. A swarm of desert locusts can span 460 square miles and contain between 40 to 80 million locusts. A swarm this size could eat 423 million pounds of plants every day![2]

This god is Seth, the god of storms, wars, and chaos. He is mainly associated with the serpent, but is also sometimes depicted as a dog-like creature, or a beast with cloven hooves, a pointy tail, and red hair.

As before, Pharaoh acknowledges his sin (10:16) and asks Moses to intercede. The locusts are completely removed, but YHWH hardens Pharaoh’s heart to keep him from letting the Israelites go.

Exodus 10:21-29. The ninth plague is darkness, “a darkness which may be felt” (10:21) which lasted for three straight days. In this time, no one moved, one could not see the other. But in Goshen, light abounded!

Once again, Pharaoh would let the Israelites go, but they must leave their flocks and herds behind (10:24), probably resulting from the loss of livestock that Egypt had experienced. Without them, sacrifices could not be made, and YHWH could not be worshiped. With Moses’ emphatic explanation, he is cast out of Pharaoh’s presence (10:28).

The ninth god under fire is Ra, being the most well-known of the gods. He was believed to be over the sun and the creator of the world. He takes on many forms in Egyptian art but is almost always depicted as having a disk above his head representing the sun. He is believed to be “self-created” out of a primordial soup. Over this three-day span, he is shown to be useless, impotent, and silent.

Exodus 11:1-7. This final plague brings the death of the firstborn. Sin has consequences and leaders speak for their nations. When a leader speaks and acts in sin, the leader and the people pay for the sin committed. YHWH states that the Israelites plundered the Egyptians, taking all of their silver and gold (11:3). A distinction is made between the grief of Egypt and the silence of Israel. One in sin, one at rest.

The final god that YHWH strikes down is Pharaoh himself. He was believed to be the son of Ra and was considered the greatest of all the gods. The death of his offspring shows the helplessness of his power.

Exodus 12:1-13. To commemorate the release of the Israelites, YHWH resets their calendar (12:2) so that they would remember this event forever in what is known as the Feast of Passover. A lamb was to be selected and prepared. It had to be a male, young, and without blemish (12:5). Upon roasting and eating it along with bitter herbs (12:8), and being in a position of preparedness in order to leave at a moment’s notice (12:11), the doors of their houses were to be prepared with the blood from the lamb. The doorposts and the lentil were to have blood upon them. In doing this, death would “pass over” them (12:13).

Those who operated in unbelief died. Those who believed, who applied the blood as instructed, lived.

We see YHWH as the Judge, but also as the Deliverer. He alone judges because He alone sets the standard. He alone delivers because He alone provides the means of pardon!

Taking the Bible as the progressive revelation that it is, YHWH has been crystal-clear about the specifics surrounding salvation.

  • He alone will provide the solution and guarantee the victory (Gen 3:15).
  • He legally recognizes one as “righteous” simply by believing His Word (Gen 15:6).
  • He alone provides the sacrifice necessary (Lamb-Gen 22:8).
  • Death passes over all who have applied the blood (Ex 12:13).

In light of Jesus becoming our Lamb and paying for our sins, we apply the blood by faith, fully assured that death has passed over us and that we have been set free!

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.touregypt.net/historicalessays/lifeinegypt10.htm. Accessed 19 February 2018.

[2] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/group/locusts/, Accessed on 21 February 2018.

FOUNDATIONAL FRAMEWORK. PART 29 - YHWH vs the gods Part 1

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.

Spiritual Warfare is all throughout the Bible. We have seen this in Genesis 3 with the serpent and in Genesis 6 with the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men.” This subject is not just confined to the Ephesians 6:11-20. In Exodus, Moses is called to be YHWH’s spokesman before Pharaoh, a man in Egyptian culture deemed to be the personification of the gods’ rule. The “gods” are fallen celestial beings who have temporary rulership over this earth, of which “Satan” is one (Ezekiel 28:11-19).

Important: Every “god” that we encounter in Egypt fits in the category of “the continuity of being” (see “The Framework Approach” Chart), meaning that men can become gods, or that the gods are like men and women. Anytime we see a graphic depiction, it is a mixture of man and animal/reptile/insect, etc. YHWH sets Himself apart, being the sovereign, eternal, and omnipotent Creator.

Psalm 82:1-8. There is a cosmic conflict in the spiritual realm. YHWH is supreme, being the Creator, while all other “gods” are answerable to Him and accountable for how they govern the nations of the earth. A “council” is assembled (v.1). YHWH accuses the gods of ruling in an unjust way, showing partiality to the wicked. He calls on them to tend to the weak, afflicted, and fatherless. They are to have compassion! YHWH’s evaluation of the gods and their rule is that they operate in darkness. Though they are called “the sons of God,” and though they have high-accountability for governing in righteousness, they have failed, leaving YHWH no choice but condemn them (v. 7). YHWH has the right to judge, not just as the Creator, but as the One who will “possess” (“shall inherit”-NKJV, ESV) the nations (v.8).

 

Exodus 5:1-2. Moses and Aaron obey YHWH and appear before Pharaoh asking for the release of the Israelites, that they may worship YHWH at Mount Horeb. Pharaoh’s response is telling: Pharaoh was worshiped as a god, along with many other gods (as we will see). But he had never heard of YHWH. Why should he obey Him?

This “interruption” causes Pharaoh to increase the workload of the Israelite slaves, causing greater oppression. This result discourages the Israelites from listening to Moses (Ex 5:21).

Exodus 6:1-8. The NASB translators have mishandled v.3. It is not that YHWH did not make Himself known to the patriarchs, but it should be translated, “Did I not make myself known to them?” Meaning that YHWH revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob clearly and communicated with them clearly.

The “covenant” (Abrahamic) and the “land” are mentioned testifying to YHWH’s faithfulness (v.4-5). Between 6:6-8, there are eight “I will” statements that YHWH declares. He alone will deliver His people and He alone will bring them into the land.

Exodus 7:4-5. The judgments of God would be executed upon Egypt and the people of Israel would be set free. The “unknown YHWH” would be known in Egypt and would be revered by the nations!

 The Framework Approach Handout

The Framework Approach Handout

Exodus 7:17-25. This first act of YHWH against Egypt strikes at five of its gods, all of which are affiliated with the Nile River. This plague halted the ability to wash clothes or dishes, bathe, drink water, and to eat fish. This would also stop the transportation of goods by boat, leaving each community short on supplies. In Egypt, the Nile River was connected to everything!
Osiris was believed to be the guarantor of eternal life, who allowed for the annual flooding of the Nile. It has actually been said that the Nile served as his bloodstream.
Hapi is a water and fertility god who controlled the Nile. When it would flood, the Egyptians would set out statues of Hapi and throw offerings for him into the waters.
Khnum was the guardian of the Nile and the molder of people and gods, believed to be fashioned by clay on a potter’s wheel.

Sobek is depicted as a man with a crocodile’s head and is the one who brings order to creation and fertility to the land. He is also called “the Lord of the Waters.” Blood in the Nile would have driven the crocodiles away from the waters and into the cities of Egypt. Crocodiles were worshiped in Egypt, and much like India and their view of cows today, the people would not harm them for fear of hurting a god and incurring his wrath.
Neith is a goddess who is the creator of the world, the mother of Ra (the sun god) and Sobek, and cared for the largest fish in the Nile known as “lates.” With blood in the water, all of the lates died.

It is obvious that “spiritual forces” are at play (“secret arts,” 7:22), allowing the magicians of Pharaoh to imitate the signs of YHWH. What we are seeing is YHWH vs. the lesser gods.

We must keep in mind that for Egypt, religion, worship, idols, offerings, and “gods” were a way of life, and not just a small piece. YHWH is demonstrating His omnipotence against all that the Egyptians trusted in and held dear. He is shaking their lives!

Exodus 8:1-15. The second plague involves an infestation of frogs from the Nile. This is an attack against Heqet, the goddess of fertility and renewal. This goddess has the head of a frog and the body of a woman. While Pharaoh’s magicians imitated the plague by bringing more frogs, only Moses was able to stop them by interceding to YHWH for Pharaoh. At his request, and with the promise that the Israelites would be released (v.8), Moses called upon Pharaoh to give the time for the end of the frogs. This added greater accountability to Pharaoh. The frogs died, were gathered in piles, and began to rot. Their death shows the power of YHWH over Heqet.

Exodus 8:16-19. The third plague turned the dust of Egypt into gnats, infesting every person and animal in Egypt. This plague attacked Geb, the god of the earth, who is depicted as a man with a goose on his head. YHWH changes the dust of the earth into a drove of flesh- eating, blood-sucking insects that feast upon the Egyptians. The magicians could not imitate this plague, exclaiming to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God” (v.19). This confession denotes the supernatural

as they have never known it, “figuratively conveying a sense such as ‘something easy enough for him to do with just a finger.’[1]

Exodus 8:20-32. The fourth plague involves swarms of flies that lays the land to waste, covering everything (v.24). YHWH attacks the god Khepri, who is the most famous of the (multiple) insect gods, depicted with a man’s body with a scarab for a head.

This time things are different: Israel is “set apart” and the flies do not touch them (v.22), Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron to go and sacrifice to YHWH, but tries to put restrictions on their ability to worship freely (v.25-26), Pharaoh tries to dictate the distance that Israel will travel, violating the theology of sacred space (v.28b),[2] and Moses warns Pharaoh not to act in deceit by breaking his word (v.29b).

With such destruction in place, would YHWH ever have mercy on Egypt?

After the time of the Exodus, Egypt goes unmentioned again until the time of Solomon, due to their decimation. What YHWH had done to Egypt was known throughout the world (Josh 2:9-12). Would YHWH’s anger toward Egypt burn forever?

Isaiah 19:18-25. One day, YHWH will call Egypt “My People,” alongside Israel and Assyria, who at the time of Isaiah’s writing were the enemies of Israel. Notice the use of “in that day” repeatedly. There will come a day when YHWH will embrace Egypt as His own, not consigning them to destruction like Canaan, but showing kindness and mercy to them, giving them a place in the future reign of Jesus Christ, who is also their Savior and Champion (19:20).

Let us marvel at His infinite power and mercy!

 

[1] Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), p. 212.

[2] This refers to worshiping only in the place that YHWH has deemed fit.

28: Foundational Frameworks Part 28 - God's Chosen People

FOUNDATIONAL FRAMEWORK. PART 28

Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.

Exodus 3:7-10. YHWH claims ownership of the “sons of Israel,” calling them “My people.” Why would the Creator of all things hold a tiny and insignificant people so near to Him?

Israel is YHWH’s Firstborn Son

Exodus 4:18-23. Israel is declared to be YHWH’s son, “My firstborn.” This name has great implications. As the firstborn son, Israel has special rights and privileges, which is often understood as a “double-inheritance” in a familial situation. The firstborn was also the head of all others; with Israel being the chief of the nations (Jer 31:7-9).

Many get caught up in the notion that YHWH would harden Pharaoh’s heart. We should understand that YHWH would never do such a thing unless Pharaoh had rejected the revelation of God given to him. God does not make people stubborn if they are not already stubborn while at the same time rejecting the opportunity to change their ways. YHWH pleads with people to turn to Him (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11) and has the desire that all would be saved (1 Tim 2:4-6).

Israel is YHWH’s Chosen

Deuteronomy 4:36-38. Love motivates YHWH’s choosing of Israel. He personally, “by His presence,” led them out of Egypt and spoke to them audibly.

Israel is YHWH’s Special Treasure, His Own Possession

Deuteronomy 7:6-10. Israel is referred to as holy (set apart), chosen, and as a “special treasure,” being YHWH’s own possession. They were selected for His mission based off of YHWH’s love for them and nothing else. God has liberated Israel, being their only Savior.

In life, a person is only as good as his or her word. If they break their promise to you, they lack all integrity and cannot be trusted. The covenant(s) of YHWH are the means by which we measure His faithfulness. If He fails or neglects to fulfill anything that He has promised, He cannot be trusted for anything. YHWH is only as good as His Word.

The word “hesed” is used, being translated as “lovingkindness,” and meaning His “loyal love” toward Israel, again implying faithfulness.

Being YHWH’s People Does Not Excuse Sin!

Ezekiel 6:1-7, 7:1-4. Idolatry was a constant noose around Israel’s neck. Repeatedly, they bowed to stone and wood rather than to the Creator who loved them. While YHWH is longsuffering and slow to anger (Psa 86:15; 145:8), this does not excuse sin, nor does it give Israel the right to presume upon His kindness and longsuffering. Like all of mankind, Israel was and is responsible for their actions. They should be supported when they seek to do righteously, and they should be opposed when they seek to pursue wickedness.

Israel Serves as YHWH’s Witnesses to the Nations!

Isaiah 43:1-13. This passage speaks of YHWH’s unrelenting love for Israel and shows their missional calling to be a witness to the nations of what an intimate fellowship with the Creator can be like. While their unfaithfulness has greatly tarnished this witness, the Lord loves them nonetheless!

Missional Dispensationalism states that God seeks to institute His Kingdom program on earth through mankind. In each dispensation, YHWH desires for the world to know Him, to see Him as intimate, personal, loving, and righteous. Israel was to show this relationship.

As seen with Israel, YHWH’s Character is One of Tender Mercy.

Psalm 103:8-14. The graciousness of God is seen toward those who fear Him. He is looking for opportunities to be merciful. Will we give Him the opportunity to be merciful to us?