The Lessons of Mount Moriah

Do you know the lessons of Mt. Moriah?  What happened there shows us the gospel.  Your response to those lessons is a matter of life and death.

Today’s Reading

Second Chronicles 1-3; John 12:1-19

Selected Verses

Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.   2 Chronicles 3:1

The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.  John 12:17-18

Reflections

Mount Moriah is significant in biblical history. We hear about it first when Abraham went to that location to offer his son, Isaac, in response to God’s command (Genesis 22:2). A thousand years later, David buys property from a Jebusite named Araunah in order to make an offering there to avert the plague, he had brought upon the nation by taking a census. The location of that property is none other than Mt. Moriah.  It would become the location of the temple which Solomon built.

Long before Jesus’ time, the first temple (Solomon’s) had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in the Babylonian invasion. After the captivity the temple was rebuilt. That second temple is the one which is mentioned in the gospels and which Jesus cleansed (John 2:13-17), but it was in the same location, Mt. Moriah. That temple would later be destroyed by the Roman general Titus in 70 AD.

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He rode into Jerusalem as the crowds hailed Him as King of Israel (John 12:13). John points out that it was because of the resurrection of Lazarus that the crowds came to see and welcome Jesus.  All this is occurring in the vicinity of Mt. Moriah and the second temple which would soon to be destroyed.

Think about it

On Mt. Moriah Abraham learned that God would provide His own sacrifice for sin.  There David learned that the punishment for his sin demanded an offering. Near Mt. Moriah Jesus offered Himself as the ultimate offering. He referred to it when He cleansed the temple of money changers and sellers of sheep, oxen, and pigeons. “Destroy this temple,” He told the Jews, “and in three days, I will raise it up.” He was, of course, referring to His body, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. (John 2:18-22)

Don’t miss the important lessons of Mt. Moriah where God’s mercy met mankind’s desperate need and our Lord Jesus Christ reconciled His people to God forever.

Why Mercy Triumphs over Judgment

To know God is the supreme privilege and responsibility of mankind. But what if we fail? Can there be mercy greater than judgment?

Today’s Reading

First Chronicles 28-29; John 11:47-57

Selected Verses

And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. 1 Chronicles 28:9

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”  He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. John 11:49-52

Reflections

David, in turning over the kingdom to his son, Solomon, charged him to know and serve God.  This was not merely good advice but an urgent mandate.  Solomon would rule over people, but they were God’s people not his.  His leadership would affect the population and be either a credit or discredit to their God.  The God that Solomon needed to know and serve is One who “searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.”  He cannot be manipulated or fooled.  He knows not only the actions of all people but their hearts and thoughts as well.  To fail in this mandate is to incur eternal judgment.

Caiaphas was high priest of Israel in the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  He stood as the highest authority among the Jews who lived under a Roman governor in that day.  Like Solomon, Caiaphas held an obligation to know and serve God, but he failed to see that the Son of God was among them making the Father known (John 1:18).  So the high priest proposed Jesus’ execution  and unwittingly decreed the offering of the true Passover Lamb who would die for God’s elect people both in Israel and throughout the earth. His words had one meaning to him but another in reality.

Think about it

Solomon did fail to fully serve God and so have we. We all deserve to die. But “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  God gives the promise of eternal life to all who believe in Him.  Praise Him that the promise of mercy triumphs over the warning of judgment because Jesus died in our place (James 2:13).

Learning to Trust the Love of God

The path of God may take us through pain, suffering, and death, but never away from His love and compassion. Will we trust Him?

Today’s Reading

First Chronicles 26-27; John 11:18-46

Selected Verses

And Obed-edom had sons: Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sachar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peullethai the eighth, for God blessed him.  1 Chronicles 26:4

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.  And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus wept.  So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”  John 11:33-36

Reflections

Today’s reading in 1 Chronicles includes long lists of names, yet, as we have seen before, there are treasures to be found in these lists.  One example is the comment about Obed-edom,  “God blessed him.”  The note in my Reformation Study Bible (page 626) helped me remember that Obed-edom was the man who took care of the ark of the covenant for three months after a mishandling of it had resulted in death (1 Chronicles 13:13-14; 2 Samuel 6:10-11).  Now we pick up with this same Obed-edom and learn that God’s blessing included eight sons who served as gatekeepers.

What image do you have of the Man Jesus?  Is He too cool and calm to ever show grief or sadness?  Is He always upbeat, joyful, and in total control?  Think again. John 11 does not give us that picture.  When Jesus arrived at Bethany, the home of Martha and Mary, He was deeply moved and troubled by what He saw there: a distraught family, friends seeking to console them, and everyone grieving.  His love and compassion for the sisters and the friends of Lazarus expressed itself in tears that flowed.  Isn’t it curious that Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead in a few minutes, but for the moment He entered into the agony of the bereaved family and felt their suffering?

Think about it

God’s plan for the lives of Obed-edom and Lazarus took them in different paths centuries apart from each other but always under the providential care of the Lord who reigns over all things.  Praise Him who does not overlook the loving and careful service of Obed-edom. Neither will He forget your service for Him. Take comfort in this. The Lord who cared for Lazurus’ family knows and cares for you who are His.  He is the resurrection and the life.  Fear not.  His plan is good and ends with His victory.  Meanwhile, walk on by faith and keep learning to trust the love of God.

Your Assignment from God

God makes assignments to His people. It may be enduring great suffering or making great music. But He is always glorified and His people always built up.

Today’s Reading

First Chronicles 23-25; John 11:1-17

Selected Verses

And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike.   The first lot fell for Asaph to Joseph.  I Chronicles 25:8,9a

So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  John 11:3-4

Reflections

Under David’s reign, God’s people were given assignments for His glory.  In today’s reading, there are long lists of people who had responsibilities in the service of worship, such as playing musical instruments.  Maybe you find the lists of names tedious to read, but if your name were on that list you would not.  Those listed there had positions, an assignment, a specific job to do, and a time and place to do it.

In John 11, we learn about two benefits from the illness and subsequent death of Lazarus.  First, it was for the glory of God and so that the Son of God would be glorified through it (John 11:4).  Jesus would show His power in this incident and the disciples would learn more about His glory.  Second, it was so that those disciples might believe (John 11:14-15).   Jesus was all about teaching His disciples so that they might believe in Him.

Death is universal.  No mere human has ever solved the problem of death. But Jesus, the Son of God, came to give eternal life to all who hear His word and believe God (John 5:24).  Lazarus had the assignment of getting sick and dying so that the glory of God would be seen and the disciples would believe.

Think about it

It is thrilling to know we too have an assignment in God’s great cosmic plan.  It may be through suffering and death or it may be through playing beautiful music or through innumerable other ways.  Seek to glorify Him whether you are clearly conscious of your role or not.  Just think, the story of the raising of Lazarus has been preached from pulpits and discussed around supper tables for centuries.Though this God is always glorified and His people are strengthened in faith.  Lazarus completed his assignment.  May you complete yours, too.

Why We Must Stay with God’s Word

We must take God’s Word seriously.  David charged Solomon to do so.  Jesus showed the Jews His commitment to the truth of Scripture.

Today’s Reading

First Chronicles 20-22; John 10:22-42

Selected Verses

Only, may the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed.  1 Chronicles 22:12-13

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?  If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken—  do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” John 10:34-36

Reflections

David advised his son, Solomon, who would succeed him as king.  He told him that the Lord would be the One giving him charge over Israel.  Solomon needed to understand that he was a vassal, a steward of the kingdom of God’s people, not his own autonomous boss.  Furthermore, David emphasized the need for discretion and understanding to keep and to observe carefully God’s law if Solomon were to prosper.  Solomon did not hold to the Law of God fully to the end of his life and the consequences were devastating.

The Jews continually questioned and criticized Jesus during His years of earthly ministry.  It only got worse, and, of course, concluded with the arrest, trial, and crucifixion.  In the incident mentioned in John 10, He used Scripture to defend His reference to God as His Father and His claim to be the Son of God.  In a parenthetical comment, He says, “Scripture cannot be broken.”   He frequently showed His trust in the veracity of the Bible.  Here the Lord makes a strong and clear claim about the nature of God’s Word–that it cannot be broken.  He knew the Word, used the Word, and applied the Word to real life situations and questions.

Think about it

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Do you hold God’s Word in high esteem?   Are you convinced that Scripture cannot be broken?  Do not consider it wasted time that you invest in the careful reading, studying, and obeying of the Bible.  Stay with it.

 

A Different Kind of Shepherd

God raised a shepherd boy to king in Israel, but that was only a faint picture of what He would ultimately do–give the world the greatest Shepherd King.

Today’s Reading

First Chronicles 17-19; John 10:1-21

Selected Verses

Now, therefore, thus shall you say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be prince over my people Israel,  and I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.

1 Chronicles 17:7-8

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.  John 10:14-15

Reflections

David’s life started out very simply. He was the youngest son of his family. He was assigned the unenviable task of taking care of the sheep, dirty, dumb sheep who could not take care of themselves, nor be left alone. His work meant hot days and cold nights. We wouldn’t have imagined that he would one day sit on the throne of Israel. Much less, would we have imagined that his dynasty would be guaranteed by God Himself through the prophet Nathan. The Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, would be of David’s lineage.

As Jesus revealed Who He is through His teaching, He presented Himself as the Good Shepherd. He is good because, unlike mere hired shepherds He would pay the ultimate price of death to save His sheep. The relationship He has with His sheep is intimate and unique. He knows His sheep and they know Him. They flee from a stranger. They do not recognize the stranger’s voice.

Sure enough, the people who heard Him make these claims and promises revealed their identity as either trusting Him or doubting Him. You could tell who His sheep were by their response to His voice.

Think about it

How amazing the beauty and intricacy of God’s plan is! He painted a picture in the Old Testament through the history of Israel, and He fulfilled it in the advent of the Son of David, Jesus Christ, who will reign forever and ever. Flee other voices. Trust Him, my fellow sheep, we need Him who died and rose for us, dirty, dumb, and unworthy as we are.

No Drama; Simple Trust

Belief in God is evidenced by simple trust. No drama.  Just a readiness to believe Him and to seek His direction in His Word.

Today’s Reading

First Chronicles 14-16; John 9:24-41

Selected Verses

Now the Philistines had come and made a raid in the Valley of Rephaim. And David inquired of God, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up, and I will give them into your hand.” 1 Chronicles 14:9-10

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” John 9:35-36

Reflections

David was off to a good start in his reign (except for all the wives).  When the Philistines heard that he was on the throne they wasted no time in coming against him in battle.  Perhaps their utter defeat of Saul, a few years earlier, had left them overconfident.  Maybe they thought the new king would be distracted with all the matters of the kingdom and be an easy push over.  But David was a seasoned military commander.  He could have relied on his extensive experience, but he consulted the Lord for direction about how to respond to the approaching army.  David was not presumptuous but desired to know what God wanted him to do.  David showed simple trust in the Lord.

That simple trust paid off. David was victorious.

Jesus had a second encounter with the man who had been born blind.  The now-seeing man had held his ground in the repeated interviews with the Jewish authorities.  Now Jesus asks him if he believes in the “Son of Man.”  Of course, the man does not know what Jesus means, but he is quick to express simple trust in the Lord.  “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” he asks without hesitation.  Jesus introduces himself to the man as that One to whom He had referred.

And the man worshiped him.  That healed man got more than he bargained for that day: physical sight and spiritual sight.  His simple trust was well-placed.

Think about it

What is your attitude toward God and His Word?  Does your faith express itself in simple trust?  No drama, just a readiness to accept whatever the Lord puts in front of you today?  Seek to be a person who believes without delay and without excuses, one who trusts simply.

Free to Lead like Jesus

Today we see the stark contrast between the godly leader and the selfish, insecure leader.  We are called to follow the One who leads us to glory.

Today’s Reading

First Chronicles 11-13; John 9:1-23

Selected Verses

In times past, even when Saul was king, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord your God said to you, “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over my people Israel.”  1 Chronicles 11:2

His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess that Jesus to be the Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.  John 9:22

Reflections

Godly leaders seek to do His will, and therefore are free to act with courage and give clear direction to their followers.

Saul, the first king of Israel, failed on many levels in his leadership. He failed to encourage faithfulness to the Lord and obedience to the Law of God. Worship of God seems to have been neglected under Saul  (1 Chronicles 13:3).  Even while Saul was the king, it was David who gave real leadership to the nation.

Although David was loyal to him, Saul did not trust David and wasted much of his time and energy trying to assassinate him. In the end, David became king in a joyous coronation that reunited the kingdom of Israel (1 Chronicles 12:38-40).

In Jesus’ day, the Jews showed some of the same leadership weaknesses as Saul. Jesus’ power and popularity threatened them. They adamantly resisted the mounting evidence that pointed to His identity as the Messiah. These leaders used their authority to squelch discussion and intimidate the citizenry.  They ruled that “if anyone should confess Jesus to be the Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.” Just as Saul demanded that everyone side with him against David, so the Jewish authorities also drew a line insisting that the people choose between them and Jesus.

Think about it

Godly leaders encourage those they lead to seek the Lord, to know His Word, and to follow Christ. A godly leader, like King David, knows that God is the real King of His people. They recognize that human leaders never exceed the position of princes. Are you free from the slavery of pleasing people or the jealousy of holding on to your position?  Are you able to use whatever leadership authority you have to encourage faithfulness to God? Consider how you can facilitate godliness in those the Lord has allowed you to lead.

The Consequences of Not Hearing

Hearing the words of God is evidence that one is of God.  But disaster awaits everyone who will not hear. We can learn much from a horrible example.

Today’s Reading

First Chronicles 8-10; John 8:37-59

Selected Verses

So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse. 1 Chronicles 10:13-14

Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. John 8:47

Reflections

The Book of 1 Chronicles opens with a meticulous genealogy of Israel as we have been seeing.  There are not many details about all those individuals until we come to Saul.  Then the writer zooms in on the final hours of Saul’s life.  His life ended the same way he lived it during the long years of his reign.  He disregarded God’s commands.  For example, he sought guidance from a medium.  He led the nation to defeat and died in agony by suicide.  Three of his sons died at the same time.  The threat of imminent defeat and death did not serve to awaken Saul to his need to repent and turn to the Lord for mercy and deliverance.

The Jews listening to Jesus reacted negatively to His every claim.   They hid behind their status as descendants of Abraham.  They were sure that God was their father.  Yet they were already plotting to kill their Messiah.  They considered Jesus to be the one who was illegitimate, not themselves.  They drip with self-righteousness.  As the Apostle Paul would later write, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

Think about it

Privilege and status did not make Saul faithful or obedient.  He grew harder as his life unfolded and he left a shameful legacy to his nation.  Many of the Jews in Jesus’ day did not believe the Truth when He lived among them.  We can learn from these examples of foolishness and blindness, but will we?  Let us learn and humble ourselves to hear and do what God has said.

None so Blind

The old saying, attributed to Matthew Henry, is true, “None so blind as those that will not see.”  So, what can we do if we discover we are blind?

Today’s Reading

First Chronicles 6-7; John 8:21-36

Selected Verses

But Aaron and his sons made offerings on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.  1 Chronicles 6:49

He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”  John 8:23-24

Reflections

Ever since the nation of Israel was constituted with the Law of Moses, the priesthood had been established with the system of sacrifices for atonement for sin as the central element.   It was such a significant part of the religious culture of the nation that one tribe, the Levites, were ordained to exclusively tend to the matters surrounding worship and sacrifices.  One family within the tribe of Levi, the descendants of Aaron, was eligible for the priesthood.

God designed the sacrificial system to show the heinousness of sin and the need for atonement, an offering to God for offenses made against Him.  But when Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, came who would be the One to bear the sins of His people, many displayed caution, skepticism, rejection, and hostility toward Him.  As we see throughout the Gospel of John, His origin was debated.  His words were parsed and doubted. His explanations were questioned and re-questioned.  The evidence of His authenticity was dismissed.

Now He plainly tells them that they will die in their sins if they do not believe in Him.  His whole purpose in life is to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1: 21).  He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  Faith in Him is a matter of life and death.

Think about it

Yet many refused to see.  The problem of sin has existed since the Fall of Man. God has presented His Son to be the atonement.  Is it not plain?  Is it not clear?  Why persist in unbelief? Why remain blind?  The old saying, attributed to the Puritan Pastor and Commentator Matthew Henry, is true, “None so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see.”  If your unbelief troubles you, call to Him for faith and the ability to repent.  If you see, give Him praise for His great mercy to you.