Bringing Encouragement For Our Youth
THE OLD TESTAMENT FOR YOUNG FOLKS
(A great review for all ages)
By Rev. Gary Newmyer
An Introduction for Parents and Caregivers
This study Bible is not designed to cover the entire Bible word for word, but it is designed to go from cover to cover seeking out areas of interest to help a child grow up as a Christian in a world that is not. It is designed to give a child confidence in God, a secure feeling that Jesus not only cares for them, but is watching over them. It will give them an awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit in their life, and how He uses the Wisdom of God to guide, instruct and provide guidance for them in dealing with events, and people. It will help them learn to yield to the Holy Ghost, and to resist the enemy.
Children have questions, questions that are very important to them; and they need answers. This study looks at many of those questions and gives Bible answers.
Whether child or adult, we know Knowledge keeps us from being destroyed, thus we all need God’s Knowledge, regardless of our age. We have found that children deserve the truth, and have the ability to understand simple truths.
We are not going to make the Bible into some “Jesus Christ and His traveling puppet show”; nor are we going to make it sound like a fairy tale; rather through much prayer and guidance this project was undertaken to provide spiritual awareness to a young hungry mind. With God’s blessings, we present this endeavor to you and your children.
The Old Testament
Well hi there, how ya doing? So you want to know something about God and the Bible? That’s good, yes that’s very good. Where do we start? In the beginning? Sounds good huh?
Let’s go to the Book of Genesis, and the first thing we find is the word Genesis means Beginning, pretty neat huh? But is it the Beginning of all things? Or the Beginning of some things? It can’t be the beginning of God, since God was there before the beginning. All this must have an answer, and it does.
A long time ago God created things, not just because He wanted something to do, but because God knows, even He has a purpose; and in His purpose He had a plan, a plan that included you and me. This plan of God’s was like a map, or a blueprint the carpenter uses when he makes something, and that plan had an end, and a beginning.
Before God began the work the Plan was complete from beginning to end. God knew everything that would happen before it happened. When we look at God we have to know He is always looking at the Plan, and when we ask Him where we fit in that plan, He will tell us what He sees for us. Then we ask Him to guide us through that Plan so we can be all we can be in Jesus, and that takes time and training. On the other hand the devil also decided to have a plan, only his plan is not from beginning to end, rather it’s from moment to moment. God knows all things, before they are things; the devil attempts to make things happen.
God has a process, or a method of growth for all of us. None of us started in kindergarten, and then within two weeks graduated from college. We had a time of training, and our walk with God is no different, except with God we know He loves us, for who we are, and who we can be.
God is so smart you know what He did? Well He went to the end, and worked His way back. Why you ask? That’s a very good question, well as it turns out God knew we would face good times, and bad times, and He made sure the good times were good, but He also wanted to make a way for us through the bad times. God may not bring those bad times, but He surely has some good for us if we look for Him. Okay, if God loves us, why didn’t He just get rid of the bad times? Because bad times help us grow, we learn many things in those hard times, and we also learn how God is with us, even in the hard times.
The plan God was really about Jesus, God’s Son, and the idea was to give all of us a choice and a chance to be with God, but God didn’t want to force us, or make us join Him. God’s Plan is for us, so it takes us to join it. God wants us to love Him for who He is, and desire to join Him, so His plan had to have something in it to show us how Good God is. It also had to show us what evil was, and it had to give us many choices. God is Freedom, and for Him to force us to do anything would not be God. If we had no choice, then there would be one religion on the earth, and everyone would be Christian.
You see God loves us so much He wants us to come to Him freely, without fear, and join Him in heaven, but that was going to take some doing. Well, God created the heaven and earth (Gen 1:1), but then something happened. After the earth was created, there was a long time; and then one day God looked and the earth was all dark, and really didn’t appear to be worth anything (void). In fact, it looked like it was all frozen (face of the waters – Gen 1:2).
You see we between the time God created the earth, and the time when He saw it, there was a great deal of time, and during that time there were animals, and plants and all sorts of things, but there was no “man with a soul”. God is Light and cannot create darkness, so when we find the earth was in darkness, that tells us there was a great span of time for the darkness to appear (Gen 1:2). God had a good reason for letting the earth get that way, He wanted to show us He can create something, and then allow that something to go its own way and end appearing useless, then God can take what appears useless and make it very good. That is the plan you see! God takes what others think is useless, and He makes it great.
Look at the flower, isn’t it beautiful? How does a flower begin? In the dirt. How then can it become beautiful? It starts as a goofy looking seed, no beauty, and then we buried it in the ground, then one day it comes up looking even more silly, but then it’s like Life enters, and it opens up to be beautiful. How does a flower know to do that? God planned it that way, and He did so to show us how growth is something worked into the Plan.
Anyway we can see how dinosaurs and things that looked like men could have been on the earth for a long time, but then one day something happened, perhaps a star fell on the earth, or something that caused the earth to get real cold, and ice formed all over it, and all the dinosaurs died off, and all the plants died, and the earth looked terrible, it was without life. Hold it, don’t get worried, along came God, and He saw the earth, and knew it was time for the Plan to go into action. Did God know there would be an Ice Age? Sure, it was in the plan. Where would we get gas if it wasn’t for the dinosaurs? God not only had it in the plan, but He gave mad a choice, believe it was God, or not; much better to believe it was God.
Well, God saw the darkness, and God won’t work in darkness, so God said, “Let there be light” (Gen 1:3). God didn’t force the Light to come, He asked it to. See how God is? He is not forcing us to do anything, He always asks. That is how God is, and that is how He wants us to be. God isn’t going to beat us, trick us or make us obey Him. God is so gentle even in His creation He asked the Light to come forth, and the Light came, because it loved God.
When the Light came, the darkness went away. We never turn on the darkness switc,h do we? No, we turn on the Light Switch, so where does the darkness go? Under the bed? Into a corner? No, it just goes away as if it was never there. The Bible tells us God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all (I Jn 1:5). God cannot bring darkness, since He doesn’t have any. The darkness on the earth just happened, God didn’t make it happen, but He did bring the Light and made the darkness go away. When we’re in darkness we ask God to bring us Light, and believe that God is able to make the darkness go away.
Now we know the earth was frozen by the “waters” that were on the earth, and how God brought the Light to melt the ice, but He didn’t make the water, it was already on the earth (Gen 1:6). God is so much smarter than man, in God’s plan He knew man would need gas for their cars, and oil to heat their homes, so He had all those dinosaurs on earth for millions of years, and allowed the earth to freeze. This shows how God saw the end of the Plan, took care of all things by putting them in the Plan, then God began. That plan is called Redemption, which means giving each of us a chance to make a choice to be with God.
To show us how God had a plan all ready written, He gave us a Book telling us about the Plan, and that Book is the Bible. Isn’t He smart? The Bible shows us how God knows all things, and how God had this Plan, and He wasn’t making things up.
God knew the earth had plants before the ice came, so after He said “Let there be Light”, all He had to do was ask the seeds of those plants to grow again, and they did (Gen 1:12). The grass grew again, the trees grew again, but not like they did before the freeze, they came up with a difference, they were now in the plan for man. Weren’t those other man like creatures we call “cavemen” men? No, not like Adam, you or me, they were without a “soul”, so they had skin, and hair, but they didn’t have a soul. We can look at their bones, and say, “Gee, they kind of do look like a man”, but the bones don’t tell us if they had a soul. If they were on the earth for all those years, why didn’t they build cities? Or use computers? Because without a soul they have no dreams or hopes. God had something special for “man”, something to prove how much He loves us all.
Adam and Eve
So God asked the seeds to come forth, and then did, and then all the other things until the time to make Adam. Why didn’t God make Adam first? That is the plan, God didn’t make you and I and then figure out what we needed. He made sure all we needed was already waiting for us, then we were created. The same is true with Adam, and we know Adam needed a wife, and God took care of that too. God made the “him” a “them”, so the very first Adam was not like men today, and he wasn’t some weird creature either. God would hide the female in Adam until the time when Adam wanted a partner so bad, he would really appreciate her.
So how did God make Adam? First God took the DNA (dust) of the earth, and made Adam, and then God breathed the breath of life into Adam, and Adam became a living soul. It was the breath of God that brought Adam a soul with life, and Adam was the only creature made by the hand of God, all the others either came out of the sea or ground, or God spoke and they came forth. We are “wonderfully” made, each of us have a touch of the hand of God in us (Gen 2:7). Okay, so why have dinosaurs? Or cavemen? God knows all things, even the things yet to come, the difference between Adam and the caveman is the “living soul”. We can dig up all sorts of bones, but that doesn’t tell us if the person had a “soul”, and it never tell us if God breathed the breath of life into them. Genesis 1:2 tells us the waters were Hard (face of the waters), and in the language it shows that hardness was ice, so we find a mystery; God created and allowed the dinosaurs and cavemen to exist so we could have oil, and by doing it that way man also had a choice. Was it God? Or some just so happened big bang? If something when Bang, who made it go Bang? If all of us came from one cell, who made the cell? If all it takes is water to bring life, who makes the water? No matter what, it still comes down to “In the Beginning God”.
Not one of us around today were there in the Beginning, but any of us can make the choice to say if it was God, or some “just so happened”. So, what about evolution? You hear about it in school, and some even tell us it’s a “fact”, but if it’s such a fact, how come monkeys don’t have human babies? If snakes and birds are the same, how come snakes don’t give birth to birds? A Theory is something a person thinks to be true, then they set out to prove it so. What happens is some person has a theory, but no proof, yet others claim the theory is fact, then others accept the fact, and we have a lie being taught as fact. Yes there were dinosaurs, yes there were cavemen, but they are not related to us. Their time ended, that’s why we don’t see anymore of them. God looked on the earth and it was covered with ice, and blackness. Some think a great rock fell from space, and caused the ice age; could be, but who made the Rock? God, that’s who. Adam was the start of the Plan God had, but Adam was not the end of it.
Now when God made Adam, He made the “him” a “them” (Gen 1:27). Adam’s mate was still part of him, but he didn’t know it. God allowed Adam to look all over for his help meet (someone just like him in power and ability, but different in character). If there were other men, why not use them? God called the grass and tress from the ground, so why not man? Because there were no men like Adam, before Adam. God them made animals, not like the ones that were, but like the ones we would need. Who needs a dinosaur now? Think of the food bill.
Even Adam had to seek, and Adam searched and searched for someone like him. Adam looked at the monkeys, but he was not able to find a partner. Adam looked at the birds, but no, they wouldn’t do either. Adam looked at the elephants, but no they were too big. He didn’t know what to do, he was so lonely, but he didn’t know God had a plan for him. See there are times when we think we’re lonely, or no one cares, but God does, He has a plan (Gen 2:20).
God also had this thing called “faith”, and it was part of that Breath of Life God gave us. The Bible says we all have that measure of faith, and it’s a gift. So, then shouldn’t all of us should know what this faith is, and why we have it? Wouldn’t that be nice to know? Sure, but you know a lot of people don’t even know what faith is. They call religions a type of “faith”, like “what faith are you?”. But Faith is not a type of religion, it’s much more than that. Some even call faith a belief, but why not use the word Belief? They call it Trust, so why not call it Trust? Faith has all those things, and more, but faith is when we look to God no matter what happens. It’s not just running to God when we’re scared, or hurt, but knowing that God is always with us. We asked Him to be with us, and He is. Belief is a Now thing, but it’s based on something we heard or know about from the past. Faith is a Now thing, based on something in the future. We know the Sun came up, because it did, so we believe it did, but what about tomorrow, will it come up? Sure, our faith says so. God tells us something and we Believe God, because He “said” it, but what if He said something was yet to happen? We add our faith and know God is able to bring to pass that which He promised. We believe the Promise because God said it, but our faith is seeing the Promise complete. We can say, “Oh I believe God said it, I just don’t think He can do it”. We have Belief, but no faith. God promised us if we believe in Jesus, then we will have a reward in the future, what reward? To be with God in heaven, free of pain, suffering, sadness, and anything else that makes us feel bad.
However, Adam was on earth, he was made of the earth and then God breathed the breath of life into him. Adam couldn’t leave the earth, he was “earthly”, and today we know if someone goes into space they have to take the air from earth with them, or they die. Our faith knows God is able to give us a body that is made for heaven, so we will have the same soul, but it will be saved and in a body made for heaven.
Jesus said good things happen to those who have faith in God (the just), but there are good things that happen to those who don’t have faith in God as well (the unjust). He also said bad things happen to those who have faith in God (just), and bad things happen to those who don’t have faith in God (unjust). So what’s the difference? Those who have faith in God know God is with them, so the good things become so much better, and the bad things don’t make them bitter or nasty. Those who don’t love God forget about the good things, and they allow the bad things to make them nasty and bitter. Faith keeps us in a Joy, and Joy doesn’t mean we laugh all the time, it means we know there is something good in all things. All we have to do is find God, and we will find the Good. Adam was looking all over for his partner, but all he had to do was ask God. He didn’t have to, he finally got his partner, but really he would have had her must faster if he would have asked God.
Just as we can ask God to be with us, we can also tell God to go away, and He will. We can also do something to hurt God, and He will not be able to see us. That something that hides us from God is not good, and it’s called sin. Faith keeps us from sin, and keeps us walking with God. Adam was a very important part of the plan, but he was not what the plan was about. We know before we build a barn we need wood, and the wood comes from a tree. Does the tree look like the barn? No, it has to be cut down, men have to put it through the saw, cut it up into boards, then all sorts of things have to be done to the tree before we can use it to build the barn. Adam was a start, but God looked far ahead and saw you and I and said, “Let us make man in our image” (Gen 1:26). The Plan was for just that, to begin with Adam, and finish with Jesus in us. We ask Jesus to come into us, but that doesn’t mean Jesus as a person enters us. It means that Jesus sends His Love into us, and His Love helps us with all sorts of problems, and teaches all the great things about Jesus, and shows us how to be pleasant in the sight of God.
God called His Love, “Spirit”, and then He said if we ask, He will give us His Spirit, and we can act and think like Jesus did. We will not look like Him, and we will not lose who we are, but we will gain in our thinking. When we learn at school we don’t all of a sudden look like the teacher. We don’t all of a sudden look like the book. We do learn, and think better, and that is what happens when we gain God’s Spirit. We think like God, and see things as God does. Sounds almost too easy, but it’s true. When we ask for God to forgive our sins, and to come to us, He sends us His Spirit in our hearts, and we grow to be the Image of God. So what is the Image? It’s being like God is on the inside of God. We will change into a nicer person, a person who can know things we didn’t know before. We will know things about God we didn’t know before, and we will know things like God does, and we will be at Peace, just like Jesus.
Well, poor Adam wasn’t Jesus, and we know he didn’t use his faith, since God tells us the first person who used faith was Adam’s son, Abel (Heb 11:4). We also can see how Adam did his own searching for his partner, but he never came to God and asked God for a partner (Gen 2:20). God’s plan was to give Adam a partner, even if Adam didn’t ask God, since God loves to give good gifts. God wanted to surprise Adam, so God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, then God removed the female from Adam’s side, and God called them “Adam”, or Adam-gal, and Adam-guy. You thought her name was Eve huh? Well she wasn’t given that name until later, at first God saw her as an equal to the guy. You see, to God they were still One, and then God said, “therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh” (Gen 2:24). Oh yes, God had a plan, Adam guy and Adam gal were one, after all God took Adam gal from Adam guy, but the plan still called for choice, and the choice for Adam guy and Adam gal was to join together to be one. They were not to fight, scream, or hit each other, they were to reason together, to work things out, and they could, if they wanted to.
Sin makes it impossible to work things out, it gets in the way and says, “but I’m right, and I won’t give in”. Being right, or being wrong really doesn’t matter, being nice and gentle does. Adam was now happy, but since there was now choice, there had to be other choices for Adam. God wants us to have choices, and to learn to make the right ones, but in the Plan there was one very big choice, one that would mean everything to Adam.
Adam walked with God in the cool of the day, but you know what? Adam really didn’t know God, Adam really didn’t have a “father and son” relationship with God. How do we know? That is a good question, we don’t disobey the people we love, because we know it hurts them. We don’t do bad things knowing we will be punished, especially when we know the punishment is going to cost us the joy of being with those people. We all so some dumb things on the road of experience, and some times we get into trouble, but what do we do? We say we’re sorry, and God calls that Repentance. Being sorry for what we did is only part of repentance, being sorry we hurt someone is the rest of it. Some times we’re sorry because we’re caught, but that isn’t repentance. Repentance comes when we know we did something wrong, and we hurt someone. Adam will not repent, he will be sorry for what he did, but he is only sorry because of what it did to him, not what he did to God. If we hurt our mother we cry, because she is hurt and we caused it, but Adam didn’t care if God was hurt, in fact he blamed God. Adam-gal will do the same and blame the devil, and we can learn something here. We know Adam-gal gave the fruit to Adam-guy, so when Adam-guy says to God, “It was that woman you gave me, she gave it to me, and I did eat”, he is saying something that really happened, but he is leaving out the most important part. He didn’t say, “I know I hurt you Lord, I know I disobeyed you, and I’m sorry”. We know the devil tricked Adam-gal, so when she said, “It was that serpent (devil), he tricked me”, she is saying something that happened, but she is leaving out the most important part too. She didn’t say, “Lord we were told not to eat, and I did, I’m sorry”. Since Adam-guy, and Adam-gal didn’t say they were sorry, God had no choice, He had to remove them from the Garden. God gave them the chance to say they were Sorry, so God isn’t mean, and this proves it. God didn’t have to give them a chance, He could have said, “Ha, you messed up, get out of here”, but He didn’t.
What Adam did not only cost him his house, it cost him his joy and peace. Since it was a tree, you might think the tree was evil. Not so, the tree was good, what Adam did with it became the evil. The tree was part of the ground, so the ground turned against Adam too, and from that time on he had to plant, and fight off weeds, and things that would eat his food.
What Adam did was so bad that Adam became darkness, and God couldn’t see him. Adam was told two things, one was to multiply, or to have children, the other was not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The very first thing God wanted was “children”, God wanted to hear the laughter of children in Garden, not the cries of sadness. Adam was told to do one thing, have children, and told not to do another, eat of the fruit of the tree. So, what did he do? He didn’t have children until after he left the Garden, and he went ahead and ate of the fruit of the tree. Two things, and he couldn’t do either. We don’t want to be like Adam, we want to be like Jesus. Whatever the Father told Jesus to do, Jesus did, and Jesus did it because He loved the Father.
There were many Trees in the Garden, but in the center of the Garden were two special trees. The Tree of Life was Adam’s tree, he could come to it and enjoy the “breath of life” God gave him. The other Tree was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and that Tree was not Adam’s Tree. Adam didn’t have to know good and evil, or good from evil. Adam didn’t have any evil in the Garden, it was all good, and it was good, because someone was there to keep him from evil. So who was that? And who was that Tree for?
Gosh we have to travel a little, and go to the words of the prophet Ezekiel. A prophet is one who speaks the words God gives them in a voice we can all understand. Ezekiel was one just like that, and Ezekiel tells us the devil was once an angel, a very beautiful angel, one who had a job so important he was anointed to protect (cover) something in the Garden (Ezek 28:14). This angel was to protect Adam from evil, but he was an angel, what does an angel know about man? Nothing, so the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was for that angel. God put that angel in the Garden to protect and guide Adam, and keep Adam from evil. The fruit of that tree gave the angel the knowledge to tell him how to guide Adam. This angel was the very first “Guardian Angel”, but did he love God enough to do his job? No, and he became a warning to all “Guardian Angels”. When any Guardian Angel leads us into evil, they will become a devil, so all the angels of God work to keep us from evil.
Adam could water that tree, he could look at it, he could trim it, but he couldn’t eat the fruit from it. That fruit was for an angel to see what was good and evil in man’s world, but if the man ate it, then the man would use his own mind to figure out what was good and evil, and we know what that leads to. Some people do very bad things, and say it’s okay, or they say it’s “good”, because they think it’s good. Governments give people “rights”, and some times those rights are allowing people to do evil things, but since the people have a “right” they think it’s “good”. One person does something and says “it’s good”, another person says, “no that is evil”. That’s what happens when we eat the fruit for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. So, is the fruit evil? Well it made us think wrong, but wait the fruit is not evil, it was good, but like all things it had a purpose. When we use something in an evil way, that doesn’t make the thing evil. Some can use a car to get us to the store, or to school, and that is a good thing, but they can use that car to hurt people too, and that is a bad thing. The car wasn’t good or evil, the person was.
Whenever we use something, we must make sure we use it with the purpose it was intended. We can use a pencil to write on paper, and that is good, but what if we wrote on the wall? Would that be good? No, we would be in trouble. So was it the pencil’s fault? No, if we wrote on the wall we can’t blame the pencil, we did it, not the pencil. Adam is going to find out the same thing, the fruit was good, when used as God wanted it.
Things were going along just fine, Adam-guy and Adam-gal were husband and wife, but the angel was getting mad. You see, he was suppose to guard, and he knew he was beautiful, but Adam-guy liked to hang around with Adam-gal more than he liked to be around the angel. When Adam-guy spent all his time hanging around with Adam-gal the angel allowed that jealousy to grow in him, and it turned into something called “iniquity” (Ezek 28:14-16). The word Iniquity means we are suppose to do something, but we don’t. The word Sin means we did something we were not suppose to. The angel was suppose to guide and protect Adam, but he didn’t, and that is what God calls Iniquity.
Anyway that angel felt if he could just get rid of Adam-gal, then he could have Adam-guy all to himself. That angel didn’t know all this was in the Plan, God knew what was going to happen, but if God did, why didn’t He stop it? If God would have stopped it, there would be no Jesus, no Cross, no Spirit for us, and we would be stuck without the Presence of God. Also, Adam-guy, Adam-gal and the angel all had to have a choice, they had to make up their own minds. Did they love God? If they did, then their actions would prove it, if not, well, we know what happened.
As all this a “good thing”? Let’s see, first the angel will become the devil, and one-third of the angels would follow him, and all of them would become devils, how can that be good? Each of them gave up many things, their beauty, so they are all the only ugly things around, so is that good? They gave up their spiritual ability, which is being able to see things clearly, is that good? No, well something else would also happen. When evil was handed to man, that would mean God would also bring Salvation, a way to safe man. See the devil isn’t all that smart, he is tricky, and he is nasty, but what he used at the tree to trick Adam-gal with is all he can ever use. The devil can’t come up with some new trick, he can’t force us to do anything, he can’t beat us up with sticks, he couldn’t beat Adam-gal up, he couldn’t force her to eat, all he could do was talk to her, and trick her. Of course that got her into big trouble, but we can see the “good” in all this is Jesus. There had to be a reason for Jesus, and God made sure we all knew that having the breath of God, and being made by the hand of God isn’t enough. It’s good, but not enough, it wasn’t enough for Adam, and it’s not enough for us. We must have Jesus, and Jesus will never let us down, He will never trick us, He will never hurt us, and He will never leave us.
We must never forget, when the devil was in the tree he talked to Adam female, he couldn’t beat her, he couldn’t force her to eat of the fruit, he had to trick her (Gen 3:1-3). The devil promised Adam-gal she could be as a “gods”, and that can’t mean like an idol, since there none then. The word “gods” means one who talks, or does things for God, and the angel was a “god” like that. The angel tricked Adam-gal into thinking if she took of the fruit she would be like the angel, she could fly around, and be beautiful. The angel lied, and the more he lied, the uglier he got.
Jesus made sure we have power over devils, and they have to obey us when we use the Name of Jesus. Our problem is not the devil, he is nothing, when Jesus went to the Cross the devil lost the war. Now the evil in the world is from the devil, but when we receive Jesus into our hearts, we become like Jesus inside, and we no longer have to fear the devil. You see, the problem is what the devil tricked us into thinking, and our thinking of how much more mom and dad love our little brother, or sister more than us, is the same thinking the devil had about Adam-gal. Thinking we can get rid of someone, and then we will be more liked, is the same thinking the devil had about Adam-gal. The devil leaves his thinking behind, and Jesus comes to remove all that thinking, and replace it with Love. When we had those bad thoughts we didn’t look like the devil, and when Jesus comes into us, we won’t look like Jesus, but we will think like Him.
What happened at the Tree? Well, one day the angel was in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and along came Adam-gal, and the devil said, “has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Gen 3:1). What God said was, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it, for of the day you eat of it, surely you shall begin to die” (Gen 2:16-17). The devil told the first lie, but what did Adam-gal do? She answered with a lie, and said God told them, “You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die” (Gen 3:3). That always happens doesn’t it, “Oh yeah, well you’re a bigger jerk”, “oh yeah, well you’re even bigger”. They started to fight, and they fought over something God said. Isn’t it a shame, they do that today don’t they? They fight over what they think God said, that is the result of the fruit from that tree isn’t it?
Well, Adam-gal began to look at the tree, and the devil’s words started pulling her from God to the thinking of the devil. She found the tree was 1) good for food, and 2) was pleasant to the eyes, and 3) desired to make on wise, she took the fruit and did eat. The devil didn’t force her, he tricked her. Maybe the fruit of the tree was good to eat, but there were other trees in the garden with good fruit. Wait, you know something, oh man, this has happened to us. The only reason she thought it would be so good, was because she wasn’t suppose to eat it. Has that happened to you? Mom says, “no honey, you can’t touch that”, and man, oh man we just have to touch it don’t we. We were tricked into touching by the devil, Adam-gal should have obeyed the “voice of God”. We should have obeyed mom.
The fruit may have been pleasant to the eyes, but so were all the other things in the Garden. She wanted to test God, and her desire to have something she wasn’t suppose to, was greater than her desire to obey. What about Adam-guy? Where was he? Right there with Adam-gal, and Adam-gal gave the fruit to him, and he did eat (Gen 3:6). Now their eyes were opened to the “self”, and closed to God. They only did things now because of their self, not because of a love for others, and that same sin falls on all people. Yes, even us, but our hope is in Jesus. Jesus gave us power over the devil, and over the words of the devil.
There was another Tree in the Garden, the Tree of Life, it knew no death, it had healing in it’s fruit, it was a very good tree, and God gave that Tree to Adam, but we find a very good lesson in this; God gave Adam one tree, and told Adam not to eat of the other, so what did Adam do? Just what God told him not to. When we feel something telling us to do what we know we’re not suppose to, we can say “No” to that temptation, and at the same time grab the Tree of Life.
God came to the Garden, but He couldn’t see Adam, why? That darkness came back, and covered Adam. The Fall had taken place, and from that time until Jesus man would be under sin. Adam fell from the sight of God into darkness, and God could talk to Adam, but God couldn’t see him anymore.
God asked Adam-guy if he did eat of the tree, and we know Adam-guy said, “it was that woman You gave me, she gave it to me, and I did eat”. God asked Adam-gal, and she said, “The devil (serpent) tricked me”. Now we know how both answers seemed right, but both left out being sorry, and God had to remove them from the Garden.
Now the good part, both Adam-guy and Adam-gal were in the Garden, and the Garden was good, but it was not heaven. God came to visit them, they could not go and visit God in heaven. The Plan God has for us is much better, because of Jesus we can go to heaven, and live in God’s House in heaven. Adam-guy and Adam-gal couldn’t, they were stuck to the earth, and as nice as the earth was, it was nothing like heaven.
Because of what happened we were all born into darkness, and only God is Light. We have all had a “taste” of being disobedient, and we didn’t like being sent to our rooms, so in a way we know what Adam-guy and Adam-gal felt like. The nasty sin nature continued on, and Adam named his wife “Eve” (Life), and felt she would make it all okay, and like it used to be.
Cain and Abel
Their first son was Cain, their second son was Abel. Now one day both sons gave sacrifices, but Cain got jealous because it looked to him like God loved Abel’s sacrifice more than Cain’s. Abel had faith, which means he honored God, and gave his best for God. Cain thought the whole thing was dumb, and he just did it because he had to. Which sacrifice would you pick? The one who loved you and cared? Or the one who just did it because he thought he had to? The one who loved you of course. Because Cain did it with a bad attitude, his sacrifice was rejected by God, but Abel’s was accepted. Instead of Cain saying, “you know, I had the wrong attitude, I will change, and God will accept my sacrifice”, he got mad, and he got mad at God and his brother, real mad. “How dare God favor Abel over me, I’m the older”. The same thing the devil felt at the tree isn’t it? See how the devil works? He plants thoughts, and when we allow those thoughts to guide us, we fall into sin. Jesus in us gives us the Light to see those thoughts, and what they will do, and we can say “NO” to them, and they have to go.
God came to Cain and asked him, “Why are you mad at Me? If you did right, then you would be accepted, and if you didn’t do right, then sin is about to overtake you” (Gen 4:7). Cain didn’t listen to God, and one day he went into the field and killed his brother. That was the first murder, and God did something to Cain so all people would know what kind of person he was. It’s called the “mark of Cain”, but we know it as “bitterness”, and being just plain nasty. We know when a nasty person walks into the room, they have that “look” on them, they are bitter, and we don’t like to be around them. Cain was that way, and God didn’t make Cain nasty, all God did was allow Cain to be Cain.
Adam and Eve had many children, and their third son was named Seth, and Seth would have children who sought after God (Gen 5:3). Time went on, and the people on the earth were doing all sorts of bad things, they made idols, they didn’t care about God, they didn’t care about anything but themselves. The daughters of Cain started marrying the sons of Seth, and making the sons of Seth worship idols.
Time went on like this and then would come Noah from the family line of Seth. Noah was a man who did care about God, and a man who refused to worship idols. In the days of Noah there was something that seems real funny to us. All the land on the earth was one big country, and it didn’t rain. Instead the air was pure and clean, the days were nice, no winter, or summer, but the people just didn’t care about God. The whole earth was covered with a fine spray of water, and because there were was no pollution, or hot sun, the people lived many years, some even lived to be 500 or 600 years old.
God came to Noah and told him it was going to rain, and rain real hard, so God told Noah to build a big boat, called an Ark. This boat was to be built just like God said, it also was to be to a Plan. Noah was to get animals in pairs, since God planned on the animals living on after the flood.
So, how was Noah able to keep those animals from fighting? Did he have cages? No, in those days man didn’t eat meat, and neither did the animals. The lion and the lamb could lay down together, but all that would change after the flood.
Noah did as God told him, and he built the Ark. The people laughed at Noah, after all Noah said it was going to rain, but it never had before, why would it now? “You crazy old man, who ever heard of rain?” One day it started to rain, can you imagine what the people thought? It had never rained before, what is this? The sky is falling apart.
Well Noah got his family on the Ark, his three sons, their wives, and Noah’s wife, making eight people. They also got all the animals they were suppose to on the Ark. The rain continued for many days, and the water came up from under the ground, and down from the sky, and it was a storm.
It took nearly a year for the water to go down enough for the Ark to sit on land. Noah sent out a dove, and the dove returned with a twig in it’s mouth, and Noah knew the water had gone down enough so he could land his boat. The rain came from the water that was over the earth falling to the earth, and from underground wells coming up. This would also change how long people would live, they would no longer live those many years, the sun’s rays would make man age faster.
Then the Lord told Noah man could eat meat, it was okay, but man had to cook the meat, and man could not eat man. Of course when man was able to eat the animals, the animals would then be able to eat meat as well, even eat man. Ouch.
God told Noah the earth would never again be destroyed by water, and God put a Rainbow in the clouds to prove it. Whenever you see a rainbow you know God is faithful. Way back then God gave a promise, and God hasn’t forgotten.
From Noah would come all the families of the world, from his son Ham would come all the nations of the middle east, and then the areas of Russia. From Noah’s son Japheth would come all the Asian countries, and many of the countries in Europe, and from Noah’s son Shem would come the Jewish nation (Gen 10). God always seems to pick the little guy, the one no one thinks of, and Shem was that guy.
Ham did a bad thing, and Noah was very upset with him (Gen 9:21-24). Ham also had children, and one of his sons was named Canaan, and from Canaan would come Nimrod, a very nasty, and bad man. Nimrod wanted to be like God, and raise himself to God, so he built a tower, but God saw what he was doing, and saw how Nimrod gathered the people together to do bad, so God changed all their languages, and they spoke in different languages, and couldn’t understand each other. The people all went to other parts where they could understand each other, and that is how we got the languages and races. Each territory the people went to had different things, some were hot, some cold, some very hot, some very cold, some in high places, some in low places, and wherever they settled down, they began to change to fit the territory (Gen 11:1-9).
Well, Shem had sons and daughters, and they went to territories too. From Shem’s family would come a guy named Abraham, a very important man. But if we didn’t have the Bible, we would never know who Abraham was, you see how important the Bible is? Gee do you know what year it is now? You do? Do you know how we got the number for the year? From Jesus. The year “2,000” means Jesus was born 2,000 years ago. See we would not know what year we were born if it wasn’t for Jesus.
The Bible is very important, God would whisper to all these men who wrote the Bible, and tell them what to say, and they wrote it down for us. Take Abraham, all the information anyone knows about this guy is found in the Bible. There are no books written by him, or by someone else who really knew him.
What makes him so important? Abraham is a link between all the families of the world, and all the races of the world. This guy is so important we find his name in the New Testament, and he was just a guy like any of us, and because he was just a guy we know any of us can have faith in God.
Also God divided the entire world into two people, Jew and Gentile, and a Gentile is someone who isn’t a Jew. If we are not born a Jew, we’re Gentile. A Christian is someone who was either a Jew or a Gentile, but is no longer of the families of the world, but of the family of God.
Abraham made a deal with God, and God promised Abraham a son, as part of that deal. Abraham was to walk a land God had set aside for the Jewish people, and wanted to make Abraham the father of all the Jews. Now what makes Abraham different from Noah? Noah had faith, the Bible says so, but Abraham was the first man who had Righteousness. What is that? It means one has the right to come before God and get God’s attention. It means all business stops when we walk into the place where God is, and He waits to find out what we have to say. Noah’s faith was fear based, and not a fear like Yikes!!!; but a fear knowing God means business. Abraham was different, he talked to God like we talk to each other. Noah was saved from destruction, but Abraham was going to bring forth an entire nation.
Did Abraham get his son right away? No, he had to wait, and many things happened to Abraham, some good, some not so good. Whatever happened to him, he knew God promised him a son, and he would have one.
Abraham would have a deal with God called a Covenant, and Covenant is a deal where two people agree to help each other. So what did God need? A human being, God had a plan that began way back in the Garden of Eden, and isn’t Done until Jesus says “It is Done” many years from now. In that Plan there are many, many little plans, and God has a plan just for each of us. God isn’t sitting up in heaven, and one day says, “who are you?”. God knows who we are, and God has a Plan for us, but God won’t make us follow that Plan, we have to pray and know what to do to fit the Plan.
Did Abraham come from a “Godly family”? No, Abraham’s daddy was an idol maker, wow, why would God use a man whose daddy was an idol maker? It doesn’t matter what our daddy was, or who our uncle was, God loves us, and wants to save us.
God liked Abraham because Abraham said he was going to believe God. God said that Abraham would be blessed, which means he would always have a reason to be happy. God was going to watch out for Abraham, and make sure no one hurt him, and you know what else? All Abraham wanted was a son, but God said Abraham could have a whole country for his own, and more.
Abraham also had two brothers, one was named Nabor, the other named Haran. Haran had a son named Lot, and Lot would be Abraham’s nephew. Haran died, and Uncle Abraham took Lot and cared for him like a son.
Abraham became so blessed that it spilled over into Lot’s hands, and both had many cattle. One day the servants of Lot and the servants of Abraham got into an argument and started to fight among themselves. Abraham said that was not good, and told Lot he could have any territory he wanted. Lot went to a place called Sodom to live.
One day there were some bad kings, and they fought with Sodom, and took Lot captive, and made Lot a prisoner. Abraham heard about it, and knew God would fight to rescue him from bad people, so he knew he had to rescue Lot from the bad people. Abraham did, and Lot went back to Sodom to live (Gen 14:4, 14:13-16). God always has someone out there to rescue us, if we just pray and hope, we will be saved.
Abraham had a wife by the name of Sara, and God said the promised son would come from Abraham and Sara, but the years went by, one after the other and no son. Well Sara thought something was wrong, so she tested the promise of God. Her maid had a baby by Abraham named Ishmael, and that name has come to mean Manipulation. When we test the promise of God, we end with a mess. Ishmael grew up, but he was still a big baby, even as a teen-ager, and his mother still had to carry him around on her back. Ishmaels are things that hang on our backs, and they always come when we test God (Gen 16:1-12).
Remember Lot? Remember what city he lived in? Well those people in that city were very bad, they did all sorts of things that made God very mad. God had no choice but to destroy that city, before that evil ran over the wall of the city and entered other places. That city was a like a big cancer in the land, and God as the Good Doctor had to cut it out before it killed the whole world. But Abraham was promised that land, so God sent an angel to talk with Abraham, and tell Abraham what had to be. Abraham knew Lot was in that city, and he talked to God about a deal. How about if there are twenty people in the city who are good, will God spare it? Sure, God said He would. How about ten people in the city who are good? Sure, God said He would (Gen 18:16-33). Well there weren’t ten, as it ended up there were only three. Lot had a wife, two daughters, and two sons-in-law. The two sons-in-law laughed when they heard God was going to destroy the city. Lot’s wife wanted to stay in the city, and missed the city, even though it was bad. On their way out of the city, Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a big thing of salt (Gen 19:26). The only people who believed God were Lot, and his two daughters, and they were safe. God said He would spare the city if there were Ten, but there weren’t, but what did God do? He spared those who love Him, and who believe in Him. No one asked Him to, He just did. If we love God, He loves us more, and the more we love God, the more He loves us. See, if the whole world is evil, but we believe God, God will make sure we are saved from the evil.
Did Abraham ever have that son? Sure, God picked a perfect time, and sure enough the son came, and his name was Isaac (Gen 21:5). Old Ishmael would step in and make fun of Isaac, and that made Sara mad. Sara told Abraham Ishmael had to go, he was a bad boy, and didn’t respect the rules of the house. Wow, now what? Well Ishmael’s mother was an Egyptian, and in the Bible Egypt is a place of captivity, or a place where people hold you, and make you work as a slave. Ishmael and his mother had to leave, but God wasn’t going to send them away without anything. God made Ishmael a great nation, and all Arab people today come from Ishmael (Gen 21:18). Ishmael married an Egyptian girl, and from Ishmael would come all the Arabs (Gen 21:21). The Arabs are related to Abraham by Hagar, and we can see how “brother fights with brother” still. All people need Jesus to stop their fighting.
Isaac was a special child, and from him would come all of the Jewish people, including David many years down the line. Isaac was special, but did Abraham love Isaac more than he loved God? Even Abraham didn’t know, so God gave Abraham a test, like a test in school.
God knew who Abraham loved the most, but Abraham didn’t, and tests are never for the teacher, they are for the student. God told Abraham to take Isaac to a mountain, as it turns out a very special mountain, and on that mountain Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac. Oh my, who has ever heard of such a thing? Will Abraham do it? Is God serious? Well God was serious about the flood, and about destroying Sodom, He must be serious about this (Gen 22:1-19).
The day came, and Abraham took Isaac to a mountain along with some servants from the house. When they got to the mountain Abraham told the servants to wait, and he and the lad would return. Abraham knew even if Isaac was a sacrifice, the lad would live, he is the promise of God. This test was a one time thing, it was just for this man, for this one time, and no one would be tested like this again. Why? We know what happened, and when we know the test result, it’s no longer a test. Isaac asked his dad, “where is the sacrifice dad?”. Abraham said, “God will provide Himself a sacrifice”. Abraham said one thing, but it means three things. God did provide Himself a Sacrifice in Jesus, God provided Isaac who was suppose to be the sacrifice, and God provided a substitute sacrifice, a ram caught in a bush.
At first Abraham didn’t see the ram caught in the bush, he knew he had to do as God said, God gave him a son, the son belonged to God, and if God wanted him back, so be it. Wait, an angel came, and stopped Abraham, see God never intended on Abraham hurting Isaac, God just wanted to show Abraham how much Abraham loved God. See, some parents forget children are a gift from God, but God doesn’t forget, He watches over them, and all children belong to God. Really all people belong to God, and so does everything, since God created it all. Makes sense huh?
Isaac and his dad came down the mountain just like Abraham told the servants, and Abraham knew from that point on how much he really loved God.
Abraham wanted a wife for Isaac, and Abraham called his loyal servant and told him to go back to the country where Abraham was born and find a wife for Isaac. Well, the servant didn’t know what to do, so he prayed and asked the God of Abraham to guide him, and to be sure he told God “when I come to the place I will go to the well in the city, and to the girl who I say Let down your pitcher into the well for me, so I can drink, and she says Sure, and I will give your camels water too, then I will know that is the wife for Isaac”. The servant came to the village, went to the well, and waited. Soon a girl by the name of Rebekah came by, and the servant said, “Lower your pitcher into the well, and give me a drink please”. Rebekah said, “Sure, and I give your camels some water too”. The servant jumped for joy, and told Rebekah all about what he prayed, and how God answered the prayer. God had already touched the heart of Rebekah, and she was ready to go meet Isaac.
Rebekah took the servant back to her house to meet her family, and when her family heard the story, they were all excited. Now, Rebekah had a brother by the name of Laban, and he was always looking for a way to get his way, especially when it came for personal gain. However, when Laban heard about how God was involved, he backed off, and said, “bless Rebekah”, and sent her on her way. As they came near to where Isaac was, Isaac saw Rebekah and knew she was the right girl for him, and she knew Isaac was for her, and she ran toward him, and he toward her. They were married, and had two sons, one by the name of Esau, which means Red and one by the name of Jacob which means One who tricks. The people in those days held that a blessing from their dad was more important than money. The first one to get the blessing was the oldest son, and Esau was the oldest (Gen 24:67).
Jacob and Esau grow up, Esau was a hunter, a real woodsy type of guy, and Jacob kind of hung around the house. One day Esau was so hungry he came into the house and told Jacob, “feed me”, and Jacob said, “sell me your birthright” (Gen 25:30-31). Esau said, “okay, what is a birthright to me anyway”. See, he didn’t care, he didn’t think about it, he only thought about himself at the moment. Jacob bought the birthright, so really Jacob would be the first in line for a blessing.
Well Esau was all hairy, he had hair all over his arms, and body, and looked like a big rug. Time moves on and Isaac’s eyes get were weak, so weak he was almost blind, and he knew he was going to die, so he wanted to leave the blessing to the sons (Gen 27:2). Isaac also loved barbecue meat, and Esau could fix some good barbecue. Isaac called Esau into the house, and said, “go make me some barbecue and I will bless you”. Man Esau took off, but Rebekah overheard it, and knew Jacob should be the one blessed, so Rebekah made the barbecue, and had Jacob put on a hairy skin, so he would smell and fell like Esau. Jacob went into his dad’s room, and pretended to be Esau, and Isaac blessed him.
Esau came back with his barbecue, and came into his dad’s room, and his dad said, “who are you?”. Esau said, ”I’m Esau, here is the barbecue, now bless me”. Isaac, said, “your brother tricked me, and I gave him the blessing” (Gen 27:33). Esau cried, and begged, but remember he gave away his birthright, and now it was too late. Isaac did give him a little blessing, but it was nothing like the one Jacob got.
Now Esau was mad, and Rebekah did the wise thing, she sent Jacob away to her brother Laban’s house (Gen 28:2). Before Jacob left Isaac again blessed him, and made sure that Jacob knew his parents wanted him to marry someone from a good home (Gen 28:1). Jacob may have tricked his brother, but he would obey his parents. Esau was a different story, he knew his parents didn’t care for the family of Ishmael, and Esau went to the family of Ishmael and got his wife. We can see why God allowed Jacob to trick Esau. We might think it was wrong to trick Esau, but God knew Esau would not obey Him, after all Esau wouldn’t obey his parents. Jacob did obey his parents, and God knew if he obeyed his parents, he would obey God.
So Jacob left, and went to Laban’s house, and found a very nice, and beautiful girl, the daughter of Laban, named Rachel. Laban had another daughter by the name of Leah, and Leah was older than Rachel (Gen 29:9-16). You remember Laban? He was the brother of Rebekah, and he didn’t change much, he was still looking for the bargain.
Jacob fell in love with Rachel, and in those days one had to pay the family of the girl in order to marry her. Jacob said he would work seven years for Laban just to have Rachel. Laban said, Okay, and the seven years passed, but Leah was the oldest, and in those days the oldest had to marry first. Laban tricked Jacob and Jacob ended marrying Leah, and didn’t know it. Well he was mad, because he was tricked. Isn’t that the way it is? When we trick someone else we think we’re so smart, then someone tricks us, and we get all mad. Knowing how it feels to be tricked, should keep us from tricking others (Gen 29:18-28).
Jacob said he would work another seven years for Rachel, and he did. Jacob then saw some of Laban’s cattle were skinny, and funny looking, and told Laban how he would work another seven years for the skinny, funny looking cattle. Laban thought he was tricking Jacob again, and said, “Sure” (Gen 30:32-38).
Jacob knew he was blessed, and he knew God made a deal with his grandfather Abraham, his father Isaac, and him, so he reminded God of the deal by putting three sticks in the watering hole where the cattle drank. When his cattle came the blessing touched them, and they were no longer skinny or funny looking, they grew bigger than all the cattle (Gen 30:38-43).
Jacob’s wives had children, and eleven of them were born when Jacob still lived with Laban, and one after. The boys names were, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad Asher, Joseph and Benjamin. These twelve sons would be the fathers for the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jacob was a man, a human just like us, but God would change his name to Israel. It was the same guy, but now God would look at the man as if he was a nation. Jacob would go back home and make-up with his brother Esau.
Going back to the twelve sons we see next to the last one was named Joseph, and Joseph’s brother was named Benjamin. When Benjamin was born his mother died, and both Joseph and Benjamin became the favorites of Jacob, their father. When Joseph was seventeen years old he had a couple of dreams. Like any of us he was excited, and wanted to share. In his first dream he saw a bunch of wheat in a field, and the wheat was wrapped into bundles, and the other wheat in the field all bowed to his wheat. Well, my goodness, his brothers knew what that meant. They knew they were the other wheat, and in the dream they were bowing to Joseph, and they got mad, and said, “Shall you rule over us?, Not” (Gen 37:7). “Well gee, maybe Joseph shouldn’t brag so much”. Well, maybe Joseph wasn’t bragging, maybe he was excited, and just wanted to share. Did you ever want to share? Sure, we all have, but Joseph did make a mistake, he didn’t think about what his sharing would do. Whether he was bragging, or sharing, he should have thought about how his brothers would take the news. We can see they got mad, so how mad did they get?
One day Joseph was sent by his dad to the fields where his brothers were tending the sheep. Remember the dream? It was in a field wasn’t it? When Joseph got to the field his brothers were waiting, but not for lunch. They grabbed Joseph, and tossed him into a pit. Then they sold Joseph to some slave traders, then they took Joseph’s coat and covered it with blood, and told their dad Joseph was killed. They lied, but like any lie it would soon catch up with them.
The people who bought Joseph sold him to a man named Potiphar, and Potiphar’s wife was a bad woman. She lied about Joseph, and got Joseph tossed in jail. Poor Joseph, nothing seemed to work right for him, but the Bible tells us God was with him (Gen 29:23). It didn’t look good in the eyes of man, but God had a plan.
Joseph had a gift from God as well, Joseph could tell what dreams meant. Not all dreams are from God, but some are. The gift for Joseph would be the way for him to be free, and to be healed.
When Joseph was in jail in Egypt there was a Pharaoh who had a butler and a baker. Back in those days the kings and Pharaoh’s would have people taste their food to see if it was poisoned, well one day the guy that does the tasting got real sick, so Pharaoh knew either the butler who served him, or the baker who cooked the meal was trying to poison him. But he didn’t know which one did it, so he tossed them both into the same jail where Joseph was.
One night both the butler and the baker had dreams, and they came to Joseph to find out what the dreams meant. The butler was told his dream was good, Pharaoh would find he was innocent, and in three days Pharaoh would find him innocent, and restore him to his butler job (Gen 40:10-13). Wow, the baker heard this, and felt his dream meant then same, but Joseph said Not so. The baker was told how the Pharaoh would find the baker was the bad guy, and in three days Pharaoh hand him on a tree (Gen 40:18-19).
So it came to pass, and Joseph told the butler to remember him to the Pharaoh, but like some people do, once the butler was back in his good paying job, he forgot all about Joseph.
Time went on and Pharaoh had a dream, and no one in the land could tell him what it meant. Oh, they played some silly games, telling him this or that, but Pharaoh knew they didn’t have a clue. The butler then remembered, or better, we know God touched the butler and he remembered Joseph. The butler told Pharaoh all about Joseph, and how Joseph could tell what dreams meant. The Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and told him the dream. Joseph was a man who loved God, and he wasn’t going to say, “Oh yes Pharaoh, I’m so wise, I know what dreams mean”, no sir, he told Pharaoh, “It is not me, God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Gen 41:16). This shows us two things, even if Joseph bragged to his brothers about his dreams, he learned his lessons well, and was no longer going to brag. Next we see how Joseph knew God had a plan, Joseph didn’t yell at the devil, he didn’t blame God, he stayed in faith, and believed God had something in store to save Joseph, and make all things better.
God didn’t put Joseph in the ditch, God didn’t put Joseph in jail, but God had a plan to turn those bad things into something good for the people of God.
Joseph told Pharaoh how the land would have seven years of great prosperity, but then seven years of hard times. Joseph told Pharaoh to prepare for the seven bad years, but saving during the seven good years. Pharaoh knew Joseph had favor with God, and Pharaoh made Joseph a big man in the land.
The seven good years came and went, and then came the seven bad years. All this time the brothers of Joseph were still with their dad, but when the bad years hit, they weren’t ready. Their dad sent them to Egypt to buy food, but when they got there they had to face Joseph. Now many years had passed by, and Joseph was dressed up like an Egyptian, and they didn’t know him. This worked out okay for Joseph, who did know them. Joseph accused them of being spies (Gen 42:7-14). They said they were the sons of a man who lived in Canaan, and their youngest brother was still with their dad. Joseph acted like he wasn’t buying that story for a second, he told them he would keep one of them in jail, and the other was to go and fetch the younger brother (Gen 42:19).
Their guilt for what they did to Joseph those many years before fell on them, and they knew what they sowed, they were about to reap. Which means what they did, they were about to pay for.
Joseph sold them food, and kept Simeon their brother, but he also had his servant put all their money back into their bags. Well, lo and behold when they left town and stopped for a rest, and checked their bags, they found their money. Oh man, they thought they had it now (Gen 42:27-28).They figured Simeon would be killed for sure, and what were they going to tell their dad?
They got home and broke the news to Jacob their dad, and told them they had to take young Benjamin back to Egypt to prove they were not spies and to get Simeon out of jail, if he was still alive. Jacob wasn’t so sure about that, if Simeon was dead, why have all the others killed to?
Reuben promised to deliver Benjamin home safe, and we remember how Benjamin’s mother died giving birth to him, and Jacob thought Joseph was dead, so the only two sons from the one true love of Jacob were on the line.
Things got worse, and finally Jacob agreed to send Benjamin, and off to Egypt the brothers went. They came to Joseph with a story all set about the money (Gen 43:20), but the servant of Joseph said, “I have your money”, now they were really confused. If these Egyptians have their money, where did the money in their bags come from?
Anyway, they bought some food, and as they were about to leave when Joseph came up with another plan. Joseph had them stay for dinner, and he sat them down according to their ages, but they asked each other, “how does he know our ages?”. Another mystery, and they never thought for a moment that this man could be Joseph.
Joseph then had the servants fill the sacks of the brothers with food, as much as they could carry. Joseph also had one of his servants put something that belonged to Joseph in their bags (Gen 44:1-2). Morning came, and they brothers left, but Joseph sent his servants after them. The servants caught up with the brothers and said, “My master’s goods are missing”. Well the brothers knew they were innocent, and told the servant to search the bags. Joseph’s servants found the property, and it looked real bad for the brothers. To make it worse, they found the property in Benjamin’s backpack (Gen 44:12). Oh man, things really look bad now.
The brothers came back to Joseph, they just knew Benjamin would be kept in jail, yet they all promised Jacob Benjamin would return home safe. Joseph told the brothers how he was not going to keep them all, but the one who was found with the property, he would be made a servant of Egypt. Now they had to come clean, Judah told Joseph how Benjamin was the pride and joy of their father (Gen 44:20).
Well Joseph couldn’t keep it in any longer, he saw the repentance of his brothers, and told them, “I am Joseph, does father still live?” (Gen 45:3). They all made up, and all forgave one another, and Joseph went to Pharaoh with the story. Well Pharaoh was so happy for Joseph, he told Joseph to have the family move to Egypt, and stay there where there is water and food for all. Joseph did just that, and although the land suffered with famine, and although Joseph suffered many years not only did the dreams come true, but Joseph was able to save his family.
See the famine was going to happen, God saw it happen, and worked it into the plan. God didn’t have to make the famine happen, He simply allowed it for His purpose. Without Joseph going through all he did, he would never have been placed in charge by Pharaoh, and without that the whole family of Jacob would have died. God’s plan may not always seem so clear to us, but faith says there is a plan, and we are the children of God, and God cares about us, each and every one.
Time went on, and the good Pharaoh that Joseph knew left office, and a bad Pharaoh took over. This bad Pharaoh took all of the Jewish people and made them slaves. The Jewish people had two things in their favor, they had a promise from God of someone coming to deliver them, and more important they knew God had a plan for them.
Years would pass, but the time for them to Depart from Egypt would come, and the man God would pick was named Moses. To find out more about Moses we move to the Book of Exodus, and Exodus means Depart, like in Departing from Egypt. Cool huh?
God is going to work with Moses different than He did with Joseph, which shows us how God knows us better than we know ourselves. We saw how Joseph went through some hard times, but God was with him, and not only was Joseph able to save his family, he was a better person, and he knew God was a delivering, caring, loving God because of his experiences. Moses will find God, then face experiences.
One of Joseph’s brothers was a guy named Levi, and Moses was the great, great grandson of Levi. This bad Pharaoh felt the Jewish people would join with the enemies of Pharaoh, so he decided to have all the male babies of the Jews killed at the very second they were born. God doesn’t like people who beat up little kids, how do we think He feels about someone who takes the life from one? Well, Pharaoh will live to regret his decision. Three months after Moses was born his mother knew Pharaoh would kill the baby if he found out, so she put the baby in an ark made of bushes, perhaps she remembered how God spared Noah. Her daughter watched the ark float down the river, and it got stuck in some bushes on the river, right in front of the daughter of Pharaoh. The daughter of Pharaoh sent her maids to get the ark, and when she opened the ark and saw the child Moses, she felt sorry for him, and raised him as her own (Ex 2:1-10).
Many years go by, and Moses knew he was a Jew, and one day after he grew up he walked among the other Jews, and saw how Pharaoh made them work, and made them slave. Then he saw an Egyptian beating up one of the Jews (Hebrews), and Moses looked around to see if anyone was watching, and he killed the Egyptian for beating up one of the Jews (Ex 2:11-12).
The next day Moses went out among the Jews and two of them were fighting, and Moses said, “Why do you hit your brother?”. Then the Jew said to Moses, “who made you a judge over me? Are you going to kill me like you did the Egyptian?”. (Ex 2:14). Wow, Moses thought if this Jew knows, then surely Pharaoh will find out, and man oh man will he be in trouble. Moses got real scared, and ran like a jack rabbit.
Moses kept running until he got to a place he found water, and at that place were seven daughters of a man from the land of Midian. These daughters were trying to water their sheep, but some bad men wouldn’t let them, but then came Moses to save the daughters. Moses didn’t know it, but really he just couldn’t stop himself, when he saw someone who needed to be delivered, he would deliver them. The problem was he needed to be trained to do it the way God wanted (Ex 2:16-17).
The daughters took Moses home with them to meet their dad, a guy named Reuel. After a period of time Moses fell in love with one of the daughters named Zipporah, and they got married and had a son by the name of Gershom (Ex 2:21-22).
Now it might seem strange that Moses would marry someone who was not a Jew, or from Abraham, but wait, maybe he did marry someone from Abraham. Abraham was married to Sara, remember? And they had a son by the name of Isaac, remember that? Well, Sara died, and Abraham married another lady by the name of Keturah, and they had sons, and one of them was the beginning of the Midianites (Gen 25:1-6). So Moses did marry into the family of Abraham, but not the family of Isaac.
One day Moses was went to a mountain, and he saw a bush burning, but it wasn’t burning away, it remained the same bush, even with the fire and flames. Moses thought, “man is that something, or what?”, and he walked closer to it. Then the Lord appeared to him out of the flame in the fire, and said, “Moses, Moses” (Ex 3:1-4). Moses said, “Here I am”, and that is the best thing to say when God calls you. We don’t answer God by saying, “Yeah, what do you want?”, we just tell Him, “here I am”, which means, “I’m ready to listen Lord”.
God begins to tell Moses how Moses will go back to Egypt and deliver the children, but Moses wasn’t so sure about this. Moses thinks if he goes back to Egypt, Pharaoh will have him arrested, and he will spend the rest of his life in jail. God tells Moses again, “Come now, I will send you unto Pharaoh, that you may bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Ex 3:10). If God wanted the children free, why didn’t He just go there and get them? God uses people, He needs people to act for Him in matters concerning people. God may talk to us one on one, but He will also send us to speak for Him. Moses was doing both, God was speaking to him, and God was sending him.
Moses had a brother back in Egypt named Aaron, and we remember his sister who watched the Ark in the river, so Moses had a brother, mother and sister, his dad was dead by this time.
God watched the children suffer under Pharaoh, and watched Pharaoh kill the babies, and gave Pharaoh all sorts of time to repent, but time ran out, and it was time to rescue the children. God may allow someone to do something bad, but He does so to give them the chance to repent, but God won’t wait forever. What about all those children Pharaoh killed? Pharaoh, and all those who helped him will have to answer, but the children are innocent, and God has them with Him. God knew it was going to happen, but God also took care of those babies in His arms. Can you see the look on Pharaoh’s face when the day comes that he has to answer to God, and he sees all those babies he killed in the arms of God? That would not be a good day for Pharaoh, not a good day at all.
Some country, or some Pharaoh may say we have a “right” to do something, but if we know God would not be pleased with us doing it, even if we have a “right”, we better not do it. There are countries today that do bad things to babies before the baby is born, and they do it because some man said they had a “right”, but that doesn’t mean it’s Right in God’s eyes. We must always think about what is Right in God’s eyes, before we do something. We don’t want to be like Pharaoh and face plagues, sickness, death, and a lost of our kingdom because we had a “right”, but that right was wrong.
Moses went back to Egypt with his brother Aaron, because God promised Moses Pharaoh could not harm Moses. Moses and Aaron stand before Pharaoh, and tell him God says, “Let my people go”. Now Pharaoh thought he was a god, and the god over Egypt, and who was this God to tell him what to do? He would find out.
There were about 40 days of plagues on Egypt, and each one was showing Pharaoh who God was, and showing Pharaoh what the future held for him if he didn’t repent. Pharaoh didn’t repent, in fact his heart got bitter, and he got more nasty, and he mocked God.
God told Moses to get the people ready, there would be one last plague, one that would knock Pharaoh to his knees. The death of the first born in Egypt, but why? Because Pharaoh killed the babies, and the people of Egypt felt they had a “right” to do it, and they allowed Pharaoh to kill babies (Ex 7:1-11:10).
That night Moses was told to have the Passover, since death would Pass Over the houses of the Hebrews, but not over the houses of the Egyptians. The Hebrews were to put the blood of a lamb on the doors of their houses in three places, on each side, and on the top. They didn’t know it but they made the sign of the Cross, and when death saw the sign of the Cross it would not touch that house. The Cross is powerful, and we carry the Cross of Jesus in our hearts and minds. When trouble comes, we remember the Cross, and begin to thank Jesus for the Cross and Deliverance He gave us.
Moses and the people leave Egypt, but Pharaoh being so bitter, got mad, and he allowed his anger to think for him, and he started out to capture them. God knew it would happen, and had it in the plan. The Bible tells us God raised Pharaoh for this very cause, and that doesn’t mean God raised Pharaoh to be a son. It means God allowed Pharaoh to become Pharaoh to show the people of God how powerful God is. Some man may think he runs a country, but that man is only there because God allows it. That man may be bad, but so was Pharaoh, and the purpose was to show the people of God no man can keep the people of God captive, and when God comes to deliver us, we will be delivered.
Pharaoh and 600 of chariots and captains of Pharaoh chased after the children of God, and the children of God were camped by the Red Sea, and great big, deep lake. There was no escape, surely Moses lead them to this place to be killed by Pharaoh, it was a conspiracy. Not so, God had a plan, and Moses told the people, “Fear not, stand still, and see the Salvation of the Lord” (Ex 14:13). God parted the Sea, and the children crossed it on dry land. God also had a pillar of fire between the children and Pharaoh, but Pharaoh’s anger was so great he didn’t care. God then caused the wheels of Pharaoh’s chariots to fall off, and Pharaoh still kept coming. God was giving Pharaoh, and the men of Pharaoh a chance to stop, see what they were doing, who they were coming against, and to repent, but they would not. When Pharaoh and his men started to cross on the same dry land, the waters closed over them, and they all drown.
There were still people back in Egypt, but it was never the same country, Pharaoh was dead, his bitterness died with him, and his men all ended up on the shore of the Sea dead. What good did it do him? What good did it do him to kill those babies? To beat the Hebrews? To have all that money? All those temples? All that land? Nothing, he died bitter, hard and unhappy.
Moses and the children went on, and since the children were now delivered, they were all happy right? Kind of, but not for long. At first they were all happy, Miriam, the sister of Moses danced, Moses sang, the people jumped up and down, “ding dong the Pharaoh’s dead, the wicked Pharaoh is dead”. Three days later they come upon water, but the water is bitter, and they get all mad (Ex 15:19-23). “What Moses? Did you bring us here to die?”. They forgot all that God did for them, and why God brought them to the Wilderness to begin with. These people were chosen to show the world who God is, God allowed them to be held captive under Pharaoh so they would know how it feels. God was training them, but they thought they didn’t need any training.
Moses took a tree, and tossed it into the bitter water, and the water became sweet (Ex 15:25). The people complained all the time, they were never satisfied, God would do one miracle, and they would go, “ho hum, when is the next one”. God wanted to be with them, to walk with them as He did Adam in the cool of the day, but they wanted things, not God. They wanted Moses to stand between them and God, so God gave them the Ten Commandments, and the Law of Moses.
The Ten Commandments were not “give them a try”, or “well, missed one, so what, try again”, they were much different. They told these people what all their murmuring and complaining brought on them, a set of Laws.
The only way these people would serve God was if God blessed them, and or if God threatened them with a curse. So, came the Law of Moses, and for us it’s different. We serve God because we love Him, and He first loved us long before we loved Him. We don’t want to be like these people, we don’t want to see God do something special, and act all spoiled and rotten.
These people represented each and every delivered Jew for all time, and when they accepted the Law of Moses, the Law of Moses was for all Jews. The Law of Moses is good, it tells someone how to live, but it’s only for those who have not accepted the Cross of Jesus. The Law of Moses is hung on the Cross of Jesus, and we have a better Law, the Law of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit in us tells us the Commandments, guides us into the right things, and saves our souls.
God gave Moses plans to build a big tent called a Tabernacle, a place where God could come and a place for the people to give their offerings. The Tabernacle had a candlestick, a table with bread on it, stand for sweet smelling things that burn, and in a place called the Holy of Holies was the “Ark of the Covenant”. This Ark had to carved angels over it, and a box like thing that held the Ten Commandments, and other things, like a God owned storage place.
Remember how God brought the plagues for about forty days in Egypt? Well, He wanted to train these people for forty days, but they rebelled, complained and just refused to learn, and they would spend forty years in the wilderness. Man it would be so much easier just to learn.
Since they had a tabernacle, and a law they needed priests, so God had Moses make Aaron a priest. The priest needed some book of instruction, so God had Moses write the Book of Leviticus.
There are some good lessons for us, really for anyone. Moses was from the tribe of Levi, and God picked the tribe of Levi as the people who would care for the religious needs of the Jews. Among them was a man named Korah, who was related to Moses. Korah was in charge of the Ark of the Covenant, which is a most holy thing. One day Korah decided he was better than Moses, and he wanted to sit as a leader. He gets some other guys from other tribes, and he marches up to Moses and says, “You take too much on yourself, seeing all the people here are holy, every one of them” (Numb 16:1-3). Hello? These people were holy because God called them, not because they did anything holy. They rebelled, they murmured, they mocked Moses, the man God picked to lead them, and they only time when they were happy is when God did as they wanted. They never wanted to do as God wanted, they were spoiled.
Moses told the people if they wanted Korah, they were to line up with him, and if they wanted Moses, they were to line up with Moses. Some of them weren’t too sure, so they stood between Korah and Moses. Some of us might think that is “safe”, but God picked Moses, not Korah, and not some middle place. The ground opened up, and swallowed Korah, and all his followers, and then fire came and struck down all those who stood in the middle, but all those who stood with Moses were saved. Was Moses that holy? No, he was the man God picked.
Although he was the man God picked Moses would one day blow it big time. One day way back when they first entered the wilderness they demanded water, and God had Moses strike a rock, and the rock opened and water came out. Well, there came another time and the people wanted water, and there wasn’t any around. God told Moses to speak to the rock this time, and the water would come out. But Moses got mad, real mad at the people, and he struck the rock. The rock didn’t go “ouch”, but Moses didn’t show the people the mercy of God, he was showing his own wrath. Because he was a leader, and because God protected him so much, there had to be a price to pay, and Moses would not be able to see the Promised Land; no, he would die in the wilderness (Numb 20:1-13). That might seem kind of rough, but remember the people looked at Moses, and felt what Moses was, so was God. If God was going to beat them, why go any further? They kept saying God was going to kill them, and Moses only made them think that was true. God was trying to save them, train them, and get them ready to rule the Promised Land.
God places something on each of us who accept Jesus, it’s called the Anointing, or the protection and power to carry out the calling God gives us. Well, really it’s like a coat you can’t seem, and the Bible calls it an “unction” or covering. Aaron had one, only you could see his. He had a suit he wore to show he was the high priest, and as long as he wore that suit, he was protected.
The people were not the only problem, there were nations all around the wilderness, and remember the other families of Abraham? Well, one of his sons started the people known as the Midian, and from those people came a guy named Balaam. Balaam was a prophet, since he came from Abraham, but he was not a Jew. Only those who came from Isaac were Jews. There was another place called Moab, and remember Lot? The nephew of Abraham? The guy that lived in Sodom, and was captured, and Abraham saved him? Well, he was the father of the people who lived in Moab, so they came from the same line as Abraham. One big happy family huh? Not hardly.
The king of Moab knew Balaam was a prophet, so he went to Balaam and said he would pay Balaam all sorts of money if Balaam would curse the people of God. Why? The king was afraid the people of God would take his land. Balaam was a very greedy man, he didn’t care if he caused someone else hurt, all he wanted was money.
Balaam kept thinking when God told him not to go with the king of Moab to curse the children, that God was telling Balaam to hold out for more money, but that wasn’t it at all. God didn’t want anyone to curse the children of God, but Balaam could only think of money. God told Balaam if the men from the king come to Balaam, then Balaam could go with them. Balaam twisted that, and he went to the men. It doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but it is. Balaam took off with the men riding his donkey, but God put an angel in the middle of the road who had a sword that reached from one side of the road to the other. There are bushes along side of the road, and Balaam’s donkey saw the angel, but Balaam didn’t. The donkey was obeying Balaam, but Balaam wasn’t obeying God, and when we don’t obey God, we can’t see the things of God.
Balaam’s donkey saw the angel and turned into the bushes, but Balaam took a branch and beat the donkey, telling him to “get going”. The donkey saw the angel with that sword, and turned the other way into the bushes, and Balaam hit him again. The Lord then gave the donkey the voice of a man, and the donkey told Balaam, “am I not your donkey? Haven’t I obeyed you all these years until today?”. The donkey was telling Balaam how the donkey obeyed Balaam, so there had to be a reason for the donkey to want to run in a different direction. The Lord then opened the eyes of Balaam, and Balaam saw the angel. The angel told Balaam he could go with the king’s men, but Balaam could only say what the Lord gave him to say.
Balaam did all he could to curse the children, but each time he opened his mouth, be blessed them. Balaam found out you can’t curse what God has blessed, and we are the Blessed of God. When we accept Jesus we are free of any curses, and the only way we can be cursed, is if we curse ourselves. How? Oh idol worship is one way, rebelling strongly against God another, or the one that causes us more problems than anything else, coming against the people of God. That is what Balaam did, and God called him a bad man, a very evil and bad man.
The people did learn some things, but only two of the original group of people who left Egypt were able to leave the wilderness. It would take a new generation to learn and accept the training of God. The second generation needed a leader, and Moses was getting real old, and soon would die. Joshua was a young man who loved God and loved Moses. Joshua was not a complainer, he supported Moses, and God rewarded him by making him the leader after Moses died.
It was time to leave the wilderness, and enter the Promised Land. However, there were two things in the way, the river Jordan, and a town called Jericho. Jericho was at the mouth or the doorway to the Promised Land, but before they could take on Jericho, they had to cross the Jordan.
There were two types of water for these people, the Sea that opened for them so they could enter the wilderness, and the River that had to bow to them before they could leave the wilderness. Most of the time when we see the word Water in the Bible it means Mercy, and Mercy means we always forgive. It was God’s Mercy that brought them into the wilderness, and it would be God’s Mercy that would get them out of the wilderness.
The Ark of the Covenant had two angels over looking the mercy seat, and it had handles so they could carry it, and they carried it in front of them when they marched. They crossed the Jordan with that Ark in front of them, and the waters of the rushing Jordan river stopped, showing how the water bowed and allowed them to pass. The Jordan was not a person, it didn’t have a brain, so how did it know to bow? It was created by God, and even the things created know who God is.
The two angels help to remind us there are two times in God’s timing the Day for Salvation, and the Night for Judgment. Does that mean that each night God judges? No, not at all, it’s just a way for God to show us this is the time of Salvation, God is not going to judge us now, He is saving us.
The Ten Commandments were also in the Ark, and they were the written conscience of man granted by God. Man needed to have something written telling him, “You shall not steal”, and other things. The Ark was not God, but it showed the people God cared, and wanted them to have victory.
There some things important for Joshua to do, he was to be strong and of good courage for the land’s sake, for the people’s sake and for his sake. God gave Joshua the wisdom to lead with, and wisdom is how we deal with people and events. The wisdom of the world deals with people a bunch different than God does.
Joshua and the people crossed the Jordan River, and came to Jericho. Joshua sent spies to check Jericho out, and the spies ran into a gal named Rahab. Rahab heard about these Hebrew children, and she respected them, which was more than the people of Jericho did for Rahab. She protected the spies, and God would protect Rahab.
Well it came time to march on Jericho, and Joshua had the priests line and told them to be real quite, and march around the town of Jericho one time. Sounds goofy for sure, just march? Don’t yell? Don’t throw stones? Nay, just walk. Jericho had a real high, and thick wall around it, it was so thick they held races on top of it. Rahab lived in that wall, and she watched the Hebrews march around the city’s wall.
The Hebrews marched around the city without saying a word once a day, for six days. Then on the seventh day they were told to march around the wall of the city for seven times, and then they shall blow their trumpets and shout, and the wall will fall down (Joshua 6:1-5). Not only was it seven times, but they had to have seven trumpets, and blow the seven trumpets seven times. Well they did, and the wall fell. What about Rahab? She was saved, she and her family, and she went to live with the Hebrews, and became one of them.
Well they got to the Promised Land, and divided it up among the tribes as God told them. The main city was Jerusalem, and Jerusalem means God’s City Of Peace. Time went on, and God raised up Judges, or people to protect, and help the people of God. Among those judges was Deborah, who was also a prophetess, and married to a guy named Lapidoth. God uses wives, husbands, and kids if they want to be used of God.
There were other judges too, some of them were raised up by God to fight bad people who attempted to take the land from God’s people, and some were raised up to punish God’s people, because God’s people began to worship idols. An idol is anything we use to take the place of God, or to take the place of something God has given us. God gave us the sun, but if we worship the sun, we are idol worshippers. God gave us birds, but if we worship birds, we are idol worshippers. God gave us money, but if we worship money, we are idol worshippers. God dislikes idol worship, since it compares Him to those things He created. How would we like it if someone compared us to a bird, or a dog? Think how God feels, we didn’t create the bird or dog, but God did.
Among those Judges was a guy named Samson, perhaps you’ve heard of him? He was very strong, and he had real long hair. Some thought his strength was in his hair, but his strength was in something else, something you can’t touch. Samson let his hair grow as a sign, or mark of a vow to God he took. Samson was called a “Nazarite”, which means a person who is separated unto God. Today we are separated unto God by Jesus, and we don’t have to have an outward sign, like long hair, or short hair, we have an inward sign, Jesus in us.
When Samson was a young man the Philistines were the enemies of Israel, and there were many fights. One day the Philistines came to a place called Lehi, and when asked what they were doing, they said they came to capture and bind Samson (Judges 15:10). A bunch of the guys from Israel went and told Samson the Philistines were looking for him. Those guys were so afraid of the Philistines, they were going to bind Samson and take him to the Philistines (Judges 15:11). Samson asked them not to, since they were like family, but they said No, they had to bind him, but they would not kill him. Big deal, sounds like the brothers of Joseph all over again.
They brought Samson to the Philistines, but God had a plan in the Plan. The Philistines thought they had Samson, but it was just the other way around. The Spirit of the Lord upon Samson, and he broke the ropes that bound him, and he picked up the jawbone of a donkey that had been there, and he used it like a club. The Philistines jumped Samson, but he fought back. There were a thousand Philistines, and one Samson, but the one Samson had God, and the Spirit of God. 1,000 Philistines died that day in the sun at Lehi (Judges 15:14-17).
When it was over Samson was thirsty, I bet. God made a hollow place in the jawbone, just as He did with the Rock, and water came out, and Samson did drink (Judges 15:18). Samson was a Judge for twenty years, but then came a gal named Delilah.
Delilah was a very good looking lady on the outside, but very rotten on the inside. She made a deal with the Philistines to find out Samson’s secret, and deliver him to the Philistines. She played a bunch of mind games with Samson, asking him where the secret of his strength was. Samson told her, “oh if you bind me with seven cords, I am helpless”. So, she did, and then shouted, “The Philistines!”. Samson broke the cords, and she mocked him. This went on until he told her about his hair, if his hair is cut, then he loses his strength. Does that mean if we get a hair cut, we go weak? No, not at all, you see his hair was a sign of his vow, and in the Bible when it speaks of hair it usually means Authority, or the permission given us to do something.
Paul the Apostle used this very story to show the Corinthians how they lacked “long hair”, or the Authority in Christ. Not because God kept it from them, but because they refused to use it. The Authority of Christ doesn’t give us the right to beat someone up, or to treat them mean, it gives us the right to love them, forgive them, help them, and tell them about Jesus.
Well Delilah cut Samson’s hair while he was asleep, and when he awoke, he knew his vow was broken, he was no longer the man of strength (Judges 16:14-19).
The Philistines captured him, and then they did a very bad thing, they burned his eyes out. Samson was now blind, and bound. They took Samson to their city, and made fun of him. The tied him to some big posts that were holding up the big house where all Philistines were at. This was one big place, thousands of Philistines were there, and they were mocking Samson, and laughing at him. Samson repented before the Lord and asked for his strength back, just one time. Samson bowed himself, and when he did, he pulled down the big posts, and when the posts fell, so did the house. Samson died that day, and the people of Israel buried him with his father (Judges 16:31).
Time went on and there were Judges many, but then we find the story of Ruth. Ruth was not a Hebrew, she was not born Jew, but she would become one. How? A thing called Adoption. We are all born human, not God, but God takes us into His family by Adoption. It’s not bad to be adopted, in fact God gives us His Spirit, and calls us “sons of God”. Not a bad deal at all.
There was a Hebrew woman named Naomi, and she was married to a man named Elimelech, and they had two sons, named Mahlon and Chilion (Ruth 1:1-5). She, her husband and their sons left Israel and lived in a place called Moab. You remember Balaam? Remember the king was the king of Moab, but things changed since the days of Balaam to the days of Naomi. Mahlon and Chilion married two women from Moab, one named Orpah and the other named Ruth. Sadness struck Naomi though, first her husband died, then her two sons died. There she was in Moab, with her two daughter-in-laws. She decided to go back to Israel, to the land of Judah.
She told her daughters-in-law to go back to their houses, and families, she was going back to Judah. Both daughters told Naomi they would go with her, but she said no. Orpah went back to her family, but not Ruth. Ruth told Naomi, “Don’t make we go back, where you go, I will go, where you sleep, I will sleep, your people are my people, your God is my God” (Ruth 1:16). Naomi took Ruth, and in those days that means she adopted Ruth, and no longer called her, “daughter-in-law”, but called her “daughter”.
They went back to Judah, and they had a law in those days, anyone who owed a field, was not allowed to harvest the corners, they were to leave that food for the people. The people who came for the food in the corners were called, “gleaners”, and Ruth was one. Ruth would go out every day, and work the field to care for Naomi.
One field belonged to a guy name Boaz, who was related to Naomi. In those days they had another law, if someone related to them was married, and died, then they could married the widow, if she would have them. That law was called the “kinsmen redeemer” or one who Redeems a Kin.
As it turns our Boaz was related to Naomi, and one day Ruth was in the field of Boaz, and he saw her. Man oh man, Boaz fell head over heels in love with Ruth. Then he found out they were related, but there was a problem, Boaz wasn’t the only Kinsmen. It all worked out, as the things in the Plan of God do, and Boaz married Ruth, and from them would come a line of people including Jesse, the father of David (Ruth 4:22).
Samuel and Saul
Before we get to David we have to learn something about two other people, Samuel and Saul. First Samuel, and he has two books named after him. There was this nice lady named Hannah, and she didn’t have any children, but she sure loved them, and wanted one. One day she went to the temple and began to pray to God for a child. She promised God that if He would give her a child, she would have that child grow up serving the Lord. God granted her, her prayer and she named her child Samuel. Now Samuel loved the Lord too, and he wanted to be a priest, and serve the Lord. His boss was a priest named Eli, and Eli had two sons, but they were very bad boys. Both boys worked in the temple with their dad, but they didn’t love the Lord, and to them it was just a “I have to do it” job (I Sam 2:1-12). Eli knew his boys were bad, but he didn’t do a thing about it, and the boys got worse.
In the mean time Samuel was growing, and living in the temple too. One night Samuel was sleeping in a place that was holy inside of the temple (I Sam 3:3), and he heard a voice say, “Samuel”. Samuel looked around and said, “here I am”, but he thought the voice was Eli’s, so he ran to Eli. When Samuel got to Eli he found out Eli didn’t call him, and he wondered. He went back to that holy place again, and again he heard “Samuel”. Again he ran to Eli, and again Eli said “that’s not me”. Again Samuel went back, and again he heard “Samuel”, and again he ran to Eli. This time Eli said, It must be the Lord calling you, next time say, “Speak Lord, for your servant hears” (I Sam 3:9).
Samuel laid back down and again the voice came to him, only this time he said, “Speak, for your servant hears”. The Lord told Samuel how the Lord knew how bad Eli’s boys were, and how Eli refused to do anything about it, and since those boys were workers in the Temple, the Lord had to act. The next morning Eli called Samuel, and said, “what did the Lord tell you?”. Eli heard the news, and said, “the Lord will do what seems good to Him”. That wasn’t the problem was it? Eli could have taken the warning and sat his boys down and explained how important their jobs were. It wasn’t what was “good” to God, but what God had to do, because the boys refused to be good. Don’t blame God when He is forced to do what He must do.
Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him. However, the Lord wasn’t always the rest of the people in the land. God is holy, and worthy to be praise, but the “things” of God should never take the place of God. The Ark was holy, it was the only thing in the Holy of Holies, but it wasn’t God, yet God would use it to show the people how they have slipped from Him. The Philistines were not Godly people, they worshipped idols, and were all in to witchcraft. The people of Israel fought the Philistines, but the Philistines won the battle. The people of Israel thought if they had the Ark they would have Power, so they sent for the Ark. The people of Israel began to shout and make all sorts of noise when the Ark came into their camp. The Philistines heard the noise, and got real scared. The leader of the Philistines told his mean to stand up like men, and fight. They did, and Israel was beaten again, so the Ark was of God, but it wasn’t God. The people of Israel ran after the things of God, but they should have run after God.
Well, sure enough, the Philistines not only beat up the people of Israel, they came and stole the Ark, but they could never take it, unless God allowed it. Not only that but the two sons of Eli who carried the Ark were also killed. God had a plan in this, He warned them about the two sons of Eli, and the Ark may have been holy, but in the hands of the unholy it had no power to protect.
Eli trusted in the Ark as well, and when Eli heard the Ark was stolen, and his sons were dead, he didn’t run to God, no, he got so scared he fell down and died at the age of 98. Death is not a pleasant thing, but it comes, and we must go to God and be like Samuel, and have ears to hear, the Lord will explain all things to us. The Lord told one prophet how people forget to think on the Lord, and when death comes they get mad, or angry, but even God takes the young at an early age to protect them from things lay ahead in their future (Isa 57:9). Faith in God is not easy, but it is possible when we have Jesus in our hearts.
Eli being dead, means Samuel is now the boss priest. Things change real quick, and God moves against the Philistines now. Things were in Order, the right man in the right job, and God was being honored in the land again. The Philistines had a big old idol named Dagon, and they were dumb enough to put the Ark in front of their idol. Boy, oh boy the next day they saw their idol on the ground bowing before the Ark, and its head, and both hands were cut off. All the people in that area started to get real sick, and things started to happen to them, so they knew they had to return the Ark back to the people it belonged to. The Philistines returned the Ark to Israel, and they knew there was a God in Israel Who was greater than all the idols in the world (I Sam 6:1-6).
Time went on and the people of Israel wanted a king, and there was a guy named Saul, who the people liked. Samuel was told by God to anoint Saul as a Captain over Israel, and God would train Saul to be a king (I Sam 9:1-27). The people called Saul king, but he was in training, and later we find David is called the “first king of Israel”. God knew Saul was going to blow it, but the people wanted Saul. God allowed Saul the chance to be king, but the real man for the job was David.
There were some tests for Saul, but the real one came when there was a very, very bad town called Gilgal, with very, very bad people. God knew that town and those people would never repent, and He also knew they were like a terrible cancer, and would cause much harm to the land. Saul was told to kill all the people, and all the bad things there (I Sam 15:1-8). However, Saul had his own idea, and it may have seemed like a “neat thing to do”, but it wasn’t. Saul took the animals and sacrificed them to God, but God said they were bad, and were to be killed, not sacrificed. Saul didn’t obey God, and he did what he wanted, and his test was before him, did he love God enough to obey Him? See, if Saul didn’t obey God, then the people would think it was okay not to.
Saul came to Samuel, and said, “I have done all the Lord has told me to” (I Sam 15:20). Samuel told Saul, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as failure (iniquity) and idol worship” (I Sam 15:23). Saul did things, but not the things the Lord told him to. It would be like our parents saying, “clean up your room”, and we mow the lawn. We did something, even something that seemed good, but it wasn’t what we were told to do. Witchcraft is like that, we do one thing thinking we’re really good, but it wasn’t the thing we were told to do. A real tricky one is when God tells us to study Samuel in our Bible, but we run to some other area we like in the Bible and read it, so did we do good? After all what could be wrong with reading your Bible? If God told us to do one thing, we do something else just to avoid doing what God told us, we’re bad. We think, “Gee what can God say, I’m reading my Bible, just like He told me?”. No we’re not, and that would be witchcraft, a mind game to avoid doing what God told us to do.
Well, Saul may have been called king by the people, but God still called him a captain, or a “king in the making”, so God was sorry for the people and Saul for offering the job as king to Saul, but God will offer a job to anyone who says they want it (I Sam 15:35).
There was another, a young boy by the name of David, a red haired teenager, who no one thought would ever be king (I Sam 16:12). Samuel knew that David was the one, and he anointed David, and called him king, so was he? Sure, but Saul was still sitting on the throne, and although God said Saul was out, and David was in, there was Saul sitting as ruler over Israel. So, why didn’t God just knock him off the throne? It was up to Saul to move over and make room for David. So what happens when Saul doesn’t? He gets weird, and then really weird. Saul was sitting on as a ruler, but God’s hand was moving from him to David, more and more each day. When God removes His hand, the real nature of the person comes to the surface.
David was also a very honorable person, and he would not hurt anyone who had the anointing of God, or who had the anointing of God. David respected the things of God, and David will make mistakes, but his heart was always seeking God, and seeking to please God.
David was a shepherd, a person who watched over and protected sheep. One day a bear came to steal one of those sheep, but David knew God had made him a shepherd, and God gave him the power to protect the sheep. David made the bear go away, but then came a lion, and the lion wanted to steal a sheep, but David knew God wouldn’t like that, so David made the lion go away. These two things were things of God in the life of David to give David confidence. There are many things that happen in our lives to give us confidence in God. Some people give their own selves the glory, and build what is called, “self-confidence”. Others, like us, know it was God, and we gain what is called “faith in God”. Which do you think God likes the most? Faith in God? Sure, a thief takes things that don’t belong to them, and when God does something, yet man takes the glory, then man is a thief, and no one likes a thief.
There was a bully by the name of Goliath (I Sam 17:1-58), and Goliath was a Philistine. Not only was he a bully but he was very big, he stood as tall as a basketball hoop. His shield weighed so much it took a couple of guys to carry it, even the head of this spear was heavy, it weighed almost 50 pounds. One day there was a battle about to begin, the people of Israel were following Saul, and they were coming against the Philistines, the same people who stole the Ark.
The battle was almost ready to start, but then came Goliath the Philistine, and all the soldiers of Israel ran to the ditches and hid. Goliath mocked them, like all bullies, but it looked like it was working. No one, not even Saul who was well over six feet tall would fact Goliath. Every day Goliath would come out and mock the army of Saul, and every day the army of Saul would remain in the ditches scared.
David’s brothers were in the army of Saul, and in those days the soldiers would fight during the day, then come home at night. When the brothers of David didn’t come home, their father, Jesse sent David with some food, and to find out what was going on. David found his brothers, and then he saw Goliath, and then he heard Goliath. Well, David asked his brothers, “hey are we not the people of God? Go knock that guy out”. His brothers of course had been hiding like the rest of the soldiers, and they got mad. People get mad when they are exposed, and the brothers were suppose to be “brave”, but they knew they were scared. David knew God was on the side of God’s people, and he remembered the bear and the lion, and he knew people were like sheep in the eyes of God. God watches, protects, and guides His sheep, and here Goliath was mocking the sheep of God.
First David thought he needed some armor, so he tried on Saul’s. About six sizes too big, so he said to himself, “I didn’t need Saul’s armor with that bear”, so he used the same weapon and armor he has always used. A sling shot, and the anointing of the Lord. David knew Goliath had four brothers, and like their brothers the bully, they were bullies too, so David figured they would get messed in this thing too. Figuring that he went to a stream and picked up five rocks, one for Goliath, and one for each of Goliath’s four brothers if they got involved.
David wasn’t fighting for himself, he said this was God’s fight, he was merely the tool God was going to use. That’s important, because any of us can say we’re fighting for God, but we better make sure. In America they had a war called the Civil War, you know the North and South fighting each other. Well, the North said, “God, our country and liberty”, but the South said, “God save the south”. They both claimed God, but only one side could win, so just saying “God is on my side” doesn’t mean a thing, we better find out whose side God is on. David knew whose side God was on, God is not a bully, God will not side with bullies, liars, or thieves.
David was ready, and when Goliath saw him he laughed the more (I Sam 17:42). This ruddy (red headed) kid, with no armor, who does he think he is? David may not have known who he was yet, but he knew who God was, and that was all that mattered. David let go with a stone, and it hit Goliath in the only place that could win the battle, right between the eyes. Have you ever tossed a rock, or a ball at a target that was fifty feet away? Was the target the size of a quarter? No, well that is what David did, so guess who guided that rock? God? You bet, God was on David’s side. So how come Saul, or one of his soldiers do the same thing? They were afraid, and they were afraid because their leader was afraid, and their leader was afraid because God was removing His hand from Saul, and putting it on David.
David also picked up five stones, so does that mean he was a bad shot? Perhaps he lacked faith? No, Goliath had four older brothers, and since Goliath was a bully, David felt his brothers may be as well, so he was prepared. Not that David would go after them, but Goliath mocked God, and God’s people and David was ready to stand for God, even if he had to face five giants.
It should have been clear to Saul, David was now God’s man, but Saul allowed the old man to rule, and he got jealous. Jealousy is getting mad because someone else has what we want, and we can’t get it, or we won’t do what it takes to get it. In this case, the people cheered for David, and Saul got mad.
David was the king God picked, Saul the king the people picked. Saul was a good looking, big man, David a little goofy looking kid. God is never impressed by our outward signs and abilities, God looks inside of us. God began the process to make Saul king, but we know Saul blew it. Saul could not be trusted with the people of God, or with the anointing of God. David could, and David would prove it. Saul knew David had an anointing, when David played music the peace of God would come. David knew Saul was anointed at one time, but the difference came in how each man treated the anointing on the other. Saul tried to kill David, David had the chance to kill Saul, but won’t (I Sam 24:1-15). Saul was a jerk, but at one time God anointed him. David respected that, and a man who respects the anointing of God is respected by God.
Samuel the priest would die, and then the priesthood would be divided between two men (I Sam 25:1). Later in history one side of that priesthood would become the group called the Pharisees, the other called the Sadducees. The Pharisees believed in angels, and the resurrection, the Sadducees didn’t believe in either. The Sadducees would be the ones who would attack Paul all the time, the Pharisees thought Paul was cool. Anyway that is where the two groups came from, and one was “believing” the other “unbelieving”, and today in the Body of Christ we find the same division. Some believe there is a Rapture, some don’t. Some believe in the things of the Holy Spirit, some don’t. However, unlike the people of Israel we are called “Believers”, so don’t you think it would be nice if we stayed on the “believing side”? Sure, so let us work on believing, and not on unbelief.
Saul would die as well, and David would take the throne of Israel, and in God’s eyes David would be the first king of Israel (II Sam 1:1). From David would come many sons, one was Solomon, another Nathan. Some people read the book of Matthew, and the one of Luke and get confused over all the people’s names who are related to Jesus. We know Joseph and Mary, and later we will learn the story better, but for here we want to know why Matthew has one group, and Luke has another. We have a mother and a dad, the mother of our dad is not the mother of our mother. The mother of our mother, is not the mother of our dad, so we have a grandma on mom’s side, and a grandma no dad’s side. If we were Jew that would be very important, since in order to be a Jew our mother has to be a Jew, and her mother has to be a Jew, and so on. Since the Jews had a system like a code, they would not write down the mother’s name, but they would write down the husband of the mother, and they called this, “as was supposed” (Luke 3:23). Luke shows us the side of Mary, beginning with Mary’s dad’s name, which just so happened to be Joseph, then we follow it to Nathan, a son of David, who did marry a Jewish woman. This is important, since in order to be a king over Israel one need not be Jewish, since Solomon’s mother was a woman named Bathsheba, who was not a Jew. In order for one to be a king their father, or step-father had to have a line that went back to Solomon, and then David. Matthew uses Joseph, Mary’s husband (not her dad), and goes back to Solomon to show Jesus has a right to be King of Israel, and to sit in the seat of David. Luke shows Jesus is Jewish, and has a right to enter any Covenant God made with the Jews, and has a right to complete any Covenant God made with the Jews.
Remember the Ark? Well after the Philistines gave it back the people of Israel were bringing it back, when the cart hit a rock in the road, and a soldier reached up to hold the Ark, and when he touched it, he died. Oh my, how can that be? God gave them a special plan for carrying the Ark, and the way they were doing it, was not the way God wanted. David found out the priests were the only ones who could carry the Ark, so he got the priests and finished bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem (II Sam 6:1).
David wanted to build a house for God, one that would be great. God didn’t ask him for one, and really God only asked for the Tabernacle, He never has asked for another house. Anyway David really wanted to build one, but David was a warrior, and God said David had blood on his sword, and God could not allow a house to be built for Him based on the blood of men. How would it be built? God had the plan, David desired it, but Solomon would build it. If God didn’t ask for it, why let Solomon build it? Because David wanted it, and God loved David. That’s why it was so important to bring the Ark back, David wanted a place to put the Ark.
Jesus told us the Church is really people, not buildings. The Bible never calls a building a church, but over the years we have. Some adults mistake the building for the Church, and they end making an idol out of a building. That’s not a good thing, and from that they think the building is the most important thing in their life. Jesus is always the most important one in our life, anything else becomes an idol. Idols have caused the people of God more trouble than anything else, and these people are no different.
David died, and Solomon became king, and he would be the one to build the Temple. However, Solomon had to rule the people, and God never looks for someone who rules with violence, or anger, or by force, He looks for someone who is willing to rule by serving the people. God wanted Solomon to be wise, and so did Solomon, so Solomon asked God for Wisdom. Wisdom is not the same as brains, brains or knowledge is different. Wisdom is how we deal with people and events, and Solomon needed wisdom in order to deal with the people of God (I Kings 3:3).
Solomon’s wisdom would be tested, there were two women, both just had babies, but during the night one of them rolled over and killed her baby. She then stole the baby of the other woman, and then put her dead baby by that woman. When the other woman woke up she saw the dead baby and knew it wasn’t hers. She then saw the other baby and said, “That is my baby”. They argued over the baby and ended up before Solomon. Solomon had to “judge” as God would, but Solomon said something really strange, he said, “well, let’s see, two women, one baby, and they both say they are the mother, hum, okay, let’s cut the baby in half, and give half to each woman”. Yikes! That really seems dumb, but it’s wisdom, the woman who stole the baby said, “okay, that’s okay with me”, but the real mother said, “No, don’t harm the baby, go ahead give it to her, but please don’t harm the baby”. When she said that Solomon knew who the real mother was, a real mother would never allow her child to be harmed, so Solomon gave her the baby (I Kings 3:16-28).
Solomon did build the temple, and then put the Ark in it (I Kings 8:1), and the temple was kind of like the tabernacle, but not the same. The temple was a big building, it couldn’t move, the tabernacle was a tent, it could move with the people. The tabernacle had two rooms, one was called the Holy Place, it had a golden candlestick, a table with twelve loaves of bread, one loaf for each of the twelve tribes, and a small altar that had incense burning in it. Each of these stood for something, the candlestick stood for the Light of God, the bread for the Life of God, and the incense for the prayers of the saints. When the priests were working in the Holy Place they had those three things to remind them why they were there. They were there to serve God, and the people of God, they were not there to be masters over the people. The next room was called the Holiest of All, or the Holy of Holies, and the Ark was placed inside of it. The strange thing is the tent didn’t have windows, and the candlestick was the light for the Holy Place, but the Holy of Holies was different, God was the Light in there. That place was so special only the high priest could go in there and at only once a year.
The temple had many rooms and they wanted the place to be real special, so them made it fancy. Fancy doesn’t impress God, obedience does. Don’t try to impress God with fancy things, or works, God loves us so much the works only get in the way. So, does that mean we do nothing? No, it means we work because we love God. Some people work and work just to get the attention of someone, but God gave us His attention when we accepted Jesus. Ever do something for someone just because you love them? Well, think of how much more God wants to do for us. The temple didn’t impress God, all those people loving the Lord enough to build it pleased Him.
Solomon died, and the kings still remained in power over the years, but the real power changed from the kings to the prophets (I Kings 11:41-43). The first real prophet we see is Elijah, and the funny thing about this guy is where he came from, who he was, and how come he doesn’t have his own book. Elijah was used by God as a symbol of all the prophets, and of course Moses as a symbol of the Law of Moses, but isn’t interesting that we don’t have a “book of Elijah”? Or a “book of Moses”? Both Elijah and Moses will be seen later by Peter, John and James in a vision standing next to Jesus, and now we know they stand for the Prophets and Law. God told Peter, James and John to listen to Jesus, or better to follow Jesus, not the Law of the Prophets. So, then why even study these prophets and the Law? To find out what God was doing with the people, and how we can learn not to make the same mistakes they did.
In the days of Elijah Ahab was the king of Israel, and he was not a good ruler. He really didn’t care if he sinned or not (I Kings 16:31), he took a wife by the name of Jezebel who was the daughter of the king of the Ziodians, and they all served idols. See, we said idols have the problem. Ahab even built altars to the idols, and God was going to bring correction to the land. Before God does correct, He warns, and so the reason for the prophets.
God sent Elijah to warn Ahab of a drought, which means it wasn’t going to rain in the land for a long time. The drought was because idols had been in the land, and idols didn’t force their way in, the king brought them in. Idols are “things”, and things are not evil, it’s what we do with them that can make them evil. A credit card isn’t evil, in the greedy hands of man it becomes a tool for the evil in man.
Since there was going to be drought God made sure Elijah had food, and water, just as God made sure all those who loved Him were taken care of (I Kings 17:1-14). God told Elijah the birds would bring him food, and they did. Then God told Elijah a certain widow woman would take care of his food. Elijah found this woman, and told her to fix him a piece of cake. Well, this woman didn’t know who Elijah was, and she told him there was just enough for her and her son, and after that, they would die. Elijah told her to fix him something first, and the Lord would make sure she was cared for. She was obedient, but we see it was in her heart to care for Elijah. She didn’t know this guy was a prophet, nor did she know what would happen, she just gave. What happened? She had a jar in her house and it filled with oil, and oil was very expense back then, not the kind of oil we put in cars, but olive oil. Olive oil was used for cooking, for lighting fires, and as a kind of cream to keep the sun from burning them. She kept pouring the oil from the one jar into others, and the silly thing didn’t empty. God was faithful, because Elijah did as God told him, the woman did as her heart told her, and all of them were kept alive in the hard times.
Elijah then traveled back to the land, to a place called Mount Carmel. Why there? That was the place king Ahab built that altar to idols. Jezebel was a very bad woman, she was so power hungry she brought her own evil religion to take the place of God. She didn’t want to be like God, she was even more tricky, she wanted her husband, king Ahab to think he was God, and she would pull the strings behind him. She had her priests who worshiped idols, and those priests were at Mount Carmel, when Elijah showed up, and told the people, “If God by God, then worship Him, but if this idol is your god, then go to it”. Then Elijah told the priests, “Hey guys what’s up? Making idols again huh? You guys kill me, tell you what, I will make an altar to God, you got that dumb thing over there, let’s see which one works”. They took him up on it, and they built an altar, and Elijah built his, and told the priests of the idols, “go first”. They did, and they danced like idiots, cut themselves and let their blood fall on their idol, and did all sorts of things, but nothing happened. Elijah told them, “Hey, maybe it got too hot, and your god took off”. Then Elijah took a bunch of water and poured it all over his sacrifice, and took more water and poured it on his sacrifice. You would think he would need about fifty gallons of gas to make it burn, but no, he didn’t even use a match, he prayed and God sent lightening down and fire consumed all of Elijah’s sacrifice. The people saw how powerful God was, and they ran all the priests of Jezebel away. God gives us Signs to show us His power, and how He is always able. Before the sign here the people were divided between God and the idols, but after the sign, they were not longer divided, they were God’s people again.
Then came the news, Jezebel sent a note to Elijah, and she told him she was going to kill him. Wow! Look out, Elijah headed out, quickly. What do you think of that? This same guy who stood in the face of all those idol priests, now running like a rabbit. Oh, wait, Jezebel was the queen of the land, and as bad as she was, she was still queen. The woman wasn’t respected by Elijah, but her position of queen was. Just like David respected the anointing of Saul, Elijah respected the position of Jezebel. God allows or puts whom He wants as kings, or presidents, to punish the evil doers. So, what happens if the king or president is evil? They are setting up their own judgment, but they are also a test for the rest of us. Will we keep faith in God?
Elijah had his faith in God, and he ran, sometimes running is better. A brave man knows when to stand, and when not to. A jerk stands when he should run, and gets run over.
One day Elijah was praying and knew the drought was over, he told king Ahab to head for high ground, the sounds of rain were coming (I Kings 18:41).
Then Elijah found a guy by the name of Elisha, and Elisha was going to be the disciple, or student, and Elijah the teacher. We won’t hear about Elisha until II Kings 2:2, so the student learns, they don’t teach.
What about Jezebel? Before she dies she would use her power to kill an innocent man, and in so doing she seals her own death. A man by the name of Naboth had a small vineyard, it was nice, clean, and king Ahab really liked it. Jezebel was so power hungry she had Naboth killed, and gave the vineyard to Ahab, thinking it would give her more power with him (I Kings 21:1). Jezebel would die, and the dogs would lick up her blood, and Ahab would die as well. Jezebel has become a name to mean One who appoints their self to a position. Jesus warns us about allowing Jezebel or her children into positions, they will destroy people just to get power. They hold meetings to get rid of pastors, or people they don’t like, they steal, lie and cheat to get what they want. They are not good people at all.
Elijah knew he would be an example of something yet to come, and the Lord told him he would be taken off the earth. Elisha didn’t want that, but it was to be, what about Elisha? What would happen to him? He asked Elijah for double portion of the spirit of Elijah, or as we know it, twice as much of the energy, power and ability of Elijah. Don’t know about you, but most of us can only give what we have. If all we have is a nickel, we can’t give a dime. Elijah told Elisha if he saw Elijah go, then Elisha would get double the spirit (II Kings 2:9-10). As they walked on there came a chariot of fire from heaven, and Elisha saw that okay, but he didn’t see Elijah go, and Elisha got mad (II Kings 2:12-14). Elijah had a “mantle” or a coat that told everyone who he was, and that Elisha did get. Elisha walked into the nearest town and some boys made fun of him, and said, “you bald man, why don’t you go?”, which is saying, “you don’t have a covering anymore, you are without the boss, so go up you silly man”, which was not only wrong, but it lacked respect, and they were the ones who lost their protection by what they said, and a bear came out of the woods and killed them (II Kings 2:23-25).
Elisha learned a lot from Elijah, and he had all the sons of the prophets, and young prophets gather together with him, and he trained them. So what would you teach a prophet? To talk? No, to listen to the Lord? Yes, to understand when the Lord is talking, and when their own minds are talking.
Elisha did many things, there was a man named Naaman who had a real bad skin disease, and his servant told him about Elisha, so they went to see the prophet (II Kings 5:1). Elisha told Naaman to go and dip seven times in the Jordan river, and he would be healed. Naaman said, “that’s stupid, no way”, but Naaman’s servant said, “sir, stupid or not, if you don’t do it you will still have that skin stuff, what do you have to lose?”. Naaman said, “you’re right”, so he dipped himself seven times, and on the seventh time he came up clean. Was that faith? No, it was obedience, we know he didn’t really think it would work, but he obeyed.
Then one day when the sons of the prophets were working cutting wood, which was part of their training, one of them took a big swing and Bang, the steel head of the ax took off and landed in the river. He yelled to Elisha, “Master, it is borrowed”. We might say “so what?”, but to these guys that was a big deal. He would have to replace it, but their training didn’t pay them, and they had no money. Elisha then took a stick and stirred the water and the metal ax head came to the surface, and the guy grabbed it.
Then other prophets would come along to warn the people of God of things, mostly of things that would happen if they kept bowing to idols. Many of the prophets would talk about things to come many years from their time, mostly about Jesus. The reason was to tell the people Jesus would come, and to be ready when He did. So were they? We will see.
One of those prophets was a guy named Isaiah, and he was around in the days of king Hezekiah (II Kings 18:1). Isaiah like the rest of the prophets were used by God to warn the children of God. When a grown up says, “don’t do that again or I will send you to your room”, that is a warning, God is no different, only God warned them for 490 years, and still they didn’t listen. God then used Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon as the “army of God” to correct the children of God. It seems strange that God would use an idol worshiping king to punish His children for idol worshiping, but really it’s not. God used the very thing His children were doing to show them how wrong they were. However, God did not send them away or punish them all at once. Nebuchadnezzar came one time, and some of the false prophets thought since they had the Temple in the land, God would never allow a idol worshipping king to invade them. They were wrong, God did. The children of God were doing things they thought were okay, but were so very wrong. They would go to the Temple and praise the Lord, then run to the hills to worship idols. It got so bad some of the women were offering their babies to the idols as sacrifices, and they thought it was okay. If God would have allowed it to continue then all the world would have thought God allowed idol worship.
Nebuchadnezzar came again and again, and nearly all the people of Israel were taken captive. Nebuchadnezzar had a son, who would be king after Nebuchadnezzar died, and that son was very bad, and mean. His land was taken over by the Persians and after the 70 years was up some of the Jews came to the king of the Persians and asked to be released. God put them in captivity by using an idol worshiping king, and God would have them released by an idol worshiping king, never limit God to what God can and cannot do. After the 70 years the children were seeking God, and following only God, so the captivity worked, it brought them back to God.
One of the those men who asked the king of Persia to be released was a man by the name of Ezra, another was Nehemiah. Both wanted to go back and rebuild the Temple, and bring the people back to the land. The people were back, the temple was built, and the captivity showed them several things. God loved them enough to make sure they didn’t end up as idol worshipers, sure it took correction, and punishment, but Godly and correct punishment keeps us from sin, and makes sure we stay on the right path with God. Next the children found out no nation could destroy them, they had a purpose in the Plan of God, and that purpose would be complete. Really they had two purposes, one was to be a nation from which Jesus would come, and the next would be the very tool God would use to bring judgment.
Another proof of how these people could not be destroyed was a woman by the name of Esther, and her uncle a man named Mordecai will be the first person in the Bible called a “Jew”. Abraham was called a “Hebrew”, or one who wanders around looking for a promised land, but hasn’t gotten it yet. A Jew is one who has standing with God to enter covenant with God. Someone who is an Israeli is from the land of Israel. There is no such thing in the Bible as “true Israel”, there is a “true Jew”, one who has standing to enter the New Covenant that Jesus gave us. We are True Jews, but Mordecai was still the first person in the Bible called a Jew of any type. There are two types of Jew, one is a person who can enter the covenant God made with Abraham, the other is what we are, Christian.
Well, Esther’s book shows up after the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, but the story happened about thirty years before them. Esther was not among the same people as Ezra and Nehemiah she was in the land where India is today. In that land was king Ahasuerus, and his wife Vashti. One day the king called for Queen Vashti, but she said, “nay, I’m too busy”. Well, the men who helped the king make decisions said, “this is not good, if the people find out, they will mock you” (Esther 1:1-14). Well, the king got mad, real mad, and Vashti was out as Queen, and there was a search for a new one, a type of beauty contest.
Esther was beautiful, very beautiful, and her uncle Mordecai knew God had something planned in all this. Mordecai had faith in God, and knew God’s plan may not always be known at first, but if we’re in the hand of God, then all things are of God. The king selected Esther as Queen, but there was a bad guy in this, Haman, a man who loved power.
Haman was a very proud man, and Haman always wanted people to bow to him, well Mordecai only bowed to God. When Haman found out Mordecai refused to bow, and then found out he was a Jew, he made up his mind to wipe out the Jews.
Mordecai knew this was the plan of God, to use Esther to save the Jews, so he went to Esther, who was now Queen. Esther held a banquet, and asked both the king and Haman to the banquet. Haman thought he was going to be a big shot, and be the big guess of honor at the banquet. Instead of Esther telling the king what a great man Haman was, she brought up Mordecai, and the king honored Mordecai, but hanged Haman for his rebellion.
The Jews had a holiday for this act of God using Esther to save the children of Israel, and the holiday is called Purim, which is held in our months of March and February. Mordecai also gained a position with the king, and was a wise man. This proved when God has a plan for a people, the plan will be done.
Then there was the lesson of Job, the man who loved his children, but refused to correct them. Job was a man who didn’t sin with his lips, but his lips weren’t his problem. Job lived in fear of God finding out that his children refused to live according to God’s ways. When we pray it’s important to pray to God, and pray in a manner of faith, knowing God is always working of the good of His children. We never pray against people, we never pray to see someone hurt, but Job prayed out of fear, and Satan was able to come in the prayer of Job before God. God asked Satan, “how did you get here?” (Job 1:7). Satan said from going through the earth looking for someone to devour, and the Lord asked, “Have you considered my servant Job?”. Satan said, “Job only serves you for what he can get out of it, take away his blessing and he will curse you to your face”. The Lord allowed Satan to test Job, not to show Satan, but to show Job something about Job. Testings come to show us things about ourselves, remember how the children went to the Temple, then they bowed before idols? They thought is was okay, but it wasn’t, so God had to punish them. Testings come so we won’t be punished, so we can see the things that are good and bad. Some testings come to show us how much we really do love the Lord, we thought we knew, but after the testing we know we know. Some testings come to show some pride we refused to see, some rebellion, or something that is stopping us from enjoying God, and so it was with Job.
After all the testing Job knew the Lord better, Job knew Job better, and Job ended being more blessed in the end, then he was in the beginning (Job 42:10-15).
The Psalms are songs of praise, and praise and worship are not the same. Praise is when we thank God for what He has done, what He is going, and What He will do. Worship is when we enter God’s presence, or the area around God that shows God is God. God is Light, but God is love, and peace as well, so His presence is Light, Love and Peace.
Some of the Psalms tell of the future, some tell of things that were, and how God works with His children. There are some Psalms known better than others, for instance there is the 23rd Psalm, you know, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”. This Psalm was written by David, who was a shepherd, but he says the Lord is his shepherd. David being a shepherd knew what duties a shepherd had over the flock. A good shepherd doesn’t beat the sheep, he protects them, he loves them, he guides them in safe places, and keeps them from danger. David understood that, and he knew God is fully able to provide, if we trust in God to provide. God won’t give us things to hurt us, and He won’t give us things to make us mean, but He does make sure we have what we “need”.
God guides us to the place where He can talk to us in a gentle voice, and God will talk to us, if we ask Him to, and if we listen. When we walk with God, the goodness and mercy follow us.
Psalm 37 is called “God takes care of His own”, and it’s about how the Lord will do good to those who dwell with Him, and we dwell with Him, when He is in our hearts.
Then there are the Proverbs, and a Proverb is a story about real things, or things like other things. We can talk about a bird flying, and say, “see, that is like an airplane, they fly too”. Do airplanes use birds to fly? No, but airplanes fly, just like the birds. Proverbs are like that, they talk about one thing, to show us something else. Proverbs 9 is just like that, it tells us how Wisdom and the Foolish Woman compare, so is there some guy named “Wisdom”? Or does this mean all women are foolish? No, not at all, remember Wisdom is how we deal with people and events, so we find something interesting in the voices we hear in our minds. One voice is Wisdom, the other is Foolish. Wisdom tells us “Come eat of my bread, and drink of my wine” (Prov 9:5). Wait, what does that sound like? Communion? Sure, see here in the Old Testament we find things pointing to the New. God wants us to sit with Him, talk about the things going on, and what we can do about them. Foolishness on the other hand thinks its all a big joke, and says, “stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (Prov 9:17). Foolishness thinks taking from others is okay, and hiding from God is fooling God.
Remember Isaiah? Well we find there are four prophets, Isaiah is one of them, these four are called “major prophets”, not because they were in the army, but because they were prophets for a long time. Isaiah was around before the children were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, and then we will look at Jeremiah, who was around when the children were taken into captivity, but he stayed in the land of Israel. Then Ezekiel who was a priest and taken in the captivity, and then Daniel who was a young man who was also taken in the captivity.
The name Isaiah means “the Lord saves”, which shows how God knew the children were doing wrong, but all they had to do was repent, and the Lord would save them. Isaiah had a word for the kings in his time, and a vision for the future. The Vision is a kind of outline for the end times, and all end time teaching has to fit that outline somehow. The Word of warning the Lord gave the prophet was for those people in those days, but there are lessons for us. Without knowing the difference between the Word and the Vision we would end mixing one time into another, and find ourselves confused. God wants His children to know just how much He has all this in hand, and faith is not something we use to escape things we don’t like, it’s something that keeps our eyes on the Lord in all times, good, bad or indifferent.
Isaiah was sent by God to the sinful nation, the same nation called of God. Think about it, all the nations in the world, and God called only one. Prophets tell us many things, in our day they tell us where God is taking His Children, and they also warn us of the dangers of mixing the ways of the world into the ways of God. So, if God is so much in control, why doesn’t He just kill the devil and get it over with? The devil is a “spirit”, and no spirit can die. We might thing, “gee, that’s dumb, now we’re stuck with the devil”, but it’s good as well. When God gives us the Spirit of Christ that means we will live forever as well. Not in the same flesh we have now, but in a new, perfect and holy flesh Jesus has for us. The devil is cast into the lake of fire in the end, where he remains forever. Two things remain forever, our souls, and the Spirit. When we receive the Spirit of Christ our souls are then being saved, cleaned and made like the soul of Christ. We’re still different, we’re not all going to look the same, talk the same, that is weird. God loves us as individuals, if not, why make us individuals? There is something called “character”, the thing behind the way we act and think. The Spirit of Christ gives us a character like God’s, and we think the good thoughts. So then, what happens if we think a bad thought? We tell God we’re sorry, and allow Him to clean us. Isaiah is going to tell the people If they repent, God will not correct them, but if they continue to be bad, God will have to correct them. God is not going to lie to us, if He says “change”, we better turn toward Him and allow Him to bring the change, then we accept it, and go on with God.
These people were not paying attention to the things of God, they had their idols, and they had the Temple. They would go to Temple (church), and then to worship idols. They thought as long as the Temple was in their land, they were okay, but a building is just that, a building. It was the people God was interested in, and the Temple wasn’t going to save them. Why would God correct them? Because if they continued on, they would become so evil, they would be just like the devil. Don’t forget God picked Israel for the birth of Jesus, and then to show the world what God is like. Does God worship idols? No, of course not, but these people were. The world would look at them, and figure, “hey they are like God, so God must worship idols, I told you it was okay”. Wrong, and because God picked them, and because they said they would do as God told them, God would punish them, to save them. If we wanted to play in the street, and mom said, “don’t do that”, and we thought, “what’s the big deal, no cars are coming, it’s okay”. We would be wrong, why? The street was made for cars, and a car would come by, sure as shooting. Mom knows that, because mom has knowledge. When we think it’s “okay” when it’s not, we’re listening to the wrong voice. These people of God were listening to the wrong voice, so God sent them prophets with a “Word” of correction. They played with the devils toys for so long, they couldn’t tell the difference between the voice of the devil, and the voice of God.
Four prophets were called of God to warn His people of the danger they were in, yet the people would not hear. First was Isaiah, then Jeremiah, then Ezekiel and finally Daniel. Isaiah was before God was forced to send the people into captivity, or better into a “time out”. Jeremiah was in the land, and Ezekiel was a priest who was taken captive, and Daniel was young man in training who was taken captive. These four prophets show us something about God, and how His love reaches and reaches and reaches before He is forced to correct us. The first sign of danger God sent Isaiah, then when the land was in sure danger He brought Jeremiah, and to the people in captivity He sent Ezekiel and Daniel. All the time God was saying, “Please, oh please turn from your wicked ways, and come back to Me”. So, if God is God, why not force them to return to Him? Because God is Love, and true Love will reach out to us, but it will not abuse us. We have love, we love people, and we love God, but God is love. Is that different? Sure, if you a male you are a boy, and if you are a female you are a girl, that is what you are, but God is love, and that is what He is.
Jeremiah was a youth when he was called, and he found out how God knows all things. Before Jeremiah was born, before Jeremiah even knew there was a God, God had a plan for him. The same is true with us; before we were born God had a plan for us, but God is love, and He will not force us to fit the plan. Jeremiah remained in the land, and God told him something strange, something most people would have a hard time with. We hear about the “army of the Lord”, but do we know what that means? God will use those who will yield to Him, and the heart of the king of Babylon was one of violence, the people of God were protected by God, but they kept bowing to idols, and playing with devils, and soon the protection of God was removed, and God allowed the king of Babylon to invade the land of Israel. First, the king of Babylon took a few people, and the false prophets in the land kept saying, “the temple is here, God will not allow anything to happen to the temple”. But they were wrong, the temple was a building, it was the people God was interested in. The people of God continued to worship idols, and God allowed the king of Babylon to raid the land again. The people continued to worship idols, and God again allowed the king to invade the land, and the third time Daniel as taken captive.
God had told Jeremiah the people would be placed in captivity for 70 years, one year for each year they owed the land. What land? Oh, God set a plan for the land, and He said they could plant for six years, but in the seventh year they were to give the land a rest. They robbed the land of it’s rest for 490 years, which means they owed the land 70 years. The time of their “time out” was seventy years, and Jeremiah wrote it down. Daniel knew it would be seventy years, so he remained in the land of Babylon, and also remained loyal to God.
Daniel had three friends, perhaps you have heard of them, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. When they were taken captive the king of Babylon wanted to feed them the same food the people of Babylon ate. Daniel being a Jew and under the Law of Moses knew he shouldn’t eat that kind of food, so he made a deal with the captain of the guard. If the captain allows Daniel and his friends to eat what they want, and they look as healthy of healthier than the other people in ten days, then Daniel and his friends would not be forced to eat the food of Babylon, but if Daniel and his friends looked puny, then they would eat the food of Babylon. The captain said, Sure, why not. In ten days Daniel and his friends look better than all the captives, and the people in the land. What did that prove? First Daniel didn’t do a thing wrong, the nation he lived in did, yet the lad was taken captive. Some of us would have said, “not fair God, I’ll show you, give me that Babylon food”, but Daniel loved the Lord, and knew God had a purpose in all this. Daniel knew there are times when even the innocent are caught in bad things, but he also knew God had a plan in all this, and it would all work out. It did, Daniel had a gift from God, he could interpret dreams. Not all dreams are God-given, some come from our own minds, some from food, but God does give us dreams.
Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had a dream, and it really bugged him. He called all his witchdoctors, but they had no idea what the meaning of the dream was. One reason was Nebuchadnezzar couldn’t remember the dream, he only knew it scared him. Anyway, one thing led to another and Daniel ended up telling the Nebuchadnezzar the dream, and it had to do the king. As Daniel began to tell Nebuchadnezzar about the dream, Nebuchadnezzar started to remember. “Yeah Daniel, that’s it, sure, now I remember”. The king was impressed and rewarded Daniel by giving him a special job in the government of Babylon.
God gave the king the dream, God took the memory of the dream away from the king, God gave Daniel the gift of interpreting dreams, and God made sure the king knew Daniel could interpret dreams, and Daniel was obedient, helped the king, and God made sure Daniel was rewarded. What do you think would have happened if Daniel would have said, “You know what, I didn’t do anything wrong and here I am, I’m not telling that king anything, I don’t care if he ever knows what that dream means”? Daniel would still be in jail, and the king would still be wondering about the dream, but the king would be walking around free. It’s much better to obey God, then get mad because we don’t like what’s going on.
Remember the three friends of Daniel? They loved the Lord too, and Daniel was out of the country on business for the king of Babylon, and the three friends of Daniel, who were also known as the Three Hebrew Children were still in Babylon. Jealousy is when someone else has something and we want it, but we don’t want to go through what they went through to get it, so we set out to destroy them and it. So it was in the land of Babylon, the three Hebrew children were doing great, the king liked them, yet they were still loyal to God. Some of the bad guys in the land got jealous and came to the king with a plan. First, they had to butter up the king, and tell him what a big shot he was, and then they told the king he should build an image of himself and have all the people bow to it. What is an image? An idol, the very thing the children were put into captive for. The king made a big image, it was about 90 feet tall, and made of gold, but it was still an idol. The plan was in motion, the bad guys had the king fooled, and they knew the three Hebrew children would not bow to any image, 9 inches tall or 90 feet tall. When the time came for all to bow down to the image, the three Hebrew children would not. So, how come they did all those other things for the king, but not this? Because this was not obedience, it was rebellion against God. Like all laws, there was an “if”, if they did not bow down, then they would be tossed into the furnaces alive. Yikes!!! Bow man, bow. No, they said No, they knew it would be better to face the furnace, then the fires of hell.
The king stood the three Hebrew children up before all the land, and told them to bow to the image. They didn’t spit at the king, they told him in a nice way, “no”, by saying, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto you O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship your golden image which you set up” (Dan 3:17-18). They said they knew God could deliver them, but even if God didn’t, even if God turned from them, that didn’t matter, they were not going to serve any idols. Didn’t they serve the king of Babylon anyway? No, they were serving God, and God wanted them to serve the king, and that is much different than just serving the king alone.
Well the king got real mad, and had the three Hebrew children tossed into one of the furnaces. The fire was so hot the soldiers who tossed the three children in were burned up. The king looked and said, “Wait, didn’t we toss three into the fire? Who is that fourth man, and what is this? They all look like they are dancing?”. They were, the Lord was in the fire waiting for them, just as He is in the fire of trouble we find ourselves in from time to time. Did the three Hebrew children know the Lord was there? No, they didn’t toss themselves into the fire, they didn’t say, “watch it king, the Lord is in there”. As far as they knew, they were going to die. They didn’t jump in, they were tossed in, and they also got all dressed up in their best Jewish clothes. If they were going to meet the Lord, they wanted to look their best, but then they told the king they wouldn’t bow, they gave God their best. Being loyal to God is always giving our best.
Anyway they came out of the fire, and they didn’t even smell like smoke. The king knew they served a mighty God, so God used what appeared to be terrible to show the king the Hebrews served a mighty God. It ended good, and it’s the end of the story that tells us if it’s good or not. Never judge the event, but by the event, a furnace is not a furnace if the Lord is there.
The Lord had plans for Babylon as well, you see if the Lord allows another country to take His children, they better treat His children right. Nebuchadnezzar did just that, look at how he treated Daniel? However, Nebuchadnezzar had a son, named Nebuchadnezzar II, then came the grand-son Belshazzar. Nebuchadnezzar died, Nebuchadnezzar II went off to war, and left his son Belshazzar in charge, which was a big mistake. The 70 years wasn’t up yet, but Belshazzar was using the things of God in a wicked manner, and as a result he was also misusing the people of God. One night there was some handwriting on the wall, and we get the saying, “well the handwriting is on the wall” from this very happening. The handwriting was in a foreign language and read, “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” (Dan 5:24). No one understood it, so they sent for Daniel. By the time Daniel got there things were all ready happening, Daniel looked at the writing and said, “MENE, God has numbered your kingdom and finished it”; “TEKEL; you are weighed in the scales, and come up way short”; “PERES; your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians”. Now wait, the writing was MENE twice, and UPHARSIN, not PERES. It’s okay, from that we can see God gave Belshazzar a chance, the use of the word MENE twice means God numbered the kingdom for many days, then when the writing came the word UPHARSIN was correct, since it means “will be divided”, but when Daniel saw the writing he knew it was happening, and sure enough when Daniel finished the saying, the door busted open, and Bang, Babylon was out, the Medes and Persians were in.
Daniel found favor in the eyes of the Medes and Persians, God made Daniel a nice guy, everyone liked him; except for the jealous ones, they don’t like anyone. These jealous ones knew when a Persian made a law, not even a Persian could erase it. Darius was a Persian over the captured Babylon empire, and some of the jealous started to spy on Daniel to find something, anything so they could accuse him. Daniel was faithful to God, so he was also faithful to Darius, and they could find no fault in him. They did notice that everyday he would pray, so they laid a trap. They went to Darius and said, “you know you’re the man, and we think for thirty days no one should pray or ask any god for anything but you, and if they do, you should feed them to the lions”. Darius was impressed with himself, and these jealous ones were able to fool him, so he made the law. The wicked ones went out and saw Daniel praying, and immediately took him to the king and said, “there he is, one who violated your law, feed him to the lions”. Oh my, this was not good, since Darius really liked Daniel. Darius was very sad, and knew he couldn’t change the law, and knew Daniel was a Godly man, and told Daniel, “Your God whom you serve continually, He will deliver you” (Dan 6:16). This king knew Daniel was a servant of God, and knew God would watch over Daniel. The king was tricked, and that is different than if he had planned to hurt Daniel. Some times we get tricked into things, and when we find out they are bad, we must repent, and pray for God to make things right again. The king knew since he was tricked, and since Daniel was innocent, and since Daniel prayed and loved God, that God would watch over Daniel.
They put Daniel in the lions den, and then they put a big stone over the opening of the den. Daniel was caught there, and would have to spend the night. The king returned to the lion’s den in the morning and yelled, “O Daniel, servant of the Living God, is your God, whom you serve continually, able to deliver you from the lions?” (Dan 6:20). Then they all heard Daniel say, “O, king, live forever”. Daniel was alive, God put an angel in the den to keep the lions at peace, and still, and they left Daniel alone all the night. The king was very glad, but those wicked men who set the trap were not. The king put them in the lion’s den, and they didn’t believe in God, so no angel came to save them.
Then the king wrote another law that couldn’t be erased either, and it said, “to all the people, and to all the nations, and to all languages, Peace be multiplied unto you. I make this law, that in every place of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for He is a Living God, and steadfast forever, and His kingdom will not be destroyed, and His dominion (heaven and earth) shall be even unto the end. He delivers, and rescues and He works signs and wonders in heaven and earth, Who has delivered Daniel from the mouth of the lions” (Dan 6:25-27). This is important since this is a kind of prophecy, we are in the Kingdom of heaven, and the Kingdom of God is in us, if we have Jesus in us. We know God delivers, God rescues, and He rewards those who seek Him. How did Daniel seek Him? By trusting in God no matter what the king of the land did to him. Like his three friends, Daniel was going to stand with God, because he knew God would stand with him.
Daniel had many visions of things concerning the end times, or the time of the very end. Those times are not to be afraid of, God has given us the Harbor of Safety in Jesus. The purpose of all this is Jesus, and the purpose of Jesus is to save us from the things to come. Faith is not something we use to ignore events, it will get us through the tough times, and faith always knows God is with us, God is for us, and God is saving us. Daniel’s visions give us hope, there are three groups of people on the earth, the Jew, the non-Jew called the Gentile, and those who are of Jesus, who are neither Jew or Gentile, who are called Christian. Daniel’s visions show us there will come a time when the Christian will not be on this earth, a time when the Plan of God calls for a time when those who love God will no longer know of evil.
The End Times are divided into two areas, one is called the Day, the other is called the Night. The Day is now, it’s a time of Salvation, a time when God is not going to be angry at anyone, a time when God will not punish, judge or condemn anyone. The Night is when God begins the Judgment of mankind, and like many things of God, what we see is not what is going on. During the Day there are wars, rumors of wars, pestilence and famine in the world, but Peace with us in the Kingdom of God. During the Night there will be Peace and Safety in the world, but violence in the Kingdom. The world sees all the wars, rumors of wars, pestilence and famine and says, “how can that be God?”. They are right, that is not God, the Kingdom is God, the world is the evil. If we take the word “evil”, and add the letter “d” for destruction to the front of it, we come up with the word “devil”. Being a Christian gives us a special place with God, a place that God gives us freely. All we have to do is ask, and walk the way the Lord desires. We know we can’t walk that path alone, so God gives us His Spirit to help us. Through the Spirit of God in us we can do all the things of Christ, and by that same Spirit we know we will be with God in the true and everlasting Paradise in heaven. Our confidence is in God’s ability to get us through all this, much better than trusting in our own ability. Right?
Isaiah gave us the Outlines for the End Times, Daniel the Visions, and the Old Testament ends with 12 prophets all confirming the End Times. These 12 prophets are called “minor prophets”, and that doesn’t mean they dug holes in mountains, or hunted gold, it means their job as prophet was not as long as the jobs of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Some of the minor prophets gave two or three prophecies, or were in the job of prophet for a couple of months, but what they said is still important. They were Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Like Isaiah they all spoke to the people in their day, and to the future. So, when God uses the prophet to speak of the future, is God guessing? Or does God know? God knows, and God is not limited to time like we are. We have our yesterday, our today and our tomorrow, but God is always Now. Hard for us to think on the Now, but for God it’s easy. God can look at something in the future, then tell a prophet about it, and the prophet tell us what God is seeing. Like a big telephone, God calls from the future, and the prophet answers the phone, and gives us the message.
The name Hosea means “Salvation”, and there is very little known about him, other than the information contained in his prophecy. There was a time of great prosperity in the land of Israel under king Jeroboam, but the people were also avoiding God, who gave them the prosperity. When man thinks his wealth is of his own hand, he is stealing the glory from God. God makes the rich, rich, no one makes their self rich. The leaders allowed the people to get involved in idol worship, after all the land was rich, the people were doing fine, why not? Why not indeed. God was about to take away the wealth, but God being God would warn the people, and call out for them to repent, and put away their idols. So, then, isn’t God greater than the idols? Why didn’t God send a big wind and destroy the idols in the land? Choice, those people, like you and I have choice. God directs us, He doesn’t force us.
The real problem came when the people not only worshiped idols, but they began to thank the idols for the prosperity. Today we could see this as someone thanking a government, or a government leader taking credit for the prosperity of a nation. To God that is idol worship, not very wise. If God knew these people would give the credit to the idols, why even give them the prosperity? Choice, and testing, without them we would never know our own heart. God won’t step in and clean us, unless we ask Him to. Did God force us to accept Jesus? No, we had to make the choice. God didn’t grab us by the nose and drag us down to the altar, we made a decision, and accepted Jesus. The entire process of God in our lives is based on our choice. God knows all things, it’s we who don’t know, and to think “well if God wants me, He will have to force me” isn’t going to make it. That is how the devil thinks, the devil goes about seeking whom He may devour. God reaches out to those who seek God in order to be saved.
Hosea had a wife who left him, and God used that to show the people even if they leave God, God will not leave them. Hosea prayed for his wife, and God put a invisible hedge around her, no matter where she went, or where she turned her mind would see Hosea. God still didn’t force her to return, He merely gave her the vision of her heart. She really loved Hosea, but her pains and sorrow got in the way of her heart. Hosea’s story is one of hope, just as his wife returned and was greeted with joy by Hosea, the people could return and be greeted by the joy of the Lord.
Hosea tells us even if we make a mistake, even if we blow it, that doesn’t mean we’re going to hell, it means God is waiting to receive us back, just as soon as we repent.
The Name Joel means “Jehovah is God”, and he lived in the southern kingdom of Judah, whereas Hosea was in the northern kingdom. Joel was around during the time of king Joash, and Joel speaks about a time to come in future, a time called “the Day of the Lord”. On the Day of Pentecost Peter spoke of the words of Joel, and said, “this is that day”. The Day of the Lord is divided into two parts, the Day first, then the Night. In the Book of Genesis God created all the things needed for the Night, so there is no work to be done when the Night comes. However, the New Birth is for the Day, it’s a New Creation, showing the Day has its own time of Creation. We are of the Day, we are not of the Night, and we are no longer of the Darkness.
Joel talks about both the Day and the Night, and it could get a little confusing if we didn’t know of the division between the Day and Night. Joel tells us about the Spirit of the Lord, and how we will prophesy, and have visions, but then he talks about darkness and sorrow. The Judgment of the Lord comes at the end of the Night, by that time we are in heaven with the Lord, where we will remain with Him forever.
The name Amos means “A burden”, and a burden is like a big bag we have to carry. Amos was from the town of Tekoa in Judah, but he was sent to the Northern kingdom to prophesy. Amos gives us some help on the end time thinking, and again if we didn’t know about the division between Day and Night, we would get confused. We as Christians are excited about seeing the Lord, that time is a time of rejoicing, but Amos tells us, “woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light” (Amos 5:18). Wow, are we in sin waiting for Jesus? No, there are some who wait for Jesus to punish their enemies, to bring justice on the heads of people, and for them that time will be more darkness on them, then on their enemies. We desire to see the Lord because we love Him, not because we want to see a bunch of people punished. Amos is speaking of the time of Judgment, not the time when we are caught up to be with the Lord.
The name Obadiah means “Servant or worshiper of God”, and his is the shortest book in the Old Testament. Obadiah must have been around during the time when Jerusalem was being beaten up by the Philistines and Arabians, and his time would have been before Jeremiah. Obadiah speaks about Edom, and Edom the nation is named after Edom the person (make sense). Edom was the brother of Jacob, and we remember that Jacob was also known as Israel. When Moses and the children were in the wilderness they came to the land of Edom and wanted to pass through to get to the Promised Land, but Edom wouldn’t allow them to pass. The people of Edom were trouble to Israel, but they had a special protection based on the Law of Moses, being the people of the brother of Jacob. They took advantage of that protection, and they become an example of those who have Christian parents but refuse to become Christian. They trust in the protection over their parents, and they take advantage of that protection, but Obadiah tells us that time comes to an end. Each of us must make our own decision, and each of us stand on that decision.
Jonah is one of our favorite stories because it explains how God will not force us to make the decision, but once we make it, He will hold us to it. The name Jonah means “dove”, and the dove is a sign of Peace, and the Holy Spirit. Jonah was sent to warn a nation, but he was more afraid of the nation, then of God. There is a “fear of God”, and Jonah will show us what that fear is. We can have a fear of falling, or a fear of some bully beating us up, or a fear of getting sick, or a fear of failing, and none of those are the same as our “fear of God”. We know God is all powerful, and we know if we come against God, we are in for it, so our fear is knowing when we walk with God, God walks with us, but when we walk against God, God will be against us. The Cross of Jesus brought two things, one is the Day of Salvation, the other the Night of Judgment. It would be wrong to speak of the Salvation alone, and ignore the Judgment. It would also be wrong to speak so much on the Judgment, we forget the Salvation.
Jonah’s story gives us many things to consider; first, we can run, but we can’t hide from God. Next, we find Jonah missed the point, God sent him to say something, but Jonah thought he was going to die. Jonah was a prophet before this event took place (II Kings 14:25), so he had made the decision to “speak whatever the Lord gives me to say”, which is what any prophet is supposed to do. At the time there was a city called Nineveh, which was in the land of Assyria, and Assyria was like Babylon. The people of Assyria knew of the God of Israel, and the story shows God is willing to give mercy to whomever asks for it.
One day the Lord came to Jonah and said, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). It’s one thing to tell someone, “The Lord loves you, and has called you to a place with Him, a place of peace and comfort”, it’s another to say, “The Lord is not happy with you, you must repent, for your wicked ways have come before Him”. A prophet is not suppose to tell the Lord, “well, I tell you what Jesus, I will only speak the sweet good words, but I won’t give those words of warning”. No sir, a prophet speaks the words given, no more, no less, and never refusing to speak.
Now Jonah allowed his mind to run wild, and his “fear” was not a Fear of God, but a fear of Nineveh, so he ran. He got to a place called Tarshish, a sea port with ships. He paid some guys to ride on their boat, and he went below deck, and was hiding among the cargo.
When the boat was out to sea a great storm came up, and Jonah not only ran, he picked a bunch of idol worshipers to save him. The storm became greater and greater and the men of the boat did their idol worshiping thing, and each cried unto their god(s). Then Jonah was asleep with the cargo, thinking he was safe, but he wasn’t, and the captain came down and yelled at him, “O sleeper, arise, call upon your God, if so be that God will think kindly upon us, and we be saved”. Whenever we trust in man to save us, we will find man cannot, only God can save.
The men then found the trouble was Jonah, the runaway prophet. In order to save themselves they tossed Jonah overboard. That has to tell us something about running to man for salvation, they will toss us overboard to save their own neck.
A big fish came along and swallowed Jonah whole. The strange sign was how the idol worshippers aboard the ship were converted, and not only accepted the God of Jonah, but they gave sacrifices and vows unto the Lord. Even in his efforts to run from the calling, he was still bringing people to God.
This fish was not any fish, it was prepared by the Lord, or a special fish that could keep Jonah inside without causing his skin to rot, or causing him to drown. There are several stories of people being swallowed by whales and sharks, and coming out alive. Whether one believes this or not doesn’t matter, whether we believe God is still reaching out to Jonah, and not allowing him to be killed does. God could have allowed the boat to sink, and all to die, but He didn’t, all were saved. God could have sent many sharks to eat Jonah, but He didn’t, He wanted Jonah to finish the job, and speak to the people.
Jonah sat in the big fish and found his “fear of God”, he also found that if he can repent, so can the people of Nineveh. Jonah prayed, and Jonah knew he was about as close to hell as he wanted to get, and God heard him, and saved him from the belly of the fish. Jonah knew he made the decision to serve God, and running like a rabbit was not serving God. He had a task to do, and he would do it. The fish spit Jonah out on the shore, and Jonah found a donkey, and rode like the wind to Nineveh.
Jonah didn’t waste time, he rode through the city and “preached” “yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed”. They he sat on a hill and waited, but the king of the city repented, and so did the people, and the city was spared. Well, gee, Jonah said it would be destroyed, so is Jonah a false prophet? No, the Bible says he “preached”, and preaching is often saying what can happen, prophecy is saying what will happen. If they had not repented then the city would be destroyed, but they repented and lived. Of course Jonah was not real happy with this, after all he spent time in the belly of the fish for simply running, here these idol worshipers repent, and Bang all is forgiven.
God came to Jonah and gave him some good advice, did God forgive Jonah? Sure, did Jonah make the fish? No, did Jonah make the people in Nineveh? No, God did, and it was God who saved Jonah, and God who forgave the people. Jonah’s job was to preach, not save. Sometimes we think our job is to save the world, it’s not, we preach, God saves.
The name Micah manes “who is like Jehovah?”, and the answer is of course, “no one”. Micah was around during the time Isaiah, and both ministered in the southern kingdom of Judah. Micah was sent to rebuke the leaders of Judah because they had fallen from mercy. They had fallen into immorality, or failed to act right in the sight of God, they failed to take care of the poor, and needy, and they acted like nasty rulers. Micah’s message was for the leaders to “hear” what was said. Later Jesus will tell us, “those with ears to hear”, which means we not only hear the words spoken, but we hear them wanting to do them.
Idol worship was everywhere, and Micah was simply telling the leaders to “look” and “hear” his words, is idol worship right? Is it right for the people of God? Not hardly, so why do it? The leaders were listening to the wrong voice, and they needed to tone their ears to the voice of the Lord.
Next is Nahum, and the name Nahum means “comfort”, and his message concerns the destruction of Nineveh. Wait, didn’t Jonah preach to the people of Nineveh, and the city was spared? Yes, those people in the city were, but then the next generation went right back to the evil ways, and rejected the warning. Jonah was right, the city would be destroyed, he just missed the timing. The lesson in Nahum is we can’t trust in the past repentance of others to save us, we have to repent, and seek the Lord.
The name Habakkuk means “the embracer”, and his message answers the question, “why would God allow evil to go unpunished?”. Habakkuk lived at a time when the people of Israel were up to their necks in idol worship, and refused to listen to the prophets of God, and refused to repent, so God used the heathen army of Babylon to correct the children. Habakkuk had a real hard time understanding why God would use Babylon, and why God would remain silent in the face of His children being taken captive, and some even killed. God told Habakkuk how the people forced God into using Babylon, and how God’s purpose was far greater than the people’s desire to worship idols. God was going to bring the Christ (Messiah) from these people, and how would it look to the heathen if the people of God were worshiping idols like the heathen? Habakkuk considered the answer, and agreed with God, even to the point of praying a real prayer of faith. Even if God allows the wicked to overrun the righteous, even if God allows the people of Israel to fade as the night sky, even if God shall allow the fruit of the land to disappear, even if God should allow the fields to go barren, even if God should allow all the prosperity to fall into the hands of the heathen, even if God turns His back on the people of God, Habakkuk will still rejoice in the Lord, and his joy will be in the God of his Salvation (Hab 3:15-18). Habakkuk introduces us to faith and the purpose of faith. Faith is not something we use to avoid events with, it’s something that keeps us giving God the glory regardless of the event. Faith is a trust in God’s wisdom and purpose, and a knowledge that we may not understand, but God does.
The name Zephaniah means “The Lord hides”, and he speaks more of the protection over the saints who stand in the Night, rather than those of us assigned to the Day. The purpose is not so much to show us how God will operate in the Night, but to show us there will be a Night. When we are able to divide the Day from the Night as God did, we will always rejoice in the knowledge that we are children of the Day, not children of the Night. The Night is for judgment, so the Day is for salvation, what does that mean? There is no wrath of God in the Day, God is continually seeking to save during the Day, but when the Night comes there will be no Salvation, only the stage set for the Judgment. God speaks through Zephaniah and says, “I will utterly consume all things from off the land – I will consume man and beast; I will consume fowls of the heaven, and the fish of the sea”. So how is that a loving God? That statement is directed to Judgment, not Salvation.
God’s manner of Judgment is separate the good from the evil, and to grant the good the things of God, and give the evil that which they have been doing, evil. God doesn’t send anyone to hell, He allows those who play with hell to go there. The world is the world, it’s the place where man can see evil, and make a decision to either remain with the evil, or leave it and join God. Zephaniah shows how God will divide, then allow them who turn from the Lord to travel the road of destruction. Gee, couldn’t God force them to come to Him? He sure could, but He won’t. The Cross is not forced on any of us, it’s presented, which means God has done the work, and has offered the reward to us. We can take it, or reject it. If we accept it, we gain the reward, but like taking a bath, the cleaning is not all at once, it takes time.
Zephaniah also talks about “Jerusalem”, but not so much Jerusalem of the earth, but a place called New Jerusalem, the heavenly city, and shows no matter what happens on earth, or in heaven, New Jerusalem will be saved. So how do we join this New Jerusalem? Receive the Cross of Jesus, allow the Holy Spirit to come into us, and clean us, and work with us. Not a bad deal all in all.
The name Haggai means “festive”, and we remember how God allowed the king of Babylon to take the children captive, and how Daniel was among those taken, as was Ezekiel, well Haggai was the first prophet to speak to those taken by the king of Babylon. Haggai had four messages for the people, one was the call that the time had ended, and it was time to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. This as a sign to the children, and one of the reasons they were taken captive was their trust in the temple, rather than trusting in God. God allowed the temple to be destroyed because it had become an idol. Anything, other than God that we trust in to deliver us is an idol.
There were some still in the land who were so self-centered they didn’t want the temple rebuilt, they liked things the way they were. Haggai tells them it’s God’s will to rebuild the temple, and to stand in the way of God is a big mistake.
Haggai gives us some neat sayings, one is “consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5). From time to time we have to “consider” what we’re doing, are we treating people the way God would? Are we holding to faith? Are we allowing God to love others through us?
The name Zechariah means “the Lord remembers”, and he too was around during the time when the children were in captivity. Zechariah shows us the Day and the Night, but he doesn’t mix them. Later we will see how Jesus will go to a mount and on the mount there will be Moses and Elijah, and the Father will tell the disciples “hear you Him”, meaning hear Jesus. So was it really Moses? And Elijah? Or did they stand for something? They stood for something, Moses for the Law of Moses, and Elijah for the Prophets, showing us in the Night they will not have Jesus, and will not be able to “hear you Him”, but they will have the Two Witnesses of the Law and Prophets. This again shows the Night is for Judgment, not Salvation, since neither the Law or the Prophets can save anyone.
The last Old Testament book is Malachi, and Malachi means “my messenger”, and he points to John the Baptist as the messenger to announce the coming of Jesus. Malachi has some real interesting things to say, one is a warning to us of the Day, the other is to those who are only in this for gain. We do not want to “pollute” the Table of the Lord, we take Communion to be open before the Lord, to allow the Lord to examine us, forgive us, and clean us.
John will tell us the way to heaven is through what he calls “the door”, and Jesus will talk about the time of the “doors”, and we know we enter a house by the door. So who would enter by a window? A thief, and there are those who only seek the gain, they are only looking for what they can get, and Malachi addresses them. If that is all they want, fine, pay their tithe under the Law of Moses, and the windows of heaven will open, but the door will close. So what is the tithe? The tithe is what we give God from the things God has given us. The tithe under the Law of Moses is based on those who seek the blessing, the tithe under Jesus is for those who are blessed. We give because we love to, it’s in us to give, we love to see people when they receive. However, there are those who could care less, as long as they get back more than they give. Those are the ones Malachi talks to, they say, “So, what’s in this for me? What profit can I get from serving God?”, and God says, Pay your tithe, and I will reward you by opening the windows of heaven (Malachi 3:6-14). The only reason they serve God is to get (Malachi 3:14), on the other hand we serve God because we love Him.
God then warns those who seek the “widow” of heaven how the day of the Lord is coming, a day when the proud will do wickedly, and they will become wicked since all they look for is self-gain. We have to “consider our ways”, and if we’re only doing our service for what we can get, we need to repent, and allow God to clean us. We have to “prepare the way” for the Lord in our hearts, and Malachi will end telling the people to prepare for day when a man like Elijah will come with the message of Elijah, saying, “repent”. That’s the place we’re headed to next – the New Testament.
By Rev. G. E. Newmyer – © 2003