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Isaiah 47: The Hazards of Pride

Isaiah 47 tells us about the judgment that is coming to Babylon. Obviously, they were a nation that suffered from many vices, but one stood out to me at least as I was reading this chapter.

Isa 47:8  Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:

Isa 47:9  But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.

Isa 47:10  For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.

Isa 47:11  Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.

Their pride is what did them in. I am not a Hebrew scholar, but it is interesting that Babylon is saying in their heart, “I am.” It is interesting that this is what God told Moses from out of the burning bush. This is where my limited (and essentially nonexistent) Hebrew knowledge comes into play. The Hebrew words are different in Isaiah 47 then they are in Exodus 3. I don’t know the nuances of the language well enough to know if these claims were effectively identical, but if they were, imagine the arrogance. These people are using a title for God to essentially describe themselves.

Even if they aren’t functionally identical, the passage still makes it clear that pride was the problem here. They trusted in their wickedness. They figured that they were untouchable and unaccountable. Nobody could see them, and they made themselves wise in their own minds.

That never works out well.

The obvious lesson for all of us is that we don’t want to become Babylon. We don’t want to become so absorbed in ourselves that we begin to think we are God. Unfortunately, society promotes that kind of humanism today. Nobody can tell you what to do after all; you are your own authority.

That is not the Christian worldview. We are all accountable to God, and that is incredibly important. We cannot fall into this trap of pride.

Psalms 114: Dominion over Nature

Psalms 114 has some unique imagery. The pattern and rhythm are also quite a bit different than what we have seen before.

We are talking here about the children of Israel leaving Egypt and all of the miracles that happened on their trip to the Promised Land.

Psa 114:5  What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?

Psa 114:6  Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs?

Psa 114:7  Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob;

Psa 114:8  Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.

The presence of God is doing this stuff. None of this happened because Moses was a fantastic man. It wasn’t because Aaron was a great priest. By and large, both of these statements are true; they were both pretty good at what they did. However, these kind of things can only happen through the power of God.

Of course, as we have talked about before, all of these types of miracles show that God had dominion over nature. At the very least, it indicates that God is an incredibly powerful being, but it also is a decent evidence toward God being the creator. If God has control over nature, while it doesn’t guarantee that He created it, it is definitely possible that He created it. If you create something, you have some degree of control over it.

I think that this is an interesting chapter. It shows us something about the power of God. If there is a God who is this powerful, and if we believe that as Christians, then He certainly deserves our praise.

Psalms 105: What God Has Done

History is an important teacher, and Psalms 105 highlights many important moments in the history of Israel. It starts with Abraham and goes down until Moses. Before we get to all of this history though, we have a very interesting introduction.

Psa 105:1  O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

Psa 105:2  Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.

Psa 105:3  Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.

Psa 105:4  Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.

Psa 105:5  Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

Basically, before we talk about all of the exciting things that have happened in the history of Israel, let’s get one thing straight. We need to make sure that we are thanking God for everything He has done and recognizing His marvelous works.

I think that is something that we need to make sure we remember to do in our lives. Before we get to human achievement, we need to make sure that we are attributing everything to God first. Think about it this way.

God provided for Moses. He helped him divide the Red Sea for example. In one sense, Moses did indeed do something. He had the faith that God would be able to do it, and he was the one who physically stretched out his hand.

However, it would be ridiculous for us to say any of this about Moses if we started anywhere outside of God. Certainly, the faith of Moses was important and deserves remembrance in history, but we can’t just leave it there. God was involved and did more in that situation than Moses ever could have done on his own.

After all, what would have happened if Moses had all the faith in the world but God was not involved? He would have touched the water, nothing would have happened and the people of Israel would have gone back to slavery in Egypt.

God makes things happen in ways that we never could, and it makes sense that whatever we think back over our lives, it makes sense for us to look for what God has done. There are some things that we simply could not do on our own.

Psalms 99: Answers to Prayer

Psalms 99 gives some examples of people who called upon the Lord. When they called upon the Lord, they received an answer.

Psa 99:6  Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.

Psa 99:7  He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them.

Now, it doesn’t specifically say what they called on God for, but maybe we can go back into the Bible and find what this might be referring to.

Moses called upon God several times as I remember, but here is one example for you.

Exo 32:11  And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

This was after Aaron and the other people had created the golden calf. Moses asked God to be merciful to the people of Israel even though they had been stubborn and disobedient. God immediately answered in this case and said that He would not destroy the people.

I had a harder time finding when Aaron was directly speaking without Moses beside him, but there was a time when the people of Israel were thinking of having a revolution against Moses and Aaron, and here is the prayer that the two men said.

Num 16:22  And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?

Again, God was very angry, and even though He could have easily destroyed all of the rebels in one shot, we see a similar prayer from Moses and Aaron. Most of the people had been deceived by the leadership which is why you get the verse above. They didn’t want everyone to be punished, and they received an answer from God that He would not destroy everyone. The earth did open up and devour the ringleaders, but again, we see an answer to prayer.

Finally, Samuel had a pretty cool situation. The Philistines were threatening to overtake Israel like they always seemed to be, and Israel was asking Samuel to pray to God on their behalf for His assistance.

1Sa 7:9  And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.

1Sa 7:10  And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.

Not surprisingly, we see that his prayer was answered. God prevented the invasion that had been coming to Israel.

So what?

I know that some people will deny this, and I don’t have time for a full-fledged defense of the historical reliability of the Bible, but if we take for granted that the Bible is at the very least a reliable historical document, we see records of prayers being answered.

People often say that prayer doesn’t work, but it seemed as if this Psalm is kind of encouraging people to investigate the evidence themselves. See, it worked for Moses, Aaron and Samuel among others. Using these kinds of drastic examples, it is easy to see that, if they are true, there is no doubt that God did them. They are pretty miraculous answers.

Psalms 90: Focusing on God

Psalms 90 is interesting because it is one of the few that was written by Moses. He was in a unique position to evaluate the wrath of God because the people of Israel as you remember could not enter the Promised Land until the entire generation had passed away. That is why you end up with verses like these.

Psa 90:9  For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

Psa 90:10  The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Psa 90:11  Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

Psa 90:12  So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Every day for the Israelites was spent as a constant reminder of the wrath of God. We spend our entire lives working, and in the end, we fly away. Everyone dies. That is a reality that we all need to face, and for the people of Israel at that time, they were probably waiting for that event on some level. After all, it might seem pointless to wander around in the desert for years on end.

It is interesting then what Moses advises in verse 12. You might think that he would get mad at God. You would think that he would be so depressed that he would advocate throwing it all away. After all, if there is no purpose in living anymore, why bother?

Instead, he tells us to number our days. In other words, count everyone individually and value them. Even in their current situation, there is something that the people of Israel could value. If there were valui their days, they could apply their hearts to wisdom.

Biblically, we know that all wisdom comes from God, then we can talk about dedication to God. You see, even when times got tough, Moses did not and would not say that the people of Israel need to run away from God because they had troubles. Rather, they needed to double down and value the time exactly because they could learn from God. I think that has value in our lives.

Nehemiah 1: God Is Faithful

The book of Nehemiah begins in chapter 1 on a very emotional note. Nehemiah heard that the city of Jerusalem was in ruins, and it hit him very hard. However, he did what we all should do under such circumstances; he turned right to God.

He said a lot of things, but I want to focus on one particular area.

Neh 1:8  Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

Neh 1:9  But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

Neh 1:10  Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

I know that I’ve written in the past about being careful when we promise things to God. We need to make sure that we are willing to follow through. Similarly, God made promises to humanity. Obviously here is an example of what he told Moses. Also, you can think about the promise He made to Noah that He would never flood the entire earth again.

Promises are just as binding in one direction as they are in the other.

The main difference is that when God makes a promise, He always follows through on it. Humans should follow through, but there are times when we don’t, and that is why I have written about before. On the other hand, God is perfectly faithful, and we can be very glad about that. Why can we be glad about that? Here’s one pretty powerful reason.

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

2 Samuel 7: What Happened to the Throne of David?

We talk a lot about David being a man after God’s own heart, but I think that this really comes out strongly in 2 Samuel 7.

2Sa 7:1  And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies;

2Sa 7:2  That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.

2Sa 7:3  And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in thine heart; for the LORD is with thee.

From these few verses, we can tell that David was incredibly sensitive to the things of God. For some reason, he was the first person to realize that it was kind of odd for him to live in a nice house made of cedar while the Ark of the Covenant was only surrounded by curtains.

Of course, there was nothing wrong with the curtains, and the tabernacle was made exactly how God told Moses to make it in Leviticus, but David still thought that God should have a more permanent dwelling place.

Here is how God responded.

2Sa 7:13  He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.

2Sa 7:14  I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:

2Sa 7:15  But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.

2Sa 7:16  And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.

God never said that He would not discipline David, and He never promised that David would be perfect. However, He did say that the throne of David would never end.

I think that some of you are going to say, “Wait a minute, his line did indeed end. There was a substantial time when the Israelites were in Babylon and therefore did not have a king on the throne.”

That is not exactly what is being said here though. It never says that there will always be someone on this throne. It says that the throne will always be there for the line of David to sit on. It will be ready for an eligible person to sit on it. The position might be vacant, but it still exists.

You might wonder who is there now. We have to go to the New Testament for that answer.

Luk 1:32  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

The throne is still under the power of God, and it has certainly not disappeared. Jesus represents the fulfillment of that prophecy. He is forever seated at the right hand of God in a position of utmost authority and power. As a direct descendent of David, David’s line will indeed sit on that throne forever.

It always amazes me how the Bible was written over such a long amount of time, but everything fits together. If we just had the book of 2 Samuel, we might wonder what happened to the throne of David. We might wonder where God went.

I know that this is a somewhat controversial passage because some people interpret it differently, but I think that the basic fact of the matter comes down to Jesus. He was of the house and lineage of David, and it makes sense that He would be eligible to take that position.

1 Samuel 6: Respect the Word of God

1 Samuel 6 most definitely inspired a certain scene in Indiana Jones.

1Sa 6:19  And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.

1Sa 6:20  And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us?

That is a lot of people who all died at once, but this passage particularly stood out to me because God does not change.

The Ark of the Covenant was one of the most respected items in Israel, and God would literally communicate with the people of Israel from the mercy seat on top of it.

We found out yesterday that it was not good to worship it, but it is not good to totally dismiss it.

Lev 16:2  And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

Even Aaron had very specific rules that he had to obey when he went before the Ark. The Levites were assigned to take care of the Ark, and because God was very specific about that, it is no wonder that it was a major problem when people were opening it and not respecting the way that things were supposed to be done. God had set rules in place, and they did not change just because time had passed.

Many people want to make the argument at times that the rules that God laid out change. Somehow, God, who is unchangeable, changes. Doesn’t that seem a little bit contradictory?

The Word of God is the Word of God. It hasn’t changed. Parts of it have been fulfilled by Jesus Christ, and that explains why we do not need to perform ritual sacrifices anymore. Jesus finished it out once and for all. However, it does not change what the Word says.

This is just a great illustration of how the Ark of the Covenant still need to be treated a certain way even though time had passed. God makes His rules for a reason, and it is our duty to follow them.

Joshua 14: God Overcomes Boundaries

Joshua 14 reminded me that people can be used by God no matter how old or young they are.

This particular passage focuses on Caleb. At the time of the story, he was 85 years old. He came to Joshua and reminded him of a promise that Moses had made to him.

Jos 14:7  Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.

Jos 14:8  Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God.

Jos 14:9  And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.

Jos 14:10  And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.

Jos 14:11  As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.

Jos 14:12  Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.

Jos 14:13  And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.

I really like this passage. Most people have settled down into retirement by this point, and I would bet that there were people who thought that Caleb was too old to be undertaking this type of mission.  The Anakims, essentially giants, owned the land.

An 85-year-old man decided that he wanted to go to battle against a physically superior force all because he had unwavering faith in God. He knew that God was with them, and because of that, they would have no problem overrunning anyone who got in their path.

I think that that last paragraph summarizes the entire package very well. First of all, even barriers that the earth sometimes defines really do not matter to God. For example, God did not really care that Caleb was 85. He was still totally able to use him. The second main point is that God won’t fail. He is able to overcome any problem that we might run into, so He will help us overcome those problems as well.

Rom 8:31  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Joshua 3: I Believe in Miracles

The first real signal that Moses was in charge of the Israelites came when God parted the Red Sea. Obviously, there were all of the plagues in Israel before that that Moses was intimately involved in and had knowledge of, but I would argue that parting the Red Sea really demonstrated that God was with Moses and wanted him to lead the people.

In Joshua chapter three, a very similar event takes place. God told Joshua said that he would let the people of Israel know he was still with them and particularly with Joshua.

Jos 3:7  And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.

God’s plan involves parting the Jordan River this time.

Jos 3:14  And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;

Jos 3:15  And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)

Jos 3:16  That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.

Jos 3:17  And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

I think that we all need this type of reminder every now and then even though we probably shouldn’t. Sometimes, our faith can be shaken, and we need assurance that God is still with us and has not forgotten us.

Now, in my life, I have never had a river simply open up in front of me. I think that would be really awesome, and I kind of hope that does happen, but it hasn’t happened yet.

However, I think that God can also work in much more subtle ways. Sometimes, all it takes is a Bible verse that we find when we randomly open our Bibles that speaks directly to our situation. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people provide similar experiences, and it reminds me that God has a purpose. It wasn’t random for Him.

Miracles happen every day, and sometimes we don’t notice them because of our perspective. We need to be aware and understand all that God can and wants to do for us.