Still Learning Pt 1

image from messianic-revolution.com, text from King James Version

I get lots of questions swirling through my head as I read the Bible, or as I contemplate events in light of God’s Word.

I’ve been reading through Exodus of late, and I’m in the middle of constructing the tabernacle and all its furnishings and implements and tools and curtains and robes and ephods…

And I wondered: Why was God so explicit with so many intricate details in fashioning each aspect of His holy worship? I mean, I get it that He gave detailed instructions to Moses to give to the workers – they needed exact blueprints. But why record all that in His eternal Word so that all the generations to come would have available to read? We aren’t re-building His tabernacle, after all.*

Or are we?

In the New Testament, God reveals that we are now His tabernacle.

2 Corinthians 5.1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 Peter 1.13, 14 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.

Just as the Israelites moved around in the wilderness, and carried the tabernacle with them, we have the freedom to BE God’s tabernacle, to carry Him with us wherever we are (or maybe, it’s that He carries us).

And, just as God gave explicit detail in how to construct that tabernacle, He gives us explicit detail in how to construct our own. The entirety of Scripture is a how-to lesson for worshiping our Lord.

2 Timothy 3.16, 17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

He provides instruction in how to deal with Him, with others, and with ourselves for each aspect of life.

In addition to building our temple, God provides cleansing. He gives us Jesus, the Word, who washes us clean (Ephesians 5.26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,), the springs of Living Water to refresh us in our works (John 7.38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water).

And it’s all done in love! God designed us for worship: it’s how we receive our greatest joys and live in the greatest peace.

As an aside, I also wondered about two other things as relates to building the tabernacle:

  1. When we, as humans, plan out and design a new space, we get giddy with excitement about the doing and how it will turn out. Was God giddy?
  2. What was God’s purpose in having His people construct the tabernacle? He could have miraculously ‘poofed’ it into existence, and everyone would have been totally awed. But I think there’s something to be said about making it with their own hands. It involves ownership. Most things mean more when you work for it, except salvation. But even the gift of salvation means more when we put some sweat into it to work it out.

* I get excited to think that we CAN rebuild the tabernacle, just as God designed, since He left us His exact instruction. Each aspect of the tent, implements, furnishings, clothing, and rituals represents an aspect of Jesus, and we have so much to learn from it.

From ICR: Secret Faults vs Presumptuous Sins

Directly from this site: https://www.icr.org/article/13458/June+3+-+Secret+Faults+vs.+Presumptuous+Sins


June 3, 2022
Secret Faults vs. Presumptuous Sins
“Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (Psalm 19:12-13)

David, the author of this majestic psalm of praise to God for His revelation of Himself and His nature, voices his own frustration at his inability to mold his life totally in accordance with God’s revealed plan. He recognizes and asks for God’s forgiveness for his failure to measure up, and asks for strength to avoid habitual sin patterns and willful rejection of God’s way.

God had already made a careful distinction between these types of sins. “The priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him….But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously…the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him” (Numbers 15:28, 30-31).

Paul also recognized such a difference. Keep in mind that all sin is abhorrent to God and must be repented of, resulting, of course, in His forgiveness. But Paul claimed that even his blasphemous, murderous persecution of the church was done “ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13). His plea of ignorance did not excuse his guilt, but through it he “obtained mercy” (v. 13) and “grace” (v. 14).

This is a “pattern to [us] which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (v. 16). Let us not be guilty of willful, presumptuous sin, but on these occasions when we do fall, we can be thankful that our “longsuffering” (v. 16) Savior still affords us such mercy. JDM

The Beginning and the End (and the End) of Egypt

Genesis 46.3, 4a And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:  I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again

God tells His story in so many ways. We’ve got the whole Bible; and we’ve got His Spirit; and we’ve got past and present circumstances.

In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve sin, and are cast out of the Garden of Eden. Also, they are prevented from eating from the Tree of Life (a blessing, so that we are not condemned to living in sin forever).

In Genesis 46, God appears at night, in a vision, to Jacob/Israel. He tells Israel not to fear to go down into Egypt, for God will go with Him; and that HE WILL BRING HIM BACK AGAIN.

Because Egypt is often given as a symbol of sin, I see this as a picture of the human race entering the sinful world. BUT, we are promised that God will go with us. And He is! God is with us in so many ways: Bible, Spirit, circumstances, each other…

Then, in Exodus, God leads them physically out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. I see this as a picture of our salvation. The Israelites were in bondage, and could not save themselves. God brought them out. Once in the Promised Land, the Israelites had to fight for their Promised Land, just as we must fight the spiritual battles raging all around us. I think of Philippians 2.12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; we must, once God has gifted us with salvation, work out that salvation by reading His Word and obeying His Truth.

In Exodus 12.11, God gives Moses and Aaron specific instructions on how to eat the Passover: And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S Passover.

And verse 15: even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.

Having recently read Matthew 24, (you can read it here) I couldn’t help but draw comparisons:

  • God’s people were to search for and clean out any leaven from their homes. Leaven symbolizes sin. We are to clean our lives of sin by confessing and repenting.
  • They were to be ready: loins girded, shoes on their feet. The Lord would call for them at any moment! We are to be ready for the Lord’s return at any time. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24.16-20: Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:  Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:  Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.  And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!  But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day
    • Be ready for the Lord always. He is with us right now, always; but He is coming again to take us home.

The Israelites were going to the Promised Land. So Jesus will take us to His promise: His Heavenly home to live with Him forever. Our final trip will be unlike the Israelites’ arduous journey, filled with complaining and dangers. We will rush to meet Him in the air (Genesis 46.3, and I will also surely bring thee up again and John 14.2, 3 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.), joyous and finally, finally, fulfilled with perfect peace.

Ye Ask Amiss

James 4.1-6  From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

James is such a good book. Well, of course the whole Bible is such a good book. But I like sinking my teeth into James and really chewing on it.

The fourth chapter of James speaks of talking to and relating with God. He spells out our own sinful flesh and desires, and how contrary we are to the ways of God. And he highlights the grace and faithfulness of our gracious, wonderful Heavenly Father.

Look at vs 7-10:  7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Verse 8 reminds me of Philippians 2.12: Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Work out your own salvation. Draw near to God. God bows down and gifts us salvation. We don’t work for it; He gives it as a gift. Yet we are then to work it out. It’s WORK to draw near to God. We are to forsake all the ungodly attitudes, actions, and material things in our lives, and submit to God alone. That requires our attention and energy.

And then, look at verses 9 and 10: we are to be afflicted and mourn and weep. This is suffering, and we are to embrace it.

James 4.3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Nowhere in the Bible do I find that we are to pray for our own comfort or ease. We are encouraged to look to Jesus as our source of comfort and joy and peace; but we are not to seek a life of ease.

Look at the apostle Paul. He didn’t pray for comfort for himself. He went out and preached Jesus and got pummeled for it. We are to do the same.

“Well, I don’t want to be like Paul,” you might think. “I don’t want that kind of suffering and discomfort in my life.”

But suffering and affliction bring us closer to God. Look at the complete joy and peace Paul had, the rejoicing that poured out from him, look at his prayers that we all might experience what he had.

Paul worked out his own salvation, alright; and look at his amazing reward. I don’t think we are to go out beating the bushes and looking for trouble, mind you. Just follow hard after God, and He will direct your paths. He has promised He will not bring upon us more than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10.13). And when we are suffering and drowning in troubles, we can cry out to God, and He will save us (Psalms 107). We become blind to the grace of God when we are at ease; we can see Him more clearly when we are in trouble.

When you pray, don’t ask amiss. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (1 Peter 5.6); Submit yourselves therefore to God (James 4.7a); Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4.10).

Two Timelines

This year, for my Bible study, I am enjoying my chronological Bible. I love the perspective it brings, as it arranges everything in chronological order. I’m still in Genesis, so there’s not any difference so far; but once I get into the Samuels, Kings, and Chronicles, it really helps straighten things out for me. I’m keeping a spiral notebook to jot down major events; and of course I add lots of sticky notes as I think of “what ifs,” odd thoughts, and questions.

I posted an Adam to Noah Timeline some time ago. Now I’ve made a Shem to Abram Timeline. I find it interesting that Shem was still alive when Abram / Abraham was born and, in fact, died shortly after Abraham.

Shem was God’s chosen line of salvation (Genesis 9.26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem…). So God had made Himself known to Shem and his descendants; and Abraham and his family were followers of Jehovah. When Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac, he made the servant swear NOT to let Isaac marry a daughter of the Canaanites, But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac (Genesis 24.4). It was because he knew that his family were followers of Jehovah. (Evidence Genesis 24.50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.)

This cleared up a few things for me, because I’d wondered if God had just chosen some random pagan when He chose Abraham. Well, of course He didn’t, because God doesn’t work that way; but I liked that He filled in some info for me.

Here are the timelines:

Adam to Noah Timeline
Shem to Abram Timeline

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:

* * * * * *

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.