Entries tagged with “Old Testament”.


Meditation
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Friday night David shared from the Old Testament book Nehemiah at Seward Church.  His focus was again on the community found within the Biblical story.

As a community the people listened attentively to Ezra’s reading of the Law (Neh 8:1-3). As a result of hearing the Law the people were grieved for their sin and as a result are making a covenant together to focus on pleasing God – through the law. (Neh 9:38)

I had a little trouble following David this week, but even though the Israelites were very focused on works-based salvation through the law – God had already offered them His radical love and salvation.  Even before they deserved it.  9:9-11 and 9:13

One of the purposes of the law is to create a community.  Whenever one person in the community suffers – the whole community suffers.  When we have an unraveling in our lives it is because our relationship with God is unravelling.  This too can have a negative impact on the community of believers.  Hearing the Word of God stirs something within us – as it did many times throughout the Old Testament stories.  Together and with the Holy Spirit’s help we can live together in community and carry each other’s burdens.  God doesn’t forsake us (9:17) even though we are all sinners (9:27,30) God has enduring patience and mercy.

David’s final point was that we should all continue to PRESS ON TOGETHER with Christ as our center.  Look at last week’s message to see more about God’s community.

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Much was written in the Gospels about the connection between Jesus and David.  He was called the Son of David several times and the geneology says he was the son of Abraham and the son of David.  Thus David must be an important character in the Old Testament.  So it is no surprise that a lot was written about him, specifically in 2nd SamuelTim chose a section from the book that I’m sure we are all  familiar with – Chapters 11 & 12.  If you can’t recall the topic, one word will suffice to remind you – Bathsheba.

You might recall that David was enjoying the view from his rooftop when he spotted a beautiful woman bathing across the way.  He quickly sent his staff to inquire about her.  I had never realized the importance of the characters in the story:

* Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband) was one of the top 37 soldiers (mercenaries) out of millions of soliders

* Eliam (Bathsheba’s dad) was another of the top 37.

* Bathsheba’s grandpa was actually a top advisor to David

I think the point here is that David knew the family surrounding this  “beautiful woman.”  This should have been a second opportunity for him to realize the folly of his desires.  In this chapter alone David broke at least 7 of the 10 commandments.  To finish the story recap David slept with Bathsheba, got her pregnant, brought Uriah home to try to pretend like it was his doing, and killed Uriah – who had too much honor and integrity to indulge himself while his comrades were suffering in a war.

It is a little ironic that while David, God’s chosen, was full of deciet and lies that this Hittite or foreigner, would have such high honor and integrity.

In 12:1-7 we see that David has the moral capacity has Nathan tells him a story and David is very angred.  This is a demonstration that we have the moral capacity but that we don’t neccessarily act morally. We like David often pronouce strong judgments on our immoral actions (Romans 2:1 and Genesis 3:4-5).  But it is our actions that slowly erode our moral compass.  Like Romans 1:18 says we “suppress the truth by our wickedness.”

We watch ourselves sin, know it is wrong, and then judge ourselves.  Sadly, a new moral compass won’t help.  Many today just thing we need to fix the compass or try some new programs to reteach morality – it won’t work.  It is actually also part of the problem.  We love to sin but don’t like to face the consequence – death. Fortunately we have a Savior who died so that we wouldn’t have to.

Who is most like Jesus? In this story who is most like Jesus?  Is it David? Uriah? Bathsheba? or Nathan (he confronted David about his sin)?

It is actually Uriah, he shows us the suffering side of Jesus.

  • Uriah refused to take the easy path, enjoying life while others suffered.
  • Uriah refused to have his feet washed, instead staying with the servants/body guards – Jesus washed feet as a servant
  • Jesus kissed Judas as He was being betrayed – Uriah honored David by staying with the servants/body guards.
  • Jesus was betrayed by one close to Him Uriah was betrayed by the whom he served
  • Uriah made the right decisions
  • David used someone else, war to kill Uriah.  The Jews used Roman law to have Jesus killed.

Are we willing to admit that we are morally bankrupt and in need of a Savior? It is hard to say that we are screwed up and don’t know right from wrong in the depths of our heart.  We need Jesus’ help to make sure we avoid temptations.

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Replica of the Tabernacle

Replica of the Tabernacle

The story of Numbers is any interesting look at two main aspects of sin, according to Tim at Seward Church.  As we continue our journey looking for the Gospel message in the 66 books of the Bible, Numbers is our 4th stop.

A few quick thoughts on the book – it is called Numbers because it opens and closes with a census being taken. There are about 2 million Israelites or the size of the Twin Cities Metro area living on a vast plain.  The book though, shares the story of the wandering Israelites and their quest to enter the promised land.  Yes, Number is quoted or alluded to in the New Testament, Hebrews 3:15-17 and I Corinthians 10:1-13.

So what are the two aspects of sin?  1) A longing to be an insider and 2) a longing to be satisfied.

We all have a desire to be a part of the “in-crowd” or on the inside of a group, or what C.S Lewis calls the inner-ring.  We may not aspire for a place of power, but we usually want to be within the group of people where power comes from though.  God created this desire within us. Wait. Isn’t that a contradiction, are you saying God created a sinful desire within us?  Nope, only that God created within us the desire to be in His inner circle, what in the Old Testament is referred to as the “Holy of Holies” or the inner-circle in the temple, tabernacle, or the tent. This is the place that only the High Priest can enter and only once a year.

Many passages throughout Numbers make it clear that only those whom God allows are to take part in the priesthood, tabernacle, and other holy things.  Take for instance Numbers 1:51 “When the tabernacle is to set out, the Levites shall take it down, and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up. And if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death.” Yikes! God is pretty strict about His holiness.

God has a high standard for who He lets in to the holiest parts, if you try to take part and shouldn’t be the consequence is… death. Our sin is that we try to lower God’s standards and create our own inside groups, cliques, and our own standards to get in.  Or maybe more importantly, we create standards to keep people out (ie racism).  Like in Numbers 12:1-2 or 16:1-11 we make-up some reason to block people out of our circles.  We will continue to be miserable, always seeking approval until we stop and seek approval only from God. The Gospel of Jesus slams all of the circles and bubbles of our life together not letting us keep people in or out.

Oh and in case you are wondering… all who come to Christ are accepted by God.

The second major aspect of sin is that we all have a longing to be satisfied.  You know the saying, the grass is always greener on the other side.  Well that was here in Numbers as well. The group of people actually started grumbling the minute God set out to free them… and continued even though He contiuned to provide for their every need.  Sound familiar?  I wonder how often we sit around and grumble, even though God has proven Himself faithful?

You might recall that God provided for the nutritional needs each day through manna.  One day God provided them with a supplement of quail to eat.  They literally had quail coming out the nostrils!  Then God returned to providing them regular old manna.  At that point according to Numbers 11:4-6 they decided that slavery under Egypt was better than freedom – because they ate better as slaves.  That seems stupid doesn’t it?

It is amazing that God continues to love and accept us, despite our foolishness and our desire to enslave ourselves to the ways of this world. Through our hero – Jesus – we are saved from our folly and receive an amazing and abundant grace.  Christ died so that we can be satisfied.  His death opens up the holiest of places for us to enter. He is the perfect high priest, the final blood sacrifice.

Through Jesus God is able to accept us completely and allows us to enter the holiest places.  Satan wants us to question this, which is why he creates unhealthy cravings and longings within us.  God won’t necessarily take away or fill our desires, but will direct us to a better place. He is willing to meet us where we are and offer us grace.  Ultimately, we have an offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ (John 3:14).

Let us be free today from the longings and desires that keep us from chasing after God.

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Happy New Year!!!

For 2007 I did something a little different for part of my daily devotions.  I decided to read the daily devotions from the book called Extreme Devotion which tells the stories of Christian Martyrs from Old Testament* to current day times.  Copyrighted in 2001, by the Voice of the Martyrs it includes stories that I remember hearing about on the news.

Each day’s reading includes a short story about a martyr or someone who was severely persecuted.  Following the story is a paragraph or two that provides an application point, usually encouraging you to be strong and bold with your faith.  Finally, each day there is a relevant Scripture verse.  Every 7th day there is a quote from a martyr for reflection, in 2007 this actually occurred on Sundays!

I would recommend this devotional to you as a way to learn more about the history of our faith and the many great struggles that others have faced in the name of Jesus Christ.

* I know OT figures aren’t considered Christians, but it was easier to write that way, Daniel and his friends suffered for their belief in the Lord.
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As mentioned before Christy and I are taking a course called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (local link). Here are some insights from the reading:

This verse came up in almost all the reading as the proclamation of God’s plan: Genesis 12:1-3
1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

As seeds of Abraham through faith in Jesus Christ, the only way the earth’s family will be blessed is we go to them with the gospel.

God calls us to:
1) Proclaim His plan to the nations (Gen 12:1-3);
2) Participate in His priesthood as agents of blessing to all the nations (Exodus 19:4-6); and
3) to prove His purpose to bless all the nations (Psalm 67)

Finally, we don’t have to proof text the Bible to prove God’s purpose of evangelization. The Bible:
1) Gives us the mandate for world evangelization. Jesus came to the nation of Israel but proclaimed something bigger with the Great Commission.
2) Provides the message for world evangelization. The Gospel is presented as one Gospel but is diverse enough to be understood by all. We have to engage in a struggle to relate the given gospel (Bible) to any situation.
3) Is a model for world evangelization. Not necessarily the Old Testament wars that the Crusades tried, but provides a model of love and humbly seeking to empty themselves of all but their personal authenticity, in order to become servants of others (Lausanne Covenant). Christ came in the flesh and became part of our culture.
4) Power for world evangelization. “Preaching the Gospel, far from being unnecessary, is indispensable. It is the God-appointed means by which the prince of darkness is defeated and the light comes streaming into people’s hearts. There is power in God’s gospel – His power for salvation” Makes me think of the hymn, “Power, power, wonder working power.”

I like how John Stott finishes his article: “Let us not consume all our energies arguing about the Word of God; let’s start using it. It will prove its divine origin by its divine power. Let’s let it loose in the world! If only every Christian missionary and evangelist proclaimed the biblical gospel with faithfulness and sensitivity, and every Christian preacher were a faithful expositor of God’s Word! Then God would display His saving power. ”
“Lets heed its summons, grasp its message, follow its directions, and trust its power.

This week’s articles are:
John Stott. The Living God is a Missionary God. Taken from You Can Tell the World. 1979. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA.
Walter Kaiser, Jr. Israel’s Missionary Call. Adapted from a presentation at Trinity Evangelical Divinty School, Ill, May 14, 1981.
Stanley Ellisen. Everyone’s Question: What is God Trying to Do? from Biography of a Great Planet. Chapter 2, 1975. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois.
John Stott. The Bible in World Evangelization. Adapted from a presentation at the Consultation on World Evangelization at Pattaya, Thailand in June 1980.

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