Due to illness - no new Blog until week of February 3rd. God Bless.
Concluding the arrival of King David at the very spot where Abraham had built his altar 1000 years before: who but God could bring a man and his son to that lonely ledge of rock 1000 years before, to build an altar as a prototype of a massive structure to be built a 1000 years later?
Who but God could use human inabilities as his opportunity? Could turn a King’s sin into salvation from sin for millions that after Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary would reach BILLIONS?
What would be the odds of that happening by CHANCE? But the amazing continuation of Bible history directed and controlled by God makes it all reasonable and expected.
So...whatever historian Page Smith and his ilk say, the question isn’t, “Who can be so presumptuous to think God KNOWS the future, sees the future from the beginning and can therefore PREDICT it?” The question is, “Who can be so ignorant of God’s omniscience and omnipotence as to DENY his plans for humanity?” And, by the way, this is but one of some 300 prophecies made hundreds before their fulfillment. But each one fulfilled as predicted.
Indeed, then, if anyone is silly, inconsistent, foolish, meaningless and irrelevant, it’s the skeptics and doubters, not GOD. However, don’t bother with the facts those who doubt, who refuse to believe, who anchor their life and future to mid-air uncertainties. They prefer to die in their sins to having to confess they need Christ’s forgiveness. They prefer to trust their limited, short-time-on earth humanity than be in debt to God’s eternal wisdom. Correct them. Challenge them. Upbraid them. But don’t pity them. They choose to live outside of God’s presence. They would never feel comfortable having to admit they NEED God in Christ. Fini
David’s assumption of blame offered the fifth event leading to the fulfillment of God’s 1000 year old promise through Abraham. When he watched the gigantic angel standing in the air above Jerusalem, sword in hand, ready to strike, the king and his counselors fell to their faces. Proving himself a true man of God, he took responsibility for the famine Saul caused—not his fault. He also honestly took blame for the concatenation of events caused by his sin with Bathsheba. Coupled with permissiveness to his sons and a sudden diminution of faith in God, he understood his fault in demanding a census. He also begged God to punish only him and his family, freeing the nation to receive blessings.
Instead, as is his wont where repentance is sincere, God authored the sixth event. His mercy prevented punishment for anyone else. But, as forgiveness necessarily followed repentance—can’t we see the conjunction in Christian teaching of baptism for forgiveness following repentance?—God ordered him to the very place the angel now stood on Araunah’s threshing floor.
There, on that spot, on the long, flat rock surface Abraham visited 1000 years before. Where he built his altar. Where the angel now stood. (Do not miss that point. To that very spot God directed David.) To it David went, perhaps not fully understanding. There he built his altar to God. There he offered his sacrifice. And when God sent fire from above to consume the sacrifice, David instantly understood and realized: the whole threshing floor would be the Temple Mount that we can see to this day—and the very place where the angel STOOD would be the altar of sacrifice in Solomon’s Temple. Which was exactly what we see in II Chronicles 3:1 End Part IV
The fourth event in achieving God’s 1000 year old purpose in having Abraham walk to Mt. Moriah is punishment. The death angel—the massive tower of splendor in light—passed through the villages and towns of Israel and, in his 3 day visitation, left 70,000 dead.
A lot of casualties...but consider...the Black Death, pneumonic and bubonic plague, killed 25 million in Europe between 1346-1352. In 18 months 1917-1919, Swine Flu killed 30-40 million world-wide and, in 10 months—550,000 Americans! When our population reached 105 million, that casualty rate killed one-fourth of Americans! Another 10 months like that would have given room to return half the country to the Indians.
And...just to warn us...dangers to vast populations still exist, the Ebola disease from Africa as but one example. A National Geographic report noted in July, 1994, page 70, even in ocean water. For a single teaspoon of salt water can contain a Billion virus particles. Another reason to prove that the Great White isn’t the only good reason to stay out of the water.
Not to discount 70,000 dead in Jerusalem in 3 days of plague. And not to discount the much larger number that would have died had God not silenced his gigantic messenger just as he raised his gigantic sword to strike the Holy City!
The important issue in the plague is that it led to the fifth event! End Part III
Abraham’s trip to Mt. Moriah, accompanied by Isaac, had a future result not seen for 1000 years. Part I emphasized the famine and plague that moved God’s chronology to his definitive end.
The third event, unexpected of King David, but perfectly understandable from a human perspective, was his sudden urge to know the size of his armed forces. Where scripture says, God tested, incited, moved or motivated David, he intentionally chose to live by numbers, not by faith in God. That brought the plague.
Let’s first cut him some slack. He had within the past 3-4 months violently suppressed two attacks on his throne. The ruthless, aggressive military action that saved his throne potentially alienated many previous supporters. How deep did disaffection with him extend?
Cutting him that slack, the fact remains: the census reflected a change in his priorities. While his faith in God hadn’t wavered through 30 tough years of military campaigns against foreign armies, unsettled conditions within Israel after Absalom and Sheba led him to ponder further domestic strife. Which led him from faith in God to fear of circumstances—and to the census.
That issues a warning when God tests us. Where patience in seeking his will is required, will we instead recklessly choose to act on our own initiative? If we show God the faith he demands, he’ll provide the blessing we need. But when we divert our gaze from God to ourselves, our fears, our weaknesses and our failures, to our own foresight, like David we’ll certainly make BAD choices. Few of us can say we never made bad choices. None of us can say we won’t lack faith in God when suddenly facing uncertainty. I Corinthians 10:12 warns us all: “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” End Part II
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In one of his volumes on American history, Page Smith turned Bible critic and opined that it’s presumptuous to think we can understand God’s plans for humanity. Indeed, he said, some theologians thought God himself didn’t know what to do with humanity.
Pure nonsense, unworthy of a historian of Smith’s reputation. What theologians say doesn’t surprise any Bible believer.
This blog suggests a possible chronology by which God fulfilled the purpose of Abraham’s 1000 year old trip to Mt. Moriah; indeed, a purpose God never forgot.
First, a famine of three years duration occurred in Israel, perhaps early in David’s reign. God sent it due to Saul’s excess of zeal for Israel in killing many of the Gibeonites: people who had been promised sanctuary by Joshua, Joshua 9. As billions of people world-wide have discovered, Israel paid for the sins of her leaders. However, with restitution by executing seven of Saul’s male descendants, prosperity returned to the land. David initiated the recovery.
Second, a bruising visitation of divine wrath fell on Israel at the beginning of David’s 40th decade as king. Both II Samuel 24 and I Chronicles 21 agree that it came as an affliction on Israel.
Though the reason isn’t given, consider: the sin may have been the country’s wholesale defection from David to Absalom. Then, the defection of the 10 tribes to Sheba after Absalom’s rebellion failed. Remember that David repeatedly refused to overthrow Saul, though often given the chance. He held Saul’s OFFICE as sacred. An honor neither Absalom nor Sheba offered David. Each rebel considered himself a fit replacement. And it didn’t take much to steal “the hearts of the men of Israel” II Samuel 15:6. Especially if the idea was bad. End Part I
Theodore Parker, Unitarian minister in middle 19th century, used God as the basis of all things. But don’t be deceived: God was only a word to Parker. His entire emphasis, as a transcendentalist, focused on humanity, not God. He didn’t believe God ordered Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Or that Jesus was the finality of God’s revelation. Or that Jesus was Deity. Or that the Bible was God’s final revelation to mankind. Or that Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary had any impact on forgiveness of sin.
Still...Page Smith, author of a multi-volume series on American history, didn’t believe Parker’s heresy would be so offensive today—1981, The Nation Comes of Age, 504. Though, at the time, Parker wrote, even clergymen and lay members of his own Unitarian church proscribed and disfellowshipped him. This in the middle nineteenth century.
Smith was correct in 1981. He would be even more correct in 2019. America since the 1960’s has continued into a theological liberalism that no mega or meta church growth has even slowed. In fact, the growth of huge churches has coincided with the greatest possible societal immorality.
Ours is an age of tolerance of all behaviors, with devotees of homosexuality and illegal immigration demanding and receiving acceptance while opponents of each are damned as intolerant. Indeed, our society is intolerant of believing all that Parker denied. And intolerant of believing homosexuality is a sin against God and illegal immigration is an offense against the role of law and order.
We now pay for the Biblical ignorance so glaringly obvious. And it will get worse, leading to the satanic corruption that considers everything about God is bad and all that mocks God is good. Indeed, what Satan wants is now a reality in America. For he wants everyone to believe that what society must fear is absolute faith in the ONE God and HIS CHRIST!
Some of us will contest every effort by Satan to have his way. We will confront him, wherever he appears, with the Complete authority only Jesus Christ possesses and exercises. We will keep preaching Jesus Christ alone as Truth. Come what may. However unpopular Jesus is. We choose to be condemned with Jesus by the age; we’ll never align ourselves with the age against him.
Queen Elizabeth visited one of her courtiers. As she wandered through his castle, the acid-tongued monarch commented on the discrepancy of his habitation vis á vis his position in her administration. The quick-witted courtier replied that the house remained big enough for him; she had simply elevated him to a position larger than the house. Abigail, 141
The same is true of our body vis á vis the spiritual treasure within it—the vast “treasure in jars of clay” II Corinthians 4:7. Even now it means, in Paul’s words, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” II Corinthians 4:8-9.
While the task of discipleship remains far more difficult than our flesh can stand, God’s Spirit empowers his service. Even now, in our fallen personal, but recovered, state. Even now, in a culture hostile to Christ’s very name. Even now, facing societal animus that menaces every Christ-centered message. Even now...the honor with which our Master endows us enlarges our capacity for spiritual service. Indeed, it doesn’t take a docile, patient, interested audience to make Christ-honoring faith possible and powerful!
And that’s just the beginning. For in a time past the present, past death, past judgment and past flesh and blood, God will re-fashion our body to equality with our state as his eternal servants: desires and destiny the same, aspirations and actions, purpose and practice, canons and conduct seamless, indivisible.
Even now...repeat both words until you BELIEVE...even now...all this because “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” John 4:4. Amen.
On the very day God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision, he had all males in his camp circumcised, including himself. That would seem the end of testing. But no...and now...121 years later, with Isaac perhaps 20 years old, God ordered a catastrophic condition: offer Isaac as a burnt sacrifice!
And how did Abraham respond? The next morning...ASAP...without delay, or seeking an alternative, or arguing with God...he loaded wood on the donkey, called to action the two servants he ordered to be ready...and SET OUT for the place!
Lessons we can learn. First—and this a summary: from Abraham’s 4000 year old obedience to God came the identity of the specific mountain, in the specific place, that now holds the attention of billions of people world-wide.
Second, and of absolute importance, when God calls us to any service, comply as directed. Indeed...God gave us ears. If he has something to tell us, LISTEN! He gave us eyes. If he has someone he wants us to see, LOOK! He gave us a tongue. If he wants us to say something to someone, SPEAK! He gave us a mind. If he wants to use our intellect as his servant, THINK! He gave us a heart. If he wants to care for someone, LOVE! He gave us a WILL. If he wants it exercised in service, OBEY! And if he wants all the above done now, HASTEN!
Offer no excuses why we can’t...or can’t right now. It didn’t work for Moses; it won’t for us.
In conclusion, if we’re afraid, God gives courage. If we don’t know much, God fills our minds with knowledge. If we say we can’t, God already knows that. He also knows He CAN through us. If we say, “we won’t”, God will find someone who WILL.
And we’ll lose the greatest privilege mortals ever have—being God’s servant to someone he wants reached and knows we can reach them. As mentioned previously, many preachers settle for proclaiming a comforting faith; overlooking hard truths of Scripture to stress God’s compassion, patience and love. That underestimates the most comforting of all Gospel truth—we experience in discipleship the empowering faith that overcomes the world.
When we rise to the challenges of living a faith that conquers, serving a Lord who overcomes, in a Cause that no obstacle, foe or, even death itself, can resist, we become more spiritually formidable than we ever thought possible! Fini
Genesis 21 records Isaac’s birth. Genesis 22 records God’s TEST of Abraham by demanding Isaac’s sacrifice. A point of emphasis, however. A vast difference exists between satan’s temptations and God’s tests. James 1:13-15 makes it clear that temptation comes from satan, appeals to our fallen nature leads us from God. Testing comes from God, appeals to our converted nature and intends to PROVE, in order to FORTIFY to INVINCIBILITY, our commitment to God. In a sentence, then, temptation seeks to lead us from God while testing aims to increase our dependence on God.
On my walk before daylight a few mornings ago, two bright stars—Venus, the Bright Morning Star the brightest—appeared in the southern sky. They seemed no farther apart than a jet plane couldn’t cover in a few hours. In reality they were millions of miles apart. Our mental measure and celestial distances account for the difference. Just so does God’s perspectives and ours differ, with his eternal and ours only historical. And, as Isaiah 55:8-9 says, never shall the twain meet; and never, ever will ours be equal to or superior to God’s.
Thus, God tested Abraham’s faith in order to build and increase it. His specific instructions left no doubt. Abraham would TAKE his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loved. He would GO to the region of Moriah. THERE, on a mountain God would identify, Abraham would offer Isaac as a sacrifice.
Remember, God loathed human sacrifice as satanic. He never had, and never would, order it. He used the figure only to test the depth of Abraham’s faith: how far would the 121 year-old prophet go without questioning or disobeying God?
In addition, 121 years before, and Isaac not yet conceived, God had established circumcision as the basis of his covenant with Abraham and his descendants Genesis 17. On the very day God established the covenant, Abraham at 99, Ishmael at 13 and all males in Abraham’s camp, were circumcised. That would seem the end of God’s conditions since Abraham fulfilled every one. End Part II