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Current study: Spiritual Warfare

09 June 2012

Week 23 Review

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
Prov 21:23 (ESV)

June 3 Proverbs 21-24
June 4 2 Chronicles 2-3; 1 Kings 5-6
June 5 1 Kings 7-8; Psalm 11
June 6 2 Chronicles 4-7; Psalms 134; 136
June 7 Psalms 146-150
June 8 1 Kings 9; 2 Chronicles 8; Proverbs 25-26

This week, we listen to 30 Sayings of the Wise in Proverbs 22-24. These sayings, all pointing to the One True God, show a similarity to an Egyptian wisdom text called Amenemope. We don’t know for sure who “the wise” are, but some think that they are scholars, sponsored by Solomon.

1.       Don’t rob the poor or defenseless or use the courts to rob them (at the gate refers to the place of legal transactions). God will defend the poor. (22:22-23)
2.       Stay away from angry and toxic people. Choose your friends carefully. (22:24-25)
3.       Don’t take someone’s cloak or bed as a security pledge. [Deuteronomy 24:10-13] (22:26-27)
4.       Don’t steal property by moving the boundary stone (the landmark). (22:28)
5.       Skillful work will lead to respect from the boss (kings). (22:29)
6.       Be careful not to be ensnared or enticed by the trappings of wealth. Richness is deceptive (23:1-3)
7.       Wealth is fleeting. Don’t work just to accumulate money. Be discerning as to what is “enough”. (23:4-5)
8.       Don’t eat with one who is stingy. He may offer you tasty treats, but his heart isn’t in it. You will live to regret it. (23:6-8)
9.       Don’t speak in front of a fool. He will despise you because he is obstinate. (23:9)
10.   Don’t steal the property of the defenseless. The Lord (portrayed in these verses as [kinsman] Redeemer) will judge you. (23:10-11)
11.   To gain wisdom, you must diligently apply yourself (23:12)
12.   A parent’s discipline should change behavior and give character training. Corporal punishment, wisely applied, will save your child from death. (23:13-14)
13.   Parents find joy in seeing their children succeed. (23:15-16)
14.   Don’t envy sinners. Your future is secure in the fear of the Lord. (23:17-18)
15.   Food and drink in excess will cause poverty (Physical? Financial? Emotional?) (23:19-21)
16.   We honor our parents when we acquire wisdom, instruction and understanding. (23:22-25)
17.   Children watch their parents’ behavior. Teach them to stay away from the adulteress (sins that corrupt society as well as the sinner). (23:26-28)
18.   Drinking to excess may seem enticing, but it will bite you posteriorally. [I love the reference to the feeling of drunkenness and/or the feeling of the hangover in verse 34]. You will lose your inhibitions – and in the morning, you’ll want to drink again. (23:29-35)
19.   Don’t envy sinners – they are nothing but trouble. Your “friends” can be the biggest problem in your Christian walk. (24:1-2)
20.   Godly wisdom and knowledge are life’s foundation. (23:3-4)
21.   Men are strong and mighty when they have godly wisdom, which leads to success in life. (24:3-4)
22.   Fools cannot attain wisdom, nor can they analyze situations properly (in the gate or the place where decisions are made). (24:7)
23.   Evildoers earn a reputation and are an abomination. (24:8-9)
24.   Be strong in adversity. (24:10)
25.   You can’t excuse failing to help the week by saying “I didn’t know it was happening”. God repays you according to your works, which reveal the true state of your heart [Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6-8)
26.   Honey tastes good to the mouth, and wisdom tastes good to the soul, filling us with hope. (24:13-14)
27.   Don’t follow the path of injustice. The righteous may stumble again and again (and with God’s help get up and move on), but the wicked will fall and be unable to get up. (24:15-16)
28.   Don’t gloat when your enemy falls. God will see your heart and turn His anger away from the situation. God does not pleasure in seeing the wicked fall because He wants all to come to know Him. (24:17-18)
29.   Don’t gloat when your enemies fall, and don’t worry whether they “get what’s coming to them”. God has it under control (Psalm 37). (24:19-20)
30.   Respect both human and divine authority [1 Peter 2:17] (24:21-22).

It’s interesting that the Proverbs repeat instructions over and over. It’s pretty clear that our sin nature keeps us from “getting it” and doing the right thing. We see more exhortations to think before we act; speak kindly to all; don’t try to get back at someone who has wronged you. Don’t act pridefully – it’s better to be promoted than demoted.

Interpersonal relationships are important as well. We need to work out our problems rather than bringing them up in front of other (25:8-10 and applied in Matthew 5:25-26 and 18:15-20)

One of the most perplexing verses to me follows. I realized that it is usually quoted out of context (with the italicized part not quoted).

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.  Prov 25:21-22 (ESV)

Without the italics, it makes for a great passive aggressive type of instruction. When you read the entire sentence you find that what God really wants to do is reward you for doing the right thing – showing His love – following His commands.  Some commentators say that “burning coals on his head” refers to shame or repentance. Perhaps your godly actions will make your enemy decide to investigate Christianity!

We take up the story of the life of Israel 408 years after the Exodus and 4 years into Solomon’s reign. We see details of the temple, which was 90’ long, 30’ high and 45’ high. I marvel at those dimensions. Bigger than most of our houses, I’m sure – 4 stories high and not a single gasoline or electrically powered tool in sight. What a building project! It took 7 years.

I am not going to detail the temple here. There are many great references available with drawings and the like for you to look at. However, as a jewelry maker, I can’t help but marvel at the sheer size of the bronze basins. The construction was amazing, but the talents of each individual, the sheer size of the furnaces to create the pieces, the technology involved is astounding. To give you an idea, I work with bronze, and a small piece (3x3x ¼) can take 15 HOURS in a controlled kiln. Because bronze is what it is, there are times when the pieces will break in the kiln or will shrink, or come out imperfectly. These people were making, among other things, TEN bowls that would hold 240 gallons of water.  The craftsmanship talent had to come from God. Take some time to really look at the dimensions of the things they made. How DID they get the water into those bowls? How did they clean them after the sacrifices? Can’t really turn over a bowl that is 6’ high and 6’ wide to hose it out. If we served God with a fraction of the dedication of the temple workers, what would our world look like?

Once the temple is finished, God promises to dwell in it as long as the people walk in the law. His temple, built on Mount Moriah, the site where God told Abraham to offer Isaac (Genesis 22:2). His chosen city of Jerusalem populated by His chosen people. All they needed to do was obey Him.

The Temple was blessed and Solomon prayed over it. Part of his prayer reminds us that when we pray God will hear, but we have to acknowledge our sins (2 Chronicles 6:36-39). When the ceremony was over, fire came from heaven (can you even IMAGINE???) and burned up all the offerings and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. When the sacrifices were consumed by fire, it showed that God was pleased with the temple and the ministry that was happening. The glory of the Lord and the fire caused people to bow and worship. That must have been an amazing time. I am certain that no one there was waiting for a sermon to end or thinking about lunch plans…

Did you notice the magnitude of Solomon’s sacrifice: 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. I can’t imagine how many animals he must have had. Remember, sacrificial animals had to be without flaw. Israel was doing very well indeed under Solomon’s reign.

There is an almost casual reference to a discussion between God and Solomon. God spoke to Solomon. Can you imagine living in a time and place where having God speak to you was… not commonplace… Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him:

Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.  For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. And as for you, if you will walk before me as David your father walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to rule Israel.’ “But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.’ ”  2 Chronicles 7:11-22 (ESV)

We’ve heard the “if my people” verse many times, but looking at the entire conversation in context, it’s clear that God was giving Solomon a lesson in rightly walking with God. He knew that the people would sin. It’s in our nature. He expects them (and us) to humble ourselves, pray, seek and turn. He promises restoration if we follow that path. But for those who don’t, and for Solomon in particular, He promises destruction if the people turn to other gods. It won’t take long to see what happens to the peaceful land of Israel.

In 1 Kings 9, we see the forced labor of the Cannanite people. Solomon made a home for his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter (3:1). He married her in direct disobedience to God’s command not to intermarry (Deuteronomy 7:1-6). The mention of these enslaved people reminds us of the intermarriage and sets us up to understand why Solomon turned to apostasy in just a couple chapters. Although Solomon is the wisest man in the world, and a man who God talks to, he will soon be seduced by other gods. This should serve to remind us how easy it is for us, not nearly as wise as Solomon, to turn away from God and toward the cheap thrills of the world. Stay grounded in the Word, friends! Don’t turn to the right or left. Humble yourselves, pray, seek, turn and God will heal.

This is the week we finish up the Psalms (woo HOO!!!!!). it’s been a great ride. We’ve seen the gamut of human emotion from cries of anguish to shouts of joy.  Which Psalms were your favorites?

Psalm 11              We seek refuge from injustice. The righteous can do nothing if life’s foundation is destroyed. God sees all and loves righteousness. His judgment will come, even if it seems that injustice is winning.

Psalm 134            The Levites are to lift up their hands and bless God, giving a congregational benediction.

Psalm 136            Perhaps a call and response song, teaching the people the reasons to praise God. (There were no books back then and people were educated orally. The Priests, scribes, kings and a few others learned to read and/or write). Give thanks to the One True God, for He created the heavens, earth, water, light, sun and moon. Thank Him for His deliverance and for His continuing care. His love endures forever.

Psalm 146            Always praise the One True God. He is faithful and just, setting me free, lifting me up. He will reign forever.

Psalm 147            God builds us up, heals the brokenhearted, binds wounds, has created and named each star, gives clouds and rain, feed us – and takes His pleasure in those who fear Him. He favors Jerusalem and Israel and hasn’t dealt the same way with any other nation.

Psalm 148            Every created being and inanimate object should praise the Lord. He is the only exalted One!

Psalm 149            Praise for privileges. God takes pleasure in His people (those who are godly). we should sing high praises to God as we work with a “two-edged sword” (the word of God Hebrews 4:12) ”vengeance on the nations”, binding them with chains (Job 36:8). We have the honor to be a part of God’s plan (Psalm 148:14).

Psalm 150            Worship Him wholeheartedly with music and song. If you are breathing, you need to worship!

This week has given us a wide range of materials. We see wisdom, joy, obedience, worship … but on the horizon we see the dark clouds of disobedience. There are many wonderful verses to pick and memorize this week. Which one(s) will you pick? I’m picking Proverbs 21:23 J.

I will see you next week as we continue our journey through the Bible. During the summer we sometimes forget God in our haste to enjoy the friends and weather that He provides. Stick with your habit of spending daily time in His Word.  You will be rewarded with a better understanding of God and a deeper walk with Him. Don’t forget to humble yourself, pray, seek and turn!

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