1st, 2nd KINGS
(1047)KINGS; INTRODUCTION- There is no greater Old Testament king and dynasty than that of David. While there are many other types and symbols that point to Jesus [Moses, Joseph, etc.] yet the rule of David and the promises of God to him [raising up a son from his lineage with an endless life who will sit on the throne forever!] are directly related to the purposes of God for his church and the messianic fulfillment of Jesus and his kingdom. Kings was originally one book [1st and 2nd kings]. It was divided when the Septuagint was written [the Greek version of the Old Testament] and stayed divided in Jerome’s Latin vulgate. We will see the division of Israel as a nation [northern tribes-10, southern tribes-2] take place in this book. More time will be spent on the history of the northern tribes, possibly because they needed more prophetic correction, so the recorded words of the prophets are more prevalent in Israel’s history than Judah’s [Paul said to the Corinthians that it was needful for heresies to rise up among them, this gave opportunity to deal with problems that would be beneficial centuries later to all who would read the story!] We also see some practical stuff that applies to the present moment . The division of the kingdom will be spurred on by the immature decisions of Rehoboam to listen to the bad advice of inexperienced advisers, should I say more? I can’t stress enough the role that David’s dynasty played in the national psyche of Israel and her future hopes of a restored theocracy. In essence their entire national hope was based upon a restored Davidic kingdom that would usher in the Messiah and bring deliverance to the nation from her oppressors [Rome]. Herod the great, Rome’s political leader who oversaw Israel and her land under Roman rule, built the restored temple in hopes of being seen as the leader who would fill the shoes of the promised Davidic restorer. Though Herod was not Jewish, yet he adopted Jewish custom and law in an effort to be seen as the legitimate savior of Israel. Saint Augustine [the bishop of Hippo, North Africa] would later say ‘I would rather have been Herod's pig than his sons’. He would not eat his swine, but yet he would murder his own sons! Herod was a madman at heart. Well let’s cut this intro short and keep our eyes open as we see Jesus and his messianic kingdom in this story. The church herself will become the fulfillment of this future kingdom under the reign of Jesus as king over all the earth. The New Testament writers will eventually portray Jesus as being the present fulfillment of the promises of God made to David centuries ago, they saw the promises of God as being a presently fulfilled reality thru the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the Son of God. And his being seated at God’s right hand as the ultimate fulfillment of ascending to the throne.
(1048) 1st KINGS 1- David’s son, Adonijah, plots to take the kingdom and become king in his fathers place [after he would die]. He chooses a team of talented men to become his inner circle, he prepares chariots and gets a force together. David does not discourage him, he seems to be willing to let it slide. One problem, David’s son Solomon was chosen by God himself to be the next king. David’s key men, who were left out of the celebration ceremony that Adonijah threw for himself, realized that if they didn’t act quickly they would be left out in the cold. So Nathan tells Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, to go in to the king and tell him about the problem. Nathan then will go in after her and also confirm the bad news. Note, Nathan was a powerful prophet, he was the one who faced David head on about the sin he committed when sleeping with Bathsheba and killing her husband. But David is old and sick, even if Nathan took the risk to confront him again in a ‘thus saith the lord’ type thing, there was no assurance that David would listen. Or worse, tell him he has had enough of his ‘prophetic ministry’ and take his head off! Nathan chose influence and common sense to get his point across, he was even a little deceptive in the way he planned it out. David then tells his men ‘go, anoint Solomon as king’ David’s men prevail and they quickly form a new team around Solomon. Zadok, Nathan and Benaiah will be the Prophet, Priest and military commander. Now word gets back to Adonijah that Solomon has been anointed by David, their party ends abruptly and Adonijah flees for his life. These men [Adonijah and his team] had real hopes and dreams for their new administration, but God had other plans. A few things; was Adonijah in total rebellion in doing what he did? Not really, he was fourth in line to the throne, above Solomon. Remember, the Old Testament puts special weight on this seniority thing! And David never discouraged the boy. It’s very possible that Adonijah thought he had the green light in this thing. Solomon will take the throne and though he will become famous for his wisdom, he will also be pretty brutal in his first days as king. He quickly warns Adonijah and in the next chapter we will see him take swift and decisive action to route out his adversaries. I see a little too much personal ambition in Adonijah and his men. One of them was Joab, a great military leader with much experience. If you remember when we studied Samuel he also had his run ins with David. These men were playing party politics and positioning themselves for a ‘wonderful future’. The only problem was God wasn’t in it! I remember many years ago when a friend of mine ‘started a church’. He was quite a few years older than me, but still new ‘to the game’. He made the statement ‘God has now made all my dreams come true’. He innocently fell into the trap of seeing ministry and ‘church’ as some type of structure/business that God allows people to engage in, in order for them to ‘fulfill their dreams’. Adonijah and his men were excited about the launching of their new ‘career’s’ the wind went out of their sails when Gods ordained plan took precedence over their dreams.
(1049) 1st KINGS 2-The best way to describe this chapter would be ‘Solomon practices shock and awe’. The young king is given the charge by his father David to settle some old scores. Was David being vindictive? No, he realized that there were experienced ‘politicos’ who knew how to manipulate things to their own advantage, and they would do it at the expense of ethics [note- after all I have seen and learned these last few months, I believe president Obama, though a good man himself, is surrounded by men like this. His chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is a political insider from Chicago, he has already been involved with all types of insider political intrigue that is corrupt at heart]. So David advises Solomon to eliminate these threats and Solomon surprises the opposing team by acting decisively. He even kills Joab while clinging to the ‘horns of the altar’. His brother, Adonijah, who tried to claim the kingdom first, Solomon kills him because he requested to have King David’s maid servant after his death. Basically Solomon cleaned house and knew he would make some enemies in the process. Leadership can be tough at times, you might deal with people who are problematic, everyone knows they need to be dealt with! Yet after you deal with them, you become the bad guy! I get a kick out of people who absolutely hate and oppose me, they sincerely believe our challenges in certain areas are wrong. Then a few years go by, they read and listen to our stuff, and walla! They now think we are on the cutting edge, maybe [to them] even at the top of the list of teaching and understanding. Why do I not get excited about stuff like this? If someone can go from thinking we are a cult to thinking we are one of the best teaching ministries around, who in the heck knows where they will be in another year or two? Now don’t get me wrong, I am glad they came around, but I can’t put a whole lotta stock in this. Now, I have had friends who have been with us for years. To be honest, some of the stuff I teach is over their heads. But they were fruit from the basic years of outreach and evangelism. They identify me with the time in their lives where they were reached with the gospel. Times when I spent many hours helping them on their journey. These brothers are faithful and stick with us out of brotherhood. Solomon knew the difference, he was willing to sacrifice talent [Joab] and stick with those who would be loyal. [Note- sometimes you choose talent over loyalty. That is people do need to be able to handle the job, the point is if you can’t trust people, it doesn’t matter how talented they are, things won’t go well for you or the team that is depending on them]
(1050)1st KINGS 3:1-15 this is a prophetic chapter, Solomon goes to Gibeon to offer on ‘the great altar’. What is the great altar? There is a remote verse [somewhere in the Old Testament- I didn’t look it up] that says Moses tabernacle is located at Gibeon. How it got there we don’t know, but the picture is important. The tabernacle of Moses represents the Old Covenant [law], during David’s rule the Ark of the covenant that was stolen, David retrieves it and places it at Jerusalem [the tent that he puts it under is called the Tabernacle of David- a type of the new covenant people who have free access to God, no more veil!] So Solomon more than likely sacrificed at Gibeon [picturing the Old Covenant] and then has the famous dream where God appears to him and he asks for wisdom. This ‘dream’ can be a type of death. Jesus referred to death as ‘sleeping’ Paul too. So after ‘the dream’ [death] he goes to Jerusalem and is at the place of the Ark [a type of Gods presence, it was not in Moses tabernacle, but under the tent that David set up] and eventually the remnants of Moses tabernacle [at Gibeon] will be joined to the Ark [at Jerusalem] and there will be ‘one new temple’ [Ephesians speaks of the 2 becoming one in Christ, both Jew and Gentile]. So under Solomon’s rule [a type of Christ] we have the joining of the Old Covenant people of God along with the Gentile church. Jesus did not forsake his ‘people that he foreknew’ [Romans] but thru his death he took away the ‘law of commandments contained in ordinances and nailed them to his Cross’ [Colossians, Ephesians] thus removing the enmity and making in himself ‘one new man’. Solomon was definitely prophetic! [see 2nd Samuel study, chapter 7- entry 923]
(1051) 1st KINGS 3: 16-28 Now to the famous story. Two women [harlots] come to Solomon with a problem. They both had children within a few days of each other, and one night one of the babies died. The other woman woke up and had the dead baby with her, but after she looked at it she realized it wasn’t hers. The real mother of the dead child did a swap at night. So as they are pleading their case to the king, they both claim that the living child is theirs. So Solomon calls for a sword, they bring him the sword and he tells his men ‘take the baby and divide it in two, give half to each mom’ sounds fair enough. Of course the real mom says ‘no, don’t divide it. Give the baby to her’ and the fake mom says ‘no, divide it!’ Ahh! Got ya. Solomon says ‘give the child to the one who did not want to divide it, the child belongs to her’. A few things, it just so happened that the last book we studied was Ecclesiastes, I didn’t plan it like that, it just ‘happened’. Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon. One of the verses I didn’t cover says Solomon wrote on all types of subjects and put together three thousand proverbs. Proverbs are short, concise bits/nuggets of wisdom that get the point across in a nutshell. While there are times when you need to read large volumes and stuff, yet wisdom allows you to cover a lot of content in a little space. In this case Solomon used his wisdom to quickly come to a conclusion that could not be refuted; Jesus did stuff like this with his parables. Notice also that after the judgment was made, there really was no ‘if, ands or buts’ about it. He was right and that settled it. I still have old preacher friends who can’t discern the most basic stuff. Now, I don't want to be mean or condescending, but there comes a time where things are right or wrong. Many years ago I taught how leaders were making a serious mistake when they grasped on to the prosperity interpretation of Jesus parable of the sower [read the chapter ‘twisting the parable of the sower’ in the book ‘house of prayer or den of thieves’ on this site]. Basically many preachers, good men, were going around and teaching that Jesus was speaking about getting a huge harvest of cash. In the parable Jesus says one of the things that hinders the full harvest is ‘the deceitfulness of riches’, so I taught how Jesus was not saying ‘the deceitfulness of riches is holding back the cash’. Now, this is really elementary stuff, but some preachers still can’t discern this, after 20years! There comes a time when Solomon [Jesus] sends a judgment forth, and we ultimately become responsible for what we do with it. In this case, one of the ladies was right the other wrong. Solomon plainly told us who was telling the truth. [note- the other day as I was flipping channels, I stopped at a ‘prophetic’ brother who I haven’t watched in a while. In the past he has had some good words that were right on. But I felt that too many ‘prophecies’ were going forth on a yearly basis that were not really accomplishing anything ‘this year is the year of increase, Rebuke the demon of poverty’ stuff that was being repeated over and over hundreds of times, and yet the word of God was not being taught. Well on the program I tuned in on, the brother was saying how all the media complaints about Sarah Palin's expensive wardrobe were ridiculous [I agree] but then he said that it was nothing but a ‘spirit of poverty’ that needed to be rebuked. Are there ‘spirits/demons of poverty’ no. At least we see no cases of Jesus casting out spirits of poverty in scripture. There comes a time when preachers/media outlets need to return to a sober message of the Cross. I believe in prophecy and miracles and have experienced many of these types of things over the years, but we need to stop being silly with some of this stuff.
(1052) 1st KINGS 4- ‘And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness [generous] of heart…and his wisdom was greater than all the children of the east and Egypt…and all the people and the kings of the earth [gentiles shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising] came to hear the wisdom of Solomon’- In this chapter we read of the tremendous storehouse of goods and resources that God gave to Solomon. His wisdom was in many areas, not just ‘theology’! He was a true Renaissance man. Before the reformation and the ‘enlightenment’ you had the Renaissance period. For many years the wisdom and knowledge that prevailed in early Greco-Roman society was lost/hidden from the public. Through process of time and events [like the crusades] some of these hidden resources of knowledge were re-discovered and the world went thru a renewal period in wisdom and philosophy. It was thanks to the catholic churches preserving of these early works [Monks and monasteries] that would later lead to them being recovered. Now, even though these works were recovered, they weren’t readily available to the general public on a wide scale. You simply did not have the tools [internet/public libraries in abundance] to disseminate the information at large, but you did have men who became educated in these areas and they were the ‘renaissance men’. Sort of like walking libraries of wisdom, ‘Solomon’s’ if you will. Solomon wrote and studied on all sorts of subjects, he did not limit himself to one field only. Often times in the area of ‘full time preaching’ we send kids off to college [okay] and they get an education that only applies to one field [full time ministry]. I think it would be better if all the ‘preachers’ became well rounded in many practical areas of learning, getting skills in various areas [Paul-tent making] that would enable them to transition when reformation happens [like the current challenge on church practices and the full time pastoral office. Many sincere men are too dependant on their jobs as full time ministers to seriously reconsider the scriptural grounds for their office]. So Solomon was the type of brother who could converse with you in all types of fields. Many of the world’s greatest scientists/mathematicians were Christians, a common mistake is to think the scientific revolution was launched by anti religious men, this is simply not true. A careful study of history would show you that the majority of the great scientific minds were products of the church. It was common to major in theology and use that field of study as the foundation for all the other fields of learning. Jesus said of Solomon that kings and queens went out of their way to hear the wisdom of Solomon [the Warren Buffet of his day] but yet a greater than Solomon was here! [speaking of himself]
(1053)1ST KINGS 5-Solomon contracts with Hiram, king of Tyre, to supply Cedar wood and trees for the construction of the temple. He also raises up a mighty labor force who will work in 3 shifts, one month in the forest and two months back home. They helped cut down and deliver the logs on rafts back to Solomon. He has a massive labor force of stone cutters as well, they are cutting stone for the foundation of the temple. Like I said in a previous chapter, the temple is a picture of both the Old Covenant [law] and the new gentile church uniting as ‘one new man’ in Christ. Though the temple is basically a large scale replica of the Mosaic tabernacle, yet the only actual piece of furniture that makes in into the temple is the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark represents Gods presence, in the New Testament we see that Gods Spirit and presence left the Old law system [as typified by the temple- Hebrews] and ‘entered’ into the new temple, made up of both Jew and Gentile believers! [Ephesians]. Solomon was wise enough to realize that he personally did not possess all the skills to accomplish the mission, he knew how to hire other skilled people to help with the completion of the task. In ministry we often try and accomplish too much through the personal attributes/gifts of the leader. One of the plagues on the Body of Christ today is the American system of entrepreneurial church, we seem to exalt the personalities and gifts of the main leader at the expense of the functioning of the people of God. Though many good men are involved with this system, yet we need to transition to a place where we understand that in Christ’s church he uses many gifted people in various ways to build his temple [the people of God].This chapter says God gave Solomon ‘peace on every side, he had no adversaries nor evil occurrence’. Scripture says when a mans ways please the Lord he makes even his adversaries to be at peace with him. God gave Solomon a season of peace and rest, not for the purpose of sitting back and resting on his laurels, but for the purpose of building his kingdom. Solomon walked ‘while he had the light’ [he took advantage of the window of opportunity that God put before him].
(1054) 1st KINGS 6 ‘CONCERNING THIS HOUSE WHICH THOU ART IN BUILDING, IF THOU WILT WALK IN MY STATUTES, AND EXECUTE MY JUDGMENTS, AND KEEP ALL MY COMMANDMENTS TO WALK IN THEM; THEN WILL I PERORM MY WORD WITH THEE, WHICH I SPAKE UNTO DAVID THY FATHER’ [verse 12] Part of the promise of God to David was he would set up a son, from his natural heritage, that would take an everlasting throne. God would be faithful to his part of the bargain as long as his son walked in obedience, ultimately these promises would be fulfilled thru Christ. We can also apply them to our lives as well, we are all ‘building a house’ in a sense. Jesus said those who heard his words and did them were like those building on a sure foundation, those who ‘heard only’ were building on sand. I find it interesting that many of us seem to think that gathering one day a week to ‘hear words’ is what God requires, in a sense we have become professional hearers! [and speakers] As you relate to the house you are building, seek the Lord for wisdom and insight into how you should build. God gave Moses specific directions in the building of the tabernacle; these are the same blueprints Solomon used, only on a larger scale. Solomon did not have to get ‘another blueprint’ he simply needed to be faithful to what the Lord already revealed. Recently in the ‘church world’ we had the passing of two good men; Avery Dulles and John Neuhouse [spelling?] If I remember right, Avery Dulles said that he was no innovator, he would not be known for his new ideas, but he was just a faithful servant in Christ’s church. I liked that, we too often want to find ‘new blueprints’ sometimes the Lord is simply looking for those who will hear and obey. [Both Avery and John were Catholic’s involved in the evangelical/catholic alliance]
(1055) 1ST KINGS 7- We have more details of what went into the building of the temple. The ‘foundation stones’ were large and costly. Remember, Solomon was said to have ‘largeness of heart’. In the New Testament the Apostles are called the foundation stones of Gods spiritual temple. Peter calls us living stones. Let’s do a little house cleaning; in all areas of church renewal/reformation, we need to be careful when handling the foundation stones. In some efforts to reform [Emergent] there is an attempt to return to the teachings of Jesus, as opposed to Paul. The problem with this effort is the historic church [and scripture!] teach us that Jesus appeared to Paul [Acts 9] and told him he would be a witness of the things that Jesus would reveal to him. So if the revelation/teaching from Paul on the atonement and the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, if these teachings are things that were shown to Paul from Jesus himself [which I believe they were] then to ignore them would be like removing the ‘foundation stones’ of the temple. These are ‘large stones’ [doctrines accepted across the broad stream of Christian churches; Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed, Radical Reformers, etc...] large stones that form the foundation of all Christian truth, C.S. Lewis’s ‘common hall’ if you will [though Lewis himself said some shaky stuff on the atonement]. I want to restate that we sometimes confuse the foundational doctrines of Christianity with the limited practices of Christianity that have developed over the centuries. We need to understand/embrace the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’ while at the same time being flexible in the various structures that Christians have developed over the centuries to express their faith. As we challenge ‘high church’ [liturgical] structures, we need to be careful that we are not also challenging the heart of the gospel as well. I have heard/read too many statements from certain reformers that are way too pluralistic in their expression of the gospel. Denials of the Cross being the key mechanism that God chose to use to redeem man [foundation stones!] Or the mistake of thinking that the Cross was simply a display of the injustices of man, a challenge to unjust governments oppressing men. While the apostle Peter does teach us that the Cross was a display/example left to us on how we should react to suffering and oppression, yet it wasn’t ONLY that. It was also a redemptive sacrifice made on the behalf of sinful men; ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures’ [Corinthians]. Well, lets just keep in mind that as God’s ‘living temple’ we are being built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets [Ephesians] Jesus himself being the ‘chief corner stone’, be careful when messing with the stones!
(1056) 1ST KINGS 8- This chapter shows the coming together of the Ark and Temple at Jerusalem. Solomon makes a great dedication to the Lord. He acknowledges the reality that God does not ‘dwell in temples made with hands’ but he asks the Lord to show preference to the temple and the prayers of the people. We really have a tremendous picture of Gods kingdom and rule thru these images. The temple centers the people on the reality of God dwelling in their midst. They worship him from Jerusalem and their king honors the father and leads the people in community wide intercession. There are even provisions made for ‘strangers’ who will become influenced by God’s reality, they will hear about Gods great story with his people [narrative!]. They will then come and also make intercession to him. I find it interesting that in the book of Acts [and 1st century church history] we read about the pagan converts to Judaism, the ‘God fearers’. Israel always maintained this aspect of their culture with God, they left the door open for converts. I also find it interesting that converts came! After all, the Jews did not practice a type of ‘soul winning’ that actively sought proselytes. It was simply the reality of God working with his people that drew others in. These last few years much has been said/written on the church and her mission. Is the gospel too small or too big? Sometimes in our efforts to ‘go deep’ we make it difficult for new converts to come into the church. In all of our efforts to present a gospel that affects society as a whole, the social aspects of our calling. The greater kingdom vision of Jesus as seen in ‘the gospels’ we also want to make sure that the simple initiation of new converts is made plain and easy to understand [in essence we need the Gospels AND the epistles both. A kingdom message is not complete without the reality of Atonement!] Solomon makes a great speech/prayer in this chapter, he worships God for standing true to his promise that he made to David his father. The people hold a seven day city wide celebration and go back to their homes. Even though the temple and it’s structure were not in Gods original plan [go read about David and Nathan] yet God will honor and use this limited system for a season. In the present day reformation of the church and her structures, we always need to keep in mind that we are still dealing with the people of God. Many of them worship God in ‘limited structures’ but yet they still worship God! So as we reform and grow in the coming decades, we also want to leave room for the prayer of Solomon ‘I know you cant be limited to a structure like a temple, but please honor the prayers and simple sacrifices of your people. They are doing it out of dedication to you’ [my paraphrase].
(1057) 1ST KINGS 9- The Lord honors Solomon’s request and tells him he will hear the prayers of the people. He also warns Solomon to walk in the ways of David his father. God tells him that David walked right and did good, funny thing, the Lord doesn’t bring up the Bathsheba incident! His mercies are new EVERY morning. Now Solomon becomes firmly established as Israel’s king, he puts the pagan nations under tribute/slavery and sets his people up as the overseers. I just finished reading the book on ‘Revival and Revivalism’ and started a new one on ‘in search of Paul’ yes, it’s written by a few of the Jesus seminar brothers! [you know, the guys looking for the real Jesus, Yikes!] but the book does have some excellent historical content. It brought out a recent archeological discovery of a synagogue on the island of Delos [in the Aegean]. Delos was never visited by Paul, but he sailed by it on his journeys. It is the supposed birth place of the Greek god ‘Apollo’. The interesting thing was that the synagogue looked like any other meeting place of a voluntary society of people. It did have ‘Moses seat’ [the Jewish pulpit!] and the ‘collection plate’ [at least the history of the Jewish collection plate was discussed. By the way, this backs up my theory [over against Frank Viola’s] that it’s very possible that the development of the ‘church as the building’ concept came from Judaism as opposed to paganism!] But anyway, the island of Delos, under Roman rule, was encouraged to allow for the free worship of the Jewish religion. The Roman empire wanted freedom of religion! As long as it did not challenge their multitude of gods [Pantheon]. Solomon did not totally wipe out the enemies in the land, but he let them know who was in charge. He understood that there are realities to living in a pluralistic world, you don’t have to always agree with every point of view, but it’s noble to treat people with respect [I am not saying slavery is respect!] and get along as much as you can with those of opposing views. But also don’t feel intimidated by being part of a victorious kingdom that God himself set up, Solomon allowed the pagans to function in the land, but they knew who was in charge.
(1058) 1ST KINGS 10- The queen of Sheba hears about the wisdom and wealth of Solomon and makes a trip to check it out, she says ‘the half has not been told’. Solomon established an impressive economic and military system for the nation; he knew how to accomplish stuff. Wisdom [Solomon’s gift] allows for there to be action along with knowledge. Jesus knew how to use wisdom, scripture says he ‘is the wisdom of God’. The book of Proverbs [written by Solomon] personifies wisdom as Gods firstborn, God possessed him before all things. Scripture says ‘wisdom sends out her servants/ships’ remember when Jesus ‘sent the word’ and healed people? Or when the Leper was told to ‘go wash’ [by Elijah] he almost didn’t follow through because he was expecting some big show. Wisdom does not need you to personally ‘be there’ for all the action. I get frustrated at times when the modern church implies to the average saint that they really cant effect society ‘on their own’ but it is said in a way that makes the average ‘churchgoer’ think that the only way they can have a part of the action is in if they give exorbitant amounts of money ‘to the church’. And then ‘the church’ will send their money to other professional ministers who will carry out the job. Or the church will send their minister all over the world and he will do the job for them! This mindset ‘de-claws’ the average saint, it makes him think his main contribution is ‘the collection plate’! Use wisdom to impact society, you don’t always have to ‘be there’ [physically] to have an impact, but you are not limited to simply giving money to others who will act on your behalf. The believer’s greatest tool is his/her ability to make disciples wherever you are. Of course you can use modern tools like the internet. These things can be done for little or no cost and you can have a worldwide impact. The point is wisdom allows you to get things done by establishing systems of communication and ‘sending’ that can reach far and wide. In this chapter we read of Solomon’s navy, a previous chapter said ‘Hiram [and Solomon] made rafts and floated the trees to Solomon, there they were discharged for the work’. God can give you ‘divine rafts’ systems of delivery and discharge where you can impact large regions with little effort! All in all the wisdom of Solomon put in place systems that could carry the workload, without having to use actual manpower to get everything done by hand [can you imagine the manpower that would have been needed to hand carry all the trees!] To all my readers, you can impact ‘your world’ by listening to God and responding as he directs. Solomon said [in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes] that there was a poor wise man who delivered a city [and no one remembered him- non famous!] yet his wisdom gave him great influence ‘with the elders of the land’. Paul established the greatest ‘church planting movement’ known to man, and he did it on a shoestring budget! Don’t let man tell you that you can’t really accomplish much without being rich, you are a child of God and he that is in you is greater than he that is in the world! [note- as an aside, I was listening to a testimony of a minister who said how he thought it was sad that in the ‘ministerial’ environment there were times when the pastors would gather and the church members as well. But in these scenarios there seemed to be a distinction that was unbiblical; sort of like the ministers were fellowshipping amongst themselves, being excited over the plans and activities of ‘their church’ while the average saints were also fellowshipping amongst themselves and sharing about their lives and stories. In actuality the New Testament communities did not have these types of divisions. You did not have a separate class of ‘minister’ who ‘ran the church’ as a separate business enterprise. All the people [Elders and Saints] were of one community and their stories and lives commingled in a more communal way. There was no separation between the ‘classes’.]
(1059) 1ST KINGS 11- THE SIN OF SOLOMON- Now we get to the part where Solomon blows it. As I read these stories of the great men who failed, I continually fall into the trap of rooting for them, even though I know the end of the story! The trap being that failure in a sense was built into the story. How could God fulfill his purpose thru the coming Messiah if one of the sons of David actually lived up to the standard? Solomon, in a sense, was destined to fail. So what happened? This chapter says Solomon loved many women [1,000 to be exact!] and IN HIS OLD AGE began worshipping their gods. He set up altars for sacrifice and allowed the pagan gods to affect Gods people. I find this interesting, it wasn’t the actual act of having all those other women, but the sin of being too accommodating to the other ‘world religions’. I’m presently reading a book written by what you would call a liberal scholar, you know, the brothers who challenge the authenticity of just about everything. But I also have some good scholars that I read from. To be honest, at times you still might read something that makes you a little uneasy; they too at times have been affected by higher learning. But the difference between the ‘good and the bad’ ones is the fact that the good ones remain true to the historic gospel. N.T. Wright is a great scholar, he sits in the middle category, between the conservatives and the liberals [in my view]. The prolific Bishop of Durham [Church of England] has written excellent stuff on the resurrection and the kingdom of God. The liberal scholars view him as ‘behind the times’ why? Because he actually defends the historic resurrection of Christ! Yet you can read some higher criticism in Wrights stuff, not real bad stuff, just things that the average fundamentalist might be uncomfortable with. So getting back to Solomon, he became way too accommodating to the religions of his day. Sort of like calling Islam, Christianity and Judaism the ‘great Abrahamic faiths’. Now, I love Muslims/Arabs, I have written in their defense! I also think some Muslim apologetic arguments for the existence of God are good, but I would not describe Islam as one of the great Abrahamic faiths. Just like I would not call Mormonism one of the great ‘restorationist faiths’. A while back a bunch of believers had an ecumenical meeting with Muslims and Jews. Noble efforts to tone down world violence in an attempt to all get along, I think stuff like this is good. But some Christians defended Allah as being the same God as the Christians, just a different name. In my view they went too far. So Solomon became too pluralistic in his old age. Beware of the trend to abandon central elements of the faith as you mature in your thinking. There is a real temptation to want to look ‘enlightened’ to try and put distance between your intellectual faith and those ‘silly fundamentalists’, because if your not careful you might just end up with a bunch of pagan altars at your doorstep. [Ben Witherington and R.C. Sproul are other favorite scholars of mine; one is Arminian and the other Calvinistic, it’s good to read scholars from various points of view].
(1061) 1ST KINGS 12- At the end of the last chapter Solomon died, Rehoboam his son will now ascend to the throne. Rehoboam is confronted by the nation, they tell him ‘your father was a slave driver! He made it hard on us, we were tools that were being used for his own self advancement’ [my paraphrase] they plead with Rehoboam to go easy on them. I find it interesting that Solomon’s reputation outside of Israel was great, he excelled and the kings of the earth knew it [image building]. But amongst his own people, those who knew him best, he was driven by ambition. Though hey liked the man and he was a great leader, yet they associated him with always putting a yoke/burden on them to build. ‘More and more’ was the logo. The people were tired, they wanted to simply exist as Gods people. They weren’t asking Rehoboam to totally put them on welfare, they just wanted a break from viewing their lives thru the unrelenting pressure of ambition. So Rehoboam consults with two groups; he asks the elders of the land for advice, they advise him to ‘become a servant of the people, go easy on them’ What! A servant, are you kidding me man. Sounds like the teaching of Jesus ‘he that wants to be greatest must serve’. He then consults the young guys, peers in his own age group, they tell him ‘go for it, tell them you aint seen nothing yet! You think daddy was tough, my little finger will be heavier than his leg!’ Rehoboam listens to both groups and chooses the bad advice of the younger generation. So the people [with Jeroboam as the head speaker] come back on the 3rd day for the response, they don’t like what they hear and mount a revolt. The kingdom becomes divided under Jeroboam as the new king of Israel [ten tribes-northern] and Rehoboam as the king over Judah [and Benjamin] the southern tribe. Now Jeroboam realizes that he will lose control of the people if they keep their religious feasts at Jerusalem every year. Jerusalem is the capital where his adversary Rehoboam is at, so he sets up two golden calves [just like what happened in the wilderness in Moses day] and he places them in the city of Dan and Bethel. He also sets up a new class of priests, in violation of Gods law, and he makes up his own religious calendar. This single action of rebellion introduces false religion on a large scale to Gods people. Rehoboam gets together an army and is about to fight and regain his rightful place, God sends a prophet to him and tells him ‘leave it alone, the thing is from me’. God allowed for the split, Rehoboam had the chance to humble himself and instill a new mindset into Gods people. Yet he went for ‘the glory’. There are obviously a lot of lessons here, I don’t have to show them all to you, they are plain enough to see. To all the leaders/pastors who follow us, how are you viewed by those closest to you? Do outsiders see you as a successful leader, ambitious and able to get stuff done? Do those closest to you seem to be saying ‘lets take a break, we have had many years of never being able to sacrifice enough, building things. Okay things, but the job has been tough, we need a break’. Be sensitive to the real purpose of God, for him to be fully glorified and expressed thru is church, the community of God. Solomon reigned over a great people, but he was too ambitious, ambitious in the area of image building. The people themselves should have been the important thing, not the amount of stuff they could produce! In the end Rehoboam lost more than he would have ever gained by choosing the hard route. Allow God to lead you in the paths that he has set before you, the people you lead are the thing of value, not the things that they can produce [financially or any other way].
(1062) 1st KINGS 13- Jeroboam is confronted by a prophet as he is worshiping at the idol/altar in Bethel. The prophet gives a significant word, he mentions by name a future king [Josiah] who God is going to raise up to institute reform in the nation. When someone’s name is prophesied before their birth, that is a special anointing. Both Jesus and John the Baptist had stuff like this surrounding their births. Now Jeroboam stretches out his hand against the prophet, God curses his hand and the prophet prays for him and he gets healed. Jeroboam invites him to stay for a meal and the young prophet says ‘no, God told me not to stay and eat here’. On his way home an older prophet invites him to come back and eat with him, he tells the young prophet ‘I too am a prophet and the Lord told me for you to “eat and sit at my table’” [a type of fellowship]. Now, the old prophet lied, why? It seems as if he did not do this on purpose, he heard the story about the young man, possibly remembered the glory days of old and simply wanted the fellowship. As the young prophet ‘sits at the table of deceit’ the word of the Lord comes to the old prophet and says ‘because you disobeyed and stayed and ate, you will die’. The old prophet gave a true word and the young prophet leaves and is killed by a lion. His ‘movement’ died prematurely because he ‘sat’ at the table of deceit and disobeyed God. A few things; many years ago as I saw certain things going off track with certain movements [prosperity] I saw things that seemed to be fake, brothers sharing dreams and prophetic words that seemed false. Yet I felt these brothers weren’t doing this on purpose, that in some way they fell into a trap of wanting to be involved and accepted by their peers. And when confronted by real reproofs, they simply retreated into their own groups and refused the reproof. There are things like this happening now with certain elements of the modern prophetic movement. In the above story, the older prophet meant no harm, but yet harm was done! The younger prophet wasn’t there [in Bethel] to rebuke the old man, he was simply carrying the torch of prophetic rebukes that were needed at times. The mistake the younger generation made was being too willing to ‘sit and eat’ at the old mans table. I believe that certain elements of the older ‘prophetic’ movements need to be abandoned and left alone to die [false doctrines, not people!]. Those who walk in wisdom and obedience will refuse to ‘sit and eat at the old mans table’ and those who decide to stay at the table will die prematurely [that is their ministries and movements will be cut short] which group are you in?
(1064) 1st KINGS 14- Jeroboam’s son gets sick, he tells his wife ‘disguise yourself and go to the prophet Ahijah, he will tell you what will happen to the boy’. She goes and the Lord reveals the identity of the wife to Ahijah, he is old and blind. As soon as she gets to the house he gives her a strong rebuke, tells her the child will die and that her husband was wicked. Sure enough she takes the message back to Jeroboam and these things come to pass. Why did Jeroboam disguise his wife? Ahijah was the original prophet who told Jeroboam that he would be king, Jeroboam knew that he was doing wrong by instituting idolatrous practices into the nation; so why did he do it? Basically he trusted in the arm of the flesh to maintain what God gave him. He did it so he wouldn’t lose the kingdom. He obviously avoided the prophet for as long as he could, he thought he would send his wife incognito and who would know? The Lord knew. God has ways of getting information to you [and me!] whether we want to hear it or not. Also Ahijah was a prophet, another name for prophet is ‘Seer’ [some feel seers are totally different gifts/offices, for the sake of this basic teaching they are closely related] but yet he couldn’t ‘see’ for himself. I find it interesting that many of Gods greatest gifted people can’t seem to find help for themselves. There is a prophecy about Jesus that says ‘physician, heal thyself’, Paul had a thorn in the flesh that wouldn’t go away! Many people that are used by God to pray for healing and get results, they themselves struggle with sickness. Ahijah had a word; not only about Jeroboams son [a localized situation] but also a national word ‘Israel will be shaken like a reed in the water’ the Lord used the local situation to speak to the broader community. The people would ‘be shaken’ because they permitted idolatry into their lives. Understand, we see the idolatry of Israel as blatant [actual idols and stuff] but they really thought that the forms of idolatry that they were practicing were pleasing to God! I often find that well intentioned believers have a difficult time ‘seeing’ idolatry [covetousness, greed]. The American church has incorporated ‘success/abundance’ so deeply into the minds of the saints that we view our worship of God thru this skewed lens. ‘If God wants me to have an abundant life, then what’s wrong with me centering my church life around being successful, confessing and thinking about abundance/money all day long’? Well, what’s wrong with it is Jesus told the church that he didn’t want us ‘thinking’ about these things all the time, he said the ‘gentiles [unbelievers] are always thinking about the stuff, it shall not be so with you’. So it takes time for Christians to see these things, Jeroboam instituted a form of idolatry into Gods nation, the people sincerely went along for the ride. God said they were going to be shaken ‘like a reed in the water’.
(1065) 1ST KINGS 15- In this chapter we see the various kings of Israel and Judah. Some good, some bad. Scripture says even though some did evil, yet for the sake of David, and the promises of God to him, the Lord still worked thru their reigns. I find it interesting how we are all part of a divine/dynastic rule. In essence we are inheriting the promises that God made to others who came before us. One of the previous verses we looked at [I think?] said ‘I have heard your prayers concerning this place [Solomon praying about the temple] and my eyes and heart will always be there, walk in my statutes and do my judgments and I will keep the promises that I made to David your father’ God is looking to fulfill his word to the previous generations, we are simply parts of the puzzle! It’s important for us to keep this in mind, it keeps us humble. Over the years I have lived in ‘two worlds’. As a firefighter I had friends/co-workers that took the road of responsibility in life, some invested in real estate [like myself] and did the whole rental thing. I sold everything and got out of the business years ago. Then I lived in the ‘homeless/drug-addict/ex-con’ world. These were/are my buddies who I have spent most of my ‘other life’ with. Not ‘a ministry’ per se, but real friends helping one another out. Many of these friends were/are talented and gifted, many actually work! Yes, I have had many homeless friends who worked on a regular basis- carpentry, yard work, painting. Now, many times the ‘normal world’ would simply see the plight of the ‘other world’ [of those who never seemed to make it in life] and think/say ‘look at our lives [normal world] we have pulled ourselves up by our own boot straps, and now the government wants to penalize me so I have to help those who were not responsible like me!’ while there is some degree of truth to this complaint, yet it misses something. Many who ‘have made it’ were not much different than those who didn’t. Many ‘normal’ people have, to a degree, been the recipients of the promises that God made to their fathers, simply a result of having stable lives as youngsters, or living at a time where immigrants were welcomed. That is their heritage is one of immigrant [like me being an Italian] and our forefathers made it in for us. We now say ‘geez, my parents did it legally! What’s up with these modern immigrants?’ [usually speaking of Mexicans] the whole point being much of your success in life really had little to do with you pulling yourself up by your own boot straps! Now, I am not saying responsibility and diligence don’t count, they do count for something, but I am saying we at times have been blessed because of previous promises of God [and blessings] upon others who came before us. Paul taught ‘some watered, some planted but only God can make it grow’ and he said others have entered into the labors of those who worked hard before them. Do the best with the deck that was dealt to you; be humble about all the good you might accomplish thru out your life. And when you see others who have not been as blessed as you, be kind and patient, maybe God blessed you so you could someway be a blessing to them. It just might be your [mine too!] job to help them get a leg up in life.
(1067) 1st KINGS 16- Jehu, a prophet, receives Gods word and rebukes Baasha, king of Israel. What is God upset about? That Baasha not only sinned himself [bad enough] but that he chose to cause Gods people to sin. Last night I watched an excellent program on P.B.S. about Jerusalem and its history. They covered the story of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I still can’t bring myself to view Islam as a faith that is legitimate. Now I know and love Muslim people, as a matter of fact I recently had some emails from a Muslim friend who defends his faith, he found our site a few years ago and has corresponded with me. But the problem I have with Islam is it has introduced religious beliefs and ideas that are totally contrary to the revelation of God thru Christ. What do I make of a faith that calls God ‘Allah’ and Jesus ‘Isa’, that denies the deity and incarnation of Jesus. That basically decimates the truth of God as seen in the gospel. I think believers should be fair and balanced and NON RACIAL when dealing with stuff like this, but we cant take lightly a ‘world religion’ that has introduced error on such a large scale. Now Jehu will be mentioned again, he was a prophet with a ‘violent streak’! He will be recognized by those who know him as ‘one who rides furiously’ that is he tended to ride outside of the perceived parameters of prophetic/pastoral leadership. When he was coming to town, everybody knew about it. Also at the end of this chapter we are introduced to king Ahab, one of Israel’s worst kings. He also will lead Gods people astray, Elijah the prophet will become his nemesis. Jesus said of the religious leaders of his day ‘you compass land and sea to make one convert, and when he is made you make him twice as much the child of hell than yourselves’. It’s interesting, you would think people who are zealous to make converts would always be doing it out of a right motive, but Jesus told us this isn’t always the case. Sometimes people are power hungry, or they simply want a following for the sake of being in charge. I admire the dedication of the Mormons and the Jehovah’s witnesses, their founders sacrificed much in the pioneering of their movements. But just because leaders/movements manage to gain a following, that in itself does not mean the outcome will be good. There are many adjectives used in scripture, to be a ‘child of hell, twice as much as your founder’ is one description we ought to avoid.
(1068) 1ST KINGS 17- This chapter is pretty famous among Christians, not like the others we have looked at. God’s word comes to Elijah and he enters the scene as a significant Old Testament figure. Jesus will refer to John the Baptist as one who came in ‘the spirit and power of Elijah’. The religious people of Jesus day held on to the prophecy of Malachi that ‘before the great day of the Lords coming, Elijah would appear’ [Jesus applied this to John the Baptist] so the brother has good credentials. He comes out of the shoot like a rocket; he confronts Ahab, the wicked king of Israel and prophesies no rain in the land. God directs him to go into hiding/obscurity and live by a brook. The Ravens bring him food and he drinks from the brook. The drought causes the brook to dry up and God instructs him to go to a city and be cared for by a widow woman. He goes and asks the woman to provide for him, she fears she won’t have enough for both him and her small family [a son]. He encourages her not to fear and take care of him, she does and God provides supernaturally for the woman. Eventually her son dies and she blames God ‘did God bring you hear to show me what a sinner I am? Now my son dies!’ She was feeling condemned/guilty. Elijah takes the child and lays on him and God raises the boy from the dead, one of the greatest miracles that God does with men. A few things; Elijah was not there to instill fear into the average ‘church folk’. Last night I again made the mistake of channel surfing the Christian channels during ‘praise athon month’ [Double ouch!!] One channel had a brother telling the people ‘God is not moved unless your giving is sacrificial, it must hurt you to please God’ [in so many words] The other channel had a brother saying ‘God said if you hear preaching and benefit, and you don’t give money in return, you are sowing to the corruption of the flesh’ I am familiar with this passage, it is found in Corinthians. The tone and overall ‘sense’ of these appeals was wrong. It seemed to leave a feeling of fear and condemnation to the average channel surfer who might be looking for answers. Elijah told the widow woman ‘don’t fear’. Elijah also had the capacity to live in obscurity, though God spoke highly of him, yet he recognized that there would be seasons of obscurity; times when you simply serve the Lord thru simple tasks and go unrecognized for many years. I cant stress enough the contradiction between Jesus ethos of Christian leadership and what the average Christian is taught in our day. We connect Christian success in ministry with the tools of corporate growth and we simply set young ministers on a purpose driven course that often by passes the teachings and character of New Testament leadership. Elijah will eventually appear again on the scene, but he spent an awful lotta time by the brook!
(1069) 1ST KINGS 18- After three years in hiding the Lord tells Elijah to show himself to Ahab, rain is on the way! He appears once again on the scene and Ahab says ‘here he is, the one causing all the trouble’. Elijah says ‘you got it wrong buddy, it’s your wickedness and turning away from proper paths that has caused this trouble’. Elijah sets up a contest ‘go, get all the false prophets of Baal and let them come and set up an altar. Let them place a bull on it and pray and see if Baal will come and show himself alive’. So Elijah has them crying and cutting themselves [pagan ritual] and pleading all day for Baal to come and consume [by fire] the sacrifice. He even mocks them ‘where is Baal? Maybe he went on a trip? Maybe he’s sleeping’? One translation says ‘maybe he’s on the pot’ [toilet] Elijah was not above scathing sarcasm! So after Baal doesn’t ‘act’ Elijah sets up his own altar, puts a bull on it, soaks the whole thing with water and prays for God to reveal himself. Sure enough fire falls from heaven, burns the bull, stones and everything else! Elijah takes the false prophets and puts them out of their misery. These brothers had a bad day, the same day they find out that their religion is false, they meet Jehovah face to face! And then Elijah tells Ahab ‘get ready, the rain is coming’. God ‘showed’ himself thru a great act; he let it be known that the true God made a real difference. I recently read a story about an atheist. He is an intellectual and lives in Africa. Over the years he observed these ‘silly Christians’ coming to his nation and spreading their ‘ignorant beliefs’. He also noticed something else, they were the only real ongoing group of people who regularly gave their time and lives for the betterment of his fellow Africans. Sure, his intellectually arrogant friends would look at the whole thing as a charade, watching these missions groups spending time trying to teach silly stuff like the Trinity, declaring that this Jesus was ‘Gods son, God in the flesh’ but the atheists never organized a community that would actually help his fellow Africans, there was almost a built in bigotry that said ‘why even help these poor blobs of flesh, after all, we all came from nothing. When we die we simply cease to have feelings and pleasure, our lives basically consist of enjoying pleasures and being happy, what eternal significance is there in caring for the poor ignorant masses’. The observant atheist realized that thru out his life, his closet friends, the people who shared his own beliefs. They were the ones who didn’t ‘give a damn’ about his fellow black countrymen, but the Christians whom he and his friends spent their who lives mocking and resisting and verbally abusing, these Christians were the ones who gave of their lives for the betterment of his fellow man. God revealed himself thru Elijah’s ministry on this day, he showed the people that the God [system] you believe in really does matter. In all of our talking and debating between various religions and belief/unbelief systems, at the end of the day look at the results, Christianity has had her faults to be sure, but she has done a lot better than the prophets of Baal!
(1070) 1st KING 19- Ahab tells his wife, Jezebel, about Elijah’s victory, she sends word to the prophet ‘so help me God if I don’t do the same to you as you did to my prophets’. Understand, Elijah did not simply ‘rebuke’ false doctrine here, he actually dismantled an entire ‘religious system’ that was contrary to the purposes of God. It is very difficult to uproot all that you have put in place for the sake of reformation. I find this to be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when seeking God for true change in the church. Christians too often associate their relationship with God along with the systems of religion that they were brought up with. Now Elijah flees for his life, God will appear to him at Horeb; he is not in the wind, earthquake or fire, but in the ‘still, small voice’. Elijah is told to anoint a king of Syria, also anoint Jehu as king of Israel and go get your protégée Elisha. Elijah is also told by God there are seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. We see the danger of prophetic ministry; God vindicated Elijah and truly did miraculous stuff with him. It was easy for Elijah to fall into the trap of ‘I am the only one who sees this stuff’. God reassured him he wasn’t alone. These last few years I have been surprised by the number of Christians who have corresponded with me thru our blog, it seems as if the present challenges to ‘church/clergy’ are becoming commonplace to the believers at large. It is no longer a secret. But it is also disheartening to see many of my friends who have served the Lord for years; they seem to be oblivious to the same truths that the church worldwide is seeing. So with Elijah you did have false prophets who were all wrong at the same time. Yes, just because there were so many who held on to the same view of religion [Baal worship] this did not mean they were right. But at the same time it was obvious to at least seven thousand others that the popular religious system was actually wrong! James says that Elijah was a man ‘subject to the same weaknesses as all men’ yet the Lord used him mightily. All Gods servants have feet of clay, many of the greatest reformers of church history also made big mistakes. Luther was a tremendous force for change, but his anti semitic writings would later be used as a justification for Jewish oppression. As we strive for truth and justice in the days ahead, let us all remember that some of Gods greatest voices are ‘compassed about with the same infirmities as us all’ God does use clean vessels, but even clean vessels sometimes have cracks.
(1071)1ST KINGS 20- Benhadad, king of Syria, besieges Israel and threatens Ahab ‘give me your gold, wives and kids’. Ahab was a demoralized man, his wife was already running the show, he relinquished any remnant of nobility years ago. He responds ‘sure, take it all. What do I care?’ So all goes well, Not! Benhadad says ‘one more thing, tomorrow my men will come and inspect your stuff, if they see anything else of value, they taking that too!’ So Ahab consults with his men, he tells them the situation and they decide to reject the final offer. The fight is on. Notice how the Lord sends Ahab true prophets who give him guidance along the way, it’s like the Lord was willing to allow Ahab some time to get things right. The false prophets are dead, Elijah rebuilt the altar, who knows, maybe God was giving Ahab a real chance at reform. So Ahab does okay, he has a few battles with Syria, and at the end he LETS THE WICKED ENEMY GO! God rebukes him for this thru a prophet. God basically says ‘look, I gave you a second chance. I had a task for you, your job was to recognize and eliminate the threats to my people’ what happened? I have noticed thru the years that leaders, good men, will often fall into mindsets that say ‘well, after all our goal is to succeed and be happy. Have good church attendance, good income. Why even bother dealing with stuff that’s wrong?’ There are times in church history where God is looking for reformers, men and women who are willing to take a stand and say ‘enough, this stuff has be going on for too long, we will have no more of it’ [doctrines and stuff that lead Gods people astray]. It seems as if Ahab was living for the day, willing to let the wicked king live another day. After all, what harm can it do? He disobeyed God, he was given a mandate to execute justice, he didn’t. God chose him to complete the task, not just survive. Ahab blew it big time.
(1072) 1ST KINGS 21- Ahab wants the field of Naboth, he owns a field next to Ahab’s palace and Ahab wants to make a deal for it. Naboth says ‘no way, this is a part of my family inheritance’. So Ahab goes home, falls on his bed and refuses to eat, in the Greek this is called ‘being a big baby’. So Jezebel asks him ‘what’s wrong’? He gives her the scoop and she says ‘what’s wrong with you, you are the king! Your word/name has great power, use it to get what you want!’ So she manipulates the situation and sends letters to the elders of Naboth's city, she signs the kings name and says ‘set up 2 false witnesses against Naboth, hold a public mock trial and kill the man’. The accusation against him is blasphemy. This sure looks like a prophetic sign of the Cross. So the plan is carried out, the guy is killed and Ahab gets the land. Now, the Lord speaks to Elijah about the whole thing and he confronts Ahab, he pronounces judgment on him and his wife. Ahab repents somewhat and God delays the judgment. In the book of Revelation God warns the church of Thyatira ‘you have permitted that woman, Jezebel, to teach and seduce my servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed unto idols’. John the Baptists head was taken off by a Jezebel [the wife of a king who used her husband’s authority to get what she wanted- manipulation]. What/who is Jezebel? A few years back it was common to hear teachings on her, whole books have been written on the subject. It was one of those fads where the church thought we were really doing ‘spiritual warfare’ by exposing her, but in reality we were being duped by focusing too much on the enemy. So what about the rebukes? How do we ‘spot her’? In the cases mentioned above, it is speaking of a form of manipulation that gets the ‘authorities’ to commit wickedness. When the govt. can stamp its approval on an act, like abortion, then the wicked act can be carried out because the ‘law’ permits it. In Naboth’s mock trial, he was murdered, but it was under pretense of law. Of course Jesus trial was the same. And John the Baptist was beheaded because the ‘kings word is law’. Oliver Cromwell, the 17th century parliamentarian reformer, would face his Jezebel in the king’s wife, she was the Catholic wife of King Charles [Stuart the 1st] and the puritan reformer saw her as a threat. He would eventually lead parliament to execute the king and himself hold the title ‘The Lord Protector’ his epitaph would read ‘Christ, not man, is King’. So every age has had to deal with Jezebel. One thing for sure, when the people of God permit, and at times agree, with the unjust manipulation of human govt. [like Supreme Court decisions that give voice to the murder of children] then we are to a degree ‘suffering that woman Jezebel’. The reason John the Baptists head was removed was because he spoke up loudly against a public sin. The king married his brother’s wife, they were committing adultery. Now, everyone knew it, it was the sort of thing that you learned to live with, but John felt it his duty to publicly speak out against it. So today, when we as believers become desensitized to the sins that take place with the governmental stamp of approval, then we too are allowing the unjust manipulation of human govt. [Jezebel] to have her way.
(1073) 1st KINGS 22- Well, this study went fast! I basically write a chapter a day and it fly’s by. Ahab consults with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. He convinces him to fight against Syria and take back Ramoth-Gilead. Jehoshaphat asks Ahab ‘are there any prophets we can get advice from?’ Ahab brings out the troops, these were 400 PAID prophet’s who were ‘on staff’. Sure enough these brothers know how to ‘prophesy’. They all with one voice [unity] prophesy a great victory ‘surely you will prosper’ is the mantra. One brother even makes these iron horns and says ‘just like these horns you will push the enemy back’ they put on quite a show. But wait, Jehoshaphat wants to play it safe, he asks ‘are there any more prophets that we need to hear from’? Sure enough Ahab says ‘well, I have this guy, but he is so negative! He never agrees with these other fine brothers, but what the heck, lets get him’. So they send a servant to retrieve Micaiah. On the way back to the king, the poor messenger says ‘Now look, all the other brothers are on board, they know how to toe the party line. Please give your reformation preaching a rest’. So they arrive at the designated spot, and Micaiah prophesies good stuff. He gave into the pressure. Ahab says ‘how many times do I have to tell you to speak what’s really on your heart’ then he gives the true prophecy ‘I saw Israel like scattered sheep across the terrain’ basically he was saying ‘don’t go to battle’. Ahab says ‘see, what did I tell you! This brother is bad news’ they lock him up and go to battle. Sure enough Ahab gets killed ‘by chance’ [a stray arrow] and the battle goes bad. Also, a story is told how the host of heaven appeared before God and the lord said ‘how will we convince Ahab to go to battle’? And the story says that God allowed a lying spirit to be in all the prophets. It was Gods judgment on Ahab to let him hear what he wanted to hear! Paul says that people will ‘heap to themselves teachers, wanting the ears tickled’ we live in a day where church attendance is ‘seeker friendly’ people want their ‘felt needs’ met. Sometimes the Lord gives people what they want, even if it’s not good for them! [Remember King Saul?] So we end 1st Kings with judgment falling on Ahab, the dogs ‘licked the blood’ from his chariot in Samaria as a fulfillment of Gods judgment on him. We also see the possibility of ‘prophetic ministers’ looking really good, putting on a show, if you will, and yet being dead wrong! In today’s internet environment we live in a day where multiple prophecies go forth on a regular basis, we need to be wary of listening to the ‘many prophets’. I have found a few good prophetic words thru this venue, but for the most part the ‘prophets’ have a tendency to go with the flow. This is not to say that all prophecy needs to be doom and gloom, but we often give voice to the image of Jesus that suits us best. We like a rich, successful, wealthy Jesus, a real go getter if you will. We then speak words that are coming from our distorted image of him. In essence we prophesy [speak] words that are in agreement with the image of Jesus that we choose to hold on to. Ahab had a bunch of prophets who were looking real good, surely they all couldn’t be wrong! God let them prophesy the things that they wanted to prophesy.
(1240) 2nd KINGS 1- The king of Israel is on his roof in Samaria and falls thru. He sends his men to inquire from a pagan god whether or not he will get healed. On the way Elijah meets them and tells them because he sought information from a forbidden source, he will die. They go back and the king realizes it was Elijah. So he sends 50 men to tell Elijah to come and see the king; Elijah calls down fire from heaven and they get ‘sacrificed’. This happens with the second group of 50 as well. The third group comes and says ‘please, we don’t want to die like the rest, just come and see the king for heavens sake’. Elijah goes. He tells the king that he will die because he sought foreign gods and rejected the true God. In Luke 9 the disciples ask Jesus ‘do you want us to call down fire from heaven and burn them up, like Elijah did’? They treated the story as literal. Why did the disciples ask this? Jesus was going to Jerusalem and he sent two men to Samaria, the same city where the king of Israel was associating himself with. The people did not welcome him because he had his mind already set on Jerusalem. The whole history of Israel and Judah [northern and southern tribes] involved a debate over where true worship occurred. Samaria was considered a low class place; the people had little respect in the eyes of the pure Jew. Jesus disciples saw nothing wrong with the death of these Samaritans. Jesus told them that his kingdom was not about getting rid of the ‘heretics’ but redeeming them. It seems strange that the disciples would even contemplate the death of these ‘illegals’, after all Jesus is going around healing and helping people who are considered low class. He is trying to instill this mindset into his men, but yet somehow on the road to the Kingdom they see no contradiction in thinking that part of the process would include the destruction of a whole society of people. Many sincere Christians/preachers seem to make this same mistake in their treatment of Muslims/Arabs. No matter how theologically wrong a certain class of people are, yet their destruction is not part of the plan. Let me also mention the error that many well meaning Catholics have fallen into in my part of the world. Over the years I have had the privilege of working with lots of brothers who have come from strong Mexican/Catholic backgrounds. Often times they would see nothing wrong with going to a ‘Catholic fortune teller’ or hiring someone to place a curse on an enemy. The Catholic Church expressly teaches against this. There are many differences between Catholics and Protestants; one of them is the teaching of asking the saints who have died to intercede for us. The Catholic Church does not teach ‘praying to the saints’ in the sense of praying to God for prayer to be answered. Many Catholics and Protestants are confused about this, many do think that praying to the saints is like asking God to answer a prayer. The official Catholic doctrine is you can ‘pray’ in the sense that you are asking a believer who has died to ‘pray for you’. In essence the doctrine teaches you can ask a believer who has died to pray for you, because in reality they are still alive. Okay, I personally don’t go for this, but I get the difference. Here close to Mexico there is a superstitious mixing of saints with actual occult practices [Santeria]. Many Catholics have a misguided understanding of seeking these practices and thinking they are Catholic in nature. They are not. So in this chapter we see that seeking wisdom from a pagan/occult source brought death upon the king. I want to warn all of our readers [both Catholic and Protestant] that the official teaching of both churches condemns doing this, don’t do it!
(1241) 2nd KINGS 2- Elijah is going to be taken up into heaven and Elisha follows him, Elijah tells him to leave but Elisha requests a double portion of the Spirit that anointed Elijah. He tells Elisha that if he witnesses his translation into heaven he will get it. As Elisha follows Elijah to the various towns [Bethel, Jericho, etc.] he runs into the ‘sons of the prophets’ who independently tell Elisha that Elijah will be taken this day. These sons of the prophets are the same group from the ‘school of the prophets’ under Samuel. They lived a communal lifestyle, were provided for by offerings from the community and were recognized as a legitimate group sent from God. Over the years I have had both ‘prophetic’ type experiences as well as learning and growing in Christian truth. Often time’s believers will live their whole lives only experiencing and learning Christianity from their particular group. While many of these various denominations are fine groups, they are only a limited picture of the church. The problem comes in when one group sees itself as ‘the group’ to the exclusion of the other groups. There are ‘prophetic groups’ who operate in these gifts, these gifts do exist and function in the church today. Many of these groups have cut themselves off from the ‘intellectual’ branch of the church. Some seem to regulate their entire Christian experience around the gift. Often times it is next to impossible to correct them doctrinally, because they believe that the fact that they do experience real prophetic gifts justifies all their beliefs. Often times they are wrong. Many times the young believers who follow these gifted men/movements become infatuated with the gift and never truly grow in the things of God. Having said all this, we also need to be open to the miraculous gifts of the Spirit that the bible speaks about. The majority view of Christianity [Catholic, Orthodox and most Protestants] do believe in the charismatic gifts of the Spirit. There are those who try and make a case for their cessation [cessationists!] but for the most part these gifts do and have functioned since the early days of Christianity. I can personally give you many examples from my own story; let me share a recent one. A few weeks ago I had some of my homeless friends over for a fellowship time. We had communion and shared the word in my yard. This spot is the same spot where I pray over the communities of people that we relate to. I have a habit of ‘anointing’ myself with oil while praying for the brothers. I will actually put anointing oil on my head and pray ‘just like this oil is on me, Lord anoint all those we are reaching out to’. One of the homeless guys is very gifted and he does function in the gift of Prophecy, he will often make off the cuff comments and he does not realize that he is actually prophesying. So any way as we were all sitting in my yard he keeps telling me ‘you know brother, I keep thinking of the verse in the bible where the oil was on Aarons head and it ran down to the rest of his body’. This is a verse in Psalms that coincides with the exact type of prayer thing that I regularly do over the guys in this exact spot. So it’s stuff like this that shows me that prophetic people and gifts are not all fakes. Now Elijah does a few prophetic things before the chariots from heaven come and take him; he strikes the Jordan with his mantle [coat] and it dries up for him to cross. After Elisha witnesses Elijah’s ascension he does receive the ‘double portion’ and on his way back into town he does the same thing. The sons of the prophets recognize that the mantle [gift] passed from Elijah to Elisha. A few things; in this chapter we see that those who witness the ascension of ‘the prophet’ receive a greater anointing. Of course this reminds us of the early church, they were the group that saw Jesus ascend and did receive the Spirit. Some say that Elisha does twice the miracles as Elijah [the double portion]. I underlined all the miracles once and think they might be off one or two miracles, but they do come close [Elijah 7, Elisha 13 or 14]. Jesus said we would do greater miracles than he did [in number we would do greater works as the family of God]. And of course the miracles surrounding the Jordan and Elisha pouring salt in the fountain of water to ‘heal the waters’, all these images speak of the ministry of Jesus and John and the significance of baptism and how Jesus would ‘heal the waters’ i.e.; he would unite with us in the waters of the Jordan and we would meet with him thru the ordinance of baptism, in essence Jesus ‘healed the waters’ by his pure life, his ‘saltiness’ [preservation power]. Jesus said we were the salt of the earth. So there are some good prophetic pictures from a prophetic chapter. All in all we as believers are to be grounded in the word, have a grasp on all the various groups/movements that constitute Christianity, and be open to the miraculous. God has given us his Spirit and we do have the ability as Gods people to function in these gifts. But at the end of the day our assurance is in the Lord, not in our gifts.
(1243) 2ND KINGS 3- Jehoram, king of Israel, goes after the king of Moab because he stopped paying him the taxes/extortion fees after his father died. Ahab, Jehoram’s father was feared [because of his wife Jezebel] and the king of Moab figured ‘heck, we were scared of the other president, but this new young buck doesn’t instill the same fear’ [sound familiar?]. Never the less the ‘young buck’ forms an alliance with two other kings [France, Germany? Or Britain, you pick] and he goes after Moab. They go on this 7 day journey to attack Moab, and lo and behold they realize that they don’t have the resources to finish the job [Afghanistan?]. They never took into account the actual problems they would run into with the terrain; they found no water sources for their troops or the animals. Now, Moab probably knew about the land situation, he knew it would turn to their benefit [Taliban]. So the 3 kings- Jehoram king of Israel, Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and the king of Edom are facing a dilemma. They have all their troops already in the field [their committed] and yet they don’t have the proper resources to finish [oh let’s say they need 40 thousand more]. So the King of Judah asks Jehoram if there is a prophet in the land who can help. Enter Elisha. They go to the prophet and he rebukes them, but for the sake of the king of Judah he seeks God and gives them a word from the Lord. He tells them to dig holes thru out the area and God will supernaturally fill them. I don’t know how God did it, but the chapter says he brought the water over the land, possibly some regional flood? The point is that what they saw as a major obstacle, lack of resources, turned out to be a key element of their victory. The fact that the king of Moab knew there was no water in the land, this led him to believe that what he saw in the morning was blood from the slain army. He looked out over the land and the reflection of the water looked like blood to him. So he mounts an attack and gets defeated. God often times allows our perceived weaknesses to become the key to our victory. Paul said he gloried in his faults and weaknesses, because it was thru these things that God’s power rested upon him. At the end of the battle the king of Moab realizes that he is in over his head and makes one valiant attempt to at least take the king of Edom down with him. He must be thinking ‘geez, I’m fixin to get wiped out, might as well make one last ditch effort to take out this punk’ he takes 700 men and makes a charge, he can’t break thru. So he offers his son on the wall as a sacrifice to his god. Moab would have been better off if they simply kept paying the taxes. Okay, I really don’t want to draw too much of a comparison with president Obama and the present situation, but there are some common themes. He does seem to have less ‘fear/respect’ in the area of military might than his predecessor. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it could turn out to be bad. Our situation in Afghanistan is not good; we do not presently have the troops in there to do whatever the heck we are trying to do. It looks like we are going to change strategy and downsize. And last but not least, we need to be more careful when making decisions that adversely affect our allies. The decision to drop plans to place a ground based missile defense system on the border of Poland and Russia was probably a good strategic move. But politically it did hurt some allies. The day Obama made the decision not to go ahead with the Bush agenda was the anniversary of a previous invasion of Poland by Russia, not a smart decision to say the least. All in all the king of Israel made some decisions, he got in over his head but thanks to some allies and a word from the Lord, things turned out for the better. I think we can all learn some lessons from this chapter.
(1244) 2ND KINGS 4:1-7 A wife of the prophets whose husband died asks Elisha for help. She is in debt and the creditors have come to take her sons as payment. Elisha asks her what she has in her house; she says a pot of oil. He tells her to go borrow empty pots from her neighbors and go in her house and shut the door and fill the empty pots. She fills them all by a miracle and he tells her to sell the oil and pay off the debt, and use the rest to live off of. This chapter has a few more miraculous things that remind us of the ministry of Jesus, we will do it tomorrow. But this miracle shows us the ability of God to ‘take little’ and make it go far. Jesus does this with the loaves and fish. Some see these miracles as Gods way of telling us he will increase our material wealth, after all he gave this woman a goose that lays golden eggs! I see these stories thru a different light; Jesus was showing us that ‘our little bit’ can go very far. In the stories of Jesus multiplying the bread and fish, the disciples actually tell Jesus ‘how can we feed the multitudes, we don’t have enough money’? He shows them that they don’t ‘need enough money’ all they need is him! When people read the bible with their ‘pair of glasses on’ they naturally see these stories in ways that justify their preconceived ideas, we need to let God change these ideas.
Now to the book ‘Everything must change’ by McLaren. I read a few more chapters and thought I’d talk. Brian compares the conventional view of the gospel with the Emergent view. He seems to be too critical of some of the basic elements of the gospel. He kinda speaks condescendingly about original sin and Jesus death saving us from God’s wrath and how these things apply to God’s chosen. He actually states the gospel fairly well, but he does it in a critical way. He then states the Emergent view and shows how Emergent’s see a global justice picture for all people. I don’t see the need to reject the first view in order to embrace the second. He uses an example from the gospels and Mary's Magnificat to prove his point. He shows us the expectation of natural Israel when they saw the appearing of the Messiah thru a nationalistic lens; true enough. He then uses this example to show us that the conventional view of Jesus and personal conversion is missing the point, that the true ‘framing story’ is about social justice in the nations. I think you can take the story the other way around; that Jesus actually corrects the immediate expectation of Israel and their nationalistic view and tells them ‘the kingdom of God must first begin in you’. In essence Jesus interjects the ‘conventional view’ and the need to deal with ‘original sin’ before they can expect any outward changes in society. I am not sure why Brian seems to be so against the doctrine of original sin, the only thing I can imagine is he has read a lot of social gospel material and 19th, 20th century liberal theology. These teachings were very much against original sin because they felt it instilled in man a sort of hopelessness to effect society as a whole. The liberal theologians rejected classic expressions of original sin because they felt these doctrines gave to man an excuse to not work for change and social justice in society. Good men like Charles Finney embraced these beliefs. The only problem with this is the bible most definitely teaches the doctrine of original sin! ‘In Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive’ ‘As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so thru the righteousness of one man [Jesus] shall many become holy’ [Romans, Corinthians]. The doctrine of original sin is biblical, and being saved from Gods just wrath thru the atonement of Jesus is the heart of the gospel. I accept McLaren’s call for believers to be more concerned and active on the social justice seen, and he does make some good points about the kingdom of God and how it’s much greater than the reductionist ‘me and Jesus’ view. But I disagree on his approach that the conventional expression of the gospel needs to change. Jesus kingdom does begin with the fundamental doctrines and beliefs of redemption and God restoring man back to God thru the atonement, to discard these truths and to replace them with ‘another framing view’ in my mind is a big mistake.
(1245) 2ND KINGS 4:8-37 Elisha travels thru a town called Shunem and a woman decides to prepare a little ‘prophets room’ for him on the city wall. She goes out of her way to assist in Elisha’s ministry. So he wants to return the kind deed and he asks what he could do for her. He finds out that she has had no kids and prophesies that she will have a child. She disbelieves the word but sure enough she has the child. One day when the boy is in the field with his dad he gets sick and dies. The woman lays his body in Elisha’s room and heads out to meet him. He comes back with her and raises the child from the dead. Elisha has already multiplied the oil supernaturally [well God did it] and here he raises the dead. He truly is doing the miraculous signs of a prophet among them. I am still reading Brian McLaren’s book ‘everything must change’ and I like the way Brian shows us how the ministry of Jesus was a challenge to unjust power and human government. He actually uses the example from Pontius Pilate, when Jesus was asked ‘are you the king of the Jews’ and Jesus says yes, he came to testify of the truth. Pilate says ‘what is truth’ and McLaren uses this to illustrate that unjust power structures see truth as this ‘wishy washy’ type thing. I find it funny that Brian accuses Pilate of being a ‘postmodern, relativist’ McLaren himself espouses postmodernism! In the prophetic ministry of Jesus the father gave him the tools he needed to accomplish the mission, in the gospel of John we read ‘many other miracles did Jesus do that are not written in this book, but these are written so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that by believing you would have life thru his name’. Jesus shook up the systems of his day; he knew the prophecies concerning him that were found in the Old Testament. One of them said ‘Gentiles shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising’ when Pilate asked Jesus ‘are you this king or not’ Jesus replied ‘did someone tell you this about me, or did you come up with this idea on your own’. Jesus knew that the Father had promised him that he would impact nations, that kings and rulers would hear his ‘narrative’ and be changed. He fulfilled the 3 years of earthly ministry; he raised the dead, opened blind eyes, fed the masses. Now his time has come to take the cup and drink it. Much is on his mind, at the moment of truth Pilate asks him if he is really who he said he was. Jesus says ‘I can’t lie, for this reason was I born. I am taking this thing to the end, I am going to finish the course that God has set before me’. Pilate was simply a ‘first fruit’ of Roman rulers that would hear about the story of Jesus. After his death and resurrection many kings and aristocrats would come to the Christian religion. Within a few short centuries the whole empire would succumb to a form of Christianity under the Emperor Constantine. Truly Gentiles have come to his light and kings to the brightness of his ‘rising’, before you can rise, you must die. Jesus drank the cup and finished the course, the Father kept his promise.
(1246) 2ND KINGS 4:38-44 Elisha has a ministry to the younger prophets; they see him as a father figure in a way. He prepares a ‘great pot’ of food for them, but one of the inexperienced prophets accidently picked a poisonous plant and put it in the pot. Once they start eating they realize that they have all been feeding off of something that is damaging, they panic! Elisha quickly puts another ingredient in the stew to undo the bad effects. Okay, I see a parable here. Often time’s good young men are feeding from sources that have much good in them. These sources believe Gods word, confess it regularly, they have much good in ‘the pot’. But because of inexperience some bad things get into the pot. These bad things have a way of infecting the entire meal. When you first start eating from the pot, you don’t realize it’s bad. When someone tries to tell you there is some bad stuff in the pot, the normal reaction is ‘how dare you tell me that I have been duped! Who do you think you are, there is much good in this pot’? But eventually after the dust settles down, they recognize the experience of the older prophet and allow him to ‘add his meal’ to the pot. I want to encourage all of the ‘younger prophets/leaders’ don’t be too willing to eat everything in the pot, there are many sources of teaching and preaching that are very abundant in today’s church world, I mean it’s a big pot, but it’s takes discernment to know that sometimes bad weeds get into the pot. Let mature leadership add their part, it often neutralizes the bad stuff. And the last miracle in the chapter has Elisha multiplying the loaves and grain for the prophets. He does a multiplication miracle like Jesus did in the New Testament. The church went thru a stage where she rejected the miraculous stories in the bible, this period took place in the late 19th, early 20th century. It was called liberalism/higher criticism and it arose primarily out of the universities in Germany [Marburg being a main one]. Men like Rudolph Bultman reacted to enlightenment thinking and tried to create a view of scripture that still had value, but was not to be taken literally when it came to the miracles. This was called ‘de-mythologizing’ they used the word ‘myth’ to mean stories that had good moral value, but weren’t meant to be taken literally; sort of like a parable. So these brothers would say that Jesus really didn’t multiply the loaves and fish, but that he appealed to mans better instincts and the people all shared their food with everyone else. Or that the parting of the Red Sea was really the ‘Reed Sea’ and stuff like that. Some still hold to these types of things, but for the most part this way of seeing scripture is no longer a popular view. Elisha had some supernatural stuff going on, there was no reason to reject or disbelieve the things that happened, but this does not mean that there is never a time for correction and reproof. Many who operate in these gifts are very limited in their understanding and grasp of scripture. I don’t want to sound condescending, but the history on this stuff is out there; many have gone off the deep end doctrinally while operating in supernatural gifts. Elisha was prophetic, but he also knew when it was time to add ‘some meal’ to the pot, to put some stuff in that would neutralize the poison. I think we need some meal.
(1247) 2ND KINGS 5- A Syrian army commander has leprosy, he hears about Elisha the prophet and goes to get healed. He is carrying a letter from the king of Syria that requests that the king of Israel heal him. The king of Israel is distraught ‘who does he think I am? Am I God?’ Elisha hears about the matter and says ‘send him to me, after I get thru with him he will know that there is a prophet in the land’. As Naaman arrives at the door of Elisha, Elisha sends out a servant to give him a message ‘go, dip yourself 7 times in the Jordan and you will get healed’. Naaman is upset, he says ‘I thought he would at least come out and make a big show and do some great healing! Are not the waters of Syria better than this stinking Jordan!’ He storms off. His men tell him ‘look, if he told you to do some great act, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not give it a shot and go get wet’. He dips in the Jordan and gets healed. He is elated! He goes back to the prophet and wants to give him an offering, Elisha refuses to take it. On his way back home Elisha’s servant stops him and says ‘my master changed his mind, 2 prophets just stopped by and he now will accept the money/gift’. He lied. As the servant arrives back at Elisha’s house, Elisha confronts him ‘hey Gehazi, where did you go’ he tells him nowhere. Elisha tells him ‘did not my heart go with you when the chariot turned’ he knew he was caught. Elisha rebukes him strongly over wanting to make material gain at this time ‘is this a time to build wealth! To gain land and servants and stuff’ he curses him and puts the leprosy of Naaman on him. Okay, let’s do a little stuff; first, the king of Israel felt like the expectations of the other ‘middle eastern’ Arab countries were too high. The king of Syria flat out treated him like he was God! Oh I don’t know, have there been any leaders recently that have been given the title ‘messiah’ [they gave it mockingly, but the expectations were very high]. And we must not overlook the strong rebuke of Gehazi, and Elisha’s unwillingness to take an offering. We often read all of these stories and only see the parts where God provided for someone, or reduced their debt [the woman with the oil]. We read and preach on the ‘wealth verses’ to the degree where we don’t even see the ‘rebuking of wealth’ verses. Then after many years we develop a wealth mentality in the people of God to the point where they never see the warnings. Without going too far down this road, remember Jesus told his men ‘freely you have received, freely give’. In context he was speaking of the divine gifts of the Spirit that they were given. He was sending them out to heal and cast out demons, he was telling them don’t turn this thing into a money making enterprise! And let’s end with some practical stuff- as I continue to read thru Brian McLaren’s ‘everything must change’ I appreciate his emphasis on helping the poor and reaching out to the outcasts of the world. I also understand his view of changing the way we see things, the language used is ‘framing story- narrative’. But I see a problem with overdoing the concept of ‘framing stories’. For instance some Emergent’s believe that the classic expressions of the gospel are no longer valid. That Jesus really didn’t come to call people to repent and believe in the way we think [Brian quotes N.T. Wright and supposes that the term ‘repent and believe’ was more of a popular saying that military commanders used to simply tell people to surrender over to the new empire. He uses an example from Josephus. I get the point, but believe that this association is rather week. Jesus very much did call people to repent and believe in the classic way we understand it]. Anyway to ‘re-frame’ the gospel in a way that says the real message/purpose of Jesus was to simply change the pictures we use in ‘our story’ is too simple. The best example I can think of would be Jesus conversation with Nicodemus in John’s gospel. Jesus is speaking from the ‘narrative’ of Gods kingdom, Nicodemus is hearing from his own religious frame work. No matter how hard Jesus uses the new framework, or how hard Nicodemus tries to see this new story, he can’t. Jesus tells him it’s impossible to change his ‘framing story’ without changing him! ‘Unless a man is born again, HE CAN NOT SEE THIS KINGDOM’ so I think we can go too far in restating the classic gospel. Yes, believers should be challenged to see things from new/fresh perspectives. But these new perspectives can only be truly seen when we experience personal conversion. Jesus very much wants us to see the story from his perspective, but realistically he knows unless we are born again, we will never truly see it.
(1248) AX HEADS THAT FLOAT!- 2ND KINGS 6:1-7 The prophets tell Elisha that their current ‘dwelling place’ is too small, they request permission to go to the Jordan and build a new dwelling. Jordan in scripture represents more than just a river that John baptized people in. In the history of Israel Jordan has been a type of crossing over from a previous identity and becoming mature and responsible as Gods people. It was a cutting off from the old land and economy and things they trusted, and coming into a new kingdom, one ruled by God. This also played a role in Johns baptism, Israel knew what Jordan meant; John was telling them to leave their old world mindsets and step into a new kingdom. So the prophets go and build a new place by the Jordan. One of the brothers dropped an ax head into the water and panics ‘Oh no, I lost the ax head, it was borrowed’. Elisha brakes off a stick and throws it into the water and the head floats, King James say ‘it swam’. So the brother got the ax head back. How do we relate stories like this and make them applicable to our day? I know, let’s say you were working at a building site and dropped the power saw in the water, and… Well not really. The bible has lots of ‘unorthodox’ stuff in it. I mean Paul sent handkerchiefs to sick people and they were healed. Jesus turns water into wine. Ax heads float. Our Christian experience very much entails supernatural stuff. The other side of the coin is ‘the fake stuff’. Recently the author Dan Brown released another book on supernatural stuff, he wrote the previous best seller ‘The DaVinci code’. These books appeal to mans natural desire for supernatural stuff. The problem with Dan brown is he mixes all types of fairy tale stories in with some valid points. The average reader can’t really tell the difference. I have a book here in my study titled ‘the lost books of the bible’. I bought it years ago for a few dollars at half price books. It really is a treasure; I mean it does have great books from antiquity in it, to get it for a few dollars was a great deal. Now, some of the books were legitimate contenders to have possibly made it into the bible. The epistle of Barnabus, the Didache, possibly the Shepherd of Hermes. There were a few books that the early church debated about including in the canon. But you also had a plethora of obviously fake stuff. The Gnostic writings were well known as cheap imitations of the real thing. These writings are from the late 2nd, 3rd centuries. No legitimate argument was ever made about these writings; all Christians rejected them as being authoritative. But the Dan Brown stories have people thinking that these writings were at one time up for possible inclusion into the canon, that’s just not so. How do we tell the difference between stuff that’s historically reliable and stuff that isn’t? In the field of historiography [looking at ancient writings and weighing their legitimacy] you have scholars who have spent years doing this sort of thing. You look at the actual recording of the events, were they written down fairly closely to the event? Did the authors know the people they were writing about, were they eyewitnesses? How many manuscripts are left? Were they widely accepted? There are real ways to determine stuff like this, the bible stands head and shoulders above all other ancient writings. The Greek New Testament has over 5 thousand original manuscripts. The only other work that comes close is Homer’s Iliad, it has a little over 6oo. Most others have around 10-20. If you include the Latin versions [and other languages besides Greek] you have around 25 thousand copies. The evidence is overwhelming. Now this does not speak to the inspiration of scripture, but it shows us that the bible itself is a highly reliable document when measured by historical standards. What about the Gnostic wrings? They do not stand the test of time in this way. The point being Dan Brown might have piqued the interest of many novice readers of history, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just Christians should be able to give a defense of their faith and appeal to a broad range of actual proofs that defend their position. Hey, if you want interesting stories, come ‘back to the bible’ it has ax heads that can swim for heaven’s sake!
(1249) 2ND KINGS 6:8-23 The king of Syria wars against Israel, but every time he tries to set up an ambush someone keeps informing the king of Israel about it. So the Syrian king calls in his men and accuses them of leaking the info. They inform the king that this is the prophetic work of Elisha. So they go get him. As the Syrian army encamps around Elisha’s place, his servant wakes and up sees the troops and panics, Elisha prays and asks God to ‘open his eyes’ and he gets a sneak peek into the supernatural realm and sees all these chariots of angelic hosts around him ‘there are more with us than with them’ a famous verse indeed. So Elisha prays to the Lord to ‘blind’ the Syrians from his true identity [sort of like when Jesus was with the disciples on the Emmaus road] and he goes to the troops and tells them ‘the man you’re looking for is not here, follow me, I’ll show you where he is’. So he leads them into the midst of Samaria and right into the hands of the king of Israel. Then he prays ‘Lord open their eyes’ and they are in ‘shock and awe’ [to quote Rummie]. The king of Israel asks Elisha ‘should I slay them’? Elisha says no, but feed them and treat them well. He asks the king ‘would you slay those whom you captured thru military means’? Obviously the answer is no, so likewise they should be treated like captives and not harmed. Okay, how should we read the biblical narratives on war? One of the most known atheists in the country today is Sam Harris; he is a sincere writer and speaks against what he sees as the flaws of war based religion. He echoes the words of Thomas Paine in his book ‘the age of reason’ [18th century]. Harris sees the danger of world religions embracing a war mentality and believing that terror and warfare are on their side. He cites realities like the Muslim radicals who shout ‘God is great’ as they blow themselves and innocents up. He points out the stories in the bible where God commands his people to wipe out other ethnic groups [genocide] and he berates the Christians for their militaristic end time views and how their beliefs in a violent return of Jesus hinder world peace. Many thinkers have raised these questions and the church shouldn’t simply shrug these men off as pagans. In the story we just read it should be noted that God himself, thru his prophet, commanded the fair treatment of captives. That Jesus and the New Testament revelation are a radical revolution of peaceful demonstration ‘if your enemy hits you, don’t retaliate and return evil for evil. Instead bless them’. In general believers need to reorient their world view around the gospels and the actual message and life of Christ. When using the Old Testament we are to look for the hidden nuggets of wisdom that can apply to our lives today, but we need to avoid a direct application of wiping out our enemies with today’s military conflicts. The church in our day really needs an overhaul in our thinking in these areas, just the other day the U.S. military accidently killed an Afghan family of 6, kids and parents. A few months back we bombed an area and accidently killed around 140 civilians. The military at first said it was possible that the Taliban killed these people. After a few months review we came out and admitted that we did not properly screen these homes for civilians. We messed up and killed a bunch of people. I know all the reasons behind the things we are doing [I think!] but if your wife and kids were just bombed right now, by accident, would it make you feel better to know they really didn’t intend on killing them? Our country was/is up in arms over the sprinkling of water on the face of a few terrorists, one of the reasons is said to be that when we ‘torture’ terrorists we give fuel to the Muslim world by not playing by the rules. Or when we detain enemy combatants at Gitmo that this becomes a selling point to Muslim radicals that they can use to recruit people to their cause. I can see no greater ‘recruiting tool’ than the accidental killing of innocent Muslim women and children, yes I do realize that we do not mean to ‘kill them’ but this still does not change the reality on the ground.
(1250) 2ND KINGS 6:24-33 The king of Syria comes up against Israel and shuts her in. No one comes in or goes out [embargo]. Israel as a nation experiences a recession and the price of their goods rise exponentially [inflation]. Once again we see the conflict with Arab nations costing too much! As the king walks thru town a woman cries for help, he says ‘who am I, God? If the Lord does not intervene what can I do? Can I go to the storehouse and fix all these problems’? Many Americans are truly unaware of the economic danger that our country is in. Private business thinks that the govt. can bail out anybody, we can’t. The insurance money that the govt. provides for banks that fail is running out, the stimulus money will not have the desired effect because it simply filled the hole that was created by the recession and tremendous job losses. The king can’t do miracles by continually going to the barn floor! So the woman tells the king ‘I made a deal with another lady that we would cook and eat my son today, and the next day we would cook her son. Now she won’t live up to the deal’ the king can’t believe his ears. In the midst of all their economic and military turmoil, they are killing their children in a vain attempt to extend their own lives. This last year more official attempts have been made to increase spending and have the federal govt. provide funding for the development and killing of unborn children than ever before. Many appeal to the cause of helping others who suffer from incurable diseases ‘look how much good it can do for those who are sick’. The nation of Israel was so lost that she couldn’t see the connection between her economic and military problems, and how that related to the destruction of their own children. Gee, I wonder if the bible is relevant anymore?
(1251) 2ND KINGS 7- Elisha is before the elders and the city is in trouble, the king of Israel is blaming the recession on the Christian conservatives and Elisha is being targeted. Now comes the true test of a prophet; Elisha says ‘by this time tomorrow the price of goods will be next to nothing, inflation will be gone and the recession over’. How can this happen? One of the men says ‘even if God opened the windows of heaven things cannot turn around this fast’. Wrong response, Elisha tells him ‘because you doubt, you will see it with your eyes but not experience it’. Okay, that night there are these 4 outcasts of society living at the city gate, they are lepers. You know, the type of people that nobody wants to be around. O sure the religious institutions have started all types of leper helping ministries, and the local religious folk give to these ministries, but nobody really wants to personally get involved. So these outcasts are at the city gate and they say ‘look at our plight, we are sitting here at the gate and will surely die, if we go into town the famine will kill us. If we go to the Syrians, sure they might kill us too, but maybe they will feed us and spare us, heck if we die we die!’ I like their outlook, even in the midst of great personal turmoil and sickness; they make one last ditch effort to turn things around. We need more brothers like this. So they go to the enemy camp and lo and behold [yes it’s corny] they find all the wealth and goods of the Syrian army, but no one’s there! God supernaturally caused the sound of the heavenly chariots to be heard by the army and they fled out of fear, casting away all their goods on the way out. So these lepers cant believe their eyes, they hit the jackpot. So they start going from tent to tent and take the stuff and go and hide it. After a few hours of hording and building wealth, they realize they are not doing right. They decide to go back to the city and tell their people what happened. They go to town and tell the king, he can’t believe it, he thinks ‘sure, this is a trap set up by my enemies’. Notice how both sides were battling paranoia, the Syrians fled thinking the armies were at the door, and the king of Israel thinks it’s a trap too. So they send some men to check it out and sure enough it’s true, the famine is over and the commodities are selling at a ridiculously cheap price. The brother who said ‘God could not do this even if he opened up heavenly windows’, he gets trampled at the gate by the gold rush and sees it with his eyes but never benefits from it, he dies. Okay, God is able to turn things around on a dime, though the economy was in shambles, the king/president thinks all is lost, no chance of a second term. Yet at the moment of great desperation God comes thru, the prophet [believers] was willing to use his gift to turn things around, and that’s exactly what happened. We as a people need to check our hearts and see if we really want the success ‘of the king’. Are we willing to do what Elisha did and pool our gifts for the success of the nation? Or have we become so cynical that we secretly desire the failure of the nation so we can feel vindicated? The lepers were tempted to horde the wealth and use it for their own benefit; after all they were God fearing capitalists! Why should they have to share their stuff with everybody else? Yet they chose to not ‘store up for themselves treasures on earth’ [Jesus] and did the right thing. Geez, I just wish we could find some contemporary comparisons for this stuff.
(1254) 2ND KINGS 8:1-6 Elisha tells the woman whose son he raised from the dead ‘go, leave the land because a 7 year famine is about to come’. So she leaves, after 7 years she comes back and requests of the king for her land and goods back; understand the king might have been perturbed about this citizen who fled during the time of trouble, after all the other citizens carried the burden. But just as she was about to make her request, it ‘just so happened’ that the king asked Elisha’s servant about the great miracles he did. And Gehazi tells the king the story of this woman and how Elisha raised the boy from the dead, and at that moment the woman approaches the king to make her request. The servant says ‘look, this is her and her son’! Talk about Divine confirmation. Okay, let’s do a few things. When we read earlier in this study about the boy being raised from the dead I hesitated to share a story from my own life where something like this happened, but now I thought I would do it. If you want to read about it I posted it under the ‘prayer requests’ section, you can find it under ‘answered prayer’. God will give people signs at times that will be a precursor to future callings. The New Testament says the disciples went all over, the Lord confirming the word with signs following. We live in a day where the church in general does not have the maturity to truly walk in these gifts. Sure, there are some of these things operating in a limited way in the world today; but the American church is too geared up for display and personal promotion. Jesus gave us an example of someone who refused the honor that came from men; you read in the gospels that he would tell people ‘don’t go blabbing all over the place about what just happened’. He would say this after he performed some miracle, and sure enough the person would blab it anyway! Today’s ministry environment would have these miracles promoted in a shameless way, we think this is part of the mission. So in Elisha’s case God allowed him to do some supernatural stuff, not for self promotion but for Gods glory. In the gospel of John when Jesus opened the eyes of the blind man, he was a walking testimony to the ministry of Jesus. This same thing happened with the disciples in the book of Acts. We often think ‘how can I impact the world unless I have great resources’ [money] believe me, if you do one resurrection it will go farther than all the money in the world.
(1255) 2ND KINGS 8:7-29 Elisha goes to Damascus and the king of Syria hears about it, he sends his servant to inquire ‘of the prophet’ whether or not he will get well from some sickness. The servant goes and finds Elisha and Elisha says ‘yes, he would recover. But instead he will die’. What ? Elisha sees that the sickness would not be fatal, but that the king will be assassinated! The servant in front of him will be the killer. So Hazael goes back to the king and says ‘he said you would get well’ true enough, but he left out the part where he was going to kill him! So the next day he does the deed and becomes the king. A few things, I find it interesting that the Syrian king had no problem receiving Gods prophet. They believed in prophets! Now, they did not have a ‘Christian/Judeo’ culture, but they had a religious background that accepted ‘messengers from God’. In today’s world the church needs to take advantage of the willingness of other world religions to listen to prophets. We need to appeal as much as possible to the Muslim world and use any agreement on religious things as a tool to share the gospel. Right after the 16th century reformation the world would embark on a couple hundred year age of exploration and colonization. The Protestants were good at exploring the seas and impacting Europe, but they failed at reaching the Far East. Instead the Catholic Church had great success thru the Jesuits at impacting the Far East. They would make inroads into Japan and China and eventually take the gospel to the influential city of Peking. The problem arose when the Dominicans and Franciscans [Catholic orders] came in after them. They felt that the Jesuits were too accommodating in mixing in the religious beliefs of the east along with Christianity. Many Chinese believers were still practicing a form of worshipping dead ancestors and stuff like that. The Jesuits justified this by seeing these things as cultural beliefs and felt like allowing them to ‘keep their culture’ along with the faith was okay, the Dominicans and Franciscans disagreed and took the argument to Rome. Eventually this disagreement would leave a bad taste with the leaders in China and all Catholic expressions of the faith would be banned. This is called Syncretism, the mixing of religious beliefs. Now, why get into this? Christians should appeal to the willingness of Muslims and other world religions to hear religious voices. Both Jews and Muslims believe in Jesus, now they don’t believe the way Christians believe, but we should take advantage of this basic belief when appealing to them. Muslims reject the doctrine of the Trinity, but a careful study of history shows us that the actual Trinity they are rejecting is not the Christian understanding. Muhammad was actually rejecting a skewed view of the Trinity that saw Jesus and God and Mary as the Trinity. Obviously a pretty big mistake. So we as believers should be willing to correct and give a word to the ‘Muslim messengers’ when they come looking for answers. We should give them credit where credit is due, like their development of apologetical arguments in the Middle Ages [the Kalaam cosmological argument] but at the same time present the uncompromising gospel of Jesus Christ to them. I side with the Franciscans and Dominicans on this one.
(1256) 2ND KINGS 9:1-6 Elisha tasks a young prophet to go to Ramoth Gilead and anoint Jehu as the new king. He is told to set him apart and give him a special charge. When he arrives at Jehu’s spot, he takes him to a separate room and pours the oil on him. Jehu will clean house. First, this prophet had a special calling to leadership; Jehu had to be open to receiving direction from this source. This did not mean that Jehu was going to have an ongoing personal prophet to direct his life, it simply meant he had to recognize that in order for him to fulfill Gods mission, he had to be willing to receive the instructions from the prophet. Second, Jehu would be held to a higher standard in the sense that the other captains were not singled out in this way. Jehu had to be willing to go the extra mile and not follow the crowd. Often times God will challenge leaders to go a certain direction, sometimes the course is not popular, but often necessary for the completion of the work. Jesus called his disciples from their jobs and businesses; they had to sacrifice the normal pursuit of wealth and success in order to follow Jesus. Sure, there would be many ‘regular believers’ who would still believe in Jesus and not go this extra mile, but those who wanted to excel in discipleship would have to make some tuff choices. If you look long enough you will find just about any teaching to fit in with the personal pursuit of happiness, the American dream type mindset. But the calling of Jesus as seen in the bible always challenges us to sacrifice personal pleasure and success at the altar of a higher purpose. This does not mean you can’t experience a degree of success and stability in your life, but these things are secondary to the call of Christ. Jehu ‘got up from the room’ and separated himself long enough to hear the message from the prophet. There were other captains in the room, they would still pursue their military goals and live their lives as responsibly as possible; but Jehu would make permanent changes in the nation that would turn the course of history. In order for him to fulfill his mission he had to receive the word from the prophet that would set him apart from the rest of the crowd, he had to be willing to go the extra mile.
(1257) 2ND KINGS 9:7-37 Jehu receives the charge from Elisha and heads to Jezreel, the city where Jezebel resides. Her son Joram is the present king of Israel and Ahazia is king of Judah. By Divine appointment all three of them [Jezebel, and the 2 kings] are at the same location. As Jehu approaches the city, Joram sends a messenger to see what’s up ‘are you for peace’? What peace! Get behind me. A second messenger goes and gets the same response. Joram says ‘okay, let’s get the chariot ready and see what in the heck is going on’. He goes out to meet Jehu and it just so happens that they meet in the area where Jezebel illegally stole the land from Naboth and had him killed. Joram says ‘Jehu, is this a peaceful visit’ ‘peace, how can there be peace when your mother the witch is still throwing her weight around, and your fathers wicked deeds are still not avenged’. Jehu was on a prophetic rampage and would not stop until the house was purged. Joram sees the writing on the wall and turns to run; Jehu pulls the bow full length and drives an arrow thru his chest. Ahazia, king of Judah flees; he gets wounded and will die. Jehu is off to meet the queen, he approaches the city wall and Jezebel ‘painted her face’ and fixed her hair to meet Jehu. Why? Well we really don’t know, but Jezebel was a master manipulator, she did what she needed to do to survive. She was the power behind her husband Ahab’s wicked rule and she was doing the same thru her son. She very well might have been trying to look her best for the new king! Who knows, maybe she thought he would take her. She looks out a window on the wall and warns Jehu ‘remember Zimri, he rebelled against his king and God judged him’ she is trying to bide some time. Jehu is of noble blood, his father was a former king. He is also a trained fighter, a President Dwight Eisenhower type figure; someone who would rule as president but had a former military background. Basically Jehu doesn’t play games, he yells out ‘who in the city is on my side’? A few eunuchs look out over the wall; he says ‘throw her down to me’. He quickly accomplished his mission with virtually no civilian causalities. Jehu took out two kings and the ‘queen mother’ in one day. Jezebel’s body is quickly eaten by the dogs, a fulfillment of the prophecy of Elijah, and all this took place in the area that was well known as a place where injustice took place [the field of Naboth]. Okay, yesterday the country woke up to some surprising news, our president received the Noble Peace Prize, it was a surprise to everybody, even him! He actually made a tactful acceptance speech and acknowledged that he really didn’t deserve it, but would accept it in the spirit of good will and as a symbol of his role in the future, he did the best he could do. The reason? Because the conservatives tore him up over it, the London Times even said he did not deserve it. So he really was put on the spot, some even said ‘are you for peace’- translated, he is a bloody man who is bombing people every day in Afghanistan/Iraq, how come he gets it! First, as believers we should support the president as much as possible, it’s okay to be happy about the world honoring our president [or at least Norway!] Second, the criticisms against him not really deserving it, well he basically said the same thing. It’s really not the man’s fault that he got the prize. I do think that our president is ‘a man of peace’ and he has some real challenges down the road. Jehu was used of God to correct some long standing grievances that were in the nation, Jezebel operated for too long, the people knew her history. Jehu was charged by God to ‘wipe out the house of Ahab’ or to put an end to family lines that were destructive to the people of God. I’m talking spiritually now, not real war. There are times in the history of the church where things creep in and get a foothold; many times these teachings become accepted fair. We become comfortable with them, even though most of the nation/church realizes that it’s a manipulative thing, they learn to live with it. Prophetic voices are often raised up to say ‘enough, the whole house of Ahab will be wiped out’ in essence there are times when Gods people say ‘we understand that these doctrines have been around for a while; we also know the people who introduced these things on a large scale. We now reject the basic foundation upon which these things were built’ there comes a time when the ‘ministry’ of Jehu cleans house. We just need a few eunuchs [those who are separated for the purpose of serving the king. Because they were eunuchs, they could be trusted with the kings Bride, they would/could not take advantage of her for personal procreation/image building] who are willing to rise up and ‘throw her off the wall’.
(1259) 2nd KINGS 10:1-10 Jehu just wiped out 2 kings and a wicked queen, he sends a letter to Samaria and says ‘okay, here’s the deal, I just took out your kings; you have 70 sons of the king [Ahab] who are still alive. Go ahead and set one of them up as your new king and I’ll be there soon to fight’. Now Jehu has no intent on fighting, but as a strategic leader he is ‘working smarter, not harder’ [not more troops, but strategic thinking]. So the leaders who have raised up Ahab’s kids say ‘geez, the guy took out 2 kings like they were nothing, what chance do we have?’ and they send a message saying ‘we will be your servants’. Okay, so far so good. Jehu says ‘one more thing, if you mean this then take the 70 sons of your master and cut their heads off and send them to me at Jezreel’. The dirty deed is done and Jehu is told ‘the heads have arrived’. Jehu says ‘now, go and make 2 piles of heads at the city gate and let everyone in Israel see what happened’. They do it and Jehu tells the town ‘I know you guys are righteous, you decide what to do- yes I killed my master and it might have been unjust in your eyes; but your elders have taken the heads off of 70 sons of their king, so who do you think is worse’. Remember Jezebel said to Jehu ‘remember Zimri, he rose up against his master and was punished’ so this whole scenario needed to play out so Jehu would have the support of the local population [Afghanistan?]. He knew that just having the military might was not enough; he needed the support of the people. Jehu was a wise man, he could have easily taken the 70 sons out himself, without warning. But instead he let the city elders think he was giving them an option, he knew all along what needed to be done. Right now our country is on the verge of deciding about more troops going into Afghanistan, whatever your belief on this is; know for sure that if the people begin to view us in a bad way, then no matter how many troops are sent the mission will be a failure. My personal belief is I would not want my kids to die on the wasteland that is called Afghanistan, we have been there for 8 years and to try and establish some type of central govt. like we did in Iraq is much harder. The former ruling govt. was not a central ruling authority like Iraq had, the place has had a history of low rule and scattered tribal type living. In order for us to do what we did in Iraq, we basically have to create a nation out of nothing- in my view this is too much to ask at the price of our young men and women. Either way we need the wisdom of a Jehu, a real military commander who used wisdom and strategy to accomplish the mission, sure more firepower could have taken out the enemy, but to have the people themselves do it created an environment where he would be accepted after the action ceased. He was a smart brother indeed.
(1260) 2ND KINGS 10:11-36 Jehu heads to Samaria to clean house, he already wiped out the sons of Ahab and will now deal with the false prophets that Jezebel installed. He tells the people in Samaria ‘Let’s worship Baal’ and he sends his men out to gather all the priests and prophets of Baal, he says ‘make sure you get all the Baal worshipers, this is going to be a really big sacrifice to Baal’ ouch! So they get all those who were worshiping at the altar of a false god and they pack Baal’s temple out. Jehu tells his men ‘make sure we got them all- go in and give all the Baal worshipers these special robes- and make sure no one who worships the true God is in there’. So the men carry out the task and Jehu and his men ‘sacrifice’ the whole denomination in one shot. This chapter tells us that Jehu had ‘zeal for God’ and he purged Israel from false Baal worship, but it also says that Jehu did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam who made Israel sin. Jeroboam was the first king of the northern tribes when Israel broke up under the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. At the time Jeroboam made these 2 golden calves and placed one in the city of Dan and the other at Bethel. The purpose was strategic, Jeroboam feared that if the northern tribes went to Jerusalem every year to keep the religious feasts that eventually they would ‘long for the good old days’ and return to the leadership of the kings of Judah. Now Jehu is a noble warrior, he understood the idolatrous nature of Baal worship, why did he not deal with these 2 calves? Jehu was also a practical ‘patriot’ he wanted to maintain Israel’s identity as a separated people, he thought Jeroboams idea actually worked, so at the ‘altar of national unity’ he permitted a degree of idolatry to exist. Now we get into the tuff stuff; Jesus kingdom message calls people to a higher patriotism; he tells his followers that they are to be ‘patriots’ in a new way. Though their national alliances [the countries we live in] are to be respected and honored, yet when the rubber meets the road we owe our allegiance to ‘the Cross’. Jehu was willing to sacrifice total dedication to God for the sake of national cohesion, ouch again! Karl Marx [the 19th century socialist] once said ‘the economists are like the theologians, they believe every one else’s religion is a man made distortion, but that their own is an emanation from God’ it is obvious that religious divisions effected the way he thought, he saw the futility of manmade religion but made the mistake of rejecting God. He saw religion as a threat to true national pride and cohesion and tried to eject God from the national psyche, he failed. When believers of any nation hold the ideals of the nation higher than the ideals of Christ’s kingdom, then they have in a sense ‘left the calves of Jeroboam in place’.
(1262) 2ND KINGS 11- After Jehu killed the 2 kings he would become the king of the northern tribes [Israel] but who would take over the southern tribe of Judah? It would have normally gone to the oldest son of the king who died, but in this case the mother of the king that Jehu killed, Athaliah, would kill all her grandchildren so she could become queen. But they managed to hide one child from her, his name was Joash. He stays in hiding for 7 years and the priest Jehoiada brings him forth at the age of 7 to rule from the throne. They kill the wicked grandma and the throne is restored back to the king’s true lineage. Okay, what practical stuff can we get from this? The wicked grandma saw her own children as a threat, the natural flow of these sons rising up and taking their place was seen as competition. Over the years of ‘church and ministry’ as the church became more identified with the corporate 501 c3 model, this lent to the competitive spirit in a greater way than we see in the New Testament. Grant it you did have problems like this in the New Testament churches, but when we view church thru the lens of ‘I Pastor this church’ or ‘I attend this local church’ when we see it more along the lines off the corporation type model, then this leads to power struggles. One year I was reading the story of some church members who took their Pastor to court over ‘the church’. They tried to wrest it out of the hands of ‘the Pastor’ the Pastor fought back and gained control once again over ‘the church’. While stuff like this is the extreme example, the fact is many well meaning Pastors and church members view church thru this model, that it is actually the business enterprise as opposed to the community of people. This leads to these types of power struggles. You never see the Apostle Paul [or any other ‘church planter’] fighting over control of ‘the churches’ in this way. You do see Paul engage in some heavy theological debates with those who were trying to sidetrack the gospel of grace, but never the type of struggle that I just outlined above. Athaliah saw the kingdom thru the lens of ‘what can I get out of this, here is my chance to have authority’ she viewed the possibility of other gifted leaders as a threat to her goals. Healthy leadership today needs to release control of the people more so than we usually see; we often teach young Pastors how to spot threats to ‘the church’ how to fight back challenges to their authority, to be honest many of these skirmishes are fought outside of the biblical parameters of church. These are simply results of losing the biblical identity of ‘church’ and replacing it with a western corporate model. Nevertheless God had a Joash in the wings [a type of true headship- as seen in Christ as well as a return to the biblical model of leadership] and in Gods time Joash will come forth.
(1264) 2nd KINGS 12- Joash institutes a process of restoring the temple that was broken down. Under the spiritual direction of Jehoiada the priest, he sets up a system [a box with a hole in the lid] where the people’s offerings would be ‘protected’ from the priests. The problem we see in this chapter is the priests were abusing the offerings that were set aside for 'the house’. Now, they were being maintained by the Levitical offerings, they were getting a steady salary/support that was modest and commensurate with their service, but they went overboard in raiding the ‘household’ cash for personal profit. After they collected enough money for the repair of the house of God they gave it to the carpenters and workman to finish the job. These men contrasted the priestly ministry in that they used the money for actual building materials, they did not see it as simple compensation for being ministers. At the end of the chapter Joash is attacked by a foreign king and he takes all the riches that were in Gods house and gives it as a ransom to bribe the king to go away. This act is seen as disgraceful in the eyes of the ‘traditional generation’ and 2 of his servants kill him. Okay, there is a tension between the younger brothers [Emergent’s, contemporary expressions of ‘church’] and the older guys [Sproul, Macarthur, Colson, etc.] the younger guys are sincere, but at times seem to willing to ‘ransom out the goods in the temple’. That is along with the new style of church/ministry we need to be careful that we are not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Also this chapter shows us that it was perfectly legitimate to meet the basic needs of the priests, but they sort of fell into a habit where all the resources were being used for personal benefit. Now we need to be careful here, in the New Testament ‘the house of God’ is the actual corporate community of people, not the buildings we meet in. So a better way to see this is that we need to be careful that the money and resources that are being given by Gods people are primarily used ‘for the building’- that is the actual people. In the New Testament over 90 % of the scriptures on giving do show us this. The majority of the actual money contributed went to meeting the actual needs of people. In today’s church world we do not follow this guideline at all. Many millions are spent on many things, but in comparison to the ‘actual house spending’ [on the real needs of poor people] we spend very little on real needs. So God used Joash to do some good, but when he came out from under the influence of true spiritual elders [Jehoiada] he desecrated the ‘holy things’ and lost the respect of the people. As we in the 21st century strive to be relevant as Gods people, we need also be sensitive to the ‘treasures in the house’ the ‘old time’ classic doctrines that have been preserved and passed down to us from spiritual elders; things like the Atonement, the Substitutionary death of Christ, the Resurrection. Some of the new contemporary brothers seem to be raiding the temple a little too freely and thinking that this will bring us a little respite from foreign enemies, I fear that in the long run it will only lead to trouble.
(1266) 2ND KINGS 13- Israel is under oppression from Syria, they cry out to God and he delivers them. But they have a diminished army when all is said and done. In the New Testament Jesus said wise kings take inventory of their forces; when one army comes up against another, wise kings look at the match up and if they think they can’t win they make arrangements for some type of peace. Strength isn’t always about how much force you have or can display, sometimes it’s realizing your limits and having the wisdom of not letting a bunch of your soldiers die for a lost cause. In this chapter we also see the death of Elisha, it’s been over 40 years since his last true public appearance, here at the end of his life the king comes and feels overwhelmed. Elisha was a true stabilizing force for the nation; the king knew he had an experienced prophet who could lend support when the time called for it. But now he realizes he will have to go it on his own, sure he had other prophets around; but they were young guys, still dealing with inexperience and stuff. It’s not that they were of no value, but you could tell that they were going to go thru some learning curves in the years ahead and Elisha had already been thru all that. So Elisha encourages the king and says ‘take your bow and shoot thru the east window’ so he does this prophetic act and Elisha tells him he will overcome the enemy from the east [Syria]. Then he tells him to stomp the ground with the arrows, so he does it 3 times. Elisha says he should have done it 5 or 6 times! But because you were a little lackluster you will only have a partial victory over your enemy. And last but not least Elisha dies and is buried and some brothers bury one of their dead in the same grave and as soon as the body touches Elisha the guy comes back to life. Elisha was raising brothers from the dead after he died! What do we make from this? Various Christian churches put different emphasis on what the dead can do; relics, praying to those who have passed on. I want only to stress the biblical importance of the body. In scripture the body is a holy thing, God himself dwells inside the bodies of believers. The New Testament doctrine of the resurrection speaks to the importance of the body. In Greek thought the body was seen as evil, a temporary ‘prison’ that the soul/mind was captive in until death. Some of these beliefs [Greek Dualism] did affect the thinking of the church over the centuries. Many good theologians have corrected these mistakes over the years [Augustine, Reformers, Etc.] They showed us that the body itself is not evil, but that when the bible speaks about ‘the flesh having no good thing in it’ it is speaking about ‘the fleshly/carnal nature’ not the physical body. But some who embraced Greek Dualism interpreted these verses as saying the actual body is evil. In Romans Paul says to give our bodies up to God as living sacrifices, HOLY AND ACCEPTABLE to God, which is our reasonable service [worship]. So the body is actually referred to as holy in this passage. Elisha obviously had some ‘residual’ anointing going on, as soon as death touched his body there was enough of Gods Spirit present to raise a guy from the dead, how much more so for those of us who are still alive.
(1267) 2ND KINGS 14:1-20 Amaziah becomes king over Judah and avenges the assassination of his father. Yet he does not kill the sons of those who murdered his father, why? Because the law of God said the children should not be put to death for the sins of their fathers, Amaziah did justice, but also melded it with mercy. He then sends a message to the king of Israel to come and meet in a challenge. The king of Israel gives him a little parable that basically says ‘look, you had a victory over Edom, don’t let that go to your head, just because you won in one nation doesn’t mean you can repeat the strategy everywhere [ouch! That is ouch to our present situation in the world]. But Amaziah won’t listen and they come out to battle, sure enough Judah suffers a loss and Israel breaks down the wall of Jerusalem and takes the precious riches from the temple. Okay, sometimes wisdom says slow down and don’t start too many wars at once; in this case Amaziah did a few good things but then allowed inexperience to rule the day. He also acted justly in the execution of those who killed his father by not taking it out on the kids. We seem to have 2 extremes in the modern church; 1- we really don’t like to deal with past mistakes and errors that have caused damage to Gods people, we feel like dealing with issues in a just way is wrong. 2- When we do decide to deal with them, we usually ‘kill the kids’, that is we go too far and mount a personal campaign against those who were really not responsible for the ‘parent’s sins’. We as believers need to be careful when embracing ideologies that say ‘let's kill those damn terrorists, along with the families and kids and every one of their offspring’ these ways of thinking are not in keeping with even the Old Testament ethics of war, never mind the actual pacifist teachings of Jesus! I was watching a conservative news program the other day [you can guess the network- it’s the same name that Jesus called Herod] and the commentator said he wanted our military to go out and kill as many of these radical Muslims as we could find. Will that strategy ever really work? You will have no end to the killing because the mindset has not changed. Now I do realize that as a country we do have the right to intercept and go after those who are planning and strategizing against us, but the point is to simply think if we try and kill all ‘the offspring’ of those who harmed us will work, we are fooling ourselves. Amaziah dealt with the parents and stopped short when it came to the next generation. He also overstepped his resources by assuming a victory over one nation [Edom-Iraq] could easily be repeated in another [Israel-Afghanistan] as believers we need to have more of a plan than just ‘lets kill them all’ we need both progressive [liberal] and conservative voices to be heard, don’t just swallow the party line [on either side!].
(1268) 2nd KINGS 14:21-28 Jeroboam [the 2nd] had a fairly long reign, he captured lost territories and extended Israel’s borders. Jonah the prophet lived and prophesied during his realm [Jonah the son of Amittai] and yet the scriptures say he was an evil king. Sometimes God allows people to come to rule during prophetic seasons, prophetic in the sense that the times themselves are significant. The church might be called to speak in a special way to society, you might have the rise of prophetic men [Martin Luther King jr.] and because of the significance of the time, even an ‘evil ruler’ [pro abortion, pro gay agenda, well you get the picture] can be used for good. Jeroboam accomplished much, not by his own laurels, but because he had ‘come to the kingdom for such a time as this’. The prophetic word of Jonah was going forth at this season and God was going to restore Israel’s borders whether or not the king was righteous. I was reading an article the other day, it showed how many of the Christian leaders in Africa had very high hopes for president Obama, they were seeing great significance out of the historic election of one who descended from a race who were formerly enslaved by White men. These leaders took a very different stand than the American believers, many of whom view the president as a threat to civilization! When I pray for the president, I also pray for the leaders of the world, my prayer goes like this; I pray first for those who are believers, I ask the Lord to guide them in right paths and to give them the courage to rule justly. I pray for those who are unbelievers, that the Lord would reveal the truth of the gospel to them and that they would rule justly thru ‘common grace’ that they would be like the ‘unjust judge’ in scripture who did what was right out of political expediency. And then I pray for the 3rd group, all those who are actively fighting against the people of God and are openly wicked; I pray that these would be removed from office and replaced with righteous authority, but then I add ‘until they are removed, may God be glorified even thru their rebellion as happened with Pharaoh king in Egypt’. I basically acknowledge that the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord and he can turn it any way he wants. So in Jeroboams case it would have been counterproductive to have fought against the man all thru his reign, he was chosen by God [and the people] to be there, he ruled during a prophetic season in the church [prophetic in the sense of justice] and God did use him to restore much land that was lost under ‘previous administrations’ all in all God used a king that ‘did evil’ but ruled during a crucial time in national history.
(1269) 2ND KINGS 15- This chapter has lots of various kings, instead of covering them all let me just hit a few verses. One of the kings is being challenged by Assyria, so he ‘exacts money from the wealthy’ to pay the guy off. Another verse speaks of a king with a long 52 year rule who also had leprosy. Let’s start with the ‘taxing the wealthy’ brother. Right now [10-09] the congress is about to vote on health care reform [actually today is 10-22, they vote today] and to be sure there are challenges on both sides. I was talking to a north eastern ultra liberal the other day; this person defended the president and accused all those who were against him as being racists. I explained to the person that there were many White independent voters who sincerely voted for the president, many of whom do oppose him on actual policy disagreements; these voters who have been publicly accused of being racists will never vote Democrat again. The statements of President Carter, though taken out of context somewhat, were the worst thing that could happen to a political party. A few months ago Chris Matthews [MSNBC] interviewed a woman columnist who wrote a piece for the Times that was called ‘the southern strategy’ she explained how the real reason for McCain putting Palin on the ticket was to contrast the ‘sexual aggression of the Black man against the southern white woman’. Now, it was obvious to me that McCain chose Palin as a counterbalance to the historic nature of the Obama candidacy, they waited until Obama picked his running mate and when they saw he didn’t pick Clinton, McCain figured let’s put a conservative woman on our ticket who could help with the base [which McCain had trouble with] and also could appeal to a historic candidacy [the first woman V.P.]. So any way it was obvious that this was more than likely the reason. But for a national show to accuse the entire McCain candidacy as being racist in this way simply alienates many sincere White voters who will simply reject the entire Democratic ticket the next time around. Okay, if we pass health care and mandate every American to purchase it, it is wrong not to have the so called ‘public option’ [Medicare for everybody]. Why? Because you are thrusting the populace into buying from private industry, without any checks and balances on that industry. I know states do this with car liability, but nevertheless to do this on a federal level without offering some type of govt. plan would be a mistake. How to pay for it? Some say ‘exact money from the millionaires’ others want to tax the high end insurance policies that are out there [the Cadillac plans]. However this is done we need to avoid strapping the middle income worker with too high a price. Some estimates, from Democrats, say that an average 4 family household who brings in 60 k a year would have to pony up an extra 700 a month under the plan. That if this family presently cannot pay for the coverage, they would be fined. This takes into consideration the govt. offset. The average insurance plan costs around 13 thousand a year, the govt. would pay for around 7 thousand in the above example and this family would be mandated to pay the rest. So some of these plans are not good. My view is, let’s do the thing and have the public option with it. If you can’t have the public option than this would simply be a regressive tax on middle income families. When the president was asked this question by George Stephanopoulos he denied this being a tax, but George told him if you mandate a fine on these people and then require them to pay by law, then it is a tax. The whole point today is we need to realize that simply ‘taxing the rich’ does not solve the problem. We should make sure that companies and rich folk pay their fair share, but they are not some type of secret answer to all the problems. This week a boy asked the president ‘why do people hate you’? and Conan Obrien said the boy then looked at Biden and said ‘I know why people hate you’. Ouch! There is plenty of room in this debate to hear both sides, not demonize the opposing side, and try and work out a compromise that everyone can live with. We certainly don’t need to hate either side.
(1270) CONC. 2ND KINGS 15- Azariah the king had a long reign and also was a leper. We read earlier how Naaman the leper was a great military leader. A few weeks ago as I was channel surfing I caught a biography on Father Damien, a Belgian Priest who went to Hawaiian in the 1800’s to serve Gods people. Hawaii had a problem with Leprosy at the time and they eventually quarantined the lepers to an island named Molokai [sp?]. Father Damien used to visit the island and eventually requested permission to stay on the island and serve the people. He eventually caught leprosy himself and wrote how he so identified with the people that it was only fitting that he should die from the common disease of the people he loved. The next week I read an article or 2 on Father Damien, it just so happened that he was up for being canonized as a Saint by the Pope. So a few stories covered some of the controversy that surrounded him; some accused him of sleeping with some of the women on the island and they said that’s how he got sick. Other critics said he wasn’t really as dedicated as the stories portrayed; that he actually traveled to a part of the island where normal people lived and then he would later go back to the side where the lepers were. So the critics had their reasons, some of the critics were sincere in their beliefs and did not intend for their critiques to be made public. So to be honest reading these stories did cause me to doubt some of the heroic things I saw in the biography. All in all Father Damien was made a ‘Saint’ and in order for this to have happened under Catholic teaching the stories about father Damien’s infidelities had to be considered untrue. I actually found it fitting in a way that a man could still be recognized and honored even if he had these failings. Officially the church said these stories were false, but they might very well have been true and yet the good work Father Damien did was still honored. Now I in no way want to leave the impression that this would be some sort of accuse for sin, I just thought it fitting that the man was still honored even with the question out there about his faults. King Azariah ruled a long time [52 years] and yet he had a disease that was considered like having aids. There was a stigma to it. The people on Molokai were quarantined there because they were actually following the rules given in the Old Testament on how to deal with leprosy. In Jesus day you saw the same thing apply, people had to be separated from the population and there were cleansing rules for the houses they lived in and stuff like that. So in a primitive way the Hawaiians did their best to deal with the problem. Yet God shows us that some of his great leaders, men he used to do good things, also suffered from physical ailments that were considered tragic. In Isaiah 53 the bible says ‘it pleased the Lord to bruise him, thru his suffering my righteous servant shall justify many’. Jesus of course suffered by the will of God and God saw the things he was going thru, these things were the very acts that bought our redemption! Father Damien saw his affliction and eventual death as some type of redemptive price that he would pay for his efforts to redeem the people of Molokai, in essence ‘it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and thru his suffering he justified many’.
(1271) 2ND KINGS 16- Ahaz the king of Judah is attacked by Israel and Syria; he takes the treasures from the temple and buys the help of the Assyrian king. The king in return attacks Syria’s capitol city of Damascus and Ahaz is off the hook. Now Ahaz goes to check out Damascus and the job that he paid to have done; as he is there he sees the pagan altar of the Syrians and likes it so much that he sends the design back to his ‘arch bishop’ [priest] and tells him to make one for them. He also takes the brass/bronze altar from Gods tabernacle and mixes it in with this pagan contraption. Okay, first we see that once you open the financial door it’s hard to shut it. What made the king think about buying the services of Assyria with the temple goods? Well they did this before and once it became a viable option it was easy to just go back to the same source. That’s why we need to be careful as a country as we establish ‘new sources’ of income for various projects; these sources tend to get raided when needed [S.S. trust fund!]. Also Ahaz desecrated the holy things by his willingness to mix pagan worship along with God’s true worship. He basically liked the artistic value of the pagan altar at Damascus and wanted one. Last night I watched the documentary of the Monte Python guys. Back in the 70’s they were popular where I grew up in Jersey and they hit the TV about the same time as SNL. I never really saw how ‘anti Christian’ these guys were. I know they spoofed the Holy Grail stuff and all, but as they were talking on the documentary you could tell that they were truly ‘enlightenment’ babies. British mockers of the faith. Now, right after the documentary they showed their film ‘Life of Brian’ which I never really saw before [just parts] and it was a total mockery of the faith. The actor who spoofed Christ died not long after, he got cancer and died young, in his 40’s [I’m not saying God killed him!]. They showed his funeral during the documentary and it was sad, in keeping with their style the comics cursed at the Eulogy, dropped the ‘f’ bomb and said ‘we now know that Graham is gone, he no longer exists, all we have is memories’. They did the best they could, but as you saw the kids in the audience and the faces of friends and family, this end of dissolving into nothingness seemed so hopeless. The kids were taught you live, do what you want in life without purpose or meaning, and then evaporate into the cosmos! No real hope at all. I appreciate art, I don’t really get too offended when Christians are spoofed and all, I think our skin is too thin at times. But the constant mocking of Christ and the faith at the ‘altar of art’ seems to parallel Ahaz and his willingness to allow the beauty of the pagan altar to become part of his worship. Much of the so called ‘religious art’ is simply a mockery of the faith. Crosses in urine, the Virgin Mary depicted with porno- stuff that simply is not art. I read an article a few years back, the picture showed a 70 year old Black janitor standing next to a bunch of trash; it was dog poop, an old coke can and a bunch of trash just sitting in some building, it was actually one of the art displays. The poor janitor saw it while he was cleaning the museum at night and like any good worker, he threw the ‘dung’ out. Oh was he excoriated for this senseless act of disrespect and his inability to appreciate true art! In the article he said ‘it just looked like trash to me’ amen brother.
(1273) 2ND KINGS 17 in some ways this is a transitional chapter; up until now foreign countries attacked and suppressed Israel, but in this chapter we see the first real captivity of the people as a whole. Hoshea the king over the northern tribes [Israel] rebels against the king of Assyria who had them under tribute. So the king of Assyria puts Hoshea in jail and besieges Israel for 3 years, they take the city [Samaria] and they remove the majority of the people out of the land. He also places foreigners in the land to repopulate it. These foreign nations eventually mix in with the remnant that remained and these descendants are what we read about in John’s gospel, they were considered ‘half breed’ Samaritans. Now after the new inhabitants settle in the ‘Lord sent lions among them’. The people see this as judgment from God and request the Assyrian king to send them a priest so they could learn the ways of the God of the land and not die. This priest arrives and to some degree teaches these pagans the true worship of God, they of course kept their pagan beliefs as well, but it is interesting to see how the Lord even used a judgment scenario to redeem people. Okay, last night I was reading some of the history of the 18th-19th centuries and how after the French Revolution and the era of Napoleon many Europeans began to fear the idea of total and free Democracy, there was a sort of romantic musing upon the good old days of the Monarch. Many Frenchmen longed for the stability of the old Catholic church, these were called ‘Ultramontanists’ which meant ‘beyond the mountains- Alps’ and stood for their desire to re attach with the old Roman church in a way that allowed the church to reassert a global oversight over France as it used to have before the Revolution and Reformation. Part of the fear had to do with the nation states being their own sovereign, that whatever the nations wanted to now do they could do without any outside oversight; in essence part of the role of the Roman church was to provide a type of ‘united nations’ oversight over the individual states. Ultimately Democracy would eventually prevail and the new world of the Americas would be the first nation to adopt Democratic principles right from the start. When reading the history of the world, often time’s revisionists put their own spin on stuff. For instance we often read the history of Darwin in the latter half of the 19th century and see him as some enlightened figure who stood up against the bigotry of the church. But a generation or 2 before Darwin you had many ‘enlightened’ Evangelicals who fought for human rights and the dignity of man. William Wilberforce and the ‘Clapham community’ were men who used their political and social status as a means of freeing the Black man from the horrendous slave trade in Britain. Clapham was a small town around 3 miles outside of London; the town was sort of an elite place for the higher ups of society. Sort of like the Hamptons. Yet it was from this area in the late 18th century that many of the modern programs of the Evangelical movement were launched. The wealth and influence of these men launched the first bible societies, they started mission organizations for the poor; and even tried to instill a schema of social justice in their business dealings [the head of the East India trading company was part of the group]. These men wrought good social change and fought for the rights of the Black man, for him to be treated as a human and not some type of lower class chattel property. Darwin’s ideas would put into print the racist ideas of those who opposed the outlawing of slavery as a legitimate trade. Those who resisted freeing the slaves [both in Britain and the colonies] believed that the Black man was an inferior race to the White man. Darwin taught these beliefs openly in his books; he believed the Black race was proof of Evolutionary theory, that the Blacks proved to us that there were intellectually inferior races of men that did not advance along the more educated road of White men. The point being that a full 70 years before Darwin you had very influential Christian men who fought for the rights and freedom of Black men, and yet history normally portrays Darwin as the person who fought the bigotry of the church in his noble journey for truth. Okay, God allowed his people to be taken captive, they rebelled against him and they lost their freedom as a people, yet they still had a history of great and noble deeds, they accepted proselytes into their nation and treated the poor in their land with respect. It would be wrong to view the entire history of Gods people [both now and then] from the lens of the sins and wrongs that occurred, yes the church has made her mistakes and it sounds noble to say ‘lets cast off all the restraints of religion’ but in the end you might wind up looking past the Alps for some help.
(1276) 2ND KINGS 18- Hezekiah rules in Judah and is the first king to tear down the high places of idolatry that Jeroboam instituted and he destroyed the calf’s and rid the nation of other idols [the bronze snake image that Moses had made was being used as an idol]. When I first read this chapter I of course wanted to credit this king as being one of the best, after all the chapter tells us this. But don’t underestimate the importance of surrounding events that aided in Hezekiah’s purging the nation of its idols. The northern tribes are in captivity, this gave the king of Judah room to function. It’s probable that most of the kings of Judah would have preferred ridding the nation of these calves, because their existence was for the purpose of preventing the children of Israel from reuniting with Judah, but Hezekiah had the opportunity to finally do it. Also the king of Assyria will come up against Hezekiah and threaten him ‘what makes you think that your God can do any better than all the other gods of the nations that our king has defeated’. These messengers are treading on dangerous ground, they are having a public discourse right outside the wall of Jerusalem, they are speaking the language that all the people know [probably Aramaic] and the leaders of Jerusalem say ‘don’t talk to us in the common language, after all we don’t want all the citizens to know our problems’ and the Assyrian messengers say ‘no, we want the people to hear- so they can know that they will be [quote] drinking their own piss and eating their own dung’. These brothers must have been the political ancestors of Alan Grayson! [the Democratic congressman from Fla. who calls women whores and stuff like that]. So anyway the Assyrians leave the threat and Hezekiah and his men do some soul searching. We’ll read the results tomorrow. Okay, there was a conscious effort on the part of leadership to ‘hide the discussion from the public’ Hezekiah did not want to post these things on the internet for 72 hours- or put it on C-span like the president initially said he would do. Also, don’t underestimate the role that our moral decisions have to do with whether or not things turn out good. Hezekiah will get some help from God because he really did seek to do the right moral thing in ridding the nation of idols. Right now [like today] there are many efforts going on in the congress to include abortion in the current health care funding. This would be a major national change in policy for our country. In the past the president is on record as saying he wants abortion covered in national health care [he said this in 2007]. So there is a debate going on in the Democratic party over this, there are around 40 Democrat congressmen who are opposing this bill over this issue. I applaud these men. I still believe that our nation can overcome some major problems that are facing us, but we can’t overcome them if we disregard Gods word. I am not advocating a theocracy, but to extend the coverage of abortion to a degree that has never happened before would be a big mistake. I realize the president has misled us on this, the facts are out there. I think he did it out of fear of not getting something passed, which would be a major political defeat for his agenda. But to purposefully mislead people, no matter how well intentioned you feel the end result is, this is still unjust. The king of Judah has a dilemma, he will find some help in seeking God, I think this strategy can work for all of us.
(1278) 2ND KINGS 19- The king [Hezekiah] sends a messenger to Isaiah the prophet and goes into the house of God to seek the Lord. Isaiah informs Hezekiah that God will defend Judah. Isaiah also gives a rebuke to the king of Assyria. God used this pagan king to judge many nations, in essence he was fulfilling a type of ‘manifest destiny’ [American exceptionalism] and yet he grew proud over his victories. To be honest about it I see some of this going on in our nation at this time. While I do not subscribe to the ultra conservative critics of the president, these past few weeks have convinced me that he has lied to the American public on a huge scale over his willful misrepresentation of the abortion issue [read my recent posts under the abortion section]. I feel there was a disdain towards the Christian community and that the Chicago style politics simply ruled the day ‘hey, if we lie about this, what’s the big deal? We are fighting fire with fire- they lie about us [Fox news, the presidents critics, etc.] so this is simply part of the game’. I feel the president bought into this and at the same time underestimated the role that lying about abortion so it could be federally funded will play in any economic recovery. In essence our country will not recover if we disregard the heritage of Christian morality in this way. So God rebukes the Assyrian king for thinking he could do whatever he wanted and the Lord sends an angel and kills 185 thousand Assyrian troops. The Assyrian king goes home and dies while worshipping at his pagan gods altar. Okay, his arrogance led to a massive troop defeat as well as his own personal demise. One of the other major problems that out country is facing is the military situation in Afghanistan, those of you who have read my site for any length of time know that I do not support this war, I want our troops out. I find it unbelievable that this week the media exposed the fact that our CIA was paying off the brother of Hamid Karzia [the president] who is a drug lord. Some of our troops have died fighting the drug lords, yet our own govt. has them on the payroll. How did the media cover this? If we found this out under Bush/Cheney what would the outrage be? One of CNN’s most able commentators on the Afghanistan war [Michael Ware] said he would be shocked to find out that we weren’t doing this, sort of like it was the right thing to do. Unbelievable. The now famous tour of America by Alexis De Tocqueville in the 19th century has been cited by many historians. He praised our country for many things, but he also warned of ‘the tyranny of the majority’ that is he said that any society that measured right or wrong solely on what the majority wants is doomed to fail. Hezekiah sought the Lord and this made the difference, the nations that ‘forgot God’ and at the same time prided themselves in their military arrogance were judged [I honor our men and women who serve, but for our govt. to be paying those who have killed our men is a travesty!] I think the Old Testament is still relevant today.
(1280) 2ND KINGS 20 Hezekiah gets sick and the prophet Isaiah tells him that he will die. Hezekiah seeks God and before Isaiah leaves the courtyard God tells him ‘turn back, he will get another 15 years’ God extends his life. But he asks for a sign from the Lord to know that he will live, God gives him the sign of ‘the sundial’ it will go back 10 degrees and not forward. Hezekiah allows the Babylonians to see all his treasures and God rebukes him for 'casting his pearls before swine’ and pronounces judgment that will take place when his son comes to the throne. This chapter also mentions the project that Hezekiah built, an underground water source [tunnel] that ran from the spring Gihon and brought water secretly into Jerusalem. This was a smart engineering move on the part of the king, in bible times when one king attacked another he would cut off the water source from the city; this secret underground tunnel was undetectable. For many thousands of years this story has been in the bible, some mocked it ‘where is the source’? In 1880 archaeologists found the tunnel with inscriptions on it. Let’s do a few things; the story of the sun dial going back is like the story of Joshua and God keeping the sun from setting a whole day until Joshua routed the enemy. One of the major challenges to believing the bible literally [face value] was the entire discovery of how our solar system worked [Copernicus, Galileo] and fitting that in with the biblical accounts [sun setting and rising language]. So many of the biblical critics came to reject these stories based on the fact that in order to ‘make the sun go back/stop the sun from setting’ you would have to stop the earth from rotating, or turn the rotation backwards! And science tells us that this would have catastrophic effects on the earth and seas, the gravitational effects would be enormous. In essence natural science tells us this can’t happen. Are all miracles like this? The event of the worldwide flood had natural events that caused the earth to flood. In today’s world a few well placed meteors hitting the oceans could easily repeat the event, so some supernatural acts of God coincide with natural explanations. But some don’t. The God of Christian theology is both Transcendent and Immanent, that means he is ‘above us’ [higher class than humans] and yet omnipresent, he has his hands in everything! Transcendence does not mean he is simply geographically far away, but that he operates in another dimension, he is not limited to the time/space continuum like we are. Einstein blew away many preconceived ideas about time and space with his ingenious theories, he showed us that things don’t always work the way we think. A being who can operate outside of these dimensions can do things that would defy all natural explanations, this is what I believe happened with these types of miracles, we don’t always have to find a natural explanation to a supernatural event. God spared Hezekiah and he was a great king, he made some mistakes and suffered for it. Yesterday I lost my vehicle keys, I looked all day and interrogated my wife and kids [they have taken them before] and after many hours of seeking I came to the logical conclusion that they were gone for good. My wife told me ‘lets wait and see, who knows maybe they will show up’ Oh yea sure, I guess they will just fall out of the sky! I am a man of action and decision; the keys were to my truck and my 1966 classic mustang in the garage. So I did what any reasonable man would do- I removed the ignition from the mustang [yes this is bad] and cut the wires out so I could splice the new ignition in its place. The official way to replace it calls for the removal of the dashboard and that’s quite a job. I could have called the lock guy and they could make a key, but I was already having a few problems with the ignition so I figured just do the whole thing. I also got the number to the dodge dealer so I could call them and get another key made from the VIN number on the truck. At around 11:00 pm the keys were found in the spot where I accidently put them, in a few hours I will be heading to Pep Boys for the ignition, the car sits in the garage with the wires hanging out from under the dashboard. Hezekiah was a good man, he did good things; but he also acted presumptuously at times, he let the Babylonians see the stuff that was supposed to be secret. Sometimes we can have all the good intentions in the world, this still will not immunize us from stupid decisions.
(1282) 2ND KINGS 21:1-17 Manasseh rules and rebels against the reforms that his father Hezekiah instituted; he rebuilds the pagan altars and even brings pagan altars into the temple and court. He sheds innocent blood by sacrificing his children to Moloch and ‘making them pass thru the fire’. Moloch was an idol statue that the pagans heated up until the arms were bright red; they then laid the babies in the arms. God pronounces judgment on Judah and they will eventually go into Babylonian captivity. Manasseh was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Manasseh’s father was a great king, yet the turn around from one ruler to another was astounding, many years of reforms and respect for human life were undone under this wicked king. Often time’s society embraces ideas that seem open and liberal, yet when they disrespect human life these ideas lead to captivity. I know our country faces many real problems right now in our history. The average citizen who watches the news hears about them to a degree, but the behind the scenes dangers are much greater than we see. Other countries are seriously looking at our economic problems and making moves to shield themselves from a future collapse of our economy. Many banks are still failing and the economic numbers that seemed good in the last quarter are really inflated math; in essence the cash for clunkers program and the free money given to first time home buyers [that was just extended today- as well as another extension for unemployment] these well meaning programs give a false sense of economic improvement. If I told you I was going to help your son get on his feet, and after 6 months of ‘my help’ you visited him and he seemed to be doing well, he had a car and place to live, food and a check. Wow, I kept my word. Then you found out that I gave him the car and house and was simply giving him free money every month, then in essence I falsely stimulated ‘his economy’, to a great degree this is what we are doing. Whenever you pump billions of dollars into the system, sure it will have some effect, but unless you give little Johnny the real tools for success, a pro small business environment, means to get real funding to become successful, unless you do the real stuff that makes a difference you are not truly going to change things. Manasseh was a progressive type person, he was open to all sorts of religious beliefs, tried implementing them in with the worship of the true God, he disrespected that old silly belief that you shouldn’t sacrifice babies on an altar of convenience, and he made some real changes from the previous king. His actions had some very serious consequences, the nation suffered for it.
(1287) 2nd KINGS 21:18-26 Amon takes the throne and has a short 2 year rule, he does wicked stuff. Verses 23, 24 say that the kings own servants conspired against him and ‘killed the king in his own house’ and that the people rose up and executed those who killed the king. This week/month the big political story is the health care debate, though there have been other major world events; the political story is health care. The ‘kings own party’ are divided over a few major points; abortion funding is one of them. Basically the Democrats seem to be doing themselves in and ‘killing’ the political hopes of their own ‘king’. Now, the recent elections in N.J. and Va. were a tell tale sign of things to come, both states went Republican with their governorships. The independents voted 2 to 1 for the Republicans, not good at all for the Democrats. The current health plan, after hearing the pros and cons, looks like it probably should be scrapped and start over again with real reforms that both sides agree on. The goal is noble, it’s just this plan seems to be a bad deal. Why? There are lots of reasons, let me just hit one or two. This plan will mandate by law that all people must buy insurance; this group will include many young single college kids who honestly can’t afford insurance. The plan includes language about doing PRISON TIME [up to 5 years] if you don’t buy the insurance and don’t pay the fine to the IRS if you don’t purchase insurance. It is probable that some Americans will do prison time as a result of this bill. Many Americans do go to prison every single year due to IRS violations, this is no joke. The president stated during the campaign that his plan would not do this; he contrasted his plan with Hillary’s plan and emphatically said he would not have any punishment for those who did not participate. He also criticized McCain’s plan because he said he might tax current health plans to fund it. Both of these options are now on the table under the current plan and it seems as if the media are treating the president like a ‘child king’. They do not hold him responsible for any of his actions. If you said you would not do these things and are now trying to do these things then you should be held responsible. The current plan will not control costs, they estimate that the public option would only be used by around 2 % of the uninsured and that the govt. option would cost more than private coverage. It is wrong to thrust 30-40 million people into a federally mandated plan, to threaten these people with possible prison time, and at the same time not lower the cost of insurance. After the kings ‘own house’ did him in, the people then rose up and kicked the whole house out of office, I think the country might be looking to do some house cleaning in around a year from now.
(1288) 2ND KINGS 22- Josiah takes the throne at the age of 8; he institutes reform among the people. He begins a restoration of the temple and finds a hidden copy of Moses law. He reads the law and realizes that they need to repent. It’s probable that the wicked king Manasseh destroyed all the copies of the law and one was hidden in the temple by Solomon. Either way the finding of the law sparks reform. This chapter says they did not take an audit of the money that was given to the builders because they could be trusted; it’s too bad that this standard wouldn’t work in our day. Josiah does some great stuff and God tells him he will honor his repentance and humility, but the nation has gone too far down the wrong path. The course for the nation was set in stone and judgment was still going to come, yet under Josiah there was a season of mercy. As believers study the history of Christianity one of the most well know events/times is the 16th century Protestant Reformation, it was a reform/time period that truly could be credited to a rediscovery of the Christian scriptures. Though there were learned men who knew scripture [like Erasmus and his efforts to get ‘back to the sources’ and his love for the Greek original New Testament] yet the populace at large did not have the availability of owning their own copies of the bible. But this time period produced the Guttenberg printing press and an aggressive effort to publish English versions of the bible. It would not be an understatement to say that the Reformation period was the single greatest upheaval and change that the church would go thru in her 1500 year history. Of course Catholics and Protestants would disagree on the value of these changes, but the reality is that the restoring of the bible into the hands of the common people was revolutionary. Josiah was this type of reformer, he sought the Lord after the discovery of the missing copies of the law and he acted upon Gods word- two basic principles that could apply to all of us. I want to note that historians sometimes make the mistake of discounting the ‘dark ages’ of the church, the term itself is misleading. There were many noble believers and movements that took place prior to the reformation period. The Christian mystics, the great thinkers like Anselm and Aquinas, the tremendous value that comes from reading the fathers of the church. The creeds and councils of this period. It is a wrong view to say that everything that was going on in Christianity prior to the reformation was darkness, there were some bright spots, but without a doubt putting the English bible into the hands of the common people would have reverberations that the world has yet to overcome.
(1289) 2ND KINGS 23:1-28 Josiah institutes the reforms that he learned when ‘re-reading’ the lost law of God. He tore down all remaining vestiges of the idolatrous high places. He reinstituted the Passover celebration and he dug up the bones of the false prophets and burned them on their own altars [ouch!]. A few things; in the New Covenant the Passover represents the new community life that we all share in Christ. In Corinthians Paul says ‘Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us’ and when he teaches the Lord’s supper he does it in a communal way, it’s not just a liturgical Mass type of a thing [or a Protestant time for grape juice servings!] but the Lords meal was more of a buffet type atmosphere and the idea was based on a community model. So I think one of the lessons we learn from the reforms of Josiah is God wants to restore ‘the communal Passover- meal’ or that God is challenging many current concepts of church and as we ‘re-read’ our New Testaments we are seeing the church [ecclesia] again ‘for the first time’. Number 2- it sure seemed a little drastic to have dug up the bones of the false priests and to have burned them on their altars! As we went thru this Kings study we covered the fact that Israel permitted certain wrong things to exist for various reasons. Many people eventually associated their worship of God with these idolatrous practices. These were good people who received these wrong ideas from previous ‘leaders’. Josiah fulfilled a prophecy given 300 years earlier that someday the bones of the false priests would be burned on their altars. To me this represents the need for believers in our day to be willing to look at some of the erroneous doctrines of past movements [remember, idolatry in the new Testament is covetousness, people who love and seek wealth!] and to realize that many of these un balanced teachings came from wrong things that were taught and accepted in the past. Things taught by good people, people who meant well, but wrong never the less. The ‘digging up of the bones’ represents the process of going back and doing a little history on some of these things and finally once and for all setting the record straight. All in all Josiah instituted more reform than any other king before him, he was the only king to restore the Passover, he had the courage to see things for the first time and to act in a righteous way before God. His reforms were great, but they came too late in Judah’s history to prevent final judgment, as a nation they dug themselves too deep of a hole and they were going to suffer for it whether they liked it or not. God is merciful, his mercies are new every morning, but when nations go down long paths of disrespecting human life; of mocking God and Christian principles [not right wing stuff!] then we can’t keep thinking that all will go well, that the recession will turn out just fine. No, there are many things not ‘just fine’, as an economy it is foolish to think that we can have 10.2 % unemployment and still have a jobless recovery. When the jobless rate is that high, and going up, then who are all the people that will be buying and spending and working and doing all the things that are part of a recovery? We are kidding ourselves when we think like this. Josiah did some good stuff, but the people needed to change course a long time ago, it was too late to avoid some national consequences.
(1291) I LOVE THAT COW! 2ND KINGS 23:28-37 Pharaoh, king of Egypt, sets up one of the sons of Josiah as a puppet king and gives him a new name. The people pay taxes to this new king and to Pharaoh, but their dominator does not totally dismantle their self rule. I have mentioned this before; that one of the primary ways one kingdom would take over another was to allow them the freedom to run things on their own, but let them pay tribute to their new ‘world order’. In the New Testament you see the kingdom of God grow this way, Jesus and the disciples were making followers of the king. But they did not see this as a means to make people totally co-dependent to the point where they did everything for them. In modern church planting scenarios we see ‘church planting’ as setting up places where people will meet. Providing a regular weekly preaching service. The ‘church/corporate entity’ will meet the needs of the people and the people in turn will ‘pay tithes to the storehouse’ we really have a very limited idea of church planting. It would be more effective if we led people to this new kingdom of God, but didn’t make them so dependent on a particular system, let them grow and govern themselves under the reality of them being servants of the king, this style allows people to experience God in a greater way. Okay, as I have been reading some of the parables of Jesus from the message bible, the one on the treasure hidden in a field spoke to me. The message bible says the kingdom is like a person accidently stumbling across a buried treasure in a field, when he realizes what he’s got he sells everything else and buys the field. At the risk of being crude this reminds me of a joke form the King of Queens, Arthur [Jerry Stiller] is dating Doug’s aunt [Doug- Kevin James] and Doug doesn’t like it. And obviously they are sleeping together and all. So Arthur falls in love with the aunt and informs Doug that he is going to propose marriage to her; Doug is furious. Arthur tells Doug ‘I know you’re wondering why I want to buy the cow if I’m getting the milk for free, well I love that cow, that’s why!’ Arthur was willing to give up everything for ‘the cow’. In essence he wanted to commit to the new found treasure, in a way this is what happens to people when they find the kingdom, you don’t have to set up systems to make people loyal to the kingdom [modern concepts on church membership that have all sorts of ways of trying to instill loyalty into people] when people realize the true value of the kingdom they are willing to give up everything in their pursuit. They will continue to function in society, you don’t have to go build places for these people to meet, let them meet wherever they were meeting before they were brought to the kingdom [homes, etc.] Just do your best to present the kingdom to them in its truest form, let them see the true riches that come with the kingdom. Don’t worry about gaining their loyalty, once they see the treasure they will sell all for it.
(1293) 2ND KINGS 24- Babylon finally takes Judah captive, there is a specific sin mentioned in this chapter that said ‘God would not pardon’. It was the sin of King Manasseh and his introduction of the pagan rite of sacrificing babies at pagan altars. As I mentioned before, all sins can be forgiven by God, but there seems to be an inescapable national judgment on the sin of abortion. When nations willfully shed innocent blood on such a large scale, these nations cannot escape judgment. Around the year 605 BC Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, began taking people from Judah to Babylon. It was in this early group that the prophet Daniel and his 3 companions went. Then around 597 BC Jerusalem fell. All the nobles and influential people were taken captive, only the poor remained in the land. In a strange way ‘the meek would inherit the earth’. God’s principles are inescapable, often times we think that strength and influence come from wealth and nobility- we feel if we can attain some level of outward success then we can change the world. In Jesus’ kingdom the poor in spirit, the downtrodden, those who suffer ridicule and difficulty- these are the ones that ultimately inherit the promises. This week the president in on an Asian tour, he is trying hard to present a good picture to Japan and China; they are having doubts about lending us any more money. The political line that is given to the American citizen doesn’t cut it with these countries. They know full well that the money our nation is spending is way over the limit of being considered a low risk borrower. They basically don’t swallow the line that a country can initiate all these new programs and have them deficit neutral. So they are checking us out very closely, and if they don’t buy our debt like in the past, we really don’t have many choices. We can just print money, but that would make the problem worse. Israel’s final collapse was due to her national sin of shedding innocent blood, and her pride and arrogance. The ones who suffered the most were the well to do, the poor actually got blessed! They would inherit more under the judgment of God than they did when the nation was running well. I believe there is hope for our country, but I fear that the average American really does not see some of the major hurdles that we are facing, both on an economic and global scale. If we ignore the voice of those who are defending the rights of the unborn, we will suffer. If we continue to worship at the altar of wealth and success, God will ‘remove the wealthy’ from the land and exalt the humble [remove= slashing that 401 K!]. Right now some of the wealthy think all will go well- after all the Dow Jones just went up to 10,400! This indicator is not always what it seems. Sometimes stocks go up because they believe the fed will keep interest rates low, the reason the fed keeps them low is because all is not well yet. So sometimes these signs are not what people think. All in all there are some bright spots, I’m not saying all the signs are bad, but many are. God allowed his people to be judged by his Divine decree. Even in captivity there were still some noble stories to tell [Daniel and his friends]. But Psalms says as a nation the people hung up their harps, how could they sing the songs of Zion in a strange land?
(1296) 2ND KINGS 25- The ultimate fall of the city takes place around 587-86 BC, the king of Babylon sets up a governor [Gedaliah] and this is how one nation would rule over another and bring her into submission. The governor tells the leaders who came back to settle in the land to not be afraid of serving under the new empire [Babylon]. But they will kill the governor and this act brings on the final destruction of the city of Jerusalem. Okay let’s do a few things, the other night I caught the Rachel Maddow show, they did a story on how some Christian company is selling ‘anti Obama’ stuff. Teddy Bears with words that say ‘pray for Obama’ and then the verse given is from Psalms ‘let another take his office’. This is a famous verse that the apostle Peter quotes in Acts when discussing the replacement for Judas. The show pointed out that the following verse says ‘let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow’. As I close our study in Kings I want to stress that all the teaching and ‘tongue and cheek’ stuff I do, that we need to clearly point out that talk about ‘assassination’ and one king killing another, we need to reject any real time scenarios that use this language when speaking of the president. I realize that the company that is using the verse obviously does not want to suggest the killing or death of the president. But there are unstable people in the world, both from Muslim and Christian extremes, as believers we need to discern between honest ideological differences and a flat out conspiracy type mindset. Now, has the president opened himself up to guys like Glenn Beck? Yes, when you have people working for you that say they respect General Mao, then yes the right wingers will play into this mindset and present you as some type of Manchurian candidate that has secretly risen to power to undermine the govt. These right wing ideas are obviously loony, yet there are a percentage of people that believe in them. The governor told the men ‘don’t fear serving under the new administration’ Judah was in trouble, they lost their freedom and the nation was in a bind, but to disagree with your president on real issues is different than instilling real fear in people, telling them that the president is a dangerous man. I disagree with the president on some political issues, I wrote an entry a while ago that said how the cash for clunkers program and the free 8 thousand dollars given to first time home buyers, how these things don’t really help the economy, they give an inflated view of the economy. Then yesterday I read how the economic numbers for October were worse than expected. Both home prices [actually new home starts] and used and new car prices actually went up and the sale of these items went down. Why? They blamed it on the free money programs and the fact that destroying all the used vehicles under the clunker program reduced the inventory of used vehicles and the prices went up. The new car prices rose because so many people took advantage of the programs that this created a shortage. The point is I have real disagreements with the president on some things, but don’t take these real differences and stoke the fires of conspiracy, people should not ‘be afraid’ to serve under the ‘new king’.