I Samuel 2

Vs. 2, “There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”  Hannah’s song reminds us of Mary’s song (Luke 1:46-55) as she responds and praises the LORD (vs. 1-11).  Instead of taking a theology course, you will find out so much about the LORD in songs (Psalms).  It’s no coincidence that worship is still such a powerful tool to help declare who the LORD is!  Though young Samuel shows much promise, we see quite a contrast with Samuel compared to Eli’s (Priest at Shiloh) sons Hophni and Phinehas (vs. 12-26).  The Old Testament law was setup to help provide for the priests.  But Eli’s two sons were evil and corrupt and ensured they would receive the choicest meats.  This was a grave sin to God for it showed contempt (vs. 17).  They had no fear of God and also engaged in sexual immorality with the women at the tabernacle.  How ironic that Eli thought Hannah was drunk and had little respect for God when she prayed (I Samuel 1:12-15), but could not see the evil ways of his own sons.  This is a clear case of a father who did not want to lovingly discipline his sons.  The visit of the “man of God” is an ominous sign as his message brings only doom and consequences to Eli’s household (vs. 27-36).

Regarding application…Consequences.  Vs. 34, “And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day.”  Far be it from me… but I feel like we tippy toe around too much in our churches today.  Everyone wants to hear that they are good people and there is only rainbows and sun.  I suppose that’s why the health and wealth movement is so popular.  I was reminded of an old 18th Century preacher, Jonathan Edwards, who titled his famous message, “Sinners in the hands of an Angry God.”  There is a time and place for everything (Ecclesiastes 3).  Eli’s household is a reminder to all of us that God is also a God of consequences.  Let us have a healthy fear of the Lord and know that God is just in all that He does.  Let’s check the condition of our heart as we start the new week.  Praise the Lord like Hannah, for He is worthy!

 

Joshua 7

Vs. 1, “But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel.”  This is an ominous statement that prefaces our chapter today.  Joshua and the Israelites were not privy that such an action of disobedience has transpired.  With confidence overflowing, they send a small amount of men to defeat the terror stricken at Ai (vs. 2-3).  However, the sin of one man can be the downfall of a whole nation!  Notice how we are reminded the Israelites (not just Achan) had acted unfaithfully (vs. 1).  One little part of the body can affect the whole body (I Corinthians 12).  Israel is shamefully routed and they lose thirty-six soldiers (vs. 4-5).  This would be Israel’s first and only defeat in the land of Canaan.  Joshua, not knowing the reason, calls upon the name of the LORD (vs. 4-9).  But the LORD reveals to Joshua’s ignorance and informs him that there has been a traitor in their midst (vs. 10-12).  The people consecrate themselves and lineup before the LORD (vs. 13-18).  It is obvious whatever the method, God’s hand of providence is over the narrowing down of the tribes and families.  Achan’s demise is a sobering reality of the ugliness of sin.  Achan coveted and broke not only the last commandment, but a direct order by the LORD to not take any of the “herem” (devoted things) for this belonged to the LORD.  The consequence was severe: stoning to death.  Question: Why was Achan’s wife and children also stoned?  They were not innocent, for they too took part in the hiding of the devoted things.  This was a new beginning in Israel’s history, and God had to take extreme measures.  I’m reminded of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.

Regarding application…Reality of Sin.  Vs. 20, “Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done.”  We live in a time where we would rather hear “feel good” messages.  That is why the prosperity gospel (health and wealth) is growing.  No one likes to be told they are sinners.  No one likes to admit their faults.  But sin is one of the major overarching themes of the bible.  It is sin that moved God the Father to send His one and only Son (John 3:16).  To minimize our sin is to minimize the grace of God.  Certainly, it is the Lord alone who knows the depths of our sins.  He certainly did not allow that to keep Him from extending grace upon us.  Question: Is Achan’s sin something that can be related to us today?  If we break it down, Achan’s sin was basically taking something that didn’t belong to him; it belonged to God.  Our bodies and lives do not belong to us (I Corinthians 6:20), we were bought at a price.  Not only our individual bodies, but our body in the context of the church.  When we choose to live a defiant life against God in the church, we are robbing God and His people.  Certainly, adultery in the church is one example (Pastor adultery, etc.)  Achan did not confess his sin until confronted.  As believers today, let us open the eyes of our heart to the reality of sin and be forthright in sharpening each other and confess our sins to our faithful God (I John 1:9).

Revelation 8

Vs. 1, “When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.”  The scene before us is very solemn.  It is the calm before an intense storm. The seven trumpets are about to bring the full intensity of the Tribulation.  Many scholars believe the seven trumpets are poured out in the first half of the Tribulation.

1st Trumpet

This parallel’s the seventh plague of Egypt. Hailstorms in themselves are dangerous.  But there are hailstorms mixed with fire.but mixed with fire, quite devastating.

2nd Trumpet

This parallel’s the first plague of Egypt.  The sea/ocean which occupies most of the Earth will be next.

3rd Trumpet

This will literally affect our fresh drinking source.  Some believe this may also be a meteor.

4th Trumpet

This is a fulfillment of one of Jesus’ prophecies (Luke 21:25-28).  It is somewhat ironic that on the 4th day of creation, God created the Heaven’s & Earth.  On the 4th trumpet he will darken his creation of light.  This will bring terror to so man, for signs in the skies have always made people fear.  The crime & tumult will only increase to gigantic proportions.

Regarding application…Consequences.   All of these consequences are a time of wrath poured out upon a sinful world.  Yet, God’s is also about redeeming His creation.  How we respond to consequences in our lives often determine our spiritual maturity or lack thereof.  The next time you see a child scolded, examine their response.  If the child responds with sadness  and a sorry heart, you can see that they are learning to grow from their mistakes.  If you see the child “huff & puff” and go pick on their little brother or sister because they are mad, then this would really determine a “brat!”  This attitude of responding to consequences can either make our heart turn to God more, or grow bitter.  Question: Which one are you?  We are being redeemed, God has not forgotten us!

Leviticus 24

Vs. 10, “Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite.”  An usual break in the narrative as we are given detail on a tragic story (vs. 10-23).  But, before we address this, the first part of our chapter closes with the importance of the light and bread in the tabernacle.  This may seem familiar to you because it was addressed in Exodus.  The oil of the lampstand was important for it provided light in the holy place of the tabernacle.  It was to always be burning (vs. 1-4).  We also are reminded of the bread that was to be provided weekly (vs. 5-9).  It was to honor the LORD by offering but also remind the priests of each of the tribes (12 loaves).  We now will address the tragic story of the blasphemer.  This story is provided to us as an illustration/example about the importance of the holy name of the LORD.  This was tied to the third commandment, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…”  This was so important that the Israelites wouldn’t even say the name of the LORD (Yahweh, YHWH),  they used a substitute name Adonai.  Unfortunately, a fight breaks out and someone blasphemes the name of the LORD to the shock of the people.

Regarding application…Grave Consequences.  Vs. 15, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible.”  The Law was a bit ambiguous concerning the penalty of direct blasphemy on the LORD and the perpetrator wasn’t fully Jewish.  Moses and the Israelites await the LORD’s judgment.  In the context of our passage, we are reminded that God has called His people to be holy.  Just like Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10), we see a grave consequence administered by the LORD.  Certainly, the LORD is privy of what we are not; He knew the intent of this man’s heart.  We should be very respectful and mindful of this before we jump to conclusions about the righteous and loving ways of the LORD.  This is where we must exercise our trust that not all things are going to make sense to us from a human wisdom point of view.

Genesis 4

Vs. 8, “Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.”  This is the first recorded murder in the Bible.  It is especially sad because God had given Cain encouragement to do what is right (vs. 6-7), despite his lack of reverence for God in the offering he brought (vs. 3-5).  Let’s stop here for a moment and address a notable question that can arise.  Question: When God cursed Cain (vs. 11) who were these other people that Cain was worried about (vs. 14)?   Some scholars have speculated that God had created other human beings outside of Adam and Eve.  However, most scholars point to the fact that the others were children born of Adam and Eve not mentioned.  At the beginning, marriage within siblings had to transpire.  Later on, in the book of Leviticus, God would prohibit this practice of incest (Lev. 18:2, 4, 6).   We see a listing of six generations of Cain’s offspring (vs. 17-18).  Lamech is recorded that he had two wives, which points towards Cain’s offspring turning away from God’s pattern of one man and woman (Genesis 2:24).  The arrogance and pride of Lamech is also shown (vs. 23-24) in his self-defense and subsequent killing of another life.  His boastful claim that anyone who attempted to kill him would pay seventy-seven times more vengeance than even God’s vengeance on Cain’s life shows his boastfulness.  Lastly, we go back to Adam and Eve and see God working in the blessing of their son Seth (vs. 25-26)

Regarding application…Consequences of Sin.  Massacre!  Many of you might have already heard what happened at a midnight premiere showing of Batman “The Dark Night Rises”.  A young PhD student in Aurora, CO opened fire in a movie theatre killing 12 lives and injuring up to 59.  This reminds me of Cain’s first murder and the waywardness of sin.  We live in a sin-filled world where atrocities like this happen more often than we would like to admit.  Yet, we should not allow such events to lose heart or purpose.  This life is a battle and the stakes are eternal life in Heaven or eternal life in Hell.  This is all the more reason that we must come together and fight the good fight as Paul would admonish young Timothy in his letters to him.  Let’s pray for this tragedy and that Christians in Colorado would come together to be a light to this hurting community.

Genesis 3

Vs. 1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?”  Question: Who is this serpent?  Satan.  We know this from the Apostle John’s reference in Revelation 12:9, “that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the world.”  Satan (adversary) has limited power.  He is a fallen angel (Isaiah 14:12-17) and in rebellion to the LORD God.  I believe it is important to note that while Adam and Eve sinned, their prior state was more innocence than righteousness.  God is eternal and it was the tree of life that had given Adam and Eve immortality.  The serpent used a very potent weapon: lying (vs. 4).   Giving into the lies would cause Adam and Eve to sin.  Their sin separated them from God.  Though there were consequences for sin (vs. 14-24), we still see a hope.  Many scholars point to vs. 15 as a Messianic hope that looks to Jesus!

Regarding application…God Provides.  Vs. 21, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”  This is the first recorded sacrifice.  In some ways, it was Adam and Eve who should have died, but God provided the death of another life to help them.  Certainly this has undertones of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  Yet, we see consequences and sin come into our history, I am struck at how God provided for them.  He could have tossed them out wearing just their fig leaves, but God didn’t.  God provided.  My church has two young stray cats who have been here for the last couple of weeks.  Any of you who know me, know that I think cats are loathsome creatures.  Yet, as the days have gone by, I’ve seen them begin to look haggard and emaciated.  This Tuesday, one of the church members went and bought cat food.  They fed them.  The last couple of days, knowing there was food and seeing these cats still quite hungry…I caved in.  Yes, even though I’m allergic to cats and have no esteem for them, I’ve found myself taking the initiative to feeding them!  Arghhh!  And then I think about how God provided for Adam and Eve.  We are so much more valuable than stray cats to God.  What can be lost in this is how heartbroken it must have been for God to lose the fellowship He had with them in the Garden.  Yet, God provided for them.  If someone like me who very much dislikes cats can have the heart to provide, how much more will God provide for you?

Daniel 5

Vs. 5, “Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote.”  Perhaps you didn’t realize things like this were in the Bible!   It has been about twenty years since we last saw Nebuchadnezzar repent in chapter four.  The King of Babylon, Belshazzar, is the son of Nabonidus, the son-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar (A bit confusing, but it does make sense).  In Belshazzar’s pride, he wanted to worship his God’s with the stolen goblets from Jerusalem.  But God had something to say about such a display of arrogance.  While Belshazzar was having a party, the Medes & Persians were camped outside of Babylon with the intention of invading.  But the Babylonians in their pride could not conceive that their city would fall.  Upon witnessing the fingers of human magically writing on the wall, he called for anyone who might be able to interpret the writing.  It looks like Daniel must have fallen out of the scene as the years passed.  But the Queen knew about Daniel and had him come to explain the writing.  Daniel gave Belshazzar a little history lesson about Nebuchadnezzar and now a interpretation of the writing on the wall.  It was a message of doom (vs. 26-28).

Regarding application…Consequences.  Vs. 30, “That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain.”  Question: Why was Belshazzar’s number up with God?  Like all of creation, Belshazzar was given an opportunity and wasted it away.  You see, God is a God of love and also consequences.  Last night, Nick Saban and the Alabama college football team won the BCS championship.  Why do I mention this?  Because Nick Saban is something of a throwback.  He is known as a control freak and rules over his team with a iron fist.  As a player, if you don’t respect him, you’re not going to be on his team for long.  Though many do not like Saban’s style, he has won two of the last three college football championships and has won three overall.  Question: Why?  Because he is a no-nonsense coach that gives consequences to his players.  Likewise, we live in a time where we don’t like to think that God is a God of judgment and consequences.  But Belshazzar reminds us that God numbers our days and we are held accountable for our actions.  But at the end of the day, it really goes back to your heart relationship with the Father.  Let that be the driving force each day as you choose wisely how you will live for the Lord!

Revelation 8

Vs. 1, “.” The scene before us is very solemn…it is the calm before quite intense storm. The seven trumpets are about to bring the full intensity of the Tribulation. Many scholars believe the seven trumpets are poured out in the first half of the Tribulation.

1st Trumpet 

This parallel’s the seventh plague of Egypt. Hailstorms in themselves are dangerous…but mixed with fire? Whew…this will be devestating!

2nd Trumpet

This parallet’s the first plague of Egypt. The sea/ocean which occupies most of the Earth will be next. We are not sure what this will be..symbolic or possibly a asteroid? Whatever it is…it’s going to wreak havoc.

3rd Trumpet

This is a big one too, for it will literraly affect our fresh drinking source. Some believe this may also be a meteor.

4th Trumpet

This is a fulfillment of one of Jesus’ phophecies (Luke 21:25-28) It is somewhat ironic that on the 4th day of creation, God created the Heaven’s & Earth…and on the 4th trumpet he will darken his creation of light. This will bring terror to so many…for signs in the skies have always made people fear. The crime & tumult will only increase to gigantic proportions.

Regarding application…Consequences.  All of these consequences are not only a time of wrath poured out upon a sinful world…but it is also a time for repentance for many.  While many do turn to the Lord…many also harden their hearts like Pharoh.  I think consequences in our lives determine our spiritual maturity or lack thereof.  Don’t you agree? Take a child for example….all you have to do is watch a child be scolded.  If the child responds with sadness & a sorry heart, you can see already that they are learning to grow from their mistakes.  If you see the child “huff & puff” and go pick on their little brother or sister because they are mad…well…we would all probably say this is a “brat!” This attitude of responding to calamities & consequences can either make our heart turn to God more…or grow bitter towards our situation in life.  Which one are you?  Instead of complaining when tough times come…let us all the more realize that when problems arise, we are given the opportunity to show who we put our trust in!  Ourselves, this world, relationships….or the Lord Most High!