Posts Tagged ‘Temple’

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 27

David was away at war a great deal after building the house of cedar for his family. Absalom heard from time to time of the great victories his father was having. He heard of the great acclaim his father received after defeating the Philistines. Now jealousy of his father began to take root alongside his bitterness.

Absalom himself, now a teenager, was still too young to be directly involved in battle. He heard of the cruelties of war, however, as David defeated the Moabites and executed two out of every three prisoners. His father’s approach was extreme, to say the least. He should have acted with greater compassion. You have to win the allegiance of people, not make them afraid of reprisals, he thought.

David’s exploits increased as he captured thousands of foot soldiers and horsemen. Absalom recoiled as he heard that his father had hamstrung the chariot horses, keeping only enough for one hundred chariots. He dreamed of the glory that he would receive when he would have horsemen and foot soldiers and ride in a chariot.

Reports and rumours continued to flow into Jerusalem.

“David has killed 22,000 Arameans. The rest of them have become his subjects, paying him tribute money for their very existence.”

“David has established garrisons in Damascus, the previous capital of the enemy.”

“The Edomites have become David’s servants.”

Absalom watched as his father brought the shields of gold and huge amounts of bronze from Hadadezer’s cities to Jerusalem for all to see. David became rich from the plunder and popular from the praise of the people of Israel.

It was during one such parade that Absalom came across a soldier with a Canaanite dagger. He recognised the shape of the blade immediately but the hilt was much more ornate. The soldier was binding it tightly with a leather thong and Absalom thought it strange that the carving on the hilt should be covered.

“Why are you covering up the design?” asked Absalom. The soldier suddenly looked embarrassed and avoided the question by saying that it gave him a better grip. The knife was quickly placed out of sight and the soldier made his way into the crowd. As Absalom made his way to court, he was left wondering at the soldiers reluctance to answer his question.

He remembered the dagger that Joab had given him. Its hilt was also bound with leather. For the first time, he began to wonder if anything lay beneath the tightly wound leather bands. Perhaps his dagger too bore some strange design on its hilt.

Absalom was just entering the court when the ambassador from king Hamath arrived to congratulate David for his great victory against Hadadezer. The young man was about his own age and Absalom soon discovered that he too was the son of a king, speaking on behalf of his father, as a royal ambassador. He had brought with him various gifts made of silver, gold and bronze. This was the wedge Absalom needed. While his father was still in Jerusalem, Absalom took his opportunity to raise the matter of ambassadorship. He hungered for more power.

“All I am asking for is the same recognition that King Hamath gives to his son. Make me your royal ambassador.”

“I am not interested in building reputations, Absalom. I am establishing the kingdom that God promised to our people.”

“You have built up your own reputation by parading the plunder from your victories before the people.”

“You know that isn’t true, Absalom. I have made it plain to the people that recognition belongs to God for our victories. All these gifts, plus the gold and silver from the nations we have defeated and subdued, have been dedicated publicly to the Lord.”

Never-the-less as he organised his kingdom, the seed that Absalom had planted in David’s mind took root and he decided to give his sons more authority, and so Absalom’s gradual rise to a position of power began. Absalom became one of the chief ministers of the kingdom. In fact, all David’s sons became royal advisers.

Kept up to date with kingdom events, Absalom was also keeping a careful eye on how best he might extend his power. Although this royal appointment placed Absalom in a very important position of influence and authority, it was not enough.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 26

It had been a relief for King David to have built a great house of cedar for his family to live in. After living for so many years as a fugitive from king Saul, living in deserts and caves and with the constant threat of death, it was a place where he could build new memories of security and comfort with his family. He had achieved so much in the service of God after so many struggles with his enemies and they had not managed to destroy him. Because he was a man of God, God had given him opportunity to enjoy some of His rich blessings.

David could not have known then that there was an enemy being raised up in his own household, a young lone wolf learning to track down its prey. Using the instincts of bitterness to remain concealed, this was an enemy that David would never have suspected. He lazed in the shadows of the balcony, away from the direct sun. A breeze blew through his hair and he was almost asleep.

At this stage in his life, Absalom lived in the luxury of his father’s cedar house. He did not have to struggle constantly for his life as his father had done. His was a life of relative ease in the kingdom, growing up in a house which was the fruit of his father’s righteousness.

When David talked over the idea of building a Temple for the Lord with Nathan the prophet, Nathan had no objections. He knew that God had His hand on everything that this king seemed to do.

That night, however, Nathan had a dream. The dream was very specific. David was not to build a temple for the Lord. This would be the task of the heir to his throne.

“You want to make a house for the Lord,” Nathan said to David, “but the Lord wants to make a household for you. He is not concerned about a building for Himself. He is more concerned about building a kingdom from your line.

God is saying to you, ‘I taught My people Israel to trust Me in the wilderness by making My presence known to them in the tent called the Tabernacle. I chose a tent for a dwelling place, not a cedar house. I exercised My rulership from the most humble of places, providing a model of how My people must walk in humility before Me. I did not choose a man of nobility from the aristocracy of Israel to be a king, but I chose you when you were a shepherd boy so that you would know what it means to shepherd My people.’ ”

Nathan the prophet spoke to David about a son that day, “The Lord God says that when the number of days in your life are completed, He will raise up your son, and establish his kingdom forever.”

But God did not reveal at this stage which son would be heir to the throne. It was anyone’s guess. He revealed only enough for one part of His plan to unfold at a time.

Absalom and the rest of the family were present that day as Nathan spoke the words that God had given to David. Absalom could not have known one way or another whether he was included in the promise that God had made to his father, but as the words of this prophecy were repeated through his growing up years, he was convinced that the heir to the throne could be none other than himself.

There was no doubt in Absalom’s mind that he would eventually sit on the throne of his father. He was the one whose throne would be established forever. His heart was filled with visions of grandeur as he applied all that Nathan had said to be very specific words about himself.

MATTHEW 17:24 – JESUS AND TAXES

Fish Coin by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

Fish Coin by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

Because of His nomadic lifestyle, the request is made after He arrives at Capernaum. Strange that He should be asked to give. But then every male over twenty is expected to contribute about two days pay per year (half a shekel, a Greek slater, a Roman denarius). Only once, in the days of Nehemiah the Builder, when the people were poor, has it been one third of a shekel (Nehemiah 10:32).

Perhaps it is because Matthew’s background was as a tax collector that this story stays in his mind. By the time he writes his gospel the emperor Vespasian had destroyed the Temple (AD 70) and defiled this sacred offering by using it to rebuild the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.

But on this day you can still hear the religious leaders, Pharisees and Sadducees, arguing in the streets as to whether the payment of this silver coin was voluntary or compulsory. It didn’t matter much because as the announcement is made in all the towns of Israel; tax collectors asking for the payment, it is with a sense of nationalistic duty that each man gives to support the running of the Sanctuary.

Like a subscription or a membership fee that enables them to appropriate the use of the Great Temple, it pays for animals, incense, wine, flour and oil and priests. It pays for the sacrifices made each night and morning and is given freely, salted with that sense of historical obligation. Exodus 30:13-20 (NLT) says it is to be given in silver “… as a sacred offering to the Lord. … to purify your lives, making you right with Him, … ransom money … for the care of the Tabernacle.” 

It is not unusual that “the collectors of the Temple tax” make enquiries as to Jesus paying. That is their responsibility after all (Matthew 17:24). It brings into the temple treasury a lot of money. But why are they reluctant to go directly to Jesus? Instead they come to Peter and ask him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?” Are they trying to accuse Jesus of being a Temple-tax-evader?

In an act of faith the tax was paid for the forgiveness of sins, so that they could enter the Temple forgiven and accepted by God; a new, fresh start.

Why would Jesus need to pay? Jesus had no sin for which He needed forgiveness. The Temple tax payment is a picture of what He would do for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT) says “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.”   

As the treasurer of the group (John 13:29), it is expected that Judas be responsible for paying the tax for all of them. This year Jesus chooses a different approach.

Soon Judas would throw 30 pieces of silver down in the Temple (Matthew 27:5) trying to retract his treachery, enough to pay for a lifetime of Temple Taxes, but he would hang himself before being purified by the sacrifice of Jesus.

This time the tax is given miraculously as an act of grace, a picture of Forgiveness. Jesus is the price; not earned or worked for and totally undeserved. He gives voluntarily in every way to pay for our sins. Jesus will pay the full price and He is the once and for all sacrifice. He will contribute His life for them. And for you. Grace unearned. 

Pastor Ross

Part 4 – Matthew 12:1-14 – ANCIENT MYSTERY UNLOCKED!

Ancient Mystery Unlocked!

Talk about SUSPENSE AND INTRIGUE! Subatomic anti-matter threatens the existence of Vatican city in Rome. Key Cardinals from the Roman Catholic church vanish. And it all points to the ILLUMINATI, a secret society that has re-emerged from history. I watched the movie by Dan Brown called “Angels and Demons” a couple of nights ago. Throughout the movie there’s a battle with science and religion.

The hero is Robert Langdon, a renowned symbologist, who has to follow a TRAIL OF CLUES left by the bad guys, the Illuminati, to find the kidnapped Cardinals and SAVE THEM from being executed each hour and stop an anti-matter bomb from wiping out Vatican City. In true suspense thriller style, no-one is who they seem to be.

In Matthew 12, the PLOT IS SIMILAR. I have been kidnapped by my legalistic thinking. Jesus is the hero who leaves me a whole lot of CLUES worth following. If I follow the clues, I begin to see a picture of WHO JESUS REALLY IS and how I can be SAVED. Colossians 1:26 (NLT) says “This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people”

It all hinges on the question the Pharisees (Illuminati) ask Jesus “Is it lawful to harvest grain and heal on the Sabbath?” (Matthew 12:2,10) and Jesus uses their legalistic lack of compassion to give me the first clue.

Clue 1 – KING DAVID – In answer to their question Jesus says that king David went into the house of God and ate sacred bread which was not lawful (Matthew 12:3-4). That’s a CLUE in itself because Jesus is a DESCENDENT of king David (Matthew 1:1). As I search through the holy books I discover an ANCIENT COVENANT made between God and David that establishes the throne of David forever (2 Chronicles 13:5). I discover that Jesus is called the KING OF KINGS (1 Timothy 6:15). And strangely enough I discover that I am also created to EXERCISE AUTHORITY over the earth responsibly as His representative (Genesis 1:28). Apparently rulership is part of the deal as I come under the authority of Christ (Revelation 20:4).

Clue 2 – PRIESTS – Jesus says that priests worked on the Sabbath day (Matthew 12:5). Dig a little, and I find that Jesus is called the GREAT HIGH PRIEST (Hebrews 4:14) and if you are a follower of Christ, you and I are collectively called a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS (Exodus 19:6 and Revelation 1:6) and HOLY PRIESTS (1 Peter 2:5). I have direct access to God, no SECRET KEYS for the door required (Ephesians 3:12).

Clue 3 – THE TEMPLE – Jesus says He is GREATER than the Temple (Matthew 12:6), the place where God chooses to REVEAL HIMSELF (Habakkuk 2:20 and Acts 7:46-50). In fact if I search through the ancient document of Colossians 2:9-10 (NLT) I find that it says “For in Christ lives all the FULLNESS OF GOD in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the Head over every ruler and authority.” And something else – Christians, as they gather together are collectively called the TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (1 Peter 2:5 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. Note the “your” is plural in the original Greek). It is where Christ dwells and expresses His life. The pieces are coming together.

Clue 4 – LORD – In Matthew 12:8 (NLT) Jesus gives the final clue. He says, “For the Son of Man is LORD, even over the Sabbath!” Jesus can do whatever He wants, on any day He wants. Not just Lord of the Sabbath but I discover that He is the LORD OF LORDS (1 Timothy 6:15) and He doesn’t have to go through an ENCLAVE to elect Him to that office. Philippians 2:9-11 (NLT) says “… God elevated Him to the place of highest honour and gave Him the Name above all other names, that at the Name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.”  

JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! It’s written in the ANCIENT TEXTS. It is obvious when you piece the CLUES together that He is saying that He has authority to rule and reign over every aspect of my life. I don’t obey a set of coded laws. I obey a living person who has all authority. Not a Lord who compels me to obey but One who invites me to COME UNDER HIS AUTHORITY so my life will have meaning and purpose and a hope for the future. Not a king of RITUAL, but a King of RELATIONSHIP. Not a Priest who is RELIGIOUS, but One who is PERSONAL. Not a Temple where we GO to Church, but we ARE the Church, THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

God bless you Church as you UNRAVEL THE MYSTERY (Colossians 1:26-29) and reach out to Jesus like the man with a deformed hand. All of a sudden things are no longer twisted and distorted and misshapen. The clues are plain to see and you will see Him for who He is and worship Him with all your heart and mind and soul.

Pastor Ross