Jesus the Christ: H.C. Lord's Day 12

Q 31. Why is he called “Christ,” meaning “anointed”?
A 31. Because he has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit to be our chief prophet and teacher who fully reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our deliverance; our only high priest who has delivered us by the one sacrifice of his body, and who continually pleads our cause with the Father; and our eternal king who governs us by his Word and Spirit, and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us.

Q 32. But why are you called a Christian?
A 32. Because by faith I am a member of Christ and so I share in his anointing.  I am anointed to confess his name, to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks, to strive with a free conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for eternity.

When we talk about Jesus we often refer to Him as “Jesus Christ” as if Christ was His last name.  We would possibly presume, without much thought, that Jesus is the son of Joseph and Mary Christ.  That is, however, far from the truth.  The word “Christ” is actually a title; in fact, for the Jews, it is THE title.  Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah.”  Claiming someone as the Christ in the time that Jesus lived, or anytime in the history of the people of Israel, meant that you indeed were claiming that person as God’s Savior.  This claim, if found to be false by the religious leaders, was also punishable by death.

With that in mind, the profession of Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” takes on a much greater and more personal meaning for Him.  Not only did he catch on to something that everyone else in that group hadn’t quite gotten yet, but He willingly put His life on the line to confess His faith in Jesus.

But the title of “Christ” is not just something given by humans, it also means anointed.  Anointing is a conferring of title and status, the giving of identity and it can only be done by one with authority.  In the case of Jesus, only God can truly confer the status that Jesus holds as “God’s Savior,” or the “Messiah.”  Jesus is ordained by God and anointed with the Holy Spirit, something that we see most vividly in Jesus’ baptism:

Matthew 3:13-17
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Jesus’ anointing does more than grant Him a title, though, it also carries with it the fulfillment of Old Testament offices in Scripture.  These offices are also God-ordained positions within the people of Israel which Jesus fulfills in His life and ministry.  They are known as the offices of prophet, priest, and king.

Prophet:  The Old Testament prophet is one that fulfills the will of God among the people and in the world while also making God known to the people.  Prophets were often known as the mouthpiece of God, bringing the Word of the Lord, and sometimes the warning of the Lord, to the Israelites.  Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are the fulfillment of God’s will to bring about salvation, redemption, and restoration to the whole world.  More than that, though, Jesus is the divine Word of God, making God known in the world, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, and also, at times, warning of the coming judgment for those who do not follow God.

Priest: The Old Testament priest was one of mediation.  Priests represented the people before God in worship and in sacrifice and also represented God to the people in conferring forgiveness and instruction for the restitution of sins.  They performed the sacrificial rites and oversaw the religious cult (formal actions and activity of worship).  Jesus, in Scripture, is called the “Great High Priest,” and is Himself the end of the formal priestly tradition.  He is the ultimate mediator between humanity and God, being seated at God’s right hand, praying and perfecting our prayers before God.  Most of all, Jesus is the mediator because He is the sacrifice for our sins and through Him, we are forgiven and made right in God’s eyes.  Because of Him, we can once again have a relationship with God.

King:  The Old Testament King was one of both governance and protection.  Kings were anointed and given power by God to govern the people of God with the goal of following God’s law and even expanding the Kingdom (though this didn’t work well often).  God also charged the Kings with the protection of His people.  Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is over all of creation and God has placed all things under His feet.  Jesus, being God, is the creator and sustainer of all things as well, sharing in the Father’s role of governance and provision for the entire universe.  Scripture also tells us that Jesus watches of God’s people, the Church, keeping them in good times and in bad.

As Christians, we share in Christ’s anointing as adopted sons and daughters of God.  This means that we carry on these roles in the world today as well.  We are called to work God’s will in the world and make God known through preaching the Gospel and sharing God’s loe for all people.  We are called to  represent God in the world and to be “living sacrifices” of thanksgiving for all that He has done for us.  Scripture says that we will also reign with Christ over creation through all eternity which, though future oriented, also has a present and active impact on our posture toward creation and our role to care for everything that God has made.



Hebrews 7 – Melchizedek

Read Hebrews 7

The Old Testament priest, Melchizedek, is a rather mysterious character in the Bible, showing up only a couple times throughout all of Scripture.  He shows up in Genesis 14 and blesses Abraham after he returns from battle.  In return, Abraham gives 10% of everything he had.  This event, though isolated, becomes a rather a foreshadowing of things to come.

Everytime time Melchizedek is mentioned in the Bible after Genesis 14, he is mentioned by saying “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”  This saying is unique, and it appears to be said in a manner which suggests familiarity from the reader, though its true meaning in an ancient context is probably no lost.

Interestingly, the name Melchizedek means “righteous king,” and it is noted in Scripture that he is the king of Salem, which means “peace.”  There may be something to these meanings that is drawn forward and fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.

In addition to this, Melchizedek combines the functions of both king and priest, something only two other people do in Scripture: King David and Jesus Christ.  So when the writer of Hebrews is talking about Jesus being like (better than) Melchizedek, it is likely that the writer is referring to this in the same way that David mentions this in Psalm 110:4.  While David is an imperfect echo of Melchizedek, both David and Melchizedek are foreshadows of greater things to come, the true fulfillment of both King and Priest (and Prophet) in Jesus Christ.

In addition to this, Jesus Christ fulfills this role eternally as the resurrected Lord, the Great High Priest (in the order of Melchizedek), and the true prophet of God who brings the Word of the Lord to the people, and also represents the people before God.  Everything that comes before Him is a foreshadow, pointing to Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption that came through Him.



Hebrews 6 – Moving Forward

Read Hebrews 6

There are some difficult sayings in this chapter that, when we read them, don’t always jive with what we think we know about Scripture and what we know about God’s grace and salvation either.  The author says that it’s impossible for those who are of the faith and then turn away “to be brought back to repentance.”  How does this stand up next to Paul’s words in Romans 8, that nothing can separate us from the love of Go that is in Christ Jesus?

Considering these words, and looking at those around them, and the context in which the author is writing, it doesn’t seem so much that the author is trying to set down some sort of new doctrine where salvation can be lost, but rather to cast a warning about falling away from the faith and the impact that it can have both on the life of the believer and on the church as well.

None of this, however, negates the promise of God, originally made to Abraham, to be God to His people.  Because of God’s mercy, love, and enduring faithfulness, we know that God will always be with us and never turn His back on us.  No matter what we do, God promises to be faithful to us.

This promise was confirmed to us in Jesus Christ, who came to the earth as a human to make a way for us to be in a relationship with God.  As Jesus eternally fulfills the role of “priest,” as the writer of Hebrews says, He eternally intercedes for us before God.  As the sacrifice for our sins, He washes us clean so that we have the hope of salvation which can never be taken away.

Here the writer of Hebrews encourages us to move forward, deeper into this relationship.  As we realize the love that God has for us, we respond in relationship with God, growing closer to Him and taking greater hold of our hope and salvation.



Hebrews 5 – The Great High Priest

Read Hebrews 5

There are three major offices, or important positions, in the Old Testament: Prophet, Priest, and King.  Each one has its own function.  However, each represents God to the people in a different way.  Jesus fulfills the roles of each of these offices.  He is the King of kings, the one true King who will reign forever.

He is also the Prophet to which all the prophets before pointed.  Jesus is the very Word of God, as John says, and represents the ultimate way that God speaks to His people and communicates His love.

Here, the writer of Hebrews talks about Jesus as fulfilling the role of  Priest.  In the Old Testament, the priests serve as a mediator between God and the people.  Priests represented the people before God through the sacrificial system, bringing the sacrifices of the people to God and seeking forgiveness.  They were also responsible for the worship in the Temple, bringing the worship of the people before God.

In the same way, they represented God to the people, communicating that forgiveness as well.  The priests were set apart from the rest of the people, consecrated and clean, keeping to the rituals of cleansing so as to be able to do the work of worship as part of their calling.

Jesus fulfills this role in many ways.  He represents God to the people, the incarnation of God in human flesh.  Being human, Jesus understands our weaknesses, but being God, He is able to come before God.  He also communicates the forgiveness of God through his ministry and also through His work on the cross, not just offering a sacrifice, but becoming the sacrifice for our sins.

Because of this, the author of Hebrews writes, we can approach God’s throne with confidence and boldness, knowing that we have been cleansed through the blood and offering of the Great High Priest and are welcomed into God’s presence as His own people.



Day 352: Hebrews 5-7; Jesus the Great High Priest

Did you ever have that one pastor that didn’t seem like he lived in the real world and couldn’t relate to anything or anyone?  Have you been at a church that has cycled through pastors more times than you’ve had birthdays in the past year?  Sometimes it seems like those that have felt to call to lead the church are the ones that are buried behind a barricade of books and an office door that is too often closed.  Other times is seems like the right people for the job keep moving on to other churches or opportunities.  So many things in life are disappointing; either very good and too temporary, or a bad fit and seemingly way to permanent.  Today’s Scripture though, tells us that Jesus is neither.  Jesus is perfect and permanent!

If you take some time to think about the potential for a Messiah coming, and then remembering that the Messiah was actually God that was incarnated into human flesh, it doesn’t take long to realize that there could have been many things that could have gone wrong with this.  God is holy, perfect in every way.  In some cases, people can and have accused God of being so far removed that He could never fully understand the hurt, pain, and difficulty that we face in life everyday.  Some would consider God to be both unknowable (agnostics) and/or completely disconnected from the world (deists).  In any case, these are both potential understandings for God and could have been how Jesus came to earth, so wholly different that he wouldn’t fit in anywhere and really wouldn’t have understood what human life is really like.

On the other hand, the sending of a Messiah that took on human flesh, and lived a human life in all its fullness is also one that is abundantly temporary for our situation.  We all know that the death rate has held pretty steady at 100% for all of recorded history.  There had been and have been plenty of “messiahs” that have come before and after Jesus whose existence on this earth and in this life was cut short… very short.  Their grandiose claims cut short, followers were left to pick up the pieces and figure out what to do next.

Jesus is neither of these.  Jesus is neither just a human or just divine, He is perfectly both.  To accomplish what He came to do, He has to be both.  As the end of Hebrews 4 says from yesterday’s reading, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The writer of Hebrews goes on to talk about Jesus as fulfilling the office of high priest, the one who intercedes for the people to God.  In the past, these high priests were human and had to offer sacrifices for their own sins before the could come before the Lord and offer sacrifices on behalf of the people.  Yet Jesus, the Great High Priest, knew no sin and as a matter of His intercession for us, offered Himself as the sacrifice, thus cleansing us from our sins forever.

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.  Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.

Yet Christ takes on this office and brings it to its fulfillment.  In fact the nature of the office of priest and all of the Hebrew Sacrificial rites point towards Jesus and the sacrifice that He made.  Without them we would really have no context in which to truly understand the fullness of Jesus work in life and in death.

I like how the writer of Hebrews continues on to talk about the certainty of the promise of God that we have in Christ Jesus.  Because of all that had happened before, and God’s continuing work through His people leading up to Jesus Christ, we can know and have full assurance that through Christ we too can be sure of the promise of God in our lives as well.



Day 315: John 18-19; The Glorification of Jesus

We come to it again, for the forth and final time in our journey through the Gospels: the Crucifixion of Jesus.  For John though, this is more than just a recount of Jesus awful suffering and death.  It is, as we have talked about, the glorification of Jesus, the pinnacle of all He came to do one earth!  If the first chapter of John was a Theological high point from which we look down on the rest of the book, as we said on that day, then this would be the other high point, perhaps equal too or second only to that first chapter.  It is at this point in John’s writing, like in Luke, where we see John appealing to the Scriptures in a more intentional way, showing how the actions of Jesus in this narrative of His death are fulfilling what had been said about Him throughout the Bible.  John also makes careful work of mentioning how Jesus is fulfilling the things that He said of Himself as well.

Because we have already read through the crucifixion narrative of Jesus, I don’t feel like there is as much to say today as there otherwise would be.  It is a lot easier to write about things that we haven’t talked about, like the I AM statements and the Farewell Discourse of Jesus, things that are unique to John.  So in light of that, I think that I just want to mention a few things that are unique to this narrative and then encourage you to take some time to reflect on the book of John, or perhaps the whole story of Jesus as it has been presented in the Gospels over this past month or so.

The firs thing that is rather unique about this particular narrative is that of the questioning of the high priests.  It is mentioned here that they Annas, the father-in-law of the priest who ‘prophesied’ that one man would die for the whole nation of Israel.  I’m sure he didn’t know that he was talking about Jesus, but all the same, these things have taken place and we have seen the work that Jesus did for us on the cross.  I thought it was kind of interesting how Jesus, during His questioning, never seems to raise His voice or lose His temper.  Though struck unjustly, Jesus maintains His cool and lays out a simple question for why it happened.  I noticed that He didn’t get struck again… at least not in this narrative.

I think the conversation between Jesus and Pilate is also interesting:
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”  Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?”  Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”  Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”  Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

What a strange place to end the conversation!  Yet I think that John is trying to make a point here.  There is a much higher and greater purpose that is taking place in this whole narrative that only Jesus can see.  They all think that they are caught up in some earthly drama that is about to be ended with the killing of a mere man, yet Jesus is pointing out very clearly that there are things much greater and more significant that are going on here and Pilate simply doesn’t understand.  John signifies this by ending the conversation with Pilate’s question, “What is truth?

Finally, and I think this is of incredible importance because it shows once again, how the people of Israel have turned from God so much that they are blind to all that is going on.  All of what has taken place was foretold in Scripture and these religious leaders were in the right places at the right times to recognize this.  Yet they did not and we see this most clearly in Pilate’s final attempt to free Jesus:
From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”  So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha.  Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”  They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”  So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.

We have no king but Caesar… wow… just wow… remember all the way back to the time when the Israelites cried out for a King to Samuel?  Moses had written to them in the law about how kings would lead them away from God and that they should be a people that have no king except God (the King of the Universe?)  It was then that they cried “give us a king!”  No the King of the Universe, God Himself sits before them (which they don’t see obviously) and they cry to His face “We have no king but Caesar!”  Fortunately for us there is a greater power at work in all of this, that even though there are those that don’t see or know Truth, God’s will is still alive and well…  This is true for us at all times as well.  Even in the darkest of hours, God is still alive and well!  And as the stone is rolled in front of the tomb once again today, we know that there is a bright hope for tomorrow!



Day 133: 2 Chronicles 33-34; Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah

Spiritual State and the Kings of Israel Photo Credit: http://www.flester.com/blog/2008/03/14/the-kings-of-israel-and-judah

Spiritual State and the Kings of Israel
Photo Credit: www.flester.com

Back and forth we seem to be going at this point.  Good king… bad king… good king… bad king… good king… and now we’ve come to Manasseh, arguably the worst king of Judah.  According to what we read today, Manasseh did more evil in the sight of God than the combined evil of all the nations that were present in the land of Canaan prior to the conquest of Israel back in Joshua.  This comment is made in a two-fold manner, I think, in that it is meant to communicate two particular things when it comes to the nation of Judah under the reign of Manasseh.  First, it is communicating the sheer quantity and quality of the evil that is being done.  Manasseh too has burned his sons and set up alters and places to worship other gods, even in the courts of the temple.  He also sets up an image of another god in the Temple itself.  All of which are utterly detestable in the sight of God.

Also, the phrase about the amount of evil done by Manasseh and the people of Judah during this time period is meant to draw a parallel between the people of God at this time and the many nations of people that were exterminated by Israel when they conquered the land of Canaan, a judgment that was brought on them because of the evil that they were doing in the sight of the Lord.  Judah, now, as we are told, has done more evil than all of them put together.  What happened to those nations?  Judgment.  The writer of Chronicles is drawing this parallel, showing that even though God is patient, there is a limit to it, and a limit to how long He will tolerate sin.  We see this in in Genesis 15 when God says to Abraham, “…for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”  When it was complete, they were wiped out.

Josiah Finds the Book of the Law: Photo Credit: www.kenrick.edu

Josiah Finds the Book of the Law:
Photo Credit: www.kenrick.edu

Unfortunately, this parallel is drawn and confirmed by Huldah the prophetess to King Josiah many years later after the book of the Law has been found.  God speaks through her to King Josiah saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: “Tell the man who sent you to me, Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book that was read before the king of Judah.  Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands, therefore my wrath will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.

This is bad news for Josiah, due largely to the sins of his grand father.  Yet even today’s reading is not without its message and juxtaposition between good and evil.  Remember, the audience that is bring written to is the returned exiles of Judah.  The writer of the Chronicles is indeed recounting the history of Judah, that they may know who they are AND that they may better know the God that they worship.  Two times in today’s readings we see a profound repentance and the mercy of God.  One is of Josiah, the repentance of whom stays the wrath of God for at least a generation.  The other though, is a bit more profound in that the man classified as doing more evil than that of 10 Canaanite nations, and quite possibly responsible for bringing about the exile of Judah, also repents of his sins while in captivity in Babylon.  Does God leave him to his imprisonment?  NO!  In fact, God restores him to the throne and we read that it is then that Manasseh knows that the Lord is God and he turns from his evil ways.  Is this not true of us as well?  When we turn from our sin, we understand all the more how great and abundant the grace of God is.



Day 122: 1 Chronicles 24-26; Prosperity and Preparations for the Temple

Yesterday we largely covered chapter 21 of first Chronicles.  There was a lot there.  Today we are going to walk through the whole of chapters 22-26, mostly because they are all linked together.  The reading for today has everything to do with how David prepared for the building of the Temple in his life even though he wasn’t able to actually build the structure itself.  However, today’s readings are, as I said, linked to the readings from yesterday, and from the past several days, that talk about David’s prosperity in all that he did.  God gave David victory wherever he went and in that prosperity, David gained great wealth.  At the beginning of 1 Chronicles 22, we read a brief summary of all that David has at his disposal.

Culture of Prosperity... Photo Credit: www.lifelibertytech.com

Culture of Prosperity…
Photo Credit: www.lifelibertytech.com

In our world today, we are faced with a great deal of mixed messages that have to do with prosperity.  Work hard, get money, buy nice things, and be happy… this it what our culture tells us is the meaning of life.  The whole American culture is based on this idea.  We even have pastors like Joel Osteen that are misleading congregants with false doctrine using misquoted proof texts into things like “the prosperity gospel” (keep in mind that when the primary focus of all the messages and books of a pastor are on ‘you,’ their focus might be a bit questionable).  All of these things wholly and completely miss the point of what is going on here, and what the Bible talks about when it comes to being blessed and prospering.  The point here isn’t that David followed God so that he would get rich.  Neither is the point that David used what God blessed him with on himself to make himself happy.  The primary motif of Scripture when it comes to the Lord’s blessings is that we are blessed that we may be a blessing.  We follow God because we love God and desire to follow in His ways.  In doing that, God will bless us that we in turn may be a blessing to others.  This is exactly what David does.

Michelangelo david solomon

Michelangelo david solomon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If we think back over the course of the past couple days, and of all the narratives of David in 1 Chronicles and in 2 Samuel, we see that there is a very consistent pattern to what happens with David.  We do not see him attaining a victory and then going to the Lord, nor we we see him save back any of what is taken from his enemies.  Instead, we see David seeking the Lord’s will before he does anything, and after it is done, David honors the Lord with all of the spoils of war.  We read this in the record of Davids charge to his son Solomon regarding the Temple in 1 Chronicles 22.  And what is the purpose for this?  That Solomon spend it all on himself?  No… in fact, David exhorts his son saying,

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

The purpose here is clear… if we follow the Lord, He will prosper us in our walk.  Again, the purpose is not to be prospered, but to follow the Lord because we love Him and that is what He calls us to do.  For more on this, I would like to direct you to ChristianPF.org.  This is a wonderful article about what the Bible says about prosperity.

The rest of the reading for today has to do with David’s organization of the people that will work in, worship at, and help run the Temple.  All these are people that have been set apart for service to the Lord.  In the same way that we read genealogies at the beginning of this book, so to can we read the names of the people here.  Remember, this is one way in which the people of Israel, the remnant that has returned from exile is re-locating and re-identifying themselves with and within their own history.  They are, as we have said, walking backwards into the future.



Day 98: 1 Kings 6-7; The Temple of the Lord

The Temple of the Lord (often referred to as Solomon’s Temple).  I don’t know that words necessarily do it justice.  I doubt that any sort of artist’s rendering would either, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, we’ll take a look at a few to gain some perspective.

Photo Credit: http://knightsoftemplar.wordpress.com/category/002-temple-of-solomon/

Solomon’s Temple
Photo Credit: http://knightsoftemplar.wordpress.com/category/002-temple-of-solomon/

If we think back to the building of the tabernacle, much of the descriptions here are similar.  While the dimensions are much greater for the Temple, there is still a great deal of precision that is described here and a great deal of care that is taken to not only preserve these descriptions, but also to craft each piece.  I think its amazing that everything that went into this temple building was made off-site “so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built.”  Every single one of these stones, much like the building of the great pyramids of Egypt, were hauled in from elsewhere.  Simply amazing, and what a marvelous feat for these people to accomplish.

Floor Plan of Solomon's TemplePhoto Credit: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/king_solomons_temple/page_13.htm

Floor Plan of Solomon’s Temple
Photo Credit: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/king_solomons_temple/page_13.htm

As we talked about so long ago with the building of the Tabernacle, we see here, and in yesterday’s reading, that God once again works through people with certain gifts which He has given them.  1 Kings refers specifically to Hiram of Tyre, yet we read that there are literally thousands of people at work doing various things to help in the construction of the Temple.  God has gifted each and every one of these people for this work at this time.

Looking at this floor plan, I think it is interesting to see the full layout of the Temple building and the surrounding court.  Anything strike you as interesting?  A Cross… with the Holy of Holies at the exact center.  Interestingly, this is also the shape of a many, if not most, of Christian Cathedrals as well.  The Temple building itself is a rectangle, yes, but this whole area including the Temple courts was designated for worship!  Even back then, this symbol of faith is prominently displayed for all to see!

Solomon's TemplePhoto Credit: http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2008/temple.html

Solomon’s Temple
Photo Credit: http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2008/temple.html



Day 77: 1 Samuel 1-3; The Call of Samuel

As we begin our transition from the time of the Judges to the time of the kings, we walk through the books of first and second Samuel, the narratives of God’s working through the man Samuel to bring about His purposes and will, ultimately establishing the royal house of King David from which the Messiah, Jesus Christ would be born.  This is marked largely by God’s declaration to Samuel in Chapter 3:

“Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.”

It isn’t as if God was trying one this before this and found out that it wasn’t going to work so He scrapped it and moved on to like, plan C or D or whatever it would be now.  God has always been at work in the people of Israel and in the world, bringing about Restoration to the created order after the Fall.  Through Abraham and his offspring God has entered into this covenant relationship and is continuing to work out the fulfillment of His promise from Genesis 12 in which all the nations of the Earth will be blessed.  What God is doing is revealing what the next phase of this restoration project is doing and how it will take on a different shape as before.  All this is laid before us in stark contrast with the words we see earlier in Chapter 3, “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.”

With that in mind, God appears, “standing before Samuel” telling Samuel that He is moving and that things are about to change!  What awesome news for Samuel, even with it positioned around the death of his mentor’s family.

Though I won’t say a great deal about it, I do want to direct your attention to the song of Hannah that she sings after Samuel is born.  It is very similar to the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise when she finds out she will be carrying the Son of God, recorded in Luke 1.

One thing that is interesting to me is how I react to this story now when I think about how it was presented to me as a child.  My Sunday School teachers would always tell us about how we needed to make sure that we were listening to the voice of the Lord and that we were ready to respond to Him.  I think that even at some point one of the criticized Samuel in our class for thinking that the voice of God was actually his mentor Eli.  While I think that this is a good lesson to keep in mind, I’m not entirely sure that the message of this narrative is solely based on that.  Here we find God coming to the one that He has appointed to lead Israel calling to Him and revealing Himself to him.  In much the same way that God called Abraham or Isaiah, God here is calling Samuel to a particular ministry in a particular place at a particular time when God is moving in especially obvious ways.  Its not to say that God hasn’t been working, of course He has.  We’ve seen it  through out the book of Judges and throughout Ruth as well.  God is always at work, always moving, always bringing about His perfect will.  Yet here, God is moving in a new way, a profoundly visible way, and He has appointed Samuel to lead the people through that.  I wonder, thinking about it from that context, if we God speaks to us in the same way.  Perhaps we’ve been doing things pretty much the same for a while.  Maybe we’re just doing church because its church.  Maybe we just get up every day and do what we have to do because that is our lot in life.  I wonder if you have ever had a profound experience like Samuel where God swoops in and says, “Behold, I am about to do a (new) thing in your life at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.”

Oh that we would listen to the voice of God and heed the call to this new thing, whatever it may be, that the ears of everyone who hears it will tingle… to the praise of His glorious name!