Psalm 87 grabbed my attention this week. It begins speaking about Jerusalem as Mount Zion—the Holy City of God’s people the Jews. But then comes the twist—the enemies of the Jews throughout OT history are recorded as acknowledging God and Zion. Rachel (symbolic of Egypt) and Babylon (who took the Jews captive) acknowledge God! People from all over the world are born in Zion (saved). The climax is the testimony song of the Gentiles “All my fountains are in you.” Everything that brings real joy and life comes from knowing the King of the Jews—Jesus.
The Bible seems to have a lot of wilderness experiences in it—much like life. Sometimes, like the Israelites, we bring them on ourselves. Sometimes, like David, we flee there because we are being chased by a lunatic with power. Sometimes, like Jesus and Paul we go there in preparation for ministry. In the wilderness, one can become greedy. After 40 years in the wilderness, Achan coveted some of the devoted things in Jericho (Joshua 7) and it cost him everything–reputation, family, possessions, and life! Had he waited until Ai, he could have had anything he wanted.
I’ve been reading Deuteronomy 28-30 where God lays out for the Israelites the blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. The curses came because they did not choose to serve God joyfully and gladly during the time of prosperity (28:47). During good times the natural thing is for us to lose our focus on God. So God says life and blessings must be intentionally chosen. Reaping death and curses is our default position (30:19-20). Once the Israelites were settled in the Promised Land, they defaulted to disobedience rather than obedience. We must continually choose life and choose God.
God so loved us he sent his only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for our sins so if we believe we will not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16-17. Easter always reminds me that there really is a hell and I belonged there when I die. But God loved me and sent Jesus to pay the price for my sin. Jesus would not have suffered and been killed on a cross if he wasn’t saving me from something real as hell. But more importantly, he saved me to something equally real. My citizenship is in heaven.
Over the last week I have been blessed with many moments with a variety of good friends who were for me just what I needed. Jonathan was a great warrior in his own right, but when he saw the much younger David take on Goliath, he decided to take a step up by becoming David’s friend. Jonathan took the initiative, was loyal to David, and sacrificed his own interests for David’s sake. As heir, Jonathan had a right to be the next king, but he helped David become the next king. Thanks, friends, for investing your life in me.
I love the story in Numbers 22 of Balaam having a conversation with his donkey. The donkey sees the angel of the Lord with a drawn sword standing in the road. The donkey protects Balaam’s life three times, but Balaam is so angry with the donkey he beats her. The Lord opens the mouth of the donkey so she can reason with Balaam. That should have gotten Balaam’s attention! But Balaam was so angry that reasoning with a donkey seemed reasonable! Are we blind and deaf to what God is saying while even the donkeys around us see and hear?
Proverbs 11:2 says “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Pride often leads to disaster and foolishness in Proverbs. Dr. Dennis Kinlaw wrote that humility and wisdom are like Siamese twins whose separation brings about death. Humility allows us to open our eyes to observe the whole picture so that we can devise better ways to achieve a better goal. Pride is like a cataract clouding the eye. Pride narrows our view to our own arrogant perspective so we can’t see better ways to a better goal—or even better goals.