Tag Archives: Old Testament

Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 1st Week of Advent

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Welcome to the first week of Advent!

Tradition holds that the first week of Advent reminds us of the importance of prophecy and that we are desperately in need of a Savior. The Hebrew Bible – the Old Testament – reveals much through the Prophets and Wisdom literature and poetry.

If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him;
If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.
For then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot; yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear:
Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away:
And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday: thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.
And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety.
Job 11:13-18

We first need to see our need for cleansing from sin. Then we need to remember that, through Christ, we have already been cleansed of our sin.

This knowledge gives us hope.

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

Therefore, we no longer wait, as Israel did, for an unknown Savior. Rather, we wait for the return of our Lord, when all misery, pain, and tears will cease. He shall reign as God and Lord over a remade and perfect Creation.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

Heavenly Father, we have sinned against you, but You sent Your Son to save us from our sin. Thank You for revealing Jesus’ first coming through Your Prophets of old and His immanent return through the Apostles. Give us a grateful heart and a sense of urgency to spread this Good News with the world with humility and grace.

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Brazen Church Girl

Today I decided to post a rerun from 2012. I couldn’t say it any better if I re-wrote it today.

Proverbs 7:13-15

“So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.”

One of the greatest myths is that all church-going girls are “good” girls. These verses are a good example. Not only has this woman been waiting in the dark for her prey, she is openly religious, and uses her surface piety to lure the fool. But let’s break down these verses one at a time.

“So she caught him, and kissed him..”

Look who is the aggressor; it’s not the man. Conventional wisdom (not godly wisdom) has taught us that men are always the aggressor and that women should be wary. However, there are plenty of young women, as young as middle school, who know exactly what they want, and how to get it. Consider the words of this mother…

“I have a very outgoing, charming, attractive 15-year-old son. I have literally been chasing the girls away from the door ever since the seventh grade. … The aggressiveness and promiscuity of young girls nowadays is beyond words. Their dress is so alluring and inviting to a young man, what’s a guy to do? Moreover, what’s a mom to do?” (source, Family Life Today)

“Impudent face…”

It is amazing how people can look you right in the eye and tell a bold-face lie. That is what this woman was doing. The Hebrew word translated here as “impudent” could also be translated as brazen. She just looked this naive boy in the face and told him what he wanted to hear.

“Peace offerings…vows…found thee.” 

It is obvious in verses 14 and 15 that something doesn’t add up. Why is it that a woman of the night would be telling this young man about how she went to church? Oh, it’s pretty simple, really. She was just saying what a good Jewish boy wanted to hear.

Here was the total, irresistible package: a young, gorgeous and religious woman calling out to be rescued from breaking the Law. “I am so glad I found you! You’re the answer to my prayers! This must be God’s will,” she essentially said.

In the Old Testament, when a peace offering was made, the leftover meat was to be eaten that night, and no later (Lev. 7:15). She presented her case in such a way that said, “We have to do this now!” She played to his religious chivalry.

When this woman grabbed the man, kissed him, lied to him, and trapped him, she did it with everything that said: “This must be a good girl – she’s only trying to do the right thing – and she likes me!” I can almost imagine him repeating the words of an old Debbie Boone song, “This can’t be wrong when it feels so right.”

A Prayer

Oh, Lord God, open our eyes to the tricks of the Enemy! Give us the wisdom we need to discern between a treasure far above rubies (Prov. 31:10) and a trap. Help us to teach our sons and daughters to be godly. Help us to be parents who set the example.


How Are Your Walls?

Proverbs 25:28

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

City Walls

Most cities today have no walls; they are usually protected from invaders in other ways. But back in the days of Solomon it was common to see a city with large walls built around it for defense. Without those tall, stone walls, much like what we would imagine circling a castle, a city would be completely vulnerable to attack.

English: Building the Wall of Jerusalem; as in...

In the Old Testament we can read of a man named Nehemiah who realized the importance of city walls. When one of his brothers came to visit, he asked how things were going in Jerusalem. That’s when he found out the bad news.

“They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” – Nehemiah 1:3-4 NLT

Later, Nehemiah went before King Artaxerxes, the kink in whose court he served, to ask permission to rebuild the wall. His request was graciously accepted, and the king even provided the materials needed for the job. However, none of this would have happened had Nehemiah not realized the humiliating and dangerous predicament Jerusalem was in. They needed walls.

Walls of Discipline

Solomon knew what he was talking about when he wrote this proverb, for he knew about human desire. But, as a king, he also knew about city walls and the need for defense. He recognized the similarity between a defenseless city and the undisciplined, careless soul.

A person who has no control over his desires is like a city that parties away the night without any clue that an invasion is imminent.

He with no rule over his own spirit is like a city full of treasures ready to be plundered.

The one with no self-control invites destruction.

Maybe it is time we share the burden of Nehemiah and repair the broken down walls in our own lives. 


Angry Women

Proverbs 21:19

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.”

1000 Women

Has anyone noticed that this is the second time Solomon has said something about angry women? It was only ten verses ago that he said it was better to “dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house (verse 9).” Do you think that Solomon could have been having marriage problems?

One of the great ironies in history is that the wisest man to ever live had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3)! One would think that with so much wisdom a man might have figured out a thing or two about the nature of women, but evidently he was either deficient in this one area, or a glutton for punishment. I am not as wise as Solomon, but even I could tell you that having more than one wife might be a bad idea, especially when you’re intending on sharing your life with a thousand! Good grief!

Solomon had a weakness for the opposite sex and all the money in the world to support his habit. 1 Kings 11:3 even says that his wives “turned away his heart” from God. In order to keep them happy, he built altars to other gods. As wise as he was, women were his downfall.

1000 Tempers

I tend to wonder what kind of “man cave” Solomon had. With all those wives and concubines, can you imagine how many tempers were constantly flaring? Can you imagine how many grudges were being held? When 2 or 3 women go to the ladies room together, rumor has it that they talk about us men. Can you imagine what emotional issues a harem full of women could talk about? And don’t you think they constantly blamed Solomon for everything?

It should come as no surprise that both times Solomon mentions women in this chapter he references emotion. After nearly 20 years of marriage and three daughters to my credit, I can speak from experience that women know how to get angry and stay angry. Women are different than men (duh!). It takes a wife that is filled with the Spirit to overcome her tendency to seethe over something stupid her husband did 10-15 years ago.

Advice for Solomon

It may be a little late, but if I could go back in time I would give Solomon a bit of humble advice. I would say to him, “King Solomon, sir, I have a few suggestions that could help you maintain peace in your palace, should you choose, in your wise and awesome wisdomness, to listen.

  • Find that ruby of a woman and make her a solitaire. One rare one is far better than a chest full of imported cubic zirconia.
  • Treat your wife with humility, love, and respect. An unloved and disrespected woman is an angry woman.
  • Money is great, but time is priceless. Spend time with your wife doing things she wants to do. A lonely woman is a bitter woman.
  • Worship the True God with your wife, not the idols of the world. Don’t marry outside the faith expecting to change her. Find a woman that loves the Lord and love Him with her. A woman at odds with you is a contentious woman.

Then I would say, “Choose to do otherwise, dear king, and you might as well go live in the wilderness.”


Tasty Gossip

Proverbs 18:8

“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (NIV)

Choice Morsels

I love good food, and considering I couldn’t fit into my new suit coat, maybe a little too much. As a matter of fact, Thanksgiving was months ago, but I’m still suffering the effects of that meal. It was just sooooo good!

pinto beans with cornbread

Pinto beans with cornbread.

However, the best tasting kind of food is what many call “comfort food.” It’s the kind of food that makes one feel good. It’s the kind of food for which a person longs. Comfort food is choice food, and every morsel is an experience worth savoring.

For many people, gossip is like comfort food; it satisfies a hunger and desire to feel better, if only about one’s self. Gossip is tasty.

Hidden Dangers

The problem with comfort food, however, is that it goes down easy, but it never wants to leave; it sticks around in the belly, the liver, the arteries, and the heart. A constant desire for it can lead to irreversible health problems.

A few years ago I saw a documentary about a man who weighed nearly 1,000 pounds. He ate all the food he wanted, but the weight he gained left him immobile. Unbelievably, when help finally came to take him to a hospital, caretakers actually found a discarded chicken bone embedded in his his leg. His choice morsels left him wounded.

Gossip Chef

Today’s proverb addresses the words of a talebearer, or gossip. Interestingly, the Authorized Version describes the words of a gossip as wounds, while other translations render the word wounds as choice morsels. Either way, the words of a talebearer have a way of sinking down deep, eventually affecting the hearer in a negative way.

One commentary says,

The juicy tidbits of gossip are eagerly devoured by persons disposed to listen to them, as a glutton helps himself freely to tempting food. The slanderous words do not make a superficial impression, but penetrate into the innermost recesses of the listener where they are thoroughly digested.*

But unlike the great chefs of the world who prepare choice delicacies for many people at a time, the gossip partakes in every meal served. Not only is the belly of the customer fattened, but also the gossip chef. Eventually both will die of heart disease.

*James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Pr 18:1–8.


Got Rope?

Proverbs 10:28

“The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.”
Hope

All men have a hope of some kind. Men and women without hope are surely to be pitied, for they have no reason to go on, no reason to live.

Hope is what keeps people going even in the worst of times. The hope of freedom keeps prisoners alive. The hope of walking again urges the crippled to keep trying. The hope of seeing one’s family again makes a child’s summer camp experience bearable. Hope is what we hold on to when don’t know what else to do.

Rope

Rope is something we hold on to, also. When people are in deep pits they yell out, “Throw me a rope!” When people want to repel down mountains, or clean the windows of skyscrapers, they put their trust in ropes.

When you think about it, what makes a rope useful? If you are not tying something up, but trying to climb, anchor a boat, or swing from a tree, what makes a rope useful is what it is tied to. In other words, you can’t climb up a rope that isn’t attached to anything. Throwing a rope to someone in a well is only helpful if someone on the other end attaches it to something.

Dopes

According to one prominent lexicon*, the original Hebrew word translated “expectation” came from a word that meant “rope”. A rope is something tangible, something you can see; not a hope that is based on the unseen.

But do you know what a “dope” is? A “dope” is someone who has been “duped;” a person who has fallen for a trick. That is what we could call the wicked in Proverbs 10:28. They have put their hope in a rope that is attached to nothing.

Do you see the irony? The righteous put their trust in a hope that is unseen and based on faith. But the wicked say there is no God, they have no use for faith, and trust in something they can feel, something they can get their hands around. The only problem is when the wicked fall, they will discover a rope tied to nothing will not save. They’ve been duped by the evil one.

Conclusion

The hope of the righteous is grounded in faith, while the expectation of the wicked is tied to nothing. The atheist claims that there is nothing beyond this life, and holds to that rope with tenacity. The righteous hold to the Unseen Hand and follow a voice only heard through the Spirit.

One day the floor will fall out from under both the righteous and the wicked. He who says, “let me fall into the hand of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 21:13) will have his hope fulfilled. But he who holds to the “rope” of unbelief will surely be disappointed.

*Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (872). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Wisdom’s Possession

Proverbs 8:22-23

“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.”

For the next three days we will be considering Wisdom’s Possession (vv. 22 – 23); Wisdom’s Primacy (vv. 24 – 26); and Wisdom’s Presence (vv. 27 – 31).

WISDOM’S POSSESSION

This week I’ve been studying that wonderful Old Testament passage of Genesis 11:1 – 9, the story of the Tower of Babel. You recall that in that post-diluvian era, men settled on the Plain of Shinar and pooled their resources toward the building of a city and a tower to reach to the heavens, that they would make a name for themselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth. You might also recall the detail that “they had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar” (Genesis 11:3).

Tower of Babel by Lucas van Valckenborch in 1594

Tower of Babel by Lucas van Valckenborch in 1594 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One scholar suggested an interpretation about Genesis 11:3 that I have never come across before. He pointed out that Moses was writing to that generation of Israel which had been held in slavery in Egypt–forced labor in Pharaoh’s massive building projects. The great temples and pyramids of Egypt were built principally of granite and limestone, hardy building material which has indeed stood the test of time. This scholar was suggesting that Moses was in fact encouraging Israel to scoff and jeer at the builders on the Plain of Shinar.

The many masons of Israel certainly knew that brick and tar were a poor substitute for precision-cut limestone and granite! The proud architects of the Tower of Babel were entirely out of their depth from the outset of their project. They knew what they wanted to build, but had no realistic idea of how to accomplish their task.

THE LORD’S ETERNAL POSSESSION OF WISDOM

How gloriously different is the wisdom of the Living God! Before the LORD began his wonderful work of Creation, He possessed wisdom. He knew what He wanted to accomplish, and He knew how He would go about the task. Solomon is teaching us that wisdom is an eternal virtue, a quality written deeply into the character of God from before the dawn of time. The wisdom which He possesses, He freely shares with us when we ask for it (James 1:5).

Grant us wisdom, dear God, the wisdom which is from above—peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 3:17). Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

 

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