The House of David and the House of God

As modern Christians, we generally do not think much about the House of David and the House of God as related entities. Perhaps because the House of David perceived as an Old Testament concept, more in relation to the nation of Israel. The Scriptural passages of ‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭7:8-29‬ and ‭‭Mark‬ ‭3:20-35 can help us understand how this Old Testament Israel King’s house is of importance to our current faith in Christ Jesus.

Jesus is at Home (Mark 3:20-35)

I will start with the Mark passage in the New Testament. I love the opening of this passage, “And He came home.” There is no mention of which house was home for Jesus, but Jesus was HOME. It was in this context that Jesus addressed the accusation of Him operating under the power of Beelzebul. Jesus started by establishing the importance of unity in a kingdom, whether of Satan or of God. He quickly shifted from unity to the focus of a strong man in the house. The assumption here is that the unity of a house is held by the strong man. This is rather true as I can see often how the death of a patriach/matriach in a family can affect the family’s unity even in our current days. Jesus gave the best tip in how to bring down a house, that is to first take down the strong man. Simple strategy!

The Strong Man

Jesus seemed to be jumping from a topic to another very quickly. Suddenly from strong man, He talked about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. In closer examination, Jesus was still on the same train of thought. The Holy Spirit keeps the unity of the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 4:3). The Holy Spirit is the strong man in God’s house. The Scribes were trying to bind the strong man in the Kingdom of God by discrediting the strong man in the house of God, i.e. the Holy Spirit. I love how Jesus indirectly implied the Scribes’ intent to rob God’s House in their attempt to stop the Holy Spirit. It is obvious that the Scribes were unsuccessful in this attempt. Instead they hurled on themselves an unforgivable sin for eternal condemnation.

Mark did not stop at this victory of Jesus. The timely arrival of Jesus’ mother and brothers provided opportunity to further illustrate this object lesson. Jesus’ question of “Who are My Mother and My brothers?” sounded unfiliel taken outside of this context. In fact, He did not deny the blood ties He had with His mother and brothers. He extended the definition and boundaries of His family. In fact Jesus was home without his natural family at the beginning of this passage. His rhetorical rebutal to the Scribes regarding kingdom and house highlighted the importance of unity. Jesus concluded His lesson that the unity in the house of God is in doing the will of God. Unity through obedience is the mark of God’s family.

The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-29)

Let’s now dive into this Old Testament passage now that narrates God’s response to King David’s desire to build God a house on earth. This passage seems unrelated to the Mark passage before. The focus verses are verses 12-16, which is known as the Davidic Covenant.

When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” – 2 Sam 7:12-16 (NASB, emphasis mine)

The Genealogy of King David to Jesus

While talking about the House of God and the House of David, there is an important geneology we cannot miss in Matthew 1:1-17. The symmetry of the three fourteen generations accounted (verse 17) for this genealogy shows that it is an intentional planned design and not a random occurance. This is the evidence of the outworking of the Davidic covenant God made in 2 Sam 7:12-16, and also to Abraham which is not in discussion here. It is commonly known that Jesus is the son of David, but let’s go deeper to understand the significance of this blood tie that God holds it .

A significant event or person is marked by the fourteenth generation – from Abraham to David, from David to Babylonion exile, from Babyonion exile to the coming of the Messiah Jesus. There is such a poetic pattern found in this genealogy, from patriach (Abraham) to king (David), slavery (Babylon) to saviour (Messiah). As you can see, a pattern is emerging. God chose the house of David and made it a kingdom. God allowed slavery as judgement so that salvation can come.

Kingdom Forever

The significance of the Davidic Covenant can be seen in two folds, the house and the kingdom. Using the before and after examination, we can see the impact of the Davidic covenant.

The House of David and the House of God

The House of David referred to here is not a physical building to live in. The House of David in the Bible refers to the lineage and descendents of David, i.e. the family of David. David is a mere man just like his predecesors like Abraham. The phrases “He shall build a house for my name” and “I will be a father to him” are indication that God has adopted David’s family to be His. Adoption is not a new concept in modern day Christianity as we are all adopted as sons and daughters of the most High God. Yet, in the Old Testament, this is unthinkable. Even in the New Testament, Jesus calling God His Father was considered a blasphemy worthy of death to the religious (John 5:18). Here we see a coming together of David’s family into God – a natural earthly with the spiritual heavenly as one. This covenant prepares the way for the son of God to become the son of Man.

The Kingdom of David and the Kingdom of God

The second impact was on the kingdom. David’s kingdom was in Israel, not the world, even in its greatest under King Solomon. It was a small kingdom here on earth amidst many kingdoms. Such kingdoms rise and fall and the kingdom of David no longer exists. It is interesting that the genealogy included the Babylonion exile as a key event, showing that the fall of the kingdom of David is not a surprise to God. In fact, this is a process of translating the physical kingdom of David into a spiritual kingdom of God – from slave to savior. The beauty of this transformation is one of eternity.

Conclusion

With the emphasis on individualism, it is hard for many of us to think beyond our nuclear family of perhaps three generations. It is Biblical to view the extended family, those of the past, present and future with one calling, and yet each person also has a more specific appointment and assignment from God. We often consider our Christian faith is based on the New Covenant found in the New Testament. From these few Bible passages, we can see that the New Covenant was set in motion by the Davidic Covenant. The House of God we know now started with the house of David, an archetype.

Jacob – the Blessed Wrestling Schemer

JACOB-3For many years, I find it hard to reconcile Jacob’s blessings and his scheming ways. I am a firm believer that the end does not justify the means and the life of Jacob seems to suggest otherwise. The recent weeks, Jacob is once again brought into focus.

Jacob was grabbing hold of Esau’s heel at birth (Gen 25:26). This was why he was named Jacob, meaning “he catches by the heel, i.e. he supplants”. These twin brothers were already at war within the womb, causing their mother Rebekah much distress (Gen 25:22). The first round winner was Esau as he emerged firstborn of the womb, pushing himself out before Jacob. This is not surprising as Esau was possibly stronger physically, who grew up to be a hunter. The fight did not stopped there. Jacob still wanted to be the firstborn. He quickly bagged in the win for round two when he traded his bowl of red lentil soup for the birthright of Esau. The final victory was with the aid of his mother Rebekah. Jacob deceived his own father, Isaac, and received the firstborn blessing. Very unorthodox means of getting to the ends which are hard to accept as acts that lead to blessings.

God did not intervene in any of these sibling rivalry. Some people believed that it is already ordained for Jacob to be blessed so God chose not to intervene. If it is ordained, all the more there is no need for Jacob to do what he did as the prophecy will come to pass without him helping God in such manner. Surely there are consequences to sin, even King David lost a son because of his adultery and murder after his genuine repentance. Why is Jacob favoured despite his scrupulous actions?

“His heart.”

This was from a still, soft voice within that I wanted to brush off as ridiculous. Yet there was a solid and deep truth that I cannot dismiss flippantly. Surely God looks at the heart and how can it be that a scheming man has a good heart? It was almost like a court room within me and I was a prosecutor of Jacob whom I never met! It is of course a losing battle in this court room and out of it, I learnt a precious lesson.

Jacob’s heart was fixed on eternal blessings and never swayed by the present. He knew what was valuable and precious – the birthright and firstborn blessings of his father. It was out of the deep longings of his heart that he took every opportunity to grab hold of them.  This same longing of the heart was seen in how he was willing to work another 7 years for Rachel after being cheated to marry Rachel’s sister. The final fight was at Bethel. His fight for eternal blessings which only the Lord can offer. It left him with a limp but with a new name and locked him into his eternal blessed destiny. This encounter ended Jacob’s trail of scheming narratives as I believed his heart was finally filled to the brim by God. This was his destiny.

His trickery of both the birthright and firstborn blessings led to his exile from the house, a fugitive. He did not enjoy the blessings he schemed for during those years. A man who was described as “a peaceful man, living in tents” (Gen 25:27 NASB) now found himself cast into the “wild world” and in the open field to shepherd sheep even though he was still under the protection of his extended family. A modern day drastic career change will be from a computer guy to a construction worker overnight. The birthright to his father’s inheritance was with Esau since he was on the run. This does not look like the blessed life he fought for. Having to leave home is the consequence of his scheming ways.

Rather than seeing him as a cold-blooded man, Jacob was a hot-blooded man fixated on what his heart’s desires. He pursued hard and even prevailed against God. It is interesting that the Bible described him as peaceful and some versions use the word “complete” for a schemer. Peaceful perhaps meaning that he does not shed blood as compared to Esau who is a hunter. The description of Jacob was not negative. His name that describes him as a supplanter is not a negative word in military terms but one of strategy. Comparing Jacob’s heart attitude with how Esau despised his birthright, Jacob’s thirst made him the man whom God used to bless the nations.

Do I desire God’s blessings enough to contend with Him throughout the night, knowing that I would never prevail? I wish I can give a loud yes but in full honesty, my prayer would be “God give me the portion you have for me”. The thought of putting up a fight with the Lord for blessings would never crossed my mind. This sounds like a very submissive and obedient prayer but is this a true reflection of my heart? Maybe it is a coverup. Perhaps I dare not believe that God will give me the desires of my heart or that He has my interests covered. If it is so, then I am not honest with Him with my heart. Or I know that the desires of my heart are not aligned to his? Whichever is the case, the hypocrisy of my heart is revealed. Jacob, despite his immature and unorthodox ways, was true to his heart and to God, believed in it and walked it.

This is a repentance call for me. It is so easy for my heart to be distracted and won out, hiding behind the word “resignation to God’s will” when the tough gets going or I am swimming against the tide. The fear of failure holds me back from engaging the Lord in a wrestle for blessings. It is not about winning, but it is a matter of how desperate do I want it. Jacob set his heart on the blessings of God and this gave God the opening to correct his ways, repent and change. So the key is to set my heart towards God and with that, He can do His work within me so that His promised destiny for me can be fulfilled as He moulds and shapes me along the way.

Defining The Tabernacle of David – Word Study

Defining The Tabernacle of David – Word Study
Born and bred in an urban city, tent is not a common sight for me. Since the topic is about the Tabernacle of David, I feel the need to understand tabernacle better. I am no Hebrew and Greek scholar but the lexicon is usually a good starting point.

I will start from the New Testament since there is only one verse with the mention of Tabernacle of David. The Greek word for Tabernacle in Acts 15:16 is Skene (σκηνη, Strong’s Number: 4633). Skene is defined as a “tent, tabernacle (made of green boughs, or skins or other materials)”, and also “the movable temple of God after the pattern of which the temple at Jerusalem was built”. In Acts 7:43-44, skene was the Tabernacle of Moses. In Rev 13:6; 15:5 and 21:3, skene is used in the context of after the judgments. There is no difference in words used for the Tabernacle of Moses and Tabernacle of David.

The Old Testament Hebrew has more vocabulary for tabernacle than Greek and English.

The word ‘ohel (אהל, Strong’s Number: 0168) is frequently used for the Tabernacle of Moses in Exodus. ‘ohel means a nomad’s tent, a dwelling, home and habitation. Even though it is nomadic and mobile, it functions as a long-term dwelling, a home. The Tabernacle of Moses withstood 40 years of wilderness wandering and entered the Promised Land! It was definitely highly durable and permanent.

A different Hebrew word is used for Tabernacle of David in Amos 9:11, which is the key Old Testament verse. The Hebrew word for tabernacle in Amos 9:11 is Cukkah (יככה Strong’s No: 05521). Cukkah is a booth, “a rude or temporary shelter”. The Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths (Lev 23:33-43) uses the same Hebrew word, Cukkah. The people of Israel are commended to build temporary booths or tabernacles and live under the Cukkah during the seven days of the feast. The Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned in Zec 14, which wrote about The Day of the Lord, which is commonly interpreted as the final Judgment Day. The passage of Zec 14:16-21 prophesied that the Feast of Tabernacles will be celebrated after the Day of the Lord. Even though Cukkah is temporary in its physical nature, God has a long-term purpose for Cukkah.

Here lies the paradox. The extremely durable Tabernacle of Moses was not required after Jesus established the New Covenant but the rude temporary Cukkah of David has a purpose beyond its durability. Interestingly, ‘ohel is used in Isa 16:5 for the Tabernacle of David in the context of final judgment by the One, referring to the Messiah.

Physically, the Cukkah being a temporary tent requires restoration over time, especially for the Day of the Lord. Yet, is the restoration just the physical tent? Since it is meant to be temporary, restoration of the physical tent will be challenging and replacing it might be a better solution. If the restoration work is not only referring to the physical tent, what does it then refer to? We can only restore what we know. The definition of the Tabernacle of David that is to be restored is not found in a word study. So a Biblical study is needed to understand this.

A side note: The Tabernacle built by Moses was not called the Tabernacle of Moses in the Bible but the Tabernacle of the Lord. I will use the Tabernacle of Moses as most of us understand this phrase but thought I will point out that only the Tabernacle of David was named after the builder in the Bible.

Job’s Three Friends

The image of Job’s three friends have not been a positive one, neutral is possibly as good as it gets because they did not speak of God rightly.

It came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. (Job 42:7 NASB)

One thing stands out to me like a breathe of fresh air was Job 2:11-13.

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great. (Job 2:11-13 NASB)

I want to highlight the fact that all three of them sat with Job in silence for SEVEN DAYS! This means that no one gave their five cents worth to Job about his situation for a whole week. I ask myself if I will do the same for my friends. Ashamedly, my answer is highly unlikely. I am one who does not speak a lot and I can go by a day without uttering a word if I am in my own personal space without another person. Verbal fast is not as difficult as a food fast for me! Yet, in such a situation as Job, I do not think I am able to remain silent for seven days. For seven hours, it might be possible to shut my mouth and be there. Seven days is far out though. I can hardly imagine anyone in an urban city can do as a Job’s friends. The temptation for most of us is to give possible solutions to the situation once we sit down.

The silence was broken by Job and not his friends. It was after Job spoke that the friends spoke. These friends stood by Job even though he lost everything and they were definitely not fair-weathered friends. They are not perfect as none of us are. True enough their perception of God in Job’s situation was not helpful. Yet it is good to bear in mind that the situation of Job is beyond what most people can comprehend based on common view of God and life.

One thing I know, I would certainly appreciate having such friends in my life who are willing to go through thick and thin even though they cannot understand 😄… Moreover, their hearts are tender towards God that they are willing to humble themselves to ask for prayer from Job at the end of it…

Biblical Studies Program: Genesis to Deuteronomy

For those who are in Singapore, this is a Biblical Studies program that some of you might be interested in. We are going to start on Genesis to Deuteronomy for the coming term starting in July 2013. Examination is optional so no pressure. You can do online registration with the Singapore Bible Society at http://www.bible.org.sg/engagement/biblical-studies-programme/

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