Pastor John on Zechariah 8

As I was reading through Zechariah, and came across Chapter 8, I was reminded of a story I wrote years ago. The story included a character named Pastor John, and he gave a sermon. Here is that portion:

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Pastor came to the podium and arranged his things, then cleared his throat and began. “In continuing my series on sin, we are still in the Old Testament, rich in examples. We’re learning what sin is, how to recognize it, and what to do about it. When we sin, it is important to look at it, recognize it as sin, and confess it. Let the Holy Spirit work in you. I pray that is an effect of this message. My sermon this week is titled, ‘Sin, Confession, and Peace,’ and the main text is from Nehemiah Chapter 4 and Zechariah Chapter 8.” He stopped, listening to the rustle of tissue pages as the congregation turned in their Bibles to the passages.

“If you’ve read the book of Nehemiah, you know that he is a humble man of God. Reviewing his heartfelt prayers to God in chapter one, we see that he handles the Word of God rightly, and prays God’s own words back to Him. Nehemiah writes this in the first person: I heard these words, I sat down and wept, I prayed before the God of Heaven. This was a man who knew God’s Word, and knew how God’s people had broken His heart. In chapter one verses 6 and 7, he says that he prays and confesses, the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. He knew God’s purposes for His people, His plans to prosper them and not to harm them. He also knew God’s people had utterly rejected their God, their Provider, and their Protector. The prophets, before the Jews were carted away to Babylon, had told the people to go ahead and let themselves be carted away, to not rebel or make war. We see then that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and many of the priests who ended up in Babylon heeded the prophets. They listened to God, they heeded His Word, and they obeyed Him.

“So, there’s Nehemiah, serving the king of Babylon. Note first that God has grabbed Nehemiah’s heart. Nehemiah loves his God. In the first chapter, he pours out his heart to a very personal God. Secondly, God has put him in what may seem to be a menial position, that of a wine taster. This is not a menial position at all, and maybe that can be the topic of another sermon. Suffice it to say that Nehemiah has ongoing, face-to-face contact with the king of the civilized world. This is also a personal relationship: Nehemiah notes that he had not previously had a long face before the king. On this day, he is so sad that his face shows it, and the king notices! Not only that, but the king asks him what’s up. Not only that, but Nehemiah is on a comfort level with the king that he asks (albeit with knees knocking) a huge favor, and the king grants it – big time!

“Nehemiah gets to go back to Jerusalem and work at rebuilding the temple. He lets nothing distract him from his goal of making Jerusalem a center of refuge for the remnant of Israelites who lived in the region (Nehemiah 6.3). Here is a picture: The church needs to be a center of refuge. It is here for those who will avail themselves of it – to those who come. Notice, not all chose to return to Jerusalem; many chose to stay in Babylon. As today, not all choose to come to church; but we build this church, this body of Jesus Christ, for all who will come, and we invite His people to this place of refuge.

“In Nehemiah Chapter 4, while the people are building, the enemy is coming. Let’s pick up in verse 13.” He proceeded to read verses 13 through 21.

“Nehemiah lays it all out for us: When the enemy came, they 1) prayed to God, 2) set a watch, 3) continued to build and 4) kept their weapons and alarms in hand. God makes for us a wall of protection around us, not only as a church, but also individually. His Holy Spirit resides within each of us. We are His temple, as God tells us in 1 Corinthians 3.16. We don’t always walk in the Lord. We don’t always fully obey. Sometimes we allow the enemy to invade; sometimes it’s because we live in the flesh (and we like it); sometimes it’s through simply not knowing God’s Word and not bothering to find out (like David and Uzzah, when he tried bringing the ark back to Jerusalem and Uzzah died). When our walls are destroyed, we are desolate, and we lie in ruins (see Isaiah Ch. 64). Because God’s Spirit is within us, we can look up to Him and confess. He will quicken hearts, raise up people and resources to accomplish His work, and lead us. But we must be faithful to remain diligent in the work, else we return to desolation and ruin. This is exactly what happens later in Nehemiah, by the way, and what happens in each of us. Diligent in the work means staying in God’s Word and staying with the tasks to which He calls us. The book of Nehemiah outlines what they did back then, and we can use those same tools today. 1) Pray to God. Make sure you know to Whom you pray. 2) Set a watch. God’s Word tells us that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Watch out for Satan, for evil, for opportunities for the flesh. 3) Continue to build. Read God’s Word. Meditate in it. Pray. 4) Keep your weapons and alarms in hand. Peter tells us to be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Memorize God’s Word, to keep it in your heart. Know the promptings of His Holy Spirit. Setting an alarm might mean being accountable to another person.

“While Nehemiah was building, there is no record that enemy armies are actually invading or attacking the builders, yet there were Sanballat and Tobiah with their armies, mocking. In verse 13, it says, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. Nehemiah arranged people in their families with their swords and their spears and their bows. Sometimes it just feels safer to carry a big stick, whether danger is imminent or not. He’s a wise man, that Nehemiah. The trust is in God. He makes his people ready, should the need arise, or should God call.

“Later in Nehemiah, as I said, the people again sin. Nehemiah calls them together and reads God’s Word. They are convicted, fall on their faces, and repent. Only God’s Word has the power to do that.

“In these passages, let’s look at how God’s Word is used. First, it’s their big stick. Paul calls it the sword of the Spirit. It’s how they defend themselves, and how they feel safe. Second, God’s Word brings recognition of sin, the power of conviction; and with it, the hope of forgiveness in repentance.

“Why do all this? It’s a lot of work for Nehemiah and the people, and they stand in danger. What’s the goal? What do they think they’ll get out of it?

“Seventy-five years before Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, God raised up a prophet in that city, Zechariah. Within seventy-five years, we can only guess whether Nehemiah had access to Zechariah’s writings. He may have. Whether he did or not, Nehemiah knew God, and trusted Him.

“Let’s look at what God promised through Zechariah, in Chapter 8. It’s a fairly short chapter, only 23 verses. Its wording is powerful, and worth reading aloud, so I’m going to go ahead and read the whole chapter.”

As he finished reading, Pastor John looked up at his flock and beamed.  “What a song of hope for the despairing Jews returning to their wasteland! To see what lay around them, and then to see the vision Zechariah presented to them from their God would have been a great leap of faith for these people, and a great blessing. This is what I see:

Safety: verses 4 and 5, Old men and women in the streets with children playing. This is a picture of security, showing that they will live long lives and will not be snatched away in their youth.

Unity:  verses 7 and 8, He will save His people from the east country and bring them to the west country to dwell in Jerusalem, and He will be their God in truth and in righteousness.

Purpose: verses 10 through 12, Before, there was no hire, no jobs, no peace. Now they have promises that the vine shall give her fruit, the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; the remnant will possess all these things. But 1) v 13: let your hands be strong, 2) v 16: speak the truth, 3) v 16: execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates, 4) v 17: don’t imagine evil in your hearts against your neighbor, and 5) v 17: love no false oath. These are things the Lord hates.

Promise: verses 19 through 23, Fasting shall be turned to feasting. They shall have joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. There shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities who will desire to go speedily, that they may pray before the Lord of hosts, and may seek Him. People will take hold of the skirt of him who is a Jew saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

“These are still the promises of God to His people, when we live in obedience to Him. Praise Him! In the words of Psalm 33.1, Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful. I close with Psalm 100: Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.”

Zechariah Chapter 7

I am in Zechariah as I continue my reading through the minor prophets.  I am daily amazed and blessed at what God gives us through all the books of His Word – and at what He gives me, personally.

In Zechariah chapter 7, God reminds His people of their hard, selfish hearts, the reason they were carried away captive. Even in their captivity, as they walked through the rituals, their hearts were not bowed in humble adoration before their great God. He renews His call to heed His prophets, to walk in His ways with His heart (v 9, 10). But they would not hear.

It is the same with us, with all people: we cannot have a heart for God unless we have God’s heart – His Holy Spirit within us to love as He loves.

1 John 4.19 We love Him, because He first loved us.

The Transgressions of Israel were Found in Thee

A study of Micah 1.13 O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee.

Time frame: God had allowed Assyria to destroy Israel (the Northern Kingdom) for their deep sin against the Lord their God (2 Kings 17). Micah is prophesying particularly against Samaria (Northern Kingdom) and Jerusalem (Southern Kingdom). He prophesied in the days of Jotham (good king), Ahaz (evil king), and Hezekiah (good king), all kings of Judah (Southern Kingdom).

Lachish: “impregnable;” located southeast of Gath; southwest of Bethlehem (and Bethlehem is straight south of Jerusalem); it is in the foothills of the Shephelah on the border of the Philistine plain, in the Southern Kingdom (Judah).

Previous history of Lachish: Amaziah (good king of Judah) fled to Lachish when “they” conspired against him (2 Kings 14.19). But “they” followed him and killed him in Lachish, and brought him on horses back to Jerusalem. When Hezekiah was (good) king of Judah (during the time of Micah), Sennacherib, king of Assyria, swooped down from the Northern Kingdom, onto the west side of Judah, took over Lachish (“impregnable” indeed) and was encroaching upon Jerusalem (2 Kings 18). [This is that time when Hezekiah spread the letter before the Lord, and prayed (2 Kings 19), and the Lord sent Sennacherib away.]

As Sennacherib encroached upon Jerusalem, so did the sin of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) encroach upon Judah (“the beginning of the sin”).

We must beware and be aware of the sin of our neighbors, and of our own brothers and sisters (for the northern and southern kingdoms were the twelve tribes, and were brothers), for they will creep in and eventually conquer us. We think “a little bit” is okay, but we and our children then allow more. There is a quote, the source of which I cannot trace, that goes, “What parents allow in moderation, their children will take to excess.”  We can easily see this truth when we compare our own generation with our parents’, grandparents’, and great-grandparents’ generations.

Sennacherib did not take Jerusalem at the time, but it was the beginning. Why didn’t Sennacherib take Jerusalem? Because its king cried out to the Lord God Almighty! God saved them when they cried. Hezekiah’s whole army was obedient in keeping their silence before the taunting enemy (2 Kings 18.36). The people obeyed their king, and their king obeyed God. This is the mighty work that God performed to save His people:

2 Kings 19.35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 36So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. 37And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.

Even with this miracle that God gave them, this picture of hope and trust in Him, the people of Judah did not listen, but chose their own ways of idolatry and lust. “The transgressions of Israel were found in thee.”

Micah was warning the people of Judah to turn back to God. Through Micah, God is using His Living and Everlasting Word to warn us.

Where to Get Those Expectations

I’ve been wading through the book of Micah, and am still on Chapter 1. Verses 9 – 16 contain several metaphors, similes, onomatopoeias, and paronomasias (play on words), and led me to dig a little deeper. Yeah, God is deep; deeper than any of us can ever be.

Micah 1.12 (For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem.) made sense to me. I looked up Maroth, and it means bitterness. They are waiting for relief, but God sends only evil.

It’s interesting that, whenever hardship, evil, disaster hits, we wait for relief; we pray for things to get better, back to “normal.” But our expectations are skewed.

Unbelievers may think they can work their way out, that none of this was deserved and, if there was a God, He should be cursed.

Believers can pray and hope for eternal relief / joy; but in this sinful world, we may not expect things to “get better.” Indeed, we have no right to expect things to get better: although we have every right (and we are passionately invited) to pray about every and all situation/s.

Whatever that situation is, we know that our relief, our hope comes from the Lord (Psalms 62, for example).

God has His own thoughts and plans.

Jeremiah 29.11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.

Isaiah 55.8, 9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We must consider what our expectations are: are they realistic and Biblical? Pray to God about expectations, and ask Him to place them where they belong.

Isaiah 26.3, 4 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

The Wind Bloweth

John 3.8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

When we think of the Holy Spirit being like the wind, we like to think of that wind as a balmy breeze that kisses our shoulders. And maybe sometimes He is.

But winds can also be hurricanes, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and derechos. Those are destructive winds.

Sometimes God must destroy things in our lives. Sometimes His Spirit works through health; or other people; or nature. Whatever the conduit, God works in our lives to conform us to the image of His son, Jesus. And when He needs to whittle away something we love, it hurts.

Things we love: our private time, working on our projects, television, money, power, gossip, choosing our own schedule, our families, our pets, choosing our own friends; sometimes we love the wrong things; sometimes we love the right things / people, but we turn them into an idol that we love more than God. (Please note, I am not in any way implying that when loved ones die, it is because we idolized them or loved in the wrong way. God has reasons I cannot imagine – Isaiah 55.9, but they are all because He loves us.)

Those things we love or idolize have got to go, and it hurts when God hints at putting those things to death. It hurts even more when He brings about circumstances (winds) that push us into a corner and make us choose.

It’s better to put things to death of our own accord. Sometimes Love Looks Like Death. It is an act of worship and love when we sacrifice our worldly loves for whatever else God has in mind for us.

Job 1.18, 19 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:  And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Job’s children were killed by a wind. I can’t even imagine how that hurt [just the day before, he had offered burnt offerings to God for each of them, in case “my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts(v5)].

Job’s response is written for us in verses 20 – 22:

Job 1.20 – 22 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

God has a kingdom for us, and it is a kingdom worth dying for, that He may live within us. May we take Job’s example to heart. Let it hurt. Grieve. Worship God.

Job 13.15, 16 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

Forsaking Our Own Mercies

Jonah 2.8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

What a lot of meat to chew on in this verse! This is a reminder of the Israelites in 2 Kings: they knew God, they knew His commandments, they knew He loved them and had saved them; and yet, they chose to follow the heathen practices of their neighbors. God called those ways vanity:

2 Kings 17.14 – 16a Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God.  And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.  And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God.

In Jeremiah 10, God points out the foolishness (vanity) of preparing their own idols from wood or silver, and then worshiping / receiving instruction from them. And then, Jeremiah 16 portrays the wonder of the people that God would pronounce this great evil against them: “What is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?” (v10)

We simply cannot expect the blessings and mercies of God when we are disobedient. He told us so in in the whole Old Testament, especially in Deuteronomy (and especially Chapter 28).

We are without excuse:

Romans 1.19 – 21 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

God has made Himself clearly plain:

Psalms 98.2 The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

Christians are called by God’s grace, and given His Holy Spirit – divine wisdom. We can live day – by – day for His blessings. We can pray that we see His blessings.

Beloved, we cannot imagine the blessings God has for us when we obey!

2 Corinthians 2.9 But as it is written [in Isaiah 64.4], Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

His blessings are so magnanimous and beautiful that we cannot even imagine them!

May we pray fervently “unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3.20) that we will read His Word, and obey Him Who loves us so deeply and widely!

In that belly of the fish, Jonah recognized that God’s ways are not his ways, and that he forsook the mercies of God by following the vanity of lies he preferred.

How often do we do this? We feel that tap on the shoulder that this activity or person is not what the Lord intends for us; we feel that caution, and we know it’s from God that we should not enter into what is ahead of us.

We will never know the blessings we forsake when we go our own way. We think we can imagine the blessings of following our ways, and it looks good – enticing. Even in the details, we may think this little thing is not going to make any difference. We cannot imagine the peace God will give us when we obey.  We think that it will be worth it to go ahead with this sin this time.

And we forsake our own mercies.

But God always blesses obedience! When we weigh our options, we cannot imagine any kind of blessing by rejecting this thing we love; we can only feel how good it would be to follow the sin. But we can listen to and obey that still small voice, that one Who tells us to walk to the right or to the left.

Isaiah 30.20, 21 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

When we recognize this, when we run to God in the face of sin, we run blindly. But when we run to Him anyway, this is FAITH. God will increase this faith, and He will BLESS you!

Isaiah 55.6 – 12 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Jonah 2.9 tells of Jonah’s final, encompassing confession: “Salvation is of the Lord.” He humbled himself, and gave himself up to whatever God wanted for him.

God directed the fish to vomit Jonah out upon the dry land (v 10). Note that Jonah still could not save himself – God did not direct Jonah to crawl out of the fish. Jonah’s tribulation and deliverance were completely under God’s control.

So are ours. Submit to God.

James 4.7 – 10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

God Always Listens and Answers

Psalms 28.6 -9 Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.

I can’t imagine how many gazillions of prayers are being sent heavenward every minute of every day. And God listens to them all; and He answers them all.

The thing is, sometimes we don’t or can’t see His answers.

Isaiah 55.8, 9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Most times, when we pray, we have expectations of what the answers ought to look like. We play God all the time, believing our answers – our solutions – are the best way, and that’s what God ought to do.

But, thank God, His ways are not our ways; and He is high and mighty and lifted up. He loves us best and most perfectly, and will answer accordingly.

However, no matter our situation, a Christian can always be comforted through prayer. The greatest of God’s answers to our prayers is peace with Him. David was in some pretty tough situations, but he knew without any doubt that God was his rock, his peace, his comfort.

We can know the same. Whatever our need, whether for ourselves, loved ones, our country, our world; we can be comforted in prayer, knowing that God is in control, He can quiet our anxious hearts (Psalms 139.23), He is trustworthy, and He is working in our lives and everyone’s lives to the benefit of those of us who love Him, and to His glory (Romans 8.28).

John 14.27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Let God be your guide in prayer (The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6, Luke 11; Matthew 21.22, 1 John 5.14, 15), even if you can’t find the words (Romans 8.26, 27).

And do not worry about how God is going to answer your prayer, just know that He listens and He answers. Be content in letting God handle it all.

Matthew 6.33, 34 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

And, as David did, end each prayer with praise and thanksgiving. God is worthy of that, in any situation, any time.

2 Samuel 22 – 24 And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in Him will I trust: He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Saviour; Thou savest me from violence. I will call on the LORD, Who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

Revelations 4.10, 11 The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.

I Had Rather Be a Doorkeeper

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Psalms 84 is a joy to read, as are other psalms. This one speaks of God’s amiable tabernacles. To me, the psalm rings out with the joy of praising God, of fellowshipping with other believers, and of resting in the peace that can only come from God Almighty.

In the New Testament, Christians are the tabernacles of God.

1 Corinthians 3.16, 17 Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

2 Peter 1.13 – 15 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

Verse 10 of Psalms 84 jumps out at me: For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

We are, in fact, doorkeepers. I often got the impression that a doorkeeper was a rather lowly position, with the writer setting it in such terms. Of course, I had rather be anything at all than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

But doorkeepers are not lowly at all! We have a critical position: doorkeepers are guards and must therefore always be alert for any dangers, any threats to the tabernacle. And if there are dangers, the doorkeeper must use every available weapon and strength to defend the tabernacle, even unto death.

As doorkeepers of God’s tabernacle (or temple), we have a grave responsibility to protect and defend the Holy Spirit within us. We have the Light of God Himself within us, and we are to keep that light polished and shining. We are not to allow darkness or evil or any unclean thing to defile this tabernacle. In addition, we are to remain in training for a strong defense: we must read the Word of God daily so that we may stand firm, with our loins girded with truth, and having the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6.14).

Rejoice in your position as doorkeeper to God’s tabernacle: He has anointed you with a divine blessing.

Psalms 84:

{To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.} How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.

Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.

Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.

Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.

They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.

Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.

For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

* Image of Brocken spectre from Bing images

Where Jesus Walked

I wonder stuff; do you? For instance, I got to thinking about Jesus walking around on Earth.

When Jesus was here, He was God. “In the beginning,” He was “the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1.1) So He knew every inch of that earth, and who else had walked right there; He knew what everyone had done in any given location.

Did He lift His eyes to look upon the burial ground of Moses? Did He feel the great victories of David beat in His breast as He walked over the battlegrounds? Did the words of Jeremiah ring in His ears as He walked the streets of Bethlehem, feeling the terrified cries of mothers as the prophesy was fulfilled and babies were killed? Did He ponder the histories and peoples of Judah, Israel, and Samaria as He traveled region to region?

Was His body physically overwhelmed as He walked Jerusalem, contemplating Abraham bringing his son, Isaac, to sacrifice; as David brought the ark back; as the temple was built, and later destroyed and pillaged?

What other stories and people did He know from Bethany, home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus?

What other people did He ponder, how many millions did He consider who are never mentioned in the Bible, and who we will never know until we live in eternity?

God Judges His People

Throughout the Old Testament, God lavishes gifts upon His people. His people accept the gifts, then turn away from Him: Adam and Eve; Jacob; the Israelites: The Israelites, in escaping from Egypt and traveling to the Promised Land, saw God’s provision and miracles, and their belief in Him lasted all of about five minutes before they whined and complained about the next issue. Finally, after numerous prophets, God pronounced His judgement on His people, and they were carried away to Babylon.

Notice that God’s judgement in the Bible is only against His people. We do not read of His judgement against heathen nations, except in the Final Judgement, or as punishment for persecuting His people (i.e., Amos Chs 1 & 2). God uses heathen nations to bring judgement on His people, but God saves His judgement on Earth for His people, to bring them back to Him.

In Joshua 24.15 Joshua directs God’s people to “choose you this day whom ye will serve. We really need to do this every single day (moment).

Again and again, God’s people are enticed by the cultures around them, and adopt those customs which appeal to them. Before they know it, they are living entirely in a heathen culture, following evil practices, and have forgotten their God.

Sound like America?

There is some discussion as to whether our country was a chosen nation of God. We established our nation according to Christian principles, but we did not include God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our nation’s documents. Even in our founding days, we were a split nation, embracing other-than-God cultures, striving to please and include all people.

There is much talk these days about God surely bringing judgement upon America. But God has called His people to come out of a heathen culture and give our lives fully unto God, and God alone. In that we have departed from our single focus, He will bring judgement on His people to bring us back to Him, not necessarily upon America as a nation.

God does not bring judgement upon one nation or another; He judges HIS OWN PEOPLE. That takes the onus off the unbelievers in America and places it where God intends: The responsibility for obedience is on the shoulders of His people.

Just as Israel in the days they were brought to Babylon, and there were many Israelites devoted to God who were carried away because this was a judgement against God’s people as a whole; so may God bring judgement against His people in America. When God either punishes the heathen, or brings judgement upon His people, there will be much suffering across the board. Perhaps this has already begun (drought, flooding, plague, sickness).

Where are you, as a Christian? Do you follow God with your whole heart? Or, are you a convenient Christian, keeping those things close to your heart that you cherish, but which are not fully obedient to God? Do you read God’s Word daily? Do you hide His Word in your heart, so that you might not sin against Him?

David was called a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13.14; Acts 13.22). He is an excellent example of a heart wholly given to God. Did David sin? Did he give in to some of the ways of the culture around him? Of course. But David repented. He always returned to the God he loved.

From Henry M. Morris, PH.D. Sunday, June 6, 2021  https://www.icr.org/article/12798/June+6+-+The+Whole+Heart

This phrase, “the whole heart,” occurs a number of times in the Bible, especially in the psalm of the Word, Psalm 119. Note the testimony of the psalmist in this great psalm.

1. “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (v. 2).
2. “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments” (v. 10).
3. “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (v. 34).
4. “I entreated thy favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word” (v. 58).
5. “The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart” (v. 69).
6. “I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes” (v. 145).

Thus, we should “keep his testimonies” (v. 2), “keep thy law” (v. 34), “keep thy precepts” (v. 69), and “keep thy statutes” (v. 145) with our whole heart, for the good and sufficient reason that He is our Lord and has given us His eternal Word, magnified above all His name. HMM

May we always give our hearts wholly to God. May we read His Word (which is Truth), and walk in obedience. May we ever repent and turn back to His ways.

God is calling us. May we be as Samuel (1 Samuel 3.10) and respond, “Speak; for thy servant heareth.” God has spoken through His Word. Let us heed Him. Do not let your heart be divided between two masters. Let go of your sin, turn to God and repent. Even those “secret sins” – they are not so secret. (Read Secret Sin Not So Secret).   Die to yourself (John 12.23 – 26).

And, an important reminder: Pray for Christians around the world to be faithful and true to Elohim. Read God’s Word and pray it back to Him. God’s Word will not return to him void (Isaiah 55.11).

For more reading, go to “Likeminded” https://www.icr.org/article/12799/June+7+Likeminded