Lessons From The Life Of Saul
Saul had it all. Good looks, height, charm, and leadership ability. He was chosen by God, touched by his Spirit, and given the opportunity to be Israels first and greatest king.
Sauls own insistent disobedience against the Lord, however, dashed any opportunity for an enduring dynasty. Instead, jealousy and bitterness began to brew in the kings heart.
Sauls own son Jonathan could have felt just as bitter or jealous. After all, Jonathan knew full well that he had lost the kingship because of his fathers sin and that David would become king instead. Yet Jonathan was willing to be second to David if that was Gods plan. Saul, however, would hear none of it.
Jealousy ate at Sauls tormented mind. Like a man unhinged, he was driven to chase David in the wilderness, bent on destroying the man God chose as his replacement. In his jealous rage, Saul eventually viewed his own soldiers as conspirators against his happiness and Gods priests as traitors against his life.
Sauls jealousy mushroomed into a terrible cloud of destruction. He murdered hundreds of innocent people but never could catch David. In the end, Saul fell victim to his own sword. Years later, Davids son Solomon wrote, Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but who jealousy is even more dangerous .
If one of Gods most gifted men could not survive jealousy and other sins, who are you and I to think we can sin the same and fare any better?
For further reading:
Why A Biblical Art Museum
Biblical art has been an integral part of cathedrals and churches for centuries. The church was the most important patron of the artist. Painting and sculptures evolved around the religious subject matter. Paintings of Madonnas, Crucifixions, Saints and scenes from bible stories graced the homes of the great families and royalty of Europe. Literally millions of paintings of Jesus, Mary and other New Testament figures were sculpted and painted. These masterpieces would eventually form the content of every important museum in the world.
Figures from the Old Testament seldom appeared. Adam and Eve were used time to time as a vehicle for painting the human figure. Of special interest is Michelangelos choices of Old Testament prophets for his Sistine Chapel, Moses for a Pope’s tomb, and David to represent the youth of Florence.
With the introduction of printed page came illustrations. The work of such masters as Rembrandt, Durer, and Dore adorned the bibles which more and more people had in their home. Many artists found a new interest in The Bible as inspiration and used both Old and New Testaments. As artists began to explore new subjects and forms of art, the biblical subjects became less important. The Impressionists, Surrealists, Cubists, Dadaists, Minimalists etc. did not use religious subject matter and the art collectors didn’t desire it.
A rare exception is Marc Chagall, the modern master, who devoted a great amount of his output to biblical subjects.
The Bible And The Land 7 Who Is Israel In The Bible
Many Christians simply assume that the modern state of Israel is a direct continuation of the Israel of the Bible, and that the Jews of today are the direct descendants of Abraham. As such, the Abrahamic covenant, which included the promise of the land, is still valid and applies to modern Israel. Furthermore, the promise in Gen. 12:1-3 that God will bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse Abraham is transferred today to modern Israel: those who bless thestate Israel are blessed and those who oppose the state of Israel are cursed.
I would like here to only challenge the premise that membership in Israel in the OT is entirely dependent on race. In other words, is the Israel of the Bible an entity defined exclusively by race? Now we need to be careful before we answer this question answering with a yes would mean that God is racist!
When we read the biblical history, it will become apparent that the biblical narrative is almost exclusively focused of what one might call the holy seed the seed chosen by God for the redemption of the world. This is the seed of Abraham which became the people Israel. Yet when we read the story carefully, we realize that one can be born in the family of Israel yet not considered part of the seed. This is evident in the examples of Ishmael and Esau for example. And this was captured by Paul in his letter to the Romans:
And what about the nations who became Jews during the Persian times:
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Taking It Literally: The Biblical Boundaries Of Israel
For the past few months, we have been following the news on the changing political landscape of the Arab world. In the middle of it all, the nation of Israel is standing strong a nation that for 2,000 years was virtually written off by history.
A nation and people that were scattered throughout the world for two millennia has taken center stage in world politics.
As the partition of the Holy Land will soon be discussed yet again by the nations, one might ask: What is the actual land that rightly belongs to Israel? The key text for answering this question is found in Genesis 15:18-21,
On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.
There are several key elements in this verse that we must consider. First, it is a covenant between God and Abram, and as such, it cannot be abrogated by human effort. God indicated the terms of this covenant: The land that is promised was not given to Abram, but rather to his descendants.
Although some may argue that this includes all of Abrams descendants, we know that the pact was passed on only to Isaac, then to Jacob and his children.
Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
What Does The Bible Say About Israel
For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession .
How did the nation of Israel become the chosen people? Are they still the chosen people today, or have they been replaced by the Christian Church? Why is the land of Israel itself so very important?
The history of Israel, and their unique relationship with God, is a rich and fascinating one that began in the Garden of Eden and continues to this very day. God is certainly not done with Israel!
The coming of the Messiah and the birth of the Church did not end this relationship, but allowed all people from all the earth to enter into it in a way that had never been possible before. From the earliest chapter of Genesis to the end of Revelation, we read how God planned to work through one family, one nation, from which the Messiah would emerge and all humanity could be restored to Him.
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What Happened To The Tribes In The Divided Kingdom
After Solomons reign, the kingdom of Israel divides. Some tribes remain loyal to Davids bloodline , but most tribes rebel and form their own new nation .
The prophet Ahijah illustrates this by tearing his cloak into 12 pieces and giving 10 pieces to Jeroboam, who would rule the Northern Kingdom. He says that one piece will remain with Solomons son for the sake of Gods covenant with David .
So a little more math:
12 10 1 = 1
It turns out that Benjamin joined the tribe of Judah, and combined to form the Southern Kingdom . The Southern Kingdom is ruled by the house of David, who was from the tribe of Judah, so the kingdom is often just called Judah.
The tribe of Levi was also aligned with the South. Jeroboam set up a new priesthood to false gods in the North, and so because the temple of the Lord was in Judah, the Levites migrated there .
So the original divided kingdom looked like this:
What Israel Provided Us
While it might be tempting to see Israel as a failure, I do not believe that was the case. God knew their disobedience to the covenant and his purpose for them upfront. And through it all he worked to produce at least two important things out of Israel.
1. Jesus Christ
Most important was Jesus, who while fully divine, was also fully human. He was Jewish, and living under the covenant law of Israel. And he not only lived under it. He fulfilled it. After Jesus fulfilment of the law, believers could look back and see that the law pointed to Jesus all along.
All of Israels history was moving toward the coming of Jesus. The law and the prophets spoke of him , and he came to fulfill them . Jesus was the fulfilment of Israels purpose. Even though Israel as a nation would seem to have failed, God used them to bring Jesus into the world.
2. The Old Testament
Israel also produced what Christians today call the Old Testament. This record of Israels history, and Gods dealing with them is important for our understanding of God and redemption history.
It is a history with a few bright spots, but mostly it is a story of human failure. And, contrasted with the failure of humanity, we see God clearly portrayed as purposeful, patient, and just. Our understanding of who God is would be poorer if not for the messy history of Israel.
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Gods Plan For Mankind We Must Be Born Again
In Genesis chapter 1 we read that God made mankind male and female and blessed them to be fruitful and multiply. Why did the Creator of the universe give man the mandate to procreate and proliferate? Think about the billions of humans born since the world began. What were they born for? Where have they all gone? What did they live for? Did their lives have any real meaning? The answer to these questions is found in a mystery: we must be changed or born again as the Bible puts it.
Israels King David asked a similar question. He wrote in the 8th Psalm:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
God Is Inclusive In His Choosing
God chooses Israel and ultimately Jesus, and this results in the exact opposite of God favoring one group to the exclusion of all others. Instead, God works out his plan to extend his love to all the world through one group or individual.
We can see this at play in the ministry of Jesus and his followers. For example, one of Jesus early followers was a non-Jewish, Samaritan woman who is not from the chosen nation of Israel . Jesus invites her into a conversation and reveals to her that he is the Messiah she and her people have been waiting for. This woman then goes on to invite many others into the story of Jesus .
The New Testament contains many other stories of Jesus and his followers extending this invitation to all people .
This is why Peter, when he writes his letter to a mixed group of Jesus followers, applies the language of the chosen nation to them, calling them a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, Gods special possession . He says that any of those who have received mercy from God now have the special role of declaring the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
When we join these early followers of Jesus in inviting others into the story of Gods love for all people, we are also living out of our identity as Gods chosen peoplethose whose special purpose has always been to extend Gods inclusive love to many.
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Future Geological Changes Around Jerusalem
The Mount of Olives will split into two
When Christ returns the geology of the area will be totally changed and the Mount of Olives just east of Jerusalem splits into two . It splits east-west with half the mountain moving north and half moving south, generating a very large valley reaching to Azal . Azal may be several km south of the present-day Mount of Olives, link. It is well known that there is a geological fault line running east-west through the Mount of Olives and just south of Jerusalem, link. Could it be that present-day Jerusalem is moved north to sit high above this valley? Ezekiel 40.2 and Zech 14.10 suggest that the millennial Jerusalem is elevated above a plain.
Ezekiel 45 and 48 provide amazing detail of a temple the LORDSs sanctuary located just north of the city area . Note that healing waters flow east from the temple down into the valley to enter the northern end of the Dead sea, resulting in the restoration of fishing .
Inspired Hebrew Scriptures Powerful Words
According to the Pew Research Center, an astounding 2.2 billion people in the world base their religious beliefs and worldview on text written by Hebraic men who wrote bold declarations about the worlds origins, future, and mans ultimate destiny. Interpretations of the Bible abound, but what is actually written?
In Romans the 3rd chapter, the apostle Paul wrote:Do the Jews have any advantage over the Gentiles? Or is there any value in being circumcised? Much, indeed, in every way! In the first place, God trusted his message to the Jews.
Put another way, here Paul is saying that the inspired Hebrew scriptures of the Jews are the very words of God!
Lets put aside religious biases, mystical interpretations, or even our secular worldview. Lets read with an open mind what the Bible tells us about our origins and our future. Right at the beginning we read a mystery, namely, that the God of the Bible reproduces His kind. In the Genesis account of mans creation the Bible speaks of mankind made in Gods image:
In Genesis 1:26Then God said, Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them male and female he created them.
But what does it mean to be made in Gods image?
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Gods Purpose For Israel Today
So if Jesus fulfilled Israels purpose, does God still have a further purpose for them? Or have they been set aside?
There is much heated debate over this issue. Clearly Israel still exists as a nation, and it would seem that God has been preserving some remnant of them over the past 2,000 years. The vast majority of the times the New Testament uses the name Israel is in regard to the physical descendants of Jacob.
But I believe there is more to Israel than that today. Looking at Ephesians 2:11-22 it is clear that Paul sees something more than just the status quo for Israel. Paul refers here to a new humanity that Christ has created via his death on the cross. Created out of both Jew and Gentile. Not containing both Jews and Gentiles. But one where that distinction does not exist.
Most commonly we call that new humanity the Church. But in Galatians 6:16 Paul seems to call them the Israel of God. I am convinced that the Church has not replaced Israel. I am also convinced that God does not have two distinct covenant people. Instead, Israel now includes people from all backgrounds. All united together in Christ Israel fulfilled.
See What Is Premillennialism? to learn more about the differing views of Israel mentioned here.
The Fall Of Man Paradise Was Lost
PARADISE WAS LOST, BUT THE APOSTLE JOHN WROTE THAT IT WILL BE RESTORED IN THE FUTURE.In the Creation account of Genesis, we read about a paradise-like garden called Eden, where two important trees were planted by God: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. These trees seem to have been deliberately planted to test how humans would use their free will. As the story recounts, the first humans failed the test and were driven away from Paradise.
Lets read about the creation of mankind:
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Life In The Millennial Age
Prophecy paints a picture of a world at peace with Jerusalem as the focal point since Christ dwells there. Of His sanctuary near Jerusalem the LORD says:
This is the place of My feet, where I shall dwell in the midst of the children of Israel
Millennial life around Jerusalem is described in some detail. Nations will willingly go up to Jerusalem to worship the LORD and listen to His teaching . It also appears that some of the Hebrew festivals are reinstated, as in the Feast of Tabernacles . Man will still have his daily work but there is some indication that the bias of work will be towards husbandry and hunting rather than industrial manufacturing . People will be born and will die in the Millennial earth, just as in the present age. Mans life span may well extend to at least 100 years but physical death inevitably follows. Death is the last enemy and is not destroyed until the close of the Millennium. More