Posts Tagged ‘Murder’

Sword and Shield – better proportions and lighting

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The Sword Shall not Depart from your House © Ross Cochrane

 

Psalm 3 – HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE PEACE IN TIMES OF PRESSURE?

The Sword Shall not depart from you – Part 3

2 Samuel reads like a Starwars prequel to Psalm 3. Luke Skywalker had some issues with his Dad, Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. So does Absalom.

What happened to make Absalom hate his father so much?

2 Samuel tells the story of how Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar. When Amnon raped Tamar, King David did nothing. Perhaps that’s when Absalom began to hate his own father and lost his faith in God.

Absalom was not about to sit around and do nothing. Two years later, his simmering rage against Amnon had not been assuaged. So he plotted revenge.

Absalom invited Amnon to a harvest feast and then murdered him. He escaped to live with his grandfather, Talmai, King of Geshur. David does nothing to get him back or hold him to account for his crime.

Why does David let Absalom get away with murder?  

Well, perhaps David’s own conscience plays a part in his decision-making. Is he reluctant to act because of his own sin of adultery and murder?

David’s life moves from a soap opera to a murder mystery to a Starwars premake. David had slept with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. But worse still, to cover up his sin, he had murdered her husband Uriah by putting him in the thick of battle without support. Perhaps these sins made him inept when it came to disciplining his sons.

David confesses his sins bitterly when confronted by Nathan the prophet, but Nathan prophesies that “The sword shall not depart from your house” and this prophecy was finding fulfillment in the most horrible way.

Sword2

David suspects nothing when Absalom is eventually allowed to return to Jerusalem. Instead of behaving in humility to his Father, Absalom patiently and relentlessly wins the hearts of the people (2 Samuel 15:13) and stages a rebellion.

WHY DID DAVID WRITE THIS PSALM?

With all this emotion and action spinning around in the background and threatening another episode, Psalm 3 begins to take on a new meaning. It is said that David composes this Psalm when he is forced to leave Jerusalem, fleeing from Absalom’s army, as he passes by the mount of Olives. 2 Samuel 15 recounts how he weeps, with his clothes torn, and with dust on his head as a sign of his grief and shock at such a revolt. Not only his son but many people he trusted have turned against him.

Although David grieves over his son’s rebellion, somehow David finds peace during this terrible situation. This Psalm indicates that he runs FROM Absalom but INTO the arms of God. His defense from Absalom’s huge army is this prayerful Psalm.

“How do I continue to have peace in times of pressure?” David leaves me an example when I am facing circumstances I face as a consequence of my own mistakes in life.

  1. BE HONEST WITH GOD ABOUT THE PRESSURES AND THE CHALLENGES YOU ARE FACING but also, like David
  2. MAKE A DECISION TO RECOGNISE YOUR DEPENDENCE ON GOD

Terrorists, drug lords and presidents and kings only seem to get away with their sinful behavior.

Consequences and forgiveness are different. The Bible indicates that although we often face the consequences of our own sin against others, God forgives us when we honestly confess our transgressions to Him. But let’s not pretend that this forgiveness did not come at a price. Christ paid for us the supreme cost by dying for us on the Cross. The Cross pays our debt of sin and our relationship with God is restored when we place our trust in what Christ has done.

We may face consequences and pressures that directly result from our sins yet God can give us the peace we need while He deals with the mess we make at times with living. He gives us peace when we are surrounded by circumstances that are far from friendly and absorbs the blows of the enemy. (Psalm 3 has a lot more to say about this).

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 61

Ahithophel was on the defensive. He had deliberately stalled the report of these rumours from David until the right moment, but now he was being summoned to the court by the king because Joab had been probing into the reports concerning Absalom. He arrived at court as Joab was expressing his concerns to the king.

After the formalities, David said, “I rely your advice as my chief of intelligence, but I find there has been much talk in the kingdom suggesting I appoint Absalom as Judge of Israel. Apparently some are saying that I intend to announce Absalom as King. I intend no such thing. Why haven’t I heard you speak about this?”

“My lord, it is merely gossip. I saw no need.”

David pursued the issue. He was annoyed and said, “Give me your thoughts on this gossip.”

This was a welcome opportunity. Expressing his ideas freely but carefully, Ahithophel made a case for Absalom as Judge of Israel, showing that he had thought through the issues well, as usual. He wove his words together skilfully and ended by saying, “He certainly seems well qualified for the position…”

Joab, who had stood by with a scowl on his face could stand it no longer. He interrupted in his harsh, deep, rasping voice, “Just because he rides around on that chariot like some kind of glorified champion of the people doesn’t mean he has the ability to be the Judge of Israel.”

“Be careful with your words, Joab!” David was willing to discuss matters concerning the security of the kingdom but he would not have anyone underestimate the abilities of any of his sons, nor speak of them disrespectfully.

Joab ignored the warning and said, “This is ludicrous, my king! Absalom has already killed Amnon, his own brother! He is a dangerous young man who always gets what he wants!” Without pause Joab turned to Ahithophel and said, “Now you want him appointed as Judge of Israel! Is that your idea or his?”

David said, “Enough! You dare speak of Amnon when you have Abner on your conscience.” He had been tempted to speak further of Joab’s murder of Abner but a fleeting thought of Uriah the Hittite made him hold his tongue.

“Are you completely blind?” shouted Joab, overstepping his authority completely.

“Get out! Your insolence is not helpful!” Joab, you and I are both blinded by our past. 

When Joab was gone David turned to Ahithophel, obviously annoyed and a little embarrassed. After a time the king spoke carefully and with deliberation. “I agree with Joab,” he said. “This time I am not willing to heed your advice, Ahithophel. I will not appoint Absalom as Judge in Israel. I am amazed at your lack of discernment. You have been influenced too much by my son and by what people are saying.”

David did intend to re-instate Absalom as one of his counsellors along with his other sons, but certainly not in the high office of Judge of Israel. Solomon perhaps, but not Absalom. He said nothing of this to Ahithophel. “I want you to work alongside Absalom and give balance to his counsel, not come under his influence. It will soon be 40 years since Samuel anointed me as king. I will have some important announcements to make then. In the meantime try to bridle my son’s ambitions.”

Ahithophel was astounded. You tell me that my counsel is like that of a prophet, yet you reject it! You are being foolish, he thought. His counsel had rarely been rejected. He was unable to say anything but “Yes, my lord”. He left the court deeply offended, only to find Joab was waiting for him.

“I have nothing to say to you.” Ahithophel said as Joab stood in his way, but the imposing figure of this man gave him no choice but to pause.

“Absalom is a dangerous man, Ahithophel. You would do well to be careful.”

Ahithophel turned and walked down the steps without making a comment. Dangerous indeed. Absalom is one of the few people who has any common sense around here! he thought. Even Hushai did not seem as open as Absalom was with him. It is not of Absalom of whom I must be careful.

Ahithophel felt the final ties of allegiance to king David gradually falling away. How could you sacrifice my advice for that of Joab’s so easily, and accuse ME of a lack of discernment?

“You speak of discernment” he muttered, remembering his granddaughter, Bathsheba, and the shame of adultery that had been displayed openly like an unbandaged, festering sore when Nathan gave his now famous prophecy in court. Discernment isn’t one of your best attributes. Your immorality is now part of the history of your kingdom, giving your enemies cause to blaspheme God!

Absalom acted with justice when Amnon had raped Tamar. Amnon’s so-called murder was the will of God. Yes, I will have to be careful, but not of Absalom.

Ahithophel neglected to mention his meeting with the king to Absalom.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 56

“Revenge cursed Joab as surely as it cursed Absalom,” said Ahithophel to Hushai as they made their way to Geshur to retrieve Absalom and his family.

“Joab had remained bitter and the war had continued for many years without an occasion for him to avenge his brother’s death. It had bothered him like an open sore that refuses to heal.” It was a leprosy that ate away from the inside. It slowed him down like a man with a crippled foot. He hungered for Abner’s death like a man starving for nourishment.

“Then the perfect opportunity came. Joab walked into the king’s presence after a successful raid. I remember that David was pleased and responded, ‘I also have good news. Abner has made a peace agreement with me during your absence. He has gone out of his way to convince the rest of Israel that I should be their king. I prepared a feast for him, and he has returned in peace to arrange the details of our covenant.’

Joab was anything but pleased. His desire for personal revenge completely blinded him to the significance of what was happening. Instead of seeing the possibility of David’s dream of Israel being united once again, his dreams only pictured his brother dying at Abner’s feet in war.

He confronted David and said, ‘What have you done? Abner came to you. Why did you let him go?’ He was furious. ‘Don’t you realise that he is deceiving you? He came to observe your military operations and to find out what you are doing!’”

David had seen the hatred in Joab’s eyes which had blocked any sense of reason.

“Joab strode out of the room and spurred on by malice, he immediately sent messengers after Abner. They found him and brought him back.”

Joab had been consumed by a spirit of revenge and motivated by a false sense of personal justice. With deceit in his heart Joab had taken Abner aside into the shadows of the gateway, as though to speak with him privately. Unknown to Abner, Joab held Asahel’s Canaanite dagger tightly in his hand as they met.

Joab boasted to me once. He told me that without warning, he had thrust Asahel’s dagger into Abner’s stomach, ripping it upwards towards his lungs so that he would die slowly. He was spitting the venom of years of bitter hatred and he said, ‘This is for Asahel!’ as he watched Abner die.

“As you can imagine, this murder had tremendous implications for the political climate of the time. Strangely, Joab was not punished but I was present when David cursed him.”

He could almost hear the words of David echoing in his mind when he had heard of Abner’s death.

David had shouted at Joab “Did it ever occur to you that your own selfish hurt has the capacity to hurt all Israel? Israel is now on the brink of a major civil war! Your actions, as my general reflect upon my rulership. Didn’t you realise that people would accuse me, not you, of Abner’s murder? You took matters into your own hands instead of trusting my decision to protect Abner.”

“You should have heard him.” Ahithophel said, “‘May his blood be upon your head and upon all your family!’ he said, ‘May your family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who is crippled or who dies by the sword or who lacks food.’ I’ve never heard David speak like this before or since.”

Ahithophel laughed but he also remembered that tears had begun to well in David’s eyes as he turned away. He had spoken absently.

“I am not sure but perhaps he was praying because David said, ‘A great man has fallen in Israel this day? I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me.’

But David did do something which punished Joab more than we will know. He humiliated Joab by ordering him and all the people with him to tear their clothes, put on sackcloth and walk in mourning in front of Abner’s funeral bier. His own mother had insisted.

King David himself had walked behind the bier. The king wept aloud at Abner’s tomb and sung a lament in public for Abner. His lament made it clear that Joab was to blame. He said of Abner, ‘You died as one who is killed before wicked men. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!’”

The people had wept and David had fasted for the whole day. It was this that stopped the civil war from erupting. All the people had taken note of David’s response to Abner’s death and they were in agreement with him. In fact, everything the king did had pleased them.

“David did not punish Joab in any way other than making him lament for Abner. He could have given Joab the death sentence for this murder. I still wonder why he didn’t. Perhaps Absalom knew of Joab’s history and took this into account before he killed Amnon. If his father did nothing to his general, then he was not likely to do anything to his son.”

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 55

“Why is it that Joab is so anxious to have Absalom back in Jerusalem?” asked Hushai as they were walking on the second day. Ahithophel and Hushai were among those who accompanied Joab to retrieve Absalom and his family from Geshur.

“Perhaps to ease his own conscience.” said Ahithophel.

“What do you mean?”

“Joab is also guilty of murder. You would have only been a child when it happened but I remember it well.”

Yes, Ahithophel remembered it well. It had been a time of great excitement. David had just been anointed as king. Abner was the commander of Saul’s army. Saul was dead but Abner had taken Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, and made him king of Israel. The tribe of Judah had followed David and this division had inevitably led to war.

“Joab had gone out to meet Abner in battle. The battle was fiercely fought but finally, Abner’s army had begun to be pushed back. Asahel, Joab’s younger brother, had been in a position to take Abner himself and, disobeying Joab’s orders, had headed out after him.

Joab tried to warn Asahel. He knew Abner to be a seasoned warrior, but he was too late.”

As fleet-footed as a wild gazelle, Asahel had gained on Abner with each strong step. Joab had not been able to keep up with him and Asahel had refused to give up the pursuit.

“Just as Joab caught sight of them from a distance, he watched as Abner thrust the butt of his spear through his brothers slender frame. Joab was full of rage. He tore his clothes and roared in anguish and grief, but his brother Asahel was dead.”

The picture of his brother’s death had been as vivid in Joab’s mind as if it had just happened. For him, the war was over and a personal pursuit of Abner had begun. Rage had encompassed him.

Many men lay dead around him on that day, but to Joab, their lives had been somehow commingled with the death of his brother. From that moment on, it was between Abner and Joab.

“Joab had one thought only. Abner deserves to pay the price for the death of Asahel!”

The sun was setting as they had come to more rugged terrain, and they saw the silhouetted images of Abner’s men taking their stand on top of the hill of Ammah.

Abner had called out, “Joab, this has become more than a battle. If we continue this, it will only end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop? We are brothers fighting against brothers.” The words had only served to further enrage him.

One of the commanders brought him to his senses, however. He said, “Sir, Abner’s men are well placed for a battle. Our own men will be at a significant disadvantage. To continue will be military suicide. Many of our men will die.” He had reluctantly ordered the trumpet sound and his men had returned.

He took Asahel’s body and buried it in their father’s tomb at Bethlehem. Taking Asahel’s dagger in his hands, he swore revenge. It would take a long time, but he was determined.”

Pastor Ross

P.S.

I hope you are enjoying When the Wolf Howls, my book about Absalom.

I am also pleased to announce my first e-Book for you! Available on Amazon.com for around $7.00 about a man called Job.

Above the Storm

Above the Storm is an exploration of the ancient book of Job for the creative mind.

This is my first e-book, available on Amazon.com. What can I say? I have loved every part of the years I have spent in the exploration of Job. I have been inspired, enriched and changed by the journey and I know you will too. I invite you to buy it and be surprised afresh by the rich Words of Life from the ancient Book of Job, as you read Above the Storm

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 54

Reports began to come to Jerusalem of Absalom’s vow, of how long his hair had grown and of a beautiful daughter named Tamar. Some began to say that the king was wrong in keeping his own son and grandchildren estranged. Rumours and murmurs continued as months became years. David’s sense of justice would not be forced by such reports, however. He would know the right time. Perhaps God would speak to him.

When the time came, it had been Joab, not God, who convinced the king to change his mind. A family from Joab’s district came to Joab demanding that he exercise justice. It was a murder case. The situation had been difficult to determine and so he had sent the woman from Tekoa in the middle of the situation to the king. At the same time, he had seen an opportunity to convince the king to bring Absalom home again.

“If you want justice for your son then do as I say.” said Joab to the woman, “I am going to send you to the king but first you must put on mourning clothes to show that you are still in mourning for your other son. When you arrive you are to say exactly what I tell you to say.”

“I will do whatever you require to save the life of my son.” said the woman. The woman obeyed Joab implicitly and Joab arranged for her to see the king immediately.

David was tired and the woman was emotional and not able to speak for some time. Just as David was ready to dismiss her from the court she said,

“Help me, please my lord and king. My husband is dead and I am in great need.”

David had already seen that the woman was in great need and wanted her to get on with her request, “What is your trouble?”

“I am a widow,” she said, “and I had two sons, but they got into a fight with each other one day while they were out in the field. There was no one to separate them, and one of my sons was killed. But now the whole family is against me. They want to put my remaining son to death for killing his brother. He is the only heir left of my husband. If he dies I will be left completely desolate.”

The king gave his judgement. He said, “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning your situation. Whoever speaks to you about your son, send him to me. As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”

The woman was satisfied that her case had been heard and that the king would keep his oath, and so she replied with the words that Joab had instructed her to say,

“With respect to my lord the king, you are so wise in making this decision. Why then have you acted in such a way to your people? By not bringing back your banished son you are guilty of the same thing as my family. Your son has done something wrong, but to keep him away from you is to cut yourself off from someone God intends you and your people to enjoy, as surely as I would be cut off from my inheritance should my son be executed. Surely God does not take life away. He finds ways so that one who has been banished may be returned to Him.

Please listen to your maidservant. I know that my lord the king is like an angel, able to discern good and evil. May the Lord your God be with you.”

The king looked across at Joab who stood with a satisfied look on his face. He then asked the woman, “I suppose Joab is behind your words?”

The woman looked embarrassed and Joab became uneasy as she answered, “No-one can hide anything from you. Yes, your servant Joab commanded me, and told me what I should say in order to change your mind about Absalom.”

David glared at Joab for a moment and then began to laugh and as he did it seemed that joy filled the room. The tense moment was broken and they all began to laugh.

David simply said, “Make sure this woman’s son remains unharmed … and bring back my son Absalom.” Joab was so relieved that he fell to the ground, prostrating himself before the king and blessed him. Joab wasn’t normally a man who would get enthusiastic about anything except those things that related to war, never-the-less this was very important to him and he immediately went to Geshur to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem.

He had an affinity with this young man called Absalom, guilty only of avenging his sister’s rape. As he went, his mind had replayed the events concerning a man that he also had killed in revenge. His name had been Abner and he, like Amnon, had felt the same cold, hard iron of a dagger. The same Canaanite dagger, with a beautifully carved hilt.

 

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS – Chapter 53

Posted: February 7, 2016 in Uncategorized
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WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 53

Jonadab had slipped out with one of Amnon’s servants just after his master was murdered and they were already well on their way back to the king by the time that David’s sons had mounted their mules.

The servant was wide-eyed and fearful as they made their way back. As soon as they returned they were immediately brought to David. Breathless with fear and shock, Amnon’s servant fell to his knees and blurted out that Absalom had struck down all the king’s sons. He said, “Not one of them is left.”

An empty searing despair immediately penetrated David’s heart like a desert wind. What have I done? I agreed to let all my sons go! He tore his clothes and lay prostrate on the floor before God, numbed with grief. His servants stood by, clothes also torn, too stunned to seek to console him.

It was at this point that Jonadab spoke to David. He already felt responsible and David had been through enough pain. With respect for his king, he said, “Don’t believe this report, my lord. It isn’t true. Absalom would not have killed all your sons. Only Amnon is dead. This is what Absalom intended to do since the day that Amnon violated his sister Tamar. Please don’t believe this report. Not all your sons are dead.”

Before David could respond, the watchman had reported that many people were coming from the road by the side of the mountain. Jonadab said, “What I told you was true. Your sons are coming.”

The king’s sons were still shaken by the killing of their brother and as they came to their father they wept with him. The shock and horror of the night enveloped everyone with grief. Amnon’s mother, Ahinoam, was devastated.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Absalom had planned his escape well. He fled with his servants to Talmai, his grandfather, the king of Geshur. He did not expect, however, that he would remain there for so long.

Having grieved the death of Amnon, David began to blame himself. Doubts began to surface concerning his son. Absalom, you tried to execute justice when I, as your father and king, abdicated from my responsibility to do so, … but murder? He could not help but think of Uriah the Hittite and his own forgiveness. He longed to go to Absalom and regretted his estrangement more each day.

“Why don’t you want him to return?” Maacah had said, also missing her son greatly.

“I want him to return. Of course, I do. I feel entirely responsible for what has happened, but I can’t condone the murder of Amnon simply because I long to see Absalom. His banishment must remain enforced.”

In Geshur, Absalom brooded and wanted to bring home to his father the injustice of what he was doing in keeping them apart. You think you are so high and mighty, so holy and just, teaching your son a lesson in humiliation. In his bitterness, he decided he would make a vow that would turn his father’s attempt at humiliation into something that would gain the people’s attention and approval.

Absalom decided he would make the Nazarite vow of separation. This involved doing a number of things, but essentially the outward sign was that he would not cut his hair until the end of each year that he remained separated from David.

I will make sure messages filter back to Jerusalem. The people will hear about this. The people would hear about his long hair and understand this to be a sign of holiness. I exercised justice and I have no regrets. They will associate me with someone who is sincerely consecrated to the Lord for a change. My hair will be my strength, like Samson. “When you allow me to return, father, I will cut my hair before everyone to symbolise my innocence,” he said to himself. Surely this would force David’s hand.

But Absalom was not finished. During the years of separation from David, Absalom’s wives bore him three sons and one daughter. To make his father even more ashamed of his banishment, he named his daughter Tamar, after his sister who had been raped by Amnon. She also would grow up to be a beautiful woman, and she would prove to be a constant reminder to the people and to David that Absalom was undeserving of such harsh treatment.

Pastor Ross

P.S.

My first e-Book for you! Available on Amazon.com for around $7.00

Above the Storm

Above the Storm is an exploration of the ancient book of Job for the creative mind.

This is my first e-book, available on Amazon.com. What can I say? I have loved every part of the years I have spent in the exploration of Job. I have been inspired, enriched and changed by the journey and I know you will too. I invite you to buy it and be surprised afresh by the rich Words of Life from the ancient Book of Job, as you read Above the Storm

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 52

Solomon was there as they celebrated the sheep-shearing with Absalom. He watched as his brothers drank and ate and witnessed the horror of that night.

He saw Absalom speaking with his servants. He watched as they stepped back with their mouths aghast at something Absalom was saying. What did he say to them to make them so nervous? He observed them go about their duties with ashen faces for some time. They seemed somehow clumsy. One dropped some wine that his brother Amnon had ordered and had to get some more. Another seemed agitated.

Solomon was wise enough not to drink wine that night. He sensed something in the air. He didn’t recognise it immediately. It was alien to the celebration. He tried to find it in the concern of Absalom’s servants but it was not there. What am I missing? he thought. Then he caught a glimpse of it in Absalom’s eyes, and suddenly, as if by revelation, he knew what it was. It was the bitter/sweet smell of revenge. He stood up, but it was already too late!

Time seemed to slow down in the next few seconds. Solomon shouted, “Nooo!” but as he opened his mouth Absalom was also shouting to his servants, “Strike him NOW!”

Amnon looked up in the confusion to see hatred burning in Absalom’s eyes. Pure terror enveloped him as he tried to get up.

The killing was quick and came from behind, the blade curling in an arc with it’s shocking task. Amnon saw Absalom’s smiling disgust only momentarily as he received the full shock of Absalom’s terrible gift. Stabbed several times, Amnon now lay on the ground, blood pooling around his lifeless, crumpled body. His brothers reeled back in horror.

Suddenly the silence was broken as Solomon shouted, “Get away as quickly as you can! Move now!” He had realised that Amnon’s death would not be enough for one who was intoxicated with revenge.

Solomon had been right. For a moment, Absalom had thought to eliminate all competition to the throne, but Solomon had responded too quickly. His brothers had each mounted their mules and were escaping.

In the chaos that ensued Absalom looked down at Amnon lying at his feet, and after what seemed like an eternity he said, “Let them go.” Strangely the satisfaction he thought he would feel was still mixed with unrequited frustration.

Absalom’s chief servant still held the dagger in his hand, it’s blade soiled with Amnon’s blood. “The blade of your retribution, my lord,” he said as he returned it to Absalom. It was a Canaanite dagger with an iron blade and a beautifully carved hilt.

Pastor Ross

P.S.

My first e-Book for you! Available on Amazon.com for around $7.00

Above the Storm

Above the Storm is an exploration of the ancient book of Job for the creative mind. Within this book, you will find an Elephant and a Termite, a man called Misery, a Hitman, a Dump Truck driver and many others who answer age-old questions of life. You have never looked at Job quite like this before and perhaps never as deeply.

This is my first e-book, available on Amazon.com. What can I say? I have loved every part of the years I have spent in the exploration of Job. I have been inspired, enriched and changed by the journey and I know you will too. I invite you to buy it and be surprised afresh by the rich Words of Life from the ancient Book of Job, as you read Above the Storm

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls 

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 37

Not long after Uriah returned to the ranks, he and a number of other valiant men found themselves in hand to hand combat with some Ammonite soldiers, but strangely, just as the battle reached its height the Ammonites had sounded a retreat. Uriah, not wanting to miss the opportunity, shouted for his men to pursue, pure adrenalin fueling their desire for victory.

It was as they approached the city gate that they realised they were trapped. Archers appeared on the walls. Someone sounded a retreat but for Uriah it was drowned in the turmoil that followed. A rain of shafts fell with deadly intent upon them. He was left exposed by the withdrawal and his men were being decimated.

“I can’t walk! Help me!” shouted a man close to Uriah. With an arrow in his back and one protruding from his thigh he was trying to drag himself out of danger. Another man lay dead beside him.

“Help me!” he said with eyes full of fear. Uriah took hold of him and began to drag him to the nearest tree but an iron-tipped shaft sliced its way through his arm. Recoiling in pain he turned, only to face another volley from the wall. With his arm flailing, he caught sight briefly of the arrow that pierced his heart.

A number of other men died with Uriah that day but a few escaped back to Joab. Looking at the crumpled message which lay nearby where he had thrown it, Joab knew that David’s request had been fulfilled. The message read,

“Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

David was not only responsible for Uriah’s death but in the days ahead, many widows would mourn. None of them would be taken into the palace except Bathsheba.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

“…and some of our men were killed when they came too close to the wall.” King David had looked at the messenger from Joab with fire in his eyes. Absalom was also listening intensely to the report of the war. As an advisor to the king he had to keep up to date with what was happening.

Then suddenly the messenger said to David.

“…and your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.”

Everyone else ignored the comment except David and Absalom. It’s significance seized Absalom and he walked from the room, feeling sick with realisation and disgust. As he did he heard his father say with measured words, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you. The sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.” Finally rumours about David and Bathsheba would be vindicated by the death of Uriah. A twinge of remorse swept over David but then was gone.

Bathsheba mourned for her husband for the acceptable time, and then she became David’s wife, and bore him a son. No-one but Absalom and the guards and servants at the gate of the palace thought much about it.

David thought he had won the battle that had raged as guilt within his soul, but he had yet to face the One whom he had offended even more than Uriah.

Matthew 14:1-12 – BRAVEHEART VS THE MAFIA

Braveheart vs the Mafia

He is drawn to the MAN IN THE DUNGEON. Beliefs are tested in the dark dungeon experiences of my life where everything is ripped away to expose who I really am. A dungeon is that place where everything is pointless without the purposes of God. Yet when all I have to offer to God is a dungeon it becomes a place of His presence, a throneroom, a place where His authority and intentions overrule my circumstances. A place of FREEDOM.

 The Godfather is dead. “Herod the king”, psychopathic mass murderer who killed the baby boys of Bethlehem in a last ditch attempt to destroy Jesus is now gone (Matthew 2:13-18). Long live the Dons. Long live “HEROD THE TETRARCH” who has survived to rule a quarter of his fathers kingdom. His tetrarchy extends from the Sea of Galilee to the northern part of the Dead Sea. Ambitious and just as deadly as his father, HEROD ANTIPAS has now been ruling about thirty-two years. In the luxury and excess of his kingdom he is imprisoned by a dungeon of his own making, far more oppressive than John’s. What a mess.

Meet his comare (mistress). Granddaughter of the late great “Herod the King”, HERODIAS is niece to both her husband PHILIP, and her lover. Herod and Herodias? Days of our lives! She seeks to justify her relationship with Herod but the man in the dungeon DENOUNCES it saying that it is against God’s law (Leviticus 18:16, 20:21). He is anything but politically correct and his influence is far-reaching with the people. He lives out Ephesians 5:11 (NLT) which says “Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, EXPOSE them, even in the presence of a Godfather figure like King Herod. He may be in a dungeon but the dungeon is not in him. He declares that sin separates me from God, that genuine repentance is needed and that I need to come under the authority of Jesus whose way he is preparing.

With a heart as black as a dungeon wall, Herodias tries to rid herself of the irritation, but what mother would involve her own daughter in such a quest? What kind of trauma will result from such a gruesome plan?

Herod doesn’t hold back when it comes to his birthday party or in celebrating the anniversary of his accession as king. He holds a magnificent banquet. Good food, questionable entertainment. He lives a life of debauchery.

Salome dances seductively before Herod. She is the daughter of Herodias and Herod is not so much seduced by her dance as he is obligated to her mother to give her whatever she desires. He makes a foolish oath to grant her any wish, up to half his kingdom, but her heart too is imprisoned, and she too is drawn with malicious intent to the man in the dungeon. Salome consults with her mother.

Herod is deeply grieved by her request but doesn’t want to lose face. So, with only a moments hesitation, he grants her desires and orders John the Baptist to be BEHEADED. This is quite a table that has been set. Adultery, incest, debauchery, seduction, murder and the macabre all sit together at the kings table as John’s head is brought in on a platter.

Why did John have to die? The key to understanding this is found in Acts 20:24 (NLT) – “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

Courage. Humility. Faithfulness. Selflessness. Reformer. Servant and Ambassador for Christ. Martyr. Who says it’s easy being a follower of Christ? Would I be willing to stand boldly with the message of repentance and faith in Christ that God has give to me in the face of death? In the words of BRAVEHEART “You have come to fight as free men. And free men you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight? …Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

Galatians 5:1 (NIV) puts it this way – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Philippians 1:20-21 (NLT) could well be used as John’s vision and his epitaph – “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honour to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, TO LIVE IS TO LIVE FOR CHRIST AND TO DIE IS GAIN.” 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 4 – Part 1 – “HOW CAN I KNOW THAT I AM ACCEPTED?”

Unacceptable!

They had behaved badly in class but they were equally disruptive in the detention room, swearing, acting tough and defying anything I said with a smart comment. Unacceptable behaviour. I have never really had a problem with anger, but the closest I came was in that classroom. Teaching in a highschool can be stressful at times, and I was being hooked into their GAME.

It was a game that is commonly played in a classroom and if you could give it a name it would be “Make me!” or “I don’t care and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

If these guys had been in the garden of Eden and told not to eat the fruit they would have said to God “You can’t make me do anything! I’ll do what I like and I don’t care what you think!”

In Genesis 4 Cain reminds me of those guys, because he is playing a REBELLIOUS GAME with God, only things get way out of hand and he ends up killing his brother Abel. It hasn’t taken very long for the first murder to be committed, only one generation away from Adam and Eve. Cold blooded, reckless, callous, uncaring and unacceptable.

It’s interesting that Cain and Abel BOTH bring an offering to the Lord. Why? God didn’t tell them to do it. There’s no law that says they MUST do it. They just did. Abel’s offering was ACCEPTED and Cain’s offering was not.

Why is Cain’s offering UNACCEPTABLE? Does he bring rotten fruit and veges in defiant rebellion against God rather than bringing the best of the crop? Or is this a sin offering where he needs animals for SACRIFICE? We are not told, but we are told that God considers that Cain has not done the right thing and his attitude is also out of line.

Why does he come in the first place? It beats me! Why do some people come to Church when it is clear that their lives are up the creek and they don’t really have any relationship with God, nor desire one? I don’t know! To gain points with God? Maybe.

Whatever reason Cain has, it doesn’t go down well with God. Nobody can expect to come to God with their own agenda, their own works, efforts, fruits, ways, religion, or ritual. It doesn’t work that way. You have to come to God on His terms, not by trying to impress Him with our imperfect thoughts and ways.

A woman I visited yesterday in hospital asked me “How do I know that I am ACCEPTED BY GOD?” It seems that God establishes something with Cain and Abel that’s important. He will never accept you apart from the SHEDDING OF BLOOD of substitutionary innocent sacrifice. The BLOOD OF CHRIST Himself is shed so that you can be accepted by God, and He is the perfect and only substitutionary sacrifice necessary.

You want to bring something to God? Try to bring the fruit of your own good works and it won’t cut muster with God. First go to the Cross and accept the sacrifice that was made for you. Then instead of trying to impress God with your good works you will serve God because you see yourself for who you really are, a sinner saved by grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) says, “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

The “POSB Commentary” says “The clearest explanation as to why Abel offered an animal sacrifice and was approved by God is that God did institute salvation by animal sacrifice with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were bound to have taught their sons to approach God through animal sacrifice. But only Abel approached God properly. Cain, as so many down through history, rebelled and did not.”

God bless you Church as you realize you can know for certain that you can be ACCEPTED by God! My acceptance is based on what Christ has done for me, not on my own good works.

Pastor Ross