Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | January 15, 2020

Giants in the Land, God’s Gift to Israel

 God’s Promise to Israel

In Numbers 13:1 the Lord makes a wonderful promise to Israel when He tells Moses:

The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

Israel had seen the mighty hand of God deliver them from their oppressive servitude to Egypt, part the Red Sea, drown Pharaoh’s pursuing forces and lead them safely to the borders of their promised land. Now God was telling them to go and check out God’s great gift to them. This should have been a time of triumphant rejoicing as they took their first glimpse at their new home, a land flowing with milk and honey as they reported to Moses:

“27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.”

If they would only have stopped there, their lives would have been totally different; sadly, they threw in a “but” that would have devastating results on all but two of the spies that went into the land.

28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”……..31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

That was the report of ten of the 12 spies that were sent; there was a minority report from two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, who insisted, to no avail, that they could take possession of the land:

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Unfortunately for Israel, they believed the majority report and we are told in Numbers 14:1-2:

14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!

Their words would come back to haunt them because in Numbers 14:27-30 the Lord tells Moses and Aaron:

26 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. 28 So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: 29 In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.”

What a tragic failure of faith; instead of going into the promised land, Israel would wander about in the wilderness until all those 20 years of age and older had died in the wilderness; ““If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!” became a reality for all of them.

What Would You Have Done?

As we read that familiar story, we may wonder how we would have chosen, would we have joined with Joshua and Caleb or the ten faithless spies? We would certainly hope we would have joined with Joshua and Caleb but would we have actually done that? Can we be certain we would have chosen to walk by faith and not by sight to join with two men when there were so many who doubted?

The fact of the matter is we are presented with that option every day; we can choose to live our lives by faith or by sight; we can choose whether or not to enter into our rest every day that passes. In Hebrews 3:7-19 we are warned to not harden our hearts against the promises of God.

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

The Challenge to You Today

Today there can appear to be giants in the land; these take many forms and can threaten to overwhelm us. These giants may appear at work, at home, or anyplace and threaten our peace and safety. We too have promises from God and invitations to trust Him to watch over us and care for us.

We are given the opportunity to respond by sight or by faith so how will we respond, with the ten or with the two? When you face the future are you all too often weeping and grumbling, 14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled” or do you display the spirit of faith in the promises of God and say, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” The choice is yours, choose to walk by faith and not by sight!

Next time, “Giants in the Land, God’s Gift to You”

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | January 8, 2020

Joining the Ranks of the Faithful and Entering Your Land of Promise!

Joshua, Caleb, and David

This past Sunday we heard an excellent message by Dave Kinney, our Discipleship Pastor, on the subject of David and Goliath. It stirred my thoughts on the parallels between David, and Joshua and Caleb, who had lived many centuries earlier. In both cases they were faced with what seemed to others as insurmountable obstacles but appeared to them as achievable objectives.

I have written on the situation that faced Israel as it emerged from the wilderness, and stood on the border of the “Promise Land:” how the 12 spies were sent into the land and all but 2 spies, Joshua and Caleb, returned with a negative report of hopelessness as there were “Giants in the Land.”

David First

In David’s case, the army of Israel had been immobilized by a huge Philistine warrior named Goliath; not one soldier in the army of Israel was prepared to stand and do battle with Goliath.

Goliath had a very formidable appearance, in 1 Samuel 17:4-7 we read:

“4 Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was over nine feet tall! He wore a bronze helmet, and his bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds. He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. His armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a shield.”

From a human perspective, Goliath would have been overpowering as a battle opponent and sadly, that just happened to be the way the army of Israel was seeing him. What is interesting to note is David’s attitude toward Goliath from the very first; Goliath’s appearance was never a factor in his thinking!

“26 David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?””

In effect, David was already counting his reward for slaying Goliath; the outcome had already been decided and David would kill Goliath in battle and win the reward offered by King Saul! That is a sublime example of walking by faith and not by sight; David’s confidence in the Lord is again shown in verse 48:

“48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.”

No hesitancy or trepidation there, David runs to meet Goliath in battle! Such faith helps us understand God’s affection for David!

Caleb and Joshua Second

David’s reaction to Goliath is similar in tone to the reply given by Caleb when he reacted to the negative report given by the ten spies:

“30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

As a result of their lack of faith, the ten spies who gave the bad report were struck dead by a plague;

“36 The ten men Moses had sent to explore the land—the ones who incited rebellion against the Lord with their bad report— 37 were struck dead with a plague before the Lord. 38 Of the twelve who had explored the land, only Joshua and Caleb remained alive.”

Eventually Joshua and Caleb entered the land and led the victorious battles that won the land for Israel; but only after the word of the Lord had been fulfilled:

29 You will all drop dead in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, every one of you who is twenty years old or older and was included in the registration will die. 30 You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

Israel wandered in the wilderness until every one of those, 20 and over who had been included in the registration, had died in the wilderness; only then did the Lord permit Israel to enter their promised land!

You and Me Third

Life can be counted on to bring the unexpected; it may not be today, or tomorrow, or even next week, but somewhere down the road, you are going to encounter the insurmountable obstacle in your life. At that point you will have the opportunity to become a kindred spirit with David, Joshua, and Caleb and countless others, or you can join the ranks of those who lack the faith to believe God.

As Christians, our eternal destiny has been assured by the sacrifice on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; what is in question is our quality of life and service as Christian men and women during the years of our mortality. As soldiers of the cross, we live out our entire lives on a spiritual battlefield; the New Testament is filled with words of caution on fighting the battle in the power of the Lord.

We simply must live a life of faith and not a life based on sight; we have a Godly helper, the Holy Spirit, to help us in this battle and should always look to him for the strength needed to prevail in this spiritual war. I have revised and will again publish the series on Giants in the Land; it will show the opportunities we have been given to join the ranks of the faithful and enter our land of promise!

For we live by believing and not by seeing. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | January 3, 2020

The Unseen Battle

Our ability to see and hear what is going on around us is very limited and this is probably a great blessing. As it happens, we are living our lives on a spiritual battlefield where a serious battle has been raging for thousands of years. Forces, beyond our comprehension, are fighting a battle that will continue on earth, eventually spread to heaven, and be finally won by the Lord Jesus Christ at his Second Advent.

Pastor, Jeff Wells has recently written on this battle and I have posted it below.

“The Unseen Battle

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon.  And the dragon and his angels fought back. Revelation 12:7

We live in a world of unseen spiritual reality.  Ninety-eight percent of matter is invisible, so perhaps it is no surprise that there is an invisible world of spiritual reality.  Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet:  “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

From Genesis to Revelation, we are told of an unseen spiritual world, a world of angels and demons, a world of epic spiritual battle.  In Revelation 12, the curtain is pulled back on the spiritual realm, and we see the fierce battle raging across the cosmos.

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon.  And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to earth, and his angels were thrown down with him (Rev. 12:7-9).

We may not be certain what all the symbols of Revelation refer to, but there is no mistaking the reality of the battle.  What does the Bible teach us about this battle?

 You are a target in the battle.

Yes, you.  Satan and his demons will try to devour your soul and ruin your life.  They use deception, condemnation, accusation, temptation and intimidation.  Be alert!

Fight this battle in Christ’s strength.

Put on the full armor of God and be strong in the Lord, not in yourself.

Fight the battle with your sword.

Just like Jesus in Matthew 4, wield your sword, the Word of God, to defeat the enemy.  We ignore God’s Word at our spiritual peril.

Worship is a powerful weapon in the war.

The root issue of the war is worship.  Satan wants the worship that rightfully belongs to God.  When we worship God, we declare our love and loyalty to God.  We draw near to God.  God pours out his Spirit upon us and demons flee.  Worship is warfare.

Prayer is a wartime walkie-talkie.

 John Piper puts it best in Let the Nations Be Glad:

We cannot know what prayer is for until we know that life is war.  Life is war.  That’s not all it is.  But it is always that.  Our weakness in prayer is owing largely to our neglect of this truth.  Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief.  It is not surprising that prayer malfunctions when we try to make it a domestic intercom to call upstairs for more comforts in the den.  God has given us prayer as a wartime walkie-talkie so that we can call headquarters for everything we need as the kingdom of Christ advances in the world.”

December 27, 2019

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This was recently published by Jeff Wells, Senior Pastor of WoodsEdge Community Church. I thought it very interesting and timely! I have written more on this in the three part series, “To the Soldiers in the Spiritual War.”

Painting, “East of Eden” © Adele Bower

 

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | December 30, 2019

A New Year, a New Opportunity

Wednesday is January 1, 2020 and a New Year stretches out before us!

We have now arrived in the future, 2020 is the distant future when spaceships will travel between distant planets and all sorts of technological wonders will be commonplace; at least that was the theme when I was a boy and enjoyed reading science fiction.

I discovered Science Fiction when I was a young boy during World War ll, collecting waste paper for the war effort. Our scout troop would collect waste paper door-to-door and occasionally I would come across a discarded Science Fiction pulp magazine whose lurid covers of spaceships and monsters triggered my imagination so I started collecting them. (My wife reminds me that when we got married all of my worldly possessions consisted of a paper bag of clothes and a stack of Science Fiction pulp magazines.)

They were all about the strange world we would experience in the distant future, say 2020 for example; remember this was in the 1942 era and 2020 was an unbelievably long time away; there was no telling what might happen by that time. Think, for example, about the world in 2100; what kind of world will there be in that distant future time? The fact is some of the people you know, should the Lord tarry, may still be living in 2100 and that is kind of sobering, don’t you agree?

Promotional Poster for 1984, 20th Century Fox

1984

That is the situation we faced in 1949, when I was 16; on June 8th, George Orwell published a Science Fiction book, named, “Nineteen Eighty-Four” which was later made into a movie. In this book, the author describes a future dystopian world where no one is free of intense supervision and control. The book created quite a stir when it came out and was the focus of much discussion by Science Fiction fans.

Fortunately, 1984 came and passed into history without the terrible things described in the book becoming the norm for most people. The book is frequently referenced as contemporary events mirror, to some degree, the events described in the book.

The word, “Orwellian” has passed into the English language as a word to describe totalitarianism; a typical dictionary definition might be as follows:

Or·well·i·an (ôr-wĕlē-ən)

adj.Of, relating to, or evocative of the works of George Orwell, especially the satirical novel 1984, which depicts a futuristic totalitarian state.
ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=Orwellian

 

By God’s grace, we have not experienced the Orwellian world of 1984 but many observers believe we are slowly moving in that direction. I suspect the world of the Antichrist will have many of the characteristics of that world.

The Age of Grace is Extended Once Again

We have lived our entire lives in the Church Age, the Age of Grace, when the free gift of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ is available to all who will simply receive Christ as Savior and experience the new birth; this age began on Pentecost, May 25, AD 33.

Only God knows when this age will end, but end it will in an extraordinarily dramatic way, the Rapture of the Church. Whether it will end in 2020 or many years later is in the hands of Almighty God.

As Christians we are blessed with the opportunity to share the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to help those who have been born again to grow in their faith and knowledge of the Lord. There is only one message that is truly suitable and appropriate for this age of grace and that is:

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!

There is only one sin that will keep the unbeliever out of heaven and that is rejection of Christ as Savior; I have written more on that in “Is There One Unforgivable Sin?” 

I encourage you to avail yourselves of the opportunity we have been given to rejoice in the Lord and serve as a witness to his glory, majesty, and honor. The doorway to the Church is still wide open but it will suddenly close forever at a time known only to God; just as God shut the door to the ark, God will shut the door to the Church.

May your New Year be filled with joy in the Lord and the peace which passes understanding!

First published in December 18, 2018, revised and updated.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | December 21, 2019

Christmas, When the Word was Made Flesh

Mickey and Friends

The Happiest Season of the Year

Although no one really knows exactly when Christ, the Messiah, was born, Christian’s traditionally celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ on December 25th of each year. Contemporary scholarship seems to lean toward a winter birth in either December or January of the winter of 5/4 BC, The events described by the authors of the Gospels which were taking place at the time of the Lord’s birth would suggest such an approximate date for the First Advent of our Lord.

While we do not know, with any degree of certainty, when the Lord was born, we can know with absolute certainty that he was, in fact, born and that alone is a sufficient reason for rejoicing.

The enormous significance of the First Advent of our Lord may sometimes get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season and the sometimes-frantic preparations that seem to be an inevitable part of the days before Christmas. We have even witnessed an effort on the part of some to remove Christ and Christmas from the winter “Holiday Season” and to secularize the season so as not to offend those who prefer to reject the message of Christ and Christmas; fortunately, that trend is losing ground.

For those of us who love the Lord Jesus Christ, this season is a beautiful reminder of our Lord and the wonder of His birth.

Four Hundred Years of Silence

The voice of God through His prophets had become silent; for 400 years Israel did not receive any word from God through the prophets. Much had happened that was instrumental in setting the stage for the events that would transpire during the First Advent but there was no word from the Lord; just silence for 400 years.

God was planning on breaking that silence in the most dramatic way possible; God the Son, the living Word, would be born of a virgin by the power of God, the Holy Spirit, and become flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. The silence would finally be broken by the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord; the spoken word would be replaced by the living Word of God who would be made flesh and dwell among us. We would have a Kinsman/Redeemer, a Savior who would take our place of judgment and die on the cross for the redemption of our sins.

The Birth of the King

It is fascinating to me to reflect on the decisions God made as to the birth of the Son of God. The eternal creator of the universe was not to be born in a palace or even a major city of the time; but was to be born of humble parentage in a small insignificant village named Bethlehem. Although both were descended from King David by two different lines of descent, Mary through David’s son Nathan, and Joseph through David’s son Solomon, any association with royalty had faded generations before. His mother, Mary, was a peasant girl and the young man who was to become her husband, Joseph, was a simple carpenter; hardly a likely couple to become the caregivers for the humanity of the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.

All proceeded according to God’s eternal plan and the precious baby was entrusted to humans to care for and love as He grew in stature and wisdom over the early years of his life.

The Shepherds

The Bible describes two events surrounding the birth and early childhood of our Lord. The first had to do with the angelic host appearing to the shepherds. I have read that these particular shepherds and the sheep of their flock were very special; these were the sheep destined for temple sacrifice. How fitting that the announcement of the birth of the Lamb of God, slain before the foundation of the world, should be made to shepherds tending the sheep to be sacrificed on the Temple altar.

The Magi

The second event concerns the arrival of the magi whose number is not specified in Scripture. I have previously written on the magi and the mysterious star they followed and have some strongly held opinions concerning both. The account of the magi is only given in Matthew 2:1-12, and the implications are the magi appeared around two years after the birth of Jesus. I believe these particular magi were of a group founded by the prophet Daniel, and the gifts presented by the magi were placed with that group originally by Daniel himself.

Daniel had prophesied the very day our Lord would enter Jerusalem as the Lamb of God and I believe he instructed the magi to pay particular attention as that time drew closer. I believe the star was, in fact, the Shekinah Glory of God and led the magi to the place where Jesus was living. While none of this is specified in Scripture, it would explain a lot.

Christmas Today

While admittedly under attack, Christmas is still a powerful factor in the lives of many. I think we can all agree that the mood becomes a bit more joyous and happy around Christmas especially in the Christian community. The traditions of Christmas are always welcome and bring remembrances of Christmas past and the fun and fellowship of family and friends. The traditional Christmas hymns are a great blessing and tell the story of our Lord’s birth with beauty and simplicity.

Christmas is a happy time and I’m thankful it is here again!

Merry Christmas and a Blessed, Happy New Year

First published December 18, 2013

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | December 18, 2019

The Original “Star” Trek

Who Were the Magi?

One of the traditional parts of the Christmas story has always been the account of the wise men as related only in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 2, verses 1 – 12. The Greek word used in these verses is magi which is from a Persian word for men who are expert in the study of the stars and also the word from which we get our English word magic.

This Persian word is equivalent to the Hebrew word chakamim used in the book of Daniel to describe wise men who were one of three different types: astrologers, Chaldeans, or soothsayers.

We learn that Daniel, who was later made chief of the chakamim, was responsible for their deliverance when God enabled him to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. God’s continued blessings enabled Daniel to become a wealthy and influential leader in the Babylonian Empire who lived a long and successful life, aiding not only the Babylonian leadership but also the Medo/Persian leadership after Babylon fell.

Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks

One of Daniel’s most amazing prophecies concerns the prophecy of the seventy weeks; it is in this prophecy the timing of the Lord’s First Advent is revealed. God revealed to Daniel there would be 70 weeks, or 490 prophetic years, divided into a span of 69 “weeks” which is a prophetic reference to 483 prophetic years and a period of 1 week or 7 years, which would come later. I have written more on this in a three-part series that starts with “The Seventy Weeks of Daniel.”

The 483 years would come to an end when Messiah would be cut off; the prophecy was fulfilled on the 10th of Nisan, March 30, 33 AD on the occasion of the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem. This date is based on the research done by Dr. Harold Hoehner in his book: “Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ,” published by The Zondervan Corporation, 1977, ISBN 0-310-26211-9.

Although the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem is usually portrayed as a triumphal entry, we learn in Luke 19:41 the Lord wept over the city as He beheld it. The Greek work used here is eklausen which is the word for a loud, wracking, sob; this was not just a few tears running down our Lord’s cheeks but a loud sobbing that shook His whole body.

Israel is Set Aside for a Season

It was on this occasion Israel was being set aside for a long period of time during which a people would be called out as the Church, the bride of Christ, the body of Christ. The Church was a mystery hidden from the Old Testament prophets; this mysterious age of grace would continue until the time the church was removed by the Rapture. At some point, after the Rapture, the last seven years promised to Israel would commence as a time of severe judgment on the world but that is a different subject.

There arises now a question of timing; how did the wise men know there was something very special about this star and how does Daniel and his prophecy of the seventy weeks fit into this picture? We can speculate the star/shining appeared to the wise men at the time of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe it possible, at some point, the star/shining started moving toward the West and would the next night start its Westward movement all over again until the wise men realized the star/shining was inviting them to follow.

An Impressive Caravan

The Bible does not address the subject of the background of the wise men nor does it even tell us how many there were. Because of the three types of gifts it has often been assumed there were three but this is nowhere confirmed by the Bible; the Bible does not even address them as kings, but only as wise men.

There are some who believe the wise men, however many there were, rode on horseback rather than camel and more who believe they were accompanied by a large enough group of men to provide complete protection, serve the traveling needs of the group and properly impress any observer; the Bible is completely silent on these details.

It is at this point I acknowledge I’m speculating when I suggest a possible source for the expensive gifts they gave and their understanding of the timing of this particular star; this particular line of speculation is held by others as well.

Daniel’s Legacy

God so blessed Daniel that he was to be placed by Darius, the Mede, over the entire kingdom much to the distress of the presidents and princes of the land. The result of this distress resulted in Daniel’s lion’s den experience as described in Daniel 6. The reason I mention this was to show the great prominence Daniel had in the kingdom of the Medes and the Persians.

What I believe happened is Daniel, after God’s revelation of the seventy weeks prophecy, established a group of sympathetic chakamim that would preserve a legacy for the coming Messiah. It would be a simple matter for them to determine the 483 years and to calculate the likely date of the birth of Him who was to be cut off at the end of that period.

I think it possible that Daniel entrusted to them the financial resources that would make the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh available at the time of the Messiah’s birth. I believe they were given a time frame during which to expect a special birth which would be signaled in a special way.

What Kind of Star Did They See?

Since one of their areas of expertise was the study of the stars, the appearance of a new star would certainly attract their attention. That brings up the nature of the star that led them to Bethlehem; it’s my speculative opinion that this was not a regular star, but was in fact the Shekinah Glory of God, the glory the shepherds experienced in Luke 2:9.

Although God was certainly at liberty to create a star and move it around as He willed, I’m more inclined to believe that this star-like manifestation was God’s Shekinah Glory. The Greek word used here is astera which can also refer to a luminous, shining body.

In summary what I’m suggesting is Daniel, inspired by the seventy weeks prophecy, established a special group of wise men to hold a legacy in trust and await the arrival of the Messiah. An approximate time frame was provided as to when those entrusted with the legacy could expect the birth of the Messiah. The starting point for the 483 prophetic year countdown came on March 5, 444 BC when Artaxerxes issued the decree noted in Nehemiah 2:1-8 and prophesied 95 years earlier in 539 BC by Daniel in Daniel 9:25.

When the supernatural star-like shining appeared to them in the sky, they correctly interpreted it as the long awaited sign and eventually followed the star/shining to Bethlehem where they were able to worship the Messiah and give Him the gifts that had been entrusted to their predecessors so many centuries before.

It is interesting to note for a time they must have lost sight of the shining; they went to Jerusalem and asked directions from Herod who, after consulting with the chief priests and scribes, sent the wise men to Bethlehem where Herod had been told the Messiah would be born.

In Matthew 2:9 we read the star/shining was now visible again and “went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” In verse 10 we read: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.” I think this joy was based on their temporarily having lost sight of the star/shining which resulted in their effectively announcing the birth of the Messiah to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.

Although this is speculation, it is based on fact and is, in my opinion; more plausible than saying these wise men just happened to see the star and just happened to have a small fortune available to give to Him, and just happened to stop by Herod’s palace and ask for directions to the one “born King of the Jews,” as Herod was not a legitimate king of the Jews.

The gifts enabled Joseph and Mary to escape to Egypt and avoid the murderous rampage of King Herod when he ordered the death of all male children in Bethlehem two years and younger. Matthew 2:13-18

Our family has always been thankful for Daniel’s ministry even to the point of naming our second son after him; so giving him additional credit for planning ahead is appropriate and fitting especially when credit is so well deserved.

First published December 19, 2011; revised and updated.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | December 13, 2019

The Mystery of You

The Image and Likeness of God

Genesis is the book of beginnings; it lays a foundation for everything else that will happen. A study of the book reveals much, but leaves much concealed as it is focused upon one issue; the issue of man’s fall and his redemption.

I believe the entire Bible follows one underlying theme, the fall of man, and man’s redemption and restoration as implemented by the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Beginning of Man

One of those notable beginnings involves the creation of man; man is the only creation that is breathed into existence, not spoken into existence. In Genesis 1:26-28 where it is written:

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

A Dichotomy of Being!

While we learn a great deal from those verses, they leave so many things unanswered; what are the ramifications, what are the implications from being created in the image and likeness of God? In Genesis 2:7, a little more is revealed:

“7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (lives in the original Hebrew); and man became a living being.”

From this verse, it can be concluded, we are truly a dichotomous creation; we come form two distinctly different components, the dust of the earth for our body and the breath of God to animate it. Since we are created in the image and likeness of God, it should be evident this is a reference to the breath of life breathed into man’s nostrils by God and occurs after the creation of the body from the dust of the ground.

(It is interesting to consider the nature of redemption when Christ died on the cross; he redeemed our living self but did not redeem our bodies; as born-again Christians, we occupy bodies still under the Adamic curse and share our bodies with a fallen sin nature.)

The Breath of Life

It would appear, the expression, “the breath of life,” is a rather poetic description of a complex process of animation which involved the passing on of a life-force from God, to man. Sadly, almost nothing is revealed about the nature of this life-force, this breath of life, as to its origination or timing other than it came directly from God and it was in God’s image and likeness.

There has been a great deal of speculation on the origin of man but minimal Biblical revelation on the subject. To the best of my knowledge, nothing definitive is revealed about the transmission of this divine, “breath of life” to succeeding generations.

The first six chapters of Genesis provides the principle source of information but leaves many unanswered questions. The first six chapters covers a span of around 1,656 years which is a very long time; the world was an entirely different place 1,656 years ago; in 363 history records what would be to us, a totally alien world.

How Should this Impact You?

We’ve all heard the expression, “What you see is what you get;” while this may be true in some instances, it is most emphatically not true when it comes to you and me; we are infinitely more than this temporary tent we wear during our mortal years on this globe. I love the way Paul expresses this reality in 2 Corinthians 5:1-6 where it is written:

“5 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

While our mortal bodies are of this earth, our life is from God; at a time appointed by God, our life will return to our creator and our body will return to the earth from whence it was made; the Bible is careful to point out, we have a “building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

I’ll soon be 87 and have observed the deterioration of this mortal body; although I have been richly blessed by the Lord, I can join with Paul as he writes: “ We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

God will always be faithful to you

“28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30

In the meantime, let us all: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

Painting, “In His Own Image” by Adele Bower ©

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | December 6, 2019

December 7, 1941

Photo from google.com/site/mgmartinezx/mgmartinez

 

“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”

As the years pass there are fewer and fewer of us who can remember where they were and what they were doing when the bombing of Pearl Harbor was announced on the radio; I still remember that Sunday afternoon. I was an eight-year-old boy riding in the backseat of a Chevy, four door sedan, on a Sunday afternoon drive to look for campsites for the Boy Scout Troop my stepfather led. I’m sure that none of us could imagine the impact that attack would have on our country and our lives.

Although, by God’s grace, we were not as profoundly affected as many other countries around the world, it would certainly change life as we knew it. Some of the older boys that had been members of the troop would join up and never return; their lives lost on a distant battlefield. My stepfather had concerns about all of the boys that had gone through the troop and especially the boy leaders who had become patrol leaders and later assistant Scoutmasters. There were too many sad moments when we got the news that another former scout had died in the war.

War is Declared

Little time was lost in Washington D. C. in reacting to the attack; Congress was convened and President Roosevelt spoke to both houses.

Address to Congress
Requesting a Declaration of War with Japan
December 8, 1941

“Mr. Vice President, and Mr. Speaker, and Members of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American Island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our Nation.

As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

But always will our whole Nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces- with the unbounding determination of our people- we will gain the inevitable triumph- so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.”

Once the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor the United States responded on December 8th with a declaration of war on Japan; because of treaties between Japan, Germany, and Italy that meant we had declared war on all three nations. Below is a copy of the declaration of war on Japan.

Congressional Declaration of War on Japan

“December 8, 1941

JOINT RESOLUTION Declaring that a state of war exists between the Imperial Government of Japan and the Government and the people of the United States and making provisions to prosecute the same.

Whereas the Imperial Government of Japan has committed unprovoked acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America:

Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial Government of Japan which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared;
and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial Government of Japan; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

Approved, December 8, 1941, 4:10 p.m. E.S.T.”

This was a remarkable moment in the history of the United States. The country had been burdened by an economic downturn known as the “Great Depression” which had created many hardships on the American people. In addition, the Central Plains had been ravaged by a drought that was so bad the whole area became known as the dust bowl. Having been raised in Houston, Texas I was indeed fortunate to have experienced little hardship from the depression or the drought.

Fortunately, the drought was beginning to lift by the time the war started and many speculate that the Second World War was the catalyst that brought the United States out of the Great Depression.

A Time for Remembrance

Tomorrow will be December 7, 2019, let us remember the great price that has been paid that we might continue as a free nation. The old saying, “Freedom is not Free” is as true today as it was on that fateful day in 1941.

Sadly, another form of treachery has once again endangered us, now a second date that will live in infamy has been added to the history of this country and that is 911, September 11, 2001. This is another vivid reminder that our freedoms must be defended or they will be lost.

If we value our nation, it is vital we recognize the changes in tactics that are being employed by those who wish to destroy it; attacks from without and within will continue until we are willing to deal decisively with those wishing its destruction.

First published December 7, 2011; revised and updated.

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | November 27, 2019

Love Revisited, Another Reason to be Thankful on Thanksgiving Day!

The Greatest of These is Love!

One of the most staggering truths revealed in the Bible is the nature of God; God is love! Even when mankind, created in the image of God, committed spiritual suicide by disobeying a direct command; God still loved mankind so much He sent His own Son to be born of a virgin with the sole purpose of dying as the substitute payment for the penalty that had been incurred by that disobedience.

We are told in Romans 1 how creation reveals the majesty and power of God and one look at the heavens on a clear night reveals the magnitude of the one who created it all and sustains its existence from moment to moment. It is only in the Bible, however, the basic nature of this powerful creator is revealed; it is only in the Bible we discover God is love.

In 1 Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul discusses faith, hope and love and concludes the greatest of these is love. The need for both faith and hope will pass when we are finally home with the Lord but the joy of love will always remain. A great beauty of the Christian life is the opportunity to experience the joy of God’s love right now.

Love Came First

In Romans 5, Paul writes of the order of events; in verses 6-8 we are told:

“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Mankind, lost in sin, was the object of God’s love, mercy and grace and the Lord Jesus Christ, in His humanity, died on the cross to make redemption a possibility for all who receive Him as Savior.

At the point of salvation we receive the earnest of our inheritance, are made spiritually alive and given the indwelling Holy Spirit of God to live with us forever; part of the gift of the Spirit is love, a love of God and all that is His.

The Apostle John gives us a beautiful summary of the blessings we have received at salvation when he writes in 1 John 4:7-12:

“7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

The Beauty and Blessings of Love

I’m sure we have all marveled at the positive and uplifting feelings love can generate; how the very core of our being seems to be stirred by the deep emotions we feel as we observe or think on someone loved very deeply. In my experience this has been true of not only human beings but also other living beings in which I see the hand of our Creator; I see the hand of God in the two cats who are members of our family, Abby Cat and Tomboy.

Abby Cat

Tomboy

In the beginning mankind was given the responsibility for all of the living creatures, in Genesis 1:26 it is written:

“26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

Although mankind lost its position of rulership there still remains a responsibility to love and care for those creatures that were originally entrusted to us. The situation has changed dramatically under the curse of Genesis 3:14-19 but mankind still feels the responsibility to love and care for God’s creation as intended.

That we can love God’s creation, both animate and inanimate, is God’s gift of love to us that we might love and appreciate that which is important to God. In an earlier essay on God’s love I concluded with the following and would like to include it again.

“A Final Thought

One of the joys of loving people and all of God’s creation is a better understanding of how God can love us. If each of us, with all of the flaws we know we possess, can love each other and God’s creation, it becomes much easier to believe a Holy God who is free of all of these flaws can really love us as much as He says He does.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

First published on November 27, 2014, revised and updated.

 

Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | November 22, 2019

Walking with God

A God Given Opportunity that Shouldn’t be Missed!

As Christian men and women, we are given some very spectacular gifts from our heavenly Father. Under the New Covenant, God’s children, at the time of the new birth, are adopted into a new family which will remain together for all of time and eternity. As a guarantee of membership in this new family, each believer is given God, the Holy Spirit, to live in them forever!

In addition, each believer is given the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ and full justification before the Father in heaven; “there is therefore now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is spiritual reality, our mortal bodies of clay can have no part in our resurrection and must be totally transformed by the power of God, into a new, heavenly body, in order to participate in the heavenly promises, we have been given.

Our situation is clearly described in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 where it is written:

“5 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

Verse 7 is a key point to the whole thing, walking by faith and not by sight; this is a pattern of life to be coveted by all who love the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. That verse is in the forefront of my thinking all day long, yet I seem to fail so often in its practical implementation; I truly want to walk by faith and not by sight but so often do just the opposite!

Wilderness Lodge, Disney World

Wilderness Lodge at Christmas

With only one exception, we have always stayed at Wilderness Lodge when we visited Disney World. Wilderness Lodge seems to have a very strong appeal for our entire family and we have enjoyed many happy times in the big room pictured above.

I can recall one time, as we were checking into the Lodge, I stepped in the front door and the music being played was a selection we had played at our wedding; the sound of the music, that welcoming room and the beautiful Christmas tree at its center overwhelmed me and tears started streaming down my face; I had a wonderful feeling of being home again at Christmas! I will never forget the intense emotion I felt at that time, it was not at all logical but, nevertheless, very intense.

I was somewhat embarrassed by the obvious emotion on my part and did my best to conceal it from the rest of the family; after all it was not a very manly thing to do to start crying when you entered a place like this. I only mention it because it is such a perfect illustration of walking by sight and not be faith; the physical circumstances had produced a powerful emotional response in me which I will never forget!

David and Adele by the big Christmas tree

Walking by Faith

In retrospect, I’m disappointed with myself when I think of my experience at Wilderness Lodge and realize that the spiritual realities of my relationship with Almighty God do not consistently produce the same reactions. The fact of the matter is, God has done infinitely more for me than Disney World and Wilderness Lodge could ever do, but I don’t seem to react to this fact with appropriate feelings and behavior. It is somewhat amusing to remember that I must pay money to enjoy Disney World and Wilderness Lodge while God has paid the admission price for me to enjoy heaven and eternity with him!

When I read of the blessings God has bestowed on all those who believe, I’m overwhelmed at an intellectual level; I believe all that God has done and will do and look forward to experiencing it in person, but it seems to be difficult for me to translate that knowledge into a consistent and appropriate emotional reaction. The only explanation that presents itself to me is I’m too inclined to walk by sight and not by faith.

I earnestly desire to let spiritual realities have the same dramatic impact on me that certain physical realities have had; why can I not have the same feelings of being home when I remember I’m constantly in the Lord’s presence? I truly believe that home is a person, not a place but seem to have difficulty in applying that principle to the indwelling presence of God, the Holy Spirit.

I have come to believe that a life of joyous, happy, fulfillment is available to all who will fully commit themselves to walking by faith and not by sight. It is important we remember the indwelling presence of God, the Holy Spirit, within us and learn to rejoice and delight ourselves in this great gift we have been given. By God’s grace, we walk with God every moment of every day; let us recognize that fact and let it be a constant source of unfailing joy to each of us!

Holy Father, by your grace may we, as your children, fully embrace your loving presence in each of us and let your joy and your peace be our constant companions as long as we shall live! May our lives reflect you and be a sweet-smelling savor to you now and forever. I ask this in Jesus name, amen.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.

 

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