Why I Celebrate The Feast of Trumpets

Why I Celebrate The Feast of Trumpets

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.” (Lev 23:1-2)

“23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25 Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’” (Lev. 23:23-24).

In Leviticus chapter 23, we learn about annual feast days of the Lord. The Hebrew word translated as feast is moed. It is more properly translated as appointed times. They are times in history in which God had appointments with His people. He still meets with us today.

As I consider why I celebrate these festivals, I first recognize that I have an appointment to meet with God. This reminds me of how God is personally interested in my existence and purpose. God wants to meet with me and the rest of His people.

The Hebrew word translated as ‘assembly’ is miqra. It means a gathering or rehearsal. This reminds me that God wants His people to meet together. We worship Him as one Body.

The appointed time which just passed (Friday Sept 18 at sunset through Saturday Sept 19 at sunset) is commonly called The Feast of Trumpets. It is also called zikron teruah. Zikron means to remember or a remembrance. Teruah can mean blowing (as in a trumpet) or shouting.

In fact, the Hebrew word Teruah throughout the Old Testament is connected to shouting, rejoicing, and praising God. Moreover, the word is used when the silver trumpets in Numbers chapter 10 are used or the ram’s horn (called a shofar).

These uses of the word teruah for shouting, the silver trumpets, and the shofar allow us to connect this appointed time with many verses relating to future judgment on the world for sin and disobedience (see Zephaniah chapter 1; Rev. chapters 8-11, 15-16). It is also tied to the Lord returning to gather the scattered people of God and defeat the armies of this world, which are at enmity with God’s people (see Isaiah 27:12-14).

While God’s judgment is a future event, I also remember that I will stand before God and give account for my life. This is sober and humbling.

To this end, our congregation spends the entire month before Trumpets (some call this Teshuvah) in self-reflection and repentance for our behavior, thoughts, and intent that violate God’s Word.

We take an inventory of our spiritual and natural lives. We look at where we haven’t lived up to God’s standard. We ask forgiveness and grace for where we have fallen short. We also make spiritual and natural goals so that, by God’s grace and the power of His Spirit, we will do better for the upcoming year.

One of the future events we anticipate on this day is the Lord returning with His armies to defeat the armies of this world at Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21). This battle will result in the end of this age of disobedience and pain, which began with Adam. Satan is then bound from influencing humanity (Rev. 20:1-3). Amidst God’s judgment mercy is granted to the humble (Is. 27:12-14). After His judgment, a better world can then begin (Rev. 20:4-6). There is hope for all humanity to have a brighter future. The Lord Jesus will see to it. This is something to truly celebrate!

God bless!

Kelly

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Understanding Romans 14:5-6

Understanding Romans 14:5-6

by Kelly McDonald, Jr. 

“5 One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks. He who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks” (Romans 14:5-6, KLV).

Common arguments: These verses have been misunderstood as negating the Sabbath or Holy days. Some have said that they are the basis for proclaiming every day is holy or that no day is holy.

Think it through: These arguments have obvious problems. If Paul can make any day holy or common, then any human could do this any time they wanted to. This would mean that there is no objective standard as to what days were holy or common. These viewpoints reduce God’s authority to lower than that of a man, which is dangerous. If Paul can change the rest of the Bible, who else can do that? What other subjects do we allow people to change?

Short Answer: Paul is talking about days that men esteem higher than others, not days that God considers holy. Thus, he is referring to Roman cultural days.

Longer Answer: We will examine the example of Paul, the context of Romans 14, and some history to clarify the meaning of Paul’s words.

One of the ways we interpret history is through what we call primary sources. This can include people who were eye witnesses to events as well as archaeological findings from the time period. The Apostle Peter was a contemporary of Paul and thus a primary source to the subject matter at hand. Here is what Peter said about Paul:

“15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:15-17, ASV).

We learn some important details from Peter’s words. Apparently, Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand, but they do not negate the other Scriptures. The other Scriptures are a reference to the Old Testament. They did not have a New Testament in Paul’s time. Paul was a very educated man, which is why some people struggled with his words.

With this background understanding from Paul’s life, let’s look further at the context of Romans 14:5-6 and the specific language used.

First of all, let’s look at Romans 14:1 “Now accept one who is weak in faith, but not for disputes over opinions.” Paul informed us that this issue was a dispute about opinions. This means it is not clearly defined by Scripture. Secondly, the Greek word Paul uses for day, hemera, refers to any common day. It refers to the other six days of the week. Thus, he is addressing common days, not holy days like the Sabbath.

Third, the Greek word for holy, hagios, is not even found in this chapter (Romans 14). This reinforces that he is addressing common days, not holy days like the Sabbath. If he were referring to the Sabbath, Paul would have used the specific Greek word for Sabbath, sabbaton. Fourth, Paul was not addressing which days God considers to be holy, but what days men esteem higher than others. God is the one who set aside the Sabbath, not man.

Lastly, one must also consider his audience. Paul wrote these words to the Romans. He is applying these verses specifically to days that the Romans considered to be important. Let’s take a look at some primary sources from the time before, during, and after Paul that will illuminate the meaning of these verses.

The Romans were very superstitious. They considered some days of the week to be unlucky, such as Saturday (Tibullus, 1:3,17-18; Propertius 4:1,81-86). They also considered certain days of the month bad for specific activities such as business or travel (Marcus Varro, On the Latin Language: VI:29-31; Plutarch, Roman Questions, 25). There were even days of certain months on which activities were discouraged, such as marriage (Ovid, Fasti, 5:470-492). On some days, common activities were encouraged, such as eating certain foods (Ovid, Fasti, 6:169 ). For instance, beans and spelt were eaten on June 1st to honor Juno).

The Romans conducted their behavior in this manner for one or more reasons. Sometimes these prohibitions were to honor a specific god or goddess (such as their activity on June 1st). At other times, the Romans were just superstitious. For instance, the Romans considered odd numbers as unlucky. Certain odd days of a month were considered bad for business (Plutarch, Roman Questions, 25).  The Emperor Augustus thought his shoes were an omen (Seutonius, Life of Augustus, XCII).

Another issue raised in Romans 14:5-6 is the issue of abstaining from meat. There was a strain of thought in the Roman world which believed very strongly in vegetarianism (Ovid, Metamorphosis,bk15:76-112, 140-142, 458-462; Seneca, Epistulae, 108:17-22; Plutarch: On the Eating of Flesh, 1:41 and On Isis and Osiris, sections 2,4,7; Lucius Apuleis, Metamorphosis, 11:26-29).  From these sources we can see that their vegetarian beliefs were rooted either in the worship of other gods or superstition.

With this historical understanding, we can better ascertain the meaning of these verses. Paul himself was an educated man and even a Roman citizen. While he grew up Jewish, he also grew up in a culture that practiced these Roman superstitions. He was well versed with them.

What do we learn from Romans 14:5-6? If we are going to consider a common day as important to perform a specific activity, then we should do so unto the Lord and not to a pagan deity, or superstition. He is addressing this specific Roman cultural activity for common days and activities, not the Sabbath or any day declared holy by God.

Paul’s example in the Bible shows us that he continued to keep and reverence the Sabbath even after his conversion to Christianity (for a few examples: Acts 13, Acts 17, 18, Acts 20:16, Acts 27:9, and I Cor.16:8). All of the early churches kept the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week.

God is the one who declared the Sabbath Holy, not man (Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 31:12-18, and Leviticus 23:1-6 to name a few). The seventh-day Sabbath persists even into the New Heavens and the New Earth (Isaiah 66:22-24).

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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New Booklet: The Chronology of Christ’s Passion

New Booklet: The Chronology of Christ’s Passion

Would you like to understand the chronology of events from Jesus last Passover until the resurrection? How about the timeline of events from the resurrection until the ascension? In this booklet, you will receive in depth explanation of these events as well as the necessary background information to put it all together.

The four gospel accounts do no contradict, they compliment. In this booklet you will find out how!

Click the picture below to download this FREE booklet!

chronology booklet

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A 2nd Century Perspective on the Importance of Passover

A 2nd Century Perspective on the Importance of Passover

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

The earliest disciples commemorated the death of Jesus, called Passover, on the 14th of Nissan. This remained the majority practice in Christianity for at least 120 or more years after Jesus ascended into Heaven. The earliest Christians knew nothing of a celebration called Easter. In fact, they did not even have a celebration for the resurrection of Jesus. This is not to say that the resurrection of Jesus is not important – but to highlight a historical fact. Why was the remembrance of Jesus’ death more important as a feast than the resurrection and why wasn’t the resurrection celebrated in some form?

Jesus established the practice of Passover for the early Church. “14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God’…And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me… (Luke 22:14-16, 19)

There are three things to note about these verses: 1) Jesus said that He eagerly desired to eat Passover with the disciples. This is the only time the Greek phrase translated as ‘eagerly desired’ is used. 2) He said it would find fulfillment in the Kingdom of God, which has not yet come, and pursuant to this point He commanded them to 3) “do this in remembrance of me”.

The early church continued this practice. Paul worded it this way: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). We proclaim this remembrance of His death until He returns. Later in the same book, he wrote, “6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Cor 5:6-8).

Again, the New Testament does not record any sort of celebration for the resurrection of Jesus. They did not neglect this incredible event as they referenced it many times. To understand why remembering the death of Jesus with an annual observance was so important, one must take a quick trip with me into the second century.

As I have reviewed in other articles, the second century was a tumultuous time for Christianity. There were cultural and religious forces that attempted to change the Christian community. Among the false teachings that started in the first century, but exploded in the second century was Gnosticism.

Gnosticism is a belief system which blended Greek and Middle Eastern influences. Some of their common beliefs are as follows: matter is evil and spiritual things are good; an inferior god made the material world and a superior god made the spiritual realm; spirit and matter are opposed; and a strong emphasis on the gaining of knowledge as essential to the salvation of one’s immortal soul.

The Gnostic teachers infiltrated the Christian community heavily in the second century. Because these heretics viewed the material world as evil, they denied that the perfect Jesus Christ could have ever been born in a human body. In their view – how could a being so perfect dwell in an evil, material body? They denied the bodily birth, bodily ministry, physical suffering, and death of Christ. They claimed that an apparition or the mere appearance of the perfect Christ appeared on earth.

The Apostle John warned about this problem in His time. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (I John 4:1-3)

The Gnostic heretics did not always deny that Christ experienced some sort of resurrection or transfiguration, that He ascended into Heaven, and that He lives forever. They denied that He lived in a human body and suffered.

During His last Passover on earth, Jesus took bread and the fruit of the vine and explained that they represented His body and His blood. This is a sober reminder that He actually came in a physical body and physically suffered for our sins.

Of all the feast days in the Bible, Passover is the ultimate refutation of Gnostic belief. No one can deny that He took physical items and used them as representations of His physical body/blood. Truly, no one can deny that He suffered those things for the sins of the whole world.

“Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:26)

For a Christian in the second century, Passover was a reminder that the Word of God who became flesh triumphs over all heresy. In His suffering He gave us the victory.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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New Covenant Passover Service

If you are new to Passover or would like a format to keep Passover, we have one below:

New Covenant Passover Service

Opening Prayer

Worship

Foot Washing – Before washing feet, read John 13:1-17

Meal (if you have one)

The following verses can be read together either during the meal or after it is finished

Passage #1: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; John 1:29; I Peter 2:20-24

Passage #2: Psalm 22

Passage #3: Psalm 23; Hebrews 4:14-16; Luke 22:19

Unleavened Bread for Communion – Thank you Lord for taking the bruising for our sins; Leader pray and all eat

Passage #4: John 6:32-40; 48-51; 53-58

Passage #5: John 13:18-30

Take the bitter herb (Horseraddish) – Thank you Lord for saving us from bitterness; Leader pray and all eat on unleavened bread

Passage #6: Hebrews 9:11-15; Romans 3:23-26; 5:6-15

Passage #7: Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 26:27-28

The Wine or Grape Juice for Communion – Thank you Lord for pouring out your blood for our sins; Leader Pray and all drink

Passage #8: John 13:31-35; 14:1-7, 14:12-31

Passage #9: John 15:1-26

Passage #10: John 16:12-16, 32-33

Passage #11: John 17:1-26

Passage #12: Matthew 26:36-44; Luke 22:39-44

Christ bore our sickness and infirmity in the Garden. He was in great agony, so much so, that He sweat great drops of blood. Let’s conclude our service with a prayer of gratitude.

Leader Pray

Worship

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Booklet: Passover Preparation

Greetings Everyone!

Check out the latest edition of my booklet “Passover Preparation”

Just click the picture below!
Passover Prep Pic

Kelly

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Understanding I Corinthians 10:25-29

Understanding I Corinthians 10:25-29

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.
In I Corinthians 10:25-29, Paul wrote: “25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.’ 27 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if anyone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice,’ then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake – 29 the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours.”

A crucial fact to help us understand I Corinthians 10 is that I Corinthians 8 comes first. In I Corinthians 8, Paul addressed the issue of eating food offered to idols. In ancient times, people went to a market to buy their meat. Sometimes this meat had been sacrificed to an idol before it put on display for people to buy. I Corinthians Chapters 8-10 addressed a situation between two groups of people. The first group was composed of mature believers who did not care if meat had been sacrificed to idols or not. The second group was composed of newer believers who thought that believers should eat meat sacrificed to idols.

In I Corinthians 8, Paul wrote that idols are nothing and that there is only one God. We have an excerpt from this passage below: “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 But if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he doesn’t yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, the same is known by him. 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For though there are things that are called “gods”, whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many “gods” and many “lords”; 6 yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him. 7 However, that knowledge isn’t in all men. But some, with consciousness of the idol until now, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.” (I Cor. 8:1-7)

Paul’s conclusion is two-fold. First, it should not matter if a believer eats meat sacrificed to idols. Secondly, he warns the mature believers not to knowingly eat meat sacrificed to idols in front of newer converts. If mature believers do such things, then it may cause the newer believers to turn back to worshipping other gods.

In I Corinthians 10:25-29, Paul explained that eating food sacrificed to idols should be avoided if possible. If a believer was told the food was sacrificed to an idol, then he or she should not eat it. This is to protect the newer believers so that their consciences will not be harmed. On the other hand, if believers go to a meal and they are not informed that the food was sacrificed to idols, then they should not worry about it. There is only one true God. Idols are nothing.

This passage, like others from Paul and Jesus, is emphasizing how we should eat in a specific situation.  It is not discussing what types of animals we should eat. God defined what meat is acceptable to eat in Leviticus chapter 11 (see also Genesis 7:2). In I Corinthians chapter 8, Paul used the Greek word brosis once (verse 4) and the Greek word broma two times (verses 8, 13). These Greek words refer to food as defined in Leviticus chapter 11. By using these words, he has defined food by the time we arrive at I Corinthians 10.

A second key to understanding this passage is to read the verses following it. Paul concludes this passage in verse 31 by saying “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” We are informed in this verse to do everything to glorify God. That means our thinking, how we treat others, and even how we eat should be used to glorify Him. Paul’s main concern in this passage is not to define or redefine what God made to eat. He is trying to educate believers in how to encounter situations where they might eat food sacrificed to idols.

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

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Mystery of the Magi: Who Were They?

Gold

Mystery of the Magi: Who Were They?

by Kelly McDonald, Jr.

The Upcoming Fall Holy Day Season is the time for us to remember the incarnation. This is when the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. In John 1:14, we read, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (KJV). The Greek word translated as dwelt is skenoo. Its root word is skene; it can refer to the booths from Leviticus chapter 23. In other words, Christ came down and tabernacled with us. One reason we celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles is to remember the perfect life of Christ, who is the Word.

Among the mysteries surrounding Christ tabernacling among men is that of the Magi. We read about this event in Matthew chapter 2.

“1  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men [Greek: Magoi – literally translated as Magi] from the east to Jerusalem, 2  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:1-3).

In Western culture, we often think that there were three Magi. However, the Bible does not say how many Magi there were; they brought three gifts (Matthew 2:11). But there are important questions regarding their appearance. How did they know that the King of the Jews was being born? We know the star guided them, but how did they know such specifics about him? Why would they look to worship a Jewish king? Why was Herod and the city of Jerusalem troubled at their appearance? The only other individuals who knew about his royalty were the angels, Mary and Joseph (Luke 1:31-33).

When the Magi came to worship Christ, He was in a house (not a manger – Matthew 2:11). This means the Magi did not arrive at the time of Christ’s birth. These individuals must have been very important because they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod. Due to their visit, Herod wanted all the children two and under to be put to death.

To understand the identity of the Magi, we must go back far in time. In the period leading up to King David’s reign, the tribes of Israel were divided between two groups. In the north dwelt Israel; Judah dwelt in the south. During Saul’s life, a distinction is made between them.  “He numbered them in Bezek; and the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand” (I Samuel 11:8, KLV). David is recorded as ruling over both. “In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah” (2 Samuel 5:5).

This united Kingdom continued into the reign of Solomon, David’s son. In I Kings 11, we are informed that Solomon turned away from God and fell into idolatry. As a result, the northern tribes of Israel were separated from Judah during the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. The two groups – Judah and Israel – became known as two separate nations.

“20 When all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the congregation, and made him king over all Israel. There was no one who followed David’s house, except for the tribe of Judah only. 21 When Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and eighty thousand chosen men, who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon” (I Kings 12:20-21).

The house of Judah was ruled from its capital of Jerusalem. Eventually, Israel developed its own capital named Samaria. It was founded by Omri.

“23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel for twelve years. He reigned six years in Tirzah. 24 He bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents[a] of silver; and he built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill” (I Kings 16:23-24).

Omri’s son was named Ahab. He is one of the more well recognized people in the Bible because of his wickedness. “In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel. Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30 Ahab the son of Omri did that which was evil in the LORD’s sight above all that were before him” (1 Kings 16:29-30).

Historical records from two different people groups confirm that other nations identified the northern tribes by the name Israel: the Moabites and Assyrians. The Moabite stone, which dates to around 830-840 BC, reads: “Now Om(r)i, King of Israel, he oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh was angry with his l(a)nd. His son succeeded him, and he also said, I will oppress Moab. In my days he said, (Let us go)” (Records of the Past, vol. 11, p 165).

The Assyrians also discussed the Kingdom of Israel. The ruler Shalmaneser listed several nations he defeated and the number of troops from each peoples. Among the kings mentioned is Ahab, the Israelite; his name in Hebrew is Achav.

“From the city of Argana I departed. To the city of Karkara I approached. The city of Karkara, the city of (His) Majesty, I threw down, dug up (and) burned with fire. 1200 chariots, 1200 magazines, (and) 20,000 men of Rimmon’-hidri of Damascus, 700 chariots, 700 magazines, (and) 10,000 men of Irkhuleni of Hamath, 2000 chariots, (and) 10,000 men of Ahab (Akhabbu) of the country of the Israelites (Sir’ila-a-a)…” (ibid, vol. 3, p 99).

Omri and Ahab both are identified as Israelites (the Assyrian word for Israel in this text is Sir’ila-a-a). Not long after this, the appellation changed. In the 840s BC, Shalmanesser III erected an Obelisk, or erect stone monument. In it is engraved pictures from different peoples he conquered with inscriptions. The Obelisk is currently on display at the British Museum, so it can be viewed online. Among the kings depicted on this monument is Jehu (Hebrew name: YAHUA). On it, he is bowing down before the Assyrian king and paying tribute.

“The tribute of Iaua (Jehu) son of Khumri (Omri): silver, gold, bowls of gold, vessels of gold, goblets of gold, pitchers of gold, lead, sceptres for the King’s hand, (and) staves: I received” (ibid, vol 5, p 41).

During the reign of Jehu, there was a sudden change in how the same Assyrian King addressed the Israelites. Instead of using the term Sir’ila-a-a, he called them the Khumri. Scholars agree that this Assyrian word is a reference to Omri. He was the King that founded Samaria. From the reign of Jehu forward, the Assyrians labeled the northern tribes by this name or the Samarians (after the name of their capital).

There was a legitimate reason for this transition. The weekly and annual Sabbaths were revealed to remind us that God is our Creator and that He makes us holy (Exodus 31:12-17). There was even a special national application to this understanding. Starting with Jereboam, the northern tribes abandoned God and the Sabbaths (I Kings 12:26-33). During the reign of Ahab and his wife Jezebel, God sent Elijah and Elisha to perform miracles so that the nation would turn back to God. Jehu, who reigned after them, had a chance to change the nation’s destiny. Unfortunately, they remained in disobedience (see 2 Kings 10:28-33); they eventually lost their identity. Jesus called them lost in His day (Matthew 10:1-6).

In the 730s BC, the Assyrian King Tiglath Pileser III, fought wars with both Judah and Israel. One of his inscriptions mentioned both groups. The inscription is a little damaged, but we can still gain valuable insight from it.

“2 ….. (in the) course of my expedition the tribute which 3 …. (AZARI)AH of the land of Judah like …. 4 …. Azariah of the land of Judah in …. 29 (I imposed upon them). The tribute of Kustaspi of the city of Kummuhai, of Razinu of the land of Damascus, of Minihimmi of the city Samirinai…” (ibid, vol 5, pp 45, 48)

This inscription references both Azariah and Menahem from the Bible. “In the thirty ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem the son of Gadi began to reign over Israel for ten years in Samaria” (2 Kings 15:17). Notice that even the Assyrians designated them as ruling over separate peoples.  Fragments of the same ruler go on to describe the house of Israel again.

“…The land of Beth-Omri (Khumri)…. the population …. the goods of its people (and the furniture to) the land of Assyria I sent PAKAHA (Pekah) their King they had slain . . . HUSIH (Hoshea) to the kingdom over them I appointed . 10 talents of gold, 1000 of silver…I received from them as their (tri)bute…” (ibid, p 52).

This inscription indicates that the first deportation of Israelites happened in the 730s BC. Tiglath also mentions Pekah and Hoshea, the last two kings of Israel. The Biblical records the same details. “In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria” (2 Kings 15:29).   Hoshea killed Pekah (2 Kings 15:30).

The Bible discusses the captivity of the northern tribes further. They were sent to various places, with the final captivity taking place between 721 and 718 BC. “In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes” (2 Kings 17:6).

The deportation locations mentioned in 2 Kings 17:6 are somewhat debated. Some of these locations are closer to the capital of Nineveh (Halah and Gozan), while others such as the cities of the Medes, are farther away. Generally speaking, the locations of exile stretch from southeastern Turkey out towards eastern Iran.  This captivity is discussed further by Inscriptions from Sargon II.

“…I plundered the district of Samaria and the entire house of Omri (Khoumri)… “My mighty hand reached from the town of Hasmar until the town of Simaspatti in Media the far one, which is situated at the rising sun, the lands of Namri and Ellip, Bet-Hamban, Parsua, Van, Armenia, Kaska (Colchis), Tabal, until the Moschians, I instituted my Lieutenants as Governors over them and I imposed to them the prostration of the tributes like to the Assyrians…besieged, I occupied the town of Samaria and I brought into captivity 27,280 persons; I took before all parts over them 50 chariots, the part of my kingdom. I took them to Assyria…” (ibid, vol 7, pp 26, 28).

The bull inscription of Khorsabad (722-721), also constructed by Sargon II, discussed more about this event. “…he conquered the countries of an Karalla, Andia, Zikirtu, Kjsasi, Kharkhar, and placed Media and Ellip under the dominion of Assur….He swept away Samaria, and the whole house of Omri (bit-Khumri) and Kaska. He subdued the country of Tubal, and the whole of Bet-Burutas, he overcame Egypt near the city of Raphia, and placed Hanun, King of Gaza, in slavery…” (ibid, vol 11, p 18).

Sennacherib, a later Assyrian King, took a great number from the southern tribes into captivity during the reign of Hezekiah. This is a detail that is often overlooked in the research of this subject. Thus, a significant number of the tribe of Judah went into captivity – no mention of Israel is found.

“And Hezekiah King of Judah, who had not bowed down at my feet Forty six of his strong cities, his castles, and the smaller towns…in their neighbourhood beyond number…with warlike engines…I attacked and captured. 200,150 people small and great, male and female, horses, mares, asses, camels, oxen and sheep beyond number, from the midst of them I carried off and distributed them as a spoil. He himself, like a bird in a cage, inside Jerusalem his royal city I shut him up…” (ibid, vol 1, p 38).

While the northern tribes were first taken captive decades before this event, they were eventually joined by a significant number of their brothers from the southern tribes.

There is one linguistic detail that is necessary for the study of this subject. Edward Lipinski, in his work “Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar”, notes the following: “In Neo-Assyrian [g] and [k] seem to be positional variants of the same phoneme. The voiced pronunciation is attested in intervocalic position by Aramaic and Hebrew transcriptions, e.g. mngsr for Mannu-ki-sarri…” (page 145).

The well-known Assyrianologist Archibald Henry Sayce said, “In Babylonian g commonly takes the place of kh (as also in later Assyrian)…” (Sayce, p 48).

Thus, the kh sound in Assyrian is sometimes interchanged with g in Assyrian or when one transliterates from Assyrian to Babylonian. The sound kh in Khoumri is interchangeable with the g sound.

The Assyrian kings wrote letters during their respective reigns. These letters reference a people group called the Gimiri or Gimiraa. This would correspond to the Israelites or Khoumri. For one example, I have included an excerpt from Letter 1237.

“Belushezib to King Esarhaddon:…Let the cavalry and the Dakku invade the Cimmerians (Gimiraa), who have spoken saying, “The Mannai pertain to you, we have not interfered.” Certainly this is a lie. They are the offspring of outcasts, they recognize neither the oath of a god nor a (human) agreement. Let the chariots and baggage wagons take up a position on either side of the pass; (then) with the horses and the Dakku, let them enter and take the plunder of the plain of Mannai; and let them return at the pass let them bivouac once or twice they shall enter and…plundered and the Cimmerians (Gimiraa)…” (Waterman, pp 358-359).

Notice that the translators reckon Gimiraa as the Cimmerians. They are mentioned alongside a group called the Mannai, who dwelt in modern-day southeastern Turkey/northeastern Iran. This is in the same area that the northern tribes of Israel were sent! There are other records that shed light on the Gimiraa; one of them is the Behistun Inscription.

In the early 500s BC, Darius the Persian had a massive inscription carved in rock. It is called the Behistun Inscription, and it is located in modern-day Iran. It is the Rosetta Stone of ancient languages. On it, he proclaimed his victory over conquered peoples in three languages: Babylonian, Susan (or Elamite), and Persian.

Each section begins with Darius proclaiming himself king of kings and listing provinces he controlled. We have an excerpt from section VI in each of the three languages.

Behistun Inscription

Babylonian: “6. Ba-ah-tar (matu) Su-ug-du (matu) Pa-ar-u-pa-ra-e-sa-an-na (matu) Gi-mi-ri (matu) Sa-at-ta-gu-u…”

English translation: “VI. Bactria, Sogdiana, Paruparaesanna, the land of the Cimmerians, Sattagydia…” (Behistun Inscription, 161-162)

Susan: 13. Paksisaiak (m)Suktas-pe aiak [(m)Parruparae]sana aiak 14. (m)Sakka-pe aiak…”

English translation: “Bactria, and Sogdiana, and Parruparaesana, and Scythia…” (ibid, page 96)

Persian: “Bakhtris Sugjuda Ga(n)dara Saka…”

English translation: “VI. Bactria, Sogdiana, Gandara, Scythia…” (ibid, page 4)

It is fascinating that the term Gimiri (translated as Cimmerians) was considered synonymous with the Sakka or Scythian peoples in other languages. Keep in mind that the translators from the Behistun Inscription are different than those from the Assyrian Royal Correspondence we quoted earlier. The Gimiraa are described as the offspring of outcasts, which is a description we would expect of the northern tribes of Israel.

The Cimmerians are not mentioned in historical documents until 714 BC; they are mentioned in as dwelling in modern-day Southeastern Turkey (Aruz, Farkas, and Fino, p 148). The Scythians are not mentioned as a separate group until the 670s, when they were allied with the Medes (ibid, p 25). The first two mentions of these people groups are not long after the captivity of the northern tribes. Even the place the tribes were taken to (land of the Medes) is mentioned. Scythian burial mounds, also called kurgans, date to the same time period (Kuz’mina, pp 390-393; Bliss, pp 52-52-55).

From these primary sources, we are able to link the terms Khoumri and Gimiri in Assyrian and Babylonian with the ancient peoples of the Cimmerians, Sakka, and Scythians in the Susan and Persian languages. They are synonymous with each other.

According to Herodotus, the first Scythian Empire controlled all of Asia for a period of about 28 years (book 1, sections 104-106). They are mentioned with the Medes. Once again, we have a reference to the Medes and the Scythians within a reasonable time period of the captivity.

While Scythian dominance was temporary, they would have another opportunity at greatness in the ancient world. The Roman geographer and historian Strabo (lived 63 BC to 24 AD) wrote about a revival of Scythian dominance. Recalling the time period about 240 BC, he wrote:

Afterwards Arsaces [Arsakes], a Scythian, (with the Parni, called nomads, a tribe of the Dahae, who live on the banks of the Ochus) invaded Parthia, and made himself master of it. At first both Arsaces and his successors were weakened by maintaining wars with those who had been deprived of their territory. Afterwards they became so powerful, in consequence of their successful  warfare, continually depriving their neighbours of portions of their territory, that at last they possession of all the country within the Euphrates…They now have an empire comprehending so large an extent of country, and so many nations, that it almost rivals that of the Romans in magnitude. This is to be attributed to their mode of life and manners which have indeed much of the barbarous and Scythian character…” (Strabo, 11.9.2).

In about 240 BC, Arsakes and his Scythian peoples conquered the area known as Parthia (eastern Iran). The Parthian Empire is reckoned from Arsakes’ reign forward. It was composed of Scythians and had their cultural influence. Arsakes is depicted on the coinage of Parthian kings from the 200s BC to the early centuries AD (see figure one as a demonstration of this). He was so important that all future Parthian kings retained his name as part of theirs. Strabo also records this.

“Such also is the custom among the Parthians; for all have the name Arsacae, although each has his peculiar name of Orodes, Phraates, or some other appellation” (15.1.36). Elsewhere Strabo tells us about other tribal names of the Scythians: Daae, Massagetae and Sacae (11.8.2). This Scythian-Parthian Kingdom had a special class of individuals who chose their kings. They were called the Magi.

“…We have enlarged on the subject of the Parthian customs in the sixth book of historical commentaries, and in the second of those, which are a sequel to Polybius we shall omit what we said, in order to avoid repetition; adding this only, that Psedidonius affirms that the council of the Parthians is composed of two classes, one of relatives, (of the royal family) and another of wise men and magi, by both of which kings are chosen” (Strabo, 11.9.3).

The Parthian ruling class was composed of two groups. One were relatives of the royal family and the other were wise men and Magi. The Kings of Parthia were chosen by these individuals. The implications are that the Magi and wise men chose from the royal family of the Parthians.

The Parthians and Romans had a rocky history. Among the worst military disasters in Roman history was the battle of Carrhae (southern Turkey). In 53 BC, the Parthians defeated over 40,000 Roman troops; most of them were either killed or taken captive.

In 40 BC, the Parthians conquered Judea and set Antigonus Matthatias over the King of the Jewish people. It is interesting that the Parthians set Antigonus, a Jewish man and Hasmonean descendant, to be the king and high priest of Judea. They could have established whomever they wanted to be their puppet ruler. Instead, they chose a native born.

During this same time, a man named Herod, an Edomite by birth, sought to rule Judea and Jerusalem. He gained the support of the Romans; they recognized him as the legitimate king.  After 3 years of fighting and a siege of Jerusalem, Herod prevailed. He had Antigonus put to death by the Romans. This was the first time the Romans put a king to death. Antigonus was the last of the Hasmonean rulers.

Another clash between the two Empires occurred in 36 BC. Marcus Antony tried to invade Parthian territory and suffered a humiliating campaign. Tens of thousands of Roman troops died in this debacle.

We return to one of our original questions: Why were Herod and Jerusalem alarmed at the coming of the Magi? Herod was installed by Rome, who was a bitter enemy of the Parthians. Herod overthrew Antigonus, the Parthian-chosen king of Judea. The Magi came from Parthia to honor a king – and Herod was likely concerned that this king would replace him in Jerusalem.

The residents certainly did not want war or bloodshed. Recall that the Roman-supported coup of Herod involved a siege against Jerusalem. Herod tried to kill all the babies under 2 years old.

The Parthian King in this time, Phraates IV, was getting older. He died approximately 2 BC (some sources say as early as 4 BC). The Magi were entrusted with the task of finding candidates for the throne of their Kingdom. I have a coin of Phraates IV (pictured in figure two). Perhaps not coincidentally, face is looking towards a star. It was a star that led the Magi to Jesus (Matthew 2:2).

The Parthians were descended from Israel through the Scythian/Khoumri lineage. There were also Jews who lived among them, as Assyrian kings took Judeans captive in the reign of Sennacerib. The appearance of the Magi can only mean that Jesus was considered a relative of the kingly line of these Scythians/Parthians. Phraates IV died before or near the time that the Magi arrived. They were looking for the King of the Jews because these were the peoples that ruled over them.

They prostrated themselves before Him, which was an act of submission to a ruler. They brought Him gifts fitting royalty. What gifts will you bring when you worship your King this Fall Holy Day Season?

Bibliography

Aruz, Farkas, and Fino, eds. The Golden Deer of Eurasia. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Symposia. New York, 2006. pp 25, 148.

Behistun Inscription. Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities. The Sculptures and Inscriptions of Darius the Great on the Rock of Behistun in Persia. British Museum, London: 1907.

Bliss, Frank. Social and Economic Change in the Pamirs. Nicola Pacult and Sonia Guss, trans. New York: Routledge, 2006. pp 52-55.

Catholic Encyclopedia 1911: Captivities of the Israelites

Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition: Phraates (IV).

Herodotus. The History. Greene, David, trans. The University of Chicago Press, 1987. pp 82-83.

Jewish Encyclopedia 1905: Antigonus Mattathias; Ashkenaz

Kuz’mina, Elena E. The Origin of the Indo-Iranians. Boston: Brill, 2007. pp 390-393.

Lipinski, Edward. “Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative Grammar”. Sterling, 2001. p 145.

Sayce, Archibald Henry. Lectures upon the Assyrian Language and Syllabary. Oxford, 1877. p 48).

Strabo. H.C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, trans. The Geography. 1856: Vol 2, pp 250-251. 1857: Vol 3 p 97.

The Society of Biblical Archeology. Records of the Past. Vols 1, 3, 5, 7, 11. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, Late 1800s. (pages referenced above).

Waterman, Leroy. Royal Correspondence of the Assyrian Empire. University of Michigan Press, 1930. pp 358-359.

A further resource for recommended reading: Parthian Coins and History by Fred Shore.

Bible verses from: King James Version. Public Domain; Kingdom Life Version:  Old and New Testaments with Text Notes and Words of   Jesus in Red Letters, 1st Edition, Public Domain.

All language references come from Strong’s Concordance or The New Greek English Interlinear New Testament.

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Did Constantine Influence the Sabbath?

Did Constantine Influence the Sabbath?

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Among the more commonly held beliefs in the Sabbath community is that the Roman Emperor Constantine changed the Sabbath or passed laws prohibiting its observance. Those who hold this view typically claim that it occurred at the Council of Nicea in 325 or as a law passed in 321 AD.

Before we delve into this subject, it is important to understand how proper research is done.

When we undertake a scholarly review of a subject, it is best to start with the primary source material available to us. A primary source is a person or object that records historical facts about the time period being examined. If someone just writes a book or article and claims “Constantine changed the Sabbath” then that claim is only valid if it is supported by primary source evidence. Otherwise, hearsay becomes the basis for fact and no objective truth can be established.

From primary sources, we are able to draw a degree of certainty about events that happened in a specific time period. The more primary sources we have, the greater degree of certainty that can be achieved. When it comes to Constantine, the primary sources are plenteous and are broken down into three categories: 1) the laws of the time period, 2) preserved writings about the council of Nicea, and 3) contemporary writers who recorded Constantine’s reign.

The primary sources regarding laws passed during the reign of Constantine are chiefly contained in two annals of Roman Law. The first is called the Codex Theodosianus, and it was issued by Theodosius II in 438. The second is the Codex Justinianus, which was issued by Justinian in the 530s. These codices are compilations of Roman laws categorized by subject matter. English versions of them are available (I have access to both). Among the laws issued by Constantine, not a single law mentioned the Sabbath.

The Council of Nicea is the second primary source usually cited in regards to this subject. To view the proceedings of this council in Latin (with some notes in Greek), one must view volume 2 of Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collection edited by Joannes Dominicus Mansi in 1759. It is listed under the title “Sanctum Concilium Nicaenum Primum Generale” starting on page 635. To review details from this council in English, read A history of the Christian Councils from the Original Documents by Charles Joseph Hefele, translated into English by William R Clark, second edition from 1883. The historical background starts on page 231, but the canons (with commentary) are found on pages 375-435. Not a single canon from Nicea referenced the Sabbath.

A third source for Constantine’s reign is the historians who lived in his time period. The historian Eusebius wrote a brief history about Constantine’s life and reign called “The Life of Constantine”. Another man named Lactantius, who was the personal tutor for Constantine’s son Crispus, also recorded some events. These two primary sources do not allude to the Sabbath as it relates to Constantine.

Setting the Record Straight

Let’s set the record straight. Firstly, no one can change the Sabbath. Think about that assertion for a moment. The Sabbath has been and ALWAYS will be Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. No one can change that eternal truth. Secondly, primary sources from the time period indicate that Constantine did not attempt to ban or forbid Sabbath observance. How did confusion arise concerning this subject? There’s misunderstanding about this subject because Constantine took actions that indirectly affected the Sabbath. Let’s explore this further.

On March 7 321 AD, he approved the “day of the sun” as a rest day for the empire. Translated into English, the first part of this law reads: “All judges, city dwellers, skill workers, and the offices of all should honor the venerable day of the sun and rest. However, those placed in the country freely serve the fields of culture…” (CJ.3.12.2: Imperator Constantinus).

In the Latin manuscript, the phrase translated as “venerable day of the sun” is venerabilis dies solis. Constantine’s decree was based upon his admiration for the celestial body we call the sun. People in the country (farmers) were still required to work on the day. Notice that no worship is mentioned in the law. The decree did not mention God or Jesus Christ. In fact, the day after this Sun-day law, he enacted a law which allowed pagan soothsayers to enter buildings where lightning had struck (CT: 16.10.1). This decree upheld the ancient Roman custom.

On July 3 of the same year, he issued a second law which freed slaves from labor on Sunday and suspended certain legal proceedings. Sometime after these Sun-day laws, he ruled that the marketplaces were to be open when the special Roman market days (called nundinae) occurred on Sundays (Orelli, Inscriptionum Latinarum, 140).

Many people are not aware that Constantine called for the Council of Nicea to be held. He oversaw its proceedings. During it he pronounced that Christians should not keep Passover like the Jewish people. Instead, he conveyed that people should follow the custom of the Roman Church, who celebrated Passover on Sunday (Euseb. Life of Constantine, 3:17-18, Socrates, Church History, 1:9; Theodoret, Church History, 1:9). The Roman Church used this yearly worship on Sunday as the reasoning to push Sunday rest every week. Despite this decree, significant numbers of Christians still honored Passover in the Biblically prescribed way (see John Chrysostom’s work Eight Homilies Against the Jews).

Lastly, the historian Eusebius wrote that Constantine required all his troops to pray on Sunday (which he called the ‘Lord’s Day’ – Life of Const, bk 4:18-19). We have no corroborating evidence to verify this claim by the writer. Constantine continued to honor others gods decades into his reign and he was not baptized until just before his death. Moreover, Eusebius was an ardent opponent of the Sabbath (Odom, “Sabbath and Sunday in Early Christianity”, 292). When put together, these details make it difficult to conclude that Constantine would force anyone to pray to one God on Sunday.

Constantine’s two Sun-day laws created a government-mandated imitation day of rest beside the true Sabbath, which was still being observed. Thus, an entire generation of Christians grew up honoring the seventh-day Sabbath because of the Bible but also resting on Sunday because it was an enforced civil law. In other words, people were socialized to rest on Sunday.

Another important development during his reign was the interweaving of the Roman Empire with the Roman Catholic Church. These events opened the door for more stringent Sunday laws with supposed Christian significance starting with the reign of Theodosius I from 379 to 395 (we reviewed this in the Jan-Feb edition of TSS). Despite these influences, most Christians continued to honor the True Sabbath into the 400s AD (see Augustine, Letters 36 and 82 and Socrates, Church History, book 5, chapter 22).

We can conclude that Constantine did not attempt to ban Sabbath observance. Some of his decrees and political activity indirectly impacted the Sabbath over a long period of time. He laid the foundation for later Roman Sunday laws supported by the Roman Church.  As the Roman Church became more influential in the political realm, they persuaded temporal authorities to war against Sabbatarians. Constantine influence the Sabbath indirectly in ways that developed over centuries and in some ways has lasted down to our modern times.

 

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The Art of Delayed Gratification

The Art of Delayed Gratification

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

In our society, we are sounded by instant gratification. Text messages, social media, 24/7 news updates, emails, and of course phone calls are a routine experience for the average American. In addition to this, we have access to fast food, online ordering, 2-day shipping, and moment by moment weather updates; the list goes on and on. These conveniences are reaching beyond other first world countries into the developing and underdeveloped areas of the world.

While there can be positives to each of these things, there is also a downside. Unfortunately, having instant access to so many things has caused many to forget the art of delayed gratification.

God does not dwell in time the way that we do. “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). He is not pressured or rushed; His will is carried out at His pace. This makes Him the Master at delayed gratification.

When something is God’s will, that does not mean it will happen very quickly. Consider some examples:

Noah and his family were never told how long they would be on the Ark with the animals. They were on the ark for about 1 year.

God promised Abram (who was later renamed Abraham) that he would have a child in Genesis 15:1-7. It was over 13 years before this promise came to pass.

God gave Joseph a dream that his family would bow down to him. It took about 13 years for this to come to pass.

The Prophet Isaiah received a revelation from God that Immanuel would be born as a sign from God. This was a prophecy about Christ being born; it came to pass about 700 years after Isaiah received the promise (Isaiah 7:14).

These are just a few of many examples we could give. When God gave the promise to each of these people, He never set a time table on when these events would come to pass. While a promise from God can be very encouraging, we are often frustrated while we wait for it to come to pass.

There can be negative consequences to rushing God’s timing. Consider Abram for just a moment. Sarai and Abram rushed God’s timing in having a baby. Abram conceived a child with Sarai’s maidservant Hagar. The child was named Ishmael and his birth caused conflict within the family.

Another interesting story is found in the book of I Samuel. King Saul was asked by Samuel to wait seven days for his arrival. At the end of seven days, Samuel would make a special sacrifice to honor God.

“8 He stayed seven days, according to the time set by Samuel; but Samuel didn’t come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. 9 Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering to me here, and the peace offerings.” He offered the burnt offering. 10 It came to pass that as soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. 11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you didn’t come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines assembled themselves together at Michmash; 12 therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down on me to Gilgal, and I haven’t entreated the favor of Yahweh.’ I forced myself therefore, and offered the burnt offering.” 13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of Yahweh your God, which he commanded you; for now Yahweh would have established your kingdom on Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom will not continue. Yahweh has sought for himself a man after his own heart, and Yahweh has appointed him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept that which Yahweh commanded you” (I Samuel 13:8-14).

Saul pre-empted the appearance of Samuel by just a few moments. If he would have waited a little longer, God would have brought about a complete victory for Israel. Saul’s dynasty would have been established forever. The consequences were definitely not worth the rushed action.

Saul allowed what he saw to rush the sacrifice. People were fleeing; he was concerned. He allowed the size of the enemy to steer him towards action.

Abram and Sarai did not see results in the timing they liked, so they rushed to have a child. Each of these decisions caused pain and heartache. In Saul’s case, just a few moments made the difference between obedience and disobedience. It was years before the promise came to pass for Abram and Sarai.

In both cases, trusting in God’s promise and timing would have produced more fruitful results.

We want what we want when we want it… God wants it for us when we are ready for it.

We will continue this series in our next blog.

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