Israel’s Great Failure

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

Some believe this psalm was written when David had the Ark brought to Jerusalem. Others believe it was when Solomon brought the Ark into the temple. Still others believe it was written much later and simply a memorial of these trips. Honestly, I don’t have a dog in this fight at all. The bigger point that we should see is not about the Ark of the Covenant at all. The bigger point is about the King of glory! And who is the King of glory? Jesus, of course! Certainly, when He was first brought to the temple there were a couple of people who tried to point out the reception He should receive (think Anna and Simeon). And the second time He came to the temple, teachers were astonished. However, when Jesus grew up, He should have been hoisted on the shoulders of the people, brought into the temple this song being sung. When He cleansed the temple of the money changers, He should have been lauded and applauded. He should have been asked, “What else shall we do to serve You, King of Glory?” He should have been praised and worshiped universally. The people should have realized He was actually too big to be housed in that temple. But, instead, the Jews believed they were defending the temple by keeping Jesus out of it. Instead of marching Him up Zion’s hill and letting Him take His rightful place on the throne of God in the Holy of Holies, they marched Him up Golgotha’s hill outside the gate and nailed Him to a cross. He was and is the King of glory, the Lord of hosts, strong and mighty, mighty in battle. And Israel failed. Their hands were defiled with the blood of Jesus. Their hearts were divided against their true King. They did lift up their souls to what was false. They did swear deceitfully. And they did not receive their blessing. But as many as did receive Him and believed in His name were given the right to become children of God and subjects of the one, true King of Glory, Jesus Christ. Which choice have you made?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.

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The Lord’s Earth

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

In Hebrew, the first word of Psalm 24 is Yahweh. “Yahweh’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and its inhabitants.” The emphasis is not on the earth or its fullness. It is not on the world and its inhabitants. The emphasis is on the owner: Yahweh. Yahweh owns all that is because He is the one who conquered the chaos and created the cosmos. Moses proved this in Exodus 9:29 when Yahweh was the one who started and stopped the hail, but no Egyptian god could (and that was demonstrated 10 times over). In recognizing this amazing ownership, Moses registered shock that God would settle His steadfast love on one family among mankind in Deuteronomy 10:14-15. David understood that since this was true, when he gave to God, he was only giving to God what was actually His already in 1 Chronicles 29:11-16. Based on this knowledge, Asaph grasped that God did not ask for offerings because of His own needs in Psalm 50:9-13. Because this is true, Paul was able to recognize that idols were nothing and no food actually belongs to an idol in 1 Corinthians 10:25-26. And this makes Yahweh distinct from the ancient gods. Yahweh is not a personal God. He is not a national God. He is not a territorial or regional God. He alone is God. He is not merely God on Zion, He is God everywhere. You cannot make Yahweh your God. He is your God. You can either recognize it now or recognize it later. I can tell you which one would be better. Yahweh is the only God! Hallelujah!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.

PODCAST!!!

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The History of Israel

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

When we compare Psalm 23 to 2 Samuel 7, we see David’s autobiography, being taken from the pasture to the palace. But we see more. David’s life mirrored the history of Israel. Therefore, so does Psalm 23. Though I admit it isn’t spelled out quite as plainly, in 2 Samuel 7, God reminds David of the years Israel spent wandering in the wilderness in tents. He does specifically call the judges He used during those days as shepherds of His people in 2 Samuel 7:7. In 2 Samuel 7:10, He explains His plans to plant Israel so they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. He will give them rest from their enemies. In other words, though not quite as literally as David, God took Israel from the pasture to the palace. There are other connections. For instance, in Deuteronomy 2:7, Moses reminded Israel that as God led them through the wilderness, they lacked nothing. In Psalm 78:19, Asaph refers to God’s work in the wilderness as spreading a table before Israel and then explained that when the rock gushed water it overflowed streams. And God was considered the Shepherd of Israel since Genesis 48:15. In other words, the story of Psalm 23 is not just an idyllic picture of comfort. But it is also more than the autobiography of David, it is the history of Israel. A pattern is emerging. This is how God deals with His people. He leads them from the pasture to the palace. Praise the Lord!

PODCAST!!

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The Crucified Savior

Today’s reading is Psalm 22.

We find ourselves in the exact same position with Psalm 22 as with so many others. David is making extraordinary claims for himself and for his own life. Yet, as we apply them to David’s life, we have to see them as figurative, poetic, hyperbole. There was never a point in David’s life in which everyone mocked him or wagged their heads at him. There was never a point in David’s life in which he was so personally close to death he was dehydrated, emaciated, dealing with heart failure. At least, not one we can find in the record. At the same time, there was no victory David experienced that caused the ends of the earth to worship the Lord. And yet there is One about whom this psalm can be taken much more literally. I don’t say completely literally because the bulls, lions, and dogs are all still figures of speech even in the life of Jesus. And in case we might miss it, the New Testament authors make sure we see it. Psalm 22 is one of the most quoted psalms (if not the most quoted) in the New Testament in reference to Jesus. Jesus Himself quotes it on the cross in Matthew 27:46. But let’s understand how truly profound Psalm 22 is as a prophecy of Jesus. It is not merely the record of one saying, “Some day, in the future, there will be a guy who goes through this.” This is not Jesus merely fulfilling a foretelling of events. This is Jesus fulfilling the very life of David. It wasn’t merely David’s words that pointed to Jesus, David’s life pointed to Jesus. In fact, notice that David demonstrates, in his faith in Psalm 22:3-5, that he was walking in the footsteps of the fathers, the entire nation of Israel. Jesus is not merely fulfilling a prophecy, He is fulfilling the very history of Israel. He is on that cross dying the death that Israel, that in fact the whole world, deserved. The difference is whenever Israel would cry out a statement like Psalm 22:1, it was because of their own sins. When Jesus cried it out, it was because of ours. And because He did, we can experience vs. 21: “You have answered me!” Praise the Lord!!!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 22.

PODCAST!!!

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The God of Jacob

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

In Genesis 34, Simeon and Levi did the unthinkable. They carried out a plan and attack against an entire city-state in Canaan, wiping out all of their men in a single night raid. Jacob became petrified. He looked at his tiny family in comparison to the other city-states of the Canaanites and said, “You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. My numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household” (Genesis 34:30, ESV). In the next chapter, however, God calls Jacob to go to Bethel to make good on the promise Jacob had made as he was fleeing Esau years earlier. Jacob tells his family to put away their idols and even give up the jewelry they might use later to re-forge their idols. And then he says, “Let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answer me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone” (Genesis 35:3, ESV). Then the text lets us know that Jacob’s fears were completely unfounded: “And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob” (Genesis 35:5, ESV). Years later, David writes Psalm 20. A prayer Israel can pray when he is leading her armies to war. And what is the blessing they seek? “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble [distress]! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!” (Psalm 20:1, ESV). Do you see why Israel would call on the “God of Jacob” for their king and for their armies? Do you see why we can call on the “God of Jacob” for our churches and our brethren? We have nothing to fear. The God who protected Jacob from the provoked people around him, the God who had been with Jacob as he fled Esau and as he plundered Laban, the God who saw Jacob through his days of distress is our God. He will be with us wherever we go. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier that expands on this post!

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When I Awake

Today’s reading is Psalm 17.

WOW!!! Is this to be read simply as an evening prayer in which David expects to awake from his night’s sleep and be face to face with God and be satisfied with God’s likeness? We should find it intriguing that this “likeness” or “form” of God which David believes will satisfy him is something that goes beyond what idolaters received from their gods. After all, David is not allowed to carve or cast a likeness or image of God (Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:16, 23, 25; 5:8). Further, this calls to mind the face to face conversation Moses was able to have with God (Numbers 12:8). Was David simply claiming he expected God to give him a face to face response the following morning? I know there are many who want to claim the Old Testament presents no concept of the afterlife, but I think we have pretty strong evidence that David believed in some kind of afterlife. I have no doubt it wasn’t as fully developed as we have in the New Testament. But he was well aware that because the Lord was his portion, his portion wasn’t in this life. He would sleep. But he would awake (see Daniel 12:2). And when he awakes, he is going to be in the very presence of God. His enemies are filled with treasure and satisfied with children. He is going to be satisfied with the very presence of God in eternity. And when that is my hope and my satisfaction, I can endure a whole lot of enemies surrounding me. In fact, I can realize that the Lord may deliver me not from death, but through death. While I pray that the Lord will arise and conquer my enemies, I can rest in the comfort that I will arise and my enemies can do nothing about it. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 17.

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Why Israel Lost

Today’s reading is Psalm 15.

Have you ever thought through why Israel and Judah were driven out of the land of God’s dwelling? God had promised to dwell in their midst and plant them to dwell in their own place. Yet, they were defeated by Assyria, then Babylon, and ultimately by Rome. Psalm 15 is the answer. Do not consider Psalm 15 as merely a request for who might live on the temple mount. Rather, it is a question about who might sojourn under the protection of the Lord who dwells in the midst of His people in His Tent (tabernacle or temple) on His Holy Mountain. Jeremiah 7 brings this home. Jeremiah stands in the gate of the temple to proclaim the word of the Lord. Notice how “dwell in this place” seems to refer to dwelling in the temple in Jeremiah 7:3, but refers to the Promised Land in Jeremiah 7:7. Folks were trusting in deceptive words, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.” Yet they were oppressing orphans, widows, and sojourners. They stole, swore falsely, murdered. Yes, they also committed idolatry. Then they thought they could continue to sojourn under the shadow of God’s Holy Hill. They thought they could continue to find sanctuary in the temple. They thought they could continue to dwell where God had planted them. But, He explained, He would only let them dwell in this place if they changed their behavior. If not, He would destroy His own dwelling place and cast them out of the land. Why were Israel and Judah kicked out of the land? Because only Psalm 15 kind of people can sojourn under God’s protective wing. Israel and Judah were not made up of those kind of people. Psalm 15 is serious business. How have you measured up?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 15.

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You Are My Son

Today’s reading is Psalm 2.

When the second psalm was written, it was read in the context of the king of Israel. The Gentile kings around David had a choice. They could be like Hadadezer, king of Zobah and the Syrians in 2 Samuel 8:3-8, fighting against God’s Anointed Son, and be judged and defeated. Or they could be like Toi king of Hamath, kissing and giving allegiance to the Son in 2 Samuel 8:9-12, and be blessed for it. However, ultimately, the New Testament demonstrates Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed of God. This psalm is ultimately pointing to Him. He is the Son of God, declared to be such at His baptism, on the Mount of Transfiguration, and most importantly in His resurrection. The kings and queens of the earth and even we, the kings and queens of our own little lives, have a choice. We can either rage against Jesus or we can kiss the Son, surrendering our allegiance to Him. We can pay homage to Him, worshiping Him, serving Him. Those who rage against Him will perish in the way. Those who take refuge in Him will be blessed. The choice is yours.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 2.

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Surely Not!

Today’s reading is Luke 20.

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants is a bit of an outlier among the parables. Unlike most of the parables, the people hearing this one seemed to know exactly what Jesus meant by it. Well, perhaps not exactly. They didn’t know that “my beloved son” meant Jesus was in fact God’s Son. But they did know Jesus was claiming the Jews were going to be judged, destroyed, and the vineyard would be given to others. Of course, the only others were the Gentiles. The Jews simply couldn’t fathom this. It didn’t fit within their worldview that God would behave like this. After all, this is the God who loves and chose the Jewish nation to be His own special people. This is the God who lovingly cleared the vineyard, planted the vineyard, watered the vineyard of His special people (see Isaiah 27:2-11). How could this loving vineyard owner judge his vineyard and the tenants so harshly? “Surely not!” the Jews cry. If this were a modern movie, Jesus would have responded, “Yes, and don’t call me Surely.” Please, understand. There is a modern parallel to this. More and more people who even claim to be Christian just can’t wrap their mind around a loving God who will give people up to their rejection of Him. To these it is anathema and unfathomable that God would judge anyone permanently and irreversibly, casting them out of His presence into the outer darkness, away from Him, which is the torturous existence we call hell. “Surely not!” we cry. But please be aware, if we reject God’s attempts to draw us close to Him, He will give us up to our rejection. And we will discover that living in our rejection of God is more horrific than we can possibly imagine.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 20.

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Lost Tribes of Israel?

Today’s reading is Luke 2.

Have you ever heard anyone talk about the “lost tribes of Israel”? The idea is that the northern kingdom of Israel was taken captive by Assyria and then essentially just vanished. Judah was taken captive by Babylon and then was released by Cyrus, but the ten northern tribes are never heard from again. Some religions even make a big deal out of so-called lost tribes traveling to the Americas. However, none of this is true. When Babylon conquered Judah, they also conquered Assyria. The Assyrian captivity of Israel essentially blends into the Babylonian captivity. When Cyrus let’s the Jews go, that would include not just the two tribes (three when you count Levi) of the southern kingdom, but also those of the north. No doubt, because of greater time, those ten tribes were greatly diminished. However, did you notice what tribe Anna the daughter of Phanuel was from? She is from Asher, one of the northern tribes. Asher wasn’t lost. In a subtle way, this is just another reminder that God knows who are His. He doesn’t lose His people. Hang on to God; He won’t lose you either.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 2.

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