Monday, August 25, 2014

"The everlasting God chose Israel ... and all who believe in Israel's God!"

Day #241:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - August 26th

Scripture Reading:  I Chronicles 15 - 19 ...

It seems unfair, it seems impossible, it seems far-fetched, but it's true:  the God of Israel is the one true God and only those whom He has chosen and who put their trust in Him through faith in Jesus Christ, the Seed of Abraham, the Son of David, will inherit eternal life.  All that we read in the Old Testament, the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament confirm this truth.  No other book explains the plan of God to redeem for Himself a people from the entire human race to be His own.  Remarkably, God revealed all of this to David, and through him to others whom God chose to hear and believe.  If you are reading this and believe in Jesus, it is because God has chosen YOU and you are one of His people, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  That is God's way ...

Having moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem, David determined to bring the Ark of the Covenant there.  The Ark was the symbol of God's presence and was placed in the tabernacle in the Most Holy Place.  David had attempted to bring the Ark back before, but those in charge did not have the priests carry it and God's anger burned against them.  This time David said, "No one but the Levites may carry the Ark of God, because the LORD chose THEM to carry the Ark of the LORD and to minister before Him forever" (15:2).  Then he instructed them to "consecrate yourselves and bring up the Ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it.  It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the LORD our God broke out in anger against us.  We did not inquire of Him about how to do it in the prescribed way" (15:12-13).

Partial obedience is never obedience.  God calls His people to worship and to do it according His instructions.  Why?  Because He is God ... and He is ISRAEL's God.  An important part of worship, then and now, is MUSIC!  Look at the people who were assigned to lead the people in worship!  They had instruments and a large choir of people to lead the people in singing God's praises.  "So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams' horns and trumpets, and of cymbals; and the playing of lyres and harps" (15:28).  How glorious it must have been and how glorious is the worship of God's people today as we offer it to the Lord, our God, the God of Israel!!

David's psalm of praise in Chapter 16 is so full, so heartfelt, so informative of God's plan to gather for Himself a people.  Most people today just do not understand the Bible or God's purpose in the world.  If they worship at all, they worship a generic god who is supposedly a god who takes various forms and who is whoever people make him/her/it to be.  This god is an impersonal "force" who is at work in creation and in all people.  Every person is the "captain of their own fate" and able to find their own salvation in their own way.  But this "god" is an illusion, a counterfeit, a cruel hoax produced by the enemy of God and the foolish hearts and minds of people who are spiritually dead and blind.

As David and all of Jerusalem celebrate the return of the Ark, David breaks out into song ... and recorded here are words from a number of the songs recorded for us in the Psalms.  Reading through Chapter 16 is like entering into David's heart - a heart overflowing with love, thankfulness and praise for God, but not just any God, the God of Israel, the God who "remembers His covenant forever ... the covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac, and confirmed to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant:  'To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit'" (16:15-18).  To those today who would seek to eliminate this people from the land of Israel, it will not happen, for you are not only fighting against Israel, but against Israel's God.

At the present time most in Israel do not know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The world is ignorant of the great "I AM" who revealed Himself to Moses and the people in Egypt and at Mt. Sinai. But the calling of those who know Him, to whom He has revealed Himself by His Word and Spirit, is to "sing to the LORD ... to proclaim His salvation day after day.  Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.  For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise!" (16:23-25).  There IS no other God!  It is Israel's God who sent His Son, the descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David ... to be the perfect sacrifice for sin.  There IS no other God, no other Mediator between God and man, no other Savior!

As God promised David that his "house" would continue before Him forever, He was pointing to Jesus.  "I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.  He is the one who will build a house for me and I will establish his throne forever" (17:11-12).  That must have been Solomon, right?  Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba and he built the temple for God.  But HIS kingdom didn't last forever.  In fact, it was during the reign of Solomon's son, Rehoboam, that the kingdom of Israel was divided and eventually overthrown.  God was pointing to David's "greater Son," to the One who would be born of a virgin, who would be "Immanuel, God with us."  He was pointing to Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One, the KING of kings and the LORD of lords!!

Jesus came to build God's spiritual "house," the Church, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and eventually (perhaps soon) He will come to gather the remnant of the Jews, the physical people of Israel, and to establish His kingdom on the earth.  He will rule over all the nations and He alone will be Lord!  As he hears God's promise through the prophet, Nathan, David is humbled beyond words and prays once again, giving praise to God, knowing that all this was done "according to Your will" (17:19) ... that this was GOD's doing.  "There is no one like You, O LORD, and there is no God but You ... And who is like Your people Israel - the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and to make a name for Yourself ..." (17:20-21).  "You made Your people Israel Your very own forever, and You, O LORD, have become their God" (17:22).

Through Jesus Christ, the Seed of Abraham, the Son of David, God has sent a message out into the world, delivered by His Spirit into the hearts and minds of those whom He has chosen from the nations, bringing forgiveness and life to those who repent and believe, who receive His grace through faith in Jesus.  God knows those who are His and not one shall be lost.  If you have believed in Jesus you can KNOW that you were "chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4) and that "nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:29).

Join with David in thanksgiving and praise for God's covenant with Israel and with all who believe in the Son of David, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ, the King ... Jesus!  Read through David's song in Chapter 16 again and give praise to the LORD, the God of Israel!

"My Father in heaven, as You chose Israel to be Yours, so You have chosen me to be one of Your children and have given me Your Spirit and moved me to believe in Your Son, Jesus Christ.  I thank You for Your Word, for revealing Your way of salvation through Your covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and for Your faithfulness to those who place their hope in You.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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