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Bible Insights

What Do We Do When God’s Commands No Longer Make Sense?

Contrary to the Law of Moses King David Reassigns the Duties of the Levites

In the book of Numbers, Moses details the assignments and responsibilities of the tribe of Levi, mentioning them over fifty times. Though the priests, descendants of Aaron, are from this tribe, the rest of the Levites have God-assigned responsibilities too.

Chief among them is taking down, moving, and setting up the tabernacle and related elements of worship. They must do this each time God’s people move camp as they wander about in the wilderness.

The nation of Israel spends about four decades in the desert, sometimes moving frequently and other times not so much. This keeps the Levites busy.

Then they get to the promised land, conquer it, and occupy it. No longer is there a need to disassemble, transport, and reassemble the tabernacle. What do the Levites do now that their primary job is irrelevant? That’s a good question.

Over four hundred years later, some four centuries with the Levites having nothing to do, King David arrives on the scene. He reassigns the Levites to new tasks that relate to worshiping God.

Who does David think he is to countermand the commands of Moses, as received from God? It seems ill-advised to ignore what’s in Scripture—God’s written word—and replace it with something that makes better sense to us. But this is precisely what David did.

Though we could concoct a principal from this and say that when Scripture—God’s past commands—no longer makes sense in the present, we are free to change them. Just like David did. Yet, I’m not going to go there. I think it’s an overstretch, a misapplication.

Remember, after all, David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). That’s significant.

Hold to what the Bible says and apply it the best we can to our life and culture today. Click To Tweet

Whenever I encounter something in the Bible that doesn’t make sense, I don’t ignore it. Instead I meditate on it. I ask the Holy Spirit to supernaturally explain it to me.

Sometimes he does so right away, in other instances it takes a few days, and on occasion I wait for years. But until God instructs me otherwise, I’ll hold to what the Bible says and apply it the best I can to my life and our culture today.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Chronicles 24-26, and today’s post is on 1 Chronicles 24:3.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

The Power of David’s Example

David Models Bold Action and His Nephew Learns from It

Most people are familiar with the story of David and Goliath in the Bible. It tells of the young boy David, armed only with godly confidence and a sling, killing the warrior giant of a man Goliath.

David’s example an inspiring tale of courage and faith in the presence of improbable odds.

But this story isn’t in our text for today. It’s found in 1 Samuel 17 instead.

Though today’s passage is about David, it occurs much later when he is king. Squeezed among three chapters packed with battle stories of strategy and victory stands an incidental tale of David’s nephew Jonathan.

In this story Jonathan kills a huge man from Rapha. In addition to his ginormous size, he is noted for having six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. Like Goliath before him, this man from Rapha taunts the army of Israel. And like his uncle before him, Jonathan slays the cocky titan.

Why is this significant?

What bold action will we take in our lives that will inspire others in theirs? Click To Tweet

Jonathan, no doubt, heard of the exploits of Uncle David in confronting the jeering giant of a man Goliath. Of how, in godly confidence David, though completely outmatched, fell the hulk with a small stone guided by his sling and then cut off the fallen warrior’s head using his own sword.

Talk about inspiring.

What bold action will we take in our lives that will inspire others in theirs? When we trust God with the outcome, it isn’t hard. David’s example proves that to be true.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 17-19 and today’s post is on 1 Samuel 17:51-52.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Be Careful What You Say

Control Your Tongue and Watch Your Words

There’s a saying of disputed authorship, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” As such, we need to be careful what we say. The Bible has much to share about our words and our tongue.

Tame the Tongue

James tells us that we verify our religion—our faith—by what we say, good or bad. We must keep a tight rein on our tongue, or our beliefs mean nothing (James 1:26).

Later, he writes that we are to tame our tongue. Just as we can control a horse by putting a bit in its mouth or steer a ship with a rudder, our tongue—though small—can do much. With our mouth we can praise God. But from the same mouth can flow forth curses.

Our words can do good. They can also cause much damage. In this way, what we say can corrupt our entire body. But with God’s help we can control what we say. In doing so we can keep our whole body in check (James 3:1-12).

Keep Your Tongue from Speaking Evil

Peter adds to the discussion, saying that if we love life and want to experience good, we must keep our tongue from speaking evil and uttering deceitful lies (1 Peter 3:10). In writing this, he quotes the words of King David as found in Psalm 34:12-13.

God wants us to be careful in what we say and control our words. Click To Tweet

Be Careful What You Say

The Pharisees confront Jesus because his disciples aren’t following their tradition of ceremonial handwashing before a meal. He launches into a teaching to remind them what matters more.

He concludes by saying that what we put into our mouth—that is what we eat—doesn’t matter to God nearly as much as what comes out of it. Our words matter. And when wrong words come out, it defiles us more than the foods we eat.

Our words come from our heart and reveal evil thoughts, thoughts of murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander (Matthew 15:11-20).

Yet when we speak positive words, we reveal our good heart. Proverbs reminds us that the wise person chooses words carefully and is even-tempered (Proverbs 17:27).

Keep Our Words in Check

God wants us to be careful of what we say and keep our words in check. When we do so, we honor him and provide a positive example to others, building them up and pointing them to Jesus.

[Discover some practical, biblical steps to do so.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

We Need to Take God’s Instructions Seriously

Understanding the Background behind the Death of Uzzah

The book of Numbers contains details that are easy to gloss over or dismiss as irrelevant, even boring. Yet they’re in the Bible for a reason, and we can learn something from each one of these verses, no matter how trivial they may seem. Such is the case with Numbers 7:9. It includes one of God’s instructions that they shouldn’t have dismissed.

The Ark of the Covenant

This passage details what Moses does after he sets up the tabernacle, according to God’s instructions. Since the people are nomadic at this time, everything must be portable. Easy transportation is key. To accommodate this Moses accepts gifts of carts and oxen from the tribes so that the Levites can move the items they’re responsible for.

The Levites have three clans: the Gershonites, the Merarites, and the Kohathites, each with specific duties. Moses gives two carts with four oxen to the Gershonites and four carts with eight oxen to the Merarites. But the Kohathites receive none. This doesn’t seem fair. Why not give each clan two carts and four oxen? This would keep everything even.

But Moses has a good reason. The Kohathites are supposed to carry the holy things they’re responsible for on their shoulders. This means no carts drawn by oxen. One of the holy things they’re responsible for transporting is the ark of the covenant (the ark of God).

God had already specified the ark of the covenant was to be carried by two poles (Exodus 25:14). This means no carts and no oxen. God’s instructions are clear.

The Death of Uzzah

Fast-forward about four centuries. The people have settled in the promised land, and David is their king. He wants to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem.

With great fanfare they put the ark on a cart. As the processional makes its way to Jerusalem, one of the oxen stumbles. One man, Uzzah, reaches out to steady the ark. I’d have had the same reaction. I’m quite sure he did this without thinking, desiring to keep God’s ark safe.

God sees things differently. Uzzah shouldn’t have touched the ark, and God strikes him dead. Uzzah dies on the spot (2 Samuel 6:6).

David’s angry at God. Frankly, I’m a bit dismayed as well.

Yet the ark shouldn’t have been on a cart. Levites should have carried it using poles, just as God had instructed. And Uzzah shouldn’t have been nearby.

Uzzah’s death was unnecessary and could have been avoided had David and his people followed God’s instructions. Click To Tweet

Uzzah’s death was unnecessary and could have been avoided had David and his people followed God’s instructions.

This is a solemn reminder for us to never dismiss what God says.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 7-9 and today’s post is on Numbers 7:9.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

12 Actions Scripture Says We Must Do to Live with God

Balance Old Testament Commands with New Testament Freedom

Psalm 15 opens with one essential question, phrased in two ways, that most everyone asks, either out loud or to themselves. In this Psalm, David asks God, “What must I do to live with you?”

The next four verses give us the answer. Actually, it’s a series of answers, a list of twelve things we must do if we are to live with God. Here they are:

  1. Walk Blamelessly: we should live a life above reproach.
  2. Be Righteous: we should do what is right in all things.
  3. Speak Truth: we must say what is true, not from a technical standpoint, but from our heart.
  4. Don’t Slander: we shouldn’t tell lies about other people.
  5. Don’t Do Wrong: we shouldn’t hurt others, not physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.
  6. Don’t Slur: our words should not insult or speak poorly of others.
  7. Despise the Vile: we should oppose evil in every form.
  8. Honor Those Who Fear God: we should respect God-fearing people and implicitly follow their example.
  9. Keep Promises: regardless of the cost, we should do what we say we will do.
  10. Don’t Change Our Mind: we shouldn’t waffle with our words or what we decide.
  11. Lend to Those in Need: we should loan money to those in need and do so without interest.
  12. Don’t Accept Bribes: we shouldn’t allow others to improperly influence us in how we treat innocent people.

These are the twelve things we must do to live with God. Is this, then, the answer? True, the list contains admirable traits that we should all pursue, but I hope God doesn’t hold us to this.

Why? Because we can’t. We’re going to fall short at one time or another. We could miss the mark every day. Each of us. You, me, everyone.

We fall short of the Old Testament law. But there’s a better way. His name is Jesus. Click To Tweet

A Better Way to Live with God

The Old Testament commands weigh us down, begging for a better solution. The New Testament offers us a better way. His name is Jesus. He is the light of the world that gives life (John 8:12). All we need to do is follow him (Matthew 9:9), and then we can live with God.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 11-15, and today’s post is on Psalm 15:1.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Those in Power Must Curb its Use or Risk Becoming Corrupted By It

When leaders have absolute power they can commit terrible atrocities

In the early days of the nation of Israel, a time under its first king, we witness a bad transition of leadership. King Saul abuses his power and shows his lack of trust in God.

David Anointed King

God wants him gone, replacing him with the shepherd David.

God directs Samuel to anoint David as king, but David doesn’t immediately assume the throne. He must wait.

Saul, acting in a manner we might describe as bipolar, alternates between loving David and hating him, between allowing David to live and hunting him down. Once when fleeing for his life, the priest Ahimelek, assuming David is on the King’s business, aids David.

David escapes. All is good—for a time.

King Saul Abuses His Power

Furious and paranoid, Saul accuses everyone of conspiracy. Doeg snitches on Ahimelek, and Saul orders the priest’s execution, along with his whole family. Doeg carries out the order, not only killing Ahimelek and his family, but also slaughtering all of the priests in the area, along with the entire town.

Saul abuses his power as king to order the unjust execution of one of God’s priests and family. Click To Tweet

Saul abuses his power as king to order the unjust execution of one of God’s priests and family. Doeg, acting under the king’s authority, abuses his power and annihilates an entire town. As king, Saul has supreme rule. He has absolute power and he misuses it absolutely.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 20-22, and today’s post is on 1 Samuel 22:13-19.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What’s a Thousand Years to God?

Time Is Different in the Spiritual Realm Than What We’re Used to in the Physical

Though King David wrote many psalms, the book of Psalms also includes the work of others. One of these writers is Moses. Yes, Moses wrote a psalm, Psalm 90.

It may be the oldest of them all, the first Psalm ever written in the Bible. Also consider Moses’s song in Deuteronomy 32:1-43 and his blessing in Deuteronomy 33:2-29.

What Moses Says about Time

One of Moses’s themes is time. He tells us to number our days so that we might gain wisdom. He also says that people tend to live seventy years, perhaps eighty.

This is interesting since Moses lived 120. He lived forty years in Egypt, forty years in preparation, and forty years leading God’s people. I wonder how old he was when he wrote this Psalm.

However, Moses also writes that to God a thousand years flashes by like a day would seem to us. So it is with our God who is eternal, who lives forever.

Think about it. Time takes on a different meaning to someone who has a never-ending supply of it. But to us time places limits on our physical existence and on our future.

That’s probably why Moses wants us to count our days to remind us of our typical lifespan. We need to use that time wisely and make it count. We only have so much of it., so we don’t want to squander it.

This doesn’t mean to pack every moment with busy activity, but to use our time wisely, investing in pursuits that matter, on what will have the greatest impact.

May we spend our time on what truly matters. Click To Tweet

Peter Writes about a Thousand Years

The disciple Peter has this passage in mind when he pens his second letter. He builds upon Moses’s thought and says that to God a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. This is a perplexing contrast.

It reminds us that God doesn’t reckon time as we do. In fact, God exists outside of time because he created time when he made space and the world we live in.

May we spend our time on what truly matters.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalms 86-90, and today’s post is on Psalm 90:4.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Balance Freedom of Speech with Being Careful in What We Say

The Tongue Is a Dangerous Tool that We Must Tame

In one of his Psalms, David writes that he will be careful in what he says so that he doesn’t sin. He talks about putting a muzzle on his mouth (Psalms 39:1). He says nothing about having freedom of speech.

James is clear about the dangers of an uncensored tongue. A small part of our body, the tongue can do great harm, setting a whole forest on fire from the single spark of a careless word. What we say can corrupt our whole being, setting our life on fire, a fire born from hell (James 3:3-6).

Jude likewise warns about us saying too much. He writes about people who slander what they don’t understand, operating on instinct like irrational animals. In doing so we destroy ourselves (Jude 1:10).

Freedom of Speech

Today too many people assume that freedom of speech gives them the unfettered right to say whatever they want. In the process they often hurt others and risk making themselves look foolish. Or worse yet, their tongue causes them to sin.

They—and us along with them—will do well to put a muzzle on our mouth, to tame our tongue. We should use our words to praise God (Psalm 40:3) but never to cause harm to another. Watching our words with care will keep us from sin and setting our souls on fire.

Responsibility of Speech

As a society we will do well to follow David’s example, as well as James’s and Jude’s wise counsel. Instead, too many people grasp the concept of free speech that we can say whatever we want, however we want, whenever we want without a thought given to the consequences. Yet freedom of speech carries a responsibility. Our freedom of speech is not without limit. As followers of Jesus, we have a duty to speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), to muzzle our mouth so that we do not sin, and to not say things that may harm others.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalms 36-40, and today’s post is on Psalms 39:1.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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The Twenty-Third Psalm, a Favorite Passage for Many

David Teaches Us About God as Our Shepherd

In the twenty-third Psalm, the former shepherd boy David, looks to God as his Shepherd. This short six-verse Psalm is a favorite of many, who have perhaps memorized it as a child. Here are a few of the key points we can learn from the twenty-third Psalm.

God Takes Care of Us

As our Shepherd, the Lord will take care of us in the same way a human shepherd cares for his sheep. Yes, sheep are not the smartest animals, and they need help if they’re going to survive. The same holds true for us. We’re not so smart either, and we need God’s help if we’re going to make it.

God Provides What We Need

With God as our Shepherd, we don’t need a thing. He provides everything. He gives us a safe place for our bodies to rest. And he guides us to a place of peace to restore our souls.

God Guides Us Down the Right Path

Next in the twenty-third Psalm we learn that God shows us which way to go. As our guide, he walks with us on our journey of life. Though we may not know which way to go, he does.

God Protects Us When We Go Astray

Even when we stray from his path and go in the wrong direction, he’ll protect us from the evil we may encounter. He’ll go with us. We’ll move without fear because God, as our Shepherd, will keep us safe from harm.

God, our shepherd, will make sure that goodness surrounds us and love follows us through the rest of our life. Click To Tweet

God Blesses Us Throughout Our Life

God, our shepherd, will make sure that goodness surrounds us and love follows us through the rest of our life. And when our life is over, we’ll hang out with him forever in his house, our eternal home.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 21-25, and today’s post is on Psalm 23.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Who Was Supposed to Build God’s Temple?

Nathan’s Prophetic Words May Carry a Double Meaning

Once King David has his kingdom established, he wants to build the temple for God and tells the prophet Nathan. Nathan gives him his blessing to proceed, but later God gives Nathan a different message.

Nathan returns to David and says, “You are not the one to build a house for God. Instead your offspring will build God’s temple.” Then Nathan shares a prophecy about David’s legacy and his offspring who will build God’s house (1 Chronicles 17:11-14).

Solomon Builds a Physical Temple

In expectation that David’s son Solomon will erect the temple, David amasses resources for its construction. After Solomon assumes the kingship, he proceeds to build God’s temple in Jerusalem.

The finished temple is a stunning tribute to the Lord God. It’s a grand edifice that will serve as a center of Hebrew worship for centuries. It’s completion fulfills Nathan’s prophecy.

Or does it?

Jesus Establishes a Spiritual Temple

Read Nathan’s prophecy again—carefully. Consider every word. Is the prophet speaking of Solomon or about Jesus?

Nathan prophetically says that after David dies, God will raise up one of David’s offspring to succeed him, one of his own sons (Solomon succeeds him, but this happens before David dies, not after).

This king will build God’s temple (Solomon does), and God will establish his rule forever (Solomon’s rule ends, but Jesus rules forever). God promises to be this future ruler’s father, who will be his son (Jesus, the Son of God, fits this perfectly).

Furthermore, God promises to never take his love away from this future ruler (though God strips the kingdom away from Solomon’s son, God’s love for Jesus is without question).

Last, God will establish this future king’s rule forever. His kingdom and his reign will never end (Solomon dies. Jesus rules eternal).

When Jesus becomes our perfect sacrifice in payment for all the wrong things we have done, he fulfills the Old Testament. This includes the practice of worship. There is now no more need to go to a physical place to worship God.

We become living stones used to build God’s temple, a spiritual house for him. We become his priests and offer spiritual sacrifices to him (1 Peter 2:5; also see Ephesians 2:22).

Both Solomon and Jesus emerge as fulfilling Nathan’s prophecy to build God’s temple. Click To Tweet

Who Fulfills Nathan’s Prophecy?

Who builds God’s temple, Solomon or Jesus? Who best fulfills Nathan’s foretelling? David certainly understood this prophecy to be speaking of his son, Solomon. Solomon acts accordingly and constructs the temple for God.

But I don’t think this is what God intended with Nathan’s prophecy. God was looking much farther into the future. He wasn’t speaking in literal terms about Solomon as much as speaking in figurative terms about Jesus, his son.

Though both Solomon and Jesus emerge as fulfilling Nathan’s prophecy to build God’s temple—albeit in different ways—Jesus accomplishes it more fully than Solomon.

Many prophecies are like this, carrying a double meaning. But we can best see Jesus as fulfilling this prophecy.

Thank you, Jesus!

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.