Ezekiel chapter 40 verse 9, referring to the measurements of the portico of the east gate that faced the millenial temple in Jerusalem, says this;
it was eight cubits deep and its jambs were two cubits thick. The portico of the gateway faced the temple.
This architectural detail of the temple is a covering that extends from the inner opening of the east gate. Different translations give us different names for this feature: Portico, porch, vestibule, gate and entrance hall.
This covering extends 8 long cubits (14 feet ) from the wall-face and the jambs for the portico are 2 long cubits ( 3.5 feet ) wide.
The portico is built against the outer east gate that is itself a towering 60 long cubits ( 105 feet ) high.
The apostle Paul, speaking of the message of the cross of Jesus as the only power of God unto salvation, says this, in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verses 27 - 31;
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Paul then, in 1 Corinthians chapter 2 verses 1 - 3, tells the church that it was for this reason that he came to them with only the testimony of Jesus Christ and him crucified. The passage reads this way;
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.
The Lord did not employ the tools of eloquence or human wisdom to bring people unto salvation. The only message that the Lord imbued with the very power of salvation was the offensive stumblingblock of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Thus Paul, ineloquently bearing this message of salvation, knowing that it was a stumblingblock to some and foolishness to others, came with fear and trembling before the people of Corinth.
To those being saved, the message of the cross is the very power of God.
OUR FATHER WHO JUDGES THOSE WHO PRESUME TO TAKE POSSESSION OF HIS PEOPLE
Ezekiel chapter 35 verses 10 - 11 says this;
“‘Because you have said, “These two nations and countries will be ours and we will take possession of them,” even though I the Lord was there, therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will treat you in accordance with the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them and I will make myself known among them when I judge you.
Israel's neighbouring kingdom, Edom, had opportunistically planned to advantage of a period of time when Israel was under the severe judgement of the Lord and were suffering from a great calamity.
Because Edom had plotted to take possession of the Lord's people even though the Lord was present, a fearsome judgement was aimed at them that would lay their kingdom waste and leave their whole nation in complete desolation.
As the Lord said in verses 13-14;
You boasted against me and spoke against me without restraint, and I heard it. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: While the whole earth rejoices, I will make you desolate.
Such is the fate of any kingdom or nation that plots to displace God and gain rulership over God's people.
OUR LORD WHO CALLS HIS PEOPLE TO BE A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS
Continuing on their journey away from Egypt, the children of Israel entered the desert of Sinai and encamped at the foot of the mountain of God. Moses, on his own, went to the mountain and God called to him to instruct him what to say to the people.
Exodus chapter 19 verse 3 says it this way;
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel:
Verses 4 - 6 records the words that the Lord told Moses to convey to the children of Israel;
‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
These conditional promises to the children of Israel, predicated on their obedience and keeping the covenant they had with God, offered them the lofty place of being the Lord's singular treasured possesion, being a kingdom of priests and being a holy nation.
This privilege, were they to uphold their side, would grant all the people of Israel access to their God as priests and give the entire nation of Israel the role of representing the rest of the world before God.
Moses came down from the mountain and relayed the offer to the people and in verse 8, they people replied thusly;
The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.
Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
However, the book of Isaiah ( xJeremiah ) chapter 59 verse 3 says this;
For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things.
Therefore, as Isaiah chapter 59 verse 2 says;
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
The Lord assures us that He can save us but He tells us that our iniquities and sins have separated us from Him because of the kinds of evil things that we have done.
We, as the human race, have innocent blood on our hands and we have said falsities and muttered wicked things. We do not pursue justice but instead engage in evil schemes and violence. We engage in rebellion and treachery against the Lord by inciting revolt against him.
Even though our wickedness separates us from God and there is none among us to guide us back to Him, the Lord himself undertakes our salvation which He extends to those who sincerely repent.
As Isaiah chapter 59 verse 20 says;
“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”
OUR FATHER WHO JUDGES THOSE GIVEN THE RESPONSIBILITY OVER HIS PEOPLE
Looking deeper into Isaiah chapter 56 verse 11, let's examine the metaphors used to represent the people who are charged with watching over the children of Israel. The verse reads like this;
They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain.
The 'dog' metaphor first relates to the role that dogs have as guards of the household. They are supposed to be alert and use their superior hearing and olfactory senses to detect potential infiltrations so that they can give early warning to the rest of the household.
Instead, these dogs occupy themselves with satiating their mighty appetites and are thus not heeding the conditions at the perimeter of the household. They are never satisfied enough to return to their duties.
The watchment of the people are supposed to keep watch but they remain preoccupied.
The second metaphor used is the 'shepherd'. Shepherds are given responsibility over flocks of sheep to ensure the well-being of the sheep is provided for. They are supposed to make sure that they have food and water as well as protection from the elements, thieves and predators.
Instead, the shepherds over Israel have no understanding of these basic duties that require constant attention to the flock so that none go missing. Instead, the shepherds of Israel pursue their own agendas and seek their own gain.
As distracted dogs or as sidetracked shepherds, the watchmen of the Lord's people turn aside from their mission and the people of the Lord are left vulnerable to hunger, thirst, thieves and predators.
Let us always be alert as Ephesians chapter 6 verse 18 says;
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the LORD’s people.
OUR FATHER WHO GATHERS HIS PEOPLE FROM AFAR AND JUDGES THE WATCHMEN WHO SLEEP
Isaiah chapter 56 verse 11 says this;
They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain.
This verse is referencing the watchmen and guardians of God's people. Instead of standing guard over Israel and providing coverage and early warning, they stay mute and sound no alarm.
Instead of being watchful, they lie around and sleep. Following their own giant appetites, they turn to their to their own way and seek their own gain. They get drunk and harbor delusions that things will get better and better.
With such watchmen among His people, the Lord calls in foreigners who honor Him to be His people and it is these who He will gather along with His remnant in Israel and bring them to His Holy mountain and give them joy in His house of prayer.
OUR FATHER WHO RESTORES TO HIS PEOPLE WHAT THEY HAVE LOST AND MORE
The exquisite Isaiah chapter 49 says this in verse 19;
“Though you were ruined and made desolate and your land laid waste, now you will be too small for your people, and those who devoured you will be far away.
This thrilling promise by the Lord comes as part of the restoration that the Lord will do for His people in this iconic chapter.
During the intense turmoil that God's people undergo, they say, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.”
But the Lord assures them that He cannot forget them because, as He says in verse 16, He has engraved them on the palms on His hands.
He tells them that when they find themselves in ruins, the day of the Lord's favor will arrive and their fortunes will change. The people of God will go from desolation to bursting at the seams with people and from being engulfed by oppressors to their oppressors being cast far away.
The Lord will restore to His people what they have lost and more.
I will set my face against them. Although they have come out of the fire, the fire will yet consume them. And when I set my face against them, you will know that I am the Lord.
This verse captures the words of the Lord where He says that He will set His face against the people Jerusalem because of their unfaithfulness. This means that the Lord's favor over the people of Jerusalem would be widthdrawn and replaced by disfavour which in this case, meant that the city was going to be made desolate.
The reference to Jerusalem coming out of the fire but still being consumed by fire relates to the metaphor used by the Lord of the utility of the wood of the vine.
The Lord compares Jerusalem with vine wood which is not very usable even when intact and when the wood of the vine is partial burned, it is even less useful for any purpose.
The people of Jerusalem, because of their unfaithfulness to the Lord, are declared as useless to the purposes of God as burned vine wood and thus they are judged.
Give us grace to serve in your kingdom and fulfil our purposes, O Lord.
All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you.
This verse contains the words of the Lord directed to the kingdom of Babylon warning of a coming judgement that even their astrologers and stargazers would not be able to predict and save them from.
The Lord had been angry with His people and He gave them into the hands of the Babylonians as captives but Babylon treated the Lord's people inordinately harshly and laid upon even the elderly very heavy burdens.
The Babylon felt that their kingdom was going to last forever and thus gave no thought to the consequences of treating people aggrigeously.
The pride of Babylon, supported by the belief that they were invulnerable, invited the judgement of the Lord on them and for all their astrologers, their stargazers, their sorcerers and their magicians, no one would be able to save them from the calamity that was going to befall them.
Those who predicted the course of Babylon month by month would not be able to fortell the coming catastrophe that would destroy the kingdom of Babylon.
And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,
Verse 7 continues this way;
just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
These two verses are brought up as a warning to the believers in Jesus.
At that time, the church was being infiltrated by people who were bringing in doctrines of licentiousness and outright denial of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude warns his readers that being believers would not exempt them from judgement if they succumbed to these false doctrines.
To emphasize this, Jude references the judgement of imprisonment that was exacted upon angels who trespassed into territories they had no authorization to be in.
Likewise, the cities on the plains like Sodom and Gomorah crossed the boundary of immorality and thus were set up as explicit examples of judgement for their conduct of assaulting visitors to their city with impunity.
May the Lord keep us for falling for the false doctrines that take advantage of God grace to perpetuate sin and the false doctrine that denies the lordship of the Jesus Christ.
In Isaiah chapter 45 verses 6, 7 and 8, the Lord, as the sole Creator, declares His sovereignty and lordship over all of creation.
In verse 6, the Lord states;
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
And then in verse 7, the Lord declares that it is He who sets all the conditions of light and darkness, well-being and calamity;
I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.
Having established His authority over the created order, Isaiah chapter 45 verse 9 records this;
“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?
This verse uses the metaphor of a pot contending with the person who is making him by challenging the methods and intentions of the potter. This metaphor exposes the absurdity of those who dispute the Lord's work on them.
As our sovereign God, the purposes for which He creates us are entirely within His own perogative and as such, it is inappropriate for a created being to content with his maker over what his designation or utility is.
OUR FATHER WHO FORGIVES OUR SINS AND CLEANSES US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS
The book of Luke chapter 11 verse 4 says this;
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”
This verse is part of the Lord's prayer that Jesus taught His disciples when they asked him to teach them to pray.
This passage tells us that it is standard for people to need to be forgiven for sins that they have committed and it also tells us that the request to be forgiven by our Father is predicated on our forgiveness of those who sin against us.
As well, the prayer asks the Father not to lead us into temptation.
The Lord does not lead us into temptation as James chapter 1 verse 13 says;
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
Rather, the Lord can be asked to lead us away from temptation or provide a way out of temptation.
This passage reveals that we can ask God to forgive us and he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness as 1 John chapter 1 verse 9 says;
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
The book of Isaiah chapter 44 verse 11, speaking of those who made idols, says this;
People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and shame.
This verse pronounces the judgements of terror and shame that will befall those who craft idols of worship.
In verse 6, Isaiah records the Lord's declaration of His eternal standing as the only God. God the Father and the redeemer Lord of hosts asserts that He is the only God and in verse 8, the Lord says that if there is another Rock like him, He has not heard of him.
In contradiction to this, there were men who undertook to craft idols so that people would falsely believe that there was a multiplicity of gods to worship.
These craftsmen, who made idols for worship in the face of the One true God of Israel, were the ones to whom the judgements were aimed for they made blind, deaf, mute and lame idols to displace the one true living God who could see and hear and speak and move.
The book of Isaiah chapter 14 verse 13 records the inner dialogue of Lucifer as he began planning how he would gain superiority and dominance over all the others.
And you said to yourself, 'To the heavens will I ascend, above God's stars will I raise my throne, and I will sit on the mount of the assembly, in the farthest end of the north.
Driven by prideful self-will, the angel charted his path to the upper levels of heaven where he would establish his kingdom over the other angels and he would hold court on the mountain of assembly on the northern most mountain range.
Isaiah chapter 14 verse 14 then reveals the ultimate ambition of the angel Lucifer where he plots his route to the very apex of heaven where he would position himself to be like God.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
This extraordinary verse captures the pivotal events in the spiritual realm that began the fall of Lucifer and those who followed him.
The original rebellion against God entangled some spiritual beings and the contagion spread to the human race when our progenitors got tricked into joining the revolt against the Lord.
By His great mercy, the Lord made a way for any of our species to renounce the rebellion we were born into and rejoin the Lord's kingdom.
Because the Lord Jesus Christ willingly died on a cross to pay our ransom, He won us back to Himself if we willing believe in what He accomplished for us and accept his gift of salvation.
OUR FATHER WHO BREAKS THROUGH BARRIERS TO REACH US
The Lord Jesus, after gaining more prominence in Judea due the number of people being baptized under his ministry, got the attention of the pharisees and so He decided to leave Judea with His disciples to go back to Galilee.
The journey took took them through a town in Samaria called Sychar which was near where Jacob had a settlement and had dug a well.
Around noon, the travelling party stopped to rest at this well and the disciples went into the town to buy food leaving Jesus at the well.
A Samaritan woman happened to come by the well and Jesus asked her to give him a drink of water.
The book of John chapter 4 verse 9 captures her response;
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Clearly, based on her response, Jesus had crossed some sensitive social boundaries. There were taboos surrounding interactions between Samaritans and Jews that Jesus broke. There were also taboos related to the interactions of men and women that even caused Jesus' disciples to be surprised when they returned to find him talking to a woman as verse 27 says.
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
Jesus bypassed that social convention as well in order to tell her about the kingdom of God which had a dramatic effect on her life.
Bless the Lord who breaks barriers to reach us no matter where and who we are.
OUR FATHER WHO SEEKS HUMILITY, CONTRITION AND SINCERITY
The book of Isaiah chapter 66 verse 4, speaking of those children of Israel who have arrogantly chosen to go their own ways, says this;
so I also will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring on them what they dread.
For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened.
They did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.”
On the other hand, of the people who are humble and contrite in spirit, verse 5 says this;
Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word: “Your own people who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy!’ Yet they will be put to shame.
What is depicted here is that those who love the Lord and fear him are hated by their own people because of the name of the Lord. Those that hate them give lip service to God to try to please (or appease) those who follow the Lord but their falsity is know and they will be exposed.
The Lord resists the proud but gives grace to the humble and the contrite of heart and the sincere.
OUR FATHER WHOSE TRUE WORSHIPERS WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH
The book of Revelation chapter 11 verse 1 ( x chapter 10 verse 13) says this;
I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers.
Verse 2 then reads this way.
But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.
The Apostle John, in his great vision, was given a measuring rod with which to measure the temple of God and its altar along with its worshippers but in verse 2, he was told to exclude the outer court because it had been given over to the gentiles.
Getting measurements with a measuring rod is the quantifying of the dimensions of a physical space or object.
The temple and the altar, being fixed three dimensional objects, could readily be measured but extending the exercise to the measurement of the worshipers seems to be invoking a different scale. For a hint of what this might be, let's look at the book of John chapter 4 verse 24 which says this;
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
If the worshipers at the altar in the temple of God are worshipping in the spirit, then what is being measured are the spiritual and truth dimensions of their worship.
However, as long as the gentiles are in control the outer court of the temple, there is no spiritual worship of God taking place because the gentiles are not moving in the spirit or in truth and thus there is nothing for the Apostle John to measure.
“They will die of deadly diseases. They will not be mourned or buried but will be like dung lying on the ground. They will perish by sword and famine, and their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.”
These words came to Jeremiah the prophet as a warning from the Lord about the judgement that was going to be brought against the children of Israel for their stubbornness, wickedness and forĺ q worshipping other gods.
Eqn more than their rebellion, the graven images and idols that the children of Israel worshipped, defiled the land they lived in with spiritual pollution and thus the severity of the judgement that was to befall them.
For their deeds, they would live and die without dignity and be treated like refuse lying on the ground and being eaten by scavengers.
May we avoid idolatry in our lives and seek the righteousness of the Lord.
The prophet Jeremiah, during a difficult drought in the land of Judah, received a word from the Lord about how the kingdom of Judah was being affected by the severe drought that had come as a judgement against them for their wicked ways.
The drought destroyed agriculture, urban life, the lives of the elite people of Judah's society and even wild animals were being decimated by the lack of rain.
The people of Judah had refused to follow the ways of God but instead rushed into the paths of wickedness.
Under the pressure from the drought, their introspection made them realize that their own faithless conduct had offended their God and they owned up to their sins and the sins of their ancestors as Jeremiah chapter 14 verse 20 says;
We acknowledge our wickedness, LORD, and the guilt of our ancestors; we have indeed sinned against you.
As the people began to accept their responsibility for their sins before the Lord, they also began to understand that they had taken their Lord for granted.
They had sidled up to foreign idols and had failed to notice that these entities were inert and powerless to sustain their lives. They also came to understand that nature itself was not what reliably provided for their needs.
They realised that it was their God, the God of Jacob, who was able to bring rain year-in and year-out so as to keep the ravages of drought away.
This realization is recorded in Jeremiah chapter 14 verse 22 this way;
Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, LORD our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.
OUR FATHER WHO SET UP THE LINEAGE OF OUR GREAT REDEEMER TO ITSELF, HAVE A KINSMEN-REDEEMER
Continuing with the story of Boaz and Ruth, a legal matter needed to be dealt with before they could marry.
Another man was first in line to redeem the land and the family members of the men who had died in Moab.
This man had the role of kinsmen-redeemer who is a senior relative who can take over the guardianship of a family if the family suffers the loss of its progenitors. This is done primarily to perpetuate the existence of the family and its name in the land.
Boaz, with integrity, in the presence of witnesses, presented the man who was first in line the option of redeeming the lineage of Abimelek. To do so, he would have to buy the land Abimelek owned from his widow Naomi and by marrying the widow of the son of Abimelek who had died before having children
The man who was first in line, realizing that the undertaking of such a redemption would complicate his own inheritance, relinquished his option to redeem the land in the presence of all the people who were there.
Boaz then announced to everyone that he would step in as kinsmen-redeemer and purchase the land from Naomi, Abimelek's widow and marry Abimelek's son's widow, Ruth.
Hearing this, the community leaders blessed Boaz as Ruth chapter 4 verse 11 records;
Then the elders and all the people at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel. May you have standing in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem.
Those men in the humble village saying these words, knowingly or unknowingly, were making a eternal declaration that would reverberate throughout history regarding the continuation of the lineage that would bring forth the redeemer of the whole world.
Boaz and Ruth had a son whom they named Obed and Obed had a son name Jesse and Jesse had a son named David. David became King of Israel and it is this throne of David that our Redeemer Jesus the Christ will inherit.
The lineage of our great Redeemer Jesus Christ itself had a kinsmen-redeemer step in to redeem it and perpetuate it into the future so that our Lord could be born in Bethlehem as a son of David.
OUR FATHER WHO ORCHESTRATES DESTINIES BY ARRANGING SEEMINGLY RANDOM EVENTS (video corrected)
A man from the town of Bethlehem named Elimelek, during a famine, took his wife Naomi and his two sons to the land of Moab to try find a better life there.
While in Moab, his sons married two Moabite women but after a time, Elimelek and his two sons died in Moab.
Three widows remained and for the sake of survival, Naomi told her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, to go back to their own families while she tried to make it back to her homeland in Judah.
Ruth refused to leave Naomi and they traveled back to Naomi's country together. Once back in Judah, Ruth decided to go out into the barley fields after the harvesters had gone through to glean for grains of barley so that she and Naomi would have something to eat.
Ruth chapter 2 verse 3 continues the story this way;
So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek.
This verse captures the seemingly fortuitous event of Ruth, the Moabitess, randomly selecting a field in which to glean and going into a field belonging to a man named Boaz who was from the same clan that Elimelek, her father-in-law, happened to be from.
Boaz noticed Ruth and gave her favor and protection among the people working on his land because he had heard of her love and care of Naomi.
As advised by Naomi, Ruth went to back to see Boaz to make a gesture of goodwill toward him and because he respected her, they solemnly agreed to take the formal steps needed and once complete, Ruth and Boaz married.
They had a son named Obed and Obed had Jesse and Jesse had a son named David who became known a king David and the lineage of king David went all the way to down to Jesus our Lord.
By a seemingly fortuitous selection of a field to glean from, a woman from Moab was enjoined to a stream of destiny that placed her in the line of the ancestors of the promised Messiah.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.
The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.
Verse 1 describes those who believe in the Lord as being like the place of the throne of God (Mount Zion) which is immovable and is eternal. This verse speaks of the eternal life that is granted to those who gain the salvation of God through faith in Christ.
Verse 2 likens how mountains surround the city of Jerusalem to how God surrounds His people. The Lord's protective envelope encapsulates His people presently and for all eternity.
Verse 3 is interpreted in two ways; the most common way of reading the verse is that the scepter of the wicked ( or the rulership of the wicked ) will be removed from the land given to the righteous because if it were not, the righteous might use their hands to do evil.
The other way it is interpreted ( which I believe is correct ) is that the scepter of the wicked will be removed from the land because the righteous do not stretch their hands to do what is evil.
The second interpretation seems to be more aligned contextually with the overall chapter.
The righteous, by not stretching their hands to do evil, cause the scepter of the wicked to recede from the land that is under the influence of the righteous.
Said another way, because the righteous do not do what is evil, the power of wickedness is curtailed and it is ultimately pressed out of the territory that has been gained by the righteous.
OUR FATHER WHO GIVES WISDOM TO THOSE WHO ASK HIM FOR IT AND LONG LIFE TO THOSE WHO HONOR HIM
In the book of 1 Kings chapter 3 verse 14, we read the words that the Lord said to King Solomon, the son of David, in a dream;
And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
Leading up to this moment, Solomon had just taken up the throne of his father David over the kingdom of Israel. He went up to Gibeon to honor the Lord by carrying out sacrifices at the high places there.
While Solomon was at Gibeon, he had a dream in which the Lord invited him to ask for anything he wanted the Lord to give him.
Such an open-ended offer could potentially tempt a person to ask for riches or a long life but instead, Solomon asked for enough wisdom to enable him, as a youth, to carry out his duties as the new king of Israel.
Solomon's modest response pleased God and He granted him his request and because he did not ask for great riches and a long life, the Lord told Solomon that he would give him great wealth unequalled in his day.
The Lord also added to Solomon a long life but unlike the other two allotments of wisdom and riches, the gift of a long life was conditional.
If Solomon walked in obedience to the Lord and kept His decrees and commandments in the same way that his father David did, a long life would then be granted to him.
This conditional conferring of a long life mirrors the fifth commandment in the law of Moses in Exodus chapter 20 verse 5 which reads like this;
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
The fifth commandment adjures us to honor our father and mother because doing so would add to us a long life.
The condition on the offer given to Solomon appears to be based on the same principle found in the commandment.
If Solomon were to honor his father David by upholding the standards of uprightness that David lived by and if Solomon were to honor the Lord his father by obeying His decrees and commandments, a long life would be granted to him based on the principle set in the Law.
Joel chapter 4 verse 7 (in the Hebrew Bible) says this;
Behold I arouse them from the place where you sold them, and I will return your recompense upon your head.
The prophet Joel, writing of the nations who took Israel captive, sold her children into slavery, desecrated the temple at Jerusalem and took away the treasures therein, declared that the Lord would bring judgement upon them for their wicked deeds.
The people of God whom they sold into captivity would be stirred to return home by the Lord and those who sold them would be visited by the same evil treatment that they metted out on the people of Judah
The Lord's great army would be mobilized against them and their mighty men would be broken.
Even as the power of the Lord breaks the kingdom of darkness with a great shaking, the Lord would be a shelter and stronghold for His people.
Joel chapter 4 verse 16 says it this way;
And the Lord shall roar from Zion, and from Jerusalem He shall give forth His voice, and the heavens and earth shall quake, and the Lord is a shelter to His people and a stronghold for the children of Israel.
OUR FATHER WHO REVEALS DEEP AND HIDDEN THINGS FOR OUR GAIN AND PROTECTION
Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had a dream that kept him awake and so he summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers and told them that he had been troubled because of this dream and that he wanted them to tell him what the dream was as well the interpretation.
The astrologers responded to the request as recorded in Daniel chapter 2 verses 4 - 5 and they received an unexpected reaction from the king.
Then the astrologers answered the king, “May the king live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will interpret it.”
The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.
The situation suddenly became very serious for the strata of the society involved in the work of providing spiritual guidance and insight to the ruling class of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar insisted that the proof that the spiritual advisors were worth anything at all was that they could first tell him what his dream was and then give him the interpretation.
The astrologers said to the king that such a thing could not be done which greatly angered him and he then decreed that the entire community of spiritual advisors be executed and this judgment included the prophet Daniel and his three companions from Judah, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
The prophet Daniel, upon learning of the plan to execute them, interceded before the king to request time to get the dream and its interpretation. He then returned to his house and told his three friends to call on heaven for mercy so that they could be saved from the fate of death.
During the night, Daniel received the substance of Nebuchadnezzar's dream in the form of a vision and after asking the commander of the King's guard not to kill the rest of the spiritual advisors, he requested an audience with the King.
When Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel if he could tell him both his dream and its interpretation, Daniel replied that no wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner could do such a thing but that there was a God in heaven who revealed mysteries.
Daniel told the king that it was not by his own wisdom that God had revealed the mystery of the king's dreams to him but rather it was shown to him so that the King would have an explanation for the things that passed through his mind.
Daniel then proceeded to tell Nebuchadnezzar his dream and its meaning and the lives of the spiritual advisors were spared.
Bless the Lord who can, for our benefit and protection, reveal mysteries of things that are deep and hidden beyond our reach.
1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 4, speaking of the Israelites moving through the wilderness away from Egypt and toward the promised land, says this;
and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
The apostle Paul cautioned the believers in the churc222h of Corinth about the need to be uphold the highest levels of conduct for even though though they were saved and had been baptized, it was possible for them to end up out of alignment with God's purposes and falling by the way side.
Paul used the Israelites as examples to illustrate that even though all of them had been delivered out of Egypt and gone through the baptism of the crossing the red sea and then all partook in the eating of the spiritual food of manna and drinking of the spiritual water that came out of the rock that was with them.
However, many Israelites still participated in idolatry, immorality, revelry and grumbling and for these things, many of them were struck down and their bodies strewn in the wilderness.
Likewise, believers should be aware that participating in the spiritual community does not exempt us from judgement. Paul therefore offers us this counsel out of 1 Corinthians chapter 10 verses 12 and 13;
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[d] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
OUR FATHER'S LEGITIMATE SERVANTS SHOULD HAVE OUR SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT
The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 3, wrote these words;
This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me.
The verse begs two questions. Who was judging Paul and on what basis were they judging him?
At the beginning of chapter 3, we learn that Paul was writing to the people of the church at Corinth many of whom came to the Lord through his ministry and it is to those among them who were judging him that he was giving a defence of himself.
There appears to have been a consensus forming among them that he was not a legitimate apostle likely because he was not a member of the original twelve apostles. As well, he was also being judged because he did not carry out his ministry like the other apostles did.
To counter the challenge to his apostleship, Paul began by listing the things that accredited him as a bonafide apostle. Firstly, he was a free man, secondly, he had personally seen the Lord Jesus, and finally, he had a legacy of those who came to Christ through his work whom he was, in fact, addressing in his letter.
To counter the claims against him based on how different his ministry was from the other apostles, Paul described the way the other apostles carried out their ministries as completely legitimate. He asserted that they had a valid scriptural right to make a living from the gospel and to take along a believing wife on mission trips.
As such, Paul argued that being an apostle himself gave him those same rights but he declined to use them in order not to hinder the spread of the gospel in any way.
The apostle Paul forfeited his right to earn wages as a minister as well as the right to be married while serving in the ministry but instead, worked a regular job to pay his own way as he carried out his work in the ministry to believers and as he travelled to expand the reach of the Kingdom of God.
Thus the apostle Paul demonstrated that the judgements against him were misplaced because they were founded on incorrect conceptions of what apostles were such as the notions that only those who walked with Jesus in Galilee and that only those in full-time ministry could be apostles.
Let us wholeheartedly uphold our Lord's legitimate servants placed in our midst and not sit in judgement of them.
OUR FATHER WHO CALLS US TO OBSERVE SPIRITUAL PROTOCOLS
The book of Jude verse 9 says this;
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
The book of Deutronomy chapter 34 verses 5 - 6 recounts the death and burial of Moses in a valley in the land of Moab as follows;
So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day.
In this passage, the Lord himself buried Moses but Jude adds details about a spiritual contention that occured between Michael the archangel and the devil over the body of Moses.
The doctrinal lesson that Jude emphasizes is that believers, when operating in the celestial realm, should be careful to follow the hierachical protocols related to interactions with spiritual beings.
If great archangels like Michael did not insult or condemn spiritual entities like the devil but rather invoked the rebuke of the Lord to repell him, should not humans, at the very least, follow that example?
Jude sternly warned the people that instinctively insulting celestial beings they knew nothing about would lead to their destruction.
The backdrop of this caution by Jude is the infiltration of the church by evil people who had taught believers to be rebellious, to grumble, and to be sexually immoral, to pursue personal profit and to reject authority.
These false teachers also taught believers to heap abuse on beings of whom they knew nothing and thus they were consequently destroyed.
Let us use disernment to avoid false teachers and always observe proper protocols when walking in the spirit.
OUR FATHER WHO WORKS ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR GOOD FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM AND ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE
Ezekiel chapter 19 verse 4 says this;
The nations heard about him, and he was trapped in their pit. They led him with hooks to the land of Egypt.
This verse speaks of an up-and-coming prince of Israel named Joseph, son of Jacob.
Israel's spiritual meta-kingdom fostered a son whom they hoped would be a great prince among the people but the spiritual nations surrounding Israel heard of his coming and they orchestrated a pre-emptive attack on him where his brothers became his enemies and they conspired to sell him into bondage.
They trapped him in a pit and when traders on their way to Egypt passed by, his brothers sold him to them and they bound Joseph with shackles and led him to Egypt as a slave.
Before this, the young Joseph, under the spiritual tutelage of his father, had so much promise as a leader that he was seen as a threat to the spiritual overlords of the surrounding nations and they expended a lot of effort to smother his potential. Having him enslaved ensured that he would not rise up as a threat to them.
However, even this work of darkness could not suppress the plans that the Lord had for Joseph and as time progressed, he experienced trials as well as increasing responsibilities that prepared Him for the ultimate purpose the Lord had for him as a saviour of his family and of the neighbouring nations from a devastating drought that brought ruin to the whole land.
Bless the Lord for "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8 verse 28.
Ezekiel chapter 12 verses 14 - 15, referring to the prince of Jerusalem, says this;
I will scatter to the winds all those around him—his staff and all his troops—and I will pursue them with drawn sword.
“They will know that I am the Lord, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries.
The prophet Ezekiel was instructed by the Lord to act out a prophetic object lesson where he was to enact the departure of an exile from the city of Jerusalem when the people would be dispersed among the nations.
He was to pack his belongings and carry them as he left Jerusalem by digging a hole in the city wall and leaving with his head covered so he would not see his own land as he left.
He was do these actions in the sight of everyone so the rebellious people of Jerusalem would see him and ask what he was doing and he could explain to them that these actions symbolized the judgement that was coming to them because of their rebellion.
Even the prince of the Jerusalem would face the judgement of being exiled to Babylon from where he would never return and all his staff and soldiers would be scattered.
Some of the people said that Ezekiel's prophecies of exile and being scattered to the winds and among the nations were referring things that would happen in the distant future but the Lord warned them that there would be no delay. Ezekiel chapter 12 verses 26 - 28 says it this way;
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, the Israelites are saying, ‘The vision he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies about the distant future.’
“Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
Like this prophecy in Ezekiel's time, the Lord's prophetic words for our present time will come to pass very soon.