Thursday, March 24, 2016

"History: the record of God's working among Israel and the nations ..."

Day #85

Scripture Reading:  I Chronicles 5 - 9 …

While there are a few people who are interested in history, most find it irrelevant and uninteresting.  That's because most people don't realize that a right understanding of history shapes your identity, your thoughts about life, your perspective and attitudes … and more.  You and I are all connected by history and to ignore that truth is to miss what GOD has done in the past, what God is doing today, what He will do in the future, and YOUR part in it!  As someone has said, "History is HIS-story!"  Nothing that has happened in the past is without meaning, and nothing that is happening today is without meaning.  Whatever you may think of history, you are making history today.  Your actions today will in some way affect the history of the world until Jesus returns.  That should affect how you live today … and whom you live FOR!!

As we continue in the record of the history of Israel in Chronicles, it becomes obvious that God's plans for Israel were not simply for the present.  If that were the case, the failure of the Israelites to worship and serve God would have surely led to the failure of God's plan of salvation.  God was working in and through these people, but His plan to send the Messiah, the Savior, and to bring salvation through Him was not dependent on what people would or wouldn't do.  While God at times displayed His glory in Israel, He would also display His holiness and justice through His judgment on them as well.  God's love for them led to discipline, but He would not forsake them entirely.  He would keep His promise to restore them and to establish His kingdom through the future reign of the Messiah, who would come from the tribe of Judah, just as He said He had said.

Reading through the list of tribes is a reminder that God had already kept His promise to make a great nation from the descendants of Abraham … that small group of seventy people who went into Egypt during the time of Jacob.  Chronicles picks up with the people now in the promised land and gives just sketchy information on how they got there.  A more complete history is found in Joshua, Judges and I and II Kings.  Still, there are some interesting details in these chapters on the genealogies and records of the twelve tribes of Israel.

One of these is in Chapter 6, verse 31, where the temple musicians are mentioned.  David put men in charge of the music in the tabernacle and they later served in the temple that Solomon built.  We may forget that the tabernacle was the place of worship during the reign of King David.  The people had been in the promised land for a while, but the temple had not yet been built.  They brought sacrifices to the tabernacle in Hebron, and then to Jerusalem, the "City of David."  Music was an important part of the worship of God then, as it is now.

Music was and is a way to praise and exalt God and at the same time for God to speak to His people.  The Psalms spoke to those who sang as they offered their worship to God.  Songs used in worship should do the same today.  It is important that songs be "theologically correct."  They must speak and teach truth according to God's Word and not express mere human emotions that may or may not always be pleasing to God.  The importance of music in worship should not be underestimated because it is God Himself who designed that it would be an instrument to bring Him honor.  Read Revelation 4-5 and you will discover that music is a large part of the worship in heaven!  Music today should be Christ-centered and focused on leading God’s people to praise and thanksgiving to God for His salvation in Jesus Christ.  God has called US to exalt His Name among the nations!  Only those who know the one true God can truly worship Him.

In Chapter 9, we read more details of the service of the priests, Levites and temple servants (9:2).  After the exile in Babylon and the rebuilding of the temple, the worship of God was re-instituted and the Levites were again established as servants at the temple.  Verse 23 talks about worship at the tabernacle and says, "They and their descendants were in charge of guarding the gates of the house of the LORD - the house called the Tent."  And verse 27:  "They would spend the night stationed around the house of God, because they had to guard it; and they had charge of the key for opening it each morning."  It may sound strange to us that the tabernacle needed to be guarded, but remember, anyone who touched the Ark of the Covenant died!  God is holy, and only through the priests and the offering of sacrifices could the people approach God ... all pointing ahead to our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who has given us access to the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 10:19-20).

The life of Israel revolved around worship, and so should ours!!  Psalm 84 expresses the joy of worship and mentions those who were "gatekeepers" at the house of the Lord:  "How lovely is Your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!" (Psalm 84:1).  "Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.  For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor …" (Psalm 84:10-11).

Jesus taught His disciples that He is the "gate" for the sheep (John 10:9).  We can enter into the safe pasture of God's presence through faith in Jesus.  The gatekeepers of the temple perhaps pointed to Jesus watching over the house of God and then opening the door for those who come to worship.  "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise!" (Psalm 100:4).  What a wonderful privilege to worship and to sing the praises of our God, the God of Israel!!

Live today as though you were making history … because you are!  Through Jesus Christ we who believe have access to the sanctuary of God at any time, wherever we are.  Worship the Lord today in the beauty of holiness.  Rejoice in His love and give thanks for His presence, for the Lord is our strength and our shield … He is our song!!  To Him be the glory, forever and ever!!  Amen!

"Father, the history of Israel is the history of your faithfulness to those whom You have chosen to belong to You.  Help those of us who believe in Jesus today to learn from the mistakes of those in the past and to offer our praise and thanks to You out of gratitude for all You have done for us in Christ Jesus.  Fill me with Your Spirit that my worship may be genuine and my life a testimony to Your grace!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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