Friday, June 26, 2009

Identity Theft

Jericho - the town that Joshua fit the battle of, the town around whose walls Joshua and the Israelites marched seven times, the town from which Rahab and her family were rescued when the walls came a-tumblin' down, THAT JERICHO was to be wholly dedicated or consigned to the LORD as
1. a perpetual sign of God's judgment on the wicked Canaanites
2 a first fruits offering of the land. This was a way of signifying that the land belonged to the LORD.
3. a perpetual reminder that Israel had received the land of Canaan from God's hand as a gift of grace.

one Israelite soldier, Achan, coveted and stole some of the things from Jericho which were consigned to the LORD. He may have thought they would be small and insignificant to God whereas they were real treasures to him. Perhaps he wanted to pass them on as battle trophies to his children some day. But he knew he had done something wrong. Why else would he hide the stolen goods under his tent?

Achan's action showed that he cared more for those trinkets than he cared about obeying God whose command was to totally destroy everything. Consequently he became identified with the things consigned for destruction along with their possessors.

God said, "Israel has sinned."
"...they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction."
"You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it."
"He who is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the LORD and has done a disgraceful thing in Israel."

And so Achan and his family and possessions and flocks were destroyed along with the town of Jericho.

What or who am I identified with?
Insightfully yours,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

An Eternal Plan

Salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ is taught throughout the Old Testament. I'm starting to check out the places. I knew the story of the Israelites' escape from slavery in Egypt. The last plague brought on the Egyptians by God was the death of the first born. God, however, planned a way of escape for the Israelites' first borns. The family was to kill a lamb and put its blood on the doorposts and lintel of their homes. When the death angel passed over the land, he would not enter the homes where the blood had been applied.

When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, they sent two spies across the Jordan River to the town of Jericho to spy out the land. They found out from Rahab, a prostitute, that the whole land was quaking with fear. They had heard how God had led the Israelites out of Egypt and then had helped them kill two powerful kings east of the Jordan, and now they were camped, ready to enter Canaan.

Rahab hid the spies while they were in Jericho. Then she made a bargain with them. If they would promise to spare her and her family when they conquered Jericho, she would help them get back to their camp safely. They agreed, but told her to hang a scarlet cord outside her window, which was in the wall of the city, so the soldiers would know which house was hers. Furthermore she must have all her family inside the house with her. Whoever was outside would die.

Rahab did as the spies said and when the Israelites conquered Jericho, she and her family were spared. So she became a part of God's family. Matthew 1:5 says that Rahab later married an Israelite named Salmon. Their son, Boaz later married Ruth who became the great-grandmother of King David, and of course from David's family eventually came Jesus Christ.

That is the rest of the story, but my point was really that the scarlet cord that showed the soldiers where Rahab and her family were, was the same as the blood over the doorposts in Egypt that showed the death angel where to pass over. Both are types of the saving blood of Jesus Christ given long before Jesus was born. I'd say God had a plan.
Insightfully yours,

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Joined in Crime, Separated in Commitment

It has been nearly a month and my new insights are accumulating. I keep thinking I need a block of time to think about them on paper (or blog) before I decide to make them permanent, but my procrastination only makes me anxious. So, here are some of them, incomplete or not:

In my study of Numbers and Deuteronomy, I was interested in how the promised land was divided among the tribes of Israel. Old Jacob, on his death bed had praised some of his sons and blasted others. His first son, Reuben, had blown his birthright as first son by his immoral acts within the family. The next two brothers, Simeon and Levi, were condemned by their father for their vicious, murderous acts of revenge. So the fourth son, Judah, became the prominent son through whom the Savior, Jesus Christ, eventually came.

But back to Simeon and Levi. Two brothers - two opportunities to change, but apparently only one really did. In God's eternal wisdom, He chose the Levites to be His priests to the nation Israel. They did not receive an allotment of land in the promised land, but were scattered throughout it to serve as priests. Forty-eight cities, surrounded by a reasonable amount of grazing land for the Levites' cattle, were set aside so the Levites' presence, service, and teaching might be widely available. Later, when the temple was built, they went there on a rotational basis to serve. So God turned the curse of being scattered throughout the land into a blessing and an the honor of being priests. The Levites produced some of the greatest of the nation's leaders: Moses, Aaron, Phinehas, Eli, Ezra, Nehemiah, and John the Baptist.

How about Simeon? The two had done the murderous deed together. Simeon is mentioned in the story of Joseph. When Joseph sent his brothers back from Egypt to Israel to get their brother Benjamin, he kept Simeon in prison to assure their return. Of course Simeon was only one-tenth of the gang who sold Joseph into slavery, (I sure hope you know this story.) but why did he keep Simeon? What did God know about Simeon that is not revealed to us?

Did Simeon eventually receive an allotment in the promised land? Yes, he did, but it was within Judah's territory. Judah had remained close to the things of God through its long history and so Simeon benefited from Judah's faithfulness. God is merciful, is He not?

None of us are as saintly as we'd like to think we are, but it always surprises me that those I'd consider the least saintly turn to God, He forgives them, and uses them to praise Him. May He use me, too.
Insightfully yours,