Posted in Musings

Further Musings on the Life of David and Saul, Kings of Israel

Recently, I have noticed a few subjects that I want to tackle in the following weeks, but for today I wanted to carry on with some of my observations pertaining to the 1st and 2nd kings of Israel: Saul, the Benjamite; and David, the Judean.

A Comparison of Two Kings…

The first king of Israel, Saul was the people’s choice not God’s. I believe this is a biblically accurate argument that can be logically defended.  Although, some might attempt to question the aforementioned conclusion by showing that God did in fact choose Saul as king, I think that speaks more of the act of God than the motive of God having chosen him.

There are other historical figures we might highlight that God chose to raise up, but not for a good purpose humanly speaking. That is not to say that God didn’t have a good reason for choosing them, only that God’s goodness does not have to always benefit fallen man. (You might find that somewhat distasteful, and you are privy to your opinion but I, as of yet, have not heard a sound biblical argument to contradict it.)

The second king of Israel, David was God’s choice not the peoples. People do not normally think of humble shepherds as king worthy. That’s fine, but again God’s mode of thought/action is not driven by human opinion. What we see about reality is not always the way in which God sees reality. Even when our desire to reflect God’s viewpoint our creaturely limitations have a way of manifesting themselves.

Two Types of Image Bearers…

When you look at Saul and David you are witnessing two different types of image bearers. The shadow they cast in life is dependent upon the image their hearts are reflecting.

One passage of Scripture that offers a wonderful contrast between the two types is found in 1Sam 17. This is a pretty popular chapter among students of Scripture. It tells the tale of a young man who faced a giant, while the rest of the nation and the king who led them peed their pants.

The setting of the battle is picturesque. Two armies standing on opposing sides with a valley of death separating them. The Philistines have their champion who is much taller than a head above the competition (cf. 1Sam 10.23). Depending upon the measurement for a cubit, Goliath is estimated to be about 9 ½ feet tall. A mountain of a man, who has spent his whole life being trained in battle. He is war-tested, and to most men a terror to behold.

Each day Goliath would stand before the armies of Israel and her king and challenge them to combat. He promised that if someone were able to slay him in a hand-to-hand death struggle, then the enemies of Israel would lay down their arms is submission (cf. 1Sam 17.8-10). But the sight of this giant drove fear into the hearts of the armies of Israel, and Saul trembled at his words (cf. 1Sam 17.24, 11; respectively).

Get this now, the king of Israel had shaky knees. Saul had been battled tested and he was not a small man, but he was a coward. This man that God had put in the position to fight for the people as their champion, refused to do what he was called to do. Rather than fight he sought to bribe another with the promises of riches and a daughter.

In walks David…

David is the youngest of eight brothers. As this battle is being waged (perhaps flirted with is a better way to describe this event, as no fight has yet broken out), David’s father Jesse relieves him of his duty to tend sheep to take food to his older brothers in order to bring news back to his father (1Sam 17.17-18). Something to bear in mind at this point is the warning that God gives the prophet Samuel before he anoints David to be the next king in Israel. God says, “…the Lord sees not as a man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1Sam 16.7b; emphasis added).[i]

What does that mean? That God does not make decisions based on assumptions or biases driven by superficial knowledge. God is not a man to think like a man, He is God. He sees the heart, He discerns the motives, He recognizes the desires of the person in question. And of David it is said that he is better than Saul (1Sam 15.28). He is identified in Scripture as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13.22). He is shown to be one who trusts in the Lord God above all else, as we shall see in just a moment.

Saul was rejected as king over Israel by God. He is told that his kingdom, which might have lasted if he obeyed, would be torn from him (cf. 1Sam 13.13-14). Saul’s problem was that he had no faith. He did not trust the Lord. He refused to lean upon His Word. And therefore, proved (to the people, not God) that he was unfit to wear the crown.

In 1 Samuel this truth has been established on other grounds, but contrast between two different types of image bearers is highlighted the 17th chapter of the book. David, upon his arrival to the encamped army of Israel, hears the challenge of Goliath. Rather than expressing fear he becomes furious. David is filled with a righteous indignation that some unbeliever[ii] would dare speak against his God in order to deface Him (1Sam 17.26)!

The Battle is the Lords…

News of David’s comments eventually reached Saul, the king. When an audience had been granted Saul says to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth” (1Sam 17.33).[iii] David is not cowed in a corner. He has greater confidence than others around him, because of who he ultimately trusts in:

But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the Living God’” (1Sam 17.34-36).

In other words, David saw Goliath as nothing but an animal fit for slaughter. He recognized that Goliath was not only mocking His Lord and Savior, but attacking the sheep of God’s pasture. As a shepherd your responsibility is to the flock. You are the one responsible to stand in their stead. To fight for those who are incapable of defending themselves.

These words ought to have struck Saul’s heart, for this was the purpose to which he was anointed as king, but it does not appear that David’s courage had any lasting effect. Why would it when you are more concerned about building monuments to yourself (1Sam 15.12), rather than defending the honor of your Creator and the people you were sent to protect?

David’s not finished though; he adds these words to his testimony before he departs:

“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1Sam 17.37; comp Josh 10.25).

Saul says, “David, you’re not able.” David responds, “My king, yes, I am.” Saul’s confidence was in man, in the flesh; but David’s confidence was in the Lord, in the Spirit.

Trusting in what God had equipped him with, he heads into battle with a staff and five smooth stones from a nearby brook for his sling. As he approaches his enemy, he is not timid but exuding confidence. David is strong and courageous before this mighty foe, and in response to the mocking he receives he proclaims,

“[Goliath], you come to me with a sword and a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the hosts of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword or spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand” (1Sam 17.45-47).

And then, David charged his enemy—running to the forefront of the fight—and using a stone from the brook sunk it into the head of his enemy; taking Goliath’s sword and chopping off the man’s head.

What this proves…

David’s heart was not like Saul’s. David’s faith was in his Creator. Saul’s faith was in himself. The reflection of their hearts was rooted in the source they imaged. The difference between the two is that one of them “had a heart after God’s own heart.” David desired for the will of God to be carried out in his life, and in the life of others as vv. 46b-47 illustrates.

David was consumed with glorifying God; Saul was consumed with glorifying himself. David wanted this event to be a universal monument to the Lord above, so that all would know the truth. Saul desired himself to be the monument that men looked to (1Sam 15.12). Saul’s leadership led the people into sin (they doubted God which is sin; cf. Rom 14.23; Heb 11.6); whereas, David’s leadership pointed men to God.

Obviously, David wanted to image God in his life and as a result was shown as dependent upon him. The same cannot be said of Saul, for unlike David, his heart was far from the Lord. “But,” you say, “David sinned too! David’s future behavior would lead others into folly!” True enough, but we will have to leave room for that discussion for a later date.

On a more personal note, I think it is a question we ought to ask ourselves: “Whose image do we desire to reflect in our lives?”

ENDNOTES:

[i] All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the English Standard Version (ESV).

[ii] To be called “uncircumcised” was an epithet for being an unbeliever. Someone outside the assembly/congregation of God.

[iii] Some assume that this means that David is a small child. Various children’s books depict him this way. As a result, many fanciful interpretations come from the statement about David wearing Saul’s armor (cf. 1Sam 17.38-39) as if this boy barely in his teens (it is assumed) was just too small. Saul was a big man, but David a little boy. The text merely says, “he had not tested them” (1Sam 17.39) twice to emphasize that David was a shepherd not a trained soldier. Why would Saul have them put on him if they wouldn’t have fit? There seems to be a subtle point being made by the author of 1Sam that what men trusted in (i.e. physical arms, etc.) is not what David trusted in (cf. 1Sam 17.47). David knew that the tools of deliverance were not as important as the One Who Delivers!

Posted in Bill of Rights

The Left’s Solution for Gun Safety: Law-Abiding Citizens Be Warned and Prepare

Do we have a right to protect ourselves from enemies domestically and abroad? Do we have the right to use lethal force if necessary when our lives are being threatened? What if someone were to break into your home in the middle of the night and your wife and children are fast asleep in their beds? Should you, as a right, be able to level a gun at that intruder and blow holes through them in order to protect your loved ones; even yourself?

Let me ask it this way:

What if Nazis entered your home during World War II? They knew you were harboring Jews in your home, because some neighbor with the heart of the Tin Man and the courage of the cowardly Lion, and the spiritual brawn of the Scarecrow ratted you out. They have political and governmental authority backing them, and they are demanding that you hand over the Jews you are hiding and bring your wife and kids out of your home–NOW!!  Is it right or wrong, at that moment to level a firearm at the intruder and protect yourself by killing them on the spot?

I don’t know where you are from or what you believe, but your life is precious and so are the lives of your loved ones. The 2nd Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to provide citizens physical protection against harm from enemies both domestically and abroad; especially from tyrannical governments that desire to enslave the people. The framers of this document knew firsthand what it meant to fight for your life.

No one in their right mind approves of going on the offense and shooting people out of hatred or bigotry or some form of deluded supremacy. The mass shootings that we see on the evening news when some wicked nut job opens fire in a public place. The gang wars and violence we catch in blips about cities like Chicago are instances of criminals—evil people—committing atrocities against innocents. So, what’s the solution? What do those that abhor gun violence do? Rather than address the real problem–harsher punishments for criminals (yes, I’m all for the death penalty)—the attack the tool being used.

“We gotta eliminate the guns. We have to stop this industry! And, if we must we need to confiscate our citizens ability to protect themselves!” Would you like to eliminate water too? I’m pretty sure murders drown people as well!

Anyway, here’s a wonderful piece written by Gary DeMar that speaks on this issue:

Elizabeth Warren’s Plans to Separate Law-Abiding Citizens from their Second Amendment Rights

Posted in Biblical Questions

Reflections on the First King of Israel: Why Saul?

In what follows are some personal reflections that I have been having about Saul 1st king of Israel. These thoughts are the results of my own personal study. Rereading through the Book of Judges and the time of Samuel and Saul I have noticed a recurring pattern that seems strikingly familiar with our own period in history. However, the question I would like to investigate today is whether or not Saul and his family line have remained as king over Israel? Wisdom would seem to dictate that in preparation of attempting to answer this question we need to look at a few things first, so that we might discern the true intent of his kingship.

Where to start?

Normally, the argument starts with God’s choosing of Saul as king (cf. 1Sam 9.16; 10.1). The reasoning then ensues that if God chooses Saul it must have been for a good reason. In so far as that goes, I agree. God does pick Saul for a good reason. I would even argue that it is a multilayered reason—i.e. for more than one purpose. But from this thought of God choosing Saul as king for good we ought to immediately springboard to the next question: “For who’s good, God or man?”

 Well, how you go about answering that question depends, doesn’t it? If your theology is man-centered, then I believe it is natural to immediately assume “for man’s benefit.” Certainly, one could make the case that God does good things that benefit man.

Both of the texts referenced above highlight this, for it is said that the Lord God “anointed [Saul] to be prince over [God’s] people Israel…[to] save them from the hand of the Philistines…[and] surrounding enemies. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me” (1Sam 9.16; 10.1; co-joined for clarity).[i] However, that is only one layer of the truth as to why Saul was chosen as king over Israel…there are others.

A Useful Reminder…

What is helpful to remember at this point is that God does all things, brings all things about, for His namesake. His glory is always at the forefront of His choice of action:

“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another” (Isa 48.11).[ii]

God does what He does in history for His glory, for the majesty of His great and holy name, though there is no doubt that God’s people (even those who are not His) benefit from His decreed purpose.

What we need to consider then at the forefront is that God chose Saul for His own purposes, though the people were (for a time) beneficiaries of this action. “But, how can we know this?” you ask. Great question, glad you asked it.

Strangely enough, the answer begins to unfold as we look at how God views Israel’s request for a king—it is evil. The prophet Samuel’s reaction first notifies us that something is wrong. The act displeased him and he immediately brought the thing before the Lord (1Sam 8.6). We then find confirmation that the request was ill motivated and viewed negatively by the Lord when He says to Samuel,

“Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you” (1Sam 8.7-8; emphasis added).

A short while later, God then says to the people through His prophet:

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought [you] up…and I delivered you…from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ (1Sam 10.18-19).

The Reason it was Evil…

But the question that follows is “Why is this evil? Why was this a sin?” And the astute student of Scripture rightly asks, “Didn’t God give them permission in the past to make this request?” Again, I am glad you are following along and paying attention; great question!

It is true that in Deuteronomy 17 we find God’s provision of a request for kingship in Israel. The text reads,

“When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose” (Deut 17.14-15).

In the verses that follow the reader is provided with the necessary criteria of the type of king who will serve (should serve). Those regulations focused on an individual that would willingly submit to the edicts of the Lord in terms of power, family life, and wealth (vv. 16-17). This would-be king would desire to know, abide and live according to God’s revealed will—i.e. His Word (vv. 18-20). This type of king would experience longevity of his dominion for he and his offspring (v. 20).

The problem with Israel’s seeking of a king at the time of Samuel was multifaceted. In and of itself the request was not wrong, but the manner in which they sought it and the motive that drove it were.

First, the people did not seek the Lord God’s will in the request. His will was not given consideration. They wanted Samuel to “appoint for [them] a king to judge [them] like all the nations” (1Sam 8.5; italics added). When they were warned against taking this course—for it would invite sorrow into their lives as a consequence—they refused to listen saying to Samuel, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1Sam 8.19-20; italics added).

History Provides Excellent Lessons…

Israel was unique at that time in that they did not have a king over them. There is an implicit desire here to make a name for themselves—that is to say the request is shaded in pride. Historically, the Lord God had been their king; He had fought their battles. If they should have learned anything from their past, it is that kings are tyrants. But the attitude expressed at this time is no different than that first generation of Hebrews who wanted to return to Egypt; rather than serve the Lord in the wilderness.

I think that it is wise for the reader to reflect on the period of the Judges as well. The book of Judges repeats the theme “In those days there was no king in Israel…” (Judg 17.5a; cf. 18.1; 19.1; 21.25a). But as I said earlier God was their king (cf. 1Sam 12.12). However, when you reject the Lord as King over you what then ensues is exactly what we find during the period of Judges, “…everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg 17.5b; 21.25b).

The result this mindset earned the people, is explained to the reader as a preface to what follows in the book of Judges. The people rejected God “and served the Baals” (Judg 2.11). Since they whored “after other gods, from among the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them…the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies…” (Judg 2.12b, 14). In other words, they were enslaved to foreign kings.

Ironically though, this is the model of the other “nations” that they wanted to imitate. So, that’s the first problem with the demand of Israel for a king. The second is closely tied to it, the type of king they were looking for was appealing by man’s standards not God’s.[iii]

God through Moses told the people what kind of king they should look for, “a man who desired to follow in His ways” (cf. Deut 17.16-20). Because they refused to listen to the Lord, He gave them a king that seemed “right in [their] own eyes.” Saul, son of Kish of the tribe of Benjamin certainly had a kingly stature being a head taller than the rest of his people, but there are instances of a flawed character if you are observant of the details in the text. Perhaps we shall look at them in the future, but I want to try and stay on task.

Why did God choose Saul?

I see a strong similarity between what God did in the book of Judges, with what He does now in the selection of Saul as King.

In the one sense, we might say that God sent the people exactly what they wanted; a king like the rest of the nations. In another sense, we could also say that God raised Saul up to fight as a deliverer from foreign enemies. I believe both are correct assessments.

A third, and possibly neglected reason, is that God was setting up a comparison between two different types of kings: one that neglected His Word and really only worshipped himself as we see Saul doing in the text of Samuel, and another that desired to live according to God’s will (i.e. a man after His own heart). Granted, the application of that desire was wanting in David, but the fact of the matter is that it was there.

The same cannot be said of Saul, son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. Saul was not a godly man. And while we might point to period of his life where he seemed to profess belief, in the end the finally tally of his life says otherwise.

“So, is what you are saying Kris is that Saul was not God’s man?” you ask.

Precisely.

“But, what about God seeming to promise that had Saul been obedient, God would have preserved his kingship?”

God does make the following promise to Israel and Saul,

“If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king” (1Sam 12.14-15).

These conditional promises are just that, conditional. Depending upon the condition that is met will determine the outcome that is meted out.

Some will look at this promise by the Lord and then compare that with what transpires in 1Sam 15 where God is said to “regret” that He made Saul king (1Sam 15.11) as proof that Saul “could have continued as king” had he been obedient. To be sure, his disobedience led to his rejection as king (see 1Sam 15.22-23, 26), and God promised to rip the kingdom from him and give it to another that was Saul’s better (1Sam 15.28; cf. 1Sam 28.17-18), but it was never God’s intention for Saul or his line to remain as king.

Saul was not God’s choice, Saul was the choice the people truly desired in rejecting God, and God handed them over to their desires.

“But what if Saul had obeyed the Lord’s commands? Would he have remained as king?” If the conditions of obedience were met, sure. But Saul sought everyone but God in his thinking and acting. He feared the people, not the Lord. He idolized himself, not the Lord. He was filled with jealousy and hatred and a conniver of malicious things. He sought counsel from a witch, rather than the Lord. In the end he took his own life, rather than give it to the Lord.

So, while it might be said that if Saul had met the conditions that God had outlined (If, then) God would had blessed him. Saul would never meet the positive conditions necessary to be blessed by the Lord.

And the final reason is this…

The tribe of Benjamin is called a ravenous wolf that devours his enemies and plunders them (Gen 49.27). Something we witness in the closing chapters of Judges, a precursor of the type of heart we witness in Saul.  Whereas, the tribe of Judah is identified as a lion’s cub who rules his people from whom “the scepter shall not depart…nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Gen 49.8-10).

The line of Judah was always God’s choice, from the line of David a shoot would spring forth, who would walk in the ways of his father with a heart after God’s own heart. Where David failed, the son would not, for His Name is Jesus the perfect representation of the heavenly Father (Heb 1.3), the redeemer (Gal 3.3) and liberator of His people (1Pet 1.18-21), the true Lion that devours His prey and is always victorious (Rev 5.5; cf. Isa 11.1; Jer 23.5-6; Rom 15.12) .

ENDNOTES:

[i] All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the English Standard Version (ESV).

[ii] Also see 2Kgs 20.6; Isa 37.35 where God delivers Hezekiah and Jerusalem for His own name sake; Ezek 36.22 speaks of God’s Spirit being poured out on His people, to cleanse them from sin, to give them a new heart and write His Law upon their heart for His sake, not theirs; Deut 7.7-8; 9.5 where God’s choosing of Israel from amongst the nations, even the giving them of the land was done for His name sake, not theirs; Dan 9.17-19 where Daniel’s prayer acknowledges that God fulfills His goodness towards His own not for their sake, but His own.

[iii] This attitude, which was acclimated from the surrounding culture(s), had a negative effect on even God’s prophet Samuel which you can read about in 1Sam 16:6-7.

Posted in Musings

Musings on Evolution Theory

The theory of Evolution teaches some interesting things, and a great number of people have adopted an evolutionary mindset in the past century or so. One of the main tenets of this “scientific” theory is the survival of the fittest (an idea borrowed from Herbert Spencer). That is the strong survives having developed the necessary qualities to live and thrive in this world. This red tooth and red claw mentality are that the weak dies by way of necessity, since they have not developed that which thrives in competition.

Another important teaching this theory promotes is that we all share a common ancestor. Any differences are minor, but that which relates us to all other living things are tantamount. I ran into this when one of my kids was little and their science teacher told them they were related to worms, trees, and other creatures.

In other words, we all came out of the same primordial soup. One part of the soup cannot act as if it is not really a byproduct of it. What created the “soup” we don’t know. In fact, we can’t know, we weren’t there. As a result, various hypotheses are offered to solve the lack of knowledge on our part; to fill in the gap so to speak.

  • One is that an unknown consequence of the “Big Bang” produced the necessary chemical agents (once things cooled down enough, that is) to form the building blocks of life. A single cell organism wiggled its way free from the slime and evolved into a greater version of itself, so on and so forth, until we ended up with a wide spectrum of life millions of years later.
  • Another popular theory that is gaining ground in various scientific circles is the idea of life being planted on this planet by a highly intelligent alien civilization. Using meteors as celestial sperm, these rocks implanted with life-giving agents are propelled through space, collide with a known planet, and eventually life evolves into being (read here and here ).

Are people the product of evolution? Are our ancestors really a lower form of mammal? Did we evolve into the current state we are in? Are we still evolving? Is it correct to say that we are nothing more than animals with no ultimate purpose for being?

A Problem with Application…

What I find amusing is the glaring inconsistencies in evolutionary thought that people seemingly pass over. That is to say, the teaching is not applied to real life scenarios in a coherent fashion.

For example, if survival of the fittest is true, then why should we be upset when one organism dominates another? Why do we try to counter (interact and abate) the activity of one being eliminating another?[i]

Take for instance the battle waged against pesky insects. In nearly thirty states the Emerald Ash Borer beetle has decimated the Ash tree population (read here).
Isn’t this an example of one being showing itself stronger than another? Well then, why is there such an effort to stop or at least curb this little bugger from living? Rather than allowing “evolution” to take its course, people are attempting to stop it!

What about environmentalists attempting to reduce carbon footprints and the production of “greenhouse gases”? CO2 is supposedly a huge threat that needs to be reduced, even though various studies have shown that an increase in CO2 benefits vegetative growth, allowing crops to yield more produce. Methane gas is another greenhouse gas that’s a no-no (read here). A suggestion to reduce methane gas and its “harmful” effects on our planet that is gaining acceptance by some, is the reducing cow farts. No that’s not a joke. A serious environmental/political effort has been begun to stop what cows do naturally (read here).

Questions that Ought to be Answered…

Which really raises another question in my mind: If evolution is true, then why are so many supposed believer’s in practice deniers? If you believe evolution is just natural selection in motion, then why not let this creature dominate another creature? Why not allow animals to practice flatulence in peace without changing their diet?

Moreover, if evolution is true and mankind is the product of that natural process, then why is there always an effort to stifle human living? We put no trespassing signs on certain “endangered species.” We go to great efforts to limit our “footprint” on this planet. We assume that equality should govern all areas of life, all the while evolution theory teaches the opposite. We suppose that right and wrong are categories that need to be defined and lived by. That the strong should not dominate the weak, that tooth and claw do not really define reality, when they in fact do define reality (according to evolution theory)?

All the while, I laugh at the absurdity of it all. If evolution is true, then why do we desire to design how things work? If evolution is true, then why do we pursue placing order in this world? If evolution is true, then why do we spend so many hours attempting to correct its course?

I have an answer and its really simple…it is false.  If evolution were true, then reality as a whole would not make sense. Reality does make sense, and we as human beings constantly attempt to make further sense of it.

ENDNOTES:

[i] Regarding this type of activity Charles Darwin wrote in, “Nevertheless so profound is our ignorance, and so high our presumption, that we marvel when we hear of the extinction of an organic being; and as we do not see the cause, we invoke cataclysms to desolate the world, or invent laws on the duration of the forms of life!” Charles Darwin, Origin of the Species By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, Reprint 1859 (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2009), 95.

Whether or not Darwin aimed his words against the Christian faith, in particular the global flood (Gen 6-8), as the beliefs ignorant people push, I cannot say. To be sure, he and others like him (Sir Charles Lyell for instance) had a great disdain for biblical teaching, but regardless of his original intention I see no problem with attributing this “ignorance” of which Darwin speaks to the environmentalists of our day. Assuming what they do not in fact know, they attempt to invent laws to stifle what is going on in the world, as if natural selection only applies to a segregated portion of the planet’s life forms; rather than all.

Posted in Biblical Questions, prophetic pitfalls

How well do you Read Your Bible? Managing Prophetic Passage Pitfalls

How well do you read your Bible’s? Let’s do a little test shall we and see what comes about. Read the following passage:

  • “Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place” (Mic 1.3-4).

What event is being spoken about? What do you think? Is this event in reference to the entire planet—the whole earth and all that is in it? What about this talk about God’s holy temple? Where? In Jerusalem? Or some other place? What about this talk of God “coming out of his place?” Is this in reference to a physical temple, a physical throne or a picture of God taking action from Heaven? What about the text telling us that He “will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth?” Is God truly coming here? Is He really going to walk upon the mountains? Will they “melt under him…like wax before the fire?” Will the “valleys…split open…like waters poured down a steep place?” Or is such language referring to the appearing judgment from on High?

More importantly, is the timing of this event past or future? How are we to answer such questions? What is our best course of action?

Please Pay Attention to the…?

Have you ever heard the real-estate motto: “Location, location, location?” Well, for the student of Scripture our motto is or ought to be: “Context, context, context!” If we want to read our Bible’s well—and we should!—then we need to pay attention to the context. We need to learn to observe the details in the text.

Though this apocalyptic language used by the prophet Micah seems to be global in extent and appears to allude to some distant time in the future (I mean the world didn’t end in fire, and the mountains weren’t split wide open turned into valleys, and we haven’t seen God come down from heaven…YET!), the fact remains that the event in consideration has already transpired. And it did not happen on the whole earth, but in the entire land.  It was not spoken and written for all the people throughout the earth as if we all are about to experience it, but for a specific people limited to the land in question.

The objection rises: “Yes, but the text says ‘Pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it.’”

True enough, but let us go back to the text in its entirety. Look at what comes before (v.1) and what comes after (v.5). These two verses limit the transaction, no matter how fantastic we might find the language in-between.  Listen to what they say:

  • Verse 1: “The Word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.”
  • Verse 5: “All this is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?

The Hebrew word translated “earth” (Mic 1.2) in English is אֶרֶץ  (erets) and commonly refers to land, or territory/kingdom, or earth/soil. That the concern here is over Samaria and Jerusalem and the covenantally unfaithful within them ought to be apparent even when one performs a cursory reading of the text. Verse 1 says that this prophecy—the Word of God—was given to “Micah of Moresheth…concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.”

Observational Details a Must…

In the text we find that the reader is even provided a rough timeline of the prophet Micah’s ministry.  Micah served during the reign of three kings from the line of David; Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. From this we are also able to deduce that this was at a time in history when the former kingdom of Israel was split into two separate nations: Israel to the north, and Judah to the south. The reference to “Samaria and Jerusalem” (v.1) highlights both of those nations as they were capital cities: Samaria of Israel, and Jerusalem of Judah.

This information is repeated somewhat in verse 5 as a form of indictment. One of the prophet’s primary roles was to confront covenant breakers with legal violations. I realize that the concept of legal violations is somewhat distasteful to modern Christian thought, but the truth is the same today. When we sin, we are in rebellion against the Law-Word of God; we have violated our covenantal obligations with Him. This is a legal violation.  And without some form of recompense (i.e. payment) we will experience the judgment of God (i.e. His Wrath).

The sins of the two kingdoms here (Israel to the North and Judah to the South) are given in verse 5: “The transgression of Jacob…is… Samaria,” and “the high place of Judah [her transgression] …is…Jerusalem” (cf. Hos 7.1; 2Kgs 16.4). Now if some of these things seem foreign to you, and you don’t get it… I understand. If you want clarification, you will need to do some “leg work” in searching the Scriptures to see what is going on during the time of Micah’s ministry (i.e. What were the kings of his day doing? How were they leading the people? What has God promised to do?).

Dig into the Historical Context…

It would also be beneficial to know the northern kingdom of Israel’s early years. What their first king instituted as common religious practices were the foundation stones of the apostacy rampant throughout her later years. What you will find is that Jeroboam established a new god (two golden calves; one in Bethel, the other in Dan), a new priesthood with new temples/high places and an altar in Bethel, as well as new religious festivals and a new capital to rival Jerusalem, lest “the kingdom will turn back to the house of David” (1Kgs 12.26; read 1Kgs 12-14).

This idolatry would continue until God sent Assyria against Samaria, eventually crushing them in 721 B.C. (approx.).

  • “Therefore,” declares the Lord God “I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards, and I will pour down her stones into the valley and uncover her foundations. All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste, for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them, and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return” (Mic 1.6-7).

God would also send Assyria to the south, for “…disaster has come down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem” (Mic 1.12, cf. v. 9). Judah was not innocent of committing idolatry. Although from David’s line we find many good kings who sought to walk in the ways of David (i.e. man after God’s heart; following His will), there were many who did not. They, like Samaria built high places too (read through Kings and Chronicles if you don’t believe me), and because of this the Lord would also eventually make “Jerusalem…a heap of ruins” when God sent Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to beat down their gates, burn their city and temple, and tear down stone on top of stone exposing her foundation (approx. 600-586 B.C.; three phases of conquest).

However, history reveals that the prayers and devotions of Hezekiah stayed God’s hand of judgment. And rather than fight against Jerusalem, the Lord fought for it:

  • “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David” (2Kgs 19.32-34).

The Lord removed the threat of Assyria from Judah’s doorstep, and Sennacherib (king of Assyria after Shalmanser) left and was killed by his own sons, worshipping his fake god Niroch (2Kgs 19.35-37).

Learn to Tread Carefully…

What’s my point? That we need to take care when we read Scripture, in particular prophetic passages of the past. We need to carefully observe the context (linguistically, historically, culturally), before we attempt to interpret and then make application of it. What is recorded in Micah 1 sets the tempo for the rest of the book. The events he has in mind are futuristic for his generation. Take note of that. Granted, there are some references later on in his writings that point to the Messiah, but that discussion will have to wait for another day.