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The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

Category Archives: nation

1 timothy 2:1-8, supplications for kings

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,

1 Timothy 2:1

Read 1 Timothy 2 at Bible Gateway.

I realized something when I was working on the chiastic structure for the book of 1 Timothy, which was posted yesterday. This passage stood out to me:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions,  and  giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men,  the  Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting … 1 Tim 2:1-8

This section forms its own chiastic structure, which I did not see before:

1 Tim 2:1-8
1a) 1 Tim 2:1, Let supplications, prayers, intercessions, giving of thanks be made for all men;
1b) 1 Tim 2:2-3, For kings + all in authority, that we may lead quiet lives in godliness (civil authority);
1c) 1 Tim 2:4, God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth;
central axis) 1 Tim 2:5, There is one God + one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus;
2c) 1 Tim 2:6, Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time;
2b) 1 Tim 2:7, Paul, appointed preacher, apostle, teacher in faith and truth (church authority);
2a) 1 Tim 2:8, Therefore, men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

The bookends of the structure, the A pair, concern the prayers of the men, and the B pair concern those who are in authority. On the front side, the prayer is for those in civil authority or government. On the back side, the focus is on church authority, for Paul was appointed a preacher, apostle, and teacher … he was five- fold minister of the gospel.

The church is called to pray for kings and all in authority, so that we might be left in peace to live quiet lives in all godliness. Many of us are not being left in peace today to live quiet lives in all godliness, but kings and those in authority are meddling with our daily life, passing laws and imposing expenses which make living our lives in peace difficult.

Church, I wonder if we have spent more time using our mouths to complain about and dishonor kings and those in authority, rather than intercede for them before the throne to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Out of our mouth comes cursing, not blessing.

Paul instructs the church to let the giving of thanks be made for all men, especially for kings and those in authority. We have not done this. We can thank God that He is on His throne directing the affairs of men and nations, and turning the king’s heart like water in His hand (Pro 21:1). He is smarter than we are and all things serve their purpose. Let us thank Him for it.

Paul also instructs the church to lift up holy hands in prayer without wrath or doubting. On the front side, we are to pray for those in authority, giving thanks; and on the back side, we are to pray without wrath or doubting. There is a lot to be upset about today, but beloved, perhaps we are in this mess because we have made it our business for the past generation to speak ill of kings and those in authority rather than to speak blessing and thanksgiving for them. Perhaps for the past generation we have used our mouth to speak wrath and doubting, instead of using our mouth to intercede for salvation and the gift of wisdom for them in their deliberations.

Yes we need change in this country … and I think it needs to begin with us. Let us repent of our disobedience to the Scriptures, and to the wise instruction for the church. Let us repent of fostering a culture of dishonor for our leaders (Israel did the same in the wilderness against Moses, and this did not please God). Let us forgive sins done against us by those in authority, and speak life over our leaders and our country. If God’s people, not the atheists, unbelievers, and ungodly, will humble themselves and pray and seek His face, and repent of our sin of dishonor, wrath, and doubting, and disobedience to His Word, and turn from our wicked ways, then God will hear us, and forgive US our sins, and heal our land (2 Chr 7:14).

For further reading: roadmap to national restoration (2 chr 7:14)

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deuteronomy 26:16-19, conclusion to the commandments, part two

Read Deuteronomy 26:16-19 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: deuteronomy 26:16-19, conclusion to the commandments, part one

(Please review the teaching tools of scripture, especially the Hebrew paragraph divisions and chiastic structures. The paragraphs marked by an “s” at their close are weak paragraphs, which indicate a change of facet but not a change of theme or topic. The paragraphs marked by a “p” at their close are strong paragraphs, which indicate the completion of a theme or topic.)

The next paragraph which follows the explanation of the Tenth Commandment, is a strong paragraph:

Deu 26:16-19 {p}

“This day the Lord your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. Today you have proclaimed the Lord to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.” Deu 26:16-19

We saw last time that the one who obeys these commandments, the Ten Commandments and the explanation of what it means to keep them that Moses has been explaining since Deu 5:1, is the one who loves the Lord their God with all their heart and with all their soul. Love looks like obedience.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Joh 14:15

The paragraph then concludes with an interesting comparison, one of the teaching tools of Scripture. Today the people have proclaimed the Lord to be their God (vs. 17), and today the Lord has proclaimed the people to be His special people (“segullah,” vs. 18). They entered into a covenant with each other, and each side has promised something. In fact the covenant made on Mt Sinai is in the form of a Hebrew marriage covenant, and both the “husband” (YHVH Elohiym) and the “wife” (Israel) have promised something to the other.

Israel has proclaimed the Lord to be their God, and promised as a result of that, that they would keep His commandments and walk in His ways – the commandments we have been studying for the past five months. The Lord has proclaimed Israel to be His people (who are the children of Israel?), and promised as a result of that, that He would set them high above all the other nations, as a set apart (holy) people to the Lord. When we do our part, He does His part.

Nation, would you be restored to the place of blessing you have formerly enjoyed?

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chr 7:14

Then let the people who have proclaimed the Lord to be their God – not the atheists, unbelievers, and wicked – humble themselves, pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, in that they have not kept the Ten Commandments that the Lord has commanded His people to keep, and let them begin to walk in them. And He will hear from heaven, He will forgive our sin, and He will heal our land.

THE END.

deuteronomy 17:14-20, authority of the king

Read Deuteronomy 17:14-20 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: deuteronomy 17:8-13, national authority

(Please review the teaching tools of scripture, especially the Hebrew paragraph divisions and chiastic structures. The paragraphs marked by an “s” at their close are weak paragraphs, which indicate a change of facet but not a change of theme or topic. The paragraphs marked by a “p” at their close are strong paragraphs, which indicate the completion of a theme or topic.)

This section, Deu 17:14-20, is the third section explaining the fifth commandment, Honor your father and mother. (The fifth commandment is explained in Deu 16:18-18:22, and this is my summary of it.)

Deu 17:14-20 {s} Authority of the king

The focus remains on national authorities, and shifts from the authority of the high priest or judge, to the king. At first Israel did not have a king like the nations around them. They had a cohesive national authority which combined the political power with the spiritual power: Moses + Aaron, and Joshua + Eleazar. If you go back far enough in Torah, you find that God’s original plan was just to call Moses, and He granted Moses his brother Aaron as his mouthpiece, as a concession to him. The cohesive national authority was directly under the authority of God, and listened to Him, and carried out His commands.

But, when His people desired to have a king like the nations around them, then God separated the powers. You might be interested to know that the pagan nations around Israel were patterned after the pattern established by Nimrod. He was the first king in the earth after the Flood. He established himself as the political authority (the king) who heard the words of the gods (he claimed) and related them to the people (the prophet); and established rituals and made sacrifices to the gods on the people’s behalf (the priest). As all the pagan nations came from Babel, you can see this same pattern in the cultures of ancient civilizations. The title “pharaoh” was not just the Egyptian title for “king,” but it meant, “voice of Ra,” Ra being the Egyptian sun god. The king voiced the words of the god. The nations around Israel combined the separate authorities and concentrated power in their king. God is here separating these powers and dispersing them for His nation.

God does not here establish responsibilities for the king, concerning the nation, although they are explained elsewhere in Scripture. But He here establishes boundaries and restrictions for the king. I think it is because, as history has shown us, it is all too common for kings to cross boundaries and concentrate power in themselves, as a factor of fallen human nature.

A king must be the man whom God chooses. In a nation where the king is elected, then, it is His people’s responsibility to remain in the presence of God until they have heard who God’s choice is, and then elect him. Kings must be of the people. The American founders encoded this principle in the Constitution when they closed the office of president to immigrants. But there is more to it than that — the king shall be of the people of God, and not a stranger to Him or His covenants of promise.

The king shall not multiply to himself horses, wives, or much wealth. Horses, I believe, is a reference to military power, because in the ancient world, horses were kept for cavalry and chariots, and were not used in the course of every day life. Donkeys and camels were used to bear burdens or for regular transportation. Men multiplying military power to themselves, wives to themselves, or much wealth to themselves, had a hard time keeping their heart from being ensnared by these things, so that their hearts turned away from the Lord their God. We see the wisdom of this command, because Israel’s greatest king, who multiplied horses, wives, and wealth to himself, let his heart be turned away – Solomon. If it was such a temptation that even Solomon could not avoid it, then these boundaries are very wise indeed.

So how shall the king keep his heart pure to the Lord his God?

“Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.” Deu 17:18-20

Notice the command to copy for himself the book of the Law. The book of the Law, the five books of Moses, was the only Scripture there was in those days. The king was not to have the Levites copy the book for him. He was to copy the book for himself. I think copying is a very wise teaching tool that God uses to begin to teach man His word; for when a person rewrites something, it is embedded by different pathways in the brain, much more firmly than if it is only read. I can read the Scriptures all day. But when I begin to write them and write about them, new avenues of revelation into their meaning are almost always opened up for me by His Spirit. I believe that if copying works for the king, to cause him to learn to fear the Lord his God, being careful to observe His words, then it is the best penmanship and language exercise we can have our children do also.

When the king is done copying God’s word for himself, he is to keep it with him and read it every day, all the days of his life. He must fear the Lord and be careful to observe His statutes. He must not lift his heart above his brethren, by being proud and arrogant of his authority over them.

THEN the nation will be blessed by the exercise of the king’s authority over them!

Continued: deuteronomy 18:1-8, authority of the levites

deuteronomy 17:8-13, national authority

Read Deuteronomy 17:8-13 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: deuteronomy 16:18-17:7, judging with just judgment

(Please review the teaching tools of scripture, especially the Hebrew paragraph divisions and chiastic structures. The paragraphs marked by an “s” at their close are weak paragraphs, which indicate a change of facet but not a change of theme or topic. The paragraphs marked by a “p” at their close are strong paragraphs, which indicate the completion of a theme or topic.)

This section, Deu 17:8-13, is the next weak paragraph explaining the fifth commandment, Honor your father and mother. (The fifth commandment is explained in Deu 16:18-18:22, and this is my summary of it.)

Deu 17:8-13 {s} Authority of the high priest and judge

Each of the weak paragraphs in this section explains the different kinds of delegated authority (as there is more than one authority God has given in the earth, Rom 13:1). Yesterday we saw that God has delegated authority to local judges to judge local cases (“in all your gates,” Deu 16:18). When a case is too difficult, the local judges are to take it to the national leaders to judge (Deu 17:8). Not any national leader: the high priest, the Levites, or the judge “there in those days,” (Deu 17:9). Before Israel had a king, they were judged by a national leader- judge raised up and appointed by God — Moses, Joshua, Deborah, and Samuel are examples.

Why these and not the king? This is where America’s founding fathers got the concept of separation of powers from. Not all the delegated authority is in one basket. There are local authorities, and national authorities. The national authorities are not to micro manage the smaller localities, there are local authorities for that. There are judges, and high priests, and kings, and they have responsibilities which differ from each other. The king is the political leader, he does not judge matters of the Law or Torah. That is not his expertise. The high priest, the Levites, and the judge raised up by God – they are presumably experts in the Law or Torah, and they are to judge the difficult cases.

There are spiritual authorities and political authorities. The local and national, spiritual and political, serve in balance with each other, preventing a single authority from gaining absolute power. This section contains an admonition which is hard for Americans to hear:

“You shall do according to the sentence which they pronounce upon you in that place which the Lord chooses. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they order you. According to the sentence of the Torah in which they instruct you, according to the judgment which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the sentence which they pronounce upon you.” Deu 17:10-11

To honor God’s authority is to submit to His judgments as right and true, and to the judgments of those He has placed in authority as right and true. We cannot have the idea that we will only obey if we like the judgment or are in agreement with it. What if we are wrong and they are right? If they are right and we rebel, then the wrong is laid on our doorstep. If they are wrong and we obey, then the wrong is laid on their doorstep. And those in authority have a much greater burden and responsibility, thus a much greater consequence, to be sure that they are right.

These are the questions that have played out in history and man has sincerely grappled with. The Nuremberg Trials put Nazi leaders on trial (not all Nazis) because of the truth of this principle, that those in authority have a much greater burden to be right and thus will face a much greater consequence if wrong. The leaders tried to excuse their actions by saying they were only following Hitler’s orders. That did not excuse them, the international court decided, because there is a natural law which every man knows and should not violate. This is a secular way of saying that truth and justice are woven into the fabric of our universe and are universally known (the Scripture says that all things are upheld by the word of His power, Heb 1:3).

What if our national leaders are ordering us to do something contrary to the Law (God’s word) and not in accordance with it (Acts 5:17-32)? In other words, God’s Torah and His word (which explains His Torah, not contradicts it) is the final and ultimate judge – all lesser authority flows from it and from Him! We must know it and Him! And we must appoint only those who know it and Him, and who are submitted to it and to Him, to positions of power!

We will continue to examine these questions, but that scenario is an indictment against us also, because in our system our national leaders are elected, and if they are issuing orders contrary to the Law, then why did we elect them? We are suffering the consequences of our foolishness in that case.

These are the kinds of things that we must repent from, since our founders gave us a beautiful system uniquely in accord with the wisdom of God found in His word, and we have allowed it to slip from us and to be usurped. The first thing we need to do, is to learn again the principles of wisdom contained in the Ten, and to submit our hearts to that wisdom, and to teach it to our children and as many others as will listen. And then repent of our pride and foolishness before God, because only He can heal such a woeful mess as we have made.

Continued:

2 chronicles 7:14, turning from wicked ways part two

Read 2 Chronicles 7 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: 2 chronicles 7:14, turning from wicked ways

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chr 7:14

When we embrace Torah to learn God’s righteous judgments, and to learn what defines wickedness so that we might turn from it, we find that God has kindly given us an easy summary in the Ten Commandments.

Commandments 1-5 (Love God) Commandments 6-10 (Love your neighbor)
1. Have no other gods before God; 6. You shall not murder;
2. You shall not make idols to worship; 7. You shall not commit adultery;
3. You shall not profane the name of YHVH; 8. You shall not steal;
4. You shall honor the Sabbath day to keep it holy; 9. You shall not bear false witness;
5. Honor your father and mother; 10. You shall not covet.

The entire Torah explains what it means to keep these Ten. The Ten can be further condensed to the Two, Love God, and Love your neighbor (Mat 22:37-40), and the Two can be further condensed to one verb: Love (Rom 13:8-10). This is the Law of Love.

The written record of the Ten (and the Torah) are like a mirror, and looking into it explains to us what walking in love looks like. Likewise, the love of God is like a mirror, and looking into it explains what keeping the Ten (and the Torah) looks like. We need both of them. Some are unbalanced on the side of the Word as the Pharisees often were, who exacted tithes of mint, dill, and cumin while neglecting mercy; and some are unbalanced on the side of the Spirit as many modern evangelicals are, who indulge the flesh while neglecting truth, holiness, or obedience. The Word and the Spirit always agree.

If we are truly walking in the love of God, we will not transgress the Ten (and by extension, the Torah). If we are transgressing the Ten (and by extension, the Torah), we are not truly walking in the love of God, no matter how loudly some voice of man is proclaiming that we are. We have instead left the path of God’s love, His ways, and His righteous judgments, and have embraced wickedness.

It is from that wickedness that God is calling His people – not the atheists, unbelievers, and unrighteous – to repent of and turn from. We are going to look at each of the Ten in detail.

Continued: learning righteousness and wickedness from the ten commandments

2 chronicles 7:14, turning from wicked ways

Read 2 Chronicles 7 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: 2 chronicles 7:14, seeking His face part two

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chr 7:14

This roadmap to national restoration is addressed to God’s people who are called by His name, not atheists and unbelievers. Why does the Scripture say that His people need to turn from their wicked ways? What is wicked about their ways?

This is the first thing we must understand. God is God, He is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. He is the One who defines what is righteous and what is wicked. He is the only One who can!

When man ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he increased in wickedness so greatly, that he had to be removed from the face of the earth by Noah’s Flood, except for one family. Since that time, God has given to man the knowledge of what is good and evil, righteousness and sin, justice and injustice, in the form of His commandments and precepts. These were given to the only nation who served the One True God, Creator of heaven and earth, in a world which had rejected Him – the nation of Israel on Mount Sinai, and recorded in Torah.

The precepts in Torah are called the judgments of God – they are the deeds or ways which God has judged to be good or evil:

So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do.” Exo 24:3

“You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the LORD your God.” Lev 18:4

“And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this Torah which I set before you this day?” Deu 4:8

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. Psa 19:9

Moreover, the definition of good and evil, righteousness and sin has not changed. The judgments of God are perpetual and eternal:

The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Psa 119:160

“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Torah till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Mat 5:18-19

God’s people who have discarded Torah, do not know what His definition of righteousness and sin is! Or else, they have dismissed it, and have substituted human precepts in its place, just as Ephraim did as we read yesterday:

Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment,
Because he willingly walked by human precept. Hos 5:11

They have dismissed Torah because they have believed that since salvation is by grace through faith and not by obedience, obedience has no place in the believer’s life. This is actually an established heresy in the history of the Church, called the antinomian heresy (which states, since the Law is not the instrument of salvation it has no value). Even though this is the prevailing view in the modern church, it is not the view held by Jesus, the apostles, or the Church throughout its history, and has been refuted many times!

Because of this misunderstanding, many of God’s people have discarded God’s definitions of righteousness and sin, and instead walk after human precepts, and in their own ways, every man doing what seems right in their own eyes.

The first step toward turning from our wicked ways, is finding out what God has defined as righteous and wicked. Once we do, will we have humbled ourselves enough, I wonder, to submit to His judgment as righteous, just, and true, and not be offended by Him?

Continued: 2 chronicles 7:14, turning from wicked ways part two