"We ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled..." ~ II Thes. 2:2 *** "But stir up the gift of God that is within you by the laying on of hands..." ~ II Tim. 1:6

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“God Remembered…”:  Our Father’s Faithfulness in Action, & Future Fulfillment in the Feast of Trumpets

Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.” (Gen. 8:1)

The verse above is just one of several passages where we’re told that “God remembered” one of His people, or a promise He had made.

And to us this may seem like a strange or disconcerting statement…does God forget about us from time to time, we might ask?  You know, He has a lot on His plate, many people have bigger problems, and maybe He “back-burners” us?

Or, maybe we read that kind of statement and just gloss over it as one of those weird old-timey language things in the bible that doesn’t translate in quite the same way today.

We’re used to humans forgetting things, it’s just in our nature.  Some of us forget facts and knowledge, others can’t remember names or birthdays, and most of us get distracted mid-task and forget what we were doing.

So we may read a verse that tells us “God remembered” someone and accidentally take away an idea about the nature of God that isn’t accurate, or dismiss the statement as an irrelevant ancient turn of phrase.  And in both cases we’d be missing something powerful.

Bible verses about God remembering

The statement “God remembered” (or Him stating “I will remember”) is a common theme through the Old Testament…here are the key passages, including one from the New Testament:

  • Gen. 8:1 – “Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.”
  • Gen.  9:15 – “(book-ending Noah’s story)…And I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh”
  • Gen. 19:29 – “And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow”
  • Gen. 30:22 – “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb”
  • Ex. 2:23-25 – “Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and with Jacob
  • Lev. 26:42 – (telling of future events)“…then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac, and my covenant with Abraham will I remember; I will remember the land
  • Ex. 6:5 – “And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant
  • I Sam. 1:19 “…And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her” (she had been crying out in anguish for a child)
  • Ezek. 16:60 – “Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth”
  • Rev. 18:15 “(of Babylon the Great) For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities

It’s a lot!  This could be quite distressing if we believed this meant that God had forgotten and then remembered in all these examples.  But this phrase is a good example of where the English translation is a pale depiction of the Hebrew word’s intent.  So what does this actually mean?

Zakar ayth:  to bring to mind and act

In all those examples in the Old Testament, the word used is zakar (H2142), and specifically the compound phrase zakar ayth (H2142, H853).

Zakar means to bring to mind or recall, to remember, mention, recount, or think on.  It also means “to make a memorial” (more on that later).  It’s used a couple hundred times in the Old Testament, but only about 50+ of those include “ayth”.

Ayth is additive, used thousands of times in the bible, and basically provides a sense of entity, indicating the self and adding emphasis to what’s being remembered.  I’m not a Hebrew scholar in any sense, but the way that I think of is like “recalled to Himself” or “brought to His mind”.

Specifically, this “remembering” precedes acting on someone’s behalf—remembering with a purpose or intent.  It’s remembrance as a full-being activity, using mind and body rather than a simple head exercise.  When applied to God, it’s usually in response to a commitment He had previously made (Ps. 105:42, Ex. 6:5), or to the longing and pleading of His people (Gen. 30:22, I Sam. 1:19).

So we’re not talking “remembering” that’s simply the retention of information, the way you remember your spouse’s birthday, the family pancake recipe, or every lyric to “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

It’s not simply recollection or not-forgetting, like when you remember to pick up milk on the way home or remember that you’d promised to call a friend.

Instead, zakar ayth calls our attention to how God focuses on something or someone in a way that entails action or response.  When we’re told that “God remembered” in the bible, it’s to showcase an example of God’s consistent faithfulness to His chosen people…through ACTING on His promises.

So let’s go back to the original question…does God occasionally forget about us?

Why & How Does God Use the Number 40 in the Bible? 

The lens of periods of 40 in the bible & what God is accomplishing on our wilderness journey

We recently explored the theme of wilderness in the bible, and how—for God’s people—the wilderness symbolizes the spiritual challenges we face as we do our best to navigate life in this carnal world.

Specifically, we talked about how people often associate the idea of a spiritual wilderness only with harsh, debilitating times of trial—but instead we should view our entire journey through this life as a journey through the wilderness.  Sometimes it’s lush pasture, other times barren desert, but always a place where God is guiding us with a purpose.

In fact, the only way to reach the Promised Land lies through the wilderness.  It’s where God calls His people to begin their journey, out of this present carnal world (represented by Egypt) to a place of preparation for the world to come.  It’s also where He reveals more of Himself and His ways, and teaches us how to fully rely on Him to provide.

And while our focus is on reaching the Promised Land of God’s eternal kingdom, we must remember that the experiences we have on the way are critical to our spiritual growth, key to reaching the destination itself.  Even the Hebrew word for wilderness (midbar) implies momentum, driving forward, and a journey with a purpose.

God is accomplishing something in us as we journey through the wilderness, and we have to surrender to Him fully, and trust that He is leading us in the right direction.  And this brings us to one really interesting thematic connection to the wilderness that I couldn’t dig into in the other study, but did want to explore further—how God uses the number 40 in the bible.

This isn’t getting into mystical numerology or anything like that, but God does use certain numbers symbolically throughout His word, and we’d be wise to pause and consider what lessons we can glean.  This study may seem quite long, but each of the examples can be read on their own, a little at a time.

What is the significance of the number 40 in the bible?

The number “40” in the bible appears to be connected to many of the same themes as we saw with the idea of wilderness, and the more I dig into the nuances, I really see the wilderness and the number 40 as two sides of the same coin.  We often see wilderness experiences (literal or symbolic) timebound by periods of 40…days, years, etc.

These shared themes include periods of significant trial or testing, or sometimes punishment for rebelling against God.  Some examples focus on the teaching and preparation of God’s chosen leaders.  And in many examples the number 40 shows how God is redeeming His people from the world, bringing a time of restoration and renewal.

In other words, these are all facets of how God is bringing His people out of (spiritual) bondage, through the wilderness (of this physical life), and eventually into the (eternal) Promised Land.  They showcase examples of God’s intent and direction in His people’s lives.

The number 40 in the bible appears to symbolize completion and accomplishment of God’s purpose, but in more of a physical sense (whereas the number 7 is more about Godly perfection and completion).  It is sometimes 40 years, though often a period of 40 days and nights—a person’s or nation’s success in completing the 40 days/years requires humility, trust in God’s promises, and reliance on Him to sustain.

Through the Wilderness:  The Journey of Our Lives

When looked at in a very macro way, the spring holy day season pictures the journey of God’s firstfruits from start to finish, Passover to Pentecost.

That sounds simple, but in reality the time from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (at the Passover) all the way until Pentecost (picturing the acceptance of God’s elect before His throne in heaven at the Marriage Supper)…that’s a LONG time.

And in seeing the bigger prophetic pictures and focusing on the end point, we can sometimes forget to look at the more personal applications—separation from sin, being called out of the world to a different life.

Within that timeframe, the Days of Unleavened Bread signify the journey out of the bondage of sin for God’s firstfruits, picturing how we move through this physical life learning to rely on God and undergo the process of conversion.  It’s a time of spiritual challenges, doing our best to navigate our lives in a carnal world.

A constant theme in the bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is that of wilderness.  It is a place, an idea, and a feeling.  And what the bible shows us about the wilderness tells us a lot about how we should view our personal spiritual (and physical) journey through life.

Related post: From Wave Sheaf to Wave Loaves: the Feast of Firstfruits & Acceptance of the Elect

How do we see the idea of wilderness in the bible?

The word “wilderness” is used hundreds of times in the bible, particularly in the Old Testament.  It’s almost exclusively the word midbar (H4057), which evokes a pasture, an open field where cattle are driven, and can imply a desert.

In our modern world we often equate it with a barren, harsh desert where nothing can survive, but really it just means an uninhabited or uncultivated place, and the origins of the word actually seem to indicate good grassland or choice pasture.

And this is where the other implication of the word midbar comes in, which gives the sense of pushing out or driving (as in driving cattle forward to graze).  There is a sense of forward momentum, of being spurred forward…not simply plopping down and staying, but rather moving FROM something TO something else.

And it’s when we start to combine the sense of wilderness as a tangible place, with that idea of momentum and a journey with purpose, that we begin to gain a better understanding of how the wilderness factors into our spiritual and physical lives.

How should we think about the wilderness, spiritually?

As I mentioned above, today most of us probably have a somewhat negative association with the idea of wilderness, and particularly a spiritual wilderness.  We might conjure images of physical and emotional desolation, feeling alone through trials, maybe of a barren place that can’t sustain life.

And in focusing only on those aspects, we’d be missing a very important truth—that the way to the Promised Land lies through the wilderness.

As we reflect on the entirety of God’s spring holy day season and how it pictures our physical lives, we should meditate on how it is also our own personal journey into—and through—the wilderness.

For the ancient Israelites, the wilderness was a physical place with a divine purpose.  And this remains true for God’s chosen people today, even though we’re not (usually) tramping through a physical desert.

A few key themes we’ll explore below are the wilderness as a place of…

  • Separation, being called out and set apart from the world
  • Preparation, through testing and trials to make us ready for the future God has planned
  • Surrender, learning to rely on God and fully put ourselves in His hands

Leadership Qualities in the Bible: Examples That Business Leaders Can Learn From

As anyone who is a manager or leader of people knows, leadership is HARD.  It can be incredibly rewarding, heartbreaking, frustrating, or tedious depending on the day.  It often has more in common with parenting than people would realize.

And there are a lot of bad bosses in the world…though no one ever wants to believe that they’re one of them.

For God’s people who are also leaders within their work environment, we have a significant responsibility to not only care for and grow our employees, but also be a reflection of God’s way while we do so.  The old adage comes to mind that “with great power comes great responsibility”.

The bible is packed with passages to help guide God’s people through the joys and trials of people leadership.  For instance, there’s so much in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes alone that we can learn from, not to mention all of the “red text” instructions from Jesus’s own mouth.

But as the wisest people know, studying the examples and actions of others can sometimes be just as instructive, or even more so—whether good or bad examples, they provide context and specific tangible details that can help a leader with practical application.

For as long as I can remember, if you’d asked me what biblical figure I really looked up to or who was my “hero”, I would have answered Daniel.  He stayed faithful while navigating the politics of Babylonian and Persian governments, and managed to be consistently promoted while acting as an example of God’s way to even the rulers of the realm.

So this study looks at specific examples of leaders in the bible, and specifically leadership qualities that they modeled.  My goal here isn’t to go really in-depth on each (because they could honestly each be their own study), but rather provide illustrations and inspiration for biblical examples of leadership—and then each of you can take it from here.  Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Abraham: Stepping out in faith, navigating uncertainty
  • Daniel: Refusal to compromise regardless of consequences
  • Esther: Risking herself to “go to bat” for her people
  • Joseph: Perseverance, trust in God’s timing, and planning through adversity
  • Job: Perspective through loss
  • Moses: Motivation, intercession, and delegation to avoid burnout
  • David: Passion, patience, and penitence
  • Abigail: Showing tact and discretion to de-escalate a situation
  • Nehemiah: Pursuing a vision and inspiring others to follow

“Do Not Love the World”: A Spiritual Application of Burning Platform Theory

At the Feast of Tabernacles this year I heard an excellent short message by Don Turgeon about a topic I’d never heard of called the “burning platform”.

The analogy really struck home for me, and I wanted to do a deeper study into how God’s people should be applying this to our lives.

What is a burning platform?

When an explosion ripped apart the North Sea oil platform called the Piper Alpha and the rig caught fire, a few workers were trapped by the fire on the edge of the platform.

Contemplating certain death in the fire versus likely death (and the general unknown) by jumping the 100 feet into the icy waters, one of them chose the latter and jumped.

The term “burning platform” is now used to describe a situation where people are forced to make a particular dramatic choice, in the face of an alternative that is even more extreme (source).

It has become a shorthand in the business world for “helping people see the dire consequences of not changing”, and motivating people to move beyond the status quo to embracing drastic change.

As Turgeon explained, this type of situation has an urgency that pushes you to transform your behavior.  Because if you don’t—even though that change is scary or painful or difficult in the moment—not doing so could have long-lasting negative consequences.

A good business example in the last couple decades is Blockbuster, who (mind-bogglingly) could not read the signs of technology and consumer behavior shifts, which ultimately plunged the company from being completely ubiquitous to entirely irrelevant and out of business in a very short span of time.

How does the “burning platform” apply spiritually?

Make no mistake, this world and this present age are a burning platform.  And we need to jump. 

Those men knew they weren’t jumping into something that would save them, and believed probable death awaited them in the icy sea.  But they also knew that staying where they were was certain death, and so staying was the wrong choice.

What was interesting about that message was that it felt very prescient.  Because just that week I’d been thinking about my own relationship with the world, and realizing that I’d finally reached a place where I truly, viscerally wanted God’s kingdom to come as soon as possible.

After the last several months of bitter political rhetoric, government overstep, neighbor turning on neighbor, racial division, cities burning (including my own), and just generally looking at the state of the world…I’d finally had enough.

Sure, I’ve always wanted God’s kingdom to come…but as a young person that wish is sometimes a bit more theoretical (and scary as well).  You want to grow up, live a life, get married, do things.  My life is pretty comfortable in the grand scheme of things, with a good job, snuggly pets, the ability to travel.

The whole principle of the burning platform is that only the most dire circumstances and imminent mortal peril would induce you to jump.  It’s hard to contemplate leaving the life we’ve known, the comfort of our daily routines, our conveniences, the people we love.

The difference for us is that we aren’t jumping into the unknown, or to probable death.  Just the opposite—the only means of (eternal) survival for those of us called to God’s truth today is to jump.  To stop clinging to this world, trying to save it, and to cut the ties it has on our hearts.

(Because of the world we live in, I feel like I have to make a very strong caveat statement here that I am obviously not talking about physical life…this is adamantly not some kind of macabre statement regarding killing ourselves or dying prematurely.  I’m speaking of our mental and spiritual state, and whether we’re invested in this current world above God’s coming kingdom.)

Themes From the Book of Lamentations for the Fall Holy Days

How this oft-overlooked book can highlight themes of Trumpets and Atonement

I can count on one hand the number of sermons I’ve heard on the book of Lamentations.  I could maybe even count them on one *finger* (and I had to search for it).

While Lamentations never directly mentions either the feasts of Trumpets or Atonement, its themes are unmistakably linked to the themes of both holy days, and the fall holy day season overall in God’s plan for mankind.

What are those themes?  Complete destruction and anguish from God’s wrath as His promised judgment comes, mourning and confession of sin, and acknowledgement of God’s righteousness in that judgment.  Humility and asking for mercy while recognizing that it’s undeserved.

And harder to find, but definitely present, is hope in God’s faithfulness and mercy, and ultimately reconciliation through His promises of a coming restoration.

These holy days occur in the seventh month (seven being a number of completeness).  Chapters 1, 2, and 4 are written in acrostics, one for each letter of the alphabet and signifying the completeness and totality of God’s wrath and the destruction of Jerusalem.

What is the book of Lamentations about?

Lamentations is one of the five scrolls comprising “The Writings” in the Old Testament.  It mourns the destruction of the first temple, the “funeral of a city”, and foreshadows the destruction of the second temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD.

The Jews recite the book on Tisha b’Av, called the “dark fast” to commemorate the destruction of the temple.  Tisha b’Av is seen as a fast without hope (dark) in contrast to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) which they see as a “white fast” due to the hope embedded.

It’s generally accepted that the book of Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah due to both internal and external evidence, but the author is never named in the text.  The fairly dramatic, evocative language certainly seems to fit with the book of Jeremiah though.

Much of Lamentations goes into excruciating detail about the consequences of Jerusalem’s repeated rebellions against God, and paints a terrifying picture of His promised wrath.  It is punishment with purpose, prophesied beforehand again and again to turn them from it.

It is an expression of grief and sadness, a detailed account of tragedy, and a denunciation of the sins of His people.  The book moves us through tragedy and sorrow toward a confident hope in God’s ultimate salvation of His (and all) people.

In our culture today we tend to close our eyes to suffering, grit our teeth through it, or try and ignore it in favor of looking forward to a better time.  Lamentations, instead, wallows in it.  Lamentations surrounds you in Jeremiah’s grief over Jerusalem’s destruction, in the suffering of God’s people.

Is Lamentations relevant to God’s people today?

In a word, yes.

The book of Lamentations is written to encompass Jerusalem and the nation of Judah, the remainder of God’s people at the time.  It should serve as a very sobering warning to us as His people today.

Jerusalem rebelled against God, and for centuries God warned that the judgment He promised for their sins would come.  When the wrath of His judgment finally comes upon Jerusalem, the book of Lamentations doesn’t question the reason or justice of God’s actions, but rather asks for His mercy.

The end-time application of the book is focused on Jerusalem as well. Because of this, it fits more naturally into the fall holy days and what the world will experience during end-time events, and the book’s themes very much tie into this.

While Lamentations has seen its first and second fulfillments, like most major prophecies in the bible there is a future and final one at the end time.  So although it’s focused on Jerusalem, it IS written to God’s people, and that alone makes it important for us to pay it some attention.

We know that all scripture is given by God and is good for instruction and to equip His people (II Tim. 3:16).  So what should we take from this book?  I submit that there are clear messages to God’s firstfruits, warnings that if heeded today can keep us from the terrible future reality that is laid out in the book.

Occupying Your God-Given Space:  Humility in a Self-Esteem World

What first comes to mind when you think of humility?

Is it a dejected stance?  Minimizing your role in something?  Or maybe a timid attitude, avoiding eye contact and feeling inferior?

In today’s self-obsessed society, humility gets a bad rap.  And that’s partially just due to the nature of the society we live in, but it’s also because humility is deeply misunderstood.

I’d never given this topic particular thought until I landed on this devotional in my bible app, and something clicked for me.

“Have you ever been humbled by nature? Have you ever walked through a field of tulips or watched a sunset and been reminded of how incredibly awesome God is and how small you are by comparison?  It’s humbling.  The Hebrew word anavah is what we translate as “humility”, but the literal definition of anavah is to occupy your God-given space in the world—not to overestimate yourself or your abilities, and to not underestimate them either.” (quoted from the devotional on YouVersion/Bible.com)

This really brought humility to life in a way that I’d never considered before, and caused me to want to dig even further into humility in the bible.  Note, the original devotion uses “avanah”, but throughout my research I can only find it spelled “anavah” from the root anav, so that’s what I’m using throughout this study because I think it was just a typo.

There are several Hebrew words that can be translated as “humble” or “humility”.  This one comes from the root anav, which denotes a condition of character—depending on God due to internal, spiritual orientation rather than external factors.  The root of this word also indicates that relying on God is a choice, not merely because you physically have to.

Humility and meekness are closely related, but I’m not getting into meekness here because it’s a big study in its own right, and one I intend on doing.  They come from the same root word and the two are sometimes used interchangeably in the bible, but there are some nuances in meaning that are worth exploring.  To my mind, meekness is more expressed toward others, whereas humility is more inward—how you think about and see yourself.  But they’re two sides of the same coin.

Humility in the bible 

As is always the truth, we can learn a lot about the word itself and God’s attitude toward humility (and anavah in particular) by looking at how it’s used in the holy scriptures.

Anavah (H6038) is strongly associated with the fear of the Lord throughout the Old Testament, and seen as something that comes from wisdom and leads to honor.

The Analogy of Sin as a Virus…and Repentance as Radical Transformation

A while back I was reading “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, a non-fiction book about a particular moment in the history of medical ethics, scientific discovery, and race.  I ran across this sentence and for whatever reason it stuck in the back of my mind.

“Viruses reproduce by injecting bits of their genetic material into a living cell, essentially reprogramming the cell so it reproduces the virus instead of itself.” ~ The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

A picture of Satan trying to do exactly that came to mind, and the more I thought on it, a virus seemed to be a fairly apt analogy to sin’s effect on us.  But once I started researching it a little more, I found that the analogy of sin as a virus was way closer than I originally thought.  So this study explores some of those shared characteristics.

There are two things that probably need stated before we dig in here:  I am not a scientist, and this analogy is not perfect.  All analogies start to fall apart when you dig *too* deeply regardless, but since I’m not a scientist that may be especially true here.

The other thing that feels like it must be stated is that, unlike actual viruses which attack us through no fault of our own, we are complicit when it comes to sin.  It is our hearts that are “desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9; Prov. 14:12).  So though Satan certainly attacks us and helps us along, we should not read this analogy as one in which we play a passive victim role.

Regardless, I think this is interesting and valuable food for thought.

The analogy of sin as a virus

“…through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men” (Rom. 5:12)

It’s important to understand a few things about viruses that start to give our analogy to Satan and sin greater depth.

Viruses come in all shapes and sizes, from the common cold to HIV.  The viruses themselves are all invisible, but with some it’s easy to see and diagnose the symptoms, and with others the host is a silent carrier with no outward symptoms.

Similarly, sins and their consequences take many different forms.  Some are overt and public (murder, theft), but more often they are not readily apparent to us or the people around us.  Many are subtle…a bit of anger, some work gossip to pass the time, too much time and attention spent on material things.  But when left alone, they continue to multiply…like the “little leaven that leavens the whole lump” (I Cor. 5:6).

Passover Themes: The Wine

Recently I found some of my notes from keeping the Passover as a small group a few years ago.  Rather than the very formal and consistent script that many of the corporate COGs use for Passover, the smaller groups often have a more interactive meeting where multiple people share speaking roles. 

This post is adapted from my notes when I presented the Passover wine meaning portion of the ceremony one year.  While a bit more perfunctory than many studies on the site, these are good themes to re-visit as we prepare for the Passover every year, and may be helpful for those keeping it in small, interactive groups.

If you want to download my speaking notes for your Passover night meeting, you can do so here:  Passover Night Service: The Wine

Themes of Keeping the Passover:  The Wine

We know that every single one of us has sinned, and so fall short of the glory of God.  And we know that the penalty for that sin is death (Rom. 3:23, 6:23).

God told the Israelites that the blood of the many sacrifices He required was to help make atonement for them, saying “For the life of the flesh is in the blood…for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11).

Prior to Christ coming to earth and giving His life for our sins, for Israel to keep the Passover entailed the slaughter of thousands of lambs as a symbol of this need for cleansing.  But in Hebrews, Paul makes it clear that it’s not possible for the blood of animals to actually take away sins (Heb. 10:4).

Instead, Jesus Christ—God in the flesh—came as our eternal High Priest to make this atonement for us.

“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God

And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:12-15, 22)

That word translated “remission” means freedom, pardon, forgiveness, or liberty.  As our kinsman-redeemer, Christ purchased us with His blood, freeing us from the debt (death) that we owed and from our bondage to sin.

He was able to pay the price for our sins, and transfer ownership of us from Satan (the ruler of this world) to the God family ONLY because He didn’t owe the same debt.  He was perfect and blameless, never having committed even a single sin.

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet. 1:15, 18-19)

As our Passover Lamb, only Christ was qualified to make this sacrifice.  This redemption out of sin makes possible our eternal salvation, and opens the door for our future roles in God’s kingdom.

Stand Still and Wait: Worldly Solutions vs. Waiting on God (Musings on Faith Series)

“You will not need to fight in this battle.  Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you” (II Chron. 20:17)

Do you trust God?

This isn’t a trick question, and our gut response is “Yes, of course!”  But it’s actually a more complicated question (and answer) than it appears at face value, isn’t it?

We don’t have God literally talking to us every day, telling us what’s on His mind and what plans He has for us that day.  We want to involve Him in our decisions and understand His will, but it’s not always clear how involved He is in day-to-day details.

Does He want a say in every decision we make?  How much does He care about the daily “small stuff” versus the big picture?  Does He expect us to solve most of our own problems, or does He reward those who ask Him for help in every small issue?

More questions than answers, right…??  What I wanted to dig into in this study is how we approach “problem solving”, through the lens of some examples in the bible.  Do think about waiting on God and trusting that He has things under control, or do we seek out worldly, human solutions?

This is one of those studies that’s intended more to share thoughts and spur your own thinking, rather than provide a specific point of view or “how to”.  I’d consider it a combination of pointing out what can happen when we try to solve problems our own way and on our own timetable, and a meditation on the balance between relying on God and abdicating responsibility for our lives and decisions.  This is a longer one, but only because there are a number of examples provided for context.

“Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…”

A lot of these questions ultimately boil down to trusting in God’s timing and approach rather than giving in to human reasoning, impatience, and impulsivity.

But that requires us to believe that God knows each of us personally, that He is in control, knows what we want (and need), and wants the absolute best for us.

And I think that last bit (that He wants the best for us) is actually much harder than it sounds to truly grasp.  It *sounds* completely logical, but when you’re in the middle of something and don’t see a good solution or understand why it’s happening, or when you want something so badly and don’t get it, that belief is a difficult thing to maintain.

There are many parts of the bible where God’s advice is effectively “be patient”.  Many times His people were told to stand still and wait for Him to act on their behalf.  Sometimes that was a literal physical command to stand there, but sometimes it referred more to their emotional state—just stop, don’t let your emotions run around like Chicken Little screaming “the sky is falling!”.

This is a topic I’ve been musing on for some time.  It’s not clear-cut, and there is almost never an easy answer when we’re right in the middle of a situation.  When something happens, what is your first instinct?  Where do you look for solutions?  How do you go about making decisions?

So I thought it would be good to show some examples from the bible of people who didn’t trust in God and figured out their own solutions (and how that turned out).  Then because I’m not all Debby Downer, I wanted to showcase some great examples of people who did wait, and looked to God to accomplish His purpose in His time.

And of course—because it’s me—I have some thoughts on practical applications for our own modern lives at the end for us to consider.

Related post:  Why & How Does God Use the Number 40 in the Bible?

Worldly solutions to (real or perceived) problems

First we’ll look at some examples of when people decided to find their own solutions to problems that were either real, or that they perceived to be real.

It’s kind of sad how easy it is to think of examples for both of these areas…but to be fair, the bible is written for our instruction, so it stands to reason that there are a lot of cautionary tales in there.  Most of these are well-known stories, so I’m just going to highlight the important points rather than tell you the whole story.

These examples pretty much boil down to:  Do you trust God to take care of you and help solve your problems?

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