Midian – Enemy and Instrument

Midian – Enemy and Instrument

Midian was a son of Abraham by his third wife Keturah (Genesis 25).  His descendants played an important role in the Exodus story and into the Judges’ time period.   Some experts think that Midian was several groups of people and or a geographic area and not just a single nation.  They start their part in the story of Israel when Joseph’s brother sold him into Egypt (Genesis 37).  This is also where Moses fled when he ran away from Pharaoh; his wife, father-in-law, and children were Midianites.

In Numbers 22 the story of Moab and Midian working together to stop Israel by bring in Balaam is told.  It seems that Balak, king of Moab, takes the lead and even in Numbers 25 it first mentions Moabite women as being the lure to get Israel to sin.  A Midianite woman is killed in verse 8 and it stops a plague; in verse 16 the Lord says to treat Midian as enemies and kill them because of the deception with the Baal of Peor.  In Numbers 31 Moses is to lead a campaign against them and then he will die.  It must have been quite an attack because many important people including kings and Balaam were killed.

A thought that should disturb the people of God is that sex was used as a weapon in the name of religion to defeat God’s people.  The devil crossed and confused the lines then and is still doing it today.

The other big reference to Midianites is with Gideon in Judges 6, 7, and 8.  This story also ends with the Midianites being beaten severely.    There are references in Psalm 83, Isaiah 9, and 10 that talk about how badly Midian was beaten.  They don’t say if it was Moses or Gideon but the context makes it sounds like the beatings were bad and that a similar beating was wished on the current enemy.

Living in the “now” of troubles and testing compared to analyzing them later will produce two very different views.  This is a “later” point of view; God used the Midianites to push Israel to deeper walk and expose things that still needed to dealt with.  One example is the army killing the men and keeping the women who were the instrument that got them into trouble.  Even later the Israelites were still dealing with the troubles of Peor , possibly, the girl slaves and the children born from them.  Midianite DNA and mindset were spread into every tribe of Israel, including Levi.  Be careful what you choose to live with no matter how you got it.

Psalm 103 – Moses

Psalm 103:6 He (the Lord) made known His ways to Moses and His deeds to the people Moses_Pleading_with_Israelof Israel. (NIV)

My study note on this verse was – Why not Abraham or Jacob/Israel? That was several years ago but as I began to study Psalm 103 that question nagged me again. Why did God wait to show “His ways” to a man? Why Moses and not the Father of Faith – Abraham or Jacob, Joseph, or Judah?

Why did David single out Moses as having been shown the “ways of God?” I mean Abraham had gotten a promise and a covenant from God and had been shown favor so why Moses? I am going to digress here a moment and think about the relations these men had with God. In Exodus 6: 2- 5 God said that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew Him as El-Shaddai (the God who pours out His riches because of His grace) thinking about these men they were blessed. Yes, they were tested, had trials and even messed-up but they were blessed because of God’s grace. However, in the same verses, God said He had not shown them the Jehovah (the One Who promised them deliverance because of His divine control) side of His nature. This part was for Moses and the children of Israel to experience.

Both Abraham and Moses experienced visits with God. In Genesis 12:7, 17:1, and 18:1 God “appeared” to Abraham; at first I thought of a vision like he had in chapter 15:1. But according to Strong’s Concordance “appear” carries the context of something literally seen. Moses also had “visits” in the burning bush (Exodus 3), the heavenly dinner party (Exodus 24), and the times in the cloud on the mountain.

Both men had conversions with God but it seems that Moses wrote things down while Abraham passed things on orally. Before the event that is talked about in Psalm 103, which is Exodus 33:13, Moses had written a Book of the Covenant (Exodus 24: 7).

So now to the question as to why God’s ways were revealed to Moses – Moses asked! Exodus 33:13 records the conversation Moses had with God. The NIV states it this way, The Path“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know You.” The context here is important because in verse 12 Moses is talking about leading the people. “Ways” means a highway or well-traveled path so with a little play on words Moses is asking for two things in this passage – physical direction and spiritual knowledge. (See study on Paths and Ways). A lesson here for leaders, you need to ask to know God’s ways.

Easter 2015 – Reflections – Priesthood

Reflections on Jesus’ Priesthood and Melchizedek.

Several studies have come together this Easter to clear up and create more things to study: Salem or Sodom, Rehoboam, and Jeroboam, It Is Finished, and one of Hebrews. They deal with Jesus our High Priest, Melchizedek, and the things finished on the Cross combining the mysterious priesthood of Melchizedek, the natural priesthood of Aaron, and being settled in the supernatural priesthood of Jesus. Psalm 110 affirms the priesthood of Jesus but combines it with the victorious conqueror He will be in the Book of Revelations. Jesus finished the need for the work of Aaron and sacrifices while being added to the Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedekorder of Melchizedek. The link below has part of a Dead Sea Scroll which points to Melchizedek as a “leader of God’s armies.” In the study of Jeroboam and the rest of the kings of the Northern Tribes the “sin of Jeroboam” is mentioned frequently. I thought the main problem was the idols he had made but Hebrews 7:12 showed me the real sin. When Jeroboam changed the priesthood he changed the Law!

The list from Hebrews works through Jesus’ completion and right as Priest. The list from Genesis 14 and Psalm 110 are the different names and titles of God in those passages. Those names by extension show Melchizedek’s importance as God’s priest.

  • Hebrews 13:12 Jesus suffered outside of the city to make us holy through by His blood.
  • Hebrews 7: 26 Jesus as a High Priest met our needs by being holy, pure, set apart, and exalted in the heavens.
  • Hebrews 7: 12 When the priesthood changes there is also a change in the Law!
  • Hebrews 8: 10 (Jeremiah 31: 31 – 34) God WILL put in our minds His laws and write His Laws on our hearts so we WILL be His people because He is our God.
  • Hebrews 5:6, 7:1 – 28 and other discussions of priest Chapter 8 and 13: 11

Genesis 14: 19, 20, 22

  • Elohim (God) a title used in combination with other names it is a title of majesty and power.
  • Elyon (Most High) is a title of God that focuses on supremacy in power.
  • Qana (Creator) to create or bring forth; the NIV footnote says it is Possessor.

Psalm 110

  • LORD or Jehovah – the Eternal
  • Lord or Adon – (vs. 1) supervisor or owner; Adonay – (vs. 5) a title of the one true God with a focus on majesty and authority or “Lord over all” and also carries the idea of Father or a Friend (see LORD vs. Lord)

http://ad2004.com/Biblecodes/Hebrewmatrix/melchizedek.html this has a translation of a Dead Sea Scroll that talks about Melchizedek. If you are interested it goes into Bible Codes which I have mixed feelings about.

Definitions are from Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance and from Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance

pic from http://www.heiligenlexikon.de/BiographienA/Abraham.htm. or Dieric Bouts (circa 1420-1475) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMeeting_of_abraham_and_melchizadek.jpg 

Salem or Sodom – After

While reading Genesis 13,14, and 15 for the Salem or Sodom series this idea started to stand out, Abram did things and “after” they were done new things opened for him. Actually “after” seems to be a theme in Abraham’s life but I will start with the Sodom story. Genesis 13:14, 14:17, and 15:1 all have an example of “after.”

Genesis 13:14 Lot has finally left Abram and went east to the Jordan River valley in order to separate what must have been a large camp of shepherds. Lot and Abram were living in the highlands between Bethel and Ai along the main highway that ran north to south in the country. Abram gave Lot his choice and he went to the lowlands and eventually pitched his tents outside of Sodom. Abram in chapter 12 had received two promises but “after” Lot left God’s message was to physically go claim his promise. He left Luz (Bethel) an area of springs and probably almond trees (luz = almonds) and went south past Salem to Hebron to live by an ally.

Genesis 14:17 is the second “after.” Abram has just rescued Lot when Bera comes out of hiding and tries to influence him but God sent Melchizedek king of Salem to support Abram. Abram chooses God and gets blessed, tithes, and puts the king of Salem in his place. Even though Bera got the people and the goods it is very possible that Abram’s speech made him an enemy.

Genesis 15:1 is the last “after” in the Sodom story. This one could be placed in Hebron and if Josephus’ telling of the story is correct God is reassuring Abram that He will reward him. This is where a son is promised to Abram and he and God do a blood covenant. (That bloody scene of walking between animals cut in half is how a covenant was cut. Basically, if you break covenant this is what happens to you.) I just wonder if Abram was thinking about the kings he had defeated and the ones he may have insulted.

With these examples of “after,” Abram does something and God has an increase for him. Many times we as Christians have to “step out the boat” before we find God has already prepared the situation and us for us to get a blessing.

Some of the other “afters” in Abraham’s life is found in Genesis 18 when God says he will instruct his household that will come and chapter 22 and his testing with Isaac.

Salem or Sodom – Lot, Complex or Confused

Lot the nephew of Abram, has been the topic of many sermons I have heard over the years. In thinking about him I realized many of those sermons really were not about him but how the people he was with interacted with him. Most of those teachings also have been on the negative side and probably did a Lot of bashing. Ok, he had problems but 2 Peter 2 calls him righteous and Jesus in Luke 17 uses him as an example at the least he is a very complex character.

While pondering this post I heard a sermon by Pastor Carter Conlon entitled Please God, Don’t Ask Me to Do One More Thing!  Lot was not the object of this sermon but the Church at Laodicea (Revelation 3) was. I realized that Lot and Laodicea had a similar problem – they were lukewarm.

Wait a minute aren’t they suppose to get spit out them?

Yes, but here is where a praying family member comes in. Abram and possibly Terah, his father, had followed God’s leading (Genesis 11: 31). Lot, like Terah, may have heard God’s call to go to Canaan but only Abram actually did it so Lot had pray support. I get this idea from Genesis 19:16 “the Lord was merciful to them” (Lot’s family) and 19: 29 “He (God) remembered Abraham.” It is the first use of the word mercy in the Bible, the word is hemlâ and it is only used twice in Scripture. The other usage is in Isaiah 63: 9 it also has a distressed Lord, a “saving angel”, and God lifting and carrying people. (There are other words for mercy but it is the first one.) In his sermon, The Right People by Joel Osteen (February 15, 2015) the point is made that Abraham had to release Lot from his life. Abraham needed this separation so he could focus on God not because Lot was a heathen. Would the story have been different if Lot had not taken the Jordan Valley?  Remember 2 Peter 2.

Peter calls Lot a righteous man who was vexed by his surroundings. First, why this statement could be made:

  1. He was at the gate of Sodom and insisted the angels go to his house, – he knew what would happen to them, he was protecting them.
  2. His daughters knew Lot’s standard of living – they had to get him drunk.
  3. The men of Sodom said he was “judging” them – they knew he lived differently.
  4. Lot knew the angels were speaking the truth and preached the first “fire and brimstone” message (Gen. 19: 14) – his son-in-laws thought he was joking.

Now, for the lukewarm problems:

  1. He went from camping near Sodom to living in it.
  2. Why did he not move?
  3. Was he honored more because of Abram and the rescue?

A friend of mine compared Abram and Lot and the state of their houses by how each treated the angels. Abram had his household prepare the food while Lot seems to do all the work in Sodom.

Thoughts:

  1. Usually being at the gate of a city showed a position of authority and prestige.
  2. Where did Lot’s wife come from?
  3. Where were his flocks, herds, and herdsmen?
  4. Why were singular nouns used in 19: 18 +19? This referred to himself (not family) and the angel/Lord.

When He Left

The night of the attack (Genesis 19) must have been horrible. Neighbors wanting to rape your guest, offering your daughters to appease an angry crowd, and your family laughing at you about their pending death was just the first scene of this tragedy. In reading several translations of the Bible (Moffat and Knox among others) verse 15 could give the impression that there were other family members besides the two daughters who were “with him.” When Abraham was bargaining with God (Genesis 18: 16 – 33) did he count all of the children/family of Lot – 50? You can count the four in the house and two sons-in-law with parents and get ten but what if Lot had other family members living in and around Sodom and then there are his herdsmen. Did they get out? That could have been some of the hesitations!

Finally out of the city, Lot does some bargaining of his own (must have run in the family). He gets permission to go to Zoar. Was there family there or maybe his herds? Maybe the problem with the mountains was that would have taken him to Abraham, who wants to hear I told you so! But the tragedy continues when his wife looks back. The “looking back” carries the idea of longing for what was left; after all, she was married to the person who got everyone rescued and there still may have been family.

Jesus in Luke 17: 28 uses Lot as a warning he and Noah are examples of righteous people saved before a judgment. Noah is from water and Lot is from fire and Lot’s wife is added to help adjust attitudes about physical goods and their hold over our lives. Luke 17, 2 Peter 2, and Jude carry the same messages and examples which just goes to show that a good sermon needs to be repeated.

Cave Over Family

I understand Lot and the girls leaving Zoar because they would have been looked at as the cause for the destruction of the valley. But a cave over family ok, some families I might understand but caves in that area always seem small and dusty. Where were his resources coming from to live? Where the girls right in that NO ONE was around? Abraham lived in Hebron at this time, which is west of the Dead Sea and Jordan while it may appear Lot went east. The thought behind this is God honored Moab and Ben-Ammi by giving them land in Ar and not letting Moses and Israel bother them (Deuteronomy 2: 9 +19) this area is to the east of the Dead Sea. Ruth, a grandmother of David and Jesus, was also a Moabite so Lot still had a part in the salvation story. The boy’s descendants became enemies of Israel and are even mentioned in Psalm 83 as trying to destroy their family.

Lot’s daughters should be the ultimate symbol of guarding your family by whom you choose to be around. They were well trained in the thoughts of Sodom probably having been born after the rescue. Being in Sodom and living with Lot must have been confusing.

Abraham

Their stories will always be intertwined and comparison will always be made which may or may not be fair. So I am directing my thoughts to the boundaries of Genesis 19. Did Abraham send men to look for/rescue his nephew? Since it was burning (vs. 27) he knew God had not found ten righteous people so had he assumed the worst? It is apparent that somehow they meet again because Chapter 19 was written with all of its gory details. The only comparison I want to make is that Abraham refused the goods of Sodom and Lot hesitated because of Sodom.

Sermon by Carter Conlon: Please God; Don’t Ask Me to Do One More Thing! – http://www.tscnyc.org/media_center.php?pg=sermons&mi=25512