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Thursday, June 27, 2013

2 Samuel 21:1-14

2 Samuel 21:1-14
The Ultimate Promise Keeper
Speak Lord, We Are Listening

Song, Rich Mullins “That Where I Am” pray

Two foundation stones to stand on when studying the word of God. God is sovereign, God is good. If at any time while you are wrestling with a scripture, you start to subtract from God's goodness or sovereignty, you are headed in the wrong direction.

A little background is necessary before we dive in.

God's command was simple, no treaties, no mercy.

Deuteronomy 7:1-2 When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.

In Joshua 9 we read about the Gibeonites, who believe God can do what He says, and so they deceive Joshua into believing that they are from far, far away and want to make a treaty with him to 'not be harmed.' Later Joshua finds they have been decieved and the people encourage him to wipe them out, but Joshua and the leaders decide to keep the oath that they made.

But he honors those who fear the LORD; he who swears to his own hurt and does not change. (Psalm 15:4)

So the background is there is a 400 year old oath specifically with this people. Saul breaks that oath 30-40 years before what we are about to read.

2 Samuel 21:1 Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the Lord. And the Lord said, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” 2 So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah).3 Thus David said to the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? And how can I make atonement that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord?” 4 Then the Gibeonites said to him, “We have no concern of silver or gold with Saul or his house, nor is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “I will do for you whatever you say.” 5 So they said to the king, “The man who consumed us and who planned to exterminate us from remaining within any border of Israel, let seven men from his sons be given to us, and we will hang them before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord.” And the king said, “I will give them.”
7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the oath of theLord which was between them, between David and Saul’s son Jonathan. 8 So the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, Armoni and Mephibosheth whom she had borne to Saul, and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she had borne to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.9Then he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the mountain before the Lord, so that the seven of them fell together; and they were put to death in the first days of harvest at the beginning of barley harvest.
10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until it rained on them from the sky; and she allowed neither the birds of the sky to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night. 11 When it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, 12 then David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the open square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them on the day the Philistines struck down Saul in Gilboa. 13 He brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from there, and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged.14 They buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zela, in the grave of Kish his father; thus they did all that the king commanded, and after that God was moved by prayer for the land.

Our nation is less than 250 years old, the treaty that was broken here was over 400 years old. Time is not important when God makes a promise.
Can you think of any promises we as a nation have broken?

Treaty was broken by 'zealous' Saul; 30-40 years later, punishment came to the nation.
Verse 1- Problem-famine, David “sought the presence of the Lord.” Even more than the answer He sought the presence. He gets the answer: it is because of something that Saul did.
Verse 2- Here we have a wide open door for self-pity, but David is old, he has more wisdom and so he did not respond in self-pity, he had the fear of the Lord, once again, this is the best definition of the fear of the Lord- the "willingness to justify God in all that He allows into your life."
Roy Hession
It should be noted, that Saul's zeal was not for the Lord but for the people, and that is a slippery slope. The actual incident is not mentioned in the Bible, but we can infer Saul tried to get back his throne from God by doing what he thought was right, what he thought was zealous for God, by getting rid of the foreigners—including the Gibeonites—that were among them. The problem was that God had not told Saul to do this, God had told Joshua to do that. Joshua and that generation did not do their entire job, and so they were stuck. The time had past.
What Saul did was commit another presumptuous sin. He went after a people that God did not want exterminated anymore. There was a covenant with those people that not only Joshua and the people honored, but also God Himself honored as well. Saul committed a great crime against Gibeon, and the Gibeonites. Probably after Samuel told him that the kingdom was being taken from him and given to another, because of the disobeying God's direction to wipe out the Amelekites. He thought, “Maybe I can work my way back into God's good graces by wiping out this people, that are living right next to my tribe.”
In any case David calls for the Gibeonites, he goes into action.
Verse 3- David is not just looking for a 'band-aid' fix, he desires to see this situation made right to the point that the Gibeonites, go from cursing to blessing the “inheritance of the Lord.”
Verse 4- It appears to me a little “middle-eastern” bartering session breaks out at this point. David is not interested in bargaining, “What do you want, bottomline?”
Verse 5- Saul is their focus.
Verse 6- Seven indicates, completeness, “Do this and it will be over, done with.”
Deuteronomy 21:23: he who is hanged is accursed of God. These descendants of Saul bore the curse Saul deserved and so delivered Israel from the guilt of their sin against the Gibeonites.
Before they will bless Israel, they want Saul's “house” cursed. They want it done in Saul's hometown, and in their neighborhood. The eye for an eye law was established because these ancient societies would out do each other in killing. You kill one of us we kill 2 of you etc. Considering Saul nearly wiped them out and they are no where near calling for the wiping out of the tribe of Benjamin, mercy can be seen in this exchange, even though most people would focus on the 7 and lose sight of that. In fact, that is what we are guilty of often too. Forgetting that we are deserving of death, hell, and the grave, we get bent out of shape when the discipline of the Lord comes into our lives, or natural consequences from our sinful choices take place. Also the acknoledgement is given that Saul is, 'chosen of the Lord', but that does not change the accountability.
Part of what makes judgment, judgment is that children suffer. That knowledge should be one of the things that turns us back from sinful ways.
Verse 7- David has a vow to Jonathan too, and so Mephibosheth is spared.
Verse 8- “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” Shakespeare
We can only imagine, the difficulty here. Were these men, part of the raiding party that did the deed, part of Saul's 'bloody house'? Rizpah was a concubine of Saul, is that why her son's were chosen? Merab was the daughter promised to David but not given, after his defeat of Goliath, was that why her sons were chosen? Different ancient translations have Michal's name here and there is some confusion. I liked the explanation, that Merab had died and Michal was raising the children. Michal had sinned despising David when he danced before the Lord and her punishment was to be barren. The Bible is silent on all of this, and so we probably should be also.
Verse 9- So somewhere around April or May, these men are given over.
Verse 10- Rizpah keeps a vigil over the dead bodies which are left out, against the law which said to take them down. She is protecting their honor, and making sure that they are not 'forgotten.' (Do not hide your grief.) She does not take matters into her own hands but waits for David to act. (Do not take action out of frustration when 'leadership' is not moving fast enough for your liking.)
Verse 11- It works, word gets to David that the Gibeonites, who may not know the laws of Israel, have left the bodies out being exposed.
Verse 12- The Kingdom was in turmoil when Saul and Jonathon died in battle, a proper burial, honoring them for the position that they held in the kingdom had not taken place. Saul's 'house' could use some honor and respect at this time, and David wisely gives it.
Verse 13- He honors those who lives have made the situation right, equally as much as the former king and his beloved son.
Verse 14- Some commentators say this may have been as late in the year as October, when the “latter rains” usually came, again we are not specifically told, how long it was. But God was still acting as a result of “prayer” for the land.

Numbers 35:33:So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. The idea is that blood from unpunished murders defiles a land and God will one day require that blood from the nation. (Ah Oh)
  • God expects us to keep our promises
  • God expects nations to keep their promises
  • Time does not diminish our obligation to promises
  • God's correction may come a long time after the offense
Ultimately I can tell you that global warming, which says that the ice caps will melt and the earth will go under water is a lie. Why can I say that?

Obviously, we are not told everything about this incident; we must trust the principle stated by Abraham: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Genesis 18:25)
There are many reasons for unanswered prayer and when we see our prayers not answered we should seek God to address the problem.
Saul and his house”, the sins of leaders affect all that they lead.
Exodus 20:4-6 You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
God is warning here that sin has consequences. When He visits the iniquity upon successive generations, He is saying is that the results and curses that come automatically often go down a handful of generations. These curses are things like diseases that might affect genetics, and they came as the result of sin. It causes a problem in the way that the next generation is formed. Therefore, this curse goes down until the gene pool is able to kick it out—three or four generations. Or more simply parents actions can bend the nature and character of their kids. Thankfully, I know, that Grace is a huge eraser.
Leviticus 26:18-2 And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.
You see, famine on the scale like this—three years—is a sign from God that things were not copasetic in the land. There were big problems, and one of them was the consequences and effects of Saul and his bloodthirsty house.

I can not find the concept in the Bible of innocent people.
In this passage, we are reminded of the importance of covenants. Throughout Old and New testament history, God dealt with men covenantally. When God spared Noah and his family, He made a covenant with them and gave the rainbow as a sign of that covenant (Genesis 9:1-17). God later made a covenant with Abraham, with its accompanying sign, circumcision (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-22). Then God made a covenant with Israel through Moses, and its sign was the Sabbath (Exodus 19-20; 31:12-17; Deuteronomy 5). God made a covenant with David to build him an eternal house (2 Samuel 7:12-17). Then, of course, there is the New Covenant inaugurated by our Lord Jesus Christ through the shedding of His blood (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 9:11-22). God has not dealt with men capriciously; He has always dealt with us in accordance with a covenant.

Thank God that He is a covenant keeper. Throughout Israel's history, His chosen people stiffened their necks and disobeyed the One who saved them from slavery in Egypt. How easy it would have been for God to wash His hands of this rebellious people. But God kept His covenant. He kept it by bringing adversity on His people when they sinned (such as the famine which came on Israel in David's time), but He also provided a Savior, who perfectly kept the Mosaic Covenant and fulfilled the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants. He inaugurated the New Covenant, by which sinful men are saved through faith in Jesus Christ and His blood, which was shed to make an atonement for the sins of men.
I am impressed that our text foreshadows the gospel in so many ways. Not only does it remind us that God relates to men by means of His covenants, but it speaks to us particularly of the New Covenant. Saul's sins had to be atoned for or God's blessings could not be enjoyed. Saul's sin brought adversity in the form of a famine. Money could not atone for this sin, but only the shedding of blood. It was the shedding of this blood which brought about atonement and appeased both God and the Gibeonites.
There are those who think the gospel of the New Testament is too bloody (remember “testament” is an old fashioned word for covenant). What else can wash away our sins? Can our efforts at good works? Can our money save us? Only the shedding of blood atones for sin:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13).
19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven (Colossians 1:19-20).
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:11-14).

Sin hinders our prayers, but when that sin has been dealt with, God then heeds our prayers. Let us not underestimate the importance of prayer. Sometimes, the knowledge that sin is hindering my prayer is the only thing that drives me to apologize or make a situation right.

Sin gives away control of my future course. (21:4) David called the Gibeonites and asked what he should do to make this matter right. The Gibeonites made it clear that it was not money they wanted.Just a note here: When we wrong people, it is not what WE feel will make it right that counts the most, it is what THEY feel. That is one of the profound penalties of sin. We become the servant of those who we have hurt, and surrender the blessing and power over all rectification.
Sin’s judgment isn’t partial. God doesn’t play favorites in the sow and reap principle of life. He did not excuse or overlook the sins of those He chose. He did not condemn the Canaanites for their sins and then condone the same sins among His chosen people, Israel.(21:5-6) The Gibeonites told David that since Saul destroyed some of them and purposed to kill them all, they would find justice served if but seven of Saul’s “sons” were handed over to them for execution. They would hang these sons “before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD” (verse 6). Hanging was the punishment used for very serious crimes (see Genesis 40:19; Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Joshua 8:29; 10:26). The Gideonites promised they would hang Saul’s sons “before the LORD.” It seems to me that they were viewing this matter as they should, seeing that they were carrying out God’s will in a way that satisfied (propitiated) Him, and thus satisfied them as well. They would carry out the execution before the city of Saul, before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul. The Gibeonites made a point of referring to Saul as “the chosen of the LORD.”
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

SEEING BEYOND THIS passing, futile, age, of promises unkept, and retribution and heart ache. Maranantha

My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gratitude and Grumbling (The scourge of self-pity)

Getting a lesson ready for Wed. night.  I thought it would just be on gratitude, but pretty soon my sin of self-pity came to the forefront and the result is below.

Gratitude and Grumbling (The scourge of self-pity)

Holy, Holy, Holy- Keith Green     Speakers      my mom

James 5:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
Gratitude flows back to God.
Grumbling flows back to God.

2 Corinthians 7:12 So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the offender nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God.
When we limit the scope of our understanding of a situation to “how it affects me” we are blinded to all the other things that God is doing in the Body, through the situation, or in front of the devil and his angels.  Job is the prime example, what God was doing had very little to do with Job.  We can be sure that He loves us, but we also need to know that we are not the center of all things.

Numbers (the book of grumbling and complaining.)
Numbers 11:1  Now the people complained to the Lord about their troubles, and when he heard them, he became angry. Then fire from the Lord burned among the people at the edge of the camp. 2 The people cried out to Moses, and when he prayed to the Lord, the fire stopped burning. 3 So that place was called Taberah, because the Lord’s fire had burned among them.

11:10Moses heard every family crying as they stood in the entrances of their tents. Then the Lord became very angry, and Moses got upset.

14:1That night all the people in the camp began crying loudly. 2 All the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron, and all the people said to them, “We wish we had died in Egypt or in this desert.

14:26-29  The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 27 “How long will these evil people complain about me? I have heard the grumbling and complaining of these Israelites. 28 So tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says. I heard what you said, and as surely as I live, I will do those very things to you: 29 You will die in this desert. Every one of you who is twenty years old or older and who was counted with the people—all of you who complained against me—will die.

Gratitude is not based on circumstances.

Acts 5:40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.  41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Acts 16:22-25  22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.

 David took his complaint to God, but also expressed trust in God.

Psalm 13:1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

The biggest killer of gratitude is self-pity.
Recognizing when self-pity is rising up.
How do we recognize self-pity? One way to recognize self-pity in ourselves is to closely examine our thoughts and words. When we do so, we are looking for these signs of self-pity: • Repeatedly telling or thinking about how someone wounded you
• Asking “why did this happen to me?”
• Having feelings of unfairness
• Making statements such as “I didn’t deserve…”
• Global statements such as “I will never succeed… I always fail…”
• Having first person focused thoughts “I, me, my”

5 Reasons Self-Pity Is a Sin:
1.  Self-pity implies that God exists to serve me. If I’m unhappy, then he isn’t serving me to my satisfaction.
2.  Self-pity implies that I, instead of God, know what will make me happy, fulfilled, content, and godly.
3.  Self-pity’s root is an ungrateful heart.
4.  Self-pity leads to murmuring, complaining, and an exalted sense of self.
5.  Self-pity is focused inwardly rather than outwardly.
The way out is the same as any other sin, confess, repent, receive God’s grace to walk in His ways.

Considering Elijah and Jeremiah.
Self-pity, the root of most grumbling.
What can we do to combat self-pity? I Kings 19:4-15
Elijah falls into self-pity right after a great victory, there are some lessons in ‘watching’ how God handles it.

 While pitying himself, Elijah asks for death, saying, "It is enough! Now LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!" His situation reveals several problems that can fatigue and erode our attitudes: He presumes the outcome, focuses on the problem and himself, and becomes physically exhausted. God provides the solutions to alleviate self-pity: Pray for God's help, rest, find a new focus and new expectations, repent of sins, and take obedient action. When Elijah crawls into his shell, God commands him to get up and get moving. He wants Elijah to choose godly action based on obedience rather than inaction based on his emotions. Genuine repentance and a clear view of our true condition, not a distorted one, fights self-pity.

Jeremiah 15:17-21 — The trap of self-pity
17 I never sat with the crowd
    as they laughed and had fun.
I sat by myself, because you were there,
    and you filled me with anger at the evil around me.
18 I don’t understand why my pain has no end.
    I don’t understand why my injury is not cured or healed.
Will you be like a brook that goes dry?
    Will you be like a spring that stops flowing?
19 So this is what the Lord says:
“If you change your heart and return to me, I will take you back.
    Then you may serve me.
And if you speak things that have worth,
    not useless words,
    then you may speak for me.
Let the people of Judah turn to you,
    but you must not change and be like them.
20 I will make you as strong as a wall to this people,
    as strong as a wall of bronze.
They will fight against you,
    but they will not defeat you,
because I am with you.  (VERDA)
    I will rescue you and save you,” says the Lord.
21 “I will save you from these wicked people
    and rescue you from these cruel people.”

Sometimes when following God gets hard, it becomes easy to complain.  “Why is this happening to me?  I don’t understand.  I thought that if I followed you, all would go well.  Why are you allowing this to happen?”
And that’s how Jeremiah felt.  He felt the sting of rejection and persecution from his own people.  As a result, he started to face doubts about what he was doing for God, saying,
Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?  Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?  (18)
In other words, “I’m suffering here.  Can’t you see?  Are you truly going to help me?  Or will you let me down like so many others have in the past?”

But once again, God doesn’t allow Jeremiah to wallow in his own self-pity.  Rather, he challenges him, saying,
Therefore this is what the Lord says:  “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman.  Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.  I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the Lord.  “I will save you from the hands of the wicked and redeem you from the grasp of the cruel.”  (19-21)
Put simply, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Walk away from your pity party so that I can use you.  Stop your complaining, and instead speak the words I give you.  These people around you would have you become like them, but you must not.  Instead, you must make them bend to you.  They may fight against you and persecute you, but they will not overcome you.  I will rescue you.  So take your eyes off of yourself, and put them on me where they belong.”
   Satan wants you to focus on yourself, because when you do, it’s impossible to focus on God or the people around you.

Let us not be people that focus on ourselves and our own troubles.  Rather, as the writer of Hebrews says,

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  (Hebrews 12:2-3)

Behaviors that keep self-pity alive and well.
You tell others of the wrong that has been done to you because it elevates you and dismisses your behavior and focuses on others.  It’s a shift of blame.  You feel justified but never feel satisfied.

Many times unforgiveness is the key holding self pity in place.

Self pity often then leads to unforgiveness, anger and hatred, resentment, rebellion of all sorts, even a murderous and bitter broken heart.

  “Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out, into the open, into a spacious, free life.”  Romans 8:6 (MSG)

Terrible results of self-pity.
Self-pity stunts spiritual growth.   It stops you dead in your tracks.  It will bring you down and not let you move forward.  Pity holds on to the past. and drops an anchor in your life causing you to be battered by the storms of life unable to navigate free of other dangers.

Self-pity can also bring us into a sense of hopelessness. This is a belief that something that is greatly desired is unobtainable. Self-pity does this by diminishing our view of what God says about us, and our view of God and His character. It can create beliefs that God has let us down or will let us down (distrust in God), or that God is punishing us for some sin (because we are not forgiving ourselves). Hopeless people have a lack of assurance that God values what they offer Him, and that God will not respond in any way to their overtures. When asked, “If you were to ask God for something, do you really think He would hear you and answer you?” they respond, “I wish I could believe it, but to be honest I don’t feel that God is really interested in me
(or my problems).” There is a feeling of a lack of power or ability to effect the situation.

Self-pity leads us to blame others for our problems and not accept or acknowledge our own responsibility for problems. When we feel others are solely to blame for our problems it takes away our responsibility, and ability, to have any power to impact the problem; therefore keeping us stuck in our problems.

A stronghold of the enemy
Ultimately, self-pity is a tremendous stronghold for the enemy because it separates us from God by creating doubt in God’s goodness and sovereignty. It also separates us from others with self-centeredness, comparison, envy, and pride (a false mask we hide behind). It is an especially effective stronghold because many times it is not a readily apparent sin and is extremely difficult for the person stuck in self-pity to admit; again an issue of pride. Ask God to forgive you for misjudging His character, for doubting Him.

Self-pity becomes a form of manipulation that you might use to get things from other people.
 We cannot cope with life if we are feeling sorry for ourselves and not taking responsibility. The key word is dwelling. If we learn to feel our pain, understand it and learn from it, we will be in a better position to cope with life events. If we keep dwelling on self-pity we will never being in a position to be used by God.

Hope in God, Trust in God
The weapons that deliver the death blow to self-pity.
In contrast, hope is the confident expectation of something good. Having hope means to have trust and reliance. It is desire with expectation of obtaining what is desired or belief that it is obtainable. It is made up of three basic elements:
• Confidence     • Expectancy     • Security

Because hope is confident, secure, and expectant it creates in a person an inner attitude of openness toward God, towards other people and towards life. This is extremely important because we receive what we expect and we receive only what we are open to. When we do not have hope we are pessimistic, expecting the worst, therefore putting up protective barriers against life, against people, and against God. Then we wonder why we never seem to receive anything. Hope is the other side of faith. Faith means that I commit myself in trust to another. Hope means I expect that what I have offered, faith, a committed trust in another, will be responded to, thereby making me open to receive that response. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) The person who suffers from self-pity is often a person with a great deal of compassion; their focus is just off. When they are able to take their focus off of themselves they become tremendously effective in ministry because of their ability to truly relate to another person’s pain.

Thoughts to fight self-pity.
(1)I deserve worse
I should be screaming in agony in hell right now for my rebellion against God; instead, I’ve merely been criticized by someone.  I should be burning in torment, but I only have to replace my car engine.-
(2)I could be going through this trial apart from Christ
Millions of unbelievers suffer tragedies, disease, and evil at the hands of others apart from the love of Jesus.  They have no comfort from his Spirit, no hope for eternity, no God to help them.  They suffer here then slide into eternal destruction.  Though I may be hurting, my Good Shepherd will never forsake me.

 Remember that God is more concerned about our holiness than our happiness.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
  Remember that this world is not all there is. As we respond in faith to God, especially in the hard times, we are banking faith rewards in Heaven.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”(2 Corinthians 4:17).                 (The call and the key)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Zechariah Study #5 Chapter 3 Joshua the High Priest

Zechariah Bible Study #5
Joshua Before the Angel of Jehovah
Zechariah Chapter 3

Joshua, the High Priest

3 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. 4 He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” 5 Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the Lord was standing by.

6 And the angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here.

The Branch

8 Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch. 9 For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave an inscription on it,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. 10 ‘In that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree.’”   NASB

God continues His ‘good and comforting’ words through the prophet, with grace-filled words of a restored spiritual relationship between God and His people. The emphasis is on God’s choice.
The blessed fact is this, “the fulfillment of the exceeding great and precious promises in reference to Israel’s future, rests, not on their own merits or worthiness, but on the immutable purpose of Jehovah, who in His sovereign grace hath ‘chosen Jerusalem.’”David Baron
This vision depicts in a symbolic but graphic manner the inner salvation of Israel from sin and moral defilement, answering to their outward deliverance from captivity and oppression set forth in the preceeding three visions.
Jeremiah 3:22  “Return, O faithless sons,  I will heal your faithlessness.”
“Behold, we come to You;  For You are the Lord our God.”  What His eternal counsels have purposed, His grace and power shall yet accomplish in His people, and Israel shall yet be God’s instrument to shed abroad His blessings to the nations.

Zech. 3:1  The vision shows us Joshua, the High Priest, one of the 49,697 who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, standing before the Angel of Jehovah, a pre-incarnate Jesus, with Satan, at Joshua’s side acting as an adversary.
Joshua is a type and representative of the nation in this vision.  The language of the vision is at times talking about him as an individual and then it goes right into the city/nation.  The high priest is on trial and so is the nation; if rejected, they are rejected, if acquitted, they are accepted.
It is beyond our knowledge and the knowledge imparted to us by the Bible to understand how Satan is permitted in heaven as the ‘accuser of the brethren’ but there he is.  Satan brought sin into the world, he deceives and tempts men to sin, but when they fall, he turns to accuse them.
    We are a side issue in the mind of Satan.  His main goal is to try to frustrate the accomplishment of God’s merciful purposes for the world.

Zech 3:2  Here we see that in rebuking Satan about Joshua, the blessing is expanded to the city/nation. “The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem..”  Oh that we would see the blessedness of being chosen, of being a ‘brand plucked from the fire.’  Of being a vessel of wrath, given great mercy.  When Jehovah rebukes you, because His words are power, the rebuking, the suppression actually takes place as a result of the words.  Israel’s hope and safety and ours rests on the immutable character and faithfulness of the Everlasting, Unchangeable God.  The sole ground and motive is His own heart of love.  The ‘fire’ that they/we are plucked from indicates great suffering in punishment, but mercy prevented it from resulting in utter destruction.  Like the burning bush it burns, but is not consumed.  This is a deep truth - The bush must suffer by very reason of its being in a special sense the dwelling place of the Holy One, until all dross has been consumed; but, because of mercy, it can not be destroyed.

Zech 3:3  The Hebrew word for filthy is FILTHY, the strongest expression that can be given.  How can God receive worship from one so sinful, so morally defiled?  Praise be to God, Satan has the power to accuse, but not to condemn!!  The Judge is the Lord, Jesus.  Leviticus 26:44 “Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God.”

Zech 3:4  To eliminate doubt that the filthy garments are symbolic of our sins, and the sins of Israel as a nation, the Lord says as He calls for the removal of the filthy garments,  “I have taken your iniquity away from you.”  Not only are our sins removed but, amazing grace, provides for new garments, festal robes.  This clothing indicates a reinstatement with God, for His purposes in the earth.  

Zech 3:5  The graciousness of Jehovah, leaves something ‘undone’ so that it can be called for by the intercession of the prophet.  This completes the dressing of the high priest.  God agrees to this request, indicating His acceptance of the newly clothed sinner.   Exodus 19:5,6 tells us that God was forming a “kingdom of priests, a holy nation.”  This is a picture of our conversion,  a stripping off of our filthy garments by God, and a giving of new garments from God.  The ‘robe of righteousness’ that we get as a result of our belief in Jesus, is our only ground of standing before God.  

Zech. 3:6  The free gift of ‘right standing with God’ results in a ‘higher call.’
It is good to remember that the words of God have power inherent in them.
So when He says, “Go and do this.” the power to go and do it is present in the command.  

Zech 3:7  The first part refers to our personal walk before God, and the second charge is to carry out our place in the Body.  For Joshua it would have been his call as high priest, and for the nation - to be a kingdom of priests.  His grace is available to us, the power in the Spirit to walk out our call, are both available.  Our obedience and faithfulness in these areas during our earthly sojourn, result in dwelling in heaven.  There is a promise of ‘authority’ in the life to come based on faithfulness in this life.  

Zech 3:8  Often in the Old Testament, men’s lives were symbolic.  We need to be aware of this also in our day, that God makes use of our lives, that others are watching our lives.  Things that happen to us are usually bigger than we know.  Our performance is on a bigger stage than we realize.  And now for the big announcement God is bringing forth His Servant the Branch.  Jesus, both Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke of Messiah as ‘the Branch.’  

Zech 3:9  By comparing scripture with scripture, we learn that Isaiah and David in the Psalms referred to the Messiah as a foundation stone/cornerstone.  The seven eyes refers to the omniscience of God.  He knows all, and has all the seven gifts of the Spirit.  The love that God has for us is ‘graven’ on the body of His Servant the branch.  Therefore, the marks of crucifixion are seen here, and in them we know that His omniscience is directed toward us in love.  I don’t want the government knowing everything about me, but when God does it is a comfort.  At the cross our iniquity was removed, but we did not appropriate it to our lives until we called on the name of Jesus to forgive us of our sins.  And in the same way, Israel as a called and chosen nation has total forgiveness available to them awaiting that ‘glorious day’ when as a nation they call upon the name of the Lord.  The day of Israel’s national repentance, the great day of Atonement.  God’s purposes are marching toward that day.  Leviticus 26:30  “for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord.”

Zech.  3:10  Here we have a beautiful picture of a true, deep, peaceful rest.  We are told that when the high priest completed all the ritual of the day of Atonement that there was a festival with songs and entertainment and universal gladness.  The garden of Eden, the original purpose of God, gives us a picture of this invitation to a relaxing meal on a perfect day.  

I have intentionally kept this short, because the great need of our time is to see this amazing truth of God.  He has removed our filthy garment, clothed us in His righteousness, surrounded us with His love and called us to join with Him in His mission.