Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Route 66:7 Judges: A Cautionary Tale

Four hundred years ago, brave, or foolhearty, adventurers struggled against local tribes in America. They often made mistakes, but believed God had put them here.

For the Israelites, it seemed like the God of the Exodus had abandoned them. In turn, the majority began to follow false worship much like that of unbelievers around them.

The vicious circle began. The more they lived like the pagans, the further they seemed to be from God. They were either becoming pagans or hiding from them.

A number of unremarkable men, and one woman, were raised up by God to become saviors for a time. But the system of judges failed in the long run, even leading to fatricide and civil war.

The children of Israel learned the hard way that you can't run your life "from the heart.

Route 66, Stop 6. A Warrior's Reward

It had been forty long years, but Joshua Ben-Nun had made it to the promised land. He had missed his friend and mentor Moses, but the Lord's words to him upon his commission held true. As he had been faithful, he found that God was ever so much more so.

Under his guidance, the tribes joined together to take on overwhelming odds with God in control. Time and time again, armies of Gentiles fell. Many natives fled in their wake, leaving land, food and housing behind.

In the end, though, in spite of the miracles, many of the people forgot the true God in favor of the imaginations of men. As he was close to retirement, he called on the people to make a choice. In telling them his choice was the LORD, the God of Moses, he scolded many in their unfaithfulness.

"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."  --
Joshua 24:15 (KJV)

Can you imagine thinking that service to the One true God was evil? The so-called gods of the native population were as perverse as those who worshipped them, but the majority report had mot changed since the days of Moses.

Joshua chose to believe. The result was peace with God and with men. Cam we say the same?

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Route 66:5 One Last Sermon

It had been forty very long years since a ragtag bunch of slaves and sympathetic friends were brought out of Egypt by the hand of God. As miracles none other would match it until the Resurrection of Jesus.

But the people grumbled, and even after God provided what they demanded, they ran to false gods or self reliance. So the adults died in the wilderness except for Joshua and Caleb.

So, right before the new generation and their children were to go into the Promised Land, Moses preached a very long sermon which God had him reduce to a song to be memorize!

The story of the Passover was part of their corporate memory, as was their confession of faith. They had neglected the sign of the Abrahamic covenant, but still enjoyed a relationship with God through the priesthood. But the they needed a reminder of who they were and who they served.

Moses was a faithful pastor to the end. God had provided and trained the next leader, Joshua, so at a youthful 120 years old, he was ready to die.

His last message left very little out. It was a fitting end to the books he had penned in his communion with God over the years. The books of Moses would endure the assault of many an enemy, but would stand firmly over time.

Sola Scriptura
Soli Deo gloria

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Rt. 66-4: It's a Fact

The wonderful thing about numbers is that they speak for themselves in any language. History is much the same.

Both statistics and raw data can be misused, but at least when they are presented it is up to the jury, that is, the reader, to decide. In the book we call Numbers, the reader finds many names and numbers to show God and His followers what they had and what was needed to face the coming challenges.

Victory in battle, though, was an harbinger to disaster when it brought forth arrogance. When a gifted, but unbelieving, prophet found he could not curse the Israelites, he advised his king to infiltrate via marriage. To the extent that it succeeded, Israel failed.  Moses countered with drastic countermeasures to restore the young nation.
Even the laws covered here read like a primer for godliness.

Such it is with data mining. It this review of 40 years, the facts speak for themselves. We see who the leaders were and where they went. This is nothing but the best history media available.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Rt. 66-3 The Perfect Gift

Did you ever sit in on a planning meeting? Moses listened closely as the LORD told him exactly how He was to be worshipped. For the most part, there were no surprises.  Abraham has understood burnt offering, as had his sons after him.

In Egypt the people had forgotten much of their heritage, so God instructed Moses personally on everything from doves to divorce. Sacrifice inside the tent would affect how someone would behave between the festivals and Sabbaths.

What are we to make of all the arcane laws and regulations? What do we care of burnt bread and the smell of carcasses being roasted on an open fire?

On the other hand there are practical ways to show that you are taking God seriously. These are more related to the 10 commandments. What good are worship sevices when you live like the world?

Who would have thought that the Creator of all things might just know how it all works? Step back and try to see things from the outside. Yes, God's ways are far better than anything we can imagine.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Rt. 66: 2 The Great Escape

Imagine that your family and friends, from as far back as anybody can remember, has been living in substandard housing, working twelve hour days with little or no time off, and suddenly you had an opportunity to get away from all that?

That is what happened to the people the great Zaphenath-paneah had brought in as refugees as he was managing an economy gone bad due to a drastic change in the climate of his adopted country.  That's right, Egypt was in dire straights, but a young Hebrew slave had risen, by the grace of God, to save not only the Egyptians, but the extended family of his father Jacob.

His management style, though, had reduced the people of Egypt to wards of the state.  A total welfare state had arisen when people sold themselves to Pharaoh to make it through the Great Famine.  It is not hard to imagine the Egyptians' jealousy over the freedoms afforded to the immigrants.  But Joseph died after 70 years in power, so the people of Egypt begged the government for relief. And sure enough, a new dynasty had arisen which promised to ease their load. 

The solution was obvious: make the foreigners do the work.  The native Egyptians cheered as the government began to utilize the labor force of the growing Hebrew population.  The trouble was, that population was growing to fast.  The solution the Pharaoh came up with was ghastly: infanticide!  In ancient society, as in most of the world even today, the men who married a woman conferred his citizenship to her.  If the Pharaoh's plan had worked, the Hebrews would have become Egyptians within a generation.  But God was in control, and at least two midwives disobeyed the civil magistrates and saved many of the boy babies from being drowned in the Nile. One such baby would come to be called "Moses" by his adoptive mother, the daughter of the royal house!

The baby had been technically "thrown into the Nile" at the age of three months.  His cries had been heard by neighbors and a plan had been hatched to assure his survival. He was placed in the Nile in a little box--the word is the same as the waterproofed "ark" of Noah--and sent adrift in a place known to be used by the princess.  The baby's big sister watched from afar to assure that the plan went well. In God's timing, it would be 80 long years before the Hebrew slaves would be freed by the elderly statesmen that the son of Amram, a Hebrew slave.

The return of Moses after a forty year exile was unexpected, with the man who likely grew up with him sitting upon the throne. Moses still feared his adoptive family, and with good reason.  It took a reprimand from the LORD Himself, and the eloquent tongue of his older brother Aaron, for the fateful reunion to take place.  The miraculous signs that God provided were enough to convince the vast majority of the Egyptians that it was too much trouble to keep these Hebrews around. But the Pharaoh was not impressed enough, but was hardened in his hate.  What seemed to be a sanctioned deportation soon became a death trap.

But, God built a wall!  At first, it was a wall of plasma in the form of fire at night and impenetrable cloud during the day.  But then there was the water in the way. With no way of feeding the people, even that great manifestation of divine protection was inadequate.  Then a greater miracle occurred: a great wind came down from the sky--a hot down current so powerful that it forced the waters of the Red Sea back creating a corridor with walls of water.  The escape route had been provided, not by a team of engineers, but by the Creator of the universe!

The walls did not hold, though, and came roaring back on the horses and chariots that attempted to follow--beyond reason, or perhaps a warped sense of science--killing them all.  The great escape had come off without a casualty among the Hebrews. It would take a few days before they could relax, and when they did, Moses went up to a mountain he grew up near to once again meet with God.  This time it was not a bush that burned, but a mountaintop. It was there that the LORD gave his "State of the Nation" message, laying out timeless principles by which not only the Hebrews, but all people everywhere, could live by.

The book of Exodus has a lot for we Gentiles, as spiritual sons of Abraham, can take to heart. The laws of the world are largely based on the principles of life and relationships found in the "Second Table" of the Law inscribed on the tablets. Though the two tablets may have been copies (per ancient laws regarding treaties of a monarch to his subjects) the dividing of the Laws between worship of God and dealing with people are rightfully divided. No expectations would arise that a particular worship style or day of worship would apply to the world at large. However, when the governments of the world take on the authority not inherent in their station as institutions made by man, they often take on an attitude of divinity.

Common law requires loyalty to a national government over all other governments in order to assure each nation will remain as sovereign over its citizens. The flying of flags that represent these government reflect dimly the "idols" of gods being worshiped around the Hebrews as they journeyed to the land promised to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  It has even been proven that a periodic day of rest is needed for a society to avoid burnout.

History has shown that the Hebrews got a better deal than their former masters. Under the direct leadership of the Creator of the universe, they would survive if they but would obey their new Master. Unfortunately, that would not go well, for the people were used to doing things their own ways.  When they began to act like pagans, God would let them--for a while. But the downside was death and destruction.  Not a good trade off!

Reflecting on the Exodus and the Law, one can only look on in amazement at a people blessed by God turning on Him at every opportunity.  But then, we don't have a wall of plasma all around us. God's presence is not as visible to us.  But, ninety-three million miles from us, His created star bombards us during our waking hours. Rocks filter water as it comes out of the ground hundreds of miles away. Oceans and rivers divide nations around the world.

God is good, all the time! 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Rt. 66, Stop 1. Four Heroes

The story of Genesis encompasses about 2400 years. That is longer than from the founding of Rome until the present day. It is about as long as the period between the Great Flood and the birth of Christ.

It seems strange when people. Argue that the first part of the story, being two thirds of the time, should be passed off as a myth. Jesus treated Adam and Eve were truly the first parents. He should know, for his preincarnate presence was there. Some sixteen and a half centuries later, Noah was called on to save a tiny remnant--his own family--becoming the first "hero" of note in the history as in came unraveled around him. Humanity was given a second chance.

Then came Abram born soon after the grandfather of all living died. Until recently I thought naming a child the equivalent of "Exalted Father" was odd. But for 350 years, Noah had been venerated, most likely even living in Ur.  Perhaps the name was reflective of the Hero from the Flood. Already an old man, Abram became Abram, the father of those who believe.

The third hero was an unlikely choice--a coniving scoundrel who cheated his older and ran for his life, never seeing his mother again. In a strange turn of events, his misfortune yielded 12 sons of four women.. These boys would become tribal leaders of which would become a unified people for 120 years. Jacob, the coniver, would hold his family together up through some hard times. If it had not been for his favorite son, Joseph, the savior of Egypt.

Genesis was a continuous story, from the Garden to a codon in Egypt.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Route 66: Mile 0.

To begin any journey, one must have a goal in sight. In this journey, our guide is the Chief Engineer, so to speak, the Creator not just the road, but the land and lands over which it passes.

We learn from the apostles of Jesus, commissioned to get the Word out, that the goal is remarkable, even out of this world. We're not talking about just going to be with the Lord, but of Him coming to be with us!!

The early chapters of Genesis, being so full of the majesty and power of God, are largely disregarded by mankind today. Relegated to "myth" chapters 1 through 11 lay down the heritage into which the man Abram stepped some four thousand years ago. This period was not "prehistory" to him. Since Moses preserved the records under God's guidance, I see no reason not to study these chapters with that same guidance. In fact, Jesus's half brother James tells us:

1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all menliberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

And so, my bags are packed, and my travel guide is open, let's see what is at our first stop.