Oh Lord, My Rock

Many times in my life I have needed a rock to anchor me or I would have been tossed to and fro. My rock is the Lord. He has always been with me, but I didn’t truly realize it until I was in college. Since that time, I have learned to lean heavily on Him and trust in God.

Psalm 28 starts with a beautiful statement:

To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock: Do not be silent to me… (Psalms 28:1 NKJV)

I also find comfort in the following prayer:

Blessed be the Lord , Because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him. The Lord is their strength, And He is the saving refuge of His anointed. Save Your people, And bless Your inheritance; Shepherd them also, And bear them up forever. (Psalms 28:6-9 NKJV)

Jesus Warns of the Scribes

The scribes probably knew the scriptures better than anyone because they knew the laws. To demonstrate how powerful of a contrast there is between believing in Jesus “Christ” or just the law, Jesus warns the people of the scribes.

“Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:46, 47 NKJV)

Long robes, greetings in the marketplace, best seats in the synagogues, and best seats at feasts. What do these all have in common? Status… If we live for status unto ourselves, we are not honoring God. In the NIV version, the scribes are actually referred to as teachers of the law. They knew the law and, therefore, they thought highly of themselves and were treated with great reverence.

However, our knowledge of the law or scripture should not be the end goal. The goal should be to give our heart to God. If we can do that, we can learn to walk in obedience. We can learn to care for others and see them as God does. Jesus is our Lord and Savior. It is good to understand scripture and law, but those who live by the law and not of the Son of Man are still dead. They have not taken on the new man.

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice that atoned for our sins. Let us not be as the scribes, for the punishment will be great.

Jacob is Named Israel

God asks Jacob to return to Bethel. Jacob requests that all of his company to out away their foreign gods and to cleanse themselves for the journey. Goods, clothing and jewelry were put away.

The people from the surrounding cities did not pursue Jacob because they knew God was with Him. They were afraid of the wrath of God. Jacob returned to Bethel and God appeared to him again. Jacob’s name becomes Isreal and God continues the promise that was given to Abraham. Nations shall proceed from Jacob and he and his descendants will inherit the land.

Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.” (Genesis 35:11, 12 NKJV)

Jacob has twelve sons and they become the twelve tribes of Israel.

From Heaven or from Men

Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?” But He answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?” (Luke 20:1-4 NKJV)

Is it from Heaven or from men?

This is a key question that is both relevant today and had to be answered by the Pharisees when Jesus walked the Earth. The answer was, of coarse, from Heaven. But, the Pharisees would not admit that Jesus was the Son of God. Men create rules. Men have gods. The God of Heaven and Earth will honor those rules and the consequences of those rules. However, we are ultimately accountable to God of Heaven. He is the one true God that created us.

I am always fascinated how the Pharisees knew the scriptures and missed that the actual Son of God was right there among them. It shows how we can be so totally consumed with our own actions and knowledge. The Pharisees would test Jesus again and again. Jesus made them uncomfortable because His very existence challenged their authority, their way of life. They spied on him, hoping to catch him saying something he shouldn’t have.

And the chief priests and the scribes that very hour sought to lay hands on Him, but they feared the people —for they knew He had spoken this parable against them. So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor. (Luke 20:19, 20 NKJV)

Their opportunity never came.

But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent. (Luke 20:26 NKJV)

Dinah & Shechem

Dinah was the daughter of Leah and Jacob. Jacob was called Israel and it appears that the his family began to take that on as a tribal name. They were called apart from the rest of the land. However, Leah decides to go out to see other women in the land on her own accord.

Now Dinah the daughter of Leah…went out to see the daughters of the land. (Genesis 34:1 NKJV)

Turns out that this was not a very good idea as it sets for a series of events that would not end well. Shechem, a prince of the country and a Hivite (from the Cannanites), came from a line that was to be driven from the land. He sees Dinah and becomes very attracted to her, so much so that he violates her sexually. The violation appears to be that Shechem is from an uncircumcised people, they did not marry and he did not have Jacob’s permission.

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her. His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young woman as a wife.” (Genesis 34:2-4 NKJV)

The news is delivered to Jacob and his family.  Jacob shows maturity by remaining in peace until Shechem and his father come to meet with him. His sons, however, take the incident as an offense to the whole family/”tribe”.  Hamor, Shechem’s father, makes an honest appeal to have his son marry Dinah and the daughters of Jacob and they would share the land. The sons of Jacob are still filled with anger and they come up with a plot. They decide to ask Shechem and his family to be circumcised and then he can marry Dinah. Then, they waited until the third day, in which the males of Shechem’s people were in the most pain, and Simeon and Levi attacked the city. They killed Shechem, his father Harmor and all of the males. Because of the offense that Shechem made toward their sister, the rest of the brothers plundered the entire city and took their children and their wives as captives. Dinah was in the city, which indicates that the agreement for marriage had been agreed to formally.

Because of Simeon and Levi’s actions, Jacob will end up excluding them from his blessing when he is on his death bed. Simeon and Levi remained unrepentant.

But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a harlot?” (Genesis 34:31 NKJV)

A Prayer for Divine Scrutiny and Redemption – a Psalm of David

Vindicate me, O Lord,
For I have walked in my integrity.
I have also trusted in the Lord;
I shall not slip.
Examine me, O Lord, and prove me;
Try my mind and my heart.
For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes,
And I have walked in Your truth.

I have not sat with idolatrous mortals,
Nor will I go in with hypocrites.
I have hated the assembly of evildoers,
And will not sit with the wicked.

I will wash my hands in innocence;
So I will go about Your altar, O Lord,
That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,

And tell of all Your wondrous works.
Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house,
And the place where Your glory dwells.
Do not gather my soul with sinners,
Nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
In whose hands is a sinister scheme,
And whose right hand is full of bribes.

But as for me, I will walk in my integrity;
Redeem me and be merciful to me.
My foot stands in an even place;
In the congregations I will bless the Lord.

(Psalm 26 NKJV)

Jerusalem’s Prophecy and King…From the One on a Colt

With power, Jesus commands the disciples to go into a village and bring back a colt for him to ride into the city of Jerusalem. He knew exactly how they would find the colt and that the owners would ask them why they needed it.

“Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” (Luke 19:30-31 NKJV)

Regardless of what anyone wanted, events had been seen into motion much more powerful than any human could control. These events had been foretold and were necessary. The King had come. The people lined the  the road with their own clothes in worship of their King.

What happens next is amazing. Jesus loves Jerusalem. The Son of God had come to them and they did not know. The events of the day were hidden from them.  He cries over the city because He knows what is going to happen to them.

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)

It is important that understand the time we live in and that we search God’s heart. There is only one God and one King above any other. Amen.