Day 29 – The Pride and a Fall

It is written in Proverbs, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18).  Pride even gets into the hearts and minds of the best among us; and that is never more clear to me than when I was reading in 2 Chronicles 23 – 36 this morning.

I read of several kings, three of which, Uzziah, Hezekiah, and Josiah were noted as “Doing what was right in the sight of the LORD”; and they did wonderful things to restore Judah and Jerusalem to the right worship of the LORD.  The LORD prospered them, the nation and the city because of the fine works of these godly kings.  The death of Uzziah is mourned by Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 6.

Uzziah, however became prideful.  Hear what the Scripture says of him –

“But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.” 2 Chronicles 26:16 (KJV)

In his pride he usurped the office of the priest; an office that did not belong to him; nor a work that was his.  When Uzziah was approached, and rebuked by the chief priest Azariah it is like he had the attitude, “I am king.  Who do you think you are correcting the king?”

“And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him.  And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.”  26:20-21

Uzziah died a leper, due to his prideful fall.

King Hezekiah too is recognized as a king who did what “…was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done” (29:2).  King Hezekiah brought back the Passover, and brought back a unity between part of the people of the Northern kingdom of Israel (30:1-12).  Hezekiah did many wonderful things in Judah and Jerusalem, and God blessed him greatly; yet his heart became prideful;

“In those days Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the LORD: and He spake unto him, and He gave him a sign.   But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.  Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.” 32:24-25

We also see that God did something in the life of Hezekiah which we may find a bit puzzling;

“Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart.” 32:31 (See 2 Kings 20:12-19)

What I am referring to is the phrase, “God left him, to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart.”  Have you ever had a time when it seemed the Lord had “left” you?  It was probably a test.  It is a time of God’s silence.  Your real heart and mind will be revealed during those times.  The warning here is be cautious, very cautious of pride.

Now, let us look at Josiah who was only eight years of age when he became king of Judah, and he too “…did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father…” (34:1-2).  Josiah heard the word of the LORD, after the reading of it, called the nation to repentance, and was promised to die in peace (34:21-28).

For some reason, and I believe this to be an element of his pride, though it is not named; the king sees a battle that is not his, and he goes to war against Necho, king of Egypt.  The Egyptian kings sends ambassadors saying to Josiah,

“After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him.  But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, ‘What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.’   Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.  And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, ‘Have me away; for I am sore wounded.’   His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.” 2 Chronicles 35:20-24 (KJV)

Josiah goes against the word of the LORD by the prophet (34:21-28), and proceeds to war when he has none to fight.  O, the futility, and death that pride brings.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God humbled Himself to the point of death, and went to the cross to die for the sins of the world; mine and yours; He was buried, and rose bodily from the grave, and He still lives, exalted at the Father’s right hand.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 28 – Music in Battle

Music and singing are not often thought of as tools of fighting a battle, especially by armies.  In the reading for today 2 Chronicles 9 – 22 there is a king, Jehoshaphat, who sets the musicians at the forefront of a battle.

I use to think that musicals for a movie, even a theatrical play, were somewhat ludicrous.  However, in recent years I have began to see the power music has over life.  Our lives are musicals when you stop and think about it.  I do not know a single individual who does not enjoy music of one kind or another.  I heard music all my life.  I grew up with my Dad playing guitar, a grand father who played the fiddle (that is a a violin, for you city, society folk).

Music has a way of building a mood, good or bad mood.  It can encourage, make fearful, distrustful, suspicious, doubtful, angry; or discourage, bold, trusting, full of faith, and loving.  There are even certain kinds of music that can cause one to go crazy; at least in my estimation.

The passage of Scripture I have in mind is,

“And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper.’  And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, ‘Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.’   And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.     For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.   And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.”  2 Chronicles 20:20-24 (KJV)

A vast army made up of Ammon, Moab, and Seir; nations whom the LORD had told Israel to let be as they were journeying through the wilderness from Egypt; were not attacking in joint effort to conquer Judah, and king Jehoshaphat.  This king was a good king who made several mistakes, but forsaking the LORD was not one of them.

Jehoshaphat’s first act when he realizes they are being attacked is to call on the LORD for help (20:3-13).  A Levite named Jahaziel receives a message from the Spirit of the LORD;

“Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, ‘Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.  To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.   Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.'”   2 Chronicles 20:15-17

Notice in those verses that the LORD, speaking through his prophet, says, “Ye shall not need to fight this battle…”.  It was God’s battle, and then all Jehoshaphat did was arrange a choir to sing praise unto the LORD and the beauty of His holiness.  It would seem that to do this in faith they would have gone out without a weapon, except the singers.

In the Bible the LORD thinks much of music and singing.  We find the Song of Moses (Exodus 15); the Song of Deborah (Judges 5); and then there is a whole Hymnal in the center of the Bible called The Psalms.  There are songs in the Revelation.

Many of us face stress, distress, fear, in various forms and for many reasons.  If we would apply certain music to our lives that is some battles that we can overcome.  Music that praises the LORD, and glorifies Him will lift our hearts from fear to faith; and a battle is won.

The people of Judah went out against Ammon, Moab, and Seir believing God would give them victory.  A choir went forth singing praises to the beauty of holiness of the LORD, and the invading armies turned on one another.  Not a single weapon was raised by Judah that day; not a soul was lost of Judah; because they trusted in the LORD for their deliverance.

Are you fearful today?  Are you distressed?  Does the battle you are facing seem too much for you to handle?  There is nothing too big for God.  Trust His Son Jesus Christ, and you will need not fear anything ever again.

For the Christian singing means being filled with the Spirit,

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”  Ephesians 5:18-21 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 27 – The Glory of the LORD Filled the House

I love reading the events where the glory of God comes down like fire, fills the house, and even the priests cannot enter, because the glory is so bright no human being can enter it in the flesh.

My reading this morning was 1 Chronicles 24 – 2 Chronicles 8.  The seventh chapter is well known among Christians for verse 14.  A verse many of us like to memorize, quote, and pastors and preachers like to preach, but I fear it is often applied in the wrong way.  It is often applied as though it applies to the United States of America.  I do not want to destroy anyone’s hopes and dreams for our nation, but there are no promises of God in the Bible for the U. S. of A.  None.

Enough on that for now.

When we look at the first three verses of chapter 7 of Second Chronicles,

“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.  And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house.  And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, ‘For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.'”  2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (KJV)

King Solomon had closed his prayer, and God shows up.  Fire came down from heaven, consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the house.  There was no room for anyone else.  Now, is it not the glory of the LORD  that all God’s children desire?  I think so.

In chapter seven when the glory of God comes down God speaks with Solomon, appearing to him (v. 12) and saying,

“If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people; if My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (vv. 13-14)

This word from God is to Solomon and the people of Israel.  Let us be not ignorant of this; there is no promise of God to any nation on the earth, previous to today, today, or after today; other than Israel.  There is one thing for certain; the people of God are the people of God through their faith in God, and through His Son Jesus Christ.

There is certainly a principle given us in these precious words.  Promise we can rest on and apply to life.

We need the hope these words give us.  We can rest in God that He will do what is best for His people, but not necessarily for a nation.  Let us be clear on this matter;  the hope of the world is not the United States of America, Democracy, our Constitution, Bill or Rights, the Amendments to the Constitution, our President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Congress, Senate, Supreme Court or State governments.  The hope of the world lies in the hands of God through faith in His Son.  Our hope is not in the liberal agenda, the conservative agenda, the stock market, or the economy.  All of these things can and will fail and fall; but our God lives forever.

When the heavens are shut up and what we have is drought, cattle are dying, crops will not grow, wells are drying up, lakes and reservoirs are drying, and people are dying of thirst; then we had better be praying, and seeking the face of God and His glory.  When diseases are running rampant, pestilences, and plagues are destroying the land; and afflicting the people; then we better be seeking the face of our Creator, humbling ourselves before Him.  Seeking government aid is not seeking God.  That is seeking an idol

The only hope for the U. S. of A. is Jesus Christ and Him crucified, buried and risen again bodily from the grave, seated at the Father’s right hand.  The only  hope for the world is Jesus Christ and Him crucified, buried and bodily raised from the grave, and seated at the Father’s right hand.  He is coming again.  Be ready.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 26 – David, Priest and King

David, as a shepherd boy, had a heart for God.  While he was doing the task of taking care of the family flock and herds he meditated upon God and His Word; writing and singing songs [Psalms].  He would become angry when ever he heard and enemy or anyone defy the name of Jehovah [YHWH].  While Saul is still king David is anointed by Samuel to be the future king of Israel; and he honors God’s anointed king Saul, serving him faithfully; even thought king Saul hates him.

There is an episode in David’s life after he becomes king of Israel when he endeavors to bring the Ark of the covenant to Jerusalem; the holy city; the city of David.  In his first attempt he fails to follow the direction of God’s Word and commandments, and a man named Uzzah perishes as he reaches out to secure the ark as the oxen stumble (2 Samuel 6:1-11; 1 Chronicles 13:7-14).

I have heard several individuals say something like, “David danced naked before the LORD”, but that is a very false assumption, based on the words of David’s angry wife, Michal, daughter of Saul.

My reading this morning was 1 Chronicles 10 -23, and this story was retold for our benefit, and maybe with a little more detail.  That is why we must, as Christians, be diligent in the reading and study of the Word of God.

After the failed attempt at bringing the Ark to Jerusalem David went to the Word of God, rather than following the example of the Philistines (carrying the ark on a cart, pulled by oxen), and David discovered.

“For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought Him not after the due order.  So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel.  And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD.” 1 Chronicles 15:13-15 (KJV)

In Second Samuel 6:14 we read, “David was girded with a linen ephod”, and in First Chronicles 15:27 we read,

“And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen.”

In this we see David has taken on the role of priest.  David is a picture of Christ here.  When king Saul tried to be a priest (1 Samuel 13:8-16) he was soundly rebuked for doing so, and lost the kingdom for it.  What marks the difference for these two kings?  First Saul was of a rebellious spirit, and refused to wait on the LORD; David on the other hand had a heart to do what God pleased, and seek His counsel.

If an individual has a heart for God, loving His commandments, hiding His Word in the heart, and cherishing His every moment with Him, then they will have the heart of a priest; as David did, and as Jesus Christ the Son of God has as well.

Michal, Saul’s daughter despises David when she sees him coming into Jerusalem without the garments of a king; but rather the garments of a priest;

“Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, ‘How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!”  2 Samuel 6:20

Maybe it was her pride of being a kings daughter; her lack of a  heart for God, but due to her actions against her husband she never gave birth to children.

Those who are in Christ Jesus are priests and kings, according to Revelation 1:6 and 5:10.  If you, however, do not love the Word of God, and are failing to hid it in your heart that you not sin against Him; then it is highly questionable whether you are known by Him.

David danced before the Lord in priestly garments.  When we put on Christ He is the King of kings and Priests of all priest; and we are kings and priests through Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 25 – What the LORD Does With Evil in His People

In reading through the Bible in 90 days there are passages which, to be honest, I find difficult to read; and today’s reading was no exception.  I am speaking particularly of 1 Chronicles 1 – 9 which gives us a genealogy from Adam through the Babylonian captivity of Israel.  I must admit that I cheat when I come to these and pretty much just scan the pages trying to take note of the main names.  Ever once in a while I will notice something I had not seen before.

The one main thing I noticed this morning is that there is more mention of Bathsheba than I had noticed before, in the genealogy, and that may be due to the KJV use of “Bathshua” rather than Bathsheba.  Bathsheba according to this text (1 Chronicles 3:5) is the daughter of Ammiel; who is known as Eliam in 2 Samuel 11:3.  There is also the famous Jabez in chapter 4; who prayed and God answered his prayer (vv.9-10). His name [Jabez] means that he was a pain in birth.

My reading this morning started in 2 Kings 21 and extended through 1 Chronicles 9.

The statement in the title “What the LORD Does With Evil in His People” is answered in 2 Kings 21 – 25.  The short answer to that question is – He judges it severely.  I will not just leave it there though.

The first mention in the reading is of Manasseh, son of Godly king Hezekiah who was a man pretty much after the fashion of king David.  Manasseh, however was a murdering, idol worshipping abomination to Judah.  He led the people of Judah away from the worship of Jehovah/YHWH.   He worshipped the sun, moon, stars, and all their supposed powers (21:5), he sacrificed his son to the fire (21:6), and to these things God will not turn away;

“And the LORD spake by His servants the prophets, saying,  ‘Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.  And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.  And I will forsake the remnant of Mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; because they have done that which was evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.’  Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.”  2 Kings 21:10-16 (KJV)

In 2 Kings we get our first introduction to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  He will be the instrument of God’s judgment upon Judah.  One of the things we should see about these things is that God is not pacified with good deeds.  We have seen a few kings of Judah who were pleasing to God David, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah to name a few.  God does not have a set of balances weighing our good on one side and evil on the other; He judges sin, because He hates sin.  It separates us from Him.

God sent the Southern kingdom of Judah into Babylonian captivity because of their sin; but we find when we get through 2 Chronicles that He does bring them back to Jerusalem.  That is not a balancing of things; that is, however, grace.

The Son of God made it possible for all will call on His name to have eternal fellowship with the Creator of the Universe.  His name is Jesus

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 24 – Worship of a Good Thing

This post today will probably be much shorter than usual.

My reading this morning covered 2 Kings 7 – 20.  There was mention of many kings.  Still none of the kings of the Northern kingdom “pleased the LORD”; only one got close yet not sufficient and that was Jehu.  There were some of the kings of the Southern kingdom who “pleased the LORD”, but not like David their father and example.

I want us to look at one king of the Southern kingdom whose name is Hezekiah, and one of the exploits he did in Judah; named in 18:4,

“Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.   Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.   And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.  He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.”  2 Kings 18:1-4 (KJV)

The brasen serpent is first mentioned in the book of Numbers.  The people had grown to complaining, and GOD sent poisonous serpents into the camp, biting the people, then they were dying; and began to cry out to Moses, and Moses called out to the LORD,

“And the LORD said unto Moses, ‘Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.’  And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” Numbers 21:8-9

In the days of Hezekiah the people had began to worship the serpent on the brazen pole, bowing down to it evidently, even burning incense to it – “That thing of brass”.  It had lost its real significance, and had become an idol.  Originally when those bitten had looked upon it they would live.  It is a symbol of the cross of Christ; even a shadow of the cross; where all our sins were placed on the perfect sacrifice for sin – the sinless, perfect, holy Son of God – and the wrath of God was poured out on Him and His blood was shed for our redemption, and He bodily arose from the grave giving all who will believe in Him eternal life in glory.

What is the problem with “Nehushtan”?  Worshipping a good thing is not proper worship; and God despises our worship of anything except Him.  Jesus said, “They that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).  To worship God in spirit is to have a redeemed spirit through the shed blood of Jesus the Christ.  Any other worship is not a “Good thing”

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 23 – Of Kings and Prophets

In the reading today we begin the reading of a king of Judah by the name of Asa (1 Kings 15), and it is said of him, “Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father” (15:11).  We are also told previous to Asa of Abijam whose “heart was not perfect with the LORD his God as the heart of David his father” (v. 3).

Asa is Abijam’s son, and Asa walks with God.

In reading 1 Kings 15 – 22 we continue to see this phrase of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, “And he did evil in the sight of the LORD…” or something similar.  We are told of two kings at least for Judah who were walking with God like David, who is the standard, for the walk of kings.

If kings are to do their kingdoms well; it would do them good to walk with God.  Those who do not walk with God will lead their people to destruction.  I would dare say the economic and moral collapse of a nation is due to the lack of godly, spiritual leadership in that nation.  Including the United States of America.

Thank God for prophets of God who will stand for the truth, no matter what.  In chapter 17 we are introduced to Elijah, often called the “prophet of fire”.  When we are introduced to Elijah we have him saying to one of the most wicked kings to ever live – Ahab –

“And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, ‘As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”  1 Kings 17:1 (KJV)

Wicked kings need a prophet of God who will get in their face and call their sin and rebellion against God what it is.  Elijah did just that, and God proves that Elijah is His prophet by answering Elijah’s prayers, sending drought, with no morning or evening dew, or rain.  We learn later that this drought lasted for 3.5 years.

One thing we need to realize is that when this prophet pronounced this drought upon the Northern kingdom, it was a drought that affected the evil as well as the righteous, even Elijah.  That is why we see Elijah being sustained by God through ravens providing meat and bread a the “brook Cherith”  (17:5).

Elijah was a man of fire and faith.  He believes God; acts for the glory of God; and challenges the false prophets of the wicked queen Jezebel on Mount Carmel.  He does something unheard of.  The prophets of Baal had been known to put fine under their altars and deceive people into thinking that Baal was actually lighting the fires on their altars; but Elijah says, “Put no fire under” (18:23), and he himself “put no fire under” the altar, but both he and the prophets of Baal would be totally dependent upon the one who would answer by fire.  Elijah upon the GOD of creation and glory.  The false prophets upon the foolish hopes of false teachings.

Could it be that the reason there is no one challenging the prophets of finance, health, technology, science, is because we have not any who are really confident in the power of God as Elijah was?  Why not?  Do we not have the power of Jesus Christ.  I am only saying that our financial problems are related to spiritual bankruptcy, our health decay is spiritually related; the only reason for our technological growth is given us by creative thinking that was originally given to man by God; and true knowledge [science] comes from God.  The rest is bunk and leads to spiritual decay and death.

When Christian churches across our land are lighting the fires of the altar with entertainment rather than preaching the word of God; it is of little wonder why we are so spiritually bankrupt.  Those who are dependent upon drawing a crowd; and not preaching the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ are similar to the prophets of Baal who put fire under the altars.

The answer to the sins and all ills in the world is Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 22 – A Heart Turned Away

David, even though he had committed adultery against Uriah the Hittite, and had murdered him is still the standard of a man with a heart for God.  The thing which makes a difference is that he did have a heart for God.  He loved God, and wanted only to glorify Him.  It is seen in his repentant heart and attitude when he comes to his senses about his sins.  God even promises David and eternal kingdom, of course, which will be seen in the reign of the Son of David who is Jesus Christ.

In reading 1 Kings 1 – 14 this morning I noticed the rise and fall of Solomon.  His rise came as David announced him king rather than Adonijah, so of David’s wife Haggith; who was trying to usurp the throne of David on his own; when it was not a God ordained thing.

Solomon starts off his time of king in a good way.  He sets out to build the temple which David has had a heart to build.  He has peace with all the surrounding nations; until his heart is turned away from God.

“But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, ‘Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods:’ Solomon clave unto these in love.  And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.  For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.  For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.  And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.   Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.  And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.” 1 Kings 11:1-8 (KJV)

Solomon had began doing what God had given commandment to the children of Israel not to do; that is marry “foreign women” or “foreign men”.  Because of his turned away heart he begins to build monuments and temples to idols, which the apostle Paul refers to as “demons”.  This leads me to a question.  Where did the “turning away” begin?

It began when he departed from the commandments of the LORD.  Whether it was because he neglected to remember them, or be reminded of them; the responsibility of doing them was his own.  Solomon was a man whom God had given much wisdom; and he shows great foolishness in his departure from God, and he brings ruin upon the nation.

He had had great peace, received much wealth; and because of “A Heart Turned Away” God brings judgment against the nation through outside forces (11:9-25) and inside forces (11:26-40).

Keep in mind that judgment came upon Israel because Solomon departed from the commandments of the LORD.  God’s hand was not, and is not turned away from Israel, His grace is still sufficient.  He still has plans for Israel.

God’s hand is not turned away from you.  He still has plans for you.  His first plan for you is that you come to Him through faith in His Son Jesus who died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose bodily from the grave and ever lives as our great High Priest.

Has your heart been turned by departing from the living God; worshipping idols [demons]; who have stolen your heart.  Now is the time to turn back from your path of destruction.  There is forgiveness, cleansing and renewing only through Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 21 – Your Sin Will Find You Out

The title above comes from the Law of Moses (Numbers 32:23); however, as I read the chapters from 2 Samuel 12 – 24 that is what they were dealing with in king David.

As we read chapter 11 yesterday it showed us of David’s sin he tried to hide, and keep between himself, and the woman who was the wife of Uriah the Hittite.  David saw her; when he should have been on the battle field with his men.  He sent for her; and he sinned with her.  They were both guilty of sin.  David alone is guilty of the murder of Uriah.  Yet, we find David to be a man “after God’s own heart”.  David should have died; yet due to his repentant heart God was merciful, spared his life, yet sent great torment into his family.

Had David gotten so secure in his victories on the battle field that he overlooked the battle of his own heart?  It almost seems that way.  He seems almost ignorant of his sin until he is confronted by Nathan, a prophet, who tells him a parable of sorts, and David immediately recognizes injustice in someone else; yet the prophet tells him,

“Thou art the man.” 2 Samuel 12:7 (KJV)

Guilty of sloth; Guilty of Adultery; and guilty of murder.  David had grown slothful in his duties as a king of that day; but it seems that the “Sweet Psalmist of Israel” (23:1) had also grown slothful in the Word and Spirit of God; else he would have heard God in the quiet recesses of his heart, calling his name.  “David, David, David.  You are treading on dangerous ground.  Open your eyes David.  Be ye holy; for I Am holy.”

The prophet Nathan tells David,

“Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised Me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.  Thus saith the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.  For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.’  And David said unto Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said unto David, ‘The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.  Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.'” 2 Samuel 12:10-13 (KJV)

As we read the final chapters of Second Samuel we find the prophecy of Nathan is fulfilled.  Sexual sin and rebellion becomes prominent in David’s house.  David’s and Bathsheba’s baby dies; Amnon one of David’s sons rapes a half sister (chapter 13) and Absalom kills him – much strife in the family.  Absalom flees Jerusalem, and eventually returns only to try a take over of the kingdom.

The snares and traps of sin are grievous in anyone’s life.  We can all be sure that law of Moses is true.  “Your sin will find you out.”  We can also be assured that there is a Redeemer who came from God.  He is the Son of God, and the Son of David.  He is the Righteous One.  The one and only Divine Son of God.  He, Jesus Christ, paid the price of ransom for the lost, condemned, dying souls of men.

Your sins are known by God.  You have been found out.  You have sinned and come short of God’s glory.  Come to the One and only One who can cleanse you, forgive you and give you eternal life.  His name is Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 20 – Kings Rise and Fall

The reading today was from 1 Samuel 29 thru 2 Samuel 11.  Quite interesting reading of wars, strife, the death of one king and his family; the rise of a new king, and his fall.

We see battles where people are killed.  People of Israel are destroyed by foreign kings, and by their own people.  The Bible does not “paint” us a very pretty picture of Israel, nor of mankind  in general.  That is what is so clearly a god thing concerning Scripture.  We can see clearly what we are as people.  Yet, we see that we are not without hope.  Sometimes battles are not men against men; but, rather man against himself.  Most of us if we are honest first with ourselves have inner wars and strife which we must win, before we can win the outer battles of life.  We see that in both of these kings which we look at today – Saul and David.

In chapter 29 Achish king of the Philistines goes to war against Saul and Israel.  David has befriended Achish and is about to go to war with him against Saul; but God has other things in mind.  The princes of  the Philistines reject David for fear that he could turn on them, and fight for Saul.  Achish sends David back to Ziklag where they are living with their families; and there they find the camp has been invaded by Amalekites, their women taken captive, and their goods taken as booty, and tens burned with fire.  David’s men are practically ready to stone him (30:6).

Do you not just love the heart of David?  He does not boil with rage, and run after the invaders blindly; but rather goes and seeks the face of God concerning the matter;

“And David enquired at the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them?’ And He answered him, ‘Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.'” 30:8 (KJV)

He pursues the Amalekite raiders, found them, freed his people, recovered their goods, and we are told that “David recovered all (30:19).

King Saul and his sons, including Jonathan, are killed in the battle against the Philistines.  David’s honor is maintained throughout all this ordeal with Saul.  Remember Saul has hated David since “David killed his  ten thousands and Saul his thousands” (18:7).  Saul is now dead, and there are those who would seek David’s favor by taking the honor of killing an enemy of David.

In 2 Samuel we are told of a man who is an Amalekite who tells David, that he killed Saul (1:8-10).  David is not pleased,  and we read,

“And David said unto him, ‘How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD’S anointed?’  And David called one of the young men, and said, ‘Go near, and fall upon him.’ And he smote him that he died.  And David said unto him, ‘Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, ‘I have slain the LORD’S anointed.'” 2 Samuel 1:14-16

In my understanding I see David not desiring the death of Saul, but rather his repentance and restoration to God.  Saul was God’s first anointed king of Israel.  Though he was what others including myself  might call a rascally king; he was still God’s anointed, and that is how David viewed him and why David refused to lift a hand against him.  Even to the point of distributing justice to those who claimed to have killed Saul.

David now rises to the position of God’s anointed king.  He still honors the king Saul’s son Jonathan by remembering him through Mephibosheth, and giving him all the lands of Saul (chapter 9).

The final chapter of today’s reading ends with this sentence,

“But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” 11:27b

God has promised David that He will establish his throne forever (7:12-17).  This forever kingdom will be one day realized in the return of Jesus Christ to earth to establish His eternal kingdom; Jesus will rule and reign forever and forever, just as GOD had promised.

The fall of king David is not the end of God’s promise to Him.  It is not David’s goodness, his power or prowess in war, his character, his wit, or any of his works for which God rewards him; it is the grace of God that makes David’s heart;  “after God’s own heart”.

You may have fallen, but God’s promises are still true.  His grace is sufficient to redeem you, and to reclaim you.  King’s do rise and fall.  “Commoners” do as well.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 19 – Kings of Honor and Kings of War

The reading for Day 19 was 1 Samuel 15 – 28, much about the fall of king Saul; yet also about the rise of a man after God’s own heart.

Saul began his reign as the chosen, anointed king of Israel, chosen by God.  His heart was right, humble, and honorable.  He seemed not to be grasping for power, nor leadership, but was content working for and with his father keeping donkeys.

We have all heard the phrase, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely” and we can see an element of that in Saul.  He seems intent of doing the “right thing” without obedience to God.  A for instance; when God had given him commandment to go and “utterly destroy” the Amalekites (15:3) here is what he did,

“And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.  And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.  But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.”  1 Samuel 15:7-9 (KJV)

Some might argue, “Well, he was at least partially obedient”.  That is not much argument.  Obedience is carrying out the command to the letter, which Saul did not do.  No matter what his intent was he sinned against God and the kingdom was removed from him and given to another.

Saul was a man, after this that had much fear in his reign.  He himself was fearful.  He was afraid of a little giant challenging the army of God (chapter 17).

Then a youth who was a shepherd boy who was not afraid of lions and bears heard the giant bragging of his abilities and powers against the God of Israel.  He became angered by this, and took up the challenge himself.  With nothing but a sling, five stones and most of all his faith in God he faced the giant Goliath, and God gave David the victory that day.

David had already been anointed king to take Saul’s place.  When Saul saw this he was jealous and enraged by David, hating him and trying to kill him.  There is no honor in king Saul; only jealousy and fear and hatred.  He no longer loves God, God’s Word, nor His plan for himself or Israel.

Even Jonathan, kings Saul’s son recognized David as the future king of Israel,

“And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.  And he said unto him, ‘Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.”  23:16-18

Jonathan was more a man of honor than was his father.  He was not afraid of David being king.  He honored David and he honored God.  David was that man after God’s own heart.  This was the king which God has used to bring the Lord Jesus Christ into this world to save us from our sins.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 18 – God in the Box

We have some Christian leaders today saying to us, that God is bound to answer our prayers, answer our demands, and so forth; maybe not in so strong a fashion but many times in more subtle ways.  One thing we need to realize as Children of our GOD is that God is obligated to us in no fashion.  God is obligated to Himself, and His Word.

In my reading this morning (1 Samuel 1 – 14) I read of the dark sins of the sons of Eli, and the faith of a woman named Hannah.  Hannah is actually the first mentioned in the historical account of the last Judge of Israel.  Hannah received from God the son she requested, and she kept her word with God, giving Samuel to the LORD all his days.

The Ark of the covenant was given to give the people of Israel the assurance that God was in their midst.  The tribes, as they journeyed through the wilderness were arranged so that the tabernacle was in the midst of the camps.  When they arrive in the promised land the tabernacle is set up in Shiloh, and there is where all the offerings are to be made.

The people however had began to think of the Ark as the source of all their need.  As long as the Ark was with them, then, they could live anyway they chose, do anything they liked, give God worship on the Sabbath day, and the Ark would always be their power and means of escape and deliverance from their enemies.  That is not any more clearly seen than in chapter 4,

“And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, ‘Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.'”  1 Samuel 4:3 (KJV)

The Philistines are destroying them in battle.  They call for the Ark to be brought into their camp; and they are about to learn a very hard and fast lesson.  At the end of this battle the two sons of Eli – Hophni and Phineas – are killed, the army of Israel is defeated and the Ark of God is taken (4:10-11).

What God desires of His people is to know that He is with them wherever we are.  We do not need a box, a set of beads, an idol.  For those who have called on the name of the Father through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross we have the abiding presence of God within us.  Yet, I know that there are certainly times we do not feel His presence.  We have His assurance that He will never leave us nor forsake us.  There are times, however, that we do stray from Him.

The problem with Israel at that time was they were engulfed in rebellion.  Their spiritual leadership was defying the commandments of God.  God had sent messengers to Eli to correct his sons, yet the abominations continued.  Thus, the penalty was death, and the capture of the Ark of God.

O, how miserable a lot we can be when we think we can live as we please; in rebellion against God; and think that we can still have power with Him.  That is probably the greatest weakness of the present generation of God’s people in Christ.  We model the world “to try and win the world”; rather than model Christ and let His Spirit convict and convince the world of His love, mercy and grace.

When Saul had been chosen as king of Israel, and anointed as king by Samuel we hear these words,

“And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.” 10:7

Samuel had given Saul some signs; events and people he would meet on his return journey home.  That is when he tells him these words.  He is telling Saul “Do whatever comes to heart and mind” and for this reason: “For God is with you”.  The Spirit of God came upon Saul and he prophesied.  We are not told what he preached, but he preached the Word of God for sure.

When we are right with God walking in His Spirit we will do what comes from God to please God.  The Spirit of God will not do anything that goes against God, His character, or His Word.  We do not have God in a box; however, the Christian has Christ within to do what ever the Spirit of the Lord leads us to do.  And that will be to honor and glorify God

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 17 – Judges to Ruth

My reading today was only 13 chapters.  It was however a very rewarding experience; as it usually is reading the Word of God.  Reading the Judges chapter thirteen through 21 you will find a common phrase in it in the latter chapters.

“In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6

That verse is also the very last words of the book of Judges.  We will look at that a bit later. One other time the phrase “In those days thee was no king in Israel” (18:1) is used.  My thought on that is that God is speaking of a godly spiritual leader.

The stories of the Judges is a dark one due to disobedience or “partial obedience” which is disobedience.

We read of God’s grace toward the people of Israel by the appearance of the “angel of the LORD ” appearing to Manoah’s wife, and telling her she will have a son.  This angel of the LORD is believed by many; and I am one of those; to be the preincarnate revelation of the Son of God.  If you will note Manoah and his wife “fell on their faces to the ground” (13:20); an act of worship; and Manoah confesses “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” (13:22).  The “angel of the LORD” accepted the worship without any rebuke to them.

Samson was the promised son to Manoah and his wife from God.  Samson was truly a “rascal”.  He was a pain in the sides of the tormenters of Israel.  He was however faithful to God and God’s ordained purpose in his life.  Of Samson the writer of Hebrews mentions him in the “Hall of faith” (Hebrews 11:32); along with Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, David and Samuel.

There are probably many professing Christians today who might say something like;  “Well I sure don’t want to be in place where people like that are.”  Too bad.  If you have that kind of attitude you have yet to see your own heart; and the evil within.

There was much rebellious, rachus living going on in Israel in those days.  We find a man who made on Levite his own private priest (chapter 17).  He and his idols were taken by the Danites for their own private priest; and this is all contrary to the word of God.

Another Levite took a concubine who was unfaithful, and ended up in war with the tribe of Benjamin nearly destroying the whole tribe.  There is much darkness and evil in Judges, yet God rules, even when there is no other king in Israel (see also chapter 19:1).

The book of Ruth takes place during the time of the Judges; and is such a great story of redemption, grace and the power of God and His sovereignty.

Elimelech, due to a famine  in the land of Israel, packs up his family and moves to Moab, the land which wanted to curse Israel; and he and his sons die in the land; leaving their wives widows.  Naomi, the wife of Elimelech and mother of Mahlon and Chilion  hears things are better back home and proceeds to leave, but tells her two daughters in law they are not required to go with her; but Ruth chooses to go.

Because of Ruth’s faith she is now in the lineage of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  From what had been a judgment upon the nation of Israel, God was working, to bring redemption to His people and to the world.

“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25

“And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.  Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.”  Ruth 4:17-22 (KJV)

You might also want to read Matthew 1:1-17;  the lineage of our Lord and Savior.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

 

Day 16 – Me and My House

Reading the fourteen chapters I read today left me a little bit bewildered, because there is so much to think about when it comes to writing and what there is to post.  As I sat down to write I was not sure of what to post here at Fire and Hammer; and then I believe I saw the way this was to go.

My reading consisted of Joshua 23 – 24 and Judges 1 – 12.  In Joshua his life is coming to an end and he offers a challenge to the people he is leading;

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:15 (KJV)

I know, I know a very familiar verse to every Christian; at least it should be.  However, I think I see it a bit differently now after reading it this time.  I noticed that Joshua puts the responsibility of their obedience upon their shoulders.  I guess I knew that previously, but it seemed more pronounced today.  Hear the conversation between Joshua and the people,

“And Joshua said unto the people, ‘Ye cannot serve the LORD: for He is an holy God; He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.  If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then He will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that He hath done you good.’  And the people said unto Joshua, ‘Nay; but we will serve the LORD.’  And Joshua said unto the people, ‘Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve Him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses.’  ‘Now therefore put away, said he, ‘the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.'”  vv. 19-23

God demands that His people be holy.  Joshua gave them the truth of God and His Word, and they said we will be responsible.  “We are willing to suffer the consequences of our disobedience when we do so”, “We are witnesses” of this.

We then enter the book of Judges, read of Joshua’s death, and how the people anger the LORD through their worship of foreign gods; which actually begins by departing from GOD.  Disobedience is the first step of departure from GOD;

“And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” Judges 1:19

The chariots would have appeared to them to be like a military tank to a man on foot in today’s army.  Yet, I must ask, What of God and faith in Him?  Is that not how the walls of Jericho came tumbling down?  Is that not how the waters of the Red Sea parted?  What about the water from the Rock?  The Manna from heaven?  Then we read,

“And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, ‘I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.   And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?  Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.” 2:1-3

So now, because of their absence of trust in the LORD, their departure from Him to other gods; GOD leaves the enemy in their midst to act as “thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.”  We as Christians can sit back and judge them and ask these questions concerning their faith; but what about our own.  When it comes to holiness are there things in our hearts and lives that separate us from the blessing of God?

Our holiness is, of course, through the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is His holiness, His righteousness, in which we must rest; however, we too have a responsibility to obedience in “… faith which worketh by love.” (Galations 5:6).

Grow in faith and love toward Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 15 – Prayer versus Prayerlessness

Let me get something straight.  Prayer is to the Creator of all that is through His Son Jesus Christ.  The prayers of the Old Testament which were answered by GOD were answered by looking forward to the cross in faith.  They believed God, and it was counted unto them for righteousness.

In the reading this morning I read Joshua 9 – 22.  There was deceit, fraud by the Gibeonites out of fear for their lives; and there was a failure to pray on the part of the Israelites.

“And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.”  Joshua 9:14 (KJV)

The leaders of Israel looked and saw the food and drink the Gibeonites had with them, believed them to be a distant people, and made a covenant with them.  Had they prayed they might have avoided a lot of headaches later on.

We see an example of a man calling on the LORD; Joshua in particular and seeing one of the miracles of the Bible come to pass;

“Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, ‘Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.’   And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.   And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.” Joshua 10:12-14

You will note that Joshua spoke to the LORD, and gave command for the sun to stand still.  Now from a human point of view that would be impossible; but our God is not limited to the possible.  He is the God of the impossible.  That is, afterall, because He is GOD.  This was due to one man whose heart was faithful in calling on the name of the LORD, and believed the GOD of the impossible made it possible.  Joshua, by the power of GOD spoke to the sun and moon to stop in their course through the universe, and provide a few more hours to accomplish the work that was before them; and God did it.

The we see a couple of times when there must have been a lack of prayer and faith.  When we are not given to the word of God and prayer; faith will be in short supply.  The enemy will be most difficult to overcome; and we will find ourselves accommodating them.

“As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.” 15:63

and another time;

“Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute; but did not utterly drive them out.” 17:13

This is tied to the matter of obedience as well.  Had they been faithful in prayer, obedience to the commands of the LORD, they would have been faithful to driving out the inhabitants of the land, destroying the evil of the land.  In their disobedience they brought trouble into their camps.

There is a lesson here for the children of God today; the Christian, the follower of Christ.  Rid your hearts and lives of the evil.  Make no compromise with all that is vile and evil in your heart and life.  Be swift at the destruction of evil within.  Stay in prayer and the Word of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 14 – Promised Land Entry

Many years before the LORD had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendents would inherit the land of Canaan as their possession.  I do not doubt that they must have had wonder, and questions as to how God would carry out this great event.  It was not for them to know the how; but to trust and believe that GOD would do it.

My reading this morning was from Deuteronomy 29 – Joshua 8.  Covering the time shortly before the death of Moses; and his preparing of the people for his death, encouragement to obey the laws of God or else be cursed by God.  The Word of God plays a very important part in the children of Israel’s lives (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).

Moses gave them a song before he went up on Mount Nebo, the top of Pisgah, was given the view of all the  Promised Land and there he died.  The song of Moses (32:1-43) is a song of the glory of the LORD, His power, His protection of His people, His deliverance and of Israel’s stubbornness.  We finally see Moses handing over the leadership to Joshua, before Moses goes to the mount.

We now get to the book of Joshua.

“Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.   Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.   This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.   Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”  Joshua 1:6-9 (KJV)

Joshua must have been a bit overwhelmed by the task before Him.  He is now the leader of this mass of people who are called Israel; and they are to enter the land and destroy every idol, every people, removing all unholiness from the land; purifying it for the glory of the LORD.

Three times in these four verses GOD says to Joshua, “Be strong and of a good courage’, or “Be strong and very courageous’, and “Be strong and of a good courage”.  The LORD promises, “For the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”  Now who can fail with a word like that.

The victory over Jericho is certain and sure because of the LORD.  However, they go after a smaller city “‘Ai” and fail to conquer it.  There are some things I think can be seen for their failure at Ai.  First of all, it seems they thought they had the power;

“And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, ‘Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few.” 7:3

Another thing missing is their lack of seeking God’s approval, and lack of prayer.  It just could be that had they prayed the LORD would have revealed the sin of Achan earlier.  The reason I mention these things is because they seem to practice these things previous to their Jericho victory.  Joshua, the army of GOD and the people needed to know that it is God who gives the victory.

Christian, it is still God who gives the victory.  The victory over sin has been accomplished by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, His burial and His bodily resurrection.  Be strong and of a good courage Christian.  The LORD gives the victory  in the wilderness and in the Promised Land.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 13 – The Curse of the Tree

In reading Deuteronomy 15 – 28 today I came across these familiar verses,

 “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (KJV)

To hang a man on a tree was a form of what we call “capital punishment”; an offense worthy of death.  A penalty that today is frowned on by many.  The arguments go something like this; “It doesn’t make sense to kill one human being because they killed one.”  or maybe “Violence begetteth violence.”  Some might even say “The death penalty is not for a cultured, modern, educated people.”

When we, however, consider the Word of God and His commands for the death penalty and why we can have no legitimate argument against God for this divine punishment.  God says every human being is made in His image.  There is not one who is more or less in the image of God.  For one to take a human life maliciously, with hatred, and forethought is murder; and God says this requires “Life for life”.  If the murderer is allowed to live it broadcast to the community that this life is of more value than the life that was maliciously taken.

Of course, there is also the requirement of evidence of guilt.  A murderer can only be found guilty by the testimony of at least two witnesses.  We read these things in the reading of God’s laws; as recapped in Deuteronomy, and previously in Exodus and Leviticus.

One of the things we learn from this is that each human life is valuable.  None less and none more so than another.

Now, back to “The curse of the tree”.  This verse is even mentioned in the New Testament from Paul’s epistle to the Galations;

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:'” Galations 3:13

We are all guilty of offending God, His holiness, His righteousness, and His law.  We are guilty and worthy of death.  We are just as cursed as the man who hangs on a tree.  We read, however, that “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…”  When Jesus Christ died on that cross [the tree] he became our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and because He became the curse of sin for us; we were given His righteousness, thus we now have access to the very throne of God (Hebrews 4:16).

Through His burial the guilt and condemnation of sin was carried away; and by His resurrection He bodily arose victorious over death’s condemnation and overcame the curse of the tree.

Blessed be the name of the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 12 – Remember God is Gracious

Remembering that God is gracious should not be too difficult of a matter.  However, when we as human beings and as Christians get side tracked from the obvious, ie., God’s grace; it is generally due to blessings we have received.  We tend, at times, to be side tracked, and caught up in the blessing rather than the Blesser.

My reading for day 12 consisted of Deuteronomy 1 – 14.  The reading of Deuteronomy is of Moses reminding the children of Israel of the events of the past 40 years wandering in the wilderness.  He reminds them of their deliverance from Egypt; of times when God supplied them water; when there appeared to be no water.  How God supplied them bread when there was none to be had; and He, the LORD, gave them Manna – bread from heaven; and they ate it each day.  He reminded them of their past failures; particularly of their sin with the golden calf.  He also reminds them of God’s grace; and His promises to give them a land “flowing with milk and honey”.

“Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, ‘For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land:’ but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.  Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.” Deuteronomy 9:4-6 (KJV)

In the four hundred plus years since Jacob entering Egypt God was providing grace to the people of the land of Canaan.  Someone may ask the question, “Does scripture tell us that anywhere?”  I do not have a particular verse or verses in mind, but scripture always assumes and promotes the wonderful grace of God; so that is what I stand on here.  While God is preparing Him a people, a nation of people He is also giving the nations in Canaan opportunity to repent; but rather than repent their sin escalates toward destruction.

God reminds Israel of His grace by reminding them that He is giving them this land, and driving out its inhabitants; not because Israel is a righteous people, but because of the “wickedness of these nations”.  God does know that the children of Israel are a “stiffnecked” people – a stubborn, obstinate, rebellious people.  Yet, God in His grace blesses them with His grace.

God has blessed the world with His grace.  It is available to all who will believe in, trust His Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins, was buried – carrying our guilt and condemnation away, and rose bodily from the grave to ever live making intercession before the Father for all will believe.

Grace is God’s undeserved favor toward those who believe in Him.

People today are a stiffnecked, obstinate, stubborn and rebellious people.  We are undeserving of God’s grace, yet He offers it freely to all who will trust in His Son and His finished work.  Jesus said,

“This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.”  John 6:29

The presence of God, His glory, and righteousness is for us because of the cross of Jesus, His burial and bodily resurrection.  Remember God’s Grace.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Day 11 – The Doom of Balaam

The prophet of God was to be faithful to God, God’s Word, and to God’s people.  The prophet of God was to speak the truth, speak what God said, and on the immediate surface of things it almost seems that Balaam was faithful in those things.  However,  What was he doing going with the enemy of God, and God’s people anyway?  There is a clue itself.  If we listen to the arguments of our day; it might go something like this; “Well! We need to join with them, identify with them, know their desires, likes and dislikes if we are going to win them to Christ.”

What it ultimately comes down to is are we going to serve God and be faithful to Him; or are we going to serve mammon [material gain, popularity] and people’s approval?  Balaam does not want to “rock the boat”.

My reading today consisted of Numbers 24 – 36.  We are told in Numbers 24;

“And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way.”  Numbers 24:25 (KJV)

We are not told precisely what Balaam has done but we see the  results when in chapter 25 we have the evidence of his fine demonic labors.

“And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.”(v. 1ff).

There was a man in Israel’s camp who saw the tragedy unfolding and became bold, courageous and filled with righteous indignation;

“And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.  And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.”  25:6-8

The Moabites had joined with the Midianites to destroy Israel.  Balaam had failed to curse Israel as Balak had wished; but he did leave them a means to curse Israel.  It seems that Balaam may have seen a weakness in some of Israel’s people, so he suggested to king Balak of infiltration with their debauchery in idol worship; and profaning the people of God and violating the laws of God.  He is no prophet of God at all who shows the enemy of God the weaknesses of God’s people to cause their downfall.

In the end Balaam and five kings of Midian are killed by an army of 12,000 Israelite men (31:8).  In verse 16 we are told that it was Balaam who caused the “trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor”;

“Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.” Numbers 31:16

The New Testament gives three verses dealing with the “prophet” Balaam,

“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;” 2 Peter 2:15
“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 11
“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”  Revelation 2:14

Woe be to the pastor, preacher, evangelists, and any believer who follows the way of Balaam, who runs greedily after the error of Balaam; or holds the doctrine of Balaam, casting a stumbling block before the children of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 10 – Hearts of Rebellion

There are times we all have our complaints.  We complain about the weather.  It is either too hot; or too cold.  It is raining when we wanted to work outdoors, or picnic, or play in some fashion.  We complain because our job does not pay enough.  We  may complain because of sickness; either our own or a friend or family member.

The reading this morning is, and was for me; Numbers 10 – 23.  There is much complaining; and from what I can see the complaining is toward Moses and Aaron, and especially toward God.  Complaining against God is a pitiful thing.  It shows that you know better than God does; or at least that you think you do.  And that is the heart of the complaints among the children of Israel in the wilderness.

In chapter 11 they complain about the Manna;

“And the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.” (11:8)

That is not, however, the testimony of Scripture in Exodus 16:31;

“…and it was like coriander see, and white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.”

Manna was the sustenance which God had provided for Israel as they wandered in the wilderness.  It was sweet; at least until they began messing with it.  They wanted meat, so God gives them meat; so much it makes many of them sick unto death.  Hear what the word of the LORD says;

“And the LORD said unto Moses, ‘Is the LORD’S hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now whether My word shall come to pass unto thee or not.”  Numbers 11:23 (KJV).

Even Moses questions God about where all this meat is going to come from, thus God’s message for Moses, and the people.

In chapters 10 – 23 we see much rebellion of the children; some of it beginning with what the KJV calls “the mixed multitude”.  This “mixed multitude” are people who came out of Egypt who were not of Israel.  Some were probably Egyptians who saw the power of God, yet did not believe in Him to the point of really trusting Him.  That is a matter Christians of today need to be alert and aware of also.

When Moses sent a search committee into the Promised Land to search out its richness and possible problems (chapters 13-14) of the twelve who were sent only two returned with faith, believing the LORD was able to deliver the land into their hands.  Rebellion and unbelief are bulwarks of hindrance to the power and work of God in individual lives and a nation.  When the people realized they had sinned against the LORD, they attempted yet to rebel against God and proceeded with a contingent of people to go and take the land (14:40-45).

Three Levite leaders rebel against the leadership of Aaron and Moses; they and their followers are destroyed as the earth opens up and swallows Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, their families and their followers (chapter 16).  It is indeed “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

Even Moses shows some defiance when instead of speaking to the rock he strikes it.  Yet God in His grace provides water from the rock for the people.

Last, but not least, was a prophet; who was a prophet for profit; or for hire is called on to curse the children of Israel. Chapters 22 – 23 begin the plot of Balak king of the Moabites to curse Israel through the use of Balaam the erring prophet.  God used a donkey to speak to this prophet.  Not to belittle the story or to deny its truth; I wonder how many times God has used an animal to speak to people and they refused to hear them?

Speak LORD, for Thy servant hears.

Rebellion is  the heart of unbelief.  When complainers challenge God, His authority, His leaders, and His people they will die.  When they challenge His promises they will die (14:36-38).  Believe the LORD, trust Him through His Son Jesus who died for your sins, was buried and rose again.  He is our only hope.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 9 – The Way to Go

In our readings of Leviticus, and now into Numbers we find much law; and there; probably by some people’s accounting; is little grace.  However, I find that assessment of “little grace” hard to accept.  It is, afterall, by God’s grace that He gave us Law.

I have a couple of sets of verses we will look at today.  The first is when Moses enters into the Tabernacle;

“And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with Him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and He spake unto him.”  Numbers 7:89 (KJV)

With the building of the Tabernacle finished and set up after the direction of the LORD; Moses enters into the finished work, to hear from the Creator/Architect.  To hear the voice of the one who is Lord of all is the desire of every child of God.  Most of the time it has been the LORD who is speaking; and that is as it should be.

Far too often we want to speak, even to God; and He approved of us speaking to Him; however, it is first necessary that we listen to and hear Him.  It is His heart we need when we come to Him.  It is He who gives us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4); we find those desires by knowing Him, His heart, and hearing His Word.

How do we know when it is time to do something?  Say, to move from where we live, to move out of what has become called our “Comfort zone”, and into a place less comfortable, or more threatening?  We often leave it to circumstances, our feelings, or outside or inside pressure (Outside  pressure being from the people around us).  When did the children of Israel know when to pack up and leave where they were?

“And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.   Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed.  At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.”  Numbers 9:21-23

By the cloud, and pillar of fire by night.  For the Christian that cloud is the Spirit of God within.  All of those things mentioned – circumstances, pressure, threatenings all play a part if we are hearing the voice of God.  Many times it might not have to be those threatenings or fearful things; if we would but hear God and go the way the Spirit of God leads.

Far too many times we try and jump ahead of God; when what He is wanting is for us to stay, grow, and prosper in Him.

When God moves we should move.  When He stops we should stop.  If we are not seeing God work, then that is God’s invitation to stop and take an assessment of our lives.  We do not force God to move, nor should we move without God’s move.  So many do, and end up discouraged, in doubt and darkness.

The way to go is the way of God through His Son Jesus Christ.  The Spirit of God in you is Christ in you.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 8 – Holiness and the LORD

Sometimes, maybe much time is made of mocking all that is holy.  Even among Christians it is not often taken seriously.  Someone who becomes devoted to living holy is often told something like, “O, come on now.  You can’t be serious”.  God is serious about holiness, because He is holy.

In reading Leviticus you will find much about “Holiness”.  You will find it stated by the LORD, “Be holy; for I am holy” many times.  I read that several times as I was reading Leviticus 9 – 22 this morning.

When two sons of Aaron did not take holiness seriously; or right worship seriously they died,

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He commanded them not.  And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.” Leviticus 10:1-2 (KJV)

Their death seems to have been due to entering the most Holy Place with alcoholic drink on them;

“And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, ‘Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: and that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; and that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.'”  Leviticus 10:9

Whatever the “strange fire” was that Nadab and Abihu took into the Holy Place it was not holy unto the LORD.  God takes holiness among His people very seriously, and so should the Christian of today.

As we look at Leviticus with all its commandments, requirements for holiness, laws for dealing with body sores, and skins rashes, and leprosy, sexual relationships, eating; the right kinds of animals, insects and fish to eat, etc. it seems like it would be an impossible feat to meet God’s requirements for holiness.  I believe that to be an accurate assessment of our situation.

With all that God requires for our holiness we all fall short.  I mean who would always be aware of sitting on something that is unclean (Leviticus 15).  Only God would always know that.

The declaration of the Law is that we are Guilty, Guilty, and Guilty of being unholy; unless we can keep the whole law.  There is only One who did.  His name is Jesus Christ and He was and is the atonement for all our sins.

God has said many times through my reading to day, “I am the LORD”.  That is it.  He is holy; and He requires holiness of His people.  It is only attainable through the once and for all shed blood of His Son; who was our atonement, and scapegoat for our sins (Leviticus 16); carrying our sin away.  God is still serious about sin and holiness.  Jesus rose bodily from the grave, and ever lives as our intercessor.

Blessed be the holy name of the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 7 – From Deliverance to Glory

The book of Exodus begins with the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in bondage in Egypt.  They are in bitter enslavement to Egypt.  Exodus ends, however, fulfilling the meaning of its title “Exodus” and the children are free from bondage.

My reading this morning included Exodus 35 – Leviticus 8.  I will not be commenting on the Leviticus reading, but only on the Exodus portion, and particularly the ending.

From bondage in Egypt the children of Israel, are delivered after many wonderful things which God performed through His servants Moses and Aaron.  Plagues which came upon Egypt; unlike anything they had ever witnessed; or ever would witness in their lifetimes.  It was God’s plan to deliver them, His way.  It would not be the way of Moses, nor the way of Aaron; but God’s.

It is God’s intention that His name be glorified and nothing else.  That is the greatest desire of God; that He be glorified.

The Exodus shows us the children of Israel on a journey from Egypt, through the wilderness; at least to Mount Sinai; receiving God’s commandments; instructions, and designs on worshipping God.

In the Exodus we see sin raise its ugly, demonic head while Moses is on the Mount receiving the law; and after they have said, “All that God commands we will do.”  They call on Aaron to make them gods (32:1-2) of gold and to honor for their deliverance from Egypt; I suppose.  God tells Moses to go down quickly, and he finds a riotous, debaucherous worship more in tune with the surround peoples than godly going on; defiling everything the people has said they would do.

Yet, God in His grace and mercy brings them to His glory.  They see His glory in the “tent of the congregation” or tabernacle,

“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.  For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”  Exodus 40:34-38 (KJV)

And, even Moses cannot enter due to His glory upon the tabernacle.

That shows us, that even Israel, and the Law cannot bring us into His glory.  The law fulfilled in God’s only begotten Son, His blood sacrifice on the cross, His burial, and resurrection can bring sinful man, redeemed, cleansed, and into the very presence of God.

“For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:15-16

Jesus Christ is our High Priest who has given His own blood that we might go into the very presence of God.  I pray you find yourself there today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 6 – The Glory of the LORD

On this sixth day of February 2012 my reading covered Exodus 21 – 34.  For me it was an hour’s worth of reading.  I know that means I am a slow reader.  Part of that time was spent in pouring me a cup of coffee with hot chocolate mix mixed in at half way through which was after chapter 27.

God of creation and all things; LORD of hosts, and Israel is the God of Glory and grace.  My how we need grace.  How I need grace.

Chapter 21 begins with additional laws concerning judgments, and handling conflicts among the people.  God also gives some rules for dealing with perversity, and obscenity among people and animals (22:16-20).

Following these rules God gives Moses the designs for building a place for “God’s dwelling” among the people – the Tabernacle in the wilderness.  He gives Moses His design for worshipping Him.  He begins with the inner Tabernacle, and in particular with Himself with the Ark of the covenant and mercy seat (25:10-22).  The table of shewbread (vv. 23-30).  The Menorah (vv. 31-40).  True worship must begin with God.  It cannot begin with music, or even preaching.  It must forever begin with God.

Chapter 26 deals with the goat skins that will be needed for the Tabernacle covering, and linens, and blue, scarlet, purple.  Silver is needed for the “foundation” of the movable tabernacle. Very intricately detailed by the heavenly Designer.  I pray you will be reading these chapters and will see that all these things of the Tabernacle in the wilderness point us to the Messiah of Israel.  The gold and the wood of the ark point us to the God-man Jesus the Christ; Jesus of Nazareth.  The shewbread shows Jesus as the Bread of Life (John 6:35-58).  The lampstand [Menorah] shows us Jesus as the Light of the World (John 8:12; 9:5).

When Moses was on the Mount receiving these instructions and heavenly designs the people down below were growing restless, beginning to complain; and due to this began crying out for Aaron to build them a “god”.  They have previously said, “All that the LORD says we will do”.  Now they are in abstract rebellion against Him.  And Moses pleads for the people;

“And the LORD said unto Moses, ‘Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, ‘These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.’  And the LORD said unto Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: now therefore let Me alone, that My wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.’  And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, ‘LORD, why doth Thy wrath wax hot against Thy people, which Thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?  Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘For mischief did He bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from Thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against Thy people.  Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Thy servants, to whom Thou swarest by Thine own self, and saidst unto them, ‘I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.’  And the LORD repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people.”  Exodus 32:7-14 (KJV)

Moses knew the LORD; and he knew the LORD is holy and had every right, and could with one word extinguish the nation from the face of the earth.  The heart of Moses was one with the heart of God; because he is pleading for the grace of God to win out and glorify Him.  The glory of God is at stake.  That is what the pleading of Moses for the people is about.

In another place Moses pleads for God’s mercy and grace for the people, even to the point of his own destruction in their behalf;

“And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, ‘Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.  Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.”  32:31-32

We need to realize that the law was given to show us our sin, our weaknesses, and our need of God’s abundant grace.  We all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); and stand in need of grace given us freely by God through His Son Jesus Christ; who died on the cross for our sins, was buried carrying the guilt and condemnation of sin away, and rising bodily from the grave; justifying us forever.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 5 – Mediator Desired

It seems in the reading in early Genesis that Adam must have had a fellowship with God; walking with Him in the garden on a regular basis; before there was sin in the garden.  After their rebellion and disobedience, God came walking to them, they heard His voice, and they hid themselves.

The voice of God is a fearful thing to sinful man.  Nothing vile, and unclean can stand in His presence, and it seems that is ingrained in every unredeemed heart.  It is seen in Exodus following the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt.  After the powerful and fearful working power of God in the land of Egypt you would almost think that there would be a heart that longed to hear the voice of God, but no, that did not happen.  Hear their voices;

“And they said unto Moses, ‘Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.’  And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.  And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.”  Exodus 20:19-21 (KJV)

We can see in this that what the people wanted was actually a Mediator.  Someone to stand between them and God, and someone to speak for God, rather than hear Him themselves.  Moses says to them, “‘Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.”  Another translation says it like this,

 “Don’t be afraid,” Moses said, “for God has come in this way to show you his awesome power. From now on, let your fear of him keep you from sinning!”  Exodus 20:20 (NLT)

It is definite that we do need a Mediator between us and God; and God has provided His Mediator.  That Mediator is Jesus, and makes it so much different.  The apostle Paul has written by the inspiration of the Spirit of God,

“For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”  1 Timothy 2:5-6

We need to see sin as a very fearful, hurtful, destructive, eternally deadly thing in our lives.  We need to see that we need God in our lives, lest we go to death and destruction – eternal death and destruction.  God requires perfection by the law.  The law shows that we are imperfect, and cannot reach God; however God has provided a way; the Mediator who gave Himself a ransom for all who will believe.

Look at the difference the apostle John offers in the New Testament;

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.  And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”  1 John 3:1-3 (KJV)

Those who are redeemed through the blood of Jesus are the “sons of God”, unknown by the world, because it knew and knows not Christ.  The son of God seeks God out; and seeks to be just as pure and holy as He is pure and holy.  No more fear to hear His voice, because of the Mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ and His shed blood on Calvary’s cross.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Challenge to Pastors

It is, I believe, a very important thing that we as pastors lead our people to know God through knowing His Word.  There is far too much ignorance of Scripture in our churches; and some of that responsibility lies on the steps of her leadership.

Do you read  the Bible daily, or do you just study it to prepare for sermons?  I can tell you that if you do not spend time reading to learn the word; your preaching will not matter much; for you or your people.

My challenge is this.  Start today, or as soon as possible to endeavor to read through the Bible in 90 days.  You can do it by reading 14 chapters per day, leaving you some room for being short of time a few days.  It will bless your life, your ministry and your preaching.

If you want to know God; you must begin by hearing His Word.  Begin in Genesis and read through Revelation in 90 days.

Join me.

-T.A.

Day 4 – From a Garden to a Grave, and Beyond

I do not believe I have ever read so much of Genesis so quickly as I  have since beginning this reading through the Bible in 90 days.  It is exciting, challenging, and enlightening.

Our reading this morning covers Genesis 43 – Exodus 6.

We have gone from the days of creation; Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, their expulsion, a murderous son (Cain), the flood; the calling of Abraham to father a nation; and we have seen his tests, trials, and troubles.  Abraham’s and Sarah’s trying to do things their own way, and ending up causing a mess.

We see Isaac’s son Jacob practicing deception; he and a whole lot of other people doing the same thing.  Yet, God chooses Jacob to be the “prince with God” calling him “Israel”.  Jacob  has a son named Joseph who is betrayed by his brothers, sold into Egypt, cast into prison unjustly, then, promoted to second in command under the Pharoah of Egypt.  Sin is progressing; and so to is grace.  “Where sin abounds, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).

Beginning in a garden of perfection, comfort, and every need provided to a grave in Egypt.

“So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”  Genesis 50:26 (KJV)

One of the things we can see following Adam’s and Eve’s sin in the garden is death seems to dominate the picture; however, it does not rule forever.  Since the fall everything ages, weakens and dies.  The curse of Adam’s sin is upon all of creation.  Not a one of us can rejoice in death, because death is the fruit of sin.  It is a bitter fruit.  It is a separating act.  It divides – separates the  spirit and soul of the human from their bodies.  There is, however, a death worse than physical; and that is the spiritual death which separates God from man.  That death happened instantly when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden

That death is seen when they heard God coming to them; they hid themselves.  Death is not a pleasant thing to discuss, or to write about; but it is a part of our lives.  It is also and foremost “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23).

From the death of Joseph we go to Exodus, showing us that death is not the end.  In Exodus we find that God hears the cries of the children of Israel crying for help.  He hears their cry, prepares a man from Egypt – one of their own who has grown up with the rulers of Egypt – and sends him back to deliver His children from the bondage that has come about because of lying and deception of the brothers of Joseph.

When God calls a man it is an awesome thing.  And it was for Moses,

“And Moses said unto God, ‘Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?’  And He said, ‘Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.’  And Moses said unto God, ‘Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, ‘The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, ‘What is His name? What shall I say unto them?’  And God said unto Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM: and He said, ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ‘I AM hath sent me unto you.’  And God said moreover unto Moses, ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations.”  Exodus 3:11-15 (KJV)

Life does indeed go on beyond death, and the grave.  And, I do not mean only in the physical realm of life, but also the spiritual.  There is an eternity to shun, and there is an eternity to indulge in, and be filled with the greatness and glory of God.

We find in the verses above that God called Moses to go and deliver the children of Israel from their captivity.  Who was actually doing the deliverance?  Moses was only a man; who had faults, failures, fears and doubts; but was still greatly used by God.

Who was sending Moses?  The “I AM”.  Meaning the “Self-Existing One” the “Self-Sustaining One”.  He needs nothing to be; He is.

He is the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He is also the LORD God of Jesus the Son of the LORD God [YHWH-‘Elohyim].  Jesus, the God-man who walked in flesh among us.  Jesus the God-man who bled and died on the cross for the sins of mankind as the atonement for our sins.  Those who believe in Him will be rejoined with GOD for all eternity.  That is the only eternity to indulge, and be filled with the presence, greatness and glory of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 3 – Destiny of a Nation

Many trust in what is called fate.  Some trust in faith as though faith has power of its own.  “Just have faith” is what is heard quite often.  What is the difference in “fate” and “faith”.  Fate is events guided by events to the best of my knowledge; “What ever will be will be” mentality.  Faith is belief in something or someone to have power of guiding events or times or things even; but “faith” in what or whom?  It does make a difference what you believe.

As we  continue at reading the Bible through in these next 87 days we will find that there is a Person; a divine Individual who is guiding the events and times of our lives.

That is evident in the life of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  We can see it in the life of Joseph as well.

God told Abraham back in Genesis 15:13-14,

“And He said unto Abram, ‘Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”

Then as we read today in Genesis 29 – 42 we find one of Jacob’s children, a younger son, is sold into slavery by his older brothers due to their jealousy, and Joseph ends up in Egypt, in prison and eventually the Pharoah’s second man ruling the nation.

Joseph was a man of dreams, and passion for God, His promises, and His Word.  Joseph dreamed that all his brethren would one day bow down to him,

“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.  And he said unto them, ‘Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: for, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.’  And his brethren said to him, ‘Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us?’ And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.  And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, ‘Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.’ And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, ‘What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?’ And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” Genesis 37:5-12 (KJV)

I tell this because it was by his faith in God Joseph was able to deal with the betrayal of his own brethren, the selling into Egypt, the false accusation of Potiphar’s wife, and his imprisonment.  Through it all Joseph kept God as his guide, his comfort and his strength.  Believing that God would bring about what He had shown him in his dreams.

After Joseph has arrived in Egypt and imprison; in prison Joseph continues to say and believe,

“Do not interpretations belong to God?”  Genesis 40:8   and,

“It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”  41:16

The Psalmist even mentions Joseph in the 115th Psalm,

“Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” (v.19)

Faith that God is guiding the affairs of His people to be a great nation was a part of Joseph’s life.  He believed God, and though it does not say it by verse, and words; it says it by implication; “It was counted to him for righteousness.

God not only guides and directs nations; he directs individual lives.  He prefers to use you for good and His glory.  He will do that through your faith in His Son Jesus; as you humbly bow before Him as your own personal Lord and Savior; believing that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead; and that He is eternally alive; and through Him you will live eternally.

Believe/Trust and be saved.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 2 – Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and Esau

One of the things that crossed my mind as I was reading this morning was how these men all had something in common.  What is that commonality?  They are all sinners, deceivers, liars and tricksters.  Yes!  Even Abraham the patriarch of Judaism and Christianity.

Abraham had the promises of God for the land of Canaan.  Verse 18 of chapter 15 of Genesis states,

“In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:'” Genesis 15:18 (KJV)

Yet Abraham is fearful for his own life, lies to Abimelech about Sarah only being his sister, causes a curse on the people of Abimelech (chapter 20, Genesis).  He is a man of faith.  God had given him great and precious promises.  Promises of protection, power, wealth, and generations.

Abraham and Sarah laugh at God’s promise of a child, with both of them as parents of the child.  Abraham laughs in 17:17, and Sarah in 18:12.

Ishmael is the offspring of an unholy act of unbelief in the behalf of Sarah and Abraham.  Despite this God gives Hagar many promises concerning Ishmael, and they are fulfilled just as God has promised.

Isaac, the son of promise ends up in a lying mood as well (chapter 26:6-13).

The name Jacob means “supplanter” equaling trickster, deceiver, you can get the message from that.  That name really fits Jacob.  He first trades his elder brother Esau out  of his birthright; which he eagerly sells for a bowl of soup.  Which does not say much about Esau’s character.  Jacob thought more of it than Esau did; or he would not have sought it.

The reason I point this all out is, that, the Bible pulls no punches when it comes to mankind’s need.  Our greatest need is grace.  There is none who is righteous.  We are all condemned in sin.

It is God in His grace who came down to sinful, lying, fearful, Abraham and makes him faithful Abraham, “friend of God”.  It is God in His grace who chose the lying Isaac to be the second patriarch of the faith.  It is God in His grace who chose Jacob, and changed his name from “Supplanter” to later “Israel”.

It is God in His grace who reaches down to liars, cheats, harlots, adulterers, adultresses, murderers, drunks, thieves, and the worst among us; and says to all who will hear,

 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:13 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 1 – Genesis 1 – 14

The first day of reading through the Bible in ninety days is here.  I have completed the first 14 chapters.  As I told you in the last post I will be reading the Bible in the New Living Translation, which I realize is a weak “translation”, but it has an ease of reading which the KJV does not have, thus and can read without too much distraction by trying to decipher the days, months and years; lengths, weights  and such.

I did discover in my reading of the first fourteen chapters that there is much with the NLT which I have problems with in interpretation, but as I wrote of one of those problems in my journal, it could be a matter of perspective.

That problem was the NLT’s interpretation of Genesis 10:25,

“Eber had two sons. The first was named Peleg—“division”—for during his lifetime the people of the world were divided into different language groups and dispersed. His brother’s name was Joktan.”  Genesis 10:25 (NLT)

Now the KJV,

“And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.” Genesis 10:25 (KJV)

The problem I have with the NLT here is that it provides and interpretation that is not present in the text.  The word “earth” in the KJV is “eh’-rets” in Hebrew and can mean various things,

“From an unused root probably meaning to be firm; the earth (at large, or partitively a land): –  X common, country, earth, field, ground, land, X nations, way, + wilderness, world.”  From Strongs Concordance — e-Sword.

The people had been divided by the change difference in languages, and there could have been a massive moving of the planet earth as well; not only causing a dividing of languages, but also of the land.  That is my thought on the matter.

We find in the reading of Genesis 1 – 14 that God is the Creator; that He created the earth and all things upon it in a seven day period.  On the sixth day having already prepared things for the crowning of creation He creates humanity, beginning with Adam, then his wife Eve.  Things were without problem in the garden God had prepared for them.  He even spent time with them in that garden, at least at one point He came to visit them, and found them hiding from Him.

Here we find the answer for all the ills and problems in our world today.  Why is there killing, sickness, disease, hardships of all sorts?  It comes down to this point that the first man and woman did not listen to God, nor obey His commandment.  That one commandment was,

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.'” Genesis 2:16-17

Following their sin of disobedience, God comes to them, finds them hiding from Him and God drives them from paradise; places a guardian at the gate of Eden preventing their way to eternal life at the Tree of Life, and they begin to die.  Adam Eve have two sons Cain and Abel.  Rebellion sets in Cain’s heart even to the point of killing his brother.  God curses Cain.

Adam and Eve have other children.  We find the godly lineage in chapter 5; however there is much evil on the earth, and God destroys the earth and every land going animal; except for those He has chosen to save through the only justified man living.  “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (6:8).  The flood comes.  Noah, his wife, their sons, and their sons wives are in the ark of redemption with the chosen animals – 7 of each clean animal; 2 of each unclean.  My how God is full of grace and mercy.

From paradise to death to hope through Abram and a new land.  A new people, nation, a Promised Redeemer.

-Tim A. Blankenship