Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1998
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 4: Disciplinary Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 2: The Kingdom Divided: The Discipline of Lost Blessing
Lesson 80 – Review: History and Resulting Doctrines; Suffering, Sanctification, Chastening
26 Feb 1998
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Turn to Romans 15:5, then we’ll get into quite a bit of review, because we’re going to move from history to doctrine. In Romans 15 there’s a great Scripture that puts the Old Testament in perspective. This Scripture is one you’ve probably read many times. It says “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to b of the same mind with one another according to Jesus Christ.” How does God give the perseverance and encouragement in verse 5, because in the preceding verse, it says,  “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” One of the tools of building hope and faith is the Old Testament.
Just to illustrate that I want to show you a practical illustration of the fact that the New Testament is not new; in fact, very little of the New Testament is really new. It’s called the New Testament because of the New Covenant but it’s not like everything in the New Testament is something that wasn’t there in the Old Testament. To prove it to you, turn to Matthew 5:4-5, in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” For all the world, this just looks like Jesus made this up on the Sermon on the Mount, He just gave this sermon and everybody listened and said ooh. It’s more than that. Actually, many of these are quotes, directly from the Old Testament. The one that is not the quote from the Old Testament is verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It’s the introduction, just like the Psalms, it’s almost like a title.
Look at verse 4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” hold the place and turn to Isaiah 61. Once you get an operating framework established… not that you know everything in the Old Testament, you could spend five lifetimes doing that, but just get a broad outline. When you go back you’ll see, and if you have a concordance or a verse reference that’s how you get these verses, but I want you to see where this comes from and the context. Isaiah 61 is a Messianic passage, so notice in verse 1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me—,” that verse alone is one of those rare passages in the entire Bible that talks about the Trinity. Look at that passage carefully; you’ll see all three persons of the Trinity there. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,” there’s two characters in that one sentence, the Spirit and the “Me,” then “because the LORD has anointed Me—” who’s the “Me?” The “Me” is the Messiah.
So “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me— to bring good news to the afflicted’ He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners.  To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD,” Jesus quoted this in the synagogue in the Gospels and then He stopped quoting right after the word “Jehovah” in the first clause of verse 2, and He did not say, “and the day of vengeance of our God,” because that was the Second Advent. The first and second advents are eclipsed together in these verses of prophecy. But notice the next part of verse 2, “to comfort all who mourn.” Verse 3, “To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning,” so this is the comfort that is coming to those that mourn, “Blessed are those who mourn,” so in verse 2, “to comfort all who mourn,” that is the Messianic mission, and what do you see Jesus doing on the Sermon on the Mount? That’s what He’s saying.
So Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount is actually citing passage after passage to teach people that we’re all screwed up with the Pharisees, who in their day and age were the equivalent of lawyers today. They are the people who took the law and became technicians at it, and completely got away from the spirit of the law… COMPLETELY got away from the spirit of it! To them law was a game, it was something to be played with in court, to see who could outsmart the other guy in the little technicalities to the fifth decimal place, and totally miss the big picture. That’s what the Pharisees are doing, so Jesus is straightening them out about what their theology should have been. So He’s citing these Old Testament passages, and here is the context.
Look at something else in this context of Isaiah, again thinking in terms of what the Old Testament does to help us understand the new. What does that context look like? “To comfort all who mourn,” when does the comforting take place? When “the day of vengeance of our God” comes. Verse 3, “To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting, so they will be called oaks of righteousness. The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.  Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins,” what’s that talking about? It’s talking about the coming of the kingdom of God, and “blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted” was an announcement that Jesus Christ was offering the kingdom when He came in the Gospels. He was saying that the kingdom is here. Remember how John the Baptist introduced Jesus? “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” It really was. Had Israel accepted Christ, the kingdom could have started right there in Jesus’ day. So you see the context.
The next beatitude is “Blessed are the gentle” or “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Turn to Psalm 37 and we’ll see where that comes from. This is just an object lesson to show that the New Testament assumes that we know the Old Testament. Most of us don’t know the Old Testament; it takes a lot of work just to read it. Psalm 37:11, again notice the context; look at the original Scripture in the original context. “But the humble will inherit the land, and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” When? Look at the previous verse,  Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place, and he will not be there,” that’s the coming of the kingdom of God on earth. Again it’s an eschatological context and that’s the context Jesus is citing in the Beatitudes, He’s drawing out everything that is associated with the kingdom because He is the King, He’s come to proclaim the Kingdom. Half way through the Gospels you see that the people rejected them. So what does Jesus do? He begins to teach them in parables; He no longer teaches clearly, and He says let those who have ears to hear, let them hear. He starts to mask the teaching so only the remnant, only the believing remnant will hear the rest of the story, because the nation as a whole could have heard the whole story when He started His ministry but they rejected it so He changes the tune as He goes through His ministry. So knowing the Old Testament really makes the New Testament come alive.
Tonight we want to go into a doctrine section. By way of review, let me take you back to the original scheme of things. The way we are approaching this, it’s not a substitute for verse by verse teaching, that’s not our goal. It’s more of a history and apologetic approach, so it’s a slightly different approach than is sometimes used. But the thing that we want to build in our souls and understanding is that there is this frame of reference in the Scriptures, events and doctrine. God speaks publicly in Christianity, that’s the difference between Christianity and all the other religions, is that only in the Bible does God make a contract in writing with His followers. That is not true of Buddhism, that is not true of Confucianism, that is not true of Taoism, that is not true of Islam; that is not true of any other religion except Judeo Christianity. Only in Judeo Christian does the God of history make written contracts with a human person. You cannot find that in any other religion, and that ought to ring bells. We ought to say wait a minute, what’s different here? Do you know the answer to that question? Because in Judeo Christianity alone do you have a God who speaks, who actively speaks in a public fashion.
Let’s look at these events again because this sets us up for what we’re going to learn about David, Saul and these kings that are fouling up the waters. We clustered four events out of Genesis and called it the buried foundation. We said it was the buried foundation because man, in his sin, and in our total depravity, we intellectually want to suppress this. Down through the centuries tribe after tribe, continent after continent have suppressed this. Everybody once had it, there’s no such thing as people who haven’t heard. Every tribe, every nation on earth originally possessed this information because they all came out of Noah’s family. Everyone had access to Genesis 1-9 at one point in their history. It’s not true that there have been culture groups and people groups that haven’t originally heard somewhere, because they all descended from Noah. So they all knew this.
Associated with these events are great truths of the Christian faith. For example, creation defines God, man and nature. Those are the three big categories, nothing else out there. It’s God, man or nature. What else is there? Nothing else! Creation establishes that, the Creator/creature distinction. Then we said that evil and suffering is what grows out of the fall—evil and suffering. Christianity has an answer to that area. The flood becomes a picture of judgment/salvation, that God always judges and He saves and He always does both at the same time. Every salvation in Scripture usually involves a judgment of some kind. Every judgment in Scripture usually involves a salvation of some kind. So He judges and he saves; He judges the world and He saves Noah out of it. Then the covenant comes, the first time the word is mentioned in the Bible, and again God, man and nature are defined. Every one of these great events carries with it a cluster of doctrine or truth, because the truths are tied to these events.
Then we extended the framework further and we said that you could cluster the next set of events in the Scripture by what we called The Disruptive Kingdom, and the reason we called it that is because it’s that kingdom in collision with the world system, because after Noah, when the human race began to engage in schemes of world government, dreams of utopias, man lifting himself up with his own bootstraps, architecturally embedded in the pyramids and other structures down through history. Nimrod and his group ruined the culture of the human race so God called Abraham out from among the rest of the human race and He began to work a separate counterculture in history that we now know as Israel. This kingdom is a disruptive kingdom, because it disrupts the world order; it’s always at odds with the world because the world is at odds with God.
So God restarts, as it were, civilization with Abraham, and we learned several great truths associated with this, the doctrine of election, the doctrine of justification, the doctrine of faith. Election—God chose Abraham, and He rejected everybody else. God chooses people and that’s His right. He chose history and He chose this sort of universe, and He chose parts of the universe. And He chose Abraham to have this role in history. Justification—how is a man justified before God? God can’t make a covenant with an unjust sinner so before a covenant can be established between God and man, man has to be justified or righteous in God’s sight. So God has to take care of that problem because we can’t, we’re already fallen. Then faith—Abraham is the man of faith who trusts God for the justifying work. Abraham doesn’t go into a works program; he goes into a faith program.
Then we had the Exodus; the Exodus was an event very much like the flood, it was one of those great dynamic events in history when God judged and He saved. In this case He judged the Egyptians and He saved the Jews. In Noah’s day He judged the world and He saved Noah’s family. But in the case of the Exodus a new element came into higher visibility, and that was the means by which judgment/salvation is executed, and it is through death, particularly blood atonement, the blood on the doors of the Jewish homes in Egypt.
Then we come to Mt. Sinai. There’s something else, we’ll cover this as we go along, I didn’t make a big issue out of it last year, but I want to point out something. We said at Mt. Sinai God speaks publicly. That’s when He revealed His will for His kingdom. This is the King announcing His policies, announcing His protocols, announcing the way He intended to run His kingdom. Out of that we have the law, and through that we have the doctrine of revelation. God speaks publicly, if you’d had a tape recorder you could have tape recorded Him speaking in Hebrew at Mt. Sinai. Inspiration means that God not only revealed Himself but He inspired prophetic authors through the Holy Spirit to enscripturate that revelation inerrantly, with a text; that’s called inspiration. Canonicity means certain books are inspired and certain books aren’t, so we have the Canon of Scripture which you hold in your hand.
After Sinai the King said, because this is a disruptive kingdom, that I want to begin My program of exterminating evil from history, and it’s a very painful process, so He declares holy war. We had the conquest and settlement period of Joshua and Judges, and with that we have the rise of a doctrine which we have been studying for months, in practice, the doctrine of sanctification. We’re not talking about salvation because the kingdom is already there; we’re talking about sanctification or the growth of people in the kingdom. Then the rise and reign of David where the leadership of the kingdom comes into force and again we have sanctification.
This has been a progress of revelation, but what I want to show you about this chart is to observe the sequence. What we learn, and this is the value of studying the Scripture chronologically in the way God revealed them, because the Holy Spirit is a perfect teacher, He has perfect pedagogy, and He sets up the lessons in a sequence that we can understand. He has a reason why Lesson 2 precedes Lesson 3, and Lesson 54 precedes Lesson 55, etc. It’s a built-in order and sequence to the way God shows Himself. Observe the sequence here. What does God do first? This is going to figure into tonight a little bit so that’s why I’m going back to this chart. What issue does God stress first, the law of faith? Which issue does God press in upon people first? The issue is faith, not the law, not the details of His will. The issue is whether we are going to respond to Him, that’s faith; whether we are going to accept His role of giving us righteousness, that’s the issue, because until we’ve been justified we aren’t even on speaking terms with Him.
Before there can be anything else, there has to be justification, accepted and transmitted through faith. That’s the starting point; you can’t go any further without that. God calls, there’s election, God calls it into existence because we don’t sit around dreaming it up and saying ooh, gee, I’d like to know God today. In our consciousness we might have that sensation of waking up and saying I want to know God, but if we really knew all the details it would be because the night before and the night before that, and the week before that, the month before that, etc. God was working on our heart through circumstances and other people to bring us to that knowledge. So here’s God calling, justifying in faith. Of course He shows us the details of salvation because this is the origin point of the nation. After the nation is saved, after it comes into existence, then revelation is given, in detail. Mt. Sinai speaks of His will, not for the world; at Mt. Sinai God wasn’t talking to the world, He wasn’t talking to the Egyptians, He wasn’t talking to the Moabites, He wasn’t talking to the Assyrians, He was talking to the Jews, and He was saying this is what My kingdom is, you’re in My kingdom, this is My will for you. Mt. Sinai is addressed to the saved.
Here’s a spinning question. What, then, is the order between Savior and Lord? Think about that. There’s a big controversy going on in Christianity about Lordship and salvation. Which came first here? Salvation, or the law and all of the lordly details of the kingdom? Obviously salvation came first, then after that His claims on every detail of their life. There’s a sequence in the way the revelation came. This isn’t saying that this was cheap salvation. Obviously if you had been there and you had seen Egyptian boys die next door and the parents crying because they lost their first-born, I think it would duly impress you that God was there. This is not demeaning God, it’s simply to say that in all of His majesty He saves us and then He calls us in and says now here’s what I want you to do, boom, boom, boom, boom. And then we become aware of what really is involved in Lordship, so there’s a sequence there.
Now we come to sanctification and observe another sequence. Which comes first, spiritual growth or teaching the Word of God? How do you get spiritual growth? You can’t have spiritual growth without teaching, without the revelation, without the inspiration. God didn’t start His kingdom sending everybody into the conquest and settlement to kind of duke it out themselves. First He gave them the content of His Word, then He forced them into a situation in life where they had to apply it. Teaching and then application; teaching and then application, teaching and application. So where you have the need for spiritual growth there’s got to be teaching, doesn’t matter who, doesn’t matter when, doesn’t matter which century, doesn’t matter who’s doing it, somebody’s got to do it. In Israel the Levites job was to do this, constantly go over the Torah, over the Torah, over and over and over, repetition, repetition, repetition. Why? Because we forget. After that we can have sanctification because now when we enter the details of life and face circumstances we’ve got some tools, we know what the will of the Lord is so we have a way of handling circumstances.
We want to look at an expansion of the doctrine of sanctification. We said David was the model in sanctification. He provided us the perfect role model for the leadership of the kingdom. On page 29 in the notes we want to look at some comments on the Old Testament. Look at the last paragraph “Meeting Circumstances God’s Way with Trusting Obedience.” There’s a hymn we all know, Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way. That may sound like a child’s hymn, but it’s a very profound statement. It doesn’t say obey and trust; it says trust and obey. Why is that? It’s the sequence. What is the sequence of truth? Faith comes before obedience to the law. It is trust first, then obedience. What happens if you reverse it? What happens if you try to obey before you can trust? What do you wind up doing? You wind up with energy of the flesh because you’re doing it and you’re not doing it because you really believe God’s in it, or God’s got a handle on it, or really doing it in thankfulness to Him, you’re doing it out of operation bootstrap, I’m going to do it with me. You can’t reverse it; it’s not obey and trust, it’s trust and obey.
Let’s look at the pieces of sanctification. There are two areas, the position and the experience. Trust is the position, we trust in what God has revealed to us, who we are in Christ in the New Testament, they who are in Israel in the Old Testament: trust. When we know where we are we obey His will for somebody in that position. But if you don’t believe you’re in the position you are not going to be obedient, not in a trustworthy way. It’s position and experience, position and experience, position and experience. We saw the historical illustration. The position is the Abrahamic Covenant promises. What are the three promises that God gave in the Abrahamic Covenant? He will make Israel’s destiny in history to be a worldwide blessing; salvation will always come to the world through Israel. The Scripture we hold is a Jewish book, it’s not a Christian book, it’s a Jewish book. The Savior was a Jew, not a Gentile. World peace is going to come when the Savior, a Jew, returns to this earth and His own nation accepts Him. That’s why Jesus said Jerusalem, Jerusalem, I will not come back to you until you say “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” In one sense Israel is the blockage to world peace because its continued rejection by Israel of her Messiah that prevents Him from returning. He’s not going to return until He gets a welcome from Israel. So the Jew is the key to history, always has been, always will be. Abrahamic Covenant: you will be a worldwide blessing.
The second thing the Abrahamic Covenant did, it promised Israel eternally land. It promised a continuing seed, in spite of the Hitler’s of history, no one will ever successfully eliminate the Jew from history. Hitler tried it, Haman tried it, all kinds of people have tried genocide against the Jew. It will never work; they are the anvil that always breaks the hammer. The seed will go on. That’s the Abrahamic Covenant.
The Sinaitic Covenant was conditional. The Abrahamic Covenant just said Abraham, I’m going to do this, this, this; nothing about Abraham doing this, this, this. It was God doing the “this-ing.” In the Sinaitic Covenant what do we notice in the structure, all through the book of Leviticus and Exodus? Was it I’m going to do this for you Israel? No, I’ve already done it Israel, now you obey Me, and if you obey Me I will bless you here, if you disobey Me I will curse you, I will discipline you. So it’s conditional. Why? Because it’s the will of God. God respects our “choose-ers” and forces us to choose. He doesn’t treat us as robots. So blessing and cursing in that sense, in the every day sense of the word is contingent. That’s trust and obey.
One other thing we want to do before we get into this kingship thing again. What did God say back in Eden to Adam? What was the role of man? To subdue the earth. Man was to rule. What is the Hebrew word to rule? Melek, it’s a Hebrew word to be king, dominion, to “melek,” to have dominion over, to rule over. So the rule of man given in Genesis is most clearly pictured in what human office? The king. Let’s tie this together with where we’ve been the past five or six weeks as we’ve looked at the period of the kings. A lot of people don’t ever get into this, they’ll read a few of the stories, and the stories are exciting, you could make a movie out of every chapter in Kings, but there’s more to it than that. We want to see something here.
Draw a diagram; on one side we’ll put Saul, on the other side we’ll put David. This is history from about 1000 BC on through about 800 BC., for two centuries. During these two centuries God gave Israel a monarchy. He gave the monarchy conditionally, did He not? Did God give them a king first or did they ask for a king first? They wanted a king. And when they came to Samuel they said “Give us a king like all the other nations.” Wrong! What was their calling? Who are they in Israel, just like who are we in Christ? We’re not of the world. So you can’t have a king like all the other nations. I’m going to give you a king, but he’s not going to be like all the other nations. Who was the prophet who defined the monarchy? The first of the great prophets in the kingdom period—Samuel. Underneath this is Samuel, for both Saul and David. Samuel is the prophet and the king-maker; the prophet is always the man who decides who’s going to be king, the king doesn’t decide who’s going to be king, the prophet decides who’s going to be king, all the way into the New Testament. The first character in the New Testament is not Jesus, it’s John the Baptist because John the Baptist is the prophet that makes the King Jesus. Same sequence.
So you have Samuel and Samuel defines the monarchy, and what is the greatest chapter on political doctrine in the Bible? 1 Samuel 8, because in 1 Sam. 8 Samuel gives a prophetic insight into the evil of centralized power and the corruption that it always generates, and the tyranny that usually accompanies the concentration of political power. He said that’s exactly what you’re going to have; if you do not submit as part of the kingdom God to the rules of the kingdom of God, then your monarchy will not work and God will discipline you because He loves you, because He wants a destiny for Israel unlike that of the world, He is going to kick butt until He straightens it out. It will be straight; that’s the other side of the doctrine of election. Election means you will get there. That’s why we always like to use the picture of a marine drill sergeant. When you get through basic training, you will be a Marine. Somehow you get the idea that you’re going to have to participate a little bit in that process. You also kind of get the impression that it’s going to be slightly painful if you don’t participate in the process. That’s the picture of election. God is going to get Israel in a certain shape.
So there are two models of monarchy, and it comes out because there’s going to be one kind of model with this guy, and the other kind of model with this guy: David and Saul. That’s the theme that underplays kings. What book precedes Kings? Samuel. What are the two major characters in Samuel? Saul and David. We said that David was a man after God’s heart. Does that mean David was morally better than the other kings? Did he have an unscathed administration? Talk about the gossips and the TV media, they would have had a field day with David. But there’s something different going on here. That’s what we want to observe tonight.
What we want to do now is tighten up our understanding of the Saul model and the David model. Saul is going to represent the flesh and human solutions to problems in life, and David is going to represent a man who backs off and lets the Lord solve the problems of life. It’s not a question of who is the better guy. The question goes back to our diagram of how the kingdom works. What did we say was the first element in the kingdom, the law or faith and trust in the Lord? It was always faith and trust in the Lord. Which guy shows faith and trust in the Lord? David. Who is working the root of the kingdom principle better? David is.
On the bottom of page 29 I give five references in Scripture [Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11-13] that tells us, it labels an Old Testament saint. In the Old Testament sometimes it’s hard to tell … in our Q&A we’ve had questions do you think So and So is a believer, do you think he’s a believer, it’s hard to say but in the Old Testament they had something called circumcision of the heart, and that’s the expression you’ll find in those references. All of those references speak of that same operation. It’s carried over and Paul in the New Testament recites it. That label is analogous in the New Testament to regeneration. It means they were born again in the equivalent sense in the Old Testament. Wherever you see Old Testament saints who were circumcised in the heart, they were the real believers. There were a lot of unbelievers in Israel, a lot of people that rejected the Lord. But the people who accepted and trusted the Lord were said to have been circumcised in their hearts. They were people of faith.
We want to look at the mechanics of how you identify a David model from a Saul model, because all the kings we’ve studied recently, Rehoboam, Jeroboam and Ahab, all these kings follow the Saul model of being a king. They’re all men of works, they’re all insecure, they’re all trying to solve their problems with human solutions and they all foul up. What’s worse, they get involved in a compounding cycle of one guy messing up, leaving debris in history, the next guy comes behind him, now he’s got more problems because the first guy created a mess, he has his own mess and adds it to the first guy’s mess, now we’ve got mess times two. Then the third guy comes along; now we’ve got one more, so we’ve got three messes. This just keeps compounding until the kingdom, as we’re going to see, collapses. The whole kingdom of God collapses, a tragedy in history because you have compounded sin, compounded carnality that is never dealt with. So God has to deal with it and He just does surgery and He cuts it out. That’s compound carnality.
On page 30 I’ve repeated the eleven reasons the Scripture gives why we suffer. Think of the events we learned under the fall, under evil and suffering. We said that suffering in the Scripture alone is answered. Only in the Bible do we have an answer to this, and we don’t have to be ashamed of the faith. The poor unbeliever, they’re the ones that are to be pitied. Who has the real solution? As Christians we are always attacked, well gee, if you really believe in an omnipotent sovereign loving God, how can you do that and have all the suffering going on in the world? They like to really rub our nose in it at this point. This is a very powerful and very popular attack against the Christian faith. If your God really was strong, He’d stop this, and if He doesn’t stop it He’s either not strong or He’s not loving; a classical argument against the Christian faith, used over and over down through the centuries. The person who is saying that has sawed off his own branch, he’s standing in thin air and here’s why. Going back to the pagan and the Christian, on the pagan basis of looking at history we see good and evil mixed together, the yin and the yang; good and evil mixed together. On a pagan basis there never was an origin to evil and there never will be a resolution to evil, it has always gone on and will always go on forever and ever. On an unbelieving basis there simply is no answer to the suffering issue, none whatsoever. So the non-Christian shouldn’t be concerned with it because he couldn’t even start with a solution; he can’t even define the problem. There is no solution to it; it’s all just a mix out here.
But in the Christian faith we go back and say okay, we have an origin, an origin starts with the fall, and it ends with a judgment because then God pulls evil and good apart, heaven and hell, and they remain separate forever and ever, never to mix again. You tell me, which would you rather have? Would you rather think of going to your death bed, never having a hope but always if you’re going to believe in reincarnation you get reincarnated back into this mess again, maybe you go through it as an ant, a lion, a man, a cow, whatever you come up with in the next cycle. Here you are, going through good and evil again. It’d get boring after a while. That’s exactly why in Oriental religions their salvation is destruction of the individual. The classic Eastern solution to this problem is pictured as a drop of water going into the ocean, it loses its identity. It’s a form of theological and spiritual suicide because it’s the only way out of the cycle. They have no other way, there’s nothing there, so that’s their only salvation. We have a bracketing of good and evil.
We’ve got it bracketed, here’s David, or here’s us, or here’s Ahab, or here’s Jeroboam, and we’ve got circumstances of life where we’re suffering, circumstances that oppose us, certain problems that arise in our environment. So here we are; how do we deal with it. We have to walk by faith. How do we walk by faith? It goes back to the object of faith. If we believe that God is the Creator, He is omniscient; He has an infinite plan that is perfect. Does that mean as an infinite planner that we can know the details of His plan? No. Then what good does it do if we know that He has an infinite plan but we can’t ever know it? We trust His character; we trust the fact that He, so to speak, “has a method to His madness.” There is ultimately a loving reason why things are proceeding the way they are proceeding. If you can’t believe that, you can’t cope with it.
It goes back to faith. You can fake it, you can go through all the hooplas and all the therapies and all the rest of it, all the gimmicks, repeat I’m a good boy ten times a day, morning and evening, and all the rest of it, but in the final analysis all of it is just a lot of hogwash and hot air, because it doesn’t come from our heart. Deep down in our heart, while we’re going through all the gimmicks, we know very well we don’t really have an answer. The only place we have that resting peace in our hearts is to place our trust in the Creator who is omniscient and loving and sovereign. We cannot tell exactly what He has up His sleeve any given minute of the day. But we don’t have to because we know His character, which He has proven publicly in history through this document. It doesn’t matter what your personal experience is, it’s what history says. I’ll show you why the prophets demanded that the people lived in Israel looked to the works of Jehovah. There’s a phrase that you’ll see again and again, we’ll point it out later tonight.
[blank spot] This is not meant to be a total list, it’s not meant to say that that’s the final word, I’m suggesting by giving you a list that when there’s a problem and when there’s pressure, when there’s a circumstance that’s disrupting you, that you can trust that God has a purpose and these eleven suggest what some of these purposes can be. Let’s take a look at what these purposes are:
|DIRECT SUFFERING PATTERNS||INDIRECT SUFFERING PATTERNS|
|1. Effect of Fall—physical and spiritual death sickness, natural disturbances||7. Evangelistic “wake-up” call|
|2. Effect of Personal sin—self-induced misery; fruit of foolishness.||8. “Nudge” to advance spiritually|
|3. Shared suffering within families and nations.||9. Evidence for furthering evangelism|
|4. Eternal suffering in Lake of Fire||10. Evidence for edifying believers|
|5. Fatherly chastening of believers||11. Evidence for unseen angelic conflict|
|6. Denial of rewards for believers|
On the left side there are six different patterns of suffering that are due directly to the fact that we have sinned. On the right there are five reasons that are not related to our personal sin. You see those patterns in Scripture. We won’t have time to go through all of them; numbers two and five are the ones we want to look at in connection with the kingdom. Number two, the effect of personal sin is self-induced misery; it is the fruit of foolishness. “Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap,” a very easy lesson. A lot of our suffering, if we really admit it, is self-induced. It’s our choices. Then we whine, cry and all the rest of it because we reap what we’ve sown. We were created this way; you don’t sow one thing and get something else. So pattern two is very popular.
Pattern five is what we want to look at for life inside the kingdom, because pattern five means that in addition to two, God the Father will discipline us, even when we don’t reap what we sow. We might be able to escape some way, some bizarre thing happens and we avoid pattern number two, but if we are disobedient to our Father, we’re never going to avoid pattern number five because He’s going to see to it that somehow He gets our attention. That is pattern number five.
Think about the David model of leadership and look at these patterns. We saw a case where David sins, famous incident, adultery and murder. The prophet comes to David and David is challenged to confess his sin. Here’s the David model: restoration to fellowship through confession. The first step was that there had to be conviction of specifics … specifics, not generally vague, but a conviction that there was a specific disobedience to a specific will of God. That was taken seriously in church history, for many centuries. This is why when people read some of the great saints of history, for example in class someone will read something about the Puritans, and they’ll say oh these people, they ought to have gone to Sigmund Freud or something, they’re so depressed. That wasn’t the point at all. Idiots who say that don’t have a clue as to what that was all about. The reason the saints of the church were going through this so-called depression wasn’t that they were depressed; they were trying to go through and find what the problem is, Lord, where have I sinned. What do the Psalms say; see “if there is any wicked way in me.” That’s not being psychiatric, to ask the Lord to show if there’s evil in us. We go to a doctor and find out whether there are viruses or bacteria in us, whether there’s a broken bone in us, and we go to God to find out whether there’s sin in us. What’s the problem? Who else are you going to go to?
Here’s the prophet speaking to David, and David became convicted of his sin. What’s another synonym for the word “convict” so we don’t get too religious here? The word that is a synonym to convict is the word to “convince.” Why do we have to be convinced? Because what is the basic modus operandi? Faith. How does faith operate? It has to be operating on the basis of truth, so I can’t believe if I don’t believe it’s true. There has to be conviction of sin; then there’s confession of sin and at the point that I understand this, I acknowledge my choice. That’s what God wants us to do, to acknowledge our responsibility. This is why there’s a hidden agenda in the sinful heart of men that always creates this thing called Continuity of Being, the phony pagan idea of God. What is the bottom line? What is accomplished every time the biblical God is denied, every time, it always happens this way. There’s an ultimate victimization because there’s no ultimate authority. Only in the Bible do we have ultimate responsibility before a holy God. That’s why there are other religions in the world; they are all approaches to get around ultimate responsibility to a God that I have to answer to. That’s the bottom line of why all these theologies are created, to bypass that.
David doesn’t bypass it, when Nathan comes to David the first thing David does is he confesses his sin and he moves on. He doesn’t sit there, he trusts the Lord because he can’t do anything about it, he’s sinned, he says in Psalm 51 I’ve sinned against God, I’ve done vast evil to my nation, I’ve done evil to my office, I’ve done evil to Bathsheba, to Uriah, to my army, but I’ve sinned before God and that comes first. So David got it straight, he confessed his sin and he was restored, because that’s all God wants us to see. He wants us to acknowledge that we were at fault, it’s our responsibility, so we admit and we say it’s our responsibility; that’s confession, admission of responsibility over a particular disobedience. God doesn’t sit there and make us feel bad for 122 years afterward. He wants us to acknowledge it and move on. But the consequences of that in time in history may not be removed, and they weren’t in David’s case. David lost four sons, through his polygamous marriages he had all kinds of problems in the household, almost lost his dynasty, and it was not a nice pleasant scene.
Let’s go back to the patterns of suffering and look at this chart. Number two was never taken away from David. Number five was, because number five stopped the very instant that he trusted in the Lord. That shut down number five, because the chastening of the Father had accomplished its work and David was restored to fellowship. So number five pattern stopped, but number two kept on going, which meant that David had to manage the fallout by faith. Before David sinned, you could say well, David had twenty-three problems that he was trying to manage. After he sinned, say he had sixty-five problems. So after he sinned, even though he was restored the problem and pressures increased because he had to deal with the results of his sin.
The question with David was am I going to deal with the results of my sin like I dealt with it the first time, have I learned? Because what God is doing now is He’s giving me an opportunity by increasing the pressure to see whether I’m going to keep operating by faith and trusting in Him. And he did and that’s why the Scripture says David was a man after God’s own heart. It doesn’t mean he was sinless, it means that he was able to cope because he kept going back to faith, back to faith, back to faith, who am I, God called me, what has He given me, He’s blessed me, He’s circumcised my heart, I have salvation through blood atonement, I am saved forever and ever, God will never take my salvation away, man can never destroy it, he can destroy my body but he can never destroy the real me because I am in fellowship with God forever and ever. Nobody can take that away from me, Saul can’t take it away from me, death can’t take it away from me, disease can’t take it away from me, and no revolt in my kingdom can take it away from me. He had perfect security. That was David, it doesn’t mean he was perfect morally, it meant that he was managing these circumstances.
We’ve studied these three guys; we’ve dealt with Rehoboam, Jeroboam and Ahab. What has been the difference with these guys? What has happened to them, what did they do? They too had problems. You could diagram the problems they had by saying here’s Rehoboam; Jeroboam in the north, and then Ahab, with a lot of kings in between. If Rehoboam had ten problems, Jeroboam had twenty, and by the time the ball got to Ahab he had eighty. So the pressure was increasing on these guys because increasingly carnality had compounded and complicated life in the kingdom. Every time one of these guys came to the throne, they inherited a bucket of worms that was there before even their own worms.
So they brought problems to the throne and they inherited problems, the day they became king, from the other guys. What was the phrase we saw in the text of Kings? The sins of Jeroboam. The next king, he abided in the sins of Jeroboam. The next king, the sins of Jeroboam. Why is that phrase since Jeroboam? Because it was that phony religion that Jeroboam had created in the northern kingdom and the other guys never had the gumption to flush it. They kept going with it, they coddled it, they compromised with it, and they never cleaned it out. So the result was that they all inherited the problem and messed around and messed around, till finally you get to Ahab and he messes around by marrying the witch of the day, and she manages to get her dad’s Baalism installed as the religion of the northern kingdom, of all things. All three of these guys mimic Saul.
These two models that we have studied, the Saul model and the David model, we want to go back in conclusion to fix in our mind what unites all three of these guys we studied as far as their operating in life goes. They followed the footsteps of Saul. We want to go back for a prophetic critique of Saul in 1 Samuel 12 and I want to look at one phrase in particular that Samuel says about Saul. Back when Saul had his problems, Samuel spoke to the nation. He gave a major address in 1 Samuel 12 to correct the damage done by the failure to listen to his sermon in 1 Samuel 8.
Chapter 12 is an attempt to undo the mess created by disobedience to chapter 8. There are a lot of good things here; we don’t have time to go through it. Verse 19, after the people heard Samuel talk about the kingdom, he demonstrated to them in a supernatural way that God was not pleased with their choice. “Then all the people said to Samuel, ‘Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.’ ” The prophetic institution in the Old Testament is never friendly to the monarchy. There’s a deep hesitancy on the part of all the prophets to this king business, they don’t like it, and you’ll see as time goes on what they do with it, they transform the monarchy into a hope for Messiah. But they view it with deep suspicion, and all these stories the Holy Spirit has preserved, where they had these conflicts going on between the prophet, the people and the king.
Samuel gives them a warning in verses 20, 21, and 22, he summarizes in verse 24, and that’s the verse I want to look at as we end our lesson. Here is what the people, including Ahab, including Jeroboam, including these kings, this is what they were supposed to do. Here are the instructions. “Only fear the LORD,” what does that mean? It means respect His authority. The word “fear” here isn’t fear and trembling, it’s the idea I respect His authority, I go back to the Creator/creature distinction. I am only a creature, I am not God, and I take my place. It means to sit down as a creature before the Creator, period. Get that authority issue straight. We are not our own gods, we think we are and them somebody comes down the street who also thinks they’re god.
“Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart.” How do you serve the Lord with truth with all your heart? “For,” the next clause explains it, “consider what great things He has done for you,” and where do you find that out? Let’s be a person here, listening to Samuel, and if we ask Samuel, that’s a great thing to think about, but how do we know what God’s done, where do we go to find out the great things that God has done for us? The Scripture, here is some of the great things that God has done for us. Why did he tell them that? Why doesn’t he say just go home and obey the king? Why doesn’t he just say be good boys and girls? Or why doesn’t he say “just say no?” Why does he give this particular command, “Consider what great things He has done for you?” That’s the call to faith.
All during the Old Testament it was not a rule of law; it was a rule of operating by faith. You could not walk in truth without considering what great things He has done for us. They had to know their history. Why did they have to know history? Because it is His story. Notice what he doesn’t say in verse 24, for consider what great things you feel in your heart, it’s not subjective, this is the objective facts of history. That’s where you derive your faith from. Your emotions are up and down, up and down, up and down, you had a bad night’s sleep and you feel lousy in the morning. You can’t build anything on how you feel. You have to go back to 2 + 2 = 4, what has God done for me, period. That’s where we get the faith from.
That’s what the kings didn’t do. What did we see Jeroboam violate in verse 24? Let’s review, these three guys that we’ve studied, here are the great things that God did, more great things, He called them to a kingdom. What did Jeroboam forget, probably within a week of the time he became a king? He was afraid he’d lose the kingdom. Wait a minute, who promised that he had the kingdom? God did. “Consider the great things I have done for you,” Jeroboam; hey, are you listening? Because I’m so afraid and so distrusting of You that I’ve forgotten everything You’ve done for me, and now that I’m king it’s all up to me, 100% my works, and I’m going to devise my gimmicks, my schemes, my solutions, and finally who lost the kingdom. The kingdom was lost, and who’s the cause of it? Jeroboam. He did exactly what he shouldn’t have done. The thing he feared most he wound up himself doing, because he did not consider the great things that God has done. You could go on and do the same thing with Ahab.
When we look at the design that we see in this pattern again and again, what is sanctification all about? To school us to believe. Why? “Consider what great things that God has done for you.” The focus on sanctification is not really our hearts; the focus on sanctification is the character and person of our God and Savior. It’s always looking up, not inside, looking away from our heart. We know what’s in our heart, it’s depraved, that’s what in our heart. We don’t need to know more of that; we need to know more of what God has done for us.
The lesson we’re going to come to, and the notes that I handed out, deal with the working of divine chastening, and what we’re going to deal with is how under sanctification operations God tries to get us to be a David and stop being a Saul, and He does it with suffering pattern number five. So divine chastening is suffering pattern number five applied to practical life; we’ll look at that next week.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s a device to get rid of Christian influences on the calendar, so everywhere I go I deliberately make it AD. I refuse to do it; I don’t care what they say, when I’m writing I will write the way I wish to write, period. And I am going to write it AD, whether you like it or not.
Question asked: Clough replies: It’s the same thing that’s going on in Alabama with the judge and the Ten Commandments and the court, which someone on the internet sent me the verbatim brief that the Governor of Alabama gave to the court that’s reviewing that case. This document is fantastic and potentially scary, because Governor Bob James is one sharp cookie, he comes across like a little boy southerner hillbilly boy, but when you see what he’s written you realize this guy is a shrewd operator. The other side has a big problem with this guy James, a big problem because he’s not just threatening to bring in the Alabama National Guard to stop the feds from telling him what he’s going to do in his own state court, but he goes so far as to say, and he hits the nail right on the head, a seven page brief, built out of Luke, he uses citations from Luke and Acts, and it’s built on the thesis that the Supreme Court has become an apostate tyrannical order that has put itself in the form of absolute power. He says that’s untrue, the Constitution is the power, not the Supreme Court. This gets back to the Pharisees, my comment tonight. What did the Pharisees do? The law was perfectly clear, any normal Hebrew, and they were all literate by Jesus’ day, those people were literate, and any normal believer should be able to go to that law, read it, and know what God’s speaking. Yes, there will be details hear and there, but come on, it’s the stuff you know that gives you the problem not the stuff you don’t know.
Everybody could have read the Torah. But no, the Pharisees have to be the little lawyers, they have to come in and say well you don’t really understand this, let me explain it to you, and give me 613 different things and I’ll explain it to you, how to cook an egg on the sabbath day without working and all the rest of the hoopla. That’s why I brought the Mishnah in. They had gone through and they’d put all this stuff on the line. If you remember what Jesus did, what Jesus is doing in the Sermon on the Mount, He is blasting the attorneys of the day. He comes in and He says the attorneys are telling you don’t fear, because you might get caught, a technicality, if you murder somebody don’t sweat it unless you get caught. That’s what the Pharisees were saying; it’s evil if you get caught. Jesus said wait a minute, hold it, you missed the big picture, it’s the ethics behind the law that’s the issue here. They argue with Jesus, and Jesus is the guy that gave the law on Mount Sinai.
So here you have the Constitution analogy, the founding fathers of this country sat down and wrote this thing, you have James Madison (who Bob James quotes), you even have John Marshall who was the lead Supreme Court justice explaining in their own words, in the late 18th century and early 19th century, exactly what they meant by things like “God,” “the state,” the role of religion, etc. so there’s no excuse that we don’t understand the Constitution. What Bob James is saying, and this is the scary part, his argument is eloquent, but probably his statement is as threatening to this country as anything I have read since 1860, because in 1860 we had people succeeding from the union on the basis of civil war, and what Bob James is saying, this is not just a guy calling the National Guard out, what he’s saying, and he quotes Madison, whenever there’s an arm of the federal government that reaches tyrannical powers, it is the right of the people to disregard it and disobey. That’s the Governor of Alabama, who says we are morally justified in disobeying the Supreme Court because they’ve exceeded their authority and they’re tyrannical, and we do so as submissive to the U. S. Constitution.
This is a debate that has only come up twice in our history, one was the American Revolution, and one was the Civil War. And Christians got enmeshed in this thing, and we have to think through what we’re doing because Romans says obey the authorities. Well, the Christians in the American Revolution said we are obeying the authorities; the authorities were the contracts that were written to the colonies, where the colonies had signed on the dotted line, a paper contract with Mother England, and the King and Parliament came along and changed the contract. So now the issue is which authority are we obedient to, the written contract or the guys who changed it. What’s scary to think about is that’s what is happening here. Bob James is opening Pandora’s Box in that court briefing. Do you know what the court did after they got his brief?
They took their hands off the whole case and said it’s not a federal issue. Do you know why they did that? Because if they had to respond to Bob James they had to have decided whether it’s right to disobey the Supreme Court or not and they didn’t want to do that at the state level. So he must have scared the bee-jeebers out of the lawyers there, because that’s what his case is all about, who has the ultimate power. Then he signs off his statement, he says to the judge, you must do your duty, Your Honor, and I will do mine. This is the executive branch against the judicial branch. A very serious confrontation. It’s a document I think we all ought to look at. I think this issue is going to come up. The other side has pushed it to this point, and we may well see a serious breach in this country over this issue. I’m not talking race or any of the social issues here; we’re talking something right down at the very bottom of our whole nation. Bob James has raised a very serious point.
It’s very analogous to the Mosaic Law and that’s what Jesus read, that’s why they hated Him. Think about it, here’s this guy from Galilee, without a doctorate, who never went through any of the Pharisaical schools, who claims to be the Son of God, who has the audacity to tell everyone in the nation that you can go right to the Torah and learn what God wants, and you can short circuit the Pharisees, don’t pay any attention to them, they’re lawyers that are hanging out in the trees somewhere, forget them. How would you like it if you had spent all your life learning these things, gone to school, gotten all the degrees, this is your profession, and you have this (quote) “uneducated guy,” walking around with a massive following of people, who are starting to basically ignore you; aren’t you going to get mad? Sure you are. This is powerful stuff.
Question asked: Clough replies: And the book of Revelation says the same thing. Once the Canon is enscripturated you leave it alone and read it, that’s what you do, you don’t mess with it. We always have to inject the priesthood, we have to inject a lawyer, we have to inject some interpreter, and if you think about it now, what Bob James has raised in the analogy in the civil law is as citizens of the United States why can’t we read the Constitution, are we stupid, we don’t understand what theft means? We need a court to decide these issues, come on! So it’s going to be interesting, great times to live.
Next week we’ll deal with divine chastening and we’ll look at how the Father spanks us.