Category Archives: His Timing Not Ours

A Closer Look at the Two Witnesses In Revelation 11

There is a lot to unpack in every chapter of Revelation. I can not hope to unpack it all in a short daily article. It really is an invitation for each of us to dive in and study here. Often times YHWH has multiple levels of meaning in the events which have or are yet to unfold. In Revelation 11, we read about two witnesses. I can refer you to GotQuestions.org, which is a useful and credible resource for study, though not infallible by any means. There is an interesting summary of some thoughts about the two witnesses. I would add to their article that I think the reasoning around Enoch and Elijah is a bit weak, as some people we know have died twice… e.g. anyone Jesus or His disciples raised from the dead. Thus relying on everyone dying once is a flawed approach.

I would also recommend some thoughts on the subject by Bill Cloud at Shoreshim Ministries on his Returning to our Roots podcast where he has a four part series about the two witnesses.

Beyond two specific individuals being raised and speculating about who they are, we can also consider that Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the prophets. Bill Cloud develops a theme in which Elijah also represents those who came to follow YHWH from among the Gentiles. If we follow that out a bit we could also consider that Christians and Jews could also represent the two witnesses more broadly. The Jews represent the Law or truth, which sadly most Christians have tossed aside or changed. The Christians represent faith (in Messiah), which is lost among the Jews.  I would encourage you to invest the time to listen to the podcast series and perhaps read the article on GotQuestions.org or study further on your own.

It is good to develop study habits to dive in further beyond the initial reading of a tough chapter in the Bible… or in the case of Revelation, a tough book of the Bible.

One thing is for sure in Revelation 11 and that is that YHWH is always in control. The two witnesses are untouchable until He allows them to complete their message and be ready to be executed, so that He can raise them up again and perhaps get the people’s attention once more. We need to fret or fear that YHWH is reactive or surprised or trying to figure out what to do next. He already knows how it will all progress. If He knows that for the world at large, He also knows that for any struggle or concern that will affect your life. Lean into Him. Rely on Him. Trust in Him. If He is with you, nothing can stop you.

Revelation 11:1-14

The Two Witnesses

      1Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. 2“Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months. 3“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. 6These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.

      7When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. 8And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. 10And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

      11But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. 12And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

      14The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.

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Doing What the LORD Commands You Is A Big Deal

Most of us may be tempted to make excuses for Saul in this situation we will read about. We may be tempted to empathize with him. We may say his disobedience was “understandable”. However, we should check ourselves. The LORD says otherwise, and so rather than focus on thinking “God is harsh”, we should know that “God is just” and we should seek to learn from this episode.

Doing what the LORD commands you to do is a big deal, even if you think it will not work. It is a matter of faith in God vs. yourself. Wait on the LORD, even when you may begin to worry that you need to get involved and do it your own way with intent to accomplish what the LORD has called you into.

Another key concept to pay attention to is that the consequences are declared by the LORD through Samuel long before they are enacted in a tangible way in which Saul can see them. Consequences from our Father are not always immediate.

1 Samuel 13

War with the Philistines

      1Saul was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty two years over Israel.

      2Now Saul chose for himself 3,000 men of Israel, of which 2,000 were with Saul in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, while 1,000 were with Jonathan at Gibeah of Benjamin. But he sent away the rest of the people, each to his tent. 3Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” 4All Israel heard the news that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines. The people were then summoned to Saul at Gilgal.

      5Now the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance; and they came up and camped in Michmash, east of Beth-aven. 6When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were hard-pressed), then the people hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits. 7Also some of the Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

      8Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. 9So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. 11But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” 13Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14“But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

      15Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. 16Now Saul and his son Jonathan and the people who were present with them were staying in Geba of Benjamin while the Philistines camped at Michmash. 17And the raiders came from the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual, 18and another company turned toward Beth-horon, and another company turned toward the border which overlooks the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

      19Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” 20So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe. 21The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to fix the hoes. 22So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and his son Jonathan. 23And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The LORD Has A Plan, And It Is Typically Different Than We Expect

 

The LORD chose from among the people a king at their request. As it typically goes, the LORD selected someone that would not normally be chosen if it were men doing the choosing. Saul was from a small tribe. He was not a leader of the tribe.

Further, the LORD chose him in a very unique manner. Saul lost donkeys and went looking for them. It was in this way that He the LORD brought him to Samuel. It seems then the LORD rather than directly declaring him king, has a bit more of a process to lead Saul through on his journey to become king, perhaps to help prepare him.

Notice that Saul is not exactly embracing this situation without reservation. He goes along for the most part, but ends up hiding when it is time to step up and be recognized.

The LORD’s ways are not our ways. He does things differently. We may not always understand them. Ask him for the faith to trust him completely. Even when we may be off distracted, “looking for lost donkeys”, let us remember that perhaps the LORD has a plan for us and it may develop in unexpected ways.

1 Samuel 10

Saul among Prophets

     1Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you a ruler over His inheritance? 2“When you go from me today, then you will find two men close to Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. Now behold, your father has ceased to be concerned about the donkeys and is anxious for you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3“Then you will go on further from there, and you will come as far as the oak of Tabor, and there three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a jug of wine; 4and they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from their hand. 5“Afterward you will come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is; and it shall be as soon as you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and a lyre before them, and they will be prophesying. 6“Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man. 7“It shall be when these signs come to you, do for yourself what the occasion requires, for God is with you. 8“And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do.”

      9Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day. 10When they came to the hill there, behold, a group of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them. 11It came about, when all who knew him previously saw that he prophesied now with the prophets, that the people said to one another, “What has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12A man there said, “Now, who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place.

      14Now Saul’s uncle said to him and his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To look for the donkeys. When we saw that they could not be found, we went to Samuel.” 15Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16So Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell him about the matter of the kingdom which Samuel had mentioned.

Saul Publicly Chosen King

     17Thereafter Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah; 18and he said to the sons of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I brought Israel up from Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the power of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19“But you have today rejected your God, who delivers you from all your calamities and your distresses; yet you have said, ‘No, but set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your clans.”

      20Thus Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21Then he brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the Matrite family was taken. And Saul the son of Kish was taken; but when they looked for him, he could not be found. 22Therefore they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” So the LORD said, “Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage.” 23So they ran and took him from there, and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people.” So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!”

      25Then Samuel told the people the ordinances of the kingdom, and wrote them in the book and placed it before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house. 26Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant men whose hearts God had touched went with him. 27But certain worthless men said, “How can this one deliver us?” And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Intriguing Beginning of a Great Prophet

1 Samuel 1 records events in a family life, some which we can easily relate to and some which seem very hard to get our minds around given how different our culture and time is to that recorded in the scriptures. We see once again how badly it goes for a man to have more than one wife. There is rivalry and it is not fruitful, but rather hurtful. We see favoritism from the husband, which is also not helpful.
Perhaps what is interesting is that we know the LORD closed Hannah’s womb, but we don’t know why. We can speculate that perhaps it was his intent all the while to prepare Hannah to give her son to him, but that is speculation. The scripture does not tell us. Most of us probably think that was harsh or “unfair”. We must trust our LORD and Father, even when things go the way we don’t understand.
Hannah offers a son to the LORD and he then opens her womb. She is honorable and true to her vow to the LORD. Most of us probably have a hard time with her “giving her child away”. However, the LORD used Samuel as a great prophet, honoring her dedicating her son to him.
Let us learn to trust our Father and come to him with our supplications and with thanksgiving. Let us be careful in making vows to him, but when we do, let us fulfill them.
Elkanah and His Wives
      1Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2He had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

      3Now this man would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests to the LORD there. 4When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters; 5but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the LORD had closed her womb. 6Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. 7It happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat. 8Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”

      9Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the LORD. 10She, greatly distressed, prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. 11She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”

      12Now it came about, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli was watching her mouth. 13As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. 14Then Eli said to her, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.” 15But Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the LORD. 16“Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.” 17Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” 18She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

Samuel Is Born to Hannah

      19Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned again to their house in Ramah. And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked him of the LORD.”

      21Then the man Elkanah went up with all his household to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and pay his vow. 22But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “I will not go up until the child is weaned; then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD and stay there forever.” 23Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you. Remain until you have weaned him; only may the LORD confirm His word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour and a jug of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh, although the child was young. 25Then they slaughtered the bull, and brought the boy to Eli. 26She said, “Oh, my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the LORD. 27“For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him. 28“So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Caleb Was A Righteous Servant, Faithful and Patient

We hear a lot about Joshua as a loyal follower of YHWH, but often Caleb can be overlooked. Caleb stood firm with Joshua in faith when they spied out the land. The Lord recognized the faith of Caleb and Joshua both. He rewarded them by letting them see the promised land while they were still in good health. Take note, however, that their reward was delayed quite a bit, and they still had to endure wandering in the desert due to the sins of their peers. Let us remember that we don’t always get instant gratification and feedback from the Lord when we do well. That does not mean the Lord is not pleased or will not reward us… only that it is sometimes delayed.

Joshua 14

Caleb’s Request

     1Now these are the territories which the sons of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel apportioned to them for an inheritance, 2by the lot of their inheritance, as the LORD commanded through Moses, for the nine tribes and the half-tribe. 3For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe beyond the Jordan; but he did not give an inheritance to the Levites among them. 4For the sons of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, and they did not give a portion to the Levites in the land, except cities to live in, with their pasture lands for their livestock and for their property. 5Thus the sons of Israel did just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they divided the land.

      6Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the LORD spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea. 7“I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. 8“Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the LORD my God fully. 9“So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’ 10“Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. 11“I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. 12“Now then, give me this hill country about which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the LORD will be with me, and I will drive them out as the LORD has spoken.”

      13So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the LORD God of Israel fully. 15Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; for Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim. Then the land had rest from war.

Caleb was a righteous servant, both faithful and patient. Let us follow his example.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

His Mission, His Way, His Timing… His Glory

It is not supposed to be about us. We are servants of the Lord most high. When we obey the Lord to do His mission, and we do it His way, in His timing, the mission will be accomplished and He will receive glory. Joshua took this approach, even though he faced a seemingly difficult path ahead at the direction of the Lord. He put YHWH first, even literally in leading the people to cross the Jordan. He told the people to consecrate themselves, or make themselves holy and prepared for YHWH’s use. We could probably study how to do this today, but for simplicity I would start with prayer and getting my heart and mind right with serving YHWH for His glory, not my own. Ask for His help in accomplishing this task. In some cases you may consider fasting.

Joshua 3

Israel Crosses the Jordan

      1Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed. 2At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; 3and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4“However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”

      5Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” 6And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.

      7Now the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. 8“You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” 9Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.” 10Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite. 11“Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. 12“Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. 13“It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.”

      14So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, 15and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), 16the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.

Ask yourself, are you really pursuing His mission for you? or your own? Do you focus on your own mission instead of His? or your way or your timing instead of His? Are you seeking His glory? or your own?

I have found that often what He calls me to do is not what I think I should do. Often what He calls me to do may appear more humble than what I envision, but more and more I learn to trust Him. For others, perhaps, like Joshua, Moses and Gideon, He may call them to do things far broader and more ambitious than they would envision for themselves. Let us put our trust in YHWH either way and be content or even joyful with His mission for us.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Will You Trust YHWH And Joyfully Accept What He Chooses For You?

As we read Exodus and Deuteronomy, we see a focus on the people of Israel, who are the chosen people of YHWH. It is easy to think the entire focus of our Creator is only on them, but that is not true. In Deuteronomy 2, we see this emphasized. As YHWH was leading His people to the land He would give them, He told them multiple times He would not give them other land they had to pass through first. He had given that to others and deliberately. This is so easy to overlook, but I believe YHWH wants us to remember this principle in our daily lives as well.

From His perspective… Yes I am your God. Yes I have plans for you. If you will follow me, I will guide you. However, I have plans for others that go beyond you. I will not always explain them to you. You have to trust me as I direct you to what I want to give you. Do not just chase after the first opportunity that comes before you. Do not pursue or covet the things I have given for others, but focus on what I want to give you. I know best and I love you.

Deuteronomy 2

Wanderings in the Wilderness

      1“Then we turned and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea, as the LORD spoke to me, and circled Mount Seir for many days. 2“And the LORD spoke to me, saying, 3‘You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north, 4and command the people, saying, “You will pass through the territory of your brothers the sons of Esau who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful; 5do not provoke them, for I will not give you any of their land, even as little as a footstep because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession. 6“You shall buy food from them with money so that you may eat, and you shall also purchase water from them with money so that you may drink. 7“For the LORD your God has blessed you in all that you have done; He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have not lacked a thing.”’

      8“So we passed beyond our brothers the sons of Esau, who live in Seir, away from the Arabah road, away from Elath and from Ezion-geber. And we turned and passed through by the way of the wilderness of Moab. 9“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the sons of Lot as a possession.’ 10(The Emim lived there formerly, a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim. 11Like the Anakim, they are also regarded as Rephaim, but the Moabites call them Emim. 12The Horites formerly lived in Seir, but the sons of Esau dispossessed them and destroyed them from before them and settled in their place, just as Israel did to the land of their possession which the LORD gave to them.) 13‘Now arise and cross over the brook Zered yourselves.’ So we crossed over the brook Zered. 14“Now the time that it took for us to come from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed over the brook Zered was thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war perished from within the camp, as the LORD had sworn to them. 15“Moreover the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from within the camp until they all perished.

      16“So it came about when all the men of war had finally perished from among the people, 17that the LORD spoke to me, saying, 18‘Today you shall cross over Ar, the border of Moab. 19‘When you come opposite the sons of Ammon, do not harass them nor provoke them, for I will not give you any of the land of the sons of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot as a possession.’ 20(It is also regarded as the land of the Rephaim, for Rephaim formerly lived in it, but the Ammonites call them Zamzummin, 21a people as great, numerous, and tall as the Anakim, but the LORD destroyed them before them. And they dispossessed them and settled in their place, 22just as He did for the sons of Esau, who live in Seir, when He destroyed the Horites from before them; they dispossessed them and settled in their place even to this day. 23And the Avvim, who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorim who came from Caphtor, destroyed them and lived in their place.) 24‘Arise, set out, and pass through the valley of Arnon. Look! I have given Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land into your hand; begin to take possession and contend with him in battle. 25‘This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the peoples everywhere under the heavens, who, when they hear the report of you, will tremble and be in anguish because of you.’

      26“So I sent messengers from the wilderness of Kedemoth to Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying, 27‘Let me pass through your land, I will travel only on the highway; I will not turn aside to the right or to the left. 28‘You will sell me food for money so that I may eat, and give me water for money so that I may drink, only let me pass through on foot, 29just as the sons of Esau who live in Seir and the Moabites who live in Ar did for me, until I cross over the Jordan into the land which the LORD our God is giving to us.’ 30“But Sihon king of Heshbon was not willing for us to pass through his land; for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, in order to deliver him into your hand, as he is today. 31“The LORD said to me, ‘See, I have begun to deliver Sihon and his land over to you. Begin to occupy, that you may possess his land.’

      32“Then Sihon with all his people came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz. 33“The LORD our God delivered him over to us, and we defeated him with his sons and all his people. 34“So we captured all his cities at that time and utterly destroyed the men, women and children of every city. We left no survivor. 35“We took only the animals as our booty and the spoil of the cities which we had captured. 36“From Aroer which is on the edge of the valley of Arnon and from the city which is in the valley, even to Gilead, there was no city that was too high for us; the LORD our God delivered all over to us. 37“Only you did not go near to the land of the sons of Ammon, all along the river Jabbok and the cities of the hill country, and wherever the LORD our God had commanded us.

Will you trust YHWH and follow Him? Will you accept joyfully what He has chosen for you? Or will you chase and covet what He has chosen for others?

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Follow God’s Plan Rather Than Your Own

When God is on the move, He commands attention even from those who reject Him and His messengers. They have stubbornly decided to reject Him, but they can’t ignore what He is doing either. It perplexes them, confuses them.  Such was the case with Herod observing the ministry of the twelve.

Luke 9:1-11

Ministry of the Twelve

     1And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. 2And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. 3And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece. 4“Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that city. 5“And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

      7Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. 9Herod said, “I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him.

Perhaps one could wonder… with such power for miracles to get the attention and interest of one like Herod,  why didn’t the disciples go to Herod to convince Him of Christ as Messiah. Influencing someone important such as Herod would do much for the cause of Christ.

The simple answer is that we are to listen to and obey the Lord’s instructions. Jesus sent the disciples into the various towns, not to Herod. We are to humbly and respectfully obey and trust the Lord to manage the strategy of how He wants to use our service to influence others. Let us not try to make our own plans for how we will serve God and then ask Him to bless them. Rather, let us listen closely to what He tells us to do and then obey. If we are going about doing His will, He will give us the power to accomplish what He asks.

There are times, such as with John the Baptist and Paul and Old Testament prophets, where they were sent to the kings and leaders for teaching, preaching, council and rebuke. There are other times when our Lord sends us directly to the people. Listen for and accept the assignment He gives you. Don’t try to pick the assignment and then ask Him to bless it.

Trust in the Lord. His ways are above our ways. He has a masterful and flawless plan. Only He can see how it flows in its entirety from beginning to end in all the glorious detail that He leads us through.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Submit To And Accept The Lord’s Will

Those of us who know the Lord, understand that we can accomplish nothing except what He allows. He is sovereign over everything. When we truly submit to be His servant, we come to know that we can only do what He asks and we should/must do what He wants. We certainly can not use His power to do anything against His will.

Balak, who does not know the Lord, is used to getting His way. He can’t seem to understand or accept that Balaam is subject to reflect only the Lord’s will. Each time Balaam blesses Israel instead of cursing it, Balaak takes Him to another place to ask again for Balaam to curse Israel.

Balaam had is own round of pushing back on the Lord’s instruction in Numbers 22 and learned his lesson.The Lord told Him not to go to Balak and though he obeyed… he came back again to ask if he could go to Balak when he was offered more money. Jehovah got Balaam’s attention with a talking donkey and an angel who came near to killing Balaam to make a point of his need to submit to God’s will.  (Click through to a related article to read more on this background.)

Let us learn a lesson from Balaam and Balak. Let us submit to and accept the Lord’s will for us. Choose to obey and do not struggle against Him.   If He tells you to do (or stop doing) something, obey. Do not keep asking the same question over and over and over as if to manipulate the Lord into a different answer, one you prefer.  Yes it is ok to ask for validation with a humble and submissive heart… but this is different than rejecting what the Lord has clearly said and asking again.

Numbers 23

The Prophecies of Balaam

     1Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars for me here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me here.” 2Balak did just as Balaam had spoken, and Balak and Balaam offered up a bull and a ram on each altar. 3Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go; perhaps the LORD will come to meet me, and whatever He shows me I will tell you.” So he went to a bare hill.

      4Now God met Balaam, and he said to Him, “I have set up the seven altars, and I have offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.” 5Then the LORD put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and you shall speak thus.” 6So he returned to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, he and all the leaders of Moab.

7He took up his discourse and said,
“From Aram Balak has brought me,
Moab’s king from the mountains of the East,
‘Come curse Jacob for me,
And come, denounce Israel!’

      8“How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?
And how can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?

      9“As I see him from the top of the rocks,
And I look at him from the hills;
Behold, a people who dwells apart,
And will not be reckoned among the nations.

      10“Who can count the dust of Jacob,
Or number the fourth part of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright,
And let my end be like his!”

      11Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, but behold, you have actually blessed them!” 12He replied, “Must I not be careful to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?”

      13Then Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place from where you may see them, although you will only see the extreme end of them and will not see all of them; and curse them for me from there.” 14So he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15And he said to Balak, “Stand here beside your burnt offering while I myself meet the LORD over there.” 16Then the LORD met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.” 17He came to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the leaders of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, “What has the LORD spoken?”

18Then he took up his discourse and said,
“Arise, O Balak, and hear;
Give ear to me, O son of Zippor!

      19“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

      20“Behold, I have received a command to bless;
When He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it.

      21“He has not observed misfortune in Jacob;
Nor has He seen trouble in Israel;
The LORD his God is with him,
And the shout of a king is among them.

      22“God brings them out of Egypt,
He is for them like the horns of the wild ox.

      23“For there is no omen against Jacob,
Nor is there any divination against Israel;
At the proper time it shall be said to Jacob
And to Israel, what God has done!

      24“Behold, a people rises like a lioness,
And as a lion it lifts itself;
It will not lie down until it devours the prey,
And drinks the blood of the slain.”

      25Then Balak said to Balaam, “Do not curse them at all nor bless them at all!” 26But Balaam replied to Balak, “Did I not tell you, ‘Whatever the LORD speaks, that I must do’?”

      27Then Balak said to Balaam, “Please come, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will be agreeable with God that you curse them for me from there.” 28So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor which overlooks the wasteland. 29Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars for me here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me here.” 30Balak did just as Balaam had said, and offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.

In what areas of your life are you wrestling with what the Lord has clearly instructed? Ask His help for you to submit to Him and accept His will and stop fighting against it to get your own way. Choose to submit to Him, obeying His instruction rather than your own plans.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.