This is a very good article which outlines some important points about the sacrificial system in the Old Testament and its importance.
Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty, walk before me and be blameless.”
Read Genesis 15:3-6, Gen. 16: 1-4, 15-16.
Genesis 15:3-6 New International Version (NIV)
3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[a] be.”
6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
- Genesis 15:5 Or seed
Genesis 16:1-4 Hagar and Ishmael
16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slavenamed Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years,Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.
15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.(NIV)
God promises Abram a son, Sarah takes matters into her own hands by giving Abram her servant to get a child by, as Sarah doesn’t trust God to give Abram a son by her. This causes them a lot of grief and stress in their lives, but God is faithful and does provide Sarah with the pregnancy of Isaac.
Read Gen. 17:16-22, and Gen. 18:10-15, Gen. 21.
Genesis 17:16-22 New International Version (NIV)
16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”
17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”
19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.[a] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.
- Genesis 17:19 Isaac means he laughs.
Genesis 18:10-15 New International Version (NIV)
10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”
Genesis 21 New International Version (NIV)
The Birth of Isaac
21 Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac[a] to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away
8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abrahamwas mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring[b] will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she[c] began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer.21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.
The Treaty at Beersheba
22 At that time Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. 23 Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.”
24 Abraham said, “I swear it.”
25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek’s servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.”
27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?”
30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”
31 So that place was called Beersheba,[d] because the two men swore an oath there.
32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time.
Abraham was faithful to God, and had a feast after Isaac was weaned. Note: Abraham cared about Ishmael as his son, and did not want to send him away, but God promised to make Ishmael a father of many nations also, but said that his covenant was with Abraham through Isaac, not through Ishmael. So, Isaac is the son of promise.
It is important to note that God was faithful to Abraham and Sarah, even when they were not patiently trusting of him. Sometimes we hear God, and we naturally want to make God’s words happen on our own and in our own way.
That is what happened with Sarah and Abraham. This sometimes causes us to sin. Sometimes, there are actions that we can take that are okay in preparing ourselves for God’s promise to be fulfilled. If that is the case we should take those actions, but there is never a time, when sin is the answer to making God’s promise come true.
We should always strive to remember that God’s timing isn’t always right away when he promises something. Sometimes we are just not ready for that fulfillment to take place. We may have some growing to do first on a spiritual level. Ultimately, the reason Isaac was the chosen child was that God had already determined that mankind needed a savior and who his chosen people were, and that the savior was going to be a member of his chosen people, I am sure that Abraham’s feast when Isaac was weaned was a feast of Thanksgiving.
Something to recognize is that God’s chosen people were chosen, not to Lord it over others, but in order to be developed into people who could show the world the character and love of God.
Sometimes, in our world, we find ourselves falling into the sin of jealousy and resentment whenever we hear someone has been chosen for something instead of ourselves…that is because we have the idea that if they are being chosen, then we are not being chosen, so we are being rejected. That is a worldly idea…God doesn’t reject people automatically, just because someone else is chosen for a particular task or mission. We each have our own task or mission to accomplish in our lives. No one person’s task is more important or notable than the one that each of us has been given. That is part of being in the body of Christ…we all have a task, and each task is important…if the foot is not there, then the body cannot move…the foot is not less important then the arm, or the head, or the body…each is important in its own right. We cannot forget that, we are all to work together for the good of the kingdom of God.
We just need to follow God and be blameless due to our willingness to follow God, and be faithful in this journey we have…just like Abraham. If you refer back to Matthew Chapter 1 you will see that Abraham was the first person listed in Jesus’ list of ancestors…yet Abraham was not a perfect person, he was a forgiven person!
John 5:24 I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
Read Matthew Chapter 1:
Matthew 1 New International Version (NIV) (via Biblegateway.com)
The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah[c] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.
17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.
Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[d]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e]did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[g] (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
- Matthew 1:1 Or is an account of the origin
- Matthew 1:1 Or Jesus Christ. Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek) both mean Anointed One; also in verse 18.
- Matthew 1:11 That is, Jehoiachin; also in verse 12
- Matthew 1:18 Or The origin of Jesus the Messiah was like this
- Matthew 1:19 Or was a righteous man and
- Matthew 1:21 Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the Lord saves.
- Matthew 1:23 Isaiah 7:14
This is the genealogy of Jesus, a genealogy is a listing of ancestors, or a family tree. Many many people in the World are very interested in researching their family trees and finding out as much as they can about who their ancestors are…being Christians we are adopted into the family of Jesus Christ, so isn’t it nice that his family tree is laid out for us so neatly in the Bible? Jesus had some very interesting ancestors…funny thing is that until you start digging into them it would be easy to believe that if someone was honored enough to be an ancestor of Jesus’ then they must really be next to perfect, huh?!! Well, this is so far from the truth…they are, as it turns out like all of us…forgiven sinners.
In many of the next lessons we will be studying the people listed in Jesus’ family tree. My goal is to show you that God’s forgiveness is absolute. He does not hold your past against you in any way. All of the people (like all of us) in Jesus’ family tree are sinners who have believed in God, and been forgiven. Although John 5:24 is something that Jesus said, and all of his ancestors lived before him in John 5:24 Jesus states that those who believe in God (the one who sent Jesus) will have eternal life. This is how the people before Jesus birth were judged, by their righteousness and faith in God, by their adherence to the law. We are judged with grace, which means that we are judged by our faith in Jesus, and his ability as a sacrifice to cover our sins.
Grace as we have studied before is the giving of forgiveness when it is not deserved. Grace is not something that replaces God’s law. We are still to do our best to follow God’s law. However, neither before in the Old Testament, nor now, in the New Testament does the law offer salvation.
Matthew 5:17-20 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus tells us that he did not come to replace or get rid of the law…he came to fulfill it, but not to remove or replace any part of it. Fulfilling something does not end it, except in the case of prophecy….once a prophecy is given and is completely and entirely fulfilled it is pretty much done..its value is then in the fact that people who had believed the prophecy know its fulfillment and have stronger faith for having seen that fulfillment. Laws are fulfilled every day, but we do not do away with them by fulfilling them.
God values faith, and is a forgiving God and this is demonstrated through Jesus’ family tree.
Info about your bible: There are over 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament ends the era of God’s prophecy of Jesus’ coming. Matthew begins with Jesus is here, and spends much time proving that Jesus is the Messiah. The book of Matthew was written between 50 A.D. and 70 A.D. To be noted is that B.C. means the time period before Jesus’ birth, and A.D. means the time period from his birth onward. People get confused and think that A.D. means After Death, it does not. It actually is a latin term that stands for the words “Year of our Lord” or “Anno Domini” are the latin words. This means that the book of Matthew was written down shortly after Jesus’ death because Jesus’ died about 33 A.D. This is important so that you know that there were people around who lived during Jesus time and would say if Matthew wrote down things wrong or made any of the book of Matthew up. The time it is written means we can trust it to be truthful. The newest part of the New Testament was written by John the Apostle and it was written between 85 A.D. and 96 A.D. so still it was written with witnesses to the actual events still alive to say if any part of it was untrue. Therefore, you can trust that the New Testament is true also as is the Old Testament.
I hope you enjoy our upcoming exploration of Jesus’ ancestors!
Matthew 13:44 The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and in his joy he went and sold all that he had and bought the field.
The standard Christian teaching on this is that this man found the treasure of Salvation and realized how important it was, so he hid it and then went and bought the field so that he could have it. There is nothing inherently wrong about this teaching, but it has some moralistic problems to it. After all, Jesus focus was about sharing the love of God with others. In this parable we see a man who is not planning to share at all…if he was, then he would go running to town with the treasure in his arms and shout to all about it, wouldn’t he?!! Instead he hides it again, then goes and we presume deceptively purchases the field. We see this kind of thing happen in the world over and over again…some person will find out some facts about some land that makes it more valuable…maybe some plans for the surrounding area that is unknown to the landowner and so they go and offer an outrageous sum of money (in the land owner’s eyes), but still far less than it will actually be worth if the plans known only to the buyer happen. We call that “land speculation”…totally acceptable from a worldly standpoint, but rather an unChristian way of acting, right?!! Morally, as Christians we would have problems with this action…especially if we are the ones who get taken advantage of in the land selling process.
An interesting thing I have learned from Dave LeBlanc’s recent teaching on this parable is that the idea of ownership of something means that you have to work at it for 3 years before you have ownership. Ownership isn’t something that comes about by accident, just because you bought it. In Jewish terms, which means in the terms that Jewish Rabbi Jesus is teaching to his Jewish Disciples…ownership is acquired not just with money, but you have to actually do something with it, and do something with it consistently for 3 years. So if we take that idea and look at this parable again we can learn a few things:
1.) The man was walking on land that was not owned by a family..it was deserted land…fallow land. After all, if he found a treasure hidden in a field, it was probably buried in the first place and he found it from working the field with the intent to get ownership. (We know that the land of Israel did not have a lot of forests, it’s fields are good for olives and wine, and wheat.) So he was working the field and accidentally dug up a treasure, so he goes and reburies it and then since it is so valuable he must focus all of his wealth on acquiring it immediately. He does this.
Yet, under the law of Torah, he doesn’t actually own it until he has worked it for three years, now according to what Dave is telling us about Rabbinical Judaism it is not good enough to just buy the land with money, but to have to invest your time and energy into using it and bringing in a harvest…repeatedly. In other words, Land speculation is not allowed. You don’t just buy the land and say, “Look at me, I am wealthy I have all this land, but do nothing with it!” In our terms, we would say, “use it or lose it”…this makes a lot of sense for people of Jesus’ time. Land that lays fallow is not producing food. Israel was a land that occasionally had years of famine…so it was important to produce all that it could in the good years. After all, refrigeration, and freezing and canning as storage methods were not really around. The main methods of food storage were probably dehydration, pickling, or fermentation. According to the Old Testament there was a requirement of fallowness for land every 7 years….this was probably more about maintaining the nutrients and not exhausting the land by repeated growing of the same crop that would sap the same nutrients from the soil, so that the land was not worn out. Spiritually, it was about relying on the Lord for your well being in times of scarcity..every 7 years there was a reminder to Israel about this.
Also under the laws in Leviticus the selling of the land was not to be permanent…so you may say it was more of a renting out for the use of the land and its crop.
2.) So we also learn a deeper meaning if we apply this idea of having to work for something to our salvation and what Jesus was saying about the Kingdom of heaven being like this treasure found in a field. It was such a valuable treasure that the man was willing to immediately devote his entire wealth and life to attaining the rights to that treasure.
If we apply this idea to our salvation, the we can and should be believing that as Christians we are not actually obtaining that salvation simply by “saying a prayer” and going on about our normal lives. If we do not plow the field of our salvation, or dig into our Bibles and take the word of the Lord into our hearts on a daily basis and apply it to how we are living out our daily lives, then we are as lost as the person who has never asked Jesus to come into our hearts. That takes us to another parable, the parable of the seeds:
Luke 8:4-15 New International Version (NIV)
4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
“‘though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.’[a]
11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
- Luke 8:10 Isaiah 6:9
1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Many times when we accept that Jesus is our Lord and we have prayed for forgiveness we forget to accept that we are really forgiven.
Another way of thinking is that if your sins are a case in God’s court then when you accept Jesus Christ as your redeemer, you have apologized to God for your sins and Jesus has taken the blame for you…if Jesus is your “lawyer” in God’s court, then Jesus Christ has gotten the case of your sins thrown out of court. The thing is that Satan wants to stand in front of our house in his capacity as accuser and keep throwing the evidence up in front of us. Or in other words, Satan wants us to dwell on the sins that we have already had forgiven by God. If he can just keep us in bondage to our past sins then we cannot move forward in our lives and enjoy the peace of God. We cannot be the best servant we can be for God. Our lives do not reflect that freedom that God has given us.
Now, I know that all of this sounds really negative, but it isn’t. I thought to discuss this because after hearing our Pastor speak on the subject this week, I realized that hanging onto forgiven sins just makes a person stay in bondage to their past.
This world loves it when we stay in bondage to our past because then “we know our place”…we cannot be effective in telling and showing people who God is in our lives if we cannot accept that forgiveness has really occurred. People who don’t know God and have not accepted the redemption offered by Jesus Christ are in bondage to their sin…they have not been forgiven…so how can we show them the divine and freeing forgiveness of God if we cannot actually in our hearts and minds really accept that we are really truly forgiven and enter into the “rest” that Jesus has promised us?
I heard a really interesting example of this on Sunday when I was listening to my Pastor on this very idea. Here it is picture this in your mind. A man is in a dungeon prison cell. He has been locked up for life, and all he sees day in and day out are the damp stone walls, and the iron bars. A couple times a day a guard shows up with some kind of food for him, but other than that, he sees nothing but the walls, and the bars….and the hole in the corner for his waste. So what does this man long for? I think we would all answer that he wants his freedom more than anything else in the world, right?!!
So one day, the guard arrives and instead of food, the guard unlocks the door, and tells the man that he is free to leave anytime. Now, one would think that the man would just up and leave as soon as possible, right?!! The curious thing is that he does not…he turns his back toward the open door and looks the other way, and continues to dream of his freedom day after day.
When I heard this story, I thought how impossible! No one would really do that, right?!! That is the saddest idea I have ever heard.
Yet, millions of Christians do that very thing, every day!
We have the head knowledge that Jesus came to forgive our sins and draw us close to God, and we have accepted the head knowledge…but we fail to understand all of the ramifications of that head knowledge….we have to come to a “heart” knowledge understanding of this great freedom that has happened to us. (I know that in the world there are consequences to sin, if you steal you can end up in jail…that is not the freedom we are talking about here! Once a person serves their time in jail for that theft then they are freed from the condemnation for that item.) Jesus came to free us from condemnation by God or more accurately by Jesus himself, since God has given Jesus the authority to judge the world in the time to come.
The thing is that when we are forgiven, many times we continue to beat ourselves up over our past. I know that many of you have seen the Disney Movie called “The Lion King”….well, my favorite scene in that movie is where the baboon konks Simba on the head with his pole. Simba had been feeling sorry for himself and wallowing in his responsibility for his father’s death, which happened when he was a young cub. Anyway, he suddenly gets konked on the head with the pole and Simba says, “Ow! What was that for!” (a bit of paraphrasing here, but that is the gist of it.) The baboon’s response was amazing…I could just about hear God in the words…”Doesn’t matter…it’s in the past!”
When our sins are forgiven that is how God views it…”doesn’t matter”….or another way to say it….it is as if they never happened….they are not being held against us. There are worldly consequences, but God is not condemning us for them.
Read Psalm 103…focus on verse 12. It says that he has removed our sins from us as far as the East is from the West. (If you take into account that many people prior to Christopher Columbus’ time believed that the Earth was flat and that you could fall off of it if you went too far in one direction…this really gives you the idea that the meaning behind this statement is that your sins cannot ever meet up with you again, once they are forgiven! They are truly in the past and you are not to be looking into them as something you need to keep beating yourself up about.)
A psalm of David.
1Let all that I am praise the LORD;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
2Let all that I am praise the LORD;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
3He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
4He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
6The LORD gives righteousness
and justice to all who are treated unfairly.
7He revealed his character to Moses
and his deeds to the people of Israel.
8The LORD is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
10He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
13The LORD is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
15Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
16The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
17But the love of the LORD remains forever
with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children
18of those who are faithful to his covenant,
of those who obey his commandments!
19The LORD has made the heavens his throne;
from there he rules over everything.
20Praise the LORD, you angels,
you mighty ones who carry out his plans,
listening for each of his commands.
21Yes, praise the LORD, you armies of angels
who serve him and do his will!
22Praise the LORD, everything he has created,
everything in all his kingdom.
Let all that I am praise the LORD.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007.
2 Samuel 12:1-13 New King James Version (NKJV)
Nathan’s Parable and David’s Confession
12 Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3 But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. 4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 9 Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’”
13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
Genesis 4:7 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Read John 8:1-11 The story of the sinful woman.
John 8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Read John 5:1-15
The Healing at the Pool
5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. * 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
*verse 4 is in some versions that an angel of the Lord went down occasionally and stirred the waters.
If you look at these two stories in the Bible they both have something in common. Jesus did not condemn the person, but the sin instead. He showed love and understanding to the person, even while telling them the truth about their sin. In both cases these people are apparently in a state of sin. The woman is an adulterer, and we are not told what the man’s sin is, but it is apparent that he is in a state of sin from Jesus telling him to leave his life of sin before something worse happens to him.
In both cases, these people are in a very lonely state. We know this because, other than Jesus, there is no one to stand up for the woman who is about to be stoned…she has no friends. In the case of the man who was paralyzed we know he also has no one who cares about him, as he tells Jesus that there is no one to help him into the pool to get healed. In both of these cases, not only did their sin separate them from God, but also separated them from their fellow humans.
So we can see that both in our heavenly relationship and our earthly relationships sin plays a big part. That is why God laid out some rules for living in community with each other in the Old Testament. Now, just because God laid out a rule addressing a situation doesn’t mean he is approving of the situation…sometimes the rules that God has laid down on a subject are there because he knows the situation is going to exist as long as mankind is separated from God. Thus, God laid out rules about things like slavery, and divorce. Even though, Jesus clearly tells us that divorce is not something that God wants to happen…God recognizes that such things will happen so he lays out a rule about it.
The same thing goes for slavery…God gave rules to govern it because at the time of Moses it existed every where! God did not approve of slavery…he just knew that it existed and so he laid out rules on the treatment of slaves. Slaves had no rights at all prior to these rules….they had no hope for redemption…God’s rules were laid down to show that he recognized that the slaves were human beings who were his creations and they were to be treated a certain way with some dignity..and given hope for freedom from slavery. God did not want or approve of bondage of any kind, just as he did not approve of divorce, theft, murder, sexual promiscuity, lying, or any of the other sins listed in the old testament. It would probably be more accurate to say that God was resigned to the fact that mankind, in general, is selfish and self centered and immature and without rules will govern things according to what most benefits himself…even if it is at the expense of others. As long as man is separated from God, man needs rules to govern his relationship with others. These rules are a gift and should not be thought of as a punishment or a burden.
So, now, let us go back to how Jesus treated the people in the above two situations…the first thing to take note of again is that Jesus did not beat either one of these people over the head with their sins! He didn’t ignore the sin either…after all Jesus said that he did not come to condemn the world, but to save it! Beating someone who is in a state of sin over the head with their sin does not save them! Jesus knew this very well…he helped them each in the way that they needed help, and then he said, “Go and sin no more!”
The implication of this statement from Jesus is that we humans are capable of setting aside our sins…we are capable of self control…that God expects us to use self control in dealing with our sins! God does not accept the excuse that “the devil made me do it!”
Now, this may be an idea that is hard to swallow, but Jesus is not a liar…so we have to accept that we are capable of living lives that are not full of daily continual sin.
Does this mean that we will never sin? No, it means that once we know that something we are doing is a sin, then we have a responsibility before God to not continue to do that sin. We all have sin in our lives that we are not even aware of…God is good to reveal our sins little by little as we go through life so that we are not overwhelmed by them all at once. They are also revealed to us in such a manner and time that we are able to understand how that sin is hurting us, or hurting others around us.
Frequently, our sin is revealed to us by our gaining more knowledge of the nature of God, and maturing more and more in our relationship with God by following Jesus.
For example: A person who look at their horoscope in the paper each day, thinks to themselves that it doesn’t hurt anything to look at it and see how the “stars” say their day is going to go. However, when that person starts getting to know God, they realize that God is clear about this kind of thing in the Bible: Leviticus 19:31 31 “ ‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.
The person starts to understand from reading up on the subject in the Word that God does not want anyone or anything to stand in between them and Him. So oops! Suddenly, the person realizes that by looking to see how the “stars” say their day is going, they have fallen into a state of looking to an idol, looking toward someone or something that is not God.
Think about it, if the person finds that the horoscope is right, and on occasion it will be by the law of averages, and that they are actually written so vaguely that they can be interpreted to be able to impact anyone….suddenly, that person is not making a move without consulting their daily horoscope, or palm reader, or something like that! That is a form of worship…God says not to worship anyone, but Him. (Commandment #1)
So here is this person who has been living in ignorance of their sin, thinking that it is harmless…who suddenly realizes as they seek after God, that this really is a sin, and it is a serious sin at that! (Not that all sin is not serious…in God’s eyes sin is sin.)
Now, they have the option to continue in that sin with their new knowledge, or to do as Jesus tells the man and the woman in the stories above…”Go and Sin no more!” Or another way to say it is, “now that you know what you have been doing wrong, stop doing that!”
Another two points to be made here: 1.) Temptation is not sin! (Jesus was tempted, yet he did not sin!), 2.) We are not born already filled with sin because our parents were sinful-that idea of “original sin” was not introduced into the church until Augustine introduced it which was well after the time of Jesus and his Disciples! Jesus and his Disciples believed in the idea of an “age of accountability” (Isaiah 7:14-16 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.15“He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16 “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.”)
We are not told what this exact age is, and from study, I have concluded that it is different for each person, it is dependent on the moment when a person realizes what is right from wrong…or what is good and what is evil…what is sin and what is not. We all know that this is not an age set in concrete…even our court systems recognize this…that is why sometimes there are people who commit crimes, yet are found to not be responsible for their actions…we recognize that everyone is not the same in maturity…some folks may have mental disabilities that mean they can never be held responsible for what they do because they cannot understand right from wrong.
We can know that the idea of “original sin” is not a credible idea because if we were all born sinful because our parents were sinful, then Jesus would have been automatically been born filled with sin and he would not have been a good example to us, nor an acceptable sacrifice for us..simply because he was born of a human woman. We know that Jesus was not guilty of any sin, therefore we have to reject the idea of original sin…we have to reject the idea of being helpless to stop sinning! That idea comes from the evil one’s desire to keep us in bondage to sin…after all if we cannot help our sin then we can simply claim we have no responsibility for ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that any person can get salvation for themselves without Jesus Christ…that is not the case…Salvation from sin comes through Jesus Christ and Christ alone…that is the forgiveness for sins…I am talking about the thought that we are helpless to keep from sinning on and on when we know something is a sin. Jesus clearly tells us that we can stop sinning!
2Corinthians 5:21 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
I will leave you with this thought: God loves you…you are his precious child. In response to the love God has for you…turn away from sin….go and sin no more…take salvation seriously…glorify God with the way you live your life. When you become aware of a sin…repent promptly…asking his forgiveness in the name of Christ…and return to your task of living a life which glorifies God. Don’t let the evil one bind you with a lie about who you are based on what you have done.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Read Proverbs chapter 8 This is why wisdom is so important.
Read 1 Kings 3:1-15 This is where Solomon asks for wisdom instead of riches, so that he may rule well.
Note: Although Solomon states that he is a child, in verse one you see that he is getting married so he was at least a teenager, however compared to his court officials he was in the ways of worldly experience a child.
Proverbs 8 New International Version (NIV)
8 Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 At the highest point along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3 beside the gate leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
4 “To you, O people, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
5 You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.[a]
6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.
7 My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.
8 All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.
9 To the discerning all of them are right;
they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
I have insight, I have power.
15 By me kings reign
and rulers issue decrees that are just;
16 by me princes govern,
and nobles—all who rule on earth.[b]
17 I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor,
enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me
and making their treasuries full.
22 “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,[c][d]
before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields
or any of the dust of the earth.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30 Then I was constantly[e] at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.
32 “Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
all who hate me love death.”
- Proverbs 8:5 Septuagint; Hebrew foolish, instruct your minds
- Proverbs 8:16 Some Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint; other Hebrew manuscripts all righteous rulers
- Proverbs 8:22 Or way; or dominion
- Proverbs 8:22 Or The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work; or The Lord brought me forth at the beginning of his work
- Proverbs 8:30 Or was the artisan; or was a little child
Luke 9:25-26 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Have you ever been embarrassed by God? or by worship of God? embarrassed to talk about God to someone? Embarrassed by someone who wants to talk about God to you?
For most people, the answer to that question would probably be yes, that at some time in their lives they have been embarrassed regarding God. It isn’t that they don’t like God, but most of the time it is that many people do not want to be considered “wacky, way out there, uncool, outside of the world’s norm”, or just really don’t know enough about who God is in their own life to be able to relay that to someone else comfortably.
I remember when I was a teenager in high school having an experience where I wanted to run away from this woman who was right up in my face saying “HAVE YOU BEEN BORN AGAIN?!!! BECAUSE IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN BORN AGAIN..YOU CANNOT GET INTO HEAVEN!” Here I was a normal, but very shy teenage girl, at a car wash fund raiser for the band trip and this woman who was having her car washed pretty much attacked me with those words out of the blue. I found her to be down right scary!
Now, back then I very much believed in God and prayed and already had taken Jesus into my heart, but I really didn’t have the relationship with God that I have now, and I expect that my relationship with God will continue to deepen and grow the rest of my life. However, I was largely unchurched at that point…didn’t really start going regularly until I was an adult…we moved a lot and neither of my parents were church goers then. I had never at that point even heard about this “born again thing”…all I knew was that I was relying on God to get me through my life with prayer…I really only knew Bible stories from the Children’s Bible which I had read several times…it was very comforting. The thing is, a Bible written to Children is just that, and does not have the depth of the complete Word of God. However, the Bible tells us to have the faith of a child and at that point I certainly did…it was very simple…God said it..I believed it.
That is still what God wants from us today…just like a child we are to believe him. The thing is that as we get deeper into scripture our understanding of God grows and so does our relationship with him so that as we mature we go from this feeling of wanting to run away from people who talk about him…to the feeling of deep joy whenever we are with someone who loves God and wants to talk about God with us.
I will tell you that from my perspective now, I still feel that the “attack” method is the wrong method to approach and share your faith with someone. It makes the person feel inadequate, embarrassed, and defensive…they are definitely not going to want to listen to anything that is said to them!
Usually, when you tell someone that if they don’t “do” something they cannot get into heaven, then the person you are talking to gets the mistaken impression that there is something they can “do” to get into heaven. The truth is that we can only get there by the grace of God, through belief in the saving power of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God is the one who “gets us there”…faith is what “gets us there”…as my Pastor is fond of reminding us, “there is nothing you can do that will make God love your more…or less.”
The “attack” method leaves people believing that God is mad at them…whether that is intended or not…that is usually the result.
I have been to a variety of churches over the course of my life, and the ones I dislike the most are when the minister is preaching in a very dogmatic, and loud, voice…it is in an “attack” mode…”you are a sinner” type of voice. Now, for some people, that is what they are used to and they respond to this…for myself, I believe that if as the Bible says God talks to us in a “still, small voice” then why is it okay for ministers who are representing God to be yelling at his people?
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
Now, when we look at this story of King David, he took 30,000 men with him to move the Ark of God back to Jerusalem..they were celebrating greatly…we have all seen that many people celebrating something…most sports stadiums hold about that number of people and we see people doing all sorts of strange things in celebration of their teams…embarrassing things…painting their bodies weirdly, jumping, yelling and screaming for their teams….so put that picture in your head and think about David and his 30,000 men doing that in celebration that God is going back to the “City of David” with them…in the form of the Ark of the Covenant. They are almost there and then something happens…one of the oxen pulling the cart stumbles…someone unthinking of the rules for dealing with God reverently grabs the ark and it kills them. Now, if you have ever seen the movie the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and watched the scene toward the end where the evil guy opened the ark and it killed everyone who looked at it…it may give you an idea of the power of the Ark of God…it had real power because God had designated it as the place he would reside when he was with the Israelites…keep in mind there was no temple built yet…so touching it was an irreverent thing to do! God had laid out rules about who could approach him back in Leviticus and how they could approach him. Anyway, looking at this fellow dying from touching the Ark scared David a lot….it stopped the celebration in its tracks. David decided that it was too risky to bring that Ark into the city, so he left it in the care of Obed-Edom the Gittite for 3 months. When he heard how blessed this guy became and that he wasn’t killed, David decided to go and get the Ark after all.
Now, we come to some more extreme celebrating…it tells us that David was dancing in the streets as he came into the city…he was only wearing an ephod on the top half of his body…that is basically a vest….he is unashamedly celebrating the return of his God to the city.
Now, his wife, who was Saul’s daughter, Michal…was extremely embarrassed by the sight of her husband, the King of Israel, dancing wildly and jumping about in the streets, half dressed. She tells him so as soon as he gets home….in 2Samuel 6:21-22
David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
(Now we are told that Michal had no children to the day of her death…I am guessing that this is because David was no longer interested in someone who held him in disgust and disrespected his love of God like she did….I don’t read into that some “punishment from God that he closed her womb”…just that she didn’t have children before that and had no opportunity to become pregnant after that.)
Read 2 Samuel Chapter 6 and John 13:1-17
Samuel Chapter 6 New International Version (NIV)
The Ark Brought to Jerusalem
6 David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. 2 He and all his men went to Baalah[a] in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name,[b] the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it,[c] and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets,[d] harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.
6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.
8 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.[e]
9 David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.
12 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.
17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord.18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessedthe people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.
20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
21 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.
- 2 Samuel 6:2 That is, Kiriath Jearim (see 1 Chron. 13:6)
- 2 Samuel 6:2 Hebrew; Septuagint and Vulgate do not have the Name.
- 2 Samuel 6:4 Dead Sea Scrolls and some Septuagint manuscripts; Masoretic Text cart 4 and they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill
- 2 Samuel 6:5 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint (see also 1 Chron. 13:8) songs
- 2 Samuel 6:8 Perez Uzzah means outbreak against Uzzah.
I find Peter to be very endearing here…in this story, his behavior is one of childish enthusiasm toward Jesus….he doesn’t want to miss out on whatever Jesus is offering…so he responds in an “over the top” statement of “don’t just wash my feet then, but wash all the other limbs as well…make sure I am all clean from head to toe – I don’t want to miss out on any part of whatever you are offering us…give me a double portion of it!” (Paraphrase of verse 9) I really appreciate how enthusiastic Peter is toward receiving Jesus. Jesus simply tells him that he only needs his feet to be cleaned in order to be completely clean. (Now there are a lot of Jewish traditions and understandings regarding this that goes a lot deeper about the washing of the feet and the different traditional methods of ceremonial cleansing, but I am focused on Peter’s enthusiasm, not on the cleaning right now.)
The point here is that we need to be enthusiastic in expressing our love of God and our worship of God to others. We need to Glorify God for what he does in our lives. Whenever, we find ourselves excited we should express it, even if we may be embarrassed to do so. I find it to be very peculiar that we have so many Christians who would go to a ball game, or a concert, and cheer loudly and scream and do all manner of things in that set of circumstances, but whenever they are faced with worshipping or praising God the same people would sit in the pews, or stand up like a stick and never make a sound. Isn’t God much more exciting and worthy of screaming and yelling and cheering in excitement of worship than a sports team or a music group? If you are a Christian and you don’t think so, then maybe a little re-examination of who God is in your life is in order…just who is God…to you? Ask yourself… “how do I glorify and worship God? Is God embarrassing for me to talk about?”
Ecclesiastes 1:2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (NIV)
Read: Ecclesiastes Chapters 1 and 2 The book of Ecclesiastes is thought to have been written by King Solomon and when you see verse one of Chapter one it seems to bear that thought out…as we also know that Solomon prayed for wisdom from God. When I first read these two chapters I thought, “Well, how depressing can you get? Solomon must have really been having a bad time of it when he wrote this.” Then as I thought of it more there is a lot of truth in this. We do all live and we all die..no matter how we live our lives…either foolishly, miserably, happily, contentedly, in anger, or in love…we all have a limited life span, and a physical death to look forward to in the end. For some of us, the end comes sooner, and some much later, but we all have that ending to this physical life.
Also, it is true that we are generally forgotten once everyone who knew us is also dead. We become just a name on an ancestral chart, or if you are one of those people who actually change the lives of a lot of other people your name may appear in a history book to torment students for many generations to come as to who you are and what you did…when you think of it that is pretty funny. Names like Marie Curie, Sister Teresa, Jonas Salk…then there are other names that are more infamous…Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini we only wish we could forget those last three…unfortunately if we forget them, then we may not learn the lesson about humanity’s cruelty to humanity that we should remember and be aware of so we can guard against it and others who may appear who are like them. So, as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, is it all meaningless? Well it might seem to be if you leave out the most important thing in life….your Creator, God!
The thing is that in 1:15 Solomon tells us that “15 What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.” Now, if we are looking at our ability to straighten things and count what is not there, then this is absolutely true. However, God can see what is not there in a person, and also has the power to straighten up crooked things. Only the power of God can do that. God sees the potential in a person that is not readily visible to others.
Ecclesiastes 1:18 18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.
Ecclesiastes 1:18 also gives us a bit of truth…as we age we generally can look back and see what we did wrong, and then when we see a young person making the same mistake and cannot influence them with the wisdom we have acquired it does cause sorrow to us. However, it is good if we can remember that we got through our unwise state and in many ways we are still unwise in our thoughts and actions. Yet we can take comfort in knowing that God is also working on that youngster’s path in life, as he does on ours. We need to turn our griefs over to God and let him help us through them. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Ecclesiastes 1 New International Version (NIV)
Everything Is Meaningless
1 The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
Wisdom Is Meaningless
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.
- Ecclesiastes 1:1Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 2 and 12
In Ecclesiastes 2 Solomon starts talking about how meaningless Pleasure and work are in life. He tells us that he thinks that laughter is madness and what does pleasure accomplish?
Well, as far as I am concerned…I think that Solomon may have forgotten that God invented laughter and pleasure and work. God knows that laughter is good for us and wants us to have pleasure in the things in life, and have meaning in our work.
After all, God gave Adam a job right away in the Garden of Eden…he was told to name the animals, and care for the Garden.
Genesis 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Genesis 2:20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
God tells us to have some rest and worship on the Sabbath Day…so God knows that rest is important to the renewing of ourselves to continue the work he has given us.
The thing is that Solomon tells us a few things about his pursuit of pleasure and work and it is pretty plain that he was not including God in his pursuit of pleasure or in his work. That is why he came to the conclusion that it was all meaningless.
When we get down to the end of Ecclesiastes 2 we find that Solomon ended up with this very same conclusion…if you do everything in service to God, then God rewards that service with a sense of satisfaction in life.
Not so, for the person who is not serving God…they continue to run through life like a rat on an exercise wheel…until life runs out on them.
Solomon’s thoughts in 2:24-26 may be hard for some to accept, especially if they are running away from God. It just comes down to one thing…either a person can have a fulfilling and meaningful life with God….or they can choose to run their own life…without God..which means that there is no more life after life…all that person has is the here and now and whatever satisfaction they can find in it.
Personally, I am happy that I have chosen not to live life without the inclusion of the Almighty God, my creator….because this means that not only do I have an after life to faithfully look forward to, but I can also share in God’s joy here on earth by doing the work he has given me to do. I have assurance that there is meaning to life!
I am hoping and praying that all of you have that assurance also…that is how we all share in God’s joy…the joy of a sinner saved, and the joy of fellowship with God and with fellow believers.
24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 2 New International Version (NIV)
Pleasures Are Meaningless
2 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem[a] as well—the delights of a man’s heart.9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless
12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
than what has already been done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
that the same fate overtakes them both.
15 Then I said to myself,
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
“This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!
Toil Is Meaningless
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.
24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
- Ecclesiastes 2:8 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
Psalm 18:27 You save the humble, but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
Read 1 Samuel 10:1 through 11:15. This is the story of Saul being anointed as king of Israel, and being rejected by the men of Jabesh. The Leaders of Jabesh had an attitude of why should you be king of us? They were in effect rejecting God’s choice of leadership over them. The next thing they knew they were embracing Saul as their king and rescuer. Saul showed mercy to them and spared their lives because he didn’t want anyone’s death to take away from God’s Glorious Rescue. This event did in fact result in Israel as a whole recognizing Saul’s kingship.
The back ground for this story is that Israel decided that they wanted a king so that they could “be like other nations.” God told Samuel to go and anoint Saul as the first king of Israel. Then Samuel prophecies to Saul about what will be happening shortly after his anointing as King. Now Samuel was a well known and respected prophet of God, so it is not really surprising that God give Saul an experience of himself by having the Spirit of the Lord come upon him as he meets up with the prophets and becomes a person who is prophesying himself….Samuel tells him that he will “become a different person”. Isn’t that the goal of all of us whenever we have the Holy Spirit dwell in us?
The funny thing is that Saul, even with this experience of God, did not seem to really accept the anointing. After all, actions speak stronger than words, and Saul went home having had this magnificent experience of God and when his Uncle asked him what Samuel had said, he just mentioned the donkeys that they had been looking for, and never said a word about the anointing of himself as king. Also when Samuel called all the tribes together to announce that God had chosen a king for them…Saul hid behind the supplies. He had to be brought out…then a lot of the people were “Long live the King!” Then Saul went on back home to work in the field as usual. A few brave men inspired by God followed him.
Now in Saul’s defense…Israel had never had a king so it was probably a bit hard to accept. I mean, how do you go about telling people that God made you king of them? He certainly had some difficulty ahead. Also we should keep in mind that a king in Saul’s time and area of the world was very different from a king in the European mindset that we all have. It would probably be more appropriate to picture a Sheik at this point. No grand palace was built, yet. That had not come about.
Now, as we read, not everyone was accepting of Saul’s anointing. It seems that some were quite skeptical of his ability to lead…after all, who is impressed with someone who just goes and hides when they are called upon? They probably thought he was timid, and they were looking for someone to take care of business for them. Even though Saul was the tallest most impressive person in looks…but his attitude was not what they were expecting. As usual, there were some who were “scoundrels” who were not going to just follow along with God..they thought they knew better than God how things should be and they despised the person that God selected…and refused to bring him gifts as a show of recognition and acceptance of him as their anointed king.
Next thing you know, there is a problem with the city of Jabesh…it is besieged by a guy called Nahash the Ammonite. Jabesh offers to become the subject of Nahash, but he doesn’t want that…he says only if he can gouge out their right eye as part of the treaty. So the men of Jabesh stall Nahash, and send for help. Now we get to see that Saul has what it takes to be king…the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and he slaughters his oxen and uses them in a method that we might see as rather like something out of the movie “The Godfather”…by sending parts to every tribe in Israel with a threat…”Follow me or else!” (This will be done to your oxen too!) What a brutal attention getter, right? The thing is that this is what it took to get all the people to rally around him as their king and go to war for their fellow Israelites well being.
Now there is an interesting parallel in this, at least to me, in Joel 3: 9-10.
9Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare a war; rouse the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them come up! 10Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, “I am a mighty man.” (Bible Hub NIV)
This business of Saul ridding himself of his Oxen which were the tools of his farming life, and sending them off to threaten the “farming life” that all of the people of Israel embraced…it was necessary because Nahash was threatening the peace and life styles of all of Israel…he probably wouldn’t have stopped at just the city of Jabesh. Saul was announcing that it was a “time of war”. War is brutal and shocking…Saul wanted to make sure he made that clear to start with, but that in this case it was necessary to defend their people. Suddenly, the “timid” “quiet man” who was a farmer was awakened as a “warrior king”. Israel’s response is amazing and also gives us some numbers to think of: 330,000 men come in response to Saul’s call. They go against Nahash and they succeed in rescuing Jabesh.
Suddenly, Israel is all, “Hey those men who were being against Our King Saul we need to find them and kill them! Look how great Our King Saul is and how mighty a warrior he is..he can take care of business for us!” Note that there is no thought of God in them, but all thoughts of Saul.
Saul is the one who admirably brings them back around to thinking about God…he says “No, there won’t be any killing today..this would take away from the Glory of the Lord who has given us victory today.”
So Samuel tells them that they should go and “renew” the kingship of Saul.
Now, this is really interesting because that is exactly what God wants from us…when we have rejected him, or his way of doing things, and we have been given an attitude adjustment in our thinking and we have come to see that God’s ideas and plans are superior to anything we could come up with…God wants us to go back to him and apologize and appreciate God and his love for us, and most importantly….Renew God’s kingship over our lives! That is what God’s attitude adjustment is all about…renewing our relationship with him!
1 Samuel 10
1Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?[a] 2 When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”’
3 “Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. 4 They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.
5 “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.
8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”
Saul Made King
9 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying.11 When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”
12 A man who lived there answered, “And who is their father?” So it became a saying: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 After Saul stopped prophesying, he went to the high place.
14 Now Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, “Where have you been?”
“Looking for the donkeys,” he said. “But when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.”
15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.”
16 Saul replied, “He assured us that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.
17 Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah 18 and said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ 19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.”
20 When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. 22 So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”
And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.”
23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”
Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
25 Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the Lord. Then Samuel dismissed the people to go to their own homes.
26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.
Saul Rescues the City of Jabesh
11 Nahash[a] the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you.”
2 But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel.”
3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue us, we will surrender to you.”
4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. 5 Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.
6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. 7 He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out together as one. 8 When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand.
9 They told the messengers who had come, “Say to the men of Jabesh Gilead, ‘By the time the sun is hot tomorrow, you will be rescued.’” When the messengers went and reported this to the men of Jabesh, they were elated. 10 They said to the Ammonites, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you can do to us whatever you like.”
11 The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.
Saul Confirmed as King
12 The people then said to Samuel, “Who was it that asked, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Turn these men over to us so that we may put them to death.”
13 But Saul said, “No one will be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel.”
14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.
- 1 Samuel 10:1 Hebrew; Septuagint and Vulgate over his people Israel? You will reign over the Lord’s people and save them from the power of their enemies round about. And this will be a sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler over his inheritance.
- 1 Samuel 11:1 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls gifts. Now Nahash king of the Ammonites oppressed the Gadites and Reubenites severely. He gouged out all their right eyes and struck terror and dread in Israel. Not a man remained among the Israelites beyond the Jordan whose right eye was not gouged out by Nahash king of the Ammonites, except that seven thousand men fled from the Ammonites and entered Jabesh Gilead. About a month later, 1 Nahash