Monthly Archives: July 2013
God is unchanging, but many people think that there is a difference in the way He is portrayed in the Old and New Testaments. For example, the Old Testament seems to be a lot more about the God who supports Israel in war whereas the New Testament talks more about the God who will save us all eternally.
However, God really is the same entity, and I found some very interesting parallels in 2 Chronicles 7.
2Ch 7:12 And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.
2Ch 7:13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
2Ch 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Now, because Jesus had not died yet, the sacrificial system was still necessary. However, some of the language that is used particularly in verse 14 is very similar to a lot of what we hear in the New Testament. If we humble ourselves and come before God for forgiveness, we can definitely be forgiven.
Another similarity is the fact that we need to turn away from what we were doing before. Obviously, God does not expect us to be perfect because that would be impossible, and that is why Jesus came to forgive our sins. However, we can become more and more like God as we learn more about Him. We can, and quite frankly should, be continually growing in our walk with God and turning away from the sin that we might have enjoyed before.
God does not change. His relationship with humanity might have changed a little because of the redeeming work of Jesus, and passages like this can certainly illustrate some of the similarities.
2 Chronicles 6 is basically the dedication of the Temple. Solomon offers a prayer to God, and I am going to highlight a little piece of it for you.
2Ch 6:7 Now it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.
2Ch 6:8 But the LORD said to David my father, Forasmuch as it was in thine heart to build an house for my name, thou didst well in that it was in thine heart:
I chose this passage because I wanted to talk about intentions. It seemed as if God appreciates good intentions. In this case, David really wanted to build the Temple, but God told him that it would have to wait another generation. Nevertheless, in verse eight, God says that it was good that it was in David’s heart to think about building the Temple.
We have all heard the following famous words from James.
Jas 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
However, God is not always all about the work that we do. It is the intention and the attitude that seemed to make a difference. Naturally, if it is your intention to do something, you will probably follow through and do the work that is on hand, so the two ideas are certainly reconcilable. Your intentions do turn into your works.
Sometimes we might even have all of the intention in the world, but God will hold us back from doing something. That is a situation David was in. It is not like He is then going to say, “Why didn’t you do that?” With David, he said something more along the lines of, “It is good that you want to do that, but it is not for you.” God might not have every job for us to do, but if we are willing to do whatever job He wants us to do, we will be like David from the above verse. We will do great works with our faith, and we will be living in a way that will bring glory to God.
Like I have said many times before, people like to get Bible verses out of context and make brutal attacks on the credibility of Christianity. You can find one of those popular attack points in 2 Chronicles 5.
2Ch 5:10 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.
It seems like a rather mundane verse about the Ark of the Covenant, but look at what happens when you go to Hebrews.
Heb 9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
It seems as if red lights go on right about here. One verse said that the only thing in the Ark were the stone tablets that the 10 Commandments were written on while the other said that it had more items in it.
How can we possibly reconcile this without contradiction?
First of all, there is a time difference here. The items were put in at the time of Moses, but this passage from Chronicles was in the time of Solomon. That is a time difference that could make a difference.
However, we never have an absolute reference in the Bible that says why certain things were removed or how they came to be removed. As a result, anything that I write from here on out is speculation that I am making only to demonstrate that a story can exist without contradiction. I do believe that in the beginning there were three items, and at the end there was one. I believe that because that is what the Bible says.
All that being said, 500 years is a long time for a piece of wood to survive (I have heard that as an estimate of the time between Moses and David). It is quite possible that the rod of Aaron simply decomposed. Wood would never last that long unless it was petrified, but it does not seem like the conditions would have been right in the Ark for that process to occur. There certainly could be supernatural protection, but this does seem like a definite possibility of how there was no more rod.
The golden bowl full of manna is a little bit trickier. On first thought, I would say that the manna also simply went bad and decomposed. I don’t know of any food that would last 500 years. However, that answer is not completely satisfying given what we know from Exodus.
Exo 16:32 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.
Exo 16:33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.
Exo 16:34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
Even though manna only lasted a short period of time before it went bad on the Israelites, it seemed as God was going to provide some type of protection given that the intent was to show it to future generations. Also, the bowl would not have decomposed. It was made out of gold.
Personally, I think that the best answer to this lies in the fact that the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Philistines in the book of 1 Samuel. If you remember that story, every city they took it to got all kinds of painful diseases. We know that the Ark was with them for seven months. Is it possible that someone tried to open the Ark and take something out? In fact, what if they were to take out something of value that was perhaps made of gold like a bowl?
You might say that you were not allowed to touch the Ark and live. Again, I would agree with you, but I would say that is not that hard to use a long board to pry the top off and pull out the only item in there that would be of value in the market. Stone tablets probably would not be worth very much, but the golden pot would be.
Again, to reiterate, I don’t know the absolute answer to this one. What I do know is that there were three items, and then there was only one. There are certainly people out there who will all of a sudden say that because there is something that could appear to be a contradiction, the Bible must all of a sudden be thrown out.
However, I hope that I have at least shown you a little bit of how this could have occurred. What some people would jump on as a contradiction certainly does not need to be if you apply a little bit of common sense.
2 Chronicles 4 focuses on the building of some of the implements in the Temple. Although I don’t know a lot about the making of altars or candlesticks, there is one thing that seemed to make a difference.
2Ch 4:19 And Solomon made all the vessels that were for the house of God, the golden altar also, and the tables whereon the shewbread was set;
2Ch 4:20 Moreover the candlesticks with their lamps, that they should burn after the manner before the oracle, of pure gold;
2Ch 4:21 And the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, made he of gold, and that perfect gold;
2Ch 4:22 And the snuffers, and the basons, and the spoons, and the censers, of pure gold: and the entry of the house, the inner doors thereof for the most holy place, and the doors of the house of the temple, were of gold.
Everything was built by Solomon. First, there were obviously craftsmen who literally did the work, but they did not use things that were not made at home in Israel.
I bring that up because by creating all of these themselves, they could make sure that everything was up to the standards that God deserved.
It is kind of like the concept of “buyer beware.” If they would have gone to one of the neighboring countries and said that they needed a certain type of candlestick, who knows what would have come back? It could have been a substandard piece of craftsmanship.
When we do something for God, we need to make sure that we do our best.
Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Col 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
In context, this verse is talking about how servants should work well for their masters, but it does imply that if you are doing something for God, you should do it well.
Solomon knew that God deserved worship, and he made sure that all the materials put in the Temple gave Him that type of respect.
I think that it is kind of cool how the Bible comes together. Solomon is finally starting to build the Temple, and of course the location was significant.
2Ch 3:1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
Mount Moriah as you might remember is also the location where Abraham was called to sacrifice his only son Isaac. This was a big deal because God had promised Abraham that his family would go on forever, but with only one son, what would happen? Who would carry on the line? God provided a lamb so that Isaac was ultimately not the sacrifice, but this is one of the biggest tests of faith recorded in the Bible.
Why would the Temple be built anywhere else? It is also interesting if we fast-forward through history to when Jesus died, and that the curtain in the Temple divided right down the middle. He made the sacrifices unnecessary because He was the Ultimate Sacrifice.
It is interesting how Abraham tied into the Temple, and Jesus was ultimately tied into the Temple. God is certainly written everywhere you look in history. This shouldn’t necessarily be surprising, but I think that it can often times be forgotten.
God is from the beginning to the end, and nothing has happened, is happening or will happen without Him. On top of that, things don’t happen randomly. There is a purpose behind everything that does happen, and it all comes together into a master narrative.
I love finding connections between Biblical passages, and this is a pretty obvious one. It always reminds me how great a mind God must have. He remembers all of the details, but He is also the designer of the big picture. That is pretty amazing.
In Greek mythology, Mount Olympus was supposed to be the home of all of the Pantheon. They were supposed to live there and hang out there. I bring this up because I think this is the way that a lot of ancient religions worked.
The God of Israel was unique as far as I know because of His omnipresence. Most other deities had to be in one place at a time, but God did not have to be.
This presented a little bit of a dilemma for Solomon in 2 Chronicles 2. He was going to build a beautiful Temple, but it is hard to build a building for someone who cannot be physically defined.
2Ch 2:5 And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods.
2Ch 2:6 But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?
It is kind of like fitting a round peg into a square hole. How do you build a finite building for an infinite Being?
This led Solomon to another thought. If God is so big and so great, who am I to build Him a house? He recognized the difference between God and man. He recognized how much higher God is than man. He wasn’t sure what made him worthy to undertake such a task.
I know I say this a lot, but this is the attitude that we need to take towards God. We need to recognize His position. If you are going to be a Christian, this is a fact that needs to be accepted. God is not some little thing that you put in a drawer and take out when you want a little bit of wisdom.
God is a great Being. He is omnipotent, omnipresent and if we are going to follow Him, we need to make sure that we give Him the respect He deserves. Perspective is important, and I think Solomon had a good one.
We are now entering our 14th book of the Bible together, and 2 Chronicles starts off with a very familiar story. Solomon has just become king, and God asked him what he wanted. We all know what Solomon wanted.
2Ch 1:10 Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?
I entirely understand what Solomon was saying. Who can judge so many people? I know that if I have to be the mediator in a conflict between two people, it is hard enough to come to a just decision. However, if you multiply that by hundreds and end up with a nation the size of Israel, it must be kind of overwhelming. You know that you need in God’s help.
To keep that in perspective though, what if you have to multiply that by all of humanity of all time? We know that God is one day going to judge every person who has walked on the earth, and that will take quite a bit of wisdom. Who can judge so many people? God is the only one.
I know that people don’t like to talk about judgment, but there is good news. God is just, and there really is one major question that matters.
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
We do not have to be condemned. We can be freed from that punishment, and these verses are pretty clear. God will faithfully judge each and every individual. It is not as if there will be a surprise criteria. He will be just and fair. It won’t be like that pop quiz where you studied the wrong materials. I would encourage you to make sure you know how you would answer this question.
“Do you believe that Jesus died and took away your sins?”
This is a great chapter to end 1 Chronicles with. The people are willing to give things to God, and a beautiful building is about to be built because of it.
1Ch 29:9 Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.
The good part about this is that the people were giving willingly. God doesn’t want coercion. I believe that that is ultimately why Adam and Eve were given a choice in the Garden of Eden. God could have simply shut Satan out and not allowed him to even tempt them. However, God wanted people to make the choice to love Him rather than have a bunch of robots.
Of course, we can certainly get into a debate as to whether or not there really is free will. After all, if God does the future, then He must not be waiting to see what we do.
That debate divides denominations, and I honestly don’t think that I have all of the answers. If you want to talk about it, leave some comments, and I am more than happy to talk about it. However, for right now, let’s get back to 1 Chronicles.
The people were giving willingly. They wanted to help out in this process. Obviously they intended to worship in the Temple someday, but they weren’t just there for the end result. They were putting in some work as well by supplying the raw materials.
All of the things that I just mentioned are ways that we are still able to support Christian ministries today. We can obviously help these things financially like they were doing in this chapter, but we can also give our time or our efforts.
Nevertheless, it goes back to the beginning. If we are going to do any of this stuff, we need to do it willingly. God wants us to do it because we love Him.
There are plenty of jobs that can be overwhelming. Sometimes, we have a lot of pressure put on by our families, teachers, bosses or really any ready for that matter. That can definitely be stressful.
Now, imagine that you are building something for God. That is a lot of pressure because you would want to please Him. After all, as a Christian, you worship God, and you understand that He is the infinite King of the universe. How do you ever build something that would live up to those standards? That is a lot of pressure.
However, in 1 Chronicles 28, David was telling all of the powerful people in Israel that Solomon was going to be the one to build the Temple for God. Now, he has the pressure of trying to build something that will glorify God, and the eyes of all of the most powerful people in Israel were being focused on him.
David must have understood this feeling a little because he offered Solomon some pretty strong encouragement.
1Ch 28:20 And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.
To basically condense all of that down into one thought, David said that Solomon could do it because God would not leave him. That is a pretty simple thought, but it is a powerful one.
Whenever we end up facing something that feels insurmountable, we don’t need to worry. God is omnipresent. He is everywhere at once, and He is with us. What could we possibly be afraid of?
God made humans pretty intelligent. However, I often marvel at how we do things that we know are wrong. In 1 Chronicles 27, we hear about yet another census that the people of Israel wanted to take.
If they could only remember a few chapters before, that turned out to be a really bad idea. David wanted to count the people, and Joab told him not to. Now the roles were reversed.
1Ch 27:23 But David took not the number of them from twenty years old and under: because the LORD had said he would increase Israel like to the stars of the heavens.
1Ch 27:24 Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number, but he finished not, because there fell wrath for it against Israel; neither was the number put in the account of the chronicles of king David.
That is the inconvenience of having a sin nature. Even though in the earlier chapter they saw that there were bad consequences for doing this, Joab felt like he had to do it again.
Intelligence is not the issue here. With perfect logic, the memory of the bad consequences would certainly stop any person from committing the action because of the consequences. After all, nobody likes to be punished. Any reasonably intelligent person could certainly come to the same conclusion without too much work.
The issue is that we still have this annoying sin nature. There is still something about us that wants to live in rebellion to God.
Rom 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
Paul had the same problem. He obviously wanted to live for God, but somehow sin kept creeping into his life.
We’re not going to be able to overcome this problem because of our own intelligence or our own willpower. The only one who is able to help us fight sin is God. We are not perfect, but fortunately He is.