Grab it by the horns

If you’ve read through the first two chapters of 1 Kings, perhaps you were as confounded as I at the talk of grabbing the horns of the altar. This is an odd occurrence—one I had not seen before now. There are several references to it, so it was time to dig into the commentaries.

It appears from this and some other instances, that it was now become a custom among the Israelites, though by no divine law, to flee to the altar of the Lord, as to an asylum.

Benson Commentary

Image result for child hiding behindThis is the picture in my head. When we were kids, behind Mom was the safest place to be when the rest of my siblings were after me. Yes, I’ve just likened my mother’s skirts to the horns on the altar of the Lord.

While this practice wasn’t law, it was highly symbolic and, in many cases, effective. Like a kid running to a parent, by clinging to the horns of the altar, salvation may be found.

As soon as Adonijah discovered David was after him, he rushed to the sacred tent. Likewise with Joab. Now, I understand than neither of these men were spared—their evil deeds had already sealed their fate, but what if we, like them, ran to the sacred place when we are being chased by our enemies? What would happen if we ran to God instead of whining or complaining to family, friends, or Facebook? If we would only cling to the altar, perhaps we, too, could find salvation.

Unlike Adonijah and Joab, when we grab the horns of the altar, we will find salvation. Over and over, God has proclaimed Himself to be faithful if only will we come near to Him. Run to Him. Rush to Him. Grab on to Him and don’t let go. As much of a shield of protection as your mother’s skirts could be, the presence of God is so much more.

The next time you hear the phrase, grab life by the horns, keep this in mind. Be reminded that to hold on to God is to hold on to your salvation.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 1-2, Luke 22:54-71

Brother, sister, mother

What does your church family look like? Is it just your blood family sitting in the row next to you? Perhaps some extended family as well? Or is it the church in it’s entirety?

This last Sunday, the young adults in our church did me proud. With no encouragement from myself (or anyone else that I know of), they instigated a church-wide invitation to go out for lunch. Folks that might not normally dine together met up at a restaurant and shared a meal together.

This is what church family is. It is the young and old, married and single, leaders and followers getting together to get to know each other and to enjoy each other’s company. The purpose of the church body, aside from spreading the Gospel is Christian fellowship. It is to extend your family beyond the boundaries of your home and to include those who may not have family at all.

Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!

Matthew 12:50 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 38-40, Matthew 12:22-50

The next generation

I was talking with my mother the other day of someone we know to have been raised in a Christian home. His wife was also raised in a Christian home. Somehow, though, the faith was not established in either of them and they soon walked away from all faith. When he was later diagnosed with cancer, rather than returning to the faith of his childhood, he turned to spirit healers and other forms of faith.

What happened?

If you read through Psalm 78 (long though it may be), you’ll find account after account of similar actions. We’ve read it already this year in previous books of the Old Testament. Israel follows God. Israel turns from God. Everything goes wrong. Israel turns back to God. It’s a never-ending circle of advance and retreat.

Asaph, the writer of this Psalm begins with a bit of a reminder before going into the history of Israel.

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from old.
things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.

He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast.
whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Psalm 78:1-8 (ESV)

What would happen in a single generation if mothers and especially fathers, would teach their children to set their hope in God? If today’s children were taught to love and honour God and each other?

Asaph saw his fathers’ folly and urged the present generation not to make the same mistake. What if we did likewise? How much could we change the world for the next generation?

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 78; Romans 7

When the promise dies

Death is not something most people relish. It is not something we want to be associated with. We don’t want to be near it. But is it as much a part of us as life is. We will all eventually experience physical death. Most of us will have people close to us die. Death is inescapable.

My great-grandmother was an incredible woman of God. As she came close to the end of her years on earth, she said she would often spend her days in the company of angels. At almost 101 years old, her eyesight had faded, but she could still see the outline of an angel sitting in her rocking chair keeping her company as she prayed for her family.

Years before she kept constant company with angels, she birthed a son. She was on in years. In fact, my mother was already on the scene. She had an uncle just a few months younger than her. Wesley was born with Down’s Syndrome in addition to several other serious physical conditions. But he lit up the room.

I never knew Uncle Wesley. He died before he ever really lived. But he had a happy childhood. He loved and was loved. How do I know? I’ve heard the stories. I’ve looked at pictures. I’ve watched him wave to the camera on the old film from a trip to Disneyland. But the promise of life was never fulfilled for him.

The Bible gives an account of another boy who lost his life too early. In 2 Kings 4, we see Elisha forming a bond with a Shunamite woman and her husband. For all the couple did for him and his servant, Elisha gave the promise of a son to the childless couple.

Sure enough, a year later, the woman had a son. The boy grew, but one day in the fields, something went terribly wrong. The boy collapsed and, after being carried home, died in his mother’s arms. The promise was dead.

Did the woman wail and rail against God? Did she run out and slander Elisha for his failed promise? Did she shut herself off from the world? No. She laid the boy on the bed in the room she had prepared for Elisha and set out to find the man of God.

To make a long story short, the woman brought Elisha back with her. Elisha did his thing and the boy woke. The promise was not lost.

I wish I could say that Wesley, too, enjoyed the promise of a long life on earth, but he did not. The promise in his life lives on in the stories that have been told for generations. He lives on in the memories of those who loved him.

So what happens when our promise dies? Do we give up and mourn or, like the Shunamite woman, do we close the door on death and go seek out life? I think we too often give up too easily. We see death as finite. Death was not enough to keep a mother from seeking God. She knew a promise had been made and she was going to be sure that the one who made the promise kept it.

What promises have you lost? What will it take for you to get them back? Instead of giving up so easily, go after it.

For he performs what is appointed for me, and many such things are with Him.

Job 23:14 (NKJV)

If He promised it, He will perform it. Don’t just trust in the promise. Trust in the One who made the promise.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Kings 4-5; John 4:1-30