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 bringing 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 a deeper walk and expose things that still they needed to deal 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.

Salem or Sodom – Bera, King of Sodom

Bera may be the most audacious person in the Bible! He is also a type and shadow of the devil. First, he is a king who allowed and possibly encouraged his people to sin. He then takes part in a rebellion against his overlord with the other rulers of the Valley of Siddium. They lose to the coalition lead by Kedorlaomer. The kings with the armies go hide in the hills while their families and towns are looted. The rout and panic of his army were so bad they were falling in tar pits. Then he expects to get his stuff/people given back to him! (Genesis 14)

Abram and his friends come in and save the day, and are traveling back toward Salem probably heading to his village. Out of the hills/hiding come Bera and meets Abram in the Valley of Shaveh or king’s valley, which is identified as the valley near Jerusalem. (The only other mention of a king’s valley in the Bible is in 2 Samuel 18:18 in a reference to Absalom.) I am sure there are a lot of ways to look at the goods Abram recovered, but it is possible that not all of it belonged to the Jordan River valley kings. So Abram could have made claim to everything he had just won and really who was going to take it from him, the kings who had just lost it! So Abram honors the Lord and gives a tithe to Melchizedek. I think the wicked king was getting nervous about losing so much stuff with no chance of getting it back. To curb the flow of goods Bera asks/claims the people, so Abram tells him what is going to happen and why. The nerve of that guy to be asking or claiming anything is unbelievable. But one thing is for sure, Salem brought the party and Sodom brought nothing.

Bera, just like the devil, knows people are more valuable than goods. The riches could have been a distraction for Abram because once you have all of that stuff you have to fight to keep it and Bera would have had more people.

The lesson to be learned here is what Bera/the devil does to a Christian in a fight. Abram had gotten a victory and probably was just hoping for some quiet time. But out comes someone to congratulate you on the victory. Many times that person will be a distraction from what you need, which is what Melchizedek brought, something to refresh and strengthen you. We Christians usually equate the bread and wine with communion but the truth is Melchizedek was throwing a party (feeding) for the victor because they were tired. Abram wisely discerned that Bera and the goods were not the reason he went to battle, that was to get his family back and that mission was accomplished. Bera lost everything, hid while someone else got the job done, and still claimed he was owed something.


Wisdom of Joash – Defending a god

Defending a god.

Joash is the father of Gideon (Judges 6:29 – 32).  His son, Gideon, had just tore down Baal’s alter and cut up the town’s Asherah pole and the townspeople were mad.  They wanted to defend Baal’s honor, who supposedly was a powerful god.  Joash replied to the cries for his son death by asking several questions (vs. 31) the most important one basically was “Are you trying to save your god?”  Josah then makes an inspired statement,”If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself.”

The people must have realized the wisdom in that statement because they eventually followed Gideon into battle and defeated the enemies of Israel.  It must have become apparent that the god they were defending would/could not punish Gideon.Gideon004


Top 20 Song or Musical Sunday School Lesson?

A look at Psalm 60 and 108

Previously, I wrote a blog entitled Where and When the Psalms Were Written. In that blog, I matched the verse in the Bible that may have been the inspiration for writing the Psalm. Psalm 60 and 108 were two of those psalms but I want to compare them because they have a large similar portion used in two very different psalms.

I believe Psalm 60 was one of the reasons I started doing the matching. Its timestamp was easy to find in 2 Samuel 8:13 and 1 Chronicles 18:12 which tells of the 12,000 Edomites and the Valley of Salt. The introduction and the verses don’t really match and if you do a “search” on the Valley of Salt there are several reasonable explanations as to why there may be differences. (The Valley of Salt is also a topic of disagreement because we are not sure where it is/was.)

Psalm 108 I originally put with 2 Samuel 6:5 when David was bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. David the Writer uses rhetorical devices in many psalms by repeating phrases but in these two Psalms, a large portion is used in apparently two different occasions much like Psalm 14 and 53. These “re-purposed” psalms are also in different “Books” within Psalms. I compared Psalms 135 to 136 because of similar content but they really are presented in very different styles.

Not all Bible translations have a chapter “headings.” I like them because they can allow your imagination to soar as to the “when what, and why” they were written and used. Psalm 108’s heading is not a repeat, as most people will say all psalms were sung. “Song” and “psalm” here are two completely different words. I can imagine that it was a favorite that you might hear someone humming in the marketplace or while they were working.

Psalm 60, on the other hand, has all the markings of a formal arrangement that was used at special gatherings. Asaph may have been the “director” but we don’t know for sure. Miktam like maskil is thought to be musical terms whose exact meaning has been lost to us, what a shame. It also has a Selah at verse 4 which may signal a pause to give time to reflect. The fact that David set it to the tune of another well-liked song just shows that we have not changed all that much, my example is the hymn, “Amazing Grace” (it was set to a popular tune of the day). But the “for teaching” is what catches my eye. David knew the power of music to help with learning and remembering!

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Psalm 60 shows great distress and turmoil and the unspoken “where are You, God.” The term “banner” in verse 4 is a very “visible signal” that pulls the learner back to the Father. The start of Psalm 108 could not be more different with phrases like “make music with my soul” and “your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” Well maybe not. Love and faithfulness reaching to the skies and a banner do sound like the same thing.

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The shepherd, the ridiculed little brother, the youngest son, the overachieving young man who feared little are all descriptions of David. As complex as David may be the last two lines in this shared portion would only come from the heart of someone who has been in God’s presence and has valued that experience – “human help is worthless” and “with God, we win.”  The box below – on the left is the shared portion, the right side is my notes.

Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Judah, Edom, Moab, Shechem, Genesis 49box 3New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®  Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Jeroboam and His Altar

Ten pieces of a new garment was to signal the start of a “new work” of God. Jeroboam however let “Egypt” in and let a powerful promise fall to the floor. 1 Kings 13 is a story of God’s love and a call to repent that was ignored by a “chosen vessel.” The promise to Abraham was still in effect; the prophecy to Judah and the selection of David had not been forgotten but Father God needed revival. Solomon had broken faith with Jehovah so He went to the other tribe of leaders – Ephraim (the second-born of Joseph and chosen of God – Genesis 48:20).

Jeroboam, instead of believing God, reacted in fear and took bad advice (12:26 – 28). One creative idea he had was to start his own festival for god and make religion easy for the people. So 1 Kings 13 finds him by his new altar on the 15th day of the 8th month making sacrifices to a golden goat and cow. This whole chapter is a layered look into the failures of Judah, Jeroboam, and the “old system.” But it is meant to show Jeroboam that he should change; which he did not (13:33). There are four main characters in this story that we need to look at: the man of God, Jeroboam, the old prophet, and the lion.

The Man of God – was not a prophet, priest, apostle, pastor, or teacher just a MAN. He got a Word from God, now we are not told how or from whom but he knew what he had to do and was serious about doing. I normally would have added my own adjective to this man but no where is he called anything else, including the final mention of this tale in 2 Kings 23:19, but a man of God. He spoke against the altar and predicted what would happen in 2 Kings, he prayed for Jeroboam’s hand, and even refused a meal and a gift. The mistake he made was to STOP (vs. 14). Who knows, possible he was the next prophet that would have been used to call Judah/Israel to repentance instead he symbolizes Judah and their stopping.

Jeroboam – the talented child of a single parent home who had all the potential but looked the wrong way. He was a challenge to the established system (Solomon) so it tried to kill him. To this point in the story he could be a shadow of Jesus but by 1 Kings 12:26 he becomes an “antichrist.” Remember Jehovah is trying to call him back to obedience but in 1 Kings 13:6 he uses the chilling phrase, “ the Lord YOUR God.” Egypt won. Verse 34 finishes the tale even though it took many years; he was destroyed from the face of the earth. NOTE. In 2 Kings 15:8 another Jeroboam is mentioned but he is not related to the first one. The Books of Kings tell the story of both Israel and Judah while Chronicles tells the story of David’s family and only mentions the kings of Israel when needed.

The Old Prophet – had not moved with God and was jealous. This character I like the least, feel sorry for the most, and never want to become. (He could be the lukewarm ones in the Book of Revelations 3: 16.) If he had gotten the word about the altar he did not act on it and he had not left his old way and moved to Judah like many other had done (2 Chronicles 11: 13 – 17).   He recognized the move of God and instead of helping the “man of God” finish his mission he condemned him to death. Jehovah even gave him a chance to repent; he could have gone with the man instead of grabbing a final moment of glory. His final wish to be buried with the man of God was so his bones would not be burned in 2 Kings 23.

The Lion – was the only one who did as God had instructed him. He killed the man of 1 Kings 13God did not eat him but stood guard over his body. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah comes to mind. Whatever symbolism you want to put with this lion he definitely stopped “a problem” from going back to Judah.

See Jeroboam -The Lord YOUR God