Sunday, September 23, 2007

King David's Sons

King David’s Sons

II Samuel 13:1-19:43

The Tanach teaches us in many things. First, it is the history of Salvation and our need for a saviour. In addition, it lays out the spiritual rules by which we must live. It also specifically defines sin for us, and shows us how we must live.

The tragedy of David and his children is one that parents everywhere must take into account, so that we do not repeat the errors of King David. David, was to say the least, overindulgent of his children. When Amnom rapes his sister Tamar, David as king is obliged to enforce the law, but chooses not to do so. As a consequence, Absalom, takes justice into his own hands and does his brother in. David again does nothing, and Absalom conspires to take over the kingdom.

When Absalom is defeated, David nearly loses the kingdom again over his grief for Absalom. David in other words elevated his children to an undeserved height. Jesus tells us that we must love God above parents and children, but all too frequently, we like David, out children above God. When David allows Amnom to get away with raping his sister, David loses the respect of his family. David as father and David as King is obliged to enforce the rules. He does not because he loves his son, turning lose events which will eventually destroy the Kingdom.

The Bible tells us we are to honour our parents, and wives are to respect their husbands. The two are linked together. If the oldest child is allowed to disrespect the father, then it will follow through unless the cycle is broken. Unfortunately many women love their children more than their husbands, and if they see a conflict between their children and their husband, the child will win out, to the heartbreak of the husband, who then must live in an untenable position. (but even if the wife does not respect him or does not encourage the children to respect him, he is still bound by his marriage vows. The Christian partner is held to the higher standard, and his suffering will make him a stronger person). This is why it is so important to make sure that when you marry, that your spouse is a Christian as well (this is one of the commandments for Christians in the New Testament), and it really helps that the Christian maturity levels are similar. Sometimes people can be fooled. That is why year long engagements are a good idea.

So how to avoid familial conflicts: Before even getting married, the couple should make sure they are on the same page as to expectations of the children’s behaviour, whether any children are there or not. Depending on the culture, maturity etc., the wife may think that the children are not subject to the husband (especially if she has children from a prior marriage.) If this is your wife to be’s thought, go find someone else. Children living in a house are subject to their parents until they leave the house (note I did not say until they are eighteen or twenty –one.) If the child is over seventeen and feels that he or she does not fall under parental authority, then they should leave the house. A mother’s (or father’s) insistence that the child should stay only brings problems into the household, and the other children will be affected.

Another obstacle to watch for is the parent who desires peace at any price. Maybe this was David’s problem. He did not want to confront Amnon or Absalom, and he thought it was best to let the dead dog lie. True peace is not not yelling, or not having problems. True peace comes from subjecting our thoughts and actions to Christ. If problems are ignored in order to prevent a disagreeable discussion, then there is no real peace. It is a lie. Do we remember Neville Chamberlaine? He told the world that there would be peace in our time! How wrong he was. World War II was just around the corner. The same thing happens in families when we as Chamberlaine and Atlee seek peace at any price. Is your child on drugs? Your spouse looking at pornography on the Internet? Other unresolved problems? They must be brought out into the light of Christ’s truth, dealt with and resolved.

It is especially important to resolve problems in marriage. Marriage is the icon of Christ’s relationship with the church. The man must love his wife, being ready even to die for her and her salvation. The woman must respect her husband, and teach the children as well. The Bible words it like this for a reason, because God understands the difference between men and women much better than we do. If a wife does not give her husband respect or teaches the children not to respect their father (usually subconsciously) it tears the man down. Men have this need to be respected by their wives and children. If a man does not love his wife, it tears her down, for a woman needs to know that she is loved in a way that is not necessary for a man. Children who do not see the love/respect relationship in their parents have a more difficult time relating to Jesus Christ. Children who do see that relationship acted out have a much easier time relating to God (and their future spouses I might add).

Another thing to note, and the New Testament hints at this, when we live according to God’s rules, we do receive blessings. Where the man truly loves his wife, and where the wife truly honours the husband, the children are much more likely to grow up well adjusted. Where this love and honour are missing, children are much more likely to go wrong.

If these relationships are well established, then it easy for parents to get together on raising their children. This is of extreme importance as the children are the future of the church. Many children today, especially in the USA and Latin America lack the basic skills necessary to become good Christians. There reasons f or this, is boys are not learning to love their future wives. IF anything they are deciding not to marry or have children because in having children, they will not be able to buy the things they want and think they need. Girls are being taught in many ways, that men are not worth respecting. All think of marriage as an easily revocable contract instead of a life time commitment. Discipline is a four letter word, and those parents who attempt to teach self discipline are undermined by the great majority who do not teach it. If it feels good do it, seems to be the ideal for today.

So read the Tanach carefully. It is just as important as the New Testament in what we can learn about living, maybe more so, in what it shows through negative examples, especially in the lives of David, Abraham, Joseph and others. The keys to the kingdom are found here.

Shalom b'Yeshua haMoshiach,

+Mar Michael Abportus.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Yom Kippur 2007

Yom Kippur is upon us. It begins this coming Friday night at sunset. While Jesus very deliberately related his Crucifixion to the Passover, other signs can link his death to the feast of Atonement.

To begin, the feast of the atonement takes place shortly after the Jewish New Year, the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hoshanah. Good Jews reflect on their lives and seek to improve them, during the time in between. Yom Kippur is the only celebration in the Torah upon which it is commanded to fast, in sorrow for our sins. Along with the normal offerings, there are two goats. One has the sins of the people confessed over him, and he is sent out to the desert to the demons. (We might recall that Jesus too faced the devil in the desert and defeated him) The second is sacrificed for the sins of the people, but first the priest must sacrifice for his own sin. It is dramatic. The hem of the High Priests robes have little golden bells. A rope is attached to his leg. If the bells stop ringing, God has struck him dead, and he is pulled out with the rope.

The priest is aware of this, and aware that two of Aaron's sons were struck dead for offering incense to God in an unauthorised manner. A day of great solemnity. Incense is offered over the altar, which is then sprinkled with blood. The High Priest, leaves, washes and changes his clothes, confesses the sins over the second goat and sends it to the desert.

It is the day of Atonement, when God forgives Israel their sins. Now St. Paul tells us, that with the one, full and perfect sacrifice of Jesus, there is no further need for sacrifices. Jesus has paid the full price. But the Gospels speak in a more eloquent way. As Jesus dies, the curtain separating the holy of ho lies from the holy place rips in half. This shows the end of the sacrificial system (after all the Holy of Holies was empty, had been since the time of Jeremiah), but more importantly, it shows that we no longer need an intermediary to enter into the presence of the living God. The blood of Jesus has paid the price once and for all. Amateur archaeologist Ron Wyatt even claims that the Ark of the covenant was in a cave under where Jesus was crucified and that the blood of Jesus fell on the Ark as the blood of the lamb did in days of old. If this is true it shows how wonderfully God planns things.

But we are reminded, not one of us, no not one deserves to enter into the presence of God. Before a just Lord we all merit the death sentence, and there is nothing we can do on our own to merit life. It takes the blood of Jesus, and nothing but the blood of Jesus, as the old song says. So as we approach the day of atonement, let us remember the final day of atonemement, when the true lamb of God shed his blood for you and me, that we could enter into the presense of the Father. And let us cry Father, but let us too aknowledge him as LORD.

+Mar Michael Abportus

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rosh Hashanah 2007

Happy New Year to all. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the Feast of Trumpets begin this coming Friday evening with the sound of the Shofar (a ram’s horn). According to the Jewish way of reckoning, the original new year was the day that God made man (and woman) 5767 years ago. It is a day for rejoicing, but it is also a day for thought and reflection.

First, let us remember, on this day, God made man in his image. To be made in the image of God means in part, we are co-creators with him. We are at our most God like when we are creating with him, whether a book, a concert, a nice dinner etc., especially when the creation is made in his honour To be made in the image of God also means we are capable of reason, that we are not slaves of instinct as animals are. Also to be made in the image of God means that we are capable of having a relationship with us, which is what he created us for.

The problem was that Adam and Havah threw all of this away. Adam was a Lord, or steward over the earth and sea, but threw this away when he ate the fruit. Creation, which had been his servant and responsibility became his enemy. No longer did he just work the Garden, but was to eat by the sweat of his brow. He also lost his relationship with God and his wife. The Torah tells how the result of sin spread over all the earth.

But lest we blame all our problems on Adam and Havah, let us remember that the story of Adam (man) is the story of all men. We want to become like God’s and make our own decisions. We forget that to break spiritual laws, have just as much result as breaking physical laws. Just as jumping off a ten story building will result in a fall and death, so do breaking the moral code of the Bible result in a fall and death, sometimes physical, but most certainly spiritual. The rapid spread AIDS in certain countries is related to homosexuality. In Africa it is related to marital infidelity. In New York, a large portion of the epidemic was related to drug use. We could spend days on this topic, but suffice it to say, when we truly learn to obey God in moral matters (and of course we cannot obey relying on our own strength. We need the Holy Spirit to guide us in this, and give us strength as well), then we will come much closer to living as God intended Adam and Havah to live.

So let us reflect this Saturday on how well we follow Adam and Havah. Do we want to be like “gods” as Satan tempted them, or do we wish to walk with our Lord day by day. What can we do to join him in creation? How can we follow Him so others see him in us, and come to know the Lord?

Please reflect in these Holy Days, (the 10 days after Rosh Hashanah) and join with me in the fast of Yom Kippur.

Some customs to know: The trumpet (shofar) is blown on Rosh Hashanah. Round bread is eaten to symbolize the cycle of the year. Bread and apples are eaten with honey that we may have a sweet year. Pockets are emptied out to show we are making a new start. One of my favourites, we drop bread crumbs in the water (symbolizing God carrying our sins away) while saying God will separate us as far from our sins and the east is separated from the west.
A poem for your reflection:

What Does the Shofar Say?

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Awake, sleepers arise!
Don’t be like sheep, so sound asleep,
Letting the wolf in the door, to destroy, corrupt and more.
He’s in the music, promoting drugs,
He’s on TV promoting sex and rebellion,
He’s in the school teaching one to be a hellion.
Parents, do you love your children,
Then teach them, teach them.
At their rising, at their sitting,
Going out, coming in, at their eating,
Jesus Christ is Lord, He died for you, and many more,
And expects to be your Lord.

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Awake, sleepers arise!
Don’t be like sheep, so sound asleep,
False shepherds abound misleading the sheep,
Saying science, psychology is King.
If it feels good do it, if it hurts no-one, ‘tis not a sin, or so they sing.
Jesus is not Lord, he’s just one way, of which there are many more.
Stand up O sheep, flee from such shepherds, For at that last day, they shall flee, or
Be astounded, upon finding resurrection is true,
But alas they are blue,
For never having known Jesus, they have condemned themselves,
And those who followed them to a future so bleak,
That to think upon makes me weak

Listen to the sound of the Shofar, this Rosh Hashanah day,
What is it, what does the Shofar say?
Ti ra! Ti ra! Arise, charge, ‘tis time to fight the good fight,
‘tis time to show the adversary our might.
Put on the Gospel Armour, refrain from retreating,
It is time to gain souls, it is time to gain kings,
It is time to show the world our Lord and King.
We have been asleep, allowing Satin his will
And we have had to pay the bill.
The time is over, Satin take cover,
For the church is called to be on the move.
Blow the shofar, blow the trumpet, Good Christians, ATTACK!
You are the mighty hosts of the Lord, armed with his Spirit and Word,
The battle is yours, the war is the Lord’s.

Shalom b'Yeshuah haMoshich

Mar Michael Abportus