January 31 - Daniel

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


January 31 - Daniel

I feel a little schizophrenic about Daniel and I don’t think I’m alone.  There are two Daniel’s that stand out in my mind – the young man who was taken into exile and stood up for His God against an imposing king and the older man who had visions of the end of the world.

The stories of the young Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego, were told to me over and over again when I was a child in Sunday school.  He and his friends refused to eat unclean food and grew stronger because of it.  He faced down a lion in its den (Daniel 6) and his friends came out of a fiery furnace unscathed.  In fact, those who could look into the fire saw them in there with one other being – an angel of the Lord.

While these stories were meant to encourage the Israelites who were in exile to hold on to their faith, the same thing worked for me.  If God would stand with these young people, he would surely stand with me no matter the furnace or horrific beast I might face.

The second portion of Daniel follows his interpretations of dreams and visions regarding changing world empires (Daniel 7) and we see in his apocalyptic imagery a foretaste of that seen by John in his visions found in the Revelation, “one like a son of man” coming on the clouds (7:13).  We see the four beasts in that vision and a ram and goat in Daniel 8.  Daniel 10-11 finish the book and at the conclusion, Daniel receives instruction from an angel which gives straightforward information on resurrection and life after death, followed by instruction to seal up the words until the proper time.

With Daniel’s visions, we find a strong link between Old Testament apocalyptic thought and New Testament thought of John’s recounting of the Revelation given to him by Jesus Christ.  There will be an end to this world and God is in control of it all.  It is to Him we give glory.  It is to Him we are obedient. It is to Him we surrender our will so that we can be in relationship with the Creator of the Universe and our Savior.

January 30 - Ezekiel


January 30 - Ezekiel

Ezekiel was another son of a priest – Buzi.  He was among the Jews who were in exile with King Jehoiachin to Babylon in 597 B.C.E.  Three years later, he was called to be a prophet.  We know that he was married, because we find a notice of his wife’s death in Ezekiel 24:15-24.  He prophesied during the same time as Jeremiah, but neither mentions the other.  He spent his time in Babylon and his words are filled with hope.

Ezekiel is one of those misunderstood prophets by those of us today.  His book is filled with apocalyptic imagery and vivid symbolism.  The four visions that he has from God aren’t easy to understand without some time spent digging into them. Things that we can have no hope of comprehending happen to Ezekiel.  Who among us would consider baking bread on coals made of human waste – only to have it made a little better by God allowing the use of animal dung. (Ezekiel 4:12-15)  He burns one third of his hair, chops another third with a sword and scatters the final third to represent the impact of life on people when Jerusalem falls.  Symbolism regarding the remnant of the Israelites centers around a few hairs bound into the hem of his garment.

In the vision of Ezekiel 8-11, he is transported to Jerusalem to see what is happening in the temple, to see executioners moving through the city murdering people of every age.  Those who mourn the loss of the city are given a mark by a priest and then are spared.

He speaks oracles against seven nations in Ezekiel 25-32 – which are in essence words of judgment against Israel combined with words of hope for Israel.

After all of the horrors, Ezekiel ends with words of hope.  When we see the land of dry bones in Ezekiel 37:1-14, we are made to understand that Israel’s future is grounded only in God’s power.  Only through a relationship with Yahweh, will Israel be delivered.

Ezekiel’s final verse (Ezekiel 48:35) brings to a conclusion the judgment and hope for Israel. “The name of the city from that time on shall be, ‘The Lord is There.’”

Where the Lord is, there will be peace.

February Posts - Love!



During the month of February, I will dig deeply into two of my favorite scripture passages on love – 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:7-12.

When I was growing up, it seemed the easiest way for me to learn scripture was through song.  I was able to learn the entirety of 1 Corinthians 13 because of a song that sprang from the Jesus Movement. “If I have not charity, if love doesn’t flow from me, I am nothing.  Jesus reduce me to love.”

Jesus reduce me to love.  We can avoid sin, we can go to church every day of the week, we can speak in tongues, we can do it all, but if we do these things without true love which springs from our relationship with Jesus, we are nothing.

It is always all about love.  It will always be about love.  God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.  It is only about love.

Jesus reduce me to love.

1. 1 Corinthians 1:1
2. 1 Corinthians 1:2
3. 1 Corinthians 1:3
4. 1 Corinthians 1:4 - Patient
5. 1 Corinthians 1:4 - Kind
6. 1 Corinthians 1:4 - No Envy
7. 1 Corinthians 1:4 - No boast
8. 1 Corinthians 1:4 - No Pride
9. 1 Corinthians 1:5 - Not Rude
10. 1 Corinthians 1:5 - Not self-seeking
11. 1 Corinthians 1:5 - Not easily angered
12. 1 Corinthians 1:5 - Keeps no record of wrongs
13. 1 Corinthians 1:6 - Does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.
14. 1 Corinthians 1:7 - Always protects
15. 1 Corinthians 1:7 - Always trusts
16. 1 Corinthians 1:7 - Always hopes
17. 1 Corinthians 1:7 - Always perseveres
18. 1 Corinthians 1:8
19. 1 Corinthians 1:9-10
20. 1 Corinthians 1:11
21. 1 Corinthians 1:12
22. 1 Corinthians 1:13 - Faith
23. 1 Corinthians 1:13 - Hope
24. 1 Corinthians 1:13 - Love
25. 1 John 4:7-8
26. 1 John 4:9
27. 1 John 4:10
28. 1 John 4:11
29. 1 John 4:12

January 29 - Jeremiah


January 29 - Jeremiah

His name means ‘exalted of God,’ a man who knew that from the moment he was conceived in mother’s womb, God had a plan for his life. (Jeremiah 1:4).  He was the son of Hilkiah, a priest; and when he was still young, God called Jeremiah to be a prophet.  He went to Jerusalem in the thirteenth year of King Josiah, helping him to reform the nation of Israel.  When Josiah died, Jeremiah cried out in lament (2 Chronicles 35:25).  During the reign of Jehoahaz, we read nothing of him, but when Jehoiakim came into power, Jeremiah was not a well loved man and according to Jeremiah 36:5, was kept from entering the temple.  Jeremiah was not accepted by the king and when his words were destroyed by Jehoiakim, he wrote them again.  No one listened to his words of warning.

Then, Nebuchadnezzar came to town and took over the city.  A rumor began that the Egyptians were coming to help the Israelites, so Nebuchadnezzar took off for a while.  The Jews thought they were saved.  When Jeremiah was told by God that Nebuchadnezzar would return and burn the city, people were infuriated and tossed into prison (Jeremiah 37:15-38:13).  He was still hanging out in there when the Chaldeans showed up.  They let him go and told him that he could choose where he wanted to live.  He moved on to Judea.  Gedaliah, the governor of Judea was fine, but his successor – Johanan – wasn’t going to have anything to do with Jeremiah.  He went to Egypt and took Jeremiah with him (along with Jeremiah’s friend, Baruch).  From there, the prophet continued to try to draw the people of Israel back to the Lord until the end of his life.

The man whom God exalted, watched his people live apart from the Lord who had done so much for them.   He prophesied the coming of the Messiah (Jeremiah 23:1-8; 31:31-40; 33:14-26) and his words encompassed approximately thirty years.  When he was alone, it was the Lord who was with him, but he never forgot his people and always hoped for them to return to the one who loved them.

January 28 - Isaiah

Sunday, January 29, 2012


January 28 - Isaiah

I can not imagine having the experiences that Isaiah had.  How do you approach a normal day after having an experience where you can say, “I saw the Lord, seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almight; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:1-3)

That is a lifetime of experience in one small minute, but Isaiah’s life was filled with those experiences.

Isaiah acted as prophet during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah … approximately sixty-four years.  We know very little of his life. He was the son of Amoz (Isaiah 1:1), his wife is identified as “the prophetess” (Isaiah 8:3), and their sons are named symbolically Shear-jashub (“A remnant shall return”; Isaiah 7:3) and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (“The spoil speeds, the prey hastes”; Isaiah 8:3, 18).

From the moment that he told the Lord he was ready to be sent forth as God’s messenger, he spoke without fear and with great boldness to the kings and the people of Israel.  His message also held great reverence for the Lord.

Many beautiful words were spoken by Isaiah.  His prophecies regarding the coming Messiah are incredible.  His name means ‘salvation of the Lord’ and he came to proclaim that salvation to the world.

January 27 - Nathan

Friday, January 27, 2012


January 27 - Nathan

I really don’t like having to confront people about their mistakes.  I’d much rather encourage them into good behavior.  Consequently, management is not something that I excel at.  It only took a little bit of study into Old Testament prophets to decide that I would have been terrible at that as well.

Nathan was there to approve of David’s plan to build the temple. However, then he heard from the Lord that David would not be the one to build the temple, that would fall to David’s son, a man of peace.  Nathan had to deliver those words to David, but was also able to deliver the prophecy that David’s reign (through his descendants) would last forever (2 Samuel 7).

Then came David’s poor decision making regarding Bathsheba.  He saw a gorgeous woman, wanted her and gave no thought to the sin he committed when he had her, then had her husband, Uriah, killed.  Nathan had to deal with his king because his God wouldn’t let this pass.

He told David a story about a rich man who stole the only lamb of a poor man.  The king ordered that the rich man be put to death and Nathan identified the king himself as that thief.  David figured it out and repented and wrote an extraordinarily beautiful Psalm (Psalm 51) to God pleading for mercy and repenting of his sin.

We see Nathan again when David is dying.  David’s son, Adonijah was plotting to become king.  Nathan and Bathsheba went before the king to remind him of his promise to his son (by Bathsheba), Solomon.  David declared that Solomon would succeed him (1 Kings 1).

January 26 – Elisha

Thursday, January 26, 2012


January 26 – Elisha

Elisha was a farmer (I Kings 19:16-21) and he was bald (2 Kings 2:23).  He was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen when Elijah met him. His name means ‘my God saves’ and he became a disciple of Elijah’s until his master ascended into heaven.

He traveled and engaged with groups of prophets who collected themselves into guilds, we see them in 2 Kings 2:1-5 and possibly in some of his other travels to Gilgal, Mt. Carmel and Samaria (2 Kings 2:25; 4:25, 38).  He performed miracles in order to support these disciples so they could continue in their work.  These miracles demonstrated God’s power over everything, something that the people of Israel needed to see and understand.

Elisha followed Elijah’s footsteps in the political realm as well.  He warned the king of enemy plans, helped in dealing with the Moabites, then the Syrians. He cared for the king’s army when it was thirsty in the desert by asking God to fill a wadi with water for the men and animals (2 Kings 3:4-20).

This man of God worked to bring the Israelite kings back into a relationship with God and demonstrated that every part of life is subject to God’s will and His control.

January 25 - Elijah

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


January 25 - Elijah

Elijah served as a prophet during the reign of King Ahab … the 9th century BCE.  Ahab was a great ruler of the northern kingdom.  However, Ahab had married Jezebel, a princess of Tyre, who worshiped Baal.  Elijah came from Gilead, east of the Jordan river, from a place where Israelites remained separate from those around them and was appalled by the intermarriage and interplay between the Israelites and the cultures around them.

Ahab ‘served Baal a little’ (2 Kgs 10:18), but mostly wanted to be tolerant of his wife’s religion … much like Solomon.  This was unacceptable to God and one day Elijah showed up in Ahab’s court announcing a terrible drought.  The prophets of Baal believed that their god possessed the power over life and fertility.  They soon discovered that wasn’t so and famine destroyed the country.

God told Elijah to go back to Ahab and confront the prophets of Baal, which led to the contest between one prophet of Yahweh and 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.  (1 Kings 18:1-46)  Nothing happened (of course) to the sacrifice that the prophets of Baal prepared, but the one that Elijah prepared was devoured by fire, as well as the water that had drenched the firewood.  Not only that, but at the end of the story, God pours out water upon the land proving His control and gaining the trust of His people.

Jezebel was quite unhappy with the outcome and threatened Elijah’s life (1 Kings 19:1-2).  He fled and was comforted by Yahweh with food.  He goes on to Horeb (the sacred mountain where Moses met earthquake, wind and fire, then God’s revelation (Exodus 19) and finds that while earthquake, wind and fire accompany Yahweh, He is not in the violence of those things, but in a still, small voice.  Yahweh is not like the storm-god Baal, whose nature is made of those elements, but Yahweh is above it all and controls it all.  Yahweh can only be heard by those who will listen to Him.

There are many other stories found in 1 Kings 17-19, 21 and 2 Kings 1:1-2:18.  He was a man of great faith who wandered throughout the land, showing up when needed to remind the people of Israel of their God.  He was taken up into heaven by fiery horses and a chariot and was expected to return to humanity as the prophet who would introduce the Messiah.  He appeared at Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:4; Matt. 17:3; Luke 9:30) along with Moses and is expected to come forth to restore the tribes of Jacob (Sirach 48:10).

January 24 - Balaam

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


January 24 - Balaam

My Kindergarten Sunday School teacher was amazing. It was from her that I learned most of my Bible stories. We were so entranced with her stories, that I’m not sure if we really identified their source.  When I was older there were a few that surprised me by showing up in my Bible. However, there was one story that I never heard and I was greatly surprised by a question one day in an adult class regarding Balaam’s ass. I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about, so I had to dig.  I guess that this might have been a little too shocking to bring up to the minister’s daughter. Sunday School teachers avoided using the word ‘ass’ as much as possible and in the King James version, that’s all they would have been able to come up with.

Balaam was not an Israelite, but was a prophet all the same.

The Israelites were threatening the land of Moab and its king, Balak sent men to Balaam requesting that he curse the Israelites.  (Numbers 22:1-6)  Balaam, interestingly enough, told them that he had to consult Yahweh.  He refused to go to Moab with these men, but received permission from God to go with the second group, but only if they came to him and asked him to go.

Well, Balaam got up and went with them – without the summons.  God wasn’t happy, especially since He had told Balaam to obey Him implicitly.  The angel of the Lord stood in the middle of the road – only the donkey could see.  He tried once to go into the field next to the road, Balaam struck him and got him back on the road.  Then, it ran Balaam into a wall, and he struck the animal, then, the donkey just lay down in the road.  Balaam struck the donkey and the Lord opened the animal’s mouth to ask, “What have I done, that you strike me?”  Balaam had a conversation with the animal until the Lord opened his eyes and he saw the angel.

At this point, he fully understood the necessity of obedience to the Lord.  He would go forth and only speak the word of the Lord to Balak.

When Balaam got to Moab, Balak asked him to curse Israel again.  Balaam answered that he could only speak the words given to Him by God.  He blessed Israel three times, finally stating that Israel would rule over Moab.

January 23 - Sarah

Monday, January 23, 2012


January 23 - Sarah

As Christians, we don’t think as much about Sarah as Jews and Muslims do, but she is the mother of our faith.  As Abraham’s companion and wife, she travels with him when God calls him out of Ur.  When they arrive in Canaan, the land that God promised to Abraham, a famine threatens them and they move on to Egypt.  Abram tells the Pharaoh that this beautiful woman is not his wife, thinking that will keep them alive.   God is not pleased and the Pharaoh soon sends them on their way with additional riches, back to Canaan.

Her name, when we first meet her, is Sarai (Genesis 11:29).  Her name was changed to Sarah (which means princess) when she was promised that she would have a son and would become the mother of nations and kings (Genesis 17:15-16).

How could Abraham’s covenant with God be fulfilled without a son?  Because Sarah wanted to honor that covenant, she allowed Abraham to have our maidservant – Hagar.  A child was born and named Ishmael.  God promised that Ishmael would be the father of a nation, but not the child of the promise.

Then, by only the hand of God at work in their lives, at the age of 90 she bears a son and names him, by God’s order, Isaac.  This occurred 25 years after the original promise was made to Abraham.

This is actually the last we see of Sarah.  We don’t see her around when Abraham takes Isaac to offer him as a sacrifice to God.  She died at the age of 127 and was buried in a cave which Abraham purchased from a Hittite. (Genesis 23)

Sarah followed her husband and obeyed her Lord.  She was startled by the announcement that at the age of 90 she would give birth to a child and laughed when she thought no one was listening.  But, God is always listening.  God can do amazing things in our lives.  He did so in her life and she became the mother of an incredible nation and her ancestors, both by blood and by faith, continue to fill the earth.

January 22 - Ruth


January 22 - Ruth

Naomi and her husband and two sons are from Bethlehem.  They travel to Moab because of a famine and end up living there for ten years. The sons do what boys do; meet, fall in love and then marry a couple of local girls – Ruth and Orpah.  Something happens to the men of this family and they die.  Naomi loves her daughters in law, but really wants to return to her home, especially since she has found out that there is food there again.  The three women begin traveling together, but Naomi wants the girls to have full lives, not be stuck as widows in a foreign land, so she tells them to return to their own homes.

At first both refuse – they love Naomi.  Their adult lives have probably been spent with this woman. Finally she persuades Orpah to return, but Ruth offers words that have transcended time.

Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go, I will go and where you rest, I will rest.  Your people will be my people and your God, my God. (Ruth 1:16)

They make it back to Bethlehem just at the beginning of the barley harvest.  One of Naomi’s husband’s relatives was named Boaz.  Ruth, in order to care for her mother-in-law, offered to go into the fields and glean grain after the harvesters had been through the fields.  She did so and Boaz saw her and asked about her.  Then he told her to stay near his women, reaping after them and that she was under his protection.

It made absolutely no sense to her.  She was a foreigner and had no legal rights in Israel.  But, he knew what she had done for Naomi and that was enough. Then, he invited her to eat with him and his workers and told the workers to leave plenty for her in the fields.  She was able to make enough to take money home to Naomi as well as food from the meal she had shared.  She stayed close to Boaz’s young women until the end of both the barley and wheat harvests, living with Naomi throughout. (Ruth 2:23)

Naomi finally convinces Ruth to make things a little more serious with Boaz.  As an honorable man, he ends up taking her as his wife and she bears a son for him.  Naomi became the child’s nurse and he was named Obed.  This child grew up to be the father of Jesse, who was then, in turn, the father of David, the ruler of Israel.

A foreign woman who loved her mother-in-law more than her own life became another great woman in the history of Jesus Christ.  Sometimes sacrifice brings great rewards.

January 21 - Rebekah

Saturday, January 21, 2012


January 21 - Rebekah

Rebekah was Isaac’s wife.  She was also the sister to Laban – remember him?  He was the man who made Rebekah’s son, Jacob work for 14 years before he could marry the woman that he loved.  I guess family issues have always been stressful.  You can’t even trust your uncle or the father of your bride – even when they’re one and the same, can you!

Rebekah was a beautiful woman and Abraham’s servant found her when he returned to their home to find a wife for Isaac.  Genesis 24:58 tells us that she chose to leave with the servant (not that she was sent by her father and brother) to go back to Isaac.

The story of Isaac’s first look at her is found in Genesis 24:62-67.  He went out one evening to walk in a field and saw camels approaching.  Rebekah saw him, slipped off her camel and inquired of the servant who had come for her, who he might be.  When the servant told her that it was his master (implying Isaac), she covered herself with her veil.  The servant then told Isaac everything about her.  Isaac took Rebekah into his mother, Sarah’s, tent.  Sarah had died and Isaac was still mourning her loss.  But, that night, Rebekah became his wife and he loved her.

When they discovered that she couldn’t have children, Isaac prayed and she conceived.  When the pregnancy was difficult, she prayed and was told by God that she would give birth to two sons – two separate nations.  He also told her that the elder (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob).

As the boys were growing up, she loved Jacob much more than Esau while Isaac was more fond of his oldest son.  One day she heard Isaac telling Esau that he was going to give him a blessing, which would give Esau a great deal of power.  She and Jacob conspired to trick Isaac into giving him the blessing, infuriating Esau.  She sent Jacob to her brother Laban.

This is the last we see of Rebekah in the story and we don’t read anything of her death.  We do know that in Genesis 49:31 she was buried with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and Leah.

Rebekah was quite brilliant; she was conniving and understood people.  While we might consider these things to be evil, they did insure that the Lord’s word, given to her during her pregnancy was fulfilled.

January 20 - Rahab

Friday, January 20, 2012


January 20 - Rahab

How many of you choose to tell stories of prostitutes in your life history … even if they were reformed?  Most of us would choose to hide that information, not wanting anyone to think less of us or our family.

Jesus, on the other hand, finds this prostitute in his lineage and does not disregard her.

When Joshua and Caleb were spying in Canaan, they ended up in Jericho.  The king found out they were there and with murder in mind, sent guards looking for them.  Rahab hid them on her roof under stalks of flax.  Her house was part of Jericho’s outer wall, so when things were safe, they were able to escape.

For her trust, they told her that when the battle came, she should tie a crimson cord in the window through which they were planning to leave and tell no one they had been there.

Prostitutes are ignored by most, but not by two men who trusted her with their lives.  When they brought the battle to Jericho, Rahab and her family escaped before the city was destroyed and became a part of tribe of Israel for the rest of their lives (Joshua 6:25).

Because she took these men into her home and protected them, then sending them on their way, she is remembered by the author of Hebrews as someone who had great faith.  She is also mentioned in Jesus’ lineage in Matthew 1:5 as the mother of Boaz, the future husband of Ruth.  Her life was changed the day that she chose to obey the Lord God.

January 19 - Rachel

Thursday, January 19, 2012


January 19 - Rachel

Rachel was a lucky woman.  She was beautiful and Jacob wanted her enough to work fourteen years for her father so that he could have her hand in marriage.  She was one of several women who bore children that would become the foundation for the Israelite tribes.

Though they spent many years waiting, Rachel was barren.  She watched her older sister Leah have children with the man she loved, Leah’s handmaiden and Rachel’s own handmaiden.  Finally, she gave birth to Joseph and then later to Benjamin.

After Joseph was born, Jacob decided it was time to leave his father-in-law’s home.  Rachel took with her one of her father’s idols.  When he chased them down, Jacob promised death for whoever took it.  Rachel’s deceit continued as she claimed that it was her menstrual period and she couldn’t move, while she sat on top of the idol.

Jacob went on to Bethel and it was when he got there that she conceived another child.  While they were traveling to Bethlehem, she gave birth to Benjamin, dying in childbirth.

Jacob loved her greatly.  He buried her on the road between Bethel and Bethlehem, marking the spot with a pillar.  She is remembered in the book of Ruth, along with her sister Leah, as one who built up the house of Israel (Ruth 4:11).

January 18 - Solomon

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


January 18 - Solomon

The name Solomon means ‘peaceful.’  That seems appropriate, since it was a man of peace that God wanted to build His temple.  Historians think that he was between sixteen and eighteen years old when he came to the throne of Israel. He was the first king to be born into succession. The prophet Nathan called him Jedidiah – beloved of the Lord (2 Sam. 12:24,25).  He became king before David died, because his elder brother Adonijah was pressing for the reign.  David, Nathan and Bathsheba wanted Solomon to be king because this was what the Lord wanted.

Solomon reigned for forty years and during his early years on the throne, Israel lived in its most glorious time.  They traded extensively with foreign countries, bringing in vast amounts of wealth and produce (1 Kings 9:26-28; 10:11, 12; 2 Chr. 8:17, 18; 9:21).  No one could match the glory and splendor of Solomon’s court.  He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.  Not only was this a time of great material prosperity, but Solomon led his people into great intellectual growth.  He wrote proverbs and taught the people about things that came from other lands.  People from all over came to hear of Solomon’s wisdom.

His wisdom he received in great measure because of his humility before the Lord.  God granted Him one desire and though he could have asked for wealth or good health, he asked for wisdom. This so pleased the Lord, that He gave Solomon great discernment, that none could match him in understanding right from wrong. (1 Kings 3:5-15).

As Solomon grew older, he no longer loved the Lord with all that he had; he loved his women and his wealth.  He brought in foreign wives and fell in love with their ways.  He continued to believe in God and offered sacrifices, but he set up worship of other gods and allowed his people to worship publicly.

At this, the Lord’s support left and enemies came after Israel.  He had raised up a great and powerful nation, but at the end, it deteriorated to one that was weak and worthless, a disgrace because of Solomon’s pride.

January 17 - David

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


January 17 - David

Have you put it together that King David was a redhead?  Yup … That’s not something we generally think of when we imagine the Semitic races (Arabs, Jews, etc.).  But, 1 Samuel 16:12 says, “Now he was ruddy (red-haired) and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome.”  When he went up against Goliath, the Philistine wasn’t terribly threatened, for “When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.” (1 Samuel 17:42)

There is no way to tell the entirety of David's story in a few short words.  He was given much and the promise that from his throne would come salvation for Israel was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

David was a shepherd and when Samuel came to see Jesse so as to find the next King of Israel, he was out working, rather than waiting to see the prophet.  David was a musician and played his lyre and sang for King Saul when his spirit was troubled.  Saul loved David and David became best friend’s with Jonathan, Saul’s son.  After David killed Goliath, though, Saul grew jealous … murderously jealous and David had to finally leave, running back to Samuel.

When Saul finally died (along with Jonathan), David became king over Judah at the age of thirty and later king over all of Israel.  With this, he decided to move from Hebron to Jerusalem. He brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, erected a new tent … tabernacle and set all in order for the worship of God to happen in Jerusalem.  (1 Chr. 16).

David went to war and greatly extended his kingdom (2 Sam. 8). But, at his greatest height, he had his greatest fall … adultery, murder, lies … and through that, he grew close to God in his penitence.  His son, Solomon, was born and peace came to the land.

David wanted to build a temple for the Ark, but because he had been a man of war, God would not allow it.  That opportunity would be given to his son.

Then came the rebellion of his eldest son, Absalom, wounding David terribly, but with his death, peace returned to the kingdom.  David died at the age of 70, after having reigned 40 ½ years.  His last words (2 Sam. 23:1-7) show his faith in God and confidence in God’s promises.

David’s power rose and fell, but he remained close to the Lord he loved.

January 16 - Saul

Monday, January 16, 2012


January 16 - Saul

The stories of Saul’s failures are quite familiar to most of us. He lost his connection with God and everything fell apart for him.  There was nothing he could do on his own to regain that connection – he became bitter and angry, poisonous and even murderous.  He lost everything in the end … everything he had ever loved.  There was a point when he made the decision that being anointed as the King of Israel was because he was something special, not because he was chosen by God.  We do well to never forget that it is God who chooses us, not the other way around.

Before he lost his way, there was a much, better story.  The story of a young man whom God chose from nothing to become king over everything.

Saul’s father was named Kish.  He was of the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest of all the tribes.  His clan was the least of all the clans within the tribe of Benjamin.  Saul was called an impressive young man, a head taller than any of the others around him (1 Sam. 9:2).

One day, Kish’s donkeys got lost, so Saul and a servant went out to look for them.  They spent enough time away from his father, that Saul decided they might want to return; his father would now be more worried about them than the donkeys.  The servant recognized that there was a famous seer in the town they had come upon.  He might be able to help them find their way to the donkeys.

The seer was Samuel and the Lord had just told Samuel that he would encounter a young man whom the Lord had chosen to lead His people.  The two men met on the road and Samuel told Saul that the donkeys were safe and after they had gone to the high place (a place of worship), he would let Saul go and tell him all that was in his heart … and oh, by the way, the donkeys had been found.

Saul wasn’t prepared for any of this. Remember, he was the least of the least, according to the ways of the tribes of Israel.

The next morning, Saul and Samuel started out with Saul’s servant. Samuel sent the servant ahead and then anointed Saul with oil, naming him as the leader of the Israelites.  He gave him several signs to watch for in his travels home. These signs all happened and Saul began to believe that maybe it was true.  The Lord had called him to be the leader of the Israelites.

As much as the people wanted a king, it seems there would be no one fully appropriate for the position.  Even after Samuel, who was respected among all the people as a spiritual leader, blessed Saul and made him king, there were several who decided to make trouble.  They ‘despised him and brought him no gifts.’ (1 Samuel 10:27b)

Saul rescued the city of Jabesh and after that glorious victory, those who had tried to make trouble were brought before Saul to be executed.  In the manner of a King under the power of the Lord, he proclaimed, “No one shall be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel” (1 Sam. 11:13).

Samuel and Saul, along with all the people, went to Gilgal. They confirmed Saul as king in the presence of the Lord and then sacrificed fellowship offerings and held a great celebration.

The beginning of Israel’s time of kings had come.  The man was chosen by God and placed into a position of power. Though we saw the end of his reign and the awfulness that selfish intentions brought, he was king of Israel for 42 years.

January 15 - Samuel

Sunday, January 15, 2012


January 15 - Samuel

One of the greatest things Eli taught Samuel was how to listen to the Lord.  This wasn’t an easy lesson because, “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” (1 Samuel 3:1b).

Samuel heard his name being called at night and went running to Eli because who else would be calling out to him? It took three times for it to finally register with Eli that the Lord was calling.  He taught Samuel how to listen, “…if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” (1 Samuel 3:9)

When Samuel responded to the call, the Lord was able to tell him that He was about to do something that would make the ears of everyone who hears it tingle. (1 Sam. 3:11)  The Lord can do amazing things through His people … we just need to respond as His servants!

Samuel remained close to the Lord.

“The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 3:19-20)

One man presented himself as a willing servant.  That’s all it took.

Samuel was the one, who though unhappy with the idea of Israel setting a king in place because he felt that the Lord should be their only ruler, told the Lord what the people wanted and then, with the Lord’s permission, anointed Saul as the first king of Israel.

It was also Samuel, who, when the Lord rejected Saul as king because of his sin and weakness, then found David.  He was sent by the Lord to Bethlehem to a man named Jesse.  The Lord told him that one of Jesse’s sons was to be king, but left it to Saul to discover which.

The lesson that day was that appearance and height did not matter to the Lord, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16: 7)

None of the seven sons of Jesse passed Samuel’s (and the Lord’s) muster.  The youngest was with the sheep and when Jesse finally sent for him, the Lord told Samuel that this young boy was to be anointed.  He would be the new king of Israel.

Samuel may have begun the first school for prophets (1 Samuel 19:20) “…they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader …” and when he died, all Israel mourned his death. (1 Samuel 25:1)

A man dedicated to the Lord as an infant by his mother, raised to hear and respond as a servant of the Lord.  He offered the entirety of His life as he worked to draw Israel into a relationship with God.  His name means ‘heard of God.’  He heard God and God listened to him as well because he came before the Lord as a servant, ready to respond.

January 14 - Eli

Saturday, January 14, 2012


January 14 - Eli

Eli is well-known for the young men in his life.  He is the high priest to whom Hannah brought her son, Samuel, dedicating him to the service of the Lord.

He is also the father of Hophni and Phinehas.

“Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord.” (1 Samuel 2:12)

These two young men were thieves – stealing the food of the sacrifice, there was sexual immorality and no matter what Eli said to them, they refused to change their ways.  Finally, Eli was told that they would die on the same day and that the promised priesthood for his lineage was coming to an end.

All of this evil in Eli’s life was contrasted with the growth of Samuel.

“This sin of the young men (Hophni and Phinehas) was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.  But Samuel was ministering before the Lord – a boy wearing a linen ephod (in other words, no finery … very simple). Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 2:17-19)

The Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant during a battle with the Israelites.  Hophni and Phinehas were there with the Ark when it was brought out from Shiloh to offer strength to the Israelites.  But, the Philistines were too much for them and the defeated the Israelites, the ark was captured and Hophni and Phinehas died.

Word was brought to Eli that his sons had died and the ark had been captured.  It was the last bit of news that caused him to fall out of his chair, break his neck and die.  Phinehas’ wife was pregnant and at the same time, died giving birth to a son whom she named Ichabod, meaning ‘The glory has departed from Israel’ since the ark had been captured.

January 13 - Samson

Friday, January 13, 2012


January 13 - Samson 

“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years” (Judges 13:1).

Sound familiar?  We can judge the Israelites all we want, but the reality of the situation is that we are just as guilty of doing our own thing and rebelling against God as they ever were.  Fortunately for us, the records of our wrongdoings aren’t captured for posterity.  And as well, fortunately for us as it was for them, God places people into our lives to get us over the bumps and draw us closer to Him again.

A man named Manoah and his wife were childless.  The Lord told her that she would bear a child, but they needed to raise the boy as a Nazirite, set apart for God from the day he was born.  His hair could never be cut, he could drink no alcoholic beverage or eat anything unclean. 

Samson was born, raised for the Lord and then fell in love with a Philistine woman. She was no good for him, but they got married anyway and before long was given to a friend of Samson’s who had attended him at their wedding. Samson was furious and went after the Philistines of her village with a vengeance.  When leaders asked what had happened and found out, they burned her (this was not a good place to live).  That made things worse and Samson slaughtered many Philistines.

After several encounters with the Philistines, Samson became the leader of the Israelites for twenty years.

Judges 16 opens with: “One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her.”

This can’t be a good way to begin a story.  The Philistines attempted to capture and kill him, but his strength allowed him to escape.  When he met Delilah, he fell in love again.  Obviously, for this man of God, women were his downfall.  The Philistine leaders figured out that Samson had no control when it came to women he loved and asked Delilah to discover the secret of his strength. He tricked her, but she nagged him until he finally told her that his hair had never been cut.

He had seven braids (Judges 16:19) and falling asleep with his head in her lap, she called a man to shave his head.  The Lord left him … his Nazirite vow had been broken.

The Philistines shackled him and gouged out his eyes, setting him in prison.  When he was brought out for entertainment, he prayed one last time for God’s power and with all his might, he pulled down the temple on the rulers, the people and himself.

His life was over as was his rule.

Samson was a man with a mighty mission. He had been committed to the Lord since before he was born … before he was even conceived. But, his life was filled with struggle and torment.  It was never easy. He loved the wrong women and made terrible mistakes in trusting those who never deserved his trust.  When his eyes were set on the Lord, He was a mighty warrior.  When his eyes were set on his own needs, he was destroyed.

January 12 - Jephthah

Thursday, January 12, 2012


January 12 - Jephthah

Though Jephthah was the son of Gilead, his mother was a prostitute.  Gilead’s wife had sons who drove Jephthah away, taunting and alienating him.  He settled away from them and managed to become a respected leader of a group of adventurers.

The Ammonites showed up and went to war against Israel.

Funny thing, the Gileadites decided that now they needed Jephthah to be their leader.  “Why do you come to me when you’re in trouble?” (Judges 11:7b)

They promised that if he fought against the Ammonites, they would make him head over the tribe.  They promised in front of the Lord that they would do this and Jephthah agreed.  At that point, he sent a message to the Ammonite king who ignored it.

So … Jephthah, accompanied by the Spirit of the Lord went up against the Ammonites.  Then, came the vow that is so difficult for us to understand.  He promised that if the Lord gave the Ammonites into his hands, when he returned, the first thing to come out of his house to greet him at home will be sacrificed as a burnt offering.  I’m guessing he was used to animals coming out of the door.

But, when he arrived home, it was his daughter, his only child.  She asked for two months to roam and weep with her friends, and when she returned, he did as he vowed.

Jephthah was a mighty warrior, who believed in the Lord and when he made a promise to God, he followed through, no matter the sacrifice.  He was considered a man of valor and judged the Israelites for six years.

January 11 - Gideon

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


January 11 - Gideon

“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites” (Judges 6:1).

I believe that one of the things scripture points out to us is the extreme lengths God will go to in order to have a relationship with us.  Once again, the Israelites began worshiping other gods and once again they angered God so much that he turned them over to the Midianites, who crossed the Jordan each year for seven years simply to plunder and desolate the land.

God called on Gideon to finally deliver the land from these invaders when yet again, the Israelites called out to Him for help.

Getting Gideon to undertake the task was not easy for the Lord.  Gideon wasn’t ready to just acquiesce.  He had questions.  Tough questions.

“If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about? … But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of the Midian.” (Judges 6:13)

Much like His conversation with Moses, when He asked Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egypt, the Lord didn’t respond to the questions, but promised He would have strength to save Israel.  Gideon reminded Him that his clan was the weakest and he himself was the least in his family.  The Lord told Gideon he would be with him.

Gideon then asked one more favor of the Lord, to please remain until he could return with an offering.  I love these next words from God: “I will wait until you return.” (Judges 6:18b).

God will wait for us when what we want to do is worship Him.

Gideon began tearing down altars to Baal and Asherah poles. The Midianites joined together with the Amalekites and others to battle Gideon, who then called out to the tribes of Israel to join him in battle.

At this point, Gideon set one more test before the Lord.  He put out a dry wool fleece.  If there was dew on it – he knew the Lord would be with him.  There was.  That wasn’t enough. He asked for one more thing.  He put another fleece out – asking that the fleece be dry and the ground surrounding it wet with dew.  It was.  Gideon’s confidence was full.

The next part of the story tested Gideon’s faith.  He had 32,000 men ready to do battle and the Lord told him to send away those who were fearful so that Israel wouldn’t boast in their own strength.  22,000 men left.  The Lord then asked Gideon to take the remainder to the water.  Those who lapped at the water with their hands were separated from those who knelt to drink.  This left 300 men.

With these 300 men, God conquered the Midianites.

The Lord listened to the fear of a man who was willing to walk with Him.  He offered strength to a man who felt unworthy and gave confidence to a man who was ready to be the Lord’s mighty warrior.

January 10 - Deborah

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


January 10 - Deborah

Judges 4:1, “And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord …”

This will be a familiar theme for the Israelites.  However, this time, Deborah was judging Israel.  She was not only their leader, but a prophetess.  Judges 4:5 says that she used to sit under a palm tree and the people of Israel would come to her there for judgment.

The Israelites had been sold by the Lord to Jabin, king of Canaan.  His commander was Sisera.  He had been oppressing the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years (Judges 4:3).

Deborah summoned Barak and reminded him that the Lord had commanded him to take 10,000 men from the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali and battle Sisera.  Barak replied that he wasn’t going without her.  With her there, he would be glad to go.  She agreed, he gathered the 10,000 men and off they went off to Mount Tabor to do battle.

She encouraged Barak, telling him that the Lord would go before them and with those words, the army attacked and killed every member of Sisera’s army. Then, they went after Jabin and destroyed him as well.

There is a song in Judges 5 of Deborah and Barak.  While there is great praise for those who engaged in battle, Judges 5:16-23 names those of the tribes who stood by doing nothing.  “They did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” (Judges 5:23)

“And the land had rest for forty years” (Judges 5:31).

Women in the Old Testament may have been seen as property and not given a lot of respect, but those whom the Lord called to do His will were given great power and honor.

Deborah heard the Lord and through her, Israel walked again with the Lord and found peace.

January 9 - Othniel

Monday, January 9, 2012


January 9 - Othniel

Who is Othniel?  The first judge of the Israelites.  The judges attempted to lead the children of Israel after Joshua died, and after their failure to do so because of the insistence of the people that they be allowed to worship other gods and their subsequent turning away from the Lord, they called for a king when Samuel (January 15th blog) was in place as their leader.

The pattern that is followed in the book of Judges is that 1) the people turned away from the Lord, 2) the Lord punished them by bringing in a foreign power to oppress them, 3) the people cried out to the Lord, 4) God raised up a deliverer … a judge for them.

Othniel, the lion of God, was the first of these judges.

We first meet him in Judges 1.  The Israelites are fighting against the Canaanites.  Caleb (the friend of Joshua’s who traveled into Canaan and brought back a good report, but who wasn’t believed, offered his daughter’s hand in marriage to the one who would attack and capture Kiriath-sepher.  Othniel did just that.  So, he received Achsah as his wife and when she met him, she told him to ask her father for a field.  Caleb gave her the land of the Negeb and the upper and lower springs of water (remember, water was very important to these desert nomads).  (Judges 1:11-16)

Then, a group of them settled that area.

Not surprisingly, by the time we get to Judges 2, Israel is disobedient and unfaithful.  They did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.  And they abandoned, the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt  (Judges 2:11-12).

The Lord gave them over to plunderers and sold them into the hand of the enemies.

…And they were in terrible distress (Judges 2:15b).

He sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia.  And the people served him for eight years. But when the people cried out to them, he raised up a deliverer.  Othniel was that first deliverer.

The Spirit of the Lord was upon him. He went into battle and prevailed.  For the next forty years, the Israelites were at peace.  Then, Othniel died. (Judges 3:7-11)

Fortunately for the people of Israel, there were men and women who loved the Lord and refused to turn away from Him.  Since this will become a pattern for them … they’re going to need these people.

January 8 - Joshua

Sunday, January 8, 2012


January 8 - Joshua

We all know he ‘fit the battle of Jericho,’ right?  Of course.

Joshua was born in Egypt – and it is assumed he was about forty years old when the Exodus occurred.  When the Israelites battled Amalek (Exodus 17:8-13), it was Joshua who led the battle while Moses held the God-given rod up to heaven.

It was he and Caleb who had gone into Canaan and returned with an encouraging report.  Because everyone else came back with doom and gloom and the people believed them instead, they ended up wandering for forty additional years.

His name means, ‘Jehovah is his help.’  With all of his responsibilities after succeeding Moses as leader of the Israelites, he was going to need God’s help.

He took his people across the Jordan river and was their leader as they marched around Jericho and brought the walls down.  It was under his leadership that the Israelites fought wars bringing down six nations and thirty-one kings.  He trusted the Lord to lead the people in battle and that trust allowed God to win those battles for them.

It was Joshua who split the land among the twelve tribes and after he delivered his final address to the people (Joshua 24:1-28), he died.

The final verses of Joshua (Joshua 24:31), tell us that his leadership among the Israelites allowed them to serve the Lord while he was alive and then while the elders who outlived him were alive.  These men reminded the Israelites what it was that the Lord had done for them.

Joshua knew that his help came from the Lord.

“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

January 7 - Moses

Saturday, January 7, 2012


January 7 - Moses

Moses was named by the Pharoah’s daughter who lifted him from the water.  His name means ‘rescuer from the water’ in Hebrew (she knew he was a Hebrew child).  Many of the stories about Moses are familiar. He killed an Egyptian overseer and ends up fleeing because of it.  When he arrives in Midian, he marries Zipporah and has two sons.  This should be more than enough for the story of one man’s life, but Moses has hardly begun.

Moses encounters God in a burning bush and after great discussion, returns to Egypt to bring the Israelites out of slavery and to the land that was promised to them.  Through this conversation, we learn the true name of God – Yahweh.  Moses confronts Pharaoh, pronounces the plagues on Egypt when Pharaoh refuses to release the people and finally leads Israel through the Red Sea as they escape slavery.

Nearly a year into their trek across the desert, they camp at Sinai and the covenant that was set forth with Abraham and affirmed in Isaac is now set forth in a formal covenant.  Israel’s obligation goes beyond circumcision to following and obeying God’s Law as given to Moses.

Aaron, Moses’ brother, builds a golden calf … the people need to worship something and God is furious!  He threatens to wipe out all of Israel and begin again with Moses.  Moses doesn’t want that, smashes the tablets of the covenant, orders the idolaters killed and starts all over with God.

The tabernacle is designed and built, so that Yahweh can travel with the people and the set out once again.

Whining, complaining and rebellion seems to describe the Israelites who can not seem to comprehend the incredible gifts they have been given – freedom, food to eat, water to drink and the opportunity to settle in a land where they will prosper.  They frustrate Moses and they frustrate God and when it seems that they should be at the end of their journey, they have created so much havoc that God declares those who were rebellious will not see the promised land and so they wander forty years.

Moses appoints Joshua to lead the people into the Promised Land, delivers a final address (basically the entirety of Deuteronomy – a rather long final address), dies and is buried by Yahweh.

Moses is seen as one of the greatest leaders in Jewish history, but he was as flawed as anyone.  His faith wavers, he is never consistent in his obedience to God and he really doesn’t want to lead the people of Israel.

But, Yahweh called him and gave him the tools by which to set forth with His children.

Moses walked with God.

January 6 - Joseph

Friday, January 6, 2012


January 6 - Joseph

When Joseph was born, his father realized that God was no longer angry with him.  So, his name means ‘remover’ because God removed his reproach. It also means ‘increaser’ because God had given him another son.  Joseph liked the naming process!

Joseph might have been a bit spoiled by his parents.  The first born son of his father’s favorite wife? Oh yah … spoiled.  So, he taunted his brothers.  Made them crazy!  His dreams were prophecies of his leadership, but he didn’t have the maturity to recognize how holding that information over his brother’s heads might make them angry.  First chance they got, they sold him off to a group of Ishmaelite merchants.  They let their father think he was dead and figured they had gotten away with something.

Joseph’s life continued to get interesting.  He was sold as a slave to an Egyptian and it wasn’t so bad, until Potiphar’s wife decided to put the moves on the young man.  When he rejected her, she accused him anyway and he ended up in prison.  He interpreted some dreams for a couple of people, then when needed by Potiphar, they brought him out.  His amazing relationship to God, gave him insight into the coming years.  Seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.

During the famine, his brothers ended up in front of him looking for some assistance.  He played a few games with them, but finally asked them to bring his father and the entire family to Egypt.  The reunion was awesome.

Joseph extracted a promise that when he died, he would be returned to the land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He was embalmed and placed in a coffin (Gen. 50:26).  Those bones were still around when the time of the Exodus came and carried by the Israelites for forty years until at last, he was buried in Schechem, in a plot of ground that Jacob had purchased (Joshua 24:32, Genesis 33:19).

January 5 - Jacob

Thursday, January 5, 2012


January 5 - Jacob

There’s a lot to know about Jacob.  He was the second of the twin sons to be born, so his name means ‘one who follows on another’s heels.’  He was a shepherd, his brother Esau, a hunter.  He plotted with his mother to get his brother’s birthright, which gave him a double portion of his father’s inheritance – and it would be through him, not Esau, that the nations of the earth would be blessed.  That was a big deal!

A little guilt showed up after he got the birthright, so since he was afraid of Esau, he went to stay with some cousins. He ended up with Laban and met Rachel.  He had to work for seven years to get her hand in marriage, but was ok with that – he was still young. Turn about seems to be fair play, right?  Laban deceived him and he ended up married to the elder sister, Leah.  Seven more years of service to Laban entitled him to marry Rachel.  I wonder if he peeked under the bridal veil that time!

He returned to his family, but on the road, he hears about Esau coming with a group of 400 men.  Jacob is sure that this is going to be bad, so he prays and prays and prays, then sends gifts to Esau ahead of the traveling band.  Spending one more night in prayer, a man showed up and the two wrestled.  Jacob won the contest and in so doing, his name was changed to Israel, which means ‘wrestled with God.’  He rejoined his family who had traveled ahead and met up with Esau.  There was no anger, the two were friends and stayed that way throughout their lives.

During these years, Rachel and Leah, as well as their handmaids, gave birth to twelve sons.  While they were traveling Rachel died when giving birth to Benjamin.  Jacob arrived at his father’s home in time to be there at Isaac’s death.

More trouble came to Jacob (Israel) when his sons managed to get rid of Joseph.  A famine came and after several trips to Egypt to buy corn, he met his son, Joseph once again.

Jacob had twelve sons – Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, Benjamin.  He blessed each of them in Genesis 49 and then died.

The twelve tribes of Israel come together again under Moses, but begin here with a man who stole his birthright, ran from guilt, served because of love, prayed, then wrestled with God.

Jacob may not have started his life walking with God, but when God showed up, he recognized him and served him.

January 4 - Isaac

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


January 4 - Isaac

When Sarah had gotten quite old, one day she overheard the Lord tell her husband that they were going to have a child and she laughed. (Genesis 18:9-15).  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m afraid that laughter would be the least of my responses to that statement. But, when the Lord declares that something will happen, there is nothing that can change the fact that it will happen.

When Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5-7), her laughter was different.  She rejoiced in her son and named him Isaac, which means ‘he laughs.’  Sarah told everyone that God had brought laughter back into her life with the birth of this child.  After years and years of sadness due to the fact that she could bear no children for her husband, Abraham, everything about this child was joyous.

This child is to be the one through whom the covenant with God is kept. He is the first to be circumcised at the correct age of eight days old.  God reinforces and renews the promise that had been made to Abraham of blessings upon him and his descendants (Genesis 26:3-5).

To Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, two sons – Jacob and Esau are born.

If you read through Genesis 26, you realize that water was of extreme importance to the area.  Abraham had dug wells and the Philistines had stopped them up after his death. Isaac dug them up again.  Other nomads in the area demanded that those wells be given over to them – they lay claim to the water.  So, Isaac’s people dug another – there was another quarrel.  Isaac’s people dug yet another and when no one argued about it, Isaac knew they would be fruitful.

Without water, herds could not be cared for, crops could not be planted, people could not live.

When God met Isaac in Beer-sheba (Genesis 26:24), not only did Isaac build an altar for him there, his servants dug a well.

Isaac is not quite as prominent as his father, Abraham before him or his son, Jacob after him in the story of God’s work among humanity. While it was through him that Abraham was tested and it was his blessing of Jacob that led to the next part of the story, he was the child of promise (Romans 9:7, 10; Gal. 4:28; Heb. 11:18, through whom we all are tied to the covenant.

January 3 - Abraham

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


January 3 - Abraham

The three major religions in the world trace their ancestry to Abraham - Jews through his son, Isaac; Muslims through his son, Ishmael and Christians through faith (Galatians 3:6-7, 29).

Abram was born to Terah 290 years after the flood.  Lifespans had grown quite a bit shorter and children were born around 30 years to each of the nine men between Shem (Noah’s son) and Abram.

Think about how short a period of time 290 years is.  That’s 1752 if you look back from this year.  In 1752, Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity.  It had been 132 years since the Pilgrims had set foot on North American soil.  Things change quickly in short periods of time, yet we can look back on that amount of history and grasp the changes.

The world had repopulated after the flood in 290 years.  People had migrated to better lands and expanded the population centers.

In Ur of the Chaldeans (Gen. 11:28), Terah lived with three sons – Haran, Abram and Nahor.

Terah took off with Abram, Sarai and Terah’s grandson, Lot, who was the son of Haran. Haran had died already.  They were headed to Canaan.  Remember that the land of Canaan was that of the descendants of Ham, the son that Noah cursed.  Terah decided to settle before they got there and ended up dying there.  Abram, however, heard from the Lord that he should leave and go where the Lord would send him.

The great covenant of the people of Abraham was begun in Genesis 12:1-3 (and set forth in Genesis 15:13-18, Genesis 17:9-14), “Go … I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Did you read that last phrase?  While we find that Abraham’s descendants finally become the Israelites through Isaac and then Jacob; we also discover that through these people the entirety of the earth will be blessed.

Abraham was blessed and his descendants became as numerous as the stars in the sky.  Through him the covenant action of circumcision was introduced, claiming that these people belonged to God.  He had two sons – Ishmael and Isaac, he trusted God when told to sacrifice his son, he buried his wife and married another (Keturah – Genesis 25:1).  He lived a long life (175 years) and when he died, his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, came together and buried him with Sarah.

God had committed to a relationship with the descendants of Abraham.  The covenant was in place.  History was being written.

January 2 - Noah

Monday, January 2, 2012


January 2 - Noah

I’m sure most of us are familiar with the story of Noah and the Ark, as well as the rainbow that cemented the covenant between God and Noah – that never again would God destroy the earth by flood.  That’s an amazing story.

Noah was born to Lamech who would have been about 50 years old when Adam died.  One hundred thirty years later, he gave birth to Noah and said, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” (Genesis 5:29).

Noah’s name means ‘rest.’

Many see this prophecy regarding Noah as a precursor to Christ.  Matthew 11:28 says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Both men would offer rest and relief to those who trusted in God.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation.  Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)

Before God had to deal with unbelieving Israelites who followed Moses out of Egypt or evil kings of Judah and Israel, the descendants of Cain and Seth began to intermarry and all of a sudden there was a race of people who were known for their ungodliness.  Less than fifteen hundred years into this beautiful creation and God was ready to wipe it clean and begin again.

Then there was Noah.   A man who was righteous … blameless … and who walked with God.  A man in whom God could trust that a covenant would be fulfilled.  Isn’t it amazing that even with the incredible trust placed in Him by God, Noah couldn’t withstand sin.  Genesis 9:21 tells us how he got drunk and lay naked in his tent – this wasn’t righteous behavior … this was a man who had lost control and had turned from God.

But, that wasn’t the end of the story.  Noah was remembered, not as a sinner, but as a righteous man (Hebrews 11:7). His sons Shem and Japheth protected him and he blessed them. His son, Ham, the father of Canaan, was cursed and we see throughout the OT that the Canaanites were always in opposition to the Israelites.

Noah listened when God told him to build an ark, even though it sounded like the craziest proposition he would ever encounter.  He trusted God when he was ridiculed.

Noah was righteous and blameless.

Noah walked with God.

January 1 - Enoch

Sunday, January 1, 2012


January 1 - Enoch

What do we know about Enoch?  If you do a quick search, you will find that Adam’s son, Cain, had a son named Enoch (Genesis 4:17) and Cain then named a city after that son.

But, the Enoch who seems a bit more interesting is the ‘seventh’ from Adam, a descendant of Adam’s son, Seth. According to Genesis 5, we find that this line is Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalel, Jared, Enoch.  His son, Methuselah, is recorded as the longest living man at 969 years.  In Luke 3:37, we discover that this is the also line from which Jesus was born.

The name ‘Enoch’ means dedicated and this is confirmed in Genesis.

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” (Genesis 5:22-24)

Genesis 5 gives a synopsis of the lives of the men between Adam and Noah.  Each man lived, fathered a significant son, lived longer and then died.  Enoch’s historical synopsis in Genesis 5 tells us that he lived, fathered Methuselah, had other children, lived a bit longer and then the story veers away from the pattern.  Enoch walked with God, then God took him away.

We have no other information regarding this man, but his relationship with God was important enough that his life was recorded a bit differently than any other life in that history lesson.

Hebrews 11:5-6 tells us that Enoch pleased God and without faith it is impossible to please God because ‘anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.’

Enoch pleased God.

The last bit of information we uncover from Scripture is found in Jude 14 where we are told that Enoch was a prophet who prophesied regarding godless men in the last days when thousands upon thousands of God’s holy ones would come to judge everyone and to convict all the ungodly.

While there isn’t a lot of information regarding this man, we begin this series by looking at a man who pleased God, who walked with God, and who knew God well enough to know that He would send judgment upon the godless and who didn’t die, but was taken into heaven by God.

Enoch walked with God.

Starting a New Year!


Starting a New Year!

Join me at the beginning of this new year as I first look at some leading Old Testament characters.  Each day we will uncover tidbits of information from scripture about a man or woman who had a relationship with God and did their best to serve Him.

The Old Testament is filled with exciting stories of colorful men and women, both saints and sinners. God saw their hearts as He sees ours.  He yearns for a relationship with us – not as a master and puppet, but as a friend and participant in that relationship.  He offered His covenant to humanity, knowing that we would never be able to meet Him in His perfection, yet He continues to find ways to meet us as we are.

A new year comes with hope and anticipation for things to be better.  Every one of these stories reminds us that hope and anticipation when walking with God are part of the story.

Here’s who I will write about during the month of January.

1 - Enoch
2 - Noah
3 - Abraham
4 - Isaac
5 - Jacob

6 - Joseph
7 - Moses
8 - Joshua

9 - Othniel
10 - Deborah
11 - Gideon
12 - Jephthah
13 - Samson
14 - Eli
15 - Samuel

16 - Saul
17 - David
18 - Solomon

19 - Rachel
20 - Rahab
21 - Rebekah
22 - Ruth
23 - Sarah

24 - Balaam
25 - Elijah
26 - Elisha
27 - Nathan
28 - Isaiah
29 - Jeremiah
30 - Ezekiel
31 - Daniel