Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Money Changers

The weekend before his death, Jesus Christ made two entrances into Jerusalem. On the second trip he entered into the temple and cleaned out the money changers in the court of the gentiles at the temple. It was here that corrupt sales of sacrificial animals and currency exchanges were carried on. People came from all over to worship at the temple. It was convenient to buy sacrificial animals at the temple for those people who were not familiar with Jerusalem. Prices were higher because of the convenience.

Isaiah 56:6-76 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; 7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

God’s house was supposed to be a house of prayer for all people. Can you imagine what it would be like in an area with a bunch of animals and exchange transactions going on. It would certainly not be conducive to prayer!  Not only that, this area had become a den of thieves. Jesus cleaned them out and then taught and healed people.

Several days later Jesus would become the once-and-for-all sacrifice that would cleanse and make way for a New Testament that would allow the Holy of Holies to permeate everyman’s heart if he so chose. The day of Pentecost was around the corner whereby their hearts could be purified with the fire from above. The temple was to become one not made with hands. It is alive and dynamic!

Israel had become like the fig tree Jesus had seen on the way to Jerusalem that very day. From afar it appeared healthy and sound with its leaves, but upon closer examination, he could see there were no buds and thus would produce no fruit. God permeating anyone’s life produces rich, productive fruit.

Israel had become dull and unproductive to the point that they could not recognize God’s son.

Religious tradition wrapped in old wineskins breeds unfruitfulness. Jesus Christ arose from the dead. For what? Why?  From tradition (you can’t get real answers from the Easter bunny!) and massive systems of religion? Absolutely not!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ brings dawn into every individual heart that calls on him.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:11-13

This is the way, the truth and the light. It is reality!

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

Oldest Child

Being the oldest in a family doesn’t mean as much to us today as it did in the Old Testament. In Jacobs’s family, figuring out who had the birthright was a littlethumbnail-1.aspx complicated as there were two wives and two surrogates wives. Chronologically Reuben would have been the oldest child. He would have gotten a double portion of the inheritance and be charged with watching over the family after Jacob’s death. The birthright had practical implications for families back then. Reuben however, messed up:

Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright.2 For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph’s:) I Chronicles 5:1-2 

 The father could change the birthright.  As I read about Joseph’s visions in Genesis 37, I cannot help but wonder that he was spiritually the one to watch over Jacob’s household in God’s eyes. Since it wasn’t normal custom, somehow God would have to convey and encourage the idea in Joseph’s mind.  It does appear a little strange that he shared his visions with his brothers but maybe they needed to know. A lot of things happened in that family as time went on, some of them were really goofy things. Throughout it all, Joseph was the rudder toward success for them. Judah matured as did some of the others because of the way Joseph watched over them. Walking for God requires encouragement and believing. Sometimes it may be misconstrued as arrogance.

The spiritual birthright today is unquestioned in the New Testament order. God clearly designated which of his sons would be Lord over His household.

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; Colossians 1:12-19

Today we belong to the group of those who are ‘partakers in the inheritance’ because we have accepted the lordship of Jesus Christ. God in His foreknowledge, sees all who make this acknowledgement which opens the doors to  His household with all of its privileges:

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come 39 Nor  height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:29-39

 

1 Comment

Filed under Bible

Everywhere Under the Rainbow We Can Fly!

As I was driving on a familiar road recently, I was reminded of an incident that had happened along that road several years ago. The evening had been the end of a warming spring day and my husband and I were in the car driving to someones’s house. On the west side of the car, the sky suddenly turned pea-green, nasty and windy. It was truly ominous looking! It was very strange because as I turned and looked out of the passenger side of the car a huge rainbow sprawled over a blue sky! I watched the rainbow all the way to our destination and it was a great lesson for me on where to put my focus.

In Philippians 4:6-8 is a great gem on dealing with pressure:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

In analyzing what we think about, it is not about what we should not think about, rather it is about what we should focus on. I know that sounds confusing but Genesis 39 is a good example of Joseph’s mindset that enabled him to successfully take advantage of God’s help when he faced situations that endeavored to take him down.

When Joseph got to Egypt he was sold to the captain of the guard.  God was with him and he prospered and even brought  prosperity to his owner. It was not a lovely situation to have been sold into slavery by your brothers, but he forged ahead regardless. I’m sure that pressure was always around, he dealt with it by not letting it stop him from moving ahead. Even when more pressure presented itself in a situation from the deceptive captain’s wife, he went forward despite being thrown in prison unjustly. From there he ended up getting the Pharaoh’s attention, and rose to the top assisting Pharoah as his right hand man. God prosper him and now even the whole county of Egypt benefited from the grace of God. Pharaoh is recorded to have said:

And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the spirit of God is? Genesis 41:38

In this world there is the good and evil; there’s right and there’s wrong. Joseph did some amazing things. The ups and downs are very visible in Chapter 39. Several times in the chapter we can read about God prospering Joseph. We have the advantage of being able to read later outcomes which are amazing, but Joseph did the ‘one day at a time’ thing.

Rainbows are beautiful. They are made when light passes through a medium such as a prism or even a small drop of water! The medium slows light’s speed so that it breaks up into various colors an hues. Guess who designed the rainbow!? Pretty good huh? Remember Genesis 9:14? They are much prettier than storms. It is a great reminder of a ‘God so loving that he gave’.

16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” Genesis 9:14

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

Preserving the Line- Judah and Tamar

Gen 3-1In chapter 38, Judah seems to take a detour.  In verse one, it is recorded that he went down from his brethren and started hanging out with a Canaanite named Hirah. He even married a Canaanite (uh-oh!) and she bore him three sons: Er, Onan and Shelah. In what sounds like a soap opera, two of the sons died and left Shelah, the only one to redeem Er’s wife Tamar, by providing an offspring (remember Genesis is all about ‘seed’:Genesis 3:15) to perpetuate the family line. Shelah was too young at the time, so Judah sent Tamar back to her father’s house to wait for him to grow up. Judah had already lost two sons and maybe he was tentative about the union of Tamar and Shelah, so this union did not come to pass.

Tamar realized what was going on and posed as a harlot to seduce Judah after the death of his wife. She was veiled so that he wouldn’t recognize her. He promised her a lamb from his flock. As a pledge for the lamb, Tamar asked for some collateral and Judah gave her his signet, bracelets and his staff. These were valuable items to a tribal leader. Tamar disappeared after that and Judah tried to find the ‘harlot’ through his buddy, Mirah, to exchange the lamb for his items, but could not find her.

Three months after the incident Tamar was rumored to be pregnant. Judah upon hearing the news, condemned her to be burned for whoredoms not realizing he was the father. Face to face, she presented him with the signet, bracelets and staff. Oops! Tamar ended up having twins, Pharez and Zarah, whose names appear in the genealogy of Matthew 1 of the royal Christ line. Both names appear interestingly enough with the addition of another name:

And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar (Tamar); and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; Matthew 1:3

Tamar  is mentioned also with the names of the twins. The Christ line involved  the offspring of Pharez, but Zarah is also mentioned. Four other women have mentions in this genealogy: Rahab, Ruth, ‘her of Urias’ (Bathsheba) and Mary.

Ruth was a Moabite descendent of Lot. Lot’s daughters were impregnated by their father  to preserve their line. Bathsheba was the woman David became involved with after sending her husband off to the front lines. Mary was found to be pregnant with the Messiah before her marriage to Joseph. Rahab was an innkeeper who housed and hid Joshua’s spies of the promised land.  Tamar had to disguise herself as a harlot to Judah in order to conceive. All the women except Mary were gentiles.  None of this is what one would expect. One might be tempted to think God needed a PR agent. How did all these things happen this way?

God so loved the ‘world’! The ‘world’ stands for humanity! All these people were bonifide human beings.  God worked with what he had! Rahab believed the God of Israel so much so she endangered her life to become a part of them (Joshua 2:9-13). Tamar was interested in preserving the seed of Judah. Ruth chose to follow Niaomi’s God (Ruth 1:16). Her story is a story of redemption. ‘Her of Urias’ raised Solomon who wrote the book of Proverbs. Mary helped change the course of spiritual history!

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible

Sibling Rivalry

The twelve sons of Jacob became the foundation of Israel. In Genesis 37,  the focus of Jacob’s family is on the sibling relationships of the twelve.  In verse one, the record indicates Jacob was living in Canaan. In the ensuing verses, we find out that Joseph was a favorite of his father, Jacob, because he was a child of his old age. He gave him a beautiful coat of many colors. This did not sit well with his brothers.bible_joseph

In verse two, Joseph was out tending sheep with four of his brothers. Two of them, Naphtali and Dan, who’s mother was Rachel’s servant, Bilhah. The other two, Gad and Asner, were born of Zilpah, Leah’s servant.  Joseph was the son of Jacob and Rachel ( three varieties of half-brothers here, 4 in total). This in itself would predispose complicated relationships. Joseph went back to Jacob and delivered an evil report on the things going on. The end result was more ill feelings.

Joseph had a dream in the middle of all this that stirred up even more dislike. Joseph’s brothers’ reaction to this dream were predictable:

And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. Genesis 37:8

Jacob’s reaction to Joseph’s second dream was recorded in verses 10-11:

10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? 11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

The brothers were ready to kill him. Ruben and Judah stepped in and it was decided to sell Joseph to traveling Ishmeelites for 20 pieces of silver and that is how Joseph ended up in Egypt. The rest of Genesis is about the Joseph story from chapters 37, 39-50. We can read the detailed outcome of all this by reading the ending, but Joseph could not have seen this. He must have trusted in Almighty God by putting one foot in front of the other and believing day by day.

When the brothers decided to get rid of him, the coat was one of the first things to go and then they cast him in a pit. When stuff like this happens, it can be attributed to several things, like jealousy and bottom line: a lack in trust and believing in the Almighty God. The resulting actions, whether the brothers understood it or not, was to bring Joseph down in his own mind and defeat what God had put on his heart. Imagine sitting in the bottom of a pit, your beautiful coat gone, brothers turned against you. Which way is up?

The only answer for Joseph was God as we will see later. The story of Joseph is one of believing, success, victory, forgiveness in true sense of forgiveness, a man in whom the spirit of God is, and most important: the love of God for His people:

18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old. Micah 7:18-20

2 Comments

Filed under Bible