The Garden

I am struck by the parallel of the story of Adam and Eve, and the story of Jesus.
The very first example of disobedience happened in a garden – the Garden of Eden.

garden-of-eden

Adam and Eve went against the will of God and decided to do things their way.  Because of their choice, they were banished from the place of peace and harmony, where their every need was provided for.  Because of their choice, they were subject to pain and death.

The ultimate expression of obedience to God also took place in a garden – the Garden of Gethsemane.

jesus-praying-in-gethsemane-39591-print

Jesus knew what God wanted him to do.  He’d read the words of the prophets and knew that this is what had to happen.  He didn’t want it.  He said “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV).  He was hoping that there would be a way out, like the ram that appeared when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac due to God’s command. He was hoping that there would be another way, that he would not have to suffer and die.

And yet, he accepted what had to happen. Knowing what was going to occur, yet trusting in his Father, he submitted.  He was fully obedient, knowing that it would cost him his life.  Because of God’s love, he gained his life back.

Because of his example of total obedience to God, we now have a pattern for how to live our lives – trusting, without fear, knowing that even death has no hold over us if we are following God’s commands.  The doors to heaven are open to us if we follow his example.

 

Who is to build the Temple? Not Solomon.

King David thought that he should build the Temple, but God told him otherwise through his prophet Nathan. God tells Nathan to tell David that the Temple, the holy House of God, will be built after David has died.

These verses are at the end of Nathan telling him to stop his plans –

1 Chronicles 17:11-14
11 And it shall come to pass, when thy days are fulfilled that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will set up thy seed after thee, who shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build me a house, and I will establish his throne for ever. 13 I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee; 14 but I will settle him in my house and in my kingdom for ever; and his throne shall be established for ever.

Note that God says God will “…set up thy seed after thee” after David has died. Clearly, this is not referring to his son Solomon, who was already alive at this time. God is talking about a descendant of David who will be born after David has died.

David seems to understand this when he talks to God a little later.

1 Chronicles 17:16-17
16 Then David the king went in, and sat before Jehovah; and he said, Who am I, O Jehovah God, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me thus far? 17 And this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; but thou hast spoken of thy servant’s house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O Jehovah God.

Note David’s words in verse 17 – “…for a great while to come”. He is aware that this is in the far distant future.

Then David, like Abraham, tries to take matters into his own hands. Either he misunderstood what he seemed to understand earlier, or he just thought he’d get a head start on things.

1 Chronicles 22:6-10
6 Then he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build a house for Jehovah, the God of Israel. 7 And David said to Solomon his son, As for me, it was in my heart to build a house unto the name of Jehovah my God. 8 But the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build a house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. 9 Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days: 10 he shall build a house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.

At no point did God tell David why he didn’t want him to build the Temple. Being a man of war wasn’t the reason he was prevented. It just wasn’t time yet. Solomon can’t be the one that God wanted to build it, because God talked about bringing forth a seed of David (a descendant of his) after David had died. Also important to realize is that at no point in the intervening chapters did David hear from God directly – it was always through a prophet, either Nathan or Gad.

David keeps telling himself this story, and it keeps being wrong. This is a little later –

1 Chronicles 28:5-7
5 And of all my sons (for Jehovah hath given me many sons), he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of Jehovah over Israel. 6 And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts; for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. 7 And I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and mine ordinances, as at this day.

God didn’t choose Solomon. David did. David wanted the Temple built, and he wanted to make sure it happened.

Let’s go back to the beginning.

1 Chronicles 17:4-6
4 Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith Jehovah, Thou shalt not build me a house to dwell in: 5 for I have not dwelt in a house since the day that I brought up Israel, unto this day, but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another. 6 In all places wherein I have walked with all Israel, spake I a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to be shepherd of my people, saying, Why have ye not built me a house of cedar?

If God wanted a house, God would have asked for one. God would have made it happen. God was happy dwelling in a tent or a tabernacle. God was happy being free and not stuck in one place.

But David wouldn’t listen, and made sure that there were plenty of materials ready. He didn’t leave it to chance, but most importantly, he didn’t leave it to God.

1 Chronicles 22:2-5
2 And David commanded to gather together the sojourners that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God. 3 And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the couplings; and brass in abundance without weight; 4 and cedar-trees without number: for the Sidonians and they of Tyre brought cedar-trees in abundance to David. 5 And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for Jehovah must be exceeding magnificent, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death.

Interestingly, some of the materials that were used for the Temple were gotten from David waging war. In 1 Chronicles 18 we learn that David went to war against the Philistines, the Moabites, and the Syrians. From those spoils came a huge amount of brass, which Solomon used to make the brass reservoir, pillars, and vessels. So much for not wanting David to build the temple because he was a man of war!

God does what God wants in God’s time, and in God’s way. We keep acting like it is all up to us to do. We have to wait patiently, knowing that God is in charge.

(All translations of the Bible are from the American Standard Version, which is in public domain.)

The ark and us. On doing things God’s way.

I’ve recently been writing about how important it is to obey God. Sometimes not doing things God’s way has some pretty severe repercussions – like death. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem like a logical consequence.

In the Book of 1 Chronicles, David is escorting the Ark of the Covenant to the new home he has built for it.

1 Chronicles 13 5-8
5 So David assembled all Israel from the Shihor of Egypt to the entrance of Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kir′iath-je′arim. 6 And David and all Israel went up to Ba′alah, that is, to Kir′iath-je′arim which belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD who sits enthroned above the cherubim. 7 And they carried the ark of God upon a new cart, from the house of Abin′adab, and Uzzah and Ahi′o were driving the cart. 8 And David and all Israel were making merry before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.

But then something terrible happens in verses 9-10.

9 And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. 10 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and he smote him because he put forth his hand to the ark; and he died there before God.

Uzzah didn’t intentionally reach out to the Ark – he was trying to protect it from falling. It was on an ox cart, and the oxen stumbled. He instinctually reached out, and he was killed by God because of it. This sounds pretty harsh. It was an accident. He wasn’t intentionally sinning. He was actually trying to do something good. It would have been terrible if the Ark had fallen and gotten damaged.

The story continues in verses 11-14.

11 And David was angry because the LORD had broken forth upon Uzzah; and that place is called Pe′rez-uz′za to this day. 12 And David was afraid of God that day; and he said, “How can I bring the ark of God home to me?” 13 So David did not take the ark home into the city of David, but took it aside to the house of O′bed-e′dom the Gittite. 14 And the ark of God remained with the household of O′bed-e′dom in his house three months; and the LORD blessed the household of O′bed-e′dom and all that he had.

(Pe′rez-uz′za means “outburst against Uzzah”)

What are we supposed to learn from this story? It seems pretty illogical and capricious of God. I don’t want to follow a God who strikes down people without reason. I need there to be logical rules and consequences.

So I started to think about it. Why did Uzzah die? Perhaps there is something more to this story. Sometimes we can’t see the big picture because we don’t have all the pieces. I kept reading on. Perhaps there were more clues.

Perhaps it was to bless O′bed-e′dom and his family. Perhaps there is more to that story later – how the Ark being at his house had a result that we don’t see for years later.

Perhaps we don’t get to see the result. That too is part of our human perspective. Sometimes we will never know it all – we just can’t. Our brains don’t have the capacity. Plus – God doesn’t owe us any explanations. Sometimes the biggest thing we can do is trust.

But there is more to the story, and it comes fairly soon.

1 Chronicles 15:11-15
11 Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abi′athar, and the Levites U′riel, Asai′ah, Jo′el, Shemai′ah, Eli′el, and Ammin′adab, 12 and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, so that you may bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. 13 Because you did not carry it the first time, the LORD our God broke forth upon us, because we did not care for it in the way that is ordained.” 14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. 15 And the Levites carried the ark of God upon their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD.

So the problem was that they didn’t ask God how to do it before they did it. They tried to move the Ark, a very sacred thing, using their own ways rather than God’s ways. They even had a correct way to move it – Moses had already asked, and God had said to move it with poles resting upon people’s shoulders. It wasn’t supposed to be on a cart at all. Either they forgot this information over the years, or they thought they didn’t need it. But when it came time to move it, they didn’t inquire of God how to do it. That was the problem.

In the words of Solomon, King David’s son, we read in Proverbs 3:5-8
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.

We are to constantly seek God to know how to do things. Then we will have life, and have it in abundance.

God provides – drum class

There is this drum class that I’m planning to attend. I heard about it months ago, and I felt really called towards it. I had no idea how I was going to justify the cost of it, though.

It is $500. This is for a two-day class. I’m kind of gasping at how much money the teacher is making. I wonder if I can get in on that kind of action. It is hard enough to get people to accept the prices I have on my jewelry, and they never approach three digits, much less close to rent-payment amounts.

Plus, I wasn’t sure what I’d do with this class. I’m not very good at drumming. I’ve never hosted a drum circle at all. I only have four drums, and I’m not really hot on lending them out.

But I felt called to this. It kept gnawing at me – sign up for the class. I feel that God is calling me to it. It isn’t something for me, really. It is interesting, sure, and I guess it goes along with some of the other classes I’ve taken recently.

I figured I’d pay for it and then earn the money with jewelry, and that hasn’t quite happened – but something else has.

I’ve earned $100 with my jewelry, and that is nice. But some surprising things, some unplanned things, have happened.

I got a raise at work, that amounts to $600 extra a year.
We got a discount on our YMCA membership that amounts to $72 off.
We changed car and house insurance, and that saves us $300 a year.

So unplanned, unrelated to this, we essentially are up $1000. I only needed $500.

Normally, when I sign up for a class that I feel led to, I earn the money first. That wasn’t possible with this one – they wanted the money right away. I trusted, and God provided.

This really lets me know that I’m on the right path, and that I really am supposed to take this class. God always makes a way.

Now I wonder what God wants me to learn out of it. That will be amazing to see. Perhaps this will be a stepping stone to something else. Perhaps I’ll meet someone who will help me with one of my usual projects.

I’ve got a lot of projects.

I’m not worried about it, just curious. God is always surprising me. That is one of the best parts about trusting that God is in control.

Falling on my knees.

My knees have started to fail me. After years of being a little creaky but functional, they are downright obstreperous now. When I get up after sitting cross-legged or from crouching, it takes several questionable seconds before they will hold my weight. It is a little scary.

I could fall, if they fail me. Where is this headed? Am I soon to be crippled? I’m too young for this.

I walk, and do water aerobics and yoga, but it isn’t enough apparently. I have incorporated a special exercise in the water just to strengthen my knees. I have to do it at least weekly or walking up stairs is a bear.

Perhaps I should give up sitting cross-legged or crouching, but my Laotian neighbor, thirty years my senior, can still do this with no problems. Asian women sit like this all the time. So it is possible. It has nothing to do with age, but expectations.

We stop doing it because we think we have to stop doing it – and then we can’t do it. This applies to a lot of things. The whole “self-fulfilling prophecy” thing, you know.

Yesterday I had to work on the ivy by the driveway. It has taken over, and it is difficult to eradicate. I cut it out by hand, using small clippers. It is very labor-intensive. I dislike this chore, but it is best to do it this way. The other choices involve weed eating, which will destroy the monkey grass underneath, or poisonous chemicals. Not happening.

I’d worked on this the day before and not liked the grab and pull method I was using, so yesterday I crouched and shuffled along, cutting the vines at the base of the monkey grass. This seemed to work well, but I was a bit worried about how my knees would react to this abuse. Outside, I didn’t have something to push up from like I do in the living room. How would I support myself when I got up?

So I prayed about it.

I’ve read Louise Hay’s book, “You Can Heal Your Life”, and I remember her saying that emotional issues manifest in physical ways. She has a whole list of each physical symptom and what emotional dysfunction it represents. She believes that if you fix the emotional problem, and you’ve fixed the physical problem. I believe that you can fix the emotional problem by working on the physical problem as well, but that is another post.

I couldn’t remember what knees represent on her list, so I asked God what lesson I needed to learn from my failing knees. I needed the answer then, before I got up. Instead of checking a book or the Internet, I dialed direct for the answer.

The answer was that I was failing to trust that God will provide, that God is in charge. I was trying to rely all on my own power. I was trying to hold myself up, forgetting that God holds me up.

Once I accepted this and relaxed into it, admitting and admiring that God is in charge of everything, I took a breath and stood up, unassisted.

With no failure.
With no problem.
And it has been so ever since.

I try to remember to pray now, every time I stand up, remembering that the Lord is in charge. I don’t have a specific prayer that I use, because I believe that God wants our prayers to be from us, and not empty mutterings.

Here are some Bible verses that harmonize with this.

Psalm 139:1-18
O LORD, thou hast searched me and known me!
2 Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up;
thou discernest my thoughts from afar.
3 Thou searchest out my path and my lying down,
and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou dost beset me behind and before,
and layest thy hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high, I cannot attain it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?
Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, thou art there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there thy hand shall lead me,
and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Let only darkness cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to thee,
the night is bright as the day;
for darkness is as light with thee.
13 For thou didst form my inward parts,
thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful.
Wonderful are thy works!
Thou knowest me right well;
15 my frame was not hidden from thee,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.
16 Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance;
in thy book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
When I awake, I am still with thee. (RSV)

Philippians 2:9-11
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 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. (RSV)