From the creation of the world, and probably for an eternity before, God has been planning a place of connection with His people. He has made plans for a place where mankind, too sinful to remain as closely connected to the spiritual dimension as the Garden of Eden, could still be in His Presence, still come close to Him and bask in His glory. And so, early in Genesis, He introduces to us Salem, with its mysterious priest and king who, according to the writer of Hebrews, can be compared to Christ. It is here that God sends Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, so that here in this sacred place God can demonstrate to us a piece of the future He has in mind for Jerusalem. The place where He will connect with us, where He will provide the lamb for the offering, and the place where a new priest and king will reign forever, in a new Jerusalem very like Eden where God and man will walk together.
For the rest of the study on Jerusalem:
If I chose only one word to summarize Gibeon, it would be deception. Gibeon is probably most famous, or rather infamous, for being the home of the people who deceived Joshua early in the Israelite conquest of the land of Canaan. According to 1 Chronicles 9:35-39, it was also the homeland of Saul’s family, Saul the king who suffered the absence of God’s Spirit. Most significantly though, it was home for many years to God’s prescribed tabernacle, even though the ark, the Presence of God Himself, was never within the holy of holies there. Gibeon represents the alliance of a lie, the king of God’s people apart from the Lord of God’s people, the outward appearance of God without the inward Presence of God.
It makes me pause and wonder how often I am deceived by appearances. The Israelite leaders were fooled by the worn appearance of the wineskins and sandals of the Gibeonites, believing that meant they had traveled a far piece when they had actually only come from a few miles away. Two hundred or so years later, the tabernacle stands in Gibeon, drawing the Israelites there to make their sacrifices, follow the religious routines, and depart satisfied that they were in right relationship with God. But were they? Was honoring the trappings of God as good as coming near God? Do I think because a building looks like a church I will meet God there? Do I think because someone uses the right words, they bear the message of God? How often am I fooled by outward appearances and led away from the spiritual reality? How in tune am I to the true Presence of God? Do I even notice, or care, when He is missing from my religious routines?
For the entire study:
The value that I absorb from a study of Nineveh is that the truths of God are not determined by the knowledge and perceptions of man. Two hundred years ago, Nineveh was little more than a legendary place of mythical story, maybe akin to the stories of the lost city of Atlantis. In the modern thought of 1840, many stories of the Bible, maybe especially fantastical stories such as Jonah and the big fish, were relegated to that of myth. It was a time of questioning, and “higher criticism” in biblical scholarship. Literal interpretation of scripture was being put under a magnifying glass. If Nineveh was as great a city as was described in the Bible, then where was it? Without a physical Nineveh, the accuracy of the seven books of the Bible that mentioned it was in question, and if those were not true, then what was? When faith in God’s Word crumbles, then faith in God follows close behind.
For the rest of this study:
"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:57
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