Precept: The best defense is a good offense.
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)
Surely we understand that any entity must do more that mind its own business to develop, grow and survive. Whether it’s a human body with a healthy immune system on guard against microorganisms or a family with virtual firewalls to protect their children from online predators or a town with a police force protecting its residents from robbers and rapists or a nation with a military defending its borders from aggression, humans must constantly, actively fight to maintain freedom from those who would destroy us.
The same is true for the Kingdom of Heaven, the real “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.” This is due to the unavoidable reality of evil, regardless of efforts to write it off. And we know that…
God demands that his people do something.
As the biblical history moves forward after the establishment of the nation of Israel, don’t leave Moses behind. Keep him firmly fixed in your mind. It is of major significance that Jesus defeated the devil by applying the writings of Moses, and ordered his followers to do the same.
“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost…was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil… the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it; If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Luke 4:5-8)
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13)
I’m betting you weren’t pegging Moses as a great general, were you? How do you think that, like George Washington, he freed a people from an oppressive kingdom? Moreover, do we not understand that his roles as the lawgiver, the judge, and the king were to protect the subjects of the government from internal as well as external oppression?
“Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian; For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?…This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.” (Acts 7:22-35)
“The LORD…hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness. And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times…He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly;
- he that despiseth the gain of oppressions,
- that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes,
- that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood,
- and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty…Thou shalt not see a fierce people…thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation…For the LORD is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.” (Isaiah 33)
Let’s make sure we really understand Moses’ place in the ongoing spiritual and physical war against the Adversary.
Moses is the standard for all succeeding rulers in the order of Melchizedek, including Jesus Christ himself.
“And the LORD said unto me [Moses]…I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18-20)
Each successive generation recognized this Prophet for who he was by his match to Moses, recognizable by their
- unique close association with YHVH demonstrated by
- commitment to YHVH’s existing covenant at that time, including its punishment of sin by death, thereby being granted
- a new covenant producing a higher union with God than the initial covenant thereby achieving
- victory in battle against the Adversary.
The first Prophet to succeed Moses was trained and appointed during Moses’ lifetime. In Hebrew we would call him Yeshua Messiah, translated as YHVH’s Chosen Savior. In Greek we would say ιησούς Χριστός. In English we call him Joshua the Consecrated One and Jesus Christ.
“And Yeshua / Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him:” (Deuteronomy 34:9)
Unique Close Association with YHVH
“Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh…Andthey saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness…And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24)
“And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the LORD your God. And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan…And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the LORD of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap…(for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)…And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan… On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.” (Joshua 3, 4:14)
“Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias / Elijah talking with him [recognizable by their translation into the higher dimension]…behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them.” (Matthew 17:1-5)
Commitment to God’s Existing Covenant
At the time that Moses led the people of out Egypt the operational covenant was the granting of a specific territory surrounding Mount Zion to the chosen Seed of Abraham. The token of this covenant was circumcision.
“the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee….
And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee…all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession…every man child in your generations…must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant…
- As for Sarai thy wife…I will…give thee a son…of her…
- as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him…and I will make him a great nation.
But my [land] covenant will I establish with Isaac.” (Genesis 17)
That’s a pretty basic alliance between God and his people, bottle-necking at that time through Isaac and Jacob and his descendants. As noted in the previous post The Promise Land, YHVH also gave territory to other seed of Abraham, including note only circumcised Ishmael but non-circumcised Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites. There was a reason for this. Just as YHVH specifically instructed the children of the chosen Seed to do, they had, out of simple common sense and survival, accomplished at least one of YHVH’s purposes for possessing this extended territory. That was protecting all of humanity by wiping out the abominational hybrid giants in their territories,
“And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him…I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob…established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan…and I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD…And I will [accomplish in the future the past terms of the covenant]
- take you to me for a people,
- be to you a God:
- bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob;
- give it you for an heritage:
And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land. And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, [Are you kidding me?!] Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened / responded unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear / respond to me?...And the LORD said unto Moses…Thou shalt speak all that I command thee…And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them, so did they.” (Exodus 6:2-7:6)
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them…And they returned from searching of the land after forty days…and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel…the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great…We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we…we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!…
And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying…rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?…Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me. Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.” (Numbers 13-15)
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets…For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.’ (Matthew 5:17-18)
A New Covenant
“And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore,
- if ye will…keep my covenant,
- then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me
above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” (Exodus 19:3-6)
Notice how this new covenant given through Moses, AKA the Mosaic Covenant, does not do away with any of the terms of the previous covenant with these same people. It just provides additional details on it, specifically, what it means to “walk before me and be thou perfect” as stated by YHVH to Abraham.
“Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made…And this I say, that the covenant [with Abraham to be a God to his seed], that was confirmed before of God in Christ / the Promised Seed of the Woman Savior carried at that time through Isaac, the law [given through Moses], which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect…
Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made [the main promise – to be a God]…the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ / The Promised Seed of the Woman, “ (Galatians 3:15-24)
It is unfortunate that in our era the Bible is viewed as a record of inscrutable “Acts of God” like the vague clause written into insurance policies. The reality is that God interacts with humans, like good parents with children and teachers with students, in speech and concepts understood by them. The Mosaic Covenant is a good example.
This is not some complex legal document that God devised on his own. There is good reason for its similarity to Hammurabi’s Code. It is written in the format known and used by the people of the time.
- The Pre-Ceremony Actions
- The Selection of the Covenant Representatives and the Cutting
of the Covenant Sacrifice
- The Exchange of Robes, Belts, and Weapons
- The Walk unto Death
- The Pronouncement of Blessings and Curses
- The Seal of the Covenant Mark
- The Exchange of Names
- The Covenant Meal
- Before enacting the covenant, the two parties would discuss the terms, conditions, the promises of blessing, and the warning of curses, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the treaty. In the case of large groups like nations, a covenant representative was chosen on behalf of each party to assess whether the personal sacrifices demanded by the pact was worth it. At Mount Sinai Moses represented God, and the elders of the people represented the millions of people.
- To start the ceremony, the representatives would sacrifice an animal, cutting it down the middle from head to tail. As on any butcher, they would be splattered with blood. (Seriously, you’ve got to stop visualizing the Bible in Sunday School cartoons and see humans as God sees us.)
- Intrinsic to most covenants was the concept that the parties – individuals or groups – were sharing benefits, i.e. they no longer wanted live independently but as one. In lieu of a signed and notarized document, the representatives would exchange a token symbolizing a new social position, new character, and new authority. The exchange of weapons symbolizes a political alliance, the responsibility and the power to defeat each each other’s enemies. At Mount Sinai, the most powerful weapon was given, by God alone, in the form of his words, by which he creates and destroys anything in the universe. Two tablets of stone were not needed to fit all the writing. One was a copy for God and the other a copy for the people.
- The two representatives would look to heaven and make a vow to fulfill their obligations or die. After this step, there was no way out. Ironically, resting on the Sabbath day is the first mention of death as a consequence of breaking the Mosaic covenant. This rest from one’s own work is explained later as proof of one’s faith in God’s promise to provide, rather than dependence on one’s own efforts, therefore does indeed have a foundational spiritual aspect.
- Then each would speak into existence the terms of the covenant – the blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. The blessings would often include abundant harvests, prosperity, good health, and numerous children. Curses would often include retaliation by the injured party, destruction, disease, poverty, famine, and defeat at the hands of their enemies, invoking their national deity(s) to bring about the blessings and cursings.
- If the agreement was a blood covenant, pagans would seal the covenant by drink wine commingled with the blood from each representative from cutting. Often they would also take a dark substance and rub it into the cut to create a tattoo, a public reminder that the two were now covenant partners. The Mosaic law prohibited drinking blood, cutting, or making marks; therefore, biblical covenants were often sealed with wine, the blood of grapes, This knowledge of ancient customs should help us understand any number of biblical accounts: circumcision as a mark of the covenant of stewardship over the territory God designated for himself, Abraham’s covenantal sacrifice ceremony, and Jesus’ sealing with his disciples of the new covenant in his blood, soon to be shed in sacrifice, by a cup of wine. Can we stop thinking of the Israelites as the bad guys that ran the poor Canaanites out of town? That’s just sheer prejudice against the Bible. Don’t you appreciate a law and order government protecting you from the Pagans?
- Exactly as in marriage, the covenant partners would next share their names to establish that that the two became one and now share personality, character, reputation, essence, and authority. This is recognized in the common practice of taking the name and character of one’s deity as one’s e.g. Yeshua = YHVH is salvation, or Sennacherib = the moon god Sin replaced my brothers (with me). With this information, the change in names of both Abram to Abr-ah-am and Sarai to Sar-ah by adding “ah” has a deeper meaning than just the translation, it added an element of YHVH’s name to indicate covenantal union. Don’t overlook the fact that YHVH also took on the name of his partner as part of the terms of the covenant, from henceforth being known to all the nations as the God of Israel.
- And lastly, the covenant was celebrated with a feast including bread and wine representing the body and blood of the covenant partners.
As the new partners ate and drank they made their concluding declaration to live as one in their vows to live for each other.
From this point forward, the two parties and all whom they
represented were viewed as one inseparable individual. This sheds a lot of light on Paul’s remonstration about divisions in the church at Corinth and his teaching in this context about the meaning of the Lord’s supper.
In less than six weeks of verbally agreeing to the covenant, but before it was finalized, the people broke virtually every single one of the Ten Commandments. Under the terms agreed to so far, the people were subject to annihilation.
“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….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.” (Exodus 32:7-10)
Notice the unity, the shared identity and authority that still exists between God and his alter ego Moses. And Moses acts on that.
And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand…And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables…And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” (Exodus 32:15-19)
By literally breaking the tokens of the covenant that the people had figuratively broken, Moses reset the covenant making process. But he didn’t toss out the Ten Commandments with the stone fragments. That’s because the Ten Commandments are the indispensable basis for any stable, conflict-free society.
As those 10 utterances were memorialized and universalized, they provided a code of conduct that honored family, protected life, secured property, defined boundaries, enhanced trust and thereby secured the foundation for cohesive and productive social interaction. The Ten Commandments launched into human history the hypothesis that a society could be peacefully ordered under a rule of generally applicable laws rather than the forceful whim of autocrats.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.” (Exodus 34:1)
Then Moses negotiated terms of a “new covenant” with God. He starts by acknowledging God’s right-ness / righteousness by carrying out a select purge of those who had corrupted themselves with false gods. He thereby saves the entire nation who was guilty of something. Maybe they didn’t take part in the corruption as did Aaron – Aaron! – but they didn’t stop it either. Moses’ limited response to the people’s sin gave the people the opportunity to rethink, repent, reform, and demonstrate their loyalty to God, as did Aaron and his clan.
“Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD‘s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” (Exodus 32:26-28)
The Levites dealt with the sin of “commission” of idol worship. Then in acknowledgement of the sin of “omission”, Moses offered himself as atonement for the sin of the rest of the people. Think of it like a judge sentencing a married couple, one of whom actively abused their child while the other passively allowed it.
“And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. 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.”
Wow. Has Moses taken on the LORD’s attributes or what? “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty;” (Exodus 34:6-7)
The problem with Moses’ offer, of course, was that he was carrying the guilt of his own previous sin including murder and disobedience to God. He would pay his own death sentence, so couldn’t pay anyone else’s debt.
Then YHVH doesn’t return to setting out the new covenant details, but drops back to the original, very basic, contract with Abraham’s seed.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart [from the covenant making process at Sinai], and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: And I will send an angel before thee…for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way. And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned:
And here is where Moses really kicks into gear as the role model of the peerless advocate, the schoolmaster showing the way to walking in perfection. If the people went against the monsters in the land of Canaan without God’s supernatural empowerment they would certainly be destroyed.
And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp…as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses…face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.” (Exodus 33)
And God resumes negotiating the Mosaic covenant. Notice – the first thing he addresses is the 1st Commandment – thou shalt have no other gods before me. This is the foundation of the covenant.
“And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O LORD, let my LORD, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.
And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.
Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.” (Exodus 34)
Refer back to the practice of making a covenant. Any agreement between two people(s), to this day, must take into account the cultural values of each party. In ancient cultures any covenant required acknowledging and accepting the oversight and therefore worship of the gods of each party. Having his status lowered to that of minor gods was anathema to YHVH, the God of gods.
In antiquity, each ethnic group (nation) had its own pantheon [hierarchy of gods], which may or may not have overlapped with that of neighbouring groups. Many of these religions had…national gods, who were considered responsible for the safety and well-being of the nation and of its people…alongside the personal gods…who took a special interest in an individual’s personal well-being…the family gods associated with the care of a clan or profession, as well as gods associated with specific situations or the protection thereof (fertility, health, war, contracts and so on)…
Many of the individual ethnic groups also considered itself the progeny of its national gods. For example, in the region that is now Yemen, the Sabaeans, the Minaeans and the Himyar each perceived themselves to be the children of respectively Almaqah, Wadd and Shamash. Similarly, in Canaan, Milcom held that role for the Ammonites, while Chemosh did so for Moab…
Yahweh’s function as a national god had previously automatically equated him with other national gods. [Emphasis added.]
We need to understand that monotheism is a radical break from the norm. The following description of Rome’s absorption of conquered gods and practices reflects the standards of all the empires.
While ruthless in usurping political and economic power from conquered peoples, the Romans were nonetheless scrupuplous in protecting and even participating in most traditional religious beliefs and practices…
Furthermore, as the Romans conquered their vast empire they not only respected and honored the gods of the newly conquered lands but often brought these foreign beliefs and practices with them back to Rome… From the Roman perspective foreign gods were simply different manifestations, with different names, of the standard Roman gods.
Thus, Jupiter, the head of the Roman gods, was not only the equivalent of the Greek Zeus, but also of the Egyptian Amon-Re and the Syrian Bel (Baal)…The result of this was widespread syncretism, with conquered peoples adopting Roman beliefs and practices while the Romans themselves adopted the beliefs and practices of those peoples. As a consequence, in the name of religious tolerance and respect for all ancient traditions, the religious makeup of the Roman Mediterranean was radically transformed to the point that the Roman from the second century BC would not have been able to recognize the Roman religion of the third century AD as his own.
The immediate failure of YHVH’s chosen representatives to accurately represent him as the unique God of gods over all the nations of the world required a re-negotiated new Mosaic covenant demanding more – not less – from the people.
“And [the first time] the LORD said unto Moses,
- Come up to me into the mount…
- and I will give thee tables of stone. (Exodus 24:12)
[The second time] the LORD said unto me,
- Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first,
- and come up unto me into the mount,” (Deuteronomy 10:1)
The second time around, Moses didn’t negotiate a reduced sentence as he did the first time the people broke the covenant. The demands of the new covenant are stiffer!
“And the LORD said unto Moses…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…Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. And the Lord repented of the evil…And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book…in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.” (Exodus 32:9-34)
And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people...on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaister them with plaister: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, And Moses charged the people the same day, saying, These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan…And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse…And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice, Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman… And all the people shall answer and say, Amen. Cursed be…Cursed be…Cursed be…Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb…That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God…
The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven…and cast them into another land, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 29) “And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (Deuteronomy 28:64)
“And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God...If ye forsake the LORD…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…
Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance. Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.” (Joshua 24)
And what was the covenant of service to the LORD? The same one given through Moses as they prepared to enter the land.
“Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest” (Exodus 34) And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they [made covenants that] put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.” (Judges 1:28)
And that required yet another covenant revision. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the “old Mosaic” covenant was tossed out. The text clearly states that YHVH’s law is kept in the next covenantal, which is revised for the purpose of making it possible for his people to keep the law!
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more…saying, Know / acknowledge the LORD: for they shall all know / be intimately united with me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31)
As you read the next lines, lay them in the context of the scriptures and ancient ceremonies they echo, like the first readers did. How much more sense they make!
“And he / Jesus took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”(Matthew 26:28)
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate like Moses with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins not Moses who tried and failed: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments…whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (I John 2:1-6)
Victory in Battle
“And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet…And I will multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 7:1-2)
“And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also…Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12)
“all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 34:12)
“And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said unto all the people [thus saith the LORD]…
- your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt…
- the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan…fought with you: and…I destroyed them from before you…
- the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand. (Joshua 24)
“Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
- The blind receive their sight,
- the lame walk,
- the lepers are cleansed,
- the deaf hear,
- dead are raised up,
- the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:1-6)
Did you catch that last one? The poor having the gospel preached in their neighborhood is as much a wonder as raising the dead!
“I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you…how that Christ / Messiah died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures, and was seen…
- For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
- For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
- But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power…The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (I Corinthians 15)
Clearly the last enemy of death hasn’t been destroyed. And the history of the Bible from the beginning of the Adams to the last man standing is war between YHVH and his volunteers and the adversary and his endentured servants.
Which explains why it’s taking so long. Its harder to recruit volunteers than to impose a tyrant’s will. For example, at the start of WWII the Germans were successful in their surprise blitzkrieg of France by feeding crystal meth to their soldiers to keep them up and marching for days.
“Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them? And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.
And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.
and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand, and they slew of them in Bezek 10,000 men. And they found Adoni-bezek [my lord/god who works through me scatters like lightning?] in Bezek: and…and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron…and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai…the three sons of Anak…” (Judges 1)
And here is where Bible antagonists run riot.
And Richard Dawkins is arguably the currently most jealous, proud, unjust, control-freak and lying antagonist in his fictional rewrite of the Abrahamic God.
Richard Dawkins enjoys the freedom of speech in a country that has been at war for over a century fighting and killing the enemies of free speech.
Is there any evidence that the initial wars served a purpose besides giving Richard Dawkins the power to say anything he wants without so much as that inconvenience of having to back it up with evidence? Like peace and prosperity?
Or a massive reduction in genocide?
And how much of our War Against Terror is to prevent one’s own ethnicity from being “wiped off the face of the earth?” Remember the Holocaust, anyone? Anyone?
And just who is bloodthirsty??
65% of American adults…3 our of 5 people admit to playing on a daily basis…
The average gamer is 34 years old, owns a house and has children…
Guys love playing video games…its only natural…
56% of the most frequent gamers play multiplayer games..
35% of multiplayer gamers prefer shooter games.
I started thinking about who video games find it permissible to kill in large numbers. The focus is not on the big evil central antagonists which heroes must defeat to save the day. Instead I am examining the generic grunts of AAA Games and trying to figure out who is permitted to die at a hero’s hands without opening them up to moral judgement…
The one enemy that it is always permissible to kill is one that is standing in the way of your goals…Video game…players have been trained since the 80’s to shoot… just any given living organism that has become an obstacle…
How then could we make the situation better?
A good first step would be to remember to actually characterise enemies as being, you know, bad in some way. If your story revolves around a supposedly heroic protagonist, then the people they fight should be worse than them. Establishing the grunts as being ruthless, reckless, sadistic or seeking supremacy will go a long way to making the player character’s actions feel more heroic.
Another step would be to limit the body count…Having the hero only kill…when they pose a serious threat, would also be a good idea.
Lastly, and this might sound crazy, but maybe make it so every game does not revolve around violence. Again we can point to Undertale as an example of how a video game character being a pacifist can create really interesting problem solving mechanics. How about more stealth games were you really cannot kill anyone? How about more games like Journey where exploration is held above all else?
And if Richard Dawkins bothered reading about the God he so loves to libel and slander, he would discover these very tactics in play.
Ironically, the social peace brought about by following God’s ways, which by natural law allows prosperity, relaxes one’s reliance on God, promotes a prideful conviction of achievement by one’s one efforts and sense of entitlement, causes a breakdown of the social welfare embodied in God’s ways, and results in a cycle of political violence.
It’s the cycle of domestic violence on a grand scale.
“And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and…forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed…the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them…and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.” (Judges 2)
At first glance it appears that the LORD God is taking out his anger on his children, doesn’t it?
Don’t mix up the LORD’s ways with our ways.
“Bargaining is an integral part of most Middle Eastern cultures…The key to being good at bargaining is understanding what purpose it serves – it is not about money… – but more about building relationships.”
When God “delivered” and “sold” his people to the enemy he was engaging in negotiations like those transacted by Chamberlain with Hitler to minimize the damage to his people!
Despite God’s people rejecting him, he never rejects them, but stays on the sideline waiting for his people to return to him after they’re hurting enough to call out for his help.
“(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God); he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.” (Deuteronomy 4:31)
The following outline from the book of Judges highlights this principle. The reader is encouraged to enjoy the exciting details provided in the entire book of Judges.
Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them…to teach them war…to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD…And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods…Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel:
- and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia…
- And…raised up a deliverer…Othniel…Caleb’s [nephew]
- and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel…
- But the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera…
- The Philistines
- Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.
- And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan…he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
- And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time…the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman...Jael Heber’s wife
- And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian…And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth…and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass…And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side.
- And the three hundred [Israelites] blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled…And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.
- the children of Ammon
- Jephthah [son of Gideon], and he passed over…twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
- List of unremarkable judges / defenders
- the Philistines forty years…
- Samson…found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith…Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women…And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O LORD God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God…And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars…And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
Undivided Kingdom of Israel
As the last priest-ruler, Samuel opens a new era in Israel’s history, transitioning Israel into a king-dom. Any time of transition is chaotic, stressful, uncertain. For believers, the word of the LORD is all the more precious during these times. The account of Samuel’s rule labeled I and II Samuel are worth much more than the children’s Sunday School stories for which they are usually consigned.
“And [the child] Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground [fail to come to pass]. And all Israel from Dan [northern border] even to Beersheba [southern border] knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD…And the LORD…revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.” (I Samuel 3:19-21)
During Samuel’s rule, the primary enemy was the dreadnaught Philistines, in battle after battle after battle.
“And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines:” (I Samuel 4:2)
Saul was the first king of Israel, but when he chose to ally himself with the enemy he lost his capacity to defend his / God’s people and was replaced.
“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. Thus saith the LORD of hosts / armies, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 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.
But Saul and the people spared Agag [undoubtedly to ransom, see Ahab and Benhaddad below], and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good [again the profit motive], and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments…
- Problem #1, rebellion / disobedience: And Samuel came to Saul…Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD?
- Problem #2, stubbornly denying he did wrong, which is even worse, because we can be forgiven and restored only when we confess our sin. And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me…
- Problem #3, blame shifting: But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed,
- Problem #4, dissociating himself from God: and have brought Agag the king of Amalek to sacrifice unto the LORD thy – THY!!! – God in Gilgal.
And Samuel said…rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king…The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.” (I Samuel 15)
“Then Saul, (who is also called Paul)..said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, .give audience. The God of this people of Israel…gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king… ” (Acts 13)
I can’t help but sidebar here to note that the Apostle Paul had a reason for mentioning his namesake King Saul in his first recorded sermon. Being from the same tribe of Benjamin, he may have been a direct descendant. He certainly had much in common with him. It does lead me to wonder if both Paul and God didn’t have a soft spot in his heart for King Saul. Certainly Samuel did. For certain God must have mourned being forced to set Jonathan aside. Perhaps a thousand years later Jesus recruited Saul of Tarsus so persistently in order to restore kingship to this family, and once again enjoy the eternal love that his Spirit had experienced in David with Jonathan, surviving through the ages in their descendants. This concept is nicely presented in the movie Cloud Atlas.
Both Jonathan and the Apostle Paul were grounded in the word of God so were able to recognize the Promised Savior when they saw him in action. For Paul it was Jesus’ resurrection. For Jonathan it was his battlefield faith.
As you read the following account from I Samuel 17, bear in mind that David had already been anointed to be the next king. He could believe the spoken word of God through Samuel because it was consistent with the written word of God, that God was going to do the impossible through him as Shiloh, at the gathering of the people.
“Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up [i.e. was successful]: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old [wise, crafty] lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Genesis 49:9-10)
“Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle…And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together.
And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath,
And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together…
And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid. And David spake to the men that stood by him…who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? …And David said to Saul,thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine…
Keep in mind that the heroic epics of fabulous deeds known to us were being circulated at that time as well. Saul could believe such things were possible with David because he had heard it had happened before.
The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee…
And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. [Not even old enough to grow a beard.]…And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. [Trash talk before a gang rumble.]
Then said David to the Philistine…This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; that all the earth may know that there is a [singular] God in Israel… [Purpose for nation of Israel!]
And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem…And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite [of the tribe of Judah].
Like King Herod, Saul would have been warned by his advisors of the prophecies that this child would take the kingdom from him, consistent with the written word of God. But even with a price on his head, David didn’t just pray for protection, he actively engaged in one battle after another to establish God’s plan. And in the process, David consistently accepted the guidance of God’s prophets.
“And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.” (I Samuel 22:5)
Most importantly, he accepted the word of the LORD regarding his own sin, allowing God to deal with it. Denial of reality, spiritually or psychologically, prevents resolution of any problem.
“And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said…the rich man…took the poor man’s lamb…And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die…because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man...And David said unto Nathan, [unlike Saul to Samuel] I have sinned against the LORD.
[And because he repented of his sin] 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, [not just on earth, but in heaven] the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die [presaging the death of his penultimate son, Jesus, who dies for the sins of the world]…And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped:” (II Samuel 12)
The psalms written by David as a prophet are a good source for transforming into a person, like David, after God’s own heart.
Nathan also announced one of the greatest promises: sure mercies of David – forgiveness and restoration of sinners to eternal life through his seed.
“when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels…and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.”
Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O LORD God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?.. For thy word’s sake [referencing back to the prophecy to Judah], and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things…
Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to…make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land…which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? (II Samuel 7)
“Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand [for a Greek audience] said,Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people...he raised up unto them David to be their king…Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:…Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent…God raised him from the dead:…And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers [in writing], God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again, as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David…Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things [therefore freed from the penalty of sin, which is death].” (Acts 13)
David’s first heir to his dynasty was known for his wisdom. Yet, in a process well known to psychology, he let his physical desires overwhelm his better judgment, so experienced God’s judgment, pronounced by God’s prophets.
“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…Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant…(I Kings 11)
Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day. And… made Jeroboam king over all Israel.” (I Kings 12)
Despite the fulfillment of the prophecy that God would hand over to him the majority of the kingdom of Israel without a fight, Jeroboam failed to trust God for an everlasting kingdom.
- The natural consequence of distrust is a never-satisfied need to control to feel safe, leading to tyranny.
- The natural consequence of rejecting the worship / unity with the merciful God at Jerusalem, with its rules of social justice, is constant social turmoil.
- The natural result of a king without power behind the throne is constant scheming preventing government’s handing of problems with social unrest and civil war leading inevitably, as with the better known rise and fall of the Roman empire, to self destruction.
“And Jeroboam said in his heart…If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me…
Whereupon the king…made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt… And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi…which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.”
So God sent prophets to warn them of the dangers of their self-harming behaviors.
“And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD…And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee...This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out…when king Jeroboam heard…he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him… [but] The altar…was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar [immediately], according to the sign which the man of God had given [to prove God’s power to make his word come about in the future]…” (I Kings 13)
“Rehoboam slept with his fathers, And Abijam his son reigned in his stead…And he walked in all the sins of his father. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.
This term “sodomite” is currently narrowly interpreted to be “homosexual” for the purpose of using the Bible as a weapon in the conflict between liberals and conservatives. However, the biblical references expand our understanding. At the most basic level, sodomy is mistreatment of the needy, and God’s condemnation of it reflects his fundamental requirement that mankind’s dominion is to be loving and merciful as a reflection of his likeness.
When Jesus instructs his disciples to preach in the towns of Israel, Jesus warns that those who do not receive them peacefully will be judged more harshly than the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt. 10: 5-15).
Jesus joins other ancient authorities in viewing the sins of the Sodomites as the abuse of strangers, neglecting the poor and needy, and the stigmatizing of outsiders. For example, Ezekiel says that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah “had pride, surfeit of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and the needy” (16:49-50); and the Wisdom of Solomon says that they “refused to receive strangers when they came to them” (19.14). On the other hand, an early Christian book I Clement states that Lot was saved “because of his hospitality and piety” (11.11)…
The narrow interpretation known today comes from an ancient minority report from thinkers such as Philo of Alexandria… [who]condemned the Sodomites for “forbidden forms of intercourse”… The odd point about this charge is that the object of Sodomitic lust is not male humans but…angels!
This brings out the sexual aspect for which Sodom is famous – empowerment through sexual union with spirit beings. This theme also runs through the Bible. so shouldn’t be overlooked.
“At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife…get thee to…Ahijah the prophet, which told me that I should be king over this people…he shall tell thee what shall become of the child. And he / Ahijah said…Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel…and yet thou…has done evil above all that were before thee…Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam…till it be all gone.” (I Kings 14)
Baasha…smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according unto the saying of the LORD…And he / Baasha did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam…Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, Forasmuch as…thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins; Behold, I will…make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat.
Elah the son of Baasha reigned…two years. And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was…drinking himself drunk …and smote him and killed him…as soon as he / Zimri sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall [potty trained], neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.
And the people that were encamped heard say, Zimri hath…slain the king: wherefore all Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp…Zimri…went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died...Then were the people of Israel divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; and half followed Omri. But the people that followed Omri prevailed…so Tibni died, and Omri reigned. And he bought the hill…and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria.
Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him...as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.
And the following passage gives a very clear description of how God feels about government mistreating the vulnerable.
And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased…And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him…Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth. And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. And thou shalt speak unto him, saying…Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine…I will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin. And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.
And now begins the prototypical reign of terror that recurs to Israel throughout its history. But as much as we hate the idea of experiencing great tribulation, it is when we need God the most that we experience his power and appreciate his salvation. Elijah is the prototypical prophet during great tribulation, but personally I think Obediah’s undercover work is underappreciated.
“And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly: For it was so, when Jezebel cut off / eliminated by whatever means the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water….
The showdown between Elijah the prophet of God and Jezebel’s prophets of Baal is a repetition of David’s championship over Goliath, and sends a powerful message to those who are willing to get into the fight.
And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab…when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table…
Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.
And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken…And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it,
- and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered.
- And they leaped upon the altar which was made…
- and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them….
- and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name [for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed]:
- and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
- And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood,
- and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
- And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
- And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.
And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life.
and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness...and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life…
As a psychiatric provider, I often remind biblically knowledgeable persons of this passage. Elijah was a superlative prophet who channeled immense spiritual power. But like any other human, it drained him. We are body, soul and spirit and need to care appropriately for all three aspects.
And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb AKA Sinai the mount of God.
Are you catching the clues? Elijah is one of the Melchizedekian Yeshua Messiah successors to Moses, which, preceding the Davidic kingship covenant, is a chosen, anointed, position that doesn’t require David’s bloodline. Jesus Christ fit both, the one is not dependent on the other.
And…the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by,
- and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind:
- and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
- And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire:
- and after the fire a still small voice…
And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest,
- anoint Hazael to be king over Syria
- And Jehu the son of Nimshi [not of the line of David] shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel:
- Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” (I Kings 19)
Unnamed prophets of God are shown to continue prophesying / preaching to Ahab, who, under duress, in fact believes and acts on some, but tragically not all, of their messages. Notice how Ahab “lets go”, which is the opposite of “let it be / make it happen“, and the consequence is transfer of power, to the other side, exactly like a game of tug-of-war.
“And Benhadad i.e. son / human representative of the god of Thunder and War the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots; and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him…I will send my servants unto thee to morrow about this time, and they shall search thine house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away.
And, behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab king of Israel, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Even by the young men of the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall order the battle? And he answered, Thou. Then he numbered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were 232: and after them he numbered all the people [able to go to war], even all the children of Israel, being 7,000.
And they went out at noon. But Benhadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him…So these young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city, and the army which followed them. And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled…And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.
And the prophet came to the king of Israel, and said unto him, Go, strengthen thyself…for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against thee…And it came to pass at the return of the year…and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country.
And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD…is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD…and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day. But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Benhadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber. And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings…So they…came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Benhadad saith, I pray thee, let me live….Then said Ahab, I will send thee away with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and sent him away.
And a certain man of the sons of the prophets…waited for the king by the way…And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king…Thus saith the LORD, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people.” (I Kings 20)
“And they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel. And it came to pass in the third year, that…the king of Israel said unto his servants, Know ye that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, and we be still, and take it not out of the hand of the king of Syria? And he said unto Jehoshaphat, Wilt thou go with me to battle to Ramothgilead? And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses.
As a good king, it is quite possible that Jehoshaphat was trying to carry out God’s purpose for his nation, which is to draw other nations to the God of Israel. However, putting himself and his people under an unrighteous king’s control is not the way to go about it.
Then Ahab / the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.
And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so…So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him…I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?…And the king of Israel said…Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace. And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the LORD hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you…
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy robes.
Clearly this was to take any fire aimed at him! The natural reaction is to wonder what is wrong with Jehoshaphat. The spiritual response is to recognize his Christ-likeness in action.
“the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:5-8)
And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle…And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness…and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot. So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria. And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood…according unto the word of the Lord which he spake.” (I Kings 22)
Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria…And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother…And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease. But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus saith the Lord, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die…
- Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down…And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
- Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly…And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
- And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight. And the angel of the LORD said unto Elijah, Go down with him…So the king died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken…And J(eh)oram reigned in his stead.” (II Kings 1)
At this, Elijah gets his wish to end his tumultuous earthly existence, and passes his mantle to Elisha. His request for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit shouldn’t be seen as greed. It was based on awareness of the escalating battle against evil, and the need for more weaponry.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (II Corinthians 10:3-4)
“be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand…having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Elisha and his sons / students kept the destruction of Israel at bay for many generations.
“It came to pass, when Ahab was dead, that the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. And king Jehoram…sent to Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, saying…wilt thou go with me against Moab to battle? And he said, I will go up: I am as thou art, my people as thy people, and my horses as thy horses. So the king of Israel went, and the king of Judah, and the king of Edom:
And king Jehoram went out of Samaria…against Moab to battle…through the wilderness of Edom…and they fetched a compass [arc] of seven days’ journey [clearly for a surprise assault through an unprotected border, like Hitler into France]: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them. And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the LORD hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!
But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of the LORD by him [for salvation from this mess we’re in]? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah. And Jehoshaphat said, The word of the LORD is with him. So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.
And Elisha said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee. But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.
Demonstrating the effectiveness of music to access the spirit dimension…
And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Make this valley full of ditches. For thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts. And this is but a light thing in the sight of the LORD: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.
And God had his own personal reason for that, as we shall see. This wasn’t an arbitrary gift to Israel.
And it came to pass in the morning, when the meat offering was offered, that, behold, there came water [draining down the mountain slopes] by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water.
And when all the Moabites heard that the kings were come up to fight against them, they gathered all that were able to put on armour, and upward, and stood in the border. And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood: And they said, This is blood: the kings are surely slain, and they have smitten one another: now therefore, Moab, to the spoil. And when [unencumbered by armor and weapons so they could carry away the spoil] they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them: but they went forward smiting the Moabites, even in their country.
And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall.
Now do you understand why God took out the Moabites?
The biblical account of the fall of the house of Ahab meets the high standards of any episode of Game of Thrones. I dare you to be bored with this historical account in the Bible.
And in the fifth year of J(eh)oram the son of Ahab king of Israel…J(eh)oram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign…And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for the daughter of Ahab [sister to Ahab’s son Jehoram] was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the LORD. Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah for David his servant’s sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children. In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves. Then Libnah revolted at the same time…And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Ahaziah [named after his mother’s brother-in-law] his son reigned in his stead.
Notice how the two dynasties are getting confused? David’s of Judah and Omri’s of Israel both have kings with the same names, and now, the same Canaanite bloodline.
Intermarriage between royal dynasties has been a political strategyas far back as the Late Bronze Age...It avoided the inevitable border conflicts and promoted peace and trade between nations, secured a military alliance…against a third dynasty, and provided a legal claim of inheritance to expand into the allied territory whenever the allied monarch failed to leave an undisputed heir.
We have seen how Jehoshaphat allied militarily with his contemporary, Ahab. Naturally, intermarriage sealed the deal. What follows next is territorial acquisition by one of the allies. Think of it like NATO.
Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel. And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, as did the house of Ahab: for he was the son in law of the house of Ahab. And he went with Joram the son of Ahab to the war against Hazael king of Syria in Ramothgilead; and the Syrians wounded Joram.
And king Joram went back to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him at Ramah, when he fought against Hazael king of Syria. And Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to see [his uncle] Joram the son of Ahab in Jezreel, because he was sick.
“And Elisha the prophet called one of the children [trainees] of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead: and when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber; Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not [not sure what the reaction will be]. So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramothgilead.
And when he came, behold, the captains of the host were sitting; and he said, I have an errand to thee, O captain. And Jehu said, Unto which of all us? And he said, To thee, O captain. And he arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel. And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish…And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled.
Then Jehu came forth to the servants of his lord: and one said unto him, Is all well? wherefore came this mad fellow to thee? And he said unto them, Ye know the man, and his communication. [Figuring they were listening at the door.] And they said, It is false; tell us now. And he said, Thus and thus spake he to me, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel.
Then they hasted, and took every man his [protective battle] garment, and put it under him [like a bullet proof vest] on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king. So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram [heir to Ahab and Jezebel]…
And Jehu said, If it be your minds, then let none go forth nor escape out of the city to go to tell it in Jezreel. So Jehu rode in a chariot, and went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there…
And there stood a watchman on the tower in Jezreel, and he spied the company of Jehu as he came, and said, I see a company. And Joram said, Take an horseman, and send to meet them, and let him say, Is it peace? [Expecting a coup d’etate.] So there went one on horseback to meet him, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? And Jehu said, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind [to follow / join] me. And the watchman told, saying, The messenger came to them, but he cometh not again.
Then he sent out a second on horseback…And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously.
And Joram said, Make ready. And his chariot was made ready. And Joram king of Israel…went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite [foreshadowing here!]. And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?
And Joram turned his hands [on the reigns], and fled…And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot.
Some fantastic shooting from a bouncing chariot or else the first “guided missile” in the Middle East.
Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite: for remember how that, when I and thou rode together after Ahab his father, the LORD laid this burden upon him; Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith the LORD; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith the LORD. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of the LORD.
But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot. And they did so at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there.
And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window. And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?
And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs. And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot. And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king’s daughter. And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands. [How do I know she was tattoed? Because it was a pagan practice at that time.]
Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel: And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel. (2 Kings 9)
What emerges at this time is a pattern of half-hearted faith, neither hot nor cold, crying out for help under duress but not fully allying with the God who saves. Sound familiar? God is long suffering, but his patience does run out.
“And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin. In those days the LORD began to cut Israel short: and Hazael king of Syria smote them in all the coasts of Israel;” (II K 10:30-33)
In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.
Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah…and slew him, and reigned in his stead. And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea…In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God…and had feared other gods, And walked in the statutes of the heathen…and of the kings of Israel, which they had made…
Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying…keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.
Notwithstanding they would not hear…did not believe in the LORD their God. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them…And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God,
- and made them molten images, even two calves,
- and made a grove,
- and worshipped all the host of heaven,
- and served Baal.
- And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire,
- and used divination and enchantments,
- and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only…And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight…
So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day…And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.” (II Ki 17:4-24)
“In the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam began Abijah [son of Rehoboam] to reign over Judah. And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.
- Abijah set the battle in array with an army of…400,000 chosen men: Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with 800,000 chosen men…
4 And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel;
5 Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?
6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord.
7 And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them.
8 And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with your golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods.
9 Have ye not cast out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods.
10 But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the Lord, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business:
11 And they burn unto the Lord every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the Lord our God; but ye have forsaken him.
12 And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.
13 But Jeroboam caused an ambushment to come about behind them: so they were before Judah, and the ambushment was behind them.
14 And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind: and they cried unto the Lord, and the priests sounded with the trumpets.
15 Then the men of Judah gave a shout: and as the men of Judah shouted, it came to pass, that God smote Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.
16 And the children of Israel fled before Judah: and God delivered them into their hand.
17 And Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter: so there fell down slain of Israel five hundred thousand chosen men.
18 Thus the children of Israel were brought under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers.
19 And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from him, Bethel with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the towns thereof, and Ephraim with the towns thereof.
20 Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days of Abijah: and the Lord struck him, and he died.
21 But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives, and begat twenty and two sons, and sixteen daughters.
22 And the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways, and his sayings, are written in the story of the prophet Iddo.
“And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal.
Remember, multiple alliances were sealed through marriage, so the seed royal who Athaliah destroyed weren’t her own children
But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, [likely half-] sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah…And his mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba…and stole him from among the king’s sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain. And he was with her hid in the house of the LORD six years.
And Athaliah did reign over the land.
And the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the rulers over hundreds, with the captains and the guard, and brought them to him into the house of the LORD, and made a covenant with them, and took an oath of them in the house of the Lord, and shewed them the king’s son.
And the captains over the hundreds did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest commanded: and they took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that should go out on the sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. And to the captains over hundreds did the priest give king David’s spears and shields, that were in the temple of the LORD.
And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple. And he brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king.
And when Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the temple of the LORD. And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason.
But Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains of the hundreds, the officers of the host, and said unto them, Have her forth without the ranges: and him that followeth her kill with the sword. For the priest had said, Let her not be slain in the house of the Lord.
And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they should be the LORD‘s people; between the king also and the people. And all the people of the land went into the house of Baal, and brake it down; his altars and his images brake they in pieces thoroughly, and slew Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet…Seven years old was Jehoash when he began to reign…And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him..” (II Kings 11:1-12:1)
Isaiah is the key prophet in the southern nation of Judah who successfully kept his flock from being destroyed by first the Israelite / Syrian alliance, then by Tiglathpileser of Assyria even after King Ahaz had everything prepared in readiness for the man of sin, the son of perdition, to sit himself in the temple of God, showing himself to be God. Isaiah continued to exert a profound influence on all succeeding generations through his written words.
And it came to pass…the king of Assyria…a great host against Jerusalem…And Rabshakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?…if ye say unto me, We trust in the LORD our God…? The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it…Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?…Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand? …
And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. This is the word that the Lord hath spoken concerning him…Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel…Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest…For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.” (II Ki 18-19)
Jeremiah was the prototypical prophet of doom. Doom, because his listeners refused to repent, to turn from wickedness to righteousness, to change direction in the tug of war, and inexorably, according to the rules of war, God turned them over to the control of the enemy.
“The angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers / watchers / observers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel…said…I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said…behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them…And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying,
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe [in the same sense as keeping watch over Jesus’ tomb, guarding the commandments – DO these things. What things?] ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU!!! and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28)
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, AND COMMANDED THEM, saying…
- preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
- Heal the sick,
- cleanse the lepers [since a separate category from healing the sick we can deduce this includes outcasts from society for whatever reason],
- raise the dead,
- cast out devils:
- freely ye have received, freely give.
- Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. [Like Jesus and Paul, “lowering” ourselves to the social level of the people to create partnerships and raise up leaders who will continue the work when the founder moves on.]
- And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves…beware of men: for
- they will deliver you up to the councils,
- and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
- And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake…But when they deliver you up [to be judged as wrongdoers], take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
- And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death,
- and the father the child:
- and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
- And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another…
- The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
Fear not them therefore…which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven…
He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” (Matthew 10)
And it should not come as a surprise that it starts with each individual cleaning up their own act.
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
- Ye lust, and have not: ye kill,
- and desire to have, and cannot obtain:
- ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
- Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses [against God], know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:1-7)