Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 4

Approximately 225 years had elapsed since the passing since our last godly champion, Joshua, walked the earth. In that timespan, the nation of Israel had again distanced themselves from following God. Even the priesthood was corrupted. Furthermore, the Philistines were continually assaulting the Israelites.

God decided again to help His children move forward on the path that He had intended for them:

There was a woman by the name of Hannah, (meaning ‘His grace’), whom God had kept barren (1 Sam. 1:6) until she went to the temple in Shiloh to pray, whereupon she petitioned Jehovah for a son. She promised Him that if He were to grant her request, she would dedicate him to the priesthood once he was weaned.

She and her husband conceived, and named the boy Samuel, meaning ‘name of God.’ As she pledged, she brought the boy to the temple at the appointed time. We hear no more about Hannah except for the prayer that she uttered after she had delivered her son to the priest, Eli. However, if we dissect her prayer, we can see that Jehovah imbued this blessed servant woman of God with a plethora of revelations and prophecy within that prayer that she herself could not have known:

1 Sam. 2:1 – 10. AMP:

“My heart rejoices and triumphs in the LORD; my horn (strength) is lifted up in the LORD, my mouth has opened wide [to speak boldly] against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.

There is no one holy like the LORD, there is no one besides You, there is no rock like our God.

[I’m going to elicit a little help from St. Augustine of Hippo’s book City of God, (translated by Marcus Dods), and some additional scripture, for some additional investigative discourse. I’m 3/4 the way through this 781-page book. I hope you have derived some value from what we’ve examined from that work.]

Through her prayer, we see that Hannah knows her spiritual strength comes from God alone; and she looks prophetically forward to His salvation (through Christ).

Do not go on boasting so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed (examined).

God, speaking through her, warns of being haughty, self-absorbed, and confident in one’s own strength. We are only exalted when we venerate our Maker:

(For if anyone thinks he is something [special] when [in fact] he is nothing [special except in his own eyes], he deceives himself. Gal. 6:3 AMP)

The bows of the mighty are broken, but those who have stumbled equip themselves with strength.

This same warning is also directed toward the enemies of God’s children, wherein He declares that the prideful with be humbled, whereas the meek shall be fortified.

Those who were full hire themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry cease [to hunger]. Even the barren woman gives birth to seven, but she who has many children withers away.

We see too that God’s people were starving for spiritual sustenance (often self-induced) but will ultimately be fed when that perfect (‘seven’) Child is born.

The LORD puts to death and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol (the grave) and raises up [from the grave].

Hannah’s prayer also prophesied about how God helps us put our old sinful self to death through the salvation of His Son, which saves us from the grave:

(Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead]…you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. Col. 3:1 & 3. AMP)

The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and He lifts up.

He raises up the poor from the dust, He lifts up the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and to inherit a seat of honor and glory; for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and He set the land on them.

And again, we are reminded of the importance of being humble, in order to be elevated to the city of God:

(…GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD [the disdainful, the presumptuous, and He defeats them], BUT HE GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time… 1 Pt. 5:5, 6. AMP)

He guards the feet of His godly (faithful) ones, but the wicked ones are silenced and perish in darkness; for a man shall not prevail by might.

We also see that the godly will be divided from the wicked:

(For we [believers will be called to account and] must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives – the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities]. 2 Cor. 5:10 AMP)

Still, we are judged and sent to the city of God. Those who chose to occupy the city of the earthborn will experience a judgment with only one outcome – eternal damnation.

The adversaries of the LORD will be broken to pieces; He will thunder against them in the heavens, The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; and He will give strength to HIs king, and will exalt the horn (strength) of His anointed.” 1 Sam. 2:1 – 10. AMP

Hannah ends her prayer with a prophetic picture of Christ’s ascension, to render the final judgment. It is here too, that we see for the first time in the Bible, the identification of the Messiah as ‘King.’

Mind you, God rendered these revelations 1000 years before Jesus was incarnated.

Hannah too, is a citizen of the city of God. We’ll meet Samuel, the prophet and king-maker, next time…

Goodnight and God bless.

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The True Easter Story

I’ve written about Easter for many years. This year I thought that I’d do the same, but that I would use a chapter out of a book about Bible stories that I’m writing for adolescents. I hope you enjoy it…

The True Easter Story

No, Easter is not about Easter egg hunts or eating chocolate bunnies and eggs from ‘Easter baskets.’ Here’s the real deal:

After Jesus died on Good Friday, He was buried in a cave with a really heavy rock placed over the entrance that would be really hard to move.

On Saturday, the priests had soldiers stand guard at the tomb so that no one could steal Jesus’ body and claim that He was alive.

Yet early Sunday morning (Easter morning), Jesus’ mother and one of His friends (also named Mary) came to the tomb. Just as they arrived, an angel appeared and rolled away the stone. All the soldiers fainted.

The angel told the two women that Jesus was not in the tomb, because God had resurrected His Son from death to life!

Nothing is more important than this event. God put His new and last plan in motion – washing us clean from our sins with the blood of His Son so that we can stay in the presence of His love forever! It’s not because we did anything to earn it; it was a gift from God because He loves us so much.

Mary and Mary ran off to tell the apostles that Jesus was alive. While they were running, they met Jesus along the way. They were overjoyed. Jesus told them where the apostles could find Him.

The apostles did not believe them at first; but two of them ran back to the tomb and only found Jesus’ burial clothes.

Later that afternoon, two of Jesus’ disciples (but not of the 12 apostles) were walking along a road, saddened because of Jesus’ death. Suddenly, Jesus appears to them but keeps them from recognizing Him. He asked them why they were sad. They answered Him by saying that they watched Jesus die; and they were now doubting if He really was the Messiah.

Jesus then taught them about everything that the Bible said regarding the coming of the Messiah, so that they would understand why He had to die. Then He ate bread with them and let them recognize Him. When they did, He disappeared right before their eyes!

At the same time, the apostles were meeting in a house when all of a sudden Jesus appeared in the room. They were frightened because they thought that they were seeing a ghost. Jesus calmed their fears by letting them touch Him, to see that His body was solid.

He also showed them the holes where the nails had been driven through His wrists and feet. Finally, He eats some food in front of them.

The reason that Jesus’ body was solid but could appear and disappear at will, was because His body had changed. Jesus now had all of the powers that He had in heaven, before he came to the earth.

When we leave this earth, we too will get a new body. It will never wear out, never die, and it will have powers that we can’t even imagine.

Jesus then breathed upon the apostles to give them the Holy Spirit.

Eight days later, Jesus appeared to the apostles again and then spent another 40 days on the earth before He returned to heaven. During that time, He was seen 500 times by various people.

Jesus met with the apostles and told them to go all over the world, making new disciples for Him, and to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Then, Jesus opened their minds up and gave them a complete understanding of the Old Testament and everything that He had said, so that they could tell everyone about their Easter gift. And that is something that we are all supposed to do.

When Jesus finished speaking, He rose up to heaven while the apostles watched. Then, two angels appeared to give them God’s promise that Jesus would come back.

The apostles then understood that everything Jesus said was the truth. They also knew that Jesus’ promise of coming back was true – His promise of coming to be with us forever, where we all live filled with love.

That’s the true Easter Story. Happy Easter!