Posts Tagged With: Joshua

Samuel’s Legacy seen in the Lives of those that were Influenced by him

The  Master Builder who Left a United Israel.   

The anarchical mess of the sprawling godless tribes of Israel carried on in ignorance of the seismic change in history that was about to take place over the next generation, all of which was precipitated and initiated through the birth of Shmuel ben Elkanah. That blessed child born in Ramathaim Zophim passed away, some think, about a full century after the day of his birth. It was Samuel’s time. The Samuellian era. The last and highest peak of the line of characters known as the Judges. This man was also the first and, to my mind, possibly the highest peak of the prophetic office and gift that ever ministered to the whole of Israel during the period of time in which the Hebrews lived in the land. He had become a one man institution. He was the posthumous pillar that epitomised what was to be the future greatness of Israel. He was treasured and feared by all in his mature years, and sadly missed after his passing.  He was anointed and appointed by God Almighty as His representative in Israel throughout his lifetime. What he left behind him was as unified, Godly and purposeful as it was the opposite of those things at the moment he had been conceived. Even while he homed in and concentrated on the schools of the prophets after his last words with Saul, the very fact that he was alive and moving “in God,” even though it was in the background of Israel’s political and tribal cosmos, Samuel gave the nation comfort, and a brighter vision to look forward to.

There was, of course, the hope of the great charismatic leader of men, David. But he was a man that Judah and Benjamin loved beyond reason, while the northern tribes knew less about.

The ground had been prepared for the Glory of God to return, just as dramatically as it had left when the Philistines had stolen the Ark of the Covenant in the early days of Samuel’s youth. The Ark was indeed safe in Israeli hands and had been after several months of Philistine illicit ownership, but the Hebrews had never had it been returned to the Tabernacle. There is no way we can possibly imagine that it was left in the home of a certain Abinadab, by Samuel’s forgetfulness, or anybody else’s forgetfulness. It was a deliberate act of “neglect.” That is, it was deliberately left there by Samuel. It was symbolic of a new day dawning. Samuel was so busy relating to God, hearing from God and ministering to the people of Israel, as well as judging them, that to trouble himself with the symbol of the God he was relating to seemed almost irrelevant.  The substance of their faith was much more vital than the symbol of the same. Samuel was a man born out of time, with a world view, belief system and spiritual disciplines far ahead of his generation. Samuel was living in his own, “Holy Spirit church age.” All he did was relate to Him who is invisible, in as real a relationship as Peter, James and John had done in the days of Christ’s ministry. Samuel would have been considered a spiritual gargantuan giant no matter what age he had lived in. Samuel was the classic wild, giant, dangerous prophet.

Samuel’s anointing had led him in a different direction than the proscribed national slavery to what had degenerated into a deadened sacrificial system. Samuel was a man of the Spirit all the days of his life. He was worshipping the Lord with abandon before he had received that first prophetic word in his youth. By keeping the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle in a low profile with the people, it meant that he could keep the person of Yahweh Himself in the highest possible highlight. For Samuel, everything was a matter of the Spirit. The input of the prophetic word, and the spread and education of aspiring prophets was changing the face of Israel then, in a way that would have a future impact on the entire planet. Samuel’s lifelong circuit ministry of judging and teaching was a generational, credible call to return to the purity and faith of a life lived in devotion to Yahweh. This, after all, was the basic reason for Israel’s existence on the planet. How great was the force of righteousness within the prophet Samuel, and how magnificent was the working of the anointing that was upon him.

Samuel’s adherence to keeping the most intimate relationship with God and obeying Him as often and as consistently as he did throughout his life meant that the schools of the prophets had time to have become engrafted into the atmosphere of Israel’s culture within his own lifetime. His withdrawal from public and political life meant he could give his whole being to the development and the solidifying of an understanding into the world of prophecy and how it was to be maintained. Who knows what treasures he passed on to influence the future prophets.  The schools blossomed and developed under him, and were to direct the people and rulers of Israel over the next 500 years or so, not that they always listened to them.  Because of the fact that the prophetic Spirit and prophetic schools in Israel ultimately gave us the writing prophets, we could actually say that Samuel is still impacting the world today through them.  The writing prophets have left us a deep rich seam of truth that has not to this day been fully fathomed.

Samuel was the original seed of which all later prophets in Israel were the flower and growth. Sacrifice of animals was never abandoned altogether of course, but the sacrificial activity was brought into subjection to the flow of the Spirit of God and the prophetic word and office.  Samuel had gone quite some distance in tying Israel to Yahweh rather than to the Mosaic system that was attached to their history. The Tabernacle and the corrupted Levitical priesthood had lost the awe and wonder of the manifest presence of God in the infrastructure of that form of worship. Samuel had brought the drifting vessel of Israel, at first floating without a sail or rudder, back into its divine haven in all its proper function, i.e. loving God and walking in the parameters of His law.  The land of Israel was and is Yahweh’s land. The people of Israel were and are God’s nation. The whole of Samuel’s life and mission was to see his beloved nation brought under the umbrella of the terms of that covenant that they had so crassly broken.

Samuel had died while David was still on the run from the demonised and demented first monarch, Saul ben Kish. Yet even with the sorrow of the prophet dying without seeing the unity of one nation happily existing under the rule of a man who was after God’s own heart, the loyalty that was brewing in support of the anointed son of Jesse might possibly have been seen and perceived by the wise old man as a truly God inspired phenomenon. This would have allowed Samuel to die in peace concerning the future of the nation after he had departed to Sheol. Yet, whether he saw the hearts of the people turning towards David or not, I feel sure he would have seen in the Spirit what kind of a giant killing king Jesse’s son was to become. The priesthood may have turned out to be wimpish and retiring, but there was a Lion out of the tribe of Judah that was moving into maturity and position.

Saul was famous for his bravery across the twelve tribes, if only infamous for his demonic illness around the southern tribe of Judah. The bible reads as if it was only the confidantes of Saul’s court and the intimates of David’s friends and family that new of all the attempts on his life made by the son of Kish. Common folk might have turned against Saul had they known of the demonically inspired murderous attempts the sovereign had made time and again.  The giant killing, sweet psalmist of Israel was on the run from Saul for many years, while Samuel was alive, and the king’s hot pursuit of his successor continued until his death at Gilboa. There was indeed a conflict of loyalties in the hearts of the people. What were the Godly population of Judah to do? Follow Saul the present king who was clearly not the man he was when he was crowned? Or, like all the other nations that surrounded them, should they rid the land of an unwanted megalomaniac, dictator of a king and put the revolutionary “new boy on the block,” on the throne? Which way was the right one?

David had undoubtedly been taught well by Samuel. God had put Saul in office. God would remove Saul from office. Whatever human means or circumstances would bring about Saul’s removal from the throne, it was not to be by the hand of any God-fearing Hebrew, especially the man who was destined to succeed him. Because of Samuel’s integrity, morality and his grasp of patience for God to resolve issues, after Samuel’s death, the nation, in particular the people of Judah, waited to see what was about to happen. It was clearly a wait for Saul to die. Nobody in Israel it seems, wanted to touch this “Ark,” this anointed of God. Saul, as it were, was a holy vessel chosen by God, no matter what the outward display of vileness revealed. The resolution of the issue was all about divine intervention and a trust in the character of the Ever Living God, and His direct interaction with the people and concerns of Israel.  The tribe of Judah would have wanted Saul’s removal to happen quickly. I often wonder if the Northern tribes had a clue about Saul’s political intrigues against his own son and the man he had long suspected wanted to, “steal,” his throne. The North–South divide in Israel, from Joshua’s time on, is plain to see. On crossing the Jordan, the major campaign in the south, under Joshua, was nothing but a thorough conquering of Judah’s territory. As the years passed the fighting spirit that was needed for the conquering of Canaan leaked away like sand in a sieve. The book of Joshua reveals an incredible campaign in Judah, then a list of all the area that was not conquered, and a much lesser campaign in the north. The mid lands of Canaan were seemingly ignored.

One cannot but own the idea that the many people of Judah, and Benjamin, if not the rest of the nation, were aware that Saul’s successor had been anointed by Samuel and was waiting “in the wings” to assume the throne. News would have spread, throughout the southern people of Israel, of David’s two opportunities to have slain Saul – opportunities he had refused to seize, explaining his actions with the now famous words; “Touch not the Lord’s anointed.” Not only would the story have spread like wild fire amongst the people of Judah, Simeon and Benjamin, but it would have inspired them to emulate their future king. “If Saul’s successor, the son of Jesse, dare not remove Saul in order to get to the throne, then it would be wrong to override his will, his intention and his Godly motive. Therefore we, his future subjects as well as being Saul’s subjects must support our present king and wait to see what will happen.”  And so the people of Judah “sat back” as it were in respect of the throne and waited for the appropriate moment to acclaim their darling tribal representative as the rightful king.

As for the other tribes, there was a kind of cultural and social chasm once a person went North of Judah and Benjamin. (I referred above also to Simeon, but the land allotted to Simeon was a kind of annexe in the midst of Judah’s land. After a generation or two had passed, it seems Simeon was totally absorbed into Judah and is hardly mentioned again in the Bible.) Probably in ignorance of the details of the heavy story of Saul’s downfall, depression and demonization, there was a kind of nominal, “God save the King!” attitude amongst those northern tribes. There was little knowledge up north to think anything else but good things about Saul. If one pedantically marks the map of Israel and the narrative’s geographical location, while reading both David’s life and Saul’s reign, very little transpired in the northern tribal areas, but when it did, it shows a king who endeared himself to the people. Saul was much loved up north.  Possibly unawares of the court politics and intrigues, some were more than nominal in their support of Saul. Some risked their lives simply to return Saul’s cadaver to the land of Israel for a proper burial and time of mourning, showing an almost religious commitment to Saul even when dead. No matter what they thought of Saul down south, the north truly honoured their first king.

The deep mindset of division between Judah and the rest of the nation, that later split the whole hegemony into two after Solomon died, was already in the psyche of the people. It started as jealousy and was simmering for centuries before Rehoboam the son of Solomon was crass enough, and silly enough, not to soften the tax regime that funded the king’s lifestyle of luxury. It was the genius of David’s ability to join the nation into one that was a major aspect of the glory of his reign. David was anointed with a Spirit of wisdom. During his reign there was a joining of all the twelve tribes. Solomon’s heavy weight of taxes, and having the nation’s young sons and daughters away from their homes during the course of each year, missing farming time and normal home life for the king’s indulgence was tolerated only because of the wisdom and the character of Solomon and the deep love that the whole united hegemony of Israel had for the demised David and his son. Once the untried and untested son of Solomon had blotted his copy book, the amputation of north from south was done deftly and quickly, without any sociological anaesthetic.

The fact that we can see in retrospect that the nation was on the cusp of greatness, has to be understood as the gift of God on Samuel and then David’s life, a gift that was perpetuated with the very different gift of Solomon. It was an anointing of the Spirit of God that was placed on David’s life simultaneous to the horn full of oil that Samuel poured on his head. It was God that directly made David great. It was Samuel that had anointed David when he was but a child. It was Samuel who had mentored David from the period they had together, near the end of Samuel’s life, leaving the future king with wisdom beyond any of his peers. David proved to his own experience that, “Better is one day in the courts of Yahweh,” that is with Samuel, “than a thousand in the schools of men and worldly wisdom.”

Therefore, conceivably with some of the northern tribes knowing far less about the character of David than the people of Judah, Saul still had a staunch following right up to and even after his death. The nation was soundly formed and stabilising, despite the character of their present king. Samuel had led them away from being a family of tribes with only the religious ties of their history to bind them together while living independent existences.  Samuel, under God, had been the human instrument that had put Saul in office, and, to a degree, as far as externals were concerned, Saul was fulfilling his role. The nation was one, with only the political astute minds of a few who could see the Spiritual and social San Andreas Fault line that ran the whole length of the border between Judah/Benjamin together, and the rest of the tribes to their north, as well as the huge fault line that divided Saul’s character and personality.

David must have been a wise and discerning man, whose company other kings and leaders loved even before he was king. During David’s fugitive years, he made both friends and enemies, however, he befriended some of those rulers that reigned in the days of his loneliness, making friendships that were sustained during the years of his kingship. Some of the kings of those nations that surrounded Israel were still his submissive friends once he had ascended to the throne of Israel.

The nation having been propelled forward by the wisdom of Samuel, a prophet who had an ear to God and the people, as well as a mouth to pray with and teach the masses, built a shrine around his burial place. A building still surrounds his tomb today. Israel has an annual celebration of the life of Samuel.

I salute the son of Hannah, and personally seek God for some slight semblance of his characteristics and Spirit.

4 Nebi Samuel

Nebi Samuel

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Categories: SAMUEL’S LEGACY SEEN IN THE LIVES OF THOSE THAT WERE INFLUENCED BY HIM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The National Water Table of Spirituality.

THE NATIONAL WATER TABLE OF SPIRITUALITY.

THE NATIONAL RELIGIOUS SCENARIO AS SAMUEL’S ARRIVAL DREW NEAR  

Religion with discontentment is great loss.

 

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The revelation of God, His commandments and the ritual worship had all been centred by Moses’ orders around the Tabernacle. The worship was silent, intricate, costly and totally dedicated to the one tent, the one altar, the one holy place, and the one and only spot on planet earth where God had said that He would meet formally with Israel, i.e. between the winged  cherubim at the, “blood stained mercy seat.”  We are talking about the small, trunk sized box that God Himself referred to as “the Ark of my covenant.”

The tent that was created to house the Ark and everything that appertained to its ceremony and its ongoing silent liturgy. Was the supposed centre of the life of the camp of the children of Israel all through the forty years desert wandering. It was intended to be the same for generations after, that is, as far into the future as any Israelite could think.

The Ark was the item that was held in the middle of the Jordan while the water stood on end and allowed Israel to cross as on dry ground. It is virtually impossible to express to the secular and atheistic western mind what the tent, and especially the Ark, meant to the tribes of Israel. It was not an overstatement, at that time, to say, “no ark – no Israel.” Once it was made, it assumed a presence that was beyond description for the heart and soul of the nation. Of course, the people would still be living there in the land if the Ark had for any reason disappeared, but the spiritual significance of it all, and the very thought of no Tabernacle, and especially no Ark simply beggared contemplation to the God fearing of the nation. It was no wonder that old Eli dropped dead when he was told that the Philistines had taken the Ark. Eli heard about the thousands lost in battle, and the fact that his two sons had died and was stilled into silence – but was still breathing. Then they told him that the Philistines had taken the Ark. At that piece of news, he fell backwards and, quite literally, dropped dead with shock.

If Israel was created by Yahweh, and if Yahweh delivered Israel from Egypt for His glory and worship, and if the vast bulk of His commandments given at Sinai were instructions of how to approach the tabernacle, how to sacrifice at the tabernacle, how to worship at the tabernacle, how to be purified at the tabernacle, and how to contemplate the presence of God via the ever hidden Ark; what would happen if the tent – or the Ark – was for whatever reason, stolen? How would faith be sustained, if the whole kit and caboodle was just taken away from them? If the people of the United States of America could consider the physical and social removal of the American constitution, and the British could consider the removal of parliament, or democracy, we are just beginning to be one per cent on the way to grasping the priceless loss to Israel as the Ark of the covenant was stolen by those who had developed into their arch enemies, the Philistines.

0001But, the constitution of the USA, and the British houses of parliament are almost passing trivia to the import of the tabernacle and all its accoutrements, above all, the Ark. It was truly part of Israel’s existence.  It would be more than the end of civilisation to them. If it is possible to understand, it would be to the true, God fearing, patriotic Israelite, “The End of the World.” It was the essence of both the reason for their existence, and the motivation of their nation’s existence. This whole set up of tent, sacrifice and Ark was so important at this point of time that one whole tribe, i.e. almost eight per cent of the entire nation of Israel, were ordained by God to do nothing else but look after and maintain everything that there was about the tent and its accompanying pomp and circumstance. With this tribe (i.e. the Levites) in charge of the worship they entered Canaan  immediately after Moses’ death. Because of the logistics of fighting, warring and pillaging, a large camp was set up at a place called Gilgal, allowing Israel a bridgehead and base. As always, wherever the children of Israel camped, the tent over the Ark was raised in the centre of that immense bivouac.

Having conquered a certain part of Southern Canaan, and made headway into the northern territories, Joshua remembered that he had not yet “split” the land up between them all. He wanted the last seven and a half tribes to get their inheritance.  Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manesseh were given land east of the Jordan by Moses years earlier. Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim had already been given  their allotment earlier by Joshua. This left Asher, Zebulun, Naphtali, Issachar, Dan, Simeon and the remaining half of Manasseh to attain an allotment of land to live in.

Joshua sent out surveyors from a new camp site called Shiloh, to map the land and to identify certain borders and areas. The book of Joshua (18:8) tells us that when the men were ready to go and  inspect, Joshua himself charged them to make a description of the land. Then he told them, “Return to me here, and I shall cast lots for you before the Lord in Shiloh.” This gives the reader of scripture the distinct impression that the “national camp” was at that time transferred and settled into Shiloh. It is generally accepted that the Tabernacle was set up at Shiloh and left to stand there for more than a century (possibly two) at this hill called Shiloh (Joshua 18:1), later described as a city.

According to Judges 21:19, Shiloh is situated ,“On the north side of Bethel, on the eastern side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem and on the northern side of Lebonah.”  This site has  been currently identified. It is a ruined site on a hill about nine miles north of Beitin (Bethel) and three miles south of El-Lubban (Labonah?). It was excavated by Danish expeditions as recently as 1926-29, and 1932. Their results suggest that Shiloh, as a centre of population, was destroyed circa 1050 B.C.

0003 Nebi-SamuelIn the process of time this Tabernacle location evolved, to be referred to as, “The Temple.” The word used in scripture (hekal) infers that it was a permanent item, even though it was still a tent. Because of a large, “Temple-like,” ruin excavated on the site, it is thought by some that a permanent building could have been erected around the sacred tent, if not over it, explaining to the satisfaction of several scholars, why it is in 1 Samuel 1 referred to as “The Temple.” The change of words to do with the temple door, and doorposts, however, do not intimidate me, nor prevent me from suggesting that  it was still the Tabernacle, as instituted by Moses, that was being utilised for worship. This writer holds to the opinion that the tent was left for a century or two and became conceived of as a permanent structure by succeeding generations, and was therefore referred to as “The Temple.”

Even though there was overwhelming godlessness and idolatry in the days of the book of Judges, chapter 18:31 informs us how, although it should have been the only worship centre for the nation of Israel, it was reduced to the principle sanctuary during this era.

In the fearful tension and violence of this epoch, the observances of the rituals enjoined upon the people by Moses, had fallen greatly into misuse, abuse, and even disuse. When faith disappears from the hearts of the people, superstition runs rampant. What ensued was a religious mishmash that caused some of the population to perceive Jehovah as actually living inside the Ark – that is, if they believed He lived at all. It was deduced by the short sighted, of whom there were many, that Yahweh was “obviously” only a god who was on par to any other named god of the locality. It was this concept of a worldview and paradigm that was to be their complete downfall. Who said, “Theology doesn’t matter”?

0007 PhilistinesIf God lived in the Ark, as some supposed, there  was no way in heaven, or on earth that they could lose a battle – if only the Ark was present. There was, consequently, absolutely no possibility of them actually ever losing the Ark. Or so they thought! Their own scriptures and historical writings could have straightened them out on these issues, if only they had been consulted.

The following decades of religious syncretism and debauchery, therefore, did not cause the Tabernacle and the Ark to lose its  high profile, superstitious, “magical” appeal  to the majority of the nation. To those that still feared God, it was the holy place that it had always been, even if concepts of holiness held by the masses was something alien to the mind and statement of Yahweh Himself. But to the weak minded, superstitious, and religious people, they could take Yahweh and His Ark – or leave Him. “Bring Him in when there is social and/or emotional pressure. Otherwise it doesn’t really matter who, what, or how one worships; does it?”

This, “fool’s philosophy,” had even infected and infested the minds of the, “men of the cloth.” The conduct of the priests, after the crescendo of the sacrifices at the Tabernacle were visual points of contact to set the tone of spirituality for all the attendant worshippers. As the book of Samuel commences, God fearing Eli, acting as the High Priest, is “full of years,” and becoming enfeebled, and his adult sons were utterly out of his control. They were living publicly and openly in licentiousness and lewdness. They were a talking point for all the nation.

Outraged, enraged and disgraced by the crimes of its ministers, in the climactic days of the birth and development of, ”the last Judge,” worship of Jehovah sank into Israelite public contempt, and was almost, mortally “wounded in the house of its friends,” and seemed, humanly speaking, almost ready to expire. Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s two sons, committed crimes that had such an effect of imbibed and continuous wickedness throughout the nation, that the scripture actually says, “The Lord wanted to kill them.” Is there any statement more horrific in the whole of the Bible?

Chuck Swindoll's take on an outline of 1 Samuel. Good stuff!

Chuck Swindoll’s take on an outline of 1 Samuel. Good stuff!

How Eli came to be High Priest at this time is a complete mystery. Moses had given orders that the High Priestly role could only be continued as a lineal descendancy from his brother Aaron, down through Eleazar. Eli’s family tree was in the wrong garden. He was indeed descended from Aaron, but through Ithamar as opposed to Eleazar. Somehow, through the years that were post-Joshua and pre-Eli, the Aaronic priestly descendancy had lost its power, impact and function. It is not known what actually happened. Had the Aaronic line died out? Not at all! When Solomon appointed Zadok, he reverted to the true line. So why Eli? Was some descendant of Aaron, debauched as Hophni and Phinehas, “expelled” from the priesthood? Indeed, a stronger question would be; “Could anybody be expelled from a lineally descended priestly family?” All resolutions to this query are pure conjecture. The public and/or the priesthood made an alternative choice for this most important position in the spiritual life of the nation of Israel (at least in this generation to which we are referring).

A picture says more than a thousand words. The family tree we are now discussing grew something like this:

ELI

 

Obviously Eli was not in the correct side of the family to be High Priest.

The book of Samuel commences with two young men, the offspring of elderly Eli, officiating at the sacred tent and abusing the God ordained system and their office to such a degree that God told Eli twice, in considerable detail the awful fate that was to overcome them. The impact of this fate was to be the end of poor old Eli. He knew he was responsible for his lack of parental control. For this reason the names, “Hophni” and “Phinehas” are an infamous biblical byword for godlessness and corruption.

And this is the atmosphere into which the chosen vessel Samuel was placed and reared?

Categories: The National Political Scenario prior to Samuel's arrival | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Testament Application of Old Testament History.

NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATION OF OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY

History comprises interim reports issued periodically.

Or:

History teaches everything, including the future

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We need to make some twenty first century sense of the scene setting I have laid out for Samuel. I want to digress for a chapter here to explain something about History. I have always loved History. Any kind of history gets me hooked. I have stood in the very bedroom where John Wesley died. I have stood on the spot (or underneath the spot) where Charles I was beheaded in Whitehall. I have walked around Oliver Cromwell’s place and got carried away into other world’s by doing so. I have never been to Israel, yet, but I promise you, if you go – take my wife and I as companions and guides and I will give you the tour of the Holy Land that millions would envy.

For me, History lives. For me, the world is full of history that speaks, teaches, and challenges. However, History is NOT history unless it is the truth. History does not ever repeat itself, per se, but the historians generally repeat each other. Somebody said, “Any fool can make history. It takes a genius to write it.” Not so sure of that one. But I do believe history needs to be told, and history must be written by, of and for the survivors. The past is always a rebuke to the present and this is what we are about to discover.

The previous chapter was all about the history of the nation of Israel from the books of Joshua and Judges. Therefore, what dare we learn from that brief cursory recounting of what went on for the first few centuries of Israel occupying Canaan?

A great key to grasping the book of Joshua is the revelation by some deeply spiritual character similar to an F.B. Meyer, Dean Frederick W Farrar, or J Sidlow Baxter. I am not actually confident who it was that first opened up the scriptures by suggesting that Joshua is an Old Testament parallel to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in the New Testament. I don’t know what that says to you, but to me I am suddenly flooded with insights, perceptions and ideas of thought that open up scripture in the Old Testament widely. If you are not au fait with either book let me say briefly that they are incredibly similar in the message content.

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In the books of Exodus and Joshua, God’s people have a geographical promised land to occupy. To get there the people have been slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years, and they have to pull up their roots and slog it for 40 years across the Sinai desert and beyond to take Canaan. This Promised Land is fully inhabited, walled and protected by some horrible cultures and seven nations. Having been supernaturally delivered from the external hold of Egypt, Israel spends 40 hard years, yes- a whole life time for some, trying to escape from Egypt internally (with all its culture and ways). There are nations to fight on the way. That is the entire story of Exodus, prior to Moses’ death, after which Joshua takes over. (I believe I have already noted somewhere, that “Joshua” is Hebrew for the name “Jesus”).

Again the supernatural power of God (it is only supernatural to us – it is His normal day at the office) facilitates Joshua leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land. There follows a generation of fighting, battling, warring and struggling. God told Israel that He would supernaturally lead them, guide them, and bring victory to the people of Israel. Every single man, woman, child, dog, cow and horse (if there were any) that belonged to the Canaanite nations  had to be killed, and then Israel were to take over the land with God’s blessing. As they lived according to God’s word and way they would become richer and richer, blessed and more blessed and incredibly numerous. However, the story tells us that Israel lost heart. They conquered “parts” of Canaan, and killed “some” of the Canaanites. Joshua died, the people ran out of “fight”, and they all tried to settle down as best as they could with Canaanites and Philistines being an absolute thorn in the flesh for Israel, preventing them from the destiny originally intended for them by God.

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Jerusalem.

So follow me when I say; “For Egypt, read the worldly culture outside of any Christian principle or faith. For the entire deliverance from Egypt and the seven nations that filled Canaan, read the world the flesh and the devil.  For walking through the Red Sea, read being baptised into Christ at conversion. For crossing the Jordan, read the baptism in the Holy Spirit. For the battles, that Israel entered into on entry to Canaan, read the Christian life and the search for Christ likeness and holiness. If you have understood what I am talking about here, I guarantee that the book of Joshua and explaining the concepts of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians will never be the same again, and will clearly not be as difficult to grasp.

The main issue is this: ISRAEL SPENT THOSE FIRST FEW HUNDRED YEARS IN COMPLETE MISERY LIVING WITHOUT THE FULL RAFT OF GOD’S  PROMISES BEING FULFILLED. THEY WERE LIVING BENEATH THE DESTINY AND PLAN THAT GOD HAD SET FOR THEM.  In addition, we need to know why this happened. It is my assertion that the church of Jesus Christ has lived far beneath the promises given to her, the authority inherited by her, and that the “promised land” of Spirit filled living is only partly enjoyed with lots of omissions.

Therefore, in this curriculum of lesson learning, we want all readers to grasp what it means, and how it happens that we possess our possessions. Our rightful possession is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, healing, health, prosperity, living in the power of the Spirit, the discernment of the Spirit, and a Christ-like life style that makes the world stop and shout, “Wow! How do they do that?” Those things have been given to those in Christ. How many of us see, hear or know about all those blessings. And trust me when I tell you that my list above is nothing more than the tip of a very large mountain of promises.

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Looking North on the Street of Prophets.

So, what do we say about this? Does history repeat itself?  I would prefer to answer that there are certain principles at work that are universal. When people succumb to these principles in a negative way, the same syndrome that plagued Israel, and has plagued the church of Christ over two thousand years, works its mischief to assist people miss their highest destiny. What are these principles? I cannot and will not ever be able to claim that I know each of these principles, but I observe and know of some very powerful ones in my life, the lives of others, and in the Bible, I see this working powerfully in Old Testament Israel and in a few New Testament believers.

I am going to randomly head these principles in a trio of thoughts. They are in random order of importance, priority and power. I do not know if one of these principles is any more powerful or important than the other two. But they all work extensively positively or negatively. It is you and I that make these principles positive or a negative in our lives. They are:

  1. Finishing with the past.
  2. Fighting in the present,  and
  3. Faith for the future.

Whatever cause and purpose you follow, these principles bite. I will briefly highlight how this philosophy worked, or did not work, for Israel and has or has not been working for the church of Jesus Christ universal in recent generations.

33. To be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power.

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God Himself had to announce that Moses was dead because no other human was with him when he died. No one could move until Moses was dead. Moses was the leader. Yes, he had passed his “office” to Joshua, but Joshua could not “inherit” until Moses died. They were stuck on the banks of potential greatness, as well as the banks of the river, and on the cusp of possessing their possessions – but no more progress could be made until Moses had departed.

God Himself buried Moses and He announced the fact to Joshua. “Moses is dead, therefore arise and go over the Jordan,” says Yahweh in Joshua 1:1. Moses had to die.   There are three things to note in the lives of individuals, churches and movements before new territory can be taken.

A. Acknowledge the fact that some “Moses” person, place or thing, or even a “Moses” experience has to die. “After the death of Moses …” Joshua 1:1). The past has to be dead and buried. The good as well as the bad. I am not talking of burying all consciousness of your “Moses”. I am talking of acknowledging that you are about to enter a new era, a new experience, a new lifestyle under a new voice of leadership and drive.

B. Wait for God to announce that Moses is dead before the new life can assert itself.  The more the past is left alive to dictate with its old talk, the less the new can be entered into.

C. Remember, always, that who and what we are in Christ starts from us standing on the shoulders of those that have gone before. God told Joshua “You will enable this people to inherit the land I vowed to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6).

36. A Heart! A Heart! My Kingdom for a Heart! That Heart! That Heart! My Kingdom to that Heart!

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This principle was a success point with Israel. They all submitted easily to Joshua. Joshua led them on. The weakness  was that the death and burial of the past was limited. Idols so easily were admitted into Israeli life. It was a part of Egyptian life that raised its ugly head after Joshua had gone on to his eternal reward.  This is something Samuel would have to deal with later on, and he did.

In the book of Acts, and throughout the letters of Paul we discover that the church found it extremely difficult to, “bury Moses,” as it were. Judaistic slaves of the Mosaic Law held the church back from entering into its full freedom in Christ.

It is the same with individuals as they move on in life to follow Christ with deeper levels of commitment. Unresolved conflicts, especially unresolved youth conflicts, can plague Christians into their senior years of serving Him. It even curtails some from serving God after only a few years. I know several men who were strong in God, who turned away from him when they fully realised that they couldn’t let their old life die so easily.

We are highlighting this principle as it plagued the life of the twelve tribes of Israel, and was something that Samuel dealt with strongly. Burying the past and turning ourselves around to live a new kind of lifestyle should be a high priority with all Christians.

Fighting in the present.

This is something that needs to be activated every moment in life until we pass over. Effort was needed to take the land of Canaan, and death defying effort was to be the norm until Canaan was populated by nothing and nobody but Israeli’s. That is the sort of effort needed for Samuel to get Israel into conquering mode. That is the sort of effort and attitude that was needed for the church of the New Testament, and that is the kind of effort you and I need to exert to “squeeze all the juice” out of knowing God. Life is a battle. And whether we like it or not, 24/7 and 365 days a year, morning, noon, or night, the intensity of that battle never lets up.

32. Being a Prophet is a privilege, but it is also an affliction and oh how painful is the Affliction.

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The certainty of God’s promises is pivoted on the means to gain the fulfilment. That was true for Israel entering Canaan. It was true for Samuel, teaching the nation of Israel, in the story we are about to delve into. It was also true for the preaching of the crucified Christ in the New Testament. It is definitely true concerning ourselves and the progress of you and I achieve “in Christ”. God has given us something that has the broadest spectrum of His power and salvation in Christ, but the God given means to appropriate what has been given, still need to be utilised.

God told Joshua that he and the whole nation needed to be employed in fighting for the land. Samuel, too, needed helpers as we shall see. The church needed to move forward as a body of believers. Even Christ required disciples to accomplish His long term goals. You are obligated either to take somebody with you, or to follow somebody in your personal pursuit of the promised land of God’s salvation. “Lone Rangers” are an illegality in the Kingdom of God, in the church.

God also told Joshua in chapter 1:2 of the book that bears his name, that they were to go and take “the land which I give them.” That means specified, tangible, measurable goals were needed for Israel, and are an essential for you and I.

Without these precepts and concepts biting into our lives and targets, we will lose momentum in our battle of life and be defeated.

31. Kingdom business carries on bursting with life even though the kingdom has been promised to another. Damned and Doomed. But serving still.

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A privilege is a special right to something, and/or an advantage upon and over many other people. Yahweh actually said to Joshua, in verse 3, “Every place on which the sole of your foot shall tread, I have given you.” God tells them “now” – that is, “in the present” and what Joshua would do in the now was to build and determine what will happen in the future, but He uses past tense as to the fulfilment. “Go now, Joshua!”, “Wherever you will put your feet…”, “I have already given it to you!” God lives outside of time. He comes into time and talks in our linear existential terms so that we can understand Him, but know this; Wherever your future is …He is already there. If we tread “there”, understand that He has given us “there”. Know this also, that what God said to Joshua, when applied to my life, suggests that if I do not tread there, I shall never own there. Fears, anxieties, ignorance and other issues may befall me and stop me appropriating there. We might just get too tired to fight on, as did Israel. There can be no loopholes in the area where we tread. If there is, understand that the area of the loophole will be the area that causes us to fail.

There is no loophole in His promised land. God told Joshua that it was from the River Euphrates down to the river of Egypt (Joshua 1:4). Not one square inch was excepted. As Samuel was going to do in his lifetime, as the church needs to do, as Paul did, and as you and I need to do; grasp the fullness of the parameters of God’s promise. Know what His Word teaches. Know what God’s prophetic Rhema word to you is. Know what, in the battle and conflict of life, is lawful under God, righteous and in His will. Then take it by faith.

The Parameters were not only Northward and Southward, but east and westward also. “The land of the Hivites up to the great Western sea (that is the Mediterranean Sea).  “None will hold out before you all the days of your life” (Joshua 1:5). So there are no loopholes in the personalities that will confront you. Samuel was to learn this, the church of Christ generally today needs to know this, and you and I need to take hold of this. We are talking about man, woman, demon, political force, death, hell, the grave and anything else in all of creation. Nothing can withstand the power, the force and the idea of God’s promise to a person, persons, the church, or the nation of Israel. However, the recipients of the promise will always need to fight with the means given by the Almighty, in order to appropriate what has been given, that is, to possess one’s possessions.

33. To be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power.

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“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” So, there are absolutely no loopholes on issues of comparison with previous generations of spiritual fighters or leaders. There are also no loopholes concerning God’s provision to facilitate the taking of the Promised Land, for He also says to Joshua, “I will never fail you, and I will never forsake you.” Ultimately, after all this, there can be no loophole in the concept of success or prospering in the task.

There is a huge responsibility in holding these truths and being armed with God’s promises. A responsibility is a moral or legal obligation to take care of something and to be accountable for it. Three times in Joshua 1:6, 7 and 9 God tells Joshua, “Be resolute and strong,” “Only be very resolute and strong,” and, “Have not I commanded you, be resolute and strong.” Therefore, there needs to be a setting of not only external measurable and tangible goals, but also goals and targets set in the heart that are consistent with God’s own heart. Resolution and strength as commanded to Joshua are essential and pivotal to the whole progress of gaining what has been promised. Therefore, there can be no loopholes in character. One huge loophole in Samuel’s character nearly undid all he worked for – but we shall see that when we get to it.

“You will enable this people to inherit the land that I vowed to their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6). If Joshua, Samuel, the Apostles, and you and I, carry the responsibilities as well as the privileges of receiving the promise, we will take others with us. That is the heart of God talking. Passing on the baton that God put in your hands, to the next generation, is part of the kingdom of God’s principles. In short, there is to be no loopholes in understanding the premise for which you are here in this life.

32. Being a Prophet is a privilege, but it is also an affliction and oh how painful is the Affliction.

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“…keep practicing the whole law which Moses my servant commanded you…” (Joshua 1:7). There are no favourite doctrines, or comfortable emphases, or hobbyhorses to peddle to your followers or yourself. There can be no loopholes in integrity.

In summary, there are imperatives in the realm of the Spirit to facilitate holding truth in the heart for you and me, and anybody else in the world. Joshua 1:8 gives us the aerial view of all these principles. The word of promise needs to be totally at home in the mouth, in the heart, in the all round lifestyle, and in the success and prosperity that meditating on the Word brings.

Therefore, there is a need for resolution, strength, fearlessness and courage to enable people to take what God has promised them.

All these principles would have worked for Israel, Joshua, Joshua’s successors, Samuel, the Apostle’s, and they will work for you and I in this generation. It is the spoken and written promises of God, and the divine accompaniment to apprehend their fulfilment that is the ground of assurance to this call for a life of “daring do.”

The historical setting of Samuel’s arrival, to fulfil his role in life is a veritable word from God to our hearts. May we receive it fully and act on it.

Categories: History teaches everything including the future., New Testament Application of Old Testament History. | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What a Total Anarchic Mess Before Samuel Arrived!

WHAT A TOTAL ANARCHIC MESS BEFORE SAMUEL ARRIVED!

THE NATIONAL POLITICAL  SCENARIO AT SAMUEL’S BIRTH

Just tell me; Whose land is Canaan?

CHjdf2For openers, we need to have a good insight into the state of the union as Samuel arrived on the scene of time and space. There are several issues to consider. Environment spawns men of the moment, responding to the needs and demands of that moment. What is great in one generation would be trivial in another. Some people’s actions cannot be seen or perceived clearly without the full Technicolor detail of the backdrop of their age. What was it like to live in their time? Why was it that certain trivia of our generation was absolutely “mega” in theirs? So, in order to paint a clear picture of Samuel’s achievements we need to travel back a few generations before “our man” was even conceived; to a story that seemingly has no relevance to our prophet. We speak of one of the greatest accounts in scripture.

God delivered Israel from Egypt. The whole nation plus (that is; not only Israel but Israel plus non Israeli people who joined themselves with God and Israel) plodded across the desert accompanied by innumerable signs, wonders and miracles for forty years. They finally crossed the Jordan with a suitably high profile miracle that literally put the “shakes” into each of the seven nations that were already occupying Canaan. After a few decisive battles they “conquered”  the promised land, the land of milk and honey, and then they all lived happily ever after in the security of their own land. It’s black and white isn’t it?

Wrong!

0002As with the absolutes of New Testament Christianity, the theoretical truth is truly “black and white”. The life long battle to make what is truly divinely offered  experiential reality  is another huge issue of life.  What is truly and legally given is an absolute. And I mean absolute. God does not lie. What is honestly entered into is relative to a host of variables. Because of weakness, sin, laziness, fear, lack of insight and a thousand and one other possibilities linked with the character of fallen man, the actuality is far short of the, “seated in heavenly places,” and, “More than a conqueror,” theology that Christians so rightly and healthily declare.

It was exactly the same with Israel entering Canaan. Just like the church of Jesus Christ, they effected over the years an extremely sloppy and incomplete occupation of what was given to them and what was declared by the ever truthful eternal God to be theirs. This occupation was defective to a degree not observed by many. To say that Israel’s actual campaign was an “untidy mess” is an understatement.

Did you know that the “Israelites” were not all fully descended from Israel (that is Jacob)? Exodus 12:28 says that they were a “mixed multitude”. Verse 45 of that same chapter says that the “strangers” had to be circumcised. Later Rahab the Jerichoan (is that the right term?) and all her family joined Israel, and soon after Joshua’s death the Kenites moved into Judah (Judges 1:16) and dwelt among them. Later still a Kenite woman amongst them  helped them to defeat a serious enemy (Judges 4). Generations on, and Ruth the Moabitess became an important and integral part of Hebrew society.  I believe most of my readers may be au fait with a lot of these facts. But what does this prove? It proves simply that not all were lineally, literally “children of Israel.” Anybody with even a vague commitment to God could have joined them. Perhaps even a good human friendship caused some to leave Egypt with Israel. Many did. It was a “mixed multitude”. God knows those that are His.

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A sight to feed the imagination of the horrors of national invasions in biblical days.

As, probably, no circumcision took place at all during the actual four decade sand trek, it is reasonable to assume (and many scholars do) that quite a number of the group separated from the main caucus during the wonderings. Fancy leaving a pillar of fire that stood over you every night! Anybody who left must have been mad. The people and the camps were spread out to a degree that Moses could not chase. There was, after all, six hundred thousand mature men, and by modern sociological and demographical pathology that means that there were about two million people. (Actually, they had much larger families in those days so it was clearly a lot more than two million.) Plainly, many wandered off, only to return at moments of crisis. What I say here is conjecture, but intelligent conjecture.

When we finally cross the Jordan with them, it gets worse and much more complex. Not all the “enemy” were killed as ordered by the Lord via Moses. The odd stranger or informant from amongst the Canaanites was allowed to live; the Gibeonites fooled Joshua into letting them live; and then Israel actually finished up defending these cowardly people against their fellow Hivites. Then … shock of all shocks! Joshua chapter thirteen then gives an elongated list of the cities that simply were not taken as instructed from heaven. It is a sizeable number of population centres.

To maintain an aggressive war faring nation in a sharp attitude  of violence and “conqueror mode” without the aid of modern mass media must have been the challenge of Joshua’s life, bigger than the physical battles themselves. That difficulty must have been complicated by the  fact that the wives, children and the elderly  obviously nagged the warriors, husbands and Dads to come home and move into their permanent dwelling in the land of promise. War is extremely stressful, even to the nationals who are non participants in the military. Until the campaign was finished a few years prior to Joshua’s death, it seems that every time Gilgal is mentioned in the book of Joshua, the people are still living in tents. After Joshua’s demise – or perhaps even before his demise – the soldiers of Israel  seem to have lost the appetite for pillaging, killing and fighting and sought to settle.

4 Nebi SamuelIt is an absolutely fascinating exercise to superimpose the list of unappropriated allotments of promised land over the map that is made by Joshua’s allocation or real estate to the twelve tribes. What Joshua drew up, and the tribal borders of land that were so clearly prescribed was flagrantly theoretical. He simply mapped out the whole of Canaan and said, “Go and get it yourselves!” He seems to have ignored the horrible reality of the situation. “Very much land  still needs to be possessed” is what Joshua (Hebrew for “Jesus”) said in Joshua 18:3. Joshua was obviously a master of understatement.  After spending many hours drawing and marking and scribbling on a map of Canaan, it seems to me that most of the south was conquered, perhaps half of the northern allotments for tribes, but the central belly of the promised land was not even touched by Israel. Oh dear! What have we discovered?

Jebusite cities were unconquered. Canaanite communities still carried on their workaday life, as well as their demonic religious cults that specialised in child sacrifice and shamanism. The Philistine people expanded their numbers, territory and influence. And we could go on further. It seems that Joshua had come to the conclusion in his old age that he had sadly failed to fulfil the order that God had given Moses, that was in turn given to him.  It was absolutely true that the battles they had fought had seen God miraculously supporting and strengthening them fulfilling His promises. It was factual to say – and Joshua did say – that God had not failed on a single promise. But the human end of the covenant had clearly not been fully activated. So, Joshua resorted to drawing lots, and then told the respective tribes that their respective parcels of land were theirs, while most of them were still living in tents as Bedouins on the move. Then he died. So without a Moses or a Joshua, the nation of bleating sheep were left to their own devices to take what was theirs.

There is even another ingredient to put into this messy soup. The fact that the Bible does not list many Canaanite cities in Joshua’s chronicle of war, and then added the fact that some of these cities are later listed as part of the clan of Manasseh suggests one of two things:  Firstly, that the Canaanites may have made common cause with Israel and actual joined them in order to save their own lives. We have already mentioned that this sort of thing happened. The word of mouth news about the plagues in Egypt, the miracles in the desert and the supernatural victories in battle was an utter terror to all and sundry who had to contemplate fighting Israel.  Or secondly, and this is the opinion that I generally adhere to, the tribal allotments were obviously made at a time  when appropriation of much of Canaan was still a future prospect. Joshua went home to his heavenly reward after having told people that they owned “this town”, “this city” and “that forest”. It was a little bit like playing monopoly, only with real money, real lives and real deaths.  I do not criticise Joshua negatively when I take this view. I am simply stating the facts as they are in scripture, and the facts seem to contradict the story as commonly presented to people. I say it also so that we can understand more clearly what happened after Joshua’s death and up to Samuel’s arrival. Unfortunately, “No Joshua”,  meant “no leadership”, “no impetus”and almost a total lack of vision.

0003As the generations came and went, the perspective of occupation through and with and by the power of God was lost. “Promised land by Revolution”, became, “shared land by evolution”. The cities were not all taken. Canaanite society was still in existence.

The book of Joshua homes in on a mighty southern campaign, and a northern blitz. The mid lands that were given mostly to Mannasseh and Ephraim are simply not mentioned in Joshua’s CV of battles and victories that are mentioned in the book of his name. Because of the archaeological findings, as well as this biblical silence, it is believed by some that Hebrews were already living in Canaan when Joshua arrived. I count this as nonsense as they would not have known what land was given to what tribe, and tribal identity was important to all of ethnic Israel. I will concede that if Moses, a high profile aristocratic Hebrew could escape from Egypt, then it is conceivable that  the odd “commoner” could do the same.

So when was the middle of Israel taken?

When Ephraim complained that they did not have enough cities to meet the numbers of their people, Joshua simply suggested that they hack down a few forests. (Not exactly environmentally friendly, eh?). That might even suggest a third reason why there was not listed any battles in the mid lands, i.e. too much woodland without any proper living space for existing cities or conurbations to be built. My reader needs to know that the topography of Canaan in Joshua’s day was light years away from today’s horizon’s over Israel.

c3819-oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

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But avast! The plot gets thicker. It seems that when parts of the land were finally fought for, the manoeuvre got even sloppier and the mess got even more untidy. Some populations like Hebron and Debir had to be conquered twice (Read Joshua 10 and Judges 1). Mannasseh tried to conquer six of Issachar’s cities for some unexplained reason, and failed (Joshua 17:16).

And there is more! The people of Israel did not all stay in their tribal allotments. Some of Mannasseh lived in Issachar (Joshua 17:11-13). Tola the Issacharian Judge (can that be right?) lived in Ephraim. Some of the towns of Ephraimites were actually in Mannasseh (Joshua 16:9. The people of Joseph were, of course, Ephraim and Mannasseh). Some of Judah moved to Mannasseh (Joshua 19:34). Joshua 19:47 amazingly tells us that because of the “overcrowded housing situation” in Dan with both Israelites and Philistines, the “Danites” actually, “had to,” move out and look elsewhere. Can you believe it? They were so afraid they went north and conquered a place called Laish and then occupied it, and called the city Dan. The humiliating truth of the matter is that this city of, “Dan,” was actually in the area allotted to Manasseh, as far away from the Philistines as it is possible to be, and still be in the promised land – just. Most of the occupying tribe of Dan were absorbed into Benjamin after the majority of Danites had moved north.

Simeon is hardly ever heard of again after their occupation. They were given land that had already been allotted to Judah anyway, and so it seems Judah simply assimilated them over the years. Good-bye tribe of Simeon. Simeon’s borders are not given, just a list of Judahite cities. It is true they assisted Judah in the various battles to occupy what God had given them in Judges 1, but after that they are just not mentioned at all.

As things finally settled down, Israelites were actually living next door to Canaanites. Canaanites still lived in Gezer in Ephraim. We are not told whether it was because Israel did not fight for it, or whether it was because the Canaanites befriended Israel. It might be that Ephraim took them on – and lost.

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Rachel’s tomb. I wonder if there was any such building present in the days of Samuel?

In the end, Judah owned their hills but could not go down into their valleys (Judges 1:19). The remnant of Dan had the same situation. The Amorites would not give Dan leave to “come on down” (Judges 1:35). Was it really perceived as the promised land?

When all this scenario is compounded by a couple of hundred years of Godlessness (“every man did that which was right in his own eyes”) intermixing socially, and marrying (Judges 3:5 & 6), the odd revolution here and there, some in Israel’s favour and some not – we finish up at the end of the book of Judges with a real hotch-potch and chaotic mess of a political, racial, cultural and religious broth.

Philistine Fog

You would have thought we could finish there. But the Philistines fog the whole thing even further. The line sketch given us by the book of Judges and the first half of 1 Samuel suggests quite clearly that these sea peoples, the Philistines, had a particular “hang up” with the people of Israel. In the latter days of Eli the priest, the Philistines encroached more and more into the land that Israel now considered theirs. And as time went on, it seems that the Israelis had less and less resources either tangible or spiritual with which to fight them off.

The Philistines were at this time enjoying the first full flush of the, “high technology,” of the “modern” weapons of the iron age. Israel, it seems, had not arrived at such an incredible scientific advance, and the Philistines ensured that the prolongation of this strategic advantage by making sure that all Iron smithies were kept in Philistine lands and Philistine ownership. They helped Israel only in honing and making iron farming implements.

The ultimate conclusion is that Israel’s military campaigns together with a slow but sure infiltration of gentile culture worked slowly to the Philistines’ favour. When the military barrage ceased, the familial infiltration continued. The sad result was that there was no sudden change of a “Yahweh-ist” culture in the promised land of Canaan, as God had demanded. There was not the almighty powerful army of God’s people bringing the demise of the seven races and their demonically infested lifestyles and possession of the land they lived in, grabbed and occupied by Israel. It simply did not happen. It is even considered debatable by some, as to whether or not Israelites were even in the majority of the population during some of the days of the book of Judges.

My! They were dark days.

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So we have a horrible picture of a man like Samson leaving his Israelite, “settlement,” and walking just a short distance to a “Philistine settlement.” What is more, he was courting and socialising with Philistines. Although there was, of course, much social friction because of the racial and cultural differences, it was a commonly “lived with” phenomena when the nations were not actually warring on the battlefield. The relationship between the Israelites and  the Philistines in Samson’s story is a parallel to many racial scenario’s found in modern cities. The issue in Judges is that it was not merely racial – that would have been profound enough. These were two different peoples with a “secured” national identity that every man jack of them wanted to hold on to.

So, at the time our story concerning Samuel commences, Israel was contending for its very existence as a nation. The forbidden racial syncretism of Sinai’s law was made purely on the grounds that inter marriage with Canaanites would always bring  spiritual confusion. The Divine approval and end results of Rahab’s marriage, not forgetting Ruth’s proves that point. God delights in the racial mixes, but abhors religious and spiritual syncretism.

At the time our search commences and our hero is about to be born, Israel was in a cultural and religious abyss, from which, it seemed, apart from the occasional charismatic, God raised leader, there was no release from. The nation was, to a large degree, lost.

Categories: Just whose land was Canaan?, What was happening on the religious scene as Samuels arrival drew near | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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