2000-09-30 - Peace of Jerusalem
Messiah: His Final Call to Israel Series, Part 6
Peace? What peace? The essence of this devotional series is to discuss that very topic, peace in Jerusalem. The Bible speaks plainly about it. The Bible speaks truthfully about the events that will lead up to peace. People certainly are requested to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, yet most are very unaware of the Biblical teaching about that peace and how it will be established. Before we delve into the meat of the matter we believe (and still do) that it is good to gather a brief yet accurate view of some of the Jewish mountain peaks of historical magnitude to help us better understand this peace which one day will be a reality. If you are just joining us in this series there are a few more parts to this series which we feel you will appreciate. Thay can be found at http://www.cfdevotionals.org/links/authrick.htm.
The next mountain peak of Israel's history to be inspected is the entrance of the people into Canaan. Jacob and his family went down into Egypt 70 strong and developed into a nation of approximately 3 million, according to the estimate of some Bible students. One could think of the day of Israel's departure from Egypt as the birthday of the nation. Israel's 40 year trek through the wilderness was largely a sad story of backsliding and of strokes of judgment. There were, however, some bright spots here and there which broke the monotony of the humdrum of their carnal living.
As has been seen, Moses was a highly educated man, taught in all the arts and sciences of Egypt. His forty years of caring for sheep, and his practical experience gained thereby, prepared him for the strenuous duties of leading his people through the wilderness. From the record it is clear that Moses was a born and trained executive and an administrator, who under God could and did cope with and solve the many difficulties which were constantly arising.
As a good and faithful administrator who had the welfare of the people of God at heart, Moses, figuratively speaking, set his house in order. He did so at the command of God selecting and appointing Joshua a military genius, as his successor (see Deuteronomy chapter 31). No good and faithful servant of God who has the welfare of the people at heart ever thinks of his own prestige and power, but is engrossed with the thought of being a blessing to others and of advancing the cause of God.
The people constantly murmured against Moses. On one occasion they wanted to appoint a captain to lead them back to the "fleshpots of Egypt" (Numbers 14:4). Concerning the effects of their murmurings on Moses'spirit, the inspired psalmist declares, Psalm 106:32,33 "They angered him also at the waters of Meribah, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes; Because they were rebellious against his spirit, and he spake unadvisedly with his lips." On this occasion God instructed Moses to speak to the rock that it should send forth water for the people. They angered Moses by their grumblings and actions until he struck the rock and shouted:
Numbers 20:10b-13 "Hear now, ye rebels; shall we bring you forth water out of this rock? 11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and smote the rock with his rod twice: and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle. 12 And Jehovah said unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed not in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them. 13 These are the waters of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with Jehovah, and he was sanctified in them."
On this occasion Moses, concerning whom God said, "See, I have made thee as God to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet," became angry and misrepresented God, speaking unadvisedly with his lips--the only recorded mistake of this peerless servant of God. But this sin deprived him of entering the land of promise. "Every transgression and disobedience receives a just recompense of reward" (Hebrews 2:2). Thus without fanfare and human glamour Moses, one of the greatest servants of God, quietly but gloriously passed into the presence of His Maker.
Upon the death of Moses, Joshua, the chosen of God and of Moses, stepped into his predecessor's position, taking command. A new day was dawning. Israel, having received the law through the ministration of Moses, no longer needed the special services of the lawgiver. The time had come to enter the land of promise because the seven nations of Canaan had filled their cup of iniquity to overflowing. "And in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full" (Genesis 15:16). What the people of Israel needed was a military genius to lead their armies against inveterate and unscrupulous enemies who lived in moral filth and the abominable pollution of idolatry, and who were strongly entrenched in the land.
As a wise, prudent, military strategist, Joshua struck with sledgehammer blows Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan. In this first military campaign Joshua conquered all the territory east of the Jordan River. By this conquest he made his rear secure from attacks. At this time the hosts of Israel were encamped in the Plain of Moab opposite Jericho, the key city guarding the entrance to the land from the Southeast. At the proper time the command was issued to the nation to pass over Jordan into the land of promise. One can find the historical account of this event in Joshua chapter 3 and also in Psalm 114:1-8. We encourage you to look up Joshua chapter 3 and read them on your own.
Psalm114:1-8 When Israel went forth out of Egypt, The house of Jacob from a people of strange language; 2 Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion. 3 The sea saw it, and fled; The Jordan was driven back. 4 The mountains skipped like rams, The little hills like lambs. 5 What aileth thee, O thou sea, that thou fleest? Thou Jordan, that thou turnest back? 6 Ye mountains, that ye skip like rams; Ye little hills, like lambs? 7 Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, At the presence of the God of Jacob, 8 Who turned the rock into a pool of water, The flint into a fountain of waters
When the Hebrews came out of Egypt, "Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion." After this statement the Psalmist states, "The sea saw it, and fled." Obviously this statement refers to the parting of the waters of the Red Sea for Israel to pass through. Then the Psalmist says, " The Jordan was driven back" -- A reference to the parting of the waters of the Jordan for Israel to pass into Canaan. The sea parts it waters to let the Hebrews out of Egypt; the Jordan opens its' waters to let them into Canaan. When the Jordan parts its' waters, the mountains skip like rams; the little hills like lambs. What is the significance of this statement? Obviously the land in the vicinity is trembling, which causes the mountains and hills to shake. Undoubtedly, there was an earthquake.
In verses 5 and 6 the Psalmist asks four questions-not to obtain information, but to interpret the supernatural phenomena to others which he is observing in the vision. He sees the Red Sea parting asunder, the Jordan River turning backward, and the mountains and hills in the vicinity of Jericho being rocked. He compares their movement to the skipping of rams and lambs. According to the scientists, there is an adequate cause for every effect. Recognizing the correctness of this principle, the Psalmist wishes to inform his readers who or what force is causing these unusual phenomena. This extraordinary shaking and trembling of the earth doubtless suggests to the writer prophecies which foretell that God will shake, not only the literal earth, but the heavens also. Two such examples of these type of prophecies:
Isaiah 24:18-20 "And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows on high are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble. 19 The earth is utterly broken, the earth is rent asunder, the earth is shaken violently. 20 The earth shall stagger like a drunken man, and shall sway to and fro like a hammock; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again."
Haggai 2:6,7 For thus saith Jehovah of hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations; and the precious things of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saith Jehovah of hosts.
The Psalmist's seeing the supernatural rocking of the earth creates in him a desire to see the final rocking of the earth, and the establishment of the reign of righteousness among men. He, therefore, prays, "Tremble thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob" (Psalm114:7). From this petition it is clear that the Lord of the whole earth is the one who will shake both the heavens and the earth at the conclusion of the Tribulation. In the light of these facts the Psalmist wishes us to know that it is the God of the earth who parted the Red Sea, turned back the waters of the Jordan River, and made the mountains and hills to skip like rams and lambs at the time of Israel's entrance into the promised land.
The God of the whole earth, who miraculously delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, and who protected the people and provided for their needs throughout the wilderness wanderings, manifested his power in bringing Israel into Canaan.
After crossing the Jordan, the Israelites encamped in the plain of Jericho. Joshua, a real strategist, inspected the approaches to Jericho in order that he might know how to attack it. As he was reconnoitering about the city, suddenly there appeared before him "a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand" (Joshua 5:13). In a fearless manner Joshua approached the stranger, saying, "Art thou for us or for our adversaries?" His reply was, "Nay; but as prince of the hosts of Jehovah am I now come." Joshua falling on his face and worshipping, said to him, "What saith my lord unto his servant?" Then the stranger instructed Joshua, saying, "Put off thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy."
The hosts of Jehovah are the celestial beings consisting of cherubim, seraphim, and all ranks and orders of angels. The stranger who appeared to Joshua on this occasion is the prince, the generalisimo of God's celestial armies. Those constituting the hosts of the Lord are "ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation" (Hebrews1:14). For further information on this point, examine carefully II Kings chapter 6.
In this connection, the reader should note that there is an army of evil spirits which opposes the armies of the Lord. "And it shall come to pass in that day that Jehovah will punish the hosts of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth" (Isaiah 24:21). At the end of the Tribulation, the Lord will incarcerate this host of wicked spirits, that are now "on high," in the pit of the abyss during the thousand-year reign of Christ, and after the Kingdom Age they will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20: 11-15).
An illustration of the clash between the armies of Jehovah and the forces of evil is set forth.
Revelation 12:7-8 "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels; 8 And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven."
One has every reason to believe that when Joshua attacked Jericho there was a terrific conflict-invisible to mortal eyes-between the hosts of Jehovah and the forces of Satan. One may also believe that the fate of Jericho, to a certain extent, depended upon the outcome of this conflict.
Light is shed on this subject by a glance at the battle of Ai. At Jericho, Israel was triumphant in every way. At Ai, Israel was defeated, being thrown back in utter confusion. Jericho was a veritable fortress for that day. Ai, though strong, could not compare with Jericho from the standpoint of power; nevertheless, at Ai the armies of Israel were utterly defeated. Why? evidently the armies of the Lord had forsaken Israel because sin had entered their camp. Under such conditions a Holy God would not countenance sin in His people and allow them to be triumphant over their enemies.
Obviously, Joshua was expecting to attack Jericho according to orthodox military tactics of his day, but man's ways are not God's ways. The Lord, therefore, revealed to Joshua the method of attack:
Joshua 6:1-5 "Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. 2 And Jehovah said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thy hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor. 3 And ye shall compass the city, all the men of war, going about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. 4 And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 And it shall be, that, when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall go up every man straight before him.
Joshua faithfully carried out Jehovah's instructions to him in both the letter and the spirit of the command. God honored and accepted his obedience, for "to obey is better than sacrifice" (I Samuel 15:22b). The reader is urged to study Joshua 6 for the inspired account of the supernatural overthrow of Jericho. Thus Israel's entrance into the land and the overthrow of Jericho shine forth in the light of divine intervention. These events constitute another mountain peak experience in the Romance of Jewish history.
The Lord had it in mind to give Israel the land they now seek to live in and live in with everlasting peace. The Bible as I have made mention before speaks very plainly, as we shall see in future devotionals, as to how that peace will become a reality. I believe that this truth will remain in obscurity for a time but eventually the truth will rise. What a glorious day it will be when there is peace in Jerusalem, because when there is peace in that city, there will be peace throughout all the world. May we make the most of our time to seek out and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, according to what the Bible says will take place to usher it in.
Next week we will take a look at the reigns of David and Solomon. We will see the rays of Gods divine glory shining forth in their days as well. Please keep in mind that Mideast peace is all over the news these days. Yet I fail to see the teaching of the Bible about Mideast peace all over the news these days. I am confident though as Gods people pray aright and in Gods proper time the truth will rise and that truth will set people free.
In His Service,