We were reading today in the early chapters of 1 Samuel; and in particular, the death of Eli and his two sons.
We were struck by the emphasis on the fact that Eli had not restrained his sons. He knew what they were doing; yet did nothing about it.
There were tragic consequences to his failure. The ark was taken by the Philistines, the Philistines were victorious over the Israelites, Hophni and Phinehas died, and Eli also died.
It was a reminder to us to not be careless in our attitudes and actions towards our offspring.
I was reading in the book of Ruth (one of my favorite books of the Old Testament), and was struck by the goodness and uprightness of Boaz.
This, as we are told in the opening verses of the book, was in the time of the Judges of Israel. A time when the little phrase “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” features prominently. The setting may be in the time of Ehud or Shamgar.
I was reading in chapter 2, and was struck by the little things that are noted of Boaz. His greeting to his young men; his care for this young stranger who had come to glean in his field; his kindness to her; his instructions to his reapers. In every way he exhibits the qualities of a good man.
We are living in a similar time; when anarchy and rebellion are prominent features of most societies. How good it would be if the same sort of things could be said of us.
I was reading this morning in a book titled “The Unnecessary Pastor”.
Various of the chapters in this book are a commentary on the epistle of Paul to the Ephesians, and where I was reading this morning was a commentary on 1:5.
The author, among other things, writes:
“…One of the problems in churches these days is that we have too many adolescents and not enough sons. To be an adolescent is still to clamor for instant gratification. To be a son in the sense used by the biblical writers is to be trained to fulfill the Father’s mission and to know that always with the rights of sonship come attendant responsibilities. To be a son is to be the agent of the Father and to do the Father’s work. This requires obligation, commitment, and accountability…”
The author is developing a theme that has struck a cord in my mind, and I trust in my heart as well, that worship of God is at the heart of everything.
I have been struck recently with how many times this thought has come up in various contexts.
Our breakfast reading today was in Deuteronomy 31 where Moses tells the people that Joshua would be their leader, under the Lord, as they went into the land to possess it.
Several thoughts came from this passage: It was the Lord’s doing and time; it may have come early because of Moses’s actions at the rock; they were still to understand that dependence on the Lord was necessary.
It was the Lord’s doing and time. Moses was 120, and Joshua in his mid-70s. There was nothing about a prescribed age. It was because the Lord had said it was to be. Moses told the people he was no longer able, but the chronicle tells us that it was because the Lord had directed. Moses would have loved to enter the land, but was not permitted. It is possible that Joshua would have preferred to have Moses there for counsel; but it was not to be. The time had come.
We were struck again with the emphasis on “be strong and courageous … It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Of course, this thought is repeated for us in other places as well.
It is good to remember that Joshua had a long period of training; at least 40 years as the “servant of Moses.”
As each of us seeks to serve the Lord in our God-appointed sphere, may we understand that there will a come a time of “handing over” of our service to another.
We sometimes wonder why it is so important that we reject all attempts to place an intermediary between God and us. Sometimes it is a human intermediary, and sometimes someone like Mary, or possibly a ‘saint’ or even an angelic being.
There are several reasons why it is so important. One is that there is no need. We are told clearly in the Scriptures that we have access into the Holy of Holies (the heavenly one, not the earthly) because the Veil has been torn asunder, and our Great High Priest (the Son Himself) is there for us.
The second reason; and the one I wish to touch on today; is that we are told clearly in John 16, verses 26 and 27, that we should pray directly to the Father because He holds us dear.
“At that time you will make your requests in my name; and I do not promise to ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father Himself holds you dear, because you have held me dear and have believed that I came from the Father’s presence.” (Weymouth translation)
Even our Saviour is not needed as an intermediary. We ask directly of the Father, in the name of our Saviour, and because He holds us dear, He accepts our request.
Amazing . . . “Abba Father, we approach Thee in our Saviour’s precious name.”
On Wednesday, after our mid-week Bible study in Mark 3, I was challenged to think more deeply on the statement about our Saviour, “…and looking round upon them with anger, distressed at the hardening of their heart…”.
How often we find ourselves angered without being at the same time distressed!
Not so our Saviour. Perfect combination in Him.
On the Lord’s Day a brother was commenting on Psalm 27; and as he did so, verse 4 impressed itself on my mind very strongly:
“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”
David’s desire was to be in the house of the Lord. Spurgeon comments on this, that it is a strong desire, not a wish. He says: “Holy desire must lead to resolute action.”
I realize that in this church age we do not have a physical temple. The house of the Lord is not a physical location.
The purpose of this desire was twofold: “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord” and “to inquire in his temple.” I was moved to think about my own motivation for wanting to be with the Lord’s people corporately. Sometimes to be seen? Sometimes for my own benefit? Sometimes to fulfill my personal ministry?
I was reading this morning in Leviticus 8 about the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood.
I was struck how many times it was said that the burnt part of their offerings (several different kinds) were “a pleasing aroma to the Lord”.
All the details reminded me of how important our consecration as priests is.
I was reading a chapter in his book, “The Waiting Father”, and was struck by this paragraph:
“Why am I so afraid of these phrases which sound so solid and dependable? Because people want the gifts of the Lord Christ but they do not want him. He once walked among our people and trod our soil. His apostles and missionaries and reformers were the messengers who brought his Word to us and invited us to let him be our Saviour. And because our forefathers grasped this Hand of God, because they entered into his peace and found deliverance from fear and guilt in the atonement of the Cross, there grew in them a whole new concept of humanity.…”