Saturday, August 19, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE: PART 5: "...AND ON THE OTHER HAND....."

15 But when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. 16 Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak. (Joshua 3:15-16)
Life is not a pleasant experience sometimes, to which we can personally testify. All that is needed is for us to turn on the TV News or visit our favorite news website for ever-increasing, disturbing evidence. The thing is – there is nothing new under the sun.  People have always been the same. They had the same proclivities, sin nature and every human trait currently noticeable 3500 years ago, as we have now. The main difference is the fact that we live in the information age, and everything is immediately available at a moment’s notice.

So when we read in Judges 3:16 (above) about this leader of the people of God named Ehud, it is easy to just run past the account there of an armed leader of a nation. There is nothing, heretofore, unusual. That is, until we read just a few verses before that Ehud was the God-appointed rescuer of Israel which committed pagan idolatry against the Lord. God had Eglon, the King of Moab take Israel captive. For 18 years, Israel’s worse enemies oppressed them and they cried out to Him, in distress. 

The left-handed Ehud was well, left-handed for a reason.  God created him left-handed.  There is some thinking where being a “south-paw” is not a good thing or even a curse. This comes from the highly exalted position associated with “The Right Hand”.

For instance, being on the right hand of God denotes power. This pertains to only One Person – the Lord Jesus Christ. Since bible days, the right hand denotes influence and more!  We have all heard the term “right-hand man (or woman)” being used to describe someone who has the error of a president, CEO or even a pastor. 

Being left-handed is nothing to sneeze at either. God made both. In baseball, southpaw pitchers are some of the hardest to hit, which is a good thing for their teams. In bible terms, apart from Ehud, this particular, some heroic warriors were all left-handers. Judges 20:15-16 tell us: “15 From the cities on that day the sons of Benjamin were numbered, 26,000 men who draw the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah who were numbered, 700 choice men. 16 Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

So this is all normal, as the Lord made both the left and right hands. However, in pagan “religions” and cults, all kinds of made up nefarious things are concocted by these people. A certain eastern religion says “left handed witchcraft” is dark and evil, while “right handed” is “good”! Eglun, the king of Moab lived in a region which was steeped in all kinds of such evil and human sacrifice.

God sent Ehud into his (Eglun’s) chamber to begin the rescue of Israel and the king’s guards searched only his right side as no one suspected the Judge of Israel would be a southpaw. The results are found in the following verses of Judges Chapter 3:26-28a "26 Now Ehud escaped while they were delaying, and he passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27 It came about when he had arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was in front of them. 28 He said to them, “Pursue them, for the Lord has given your enemies the Moabites into your hands.” 

God’s plans for deliverance are set up, even before the day of our birth. They will always be accomplished.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

THE 3:16 VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 4: "....ON DRY LAND"

14 So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), 16 the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan. (Joshua 3:16)
Forty years after God parted the Red Sea so that two million former Israealite slaves could walk away from Egypt, He did it again. In His Sovereign Power, He backed up the swollen, flooded Jordan River almost twelve miles (in ONE HEAP) so that His people could enter the Promised Land of Canaan! This was on downstream side, then He cut off the River - which He created - from the exit into the Dead (or Salt) Sea. As an aside, the minerals and salt products from this Sea are premium cosmetic items used far and wide!

On both Partings of Major Bodies of Water (Red Sea and the Jordan), the complete Sovereignty of God were on full display for not just Israel, but those they were about to conquer and replace, in the Promised Land.

The Crossing at this point on the River Jordan was strategic. Led by God's General Joshua, the Exodus was complete right outside the City of Jericho where the conquest began almost immediately. The Mighty Power of God's Hand was again immediately obvious here. Jericho was almost like a sanctuary city for those who had heard what the God of the Israelites was doing to clear the path for His plans and purposes. The King of Jericho, a city of around 40,000, had to have seen the multitudes across the flooding River from his city one day.  Then the very next day - the River bed is clear and all the water backed up as high as small mountain upstream. We all know what happened when Joshua led a crack military unit around the double walled city with shofars and rams horns - the secure, tough city of Jericho fell. The Lord can break down the ramparts of despair around us, when trouble comes, when we too release the sound of worship from our hearts.

TRUTH: All of this history, now confirmed by archaelogists,  is contained in the accounts surrounding Joshua 3:16. This verse, like ALL the other 3:16 verses we are looking at, is pivotal. It is here where God made a way, where there was no other way. It is another example of the Mighty One showing His Power and Majesty as King of all things.

LESSONS: Like the River Jordan, overflowing during the flood season here in Joshua 3:16,  sometimes we get run over by life. When the semi truck of sadness and sorrow beset us and more troubles pile on than we could ever imagine, this is the perfect opportunity for the Sovereign Hand of God to make a way, where there is no way. Here is where God rolls back the stone.....or sends the water that's drowning us so far back upstream that we cannot see it.  It is here we see God do His best work. 
There is a caveat - we must believe three things - that He alone is God; that He is Sovereign and thirdly, that He loves YOU.  Yes YOU and I. He loves us so much He gave His Life for us. That is already done. The rest is easy for Him. The rest is resting in Him. For the rest of it, He is full of mercy, grace and long suffering and will bring it to fruition. Breakthrough can be had, until it is our time to go, if we give EVERYTHING to Him, holding nothing back...no hidden sin, no disbelief....holding nothing back from Him. Trusting Christ in the Flood, with Godly perseverance and Faith, can lead to crossing over....on dry land.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

THE "3:16" VERSES OF THE BIBLE. PART 3: "DO AS HE SAYS"

So Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD, just as he had been commanded  (Numbers 3:16)
Has God ever said “go” and you said “no”? Has He said “slow” and you say “how fast”? Then the Lord said “come” and you run.  The Lord Himself did that several times in Scripture and continues to do so now in, via the promptings of the Holy Spirit. 


The Lesson here is this – when you’re a Christian worker, church leader, volunteer or even a mature Christian who should know better and  God asks you to do something, it is a wise to listen. It is not only smart to do so, but also to act on what He says. Failure to even obey reluctantly could endanger others and then cost you a huge blessing.

King David was told by God to NOT take a census at a certain time during His reign. (CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ACCOUNT). David was a man who should have known better at this stage in his life, but he went ahead and ignored God. He took the census anyway.  The Bible literally says that “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census” (1 Chronicles 21:1).   

What does this mean? Well, it means that Satan, the world and the flesh knows our weaknesses and always goes for the reaction which is predicated on Pride. David’s huge pride led him to disobey God, take the census and people died. Our pride does the same thing when we think we know better than God since we are the ones who know this or that process for victory. The system also says it will work this way, if we do it and do it now. So we not just disobey but get ahead of the Lord and often fall flat on our faces. 

Moses did as he was commanded here. It is simple and plain as day. Later on, NOT doing as commanded would cost him his natural life. This time, Moses’ taking of the census would serve the plans of the Lord well, for organizing the new nation of Israel by tribe and function. Moses did as God said. We should too, when He reveals His Will, through His Word, no matter what the task or how BIG the job. Think of Moses - one man - attempting and completing, the job of doing a Census of up to two million people. He had no computers, calculators or clipboards. All He had was the Lord and that is more than enough.

TRUTH: A follower of the Lord,  a Christian will be called on by God to do certain things which accomplish three purposes: Advance the Kingdom, Mature the Believer and Glorify God. This is what we committed to when we were first saved and surrendered our lives to Christ.

LESSON: When Abba, our Father Who IS in Heaven calls, it is more than advisable to say yes the first time….or even reluctantly, while still doing it. Disobedience has dire consequences for not just the disobedient but quite possibly, for generations to come. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

THE "3:16" VERSES OF THE BIBLE, PART 2: DOMINION, OBEDIENCE, LEGACY

16 The priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire for a soothing aroma; all fat is the Lord’s. 17 It is a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall not eat any fat or any blood.’" Leviticus 3:16

Any human being alive, including every billionaire around today, are kidding themselves if they think they actually own anything. In temporal terms, they do. Their wealth can buy homes, boats, airplanes and the rich lifestyle which comes with material possessions. But the land which all houses are built. The waters which nations claim dominion over. The airspace which governments control. Everything - they all belong to the Lord.

"For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills". Psalm 50:10

Man has given temporary dominion over all the earth and so far, his stewardship has been found wanting, in general. But many have found obedience in the service of the Lord. The first one who realized the teaching from this verse (Leviticus 3:16) that "all fat is the Lord's" was Abel. Genesis 4:4 tells us that "Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering".

For his obedience, love and reverence for Holy God, the second son of Adam, the first man, was murdered by his jealous brother Cain. But recognizing the Right Kind of Offering to the Lord which Yahweh later would codify the The Law given to Moses, brought until rewards. 

Abel's obedience to the Word and Promise of God landed him in the Hall of Fame of all believers. Hebrews 11:4 says "By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks". The fat belongs to the Lord and even without a commandment from God, Abel listened to, loved and obeyed His Creator - by Faith. 

TRUTH: Everything - all the fat....that is, even the smallest thing on earth, belongs to God. The sooner we recognize we are nothing and own nothing, in light of the Eternal God, the quicker the Scripture references here will come alive to us.

LESSON: Obedience to God leads to Kingdom Blessings, as we see in Hebrews 11:4 where our testimony, like Abel's, leaves a Legacy of Faith.  We do not sacrifice animals and offer the fat or bulls and goats on a burning altar, to the Lord as our offerings. However, He expect those who say they are committed to Him to offering a Sacrifice of Person (ourselves in complete loyalty); Praise (worship to the Triune God) and Perseverance (steadfastness in the face of Evil).
Glory to His Name.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

THE "3:16" VERSES OF THE BIBLE. PART 1: GOD SEES AND DELIVERS


GENESIS 3:16 AND EXODUS 3:16

From super fans holding up signs at football games to Vacation Bible School bible verse drills, the entire planet knows John 3:16 (….for God so loved the world…). So, what about the other 65 books of the Bible? Most of them do have “3:16” verses which while not as packed with Eternal Impact for the believer, carry equally significant weight for the Christian! 

It is absolutely beneficial to our spiritual growth to do a study of these verses for many reasons. I discovered the reasons myself while doing precisely this same exercise. While not every book of the sixty six (66) Books of Canon (The Bible) has three chapters or even a 16th verse, the majority of those I found all have a theme relevant to the Christian life!


In some cases, the "3:16" verse is self-explanatory. In many cases, we have to read the previous or the "17" verse in context to get the full meaning. Where the verse is plain, we will no try to over-explain. But they will be kept as focused as possible in this new series, so as to get the full measure of what God is saying, in these passages of Scripture.

To be clear, the original manuscripts were NOT written in Chapter and Verse! The original Old Testament was written in Hebrew and only put in verses in the 15th century by a Jewish Rabbi. The English Bible was divided into chapters by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 13th century and less than 160 years, the great and first Wycliffe English Bible made it permanent. The division into chapter and verse occurred to make the great Words of God more understandable to the world.

This has occurred and the Lord has used The Greatest Book Ever Written to change, transform and rescue lives ever since. Here we go:
ORIGINAL SIN BRINGS THE FIRST CONCEPT OF JUDGMENT
Genesis 3:16:
To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

While feminists may not find this particularly appealing, in fact it was Eve - the first woman - who negotiated with a serpent, believed him over God and fell for the lie. Adam was ultimately held responsible by God for this sin, but look at the hammer coming down on all women for all time due to Eve listening to Lucifer and eating forbidden fruit! 

Here we have the first introduction of PAIN into the human equation. Pain was not meant for to happen. We brought it on ourselves. This was just the beginning of all kinds of trauma and pain because Eve's first offspring and son - CAIN, an angry and jealous man increased this Pain by killing his own brother Abel.

LESSON: DISOBEDIENCE HAS CONSEQUENCE WAY BEYOND THE IMMEDIATE AND CAN AFFECT GENERATIONS YET TO BE BORN.

GOD CARES ABOUT THOSE IN DESPAIR
EXODUS 3:16 "Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt".

Sure, Eve brought pain and suffering into the World, but our God is the God of Mercy, Grace and Compassion and His love endureth for a life time. The Jews were an oppressed and mistreated people for 400 years as slaves in Egypt after the death of the great Joseph and his benefactor Pharaoh. The time of their pending departure and entry to the Promised Land. In Exodus 3:16, God Himself said He was "INDEED concerned and knew of their hurt and persecution". He was about to send the Great Deliverer - Moses.

LESSON: WHAT YOU OR I MAY BE GOING THROUGH IS NOT NEWS TO GOD. HE SEES THE PAIN, DEPRESSION AND LOST NATURE OF HIS PEOPLE NOW, AS HE DID 1000, 2000 0R 4000 YEARS AGO. HE IS INDEED CONCERNED, CARING, COMPASSIONATE AND LOVING AND WILL RESPOND WITH DELIVERANCE - ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.