Monday, November 25, 2013

The Eighth Day Son

1 Sam. 16:11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. 12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.   
Jesse marches seven sons before Samuel and none of them are chosen. It is as if each day of the week were displayed but none would do. But the eighth son, who represents the first day after all days, the day of Resurrection, the Lord's Day, is the son after God's own heart. He is the chosen.

The True King Reigns

It is difficult to overstate how enormously relevant to our day 1 Samuel is. It is particularly a good word for conservative Christians, mainstream evangelicals, and even those harbingers of doom, the pre-trib rapture types, supposing there are a few left in the world.
         1 Samuel gives us a good look at hope gone bad. Israel is in rough shape. Eli is a bungling priest. His sons are scoundrels but God provides a way out, Samuel, the prophet, the one who faithfully speaks God’s words and the one of whom God will not allow a word of his to fall to the ground.
         Messy Israel has hope again and their hope turns toward a full kingdom, free from the tyranny of enemies. They ask for a king in a sinful way but God gives them a man with a great deal of promise, Saul, the baggage hider. And for a short time, it looked as if Saul would unify the kingdom and despoil the enemies. But he acts like Eli, foolishly unwilling to restrain himself from growing fat with glory and God tears the kingdom from Saul. Israel is again lost.
         Samuel, himself, is distraught. He had high hopes for Saul and they are dashed. But God is not so easily deterred. When God makes a promise, He will provide a way to fulfill it. And God expects us to start figuring this out. On many occasions, the Lord has called His people up short for failing to remember God’s promises or for losing sight of hope in God in the midst of trial. First, we must remember and not forget what God has said. Second, when things look dim or even grim, we must renew our allegiance to God who controls all things. Indeed, we must look to Him as the One who does control all things.
         We live in a day in which many Christians are beginning to despair. It seemed to me that the fervor of the pre-trib rapture folks was starting to wane. It is difficult to keep saying that Jesus will return any day, certainly in the next ten or twenty years, if you have been saying that for one hundred years. At some point, people grow weary with the expectation of doom and turn to building rather than waiting.
         But to some degree, the hope of evangelicals is once again showing. In the advent of Obamessiah, Christians have become gloomier. This reveals where our hope is located. Is it in our government's ability to provide for us? Is it in our ability to be free from the government? Is our hope to be derived on whether or not the President, Congress and the Judiciary are godly? If so, then of course, we have reason to be gloomy. Our leaders are turning from the blessing of Christ at an astonishing rate. They have turned their backs from hearing the Word of God and our nation is receiving consequences as a result. So, what do we do? Turn to those same politicians to save us? Obama won’t, though he may try with all his heart. The republicans won’t, though they might stand against their foes for one hour. Wall Street won’t save us because they are too busy saving themselves. The National Education Association won’t save us because they are too busy appropriating budget money.
         Are these reasons for gloom? Failed hope? Mourning?
         I do not deny that I get exasperated with our current leaders. What we use to call liberals are now thought to be conservatives. There are few politicians who really hear the Word of the Lord and respond to God faithfully. I long for the day when God raises such men. But I do not think that will happen until we look to God for our salvation. When we will finish our mourning over the Clinton years, or the Bush years, or the current failure, the Obama years? Perhaps we needed just such men at just such a time to wake us up from our own pitiful lamentations.
         The Lord has provided a man for Himself who will do all His holy will. That man is the Lord Jesus Christ. We forget, just as Israel forgot, that God was King of Israel. The Lord Jesus has been enthroned on high and is ruling not only the United States but all Heaven and Earth. Did we forget? Did we think that Denethor was really king? Not so, the true king is revealed in Jesus and He is accomplishing what He would.
Now, we make the mistake if we think that Jesus reigns over the United States, as such. Jesus rules the entire Earth and He does so through the power of the gospel and the institution of the Church. Nations are legitimate institutions but they must all submit to the One True King. They might be like rogue districts that refuse to utterly submit to the Empire. Just because the King has not shown up and dealt with the rebels does not mean that He won’t or that He is slow about dealing with them. He will. At just the right time. But it does mean that as the All Powerful, All Wise King, He knows just the right time to show up. He knows if that rogue district needs humbled, needs chastised, needs to receive the consequences of their behavior.  Citizens in such a district would be wise to submit themselves to the True King’s Authority, rather than being scared into submitting to the rebellious ones. The King will deal gently with those who humbly submit themselves to Him.

Long Expected Jesus

The Lord is not slow about His promises as some people count slowness. Israel had waited for the Son of David ever since the kingdom began to fall apart when Solomon’s sons rebelled. That was a long wait. For over 900 years they waited, with glimpses of hope when the temple was rebuilt, to hopes dashed again amidst Roman domination.
How long, O Lord, will You delay? When will You save us from our enemies? When will You deliver us from the enemy of our souls?
Thanks be to God that He is not slow about His promises. At just the right time, the Messiah, the Savior of Israel, the Son of God, Emmanuel, God with us, the Savior of the nations, the Savior of the world, was born of a virgin, to save His people from their sins.
We, too, wait for our Savior. We call upon Him to save us from our sins. We call and He hears and He arrives to grant us pardon, a peace that passes understanding and hope fulfilled.

Magnificatish Prayer

Based on The Magnificat of Mary- Luke 1:46-55  
Our Father, our souls magnify Your Holy name and our spirits rejoice in God our Saviour, for You have regarded the low estate of Your servants and henceforth all generations shall call us blessed. You, who are mighty, have done great things for us and holy is Your name. Your mercy is on them that fear You from generation to generation. You have shown strength with Your arm. You have scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. You have put down the mighty from their seats and exalted them of low degree. You have filled the hungry with good things and the rich You have sent empty away. You have helped Your people in remembrance of Your mercy as You spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. Glory to God in the highest. Amen.

Overmuch Mourning

Samuel was a godly man and mourned for a considerable time over the failure and rejection of King Saul. His mourning was commendable to some degree but the Lord had had enough of it. He told Samuel to get up and get about his business of finding the next king.
Our mourning over our sin is like this. It is commendable to some degree but the Lord will soon have enough of it. How long will you mourn over your sin? Get you into the house of the Lord and stand before the living God. Stand and stand fast and heed the Word of the Lord. To obey is better than sacrifice. So, receive the forgiveness that is declared and stop trying to beat yourself up by your own measure of penance. This ill countenance does not become the saints of the Lord.
Get down on your knees and humble yourself before the Lord. And then, having done that, get over it, get up and get on with it. This does not mean that you think lightly of sin but it does mean that you think highly of the grace and forgiveness that God has granted you in Jesus Christ.

Gift Giving God

The Lord commanded Samuel to be done with mourning for Saul because God had provided another king for Himself, David. And that is always the Lord’s way, to make provision. Although we do not see a way forward, although we may be in a time of mourning, the Lord provides and we are to learn the lesson.
         Jesse sent David to Saul with bread and wine and a sacrifice. Saul had but to receive these gifts to show that Jesse and David were in his favor.
And here we are at Communion with Bread and Wine and showing the Lord’s death, the one sacrifice. But we do not come offering gifts to the High King, hoping for His favor. We only bring ourselves and that is no high gift.
The Lord has turned the Table. You do not come serving Him with bread and wine and sacrifice. You come as a recipient of bread and wine and sacrifice. You see the Lord always provides. Through sacrifice, He has provided the way for you to enter into the veil to gaze upon His glory. And having come into the Presence, He bids you to sit and eat and He has also provided the peaceful meal of bread and wine. And thus we know that we are in His favor and can rest in peace through bread and wine and sacrifice.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Death by Living

Our mens' discussion group just read Death by Living by N.D. Wilson. I highly recommend the book. This book changes you and at the end you are not exactly sure why. Nate has a great way of connecting to the past and revealing our interconnectedness with grandparents, parents, siblings and children. We are all dying and the more fully we live among those we love will insure that death is eked out of us through every moment lived. That is a good thing that brings glory to our lives. I might call it living to die. Or living ourselves to death, which is I think the gist of what Nate is saying.

One thing we discussed was Nate's good grasp of the need to connect to grandparent's stories before there is no one to connect to. He was able to do that with his grandmother on his father's side and his grandfather on his mother's side, before they died. Many of us are already too old to connect the history of our grandparents. Some of us have already lost the connection to our parents. I realize that I know very little about my own father's life. He has been gone since 1999. What is even more shocking to me is that I know almost nothing about my mother's life, her childhood, her parents, what is important to her, and she is still alive. I have no excuse for not knowing. I guess I didn't care that much, until now. But the days to find out are growing shorter and shorter.

One of our men knew of a website of good questions to ask parents and grandparents. Check it out here: Thanksgiving would be a good time to sit down with a parent or grandparent for a few hours and find about yourself.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Embarrassed by the Bible?

We have just finished 1 Samuel 15, where the Lord commands Saul to wipe out the Amalekites. The text says Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.  

God commanded the black flag, no quarter to warrior, wife, weened infant, or whippersnapper. The judgment seems overtly harsh to us. Many Christians are so on their heels about this passage when quoted in the Atheist's Handbook of the Bible, that a mere slight breath of wind, or a pinkie depressed on the forehead, will utterly send them over. They are without response, almost without God and without hope in the world. The atheist stands proud and such times.

But many of these same speechless saints are stalwart defenders of a universal flood. The flood seems to be a centerpiece of evangelicalism but God's Old Testament judgments seem to be lost to evangelicals, perhaps somewhere in the holes of the Jefferson Bible? What gives?

Is not the flood a much more problematic passage when dealing with the so-called maligned character of God? In Canaan, God commanded the destruction of a particularly wicked people. He did not command this destruction against all Canaanites.  Some were given the opportunity of repentance or making a treaty with Israel. The history of the Amalekites makes them stark rivals of Israel who had resisted them in the wilderness when they came from Egypt, falling on the weaker parts of Israel. In addition to this, there is no indication of any sort of repentance on their part. They maintained their antagonism against Israel for the next 400 years.

But in the flood, there is no decree against a particularly wicked subgroup. The decree is to destroy all flesh, save eight persons.  I am not trying to argue against the flood, at all, nor justify God. These judgments reveal a portion of His character that He desired to be revealed. He is just and merciful at the same time. He is a good and kind Father and shows Himself faithful to His people. But Christians ought not to have any difficulty owning up to any parts of the wrath of God if we own up to the flood. God can defend Himself against all accusations of unrighteousness and we do not need to be on our heels about what He has decreed and carried out. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Agag the Schoolmarm

32   Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.  33 And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.  
The sense of the Hebrew rendered delicately here is lightheartedly, cheerfully. Okay, we've had our differences, lets be friends. We're good, right?
Agag now appeals to God’s mercy, almost wagging the finger at  Samuel, “Surely the bitterness of death is past?” But the bitterness of death did not pass for Agag. He was not a merciful king and he is consequently shown no mercy. Agag is a consistent Amalekite king, living in blood and death and dying the by edge of the sword.
This justice may seem hard to us but is a good representative of the end of those who resist God and who are only made to bow the knee by compulsion. To obey is better than sacrifice.

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.  35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
We see the character of Samuel and Saul in this story. Saul is a disobedient son who is only convinced of his wrong through great entreaty and threats. Even his repentance is only skin deep. His heart is not given over to the Lord.
Samuel is one who’s whole heart is turned to the Lord. Saul returns evil for good but Samuel will not even return evil for evil. Though Saul continues with a hard heart in stubborn rebellion against the Lord, Samuel seeks the Lord’s blessing on Saul. He does not want to give up on him and earnestly desires that Saul would serve the Lord. The Lord, Himself, has to convince Samuel to give up on Saul and anoint David as king of Israel.
Even after the consequences of his sins have come upon him and the kingdom is rent from him, Saul has plenty of room to do that which is right. The consequence would have stood. God is not a man that He should repent of His judgments. The word had fallen, the kingdom was torn from Saul. But Saul was king for many years and could still be a personally godly man and a good king. Jonathan learns the lessons and honors David, doing that which is right in the sight of the Lord. But Saul continues in his stubborn, foolish ways. Although he is a covenant member and is the Lord’s anointed, his latter end is like that of Agag, cut down by his enemies.

Owning Up to the Bible

1 Samuel 15:1-3 Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.  2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.  3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 
This is one of those difficult passages. It may give us some trouble to explain but it ought not give us heartburn or cold sweats. We are Bible people and when the Bible clearly reveals truths, our job is to obey it rather than offer plausible explanations or obfuscations. That is exactly what Saul did in this passage and we ought not to be like him. In this passage, the Lord of Hosts speaks through Samuel to tell Saul to utterly wipe out the Amalekites. He expressly says to kill men, women and children and all their animals. Saul was to leave no living Amalekite. It was to be a complete devastation.
In our modern era, this is called genocide and is the chief of all sins. It is right that genocide is considered a horrendous evil. Whenever men prosecute a war, the war and the outcomes are evil. There is never a righteous war. There is always wickedness on one side or the other and most often both.
Even in the case of the holy wars that Israel carried out against the Caananites, there was great wickedness. Israel was never fully righteous, even when they were carrying out God’s express commands. However, as they did what God called them to do, they cannot be faulted for carrying out God’s orders. It was God’s plan to wipe out the Amalekites and to bring the rest of the Canaanites into subjection.
We should keep in mind that it is not God’s plan to permanently enslave anyone. He brought Israel into Canaan to carry out His judgments but also to be a light to the Gentiles. God’s ultimate plan was one of salvation. But for those who stubbornly and hard-heartedly resisted God’s plan, there was wrath and judgment. The Amalekites are among those who steadfastly resisted the will of Yahweh and eventually received His just judgment.
In such circumstances, we should think about the Amalekites in the same way that we think about those who are not in Christ, now, and die in that condition. By nature, we are objects of wrath. It is only by grace that we are objects of mercy. God does not owe His grace to anyone.
In Israel’s case, we are expressly told that God did not choose them because they were so good. God said that they were a stiff-necked people. In many ways, Israel deserved the same wrath that God was delivering to the Amalekites and other Canaanites. But God had chosen them for grace and that grace was supposed to reveal God’s gracious and merciful character to those who would submit themselves to His will.
Furthermore, the Scriptures make it plain that the Amalekites were a wicked people. They fell upon Israel attacking their women and children and straggling animals. God was bringing justice to this people.
The Amalekites have a long history of antagonism with Israel. They attacked Israel when they came out of Egypt. King Saul’s day was about 400 years later but apparently the antagonism and resistance from the Amalekites had not changed in that time. God spoke to Moses about bringing justice to the Amalekites and promised that He would utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. (Exod. 17:14)
In Deut. 25:17 before Israel went into the Promised Land, God calls upon Israel to remember Amalek and promises that once they have rest that they will fulfill the edict against Amalek. This rest does not fully occur until King David because Saul is not faithful in carrying out God's commands.
Instead of being embarrassed by such passages of Scripture, we Christians should simply own up to the fact that this is what the text says, this is what the Bible reveals and this text expressly reveals the good character of God.
Of course, in the New Testament, the warfare of God is carried out in a different manner. We fight with the power of the sword of the Word of God. Our weapons of warfare are not carnal but are mighty for the pulling down of strongholds. Jesus is still weilding authority and He will have all of His enemies subdued. But we Christians do not fight with implements of physical destruction. Our weapons are much more powerful than that.
That said, there will be a final judgment for all men, women and children. Those who gladly submit to the authority of the Lord Jesus will receive mercy, grace and forgiveness. But for those who resist Jesus, their latter end will be much worse than their former and even much worse than the wrath poured out on the Amalekites. Do not fear the one that has the authority to destroy your body but rather, fear the One who has authority to destroy body and soul in hell forever. Fear the Lord Jesus. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry.

Like a Pagan

        In 1 Samuel 15, we have another example of Saul’s continuing fall. Furthermore, we have the foreboding of his latter end. 
         Agag is one of the Amalekite kings.Their latter end had been declared to Moses four hundred years before this chapter takes place. They had discomfited Israel in the wilderness, attacking them in their hinder parts. That is, they attacked the stragglers, the women, the children, the weak and infirm. God did not forget this vicious affront to His people and the Amalekites continued their hostility towards Israel for hundreds of years, thus solidifying the just judgment declared against them.
God is long-suffering. His judgments are often delayed. The judgment on Amalek is delayed and we see a great warning to Saul in the incident that unfolds in this chapter. God’s covenant people are to obey Him, doing all that He has revealed to them in the Word of God. This obedience needs to come from the heart based upon a love for God. It is not an obedience of show, making lip service to God, the way that the pagans pray to their idols. Those idols cannot deliver but neither can they carry out judgment.
God can do both. Those who serve Him in Spirit and in Truth will receive His glory, grace and mercy. But those who stubbornly resist His will will be cut down like His enemies, the Amalekites and Agag, the pagan king.

Obedience Through Christ's Sacrifice

It is true that to obey is better than sacrifice, especially if we are talking about the blood of bulls and goats, sacrifices that can never really take away sins. The Father’s desire has always been that we would serve Him, wholeheartedly with the compulsion of love not the compulsion of force. But we have a problem. The fallen nature makes this difficult, even for saints filled with the Spirit of God.
We see in our members the law of sin and death, even while the law of righteousness and life is animated in us by the Holy Spirit. Who shall separate us from the body of this death? Thanks be to God that the One Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is the means whereby His obedience is also reckoned to us. His sacrifice enables us to stand before the Father as obedient sons, both in mind and in body. We are set free to righteousness motivated by love. We have an Advocate with the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, who presents us to the Father as fully forgiven obedient sons and daughters. To obey is better than sacrifice and our obedience through Christ’s sacrifice is God’s glory and ours.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Obfuscational Explanations

To many of you the title of my Exhortation is unclear. That is the point. To obfuscate is to render obscure, unclear or unintelligible. Let me illustrate.
         “Johnny, did you knock over that lamp? Were you guys throwing balls inside again?”
“Mom, me and Billy were playing football outside and then we came inside. Billy wanted to throw the ball. I knew he couldn’t throw straight so I tried to warn him about that. After a while we noticed the lamp was broke. Not exactly sure how it happened. Guess he’s not too smart.”
         “You are right, Johnny, Billy can’t throw straight. He’s not yet two years old! How did the lamp get broken?”
         “Well mom, as I was saying, Billy wanted me to throw him the ball and he is not that good at catching, so I was trying to be careful, like you said, but the lamp got in the way and Billy didn’t catch the ball.
         “I didn’t say be careful throwing the balls inside, I said, Don’t throw the balls inside. So, you broke it?”
         “Well, not exactly. The football made an unexpected bounce off of Billy’s head.”
         “Johnny, I don’t care so much about the lamp. It’s just a thing and now its broken. No big deal. But you broke the lamp and then you lied about it. Go up to your room. I’ll be up in a minute.”
         “But mom, wait, I didn’t lie. I can explain.”
         “You have. I’ll be up in a minute. Try to get the real story figured out. And, uh, while you’re thinking, grab the wooden spoon out of the drawer.”

Crony Capitalism

It seems to me that conservatives (I wonder if there are any in the Republican party?) are missing out on a great opportunity. For many years, even decades, Republicans have propped up the notion that Wall Street is synonymous with free market trade. It may be synonymous with capitalism but it is increasingly less free market. Fat cat Wall Street types are just as comfortable with the liberal lobby as with the so-called conservative lobby. They don't really care who fills their pockets with money. This is one reason why the shift among conservatives to libertarianism is a danger. Libertarians claim to love free markets but outside of Christ, the pull is making big bucks, not making them fair and square. Enter the lobbyist.

The Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, is crony capitalism nearing its zenith, just before full-throated Socialism. After that? Jackboots. Sold as the way to help the little man, those without insurance, Obama shamrodded his way to victory. The lies and deceit are multitude and the crowds shuffle forward like good little sheep. It was sold, with a straight face, as a way to get at the bully insurance and drug company's profits. They have too much! Let's make them share! And the obamiring crowds cheered on!

But now, the cheaper, more available health insurance is three times the cost, and you cannot even find a way to purchase it. Progress!

And do you think those profit monsters, the insurance companies are sad? Sure they are sad, all the way to the bank. Premiums are now two to three times what they were a year ago, for the same coverage, and 2/3 of the customer money for the now, affordable health insurance, is the federal government, who can PRINT the money to pay for the premiums. Oh yes, the insurance companies are being held over a barrel, a barrel full of gold.

Why don't the Conservatives come out in favor of truly free markets? Why don't they resist crony capitalism in its many headed lobbying forms as inherently wicked? Why don't they beat the democrats at their attempted redistribution game? Why? Easy. Go on, take the money and run, oo, oo, oo!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thou Shalt Not Seethe a Kid in His Mother's Milk

Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk. Exodus 23:19.

This is one of those very strange old testament laws given to us in the midst of a list of Sabbath, Feast Day and tithe regulations. It may seem oddly placed but it is not and has great significance to us. We should heed it with heart wisdom.

The principle is taking that which is meant for life and causing death. The Sabbath was a gift given to Israel by God. It was meant for their rest from the weary task of work. In due time, Israel was to make a mockery of the Sabbath in two ways. One, in not keeping it at all and pursuing their own advancement on the Sabbath. But another way to not keep the Sabbath is to make such a mess of it through additional rules that it is really hard work to keep track of whether or not you are keeping the Sabbath. Can we turn the lights on on Sunday? Can we drive to Church? Can we drive any further than that? How much further? Oops, we went too far, can we purchase fuel to get home? And finally the thought occurs to us, "I hate the Sabbath, it is too much work to rest."

Jesus deals with the Jews in His day on just this side of things. The Sabbatarians were out in force making sure Jesus and His disciples did not work on the Sabbath, but Jesus healed a man and the disciples gleaned in the fields. Who were the Sabbath keepers and who were the Sabbath breakers?

We have many such things that are meant for life: Lord's Day Worship, Christian Education, The father as head of his wife and of his household, The Lord's Supper. Are these all means of grace and life to you and to your children? If so, then Amen and Amen!

But if not, why not? Do you not attend Lord's Day Worship? Then go. But do you go and find it a source of drudgery and complaint? Then, you need to change your place of worship or change the way your worship, most likely the latter.  And the same goes for the rest of my list. It is not merely that you DO these things but HOW do you do them? In a way that blesses the Lord and brings life? Or, in a way that pinches the nose, purses the lips, wrinkles the brow and brings a slow death? Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk!

For more on this, listen to our Lord's Day Sermon for Nov. 10, 2013.  The sermon should be posted ten days after the service.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

King Oof

1 Samuel 14:24 And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food. 
The men were distressed, oppressed. The word, nagas, means to be driven as by a taskmaster, taxed, harassed, or tyrannized. Saul was treating them like slaves instead of free men of Israel. The text makes it clear that their distress is not from the enemy. The Lord was giving them victory. Their distress came from their own King Saul.
This was a very foolish oath for Saul to make. Why would he utter such a thing? But having uttered it, he is unwilling to take it back, even when he really should do so. It was not the being avenged that was a problem here. In fact, the Lord was routing the enemy and had in mind to utterly and completely rout them. Unfortunately, the King was seeking his own glory (that I may be avenged on mine enemies) again, and this got in the way of wisdom.

1 Sam. 14:28 Then answered one of the people, and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food this day. And the people were faint. 
Saul, with a great oath, as if repeated or strongly stated, declared that anyone who ate food that day would be bitterly cursed.
The word for faint is oof. It means to flee or faint from the darknesss of swooning.
This day was meant to be a day of blessing. Yahweh was giving victory over his enemies. The Lord provided honey in the way so that the people would not be faint. They had a great leader to lead them on to victory. However, because of Saul’s foolish oath, the people were faint, as if they were hit in the stomach with a great blow, oof!

Loyal Son

In 1 Sam. 14, Jonathan shows himself a faithful leader in Israel. He takes up his sword and shield against Israel’s enemies, fully trusting in God to deliver him, even from the sword and spear of giants. Jonathan is David-like and we have reason to believe that in David and Jonathan’s close relationship, Jonathan was like a second father to David. They were cut of the same stuff and Jonathan recognized in David, the real pre-requisites for leadership in Israel, faith in God and loyalty to the king. Jonathan possessed these same characteristics and Saul misses them in both sons of the kingdom.
         It is interesting that in this story, we again see Saul in a colossal failure of leadership. Jonathan is the one who started the fray with the Philistines and the one who finishes it. He is the true savior of Israel, rising up like the judges of old, like Gideon, to defeat the enemy against overwhelming odds. Perhaps Saul’s envious side is already showing. He wants to defeat his enemies but can hardly tolerate those victories, unless they come about by his own hand.
         The same response from Saul is in play when David comes on the scene. David defeats Goliath and many Philistines, in the name of Yahweh and for the sake of Israel and Saul’s kingdom. But instead of rejoicing in David’s valor, Saul pursues David as a threat to himself.
         Jonathan is the same as David, a true son. We see that Saul’s failure with David had already occurred with his own son. One of the reasons that Saul is unfit to be king is because he does not understand true loyalty.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Food for Life

Jonathan’s eyes were illuminated by the provision of the Lord but his father had become a curse to the faithful in Israel. What should have been a blessing, life giving sustenance from the Lord, was turned into the sentence of death. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk!
         Some have made this meal out to be a means of death, rather than life. Some in Corinth were sick or died because they did not discern the Lord’s body rightly. Coming to the place of life, they found death.
         But God has better things in store for you, you who have rested all your hope on the life-giving body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold: He is sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
         1 Cor. 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Luminous Eyes

          A sad countenance that refuses to hear and receive the grace of God in Christ is like a man taking a sudden blow to the stomach, oof! He is breathless and his eyes grow dim with discouragement.
But when the Lord speaks His grace to us, and we hear it and believe, it is like an exhausted man taking honey after a long chase. The sad and disheartened eyes are illuminated, the head is lifted up, hope is rekindled and the endurance for the battle is strengthened.
Whereas the enemy was ready to turn back into the fray with his own renewed vigor, the forgiven man, filled with grace and power is a bold, dangerous and pursuing warrior and so the enemy continues his frantic flight.
Blessed are the forgiven, these see the works of the Lord!

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Power of One

Salvation is of the Lord.
1Samuel 14:23 So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven.
One man really can make a difference. Just as discouragement spreads like a cancer among the weary, so does courage and boldness spread among those who refuse to give in, vowing to never, never, never give up.
One man, Abraham. One man, Moses. One man, Joshua. One woman, Deborah. One woman, Jael. One man, Gideon. One woman, Hannah. One man, Samuel. One man, Jonathan. One man, David. One man, Nehemiah. One young lady, Mary. One boy with five loaves and two fishes. One man, Jesus, changes the world. And then we are all caught up in that victory to the glory of the Lord.

One Brave Man

Throughout the course of history, God has often used one man, one brave man to change His story. We have seen what the power of one man can do both for good and for evil. One man can effect change, altering the course of history to the benefit or detriment of millions. I am not using hyperbole. The Patrick Henry speech, Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!, is one example of one man refusing to go along with the prevailing sentiment and changing that sentiment with a passionate commitment. There is a reason why the pre-game pep talk or the awe-inspiring presence and words of the emperor at the rising of the sun on the morning of a hopeless battle, have entered into the voice of iconic wisdom and the lens of modern film. They work.
         We are in the process of raising up a people to the glory of the Lord. This morning we have baptized three little saints and they add to the number of those who are being saved. We see from this that God saves His world by degrees, one man at a time. But we also know that God uses ordinary men to be extraordinary. This is true of Jonathan, Saul’s son. His trust in God enabled him to do extraordinary things. Our pray is that these three new saints would do extraordinary things.
         In our own circles, the Lord has raised Douglas Wilson to accomplish more in his life than most men are capable. As we celebrate Reformation Day, we remember the Lord  using many circumstances to raise up ordinary men into extraordinary men that changed the course of God’s story, history, the kingdom of God. Ordinary men that we now call saints. Men like Augustine, Jerome, Athanasius, Chrysostom, John Wycliffe, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Thomas Cranmer. These brave men were often nearly alone in their convictions at times but like Elijah, there were always men for God to gather to those great saints, men who had not fallen to the age of this world’s luster.
         The Lord has blessed us with many children. May the Lord be pleased to give us mighty, courageous and brave saints who will laugh in the face of death and change the course of history.
It only takes one brave man to change the world. What might the Lord do with a church full of such dangerous men, women and children?


Based on Psalm 89:15-18
 Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk in the light of the countenance of the Lord. In His name shall they rejoice all the day and in His righteousness shall they be exalted. God is the glory of their strength and in His favour our horn shall be exalted. For the LORD is our defense and the Holy One of Israel is our King. Go, in His victory and in His peace. Amen.

Brave Saints

We have heard about One Brave Man, Jonathan, a man who chose to believe in the One Great God and God led him to victory. But he is not the only brave man. There were others before; Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and Gideon and there were others after; David, Daniel, Nehemiah and John Baptist.
         Jesus was the bravest of men and we are all new men in Jesus Christ. And now the Lord has raised you from humble beginnings and sat you at the table of honor so that you would be another of the brave saints of God. We have a sense of wonder here. It is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes, raising us up in Christ to sit with legends.
We are Christ’s brothers and sisters. We are His and He is ours. We are His saints. We are the victory that overcomes the world by our faith. And the gates of hell shall not prevail but we shall attain the victory in Jesus.

Prayer of Preparation

O Lord, Our God, You have taught us to eat our bread and drink our wine in gladness of heart, for You have provided us the bread of life, in Jesus, and the wine of joy, in Your Spirit. Make us to be new wine skins that we might grow as the acceptable savor of the risen Lord Jesus. Amen.


We give You thanks, O Lord, for Your provision is as the morning dew and Your faithfulness as the rising sun. The cattle on a thousand hills are Yours and Your bounty preserves them for the blessing of Your saints. Your face shines upon us and we are glad. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Our Father in Heaven, we confess our sins to You. We have fallen short of Your glory. We have been impatient and sinned like immature children. We have not loved You as fully as we should nor our neighbors as ourselves. Forgive us, O Lord, and grant us Your peace in Christ. Amen

Prayer of Praise

Based on Psalm 89:2-7 O, Lord, our God, Your Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness.” You have said, “I have made a covenant with My chosen one; I have sworn to David My servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’”
Our Father, You have done so and the Lord Jesus reigns both now and forevermore.
Let the heavens praise Your wonders, O LORD, Your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?
None, O Lord, compare to You, so we praise Your exalted name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit who dwells with You and Christ, forever and ever. Amen.

The Boldness of Humility

It seems odd to us to call humility bold. But the right kind of humility is indeed bold. There is a sort of humility that thinks lowly of itself but only does so because it also thinks lowly of the Lord. But take a man who really has the right kind of high thoughts about God and that man is a danger. He is a danger to the world, the flesh and the devil.
         Such a man is actually humble because he understands that if the Lord were to reckon sins to our account, no man, including himself, could stand. But he is also the sort of man, having called his sin, sin, can also call upon Jesus to cover his sins. When he does this, believing God to fully forgive him, then when he rises, he rises in defiance of God’s enemies, a warrior empowered by grace through faith.
         Such a man, such a humble man, such a forgiven man, such a man of faith, will stand before a thousand knowing that God will defeat every foe. That is the boldness of humility.
         Let us bow before the throne in humble confession so that God will raise us up in forgiven boldness.