Fifty-seven years ago, Kenyans first celebrated their hard-won independence from British rule. Certainly, this never came easy. It came at a great price. Many freedom fighters lost their lives, their all; and some lived to tell of the tortured, imprisonments, and injustices inflicted against them and their families. Madaraka Day is a time to pause and remember their exemplary sacrifices, their fighting spirit for a free and united Kenya, and their heroic courage. It happens that many of them never made to our history books.
The dawn of an independent Kenya must have been an ecstatic experience. Kenyans, at the time of independence, must have been thrilled to realize that the oppressive colonial rule had finally come to an end. They cried tears of joy in disbelieve; knowing that the new dawn was coming with future possibilities and promise. Indeed, it was a sundown for the colonial rule, but a sunrise for indigenous rule.
The optimism and aspirations of the generations of Kenyans at independence were articulated in the national anthem. The pioneering Kenyans at independence anticipated a nation that would be characterized by blessings and plenty. They envisioned a nation that upholds the ideals of justice, peace, unity, and liberty. They idealized these values as the foundation of a prosperous Kenya. They recognized that realization of this dream will take concerted efforts, each Kenyan involved. Presumably, each time they sang and prayed the words of the national anthem they challenged themselves to arise and build the envisioned Kenya as one people. They envisioned a brighter future against the backdrop of illiteracy, widespread poverty, and a small economy.
From the national anthem, the generation of Kenya at independence KNEW the meaning of the colors of the Kenyan flag. They knew what we have forgotten. They knew what they formerly fought for. They knew what the new Kenya should look like. They knew what they should expect from the Kenyan-ruled governments. They simply had a vision and a clear knowledge of the path for their future.
From the national anthem, the generation of Kenya at independence KNEW the meaning of the colors of the Kenyan flag. They knew what we have forgotten. They knew what they formerly fought for. They knew what the new Kenya should look like. They knew what they should expect from the Kenyan-ruled governments. They simply had a vision and a clear knowledge of the path for their future.
The Great Let Down
Sadly, the joy of independence was short-lived as people realized that the new African leaders were no different from the colonizers. As a result, the people felt a sense of betrayal; their hopes were crushed. The enemy was no longer “them.” Rather, the new, hard-to-deal-with enemy became one of “us.” After the white colonizers exited, the black colonizers took over and continued the colonization. The people who were entrusted leadership position became less and less interested in furthering the vision of the ‘Kenyan kingdom;’ instead, they became passionate in establishing and flourishing their own kingdoms of self, power, and wealth. During the ensuing years, politics of vengeance, deception, hatred, and exclusion became a new norm. Apparently, this has continued, even into our times, to characterize the political landscape in Kenya. Greed, injustices, corruption, violence, and tribalism became normalized in land allotment and distribution, occupation of public offices, distribution of public resources, and so forth. As a result, the divide between the poor and the rich has continued to increase.
As Kenyans Mark Fifty-Seven years of Independence
Fifty-seven years later, admittedly, the post-independent Kenya has made some strides in different sectors of economy. However, Kenya largely continues to struggle to remain true to her dream. The fight against theft of public resources is not yet won; the politics of betrayal, deception and exclusion continues unchallenged. So, where is the problem?
Approximately 3000 years ago, the biblical Moses was called to deliver the people of Israel from the then oppressive Egyptian regimes. The nature of his liberation was all-encompassing; his liberation call “Let my people Go” was spiritual, social, economic, and political. He was to liberate the people to be free to worship, free to rule themselves, free to work to build their own economy, and free to be a people with a distinct identity, purpose and destiny. Moses, as a skilled architect, laid a moral foundation as the pillar for the social, economic and political prosperity of the nation. The moral compass, founded on the God-given Law, became the constitution and basis of reference for leaders occupying any public office. It became the basis of social justice. Moses’ successor Joshua, as a faithful leader and steward, transitioned the nation to their Promised land and fairly allotted the Promised land to the people. As a faithful leader, he never (ab)used the leadership position to amass wealth. Rather, he used it as a trust, and tool for service. In my opinion, one of the main problems that Kenya has faced since independence, can be identified as failed leadership. The elected leaders have always failed to be faithful to the trust given to them. The type of the leaders “we” elect make it hard for Kenya to realize her dream.
Fifty-seven years later after official independence, the truth remains that the Kenyan people, like citizens in many other African states, still need to be liberated from the bondage of heavy taxation, hopelessness, violence, police brutality, tyrannical leadership, plunder of public resources and from the suffering of the people. Other than doing our part in the building of the nation, we can only HOPE that someday God will raise a Moses and a Joshua for our country, to deliver the people and to bring them into a land of abundance; a land where justice, unity, and peace are celebrated.
We would like to kindly let you know that ShahidiHub Africa is conducting an interdenominational survey that targets pastors and church leaders in Kenya. The survey, that runs from 23rd May-19th June 2020, is titled, “The State of the Church in Kenya During the Covid-19 Pandemic.” This survey seeks to find out how churches (through the leadership of pastors and church leaders) adjusted and continue to cope up with this unfolding pandemic situation, and how the future might look like for many churches. It is expected that the findings of this poll will enable pastors, church leaders and parachurch organizations to lead better amidst the pandemic, understand the current state of the church, and to foster an inter-denominational exchange of information and experience. Theologians might also find the findings useful in their engagement with ecclesial issues.
ShahidiHub Africa kindly invites you to participate in this poll; and, if possible, involve other pastors and church leaders within your network by sharing the link below. Once the survey is concluded, we shall share the data and detailed reports with priority given to those who participated.
The short online survey only takes about 7-10 minutes.
God has laid out an inheritance before his people but not all will possess that possession. Many are called but few are chosen. What kind of people eventually qualify for God’s inheritance/blessings? This topic will be briefly handled within the context of ancient Israel inheriting the Promised Land; specifically looking at the life of Caleb. It is only Caleb and Joshua who left Egypt and transitioned to the Promised Land, the rest of his generation perished in the wilderness and a new generation had come up. What kinds of people “eat the best of the land” (Isa 1:19). What kind of people do we ought to be, for us to inherit God’s promises?
The kind of people who inherit the blessings of God /people to put on the watch list:
People who Firmly Trust the Word of God (v6)- Caleb remembers the word that the Lord spoke through his servant Moses forty years earlier. For all these years, Caleb hid God’s word in his heart, waiting for its revelation, like Simon patiently waiting for the consolation of Israel (Lk. 2:25).
In his short speech, he repeatedly refers to the word that the Lord spoke. God’s promise for his life was never weakened by age or delay. Caleb longed for its fulfillment. He lived with hope for the great day of fulfillment of the word spoken by the Lord. They that hope/ trust upon the Lord shall have their strength renewed. Caleb treasured God’s word for over 40 years; it God’s word that made him stand out in his generation.
People who have Personal Convictions (v7)- Caleb and Joshua had a solid conviction based on God’s word. Caleb speaks of his conviction in this verse. Conviction is a firm believe/strong persuasion; it is the feeling of being sure that what you believe or say is true. Caleb had a strong conviction on God’s promises. He is like Joseph (Gen. 39:9), and Daniel (Dan. 3:17,18), Paul (2 Tim. 1:12) in the Bible. You can only overcome the world, peer pressure and temptations by developing conviction based on the word of God. We need people who believe that they can be patient and get rewarded in the end; people who believe they can build wealth through hard work, and not gambling.
People who Wholeheartedly Follow God (v8)- Caleb was committed and consistent. When the ten spies brought reports that “made the hearts of the people melt with fear,” Caleb and Joshua chose to give an encouraging report based on the word of God.
Caleb wholly followed God. When the assembly of God’s people feared to walk according to God’s plan, Caleb stood firm. He followed God despite opposition. He endured threats, insults, and prejudices. In fact, he was almost stoned by the people (Num 14:10). It is possible to follow God but not wholeheartedly. King Amaziah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord but not wholeheartedly, 2 Chronicles 25:2.
What does to “wholly follow God” mean?
Submissive to the will of the Lord. He kept his heart pure.
Resting upon the word of God as clear and authoritative in matters of belief and practice.
Laying hold of the promises of God as certain.
Caleb followed God with determination. Clearly, that was not easy; especially when the people were complaining against their leaders and the people turning to idolatry in Mt. Sinai.
As a result of wholeheartedly following God, he was rewarded. Hebron, therefore, became an inheritance for Caleb. God rewards his faithful followers and honors those who honor him. He rewards obedience.
People who are courageous and strong- (v10-15)
In verse 2, Caleb demands to be given the inheritance according to the promise. He claims still able to dislodge the Anakites in their large and fortified cities. He is still able to task. He does not request the conquered regions, but a piece of the fight will be alright with him. He requested not the easy deal but the harder one! Today, we need people who know and have the courage to claim their possessions.
Be courageous to hold on to your convictions. Be courageous to swim upstream in the contemporary world. Be courageous to stand by the truth even when you are the minority.
Caleb was a man of courage. It is him who led the opposition against the ten (bad news) reporters. When the people of Israel wanted to pack and go back to Egypt, Caleb and Joshua had a rough time reminding them of God’s promises. Courage is not being insensitive/unaware of pending dangers. It is not the absence of fear, rather a deliberate strength and determination to move forward no matter what.
Caleb braved himself out when others proved to be traitors. This courage sprang from the faith he had in God. God wants Joshua to be strong and courageous to be able to lead the people into the Promised Land, Joshua 1:6. Joshua’s strength and courage came from meditating on the word of God, believing its promises, and obeying its precepts. This was the counsel Moses had given to all the people (Deut.11:1-9).
It is never enough to have convictions in life; it should be coupled with courage.
We need the courage to confess Christ in every place we go, and in every situation we find ourselves. Doing God’s will requires courage.
Courage has been summed up in the following words: “I must obey God’’
Our greatest enemy today is cowardice, life’s battle needs courageous people. Always be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. The kingdom of God as we know shall be taken over by the violent; it is for those who take it by force.
In Conclusion, Ephesians 1, we are instructed that we have an inheritance in God; ensure you are positioned to inherit this promise. The first inheritance is salvation.
In Deuteronomy 7:1-14; 8, the nation of Israel was on the verge of entering the promised land after many years of wandering. God, through Moses, gave them some instructions as they planned to settle in the land. But before giving these admonitions, the Lord reminded them about their past journey. God had severally rescued them from their enemies, delivered them miraculously, taught them, nurtured them through their challenges, and miraculously provided for their needs. As a result, they were now a people destined for an inheritance. God’s past dealings with them gave them some obligations as people. This is a timeless truth.
Therefore, when the Lord blesses you, remember to:
Maintain your Identity in Him (7:2-8)- The people of ancient Israel were to set themselves apart as a special people to God. They had to jealously safeguard their (special) covenant relationship with God. Here, to be set apart means to be holy and blameless.
They were reminded that they were the chosen ones of God on the face of the earth. What a privileged position and favor! They were God’s treasured possession, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, called to declare God’s praises among the nations.
Also, they were reminded that God’s choice over them was not meritorious. Rather, it was a gracious act. There was nothing special to them that could attract God to them. In fact, they were not numerous than other people (people power), also, they were the fewest of all the people (insignificant). But God only exercised his love toward them because he was fulfilling the promise made with their patriarch, Abraham.
However, setting themselves apart was not going to come easy; they were to take radical steps against sin to remain holy to their God. For their safety, they were not to intermarry with those with opposing belief system (not to be yoke with unbelievers/friendship with the world is enmity with God), they were also required to break down their altars. Simply, they were not to adopt a lifestyle that was alien to their cultural, ethical, and spiritual foundations.
Holiness does not come easy; it involves constant, deliberate, and decisive moves against apostasy, sin, and wickedness.
Today, has the Lord God done so much to/for you (or blessed you) that you wonder how to thank Him? maintain your identity by living a godly life. Offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- as your spiritual act of worship (Rom 12:1-2). Thank Him by living a godly life. It is what pleases him. When you live a holy life in thankfulness for what God has done, you glorify Him (Matt. 5:16). In other words, you cannot thank God if you are deliberately living in sin.
Seek to Know the Lord- (7:9-10)
Increasein the knowledge of God– Seek to know what he cherishes, his will, what pleases him, and what makes him angry. Seek him, his kingdom, and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). We often want to increase in knowledge of our professions, that is good, but we need to extend the same spirit in seeking God’s knowledge.
In this knowledge, realize that the Lord is your God is faithful (hesed), keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Seek him as your greatest treasure (Matt. 13:43-45); make him your all in all; and, involve him in your life.
Do not forget the Lord (8:2)- It is interesting that we remember what we want to forget and forget what we should remember. The people of ancient Israel were instructed to remember the Lord and what he done in the past.
How can one FORGET the Lord and what the Lord has done in the past? Well, this is a common temptation to all of us. When the Lord blesses us, it is very easy to end up focusing on the blessings than the source/One blessing us.
Moses noted that the people will unsurprisingly forget the past miracles through the vast dreadful desert, thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions, military victories, the water out of the rock, and the manna in the desert. Sadly, this is one of the problems of the human heart: forgetting God.
When we forget the Lord and his workings in our lives, we give room for our hearts to be occupied by pride (8:14). We soon allow other gods and idols to take a center stage of our lives.
Pride (the spirit of independence) is something that crawls in silently and grows gradually without our realization; Moses warned that if they do not guard their hearts, they might end up saying, “’My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…” (8:16-18). Therefore, for us today, it is paramount to stay humble and understand that everything we have has been received, because of God’s graciousness.
Love Him, serve Him, and fear Him– (6:5,13) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
It is not enough that we are consecrated to the Lord and that we know him, we need to love him and serve him wholeheartedly with all that we are and have.
In Exodus 10:26, Moses adamantly told Pharaoh that the people will have to leave Egypt with their possessions because they will need it in their worship of God; “Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshipping the Lord our God…” We need to present not just ourselves to the Lord but also our possessions. God needs our possessions. We should serve the Lord with our wealth, don’t waste it on worthless things.
Giving is one of the ways we can serve the Lord and promote his kingdom; giving generously is one way of declaring that everything we have has been received and we are only stewards of God’s resources. A grateful heart gives; and by giving you make what you have received a tool for service rather than an idol of worship.
III. Follow the word of God (7:11-26)- God had revealed his word to Israel; and this was to be the basis for their belief and living. Torah contained God’s expectation, and God’s past dealings with them in regard to salvation. They were to read it, interpret it, and apply it. It contained guidance for their living, food for their nourishment, warnings for their good and promises for their success.
Obedience to God’s word ensured their continued blessings. Also, obedience to the word of God demonstrates our commitment to God; Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (Jn. 14:23).
This is what happens when you observe the word of God and revere him: God will keep his commandment of love with you, he will love you, he will bless you and increase you, he will bless your families, bless your jobs/crops of your field and herds of your flock. He will lift you up above others, he will keep you free from diseases, he will ensure that no one will stand against you, he will give you victory, and accomplish the impossible for you (7:17-24).
Walking in God’s ways radicality in regard to sin. Walking in obedience to God and his word means taking deliberate actions against falling into the snare of idolatry, destroying any form of idolatry, not to coveting the treasures of the wicked (7:16).
It is foolish and evil when some people use God or his name (as a bridge) for their ends; and quickly abandon him when they have secured their desired end.
IV. Praise/Bless him (8:10-)– When the Lord blesses you and have eaten and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, when your property increases, and when your money multiplies, remember to praise the Lord.
Praising/blessing the Lord involves declaring him as the source of the power of your success.
In Psalm 116:12, the psalmist communes with his own heart on how to respond to God’s grace and providence. He writes, “How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?”
First, the Psalmist says that he will call upon the name of the Lord. He will declare God’s name and deeds among his people. Having tasted of the goodness of the Lord the Psalmist will invite others to come to the living waters where they can eat and drink without money and without cost (Isa. 55:1-2). He will make the world know that the source of his help, joy, peace and salvation. He will let the world know that in Jesus there is a healer, provider, sanctifier, deliverer, redeemer, savior, hope and eternal life. He will lift up the name of the Lord, he will decrease as he increases (Jn. 3:30).
Second, the psalmist will fulfill his vows to God. Perhaps in his dark moments, he had made a vow to the Lord; and since the Lord had acted in his goodness, he will fulfill his vows.
As a person, you may have made a vow when you were sick, desperate, unemployed, in distress, or needed a sort of deliverance, breakthrough or promotion. Then the unbelievable happened through God’s intervention. You got healed, you got a job/promotion, or your business started picking up; or simply put, you became delivered from your ‘enemies’ and fears. The best thing to do is to remember to fulfill the verbal commitments you made to the Lord. The Lord commands, “When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said” (Num. 30:2).
Concluding Thoughts: When the Lord blesses us, let us: Set ourselves apart for the Lord and his purposes; Seek to know the Lord; Follow the word of God; Praise Him.
When Israel finally conquered the promised land, God commanded Joshua to set aside six cities of refuge (Joshua 20). These cities were to be set strategically in the promised Land.
What was the purpose of these cities?
The cities were to be safe havens to those who unintentionally find themselves in trouble. For instance, anyone who killed a person accidentally/unintentionally fled to any of these places for protection from the avenger of blood. By running into these cities, the offender received a lifeline. In these cities, a victim was granted asylum until the trial of his case was held in the presence of the community. In short, a city of refuge was a place of safety in times of danger.
Over time, theologically, the idea of finding refuge in geographical places was replaced by the idea of finding refuge in the Person of God. A shift from a PLACE to a PERSON!
In 2 Samuel 22:1-4, David proclaimed, THE LORD IS MY REFUGE. He referred to God as his rock, fortress, stronghold and shield. The idea of a place being a refuge place began to remotely disappear in their theology, and the idea of God as refuge took a center stage.
Now, instead of a geographical location, the Lord is a stronghold to the oppressed, poor, and those who are in trouble (Ps. 9:9; Isa 25:3).
Bible mentions some benefits that come from having God as our refuge. Those who take refuge in God (even today) receive:
Blessings– Those who take refuge in him are blessed, are filled with joy and gladness (Ps. 2:12; 5:12). Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (Ps. 34:8).
Protection– They that run to Him receive protection (Ps. 5:11). The Lord is a shield to those who shelter under his wings (2 Sam. 22:31; Ps. 18:30). Those who trust in God are kept safe (Ps. 16:1-2). The Lord guards them; “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Ps. 91:4).
Deliverance– Those who shelter in the Almighty receive deliverance from enemies and from the traps of enemies. The Lord delivers his own from the wicked. He is the strong tower against our enemies (Ps. 61:3-4), therefore worthy to be trusted at all times. David confessed, “O Lord my God, I take refuge in you, save me and deliver me from all who pursue me” (Ps. 7:1ff; 11:1; 31:4). Also, David expressed his confidence in God, the trustworthy deliverer; for those who trust in God as their refuge are also rescued from shame (Ps. 25:20) and are redeemed (Ps. 34:22). If we want to receive honor instead of shame, then we need to hide under His wings.
Love and Goodness of the Lord– Those who take refuge in God are shown the wonder of God’s great love (Ps. 17:7-9) and enjoy the goodness of God (Ps. 31:19-20).
Where do you seek your refuge today? Is it in places, people, family, beauty, knowledge, material things, relationships? Ultimately, these options disappoint. Realize that even people who have sought refuge places in schools and in church buildings, in the past, were disappointed when those ‘safe’ places were razed.
If God is your refuge, you will not fear (Ps. 46). You will not be moved.
The safest place to be in the times of storm is to be under the shadow of His wings. The Lord is the strong shelter from the wind, a shade from the heat of the day, a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.
Like the Psalmist, the Lord is and has been our refuge, we tell him what concerns us and he delivers us. Also, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” (Ps 46:1); “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
Jesus Christ is the refuge’ to those who run to him; even the vilest sinner who runs to him finds life. He is a safe refuge we can run to from the sinful world and turbulence of life.
Life has eventualities, just as the Mosaic law anticipated and made some legal provisions. But more importantly, we need to have a PERSON we can run into and be safe. The Lord is that sure refuge; not places or human beings.
Today, make the sovereign Lord your refuge. The psalmist exhorts us to choose God as our refuge for it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man or in princes (Ps. 118:8). What does this mean to you?
“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it” (Prov. 22:3).
Over time, theologically, the idea of finding refuge in geographical places was replaced by the idea of finding refuge in the Person of God. A shift from a PLACE to a PERSON!
Life presents us with tough situations that make us question our foundational beliefs; especially on God’s character. Asaph, one of the singers in the OT temple, wrestled to relate what he believed (about God) with what he observed in life. In his struggle, he challenged the notion that God always blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked. He could not piece it together why the ungodly seem to prosper and why the godly to suffer. His reflections on God’s goodness to his people at the backdrop of the prosperity of the wicked are penned down in Psalm 73, for us today.
Epilogue: Affirmation of God’s Character (v. 1-2)
Asaph begins by affirming God’s character, “Surely, God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.” The God he worshipped was good. Historically, He had been good to the nation of Israel. (Realize that, even with his questions, he had a good theology; that God’s goodness is with those who are committed to him). Though, seemingly, he struggled to see the goodness of this God (manifested at the national life of Israel), at an individual level.
The paradox of Life as Asaph perceived (v. 2-3)
Apart from knowing that the Lord is good to his people, Asaph struggled in his heart to reconcile this fact with his observations concerning the prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the godly. As he considered this mismatch, he not only increased in DOUBT but also developed in his heart ENVY of the shalom/prosperity of the arrogant. Sure enough, as he trod this path, he admits that he nearly lost his foothold.
Ways and Prosperity of the Ungodly Considered (v. 4-12)
He observed that the ungodly have no struggles. Their bodies are healthy and strong. Asaph thought to himself, who does not want such a life? In his skewed observation, he noted that the ungodly are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Like today, such people, even when they fall sick, their ill-gotten wealth assures them of stable insurance covers that would guarantee them better medical packages abroad. To Asaph, it looked like these people have it all. He could only envy them.
He also notes that these people are full of pride and violence. They use violence to acquire it what they want; and surely, they get it. Courts of law would not scare them. They are the types who switch jobs and get promotions anytime they want because of their evil maneuvers.
Their hearts and minds are totally corrupt. They have no limits of evil in their imaginations; they speak arrogantly and threaten oppression. But still, Asaph observed, everything seemed to work well for them!
They are popular, (they have the likes and following!) and everyone talks about them; and would want to stick around them.
They even mock God. In their iniquities, they say “’How would God know?’ Does the Most High know anything?’” (v. 11). Unlike Asaph, these people care less about knowing God or pleasing him. Yet, everything seemed is perfectly well with them!
These people don’t have church, Bible, or prayer and fasting in their vocabularies. They mock the very idea of prayer, God, and the Bible, and care less about God’s existence. Yet, again, they sound okay!
These wicked people are always free of care, and they go on amassing wealth, committing atrocities and injustices, taking everything under their own names. Yet, they go free.
These people seem to be enjoying everything about life, and having the best time of their lives; they are people who need not be concerned with tax compliance, they corrupt their way and hire the best lawyers to argue their cases, and bribe their way out in courts of law; they inflate tender figures, manipulate/cook accounts; they do evil and get away with it. They are a phone call away from a multimillion tender deal, money that will take you many years to get. They seem to have much fun and generally enjoy life.
So, why keep the rules when those who bend them always get ahead?
At least, in these verses, you can feel the struggles that Asaph went through. It certainly makes one sick.
How could God in his goodness allow these wicked people prosper and permit the righteous to suffer?
Certainly, Asaph may not have approved every detail of their prideful behavior but “it worked for them!”; they were prosperous in everyone’s eyes. And who does not want to be prosperous?
What then has been the value of my Godliness (v. 13-15)
Then the psalmist pondered about the value of his salvation. “Surely, in vain I have kept my heart pure and washed my hands in innocence.” He questioned the value of his godliness at the backdrop of the prosperity of the ungodly. Yes, as a godly man, Asaph had suffered many afflictions (Ps. 34:19); but in his envy, admittedly, he’d also become blind to the fact that even the ungodly undergo through many afflictions.
Asaph felt he had cleansed himself in vain. In his puzzle, the Lord seemed to prosper the wicked and punish the righteous.
Today, like Asaph, we are tempted to ask, ‘how has my salvation helped me when those who are not saved seem to be doing so well in every area of life?’
Have I maintained a clean heart in vain?
Asaph is sure that if he had spoken out his heart-deliberations he would have betrayed God’s people who looked up to him. Nevertheless, he kept these questions alive within him.
These things continued to trouble and confuse him deeply. Has it all been in vain?
Today, similarly, a pastor can ask himself, ‘is it in vain that I have faithfully preached yet the panda mbegu preachers are making a kill each Sunday?’ A businessman can ask, ‘is it in vain that I have conducted my business in an ethical way and as a result downsizing my staff, yet my unethical neighbor who relies on many things including witchcraft keeps on expanding? A young person might be thinking, is it in vain that I have kept my purity yet those who care less about purity or God are ‘moving on well’? These are weighty issues.
One thing is for sure, it can never be in vain.
Take a close look at Asaph’s mistakes:
He defined success, greatness, life, fun, pleasure, and prosperity through the eyes of the world/men.
His human perspective made him see things in terms of HERE and NOW. If God is good, why do I lack this and that now?
Envy and covetous (against the law of God: Ps. 37:1; Prov. 3:31). In this case, wanting the right things at the wrong time, in a wrong manner, and in the wrong amount.
This led him to:
Question God’s goodness.
Feel discouraged, embittered, and depressed.
Waver in his confidence in God.
Asaph’s Paradigm Shift: (v. 17-22)
The psalmist went out to the sanctuary to worship, hear the word of the Lord, and commune with the Lord.
The solution to our problems lies not in complaining but in communing with God.
When he entered the holy place of God (the presence of God), something happened! Verse 17 marks the turning point of this psalm. Behold! His eyes were opened! Asaph received a revelation!
He received God’s perspective of reality. He received new lenses (God-view lenses). He started to see things from God’s perspective; In this new perspective, he received a deeper revelation concerning the ungodly and the godly. Let have a look at each.
As he embraced the God-perspective, he got to understand the FINAL DESTINY of the ungodly (v17). He started to realize that God has placed them on a slippery ground where they eventually stumble and fall. In due time, they will surely be cast down to ruin.
In his justice, God will arise and give them what they deserve. The end of the ungodly isn’t desirable at all; for they are on a pathway to destruction. The wicked are like a dream when one awakes; they are like fantasies (a dream), counterfeits of reality.
At this, point Asaph realized that his initial conclusion was wrong. His spirit was embittered/grieved noting that he had been senseless and ignorant before God (v. 21-22). His human perspective had led him along the same slippery path. He now started to overcome his doubts by considering the destiny of the wicked. The final destiny of the wicked is definitely miserable and NO ONE would not want to go that direction or walk along that path.
The Godly (v.23-26)
In this new God-perspective, the psalmist realized his glorious destiny. But he also acknowledged God’s help in the present time.
He acknowledged that:
God has been with him always (v.23)– God’s right hand, has always sustained and upheld him and supplied his needs. The ungodly look all good, but they do not have God’s presence. To him, God has been his portion (Lam. 3:23-24). In the words of Psalm 103, Asaph realized that in fact, he should be grateful for God’s blessings upon his life: God had forgiven him his sins, healed him, crowned him with love and compassion, satisfied his desires with good things, and redeemed his life from the pit. Simply, God has been good to him.
God has been his guide/counsel (v.24)– He had walked in God’s counsel. God had made known his ways to him. And he hasn’t allowed his feet to slip. He realized God guides his own through the puzzles and turbulence of life. He realized that he is standing because God had planted his feet upon a rock, to keep him from sliding.
Finally, God will receive him in/with glory (v. 24)- The godly will finally receive honor and glory.
The psalmist realized that he was indeed blessed. In fact, the ungodly should envy him, not vice versa. He affirmed that God was his only possession and desire in heaven and or on earth. The wicked people prosper materially but only the spiritual possessions of the righteous will last.
He recognized that the one who is truly prosperous or blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers but the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord (Ps. 1:1-2)
He came to a realization that those who trust in God have their feet on a firm foundation and have a glorious ending. But the wicked and those who envy them are on a slippery ground and they will soon stumble, fall, and will be destroyed.
Epilogue (v. 27-28)
Asaph concludes that those who are far from God and are unfaithful will perish. But those who are NEAR to Him find joy and safety.
Although he had slipped in his confidence in God (v2), he was now reassured that God was keeping him secure and had planned a good ending for him. God was his refuge, and shelter from danger.
Nearness to God always helps believers maintain a balanced perspective on material things and on the wicked
Envying the prosperity of the wicked is a common temptation even for us today. This becomes more real when we look at the world around us using human or world perspectives. It only leads us to despair and faithlessness. Asaph could agree that what he saw in the lives of the ‘prosperous’ ungodly was not the real thing; it was a sham, fantasies, and things transient (1Jn. 2:17).
We need not take pleasure in the fact that sinners seem to be prosperous. We need not admire the ungodly, for they are on a slippery slope.
The prosperity of the ungodly should not be envied but despised. Their prosperity is short and uncertain; their destruction is sure and sudden. Soon, they shall be no more.
God intends to bless us (give us shallom/all-round wellness/prosperity) but he gives us success, wealth and prosperity that is true and enduring; therefore, we need to begin seeing fun success, prosperity, wealth and fame through God’s eyes.
God-perspective brought Asaph to where he began; that the Lord is good to his people. He now came to the conclusion that the Lord is not just good to the nation of Israel but also to individual lives of his people.
Such a transformed attitude, today, will lead us to behold God’s goodness to those who are pure in heart even when we see the ‘prosperity’ of the wicked.
The God-perspective he received helped him understand the puzzles and regain his spiritual balance, draw near to God, and to declare God’s works.
Bible uses several names to describe the nature and character of God. Each of these names and titles (and other metaphors and similes), like different facets of a diamond, reveal to us a unique quality, character, and identity of God. Although, no single name reveals all that may be known about Him. Collectively, through these names, we can know God better and increase our knowledge of Him.
However, in our experiences, we are confronted with false notions/views about God. Also, there is growing ignorance of who God is. And undeniably, wrong concepts/perspectives of God lead to wrong behavior; the high or low perspectives of God affects our thinking, conduct, and attitudes.
Therefore, it is important for us today to think rightly about God. We can only achieve this not on our own but based on the revealed word of God.
Biblical knowledge of God, through his revealed names, will enable us to confront distorted views of God. It was Jesus’ prayer that we may know Him (Jn. 17:3); and it was Paul’s greatest desire to know him more (Phil. 3:10).
Today, we would like to look at two names of God, as revealed in the Bible, namely: Elohim and El-Olam. Admittedly, the English names: God and Lord, furnish us with little information about His character and ways. That is why looking at these two names in the Hebrew language is instructive.
Elohim (See Gen. 1)
The prefix (or shorter form) “El” was both the word for “god” and the name of the original high god among the Semitic peoples of the ancient Middle East. But among the Hebrews, the name Elohim was prominently used. El means God (of heaven), mighty one, strong. The ancient people depicted El as the great God; as opposed to a weak, passive, or powerless God. The plural rendering of the name is a plural of majesty.
In the Bible, the name Elohim is second in use (used about 2,570) after the name Yahweh. Sometimes these two names (Jehovah-Elohim) are combined. So, in what contexts are these names used, and what qualities of God do these names highlight.
Instances where the name Elohim is used in the Bible
God the Creator– The use of the name Elohim in Genesis 1 (appearing 32 times) depicts him as the Creator who causes things that are not to be. He spoke into existence things that were not. He fills the emptiness, brings out light out of darkness, form out of formlessness, and order out of disorder. Importantly, he creates man our of his image and likeness. By him, all things were created (Acts 17:24ff; Col. 1:16). He existed before the creation of all things. He is the source and sustainer of all things. In creation, Elohim speaks of himself as us (Gen. 1:26)
God the Deliverer– He delivered Israel up out of Egypt (Num. 23:22). He is the Savior of his people (Gen. 26:24).
God the Sovereign One– He is depicted as God of all the kingdoms of the earth (Isa. 37:16). The Lord of heaven and the earth (Gen. 24:3). The God of gods, the Lord of lords who is great and mighty (Deut. 10:17). He is all-powerful.
How big is your God? Is your God sovereign over every area of your life?
God of Relationships– Elohim is depicted as God who is near to his people (Jer. 23:23) and is the God of mercy (Ps. 59:17). He is the God who seeks a relationship with those who believe in him; he calls himself the “God of Abraham.”
He is the Lord of a second chance, Elohim established a covenant with Noah after the flood (Gen. 6:18; 9:15,16). He is the Lord who is faithful to his covenant; he remembered his covenant with Abraham when he judged Sodom, and saved Lot and his family (Gen. 19:29). He is the God who fulfills his word; in his deathbed, Joseph told his brothers, “I am about to die, but God (Elohim) will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Gen 50:24).
Implications of the name Elohim for us Today
Elohim as creator, deliverer, sovereign, and God who seeks an intimate relationship with his people….
2. El-Olam (Gen 21:33)
This is a description of a quality of God, bringing out the concept of eternity of God. He is limitless.
The Lord is the everlasting God (Isa 40:28). Moses wrote, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps. 90:2).
His rule and dominion endure through all generations (Ps. 145:13).
He has no beginning and no end. He is Alpha and Omega.
He makes things work at his appointed time. He is not limited by time. He can accomplish his purposes even when we think the time is not (no longer) right or favorable.
Implications of the name El-Olam for us Today
Since God is eternal and everything else around us is passing away, we can then anchor our lives on him. We can shelter and find refuge in him (Ps. 90:1).
It is possible to be imprisoned by fear, but the eternity of God reminds us that God eternal has already lived in our tomorrows.
We need to embrace the life that Jesus gives. He proclaimed that he had come to abolish death and to give us life.
What (picture/concept) comes into your mind when you think about God?
We need to recognize two temptations concerning what we’ve talked about. First, is the temptation to create God in our own image. It could be fashioning God in line with our own personal, conventional, or cultural beliefs. And certainly, this leads to wrong views about God.
Since everything rises or falls with our concept of God, we need to probe long-held false views of God, unlearn then, and rediscover Him; so that we can worship him as he is.
It has been said that God is not what we believe, rather, we believe in what God…
Second, there is the temptation to suppress the truth that has been revealed to us about God. Paul noted that although creation testifies the there is a creator (Rom 1:19, 20), human beings in their unrighteousness have suppressed this truth (Ps 19:1-4; Rom 1:18). In rebellion, human beings suppress and reject this knowledge. Paul writes that “although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful” (Rom 1:21).
God is not a mysterious being to us, he’s has revealed himself specifically through his Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-2).
So, has the knowledge of the Holy one transformed the way we live?
Finally, may the knowledge of Elohim enable us to embrace God’s power over our lives. And may the knowledge of the eternity of God help us anchor our lives on Christ, who gives life in abundance.
In Joshua 6:1-10, after crossing the river Jordan, the nation of Israel was in for a colossal challenge. Their first assignment after crossing the River Jordan was to possess their inheritance; the first on the list was the city of Jericho. A great ancient city fortified with gates of iron and bars of brass. However, this was not going to be normal military warfare. They had to pick some instructions before attacking the city.
The Lord ordered them to march around the city with all the armed men for six days. The priests were to carry the trumpet of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. Upon hearing the sound of a long blast on the trumpets, all the people were expected to give a loud shout. Then the wall of the city would collapse, and the people will go up and possess their possession.
The land of Canaan was Israel’s rightful possession. On one hand, God was judging Jericho for its sins, but on the other hand God was handing over to Israel what was due them.
Today, God has promised us so much him; we have an inheritance in God (Eph. 1:14); Col. 1:12; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:4), but many end up not possessing what has been promised to them. Not all people end up inheriting the glorious inheritance that God qualified them for. why? because of some necessary conditions.
Biblical conditions required for possessing what God has promised us:
Possessing God’s Promise(s) (v2, 5), remembering God’s promises and acting on it. The Lord told Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” God has already won the battle. ‘It is your possession.’ The wall of the city shall fall (Josh 6:5). It was only a matter of time and the promise will be fulfilled!
God’s promises never fail (21:45; 23:14).
In his word, the Lord had promised to send fear before them; and to cause confusion among all the people to whom they will come across (Ex. 23:27).
The two spies sent by Joshua confirmed that the people inside the city of Jericho were in a panic and were sure that God was handing over their city to Israel (Josh. 2:9-11; See Deut. 2:25; 7:23; 11:25; 23:27).
The promise of God must have given Joshua courage. That the task ahead of him has been counted as done. The victory is already won! The Lord is a mighty warrior.
It was great and powerful cities like Jericho that had convinced the ten spies sent by Moses that they could never conquer the land (Num. 13:28; Deut. 1:28). From their eyes, it was mission impossible. But the two spies remembered God’s promise.
A promise always comes with a challenge. God promised Israelites the land flowing with milk and honey, but an enemy city stood in between.
Are we aware of God’s promises about our lives and situations around us today?
As God’s people, we must know God’s promises and claims it for ourselves. We must know what God has promised in his word: Ps. 23; Jer. 29:11; Matt. 28:20; Jn 14; 16:33; Rom 10:17; Heb. 13:5.
-God never promised us the absence of strange and confusing times but promised his enduring presence; I am with you always, to the very end of age, Matt 28:20
-God has not called us citizens of this world but called us aliens and His ambassadors; we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us 2 Cor. 5:20
-God never said that he is making the world a better place but promised that he’s gone to prepare us a place; And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am Jn 14:3
-God never promised that things around us will not grow from bad to worse but promises to make all things new; I am making everything new! Rev 21:5
-He never guaranteed a world devoid of trouble but spoke comfort saying, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33
-God never promised a Christendom in this world but promised a kingdom of people called unto himself, the church; But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light, 1 Pet 2:9
-God did not promise the comfort of religious freedom but warned of hate, persecutions even death. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own Jn 15:18
Obedience (to the Lord’s leading)- We need to accept the Lord’s strategy (vv. 3-5)- The command to march around the city for six days, blowing trumpets, and shouting might have looked absurd. But it was the Lord’s strategy. The directions might have sounded illogical to people who solely rely on logic. It might have looked foolish and ridiculous to many military minded people. But it was the strategy had God approved for his people to inherit their possession.
Note that before the battle, God already pronounced a victory, he gives the strategy; not vice versa. I have given you this, but this is the strategy. …. job, addiction, degree.
Key to possessing our inheritance is obedience and heeding of God’s voice.
The Bible instructs, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5).
Joshua did not rely on human tactics; though he could have relied on his military strength.
The Bible records many people who were commanded to do what we might call strange/ridiculous. Abraham being called to go to an unknown land. Gideon was called to downsize his arm to 300 against an army of 135,000 (Judg. 7,8). Prophet Elisha told Naaman, the military commander of Aram, to go to the river Jordan and wash himself seven times in the Jordan (2 Kings 5:10). Jesus asked Philip where they can buy bread for 5,000 people, (Jn. 6:5-6); Philip wonders, but Andrew fronts an idea of a boy with two fishes and five loaves of bread. At the wedding in Cana Mary told the people around to do whatever Jesus tells them (Jn. 2:5).
God’s plan may look foolish; but in it is divine wisdom that the world does not comprehend (Isa. 55:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:26-29). God may choose the unexpected to educate you through university and close the expected doors! In such a case, will you force your way or heed God’s voice/leading. He is a God of surprises!
We need to develop in our obedience to God and trust his plan for our lives.
We should obey and follow because we know the identity of the one calling us.
Faith in God- (v. 6) Israelites had to trust the God who commanded them.
In this, they were required to walk by faith and not by sight. The author of Hebrews (Heb. 11:30) retrospectively looked at this victory as a triumph of faith. Faith against all evidence.
The people had to take a faith step, to their possession.
As they laid the city to a siege, they needed to walk by faith and not by sight because they had never attacked any city in this manner- singing and blowing of trumpets.
You will note that fear had caused the inhabitants of Jericho to close their gates; instead of trusting in God, they trusted in the strength of their walls. They were not willing to surrender because their hearts were hardened. They lived inside walls of unbelief/doubt. They found security and refuge not in God but in their walled city.
Through faith, there is no situation is that is too great for the Lord to handle, and no problem is too much for him to solve.
Faith makes us be still and know that God in control and will fight for us (Ps. 46:10)- the Lord is a chain breaker, miracle worker, way-maker. The battle belongs to the Lord.
We need to trust God for the impossible things in our lives. Have a look at the following verses.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” (Gen. 18:14)
“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”(Jeremiah 32:17)
“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt.19:26).
“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)
In Jericho, the Israelites stared at walls of impossibility. Conquering this city needed God’s enabling power. It was going to be brought down not by powerful arsenal, or by military strategy or by strong men; but by faith in God.
Those impossibilities in various areas of life are opportunities for God to display his power.
God has given us numerous promises in his word. But we need courage to believe in what has been promised; that the one who has promised is faithful. We need to know God’s promises concerning our spirituality, finances, relationships, and families.
We need to believe that the battle shall be won, the iron gates shall be opened, that the mighty walls shall come down tumbling because the Lord has said it. Because the Lord has said, then we shall inherit the land occupied by giants.
Many times, life can present to us some ‘walls’ that seem unconquerable. In such cases, we need faith to conquer what is impossible. Faith laughs at impossibilities. Hudson Taylor: three stages in God’s work: Impossible…Difficult…Done
Faith in God compels us to focus on God who is bigger than any mountain/challenge we face in life.
Today we want to learn from the prayer of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, Israel’s patriarch.
Jacobs life is recorded in Genesis 25-35, and in the rest of Genesis through the life of his son, Joseph.
Jacob is an interesting character to look at. He was a rival of his twin brother right from the womb (25:23-26). He shortchanged his brother and acquired his birthright, by offering him a meal. He is known as a schemer, and a liar. He lied about his wife being his sister, just as his father had lied. In a plot organized with his mother Rebecca, Jacob also stole Esau’s blessings. Fearful and distressed, Jacob fled for his life to the land of his uncles. In a foreign land, he married, increased in family, and wealth. More so, with his in-laws, he experienced life defining moments that would later shape his life.
After two decades of hard labor, it was God’s time for him to return to his homeland (31:13). But he had to keenly plan how to approach his brother because of unresolved past experience. Although Jacob had many challenges, fears, and failures, there are some positive things we can highlight from his life, especially from his prayer in Genesis 32:9-12.
From this prayer, we can discover four principles, Jacob:
Knew God (v.9)-
Jacob had a personal relationship with God.
He first identifies the Lord God with his grandfather and father; but this God is also the God he related to. The God of his fore fathers had become his Father. While in a foreign land, he lived among people who worshipped idols (31:19, 30), but his devotion to the true God remained unmoved.
He saw God’s favor in his past and present life (v. 10)–
As he crossed back River Jordan, Jacob remembered when he formerly crossed the same river two decades earlier. He realized that back then when he crossed Jordan, he only had staff in his hand. Nothing more! He had no attendants, no family, and no companion.
Yet as he was now crossing back the same river, he was never the same person! He had greatly increased. The Lord had given him a big family, great possessions (goats, sheep, herd of cattle, camels), and servants. Formerly he was a poor man, but now he was a wealthy man.
As he reviews the past twenty years of his life, he noted two things:
He is unworthy to have received such a great favor- He pondered on who he was to merit such a great favor. He felt unworthy that he had received much that he never planned for. Presumably, Jacob knew that God blesses whomever he chooses; but the fact that he was such a recipient humbled him. (cf. 1 Sam. 2; Matt. 8:8; Lk. 1:46-53; 1 Cor. 4:7).
The Lord had shown him his kindness and faithfulness- Jacob realized that what he had become was as a result of God’s favor (hesed). The Lord of his fathers had become to him a healer, protector, pillar, and a sustainer. To him, God had become all in all; the single greatest treasure. The one who gives ability to create wealth had greatly blessed him. In God, and he had received everything for life and godliness. Jacob was grateful to God. As he persuaded his twin brother to receive his gifts, Jacob confessed, “…God has been gracious to me. I have more than enough” (33:11). He knew that everything he now owns was as a result of God’s graciousness. Today, do we have the same perspective as Jacob? We need to be grateful to God and realize that everything we have has been received from Him (the power, money, clothes, cars, spouses, children, jobs, health, houses…).
Jacob had many challenges in his life, in fact he was shortchanged when he wanted to marry, he was treated unjustly by his father in-law as he worked for him (31:40-42), but in all, Jacob saw God’s goodness. He changed the lenses in which he saw his past life. Instead of complaining to God about his past life, he thanked God and praised him for his faithfulness.
Formerly, Jacob had crossed Jordan river with fears, fleeing for his life. And, twenty years later, as he crossed back the same river, Jacob still harboring fear in his heart (32:6-7).
He remembered that he had unsettled grudges with his brother. And his unconfessed transgression was always before him (Ps. 51:3). He knew his brother would not hesitate in any given chance to revenge the past wrongs (27:41).
But how did he handle this situation? Jacob executed two strategies.
First, he divided his wealth into two, just in case (32:7-8). Secondly, he prayed. And prayer settled his fears. The power of prayer…
Even after being given the assurance by an angel to go back to his people, Jacob still feared Esau. Generally, Jacob was a fearful character, in the past, he had cheated that his wife was his sister because he feared “someone would kill me to get her from me” (26:9). Here again in this verse, he admits to God “I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children.” Many times, the things we fear most never happen. What fears are you battling with today? Remember, a time of fear is a good time for prayer.
But one thing is clear here, Jacob had learned to direct his fears to God in prayer. Formerly, he trusted his mother more than anyone, but now, he had faith in God. He trusted Him in matters concerning his life, family, situations, and future. I pray that we learn this lesson today just like many biblical examples. That is, taking our concerns, distress, fears, and problems to Jesus.
The Bible says, “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Ps. 50:15).
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10).
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears…This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” (Ps. 34:4,6).
Jacob sought God’s help in prayer. He expressed his dependence on God the chief mediator of men. Finally, God delivered Jacob from his fears.
He knew God’s promises (v. 12)-
In this short prayer, Jacob reminded God his promises. God had promised to protect him and multiply his descendants (also see 28:3,4, 13-15).
Jacob had learned not only to hold so dearly the word of God but also to hear God speak; to an extent that he now boldly claimed his inheritance. We need to learn to hear God through circumstances, word, godly people, prayer…
What does it mean to remind God that he is Jehovah Jireh, Ropha, Shammah…. taking him at his word.
In Judges 2:16-23, the nation of Israel had settled in the promised land, and many things were quickly changing including their allegiance to God.
The generation of Joshua and elders who outlived him served the Lord during their lifetimes. But the times progressively changed! The godly generation disappeared from the scene and darkness was taking over.
Bible records that a new generation came up that did not know God or what he had done for Israel! What an ignorance! Who had failed? The children, or parents? But it seems the problem is much deeper here than the blame games…
Since they now did not know their faith-foundations, the surrounding nations provided all manner of options (including religious, and ethical foundations); and this plunged them into deep apostasy. Repeatedly, they went through a four-step cycle.
The people sinned–
They rebelled against God, disobeyed God’s commands, broke God’s covenant, and worshipped foreign idols/gods. In fact, the subsequent generations reset the standards of evil from the previous levels. So sad!
The people were punished for their sins–
In their wickedness, the provoked Lord anger. The people faced the consequences of their actions. The Lord RAISED up enemies against them. The enemies oppressed and plundered them.
When they went to war, they were defeated because God was no longer with them (Deut. 28:25-6), they started becoming unproductive in life because they were under God’s curse (Deut. 28:15-68). They had forsaken God and his word, which is their life (Deut. 32:47).
In their sinfulness, they became like an unfruitful tree, rainless clouds, waterless well, a desolate city.
By breaking God’s commands, they ended up broken.
In the end, they were crushed, despaired and broken. But in their brokenness, they cried to God.
The people cried to God in Repentance– (Judges 3:9,15; 4:3; 6:6-7; 10:10).
The downward spiral of events in personal and national life led them back to God.
Bible records that they cried out to God in repentance (But seemingly their repentance is doubtful because they always went back to their sinful state). In their stubborn ways they refused to totally turn away from sin. They were unwilling to destroy their idols and to turn to the living God.
Suffering can bring something good! Later on, while reflecting on his experience, the psalmist appreciated his afflictions because through it, he learned God’s decrees (Ps. 119: 67,71,75).
The Lord raised up judges for them–
When the people cried to God, God listened to their distress and answered their prayers by RAISING a judge to deliver them from their enemies. He had previously raised enemies against his own people, but due to their repentance, he now raised deliverers.
The coming of a judge was a sign of God’s graciousness, patience, compassion, abounding love, and faithfulness to keep his promise (Ex. 34:6). He remains faithful even when we are faithless (2 Tim. 2:13).
The Judge (savior/ rescuer) defeated Israel’s enemies and restored a state of peace and rest. Once again, the judges restored the people to a pathway of blessings of Deuteronomy 28:1—14 (of victory, fruitfulness, and prosperity). But they would eat the fruit and forget about the roots of the tree.
Sadly, the same pattern/cycle would replay itself with several other generation during the entire period of judges.
Elsewhere in the Bible and in different times, human inclination toward evil is evident.
In his time, Jesus talked of a “perverse generation” (Matt. 17:17); And Apostle Peter as he proclaimed the gospel warned people against a “corrupt generation” of his time (Acts 2:40). Paul reminded the Philippian believers that they lived in a “crooked and depraved generation”; similar to the times of Moses where people’s lives were characterized by rebellion, ungratefulness, and unbelief (Deut. 32:5, 20).
How did they confront this nature of apostasy in their times?
It is easy to see these people who lived in this period and falsely think we are unlike them. The present generation is also bent toward evil and rebellion. As an individual, how can I deal with ungodliness in my time?
Make a Choice of Whom You Will Serve (Joshua 24:14-15)
Joshua lived at the edges of the period of Judges. Seemingly at the end of his life and ministry, people had chosen to serve other foreign gods that were visible. In his farewell address, he puts stark choices between them but reveals to them that he and his family will serve the Lord.
Serving God is a choice; that choice in turn is nurtured by the Holy Spirit. Amidst, apostasy or growing ungodliness, make a deliberate and courageous choice to live for God today. (at least to some extent the bird is in your hands….)
Titus instructs, that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, it teaches us to say “’No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope.” (Titus 2:11-13).
In the midst of apostasy, we can say a loud and firm “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions.
Cultivate Your Faith in God–
Jesus mentioned the “unbelieving and perverse” (Jn 17:17) in a context where his disciples were unable to heal a boy with seizures.
Privately, the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to heal the boy; and Jesus responded, “because you have so little faith” (Matt. 17:20). The disciples, like their contemporaries suffered one common problem- Faithlessness.
In a faithless generation we need to walk by faith not by sight. (Matt. 17:19), believing in God and his word.
Paul, reminded the Philippians that they can shine line stars in the universe.
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling(Phil 2:12-13)-
Our God-given gracious gift of salvation requires some working out. It is like a baby that should be nursed to maturity, it is like a investment that needs to be multiplied, it is like a farm that need to be cultivated…. This is a daily activity.
Salvation is such a precious gift from God that we should hold it dearly and treasure it. It should be done “With fear and trembling”- knowing that by our own, with our weaknesses and unworthiness, we cannot make it (Jn. 15:5). But that God works in us… to accomplish his good purpose.
The external world may be full of darkness, but our hearts should be continually lit by the light and hope of salvation. The Spirit of God will certainly bring to completion the good work that God has begun.
Hold fast/firmly the word of life(Phil. 2:16)-
The word is the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Rom 1:16). It is a powerful word that is able to transform people’s lives. It is the word that brought things into being that were not (Gen. 1) and calmed a raging storm (Matt. 12:13). It is the word that can release divine power in our lives. The Thessalonians received this word and treated it specially, not as words of men (1 Thess. 2:13). It is powerful and authoritative word in matters of faith and practice. It reveals, nourishes, perfects. Through it we rise and prosper. It is our life.
The word of God is qualified by ‘life’ (cf. 1 Jn. 1:1). The word gives life (it is the spiritual food that sustains a Christian- Jn 6:63). It is the word of life because it proclaims the true life in Christ; it is a message of salvation and new life Acts 13:26; 5:20). It is what offers life in a lifeless world. It is what brings light in a dark world. Keep this word alive in you.
Sometimes we feel the darkness around us is overwhelming. But we are called to shine like stars in the universe. Don’t be bothered by darkness around us, stars shine brighter when it is darker. Darkness brings them out. May God raise godly and resourceful people along our paths to nurture the gift of God in us into fruition. Those who shine for God NOW, will in the coming kingdom shine like stars forever (Dan 12:3)
Set yourself apart for the Lord
Be separate from the evil of the present by accepting the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
By the grace that is in Christ Jesus, stand out in a perverse generation!
While talking about money, riches, greed and covetousness, Paul exhorts Timothy, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…” (1 Tim. 6:11-12). camel. Let the world know of your faith in God.
How did a nation easily forget their God and what he had done in the history of their nation? The fact is, this new generation chose to rewrite their story without God. In wanting to control the present, they removed God from their past; the same God who controls their future. God and the great historical figures and their devotion to God were rewritten and God was removed from the picture. They became ignorant of God’s ways, covenants, and doings.
Even us today, it is easy to fall into the temptation of looking at our past and seeing no God, even though the challenges we may have once faced. Israelites in their sinfulness chose to interpret their past (victories and events) without God
God’s deliverance through the judges was short-lived but Christ’s deliverance is eternal.
So, how can be break a cycle of unbelief? it is only through Jesus that we can be rescued completely.
The devil can lay hostage to a generation. He comes to steal (identities, purposes, and destinies), kill, and destroy. But Christ comes to bring life in abundance (Jn. 10:10).
These are part of thoughts shared at Kabarak University Chapel (Nakuru Campus), this week.
Promoting God's Kingdom in Africa through Research, News Perspectives, and Publication