Month: March 2013

1 Chronicles

Forever is a long time. 

Forever is so long, in fact, that when one uses the term in normal conversation, it is probably meant to be taken as hyperbole rather than literally.

“This car ride is taking forever.”  “We’ll be friends forever.” 

But God used the term literally in a covenant He made with David.  Forever is how long God told David that David’s house would stand.

When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever.  I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you.  But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.”  1 Chronicles 17: 11 – 14

God was not exaggerating when He said “forever”.  David’s response clearly shows that he received the promise in faith and took it literally.

Now, O LORD, You are God, and have promised this good thing to Your servant.  And now it has pleased You to bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You; for You, O Lord, have blessed, and it is blessed forever.  1 Chronicles 17: 26 – 27

Further evidence of the eternal throne of David is found in a Psalm.

The LORD has sworn to David a truth from which He will not turn back:  “Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.  If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I will teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forever.”  Psalm 132: 11 – 12

God promising David an eternal house is astounding.  How would God fulfill His promise?  There are two possible ways. 

The first way is that God would bless the fruit of the womb so that a son of David will always beget a son of David, and every time a son of David dies, God will raise up a different son of David to replace him.  However, this solution does not comport with the other teachings of Scripture, for this earthly life does not go on forever.  There will be a final judgment of God where men are sent to everlasting life or everlasting contempt.  Once the judgment occurs, there will be no more death for the living, and therefore there will be no need to replace a son of David due to death.  Therefore this cannot be the ultimate fulfillment of the covenant.  Another way is needed.

The other way, the second possibility, is that there will be a son of David who will not relinquish the throne due to death (and who would technically negate the need for further sons to be born in David’s line).  This son of David could either be born and never die, or could die but be resurrected from the dead by God, never to die again.

Now what is the point of saying all these things?  Quite simply, there are only two groups of people who legitimately believe in the Davidic covenant: Jews and Christians.  Jews are waiting for the son of David to be born and to take David’s throne forever.  As Christians, we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of David that has assumed the throne forever.

Here is the lineage of Jesus of Nazareth showing that He is a son of David:

The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:  Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.  Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram.  Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon.  Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.  Jesse was the father of David the king.  David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.  Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa.  Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah.  Uzziah was the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.  Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah.  Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.  After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel.  Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor.  Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud.  Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob.  Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.  So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.  Matthew 1: 1 – 17

Here is evidence that Jesus is the King of the Jews ruling from on high.

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?”  And Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.”  Matthew 27: 11

And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots.  And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there.  And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “This is Jesus the king of the Jews.”  Matthew 27: 35 – 37

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know – this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.  But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.  For David says of Him, ‘I saw the LORD always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.  You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.’  Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.  And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.  This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.  Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.  For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’  Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified.”  Acts 2: 22 – 36

…Jesus, the author and perfect of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12: 2

God fulfilled the Davidic covenant in a most spectacular way.  Jesus fulfilled the bloodline requirement since He is a son of David.  And Jesus fulfilled the eternal requirement because He, as God, took on human flesh forever and will live forever, reigning as king.

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Beware of “The Bible”

“The Bible” mini-series currently airing on television is a big hit. 

Yet the producers have stated that three of their theological consultants were Rick Warren, Joel Osteen and T.D Jakes.  All three of these men teach heresy, and some, if not all, a blatantly false gospel.  Therefore their contribution to the miniseries is a warning to viewers to be on guard.

Not having a television of my own, I caught about forty-five minutes of a broadcast while on vacation, and now back in Seattle I have heard audio clips and I can say I am unimpressed with what was produced and some of the things I have heard are actually quite deceitful and clearly contradict Scripture. 

One example would be the narrator’s introduction to the story of Samson, in which he states:  

A hundred years after Joshua, the twelve tribes of Israel have spread out across the promised land.  But hostile neighbors surround them.  Better armed and better trained, the Philistines are the deadliest threat.  Without great leaders like Moses or Joshua to unite them, the Israelites must rely on local heroes, called judges.  People like Samson.

According to Scripture, here is the reason for the judges:

The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies.  Wherever they went, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had spoken and as the LORD had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed.  Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them.  Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them…  Judges 2: 14 – 17

The narrator says that Israel was surrounded by hostile enemies and God gave them local heroes since there was not one central uniting figure like Moses.  Scripture says that it was God’s wrath that caused Israel to be plundered and it was God’s mercy that also gave them judges.  However Scripture says that Israel did not listen to the judges. 

If you are watching the series, be on guard.  The producers have taken liberties such as the ones demonstrated above, to advance their plot and keep their story “exciting”, and by doing so they have changed the historical and theological truths found in Scripture.

The Bible is not a story to be re-interpreted by entertainers as they see fit.  It is the word of God documenting the need for and work of Jesus Christ, and every word of the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit. 

Every Bible teacher, including the entertainers making movies, ought to tread carefully when teaching the word of God.

2 Kings

God used the prophet Elisha to heal a Gentile, a non-Jew. 

Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the LORD had given victory to Aram.  The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper.  Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.  She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria!  Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”  Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus spoke the girl who is from the land of Israel.”  Then the king of Aram said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”  He departed and took with him ten talents of silver and six thousand shekels of gold and ten changes of clothes.  He brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”  When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?  But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.”  It happened when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent word to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes?  Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”  So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha.  Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and was in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”  But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’  Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?  Could I not wash in them and be clean?”  So he turned and went away in a rage.  Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?  How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean?’”  So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.  When he returned to the man of God with all his company, and came and stood before him, he said, “Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel; so please take a present from your servant now.”  But he said, “As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will take nothing.”  And he urged him to take it, but he refused.  Naaman said, “If not, please let your servant at least be given two mules’ load of earth; for your servant will no longer offer burnt offering nor will he sacrifice to other gods, but to the LORD.  In this matter may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon your servant in this matter.”  2 Kings 5: 1 – 18

So even though Israel was God’s chosen nation during the days of the Old Testament, the Lord did show kindness and mercy to the Gentiles.  Yet over the years the Jews lost sight of God’s mercy for all people, and this false belief influenced their thoughts on who the Messiah would be.  They expected a military or political leader, who would free the nation of Israel from their oppressors.

Yet Jesus the Messiah did not come to free the nation of Israel from its Roman occupiers, but He came to free all people from their sins and save them from the wrath of God.  This is one of the great facets of the gospel – that God’s good news was intended for the Gentiles and not only the Jews. 

Jesus used the account of the healing of Naaman the Aramean to foreshadow the fact that His gospel would be given to the Gentiles.  He referenced the account after standing up in a synagogue and reading Scripture.

And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.  And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him.  And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD.”  And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.  And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”  And He said to them, “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself!  Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’”  And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.  But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”  And all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.  But passing through their midst, He went His way.  Luke 4: 16 – 30

Why did the people rage?  Because Jesus pointed back to Scripture and demonstrated a time in which God healed a Gentile leper and did not heal Jewish lepers.  They raged because they did not believe in God’s love for all people, and they had made false assumptions about why God had chosen them as a distinct nation.  They didn’t want to think that God’s love could so abundantly be given to Gentiles and they misunderstood the ministry of the Messiah.

Yet this is the teaching of the New Testament, that the gospel has no boundaries.  No one is beyond its reach.  God will never say “that type of people should not have the gospel preached to them”.  God will never exclude someone because of their race.

Perhaps talking about the gospel not being racist seems elementary.  But I can assure you there is racism in the church today, operating at different levels. 

Just from my own personal experience, I have witnessed such things.  When I joined the Christian dating service where I met my wife, one of the questions asked was “Would you date someone of another race?”  I was surprised a Christian service would ask that question, and I was even more surprised how many of the women answered “No”.  Surely this is the sign of someone with a gospel that needs maturing.  And even within the last few years, I had a former pastor who was Korean and who was discriminated against by certain congregants due to his race.

So the rage of the Jews against Jesus for pointing out God’s healing of Naaman was not an isolated historical incident.  Racism and people’s shallow view of God’s grace is an on-going problem and will always need to be addressed in each generation.  Only the gospel can truly address racism, for only when understanding that God Himself died for the sins of all people, can one begin to see how God gives righteousness independent of tribe or nation or tongue.

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him – a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.  Colossian 3: 8 – 11

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…  Matthew 28: 19

…and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.  Acts 1: 8