Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 7

Last time we examined some of the Old Testament prophets, whom God inspired with the Holy Spirit, so that they could speak for Him to His children in Judah and Israel. Their tasks included issuing a warning that conquest and enslavement awaited those who would not desist from their rebellious ways against Jehovah God. In addition, as they were to bring the continuing message of hope for eventual salvation through the coming Messiah. In other words, the prophets were trying to recruit God’s children for citizenship in the city of God…

Let’s finish with the final prophets:

“…on Mount Zion [in Jerusalem] there shall be [deliverance for] those who escape, and it shall be holy [no pagan will defile it]; and the house of Jacob shall possess their [former] possessions.

The deliverers shall go up to Mount Zion to rule and judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom and the kingship shall be the LORD’s.’ Ob. 1;17 & 21. AMP

Thus, the prophet Obadiah brings the hope (God’s guarantee) that the holy city of Jerusalem shall be restored, along with God’s children that return to Him; and all their enemies (Esau), shall be brought under the rule of God.

The prophet Habakkuk was a contemporary of Obadiah:

Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. The vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Hab. 2:2, 3. ESV

Keeping the flame of hope burning bright.

The prophet Jeremiah was also a contemporary of Habakkuk, bringing hope first to those in Judah that were being carried off to a Babylonian exile, and simultaneously carrying a message of hope for all of us:

“Behold (listen closely), the days are coming,” says the LORD, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as King and act wisely and will do [those things that accomplish] justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called; ‘The LORD Our Righteousness.’ Jer. 23:5, 6. AMP

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and with the house of Judah (the Southern Kingdom)…” Jer. 31:31 AMP

The new covenant is God’s salvation through Jesus Christ, the King, the very image and character of God Himself – reigning in the city of God.

Finally, let us consider the prophets God sent at the end of the Israelites’ captivity – beginning with Daniel:

“I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, on the clouds of heaven One like the Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him (the Messiah) was given dominion (supreme authority), glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and speakers of every language should serve and worship Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.” Dan. 7:13, 14. AMP

Here we see the ruling scepter given from the Father to the Son, bequeathing upon Jesus an eternal kingdom – the promise of love, joy and peace forever.

Ezekiel was a contemporary of Daniel, in the Babylonian captivity as well, also set forth by God to keep the torch of hope alive:

“Then I will appoint over them one shepherd and he will feed them, [a ruler like] My servant David; he will feed them and be their shepherd.” Ezek. 34:23 AMP

I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will rule over all of them. They will no longer be two nations and will no longer be divided into two kingdoms…I will save them from all their apostasies by which they sinned, and I will cleanse them. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God. Ezek. 37:22, 23. CSB

Unification, sins removed, with God and His shepherd among us…

During the resettling of the surviving Judean exiles, the prophet Zechariah describes the coming of Christ as King in His celebratory entrance into Jerusalem (500 years before it happened), as well as the ultimate state of His global kingship:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey…He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Zech. 9:9, 10. NKJV

The final prophet we hear from is Malachi, (the last Holy Spirit-inspired writer of the Old Testament), who prophesied in approximately 450 B.C., in Judah – again to the re-settlers:

“For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles…for My name shall be great among the nations…” Mal. 1:11 NKJV

“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will prepare and clear the way before Me. And the Lord [the Messiah], whom you seek, will suddenly come into His temple; the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. Mal. 3:1 AMP

God will unite all the nations in the city of God, reigning with His Son.

…a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who fear the LORD [with an attitude of reverence and respect] and who esteem His name. “They will be Mine,” say the LORD of hosts, “on that day when I publicly recognize them and openly declare them to be My own possession [that is, My very special treasure]. And I will have compassion on them and spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” Mal. 3:16, 17. AMP

God has set aside for Himself, the book of Life. All those written in there, (those who love God and obey Him to the best of their ability), will step into eternity, living with the Father and the Son in the city of God…

You see then, for over a thousand years, God has been bringing a slew of godly shoulders for you to stand upon, to gather strength, faith and hope.

The world had to wait for another 400 years, but God made good on every promise. Jesus Christ lived among us. He delivered the gospel; and He empowered (through the Holy Spirit) all of His apostles to expound upon it those things which He did not have time to explain in His three short years of ministry. And the earth was changed forever, as was all of our destinies – dependent upon where our faith lies.

And let us not forget all those in ministry who have borne the light of the gospel throughout the centuries after Christ ascended to heaven. They too shouldered us, left us a legacy of hope. Now it is time for us to lend our shoulders to everyone we meet, that they might be lifted up into the city of God as well.

Up until Jesus returns, the city of the earth and the city of God’s destinies have been intertwined:

…the mortal course of the two cities, the heavenly and the earthly, which are mingled from the beginning down to the end. Of these, the earthly one has made herself of whom she would, either from any other quarter or even from among men, false gods whom she might serve by sacrifice; but she which is heavenly and is a pilgrim on the earth does not make false gods, but is herself made by the true God of whom she herself must be the true sacrifice.

Yet both alike either enjoy temporal good things, or are afflicted with temporal evils, but with diverse faith, diverse hope, and diverse love, until they must be separated by the last judgment, and each must receive her own end, of which there is no end. – St. Augustine

Then, they will differ in a big way – next time…

Goodnight and God bless.

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Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 6

King David’s allotted time on the city of the earthborn was passed. He now lives in the city of God. Before his death, he handed his kingdom over to his son, Solomon.

There are only 2 psalms attributed to Solomon in the book of the same name. One is messianic:

In His days the righteous shall flourish, and the abundance of peace, until the moon is no more. He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth…all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him…His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him… Ps. 72:7 & 11. NKJV

Always, our champions from the city of God are laying out Jehovah’s hope for salvation, so as to attract as many as possible to the kingdom of heaven.

Unfortunately, like his father, King Solomon also fell into sin, whereby his many wives led him away from God. In addition, Solomon also let his extreme wealth corrupt him. (1 Kin. 11:1 – 13).

God told him that his punishment would be levied against his son, upon Solomon’s death, whereby the country of Israel would become bitterly divided.

Yet before Solomon died, he again realized that God was indeed the source of all joy, happiness, peace and sustenance; and he returned to be in right-standing with Him. (See book of Ecclesiastes).

After Solomon’s demise, Israel split into ‘Israel’ in the north, and ‘Judah’ in the south. Eventually, both countries would fall into a sin-infected morass. All of Israel’s kings were wicked, as was most of Judah’s. As a result of these rebellions against God, Israel was given up to total conquest and slavery to the Assyrians; and not long after, Judah was given up to the Babylonians.

Yet God, in His limitless love, sent sixteen prophets to them, to try to turn them back to His ways. Indeed, St. Augustine adroitly describes the common message – both for HIs children with regards to the application for their present time, and its relevance for what’s at stake for their future:

…by going forward in the living God, by the steps of faith, which works by love, we must flee out of the city of this world, which is altogether a society of ungodly angels and men. Yes, the greater we see the power of the demons to be in these depths, so much the more tenaciously must we cleave to the Mediator through whom we ascend from these lowest to the highest places.

…demons can accomplish nothing by their natural power…except what He may permit, whose judgments are often hidden, but never unrighteous. …demons…do not create real substances, but only change the appearances of things created by the true God so as to make them seem to be what they are not. 

That is, we must live in God’s ways, by faith, claiming the city of God from His grace, and cleave unto Christ as He brings us out of the illusions of the puppet master behind the city of the earth.

God loves us so much, that He never leaves anything to chance. As was mentioned above, God sent prophets, both while Israel and Judah were wallowing in sinful rebellion and while they were in captivity – a period of over 400 years, to try to save His children. We can see God’s love and care in His words to them as He continues to proffer His message of hope:

“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass where it was said to them, You are not My people,’ there it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’ Hos. 1:10 NKJV

Here then, the prophet Hosea is recalling / reminding / validating the Abrahamic covenant to the people of Israel about the global propagation of the seed of Abraham, their trials due to their rebellion, and then their ultimate restoration – when God gathers all His children from around the globe to be one people in the city of God.

Afterward the sons of Israel will return [in deep repentance] and seek the LORD their God and seek [from the line of] David their king [the King of kings – the Messiah]; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness and blessing in the last days. Hos. 3:5 AMP

Ultimately, everyone will come to Jesus.

“Come and let us return [in repentance] to the LORD, for He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up that we may live before Him.” Hos. 6:1, 2. AMP

God must let us suffer some the consequences of our free-will actions / thoughts of sin. Yet, all He wants for us, is to come before Him and get in right relationship again. See too the parallel between the third day and the resurrection of our Savior.

“In that day I shall raise up and restore the fallen tabernacle (booth) of David, and wall up its breaches [in the city walls]; I will also raise up and restore its ruins and rebuild it as it was in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom (ancient enemies) and all the nations that are called by My name.” Amos 9:11, 12. AMP

Amos was a contemporary prophet in Israel to Hosea. We see here the promised restoration of the city of God, which includes the children of God throughout the world – gathered to HIs throne.

Jonah too, was a contemporary of Hosea. In his case, it was not so much what he said, as it was his story of being captured 3 days ‘under the earth’ in the belly of the great fish and being delivered, that is another parallel to Christ’s death and resurrection.

Unfortunately, the people of Israel turned a deaf ear to all of these prophets, and were summarily punished by the Assyrian conquest and exile…

Before those 3 prophets began their prophecies, the prophet Joel preached to the country of Judah:

“It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” Joel 2:28 NASB

This began at Pentecost, at the gathering of the first church – ushering in the modern church age, equipping the children of God to go forth and gather souls for the kingdom.

Just after Jonah’s time, the prophet Micah began prophesying in Judah:

In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of all – the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.

People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways and we will walk in his paths”…They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Mic. 4:1 – 3. NLT

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity”…And He will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth. Mic. 5:2 & 4. NASB

700 years before Christ is incarnated, we are given these blessing of hope – of a unified heaven on earth with our blessed Savior at the helm, as well as telling us of Jesus’ very birthplace for His coming!

The prophet Isaiah was a contemporary of Micah. His Holy Spirit-inspired prophetic revelations are uncannily accurate:

Indeed, My Servant (the Messiah) will act wisely and prosper; He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted…So He will sprinkle many nations [with His blood, providing salvation], Kings will shut their mouths because of Him; for what they had not been told they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand. Is. 52:13 & 15. AMP

For He [the servant of God] grew up before Him like a tender shoot (plant), and like a root out of dry ground; He has no stately form or majestic splendor that we would look at Him…He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief…But [in fact] He has borne our griefs, and He has carried our sorrows and pains…wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]…and by His stripes (wounds) we are healed. Is. 53:2 – 5. AMP

All of us like sheep have god astray, we have turned, each one, to his own way; but the LORD has caused the wickedness of us all [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing] to fall on Him [instead of us].

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth [to complain or defend Himself]; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter…He was cut off from the land of the living [by His death] for the transgression of My people…He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. Yet the LORD was willing to crush Him, causing Him to suffer; if He would give Himself as a guilt offering [an atonement for sin]…As a result of the anguish of His soul, He shall see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge [of what He has accomplished] the Righteous One, My Servant, shall justify the many [making them righteous – upright before God, in right standing with Him], for He shall her [the responsibility for] their sins. Is. 53:7 – 11. AMP

I have to stop now before this post becomes a novella. It’s just that God’s plan is so awe-inspiring, the depths of the love of He and His Son so unfathomable, and the hope so grand, it makes you want to get on your knees and thank and bless Jehovah God and Jesus Christ for what they have laid before us – this remarkable, incredible sacrifice of love, so that we might take residence in the city of God…

Goodnight and God bless.

Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 5

Last time, we saw, according to her prayer, how Hannah, the mother of Samuel, (the would-be prophet and final earthly ‘judge’), championed the ongoing promises of God and His salvation. She was granted citizenship in the city of God.

She had weaned Samuel, and then dedicated him to temple service under the tutelage of the priest Eli.

Jehovah God called to Samuel when he was still a boy, and he stepped into his servitude. He told Samuel that He was taking the mantle of priesthood from Eli because of evil-doings of his sons, which Samuel related directly to the priest. God would come many times to Samuel and that relationship would grow and become renown:

Now Samuel grew; and the LORD was with him and He let none of his words fail [to be fulfilled]. And all Israel…knew that Samuel was appointed as prophet of the LORD. 1 Sam. 3:19 – 20. AMP

When Samuel grew older, the people of Israel began to worry that he would die and leave them ruleless; so they petitioned him to appoint an earthly king, (as opposed to the heavenly king Jehovah), so that they could emulate the pagan countries around them.

Samuel was sick over the people’s rejection of God as their king, and he was reluctant to do their bidding. Yet, God instructed the prophet to do so, telling him to let the people know just how badly that was going to go for them. Yet Samuel’s warning fell upon deaf ears, and he did as according to how God instructed him. Thus, Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel. At that time, Samuel spoke for God, re-affirming His covenant with Israel by reminding them that His same rules apply, earthly king or not:

“…here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the LORD has set a king over you. If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey HIs voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the LORD your God…For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people…But if you do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both and your king.” 1 Sam. 12:13, 14, 22 & 25. NKJV

And isn’t this the time immemorial request from God? Every champion of God, every citizen of the city of God, perpetuates this message, i.e. to obey God’s word, because the only way to live the best life is to live one that includes Him.

King Saul had reigned only two years when he had disobeyed God due to a lack of faith in God’s faithfulness. God, always being true to His word, sent Samuel to rebuke Saul and pronounce the consequences afforded to the king’s actions:

“You have been foolish. You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. It was at this time that the LORD would have permanently established your reign over Israel, but now your reign will not endure. The LORD has found a man after his own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over his people, because you have not done what the LORD commanded.” 1 Sam. 13:13, 14. CSB

“…for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 1 Sam. 15:26 NKJV

Sin always has repercussions…

That man of God’s own heart would be anointed king by Samuel as well; and his name was King David. Yet David would not actually rule until after the death of Samuel, (another addition to the city of God), as well as King Saul – who would remain in the city of the earth.

King David would be a mighty, mighty man of God. He unified all of Israel, and then God spoke to hi through the prophet Nathan:

“I took you from the pasture, from following sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel…When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” 2 Sam. 7:8, 12 & 13. NKJV

This was a double-promise: both that God would set up David’s son, Solomon, as the next king, who would build the temple, and that his lineage would be ultimately manifested as the Son of God, who sits on the eternal throne.

David was a man who was totally dedicated to God; and through the power of the Holy Spirit, he pinned a plethora of psalms, most of which concentrate on how to maximize our spirit / worship relationship with our Maker. Others reveal the eternal kingdom of God to us all; following are some of those cited by St. Augustine in his book City of God.

King David did not write all of the psalms in the book of Psalms. Similar to the immediate scripture above, Ps. 89, written my a ‘wise man’ [Ethan the Ezrahite, thought also to be a temple musician from King Solomon’s time, (see 1 Kin. 4:31 & 1 Chr. 15:19), verifies the coming of Christ – again in a dual prophecy about King David, but ultimately fulfilled in Jesus:

The LORD said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn an oath to David my servant: ‘I will establish your offspring forever and build up your throne for all generations.” Ps. 89:3 – 4. CSB

“…I have found David My servant David; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand shall be established; and also My arm shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not outwit him, nor the son of wickedness afflict him…My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him, and in My name his horn shall be exalted. Also, I will set his hand over the sea, and his right hand over the rivers.

He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father, My God and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” Ps. 89:20-22 & 24 – 27. NKJV

Returning to King David, St. Augustine writes this:

In the progress of the city of God through the ages, therefore, David first reigned in the earthly Jerusalem as a shadow of that which was to come; and …almost all of his prophecy was in psalms.

King David also had leaders in the orchestral and singing divisions in his worship assembly. One group was the sons of Korah, who also contributed to the psalms. Here we find another messianic prophesy:

You are fairer than the sons of men; graciousness is poured upon your lips; Therefore God has blessed you forever. Strap Your sword on Your thigh, O mighty One, in Your Splendor and Your Majesty. And in Your majesty ride on triumphantly for the cause of truth and humility and righteousness; let Your righthand guide you to awesome things…

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness (virtue, morality, justice) and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed You above Your companions with the oil of jubilation. Ps. 45:2 – 4 & 6, 7. AMP

Finally, we get to a psalm written by David himself, where we are privy to a conversation between God and His Son:

The LORD (Father) says to my Lord (the Messiah, His Son), “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet [subjugating them into complete submission].” The LORD will send the scepter of Your strength from Zion, saying “Rule in the midst of your enemies.”

Your people will offer themselves willingly [to participate in Your battle] in the day of Your power…The LORD has sworn [an oath\ and will not change His mind: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”  Ps. 110:1 – 4. AMP

Jesus, this King and High Priest, Is definitely on the side we want to be on – Jehovah’s!

Another psalm of David is an eerily accurate prophecy of Christ’s future time on the cross – from His perspective:

For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones. They stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. Ps. 22:16 – 18. ESV

In yet another, David writes of both his faith in God’s salvation, and renders a prophecy about Jesus being resurrected without physical corruption:

For You will not abandon me to Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), nor will you allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. Ps. 16:10 AMP

King David was a great man of God; yet, even the great can fall. His adultery with Bathsheba and his hand in the murder of her husband was the beginning of his downfall. God forgave him because of his sincere repentance, yet, God must mete out the consequences of sin. David was troubled within his family life almost until his death.

Yet we can be ever thankful that God empowered David to show us how to both get closer to God, and to begin to be aware of our blessed Son of God as well.

David therefore reigned in the earthly Jerusalem, much praised by the divine testimony; for even his faults are overcome by great piety, through the most salutary humility of his repentance…  St. Augustine

Praise Jehovah for His citizens of the city of God and their steadfast perseverance in bringing us the guaranteed hope of our Father, in His Son…

Goodnight and God bless.

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.

Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 3

In parts one and two, we looked at the age-old battle on earth between those who follow God (grouped together as the ‘city of God’) and those who follow the adversary (grouped as the ‘city of the earthborn’), as described by St. Augustine of Hippo from his book The City of God.

We have been looking at valiant men throughout history who reflected Jehovah’s strength, resolve and faith, that we might be inspired to be likewise, and to inspire others after we gain our own citizenship in the city of God.

The renown citizens of the city of God that we’ve examined thus far have been Abel, Seth, Noah, Abraham and his son Isaac. Note than all of them are included in the ancestral lineage of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Continuing, Isaac and his wife Rebekah conceive of fraternal twins, Esau (born first), and Jacob. Before they were born, it appeared the two boys battled within the womb. Concerned, Rebekah inquired of God and He answered:

“Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” Gn. 25:23 NKJV

Esau sold his birthright to Jacob over a bowl of stew, to satisfy a craving of the flesh. Afterwards, he began to hold enmity towards Jacob. When Esau was in his 40s, he married pagan wives to spite his parents.

Later, Rebekah colluded with Jacob to deceive his father Isaac into conferring his family blessing upon Jacob instead of Esau. Enraged, Esau plotted to kill his brother, but Rebekah found out and sent Jacob away to her brother’s house to escape, and to find a Hebrew wife. During Jacob’s journey, he camps for an evening, and God visits him in a dream:

And he dreamed: A stairway was set on the ground with its top reaching the sky, and God’s angels were going up and down on it. The LORD was standing there beside him, saying, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” Gn. 28:12 – 15. CSB

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” He was afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.” Gn. 28:16, 17. CSB

So, we see that God has chosen Jacob as the next link in His perpetual seed for the Messiah and has granted him citizenship in the city of God.

Esau, on the other hand, rebelled, landing him citizenship in the city of the earthborn. He would later establish the nation of Edom (modern-day southwestern Jordan), which often played the villain to Israel, until it was destroyed by King Nabonidus of Babylon.

Jacob would later marry two sisters and (along with each of their handmaidens), conceive 12 sons and a daughter. God would then change his name from Jacob (meaning ‘deceiver’) to Israel (Hebrew for ‘God prevails’), demonstrating his godly transformation.

Many years later, Israel and his entire Hebrew entourage (family, friends, servants) would come to Egypt and settle there with his son Joseph (another mighty man of faith who prevailed against insurmountable odds because of God’s intervention – a grand pair of godly shoulders to stand upon), to grow the Hebrew nation into thousands.

Just before his death, Israel blessed his sons. We’ll look at his son Judah’s blessing, as it is the most pertinent to our study:

“Judah, you are the one whom your brothers shall praise; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you…The scepter [of royalty’ shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful One] comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Gn. 49:8 & 10. AMP

Israel’s 12 sons would form 12 tribes, after each namesake; and Judah would be the leader. Furthermore, we see that Christ will be a descendant from the tribe of Judah as well.

Leaping ahead 400 years, we find the Hebrews in the middle of an Egyptian oppression. God sends a very reluctant prophet, Moses, (who was divinely spared from death as an infant, and as a man, while he was first in Egypt), back there to be His instrument of liberation to His children.

God works His miracles through Moses so that the Pharaoh lets the Hebrews leave Egypt. Moses leads the people across the ‘wilderness’ towards the promised land in the face of a very unappreciative, jealous, and sometimes blasphemous people – he, all the while, being molded into a strong, faithful, godly leader. God even entrusted Him (with the Holy Spirit) to write the first 5 books of the Old Testament – giving us the ability to see who and what God is.

When Moses brought the children of the children of God to the border of the promised land, God most lovingly buried him in the city of God.

God then commissioned Joshua to bring His children across the Jordan River into the promised land:

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua…Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them – the children of Israel…No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” Josh. 1:1 – 3 & 5. NKJV

Joshua kept God’s word, renews God’s covenant with the people, conquers the majority of Canaan, and settles the people in their new promised land of Israel. And in his last address before his death, he said:

“…be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses…hold fast to the LORD your God…” Josh. 23:6 & 8. NKJV

Just like he did. He too was a citizen of the city of God…

After this, the Israelites, (in their human fashion), half-heartedly vacillated between faith and rebellion, until God gave them over to the fruits of their own disobedience:

The word of the LORD was rare and precious in those days; visions [that is, new revelations of divine truth] were not widespread. 1 Sam. 3:1 AMP

But God loves us so much, He never gives up – as we will see, when He lights the torch of love again through the prophet Samuel – Next time.

Goodnight and God bless.

Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 2

In part one, we were looking at some of the notable players in the ages-old battle between good and evil.

Those players on the side of evil, (devil followers), were categorized as the inhabitants of the ‘city of the earth-born, the city of man, or the earthly Jerusalem.’ The first so-called inhabitant was the murderous Cain, brother of Abel.

The players that followed God were described as the citizens of ‘heavenly Jerusalem, or the city of God’ – which has its ultimate manifestation on a heavenly plane. The first inhabitant of this city was Abel, who possessed the godly shoulders that was our first foundation to stand upon, to find the strength for walking the path to that same city.

Abel’s brother Seth was the next continuation of the heavenly citizenry; but by the time of the great flood many generations later, Noah was the only living representative of the city of God, who, along with his wife and his three sons and their wives, re-populated the earth after the flood wiped out the rest of sinful humankind.

A millennium would pass before we meet our next citizen of renown of the city of God…

Abraham was 75 years when God called him directly:

“Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation: I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Gn. 12:1: – 3. NKJV

What we see here, is that God promises Abraham that his seed shall inherit the land of Canaan; moreover, that the blessings of God would trickle down from him to spiritually nurture the rest of people of the world for all time. Consider too, that for God’s initial promise to be fulfilled, Abraham and his wife would have to bear children. Remember that they are in their 70s.

Yet Abraham has full-faith in God’s promises, which motivates his obedience; and he and his family leave all that they have ever known, and make a 1500-mile trek to Canaan, whereby God gives Abraham a second promise:

“To your descendants I will give this land.” Gn. 12:7 NKJV

After Abraham and his wife settled and thrived in Canaan, his nephew Lot and his family (who had accompanied Abraham on his journey) moved to the city of Sodom, (which turned out to be a dark, grievously sinful ‘city of the earth-born’). At that point, God gives Abraham yet a third compliment to His first two promises:

“Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward, eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the offspring of the earth, your offspring can be counted.” Gn. 13:14 – 16. ESV

Being that Canaan will become the future country of Israel, God is telling Abraham that the land will belong to the Israelites until the end of time.

Five years elapse. God visits Abraham again, and promises safety and great rewards. But this time, Abraham’s favor wavers a bit. He complains to God because he is still childless. God responds:

“…one from your own body shall become your heir…Look now toward heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them…so shall your descendants be.” Gn. 15:4, 5. NKJV

Abraham’s faith is renewed to such an extent, that God brings him into complete right-standing with Him:

And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Gn. 15:6 NKJV

So, we have the ‘city of God’ increasing its citizenship once more.

Unfortunately, his wife Sarah’s faith is not as strong. She’s tired of waiting and has Abraham conceive with their Egyptian maid, Hagar, and Ishmael is born. Abraham is 86 years-old.

Thirteen more years pass. God visits Abraham, (who is 99 years-old), and tells him that his faith is being rewarded, as Sarah’s birth is imminent. In addition, He makes it crystal-clear to Abraham what the disposition of his children will be:

“…Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael…I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly…and I will make him a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac…” Gn. 17:19 – 21. ESV

What we are seeing is that Ishmael will propagate the seed of the Arabic nations, increasing the population of the ‘city of the earth-born;’ but Isaac is God’s child of promise, Abraham’s heir apparent to the city of God.

Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old; yet God had one more thing in store for Abraham:

After these things, God tested Abraham… Gn. 22:1 ESV

God told Abraham to take his son, Isaac, and sacrifice him upon an altar as a burnt offering to Jehovah. (This was so that God could provide what the picture of ultimate faith looked like for future believers, not for Himself. He knew Abraham’s heart.

Abraham prepared an altar (on the same site that Jesus would be crucified), and placed Isaac upon it – all the while telling his son that God would provide a lamb to be sacrificed. (Gn. 22:8)

Abraham had faith in that at the very least, God would raise Isaac from the dead because of the previous promise that He made to him:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested [that is, as the testing of his faith was still in progress], offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises [of God] was ready to sacrifice his only son [of promise]; to whom it was said, “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” For he considered it reasonable to believe] that God was able to raise Isaac even from among the dead. [Indeed, in the sense that he was prepared to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God] Abraham did receive him back [from the dead] figuratively speaking. Heb. 11:17 – 19. AMP

When Abraham drew his knife back to slay his son on the altar, the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and stopped him from harming Isaac and provided for them a ram for a sacrifice instead. And because of the depth of Abraham’s faith, God provides him with His last promise:

“…I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” Gn. 22:17, 18. ESV

Abraham remarried and had additional children, but they did not possess the covenantal promise that Isaac did. He was the chosen son for the lineage for the city of God:

After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. Gn. 25:11 ESV

Abraham was a mountain of faith for us to stand upon, propagated by his son in the city of God. Isaac and his wife Rebekah conceived fraternal twins, but that’s another story…

Goodnight and God bless.

Standing Upon Godly Shoulders

Ever since Adam and Eve were created, there began a battle between good and evil. Adam and Eve were created perfect, purely righteous, and immortal. Eve was deceived by the cunning wiles of the devil; but Adam committed the bigger sin, as he both knew better, yet went along, regardless of God’s warning.

 As we know, Adam’s seed was corrupted, and it spread throughout all the generations of humankind. Adam and Eve lost their immortality and would have also suffered an eternal demise, except that God provided an atonement for them through the first animal sacrifice.

 God was already at work to ensure the availability of salvation for all His children – past, present and future. Being that God doesn’t violate the free will, mankind, throughout the ages fell into two camps: those people who refused God’s ways and decided to go it alone (referred to as the city of men, city of the earth, earthly Jerusalem, by St. Augustine) and those who did their best to walk in God’s ways (city of God, heavenly Jerusalem).

 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her [His city], she will not be moved… Ps. 46:4, 5. AMP

 …in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it forever. Ps. 48:8 NKJV

 His foundation is in the holy mountains. The Lord loves the gates of Zion more that all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, of city of God! Ps. 87:1 – 3. NKJV

 …you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. Heb. 12:22 – 24. NKJV

 This division between good and evil began with Cain and Abel; and we are left with no uncertainty as to which camp they each belonged:

 …we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. 1 Jn. 3:11, 13. NKJV (Even though God told Cain how to do the right thing, he rebelled, and sin became his master.)

 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which it was testified of him that he was righteous (upright, in right standing with God), and God testified by accepting his gifts. And though he died, yet through [this act of] faith he still speaks. Heb. 11:4 AMP

And so, it is Abel’s godly shoulders upon which you have your first foundation. A man, who like Cain, was corrupted with Adam’s ‘original sin,’ yet he, by his faith in God, and in his obedience, had righteousness conveyed upon him. Cain, instead, decided to wallow in his sin, and like Eve, made room for the devil.

 Abel was the first biblically recorded citizen of the city of God, the place whereby we gain our eternal citizenship through the grace of God. Conversely, Cain was the first citizen of the city of the earth, whose sole requirement is unrepentant sin. Obviously, the two cities stand in stark contrast to each other.

 The evil always hate the good, because goodness in others reminds them of their baseness. Moreover, the evil of the city of earth reflects its citizens – filled with strife, jealousies, and pain.

 The city of God is a city of peace, because God is there:

 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness – without it no one will see the Lord. Heb. 12:14 CSB

 The descendants of Cain terminated in the great flood and the city of the earth was no more. Conversely, Adam’s third son, Seth, was the next in line for the city of God and we can see that when he had a son, his fellow citizens began carrying the light:

 A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD. Gn. 4:26 CSB

 However, with time, all of the descendants living at the time of the flood must have switched their citizenry to carnality – save only the one remaining righteous Noah*, and his family. Thank the Lord that He gave us a second chance to keep sending citizens to the city of God. He is a loving and just God:

 The anger of God is not a disturbing emotion of His mind, but a judgment by which punishment is inflicted upon sin. His thought and reconsideration also are the unchangeable reason which changes things; for He does not, like man, repent of anything He has done, because in all matters His decision is as inflexible as His prescience is certain. – St. Augustine

 *Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. Gn. 6:9 NKJV

 For more than a thousand years after the flood, there is no scriptural account of anyone singled out for seeking God. We can’t assume that there weren’t, but apparently there was no one who stood out for their zeal.

 It is at this point where we meet a giant set of godly shoulders – those of Abraham’s….  Next time.

Goodnight and God bless.