1 Samuel Chapters 4, 5, and 6

I am still in disbelief that it is July already and I will be teaching in less than a month! I accepted a teaching position at a Christian private school in my city, and I start in August and I am ecstatic! I will be teaching social studies in middle school and part of the course will be focusing on Israel and Judah! It is safe to say that this blog will actually help me be prepared – just another verification that God works through this blog. I don’t know if it helps of affects others, but I know it has strengthened my relationship with God and I am just so happy to share! Onward to more of 1 Samuel!

I am going to attach a picture of the Ark of the Covenant, or a replica of the Ark! It was truly a masterpiece and it is just mind blowing that it was created thousands of years ago, and with such great artistic quality. At this time in 1 Samuel, the Philistines were the greatest opponents of the Israelites. The Israelites felt helpless when they were going up against the Philistines, because they were so strong. The Israelites kept losing to the Philistines and they were desperate (they did not have faith in God’s support), so they brought the Ark to the campground of where they were fighting the Philistines, hoping God would protect them even more. They believed having the Ark in their presence meant God was actually with them – even though He always was! In spite of the Ark being present and the serge of morale in the Israelite camp, the Philistines still attacked them. Israel lost, even with the Ark present, and the Philistines actually took the Ark. Both of Eli’s sons were killed (as was prophesized by Samuel in chapter 3). A man came to Eli to share the news of the Ark being stolen and his sons dying, and once Eli heard the news, he died himself. Eli was 98 years old when he died and judged Israel for 40 years. The wife of one of Eli’s son (Phinehas) even passed away that day while giving birth once she heard the news of the death of her husband and her father-in-law. The son’s name that was born was named Ichabod which means “The glory has departed from Israel!” That tells you the state that Israel was in at the time – this child’s name is the epitome of the state of Israel at the time.

Back with the Philistines, they were trying to figure out what to do with this massive Ark that they had taken from the Israelites. They determined the best thing to do was place it next to the idol of the false god they worshipped named Dagon. Twice the Philistines woke up in the morning to find the Dagon statue lying face down, as if bowing to the Ark (God). The thing was that the Philistines knew that no one had been around to move the statue of Dagon – so it was shocking and nerve-wracking to them. The second time that they had found Dagon, he had actually had its limbs taken off and it was just the trunk of the statue – I am not sure what Dagon looked like aka what the statue looked like. Then all of Ashdod received boils and swellings and the Philistines then acknowledged that it was God going up against them. They moved the Ark to Gath and the same boils and swellings occurred within this city. So they then moved it to Ekron and the people in Ekron had of course heard about Gath and Ashdod, so they did not want the Ark anywhere near them! People died within Ekron, and the ones that did not received those boils or tumors like the previous cities.

So the “priests” of the Philistines decided that it was in the best interest to get rid of the Ark, since there had been so many deaths and boil cases. They would allow the Ark to return but empty (the Ark was full of treasures). The Philistines would then give a guilt offering and then allow the Ark to move on its own, as it was “let go” by its carriers. If the Ark returned to the Israelites then the Philistines would know that God was against them through those deaths, boils, and tumors. If the Ark did not return, then it was just all coincidence (y’all it is never a coincidence – it is God’s Will). The Ark made it back to Beth-shemeth and the Israelites rejoiced! Those that did see the Ark return, which based on Exodus – no man was allow to touch or would be struck down – were struck down by God. They still had to follow the laws of God – no matter their excitement! Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 2.24.36 PM

source: https://www.thetrumpet.com/article/11045.24.159.0/religion/bible/finding-the-ark-of-the-covenant

1 Samuel Chapters 1, 2, and 3

I hope you all are ready to start a new book and a new journey! 1 Samuel is more like a story than poetry or prophecies that I have been blogging about recently! This book contains many of the occurrences that we learn about in Sunday school or Vacation Bible School growing up. I have enjoyed rereading these stories, because you get more or at least a new perspective out of this book than you did when you were younger. Hope you all enjoy as we get introduced to Samuel in this post!

There was a man from a city north of Jerusalem (in Ephraim) and his name was Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives – Penninah with whom he had two children, and Hannah who had no children. Every year Elkanah would go to Shiloh and worship and honor God, and he would portion out the animal that he sacrificed, always giving Hannah the larger portion for he loved her even though she was labeled as unable to have children. Hannah was so sad about not being able to have children. One year at Shiloh, Hannah left sad and ran into Eli, the priest. She begged God, and Eli knew it was all heartfelt, to give her a child. She would dedicate this child to God, and raise the child as pure as possible (not even shaving hair – remember Samson). Eli told Hannah that her wish to conceive would be granted. She bore a son and named him Samuel. Once she was able to wean Samuel, she returned to Shiloh and to Eli the priest and gave Samuel to him. She had promised that her son would be there to honor and worship the Lord and she was keeping her promise. Imagine how hard it would be to give up the child you have been wanting to have for so long? Her faith was so strong. She left Samuel in Shiloh after she worshipped and honored God, so he could live his life honoring God!

Hannah then shares a beautiful prayer honoring God and how He fulfills His promises. One verse from the prayer that I felt was interesting was, “The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts,” 1 Samuel 2:7. God brings all kinds of circumstances for His people, but either way it is His plan and His glory being represented. God’s will overcome all and He is the strongest of all. Samuel then stayed with Eli and learned how to minister. The Word then flips to focusing on Eli, and how his sons were worthless. They were corrupt priests that wanted all things for themselves. They would take any part of the sacrifice for themselves, in spite of the rules laid out in Leviticus that said to do otherwise. Then they are compared to Samuel, who would meet with his mother yearly when they made their annual trip to Shiloh. She would bring him a robe, and Eli would bless them. God honored His relationship with Hannah and her faithfulness by having her conceive 3 sons and 2 daughters, when she had previously been labeled as barren. We then return to Eli who addresses his corrupt sons, for he shares that God would punish them. It was God’s will that they would be put to death – and in comparison, Samuel continued to grow righteously. Eli continued to warn his sons but never rebuked them, so God gives a sign to Eli that two of his sons would die on the same day, and then a faithful priest would rise and replace Eli, which you can probably guess that it will be Samuel.

Although visions from God were few at the time (1 Samuel 3:1), Samuel received a vision. There were not a lot of visions from God at this time because of the unrighteous and wicked set up of the people of Israel at this time. God kept calling out to Samuel one night, and every time Samuel heard his name he had assumed that it was Eli calling him from the room next door, and this happens a few times. God shared with Samuel, that the prophecy that had been against Eli and his sons would be taking place. After it was obvious and known throughout all the tribes of Israel that Samuel was the established prophet from God (1 Samuel 3:20). Samuel was in Shiloh where God continues to speak with and through him! Samuel will be very important for the rise of the kings of Israel, and we will see why in the coming posts!

Map during the time of 1 Samuel

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Source: http://www.bible-history.com/maps/books.php

Samuel is the last judge to rule over the tribes of Israel – he is also the one that anointed the first king – Saul. Samuel will also anoint David. It is believed that Samuel wrote chapters 1-24 in 1 Samuel and Nathan wrote the remaining chapters. At the beginning of 1 Samuel, Israel is at such a low faithfully!

Song of Solomon Chapters 7 and 8

It is already the end of the book of the Song of Solomon! It is an enjoyable poem to read through easily and it shows some great aspects about love! I enjoyed it and the next book I will be reading will be shifting away from this lyrical set up of scripture, so it is definitely nice to enjoy such a great book at the moment.

At the end of my last post, Solomon and the Shulamite woman were reunited after having an argument. The woman found Solomon in his garden, and they are experiencing what a lot of couples’ experience after there has been a fight…that realization that the fight was not worth it and your love and respect for your partner trumps the argument. Solomon just shares how beautiful his wife is and how he has the greatest desires for her, unlike anything imaginable. He is deeply and devoutly in love with her! I still love all of the analogies that Solomon makes when describing his wife. For instance, “Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon, which looks toward Damascus…” Song of Solomon 7:4. I am guessing she has a lovely, tall (?) nose…either way that description means a lot to Solomon. Once the couple has made up and they have admired one another, she alludes to her fertility and they go to make love, and possibly have a child. Once again, this alludes as well to the importance of waiting for your true love and marriage.

Now we follow the Shulamite and more descriptions of how much she loves Solomon. She wishes that she had known him her whole life, not just the few years at this point that she had. I know I am the same way; the time you have with your love never seems enough – like you just wish there was more time. Love ultimately overcomes all and is the strongest bond ever! True love cannot be just randomly created, and it cannot be destroyed easily – love lasts forever. Love we feel for a spouse or significant other, is nothing compared to God’s love for us but it shows just how grand His love for us in the grand scheme of things! I cannot explain my love for my fiancé, and I definitely cannot explain God’s love for me! The final advice is the importance of family and respect for one another throughout a marriage. She was taken care of by her family, and when she got married to Solomon, she is now taken care of by him. It is a wonderful transition for a woman and a man, and I cannot wait for this transition in my life, in about 3 months🙂.

Song of Solomon Chapters 4, 5, and 6

These chapters will cover their wedding day and their marriage following their special day! The wedding all together seems to be so magnificent, and I cannot imagine what the price range would be in comparison to today’s world! I am thinking around Prince William and the Duchess’ wedding would be the closest – or the overly gaudy wedding of Kim and Kanye. I prefer the Prince William wedding comparison, because it was more of a classy affair. That is what a massive wedding this was, for it symbolize the union of the king of the Israelites with his bride, in the presence of God.

Let’s start off with examining one of the strangest, but great compliments a man could give his bride. Solomon exclaimed about his bride, “Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead,” Song of Solomon 4:1. I told my fiancé that he has to include this analogy about me for his vows…I am assuming a flock of goats leaping down a slope is a beautiful sight? The Shulamite woman also apparently had a long neck as well because later in verse 4, it is compared to the tower of David. Either way, Solomon admired her beauty greatly, and their wedding night is referred to as being wonderful and filled with joy. There is even reference to her losing her virginity, by comparing it to a spring or fountain…pretty interesting references that make this book of poetry interesting to read to say the least. They are ready to join flesh with one another and become one…and they do just that. There is a reason that my pastor made this series more of an adult only, and had the children have extended stay in Sunday school (we have two separate sermons). This book is full of sex and love, and how they must be together in marriage alone.

Of course following the honeymoon period, fights begin with new couples. I don’t know how long the “honeymoon period” for the Shulamite woman and Solomon was, but whenever it was over, they have an argument, that I am sure many can relate to that have been married or in a long-term relationship/engagement…. if you have been at least dating someone for over a year, I am sure you have experienced an argument (if not, then you are fooling yourselves). One night, after working all day, Solomon arrives late to the Shulamite’s bed chambers. She had probably been waiting for hours for him to come to see her, because he had promised her something, so she was annoyed that he did not come when he said he would (remember they had separate sleeping quarters, even if they were husband and wife). He knocks for her to let him in, but she is purposefully in no hurry to let him in, and by the time she opens the door he is gone. He left angry. She is now experiencing her dream or nightmare she had in previous chapters, where she cannot find him anywhere. Even the guards would not help her find Solomon (they probably did not realize who she was since it was at night). The guards had helped her in chapter 2 (the nightmare) find him. She then goes into great detail of what she finds so amazing about him, as she laments over not finding him. She has some better analogies…there is a reason that women are usually considered more of the romantics. All of her analogies of him are about his strength and handsome qualities, comparing him to gold and ivory – nice analogies. No flocks of goats here!

She then has an “aha” moment and realizes that her husband had gone to his garden of course! Apparently that was his favorite place to relax and spend alone or quiet time (we all have a place). After they have both had their “hissy fits” with one another, she is personally realizing that she was acting selfishly. He is a king, a shepherd, and has so many responsibilities that he tries to take care of along with her. There is a lot on his plate essentially. She knows that their love for one another is what is important all the time! A famous verse from this chapter is, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he grazes among lilies,” Song of Solomon 6:3. They are reunited with passion and respect for one another and come out stronger than ever. This is why fights are okay – no one is perfect and fights are bound to happen, and it is all about how the two as a couple handle and react to these fights. The pre-marital counseling I am currently in focuses on how to handle these fights and come back stronger from them.  Solomon tells of how beautiful his bride is, and compares her to his cities that he rules – which shows the value that he sees in the Shulamite woman. She is his ultimate possession in a way! They are meant to be together and their love is so strong.

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source: dailybiblememe.com

Song of Solomon Chapters 1, 2, and 3

I am very excited to write on this book of the Bible! It is one of the greatest love poems of all time, and there is so much to learn about having a godly marriage! This is relevant for me, because I will be getting married in October, and my pastor recently did a series on this book. Also, during our (required, but appreciated) pre-marital counseling, we discuss this book of the Bible a lot. Like all books of the Bible, when it involves poetry of some form (like Lamentations for instance), there are a lot of interpretations. So my interpretations might not be you interpretation and so on. But that is one of the best things about God’s Word, it applies to everyone and can help people in their own ways, but never the exact same way for each person. It is all about having a soft heart for God’s Word. If you need a brief overview about what this book is about then please go to my previous post, where there is a map and some information! Link: https://nystime.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/map-during-the-time-of-the-book-of-the-song-of-solomon/

The “she” throughout this book is the Shulamite woman and the “he” is King Solomon. The poem begins with the woman admiring her soon to be husband. For instance, she writes, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine,” Song of Solomon 1:2. Then she goes into some description of herself. Her skin is dark, because she works in her family’s vineyard all day, whereas most wealthy and prosperous women stayed in sign all day and as a result had very light skin. She is not the typical beauty, especially for a king, but Solomon love and adores her and wants her to be his wife. She sees Solomon as such a great shepherd of the people of Israel, and even though he has all of this responsibility and power, she wants him to openly adore her, and not be embarrassed by her (we learn that he is far from embarrassed by her). He compares his love to her, like the love that he has for his horses. Sol0mon had about 1,400 horses (he also had 1,000 wives and concubines total). So his women and horses are his main loves, but his love for the Shulamite woman is greater than the horses (and I would say the other women). They are so in love with one another!

He sees the woman as being a “lily among brambles,” (2:2). She is pure and has such a beauty in comparison to the women in the city that are like thorns, and not pure by any means. She is overcome with her love for him and makes a plea to all women to stay virgins until their wedding night, for it is the most wonderful experience to be one with your eternal partner. She gets so excited when Solomon comes to see her, for during their betrothal she is still in the countryside at the vineyard. She waits for him to visit anxiously, and he just sits and admires her when he visits. This summer leading up to their wedding, is what she labels as a summer of love. She wants them to have the best marriage imaginable and avoid all the negative “foxes” in their life together. My pastor did a great job giving some ideas of what these “foxes” are that would harm a marriage. For instance, finances or in-laws. These are the things that bring about arguments in a marriage and can be detrimental. One of my favorite verses from this book follow, “My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies,” Song of Solomon 2:16. It is just so beautifully written and shows the love and adoration she has for her soon to be husband.

The Shulamite woman has what many experience leading up to her wedding, and that is fearful dreams. She loses him in her dream and cannot find him anywhere. She is frantically searching and getting more and more nervous as she cannot find him, until she finally does and returns home to her vineyard with him! I know I have had dreams like this with my fiancé in them – I wake up in panic, but I know that he is still with me. It is the dream of loving one of the people you love and care for most, and it is crazy and scary. Finally, the big wedding day arrives. Solomon comes to the vineyard. He treats her with upmost royalty – she has her own carriage and is adorned in jewels and gold. She felt so loved by her soon to be husband. The Shulamite woman and Solomon are married in front of all of Jerusalem! What a festival that must have been!

Map During the Time of the Book of The Song of Solomon

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Source: http://www.bible-history.com/maps/books.php

The Song of Solomon was written by King Solomon (the son of David and third King), the ruler of the Israelites. He wrote this song in honor of his love for the Shulamite woman. It is full of love and passion, and shows some wonderful characteristics to have within a relationship. The woman was a country girl that grew up working in a vineyard, but was turned from rags into riches by her husband, Solomon.

My pastor did a sermon on this book, as a way to discuss marriage and all the problems that can arise. Since I am currently engaged, this book was highly relevant to me, as I read it! It is short and sweet and full of such wonderful (and sometimes strange) poetry!

Ezekiel Chapters 46, 47, and 48

This is the end of the book of Ezekiel! There are a lot of details that I will try to explain to the best of my ability! Be sure to look at my post about chapters 40-42, because it has an image of what the temple should look like! I hope you guys have enjoyed the book of Ezekiel as much as I have! I was getting a little run down on this book, but now it will be onto the next book. The next book is fascinating, and my pastor actually just did a series on it! Cannot wait to share!

One the Sabbath the inner court will be open where the prince will follow specific directions on how to worship. Last post I mentioned how I am not sure who the prince is, it could be Jesus but I am not certain! There is a special way God wants His people to enter and leave the temple, to keep as much order as possible. God now wants His people to give a burnt offering daily of a blemish free lamb, which is different than the rules laid out in Numbers 28:3-8 and 2 Kings 16:15, which entailed the sacrifice happening less often. The process of burning this offering daily will be taken care of by the Levite priests that reside in the temple.

Ezekiel was then given the image of walking through a river leaving the temple to the east that got deeper and deeper as he continued to walk in it. God tells that this river is full of healing and helps to bring life. It reaches the Dead Sea where it becomes fresh so that fishing can happen and provide food. This image represents how prosperity and healing flow from God and His home. People can be taken care of by God and His laws (as displayed by the temple) if they choose to be! God then goes into detail about breaking up the territory amongst the tribes once again, following captivity. The Levites, like I have mentioned, don’t get territory because they reside in the temple and are the priests. So to keep the land split 12 ways, the tribe of Joseph is split. God now has it that anyone that marries an Israelite, is an Israelite. Before it was exclusive, now God is expanding His people. He will eventually expand His people to everyone! For Jesus died for us all, not just the Israelites but the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) as well.

The land is divided in this order from the Northern districts to the Southern districts: Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah. Judah got the most prosperous land as a result of its’ lineage. David was from the tribe of Judah, and Jesus came out of the lineage of David. The holy city with farmland in the center is for all of the people. It is the capital of the Israelites.  Continuing southward from Judah are the following separation of territories: Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad (the farthest South). According to Genesis 35:24 Benjamin is also favored, and it is shown by what is in its’ territory.

The gates of the city are named after the 12 tribes, and they are grouped uniquely. The Northern Gate is for Reuben (the first born), Judah (David and Jesus’ lineage), and Levi (priests). The Eastern Gate is for Joseph (Manasseh and Ephraim), Benjamin (along with Joseph, they are Jacob and Rachel’s sons), and Dan (son of Jacob and Bilhah). The Southern Gate represents Jacob and Leah’s sons which are Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun. The Western Gate represents Asher and Gad (Jacob and Zitpah’s sons), and Naphtali (Jacob and Bilhah’s son). The new name of the city means “The LORD is there.” God has officially returned to His people at this point and He will never leave them!

Ezekiel Chapters 43, 44, and 45

            There will only be one more post following this one for the book of Ezekiel! Once again these posts won’t be as long as most, because of all of the details about the temple and by the time I summarize all the details, you should just read the Word directly! J

Now think back to chapter 11 of the book of Ezekiel [ https://nystime.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/ezekiel-chapters-11-12-and-13/ ]. God had sent out His Spirit to destroy Jerusalem, and this same image of the Spirit that Ezekiel saw in chapter 11 returns! God promises that He, “will dwell in their midst forever,” Ezekiel 43:9. No abominations against Him will bring Him down or take Him away from His people – He promises to stand by His people. He will not leave them like He did with the Babylonian captivity. God also shares with Ezekiel that all of these details of the temple must be written down and completed, for it is as if it’s a law. God demands it be completed to how He wants it, just like the first temple had been. God then gives details of the altars, which are where all the sacrifices for atonement take place. Of course we know that Jesus will end up being the ultimate sacrifice!

The outer gate facing the east must be kept at all times, because this is where the Spirit had entered the temple. Ezekiel once again got to experience and see the Spirit of God working. No foreigners are allowed to enter the temple – only God’s people can enter and at this point that meant the Hebrews or the Israelites. Levites are the ministers, but the Levites that come from Zadok are the priests, and that is all. The sons of Zadok are the only actual priests and they are the only ones allowed to enter the most Holy Place to take care of it, but no one else is allowed to enter. The Levites did not receive any land when God was dispersing it, but they did receive these priestly duties. They have the ultimate inheritance and possession of working with God directly in the temple.

God then shares with Ezekiel the measurements of the most Holy place, or God’s space. The eastern and western portions along the sides of the holy district belong to the prince. This prince figure has been debated by many theologians and studiers of the Word. I imagine it to mean God, the King’s Son, but at the same time we know that God and Jesus are one in the same…so I am not positive. Either way, this is an important marker within the temple as well. God wants Passover and Tabernacle and more feasts to continue (for they had been put aside by many by the time of exile). God must be honored for His faithfulness and these feasts do just that! God wants His people to change their ways for the best when they return to Jerusalem and have the new covenant with Him, that He will never leave them alone again.