The God of History (2)
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Develops the theme of God as Ruler of all history and its implications.
Course: Old Testament Theology
Lecture: The God of History - Part 2
God ruling history and connected to the land is very - those things are extraordinarily evident in Joshua, aren't they? ‘Cause in Chapters 1 through 12 God fulfills the promise to give Israel the land.
Fulfills the prediction that it will occur by driving out the people of the land. And I don't have time to do anything except say of course this raises questions in thinking people's minds about issues of war, holy war, God using war to judge and to bless. That is an issue that causes some discussion, some concern. I would say yes, that's true and you need to work on it.
But I think it's important for us to see that what was true of the Canaanite became true of Israel later.
God used war to judge them, to bless Babylon. Later on God used war to judge Babylon and bless Persia and we continue on. And I think that continues on into the current day that nations who sin against God and others repeatedly and unrepentantly will be judged by God. It's only a matter of time.
So we should have concern for nations who act this way, whether it is our nation or some other nation because the God who rules history, will use history in a matter which will judge sinful, oppressing, vicious nations.
And this occurs in Joshua 1-12. God gives the land in Chapters 13 to 21 - probably not your life verses - God divides the land among them. He gives them the - yeah. So if you've ever tried to preach through Joshua and you're roaring through those first three chapters and feeling good and then you get to how am I going to preach through dividing the land maybe one Sunday or something. But notice that in Joshua one there they conquer the mid section of the land and fulfill that part and then they released - they tried to go conquer their part of the land and some aren't very anxious to do this.
But in Joshua 22 to 24 you have the covenant renewal being at the heart of it. Joshua about to pass from the scene, you have this famous covenant, renewal scene, where you says, “Chooses though who you will serve, but as for me and my house. we will serve the Lord.”
We were talking about altered calls and invitations during the break. It's quite an invitation that Joshua gives in it. They say, oh well, we’ll serve the Lord. He says, you can't serve the Lord. You're a sinful stiff-necked people. No, but we will serve the Lord. I mean it's almost as if an evangelist’s given a call, somebody starts coming. You go back to your chair. You don't want to serve God. He's a serious, severe God. You can't. No, but I will.
At the end of Joshua though and particularly in the first couple chapters of Judges they’re at rest in the land. In the sense they have the land and they’re in it. In a sinful world there would always be more work to be done, right? The setting up and governing of communities that the laws already told us must go on. But we read a disturbing trend in Judges too.
Israel, after the death of the wilderness generation, the conquest generation, the people turn to the idols of the land. They accept the teaching of the culture around them rather than transforming the culture as a holy nation and kingdom of priest. Instead of being the holy people they've agreed to be, that the law would help them be, they have chosen to worship the gods of the land. Remember that in the ancient world the theology of the polytheists was there are many gods, these gods are geographically defined, that is, they rule a portion of the world.And they are defined by their function, so that some of these gods may rule a place but some of them may be the god of a certain gild.
Now then if you believe a god is geographically defined, when you go from Egypt to Canaan well the question is, is the same god in control both places? Israel had a problem with that in the Exodus as you recall. And if you think the gods of Canaan are established, and that they rule a certain place, and they have certain functions like making it rain, making the crops grow, this is what bales a popular god. The theology of Canaan was bale makes it rain, bale makes crops grow, bale’s in charge of fertility so he's the one who, who opens the womb of the women and makes them fertile, and this sort of thing then you would fall prey to the theology of the culture around you rather than believe that there is only god, it's the Lord, wherever you go, he's the Lord.
But Israel fell prey to the culture around them and worshipped the gods of the land rather than worshiping the Lord, that's Judges too. Therefore, in Judges 3 through 16 the god of history is the god who tests Israel really, allows the people of the land to stay there and over and over again Israel fails the test in Judges 3 through 16.
“Let's be positive though. At times they repent and return to the Lord.” It's kind of a cycle isn't it? They worship idols, God sends a punishing nation against them, they cry out in their bondage and repent, God delivers them. It starts again. And it is a grind, a historical grind at that point.
And they have judges who come and serve as deliverers but some of these judges are not exactly models of virtue. Jephthah sacrifices his daughter. Sam does what is right in his own eyes. He's a great man, probably squanders more potential than anybody in the history of the scriptures. You might throw Saul in there but I mean here's Sam. He's bright and he's strong, he's blessed but his appetites do him in.
And then he dies in Chapter 16. Chapter 17 to 21 some of the most frightening scriptures in the bible. It's really God giving them over to their own devices. Letting them do what is right in their own eyes. No deliver being sent. Hardly any divine intervention. It's a frightening chapter.
They start with 17:6, there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his eyes. Ends with the same verse. And in between as we said the other day, you have a Levite helping people worship an idol. The corruption of the Levites. You have a Levite against the law of God taking a concubine and she is raped to death by a mob, he cuts her in pieces and mails these pieces out to the 12 tribes.
There is a counsel called, they call the tribe of Benjamin and the people of the city of Gibeah to give up the perpetrators. They refuse to do so. This causes civil war in which the tribe of Benjamin all alone is able to hold off the other 11 tribes, killing thousands of people, eventually being defeated themselves and decimated.
And as you know in the meantime, the fathers of Israel had made a fairly logical decision. They have sworn not to give their daughters to the tribe of Benjamin. That sounds extreme till you realize these are the people who were protecting the people of Gibeah who had raped the woman to death. I don't know about you but let me just take a stab at this and say if you have daughters, you probably won't want them to be looking for husbands amongst people who would protect such folks.
But then they forget there's a problem there. Where will they get their wives. And so at the end you have this last scene where women who are dancing on the road going to Shiloh, is it, are kidnapped from the road and taken as wives for the men of Benjamin. And the book ends at this point, again another horrific point and says, there was no king in Israel. Everyone was doing what was right in their eyes.
Another words, the author doesn't approve. He's showing what it's like to live in a society in which everyone can make up their own law. ‘Cause never forget if the yuck factor is the only boundary to law, just remember not everybody finds the same things reprehensible.
And there are people who don't find raping someone to death reprehensible. There are people who don't find kidnapping wives reprehensible. There are people who don't find worshiping idols reprehensible. There are people who don't find killing, men or women, reprehensible.
But the author of Judges does. We already know by the law that if they continue to act this way in the land, what's going to happen? They will be judged so that they can repent, if they refuse to repent they will lose the land. We already know this. From Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 27-28.
If you just drop in to Judges without this [inaudible] context you might make - people can be confused. The average person thinks partly because of their own hermeneutics and partly because of sermons they've heard they may think that any narrative in the bible is there as a positive example. Or if they don't read in the verse, like they read this horrible section of the rape and everything, if-if there's not right in those verses - and this was a terrible thing - they think the bible might approve of it, they don't know that 17:6 and 21:25 provide this frame.
Or they don't know that such behavior’s already been denounced in the law so that's where you can help them. I mean even Jephthah sacrificed his daughter. Who was it? We're hearing a sermon series at a church in Louisville and they said the sermon series was sounding like little known characters of the bible and Jephthah who sacrificed his daughter was one of the topics.
And basically the sermon was, he wasn't a very good man but at least he kept his word. Based on, not just on the yuck factor now, not just on what, you know, I don't care what the bible says, it's not a good thing to sacrifice your daughter. Based on the law and even based on Genesis 22, in any case God does not require a human sacrifice and he said what about his [inaudible] hers? You know that the law says, rash vows can be redeemed by a payment.
Not only that, if a daughter makes a rash vow, the father can void it. So there's a lot that's wrong with that scene. There are other things that are difficult but my point is, a canonical theology at this point would help you see that this is what's gone wrong in the land. This is what's gone terribly wrong. And we expect at the end of Judges, given what we already know about the theology of God's holiness and God's law and God as the creator and God as a judge, something doesn't change.
This nation has had it. We would know this but we would expect this. What does happen in Samuel is that the god who gave them rest in the land and a god who turns them over to their own sins in Judges is the god of history who had a new plan in Samuel. It's easy to bypass the significance of Samuel through the biblical record.
He's kind of a bridge picker. He's the last judge and kind of a prophet and leads into the monarchy. But let's be careful to see here. Samuel is a very strong and godly leader who helps Israel get back on a better footing because in Samuel 1-7 I think the major theme is the god who protects his own glory.
He protects his own glory first of all in kind of a tragic comedy scene in Chapter 1-7. You remember the Philistines defeat Israel and capture the arc of God. They figure they've got God in this box and they take the arc and do what they would have always have done in the ancient world with any religious artifact from a defeated people, they take it, they put it in their temple. What's that show? Their god’s bigger.
Right. Their god’s more powerful otherwise they couldn't have won. Well what happens in the next day you have the image of the Philistines god bowing down to the arc, the covenant. You know hands cut off, defaced and then a plague breaks out, mice and tumors and most scholars indicate that the word really is hemorrhoids, you know?
So the-the people are uncomfortable with their affliction, then they got rodents. And I don't know what artist - and they put the word doing this - but, you know, they make image of rodents and hemorrhoids, gold ones and they offer this as - and-and send the art back. [laughter] Israel fought - remember in battle - why did they bring this arc out? They thought if the arc was there - they thought it was magic, see?
They got the arc out there we can't lose with the arc. Well yes they did. And the arc could be captured. But when the Philistines thought that they had God in the box here and they had God under control, they found out differently too. God protects his glory by these events. He also protects his glory by calling Samuel to lead Israel and Samuel’s a godly man.
His predecessor Eli was a good man but his sons were horrible as you know and Samuel’s a godly man but his sons aren't in account either. Well the bible says they’re worthless men who abused the powers of the priesthood, that sort of thing. And Israel just says, Samuel you're a good man but your sons, no. Give us a king. Now we enter into a period some people wonder is God ruling history?
Because you have God in Chapters 8-12 instituting the monarchy beginning with Saul. Now it shouldn't be a surprise to us, we've been careful bible readers. We haven't mentioned it here I don't think this week but in Genesis 49:10 Jacob blessing his son says to Judah, “You'll hold the scepter. You'll be the ruler.” So one tribe is picked out to rule over the others. It shouldn't surprise us that the time has come for a-a king. Also in Deuteronomy 17, Moses says, ‘The time will come when you'll ask for a king. Here are the standards he must live by.” So we've-we've had some sense that a king was - a monarchy was on the way. This has already been stated.
And so now’s the time. And God singles out Saul. I think that's clear in the text. Chooses him and rejects him in Chapters 13-15. How is God ruling Israel’s history? By having already prepared them for the idea that there would be a king and by this king emerging. The first king emerging. This king is Saul. Notice how God works his life.
God choosing. Picks him out, shows him Samuel. What else does God do? The text says he changes his heart. What else does the text say God does? Well he clothes him with his spirit and he prophesize. What else does he do? Well he-he gives him victory in battle, right? Saul’s successful at the start. But when he is king Saul makes the same sort of mistake that Moses makes in Numbers 20. He presumes to offer sacrifice, presumes to disobey God's direct orders and presumes to build a monument to himself while doing it. It's not a one for one correspondence between Moses but the same problem.
God does not strike Saul dead. God says to Saul you're through as king. Saul reacts a great deal differently than Moses reacts. He rebels, he fights God's new king David and refuses to accept the divine decision and we know from Moses what he could have done. He could have [chuckles] helped the next king like Moses helped prepare Joshua, Saul could have helped David become king but he chooses a different path and God punishes him with what the text says is a-a-an evil spirit in English, it's just again it's our old friend Rah.
It could be any-any sore thing, I don't - I think contextually the Rah, the bad spirit, is the depression and the mental instability - the man obviously exhibits. I don't think it's a demon. I could be wrong at that point. I think it is the mental instability and the personal depression. Look at all the signs. He-he has these terrible periods.
They play music to him to sooth him, he's unstable. One moment he's happy with David, another minute he hurled a spear at him. He admits that David’s all right and he says I'll not bother you anymore and yet comes after him again. He knows he's not getting a word from God and not supposed to seek a medium but he does and when he gets the word though that he's going to die in battle, does he still go to battle? Yup.
Again I could be wrong and I address that I could be wrong but I think this spirit here is a spirit of depression, it's a spirit of punishment. Again not everybody's depressed. It's not a judgment on them. I'm not saying that's hardly - it's a peaceful reward but still the truth is, this is the way he's punished. Now one of the key passages for this section is, first Samuel 15.
It doesn't take a genius to ask some questions about how God rules history here. An encounter with my daughter who was five at the time she said, “What are you reading?” I told her I was reading about when David became king. She asked, “Who was king before David?” I answered, “Saul.” She said, “Why wasn't he king anymore? Did he die?” I said, “No, he displeased the Lord.”
She continued to set the trap. “How-how did Saul become king?” I said, “God made him king.” She said, “Didn't he know when he made him king that he wouldn't turn out alright?” “Sure,” I said. “Then why did he make him king?” I grinned. I said, “Somebody had to be king as David was old now.” She just laughed. She knew I wouldn't answer.
We started dealing with the mystery of God's ruling. These are legitimate questions, right and logical? Nothing wrong with them. You couple that with the fact that-that in first Samuel 15, you have a series of passages. This is one of the ones that the openness of God folks focus on. Not - early. If they don't they ought to for their point-of-view.
God says in 15:10, “Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel saying I regret that I've made Saul king, for he was turned back from following me. Has not carried out my commands.” The word for regret here is one for grief. You're going to have the same word Nacham played over three times. I regret - and why do I say grief?
Because it's often a word for someone who needs comfort and chronicles its use when someone’s loved one has died they go to comfort. Same verbal form. So it's God saying I'm taking comfort that I made Saul king? I'm grieved, I regret it. Problem with regret, of course, is that indicates I made a mistake, does it?
I would argue and it's in life we can regret things that were not a mistake to do, whatever the right thing to do but you can regret what has happened. But any rate, that's one of the text. I regret. And some folks would read that to say well, you know, God realizes his mistakes. God can learn from his mistakes in history just like a person can. What's interesting to me is though that God knows all this already before Samuel does.
It's an omnipotent God who is grieving here. So whatever else, this one makes - one of the things that opens to God, people and others - not just them, others have said, if you use words like God is immutable and immovable, you better at least define that for people. He's immovable in his appropriate emotions. He's not going to use inappropriate emotions, you know?
But the fact is God can be grieved. Unlike me, God can be grieved without being wrong but God feels emotions. Some of the words that are used traditionally to describe God can lead somebody to think though that, again, he's like a rock in a garden. It's hard to move. But here God is grieved over Saul and we know that the New Testament says it's possibly to grieve the holy spirit.
Now then you have - and he's-he's a - God is grieving. He's going to choose somebody else. In Verse 29 Samuel tells Saul the news. Saul asks that he still be able to be king in Verse 29. Also the glory of Israel will not lie or change his mind. It's also a phrase used in-in Numbers 23:19. “For he is not a man that he should change his mind.”
The same verb is there, Naham is not a - there's not a set of words for change in mind. The question is Verse 29, best interpreted, as God does not change his mind the way human beings change their mind. Or he's not grieved the way human beings are grieved. It's a tough verse to translate.
Verse 35, the Lord regretted - back to the same verb - that he had made Saul king over Israel. A lot of different translations for Naham. A lot of different contexts. It could be comfort, it could be grief, it could be sorrow. Change of mind is hardly ever a satisfactory translation in my mind because Naham - human beings can Naham and so can God.
Repent is not a good translation because that is a word that is used of human beings but never used of God. So it's a little bit like unclean. There is no clean way to translate in a word or phrase. But what seems to be occurring here, the Lord of history who knows the end from the beginning according to scriptures, puts Saul on the throne according to the whole of biblical theology knowing what would come of Saul and is grieved that it happens without it changing his purposes.
This is the thing that's very difficult for me to understand about God. I mean because if I have sorrow or grief I will try to change the circumstances. If I think I'm going to be grieved by something, I will try to change that because I don't see the purpose in anything that would cause grief.
If I know right now that my daughter is going to do something and I believe it will cause her grief, I will at least through advice or in some manner see if I can keep her from that grief. God does not always do that. But let me be less idealistic. If I think I'm going to go through something that will cause me grief, I will try to avoid it if I can.
Maybe that's the wise thing to do. But the truth is, God does not spare himself that even he will do what is right and best to rule history even if it causes him personal grief. He doesn't avoid it. And also he doesn't allow the knowledge that grief is coming to change his plans. That's the one that I continue to be amazed at.
He will not change his plans knowing that grief is on the way. Maybe another way of putting it, the Lord of history is the only one with the guts to run history. With the wisdom or the courage to run it. The personal courage to accept the grief that comes by knowing his own creatures are going to do this and that and also the wisdom to say that the grief Bill suffers today will work for his good later.
I have to accept that by faith and sometimes - talking about my daughter now again - I got to let that go. I have to let her go through grief that I think I might have tried to stop or sometimes when she suffers grief that I hadn’t anticipated, I have to understand. But that wasn't a failure on my part but something that occurs that will work to the glory of God in her life. Same thing with parishioners - everything.
And also - then if this is true, that all things work together for good, because this grief Bill’s gone through, it's also going to work for the good for people around him and people influences. Give you an example of that. What does Paul said at the beginning of second Corinthian? He's enduring this suffering. He says something along the lines of, so that we may comfort others with the comfort by which we have been comforted.
Others are going to benefit from God working all things to the good for Paul in second Corinthians 1. Example of that, my mother in one of her nobler moments, as she was - is dying, and I was visiting with her in the hospital and she said to me and my dad, she says, you know, this is a, this is a terrible thing we're going through but we hope this will help him as he visits hospitals and-and deal with other families, see?
So that we can comfort those with cover, which we've been comforted. Now he said, that's just the positive spin on it. You don't know what I'm going through. No I really don't. And I've been through enough myself to again say, that this is an issue of faith. But if God can be grieved at sorrow and know the future, yet put Saul in that position, and let's-let's again be positive, it helped Israel for Saul to be king during that time.
He got the Philistines off their back by and large. He got the monarchy off to a reasonably good start but he had personal failures as time went on. It's true but let's also remember that the Lord led Saul to be successful in many ventures that were helpful to Israel. It's [inaudible] to me that God knew what would happen to Saul and that Saul would come to grief but God still called Saul to be king and God still grieved through it.
Why I use grief and comfort words for Naham because that's the normal, natural meaning of it. Not regret, not changes of mind whether it's of God or human beings, the normal word has to do with grief and comfort. So I don't have this down perfectly yet obviously but I think that's where we start. That's something going on there with personal grief and comfort. Yes, sir.
Could as grief be pleasure? If by pleasure means his will? Yes. His own glory, yup. His own pleasure, yup. I think pleasure’s a loaded word in English is the problem. The word pleasure for us is always something enjoyable. I don't think the bible teaches that God enjoys everything that ever occurs.
That's where the grief comes in. But if by pleasure you mean glory, will it work out to God's satisfaction? Yes. But again that word pleasure I'm not sure works exactly. Again that's-that's a loaded word. Sorry to interrupt. Does God enjoy everything that happens in the sense that he's-he's happy about? No, that's again. If Jesus can weep, if the holy spirit can be grieved, if the Father could comfort himself in the midst of this situation, then God does feel pain and grief.
But I think 15:29 one of the things it says is God does not experience grief the way humans do. I'd say yes and no. He-he can be grieved the way we can but it does not have the effect on God that it has on us. Doesn't have all the effects. But do I hesitate to say that these things work to God's glory? Absolutely. For believers particularly we have to understand.
And this is all things including the worst sorts of things. The guy who wrote that, Paul, had suffered immensely. Maybe that's why there's more authenticity for him to be the messenger that all things work together for the good. Or-or Joseph. He says, “You men are free but God meant it for good,” talking to his brothers. He suffered greatly. Maybe that's more authenticity than if say Solomon had said it.
It still be true but Solomon wasn't known for his suffering. Joseph was, Paul was, Jeremiah part of what [inaudible] suffer these days and discretion. Jeremiah 1 what God telling. “Everyone's going to be against you and it's my will for you to be a prophet and that means everybody will be against you. And they will fight against you but I'm with you to deliver you. They won't kill you.”
So God calls us to stern tasks knowing the suffering we will endure, yes. When God called Paul - remember in Acts 9:16 it says to Ananias, “I've shown him how much he must suffer for my sake.” Suffering was an inextricable part of Paul’s calling of Jeremiah’s. It's not everybody's, you know? I mean I can't tell that say Isaiah suffered the way Josiah and Jeremiah did.
But still God told Isaiah I know that these people won't listen to you. So God knows. It's part of his plan, yes. I don't always know what words to use exactly. God will work his will, he will work for his glory and sometimes that causes him great pain and sometimes it causes us great pain. It will not deter that purpose. That's what I mean by God has the courage to run the universe. I don't have it.
Then said some people have - I'm not glorifying warfare here. Some generals have the ability to run a war in a way that will make the tough decisions. That means death. Some don't. I mean I'm just using it as an example. I'm not trying to glorify war. Some leaders can make a tough decision, have the courage to make a hard decision that leads to good, other’s don't. God always has that courage. He always has that ability.
In the meantime, always has the ability to order history so that it will work to the good. That's the testimony. But it doesn't mean that God feels nothing. That's one of the points that I think should be made from first Samuel 15. Anymore that he felt nothing at the gravesite of Lazarus.
But did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead because he was sorry he was gone? No. Did he do Lazarus any particular favor bringing him back from the dead? Dearly I'd say watch you judge. Great to be alive. Then I remind myself, wait a minute, I'm a Christian. I believe that those who trust in Christ go to live in the new Zion where there's no suffering, death, pain, illness, etcetera, etcetera.
And would I believe Isaiah 65 and Revelation 21. God was asking something difficult to Nazareth really when you get down to it. Come back, live here. I don't know you remembered anything else. He also was calling him to die again and if John’s telling the truth, suffer persecution because Jesus raised him from the dead.
I don't know that he was in prison but let's pretend he was. Somebody says, buddy what are you in here for? Oh I got raised from the dead. So Jesus calls Lazareth back to life, it included persecution and another death for the glory of God, right? For the glory of God in John 11. To show the people that Jesus could raise the dead. Well - but God feels grief but it does not alter his plans.
So we have the best of both worlds with God. We have a God who's strong enough to stay the course no matter what and we have a God who is soft enough to feel pain. We've got a deity who's inheritantly perfect here. Apparently some of the question is, if God feels pain it will alter his purpose, therefore, the openness of God - people say well if it - if he feels pain or anything then that means it will alter his purpose. I don't think the bible teaches that.
I also don't think it teaches that he feels nothing. But again, just like Jesus could be a human being and do all the temptations and we are yet without sin, at my analogy God could feel appropriate emotions without it causing him to get off track. I can't do that, God can. It's like in the discussion that we've already talked about, does God's knowledge mean that he's determined something there's no human responsibility?
It's also if God has felt something does that mean he can't know and determine the future? I would argue it's a false dichotomy. At my best, I can do both. So I expect God all the time can. But make no mistake about it, those are some tough passages with Saul.
Everything from the evil spirit to what we've just discussed to the medium and end or, I never had an American student ask a question about that in several years of teaching. Taught in Singapore and I had one question after another because it was part of the culture there. Medium spirit is that part of religion and ghosts and all that kind of stuff was absolutely part of so many of the religions around them.
They were asking all sorts of relevant questions and I'm not sure I had the answers to. A lot of hard questions in the Saul story. There's no reason to pretend there's not. So somebody just wrote themselves a note [chuckle] never preach on these text. It's on the same list as Jesus was - died, all those people came out of the tombs in Matthew. Never preach. No idea what that means, you know?
You may have a list of those. But then in first Samuel 16, particularly through second Samuel 7 and 8 we have a God who [inaudible] and protects David. Another thorny issue. Why does God reject Solomon, hang in there with David? I would argue because of the type of sin. Type of sin that Moses and Saul admitted were relationship and a leadership and things of God. What David did was terrible.
But God continues with him. First of all God chooses him. We might say if you don't know biblical theology, even though he's the youngest, by now you've read enough of these reversals you're expecting the youngest to get chosen probably. But David’s chosen because God looks at his heart. Look at that again. He looks at his heart and David’s sins in a whole lot of ways.
But he never worships any other God. He says well that's little consolation if you're-you're [inaudible] the Hitite then - and I'm just - I know I'm talking about a messy situation here but of all the things David ever did there's not a hint that he worships another God. None.
Sure. There was serious repentance. Saul was sorry but he's hard to tell that Saul had true repentance ever. But David did, sure. And this is important. God also has to protect him because he's king for a very long time before he gets to be king. I'm happy to say that usually when I lecture about - depending how tired I am, stream of consciousness lecturing sets in, but I'm happy to report that today’s the first time that I would say that something like the following.
It's kind of like the Lion King, he just can't wait [laughing] to be king. That's what went through my mind. I need a nap. God protects David all that time. Lots of the psalms, particularly in the first 42 psalms, are connected to this time period when David is harassed and pursued even though he's the king.
This is going to be important later because when you get to Isaiah he makes a whole lot of a suffering servant and the question becomes how could the Davidic king ever suffer? That question’s asked in the first century. You might also ask, given first Samuel 16 and following, if you're a Davidic king, how can you keep from suffering? David suffered plenty. But God protected him and God was with him.
Finally God gives him the kingdom and you would say, yeah, does God give it to him or does his evil sidekick Joab give it to him? Joab is rather a low moral character and he's in David’s life from beginning. David’s not a perfect man. He does maintain Joab despite all Joab’s atrocities. God gives David the kingdom, David consolidates his power by defeating all the enemies around him, he consolidates religion by choosing Jerusalem as his capital and bringing the arc there.
And then in 7 Samuel 7 God makes an extraordinary promise to David that we will talk about next week. That he will have an eternal kingdom. Never failing to have a son on the throne. It is there that that messianic promises of the Old Testament take off. We’ll see that there were prior promises but it really takes off from the second Samuel 7. “The Lord of history is promised David’s family will reign forever.” How is the question?
How is the question? That's second Samuel 7. And not only that, [inaudible] and just say, look, in first and second Kings we note that the story is a tragedy because we go from the heights of the Divinic and the psalmonic kingdom down to the depths of the destruction of the land in two segments, 7:22 and the Icarians take the ten northern tribes, 5:87 when the Babylonians destroyed this last two tribes.
And I know you might date 7:21 or 5:86 that would be fine with me. But the nation’s devastated just like Deuteronomy 27-28 said would occur. So if you're a biblical theologian by now and you just drop in, you didn't even know. You didn't know the story but you read in second Kings 25, the nation’s destroyed and you read the same thing in Jeremiah 52.
You read the same thing in these last several texts, and somebody said to you, or you said to yourself, why did it occur? You would know from earlier texts that the reason it must have occurred was deep seeded, long-term, unrepentant sin and God drove them from the land. But God who ruled history, who gave the land the first place, treated them like they treated the Canaanites.
If you're going to sin for 400 years I will judge you. And he does. We know this is not the end from Deuteronomy 30, remember? They repent from where they've been driven, God will return to the land so how does the Old Testament end? Second Chronicles 36, how does it end? With a call to go rebuild.
So God keeps his word as they repent, God keeps his word through Isaiah that Syrus gives this degree. They're allowed to go home and - the land promise shows that God rules history. He rules the history of the Amorites, the history of the Egyptians, the history of the Israelites, the history of the Assyrians, the Babylonian, Persians. God rules history. The land promise is evidence that he does so and gives us insight in how he does so.
But we also need to say that the fact that God rules history in no way ties him solely to the land. God rules history whether Israel’s in Canaan or not so he's greater than this promise. My question to - as far as the New Testament goes, part of the debate’s about [inaudible] such as does the land promise still have relevance today? Or if you read Matthew 28, is the whole earth the Lord’s word to be a worldwide church without respective land?
Are we looking for land in the new heavens and the new earth? But it's an open question and one that's not irrelevant in Israel/Palestine today. But the God who rules history rules the land of Israel, rules the nation’s -
Right now what I would say as far as the blessings of land go, all blessings must be mediated through believers in Christ. What disturbs me the most in the Middle East right now is the persons of blessings are often driven out. Palestinian Christians have by and large left the land because a lot of reasons, they have it and they generally overall had more education and money to do so and did. Jewish Christians are by and large disenfranchised in Israel.
As you probably know a person of Jewish ethnicity can move from anywhere in the world and get instant citizenship in Israel except one type of Jew and that's a Christian. They're is discrimination against Christians of Jewish descent. What concerns me therefore is the very people of promise, the people who should care the most about being peacemakers and linkages are either mistreated or driven out.
That concerns me. Everything else should flow but that concerns me. So the people of God are those who are in Christ and the promises belong to them. I continue to wrestle with what that made this land be honest with you. But the nice thing is all authority is given to me in heaven and earth. I think about that. And I wonder how it approaches the land and where to go and may decide for.
But God rules history, the good and the bad and judgment and blessing. Sometimes it says both but I understand this does not mean that God has no personality, God has no emotion but do know that it means the future is known and secured by the Lord.
Next week we will deal with the Messianic promise. I can promise you though I can't give you the test questions ahead of time because I don't know myself what they are and not being omniscient.
I can tell you if you want to start preparing, obviously we’ll have a question on it, about Messianic theology because we have Lesson 6. could have a question about God ruling history and a question about law. At the very least you know I'll ask you to pick between those but I prefer you prepare them all.
Also I will ask you - this is why you could start preparing yourself - to pick a relevant topic and use the method. Another words, you can prepare something that is related to the law, start with the law, prophets and writings and develop that theme. You take a topic of interest to you. It could be law, Messiah or what's your other one? Kingdom.
God's ruler in your history and you develop that theme. So if you've been interested in some of the things we talked about or you have another interest, as long as you're able to do the following: Have a relevant topic, have a text from the law of prophets and writings that you will develop. And for those of you who are really gung ho, you can use scholars and do whatever you want to, but point is, if you want to do some form of Messiah that I don’t do, law, prophets, writings, develop it yourself to begin that freedom.
So use language that-that Sheri used the other day about the methodology question. She said it just kind of feels like regurgitation on that one. I prefer words like recital or rehearsal. So you probably have one question that yeah, it's pretty much. You have to go to the class notes and dig it out and humor me that way.
And one, but you'll be able to develop on your own. But the way you'll have to humor me there is, is not kind of stream of consciousness, but you'll have to develop the theme that you're choosing, your topic, how it flows from the nature of God - another words, what's the thing about God you're going to start with. So if it's justice you'd want to start with Genesis 1 26:31, for instance. If it's sin you might want to start from the holiness of God.
If it's judgment, same sort of thing. You'd start with God then you would have passages law, prophets and rides and develop your theme. You can write a nice five, six paragraph essay that way.