Tag Archives: Promised Land

Judah Cast from Yahweh’s Presence

2 Kings 24-25; the end of the road for Judah. Fallen is Samaria and Israel – the Northern Kingdom [Lost 10 tribes]; a 150 later noting has been learned by Judah. Assyria and Egypt had been fighting for control of the “Promised Land” – somehow through pay-offs and treaties Judah was able to live in relative peace. Kings like Uzziah and Hezekiah who did right in the eyes of the Lord extended their existence. Judah was not without sin; but God was faithful to keep His covenant that he made with David even though Judah deserved the same judgment as Israel for their idolatrous ways. I think that Israel/Judah felt they were exempt from the judgment of God that He displayed on the Canaanite tribes. However, Israel and Judah followed the sins, iniquities, transgressions and abominations of the nations God had expelled out of the “inheritance” of Israel.  This is not the first or the last time that arrogance and pride will cause Judah/Israel to be led into captivity. Jeremiah and so many other prophetic voices warned Israel and Judah to repent and return to the ways of the Lord. Jeremiah preaches 50 years, yet all he gain was deaf ears to his message.

After faithful King Josiah is killed, there is a series of kings with a very limited reign and influence. The world power shifts at this point from Egypt and Assyria to Babylon, more specifically to King Nebuchadnezzar. Because Judah persisted in rebellion and idol worship, God allowed Babylon to come to power and lead them [Judah] into captivity and make the Promise Land desolate except for the poorest of people. The Promise Land laid waste!!!!!!!   Why?  Easy answer Judah and Israel left God for gods – But I think that the Promise Land had become so polluted, God and to “Purge” the land of the people and idols so He could restore it again under Ezra and Nehemiah. Sometimes I think that there needs to be a purging of the Church Body before God can do His work in the lives of the Remnant.

An undertone is how God is Merciful even in His judgment. There were three deportations by Babylon – the land was stripped of all the royalty, educated, skilled and craftsmen. Judah was also allowed to continue [return] to worship Yahweh. The exile of Judah was prescribed and implemented under the Hand of God. Jeremiah told Judah “don’t resist the Babylonians, but go into the land, build houses and live among your captive masters. Isaiah 45-66 is called the Post-Exilic chapters of Isaiah or better known as Deutro-Isaiah. Many prophets foretold of the return of God’s people after 70 years in exile.

As bad as it was in the destruction and deportation of Judah, the siege of Jerusalem and the starvation of the people; God was still merciful in that He did not destroy all the people, but left a remnant. We may be looking at a similar situation here in our own USA; the condition of the Church is deplorable; the Gospel has been polluted; we worship our worship not God in our services. I truly believe God is not pleased with the Bride! But there is a remnant that hold to the Truth of God’s Word, it will be the Remnant that God will use – like the Church in Sardis there are those who have not “soiled their garments.” We the Church today must take heed to the warning given to Strengthen what remains, to Hold fast to the Truth.

Years ago America thought it was invincible from attack from an enemy on its own shores – thinking that the distance was too far for the enemy to attack unnoticed – then Pearl Harbor happened and took away the arrogance and pride of invincibility. God is doing a great work among many other “pagan” nations. The Chinese and the Muslim countries are experiencing great numbers of converts to Christ. Yet here in America the church is dying and has gone into apostasy in much of the land.

Will America be restored? Will there be a revival? Will the Church heed the warnings of Israel and Judah? Will America have to Fall before it returns to the Lord? All questions we must answer personally and collectively.

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Snakes and Mistakes

Numbers 20-21 are two more accounts where the people of God; Israel are still the stiff-necked people. The change in their hearts has not been made. Time after time the people will rebel and then when things go haywire, they cry out in distress for the LORD to deliver them. One would think that after so many times of rebelling and failing that after the Lord delivered them, the people would get a clue. Wait a second, this sounds like how many believers live their lives out! The Book of Judges is reflective of the roller-coaster ride many professing Christians experience. The on and off dedication to the Lord is cause for so much agony and heart ache.  Chapter 20 starts out with Miriam dying, the older sister of Moses. So at Kadesh, after refusing to enter the Promised Land, the people start singing the same song about “why have you brought us out here to die, would that we stayed in Egypt.’ If we think about this a bit; if the spies had just brought the glowing report of food and sustenance about the Promise Land, then the people had to be satisfied with the Manna and Quail now; I’m sure we would complain a bit too. However, this complaining has its effect on the Leader. Now leaders are human beings too; but that doesn’t give us excuse. In the heat of the conflict, Moses gets angry and instead of “speaking to the Rock” he strikes the Rock twice. The water comes forth from the Rock – but the event of rebellion against God has its consequences. Moses will not be allowed to enter in the Promised Land when the time comes. In Deuteronomy Moses is not sick, or blind, in good health, but taken up the Mountain that overlooks Jericho, Moses sees the picture of “what could have been.” Joshua will lead the people across. Now I have to admit I was a little ticked about the harsh punishment Moses received because he disobeyed God. I thought of all the ways that the people behaved, and felt that God should give him another chance – in fact Moses addressed the punishment with God – and the Father got ticked “what I have said, I have said – no more talk about it!” Only until I was reminded of how close Moses was allowed to get to God and the privileged position he was in did I understand that if anyone should have gotten it right – Moses would have been it. Speak to the Rock, don’t strike it. The is a metaphor of Jesus – Jesus only needed to be struck/die once. We do not need to repeatedly re-crucify Him. Also Moses struck in anger at the people. I wonder how many times have we struck out at God when people made us angry?

The second event is the Snakes – The same song is sung “why have you brought us here” – this time the complaining of the people to Moses draws the ire of God. He sends a plague of fiery snakes on the people. The people start dying because of the snake bites. Moses begins to intercede for the people to the LORD; God gives the cure to the people – don’t look at the snakes on the ground look at the standard with the bronze serpent on it. Jesus uses this metaphor about Himself – just as Moses lifted the serpent up in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up. As the people “looked and lived” by believing [faith] the serpent standard would heal; so it is with people who look to Jesus who was lifted up on the Cross. Healing from sin and death is a result of our faith looking. The symbol of the medical field is one similar to the Nehushtan. As the people of Israel were plagued with the fiery serpent that caused death, so are we people who are plagued by sin and death [Satan the serpent] the cure then and now is to Look and Live. Look at the Savior and live. For all the healing mankind needs is found not with a snake on a standard, but the Son of God on the Cross.

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Filed under 2017 Peneteuch, Church Revitalization

Death of a Generation

I find that Numbers 13/14 to be some of the saddest chapters in the Bible.  After having camped at Mt. Sinai for a year, the nation of Israel is finally on its way to the homeland – the Promised Land. The blessing of God that was promised to Abraham all the way back in Genesis 12/14/17/22 is finally coming to a crescendo; but the lack of faith by the generation appointed to enter the land results in children wandering in the wilderness for forty years, watching their disobedient parents die. The tribes of Israel had been witness and recipient to the power of Yahweh for the last 18 months. They had tasted of His provision of manna, water and quail. The people had personally received the mercy of God during their rebellious behavior [Exodus 32]. Each tribe afford the privilege to send out a scout to see the Land of Promise and bring back a report. The orders were to “spy out the Land; investigate the cities and people of the Land and bring back some fruit from the Land.”  For 40 days the spies enjoyed the provision of the land; all the while collecting data about the Land God said He would give them. I cannot imagine having to cut down a sapling tree in order to carry back a cluster of grapes. The question – is the Land as God said it would be? Is it a land “Flowing with milk and honey?”  True enough was the report from the 12 spies. But – oh, why did there have to be a “But”? Yes the land is like the Lord promised – but the cities are fortified, and there are descendants of Anak in the land [Anak or the Nephilim are ancestors of the Philistines – remember Goliath was a Giant some 9 feet tall.] Fear had gripped the 10 spies who saw the obstacles in the land not the opportunity of the land.  Caleb tries to quiet the people; fear has gripped them – their thought obviously was that they would just walk into the inhabited land and take it without fighting or conflict. Just as Egypt saw the “strong hand of the Lord” so will followers by faith. The people saw their own limits and determined that even though the land was as described – they were like “grasshoppers” and would be nothing more than cannon fodder for the giants. Walking by sight says we can’t – walking by faith says we can’t but God can!

Caleb and Joshua some men who were 40 and 45 at the time relived that God could do what he said. Joshua the son of Nun had been the commander of the armies and witnessed the “battle strength” of God during the fighting of the Amalekites. [Exodus 17] For he had been part of a battle with the enemy where if Moses hands being lifted up , fighting a battle he couldn’t lose; and when Moses hands were down, fighting a battle he couldn’t win. The faith of Caleb and Joshua would be rewarded, not on this day though. The crowd or mob that was forming would win the day. FEAR won that day. Numbers 14 is just as sad – for now the people have realized no promise land, so they complain against Moses and Aaron. “Would that we would have died in Egypt”  – Let’s get another leader and go back.

Moses challenges the people not to rebel and not to fear the people of the land. I wonder how many churches have not conquered their “land” because of fear of the people? We find out later that the people of the land were already gripped with fear in the story of Rahab [Joshua 2].  In Numbers 14:18-19; there is a great warning and punishment for failure to accomplish what God had set out to do through us. To know that our rebellion will be found in the 2nd – 4th generations – this is the great influence and impact that we pass on to our children and grandchildren. While that is the negative, we also know that faith expressed is a source of influence for good to the generations that follow us. After the people of Israel had been chided for disobedience; they try to go take the land in their own strength. This is a big mistake; this was the source of their fear – Not by the strength of man, but by the Power and authority of God the Land would be theirs. The change of mind and attempt to do what only God could do ended in disaster. Doing the right thing at the wrong time is still disobedience. The people of Israel and the church often have learned the difficult lesson following God. Many a church has balked at the “Promised Land” because they saw obstacles. Would that Churches today would trust more in the power of Jehovah than in the programs of men!

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Filed under 2017 Peneteuch, Church Revitalization

Promise Land and Purity – Wake Up !

Jeremiah 32-37 is our reading for the week. There really isn’t anything new as far as the preaching message of Jeremiah to Judah and the leadership [king, priests and prophets]. However the significant message is that the Promised Land has become so polluted that nothing grows. When Israel came out of Egypt, they were destined for the Promise Land, they were blessed to be a great nation, and had the blessing of Yahweh with them. In Numbers 13 we find the story of how the spies were sent in to “seek out” the Land. Now they spent 40 days in the Promised Land eating and enjoying the land of “milk and honey.” However, when they reported back to the leadership and people, 10 of the spies said the land is as the Lord God has said, but there are giants in the land with fortified cities. “We are like grasshoppers in their sight.” In other words we can go there. Two spies, Joshua and Caleb said, we can do this, the Lord our God will give this land to us. The majority ruled, actually fear ruled the day not faith. It would be 40 years before Israel would go into the land. God “purged” Israel of the sin, grumbling and anarchy that kept them in the Wilderness. For 40 years, Israel moved around in the wilderness – dying. When the people of God had been purged of the faithless people, Joshua was able to lead them into the Land that was already theirs. The point is that the people did not act on what God said, but on what man had said. God said “Go” but the spies said “No.” Our Heavenly Father will allow you to die in the Wilderness if you chose – but His plan will still be valid. When Israel did finally go in – they did not fully occupy the land. In fact we know that 2 1/2 tribes stayed on the wrong side of the river! After God “Purged” Israel, then He began purging the land  promised to His people. In that Israel did not fully purge the Canaanite tribes out of the land, but began to co-habitat with them, produced apostasy and cult worship of Baal.

When we approach our passage for the week, we find that God is doing the same thing again. The deportations to Babylon guaranteed a “Remanent” to be returned to the Land. Those that remained behind would be “purged” with sword, famine, and pestilence. In Jeremiah 32:29, fire is going to be used. Herein lies the work of God again. He will purge the Promised Land of the sin and apostasy of His people. When God was done with Jerusalem [through Nebuchadnezzar] nothing but ashes remained. The bodies laid in the streets and became carnage for the vultures. The Land lay desolate for 70 years, just as God had said. After the “purging” God would draw back His people from the places they had been scattered. They would be His people and He would be their God.

Even though Israel benefited from Jehovah, given the Law and blessings as His people, they did not FULLY serve Him. They served Jehovah when it was convenient. The people still wanted their gods of the world.  we find today in our society, the same is true, for churches, communities and countries. “with their mouth they serve Me, but their heart is far from Me.”

Come with me to the time of Jesus’ ministry – the same thing is being repeated. The People of God are not godly or righteous. They have polluted the Land again, except this time it is with hypocrisy and spiritual debauchery. The religious leaders of the day were “caught up in a system” of their own making. They appeared righteous outside, but empty full of dead men inside. As Jesus preached the conflict became evident. When Jesus sent the disciples out, “go to the Lost Sheep of Israel.” Just as Judah and Israel rejected the prophets who spoke the message of God, the religious leaders would reject Jesus. The parable about the Landowner and the workers outlines my point. The vineyard was leased out so to speak, when harvest time came, the owner sent His emissaries to get the harvest, they were killed. Finally, the Son of the owner was sent – they killed him and claimed the inheritance. The Last Straw parable would be a good name for this. When the people of God reject the Message of God, they will be “purged and refined with fire.” In AD 70 – the very same destruction that happened in 587-582 BC returned. God would purge the Promised Land again. This time a more grave situation, the very Son of God had been rejected and killed. The Promised Land laid waste until after 6 million Jews were “purged” – then they were allowed to return – again from the places that God had scattered them.  It was better to be scattered than to stay and die. But mark this – God will cleanse the Land of sin. Wake Up America – the Land is polluted and purge and fire are coming!

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