The Fallacy Of Human Logic!

-God’s Priority!

In my last post I mentioned how both Ezra and Nehemiah came out of Israel’s 70-year exile with a different purpose! Ezra came first; and, he purposed to rebuild the Temple according to God’s leading! Nehemiah followed him about 13 years later & God commissioned him to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem! Now, at first glance that seems backwards & counter intuitive, doesn’t it? Human logic would tell us to rebuild the walls 1st for their own protection, right? But, God led the exiles to rebuild the Temple first. Clearly, God prioritized the rebuilding of Israel spiritually!

-God Offered Greater Protection!

He had always told Israel that if they were faithful to Him that He would go before them & fight their battles for them! And, He wanted Israel to have faith that God Himself offered greater protection, for them, than any wall or military ever could!  But, that took faith; and, Ezra was the one to bring Israel back to the centrality of God & His Word & the law! In fact, according to Ezra’s account, he actually leads the people to build an altar so they could sacrifice to God BEFORE they had even built the Temple! And, only then, after the place of worship was finished, does God work in Nehemiah’s heart & lead him to leave the Persian fortress city of Susa; and, return to Jerusalem to organize the rebuilding of the wall!

-Right Relationship With God!

Now, there’s a spiritual parallel here for us, isn’t there? Do you see it? They had the projects in the right order because worship & a right relationship with God is of greater importance than anything else we could accomplish in life! But, we tend to get these turned around in our lives don’t we! Leaning on our human logic, we often prioritize the building of our “walls” first. We take care of all the outside stuff first— our work & our play & our entertainment & our sleep! And, then, if we have time we’ll do the “spiritual” stuff— reading our Bibles, prayer, ministry!

-We All Have Time!

By the way, we all have the time! We all have 24 hours in a day! And, we determine what we get done based on what we give priority to! The parallels and the application are painfully obvious, aren’t they? We focus on the “walls” & only rebuild our “temple” if we have time, don’t we? That’s how our human logic works! Listen, God has created the same amount of time in all of our lives to rebuild our “temples.” To take proper care of our spiritual lives! Our problem isn’t about the time! We’ve set up the wrong priorities in our lives! We haven’t given God first place! That’s why God leads Ezra to set the spiritual tone first!

-Better Than Human Logic!

God’s ways are always superior to our human logic!  It’s been 70 years since Babylon took Israel into captivity! That’s like 2 or 3 generations later! There were a few old timers returning home; but, the vast majority of these Israelite refugees were born in a province of Babylon. So, they had never see the original Temple. They had never set foot in Jerusalem. They weren’t part of Israel’s disobedience & idol worship that led to God’s judgment & exile! So, even as God judged Israel’s unbelief, when they came out of Egypt at the Exodus; and, He would not permit them to enter the promised land until that generation had died off; God also waited until most of the exiled generation had died off in Babylon before He arranged for a new generation to return! And, like Moses previously, God raised up Ezra to lead them spiritually!

Only God Can Do That!

-The Lord Put It In His Mind!

The Old Testament book of Ezra opens with these words:  “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The Lord put it into the mind of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and to put it in writing.” Ezra, under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, shares 2 significant details— First, that Jeremiah’s 70-year prophecy, of the length of Israel’s exile, was now completed in Cyrus’ first year of reign in Persia; and, second, that it was God who “…put it into the mind…” of Cyrus to issue a proclamation!

-God Is Sovereign!

This points, clearly, to God’s ultimate Sovereignty over all human affairs! Cyrus wasn’t in control! Nor was Persia in control! God put it in Cyrus’ mind:  “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever is among His people, may his God be with him, and may he go to Jerusalem in Judah and build the house of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem’”  Ezra 1:2-4. That’s what God put in Cyrus’ mind! The book of Proverbs says:  “A king’s heart is like streams of water in the LORD’s hand: He directs it wherever He chooses” (21:1).  And, it’s not just kings that God leads!

-Everyone God Motivated!

Ezra continues, “So the family leaders of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and Levites—everyone God had motivated—prepared to go up and rebuild the Lord’s house in Jerusalem” (1:5).  Look closely at that! Who was preparing to leave for Jerusalem to rebuild the temple? What does it say? “…EVERYONE that God had motivated…” So, GOD was in King Cyrus’ proclamation & GOD motivated those He wanted to go! There’s an important principle here; and, that is that humanity simply cannot fulfill God’s agenda! We’re broken! We’re depraved & incapacitated by our sin to accomplish God’s will without God’s help!

-Only God Can Do That!

I see that as the backdrop to the Bible stories of Ezra & Nehemiah. Here are 2 great, godly men; who, like Moses, just cannot deliver God’s people without God’s help! Even the best of men cannot liberate people from the cause of their bondage! Only God can do that! And, that is so counter-intuitive to our human psyche! And, it’s a real stumbling block for many! The natural man wants to feel important; like, he has something to contribute! But, God’s word even asks the question, “WHAT do you have that you’ve not received?” 1 Cor. 4:7.  Whatever we may have to give has actually been given to us by God!

-Men & Women Of Greatness!

So, even men & women of greatness— as WE count greatness— like Ezra & Nehemiah were not capable of delivering the Jewish people from their exile! God had to step in! And, He gave these 2 men, each, a different purpose as they came out of the exile! Ezra was 1st; and, he purposed to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem! Nehemiah followed him about 13 years later; and, he was commissioned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem! Now, humanly speaking, that seems backwards at first glance! Human logic would tell us to rebuild the walls 1st for our own protection, right? But, God led the exiles to rebuild the temple first! Clearly, God intended to “rebuild” Israel spiritually, first! That was the priority because God had always told Israel that if they were faithful to Him that He would fight their battles for them; and, God, Himself, offered them greater protection than any wall or military ever could! Israel would come back to the centrality of God and His word!

The Return Of The Exiles

-The Life Of A Refugee!

We see the pictures on the nightly news or our online news sources; and, though pictures may be worth a thousand words, they can never adequately portray what it’s like to be exiled from your native land & to flee as a refugee to a foreign nation! The stories are horrific! The greatest fear, as a parent, is to be separated from your children in such a setting; although, in some cases, where the conditions are brutal enough, parents willingly hand off their children to someone else with the hope that they might survive & have a better life! Most of us, living in this country, simply have no point of reference or experience to draw on when it comes to living like an exile or a refugee!

-Israel’s Refugees From Babylon!

And, while some of the world’s current refugee crisis has similarities to the time of Israel’s exile— as recorded at the end of 2 Chronicles— there are many differences! The majority of exiles today are leaving war-torn nations by their own will, seeking refuge in a safe, neighboring country. Israel’s exile occurred against their own will when, the foreign nations of Assyria; and, then Babylon, swept in like a flood & plundered their homeland; and, then exiled them off to serve as slaves! For Israel, their exile was the more bitter because they had no one to blame but themselves.

-Israel Broke Covenant!

God had covenanted with them to bless them in the land—that He gave them—if they would obey Him & keep His commandments! But, He had also promised a curse if they broke covenant with Him; and, that’s exactly what they did! They abandoned Yahweh & chased after other gods; until, finally, Yahweh abandoned them! The 137th Psalm was written as a lament by those who endured the exile, the slavery & the human trafficking in that day:  “By the rivers of Babylon,” they cried, “there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. There we hung up our lyres on the poplar trees, for our captors there asked us for songs, and our tormentors, for rejoicing:  ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’ they mocked.  “How can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil?” That’s how the book of 2 Chronicles ends!

-Exiled To Babylon!

It reads that King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon, “…deported those who escaped from the sword to Babylon, and they became servants to him and his sons until the rise of the Persian kingdom. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through Jeremiah and the land enjoyed its Sabbath rest all the days of the desolation until 70 years were fulfilled” 2 Chronicles 36:20-21.  So, Israel was exiled to Babylon for 70 years; and, God’s prophecy, through Jeremiah, was fulfilled. It was during those 70 years that the Medo-Persian empire overpowered Babylon!

-The Lord Put It In His Mind!

From there, the book of Ezra picks up the story of the exiles:  “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The Lord put it into the mind of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and to put it in writing” Ezra 1:1. That verse includes 2 significant details! First, that Jeremiah’s prophecy, of a 70-year exile, was completed in the first year of King Cyrus’ reign in Persia! And, second, that it was God who “…put it into the mind…” of Cyrus to issue a proclamation! I would encourage you to make a note in your Bible, right there, that says, “Here is an example of God’s Sovereignty over the world.”  Cyrus wasn’t in control! Persia wasn’t in control either! God was directing traffic here! He put it in Cyrus’ mind to issue the proclamation we’ll look at next week!

Don’t Dismiss God’s Warnings!

God’s Not Trying To Kill Your Fun!

God’s warnings are never designed to kill your fun! But, rather, to offer you greater blessings & more fun! Pure fun without the shame and guilt that the “pleasures of sin for a season” may offer us! Don’t forget this truth:  “It is because God is love that He punishes us to bring us to brokenness so He can redeem us.” He warns us because He has compassion on us! Because He loves us! And, how does God respond to His people when they confess their sin & return to Him? He restores them, doesn’t He? That’s what He did with Adam & Eve; with, Abraham & the patriarchs; and, with Israel on multiple occasions!  He would bring revival to their souls & their lives were blessed!

-God’s Patience Can Be Exhausted!

But, when individuals & nations continue in their rebellion, there comes a time— and, only God knows that time; so, don’t sin presumptuously, calculating how far you can go in your sin before God has had enough— there comes a time when God’s patience is exhausted; that, in order to accomplish His purpose, in your life, that He punishes! This is place where Israel’s sin had brought them in 2 Chronicles, chapter 36, “But they kept ridiculing God’s messengers, despising His words, and scoffing at His prophets, until the Lord’s wrath was so stirred up against His people that there was no remedy” (v.16).  Those are haunting words— there was no remedy! All that was left was God’s wrath! Only punishment!

-God’s Strange Work!

It was the only thing left that God could do to turn Israel around! There’s an incredibly revealing verse of Scripture in Isaiah that’s often overlooked; but, I think the message is powerful! Isaiah— one of the very messengers that 2 Chronicles 36 referred to— says, “For the LORD will rise up as He did at Mount Perazim. He will rise in wrath, as at the Valley of Gibeon, to do His work, His strange work, and to perform His task, His disturbing task” Isaiah 28:21. Inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, Isaiah says that God’s judgment is His strange work! His disturbing task! God, Himself, finds His judgment & punishment of sinners to be disturbing because it’s not His will that any would perish!

-Why Continue In Your Sin?

When you sin against God & His Word & you ignore His warnings, He will punish you because He is Holy & Just! But, know, that it disturbs Him to punish you for the great love & compassion that He has for you! So, why would you continue to turn against Him & go your own way? Why do you spurn His love for you & choose all the cheap substitutes that sin offers you? None of those things will satisfy! None will bring you joy & fulfillment!

-Forgiveness For The Prodigal!

Why endure punishment when God willingly offers all prodigal sons forgiveness! When prodigal Israel repents of her sin & returns to the Lord, to accomplish God’s purposes, He redeems them! Let me tell you what it means that God redeems them! There are at least 3 words, in the original languages of Scripture, that are translated “redeem.” in the Bible! One means “to buy or purchase”; and, it’s used in the context of a slave who is bought to be owned as property! At the time that God redeemed Israel, they were enslaved to Egypt. Here’s the point— we are all enslaved to somebody! We are either enslaved to sin, which is a cruel & destructive task master! Or, we are enslaved to a God who loves us with great compassion & willingly meets every need we have according to His will! But, once you’ve been redeemed by God, He will begin a work in you that’s redemptive! He reforms you to make you willing to obey Him & love Him!

God Punishes Because He Loves!

-God So Loved The World!

The most well known verse, in all of Scripture, is John 3:16. It says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” In this way, God proved His love— He sent Jesus to atone for our sin by His death on the cross! That’s really the end of the argument against God! For all the doubters of God’s love, mercy & grace there is the One & Only “Exhibit A”— His Name is Jesus! And, He bore God’s judgment against sin so we wouldn’t have to! So that we could be saved!

-Brokenness To Openness!

But, it’s only as we experience our brokenness that we become open to God’s overtures to save us! And, punishment is often the tool He uses to expose our brokenness! So, ultimately, it is because God is love that He punishes us to bring us to the place of brokenness; where, He can redeem us! And, there is perhaps no better Biblical example of that than God’s judgment of Judah & Jerusalem as they are overrun by Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar; and, taken into captivity & exile! The Biblical narrative reveals that God first warned them; then, punished them; and, finally, in love, He redeems them! To accomplish God’s purposes in our broken world, He first warns!

-A Skirmish You Can’t Win!

Disobedience to God & His Word will never turn out well for you! When you fight against God, it’s a skirmish you can’t possibly win! When I was young & very foolish I loved to get into fist fights out on the school playground! But, I always sized up the other guy first! There were some guys that I just knew I couldn’t take! So, I would find a way to wiggle out of that fight! I was foolish; but, I wasn’t stupid! I would do everything I could to avoid getting into a fight I knew I couldn’t win! So, why would anyone ever pick a fight with God! You can’t possibly win against a God who is all-powerful! You can’t outwit a God who knows everything there is to know! And, you can’t run away from a God who is everywhere!

-They Despised His Warnings!

And, yet, the Biblical account shows that Israel tried multiple times & lost! So, God warned them & warned them & warned them again! In 2 Chronicles, chapter 36, God reminds them of this:  “But Yahweh, the God of their ancestors sent word against them by the hand of His messengers, sending them time and time again, for He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they kept ridiculing God’s messengers, despising His words, and scoffing at His prophets, until the Lord’s wrath was so stirred up against His people that there was no remedy” (vs. 15-16)

-God’s Compassion Toward Us!

Did you notice why God said He sent them prophets? Look at the end of v.15. It says He sent messengers to warn them, “…because He had compassion on His people…” God warns because of His great compassion toward us! He warns because He is Love! When you  disobey God’s word you expose yourself to great danger! Sin lies to you! It promises pleasure! But, it always delivers pain! Sin is a destroyer! It destroys lives, families & nations! Just go back and read God’s 10 Commandments; and, consider the pain and suffering that comes to those who break them! The one who steals will be incarcerated! The one who lies will never be trusted! The one who sleeps with someone they’re not married to destroys relationships & families & brings hatred & disease upon themselves! Listen when God warns!

The Redeeming Value Of Punishment!

-Free Speech!

I read recently about an interesting ruling, by a judge in Missouri, regarding the practice of flashing your headlights to warn oncoming traffic that there was a speed trap ahead; something, that’s considered illegal in many states! But, a federal court, in Missouri, has ruled that penalizing drivers for the headlight flash violates their 1st Amendment right to Free Speech! In his ruling, the Missouri Judge said that the flashing of headlights was essentially a good thing, “…sending a message to bring one’s driving in conformity with the law—whether it be by slowing down, turning on one’s own headlamps at dusk or in the rain, or proceeding with caution.” I share that with you, for it’s illustrative value, as I considered a Bible text, from 2 Chronicles, that I read last week!

-A Bleak Time In History!

To say that it was a bleak time, in Israel’s history, would be an understatement! Following the time of King David’s reign & the early part of King Solomon’s reign, the nation had endured a civil war that split Israel into 2 separate kingdoms— the Northern half, known as “Israel”; and the Southern half, known as “Judah.” We’ve already discussed, in some recent posts, how the lengthy list of kings moving forward had been mostly one bad king after another! So, by the time we get to the end of 2 Chronicles, the Northern half, of Israel, had already faced the judgment of God, having been taken captive, into exile, by Assyria! And, the Southern kingdom of Judah, despite a temporary revival under good King Josiah, had returned to their idol worship & their evil kings! They, too, find themselves on the verge of being captured & exiled to Babylon.

-Misunderstanding God’s Judgment!

I find, in my conversations with many people, that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the judgment of God! Often, they accuse Him of being harsh & insensitive; which, interestingly, kind of makes them God’s judge, doesn’t it? And, if they haven’t read the Word of God from cover to cover, they’re actually judging God falsely, without all the evidence. I know that in many conversations with people, who’ve read through the Bible for the first time, they have a new perspective on the way that God works with people! When you begin reading in Genesis you see that God gave Adam & Eve every opportunity to do the right thing & He warned them what would happen if they disobeyed! The soul that sins would die! But, even AFTER they disobeyed & brought God’s curse upon the earth, God still showed love, mercy & grace; and, provided covering for their sin!

-He Is A Good God!

Read a little further, in the Scriptures; and, you see that God heard the cries of the Jewish people as they were beaten, enslaved & terribly mistreated by the Egyptians. He sent them Moses to lead them out of Egypt & He gave them a new land… because He is a GOOD GOD! But, again He warned them that He would judge them by uprooting them & sending them into exile in the same way that He dispossessed the wicked nations, of the land, that lived there before them, if they disobeyed Him.  The continuing message, of Scripture, is that God uses everything in life— even the times when He spanks us— to accomplish His ultimate purpose in our lives! And, His ultimate purpose for everyone is redemption! He purposes to redeem the world He created from sin; and, to transform everyone, who repents, into the likeness of Jesus! It’s because God loves us that He punishes our sin to bring us to brokenness; so, that He can redeem us!

A Heart Devoted To God!

-Qualities Of A Good King!

In my last post I talked about the Old Testament descriptions of kings who were said to be either “good” or “evil.” Either they did that which was “good” in the sight of God; or, they did that which was “evil.” We talked, at length, about King Jehoshaphat; and, some of the reasons he was said to be a “good” king! In today’s post, I want to continue pointing out some of the qualities that made him a “good” king! The Scriptures also claim that he was good; because, his heart was devoted to the Lord— ”His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord…” 2 Chronicles 17:6.  That literally means that his heart was “devoted” to the LORD! Above every other thing, in his life, he was COURAGEOUS in his devotion to the ways of the LORD!

-Jesus: 1st Place In Everything!

The Apostle Paul wrote the Church of Corinth about where Jesus needs to fit in our live:  “He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything” Col 1:17-18. We need to be devoted to Jesus in the same way that King Jehoshaphat was devoted to the LORD! 1st PLACE in everything! We need to be honest about this, Church! We give a lot of lip service to Jesus having 1st PLACE in our life; but, does He have 1st PLACE in our lives when it comes to reading the Scriptures every day? Or, does that only happen if you can find time to squeeze it in? If He has 1st PLACE you’ll make reading Scripture to be PRIME TIME in your day! Does He have 1st PLACE in your Sunday morning when it comes to gathering for worship with the rest of your faith community? Are you ready to worship at the start of that service? What about the Sunday School hour? Does He have 1st PLACE during that time slot in your week? Are your kids getting the Bible training during the Sunday School hour that they so desperately need?

-Have You Been Lying To Yourself?

Does He really have 1st PLACE? Or, have you just been lying to yourself? We need to get real with ourselves, Church! We need to get real with God! We need to get real with each other! We need to identify the idols that are pushing Jesus out of that 1st PLACE position in every part of our lives! King Jehoshaphat’s devotion to God was so deep and true that he longed to know God through His Word! In 2 Chronicles, chapter 18, there’s an incident where he had interaction with King Ahab.

-He Sought His Father’s God!

Now, King Ahab was classified by God, in Scripture, as an “evil” king in Israel! And, when he showed interest only in what the false prophets of Baal had to say about a situation, Jehoshaphat insisted on hearing the Word of God from Micaiah, the prophet of Yahweh. And, that was the pattern of King Jehoshaphat’s life! Though he failed to always keep God’s Word, he had an affinity for it! He loved it! So, again, he provides us with another great example to follow. If you don’t long to know God’s Word; if, you’re not hungry for it, you’re not in a good place spiritually! You need to pray for God’s Spirit to help you! What made King Jehoshaphat a good king? Well, his story clearly reveals that he wasn’t a perfect man! He sinned! He was guilty of indiscretions. Not all of his decisions were wise ones! But, God called him a good king because he humbly repented when he was faced with his sin! The world needs men like King Jehoshaphat!

Good King Jehoshaphat!

-In The Eyes Of The Lord!

Over and over, in the Old Testament books of the Chronicles & the Kings, the authors identify each new king as “good” or “evil”— this king “…did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord” and that king “…did what was good in the eyes of the Lord.” As I read it I find myself asking, “what makes a good king good?” In what way does the text describe him that would cause God to declare him “good”? In fact, the Scriptures often do tell us what good kings do; and, in turn, we find for ourselves a godly example to follow! In His Word, God does tell us, often, to follow the godly examples of those individuals who are being led well, by the Spirit, to follow Jesus!

-Imitate Me As I Imitate Christ!

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church of Corinth, “Be followers of me, even as I follow Christ” 1 Corinthians 11:1.  Some of your translations say, “IMITATE me as I IMITATE Christ.” And, that’s NOT prideful as some unbelievers have claimed! That’s actually humility! That’s a disciple, of Christ, helping other disciples follow Jesus well! There’s another godly example, to follow, in Israel’s “good” King Jehoshaphat! His story is mostly told in 2 Chronicles, chapters 17-20. In summarizing his reign, as king of Judah, it says, “…he did what was right in the LORD’S sight” (ch 20, v. 32).  So, what did he do that that statement would be his legacy? What does it look like to live your life in such a way that God would declare, “…he did what was right in My sight”? I hope to answer that question over my next couple posts!

-Dependence On God For Everything!

What we find is this general principle:  “God calls the life ‘good’ that depends on what God can do & not what you can do.” It was the pattern of King Jehoshaphat’s life to live in utter dependence on God for everything! That was his manner of life. And, while he didn’t live that out perfectly, no one does! We’re all broken and depraved! But, he modeled a dependence on God both in his victories; and, in his failures! Here’s what Scripture says about him:  “Now the Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he walked in the former ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals but sought the God of his father and walked by His commands, not according to the practices of Israel. So the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. Then all Judah brought him tribute, and he had riches and honor in abundance. His mind rejoiced in the Lord’s ways, and he again removed the high places and Asherah poles from Judah” 2 Chronicles 17:3ff. What encouraging words!

-He Sought His Father’s God!

After reading all the horrible stories of so many of Israel & Judah’s kings, before him, Jehoshaphat is like a breath of fresh air entering your lungs, isn’t he? So, what made him a good king? The writer is inspired, by God’s Spirt, to write that, “…he followed in the ways of his good father…” And, the reference is 1st to King David, isn’t it? Interestingly, it says, “…he walked in the FORMER WAYS of his father David…”  What does that mean? Literally, it means, “…the FIRST WAYS of his father David…” BEFORE his sexual sin with Bathsheba! And, then it refers to his father, Asa:  “…he sought the God of his father…”  David was his great grandfather 5 generations back; and, Asa was his biological father! I think it’s worth noting that following in the ways of your father is not common among sons! But, to Jehoshaphat’s credit, he obeyed the Word of God—he HONORED his father! And, he recognized & appreciated his godly heritage!  A great quality!

A Book Worth Reading!

-The Bible Not Worth Reading?

Perhaps you remember when GQ magazine came under fire for saying that the Holy Bible wasn’t worth reading! It was back in their April 2018 issue, which ironically was dubbed the “Style Bible” on the cover. The Bible actually came in #12 on their list in the article titled, “20 Books That Aren’t Worth Reading.” Jesse Ball, who authored the article, wrote:  “The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it”—Unfortunately, there’s some truth to that, isn’t there? He goes on,  “Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced.” Well, #1 he’s mistaken in giving “man” credit for writing it! The authors don’t claim to have written their material by their own inspiration!

-Inspired By God!

Rather, God miraculously inspired some 40 different authors to write the 66 books, of the Bible, over 1500 years. What Mr. Ball writes is pretty subjective! It’s opinion! It’s conjecture, on his part! He added:  “It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned…” I would address that comment by quoting the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:14. He absolutely nails the reason Mr. Ball sees the Bible the way he does:  “But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.” To the unbeliever, the words of Scripture seem foolish because they can not understand them.

-The Unbeliever Can’t Understand!

It’s impossible for anyone to grasp the meaning of Scripture unless God’s Holy Spirit is their Teacher! Unless the Holy Spirit indwells them as a believer! “…he is NOT ABLE to understand it…” Paul says; and, because of his lostness, he “…does NOT WELCOME it…” But, I could get testimonials from believers in our church; and, from other Jesus followers, in every corner of the world, that the moment they placed their faith in God to save them from their sin, their eyes were opened to the Scriptures! Their ears were unplugged! They could hear the truth & it resonated with them! It became their life line! They know that God communicates with them through His Word! So, we do not read it like we read any other book; because, it is unlike any other book. I would always encourage you to pray before reading it! To ask God to transform you supernaturally, by the power of His Holy Spirit, as you read it! To open your eyes to all the eternal truths it contains!

-Ask Questions!

As you read the Scriptures, learn to ask questions:  “God, what does that mean? Please teach me!” That’s how I work through every Bible message or lesson as I prepare it! I don’t assume that I am able to plumb the depths of Scripture with just my human reasoning! For example, why did the Spirit of God inspire the Bible writers to include much of the same material the books of 1 & 2 Chronicles contains in 1 & 2 Kings? A section of Scripture that Mr. Ball, the author of the GQ article, perceives as repetitive; and, therefore boring! But, that’s the way an unbeliever would view it. If you’re a believer you should wonder what motivated God to include similar material twice! Perhaps, it is so important that God wanted it included again! So, what is there here that we don’t want to miss? That we should meditate on it! Revel in the mysteries of God!

More Lessons From Israel’s Ark!

-A Symbol Of God’s Presence!

In my last post, I talked about Israel’s Ark of the Covenant that God instructed Moses to build as a reminder of the Covenant which God had made with Israel. It symbolized God’s presence with His people; and, that’s why it was so devastating to Israel when King Saul & the army was defeated by the Philistines & the Ark was part of the plunder they stole away from Israel. After succeeding Saul as king, David’s first priority, after securing the nation militarily,, was to retrieve the Ark & bring it to the capital city of Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 13). 

-The Disturbing Story Of Uzzah!

That’s where we find the disturbing story of Uzzah. As all Israel joined King David, in celebration, as they brought the Ark to Jerusalem, Uzzah reaches out to steady the Ark as the oxen, who pulled the Ark, stumbled! And, it says that God “…struck him dead…” because he touched it (v.9).  Doesn’t that seem harsh to you? Well, it did to King David. It says, “David was angry because of the Lord’s outburst against Uzzah, so he named that place Outburst Against Uzzah, as it is still named today. David feared God that day and said, ‘How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?’” (13:11) But,  to David’s credit, his fear of God was that Holy kind of fear that drove him back to God in confession & repentance!

-Back To God’s Word!

And, ultimately back to the Word of God; where, we all need to go when we’re confused by the events that Sovereign God choreographs into our lives! Two chapters later, we read, “David built houses for himself in the city of David, and he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. Then David said, ‘No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before Him forever.’” (1 Chronicles 15) There’s only one place where David would have learned that— the Word of God! David returned to God’s word.  If you flip back, in your Bibles, to 1 Chronicles 13, you’ll see David’s fatal mistake, in v.1, when it says that David consulted “men” rather than God’s Word. And, Uzzah paid for David’s mistake with his own life!

-The Wrong Kind Of Worship!

There’s an incredibly important lesson here, when it comes to worshipping God! God is never pleased by our worship when we’re disobedient to His revealed will. In other words, there is a right way to worship God & there is a wrong way to worship Him. And, the only way we can know that we’re worshipping God rightly is to compare our worship with the Scriptures!  Jesus said: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit & truth.” John 4:24

-Worship In Spirit And Truth!

The correct posture, for Worship, includes our spirit AND TRUTH! David had the right spirit about bringing the Ark of God to Jerusalem; but, he wasn’t operating in the truth of God’s revealed will! And, let’s remember that David wasn’t in defiance of God’s Word! He was ignorant of it! God has revealed His Word to us & He makes us responsible for knowing it! Again, I can’t emphasize enough how desperate we need to be to carve time, out of our schedule, every day to read a portion of God’s Word! We’re responsible for knowing what He’s said! You and I need to learn the same lessons that David learned; and, in the truest sense it really wasn’t about the Ark at all! It’s about our attitude toward God when He speaks! It’s about elevating the message of His Word and obeying it! We need to apply, to our own lives,  the lesson David learned: “God is never pleased by our worship when we’re disobedient to His revealed will