June 2011


So far we have 6 articles written regarding the warriors of David

Part 1: Talks about why we should learn from the warriors of David
Part 2: Talks about the historical setting as well as Davids way of leading the nation
Part 3: Talks about the common traits in the warriors of David
Part 4: Warriors who are not afraid of numbers as well as those who will not retreat.
Part 5: A Warrior With Incredible Faith, Benaiah
Part 6: The Warriors By The Well Of Bethlehem

Now we would continue to study the warriors of David. We have just finished the individual names. There are other groups of warriors mentioned from 1 Chron 12 onward. .

1. The Warriors From The Tribe Of Benjamin

1 Chron 12:1-2 talks about the warriors from the tribe of Benjamin, they are the brethren of King Saul (King Saul is a Benjamite by birth). But these brethren refused to stand by the side of Saul. Some of us may wonder whether these warriors have “Betrayed” their brethren in a way, but I dare say that they are a impartial lot of people. The Chinese like to use the term “Blood is thicker than water” but these man choose to stand on Gods side. They are well aware that Saul their brethren had went against God. and because of that, they would rather be branded as “traitor” but they would rather choose to help King David to establish the kingdom of Israel according to Gods will

1.1 Hurling stones with both hands and shooting arrows
The warriors of Benjamin had an ability to hurl stones and to launch arrows. They understood the techniques of ballistics and were skillful range fighters. The effectiveness of the soldiers lies not in numbers, but rather in knowledge of warfare and tactics. It also depends deeply on the skills of the soldier. A well trained army would be able to use weapons effectively. The warriors of Benjamin were able to operate them using either of their hands.

In order to establish the church, special skills and know-hows are necessary. This applies to all types of church work, from cleaning of the toilet to the cooking of love meals. In fact, church administration is a type of work that require specialised skill. (Ex 18:17-21). I would like to discuss on skills needed in church administration here, we will learn that the Christian view of the skill differs from the world view greatly.

1.2 An Example Of Specialised Skill : Biblical Leadership

All along in the book of Exodus, we can see that there are church work who are done single handedly (IE: Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses facing the Pharaoh) Those are work where Moses just need to rely on Gods help to accomplish the work. But the situation is very different after the red sea crossing. Now Moses is faced with many issues to resolve. Moses is loyal to his duty, he seat as the judge from morning till night. That is when Jethro his father in Law advised him to select loyal, capable man who feared God. Give them power over the people, Moses will only interfere if the people are unable to resolve the case.

Let us take a minute and be in the shoes of Moses, will we agree to it? will we be happy to oblige? Will we agree to move from a system that is autocratic and to distribute the power? If the power is distributed and is no longer concentrated at your end, will you be happy to oblige? Here we can see the greatness of Moses, he understood the will of God and he knows his strength is limited. He needed more to help him, and he accepted Jethro’s advice.

The Abilities needed to accomplish the work comprises of Leadership skills as well as Talents. If one does not have the skills, they will not be able to lead effectively. IT is easy to give a order and everyone just reply yes, but they may not do it. The question here is how to motivate the people to follow the order.

Organisation in the world uses rewards as the method. Whoever who reaches the target will be rewarded. If one desires the reward, he must finish the work. Thats why worldly organisation makes use of payment schemes such as overtime pay. Some company even create limited slots for overtime pay to “motivate” staff to take up the job. If rewards doesn’t work, there are some who would resort to using of power and authority to lead. In a company, you would follow the order even if you do not agree with the plan. The reason for its effectively is such, if you do obey, you will be fired and you will lose your pay packet. This is the way of the worldly leadership.

What about in the house of God? Can we afford to do this? How many will you excommunicate (AKA Fire)? There are already a shortage of workers in the house of God. and the church isn’t a company. We cannot just chase someone away just because we do not like him. We are one family in the eyes of God, therefore members of the house of God must understand the will of God. There are times we often like to quote Zechariah and say “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zech 4:6). But that does not mean that might and power and not needed, it just reminded us that we do not rely on them to finish Gods work .

There are members who believe in the power of organisation too much and they only trust in it. It is not surprising because Christians spend our times in the workplace compared to church (it is a fact, and we have to live with it). Since we have already agreed that the church of God is not a company, does that mean we do away with leadership completely?

Often the church like a family business, successful family business also uses organisation skills, they divide up the responsibility among the family members. The same should apply to Gods house, we need the help of God, but at the same time we are required to organise ourselves within the house in order to accomplish Gods work.

In our present world there are often 2 extremes among Christians, one who concentrate on simple faith, zealousness, prayers and beliefs that they do not need to organised themselves. While on the other hand, we have people who focus all their attention on organisation methods, if you disobey them they will tell you “We have the authority because we are appointed by the church:” They trust their professional knowledge. The second group of Christians still prays, but their prayer became a mere standard operating procedure. Before their meeting, they will pray, but when they are in the midst of the meeting, they behave as if it is the office. When they make decision they will often say “this is decided by the executive committee. Please be submissive”

From the bible, we can see that spiritual leaders are far from these extremes, Moses is leaned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,, he is mighty in speech, a potential king. He is trained to be the next Pharaoh, but he did not use his power and knowledge, he uses his pure faith in God, he rely on him, praying daily. He spoke to God face to face, yet at the same time, he did not neglect organisation, he is willing to let go of his power, and to distribute them, so he can get helpers to lead the people of God

1.3 The Qualities of The Spiritual Leader

Abilities to lead the house of God are listed clearly in Ex 18:21 they must be

a. God fearing
b. Man of Truth
c. Not Covetous

At the same time, Moses must teach them the laws of God so that they can judge the people themselves, bringing difficult cases to Moses only. This is not a simple task, the candidates need to know the truth, discern between right and wrong while not being covetous.

Learning to be not covetous will prevent the candidates from abusing their authority as the judge. This would root out corruption and maintain justice without partiality.

Honestly is an important virtue because a dishonest man will pervert justice. They must be honest enough to admit that there are cases that needs to be referred to Moses if they are unsure about its judgement. They needs to understand the truth behind the law of God and to make their judgement based on its principles.

The God fearing is the quality that helps a man to be truthful and not covetous. He needs to rely on God to do his duty and to follow Gods command,

Here you can see that a worker of God needs both the knowledge as well as the abilities to do his work. We often place emphasise on the former and not the latter. But that is not the case of Moses, he imparted the necessary skills to the people, equipping them with the statutes and the laws of God. They will need such “skills of battle” if they want to accomplish their duties.

Therefore we must emulate the warriors of Benjamin, to strive to be skillful in the work we are to accomplish while being God fearing and mindful of the will of God at all times. These warriors from Benjamin are able to hurl stones, and shoot arrows using both hands. Let us continue to improve ourselves, keep a desire to learn continuously, and devote ourselves in prayer, not for anyone else but for God.

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In Part 1, we have generally discussed about the fact that although Judaism is not a missionary type of religion, (IE: Christianity, Buddhism and Islam are examples of religions that sends missionaries to propagate their teachings) . God of the Old Testament did not stop strangers and non Israelites to join themselves to him.

In fact, the Torah contains many interesting instructions that God has instructed the Israelites to do concerning strangers who decided to live among them. In this blog entry, we would be reading part of the Mosaic Law regarding it.

Oppressing and Bullying Of Strangers

God through Moses repeated the command not to bully and oppress strangers who lived among them. One of the verses that talks about it is

"And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him.
The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among
you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land
of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. "- YHWH (Lev 19:33-34)

I did a quick survey of the Torah and found these verses giving the same message. (Ex 22:21, Ex 23:9 , Deut 10:18-20).

In fact, when a lawyer came before Jesus, asking him how to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him what is his conclusion after reading the law. His answer was

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as
yourself.’" – Lawyer (Lk 10:27)

When the Lawyer asked "Who is my neighbour?" Jesus used the famous Parable of the Good Samaritans as his illustration. From it he further explained the same fact, and the tradition of being fair and just to strangers are also carried out among Christians.

Gentiles and Sacrifice

Once I have a friend who wrote to a Jewish rabbi asking if non Israelites is allowed to participate in the sacrifices and have their sins forgiven through the sin offering. The Rabbi answered and said that non -Jews is only allowed the offering known as Olah. and they told him "An Olah offering is not necessarily a sin offering. A non-Jew can be overwhelmed with a desire to bring an offering to God in His Temple for no other reason that an intense desire to do so. That offering would be an Olah. "

Personally i did a bit of reading of the Old testament, but as I am not a expert in ancient languages, I would just write this base on my understanding of my reading. I would certainly hope to hear some comments from readers who are more experienced in ancient languages.

There are portions of the Mosaic Law where God gave instructions to the Israelites regarding offerings from strangers (a term for non-Israelites in the old testaments)

"Also you shall say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the
strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice,
and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to
the LORD, that man shall be cut off from among his
people. " – YHWH (Lev 17:8-9)

In fact God also talks about the matter in Lev 22:17-23. Note that "strangers In Israel" will include any non Israelites who are dwelling among them. In this chapter God requires that the sacrifices must be without blemish.

It seems to me that non Jews are allowed to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to the door of the Tabernacle. Therefore i will believe that the Burnt, Grain, Peace and Sin offering listed in Lev 1-4 can be offered by a non Israelites. But the Priest Administering the offering must be a Levite nonetheless.

Other Privileges Granted To Non Israelites

I read the wikipedia entry on he term Jewish Proselyte, and I notice that the writer of the entry have surveyed and included all the privileges granted to non Jews in a very comprehensive manner.

Some of the Torah Instructions to Non Jews are as follows
1. Take part in the Day Of Atonement (Yom Kippur) (Lev 16:29)
2. Must purge out leaven during the passover (Ex 12:19)
3. Take Part In Feast Of Weeks (Deut 16:11)
4. Take Part in the feast of Tabernacles (Deut 16:13-14).
They too need to be present when the Laws were read out in 7 years (Deut 31:9-13)
5. Entitled to Sabbath rest (Deut 5:13-14; Ex 20:9-10; 23:12)
6. They are entitled to use the cities of refuge as well (Num 35:15)

You can get a complete list from Wikipedia

Therefore, the "gentiles" are very much included in the old testaments and it will not be a fair comment to say that Salvation was restricted to Jews only.

Being Included Into The Assembly

Interestingly, the bible did record that the Israelites can include people into the assembly of the Lord. Egyptians and Edomites of the 3rd generation may enter the assembly of the Lord (Deut 23:7-8)

Moabites and Ammonites are excluded up to the 10 generations, (Deut 23:3-4) and the reasons given was that they did not allow the Israelites to buy water and food from them and they also hired Balaam the prophet to curse them. However, it is noted that Ruth the Moabitess was allowed to join when she declared her faith.

Other Rules That Strangers need to follow

Jewish Law from the Torah is applicable to the strangers too. They are also not allowed to practise Idolary or perform any of the abominations that are done by the Canaanites or the Egyptians (Lev 20:2, Lev 18)

They are not allowed to blaspheme God (lev 24:16). They must also respect the Sanctity of Blood (lev 17)

Conclusion so far

The Gentiles were not denied a right to be joined to with the Israelites and have their sins forgiven. God wanted them to hear his laws and know him better. God already catered his law to accommodate them should they want to draw close to him. God allowed them to take part in the feast and have their sins forgiven the Old testament way. This is a fine example that God has already intended salvation for the non Israelites. But Gods plan is still unfolding at that point. Hence he had not started to send missionaries to bear witness for him among the nations.

Therefore, it would be a big mistake to think that the old testament salvations is only given to Israel.

Just would like to dedicate this song to a friend who seems so terrified to admit his love to someone else. At the same time, it should be dedicated to everyone in that situation, as well as those who are too terrified to accept someone else’s love.

Title: Terrified
Artist : Katharine McPhee,Zachary Levi
Songwriters: Kara Dio Guardi;Jason Reeves

You, by the light
Is the greatest find
In a world full of wrong
You’re the thing that’s right

Finally made it through the lonely
To the other side

You set it again, my heart’s in motion
Every word feels like a shooting star
I’m at the edge of my emotions
Watching the shadows burning in the dark

And I’m in love
And I’m terrified
For the first time and the last time
In my only life

And this could be good
It’s already better than that
And nothing’s worse
Than knowing you’re holding back

I could be all that you need
If you let me try

You set it again, my heart’s in motion
Every word feels like a shooting star
I’m at the edge of my emotions
Watching the shadows burning in the dark

And I’m in love
And I’m terrified
For the first time and the last time
In my only

I only said it ’cause I mean it
I only mean ’cause it’s true
So don’t you doubt what I’ve been dreaming
‘Cause it fills me up and holds me close whenever I’m without you

You set it again, my heart’s in motion
Every word feels like a shooting star
I’m at the edge of my emotions
Watching the shadows burning in the dark

And I’m in love
And I’m terrified
For the first time and the last time

Was preparing a sharing session with my friends. The topic on the floor was “The Principle Of Discipling” which i constantly misread it as “disciplining”. Personally I find that there was so many terms thrown about in the churches “Mentoring, Discipling, Spiritual Parents etc” .. many a times we find their definitions are similar and its hard for everyone to get the different.

The biblical perspective over the matter is illustrated in the words of Apostle Paul
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” – Paul (1 Cor 3:6)

the process of watering is in fact the process of pastoring in the present church context. and the many at times, it is about spiritual nurture and the development of Individuals as well as churches.

The good summary of a Christian walk begins with someone sharing the gospel with an individual, and the individual continues in his walk with God. While the church and other members worked hard to help the members grow. Paul summarised it in his letter to the Colossians.

“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” – Paul (Col 1:28) .

We can safely conclude that all members in the household of God had the duty, to take care of each other in faith, as well as to guide the newer members in the walk of God. Elder Peter once exhorted the elders to shepherd Gods flock, not out of compulsion or dishonest gain but out of love. Peter uses the idea of God being the Chief Shepherd beautifully. (1 Pet 5:1-4)

A typical Bedouin in the desert still shepherd their flock in the similar manner. The Chief Shepherd is the father of the household, and his children under him are the shepherds who would lead the flock in the front and at the back. The children would ensure that flock would travel in the right direction under the watchful eyes of the chief shepherd.

We tend to think that pastoring the flock of God is the work of the Pastor or preacher. But that illustration tells us that child of God can become a shepherd or an overseer. Perhaps we do not pastor a congregation of 100s or 1000s of members? But we are definitely the watchman to the people around us and to our family members.

Since everyone may have the chance to be a shepherd or an n overseer of fellow members, there is a need for everyone to set themselves as good examples to fellow brethren and to help them grow and to achieve perfection in faith. Hence it is important for us to learn the heart of the shepherd.

1. Spiritual Maturity

One of the most important requirements for one to be an overseer and a shepherd is the fact that they themselves must have a some form of spirituality. In order to be able to lead a person in their faith, they must be growing Christians themselves. Especially if the shepherd must set himself as an example.

This fact often discourages Christians from being shepherd, because we tend to think that we must be perfect in our faith in order to qualify to be a shepherd. Ironically, that is not what the bible teaches. Php 3:12-16. In that verses, Paul started by saying “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me”

and Paul encourages the Church at Phillippi, “Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.”

If we are expecting ourselves to be perfect examples, we can never attain perfection within our lives time. God wanted his children to try their best to lead the people around them. So therefore let us learn to have the same mind, to work hard to grow spiritually as well as to help the other brethren around us to grow as well.

2. Commitment

In order to help and encourage the members around us. The Shepard must give his commitment to the sheep he is pastoring. We all remember the great commission given by Jesus, to “Go and make disciples”. We must be willing to spend the time necessary to do the work.

Paul added a new perspective to commitment. He once said to the Corinthians.

“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.” – Paul 2 Cor 12:14-15

Not everyone of us remember Paul as a travelling tent maker. In fact Paul finance a huge part of his ministry by working and preaching at the same time. Therefore, Paul’s commitment to his sheep can be seen in his famous remark. “Spend and be spent”

3. Relationship

A shepherd must often have the heart to develop a relationship with his sheep. Being an overseer and pastor doesn’t just cover the simple duties of teaching the words of God. The shepherd must have genuine interest in all areas of his sheep’s life. One of the most effective way to build relationship is to spend good time together. Just as Paul once told the church is Thessalonica.

“So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” – Paul 1 Thess 2:8

4. Spiritual Formation

One of the main objective of shepherding and pastoring is to allow spiritual formation to happen. Allowing a newer Christian to grow in his faith. Spiritual Formation can only happen if it is based on the words of God. Just like what Moses declared in the famous Shema in Deut 6

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Moses (Deut 6:5-9)

The process of Spiritual formation is liken to a mother having labor. Just like what Paul said to the Galatians.

“My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,” – Paul (Gal 4:19)

5. Concentration

Contrary to popular opinion, one does not need to have countless of disciples. In fact, the more widely spread you are, the lesser your influence will be. In fact it is not the quantity that matters, but the qualities.

In fact, while Jesus was on earth, he choose 12 men to be his disciples, and out of them, he took more time to teach Peter James and John. They followed Jesus to the mount of transfiguration (Matt 9:2) and he also brought them to pray with him in Gethsemane (Mk 14:32-34)

Therefore, it is correct to say that there is limit to the amount of attention we can give, therefore we can try our best to reach out to many, but concentrate in discipling a few.

Conclusion

It is a Christian duties for all of us to be a shepherd or an overseer. Even if we do not lead a large congregation, we are in charge of the faith of the people around us. Especially our young and our family member.

Gods commission to “Go and make disciples” is not given to a few people, but to the entire church. The mission of the church is to help people reconcile with God and to have their sins forgiven. Besides introducing the gospel of salvation, we need to shepherd and to help the newer Christians to take root in faith.

May God help all of us.

The

Lately there had been many discussion about the God of The Old Testament and their treatment to non Jews (AKA Gentiles). There was many people who viewed that the God of the Old Testament only showed mercy to the Israelites, and could not care less of the other races. There are also some who claimed that in the Old Testament Salvation is only and strictly for the Jews.

This prompted me to start to read through the old testament and the law of Moses, to see if the statement that “Old Testament Salvation Is Strictly For Israelites” is indeed true.

In the midst of reading through the Torah, we can conclude that Judaism is not a religion where missionaries are sent to various countries to convert people to Judaism, but interestingly, God of the Old Testament did not really forbid strangers and foreigners from getting close to him. I found that the Old Testament scriptures in fact contains many laws that protects non Israelites living among them. There are also many rites and part of their religion that foreigners are allowed to participate.

In fact, God promise to the non Israelites can be seen in his declaration made through Prophet Isaiah.

” Do not let the son of the foreigner
Who has joined himself to the LORD
Speak, saying,
” The LORD has utterly separated me from His people”;
Nor let the eunuch say,
” Here I am, a dry tree.”

For thus says the LORD:
” To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give theman everlasting name
That shall not be cut off.
” Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants-
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant-
Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” YHWH – Isaiah 56:3-7

In fact, the bible had many records of God showing mercies to many non Israelites. Rahab, and Ruth were all ancestors of Jesus, Naaman the Syrian was healed of his leprosy. Among the Warriors of David we have a few warriors who are definitely non Jews, I can single out 2 of them, Uriah the Hittites (Hittites came from Turkey) and Zelek the Ammonites (Ammonites are the descendant of Lot, and lived around modern day Jordan) . At the same time, God also sent Jonah the prophet to the city of Nineveh to preach against it. We can safely say that there are indeed strangers living among the Israelites and some of them became converts to Judaism as well.

Gods Purpose Of Giving The Holy Land To the Israelites

I was watching the focus on family series by Ray Vander Laan, and one thing I really agree with him, is the fact that God has placed the Israelites in a very important spot in the ancient world. small strip of land in which is known as Israel is actually at the crossroads of the world. Where 2 of the major ancient trades routes that pry between Mesopotamia and Egypt converge. They are known as the Via Maris (the way of the sea) and the kings highway.

God intended that his Laws and Statues to be followed and kept by the Israelites. God wanted his name to be spread far and wide, just like the study of the 10 plagues we did earlier, God said that he wanted his name to be spread to the entire world. So although God has not officially opened the door of Salvation to the gentiles, he allowed Gentiles who wanted to worship and join him to live among the Israelites. Many of them later on became servants of God as well.

The Very First Sign That God Wanted To Save Gentiles

I remember when I was reading the covenant of Abraham in Gen 17. God set circumcision as the sign of the old covenant of salvation (Gen 17:10-14). In fact, when Abraham was circumcised, according to Gods instruction, he circumcised all the male servants of his house, and including his son Ishmael ( Gen 17:23-27) . These male servants are definitely not Israelites, (as the only qualified Israelites should be Abraham and his wife Sarah). Sometimes I would like to call them the first gentiles who made a covenant with God.

Coming Up

Actually I have not thought fully about how many blog entries are needed to cover this topic. I was thinking of sharing with everyone regarding the Laws concerning Non Jews according to the Mosaic Law, Gods mercy to the Moabites, Ammonites and the Edomites, and also the stories of various converts to the Israelites religion based on the bible. But I have not fully planned out how it works as of now.