25 Devotions – Day Five

The Native: More Than A List Of Names

Day Five…

Matthew 1:4
And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

Have you ever noticed the two lists, one in Matthew, and the other in Luke? They are genealogies. According to Scofield, Matthew lists Joseph’s lineage, and Luke lists Mary’s family. Luke mentioning Joseph because he was her husband.

Some may wonder why The Lord took time to recite them all. Others may have wanted it to be filled with information about the Infant Christ. The wonderful thing is, God intentionally made a place for what others may think as just a register.

To Him, this is more than a list of names. These were living, breathing members of His family. Men and women that He had walked with, people who committed their lives to God. He would no more forget them than He would ignore us. They are an illustration of His promise, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.

This Christmas, a lot of people are suffering, it’s been a wonderful year, but incredible doesn’t always mean easy. Whatever battles you’ve faced this year, whatever trial you’re dealing with, remember this. He never forgot the names of friends long gone, those covered in the dust of history, so He will remember us.

You and I don’t know much about Aram, but God can tell you what were his greatest dreams, and hardest battles. Every tear that others ignored, The Savior collected. Just like you and I, He carried those tears from a wooden manger to a timber cross. The God who always remembers, made it possible to forgive, and forget all of our sins at Calvary. Casting them, as The Bible says, as far as the east is from the west.

Malachi 3:16-17
16 Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.
17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

Four hundred years separated The Old Testament and The New Testament, but time didn’t weaken God’s memory. Centuries didn’t destroy God’s promise, nor circumstances alter it. If armies couldn’t stop it then, they can’t silence your hope now.

He remembers you as much as He remembers them. He recalls, He cares, and He will cause you to give birth to your promise. One day, as He did in Matthew and Luke, He will read our names out of The Lamb’s Book Of Life. He loves you and I so much, He wrote down our names! Merry Christmas!

25 Devotions- Day Four

The Native: His First Words

This is the continuing celebration of The Native, in words and pictures.  

Matthew 3:15
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now:for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

A child’s first words are huge. I would guess that every parent remembers them. We don’t know what The Lord Jesus’ first words were, each Gospel chooses a different phrase to introduce us to The Master’s Voice. In Matthew, He is talking to John The Baptist. Suffer in the original means allow. Jesus is saying, Allow this now, for we are called to fulfill all righteousness.

Mark 1:14-15
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:repent ye, and believe the gospel.

The verse before it is very important as well. The catalyst of this setting is John’s imprisonment. In the Hebrew John means “Jehovah Has Graced”, or the Grace Of God. Man had sinned, and fallen into despair and degradation. For us, the possibility of Salvation was non existent before Calvary. That was when The Lord Jesus walked into the center of the world preaching The Gospel.

In Mark He mentions fulfillment again.”The time is fulfilled, The Kingdom Of God is here, repent, and believe the Gospel. ” In other words, Grace is here, it’s time to make a choice, discard your sins, and believe.

Luke 2:49
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

Luke gives us the earliest words of Jesus, at twelve years old. This is not the bearded face of The Carpenter, this is Christ in transition from boy to teen, the age that began the journey from child to man.

Sought: g2212. ζητεω zeteo; of uncertain affinity; to seek (literally or figuratively); specially, (by Hebraism) to worship (God), or (in a bad sense) to plot (against life):— be (go) about, desire, endeavour, enquire (for), require, (x will) seek (after, for, means).

He made statements in Matthew and Mark, in Luke and John He asks a question. Jesus uses a word, sought. He had experienced it’s meaning, in both a positive and a negative way. The Shepherds and The Wise Men sought to worship Him. Herod sought to kill Him. Every one will seek in some way. Either to join Him, or to attempt to destroy Him out of their life.

The Lord Jesus second sentence clarifies our options. If you seek Me, then it’s going to be about the work of God, the work of Redemption. Everything else is secondary. Jesus later said “Seek ye first The Kingdom Of God, and His righteousness …” Prior to saying it, He lived it.

John 1:38
Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?– They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day:for it was about the tenth hour.

In the fourth Gospel, He is followed by two disciples of John. They were Andrew and John. His simple question, “What Seek Ye?” The answer, was, where you dwell, or abide. Jesus’ response to them is His answer to us all. “Come and see.” His life, death, and resurrection made it possible for us to be with Him. Something that was impossible until a child cried in Bethlehem.

When you combine the message of all four of “His First Words”, you see The Kingdom’s Mission Statement. The Lord Jesus allowed Himself to go through all that He suffered so that He could impart His righteousness to man. He made it possible for us to choose Heaven as a future. To leave all our sin, and all our past at an altar. To join Him in the work of The Gospel. Asking others in pain, like we were, what are you seeking? When they ask if this is really an option? We can smile with the hope of Heaven, “Come and see.”

25 Devotions- Day Three

The Native: In The Order Of His Course

Luke 1:5-8
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were [now] well stricken in years.
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,

He was “of the course of Abia”. This is something that I had skipped most of my life. However, as we have been taught, The Word Of God has a reason for everything within it’s pages. Years before, King David separated the Levites into twenty four courses, one under Abia. This family of priests, showed no record of returning from Babylon in the captivity.

In Nehemiah’s days, the remaining families of Priests were separated to fulfill the twenty four courses. This meant that Zacharias was a substitute for a family that no longer had a record of existing. It may not seem like much, until you view it this way. God appointed a man to serve at His altar in a substitute capacity for someone who no longer had rights to the altar.

Aren’t you glad that God sent a High Priest to intercede at the altar when sin had cost us our place? The difference is this, there is no record of Abia’s family ever returning.

The Lord Jesus didn’t come to Earth to adapt to our sinful ways, but to graft us in to Him through His blood. So that we could triumphantly enter with Him into glory one day. The name Abia means My Father Is God. We can come before the altar because God has adopted us into His family. That is what makes the next verse so rich as well.

8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,

The word order in Luke 1:8 comes from the Greek word taxis. It means a fixed succession, observing a fixed time. It’s no coincidence that this was when God chose to reveal the coming of Zacharias’ son. Zacharias was the son of a priest, who had been the son of a priest, and so on.

So many times, I allow myself to become overwhelmed by my current problem that I forget all the answers to the ones behind me. Zacharias longed for a child, and it didn’t seem possible. Then again, it doesn’t seem possible that a nomadic people who were slaves in Egypt could be liberated. It doesn’t seem possible that a people who were given a promised land by God, and lost it due to sin, could ever have come back to it.

How often we forget that our God is The God Of The Impossible! That, just as ordinary is common for us, impossible is His daily routine. What is amazing about our God isn’t that He performs the impossible. It’s that for thirty years on Earth, He would choose to limit Himself to the ordinary.

When you view God through this thought, giving an old couple a baby isn’t hard for Him. After all, that’s how this people started to begin with. How often we forget Abraham when we’re facing a trial. Isaac was just the first of many children of Israel produced in a miraculous way.

James 1:4
4 But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Notice, Patience is referred to as a female, and it references maturity. Much like the picture of a Mother giving birth to a baby. Tribulation worketh patience, just as contractions produce a child. Trials are the contractions of a Christian. They are used to give birth to the Ministry that God has placed in us, for a specific time.

Our Lead Pastor, Pastor Livingston, from Point Of Mercy in Nashville recently shared an incredible message on Hannah. In it, he brought out a life altering point, Samuel was given at exactly the right time. Years earlier, and he would not have been in time to anoint and train two kings, one of those kings was David.

Hannah had to wait for an appointed time. Zacharias and Elisabeth also had to wait to have John when they did. Years earlier, and he could not have been the forerunner. He would have missed the very purpose of his existence, had he have been born sooner.

Whatever battle you face today, ignore your clock. We look at second hands, and panic. God takes His hand and stops time to bring His people out of a valley. It’s all done when we serve, before God in the order of His course.

25 Devotions – Day Two

In The Days Of Herod/Hero

This is our second post in our Bible Study “The Native”. We hope that you enjoy, and follow along with us, as we explore the greatest birth in the history of the world.

Luke 1:1
1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

This verse both refreshes and energizes me. It contains three words that are lacking from many parts of our culture. The phrase, “most surely believed among us,” reflects the conviction of the New Testament Church. Sadly, “most surely believed”, is noticeably absent from much of the modern world.

Politicians have their opinions, focus groups, and pollsters. Their position seems to shift with the wind. Sadly, many religious organizations are doing this as well. Some things can be debated, others argued, but core beliefs should be held to fiercely, and never compromised.

The word believed, in this passage, comes from a Greek word, plerophoreo. Meanings for this word include to bear or bring full, to fulfill the ministry in every part. It also means, to fill one with any thought, conviction, or inclination, and to make one certain.

As we begin our study of “The Native” Of Bethlehem, we must be reminded that His very existence was due to conviction, a Heavenly one. A heartfelt commitment that man, though unworthy, sinful, and fallen since the Garden, would receive an opportunity for redemption.

Luke 1:1, 5
1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth.

Luke 2:1
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

For a moment, let’s compare Luke 1:1 with Luke 2:1. Many people can quote the beginning verses of the second chapter, but few can quote the beginning verses of the first. One is a declaration of belief from a simple Christian, the other is a command from the head of an empire. The difference is this, the Christian is part of a living, breathing, active Kingdom of light. The emperor is a forgotten relic of a long dead government covered in the dust of history.

Often, we get discouraged when we see injustice. To hear us talk, you would think that sin would continue to rule unchecked indefinitely, but how quickly we forget. God is not intimidated in the face of evil. When the ungodly rule, it is an invitation for a change orchestrated by The Hand Of God. Such was the case in both Luke 1:5 and 2:1, “There was in the days of Herod”, and “a decree from Caesar Augustus”, two totalitarian rulers with blood on their hands. It was in this atmosphere of despair that two babies would be born.

People’s names in The Bible are important, their meaning is not by chance, or insignificant. We know this when we’re discussing a prophet. If his name means God is glorified, we point to his ministry. If however, the person is a wicked and harmful person, we only pay attention to their name if it is a negative. It is the times that either a wicked person has a good name, or a good person has a wicked name which confuses us. This brings us to “the days of Herod.”

Any Bible scholar knows the wickedness of Herod the Great. His long list of crimes include the murder of the innocents. Herod’s name however, reflects a different image. It is a compound of two words, heroes and eidos. Eidos means the external or outward appearance, form figure, and shape. Together they form the word heroic, but if you look at the compound, it is a reflection of Herod, he appears a hero.

Herod wanted people to look at him as a hero, a champion of his people. He feigned himself a seeker of The Messiah in front of the Wise men. Herod had a smile on his face, and murder in his heart. Our reputation must reveal our hearts, and not reflect a façade that we hide behind. Otherwise, our relationship with Jesus will go from seeking Him, to attempting to extinguish Him from our lives completely.

5 There was in the days of Herod (Heroic), the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias (Remembered By Jehovah), of the course of Abia (My Father Is Jehovah): and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron (Light-Bringer), and her name [was] Elisabeth (Oath Of God).

Setting aside Herod’s character for a moment, how exciting is the statement on face value? Look not at the names, but their meanings. Without taking the Scripture out of context, let’s view it this way. In the days of the heroic, a certain priest was remembered by Jehovah. God had not forgotten them, and He has not forgotten us either.

25 Devotions – Day One

In celebration of our Christmas Bible Study Devotional, we will share a devotion from The Native.  The Native is a very special combination of words and pictures, inspired by The Lord Jesus.  Today is our introduction to The Native …

It examines the miraculous plan of God. The fact that the First Citizen Of Eternity became a citizen of Earth. He, whose innocence was so foreign to man, became The Son Of Man. We call it simply “The Native”.

It will look at a combination of Scriptures. These include the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke, and the first chapter of John. Also the prophecies of His birth in The Old Testament, and Paul’s reference to Christ’s birth in Hebrews.

In your mind, walk with me as we catch up with some travelers on a desert road. What’s that they are looking at? In their hands is a Star Chart. Ancient and yellowed by time, it is a map of more than the stars, it’s a treasure map. It tells how a group of men held onto a promise, older than time itself, and found it fulfilled in a small baby, newly born.

We’ll meet these wise men, a group of shepherds, an old man, and a couple whose sole purpose is to protect a newborn Savior. PruittWrites is very excited about this project, and we hope that you will join us for the study of “The Native”.

The Tribe Of Naphtali

Joshua 20:7

7 And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah.

Kedesh means Sanctum, or Holy Place, and Galilee means circle. Isn’t it wonderful, that The God who sits upon the circle of the Earth according to Isaiah 40:22, grew up in Galilee, the circle referenced in Isaiah 9:1). In the allotment of Zebulun and Naphtali.

We talked about that aspect in the chapter on Tribe Of Zebulun. I bring it up here for a slightly different reason.  To talk about the circle that Naphtali, not Jesus, was birthed into.  About what looked, from the outside, as a dysfunctional family, filled with chaos, but was actually a Holy place, ordained by God for Naphtali.

Whether true or not, when I think of Naphtali, I think of a strong burly man. The type of man who would have been a brawler, or a wrestler. After all, it’s what his name means, it’s how he was introduced into the world. To view him, you have to begin with the women in his life.

I’ll confess, I’ve always preferred Leah to Rachel, but I doubt Naphtali felt the same way.  Bilhah was his Mom, but Rachel named him. Mind you, I don’t know how favorable he viewed her either. According to Genesis 37:2, it was Rachel’s son who reported on the bad report of the children of Bilhah and Zilpah.

Before we cast blame on anyone involved, look at the course of events that led to the birth of Naphtali. Laban promised Jacob Rachel, but gave him Leah. Then gave him Rachel, who was barren. Jacob loved her, but hated Leah.

When Rachel saw she couldn’t have children, she gave Bilhah her maid to Jacob to marry and have children with.  Dan was first, Naphtali was second.  Bilhah’s name means trouble, and the family dynamics certainly were that, troubling.

Let’s review Naphtali’s standing in the family at this point. He was the younger brother to Dan, and the sixth son of Jacob. He was the second born son of the third wife, not even the second favorite spouse, but a servant.  Bilhah didn’t ask for any of this, but it was her reality.

Naphtali didn’t ask to have to put up with the favorite child, his perfect stepbrother Joseph, but it was his life.  Rather than focus on Joseph and Naphtali’s relationship, I mentioned it to soften the view we’ve always had of Joseph’s brothers. They weren’t justified, but their life wasn’t easy either.  

Now that we’ve looked at the family, and baby Naphtali, let’s see what the wrestler named his children.  What would the son of a former slave call his sons? Would he be bitter, or better?

Genesis 46:24 (KJV)

24 And the sons of Naphtali; Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.

I believe you can tell a lot about a man by what he names his children. Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, And Shillem. God will allot, protected, forming, and repaid, this was the meaning of their names.  

I wonder if one of Naphtali’s favorite stories, as a child, was to hear about the night his Dad wrestled with the Angel. Was it a story he retold his children? Most of all, did he understand that the limp was a victory, and not a defeat?  

Based on what he named the first child, I suspect he did. The man named wrestling, didn’t say I have carved out something, or wrestled it.  He said God will allot. It appears he knew, even though Naphtali probably wouldn’t have chosen this place in the family, that God had provided it. He still gave Naphtali a place, in the family of faith. 

For all of the problems he had seen, he recognized that God was working. He could have very easily been born the son of another, whose father was not Jacob, but God said, this child, at this time.

Remember, it wouldn’t matter what Rachel’s intentions were, if Bilhah couldn’t have children. Naphtali, based on the name of his firstborn, understood God’s Providence in all things. So much so, he named his second son protected.

It is the third and fourth children who intrigue me. One is named forming, and the other repaid.  What was going on at the time?  Was He talking about his family’s future, his son’s, or his own?  

Genesis 49:21 ESV

21 Naphtali is a doe let loose that bears beautiful fawns.

Genesis 49:21 KJV

21 Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

I suspect it was partially the family’s future, because the fourth son’s name meant repaid.  It leads me to ask if  something happened between the birth of these two boys? I don’t know what it was, but I do know one thing.  If Naphtali had questions about his family’s future, Jacob would shed some light on it.

God has a plan for all of us. He intends to form us, form a ministry through us, and to form an inheritance for us to pass on to the next generation. Some things He forms for public view, others He forms in the stillness. 

As humans, if we are not called to a particular event, we can have the tendency to view our lives as purposeless, this is a mistake. God was forming something, for example, in Job. We can be tempted to think the catalyst of Job was the enemy’s response to God’s question, but God asked the question, to fulfill God’s purpose. God wanted to form something in Job before the enemy ever opened his mouth.

We do not always see the purpose, before or after completion, and that’s okay. At times, knowing isn’t necessary. If we know The Who, the why is less important. It appeared Job had everything he needed, so he didn’t know the why. He couldn’t see, that Job dealt with fear, and relied on his righteousness as a comfort when his friends unrighteously judged him.

They were wrong, but that didn’t make Job’s righteousness his defense. Like us, Job basically said I’ve done what was right, and I’m still facing this mess.  What we all miss, is had God not opened our eyes to our need for redemption originally, we would not have attempted to do what was right. We attempt to live lives of faithfulness, not because we are spotless, but because He washed our spots away.

Before we leave Job, and how his situation speaks to Naphtali’s, let me mention one more item. God never told Job he wouldn’t face troubles. We have been tempted to view Job’s troubles as an unprecedented event, but while Job had a hedge, that was the rarity.  Jesus told us we’d face troubles in this world, and that’s always been true, since Adam.

The greatest thing about the book of Job wasn’t Job’s righteousness, knowledge, or sacrifice. The greatest lesson of Job was, that even at his lowest point, even hurting, confused, and angry, He held to God. He said “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

I love this verse, and Job meant it.  Yet, don’t admire it so that you miss the fact, God never intended to slay him. He intended to bless him, and refused to allow the enemy to destroy him. I believe, that God tricked the enemy into being a factor to remove Job’s fear, and reliance on his own righteousness, and to lean completely on God.

How does this apply to Naphtali? Can you imagine the guilt that gripped Naphtali and his brothers, as they watched their Father’s sorrow? I don’t know if Naphtali was a Father yet, either way, can you imagine the fear he felt when the thought hit him? 

What he must have felt when something whispered, what if it was Jahzeel, instead of Joseph?  Job relied on his righteousness, Naphtali didn’t even have that luxury. He knew he was guilty.

He may have been tempted to cling to his secrecy.  Or to obsess over his children’s safety like Job did.  I can understand that temptation. Could that be why Naphtali named his second son protected?  

Is it possible that, between the two births, God removed out of Naphtali his fear, and guilt? Just as God had used the enemy to work fear, and self righteousness out of Job?  I believe the name reflects, not only the future of the family, but the growth of the wrestler.

The ESV, and most translations, in Jacob’s prophecy, say that “he is a doe let loose, which bears beautiful fawns.” The KJV says the same about the first part of the verse, but in the second half says, “he gives goodly words.”  I believe they both speak to Naphtali’s situation.

Considering the servanthood of his Mother, her elevation, also her children, and finally the naming of his children, I feel that is important. He gave his children a good name, or good words, and birthed a beautiful future before them, as a goal to leap towards.

Whether Naphtali named his children, or his wife did, we show no record of anyone else naming them.  Bilhah had not been allowed to name her children, no one said this about Naphtali.  Also, his Mother gave birth to two sons, Naphtali had four sons.

Naphtali was among the sons of Jacob who received one verse’s words worth of reference.  Others like Judah and Joseph received more, but more isn’t always a blessing. Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, at the time, would probably have traded with Naphtali.

Naphtali didn’t receive a large prophecy, but he also received no rebuke either. He may have seen the parallel. Still, I do wonder, was he happy at his Dad’s promise, or did it leave him confused, wondering what it meant?

Have you ever received a promise from God, that you did not understand?  Many times He does not ask for understanding, only acceptance. Don’t always try to figure out what God gives as a mystery. Ask for understanding, but don’t allow the lack of it, to be an obstacle in pursuing God’s promise.

 Earth shattering things happen when we follow God, and not our vision, or the blessings. We understand that God’s motive is life and light for all who meet Him at the cross, and He will take care of the rest! This is the type of faith embraced by Abraham, birthed in Isaac, established in Jacob, and instilled in Naphtali.

The Hebrew language is fascinating, one word has multiple meanings, as evidenced by the KJV and the ESV.  I believe Jacob meant his blessing to Naphtali in both ways. I believe Naphtali, in addition to being a good Dad, must have had wisdom of his own, which is different than knowledge.

In a house of 13 children, twelve boys and one girl, Naphtali had said something that stood out to Jacob. Even when one son was Joseph, and one Judah, Naphtali’s voice stood out to his Father. It must have been more than just a single phrase, because he said words, plural.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Naphtali said a lot, but that when he spoke, he said something of importance.  A wiseman taught me, its not the quantity of words you speak which matter, but both the quality and the consistency of what you speak.  

Lives aren’t built on flashes of brilliance, but on a consistent, and faithful commitment to what is right. Knowledge can be learned, but the same wisdom which says seek knowledge, teaches us to be faithful, or consistent. 

We know it wasn’t always the case with Naphtali, because Joseph brought his Father the evil report of the sons of Bilhah in Genesis 37:2. However, by the time of Jacob’s death, there had been a consistent change.

Jacob did not mince words during this prophetic speech. If he had any criticism of Naphtali, he would have voiced it, he didn’t. Jacob had only praise for this, not forgotten son. 

There is the lesson. Jacob, the Earthly Father, reflecting the fact that no matter our situation, Our Heavenly Father isn’t ignoring our circumstances.  No matter what we face, no matter how difficult, or how stressful, He hears our cry.  He will bless us, speaking a future into our lives, empowering us to give birth to a blessing far greater than our troubles.

It’s not about where you’re born in this life, or even whether your circumstances are triumphant or tragic. He produces greatness, in both the prison and the palace. What matters is that you are part of God’s family, and how you respond. 

The situation, the foe, the circumstance all are irrelevant to God, when it comes to your destiny. What is relevant, is will you trust in Him, when you don’t understand? Will you say, this doesn’t make sense, or I don’t understand it, but He does?

Naphtali said, God will allot, protected, forming and repaid. Naphtali emerged the squared circle of his story, to rely on God’s Will. In other words, I’ll trust Him to set the course, to keep us protected in the process, to form what’s needed in us, and to repay us, not by our merit, but by His worth!

The Tribe Of Zebulun

Genesis 49:13

13 “Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon.

I think of the smell of the sea when I think of him. Initially this was because of the prophecy of Jacob.  I also think of Jesus, because Nazareth was in the region assigned to Zebulun and Naphtali.  Isaiah mentioned this, and so did Matthew.  

Ironically, during his lifetime, most of what we know, has Zebulun tied to the land.  It makes me wonder if the prophecy God gave him, was tied to a desire of Zebulun.  Each of us has dreams we may be afraid to vocalize, yet God both hears and cares.

He was the sixth son of Leah, and the last boy, Dinah, a daughter, being Leah’s seventh child.  We know very little about him, except for his naming. His name meant exalted, and his Mother said her children was her dowry God had given her. Leah, the sorrowful one, the tender eyed one, the rejected one, gave birth to honor, who would inherit the sea.  

An oddity occurs in Jacob’s prophecy, he mentions a pagan city, older than Tyre, called Sidon.  He ties Zebulun’s future to it.  Sidon means hunting, fishing, specifically “in the sense of catching fish”.  What does honor have to do with fishing, for the answer to that, ask Simon Peter.

Isaiah 9:1

1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

Isaiah 9:6

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

If you take the first word of Isaiah 9:6, and the thirteenth, and put them together, you get the word forgiven.  Aren’t you glad that Jesus made glorious the seashore Of Galilee, and brought to light the way we could receive His riches. We were forgiven, never forgotten, never forsaken. Oh the depth of The Water Of Life, and His riches!

The greatest honor of Zebulun would not be the experiences of his family in The Old Testament, but those in The New Testament. The region the tribe inherited, would bear witness to the ministry of Jesus. The Great Fisher would traverse the seaside of the territory of both Zebulun and Naphtali.

Even going to the region of Tyre and Sidon, to heal the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7.  He would also tell His followers, He would make them Fishers of Men. There is no greater honor than being part of Jesus’ plan.  Concerning the miracle in Mark 7, it says He entered a certain house, have you ever wondered who’s house it was?

I don’t know, but I would venture it was a house ready to receive Jesus.  Whether it was an acquaintance, a relative who lived there, or someone with knowledge of Jesus, there was a connection made.  Say what you will, but He went there in secret, one desperate woman found out, He heard her cry, answered, and returned to Galilee.  

I believe Jesus went there so that particular woman could find Him. I do not believe it was coincidence, I believe it was strategic.  What if, Jesus appointed the inheritance of Zebulun and Naphtali all those years before, not so they would reap the riches of Sidon, but so Sidon could reap the riches of Jesus?

Who are we connected with who’s daughter needs Jesus?  Who are we pouring into that needs Jesus? Are we on the coast of someone’s life who needs a haven for their ship? Are we a warehouse or a Lighthouse? If we are a Lighthouse are we purposely shining into someone’s darkness, not with judgement but with hope?

I’m not talking about showing them where they’re lacking, they know that, I’m talking about shining into their suffering. The word in Genesis 49:13 translated ship, specifically focuses on shipmen.  God isn’t concerned about their cargo, or baggage, he’s concerned with their safety.  

Are you connected enough with anyone who doesn’t know Jesus, enough to get an invitation to their house?  To be welcomed, we must first be friendly, then attractive, not in a physical sense, but a relational one. Jesus wasn’t only Holy, He was interesting. Are we making ourselves attractive to non-believers? Jesus had something the world not only needed, but wanted.

Psalms 107:23-24

23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;

24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.

I believe the verse in Psalms 107:23, 24, is prophetic about the time of Jesus.  The great waters aren’t only talking about physical commerce, but spiritual transformation. The Sea of Galilee may not be physically great waters, but there was nothing deeper ever spoken or experienced, than the words of Jesus from Simon’s fishing boat, and it all happened in Zebulun and Naphtali’s inheritance.

Some would say that Zebulun was a lesser tribe, maybe you feel that way about yourself. Maybe you measure yourself against others, not their prominence, I’m sure you don’t care about that. However maybe you worry that the work you do is not as valuable.  Perhaps you feel that you’re not contributing anything of lasting value, but you have to remember two things.

First, The Talent Giver isn’t giving you an arbitrary gift.  He didn’t just give you what is left.  Jesus handcrafted every talent, resource, and calling for each of Jacob’s children, and for you.  What Jacob and Esau missed was this, Isaac may have had one birthright and blessing, but God didn’t.

He showed Jacob, through twelve sons, and a daughter, that God had individual characteristics, callings, and blessings for each of them, for us, and for you.  The greatest lies of atheism aren’t only denying that we have A Creator, but a Glorious Creator, and that He created EACH OF US, with a specific calling, and purpose, just like Zebulun.

Second, each of us factors into God’s plan. It wasn’t a strategic move on Jacob’s part to have twelve sons, but it was on God’s part. Before Jacob ever saw even Reuben’s newborn face, much less Zebulun, Jesus saw his border expanding to the sea. 

It was God who called you and I, and everyone else in this world. You are a strategic part of God’s Master Plan, to introduce The Master into the lives of those you specifically come in contact with. Jesus has made you a haven, so welcome every weary soul to a place of true riches, at The Feet Of Jesus!

The Tribe Of Simeon

Genesis 29:33
33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon.

The tribe of hearing, this is what Simeon means, more specifically the tribe of Divine Hearing. Leah, one of my favorite people in the Bible named him. In the struggle with her sister Rachel, Simeon was her second son. His birth represented that God had heard her cry, Simeon would reflect hearing throughout his history.

Genesis 46:10
10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman.

I love learning little known facts, and aspects of people in The Word Of God, and many years ago, I learned something about Simeon. He knew firsthand about family stress, growing up he saw the rivalry between his Mother, and Aunt Rachel. I wander how he felt when he heard the arguments, and felt the pain they caused.

Commentators believe that a second wife of his own brought strife into his own family. Only one of Simeon’s sons bears this title, what the King James calls, the son of a Canaanitish woman. The phrase is repeated in Exodus 6:15 as well, yet disappears by the time Shaul is mentioned again in Numbers 26:13, and 1 Chronicles 4:24.

The word that represented Shaul’s Mother, Canaanitish, connects with the meaning of her son as well. Canaanitish not only represents a Canaanite, but implies a pedlar. Shaul means desired, or one begged for.

His Mother went from being called a term applied to beggars, to giving birth to a tribal prince’s son. It reminds me of where God brought Man, from the fall to the Cross.

I wonder how it happened Simeon’s love story happened? Was Simeon heartbroken when his Wife died? If commentators were correct, he became a widower with five sons. Did he look for a Mother for his children? Did he meet a band of merchants and fall in love with one of their daughters?

However it happened, he married a woman, that we don’t even know by name. This doesn’t reflect her worth, because she gets more of a mention than Simeon’s first Wife. We only know she existed because she produced five sons. Ironically, Leah had six sons, and with the edition of Shaul, so did Simeon.

One begged for, Shaul’s meaning. Did his Mother feel the sting of resentment from her stepsons? Did Simeon’s family, and servants, compare her to her predecessor? Maybe it was Simeon who longed for another son. Whatever happened, God heard the ache for a child and responded.

While I believed Shaul’s Mother wanted him deeply, I believe Simeon did too. Each of Simeon’s children had a special name. His firstborn Jemuel meant Day Of God. Jamin meant right hand, Ohad meant united. Joachim would also be the name of a pillar in the temple, for it meant He will establish. Zohar means brightness.

Family was important to Simeon, he had learned that lesson well. Ironically it was this love of family which would cause issues with Simeon’s own father. Simeon had five brothers, but one sister, Dinah.

Commentators debate it, whether Dinah went somewhere she shouldn’t have, or was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether he forced her, or seduced her, he took her, and then tried to fix it. Simeon and Levi wouldn’t hear of it.

They cooked up a story. They tricked Shechem, his father, and the men of that city, then attacked. This act angered Jacob. Although he loved his sons, he not only did not approve or condone it, he never forgot it either.

After this, Simeon goes along with his other brothers concerning the rejection of Joseph. Most commentators will explain that Joseph’s life was a type and shadow of Jesus, which I also believe. If that is the case, while Joseph sends his other brothers away for a time, Simeon, or hearing, is held captive.

The tribes of Israel are separated from their hearing, or Simeon. This is the case until Benjamin is brought to Joseph. Benjamin means son of my right hand, but son can also mean people of a nation. Right hand also means the south, or facing the east.

To paraphrase, hearing was withheld from Israel until the nation came to Joseph, foreshadowing Jesus revealing Himself to Israel. As Bishop Livingston taught us, this happened while Joseph’s Gentile bride, representing the Church and the rapture, was shut up in another chamber.

Finally, Joseph revealed himself, Jacob arrived in Egypt, time passed, and the Exodus occurred. It came time for Jacob to die, but before he did, he had a few things to say.

He stated that he would scatter Levi and Simeon in Israel. I don’t know if Jacob understood what he prophesied, or not, but unlike it seems it was not bad. Simeon’s inheritance ended up among the tribe of Judah, the praisers. It’s always easier to hear God’s voice while worshiping!

Deuteronomy 27:12
12 “When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin.

Levi was the tribe of the Priesthood, Simeon lived with Judah. Moses commanded that, when Israel arrived in the promised land, certain tribes would stand on a certain mountain to bless Israel. The first three, Simeon, Levi, and Judah!

After they were freed from Egypt, traveled through the wilderness, and fought for the promised land, they settled in their cities and villages. The locations mentioned for a group of Simeon’s family, lived from the city of Beersheba, to the village of Beth-Biri.

Beth-Biri, which means House of My Creator, or House of my health. When you spend your life listening to Jesus, you spend your days in His house, and your spiritual health will be assured. The Shallumites, Shaul’s son, lived there. Shaul, who had been known by his Mother’s less than stellar heritage, now lived in The Creator’s House.

The Tribe Of Asher

Numbers 2:27
27 And those to camp next to him shall be the tribe of Asher, the chief of the people of Asher being Pagiel the son of Ochran,

Nothing with God is an accident. That’s not to say that every second of time is micromanaged. Most people misquote  the Scripture, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” All things aren’t good, or even divinely intended, but God melds the events of our days to bring us to that great day that is to come.

Solomon said life and chance happen to us all. David said Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light unto my path. The steps of a good man are ordered of The Lord. The path, the steps, and the direction are planned, but we will face obstacles in the way.

God allows, not causes the obstacles. An whether the stumbling block is a key to a future event, something that life brings, or something that our mistakes have caused, God will use it to help, and not hurt us. Joseph’s brothers were not inspired to throw him into the pit, but God knew it would happen.

What was meant to be an instrument of cruelty and revenge by man, was what God used to save the same men’s lives. What does all this have to do with Numbers 2:27? For one thing, Pagiel’s ancestor, Asher, was one of those who threw Joseph into the pit.

It’s Pagiel’s name that introduced the topic that I’m getting ready to share, and have alluded to above. Among other meanings, his name is defined as, “Accident Of God.” God is merciful, kind, compassionate, wise, but one thing He is not, is accident prone.

There are no accidents of God, and yet, this is what this young man’s name means. That one definition arrested me. I was reading Numbers 2, the chapter about the standard bearers around the Tabernacle, and I felt that I needed to go back and look up Pagiel.

When I saw the meaning, I wanted to learn everything I could about the young man. He was the Prince of his tribe. His Father’s name is Ochran, meaning muddler or trouble. An the standard he stood by was the olive tree.

Beyond that, we know very little about the man that sparked such an interesting name. So I began to look at his family, and the tribe he was the head of. It was a large tribe, apparently a successful one, but with very few, named, prominent members.

His tribe is described as the happiest of tribes, and yet, it is one of the those that God had placed on Mount Ebal to curse, or warn of what would happen if Israel backslid. We view happiness as a blessing, and it is with a life that is pleasing to God, but without a relationship with God, happiness is only a deception.

Happiness without a relationship with God, is a very dangerous thing. With sorrow, there is longing, a sense that things can be better. Sorrow screams something is missing, happiness whispers everything is fine. Destruction often doesn’t come in a shout, but in a soft, quiet, murmur.

Longing in itself isn’t a sign of righteousness though. Any emotion, any condition, outside of a right relationship with God, has it’s perils. Just as happiness, absent God, is a masking of truth, the lack of happiness can lead you on a road of danger.

Some of the most serious people away from a stage, are comedians. I don’t know if it’s that they get bored with being funny, or if they get tired of it. Perhaps they get bored with laughter. Or they resent that is the only facet of their personality people see, I’m not sure.

What I do know is that they eventually put on a happy face like an actor puts on a mask. It’s not real, if they’re good at what they do, it can seem like it, but it isn’t. Asher may have been known to be the happiest of tribes, but there was trouble lurking somewhere behind the tent door.

Among the tribes bored with the manna, tired of the blessings, was the tribe of Asher. Every thing good that God had given them, and still it was not good enough. When they got to the promised land, they failed to drive out the Phoenicians in the land they inherited.

There were no judges recorded of Asher. No great kings ruled from this tribe. The great prophets, such as Moses, Elijah, and Ezekiel, were not from the tribe of Asher. I did find one important thing that happened with this tribe in the Old Testament.

King Hezekiah sent messengers throughout Israel to keep the Passover. He was asking Israel to turn from their sinful ways, and return to God. Initially there was resistance, but Asher was the first tribe mentioned who humbled themselves, and came back to Jerusalem.

The “happy” tribe realized that what they had, the wealth, the pleasant conditions, everything that they were content with, wasn’t enough. Somewhere in them, there was a desire for something that was more than what they had.

So they made the journey back to God. Maybe your life seems fine. The bills are paid, you have your health. Nothing seems to be wrong. Maybe you’re even a happy person. Let me ask you something, are you complete?

I’ve seen broken men laugh. I’ve heard laughter at the funeral home, but it didn’t change the condition that had brought us there. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, then something is missing in your life.

Asher realized this, and while we don’t know what all happened, we do know someone passed on what Asher returned too. The last two generations we see in the family of Asher, are a Father and a daughter.

The man’s name is Phanuel, and he has a daughter named Anna. She is a widow, and when we meet her, most likely her father is dead, because she is eighty four years old.

I’m guessing they’re not what you expected. It’s not really a thriving group. The memory of a Dad and a husband, and she only got to be married for seven years. The Bible mentions no children, no relatives, and no legacy.

It would appear to be a sad life, but like I said about happiness, appearances can be deceiving. Her dad, Phanuel, meant The Face Of God, and that is where Anna spent her time, near God, in the Temple.

We only see her for three verses of Scripture, but oh what three verses it is, Luke chapter two. This family of a handmaid, whose namesake was born as a weapon in a feud between two sisters, now saw another child. The woman’s whose Father was named after God’s face, was blessed to see the Face Of God in flesh!

Like the founding namesake of her tribe, this child was also a weapon, but He was not born out of jealousy. The Christ was born to rescue the happy and the sad, those who laughed, and those who cried. The prominent, the forsaken, and the seemingly forgotten, all were rescued by this weapon of hope.

There are no accidents of God. Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, what happens to you, may not be planned, but you were. God may not micromanage the events of time, but He created time to spend it with you and I.

It was no accident that Anna, who had been so faithful, even in the midst of her sorrow, got to see Jesus. Sorrow, like laughter, can be a gift, and they can both be gifts from God. It doesn’t matter what brought you to Jesus, only that you find him. Anna means Grace, and as long as Grace brings you to Jesus, it doesn’t matter how you get there.

One of the places in the tribal territory of Asher was the town of Beth-emek, meaning House Of The Valley. There are times when we inherit a house in the valley, or a depressed state. Sometimes it’s by chance, other times it’s through our own mistakes, or at times, it just happens.

Regardless, you find yourself in a house in a valley. You inherit it in the midst of others whose circumstances are different. Don’t make the mistake that there borders are better for you than your own. They are different, but God did not place you where they are, or them where you are.

Each tribe was placed in the location that was best for them. Asher was meant to bring laughter to the House Of The Valley. Some people are called to sorrow, not for themselves, but for those who would come after them. The House Of The Valley is not a closed house, nor did God place you in an isolated place. He placed you a secure location, in a place that desperately needs some true joy.

Beth-emek was surrounded by places like Jiphthah–el, meaning God will open, the place right before Beth-emek. After it, is Neiel, or Moved Of God, which is followed by Cabul, or sterile and limitation. When God places you in a trial, one that lasts so long, you feel it’s become your address, don’t forget that He never sits you where He’s not standing beside you.

Beth-emek was in the center of all these places. It was the gateway that bridged what is open, into where God is moving, to those areas where limitation and barrenness seem so common. Asher was meant to connect the sorrowful with a joy that’s doesn’t numb the pain, but turns it into a testimony.

The last individual from the tribe of Asher, that we know by name is Anna. This woman, a Prophetess, had experienced her own valley. Instead of sadness, she shared the source of her joy throughout Jerusalem. She shared the love for God she had, in spite of a long, lonely trial, with everyone. Anna knew, Jesus is here to rescue the isolated, the limited, and the hopeless.

This seemingly insignificant tribe, which entered the world laughing, now exits it rejoicing, heralding the birth of The Savior. We met Pagiel beside his standard, the Olive Tree, among the thousands of Israel, surrounding the Tabernacle.

The last place we see the tribe of Asher, is in Revelation chapter seven. Standing, sealed with the seal of God, among the tribes of Israel, worshipping The Lamb. Jacob said Asher’s bread would be fat or rich, and he would yield royal delicacies. Moses said he would dip his feet in oil, and that he would be acceptable to his brothers.

In other words, Asher eventually testified of God’s Grace, as well as His birth, sharing real joy with the world. No matter the trouble the family faced, no matter how many accidents seemed to befall them, no matter what struggles they inherited, Asher kept going. In the end, he stood with his brothers, and his children, rejoicing at the Throne Of God.

25 Devotions – Day Twenty Five

The Native: The Native Rex

John 19:19-20
19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.
20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm was written over the cross. We know it as Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews, and we know that it means so much more than a monarch of a single people. What fascinated me, was the use of the word Rex, an especially Roman word.

Before there were emperors in Rome, there were kings, known by the title Rex. Yes it’s Latin for king, but it’s a title specifically identified with Rome. To me, it reflects the very poignant fact that, before Rome was, before God walked in flesh, He spoke worlds into existence, and He continues long after Rome is just a memory.

The I Am, who said He would walk in flesh to die for me, also said He would get back up in three days, and He did just that. We rejoice at the cross, not that He suffered, but that even in His grief, He was in control. Only Christ could turn a place of heartache and agony, into a command center.

For if you read the words from the cross, the soldiers react when He speaks, the people are astonished at the events of the weather, because of His death. Nature itself shakes in grief, because her King, Her Rex Eternal, had paid a miraculous price for man’s salvation, and it was finished, but He wasn’t!

Just as the cross recognized who was on it in its title, written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. We know Him as the King of Kings, and The Lord of Lords, Savior to every race, nation, and culture. We rejoice today, because we also know something the Romans learned over 2,000 years ago. They saw Kingship in His eyes.

The Champion ripped asunder the transgressions of mankind, the thing that separated God from His creation, and eliminated every barrier to eternity. The last one being death itself, for even it bowed it’s knee to the King Of Eternity, The Lord Jesus!