After Twenty Years 2 Chronicles 8

TTS Book 11 2Chronicles

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2 Chronicles 8:1-10 NLTse (1) It took Solomon twenty years to build the LORD’s Temple and his own royal palace. At the end of that time, (2) Solomon turned his attention to rebuilding the towns that King Hiram had given him, and he settled Israelites in them. (3) Solomon also fought against the town of Hamath-zobah and conquered it. (4) He rebuilt Tadmor in the wilderness and built towns in the region of Hamath as supply centers. (5) He fortified the towns of Upper Beth-horon and Lower Beth-horon, rebuilding their walls and installing barred gates. (6) He also rebuilt Baalath and other supply centers and constructed towns where his chariots and horses could be stationed. He built everything he desired in Jerusalem and Lebanon and throughout his entire realm. (7) There were still some people living in the land who were not Israelites, including the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. (8) These were descendants of the nations whom the people of Israel had not destroyed. So Solomon conscripted them for his labor force, and they serve in the labor force to this day. (9) But Solomon did not conscript any of the Israelites for his labor force. Instead, he assigned them to serve as fighting men, officers in his army, commanders of his chariots, and charioteers. (10) King Solomon appointed 250 of them to supervise the people.

In a way this type of government seems rather normal to this world, at least in the Hollywood scheme. One group makes up the military, and another group makes up the work force. The author didn’t specifically mention slave labor, but we can pretty much imagine that’s what the other races of people served as.

From a Biblical aspect, we have to look at this story as the introduction to the chapter, and the introduction to a new story. When divisions and slave labor are involved on the spiritual level, we know we have something we need to pay attention to, By now we should also know, to get the full spiritual lesson, we have to turn the page back to look at how the previous story ended.

In the previous chapter, God appeared to Solomon and talked to him after the dedication of the temple. God told Solomon, He heard his prayer, and would honor the temple, under certain conditions.

“As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’ “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the LORD do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’ “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them.'” (2 Chronicles 7:17-22 NLTse).

It seems everything with God is conditional. This part of the story takes us back to another condition God set with the Israelites before they stepped foot on the promised land. “When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are about to enter and occupy, he will clear away many nations ahead of you: the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These seven nations are greater and more numerous than you. When the LORD your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaties with them and show them no mercy. You must not intermarry with them. Do not let your daughters and sons marry their sons and daughters, for they will lead your children away from me to worship other gods. Then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and he will quickly destroy you. This is what you must do. You must break down their pagan altars and shatter their sacred pillars. Cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols. For you are a holy people, who belong to the LORD your God. Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure. (Deuteronomy 7:1-6 NLTse).

Of course that condition included the warning about marrying Pagan women. God saw how those women would lead people away. It seems rather strange think, what the world viewed as the weaker sex in those days was able to exert such control. That also sheds light on the fact, when the Israelites were a major force in Egypt, they had little or no influence on the Egyptians. When the Israelites were the dominating force in the promised land, those weaker races had a dominating influence on Isreael. At least on the religious side of life.

Solomon Moved Pharaoh’s Daughter

2 Chronicles 8:11-18 NLTse (11) Solomon moved his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, from the City of David to the new palace he had built for her. He said, “My wife must not live in King David’s palace, for the Ark of the LORD has been there, and it is holy ground.” (12) Then Solomon presented burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar he had built for him in front of the entry room of the Temple. (13) He offered the sacrifices for the Sabbaths, the new moon festivals, and the three annual festivals–the Passover celebration, the Festival of Harvest, and the Festival of Shelters–as Moses had commanded. (14) In assigning the priests to their duties, Solomon followed the regulations of his father, David. He also assigned the Levites to lead the people in praise and to assist the priests in their daily duties. And he assigned the gatekeepers to their gates by their divisions, following the commands of David, the man of God. (15) Solomon did not deviate in any way from David’s commands concerning the priests and Levites and the treasuries. (16) So Solomon made sure that all the work related to building the Temple of the LORD was carried out, from the day its foundation was laid to the day of its completion. (17) Later Solomon went to Ezion-geber and Elath, ports along the shore of the Red Sea in the land of Edom. (18) Hiram sent him ships commanded by his own officers and manned by experienced crews of sailors. These ships sailed to Ophir with Solomon’s men and brought back to Solomon almost seventeen tons of gold.

It seems Solomon took God’s warning to heart, but compromised. Solomon didn’t get rid of the Pagan influences, but made them serve as slaves. Solomon didn’t end relationships with all the Pagan wives he married, but moved his first wife out of the city. Did Solomon use that slave labor to build Pharaoh’s daughter a new palace?

What is the common thread between God’s talk with Solomon, slave labor, Pharaoh’s daughter, burnt offerings, and Solomon’s efforts to follow God? Are they a contrast, parallel lessons, or both? We also see an alliance between king Hiram of Tyre and Solomon. What does that have to do with the story?

Tyre normally points to one thing, money. What did Jesus say about money? “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life–whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:24-34 NLTse).

Once again, we have to look at as much of the story as possible to get more of the message, and the spiritual lesson behind it. Did Jesus just happen to mention Solomon when He taught people not to depend too much on money, and not to worry about every little thing? Was Jesus teaching a deeper lesson than what is on the surface? In other words, did Jesus present two lessons, money, and worrying about details? Are they related?

We have to look at them as one story. Jesus had a reason for using that sequence. Only people who pay attention will see the connection. King Hiram is mentioned in the introduction and summation in 2 Chronicles chapter 8. In the beginning, Hiram gave Solomon a list of cities. Who originally gave Israel cities and set boundaries? God. Now Solomon is expanding territories based on gifts from a Pagan king. Is that good or bad?

Solomon is also expanding trade with Hiram’s help. In other words, establishing another alliance. Did Solomon establish that new alliance with or without God?

Jesus talked about people wasting a lot of time worrying about things outside their control. Wasn’t that what Solomon was doing? He didn’t have total control over the kingdom God gave him, but he was willing to expand territories and responsibilities. Was that the wisest thing to do?

Jesus reminded us how God blessed Solomon. But was that enough for the king? Was Solomon looking for more on his own? Let’s put this picture together. Solomon built a temple for God to live in, while at the same time, expanded his territories. Does that sound about right? Was Solomon restricting God, and at the same time, expanding his influence? Consider that thought on a spiritual level for a moment.

We see a distinctive link to Jesus’ sermon and this story based on, of course Solomon, and the subject, money. We don’t necessarily see the subject of money in 2 Chronicles chapter 8 until we look at the connection in Matthew’s Gospel. Unless of course we have God’s Spirit guiding us. It’s kind of ironic to see Jesus talking about how people worry, and linking it to Solomon, who we see increasing his wealth, and of course, number of things to worry about. Then there is the general concept of Solomon people have. A rich king without a worry in the world. Was that the general life style Solomon led? Did Solomon marry all those women to protect his nation, or for his own pleasure? It doesn’t matter. There is no way 700 wives are not going to cause problems, and a lot of headaches. The more Solomon tried to get away on his own to pray and think, the more problems he faced. That’s nothing more than a natural course of events.

At first Solomon inherited everything from his father. Later God added to those blessings. That should have been more than enough for any rational thinking man. But this world is plagued with irrational, money driven people who will never have enough. To them this world is like a game of Monopoly. Winner takes all.

The Ark Entered the Temple

TTS Book 11 2Chronicles

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2 Chronicles 5:6-11 NLTse (6) There, before the Ark, King Solomon and the entire community of Israel sacrificed so many sheep, goats, and cattle that no one could keep count! (7) Then the priests carried the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant into the inner sanctuary of the Temple–the Most Holy Place–and placed it beneath the wings of the cherubim. (8) The cherubim spread their wings over the Ark, forming a canopy over the Ark and its carrying poles. (9) These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Temple’s main room–the Holy Place–but not from the outside. They are still there to this day. (10) Nothing was in the Ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Mount Sinai, where the LORD made a covenant with the people of Israel when they left Egypt. (11) Then the priests left the Holy Place. All the priests who were present had purified themselves, whether or not they were on duty that day.

First we saw Solomon making an offering to God by placing treasures in rooms along the sides of the temple. Next we see Solomon offering animals without number to God. It seems Solomon was going out of his way to do everything better than expected. Or Solomon had a fear, something wasn’t right, and wanted to make it up to God. Based on the fact, everything in the temple was on a much larger scale, as well is greater in number than the Tabernacle, and took much longer to build, Solomon had a mind set to outdo everything Moses did. Everything had to be bigger and better. Is that what God wanted? Was that the impression God wanted to leave on this world?

“What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting– they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Isaiah 1:11-20 NLTse).

After how many generations of endless, meaningless sacrifices, God had to finally speak up. The sacrificial system was not a right to go out, sin, then kill a few animals to get on God’s good side. The system didn’t work like that. Israel got it all wrong. They missed the meaning of those sacrifices.

Those sacrifices pointed to Christ. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36 NLTse). The tradition Solomon started got so bad, hardly anyone saw what that particular symbol pointed to. Not even after God revealed the symbol of the sacrifice to His messenger for that time period. John did his job. He delivered the message. People heard the message. Jesus’ disciples heard the message, “Jesus was the lamb of God.” The problem was, tradition took people so far away from the truth, they couldn’t understand the proper interpretation for one plain and simple symbol. If they couldn’t understand the symbol of the sacrificial lamb, what chance did they stand to understand the meaning of the other symbols in the Tabernacle?

The Gospels tell us exactly how much the disciples missed, even after Jesus tried to explain the prophecies to them, and how He was about to fulfill them. The disciples and all the other people missed all of them. They couldn’t understand a single symbol in the Tabernacle, the structure God had built to explain the plan of salvation.

On the other hand, the priests, Pharisees, and other religious factions of that period who dedicated hours a day reading scripture did catch onto a few details. They knew God only accepted unblemished sacrifices. So they beat Jesus, tore out His beard, and had Him whipped half to death. The religious leaders also knew, a man hung on a tree was cursed. So they had Jesus hung on a cross. To them there was a slight chance Jesus had some kind of connection with God. To sever that connection, they went out of their way to study enough scripture so things would turn out they way they wanted them to turn out. They wanted a Messiah in the form of a warrior who came to this planet to wipe out the Romans, and other Gentiles in a single swipe of his sword. Out of a few choice bits and pieces of scripture, they made up the ultimate Messiah, and weren’t about to settle for anything less.

Since early Christianity, religious leaders have been trying to outdo Moses and the Tabernacle, and Solomon and his temple by building bigger and better structures, with even more symbols and artifacts than anyone could imagine. They created so many saints, symbols, ceremonies, and traditions, no one could keep up with all of them. Once the church began to split into different factions, creating traditions and symbols became a sort of competition between religious groups. Traditions and doctrines exploded. They became a means of attracting new members, and holding onto existing members. Traditions took on a new glow, becoming superstition. If you did this, there is a chance your gonna be saved. If you give up any portion of what your parents did and believed, they could be lost for eternity.

We see works in new form today. Modern Christianity to a large degree uses knowledge as a form or works. They usually center on the knowledge of prophecies. If people believe like us, they will be saved. Churches today hold elaborate seminars to attract new members, claiming to teach everything you need to know about prophecies in a few short hours. The quicker that information is pumped into people the better. The more popular the church will become, and the better chance they will have to grow. Knowledge has been confused with the ability to teach quickly. This generation of instant everything is the perfect generation for that type of deception. Quick teaching has become the new wave sacrifice and offering. The question is, has membership also become a new form of works, or does all that excitement center in more members equals more money? When we take an honest look at the religious leaders in Jesus’ time, we can’t help but see that same mentality.

I wonder why the author mentioned the poles. Did Solomon have a longer set of poles made to carry the Ark from the tent to the temple? And I’m not sure why the poles were allowed to stick out from the curtain. When you think about it, that doesn’t sound quite right. It sounds like a new type of opening to God’s throne Solomon created with those poles.

When we go back a few chapters in the story, we see the temple was thirty feet wide. The Most Holy room was thirty feet square. If someone made those poles longer than the rooms length and width, it appears someone made a mistake. Someone forgot to measure before cutting.

I can’t be sure of this, but I always imagined the Ark was set in the Tabernacle so the long side of the Ark was seen when the high priest walked in. Not the end of the Ark, but the side. Solomon had the Ark placed in the Most Holy room with the end facing the curtain. Then there was a problem. The poles stuck out past the curtain. The poles allowed for a small opening below the poles.

It’s not as easy to find the width and length of the Most Holy room in the Tabernacle. I’ve often wondered about that. Maybe God wants us to spend a little time doing a little research on the subject. What we find is, the size of the boards or planks used to construct the walls.

“For the framework of the Tabernacle, construct frames of acacia wood. Each frame must be 15 feet high and 27 inches wide, with two pegs under each frame. Make all the frames identical. Make twenty of these frames to support the curtains on the south side of the Tabernacle. Also make forty silver bases–two bases under each frame, with the pegs fitting securely into the bases. For the north side of the Tabernacle, make another twenty frames, with their forty silver bases, two bases under each frame. Make six frames for the rear–the west side of the Tabernacle– along with two additional frames to reinforce the rear corners of the Tabernacle. These corner frames will be matched at the bottom and firmly attached at the top with a single ring, forming a single corner unit. Make both of these corner units the same way. So there will be eight frames at the rear of the Tabernacle, set in sixteen silver bases–two bases under each frame. (Exodus 26:15-25 NLTse).

From there it is a simple case of multiplication. The frames were fifteen feet high and 27 inches long. The south and north walls each used twenty planks, adding up to forty five feet. Of course that forty five feet was the dimension of the entire tent consisting of the Holy and Most Holy rooms. To find the width, we multiply the six frames used by 27 inches The Tabernacle was thirteen and a half feet wide.

We know the Tabernacle wasn’t large enough to house thirty foot long poles, and there is no indication the poles Moses had made stuck out through the curtain between the Holy and Most Holy room, We do know the poles stayed attached to the Ark. Make poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it. These carrying poles must stay inside the rings; never remove them. (Exodus 25:13-15 NLTse).

Why did Solomon build extra long poles to carry the Ark from David’s tent to the temple? The only reason I can think of is, to allow extra people to carry the Ark. Was carrying the Ark a sort of status symbol? Did Solomon have to make longer poles to accommodate more people who felt they had to be seen with the Ark for one reason or another? Was the Ark used for some type of political favor, behind the scene deal? If I do you a favor, you do me a favor.

We do see one lesson in this story we should pay attention to. We do know, the original poles were supposed to stay with the Ark. We also know, Solomon used a set of new poles, that didn’t fit in the temple the way they were supposed to. In this case, we are faced with a short list of missing information. We don’t know how long the original poles were, or how many Levites carried the Ark in the wilderness. What lesson do we gather from that?

It’s not unusual for people to fill in blanks whenever they find, or think information is missing in scripture. In the most serious examples, people look at a verse or two, then fill in what they consider missing. In this example, it was information about the poles used to carry the Ark. What happened to those poles? Did David use those poles to move the Ark to the tent he put up in Jerusalem, or did he make a new set? Another piece of missing information.

Do people study scripture close enough to find those missing details, then add in what they think is right, or did Solomon begin another new tradition here? I can’t imagine Solomon intended to establish such a tradition. But we do have evidence of such a trend. If nothing else, this is a sort of message, lesson, and maybe we can call it a warning, or type of obscure prophecy. We do know for a fact, some popular Bible Studies are based on one or two sentences from scripture, and a lot of so called, “worldly common sense.” We also know, we had to go back to stories about the Ark and those poles, dig deeper, look at information about the tent Moses made, and actually calculate the dimensions. It took a little bit of work, effort, and common sense, based on information and facts scattered throughout a few stories in scripture. All those stories centered on the Tabernacle. So we learned and practiced a few simple rules of context, identifying and sticking to the same subject in a study. Then expanded on the information in scripture to reach a logical conclusion.

Now we have to apply what we’ve learned and figure out how that information forms a type of protection for us. I believe the Bible is designed with a set of checks and balances to protect God’s saints from all the misleading information plaguing this world, not only in our time, but since the first words were recorded by Moses and placed in the side of the Ark.

Since those first books were written to protect Israel, we have to consider a few basic facts. The people God took out of Egypt were slaves. They didn’t have a great education system They spent their entire lives depending on someone to arrange and plan out every minute of every day, And their masters were definitely influenced by a host of false gods and idols. A group of Hollywood writers could not have created a worse set of circumstances to take a group of people out of, then introduce them to the one and only true living God, and His Laws.

Based on physical evidence, we know any form of protection God placed in His Word has to be easy to find, identify, learn, and practice. It is not some obscure, hidden, or coded sequence only higher educated magicians are able to interpret. We also know, people who were not Israelites were in that group that left Egypt. Some of them were Egyptians, and former slave owners. A small minority wanted to regain control of the people. Israel faced a threat, and needed to overcome that threat. The books Moses wrote were a part of that protection.

People from other nations joined that group that left Egypt. Egypt was a world power and took slaves from every nation they conquered. The protection God placed in His Word was designed so people with little or no knowledge about Him could quickly catch on, and appreciate that protection. No matter what nation those people came from, leaving Egypt was a blessing, and God had to gain their trust. Moses also had to gain their trust. It wasn’t long before some of the Egyptians accused Moses of taking those slaves out of Egypt to use for his own benefit. After all, Moses was next in line to the throne in Egypt, had the training to be a leader, and it didn’t take much for those Egyptians to build a case against Moses. God looked at any attack against Moses as a personal attack aimed at Himself.

The Book of Genesis began with a simple rule of context some people refer to as a Jewish style of writing. It may have been copied by later Jews, but who originated the style? God, of course. Abraham didn’t write any books. Neither did Isaac or Jacob. No one before Moses wrote any scripture. God had Moses follow a specific pattern of writing. Some information was recorded in what we refer to as the first chapter of Genesis. More information was added to following chapters. To gather all the details, the reader had no choice but to look back. One of the simple rules of context was established.

Moses repeated certain key words to establish another pattern found in all of the books God had recorded. We refer to those repeated words as the rule of repetition. Words that are the same, similar, and related. Repeated words help identify the main thought, focus on the main theme and establish links between stories from different generations.

Moses also developed a style to introduce a new story, tell the story, and sum up some of the details, or main theme at the end of every little story. Stories were divided into a series of events. Moses established the law of introductions and summations. When books for the Bible were collected and divided into chapters, scholars used that law of introductions and summations to establish the chapters modern Bibles still use today. The series of events is known as timing. Key words were often added to modern Bible translations to show that timing, or sequence of events. Some of the most popular words added to scripture are, and, then, after, and other simple words identifying a new event. First this happened. And that happened. Then this event followed. Later the king did that.

Timing is one of the most important rules of Bible Study. To understand any story in the Bible, you have to understand the series of events that led up to the scene or subject being studied, and follow through to see the results. This is all basic common sense everyone should find easy to understand. If you take one event out any story in the Bible, is it like taking a car engine apart, spreading it out over the floor, putting it back together, but leaving out a few parts. Is that engine going to run like it should? The answer is obvious. What makes people think they can leave parts out of an engine based on the assumption, if they don’t understand how the part works, they don’t need it? That explains how some people study scripture when they haven’t found, or don’t understand a few basic safely features God placed in His Word. Or course, so many people chose not to use safety belts in cars, the government told car makers to develop a idiot proof system we call air bags. But God doesn’t force His safely features on anyone.

At times Moses used rather obscure Hebrew words. Some of them had two or more meanings. The Hebrew word Moses used for the material covering the ark Noah built in Genesis chapter 6 is one example. The word pitch is used to describe a type of tar coating in Genesis chapter 6. In most other places in the Old Testament, that same Hebrew word is translated as atonement. Moses relied on the law of repetition to draw attention to that word pitch. Moses constructed a series of sentences in a rather strange manner. If you carefully read that story, you should see, there seems to be no reason to repeat that detail about pitch. It appears Moses used poor grammar in that story. In fact, the only reason Moses repeated that detail about the covering Noah used on the ark he built was to draw attention to a deeper spiritual lesson found when we take a moment to look up that Hebrew word. A lesson a lot of people miss. That is a lesson showing exactly how much we miss when we ignore the nudge God’s Spirit gives us when we take our time to study, and accept God’s Spirit as our only Teacher.

Moses also used other Hebrew words that were derived from other Hebrew words, that at times, take us on a type of spiritual journey. When we take those journeys, we can feel God’s hand guiding us. The best example I’ve found is the words rib and ribs found in Genesis chapter 2. It is a rather lengthy study to follow those two words back to their origin, but a study well worth your time. And yes, the word rib, and ribs used different Hebrew words. Again we see how Moses drew attention to that spiritual lesson by using the law of repetition.

Some people may want to dive into a deep debate on the people in Exodus. Did those people know how to read? Didn’t Moses write only one copy of those books? People want to try and figure out if Moses used a pattern to make it easier for people to remember after hearing the scriptures read to them. God did tell Moses to gather the people every year and read the law out loud to them. Then people want to debate on what the law was, and if it included the entire series of books Moses wrote. Those types of debates never get anyone anywhere. All they do is waste time. Let’s get to the meat of the matter.

Most modern Christians claim we are more advanced, have more information, and somehow, our modern way of living gives us greater insight into God’s written Word. If that’s true, this modern, advanced society should have no problem learning and using a few simple safely features God placed in His Word. If they were designed for a group of slaves to hear once a year and understand, it appears we have no excuses not to see, learn, understand, and if we use God’s law of context, teach it.

Ten Lampstands and Tables

TTS Book 11 2Chronicles

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2 Chronicles 4:7-8 NLTse (7) He then cast ten gold lampstands according to the specifications that had been given, and he put them in the Temple. Five were placed against the south wall, and five were placed against the north wall. (8) He also built ten tables and placed them in the Temple, five along the south wall and five along the north wall. Then he molded 100 gold basins.

Solomon also out did Moses on the lampstands and tables. In the Tabernacle there was one lampstand and one table.

“Then make a table of acacia wood, 36 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 27 inches high. Overlay it with pure gold and run a gold molding around the edge. Decorate it with a 3-inch border all around, and run a gold molding along the border. Make four gold rings for the table and attach them at the four corners next to the four legs. Attach the rings near the border to hold the poles that are used to carry the table. Make these poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. Make special containers of pure gold for the table–bowls, pans, pitchers, and jars–to be used in pouring out liquid offerings. Place the Bread of the Presence on the table to remain before me at all times. “Make a lampstand of pure, hammered gold. Make the entire lampstand and its decorations of one piece–the base, center stem, lamp cups, buds, and petals. Make it with six branches going out from the center stem, three on each side. Each of the six branches will have three lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. Craft the center stem of the lampstand with four lamp cups shaped like almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. There will also be an almond bud beneath each pair of branches where the six branches extend from the center stem. The almond buds and branches must all be of one piece with the center stem, and they must be hammered from pure gold. Then make the seven lamps for the lampstand, and set them so they reflect their light forward. The lamp snuffers and trays must also be made of pure gold. You will need seventy-five pounds of pure gold for the lampstand and its accessories. “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain. (Exodus 25:23-40 NLTse).

The original designs came with a host of instructions, and a command. “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.” Chronicles tells us, Solomon followed specifications he was given, but doesn’t identify the source. Other patterns and specifications were provided by David. Since Solomon’s specifications were different than Moses’, we have to wonder why. Maybe Solomon followed the patterns for the lampstand and table in the Tabernacle. Why he built ten of each is a mystery. The position those articles were placed is another concern.

“Set up this Tabernacle according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain. “For the inside of the Tabernacle, make a special curtain of finely woven linen. Decorate it with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and with skillfully embroidered cherubim. Hang this curtain on gold hooks attached to four posts of acacia wood. Overlay the posts with gold, and set them in four silver bases. Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. “Then put the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–on top of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Most Holy Place. Place the table outside the inner curtain on the north side of the Tabernacle, and place the lampstand across the room on the south side. “Make another curtain for the entrance to the sacred tent. Make it of finely woven linen and embroider it with exquisite designs, using blue, purple, and scarlet thread. Craft five posts from acacia wood. Overlay them with gold, and hang the curtain from them with gold hooks. Cast five bronze bases for the posts. (Exodus 26:30-37 NLTse).

Each item in the Tabernacle had a specific purpose and location. When we study the Tabernacle together with the Heavenly Sanctuary, we begin to understand why. Certain items pointed to a specific time or event in Heaven. Moving any of those items can result in an obscured view of prophetic timing. We know how this world thrives in prophetic timing. So we have to ask what people are basing their prophetic timing on, the Tabernacle, temple, Sanctuary in Heaven, or man made ideas? If we used only three events, how many different combinations can we come up with?

1-2-3, 3-2-1, 2-3-1, 2-1-3, 1-3-2, 3-1-2, 1-3-2. Add in a few extra events, and we have more possibilities. Subtract a few events, and you can make people believe there is only one explanation. Now we can see why people add and subtract details to God’s plan of salvation.

God told Moses to place the table on the north side, and the lamp against the south wall. This set up and simple, nonthreatening atmosphere portraying a meal set up in a well lite room. What better atmosphere to sit down, have a meal, conversation, and learn directly from Jesus. That simple scene was replaced with an overwhelming scene with ten tables and ten lamps looking more like a restaurant. God established a scene to represent the one on one relationship with Christ we should all have. Solomon’s scene may suggest more of a board meeting to some people. One of the worst situations coming out of those conflicting scenes is opening doors of doubt. Atheists use those types of inconsistencies as ammunition to attack scripture. Some church leaders use those inconsistent details as an excuse to choose one or the other, or add a new concept to the mix.

It takes time, and the knowledge of a few simple rules of context to determine what any symbols point to. As a rule, symbols are usually explained in the story they are found. Little is explained about the lamp, except for the fact, it sheds light. “Then make the seven lamps for the lampstand, and set them so they reflect their light forward.” Light has a variety of spiritual meanings, most pointing to learning.

We can also look for an explanation of the lamp in other books in scripture.

Then the angel who had been talking with me returned and woke me, as though I had been asleep. “What do you see now?” he asked. I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl of oil on top of it. Around the bowl are seven lamps, each having seven spouts with wicks. And I see two olive trees, one on each side of the bowl.” Then I asked the angel, “What are these, my lord? What do they mean?” “Don’t you know?” the angel asked. “No, my lord,” I replied. Then he said to me, “This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!'” Then another message came to me from the LORD: “Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”(The seven lamps represent the eyes of the LORD that search all around the world.) Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on each side of the lampstand, and what are the two olive branches that pour out golden oil through two gold tubes?” “Don’t you know?” he asked. “No, my lord,” I replied. Then he said to me, “They represent the two heavenly beings who stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth.” (Zechariah 4:1-14 NLTse).

Based on the description, we can see Zechariah was describing the same, or similar lamp in a vision. Zechariah asked what the solid gold lampstand represented. The angel replied. “It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!”

We now have a connection between the lampstand and God’s Spirit. John explained how the Spirit will lead us into all truth. We can look at other scripture about the lampstand.

When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look–I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. “Write down what you have seen–both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen. This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:12-20 NLTse).

Revelation chapter 1 tells us those lampstands represent seven churches. One other verse in Revelation tells us another important detail about those lampstands. “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands: (Revelation 2:1 NLTse).

We have to pay attention to where the information and instructions to those churches comes from, Heaven. Jesus to be more specific.

So far we have a lampstand providing light, a table set for a meal, and a few pieces of scripture adding more details. We have seven stars in Revelation representing seven angels sent to those seven churches. We also have two olive trees producing oil in Zechariah. Where is all this leading? Hebrews tells us a little about angels.

Regarding the angels, he says, “He sends his angels like the winds, his servants like flames of fire.” But to the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. You love justice and hate evil. Therefore, O God, your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.” He also says to the Son, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. They will perish, but you remain forever. They will wear out like old clothing. You will fold them up like a cloak and discard them like old clothing. But you are always the same; you will live forever.” And God never said to any of the angels, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.” Therefore, angels are only servants–spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. (Hebrews 1:7-14 NLTse).

Hebrews provides a simple explanation telling us a role angels play in God’s plan. Angels are sent to work with us, and protect us. What about that oil in Zechariah’s vision and the two witnesses?

Then I was given a measuring stick, and I was told, “Go and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count the number of worshipers. But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations. They will trample the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will be clothed in burlap and will prophesy during those 1,260 days.” These two prophets are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of all the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire flashes from their mouths and consumes their enemies. This is how anyone who tries to harm them must die. They have power to shut the sky so that no rain will fall for as long as they prophesy. And they have the power to turn the rivers and oceans into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish. When they complete their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the bottomless pit will declare war against them, and he will conquer them and kill them. (Revelation 11:1-7 NLTse).

Revelation explains what those two witnesses do. Notice how the two olive trees and the two lampstands are mentioned. Details like those ensure we are studying the same symbols. The two witnesses are prophets who provide a testimony.

We can also look up a few verses telling us what light represents. “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually.

(Exodus 27:20 NLTse). The first step is to learn the physical attributes of a symbol before trying to determine its spiritual nature. Oil is used to produce light. This also established a link between the oil in Zechariah’s vision, the two witnesses, and the lampstands.

Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God–the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! (Psalms 43:3-4 NLTse)

Each of your commandments is right. That is why I hate every false way. Your laws are wonderful. No wonder I obey them! The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. I pant with expectation, longing for your commands. (Psalms 119:128-131 NLTse)

To the Law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because no light is in them. And they shall pass through it, hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall be, they shall be hungry; They shall rave and curse their king and their God, and look upward. And they shall look to the land; and behold, trouble and darkness and gloom of anguish! And they are driven away into darkness. (Isaiah 8:20-22 MKJV)

Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke and said to Daniel, Are you that Daniel who is of the exiled sons of Judah, whom the king my father brought out of Judah? I have even heard of you, that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. (Daniel 5:13-14 MKJV)

Light points to understanding, with a close connection to God’s laws. Since the lampstand is placed in close proximity to the Ark, we see another link showing we are on the right road.

Studying symbols isn’t as easy as it seems. A general rule of context tells us, symbols are more often than not explained in the same story. Often the same chapter they are found in. When that isn’t the case, care must be taken to check, and recheck context, making certain the symbol and its interpretation cover the same subject and lesson.

This is a fairly easy task when investigating the lampstand and light, since most people accept and teach the connection between light and knowledge. But how many people are able to show that connection in scripture? To a degree, knowledge can become harmful. People know a handful of symbols based on nothing more than the fact, they heard it, or read it someplace. Generally, the interpretation they ran across, or heard, didn’t include and explanation telling how that conclusion was derived. Each time people are taught to accept interpretations to symbols based on the fact, a few of them are correct, that opens the door to accepting any new interpretations, whether they are right or wrong. Since people never learned to study symbols on their own, they can be fed almost anything. Instead of being enlightened, they experience the darkness scripture warned about.

There is one more lesson to look at. There are dozens of interpretations to those two witnesses in Zechariah’s vision. Which one is correct? The obvious answer would be, the answer from scripture. The answer given in Revelation points us in the right direction. The witnesses are prophets, and they give the world their testimony.

Most people trying to interpret the symbol of the two witnesses jump from scripture into the world for an interpretation. Over the past generation or two, hundreds of people claim to have been one or the other witness. Were all those people prophets? Were those physical people the fulfillment of those prophecies, and those symbols? It would be the first time an accurate interpretation to a symbol in scripture was supplied by this world.

Scripture always interprets scripture. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. There are no exceptions. God didn’t forget to place any details or answers in His recorded Word. We have to allow scripture to interpret scripture.

Let’s look at the facts. Those two witnesses provide a type of verbal testimony. There are two of them. Their testimony is given to this world. The witnesses are associated with the lampstand, two olive trees, and the oil they produce. We know oil is associated with light the lampstand produces. The beings originated in Heaven.

Both Zechariah and Revelation refer to measuring. Zechariah introduces the foundation and completion of the Temple. Since the vision contains a number of symbols, the temple, its foundation, and stones must be symbols. You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” (1 Peter 2:4-6 NLTse).

Here again we see multiple symbols between stories. This is what we are looking for, related stories and symbols. When we gather all the facts, we know we are looking for something from Heaven, a form of communication, a testimony tied to prophets. What could that be? What is God’s Word? A collection of books written by prophets, their testimony about God. The Bible is divided in two parts, the Old and New Testament, hence, two witnesses.

It would take a great deal of time to go into detail about the time involved in the prophecy. We can ask the question, has the Old and New Testaments been trampled? The answer is yes. We’ve looked at examples showing how details have been changed, added, eliminated, and for lack of a better term, people have walked all over them.

People walk all over the scriptures, and away from God whenever they take matters out of God’s hands, and place it in their own. We see it all the time, people taking news stories and saying the newsman interpreted scripture for them with no regard for context, or prophetic timing. Like those items Solomon made bigger and better than the Tabernacle, those items that were moved, and those that Solomon added, people do the same thing to scripture. They move a few things, add a few things, leave out a few details, in attempts to make things bigger, better, and more attractive to this world.

David Calls Israel 1 Chronicles 28

TTS Book 10 1Chronicles

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1 Chronicles 28:1-7 NLTse (1) David summoned all the officials of Israel to Jerusalem–the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of the army divisions, the other generals and captains, the overseers of the royal property and livestock, the palace officials, the mighty men, and all the other brave warriors in the kingdom. (2) David rose to his feet and said: “My brothers and my people! It was my desire to build a temple where the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant, God’s footstool, could rest permanently. I made the necessary preparations for building it, (3) but God said to me, ‘You must not build a temple to honor my name, for you are a warrior and have shed much blood.’ (4) “Yet the LORD, the God of Israel, has chosen me from among all my father’s family to be king over Israel forever. For he has chosen the tribe of Judah to rule, and from among the families of Judah he chose my father’s family. And from among my father’s sons the LORD was pleased to make me king over all Israel. (5) And from among my sons–for the LORD has given me many–he chose Solomon to succeed me on the throne of Israel and to rule over the LORD’s kingdom. (6) He said to me, ‘Your son Solomon will build my Temple and its courtyards, for I have chosen him as my son, and I will be his father. (7) And if he continues to obey my commands and regulations as he does now, I will make his kingdom last forever.’

This chapter seems to be a repeat of 1 Chronicles chapter 22, where David called Solomon to tell him, he would be the next king, and build the temple. In this chapter, David called together all his officials to make a public announcement. David felt certain of his decision, and as with Solomon, David shared the message the way he interpreted it. When we covered 1 Chronicles chapter 22, we compared what Nathan told David to what David told Solomon. You can go back to compare what David told the officers to the original message.

The fact of the matter is, when God repeats something, that means we missed information we should have seen. Which means we need to connect with God to find out what we missed. That’s God’s way of keeping us humble. As with the entire subject of the Tabernacle, and temple, it is a step by step learning process. I lost count of how many lessons covered in this series of books pointed to the fact, we can’t take one story, learn a few details, then think we have all the answers. In other words, know the entire spiritual message and lesson.

Here we are looking at what we missed the first few times we studied this subject, and what do we find? David told the community, Solomon was going to be the next king. We have two examples showing us, David seems to brag at times. God won those battles for David, and the statement David made about having many sons leads us to think, David was in control of everything. Do you really think God told David to marry all those women? Look at the impression that had on Solomon.

It looks like we have a guy thing going on here. It doesn’t matter if a man has ever been in a battle or a fight, some men just can’t help but try to impress people about the heroic deeds they’ve done. It may not be a battle, some sporting event, for something at work. Men like to sit around and talk about the deeds they’ve accomplished.

To get a better picture of what’s going on, we’ll have to bring in a few extra details from other books in the Bible. We will of course stick to scripture for all our information. This is a learning process to see what the Bible can and will teach us.

The first place to begin a complete investigation is of course the previous chapter. 1 Chronicles chapter 27 tells us who the army commanders were, and how they were assigned commands. We also have to look at this story as it was recorded in 1 Kings chapter 1.

One of David’s sons tried recruiting sponsors in an effort to take the throne. Adonijah recruited a number of key people in the kingdom. He was in a very good position to take the crown, and thought he deserved it. The people inside the palace knew what that meant. If they weren’t for Adonijah, chances were, they’ve future was not very bright. So Nathan and Bathsheba cooked up a plan to save their lives by getting David to name Solomon the next king.

The two stories lack something important. Where is the recorded evidence God choose Solomon to take over for David? When we look at what Samuel went through to anoint Saul and David, we’d expect to see something, anything showing how God instructed, or talked to someone. But we don’t see a whole lot of evidence. The evidence we have didn’t place God at the center of the decision.

1 Kings chapter 1 tells us how old David was, and problems he was having. David wanted to leave this world on a high note. He wanted people to remember and respect him. In the process, He forgot to mention the real role God played in the victories he experienced.

We have a study rule telling us to examine our own lives based on the spiritual lessons we learn in scripture. Now we have an opportunity to review David’s life and see what happened.

When David was a child defending his father’s sheep, he gave all the credit to God when he killed a lion or bear. When David killed Goliath, he gave all the credit to God. Something happened between that time and his old age that changed David. Something made David forgot about God to some degree.

Maybe the story gave us a clue. Who was Solomon’s mother? Remember the story abut Bathsheba, and how David had her husband killed? Uriah was among the elite group of fighting men David grew up with, trusted, and depended on. When I was in High School, we had an unwritten code of ethics. No one ever went out with a friend’s girl friend. Not even a friend of a friend. If you knew the girl was going out with someone, she was off limits. It was more of a code of honor everyone respected. If they didn’t, they lost respect from everyone. There were no exceptions.

Today the world to a large degree seems to have lost that honor. It may be difficult for many people to grasp onto that concept of respect and honor. That shows us how David’s life takes on two totally different meanings in this world, when we allow the world to interpret scripture. Some people look at David and his many wives as a mistake. Some may go as far as saying it was a curse, or one of David’s down falls. Other people look at David’s history with his wives as a type of blessing. After all, David referred to his many sons as a blessing. Of course he included the multiple wives, and prostitutes he added to his collection in that blessing. Were they really a blessing from God? Is that the way God wanted David to represent Him, and lead His kingdom? And of course there are a lot of people who don’t know what to think. They never took time to study the subject, look at it, ponder it for a moment, and ask God what lessons David’s life can teach us.

It wasn’t by accident the author told us how David took credit for all those military victories, and gave credit to God for all those wives and sons. Is that what happened? Did Israel win all those wars and battles because of David’s superior military intelligence and strength? And did God reward those skills by giving David a house full of wives, prostitutes, and sons?

It seems a section of society today grasps onto the concept that multiple sex partners is a type of reward or blessing. I doubt if anyone these days actually gives credit to God for having multiple partners. Like David, they take all the credit for their conquests.

This looks like the beginning of another tradition parts of this world seemed to take hold of, manipulate a little bit, then claim they have a new and improved product. But a product of what? To be blunt, that is a product of mankind walking away from God in favor of what they claim is a far better idea, and improved way of life. To calm their consciences, some people go as far as reciting a few choice examples from the Bible to justify their beliefs and actions.

David broke the unwritten code of ethics when he looked out from his balcony watching Bathsheba take a moonlight bath. David broke that code of honor when he sent for her, and spent the night with her. To David and Bathsheba it seemed like an innocent connection, until Bathsheba wound up pregnant. Then David and Bathsheba thought up a plan. If Uriah her husband returned from the war and had sex with his wife, no one would ever know David was the father.

David did a poor job of looking back on his life to review personal experiences, and ask God where he went wrong. His plan to trick his friend Uriah failed. David never asked God why it failed. He took his plan to the next level. David had Uriah killed.

David was a warrior. He killed countless people. But when he killed a trusted friend to steal his wife, David lost his honor, and was in danger of loosing all respect.

David did loose that first son from Bathsheba. But David didn’t ask God why. When asked about it, David provided his dim view on the subject.

When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the LORD. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate. His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.” David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the LORD will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:19-23 NLTse).

Once again David made himself the center of the discussion, scene, and attention. If he couldn’t bring the baby back to life, why worry about it? That seemed simple enough. David blamed God for killing the baby, and that seemed good enough at the time. But that was a situation David should have looked back on and prayed about. David should have clung onto God until he received an answer. You can bet, if David asked God what he did wrong, God would have hit David between the eyes with a list of what he did wrong, in the order it happened. David would have seen his mistakes, and had the chance to repent.

God took the baby because David gave up all rights to that child the second he conceived the plan to make it appear Uriah was the father. God took the life of that child to give David time to realize just how many mistakes he made, and making another mistake will never correct the first, second, or endless stream of mistakes designed to make amends for that first error in judgment.

When David gave credit to God for all his sons, something must have pierced his heart as God reminded him about that son he quickly gave up without a second thought. To a degree, David lost his honor. David wanted nothing more than to regain the honor he had when women sang about Saul killing thousands, and David killing ten thousands. David wanted to return to those innocent days. And he could have, if he spent the proper time reviewing his life at the feet of the real KING.

It grieves me when I see people trying to justify what David did. Or explain it in simple human terms mixed up with a worldly understanding of honor and justice. People like that repeat the same mistake David made. They don’t give the subject enough thought, or take it in prayer to God’s throne. David lost his honor, and a son. What are people today loosing?

The combination of taking credit for wars, conquests, and victories, combined with giving credit to God for all those sons David had should be enough evidence to see what was happening in David’s life, and how he felt something missing in his personal relationship with God. David tried to fill that void with more women, gold, silver, and other treasures, building projects, and a long lost of other worldly things. Finally David reached a point in his life an thought, the only way out of that grief was to establish a son to carry on, and not make the same mistakes he made. There is one more shred of evidence showing David’s relationship with God was not where it should have been. David used a rather strange word to describe the temple he wanted to build. Look at that word, footstool.

Many people think of a footstool as a small stool at the end of a chair where you can rest your feet. I’ve heard dozens of people attempt to define David’s footstool. I wonder if they ever took time to look up the Hebrew word David actually used. Footstool is actually made up of two Hebrew words.

H1916 הֲדֹם hădôm had-ome’

From an unused root meaning to stamp upon; a foot stool: – [foot-] stool.

H7272 רֶגֶל regel reh’-gel

From H7270; a foot (as used in walking); by implication a step; by euphemism the pudenda: – X be able to endure, X according as, X after, X coming, X follow, ([broken-]) foot ([-ed, -stool]), X great toe, X haunt, X journey, leg, + piss, + possession, time.

H7270 רָגַל râgal raw-gal’

A primitive root; to walk along; but only in specific applications, to reconnoitre, to be a tale bearer (that is, slander); also (as denominative from H7272) to lead about: – backbite, search, slander, (e-) spy (out), teach to go, view.

David told those people his impression of God at that time. God never left David alone, or relieved him of his responsibility on the subject. David had a conscience that wouldn’t rest. David thought he could make everything right by making Solomon king. David thought that would be enough to make up for the loss of the first child that died. In human terms, Solomon was a way the dead child could live out some sort of existence here in this world. That seems rather strange. But not as strange as sending a man out with orders in his own hand to have him killed. David thought if Uriah died in battle as a hero, that would have fixed everything. It was a matter of honor. Something David knew he was loosing.

In one word David explained his view of God. Someone who constantly stomped on him. God didn’t forgot the mistakes David made, and wasn’t about to let David forget. That phrase, stamp upon summed up what David felt since that night he invited Bathsheba to the palace.

The second Hebrew word meaning, “to be able to endure,” also reflected how David felt about God. It wasn’t easy, but David was able to endure that sin. God didn’t go too far to punish David. David knew how far God could go. David experienced that power again and again. David knew God could send a lion, bear, or a little boy to clean up matters. But God decided to try and reach David in a more civilized and loving manner. David eventually learned more from God’s approach then any of those wars, victories, plagues, and disappointments he faced. Being loved, receiving love, and not knowing how to return that love can be one of the most important and grueling experiences in this world. Sad to say, that experience may go unnoticed. The fact David described God as someone who will stamp on you, but only to a degree you can endure shows us, David was aware of the fact, God was trying hard to reach him.

The Hebrew word David used for footstool told an important part of the sequence God uses to reach all of us. David used a specific Hebrew word that included telling stories. That was something David was passionate about. When we read David’s Psalms, we can see things didn’t always go well with David. He needed help like every single one of us needs from God. David was humble enough to admit it, and wrote about it. Whenever we have a weakness in one area, God has ways of making other aspects of our personalities stronger. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, or remember every sin, but God does require our attention, time, and a measure of dedication. Through dedication comes honor. David regained a measure of that honor by admitting a number of mistakes. But never seemed to have regained all the honor he lost.

But that’s the way we should all feel when it comes to God. When we reach a point, and we never can reach any point near perfection, because that would place us in a position where we can cause more harm than good, we should always feel there is a long way to go before we even think of comparing ourselves to God, or Jesus. We may have a moment or two in life, but wait for the next mistake to rear its ugly head. Then we find ourselves right back where we started, and very often, a few steps further back. There is no doubt, God had to work hard at keeping David humble. David showed us how God works with our mistakes to mold us into what He needs to accomplish in our generation. When we die, most of what we’ve been able to achieve is lost and forgotten.

There is a downside to lessons our conscience is trying to teach us, or shall we say, God’s Spirit is trying to teach us. Being human, we often try to correct those mistakes. That usually results in digging a deeper hole God needs to pull us out of. We’ve seen how efficient Davis was at digging holes. We convince ourselves, God needs help to straighten out our lives. There is a part we need to play. A willingness, and determination to change is one of them. But our efforts normally result in taking a right, or left turn when God wants us to go straight. We easily get off track, then wonder where we went wrong. David showed us how that works. Even a king makes mistakes, and too often relies on himself.

Work of the Levites

TTS Book 10 1Chronicles

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1 Chronicles 23:28-32 NLTse (28) The work of the Levites was to assist the priests, the descendants of Aaron, as they served at the house of the LORD. They also took care of the courtyards and side rooms, helped perform the ceremonies of purification, and served in many other ways in the house of God. (29) They were in charge of the sacred bread that was set out on the table, the choice flour for the grain offerings, the wafers made without yeast, the cakes cooked in olive oil, and the other mixed breads. They were also responsible to check all the weights and measures. (30) And each morning and evening they stood before the LORD to sing songs of thanks and praise to him. (31) They assisted with the burnt offerings that were presented to the LORD on Sabbath days, at new moon celebrations, and at all the appointed festivals. The required number of Levites served in the LORD’s presence at all times, following all the procedures they had been given. (32) And so, under the supervision of the priests, the Levites watched over the Tabernacle and the Temple and faithfully carried out their duties of service at the house of the LORD.

The Levites were chosen by God to serve in the priesthood to one extent or another. God chose the Levites after Moses came down from that mountain and found that golden calf Aaron made. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, “All of you who are on the LORD’s side, come here and join me.” And all the Levites gathered around him. Moses told them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Each of you, take your swords and go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other. Kill everyone–even your brothers, friends, and neighbors.” The Levites obeyed Moses’ command, and about 3,000 people died that day. Then Moses told the Levites, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the LORD, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Today you have earned a blessing.” (Exodus 32:26-29 NLTse).

The whole scene seems rather strange. Aaron, a Levite started the whole mess by making that golden calf. But the Levites stood on God’s side and followed his commands by killing the people who were really behind the rebellion. That shows us how God sees everything everyone does, and gives us a chance to walk away whenever we find out we followed the wrong crowd. In a sense, God showed the Levites how He is able to forgive people for their sins once they turn back. We can see why God led us back to this story and Moses. We have an example of Aaron making a major mistake. Eventually God gave Aaron the position of high priest. Imagine a religion where the earthly high priest has to rely on the Heavenly High Priest to be forgiven for a major error, and who knows how all their little sins.

We see so many ways scripture pointed us back to other stories that led us to answers to questions we didn’t know we had to ask. That is rather strange when you think of it. In most cases, people didn’t know they were sinning when they made mistakes. In many cases, they were following someone’s advice at the time. Here we are, sitting with God’s Spirit, studying a little scripture, and we find answers before we know it, and at times, before we ask questions. Scripture has a way of putting us in the position to make a decision. Do we follow people into mistakes and sins, or do we follow God into answers we never would have expected to find on our own?

Later God secured the Levites blessing by called them His adopted sons. And the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, for all the firstborn males are mine. On the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel, both of people and of animals. They are mine; I am the LORD.” (Numbers 3:11-13 NLTse).

Imagine being chosen as God’s firstborn sons. Which do you think ranks higher, a king, or God’s firstborn son? In God’s eyes, everyone is equal. God doesn’t play favorites. Some people may be assigned different duties than others. That was a physical lesson taught in the Old Testament. But since the Levites and priests failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, they lost their authority as religious leaders. Peter made it clear, that system was replaced by the new system, a priesthood open to all of Jesus’ followers.

As we look down through scripture, what did the Levites accomplish? How did they help God get the word out about His plan of Salvation? What did they know about that plan? Is that the message we’re supposed to see when we review story after story about David and see details he missed when he consulted scripture to move one of his projects forward?

What kind of messages do we see coming out of the duties David gave to the Levites? Some of those roles like assisting priests, cleaning out the courtyard, taking care of the rooms, checking the weights and measures, changing the sacred bread, and singing praises. But are they important on a physical or spiritual level?

It seems rather strange to think, David never lived to see the temple, but he assigned duties to all the Levites. Some of those duties concentrated on the financial side of the temple. Those rooms on the side of the temple were designed to store the temple treasures. What were the weights and measures used for in Solomon’s day? Eventually the weights and measures were used to convert government currency into temple shekels. It was little more than a type of tax someone invented. Those rooms on the side of the temple were cleaned out and given to one threatening king after another. Those rooms became a symbol of relying on gold and silver before turning to God for help and advice.

Other ministries may have been looked at as a way of serving God, but what did they amount to? Assisting the priest, what was that? Helping with a sacrificial system that eventually drifted so far away from God’s original plan, hardly anyone saw the real sacrifice standing in the temple courtyard preaching, just before the priests had Jesus arrested and hung on the cross.

What ministry did that singing and praise amount to? How much of a role was God’s Spirit allowed in that ministry? Were their praises from the heart, a one on one praise to God, or a prearranged list of songs to sing, and prayers to recite? Did a committee arrange the day to day songs and praises until someone came up with the idea to set a yearly schedule repeated for generations?

Worship can and should be meaningful. Those stories in scripture showing us how praise, and worship God eventually turned into mindless rituals. Are those stories recorded so we learn from those mistakes, and don’t repeat them? You want to assist a priest? Assist Jesus the High Priest. You want to sing, then sing like every note is focused on Jesus. You want to assist with the sacrifices? Hey, we don’t sacrifice animals anymore. But there are sacrifices. Our time is one offering, one of the few we still offer to God. Let’s take a look back at someone who sacrificed a lot of time to God.

Let’s take a quick flight over Joseph’s life. At one time he was Jacob’s youngest and most loved son. If he wasn’t Rachel’s son, Joseph may not have been Jacob’s most loved son. But that love cost Joseph plenty. His brothers were jealous. Their jealousy ran so deep, they wanted to kill their little brother. Keep in mind, God was working hard in the back ground to put all those details together, and to make them all work for the best of everyone involved in the long run.

God gave Joseph dreams, and the ability to interpret them. That was only the beginning of Joseph’s spiritual gifts and his ministry. God had to work ahead of Joseph by influencing Potiphar. God had to make sure Potiphar was in the proper position in Egypt so the rest of the plan would work. Satan was hard at work in Potiphar’s wife. Satan used her weakness to direct her. All of that had to come together. God also had to work with Joseph and Joseph had to work with God.

Joseph was a shepherd. What did he know about running a household and business? God had to teach Joseph accounting and a host of other skills to impress Potiphar. Joseph was into what we call, on the job training. Joseph had to have constant communication with God to learn all the details and skills he needed to be successful. Joseph had to learn how to train other people. That was not something he learned living with Jacob and his brothers. Joseph was the youngest. It was his role to sit and learn, not teach. Joseph had to learn those skills from God.

Satan saw Joseph’s progress, but had no way of knowing the plan God was working on. All Satan wanted to do was get rid of Joseph, or at least slow him down. Eventually Joseph wound up in prison. Joseph didn’t know anything about running a prison. Joseph didn’t have a day of experience as a prisoner. Once again Joseph found himself in the position of relying on God for on the job training. Which was easier in prison, based on the fact Joseph had a back ground of skills to pull from. Still, God had to make sure Joseph was what we can refer to as, an important prisoner. Someone who caught the attention of the chief jailer. And God had to work on the chief jailer, who no doubt also had Satan trying to influences him. In any other circumstances Joseph could have lost his life in a day, and no one would have asked any questions.

Eventually Joseph found himself standing in front of Pharaoh. That took the aid of two more men. One lost their life, to remind us how quickly things can go wrong when God is not working on plans for our lives everyday. The other forgot all about Joseph for years. Eventually the butler spoke up and got Joseph out of prison. Joseph was back conducting his original ministry, interpreting dreams. Joseph saw how God worked with him all those years. Joseph didn’t hesitate to give all the credit to God. We have to believe Joseph spent a lot of sleepless nights since the day his brothers sold him to slave traders. We can hardly imagine the conversations Joseph had with God and the questions he asked. What about the answers God provided? Those answers were the only thing that could have gotten Joseph through those days.

As it turned out, Joseph helped a nation, the surrounding countries, and his family make it through one of the worst droughts ever seen. Another detail God had to work on. Not only the drought, but the crops to make it through the drought, and a plan to make it through those seven years. That took some planning, and a lot of cooperation from key people, Joseph being the center of those events.

Worship is not a set of prearranged ceremonies, details, songs, praises, or whatever people may plan as an outward show. True worship is living and depending on God from day to day, minute to minute like Joseph had to. Otherwise, how would that story had turned out if one or more details were changed?

Day to day events is one of the forms of communication God uses. What would have happened if Joseph didn’t see God in his life everyday? What would have happened if Joseph gave up on God? Would his family have died? Would that have marked the end of the bloodline that led to Jesus? Would God had saved Judah, and let the rest of the family perish? We can’t imagine how everything would have changed if Joseph had given up, or doubted God.

This is another contrast God used to teach. Joseph placed his life in God’s hands, and became the number two man in Egypt. It was a long, rough road to get there, but God did deliver. On the other hand, we see what that priesthood turned out to be when Jesus conducted the earthly phase of His ministry. Joseph stuck with God all the way. What did the priests do? Did they give up on God?

David Finds How to Carry the Ark

TTS Book 10 1Chronicles

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1 Chronicles 15:11-15 NLTse (11) Then David summoned the priests, Zadok and Abiathar, and these Levite leaders: Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. (12) He said to them, “You are the leaders of the Levite families. You must purify yourselves and all your fellow Levites, so you can bring the Ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. (13) Because you Levites did not carry the Ark the first time, the anger of the LORD our God burst out against us. We failed to ask God how to move it properly.” (14) So the priests and the Levites purified themselves in order to bring the Ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to Jerusalem. (15) Then the Levites carried the Ark of God on their shoulders with its carrying poles, just as the LORD had instructed Moses.

There is no doubt who ordered the Ark’s next move. The author repeated that detail to draw our attention to the fact, David gave the order. There was no account of the pillar of fire, or the cloud leading the way. No one recorded any command from God. No prophet showed up to tell David to move the Ark. It appears moving the Ark to Jerusalem was David’s idea.

We have to keep this in order. There was a two step process to move the Ark inside the temple. Solomon built the temple, then moved the Ark from David’s tent into the temple. There is also a two step process recorded here. David only moved the Ark so far on his first attempt. David went to Baalah of Judah to bring the Ark to Jerusalem on a new cart. Uzzah touched the Ark and died. David left the Ark at the house of Obed-edom of in Gath, where the Ark remained for three months. During that time King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar timber, and stonemasons and carpenters to build a palace. And David realized that the LORD had confirmed him as king over Israel and had greatly blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. Then David married more wives in Jerusalem, and they had more sons and daughters. (1 Chronicles 14:1-3 NLTse).

While David waited to move the Ark into his tent in Jerusalem, a number of things happened. David started a number of building projects. David married more women, and king Hiram sent messages and materials to David.

At that time Tyre was the major port and trade city of the Middle East. Tyre was the trading capital of the world. If David could reach Hiram and tell him about God, who knows what doors could have been opened? What about those wives David married? With so many wives, how was David going to be the priest of his family? Every time David married another woman, and had more children, his effectiveness as the priest in the family diminished. We have a spiritual clue to that part of the story when the author told us where God decided to stop the Ark. But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. (1 Chronicles 13:9 NLTse). A threshing floor has a spiritual connection to harvesting this world.

We can’t go too far into interpreting symbols in this story, but we can consider how those symbols draw us deeper into small details used to tell the story. A proper study on this subject would include gathering all the parts of this story scattered in other books in the Bible. Here we are only taking a quick look at an overview of this story and how it relates to the temple, and reflects back on the Tabernacle.

If we were to look at all the times the Ark was moved, we would find out how God told Moses to follow a specific process. The fact Moses recorded that process shows, Moses spoke with God before moving the Ark, and everytime the Ark was moved, it was at God’s command. David had to find that process before he built up enough courage to attempt a second move.

Collecting all the data on the Ark’s moves would lead us to Solomon’s dedication of the temple. We know the Ark was eventually moved inside the stone temple. The end of 2 Kings showed how Babylon invaded Israel, then took all the items out of the temple, and eventually burnt it down. How much did the Ark protect the temple? The Ark didn’t even protect the Tabernacle. No one knows what happened to the Tabernacle. Eventually the Ark wound up missing. Everything was gone. Only the descriptions recorded by Moses survived. We have to ask why.

It seems every book I’ve read on the Tabernacle included the temple, weaving them together in a way that made them appear as one of the same. Other books neglected to look at the process, how and why the temple followed the Tabernacle. They also applied the designs of one to the other, assuming the people who built the temple looked at, and possibly followed plans Moses recorded. But the Bible doesn’t contain any evidence to support such theories.

We do find a strange mixture of customs included in the design of the temple, as well as many articles in the courtyard. Some of those items had close ties with Egypt, the land Solomon’s first wife was from.

Here we are studying the order information was recorded, and how those stories are related. Why did God record those stories in the order we find them in scripture today? The conquest of Jerusalem with the temple treasures carried to Babylon, followed by a short mention of Solomon’s connection to the temple, then the priests returning from Babylon to Jerusalem, and finally, David moving the Ark to Jerusalem. This is a strange order. One we need a lot of time to examine.

At least we learned one thing from the order of those events. We learned how scripture sends us to other books with a little different view of the events. We learned how scripture teaches us how to study scripture in a way many people miss, or don’t want to pay attention to. Like David, they want to find an easier way to study. Wasn’t moving the Ark with a cart and oxen easier than carrying it? Wasn’t a new cart pointing to a new and easier way of studying scripture we often hear people boast about? Symbols can be very useful in studying scripture, but they will never be a substitute for God’s Spirit. We can’t say, this symbol means this, or that symbol tells us that, without spending a lot of time on those stories, and time at the foot of God’s throne.

We know someone had to look back in scripture to find the answer David needed. Isn’t that a clue telling us where the spiritual meaning of this story is, or at least a part of it? What kind of students would we be if we only wanted to look at parts of the story that interested us? Wouldn’t we be as self centered as the author told us David was?

What do we get when we look at David ordering the priests to purify themselves? What about David? What did he do to purify himself? Was David’s job complete when he pitched a new tent in Jerusalem for the Ark? Did David really pitch that tent, or did he command other people to do it for him?

When we see a series of events containing questions, we can now look in the mirror to ask ourselves, do I do the same thing? Do I come up with ideas to serve God, then tell other people what to do instead of setting the example they need? In a way it seems David was a little unsure about his plan. Instead of taking chances, he put other people in charge, giving them the responsibility in case anything went wrong, but having a door open to take all the credit in case everything worked out okay. Is that a plan you tend to follow?

What about looking in the mirror to see if you were the one to study a subject, or did you plan on having other people open scripture, find the answer, then fill you in on major details? If that your preferred method of studying scripture? This story is full of tough questions to ask yourself.

What about telling the priests to purify themselves? Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you do the same thing. Do you expect people to purify themselves, break habits, eat, drink, dress, and worship in a certain way while you take an easier path in life? Do you think you purified yourself by telling other people what to do, while you have no idea what God needs to work on in your life? Is that imagine in the mirror complete before you take your own brand of purification out to the world?

For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:23-27 NLTse).

Too often we forget the all important steps in Bible Study. Look at the physical aspects of the story. Learn to pray about the story, giving the Spirit time to sit down and teach you aspects you never understood or saw before. Gather all the information on the subject, such as other accounts of the story in scripture. Look at the events leading into the story as well as the results in later chapters. Once you see the physical aspects, look at how those details apply to your life. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Make a list of what questions to ask. A close connection with God’s Spirit is vital at this stage. He will know how to point out conditions in your life you never knew existed. When you think you’re ready to take a message out to the world, wait. Don’t jump the gun. The personal message God gave to you is not a one size fits all, this will fix the world’s problems type of message. Don’t take a personal message, tinker with it a little bit, then think you have something new. God’s message is like a glass ornament. You start hammering on it, and it has no choice but to break.

The author told us David asked one question, how to carry the Ark. Nothing about when or where to carry the Ark. That looks a little like the laws of the prophets where a prophet has to tell people how they talked to God, what the message was, and often where and when. What do we get when asking only part of a question, other than part of the answer? This is another issue to take to that mirror.

The priests took orders from David. It seems the priests carried out those orders without question. That brings up another question to ask yourself. Do you accept information, or orders from people without questioning if that was their role, what authority they have, or where their information came from?

It seems the deeper we look into any story, the more questions are presented. That’s how the Spirit works. Most of the questions center around self examination. You have to work with the Spirit to find those questions, and continue to work with the Spirit to find the answers. That’s just how the Spirit works. When Bible Study is nothing more than gathering material to support a preconceived answer, that is not really Bible Study. Using the Bible to produce evidence to support man made ideas is a lot like moving the Ark without God’s permission. What little is taken out of scripture and placed into man made concepts is like taking the Ark out of the environment God designed, then trying to figure out what the Ark really represents.