Friday, June 19, 2015

Psalm 83--The Gideon Connection

Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.
Psalm 83:11-15

Who in the world are Oreb and Zeeb?  Have you ever heard of Zebah and Zalmunna?  The worship leader/prophet, Asaph, mentions these kings being defeated by God’s chosen in his work, Psalm 83—a very prophetic passage.  In this worship song prophecy Israel’s immediate neighbors attack with the sole purpose of annihilating them, “that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance (Psalm 83:4b).”  There are those who see this battle, which is also found in many other scriptural passages such as Obadiah, Zephaniah, and Ezekiel to name a few, as possibly one of the next events on the prophetic horizon.  It is certain that Israel’s neighbors have the same intentions that these historic Midianite kings had, “Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession (Psalm 83:12).”

These four kings are all associated with the victories brought about by Gideon the Judge.  Ironically, there are many parallels to modern Israel, the story of Gideon, and the defeated kings.  First, these kings, immediate neighbors to the east of Israel, rode under a crescent symbol.  Notice this passage from Judges 8:21, “Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels' necks.”  The word translated “ornaments” is very interesting.  In Isaiah 3:18 it is translated as, “…their round tires like the moon.”  The word, saharon, means an ornament with a crescent shape.  One might wonder what the armies of Israel’s current neighbors may use on their battle flags?

Second, the use of Gideon’s enemies is noteworthy because of the name by which God revealed Himself to Gideon as He called him to battle.  What is the central issue today with Israel and its neighbors?  Peace.  Of course, Israel’s neighbors in the days of Judges wanted plunder and not peace.  They wanted, “the houses of God in possession (Psalm 83:12).” If their demands were not met then war was inevitable.  Gideon wanted peace too when God called him.  We find him in a winepress trying to thresh a meager portion of wheat while maintaining the status quo.  After a pack of excuses by Gideon who is called a mighty man of valor while hiding from his enemy, he built an altar and worship God by the name YHVH Shalom, the LORD our Peace!  Did you catch it?  God is calling Gideon to battle against his neighbors who are stealing covenant land and harassing the population while calling Himself, the LORD our Peace.  It is certain the land for peace will utterly fail.  Israel’s current enemies don’t want peace—they want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.  Man wants land for peace, but the LORD alone is Israel’s peace!  HE will direct the upcoming battle and its certain outcome which will cause Israel to triple in size!

Next, Gideon is a turning point in the book of Judges (see Gideon--Israel's Turning Point linked below).  All judges before him are good judges while those after him are compromised in their walk with God and conflicted with their values and beliefs.  For more on this see the old series about the structure of the Book of Judges (links below).   Maybe God is going to reverse this pattern.  Maybe the Psalm 83 War will be a turning point in Israel’s history.  It may be the impetus of a great future revival of Judaism.  In essence, the pattern of apostasy is being turned in the end of days rather than apostasy turning Israel around in their beginning of days.  Also, a greater judge than Gideon may be on the way.  Maybe God will send another Othniel—Israel’s first Judge from the tribe of Judah?  Othiniel’s name is peculiar.  It means the Lion of GOD.  It is certain that the Psalm 83 War will be a sign that Israel’s greatest Judge is on the way.  Is He not called THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH—Jesus Christ the Righteous?  There is no salvation outside of Him!!!

Finally, of all of the victories the Holy Spirit inspired prophet could have used, he chose one during a time when Israel had no temple.  Personally, I think that the Psalm 83 War will bring about the opportunity for Israel to build the next temple.  Sadly, this will be the antichrist temple, but hold on my child because joy comes in the morning.  Jesus Christ is Soon2come!

A Starting Point

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

His Voice--The Wilderness Call

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
Luke 3:1-2

God called John when the world around him could not get much worse.  Perverse rulers reigned over both secular and religious life and the morality of the people could not digress much more.  This was established in the previous post in the series, His Voice –Evil Times.  While the world around him seemingly spun out of control, God calls John to be His voice.  When did this call come?  His call came when John was in the wilderness. 

The wilderness was a lonely place so desolate that shepherds could not graze their flocks.  The Greek word, eremos, also signifies the wilderness to be a place where there would be few or no people.  It would so remote that it would be devoid of human interaction, aid, or assistance.  Strangely, the word is also used for women who had been depreciated by her husband.  In a place where no one could help, where no human hand could help, a place of solitude and loneliness, and where one might feel neglected, God called John to prepare the way for the Savior of all humanity.

Moses received his call while in the wilderness.  Like John, Moses also had a sense of divine destiny but probably felt like a failure after fleeing from Egypt. “For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not (Acts 7:25).”  He is now 80 years old and in a wilderness place.  It was a place at the end of himself.  He would be at the end of any hope to ever be used and devoid of any strength in himself, but that is where God called.  Was this where John was too?  Did he feel that his usefulness to God was over?  One thing is certain.  To be His voice we must understand that we can do nothing with the arm of flesh.  We must be at a point where our only hope is the Lord and His might. It is at this exact place God needs us to be to be mightily used of Him.  It was the wilderness school that prepared Moses and maybe John too.  

Was John led by Holy Spirit to this wilderness place?  That is what happened with Jesus.  “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matthew 4:1).”  It was this place of testing that prepared Jesus for ministry too.  Testing is not a bad thing but a preparatory thing.  It is the proving that makes us durable and strong in Christ to complete all God has set before.  Like steel that is tried, the heat of the wilderness hardens us to not throw in the towel when the future battles get tough.

Was it John’s way of getting alone with God to better hear God?  Jesus did this as well.  “And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed (Luke 5:16).”  To hear God we often must find a place of solitude to enjoy His presence and to hear His direction.  To be His voice we must hear His voice so can speak His mind. 

Don’t worry about the wilderness place you may be in.  It may be God’s way of preparing you.  Look to Him and lean not on your own understanding.  Listen for that call and help to prepare the hearts of those he sends you too.  Remember, Jesus is Soon2Come.