Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Does the Promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 Apply to the Christian?

Reading: 2 Chronicles 7   
2 Chronicles 7:14 is often used, speaking to Christians in our country and applied to America and our desperate need for “healing” from God. Undoubtedly, our country is in desperate need of healing today, and God hears and answers prayer—a promise that is found all over the New Testament. So pray, pray, pray! However, when read in context, it is fair to ask, “Does this really apply to America?” And, “Does this really apply to the Christian?” Or, “Does it apply today?” Let's read it in context:
13"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. (2 Chronicles 7:13-16)
This promise was given at the dedication of the temple in response to Solomon's prayer (2 Chronicles 7:12), and the this place of these verses is the temple which Solomon built, and the my people was Israel (this is prior to the divided kingdoms), and their land, was the land of Israel. Is it fair, then, to turn my people into the church, and their land into America, and this place into wherever we happen to be?
It may be helpful to look further back in the story line to 2 Chronicles 7:1. There, after Solomon's prayer for dedicating the temple, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house. (NIV's temple is specifying which house (literal)—the house of the Lord.) One translation translates the word for glory (kabod) as splendor (NET). Both are good. The glory, the splendor, of the Lord filled the house.
There are three (3) well known references in the Old Testament where fire comes down from heaven. First, at Mt. Sinai when God came down in fire and wrote the law on stone tablets (Exodus 19:18; Deuteronomy 9:10). Second, here at the dedication of the temple. Third, after 3 years of drought, when Elijah goes to Ahab and promises rain by days end. They gather all the priests of Baal who make their sacrifice to their god and pray all morning and well past noon for their god to send fire on the sacrifice to no avail. Then Elijah has his sacrifice drenched in water, and then with a simple prayer, fire comes down and consumes the sacrifice (1 Kings 18:36-38).
There is also a New Testament reference to fire coming down, and it is relevant to our text. In Acts 2:1-4, as the disciples are gathered together daily in prayer (Acts 1:14), and have done so again on the day of Pentecost, fire came down from heaven and divided into “tongues” (projecting points in this case, about the size of a tongue), and came to rest on each one. This is the fulfillment of the promise of the Father, the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).
Pentecost was a day in which the people “renewed the Sinai covenant”. A day they recommitted themselves to obey it. But something different was going to happen on this Pentecost. Just as God came down in fire at Sinai and wrote the law on stone tablets, now, the Spirit is coming down to rest on each believer as the Father has promised to write the law in their hearts and on their minds (Jeremiah 31:33). This is the New Covenant that replaces the Mosaic Covenant (Hebrews 8:13). Those who walk in the Spirit will fulfill the righteous requirements of the law (love of God and neighbor) (Romans 8:4).
Secondly, after the return to the land from Babylonian captivity, the temple was rebuilt, but the glory, the splendor of the Lord never returned like we saw in Solomon's day. But now, the sacrifice having been made (Galatians 3:13-14), the promised Holy Spirit can come and fill the house. As the disciples were gathered together in a room of the temple that day (Luke 24:53)1, the temple was indeed filled with the glory of the Lord, the splendor of the Lord, as the Holy Spirit filled the temple—the church of the Living God (Ephesians 2:21-22).
Thirdly, even as fire came down from heaven after Elijah's prayer, so we have been promised answered prayer when we too pray fervently; we too are promised the Spirit's power in answer to prayer (James 5:16-18; Luke 11:9-13). Those who come to Christ are baptized by Him with the Holy Spirit and fire. We have the Spirit writing the law of God in our hearts, conforming us to the image of Christ. We have been filled with the glory, the splendor of God—Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). And we have been promised answers to prayer.
2 Chronicles 7:14 does apply to the Christian—indeed in an ultimate sense it was written for the Christian. It does apply today, as we are promised that God will hear and answer our prayers. There even seems to be an emphasis in scripture on the power of gathered prayer—prayer offered in this place which is now the temple, the assembled people of God. But, does it apply to America? Well, not in the same sense that it applied to Israel. However, we are called to pray for all people that God would for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. So we should pray accordingly for America and Zimbabwe, indeed for all men with this in mind.
Seek God's face for His eyes and heart are on His church who is gathered before Him in prayer in the name of His Son Jesus! God will hear from heaven and answer our prayer!
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,
1There is some debate as to whether the disciples were in the upper room (the house) or the temple (the house) on the day of Pentecost. I believe we can firmly say they were in a room of the temple because, 1) the scripture tells us where they went to pray every day... the temple; 2) house was commonly used to refer to the temple; 3) 120 wouldn't fit in the upper room, and 4) had they been in the upper room they would have been across town from where all the people were gathered on Pentecost, hence no one would have gathered around after hearing them speak in tongues. Never mind all the implications of how this fulfills Old Testament prophecies since it was at the temple. I suspect the only upper room experience the disciples had was eating and sleeping. See also Acts 5:12.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Source of Solomon's Wisdom

Reading: 2 Chronicles 1   
Solomon is renown for his wisdom. One can study the book of Proverbs in order to discover the key to his wisdom, or one might merely study 2 Chronicles in order to learn it. In fact, the key to Solomon's wisdom is found right here in the 1st chapter, as confirmed throughout the book of Proverbs. In response to the offer from the Lord, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (2 Chronicles 1:7), Solomon prays,
9Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?  11God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart's desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” (2 Chronicles 1:9-12)
I can remember this story from my childhood (today I turn 49, so that was a long time ago). It has always stood out as one of the great heart tests of a man in scripture. It is certainly intended for us as both an example and a statement of value. The obvious contrast here is one that sets God's wisdom and knowledge over against wealth, riches, honor, and long life. This morning I noted another, less obvious, but equally as important aspect of Solomon's request: humility. Solomon's wisdom is rooted in humility.
Why do I say that? Because at its root, this request reveals that Solomon did not assume he had the wisdom and knowledge resident in himself to lead the people effectively. He didn't think of himself as a great king. He understood what he lacked. Solomon demonstrates for us right here in 1 Chronicles 1:10 what the book of proverbs keeps front and central throughout: Real wisdom comes in living our lives in utter dependence on God. Real wisdom is available to those who recognize their foolishness, while those who are wise in their own eyes, are fools.
If Solomon had been wise in his own eyes, he would have asked for riches, honor, or one of the other things on the list in vs. 11. However, Solomon saw his lack of wisdom, and that insight was essential to connecting him to the source of his wisdom. As he writes in Proverbs 11:2,“with humility comes wisdom.”
We might say that Solomon's humility was the beginning of his wisdom. Of course, we know that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” yet in Proverbs, humility is nearly equal to the fear of the Lord. If “the fear of the Lord” was a coin, the other side of the coin, would be labeled, “Humility.” (See Proverbs 15:33 where the parallelism places them in equal positions. Also Proverbs 22:4.) So that to say, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” and to say, “with humility comes wisdom” are to say the same thing from different angles. Tremper Longman wrote,
Humility comes from a healthy fear of Yahweh. Those who fear Yahweh know that they are not the center of the universe. They are not 'wise in their own eyes.'”
Solomon displays this posture of the heart in his prayer for wisdom. What is the posture of your heart? Is it a posture of desperate dependence on God? Do you find yourself asking for wisdom? James 1:5 invites us with the same promise that Solomon had to ask and receive this wisdom. If we are not asking it is likely that we don't perceive our own need as Solomon did his. Solomon saw his foolishness, the fool always sees his own wisdom (Proverbs 12:15; 26:12, 16). What about you? If you lack wisdom, ask! God freely distributes it to fools who know they need it!
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

Monday, August 22, 2011

God on Trial?

Reading: 1 Chronicles 21   
God is on trial. The world is often quick to accuse God of injustice. Often the Bible is used as evidence against God, because the God of the Old Testament, it is often put forward, is not loving, according to the world's prosecution rhetoric. This trial of God is not new, indeed it is as old as history itself. It began in the Garden of Eden with the accusation of the age old serpent against God that God was lying in order to keep us from having “the good life.” (Genesis 3:4-5) 1 Chronicles 21 might help us see the serpent's lie and the truth about God and what He is like.
It begins with the age old serpent inciting David in an activity that will ultimately bring death (1 Chronicles 21:1). David tells Joab, his general, to go count the warriors in Israel. That doesn't seem to be a big problem, right? But Joab's response helps us see the problem.
But Joab replied, “May the LORD multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord's subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?” (1 Chronicles 21:3)
David's decision to count the troops is an evidence that his trust is shifting. He had always been one to trust in the Lord, not the arm of the flesh (Psalm 56:1-4). But now he has his eyes on how big his army is. Joab recognizes this and appeals to David. However, as king, David prevails and the counting begins. We discover that Joab was disgusted with this activity, and God was too (1 Chronicles 21:6-7).
What is the problem with this shift of trust? Though written later, Jeremiah 17:5 summarizes a truth that was equally true in David's time, in fact, gets to the root of sin itself. To trust in the Lord brings life, to trust in the flesh brings death. This isn't an arbitrary decision from the Lord; rather it is the upholding of truth. If trusting in the flesh would actually end in life, then the flesh would have to be the source of life. Or, rather, God would be upholding the lie which we are insisting on believing. God cannot lie, and God cannot prop up a lie.
God's wrath is poured on Israel and David sees his sin and repents. God offers him a choice between three forms of judgment. (1 Chronicles 21:8-10) David's response is telling:
David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.” (1 Chronicles 21:13)
David believed that God's mercy was greater than mans. There are a lot of people who think that they have a better idea of what love is than God does. A lot of people who presume to be more merciful than God. A lot in our day who would accuse God for killing these 70,000, but would defend to the death the right to take the life of innocent children in the womb to the tune of 55 million in our own nation. How can they possibly be so blind to the radical double standard. (Never mind that they have never given life to anyone, and God is the author of life. He is the only one with the right to give an take.)
David understood that he had rejected God, the author of life, in order to trust in man. He recognized the wretchedness of this action and understands just how deserving he was of death itself. But he knew that God's character is not limited to only justice, but is primarily holy love. His mercy is very great. David would much rather have fallen into the hands of the God of the Old Testament than to fall into the hands of men. (I dare say so would the Jews who were in Germany or Russia in the middle of the last century, and so would many babies today!)
As the account continues we discover that David understands that God extends mercy through a means of atonement, of dealing with man's guilt by a means of substitution. Sacrifices were given to demonstrate that God would deal with their sin by punishing their guilt on another. Of course, God never intended that animal sacrifices would be sufficient (Isaiah 1:11; Psalm 51:16). Those sacrifices were pointing to the reality that God would provide a means of atonement in which our guilt would be dealt with by a substitute, and were always pointing forward to the Lamb of God that would bear away the sins of the world.
God's love is a holy love. It isn't merely God saying, “it doesn't really matter, I was just kidding anyway when I said not to eat from the tree. I was just kidding when I said not to.... You won't really die.” Rather it is God saying, “I wasn't kidding. Death is necessary, but I will provide the answer, I will save you from death itself and give you life eternal.” It is God saying, “I will bear your death for you.” 1 Chronicles 21 looks to the ultimate sacrifice described in Isaiah 53:1-12. The world may think they have God on trial, but in reality, it is the world that is on trial, and needs a serious attorney (1 John 2:1-2).
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Are You Mission Minded?

Reading: Ezekiel 2 – 3   
Ezekiel was being sent on a mission. I am sure glad I have not been sent on the same mission, because as we see in this chapter it isn't going to be well received (Ezekiel 2:3-4). However, in this sending of Ezekiel, I believe we can still learn something about the nature of our own obedience to the mission, and our own obedience to the Gospel. The Gospel does call us to obedience, but it is an obedience of faith and must flow from our confession of the Gospel (Romans 1:5; 16:25-26; 2 Corinthians 9:13).
In Ezekiel 2:1-2, Ezekiel is told to stand up and the Lord will speak. So the command is clear to Ezekiel: Stand up! Yet, notice how he obeyed: As the Lord spoke, the Spirit came into Him and raised him to his feet! Through the ministry of God's Word and Spirit, Ezekiel was empowered to respond and obey God's command. This was not an obedience of Ezekiel's will power, but an obedience of faith. Yet, that doesn't negate the fact that Ezekiel was told, “you must speak...do not rebel...open your mouth...eat what I give you...” (Ezekiel 2:7-8).
There is no contradiction to say that Ezekiel must respond and obey while also saying, Ezekiel's response and obedience would come through the empowering of the Spirit that comes with the very word—command in this case—that he was to obey. We find in the Gospels a similar pattern. Jesus says, “Follow me.” And, evidently, the very words themselves empower the obedience of the recipient (by the Spirit), for we read, “At once they left their nets and followed him....and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22; 9:9) The Word of Christ empowered by the Spirit of Christ empowers the obedience it commands.
Ezekiel 3 continues relating Ezekiel's commission. Many expositions of this chapter immediately jump to our commission and look at similarities.1 No doubt there is something to be gained in reminding ourselves of the importance of communicating the message and the implications for others when we don't. Nevertheless, I suggest it is wiser to begin with the differences between Ezekiel's commission and the New Testament commission to the believer.
We are often prone to see the lack of receptivity of the audience to which Ezekiel is being sent, and quickly assume we are being sent to an audience with the same lack of receptivity. Ezekiel was not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel; not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words he cannot understand. Why? Because if he were, they would listen. (Ezekiel 3:5-7)
Beginning with the day of Pentecost, we are being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language (Gentiles). And the receptivity is demonstrated on that first day as 3,000 were added to their previously meager number of 120 (Acts 2:41). It is worth noting that the first sign of the new covenant era and new covenant commission is that of tongues—the obscure speech and difficult language (indeed in this case a supernatural ability to speak a language the speaker did not understand; at times a language the hearer did not understand) (Acts 2:4-12). And while the Gospel was first preached to Jerusalem, and Judea, it was here that those scattered people of God from all over the empire were the first converts. Even though the greatest resistance to the Gospel in the book of Acts would come from the Jewish people, there was almost an uncontrollable influx of Gentiles (see also Acts 10:44-48).
[I cannot help but notice the comparison between Ezekiel's vision and being told to eat the scroll and go speak to the house of Israel and their lack of receptivity (Ezekiel 3:1-7), and Peter's vision of Acts 10:10-17, his being told to eat and the receptivity of the audience such that it shocked even Peter (Acts 10:45).]
As we have been studying the book of Isaiah on Sunday mornings at Gulf Coast Community Church, we have noticed the difference between Isaiah's commission of Isaiah 6:8-13, and our own commission described in contrast in Isaiah 52:7 — a different message, and a different outcome. Our message is not the message of captivity that Isaiah (and in different words, Ezekiel) brought. Our message is good, peace, salvation; the Kingdom of our God has come and begun to reign! Ours is a message that God is no longer holding the sins of the world against them, but invites them in through Jesus Christ. And the nations have been given as an inheritance to our Lord and King, the resurrected Jesus Christ. Share the Gospel with faith! Hear this word from the Gospel of Christ, obey it as these very words, by the Spirit, empower bold proclamation of Christ. That is mission-mindedness!
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,
1I've done this myself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How is the Holy Spirit Our Counselor?

Reading: John 16   

What does it mean to say the Holy Spirit is our Counselor?  Undoubtedly, there are many ways in which He is, but when we ask that we are usually referring to the specific references in John's Gospel, in the Upper Room Discourse of chapters 14-17 where this is mentioned. He is the paraclete (variously translated comforter, counselor); what does this mean? We tend to read our own culture into it and think therapeutic counselor. However, the common usage of the word in John's day, and the context both point to the meaning, Counselor-at-law (legal counsel).
There is a dual-trial that is occurring throughout John's Gospel. Jesus on trial before the world and the world on trial before Jesus.  Jesus has been on trial before the world (the Jewish leaders), and he has had witnesses, starting with John the Baptist (John 1:7). The Samaritan woman testified about Him (John 4:39); the Father testified about Jesus; Jesus' works testified about Him; the Scriptures testified about Him (John 5:32, 36, 39). Of course, the trial of Jesus culminates before Pilate when Judah/Judas delivered Him over to Pilate (John 18:2, 5).
The world has been on trial before Jesus. While Jesus was here, He was testifying against the world (John 7:7). He did not come as the judge, but as a witness. There will indeed be a verdict (John 3:19), which is the outcome in a legal proceeding. Jesus came as a witness, indeed a witness who could not be bought by the Jewish leaders for their acceptance, but would testify to the truth (John 18:37). However, in John 16, Jesus is preparing to leave. Who will help the disciples carry on the trial? Who will bring their case to bear upon the world, and how?
7But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. (John 16:7-11)
The Spirit was to come and continue the legal work of Jesus. Jesus called him the Counselor who would testify about Jesus (John 15:26). Counselor and Testify (witness) are both legal terms. Counselor is a legal term that would be like our, “counselor-at law,” not like a therapeutic counselor. This Cosmic Prosecutor will convict the world of guilt. What does it mean to say He has come to convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment?
We often use the word “convict” as if the Spirit came to bring about a feeling of conviction regarding these things. However, that modern notion of conviction as a bad feeling about sin is not what is intended here at all. This is convict in the same way a person who is found guilty of a crime in a trial is said to be convicted.
It means to pronounce a judicial verdict by which the guilt of the culprit at the bar of justice is defined and fixed. The Spirit does not merely accuse men of sin, he brings to them an inescapable sense of guilt so that they realize their shame and helplessness before God. …The Spirit is the prosecuting attorney who presents God's case against humanity.”1
The Spirit proves the guilt of the world in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment. It is easy to understand how the world is guilty in its sin. No problem. But what about righteousness? What about its judgment? How is the world guilty in these? An episode of Law & Order I saw recently was about an escaped convict, who had been in for 10 years, but escaped so he could prove his innocence. It essentially turned in to a re-trying of a case where an innocent man had been convicted, and the accuser ends up going to jail. After His execution, Jesus escapes the grave, and comes back by His Spirit to “retry His case.” Andreas Kostenberger, regarding this passage wrote,
The anticipation of the Spirit's work of convicting the world of its guilt in effect represents a retrial of the trial of Jesus who, despite the thrice-repeated "not guilty" verdict of Pilate, was put on the cross. When the evidence is properly weighed, it turns out that it is the world that is guilty...”2
But guilty of what? “in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me...” In convicting the only Purely Innocent One who ever came before a human court, to execution by crucifixion, the unbelief of men is revealed for what it really is. To not believe in Christ is to reject Him; to reject Him is to condemn Him to death. The leaders of the Jews in all their religious practice, and sense of doing right, did not believe in Christ and were therefore bent on killing Him. Man's sin is not an occasional lapse in judgment or a mistake here or there. Your sin and mine wasn't that we were basically good and messed up a few times, but we had good intentions. In Jesus' death we discover the essence of all sin and the work of all sinners. The inevitable outcome of Adam's eating from the forbidden fruit is that, given the opportunity, we would kill the Son of God.
in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer...”
There is something about Jesus' presence which had already brought about an exposure of their guilt regarding righteousness. How did Jesus' presence expose the guilt of their “righteousness”? While Jesus was here, He demonstrated real righteousness. The Pharisees had a righteousness that wouldn't do good to a man on the Sabbath, and they were rather pleased with it. In fact, they kicked a man out of the synagogue for carrying his mat on the Sabbath. Jesus exposed the wickedness they called righteousness. Now the Spirit will come and continue that work.
Isaiah speaks of the righteousness of Israel in the same way.
I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you. (Isaiah 57:12)
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy [menstrual] rags...like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
Just as Isaiah did with Israel, and Jesus while He was here, the Holy Spirit will expose the righteousness of the world for what it is: a self-serving, self-defined, self-determined right and wrong that is ultimately a rejection of true worship and the true God to whom we owe our very lives. It is a righteousness that is a cover-up for evil deeds.
concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (ESV)
The world takes great pride in its ability to judge for itself, to bring everything into the courtroom of human reason and decide for itself the boundaries of right and wrong. Yet at the cross we see the real nature of the world's judgment, of its ability to judge right from wrong, and what do we find? The most heinous miscarriage of justice possible.
The cross of Jesus is the ultimate sham judgment in history. It is the apex of the world's judgment. In a garden at the beginning of our history, Adam set out to take the right of judgment away from God, the authority to discern between good and evil. Now, in a garden Jesus will be crucified (19:41) and there will be exposed man's inability to discern, to make right judgment. The cross convicts us of our guilt in this regard, for there man kills the only innocent One who ever lived.
And the world's judgment is tied together with the one whose ways they are following: the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit of disobedience (John 12:31). The world's capacity for right judgment is exposed and condemned along with their ruler, for in their ultimate act against God, God triumphs. The resurrection is the final judgment of Jesus for God declares Him righteous by raising Him from the dead! Death has no power over Him. The judgment of the world could not stick!
When God looks for right judgment, he sees bloodshed (Isaiah 5:7)! The faithful city is filled with murderers (Isaiah 1:21)! Jesus is now going to the Father, and man's religious judgment in the Jews, and secular judgment in Pilate, put God's Son on the cross. The resurrection and ascension are the re-trial, in which the One unjustly condemned becomes the Judge. The prince of the world has had his day, and He is judged by the resurrection and ascension of our Lord to Heaven's throne...and the world with Him. As we proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, we begin with the fact that we, mankind, have rejected and disowned the author of life, indeed in our historic moment we handed the Holy and Righteous One over to death (Acts 3:13-15). The Spirit will work with us to reveal guilt to those in need of a Savior!
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

1The Expositor's Bible Commentary on John's Gospel.
2Kostenberger, Andreas J.; Whatever Happened to Truth.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

David Paid the Price; Jesus Paid the Price; Will You?

Reading: 1 Chronicles 13, 15 – 16   
What's the big deal, all we wanted to do is pray?” I can imagine what David may have thought when he was angry with the Lord after the Lord's wrath had broken out against Uzzah and struck him down. Uzzah was doing God a service, it would seem, when he reached out to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled (1 Chronicles 13:9-11). The whole reason they were even carrying the ark to Jerusalem was because they wanted to pray and seek God's will rather than do things in their own wisdom (1 Chronicles 13:3).
David was afraid of God that day. First he couldn't wait to get the ark to Jerusalem; now he isn't sure if he wants anything to do with the ark. So David leaves it at the house of Obed-Edom. And the Lord blesses the house of Obed-Edom and everything he had (1 Chronicles 13:12-14). That beats all! David wanted that blessing; David called together the people of Israel in order to go bring the ark to Jerusalem so they might have that blessing; David wanted to do things differently than Saul had done; but instead of blessing one of their good men dropped dead. So he leaves this dangerous thing with Obed-Edom, and, lo and behold, blessing falls on his house.
It seems however, that over the next few months, David really did inquire of the Lord (absence of the ark, notwithstanding), for now he recognizes where they blew it (1 Chronicles 15:2). David isn't going to bring the ark in on a cart, following the ways of the culture; he was going to do it the way the Lord prescribed. David wants God's blessing, but he now realizes that he can't treat God like some sort of good luck charm. Blessing doesn't come from things that channel some sort of power from God; blessing doesn't come when we say just the right things; blessing comes when we listen to God and believe the truth that He tells us, and live in accordance with that truth. David's fear of God leads him to experience the blessing of God's presence.
I love how Obed-Edom's name keeps popping up in the 15th and 16th chapter (1 Chronicles 15:18, 21, 24, 25; 16:5, 38). He was the man who experienced the blessing of God's presence when the ark was left at his place. It keeps reminding us that God's blessing never stopped even if David wasn't experiencing it. David had to decide if he was going to have God's blessing on God's terms. He wasn't going to have it on his own terms. So after 3 months David is seeking the Lord again!
David is no longer mad; now we find that he is dancing and celebrating before the Lord with all his heart. He had an unrestrained passion for the Lord's presence. His wife, Saul's daughter, despised him. Many in our own day despise this kind of passion. They call it emotionalism, they call it disorderly, they call it excessive. David found it humbling (2 Samuel 6:21-22). While it may not always be appropriate to make this display, it certainly better be appropriate at some point or we are despising humble worship and love for God. And that day, David composes a song of worship.
This song instructs us in the attitude we should have toward the Lord and our need of His presence. This really stood out to me as I read it from the New English Translation (NET) this morning. Here is how that reads:
Give thanks to the Lord! Call on his name! Make known his accomplishments among the nations! Sing to him! Make music to him! Tell about all his miraculous deeds! Boast about his holy name! Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and the strength he gives! Seek his presence continually! ((1 Chronicles 16:8-11)
What is the take-away for us from this text? How are we to respond? If you are one who seeks the Lord, rejoice! Be a glad seeker! Seek the strength He gives, as one who needs it. And, get this: seek His presence continually! Not occasionally; continually! Christ died to make it possible for us to enter God's presence (Hebrews 10:19-23); He paid the ultimate price. David wanted God's blessing enough to pay the cost... to obey and seek on God's terms. Christ has paid our cost; now the only cost left for us is to want it enough to pay the price in time to seek Him. O the blessing that would come to the church if we did.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,