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Old Testament: Joshua 22:21-23:16
Joshua knew his time was at an end, to follow God he wanted all Jews to set a trend.
Joshua 22:21-34 Accept No Substitutes
As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the 2 1/2 tribes that settled on the other side of the Jordan from all the other tribes, talked themselves out of trouble. They said they had built an altar that was “copy of the altar of the Lord which our fathers made, not for burnt offering or for sacrifice; rather it is a witness between us and you.” (v. 28). It was a fake altar. The true altar was in the Tabernacle at a central location for all the other tribes. It would eventually be in Jerusalem in the Temple.
Yesterday we celebrated Easter. But just as Easter means only Easter bunnies and baskets for some, so the term Christian can mean many things for others. Names are contextual. Accept no substitutes. Christian means that we believe there was a blood sacrifice made for us by Christ. It does not mean that we are just “do-gooders.” It does not mean that we were born in a “Christian nation.” It means that because Christ died for us, we love and help others. It means, first and foremost, we live for Christ because He saved us by His death. It means that someday we will be resurrected because He was resurrected. But all of that is because first we believe and then we act. We cannot mix the two. First, believe. Second, act.
Joshua accepted the 2 1/2 tribes explanation but should he have? There was to only be one altar for sacrifice and no fakes (Deut. 12:27). The tribe of Gad later degenerated into tending pigs for sale (Matt. 8:28-34). The most famous inhabitant was the Gadarene demoniac.
There were also numerous warnings in the Old Testament about mixing cloths or other material (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:9-11; Matt. 9:16-17; 2 Cor. 6:14-17), they were not to mix the ox and a donkey for plowing. Yahweh did not like it. By the same token, theological parts should not be mixed that are separated by God. Mixing justification and sanctification can result in something less than Christian. The biggest theology disaster is mixing faith with works. God will not accept our works in any degree for salvation. Ask Cain who tried to force God to accept his theology of bringing grain as an offering instead of an animal whose blood had been shed. The 2 1/2 tribes watered down their faith and mixed what can not be mixed: being on the wrong side of the Jordan with being on the right side of the Jordan. They wanted Yahweh to accept their form of worship. The result was a disaster.
The 2 1/2 tribes sounded sincere but God does not want “sincere.” “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam. 15:22). God wants what He asks for, not necessarily what we bring him no matter how sincere.
Joshua 23:1-16 Packing It In
Joshua knew his time was up and wanted to try once more to keep the Israelites on track after he departed.
Joshua had been a slave in Egpyt, he had been Moses’ right-hand man in the wilderness, and finally had brought the people into the Promised Land.
Almost all the pagans had been chased out of the land Yahweh wanted to give to his people. Joshua warned the people to do all that Moses had commanded them (v.6). Moses had made it very clear that there would be blessings in the land for the people if they obeyed but they would be cursed if they disobeyed.
Eventually, they disobeyed and were scattered all over the earth just as Yahweh had promised (Deut. 28:64). They were also tortured wherever they went. Witness the holocaust in World War II. I am currently reading the book by Victor Frankl wherein he describes in detail all the atrocities suffered by himself and his fellow Jews. At one point he recounts how he didn’t want to wake any of his friends from their nightmares because the reality of being in the death camps was worse than the nightmares they suffered. Just as Frankl describes, “In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening! ’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Would that it were morning! ’ because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see” (Deut. 28:67). How awful! But as the Bible says numerous times, “God is not mocked.” What God promises, He fulfills, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19).
Joshua wanted his generations and all the subsequent generations to get serious with God. Do you think this could also be a word for our generation of Christians?
New Testament: Luke 20:27-47
Jesus told to the Pharisees a parable, to show He was God so that their fate would not terrible.
Luke 20:27-47 Sad You See?
I wrote about this already from Mark’s account in Mark 12:18-37 in the commentary, 8,500 Men And A Truck.
The Sadducees who didn’t believe in a resurrection were Sad-You-See. Get it? Bad evangelical humor. But now you’ll remember it. Anyway, they tried to catch Jesus in a conundrum. The law of Moses said that a person should marry his sister-in-law if his brother died. The idea was to perpetuate the line of the brother. The Sad guys must have thought long and hard to come up with this one. They came up with a scenario that a brother could die and and his brother and his brother and so on up to seven brothers. All married the same poor gal who had obviously married into the wrong family! What a sickly bunch they must’ve been! Anyway, the hypothetical was brought to Jesus, trying to stump him and embarrass Him. They obviously didn’t know who they were dealing with!
Jesus told them they didn’t know their Bibles. He said Yahweh was the God of the living not the dead and that those who died were immortal, never to die again. Thus, there was no marriage in heaven.
Then Jesus said to them, “I’ve got one for you.” He asked them how in Psalms (110:1) David could say that God could call “the Lord,” i.e. the Messiah, His Son? He was trying to tip the guys off but they were clueless. Jesus was trying to show them that He Himself was the Messiah. Oh, well. He tried.
Then while everyone was still listening to Him, He told the people to look out for the fake religious guys who were trying to get all the accolades while misleading them. They would get theirs, He said.
Psalm 89:14-37 A Lament By Ethan The Ezrahite, Part 2
The Psalmist set on God’s faithfulness his heart, on His way he would chart.
Psalm 89:14-37 Houston, We Have A Problem, Part 2
In Psalm 89 the author, Ethan, is a Ezrahite. Ethan, the author of this psalm, as well as Heman, the author of the preceding psalm, are both mentioned in 1 Kings 4:31 and were sons of Zerah, (cf. 1 Chron. 2:6). Ezrahite might be a reference to Zerah but that means that someone transposed the letters E and Z. Ethan and Heman were both smart guys but Solomon was even smarter (cf. 1 Kings 4:30).
Ps. 89 is a royal psalm. One commentator, A.A. Anderson (did his friends call him”A” for short?), breaks the psalm into two parts: a hymn in verses 1-37 and a lament from verses 38-51 (v. 52 is a benediction). The OYB breaks it into three parts. Today we look at verses 14-37. The psalm raises the question, if the Davidic covenant is forever according to 2 Sam. 7:5-16, and a relative of David has been bumped off the throne, how is God true to promises?
Ethan knew that God founded everything He ever did on His righteousness and justice (v. 14a). Hesed is mentioned seven times in verses 1-2, 14, 24, 28, 33, and 49. Of course, by now, you know that hesed refers to Yahweh’s binding, covenantal love. It is the main word in the OT for God’s love just as agape is the main word for God’s love in the NT. Ethan uses the fact that God is bound to Israel as a basis for his request. How could God abandon His promise to David in light of His hesed for Israel?
Yahweh could not let His people down, Ethan reasons (vv. 15-18). They rejoice in the Lord (vv. 15-16). He is the source of their strength, “horn” represents power in v. 17b. A rhinoceros has a horn. A ram has a horn. A unicorn has a horn. OK, forget the unicorn. They are mythical. But when you see animals with horns you want to get out of their way. Horns represent power and strength. (Kitty cats, by contrast, do not have horns. Neither do tribbles, as in Star Trek. Oops. Again, legendary. Never mind.)
“Shield” represents protection in verse 18a. God is their offense and defense. Paul said, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (cf. 2 Cor. 12:10). That meant when he realized he was weak in himself, he would trust more in God and His strength.
God had Samuel anoint David as His chosen king (v. 19a, cf. 1 Sam. 16:13). He made David strong, most notably in his encounter with Goliath (vv. 20-25, cf. 1 Sam. 17:48-51) but also many other times.
Psalm 89 is a royal psalm by category. That means it’s about a king, usually David and once of Solomon. But when the psalm is about the king, it might reference David immediately but also references the Great King, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Beginning in verse 25, it is much easier to see that Jesus is in mind as the ultimate king over the world during the Millennium and beyond that time.
Jesus will rule from sea to sea (v. 25), He has the most intimate relationship with the Father (v. 26), He is the firstborn (cf. Ps. 2:7; 110:1; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15, 18). Ethan quotes God as saying He will keep His covenant with David but also by way of the Messiah, not only will David have many descendants that will reign but so, spiritually speaking, will Christ (v. 29, cf. Rom. 5:17).
With verse 30, we’re back to the Israelites both in David’s time but also in the Millennium. If His children disobey, they will be reprimanded (vv. 30-32, cf. Heb. 12:5-11). The Old Testament is replete with illustrations of the Jews being disciplined by their Father. The Seven Year Tribulation will be a future time of chastisement of Jacob’s descendants, it is a time of “Jacob’s trouble” (cf. Jer. 30:7 NIV NET KJV HCSB, “distress” NASB ESV).
The picture is starting to come into focus. How can God remain true to His word to David while removing a son of Jehoiachin from the throne? The words of Yahweh in verses 33 and 34 assures Ethan that God will not break His covenant or violate His loving character. He will not be deemed a liar (v. 35) but will fulfill His promise (cf. Num. 23:19).
David’s descendants will prevail (v. 36) and his throne shall endure as long as the sun and moon (v. 37).
Verse 27 is the key verse for understanding this psalm. “I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” Ultimately, it can only refer to Christ. It can only refer to David in a limited way but to Christ in an unlimited way. Christ is the One Who is firstborn and will rule over all creation some day.
God will keep His covenant with David and with Israel through the son of David (cf. Matt. 1:1; Luke 3:31). The Lord will reign forever!
Is He your help and strength in trouble like He was for Ethan?
Proverbs 13:17-19 The Message
Accept rebuke and blessing will not be a fluke.
I just watched the 1966 movie A Man For All Seasons. If you haven’t seen it by now, I don’t think I’m giving anything away to tell you that a corrupt messenger begins by being just a little corrupt and then ends up betraying a righteous man in the end. He was a “wicked messenger” and “fell into” rank “adversity” (v. 17a). Some people don’t mind that. But I’d think it’d be a lot better to bring healing to people (v. 17b).
Why is the world in such a mess today? Could it be laziness? Obsession with electronics? Doesn’t that involve a lack of discipline? A disciple is one who is disciplined, literally, a “learner.” One who knows God is his Father will accept discipline (v. 18b, cf. Heb. 12:5-11 – second opportunity you’ve had to check out those Scriptures in this blog).
Waiting is a sign of maturity. People don’t wait for things anymore though the Scripture tells us to wait for God before acting (cf. Pss. 25:5; 62:1, 5; 69:3). When someone has to wait for some thing, it is more valued, it “is sweet to the soul” (v. 19a).
Dippy people don’t even consider waiting for things or being disciplined (v. 19b). To them, it is anathema (cf. Greek for “accursed,” Gal. 1:8-9). For Christians, the message is always Maranatha! (cf. 1 Cor. 16:22, NASB, where anathema and maranatha are juxtaposed).
Choose Life: Scripture: Luke 20:42-43 NASB “Victory In Jesus”
“Then He said to them, ‘How is it that they say the Christ is David’s son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms,
‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD,”‘SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”'”” Luke 20:42-43
OK. I admit that I’m a bit of a language nerd. The New Testament was written originally in Greek and the Old Testament was written in Hebrew (a small part of Daniel was written in Aramaic). Luke is quoting David in the Psalms here (cf. Ps. 100: 1). The original Hebrew, translated literally, would be “Yahweh said to Elohim.” We might render it, “The Covenantal God of Israel said to God, the Messiah, ‘sit at my My right hand until I crush all your enemies.'”
The Apostle Paul said that we are “more than conquerors through Him Who loved us” (cf. Rom. 8:37). The reason we are more than conquerors is because Jesus has already conquered (Rev. 5:5; 6:2).
Do you feel like a conqueror today? Are you claiming your victory in Jesus?
If you are, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
Check out the well-known hymn, “Victory in Jesus.” Here is a great verse that will also perk you today on the victory we have in Jesus, 1 John 5:4.
The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: Sad You See?