SOARING

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 Bald-Eagle

WIND RIDER

Now we find a psalm from long before the sons of Korah or David.  Moses too sang when praise to God was appropriate.  This song is also a prayer that takes us back to our roots and ponders our destiny; it lifts us from the low times to high places.

(A Prayer of Moses the man of God.)

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.  Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.  For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.  Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.  In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.  Psalm 90:1-6

In the beginning Lord you were always our home and family.  Before creation you are God.  God is over creation, time and space.  A thousand years are like a day or an hour to the Lord, and they vanish like trees in the flood or like smoke on the wind.  You are the author and measure of time Lord.

“A time warp is a hypothetical, rather than fictitious, change in the continuing of space-time, such as in time dilation or challenge.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Warp

Hmm, hypothetical, that’s one step closer to being possible I guess.  Warping space-time, real starships considered possible by NASA. 

“An Alcubierre warp drive would involve a football-shape spacecraft attached to a large ring encircling it. This ring, potentially made of exotic matter, would cause space-time to warp around the starship, creating a region of contracted space in front of it and expanded space behind.”

http://www.space.com/17628-warp-drive-possible-interstellar-spaceflight.html

So man finally thinks we can change space and time.  But he still thinks that such things are not done by God.  Man has misunderstood both science and the scriptures as long as they have tried to be experts who know everything.  Moses just released us from our still young knowledge of the universe and life.  Consider the spiritual signs.

For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.  Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.  The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.  Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.  So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.  Psalm 90:7-12

Do we sense that there is a God who sends us what we deserve?  Is that a guilty conscience or is there actually a being who is moving life around us?  As we age we notice how hard life has been.  As we start to approach those eighty years we have long memories of struggles and a short future of regrets.  Are we finally aware of an angry God?  Now we can focus our remaining strength on better results.

Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.  O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.   Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.  Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.  And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.  Psalm 90:13-17

Moses asks God to return, but in reality we need to return to him.  May God turn our mistakes to a profit in the end.  Lord reveal your goodness to all of us who serve you, and to the generations that follow as we return to being good examples.  Let the blessings of God shine in the things we can still do here to encourage others.  Lord, you establish the evidence of your goodness in your work in us.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.  He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.  Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;  Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.  Psalm 91:1-6

Who lives in the secret place of the almighty?  God has chosen to be a secret, beyond the measure of science.  If we ignore all the testimony of God, and the premonitions reported in the world we can deny the mystery of the invisible.  Dreams are a problem if you see a glimpse of the spiritual realm in your own sleep.  Moses has a secure understanding of God as a fortress, a stone walled shelter of safety.  He will save you, and shelter you under his wing.

Mankind is fascinated by the eagle that navigates the vapors and the clouds so effortlessly.  Modern man understands a little about aerodynamics now, but still adds lessons from his wind tunnels.  The eagle was born to master the air by nature.  We are not safe in the places where he nests, unless he gives us his mastery of high places.  No plague, enemy, or disaster can rule those who dwell in his nest.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.  Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.  Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;  There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. Psalm 91:7-10

Everyone faces the challenges of life; sickness, war, crime, poverty, and death.  Even death has been overcome by our messiah, so we can pass through this too.  There are many people who reject the wisdom of faith, and they chose pure evil.  These have too much spiritual baggage to master the flight we will see with the most high.  The Lord is our habitation and our heritage to soar with him.  There is no harm that can take us from him.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.  They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.  Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.  Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.  He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.  With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. Psalm 91:8-16

Satan used this very verse to tempt Yeshua to leap from the heights of the temple.  He replied that we should not tempt the lord or deliberately go in harm’s way.  (Would the president take his Secret Service men into a Klan rally?)  To be protected from the serpent doesn’t mean that we should embrace him.  Spiritual pride has killed many snake handling preachers.  Here we may be hearing from the Lord again as he promises to deliver those who put their love on him.  He will answer prayers, accompany him, and honor him who trusts God.  Salvation and long life are both offered to us here.  Every day a give thanks to see the dawn, and to know that the endless day is also waiting for us.

So if every day is a gift, the Lord’s day is a special gift.  This psalmist is singing a worship song about the day of the worship service.  This is the song of the special day of celebration and spiritual manifestations.

(A Psalm or Song for the sabbath day.)

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:  To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,  Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.  For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.  O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.  Psalm 92:1-5

Thank God for every day that dawns, and advertise his kindness to everyone around us.  Make music to celebrate his greatness and I have victory in you Lord.  God’s works and his words show the depth of his thought.

A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.  When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever:  But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore.  For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.  But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil. Psalm 92:6-10

A pure brute is of force that can’t find resistance in a spirit.  A fool may have education but misses wisdom.  Both prosper in the world, but have a short summer to grow in.  While God’s enemies are fading in the fall his people are provided with food and shelter for the long winter.  They are anointed by their God.

Mine eye also shall see my desire on mine enemies, and mine ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me.  The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.  They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;  To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.  Psalm 92:11-15

When I am in this relationship God will deliver me from enemies and I will hear the story of their defeat.  Good men are planted in God’s house and grow like the great cedars.  Their prosperity will demonstrate the goodness of God, who is righteous.

As Israel will see these promises so too will those who recognize the messiah of Israel.  Beyond the obvious understanding of science and politics there is a spiritual being who can navigate the thin air of improbability.  We are Israel, and he will deliver us.

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MOVED IN

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 DEED AND TITLE

Since returning from captivity Israel is just sorting out who lives where under the original division of the Holy lands.  Perhaps heritage is confused by now, because they cast lots to decide who lives where.  Jerusalem and the outlying cities will be populated again.

And the rulers of the people dwelt at Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities.  And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.  Now these are the chief of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem: but in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities, to wit, Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon’s servants.  And at Jerusalem dwelt certain of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin. Of the children of Judah; Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalaleel, of the children of Perez;  And Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Colhozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of Shiloni.  Nehemiah 11:1-5

Ninety percent were to live in the outlying cities, and one tenth in Jerusalem.  The priesthood and servants of the kings were going to Jerusalem for their service.  Others join them.

All the sons of Perez that dwelt at Jerusalem were four hundred threescore and eight valiant men.  And these are the sons of Benjamin; Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jesaiah.  And after him Gabbai, Sallai, nine hundred twenty and eight.  And Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer: and Judah the son of Senuah was second over the city.  Of the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin.  Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, was the ruler of the house of God.  And their brethren that did the work of the house were eight hundred twenty and two: and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashur, the son of Malchiah.  And his brethren, chief of the fathers, two hundred forty and two: and Amashai the son of Azareel, the son of Ahasai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer,  And their brethren, mighty men of valour, an hundred twenty and eight: and their overseer was Zabdiel, the son of one of the great men.  Also of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hashub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; And Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chief of the Levites, had the oversight of the outward business of the house of God.  And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer: and Bakbukiah the second among his brethren, and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun.  All the Levites in the holy city were two hundred fourscore and four.  Moreover the porters, Akkub, Talmon, and their brethren that kept the gates, were an hundred seventy and two.  And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance. Nehemiah 11:6-20

So those lived in Jerusalem, and the rest lived in the cities of Judah according to their inheritance.  For most the families are known to belong to an inheritance, so some records were intact after the captivity.

But the Nethinims dwelt in Ophel: and Ziha and Gispa were over the Nethinims.  The overseer also of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha. Of the sons of Asaph, the singers were over the business of the house of God.  For it was the king’s commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day.  And Pethahiah the son of Meshezabeel, of the children of Zerah the son of Judah, was at the king’s hand in all matters concerning the people.  And for the villages, with their fields, some of the children of Judah dwelt at Kirjatharba, and in the villages thereof, and at Dibon, and in the villages thereof, and at Jekabzeel, and in the villages thereof, And at Jeshua, and at Moladah, and at Bethphelet,  And at Hazarshual, and at Beersheba, and in the villages thereof,  And at Ziklag, and at Mekonah, and in the villages thereof,  And at Enrimmon, and at Zareah, and at Jarmuth,  Zanoah, Adullam, and in their villages, at Lachish, and the fields thereof, at Azekah, and in the villages thereof. And they dwelt from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom. The children also of Benjamin from Geba dwelt at Michmash, and Aija, and Bethel, and in their villages.  And at Anathoth, Nob, Ananiah,  Hazor, Ramah, Gittaim,  Hadid, Zeboim, Neballat,  Lod, and Ono, the valley of craftsmen.  And of the Levites were divisions in Judah, and in Benjamin. Nehemiah 11:21-36

Israel is getting settled in, and returning to comfort in their homes again.  Order is restored to their home and religious lives.  God has restored them, and they are able to observe his feasts and holy days in peace.  How good it is to live in the house of the Lord, knowing the order and peace he gives.

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THE GRAND SON

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THE DISCOVERY

 

Another generation comes and Josiah, the son of Manasseh has his turn to rule Judah.  This son has watched his father experiment with rebellion and return to God.  He is willing to learn from others and stays on the path his grandfather had demonstrated.  He goes right from a very young age.

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years.  And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.  For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.  And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strewed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.  And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem.  2 Chronicles 34:1-5

Oh if we could purge our own lives of the idolatry or worldly thoughts we might do so well.  We don’t live a pure life because we are mortal flesh.  But we can use these scriptural reminders to repent daily.  We can burn the bones of the spirits that bring these temptations, and we can grow stronger in the process. 

And so did he in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about.  And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem.  Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the LORD his God.  And when they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites that kept the doors had gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin; and they returned to Jerusalem.  2 Chronicles 34:6-9

Their idols were reduced to less than fragments, mere powder.  If the memory of idolatry is left in repentance, the labor of service may remove the time to be tempted.  Repair of the temple filled the time in Israel.

And they put it in the hand of the workmen that had the oversight of the house of the LORD, and they gave it to the workmen that wrought in the house of the LORD, to repair and amend the house:  Even to the artificers and builders gave they it, to buy hewn stone, and timber for couplings, and to floor the houses which the kings of Judah had destroyed.  And the men did the work faithfully: and the overseers of them were Jahath and Obadiah, the Levites, of the sons of Merari; and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to set it forward; and other of the Levites, all that could skill of instruments of music.  Also they were over the bearers of burdens, and were overseers of all that wrought the work in any manner of service: and of the Levites there were scribes, and officers, and porters.  And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD given by Moses.  2 Chronicles 34:10-14

Again the work is assigned to the tribes as the law had commanded.  People prospered enough to make the payment for the temple repairs.  As the structure is restored, structure is restored in the spiritual realm as well.

And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan.  And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king word back again, saying, All that was committed to thy servants, they do it.  And they have gathered together the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers, and to the hand of the workmen.  Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.  And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes. 2 Chronicles 34:15-19

So the priests have done all that they were told to do, and money is found to maintain the temple.  But they found something more, that indicated an outstanding debt.  Have you ever received notice of a past due bill?  Josiah has just discovered the depth of his father’s shortcomings in serving God.  He is grieved and fearful for the people in this new understanding.  So it is for all new believers when we find out how deep our own sin was.  We need to learn how deep God’s mercy is.

And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king’s, saying,  Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book.  And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect. 2 Chronicles 34:20-22

The king sends his servants to a prophetess to learn what God will do for this debt.  He has seen the warnings and God answers his inquiry.

And she answered them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you to me,  Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah:  Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched.  And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of the LORD, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel concerning the words which thou hast heard;  Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD.  Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again. 2 Chronicles 34:23-28

Kings can turn people right or left to some extent, but the people play a role in supporting those kings too.  The kings have each seen their judgment, and the people will see theirs too.  Josiah is promised mercy for his tenderheartedness now.  He acts to intercede for the people as well.

Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem.  And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD.  And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.  And he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to it. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.  And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the LORD their God. And all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers. 2 Chronicles 34:29-33

Josiah has produced a generation of obedience, but the winds of change were to come to Judah once more in the near future.

Live Long and Prosper

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NO WEAPON THAT IS FORMED AGAINST THEE SHALL PROSPER; AND EVERY TONGUE THAT SHALL RISE AGAINST THEE IN JUDGMENT THOU SHALT CONDEMN. THIS IS THE HERITAGE OF THE SERVANTS OF THE LORD, AND THEIR RIGHTEOUSNESS IS OF ME, SAITH THE LORD.  ISAIAH 54:17

After the Ethiopian threat the prophet Azariah comes to king Asa of Judah with news from God. 

And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:  And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.  Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.  But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.  2 Chronicles 15:1-4

Repentance has served Judah well, in times when no other nations have peace.  But God speaks to them encouragement that fans the flames of faith.

And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.  And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.  Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.  And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.  And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.  2 Chronicles 15:5-9

Many of the tribes of Israel now are coming to Judah because they see that God is with king Asa.  They come to serve God humbly and willingly.  No one who will not serve God is allowed to live with them. 

So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.  And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.  And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;  That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.  And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.  And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about.  2 Chronicles 15:10-15

King Asa will not even allow his own mother to serve the darkness. 

And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.  But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.  And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.  And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.  2 Chronicles 15:16-19

While some high places were left where sacrifices were not done in the temple per the law, most error was gone from Judah now.  In these years Judah and king Asa are rewarded with peace for thirty five years.  Godly leadership can inspire prosperity and peace for an entire nation.  Will we find this in our own generation?

DEJA-TRUE

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FAMILIAR PATTERNS OF SUCCESS

Abijah has lived long and prospered, and his son has had a godly example.  Asa lives in a time when some people in Judah are straying from the Lord.  He assumes the responsibility of a godly leader as his father did.

So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years.  And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:  For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves:  And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment.  Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him.  And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest.  2 Chronicles 14:1-6

For Judah there was no question of religious tolerance.  Who would challenge God who reveals himself to his prophets?  This was the remnant of faith descended from Abraham, destined to represent the best of mankind under the law.  For king Asa the faithful defense of faith earned years of peace.  In time his challenge would come though.  Asa made sure that Judah was ready.

Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the LORD our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.  And Asa had an army of men that bare targets and spears, out of Judah three hundred thousand; and out of Benjamin, that bare shields and drew bows, two hundred and fourscore thousand: all these were mighty men of valour.  And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah.  Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.  2 Chronicles 14:7-10

Judah retained a standing army of 500,000 which was challenged by a million Ethiopians.  What possessed the Ethiopians to travel so far to oppose Judah?  They had to cross other nation’s territories or possibly open sea to arrive near Jerusalem.  The world goes to great lengths to oppose faith, blind to the cost, and to their certain failure.  In our age many Ethiopians are Jewish, and have come to Israel as citizens.  This may have been a lesson they would remember to draw them to God.  Asa knew where to find his help.

And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let no man prevail against thee.  So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.  And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.  And they smote all the cities round about Gerar; for the fear of the LORD came upon them: and they spoiled all the cities; for there was exceeding much spoil in them.  They smote also the tents of cattle, and carried away sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 14:11-15

The logistics to support a great army were to become the spoils of victory to the faithful.  The Lord fought the battle, and a victory against two to one odds was given to Judah.  In their ignorance Ethiopia lost thousands of men who would not return to their families.  Today they have both Jewish and Christian faith which suggests they have learned from this dark day in their history.  Israel may soon do the same.

Today Israel faces even greater odds with so many hostile nations around them.  Conditions are ripe for a great conflict today.  We are ordered to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  That peace will come in the form of the Prince of Peace, their Messiah Yeshua.  We should pray for the day when they will look on God who they pierced.  When the high places of misguided religion are torn down they will finally see the conclusion of the Law and victory over darkness.  Yeshua is their messiah and their victory.  He has fought the battle for them and it is finished.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

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View from the top...EJ Peak

SHOW TIME

Solomon is enjoying a mountaintop experience, with fame and fortune surrounding him.  His fame draws attention from far away rulers, and one comes to investigate the stories of Israel’s glory.

And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.  And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.  And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.  And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built,  And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.  1 Kings 10:1-5

Where was the kingdom of Sheba?  Somewhere near Yemen or Ethiopia perhaps.  Their queen is impressed with Solomon and his wisdom.  Solomon lets all be known, and entertains over food and drink.  The queen is impressed out of her spirit it seems. 

And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.  Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.  Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.  Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.  And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.  1 Kings 10:6-10

The queen has confirmed the rumors, but gives glory to God for these blessings.  She shares her own blessings with Solomon too.

And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.  And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.  And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.  Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,  Beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.  1 Kings 10:11-15

Solomon returned some blessings for those the queen brought, so some bartering was accomplished.  Perhaps Solomon came out ahead in the exchange, and he put the building materials to good use. 

And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target.  And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.  Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold.  The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays.  And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom.  1 Kings 10:16-20

Wonderful stuff, all this gold.  Later kings Ahaz and Hezekiah will have their troubles with all of this treasure though.  They may not have all the wisdom their forerunner may have had here.  For now Solomon was free to show off all this, possibly with a bit of pride. 

And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.  for the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.  So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.  And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.  And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armour, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.  1 Kings 10:21-25

If that navy is in modern Tarsus, it will be the home of Saul/Paul and is now in Turkey.  It was on the job hauling treasure in any case.  Military spending went on, as did arts and commerce.

And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem.  And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycomore trees that are in the vale, for abundance.  And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price.  And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means.  1 Kings 10:26-29

The mountaintop experience seems like a good time, but Solomon will recall all of this later in his life as vanity.  Being on top makes one a target and it is easy to slip from a high place.  The trail to EJ Peak features a lot of fine gravel that slips under street shoes, making the ascent a bit risky.  David had a problem when he was prospering in the safety of home, and Solomon is the son of that union.  I am learning that hindrances give us time to consider better solutions, often making our way better that total freedom.  Solomon will make his way to fulfilled wisdom in time, but time takes a toll.  We can learn from his experience and take the best path.

Watch your footing on the high trails

GROWING IN PLACE

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ISRAEL IS PLANTED IN GOSHEN

 

And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:  The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.  Genesis 47:5-6

 

Israel and his 12 sons found a home to grow in.  They were promoted by God to be fed and to prosper.  They were to become a great nation.

 

PROMISE IS REAL, REALITY IS SLOWER

 

God made these promises to Abraham, but they were not granted instantly.  It would take time to produce this great work.  It fell to the coming generations to do the work.

 

ISRAEL BROUGHT TO GRIEF, THEN JOY IN HIS CHILDREN

 

And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me,  And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.  And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.  Genesis 48:3-5

 

Israel thought he had lost Joseph, but instead gained him back, with his new family too.  Indeed Israel claimed his children as his own.  This would later manifest in an unexpected way.

 

WE ARE HERE GROWING, BUT NOT YET GROWN

 

The word says that we are seated in heavenly places.  There is a manifestation of our promise even during this time when the evidence is not visible.  But we have to complete our “entrance exam” in this life first.  But God already knows the outcome.

 

ANNOYING CHILDREN CAN BECOME GREAT

 

My experience in teaching indicates that the worst brats can be destined to greatness, going on to become preachers or missionaries.  We live in hope that these lessons will be remembered when the need is greatest in some distant battle.  Peter was a bit of a brat, being impulsive, but not evil.  He needed to be both corrected, and commended at times.

 

12 ALL SONS,  BUT NOT ALL WILL RISE

 

And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.  Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.  Genesis 49:1-2

 

Israel prepared his family for a preview of their calling in God.  We know that our promise includes salvation, and a possibility for still greater rewards.  Some will just be saved, and others will earn honors in heaven.

  

DAN AND JUDAS COME SHORT

 

Unfortunately, not all of the brothers will pass their tests.  One of the 12 is doomed.  This was also true of those who followed Jesus.  Jacob spoke this of him:

 

Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.  Genesis 49:17

 

Later we read about another son of Israel who falls away from leadership.

 

Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve  Luke 22:3

 

This is because God knows our choices in advance, not because he forces us to make bad choices.  We have free will to choose our path.  Dan was replaced by Manasseh even as Joseph claimed him as his own son in the earlier verses.  Dan is not sealed among the 144,000 in Revelation.

 

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.  Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.  Revelation 7:4-8

 

SMALL FOXES, SMALL SINS DO HARM

 

We have to remember that life rarely takes us by the major sins, the sin unto death.  Samson had failed long before he met Delilah.  He had compromised his testimony by taking honey from a dead animal.  Honey is good, but not if it is contaminated by sin.  Esau failed when he sold his birthright, long before he missed his father’s blessing.  God is the witness to our small sins.  These build up if not repented. 

 

Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.  Song of Solomon 2:15

 

SOME BROTHERS HAVE SINED, YET WILL BE REDEEMED TO GREATNESS

 

Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.  Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?  The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.  Genesis 47:8-10

 

Judah had merciful intent towards Joseph, and was destined to be the house of David and the Messiah.

 

ALL WILL GROW TOGETHER, IF NOT ALWAYS IN HARMONY

 

Joseph’s brothers were fearful when their father Israel died.  Joseph was free to get revenge now, having the power of Egypt behind him.  He knew his calling was to help them, and he comforted them. 

 

And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?  But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.  Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.  Genesis 50:19-21

 

TIME OF REDEMPTION WILL BE NEEDED AS NURTURING BECOMES BONDAGE

 

This Pharaoh was generous, but a later one would forget the gift of Joseph.  Over time this comfort and feeding will become slavery.  When Israel is strong, they will also threaten their hosts.

 

TIME TO LEAVE THE CRADLE AND BECOME A NATION

 

Over time Israel’s tribes will mature and become a great nation.  We too need to grow in preparation to be a great kingdom.  We will mature in spiritual things to be ready for greater service.

 

Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.  1 Corinthians 14:20

 

MATURE SONS OF GOD

 

We will be like God when we see him.  That implies that a joint-heir will have some of the power he lives in.  This requires obedience and purity that merits such a promotion.

 

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.  And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.  Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.  And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.  1 John 3:2-5

 

Israel’s children are planted in Egypt to grow into a great nation.  At this point they are like toddlers, carnal in behavior and full of jealousy.  They are becoming a great nation by physical growth.  They are under God’s supervision and forced into obedience.  Famine closes the door of escape and forces them to stay here until they are strong enough to fight enemies in the Promised Land.  They still need wisdom and maturity.

 

THE LAW WILL BE A TEACHER FOR THE CHILDREN

 

Soon this family will need to learn some lessons.  God will bring them a law giver who will lead them to new discoveries.  Imperfect man will be measured by a perfect law.