Archive for December, 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Posted: December 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Boxed Time

The Dawn of a New Era

Only a few picked up on the fact that the birth of Jesus was the culmination of over one hundred prophetic expectations written ages before He came, all very clear, referring to the Messiah; the Anointed One, the Deliverer, Prophet, Priest, Ruler and Judge? Jesus fulfils these predictions entirely. Uncanny! It was as if God was accomplishing His new year’s resolutions for a new era, not just a new year.

I can just imagine the new era’s clock ticking away.

The Messiah is to be a descendant of David; TICK! Born in Bethlehem; TICK! Born of a virgin; TICK! He is God with us. TICK! He is a teacher with great authority who will be rejected. TICK! He is to open the eyes of the blind, heal the sick, and raise the dead. TICK! He is to be despised and rejected by His own people, charged falsely, denied justice, and condemned to a violent death. TICK! He is to rise from the dead, ascend to the right hand of God, and be given power and authority. TICK! The predictions line up at a minute to midnight on history’s clock as the seconds counted down to Jesus’ coming, … TICK, TICK, TICK

Everyone is waiting and as the second’s tick down to 12, the angels respond with a shout of praise! HAPPY NEW ERA! “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Acts 16:31 (NLT). “Good news that will bring great joy …” The Saviour is born that you can find new birth in Him! TICK! And it begins. It’s like God’s new year’s resolutions for us are all found in Christ. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

http://www.webcountdown.net/?a=4Hp4H1y&k=dB3L

Pastor Ross

WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS – and Jesus isn’t being Politically Correct

Jesus Wept.jpg

Intro

Political correctness describes language, policies, or measures which are intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society.

Words have changed to accommodate political correctness. We now have a Chair instead of a Chairman, a Sanitation Engineer instead of a Garbage Man, Physically Challenged people instead of the Handicapped. A Secretary is now an Administrative Assistant, and Failure is now Deferred Success. A small person is Vertically Challenged and Bald People are Follicularly Challenged

Old people must be Chronologically Advantaged. Someone suggested that we talk of the Dead as people who are metabolically challenged.

We can’t say “Merry Christmas” because of it’s Christian connotations, so we say “Happy Holidays” but run into trouble because “Holidays” originated from “Holy Days”. Apparently saying, “You are in my thoughts” is now better than “in my prayers.”

It’s Wrong or should I say Differently Logical.

I wondered how Jesus would find it if He had been born into and lived in our time.

I wonder what would happen,…

So I’ve written this poem

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS – And Jesus Isn’t Politically Correct

© by Ross Cochrane

 

Twas the night before Christmas, and I’m wondering how

Jesus would live if he’d come to us now

How would He cope, because as I reflect,

Jesus was never politically correct

 

His disciples would answer as Servants” no longer

“Messianic Assistants” is a term so much stronger.

He must watch what He says; and not cause them disgrace,

And say “Spiritually challenged,” not “ye of little faith”,

 

Calling Pharisees “vipers” and talking of hell,

Is now labelled “Hate talk” and won’t go down well.

And equal rights advocates are really annoyed

Since women disciples have not been employed

And Zaccheus refuses to be labelled as short

He’s “Vertically Challenged” or he’ll take You to court

 

It all started the moment He came to the earth,

There was so much contention about Jesus’ birth;

Animal Liberationists want hay from the manger

To feed animals in the stable they say are in danger!

Mary’s ride on the donkey was just too much strain,

On the donkey, not Mary! It’s so inhumane!

When Jesus is titled the Lamb that was slain,

You wouldn’t believe – that offends them again!

 

“Did Jesus have a licence to run a café

When the bread and the fish were given away?”

The disciples, with no gloves, distributed food

Which leaves it wide open for them to be sued.

The Food Safety authorities are just not impressed

So twelve baskets left over have been repossessed.

 

And what of the people whom Jesus has healed

With no known credentials in the Medical field.

The Board of Physicians were so horrified

So they all tried to stop Him before someone died.

“We will take You to court for Malpractice,” they said

But that’s before Lazarus was raised from the dead

 

In an age where our words must be viewed as correct

What can He say if He wants to connect

He can’t speak of sacrifice, nor speak of the blood,

He can’t speak of Servanthood, evil or good,

Nor say He’s the Way, the Truth and the Life;

That would be too exclusive and only cause strife.

 

He can’t speak of heaven or say the Lord’s prayer,

And as for repentance, He must not go there.

Nothing of hell or belief in God’s Son,

Nor of the vict’ry o’er death He had won.

 

Nothing of God that is gender specific,

Nothing of faith, ’cause that’s unscientific,

Nothing of judgment or salvation in Christ,

No absolute truth, death, or sins payment price.

 

And as for the Bible, while not strictly forbidden,

Like “light under a bushel”, it’s better off hidden.

Why raise the ire of those psychological,

Who claim that salvation is all ecological.

 

Jesus wept and was empty. He wrote on the ground;

What fully acceptable thing could be found?

Something was needed, a gift that He might

Give to all and not anger the left or the right.

 

His gift was for all, but demands a decision,

From all groups of people and every religion;

Ev’ry ethnicity, ev’ry colour and hue,

Everyone, everywhere…and that includes you.

And it goes way beyond being naughty or nice,

For no-one but He could afford such a price.

 

And this is His gift, it’s price beyond worth…

The reason that Jesus was sent to the earth;

He loved us so much, He would not turn away;

He knew then and now of the problem today;

We look on the outside, but He looks within,

And died on a Cross to pay for our sin.

 

The reason for the season beyond Jesus’ birth,

Is His gift of forgiveness, Peace with God here on earth.

 

Introduction

My Grandaughter loves the musical, The Sound of Music, written by Rogers and Hammerstein. So do people in the Aged Care Facility where I work as a Chaplain.

It has been 50 years this year since the Sound of Music Movie was made. Hard to believe.

There’s a part of the movie where Maria teaches the Von Trapp children to sing, “Doe, a deer, a female deer, Ray, a drop of golden sun.” DO, RE MI FA SOL LA TE DO, which I understand are the notes CDEFGABC on the piano.

So I have improvised a Christmas Story this year, based on the notes of that scale.

Redeeming LoveRedeeming Love

CHRISTMAS AND THE EIGHT NOTES THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

© Ross Cochrane

DOE, A DEER, A FEMALE DEER.

Our story begins with God who had created all of heaven and earth in six days. While He was resting on the seventh day, He decided to write a symphony for the world.

Music hadn’t been invented yet, so He looked around the Garden of Eden to find something which would inspire Him to create the musical notes which would allow Adam and Eve to express their deepest worship, as well as inspire them to reach their highest potential.

In a clearing in the garden, He came across a lovely doe, drinking from a stream.

He decided to choose a note that could be used in His Symphony of Love to the world, a note that would be one of the central notes of all music down through the ages.

He called it the Note of the Doe because it reminded Him of the sounds of the gentle stream over the pebbles and the quiet nature of this beautiful female deer whose thirst was quenched by the water.

He said, “As the deer thirsts for the water, so the souls of men and women will long for Me” and for the first time a crystal clear note was heard in the heavens and resounded throughout all the earth.

Since the dawn of history, every time a person responds to God’s purposes that note is heard in heaven as part of God’s Symphony of Love.

Nine months before the first Christmas day a young woman responded to the purposes of God in her life. When an angel appeared to Mary and told her she would bear a child, she heard the distinct sound of that note; the Note of the Doe. She had a thirst for the things of God and she responded to His words. She said, “May everything you have said about me come true.”

RE, A DROP OF GOLDEN SUN

Just then a glorious drop of golden sunlight coursed it way through the trees, resting on the doe and dancing on the water, harmonising the colours of the clearing in a magnificent array of light. In that moment another note sounded in the earth and echoed throughout eternity. God said, “This note will remind men and women that I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in Me will no longer remain in the dark.” This note was created to usher in the Light of the World.

Years later, on the first Christmas night, some Shepherds heard it too. As it filled their hearts with its sound, the fields were flooded with light. They had heard that angelic note that somehow touched the earth like Spring sunlight on the meadow. The radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. Angels reassured them and told them of the Saviour, born in Bethlehem, the Light of the World.

ME, A NAME I CALL MYSELF

One day, the first man and woman decided that they wanted to be like God and write their own symphony of notes which they called the Symphony of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but only one note was heard throughout the garden; the note of ME. It was repeated over and over again; ME, ME, ME, in a regular rhythmic beat.

God heard the note in the Garden because it was so discordant with the melody of the music which He had been creating. He found them hiding in the garden and asked them, “What have you done?” but they only said, “It wasn’t ME!” and refused to take responsibility for the note of disobedience and sin which they had created.

But years later, a strange thing happened on that first Christmas when Mary gave birth to Jesus. The sound of ME was somehow changed, and the curse that had come with the note of ME, ME, ME which rang throughout the earth was changed by the simple sound of a baby in a manger.

Jesus later changed the name of the Note to Follow ME. He said “This note shall remind men and women that they are sinners in need of a Saviour. It will be a note to remind them of ME, to seek ME, believe in ME and follow ME.”

Through the centuries that followed few heard the sound of the note calling them to repent of their sins and to follow, but on that first Christmas, Joseph recalled that he had heard it in a dream. An angel sang the note when he said, “Mary will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

FA, A LONG, LONG WAY TO RUN

As God played the beautiful notes that would one day be used in His symphony, He realised that the hearts of men and women had moved so far away that they could no longer hear the notes He had created for His Symphony of Love.

He longed to awaken the music within them and bring them close again, to bridge the gap, to call men and women back to Himself. And it occurred to Him that He needed to create a note as crisp and clear as a bell, which would call men from afar.

As He travelled throughout the universe pondering what note to use, He passed by a distant star. The star was so overjoyed by His presence that it began to emit a pure and beautiful sound from deep within its core. The closer God came to the star, the brighter it got and the praise of the star rose louder and clearer than all other sounds.

God looked down on the earth to see if anyone could hear the beauty of the sound of this star’s worship and saw that some wise men had noticed. The note and brightness of the King Star, heard and seen from afar, was used by God to guide them to Bethlehem on that first Christmas and became a note in God’s Symphony of Love.

King Herod heard the music of the King Star also coming from the vicinity of Bethlehem and tried to deaden the sound with the crescendo of his anger, but he could do nothing. The Wise Men still sought Jesus and presented Him with gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

Doe, a deer, a female deer

Ray, a drop of golden sun

Me, a name I call myself

Far, a long, long way to run

SEW, A NEEDLE PULLING THREAD

Every stringed instrument is played on strings that are threaded through the tuning pins and stretched out along the sound board.

As God looked down on the earth that first Christmas, He saw something most remarkable. It was a scarlet string that had threaded its way through history from the Garden of Eden all the way to Bethlehem. Few people could see it, but it was there.

It was the Scarlet String of God’s Grace. The Prophets had spoken about it. It was the grace of God that sent Jesus, the Messiah, to be born in Bethlehem. Totally undeserved.

God reached down that first Christmas and took the end of that Scarlet String of Grace where it rested at the door of a stable in Bethlehem.

As the master musician came into our lives, He wiped off the dust of the years of disuse, and skilfully added the Scarlet String of His Grace, threading it through the tuning pins, as He tightened and tuned His instrument.

And on that string, another note would be added to God’s Symphony of Love, A Grace Note, which introduced the Key Note of the Symphony.

It was given voice for the first time as God picked up the bow and He led His angelic orchestra by playing the most magnificent of melodies. A melody so pure and sweet that the Shepherds and Wise Men, Mary and Joseph and we too, were drawn into His presence.

You see, the String of Grace was threaded through the tuning pin and stretched across the Soundboard of Salvation so that God’s Symphony of Love could be shared with the World.

We had been “out of tune” and none of the chords sounded like they were meant to be played, but because of the birth of Christ we finally had something to measure each note. He is the key to us getting in tune with God. He takes away the old strings and threads the new strings through our human spirit and orchestrates in us a Rhapsody of Love that lasts for eternity.

It was that needle pulling the Thread of Grace that gave us the Voice of Faith as God played His Overture.

The Symphony of Love was the most beautiful of symphonies ever heard in all the world, … but there was still something missing.

LA, A NOTE TO FOLLOW SO

As God looked at His Son and began to play so beautifully that first Christmas, He realised that two notes were still missing from His symphony. One of them He knew would be the most difficult notes He would ever compose.

He realised that Jesus Himself was the most Noteworthy part of Christmas. The sound of His voice would echo down through the centuries so pure and lovely that it would transpose the music of people’s lives into the Key of Heaven.

So after creating His Grace Note, He created the Note of LA to represent Jesus Himself, the first and the Last, the overture that ushered in the Symphony of Love and the finale of Creation, for He is so noteworthy that it is the message of His voice that follows on from everything else that has played out in our lives so far.

TE, A MEAL WITH WINE AND BREAD.

I know, we sing it as Tea, a drink with jam and bread, but it wasn’t always that way. This note is the finale of God’s Symphony of Love.

You see, God, with a trembling voice, brought the last note into being, once and for all. There were tears in His eyes as He created the note of TE.

This note was first played at a meal with wine and bread, called The Last Supper.

God called the note “t” because it would always be associated with the shape of the Cross. The Symphony of Love that began at the Manger was a prelude to the Cross.

God knew from the very beginning that before Jesus could die for our sins, He had to be born into the world as a perfect human being. It was on this note that the Symphony of Love reached its crescendo, the crescendo of history, as Jesus died for our sin, and darkness descended on the earth. The voice of God was heard through the thunder of the cymbals as the Finale was played and He cried out, “It is finished”.

When the Apostle Paul heard the note, he wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT), “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  

The key to Christmas is the birth of Jesus. Galatians 4:4 (NASB) says “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His son, born of a woman.” Right on cue, Jesus came and He is instrumental in the arrangement God had created for the world. Jesus would bridge the gap between God and Man.

This was God’s orchestration. God’s magnificent Sonata. His creative arrangement. His Serenade of Grace. He was the composer of this beautiful Rhapsody of Love, this Overture to the World.

That will lead us back to doe; back to the person who is responsive to God and open to His purposes. Back to a ray of golden sun that led wise men to the Light of the World. Back to reflecting that life is not all about ME and that Jesus came to save ME from my sin. It seems that Jesus had the only Me without sin. He said “Come to Me, believe in Me, follow Me”. And so Wise Men came from a far, far away place, following His star to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah King.

God threaded the String of Grace and composed a Symphony of Love and played it at Jesus birth and at His death, so those who believe in Him could be his Instruments of Love and live as God intended.

Jesus is the Overture and the Finale. His birth was a Prelude to our salvation. His death was instrumental in bringing forgiveness to the world.

When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything. Nothing is impossible with God. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The key to Christmas is Jesus. He gets us working in harmony with Him and others. He gives us a new melody of worship and gives us our own unique voice; He keeps us in time with the rhythm of life; the different tempos, different tones, and different timbres. He whispers into our lives with the soft notes and builds us up in the crescendos of life. He’s there at the beginning and there at the finale. The Maestro at work, playing His Symphony of Love at Christmas, a prompt to you and me to trust in Christ and find harmony with God.

And if this story has made sense to you, then would you repeat this prayer with me? It’s a prayer to receive Christ as your personal Saviour this Christmas.

Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to save me. I admit that I have been out of tune with You and out of sync. I believe that You died for my sins and I want my life to more than just about me. I hear the sound of God’s symphony of love and I accept You as my personal Lord and Saviour. Make my life Your instrument. Make me the person You designed me to be; to live my life in Harmony with You. Thankyou for saving me.

 

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 21

Jonathan and Ahimaaz could not believe that their fathers would not allow them to attend the celebration and watch as the Ark came into Jerusalem.

“Can’t you see?” said Abiathar, “All Ahithophel can see is two milch cows, pulling a cart with the Ark of the Covenant. But the holy manuscripts command that it is the Kohathites’ job to carry, on their shoulders, the holy things of the Tabernacle.”

Kohathites were Priests in Israel from the tribe of Levi. Kohath was the second son of Levi. This Priestly tribe had the special responsibility to look after the sacred objects to use in the Tabernacle.

“I might add that there were no carts assigned to the Kohathites.” His sarcasm made it clear where he stood on this issue. He was now red in the face and beginning to get out of breath. He sighed.

“It seems so strange,” he said, “that the king isn’t doing things according to what God has instructed. It doesn’t make any sense. His motivation is right, but his method is flawed. All he seems to want is to get the Ark from the house of Abinadab as quickly as possible and bring it to Jerusalem. But to use a cart! It was never carried like that in Moses time.”

“Was Moses allowed to carry it?” asked Absalom who had appeared around the corner at an awkward time having heard the raised voices.

“No,” said Abiathar, and began to wonder how much of the conversation Absalom had heard, “It required a number of strong Priests to carry it. They didn’t put it all on one man’s shoulders. God didn’t require that Moses bear the Ark alone. And He didn’t require Aaron as the high priest to carry it alone. A number of priests were involved.”

He used the opportunity to soften his anger a little. At least, I may be able to teach you to respect the things of God, he thought. “In the same way, carrying the things of God in our lives is not just dependent upon important people. Each of us is involved in some way. God chose the Levites to bear the Ark of God’s presence, but the whole of Israel will be lifting God high as we sing His praises.

You see, Absalom, God doesn’t have a temple like the false gods of the Philistines. He dwells with His people and together we carry the things of God in our hearts and we exalt Him with our lips. We are His temple. And together we will have an impact upon the nations who don’t know our God. They will know that we are worshipers of the One true God because of the way we honour His Ark.”

What is he talking about? thought Absalom, “Where will the Ark be taken?”

“It has a special place in the Tent of Meeting.” said Abiathar, “The Ark is holy, something that is separated for use by the Lord. That’s why it has been anointed with a sacred oil just like your father was anointed when he was set apart to be king. It will be placed in the holiest place of all in the Tent of Meeting, called the Holy of Holies.” said Abiathar.” Abiathar turned to his son. “Jonathan, tell me the other name for the Tent of Meeting?” he asked.

“The Tabernacle.” said Jonathan without hesitation.

“Yes, very good.” Jonathan was expected to learn everything to do with the Tabernacle and it’s objects. Ahimaaz was priest Zadok’s son, and Ahimaaz and Jonathan were best friends. This was revision for them, but they still took great interest in what Abiathar was saying.

“The Ark has different names also. Mostly it is called the Ark of the Covenant but it is also known as the Ark of Witness, or the Ark of the Lord, or the Ark of God’s strength. Each name teaches us something. For example – It was called the Ark of Witness because it is where God witnesses our response to Him. Do you understand?”

No, I don’t. “I think so.” I don’t think I like the idea of God watching me. Did God see me in the darkness when we looked at the Ark in Abinadab’s house? Absalom shuddered at the thought, never-the-less he was fascinated by the Ark. Everyone had been talking about it being brought to Jerusalem. The air was filled with expectation and excitement.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 20

It was never intended that the Ark of the Covenant be carried on a cart! David had insisted on leaving the planning for the transport of the Ark to Ahithophel, a trusted advisor. Zadok and Abiathar had tried to speak with David about this.

“The things that speak of the rulership and the presence of God are meant to be carried on the shoulders of His priests, the Levites. They alone are intended to be the vehicle of the Holy Presence of God,” said Zadok. The Levites alone are chosen by God for such a royal task. You know we are a holy priesthood, called to proclaim the excellent greatness of God. What must I say to change your mind? “A cart could never support the Ark of the Covenant. A cart is meant to carry light loads and sheaths from the harvests for short distances. And besides, they are notoriously unstable.”

David looked to Ahithophel for support. How do I get rid of these complaining priests? They are obviously jealous that I appointed Ahithophel to take care of the details of transporting the Ark. As far as David was concerned, it didn’t matter how the Ark arrived in Jerusalem as long as it arrived safely and soon.

Ahithophel said in a condescending tone. “I assure you, my lord, that the animals are strong and that the cart is new. It has never been used before.”

“But the point is that a cart was never intended to be used to carry the Ark.” said Zadok.

“I am sure that the Lord will understand,” said Ahithophel, still trying to be diplomatic but obviously annoyed. These interfering priests! What does it matter how the Ark is transported.

“How can you even think of carrying the Ark in such a way?” said Abiathar.

“Enough!” said David, “I have given the task to Ahithophel. What he decides is to be done. Do you understand?” The time for argument was over.

“Yes, my lord. But we will have no part in this.” Abiathar replied, and Zadok was obviously in agreement.

“That is entirely your choice.” These two have annoyed me long enough. Can’t they see they have already destroyed some of the excitement about this important occasion and of all things over some trifling matter of how the Ark is to be transported. I resent your intrusion. “Now leave me.” With these things still in his heart he had continued the preparations with Ahithophel and inspected the cart. Despite the unpleasant attitudes of the priests, it looked good. The two milch cows were strong. To all appearances, the cart would hold the weight. I should have ordered them to ride in the cart also. His annoyance had remained. Perhaps it was inevitable that the cart would stumble.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 19

The lesson the next day held particular fascination for Absalom and Uzzah.

“Why are the angels on the top of the Ark?” said Uzzah before anyone had a chance to ask any other questions.

“The angels on the top of the Ark of the Covenant carry God’s righteousness and justice to us,” said Zadok, “Although we can’t see them, I am sure that God has designated real angels to be at His side as He makes His presence known to us on top of the Ark of the Covenant. These two angels have a special name. They are known as Cherubim. They sit on top of the Ark of the Covenant with their wings outstretched and look down at the Mercy Seat. Cherubim are God’s warrior angels. Do you remember me telling you how God placed Cherubim with a flaming sword east of the Garden of Eden to stop Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of Life after they had sinned?”

“Yes, Rabbi, but why would God want His warrior angels on top of the place where He wants us to know His presence? He doesn’t want to make war with us, with these …” Uzzah repeated the new word that described them, “… Cherubim, does He?” The other children laughed, but it was a nervous laugh.

“God’s warrior angels are not to be trifled with.” said Zadok, his deep voice cutting across their laughter. “They represent two of the most magnificent creatures ever created from the hand of God. They defend the justice and righteousness of God and that’s why they are depicted on the Ark of the Covenant.”

“What would happen if you touched the Ark? asked Absalom.

“The angels would draw their swords and kill you!” said Ahio. Uzzah and Absalom laughed but it was laughter peppered with apprehension. It’s ridiculous that two golden angels could draw their swords and kill us. They were both aware of the serious look on Zadok’s face and equally surprised and disturbed by his answer. It seemed that he agreed with Ahio.

“Yes!” said Zadok, “The only way you can approach the Ark is with blood from a sacrifice. If you touch the Ark of the Covenant without the blood of a sacrifice then you become the sacrifice, yourself.” Absalom and Uzzah looked at each other. It all seemed to have become a little far-fetched but they were still not quite sure.

“Is there anything inside the Ark?” Uzzah said suddenly to change the subject.

“Ah, It seems that I have missed out a very important part of my story. Yes, there is something inside the Ark. In fact it is what is inside that is important to our people because it contains objects from our history.” Absalom and Uzzah were once again fascinated. “Inside the box are three objects that all have a special meaning.” said Zadok, “These three objects represent the sin of our people, yours and mine included.”

“But what are these objects, Rabbi?” asked Uzzah.

“The first objects deep inside this box are broken. Originally they were the stone tablets containing the 10 commands that God gave to Moses. Why were they broken?” asked Zadok. Uzzah knew this well.

“They were broken because our people began to worship an idol.” he said.

“Yes, and when Moses saw them worshipping a golden calf, he smashed the tablets of the law on the ground. The pieces were collected and eventually put into the Ark of the Covenant as a picture of their sin against the Law of God. These broken tablets speak of our sin against the law of God.”

“Will they show us these tablets of the law that Moses tomorrow?” Absalom asked.

“The Ark hasn’t been opened since the days of Moses.” said Zadok. Uzzah and Absalom were obviously curious.

“What was the second object in the Ark?” Absalom was fascinated with what Zadok was teaching him. He loved to hear about the history of his people. Why do I feel afraid of Zadok? Sometimes he makes me feels so uneasy? He commands such authority, but he’s just a priest. One day, people will listen to me. Absalom wanted to learn how to wield such authority himself. He felt the same way in the presence of his father. Zadok answered him,

“The second object that was placed into the Ark was Aaron’s rod that budded. This spoke of how our people rebelled against God’s appointed leaders. You know this story. Our people had rebelled against Moses and Aaron, and God told them to choose rods for each of the twelve leaders of Israel and write their names on the rods. They were then to be placed in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Ark of the Testimony. The rod that sprouted would indicate to the people God’s appointed priest. What happened? Do you remember?”

“Only Aaron’s rod had sprouted by the following day.” said Absalom.

“Yes.” said Zadok, looking directly into Absalom’s eyes, “Unfortunately many of our people in Israel have rejected the priests and prophets of God and they have even rebelled against king David.”

“Yes”, said Absalom. Again he felt uncomfortable.

“Now let me tell you about the third object. The third object that was placed in the Ark was a pot of Manna. This pot of manna speaks of how our people complained and sinned against the provision of God. During the time of their wandering through the desert, God provided them with manna from heaven to eat each morning, but once again they complained, and God had to deal with them.

These three objects speak together about our people’s sin. But let me see if you have been listening. What are the three ways in which our people have sinned against God?”

Ahimaaz answered. “We have sinned against the Law of God, against his appointed leaders and against his provision for us.” He had listened carefully. He could always recite the correct answers.

“Very good! You have been listening well, my son.” Zadok was delighted with his son’s progress spiritually. One day he would be a fine priest. Absalom returned to the subject of his real interest.

“But why can’t we look at these holy objects that our father Moses once held?” he said.

“The angels who guard the throne on top of the Ark are the only ones who look down upon Israel’s sin and they don’t need to have the box opened to see how badly we have offended the holiness of God. God has made it very clear that the Ark of the Covenant is to be touched and carried only by the Priests.”

“You’re a priest. Would you be able to open it up for us to see Aaron’s rod?” asked Absalom.

“No! The Ark is only to be touched when it is carried. Two poles are to be placed through rings in the side of the ark and the Priests are then able to carry it around.” Absalom thought he might find a way one day to open the Ark.

Zadok’s voice became lower and, with shining eyes that expressed his love for these children, in almost a whisper he said, “The Lord of hosts is there with the Ark of the Covenant. Once a year, on the day of Atonement the priest brings the blood from the sacrifice and sprinkles it over the mercy seat and instead of seeing Israel’s sin, the angel’s see that a sacrifice has been made. The angels that carry God’s righteousness and justice are satisfied.

That’s why your father has decided to bring up the ark to Jerusalem, that it might be near him, and that it might focus attention upon God’s presence and His rulership in Israel. It has remained in the house of Abinadab, your uncle for some time now, but finally we are to see it come to it’s rightful place. Can you see now why your father wants to have it near us?”

“Yes,” said Absalom. “Yes, I think I do. Thankyou Rabbi.” The Ark is a great symbol of power. That’s the main reason why my father wants it with him. He would love to see the objects inside, but for now, he would be content to watch it come into Jerusalem tomorrow.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 18

The window had been covered and so the room was dark except for a small lamp burning on the side wall. It cast eerie shadows as Absalom and Uzzah closed the door carefully behind them. Absalom could feel his heart pounding in his chest and in the silence he could hear the sound of blood pulsing through his ears. Their lips and throats were dry and so when Uzzah spoke, it was in a high pitched squeak that didn’t sound very brave at all.

“I think it’s over there,” he said, but Absalom couldn’t see where he was pointing. As their eyes began to adjust to the dim lighting, the vague shape began to emerge from the darkness and both boys stood with eyes wide open in the awe of the moment. Uzzah took the lamp from its stand and as he did, it made a small scraping noise. The sound seemed so magnified that he almost dropped it and Absalom jumped nervously. His legs seemed weak all of a sudden but he moved behind Uzzah and both of them moved closer to the object in the middle of the room.

“Don’t go any closer.” said Absalom, in a whisper.

“I thought you wanted to open it up and see what’s inside?” said Uzzah.

“I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think we should touch it.”

“Why?” Uzzah asked, secretly relieved, but he taunted Absalom. “Are you afraid of boils?” Apparently some Philistines had been afflicted with boils when they had tried to steal the Ark a long time ago.

“Of course not, but we have to get out of here before your brother gets back. If they find us here they could hang us up in the marketplace with our arms and hands cut off like Baanah and Rechab,” said Absalom.

“You know your father wouldn’t do that to you. Let’s try to open it just a little bit.”

They gazed upon the box-shaped object which, in the light of the small lamp, seemed to glow like smouldering coals. They could now make out the shapes of two creatures on top of the box whose golden wings were reflecting ripples of light. It was such magnificent workmanship. As they slowly moved closer, light seemed to flash from the golden wings of the muscular shaped creatures which made them look as if they were moving.

“Stop!” said Absalom, “I don’t want to touch it.”

“Don’t be so superstitious,” said Uzzah

“I think I saw something move,” said Absalom whose forehead was now beaded in sweat. All of a sudden it felt as if the walls were closing in on him.

“Where?” said Uzzah, thinking that his brother, Eleazar, had returned. Fear began to rise up in Uzzah, but he would not admit this to Absalom.

“You know what they say about the Ark,” said Absalom in a whisper, “Let’s get out of here. It’s too risky.” Absalom started to head towards the door. He could see his own shadow looming before him and panic was rising up within him. All he wanted to do was get out of there. Both of them ran the last couple of steps to the door, colliding with each other as they flung it open.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 17

Jesse’s family was well respected and this is why Samuel had entrusted the Ark into Abinadab’s keeping after the Philistines had returned it. He was an older brother of king David, the second eldest in the family of Jesse. One of his sons, Eleazar had been consecrated to guard it.

Eleazar and Abinadab’s other sons, Uzzah and Ahio, David’s nephews, were direct cousins to Absalom.

It had been decided that the Ark of the Covenant would be brought to Jerusalem in time to celebrate the day of Atonement. Sacrifices would be made to atone for the sins of the priests and the people.

The news quickly spread to the rest of Israel and on the sacred day called Trumpets on the first day of Tishri, they gathered at the gate, nine days before the day of Atonement to discuss the details with king David Himself.

The Day of Trumpets was a holy day and days such as this were often used to celebrate and to share with friends and family.

Zadok the priest was a mine of information and enjoyed spending time with the children and answering their questions as preparations were made.

“It is now written in the annals of our history,” said Zadok, “Jericho had probably expected an immediate attack that day, but the same procedure was followed for six days. From the city walls, they watched as a long procession of our people circled around the city. First of all came the armed guard marching and holding up banners, then after that came seven priests with seven trumpets. Next came the Ark of the Covenant, it’s gold flashing in the sunlight, followed by the rear guard. Then on the seventh day the procession circled round the city seven times. The priests carried the Ark of the Covenant for about three hours that day. That’s when the miracle occurred!” The boys eyes were wide with anticipation. “At the end of the seventh circuit the clear voice of Joshua rang out,

‘Shout! For Jehovah Sabaoth has given you the city!’ So when the priests blasted on the trumpets, the people gave a loud shout. Right at that moment Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts, gave orders to a number of His angels to push down the walls of Jericho and the walls of Jericho collapsed in a thunderous tumult of rubble.” Pure excitement coursed through Absalom’s imagination. He would have loved to have been there to see it all happen.

“Rabbi, what is the Ark of the Covenant. Is it like the Ark of Noah?” said Ahio, Absalom’s younger cousin. They all laughed, but Zadok regarded the question seriously.

“There is no need to laugh. That is a good question, but no, it is not, my son.” He used the term ‘son’ affectionately. These were his pupils and he had come to love them.

“Come closer, all of you, and let me explain it to you.” Jonathan, Ahimaaz and Ahio came and sat on the steps while Absalom and Uzzah remained off to the side. They listened carefully as the priest began to speak of the mysteries of the Ark. Each of them sat in awe and silence as he spoke, only occasionally asking him a question or making a comment to show that they understood.

“I have already spoken to you about the Ark of Noah, but the ark of the Covenant is not like the Ark that God told Noah to build. It is much smaller than that.”

Ahio and Uzzah were Absalom’s cousins and were educated with David’s sons under the tuition of Zadok and Abiathar. Their father Abinadab, the second eldest brother of king David, had been one of those on the front lines of the Israelite army who had witnessed David slaying the giant called Goliath. He was a well-respected man and the Ark of the Covenant had been entrusted into his keeping.

Absalom got on well with Uzzah. Ahio talked too much and was a bit too young for Absalom, but he related well with Uzzah. Uzzah was sensible and quiet and Absalom could talk with him for hours about what was happening in the kingdom and how he would do things if he were king. Being a little older than Absalom, Uzzah listened and gave him practical advice. In Absalom’s thinking, Uzzah was his royal counsellor. When he became king he would have Uzzah there to see to the practical details, like Ahithophel did for David.

Uzzah seemed to enjoy listening to Absalom’s dreams. Absalom had even shown him the dagger that Joab had given to him.

Ahio sat with childish curiosity as Zadok spoke of the Ark. “Was it as small as the Ark of Moses?” he said.

“No my son, not quite that small. It is two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide and high, about the size of the feed troughs you see in Bethlehem, small enough to be carried from place to place. God told Moses himself exactly how He wanted it to be made.”

Zadok said, “On top is a seat called the mercy seat, and two golden angels with wings outspread are looking down from either side onto the Mercy Seat. This is where God’s presence dwells.”

“Why are the angels on the top and what is inside the Ark?” Uzzah asked. At this point, a servant came to Zadok and whispered something to him.

“You’re questions will have to wait until tomorrow. I have work to do,” said Zadok with a gleam in his eye and despite the objections the lessons for the day concluded.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 16

David could see the blade, honed to perfection, slicing through the air towards him. Everything seemed to be focused on the dreadful edge of that sword, and in that split second David heard the clear voice of God speak, “Baal-Perazim! I am the Lord of the Breakthrough!”

From behind David, in full view of the creature, what looked like a great cloud seemed to surge and lift and fill the sky. It raced over David’s head and across the plain all around him, the thunder of its power now pulsating in his ears. It rippled across the sky towards the enemies who now completely surrounded king David and instead of darkening the sky it seemed as if the sky was filled with light.

A terrifying wind howled around them piercing the air with an awesome sound. The strength in the creatures arm seemed to melt and the force of his sword was easily deflected. A fear that David could almost feel now haunted the creatures eyes as he hesitated just a moment too long. David took the opportunity to thrust his sword forward. The creature looked down in horror as the sword found its mark and sliced cleanly into its heart.

As the creature roared in fear and pain David shouted, “I come to establish the righteousness, peace and joy of the Lord of heaven and earth this day!”

David could see then that the cloud was not a cloud at all, but thousands and thousands of Angelic beings racing towards the enemy. As he thrust his sword a second time towards the creature, the cloud dropped like a flood released from a dam.

“As waters break out, so have I broken out against My enemies before You!” came God’s clear voice from the flood. The deluge broke over them with the force of an exploding volcano. With another thrust of David’s sword, it swamped the enemy completely in front and behind and David lost sight of them in the rushing, surging tide. It seemed that he stood in the eye of a tornado as the enemy was ripped asunder.

What seemed like only moments later there was silence. It broke upon the plain with an eerie suddenness. David could hear the blood pulsing through his ears. There was no sight of the enemy or their leader. Thousands of broken idols were strewn across the plain. The chains and blindfolds from the captive nations had fallen away and they were standing in absolute silence looking towards him.

“I come in the name of the Lord of hosts,” he said, and his voice quivered with awe. As realisation dawned upon the masses that stood before him, cheering broke out across the plain and shouts of praise and worship filled the air.

In that moment, he felt so weak he collapsed, lying prostrate before the Lord, filled with the exhilaration and exhaustion of victory. He awoke from his vision on the floor, with Ahithophel peering anxiously into his eyes. He had heard David collapse and had run into the room expecting the worst. He was relieved not only to find David alive but somehow glowing.

“What happened, my lord?” said Ahithophel.

“Ahithophel, you know better than to interrupt me while I am in prayer. Why are you here?” said David, ignoring the question.

“My lord, I came to tell you that the Philistines have gathered in the valley of Rephaim!”

David looked into the concerned eyes of Ahithophel and laughed. He said, “No, not Rephaim. Baal-Perazim!” and Ahithophel was totally confused as David headed off to command his army.

Aiming at the heart, with the first thrust of David’s forces, the Philistines were driven back, perplexed at such strength, and had to regather their troops. Again they spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim, a large army. They didn’t realise, however, that the valley of Rephaim was now the valley of the Lord of the Breakthrough, Baal-Perazim, won through prayer. David went against the Philistines with a sure knowledge of victory that day and defeated the enemy quickly.

God told David to have Israel circle around behind the Philistines and when they heard a marching-like rustle in the balsam trees they were to attack and drive the Philistines from Gibeon to Gezer, a distance of about twenty-four kilometres. God performed His promise, went before them, and routed all the enemy’s force, right to the very borders of their own country.

The destruction was turned upon the Philistines and their evil was broken in the land. As demon worshipers, the Philistines were very superstitious. The charms they wore into battle, idols of Dagon, Ashtoreth and Baalzebub were abandoned in their rush to escape the slaughter. They had become sacrifices to their own idols. They were the same scattered idols David had seen so clearly in his dream. One of the weapons left behind on the battlefield was a dagger. It had the same shaped blade as the dagger Joab had used to kill Abner. In fact, it had come from the same forge. It was picked up by one of David’s soldiers as they carried the idols of the Canaanites away and destroyed them.

From that point on, that part of the Valley of Rephaim, only four or five kilometres South-West of Jerusalem became known as, “Baal-Perazim”, the Lord of the Breakthrough.

The same thing would one day happen at the feast of Pentecost many years hence. When the kingdom of the Messiah came, apostles were told that they were not to do anything until they received the promise of the Holy Spirit.

And when the Spirit came, it was just like the sound of a rushing mighty wind from heaven. It was the sound of victory as warriors of a new covenant went to battle against the forces of evil and to usher in the kingdom of God. In fact, it sounded just like the sound that David heard that day rushing through the tops of the balsam trees.

In prayer, a victorious king David reflected on the goodness of God in his life. He had made the most important decision of his life many years ago out on the hills with his sheep. He would dedicate his life to the Lord of hosts. God had remained faithful over the years and he stayed up for most of this night in prayer.

David had reigned as king in Hebron for seven and a half years. At first there had been a civil war with those who had supported the old regime of king Saul but eventually David had been anointed king over all the twelve tribes of Israel.

After defeating the Jebusites, he had moved his military base to the fortified defences of Jerusalem. Now, it had been relatively easy for his family for a while.

The Philistines saw king David as a brilliant strategist in warfare. They were never a problem to him again. He had been able to build himself a palace, open up highways and trade routes and relax from the pressures of war.

For the first time for Obed-edom, the old Philistine slave, life seemed overwhelmingly good. God had answered his prayers and, miraculously, king David and his army had defeated the Philistines. Somehow he no longer saw himself as a Philistine. Now he was a slave of Jehovah Sabaoth, and each morning he uttered tearful thanks to the God who had created him for such a time as this.

He and his sons all began to find a deep relationship with the God of Israel and they began to wholeheartedly participate in the worship ceremonies. Each Sabbath day they listened avidly to each word that the priest uttered so that they could learn more about God and sometimes they were allowed to ask questions about the things that puzzled them.

For David, the Lord had to have central place in the kingdom, and it was while he was in prayer that he was prompted to bring back the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem, and place it in the special tabernacle prepared for it. He could not realise how the events of the coming days would change him.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 15

Hearing that David was now king of the united tribes of Israel, the Philistines had become troubled. They knew him to be a man skilled in battle strategies and, therefore, David was an immediate threat. They expressed their opposition by gathering their armies. As David learned of this approaching threat, he went to enquire of the Lord.

In prayer, David saw the realities of his anointing. The presence of God enveloped him as he prayed and he saw a picture of his hand crushing the Philistine army. God spoke clearly to him. “Go against them for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” This would be a battle borne from contempt of his leadership and he would fight it in a way that honoured God.

Somehow, as he prayed, David sensed that even more was at stake. Although he could not see God’s plan outstretched across the centuries, he felt that someone waited beyond the realms of time, watching for the battle to be completed. He could not have known that another king would one day come directly through his line to claim an even wider kingdom. He could not know that it was really His kingdom, the kingdom of the coming Messiah, which was being attacked by the powers of darkness.

As God’s presence seemed to increase, David voiced his thoughts.

“Why do people conspire and devise schemes against me, Your anointed one for no reason, Lord? Kings continually want to defy me and gather together against You.”

In David’s seriousness and anxiety, all of a sudden God was laughing. He was sure of it. He felt the untapped delight rise up and it startled him. But the laughter continued and soon it seemed as if all of heaven was exploding with its contagious joy. He could not help but laugh too. It seemed that the One true king, the Lord, enthroned in heaven, laughs and shows His contempt for the foolishness of men, but he was also aware that God also rebukes them in His anger, terrifying them by His wrath. God spoke clearly to David in words that gave him such hope and inspiration. He said, “I have established My King on Zion, My holy hill. You are My son, and today I have become Your Father. Ask Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession. You will rule them with an iron sceptre, dashing them to pieces like pottery. Let kings be wise and be warned. Serve Me with fear and tremble as you rejoice. Blessed are all those who take refuge in Me.”

As the vision continued David saw a huge battleground, filled with enemy forces, jeering and threatening him. The enemy were not human but creatures, rulers and authorities of other realms, powers of the dark. Somehow he recognised the evil smell that wafted from their ranks.

The Lord spoke to the kings of the earth in this vision. He said, “Who will fight for Me?” Only David stepped forward. Other kings seemed not even to have heard the voice of God. He was afraid, but he said, “I will, my Lord! If You are with me.”

Immediately he was equipped for battle against these spiritual forces of evil, and as he knelt before the Lord he was anointed with a fragrant oil. The fragrance was familiar. It had been mixed up in a certain way which no-one could imitate and even the enemy knew, as God poured it on David’s head, that he was being consecrated, dedicated to God’s service as a king, and set apart for God’s service as holy. Only prophets, priests and kings were anointed with oil in this way. And as the oil flowed over him David knew that God was pouring out His Spirit upon him, so that he could fulfil his responsibility as king and be all that God intended him to be. The fragrance infiltrated the enemy ranks and they began to stir uneasily as God said,

“I am pouring My protection over you. It will surround you, for the Lord saves His anointed. and just as you honoured the anointing upon Saul, though he was evil, so too I have anointed you with honour for righteousness. You are My servant. I will sustain you and strengthen you. I will answer you as you pray. The enemy you see before you will not bring you under subjection or make you pay tribute, for I will crush them before you, as you strike them down.”

The Lord’s voice once more rang clearly, “My faithful love will be with you, forever and through My name you will be exalted. My covenant with you will never fail. I will establish your family line forever, and your throne as long as the heavens endure.”

David was overcome with an aching gratitude and love for the Lord and cried out with words which seemed so inadequate, “You are my Father, My God, the Rock on which I stand, and My Saviour!”

Again David sensed the importance of this battle. Somehow it would be a war that would take place in the heavens, beyond his ability to comprehend. It would be an important battle and the issue, it seemed, had something to do with his family line – his sons and his son’s sons, because somehow God would extend his kingdom forever. On the day that this battle would take place, all eternity would be hanging in the balance.

The anointing was a refreshing and purifying anointing. It’s expensive perfume brought great joy to David and he could feel it healing him of all sorrow and pain. It took away the stench of the enemy spread out before him.

The Lord said, “I have anointed you for battle. Break-through the enemy lines! Run in such a way as to have victory!” As He spoke it seemed that the very words were spoken into his being.

David could see the nations of the earth behind the enemy lines, bound with chains and blindfolded, struggling to break free. He began to walk and then run forward, sword in hand towards the enemy, shouting words of victory in the Name of the Lord.

The picture of one man running against such insurmountable odds seemed ridiculous. The enemy began to laugh as he came and soon thousands of the evil host were jeering at him. The roar of callous taunts tumbled across the plain and sounded like a raucous mob milling around the stoning of a common criminal.

As David moved closer he could see that the enemy was armed with every weapon imaginable, round shields, long broadswords, lances, and triangular daggers. They looked very warlike. Each of the leaders wore what looked like feathered headdresses. David ran closer with the sword that God had given him clutched in his hand. And as he ran, he knew that he would not become another prisoner of war, trapped in the snares of the enemy. God was with him and as he ran forward, he would overcome the enemy and free the captive nations. He would not be caught off guard or be wounded. He cried out from the depths of his heart, “Lord, I am ready!”

The hordes of darkness seemed also to be ready. They gathered in the valley of Rephaim and spread themselves out across the plain. David could see their leader now urging them towards him. He was commanding his full forces against David. They wanted David specifically. He could hear their curses clearly now.

The Lord said, “Behold, your adversary! Beware of his deceit.”

Thousands of the enemy seemed to roll across the plain like a huge river, pounding the earth and shouting as they came. David felt the surge of adrenaline race through his veins but the presence of God obliterated the last traces of fear as he charged towards them.

In a rush, he was face to face with their mighty leader, and the evil hordes, like horns on the head of a huge charging bull, were beginning to enfold him on either side. He was now well within striking distance. This giant of a creature lifted its gigantic sword. It’s eyes were the eyes of a lion as it clutches for it’s prey, intense, focused, determined and full of malevolent fury. It seemed as if David’s weapons would be useless against such overpowering strength and he lifted his sword in defence as the creature’s blade came whistling through the air towards him.