The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible (Part 2)
December 31st, 1961 @ 7:30 PM
THE SCARLET THREAD THROUGH THE BIBLE (PART 2)
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-31-61 7:30 p.m.-12:00 a.m.
That night, Israel goes out with a high hand. And they cross over the Red Sea by the providence of God and turn down south until in the third month of the exodus they stand there at the base of Mount Sinai. And on Mount Sinai, forty days and forty nights, Moses is with God, and the Lord gives to Moses – first, first, God gives to Moses the moral law, chapters 19 and 20. Then God gives to Moses the civil law, chapters 21 to 24. Then God gives to Moses the ceremonial law, chapters 25 to 40, with its tabernacle and its priesthood and its sacrifices.
Then in the Book of Leviticus, we have, first, chapters 1 to 7, the sacrifices. There are five of them – the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering or the thanksgiving offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering. The difference between the sin and the trespass offering is the sin is done volitionally. A trespass is an inadvertence, a thing a man didn’t mean to do. And those five sacrifices are given here in the first five chapters of the Book of Leviticus.
Then, in chapters 8 to 10, we have the consecration of priests; in chapters 11 through 15, ceremonial holiness; in chapter 16, the Day of Atonement; chapter 17 to 23, all of the festivals; and chapters 24 to 27, the vows and the tithes and the laws of obedience.
Every convocation of Israel is a happy one. It is a festival, it is a feast – except one. And that is the Day of Atonement. They observe it now, calling it Yom Kippur. A Jew may not be a Jew any other time of the year, but on that Day of Atonement, if he’s a Jew, he’s a Jew then. That’s the Day of Atonement in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Leviticus.
Then the Book of Numbers – first, from chapters 1 through 10, the events at Sinai. There’s a census taken, there’s a consecration of Levites. There’s the altar dedication and the observance of the Passover. Then the second part of the Book of Numbers, they’re on their wandering march through the wilderness; chapters 11 to 21, they make it from Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea.
At Kadesh-Barnea, they send spies into the land in order to see how to conquer it, but instead of coming back with faith and dedication, they come back saying, “There are giants over there, and there are walled cities over there, and we were just like grasshoppers in their sight. We can’t conquer that land.” Caleb and Joshua said, “But God, but God is with us. Let us arise and inherit it, for God has promised it to us.”
“No,” said those other ten. And all Israel wept. And they turned back from Kadesh-Barnea, and for thirty eight years, they wandered aimlessly in the wilderness until all that generation had died. And at the end of the thirty eight years, they’re back again at Kadesh-Barnea, and then they make their way to the plains of Moab. There, you find the death of Aaron. There, the story of the fiery serpents and the defeat on the east side of Sihon, the king of Gilead, and Og, the king of Bashan.
And there on that side, Moses gave all of that territory on the east side of the Jordan, he gave it to Reuben, to Gad, and to the half tribe of Manasseh. And on the plains of Moab, you have the story of Balaam and the sin of Baal-peor.
Balaam was hired in order to curse Israel, but God wouldn’t let him curse Israel. So, Balaam had to do something to win his hire from the king of Moab, so he whispered something in the King of Moab’s ear, in Balak’s ear, and brother, did it work. Do you know what he whispered in his ear? He said, “Come here, shhhh, come here, shhhh, come here, shhhhh,” and he said, “You get all the pretty women in Moab together and take them over there and put them in that camp and let’s see what happens.” Law me, it happened. Man, it’s awful what pretty women can do, and they did it.
Then you have that final preparation for Canaan. Now, the Book of Deuteronomy is made up of five great addresses of Moses. The first address is on the history of the forty years, chapters 1 to 4. The second address is on the law, 5 to 26. The third address is on the blessings and the cursings, chapters 27, 28. The fourth address is on the second covenant, chapters 29 and 30, and the fifth address is his song and his last words.
Deuteronomy means – Deuteronomy is a Latin word meaning the second giving of the law, made up of five addresses of Moses on the plains of Moab before the children of Israel went into the Promised Land. So, after Moses had sung his song, the Song of Moses, and after he had delivered his soul of these five addresses, then God said to Moses, “Get thee up, get thee up from the plains of Moab, get thee up to the top of Pisgah.” And Moses went up to the top of Pisgah, called Nebo, and the Lord said to him, “Look, this is the land, this is the land.”
All through the Bible you’ll find the land, and the people, and the seed – the Savior Christ – and the kingdom. “This is the land which I swear unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob say I will give it under thy seed forever and forever. I have caused thine eyes to see it, but thou shalt not go over it.”
So, Moses, a servant of God, died there in the land of Moab on Mount Nebo, and God buried him in a valley. No man knoweth of his sepulchre until this day. And after the death of Moses, God said to Joshua, “Arise, arise, arise. My servant is dead. Moses is dead. Arise, thou and all this people, and inherit the land that I give unto Israel.”
Isn’t that amazing? God says He gives it to us. And they have to fight for it with their lives. They are contested by every inch just like God says to us today, “Go, make disciples,” but it’s hard. “Go, preach the gospel,” but it’s difficult. “Go,” says God, “and make every man conscious of the laws of Jesus. Preach to him.”
“Ah, Lord, but that’s a hard assignment.” Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter.
God has those that He’ll give us. Whenever a man preaches the gospel, somebody will be saved. When a man builds a church, God will add to it. They won’t all be saved until Jesus comes again. There’ll always be people here that will reject, but there will also always be people here that will respond whatever the difficulty, whatever the discouragement, whatever the clouds, “Go over,” says God. There are victories for us. The Lord will give us somebody. He’ll give us you; He’ll give us you.
So Joshua goes over. And there you have the wars of the conquest. He made three campaigns, first in the center of the country. He took Jericho. Then he took Ai, which was the military outpost and bastion of Bethel.
Then the Gibeonites deceived them, and they made a truce with them. So, they won all of the central part of the country. Then Adonizedek who was the King of Jebus, later Jerusalem, with four other kings, those five warred against Joshua, and Joshua won the southern campaign. But when he prayed to the moon over – to the sun and the moon over Ajalon, “Don’t you go down and destroy the light,” and there was a long day. Remember that story? That’s against the five kings in the south.
Then up in the north against Jabin, who was the king of Hazor, up there above Galilee, that was the third great campaign, and then the conquest ceased. And the last part of Joshua is the story of his death and of his appeal to the people to be true to the Lord.
Then we come to the Book of the Judges. The difference between a judge and a king is this: A king gives to his son in succession his throne, but a judge was raised up according to a crisis and endowed with special gifts from God.
Now, first in the days of the judges, the hoards out of Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates Valley, they’d come and oppress Israel, and Othniel, who is the younger brother of Caleb, is the judge raised up to deliver them. Then the Moabites oppressed Israel, and Ehud – you know, he was left- handed, and that’s one of the funniest ways to deliver a people I ever saw in my life. This man, who was the king of Moab, was named Eglon, and the book says he was very, very fat. And Ehud was left-handed. So, when you see a man, why, you watch his right hand. You don’t think about his left hand. You watch his right hand. So, Ehud came to Eglon to bear the tribute, and he laid the tribute down with his right hand.
But he had his left hand back of him, and when Ehud put the tribute down with his right hand and the big, fat king looked at it in greed and avaricious gladness, then Ehud, who was left-handed, whirled around with his left hand and had a dagger in it, and he plunged it. And I want you to know, when the fat of Eglon covered over the dagger, he couldn’t pull it out, so he just left it in him and ran away. Isn’t that an amazing thing?
Then you have an invasion from Philistia, and Shamgar delivers it with an ox goad. Then you have the great invasion from the north under another Jabin in Hazor, and Sisera is his captain of the hosts. And there’s not a man that will fight him, not a one, all of them scared to death, not a man.
And God raises up a woman. Thank the Lord for Deborah! God raises up Deborah, and she encourages Barak, and they defeat Sisera and the hosts of Jabin in the vale, in the valley of Esdraelon. Then you have the Midianites and the story of Gideon. Then you have the Ammonite oppression and Jepthah, and last of all, you have the Philistine oppression and the story of Samson.
And now we have come to the ministry of Samuel, the reign of Saul, and of David, and of the kings of Israel and of Judah. Now, the last of the judges was Samuel. Samuel marks the beginning of a great departure in Israel. There is only one religion in the world that is characterized by the phenomenon of what you’d call a prophet.
No other religion in the world has ever had a prophet, nor has there ever been a religion in the world that foretold the future or that spake of things that God was going to do in times to come. And Samuel, the last of the judges, is also the first of the prophets. And in his ministry and in his life, Samuel instituted what you call a seminary, a school of the prophets. And from now on, you will find the prophetic ministry more and more coming to the fore in the life and the development of God’s people.
This man, Samuel: first, the book. The ministry of Samuel is in chapters 1 to 7, and then the reign of Saul is in chapters 8 through 31. Now, to go as rapidly as we can – Samuel, as you know, was given in answer to prayer of a godly woman named Hannah, who was sterile. And in her prayer, God placed in her arms this little boy, whom she called “Asked of God” – Samuel.
And when she weaned him after three years, she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh, to the pastor of the church, to the high priest named Eli. And there before Eli, the little lad ministered unto the Lord, being a Levite, dressed in a linen ephod, the plain white garment of a priest. And Samuel grew up unto the Lord, and even in childhood, the word of the Lord came to Samuel, and no message that he delivered did God let fall to the ground.
And after Samuel’s ministry, in which he went around with a Bible in his hand and taught the people the Word of God, he made his circuit year after year teaching the people the law of Moses. And after Samuel’s age, the people said, “We want to be like the nations around us. We want a king.” And God said to Samuel, “Give them a king. The thing comes out of the vanity of their heart,” but God had willed even in the Book of Deuteronomy that they have a king.
So the Lord said to Samuel, “You go ahead and obey their desire.” And he chose a godly, handsome, humble, marvelous young fellow by the name of Saul. Isn’t it a shame he could not have continued that way? Chose Saul, the son of Kish, and after the anointing of Saul, he is presented to the people. So humble is Saul, so self-effacing, that when they gathered to crown the new king, he’s not even there. They find him hidden away.
And they bring him out, and he stands before the people, head and shoulders taller than any of the other of Israel. And they shout, “God save the king.” Isn’t that a marvelous thing? They still say it over in England. “God save the king.” And they crowned Saul.
In his beginning ministry, oh! Saul was a great man and a powerful influence for God. For example, those Ammonites came from the east. The Ammonites were a kind of a Bedouin, nomadic group living over there at the head of the Arabian desert where it juts against Trans-Jordania. The Ammonites came and said to the men of Jabesh-gilead, “Come out. We’re going to put out your right eye, every man, just to show our contempt for Jehovah God and for you.”
And the men of Jabesh-Gilead sent word to Saul that the Ammonites had come and they were going to put out their right eye just to show the Ammonite contempt of Jehovah God and for God’s people. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul, and he slew his oxen and cut them up into pieces and passed the pieces throughout Israel and said, “Thus may God do to every man in Israel who doesn’t meet me at Bezek near the Mount Gilboa in order to fight for God and to fight for His people.” [from 1 Samuel 11:7]
Oh, it was a day of revival! It was a day of commitment. It was a day of victory and triumph. Saul led that army over there, and they routed the Ammonites, and the Jabesh-gileadites never, never forgot. And then every successful campaign crowned the work of Saul. His wonderful boy, Jonathan, attacked the Philistine garrison at Geba and at Michmash, and then he fought the Moabites and Edomites and the Syrians. And in every way, God blessed Saul.
And then something happened I’ve never understood. And then something happened. Instead of being that self-effacing, wonderful, humble man who was filled with the Spirit of God and the power of conquest, when he went to fight against the Amalekites, he looked at the treasures of the Amalekites. He looked at their flocks and their herds, and greed seized him. Every once in a while, don’t you see a man like that? A fine man, and he succeeds out in the business world and it turns his face, and it turns his head. And Saul looked at all of the spoils of the Amalekites, and he decides then out of the pride of his life, he thought he’d chain Agag to his chariot and ride back through Judea and through Israel with Agag, the king, tied to his chariot out of the vanity of his life and disobedience to God. “It’s better to obey than to sacrifice,” said the Lord God.
And then in the second Philistine campaign, an overwhelming calamity destroyed Saul. On one side of the vale of Elah were the forces of Philistia, and on the other side were the forces of the children of Israel. And there came out a big giant by the name of Goliath. And he said to Israel and to Israel’s God, “You come out here and fight me. If you win, we’ll be your servants, but if I slay you, you’re our servants.” And all Israel cowered and trembled. Shows you what happened to Saul. Instead of Saul being out there in the might and power of the Lord Jehovah God, he was back in the camp scared to death, scared of Goliath. You see, his heart had caved in on him. He’d lost his unction and his power with God, and he was afraid.
And in those days, there was a boy, there was a boy, whom Saul didn’t know, and didn’t anybody know him. Even his own father didn’t call the boy to the feast when Samuel came to the house and said, “Jesse, in order to anoint a new king, here’s Eliab, here’s Shammah, here’s Abinadab.” When he had gone through all seven of those boys, Samuel said, “I don’t understand. God sent me here to your house to anoint a new king, and you say these are all your boys, and God’s rejected every one of them because God doesn’t look on a man’s countenance. God looks on a man’s soul. He looks at a man’s heart.” Samuel said, “I don’t understand. I can’t understand.”
And then the father happened to remember. “Well, wait a minute. I got another boy.” Now, isn’t that a sight? “Yeah, I got another boy. But, my land, he’s herding sheep on the back of the pasture. He’s just a boy, he’s just a boy. You don’t want him. We never thought to ask him to the feast.”
Samuel said, “Listen, Jesse, we won’t sit down until that boy comes.” There the feast is all prepared and everybody is standing around with their mouths watering and everything going on, and Samuel says, “We won’t sit down, even, until that boy comes.” And when the boy came, he was ruddy, red-headed, of a fair countenance, and the glory of the goodness of God was in his eyes and in his speech. And when Samuel looked on him, God said to His prophet, “Arise, anoint him. That’s he; that’s My king,” a ruddy-faced, red-headed lad from the sheepfold. That’s God. And he anointed him. What an amazing thing.
Well, the next time that little boy appears, oh, he’s sixteen years old, fifteen years old. He’s in his teens, he’s growing up to be a young man. And law me, he’s walking down the hill to the dry wadi in the middle of the valley called Elah. Some of you have done that. I have, and picked up those stones; but I sure was glad there was no Goliath glaring at me on the other side. He walked down into that valley, and he picked out five smooth, round stones. You know, there’s an old gag. Did he lack faith that he picked out five stones? If he had believed in God, one stone would have been enough. Why did he pick out five stones? And the answer is, “Man, Goliath had four brothers.” Yes, sir. Goliath had four brothers. There was one for Goliath and one for each one of the other brothers.
And that little boy, that teenager down in that valley, stooping over, picking up those stones and putting them in his script, in his lunch bag that he took out when he fed the flock. He’d stay out all day and he’d take a lunch with him, and he had a little bag. And he put those four stones in there, and then he walked up on the other side to that glowering giant, nine feet six inches tall. Man, what a center on a basketball team he’d have made. Think of him. There he was with his staff, with his spear like a weaver’s beam, with his armor bearer carrying a shield higher than a man’s head.
And the giant looked down, and there was that unshaven, ruddy-faced, slender boy with a shepherd’s staff in his hand, and something else in his right hand coming out to fight, and Goliath was insulted. He didn’t even get up. He sat down and he looked at him, and he said, “If you come to me, I’ll feed you to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.”
And Goliath stood up and started to walk towards that boy, I presume just to get him by the nape of his neck and shake the daylights out of him. And law, me alive, that boy reached down into that satchel and got out one of those stones, and as he walked toward Goliath, that thing was swinging around his head, and when he got close he let it go, and it went right into the middle of his forehead and sank into his brain. And Goliath fell down dead, and David, the boy, took out his great sword and stood on the top of his carcass and hacked off his head. Now, there, now there was a victory.
Ah, but here’s what happened. Oooh, that old green-eyed monster! When the women of Israel came back to Jerusalem singing about the victory and praising God for the deliverance, this is what they were singing: “Saul hath slain his thousands, but David, but David hath slain his tens of thousands.” [1 Samuel 18:7]
And Saul heard them sing. All the women, all their lives, loved David. Wasn’t that a remarkable thing? David must have been one of the handsomest, and one of the finest-looking, and one of the most personable, and one of the best specimens of mankind that the Lord ever created. God loved David, the women loved David, and the men who were with him. He said one time, when he was behind the Philistine lines when he was hated and hounded, David happened to say one time: “Ah, I remember, the well at the gate of Bethlehem out of which I drank when I was a boy.” He just happened to say that.
And some of those great, big, strong, fine men jeopardized their lives, went beyond the enemy’s lines, to get a drink of water for David. They loved him. You can’t say too much about David, the man after God’s own heart. And the women loved him, and they sang that song, and Saul heard it. And the Book says, “And from that moment on, Saul began to eye David,” and he began to hate him, and he began to seek for his life until finally, David fled the country and was assigned a city in the south of Philistia named Ziklag. And there he was in the third Philistine war.
And the book closes in the battle of that third Philistine war. You see, Saul is oppressed, and the Philistines are gathering by the thousands and like the sands of the sea, and they’re spread there on the plain of Esdraelon, Meggido. How many of these battles will you find being fought there on the plains of Meggido? And the Philistines are there by the thousands. And Saul with his army – with Jonathan, Abinadab, Malchishua; Saul is up there on the height of the Mount of Gilboa. And he’s oppressed. And he goes over on the other side of the valley in the midst of which is a tall – it looks like a loaf of bread. It’s called the Hill of Moreh.
And on that hill is a village named Endor. And in Endor is a witch. And in the dead of the night, Saul oppressed, finds his way to the witch of Endor, and he says, “Find me Samuel.” My goodness alive, no witch is able to bring up the dead, no spiritualist, no anybody can bring up the dead. But God let that old hag, that old witch, bring Samuel up because it was for a purpose.
And when that witch saw Samuel rise from the dead, her hair stood straight up – it scared the living daylights out of her. She knew she’d been a hoax, just like all the rest of them. Scared her to death. And Saul said to Samuel, “I’m oppressed, and the Philistines are gathered like the sands of the sea, and God doesn’t answer me anymore, and I pray and He doesn’t answer, and I inquire, and He doesn’t answer. And God has forsaken me. What shall I do?”
Samuel said, “There’s not anything you can do when God’s left you, not anything, not anything. When God has left you, there’s not anything to do. And this time tomorrow, you and your sons will be with me, be with me.” People often ask, “Was Saul a lost man?” No, sir, Saul was not a lost man.
Saul was the kind of a man that lost his ministry. He lost the great ableness of his life. But he was saved, for Samuel said, “Tomorrow at this time, you’ll be with me, you and your sons.” Jonathan was one of the flowers of Israel, and wherever Jonathan was, Saul was going, and wherever Samuel was, Jonathan and Saul were going.
Saul is the type of a man who was called of God, who was endowed with great talents from God and instead of using them for the Lord, success turned his head, and he lost his kingdom and he lost his children, and he lost the great open door that God set before him. So, the next day, Saul joins the battle, and the Philistines come up the side of the mount, and Israel rushes down the mount to beat them.
And in that day, they slew Jonathan. He was the first one to fall. They slew Jonathan. Then they slew Abinadab. Then they slew Melchishua, and then the archers got the reins, and they began to strike the armor of Saul. When he saw he was going to perish, he took his sword and put the butt end of it on the ground and put the point of it in his abdomen, and he fell with all of his great weight on that awful sword and lay there in a pool of blood.
When the Philistines found him, they cut off his head and took off his armor, and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshean, a Caananite city down at the bottom of Jezreel. And they took his armor in the house of their goddess Ashtaroth. And when the men of Jabesh-gilead heard about it, they went at night and took down the body of Saul and buried his body in Jabesh-gilead on the other side of the Jordan River.
Then an Amalekite came. Now, we’re in 2 Samuel. Now, first the outline of 2 Samuel: 2 Samuel is the reign of David, chapters 1 to 4, his reign in Hebron; chapters 5 to 11, his reign over all Israel until his sin. The third part, chapters 12 to 20, the penalty for his sin, and chapter [21-24], the concluding of the life and ministry of David.
Now, an Amalakite came, and running up to David said, “I slew Saul, I slew him, and here’s his crown and here’s his bracelet.” He thought he’d be rewarded, but David refused for years to take advantage of the iniquity and the rejection of God against Saul. And David waited upon the Lord, and he took that Amalekite and he slew him.
And then David made this beautiful, beautiful elegy regarding Jonathan and Saul, and then he leaves Ziklag, and he’s crowned king in Hebron over Judah. David was crowned three times, privately by Samuel, at Hebron over Judah, and then finally, all the tribes crowned king over Israel.
So, Ishbosheth, who’s the son of Saul, is put on the throne by Abner, the captain of the hosts of Israel, and David reigned over Judah. But Abner turns aside from Ishbosheth and gives his loyalty to David, and when Joab, the captain of David’s hosts sees that, he’s afraid that Abner will take his place, so he privately slays Abner, one of the most dastardly deeds that anybody ever did.
Then two murderers slay Ishbosheth. Then David is crowned king over all of Israel. And the first part of David’s life over Israel is magnificent. God gives him every victory on top of victory after victory. He is never defeated. On and on David rises in glory and in power as he extends the empire.
Then, in the prime of his life, at the very height of his glory, instead of being out leading the hosts of God like a king ought to do, standing at the forefront of God’s people, he goes soft, and he stays at home and lets Joab lead the army. And while he’s at home on a couch in the evening, from the top of his palace, which is on the hilltop in old Mount Zion, he sees down in the city over the wall a beautiful woman bathing.
He didn’t even know her name. That’s not love. He didn’t even know who she was. That’s not love. He didn’t know whether she was married or not. That’s not love. That’s lust. That’s downright, unadulterated carnality; David, whom God had given the world, David. And he watches that beautiful woman. He asks who she is. And he sends for her, and then she sends word to him, “I’m with child. What shall I do? For Uriah, my husband, is with Joab fighting against Rabbath-ammon.” And David says, “This will I do.” And he got him a pencil and he wrote a note.
And say that Joab put that note in his pocket and keep it. Ah. And he wrote a note, and he said to Joab, “You have a man in your army named Uriah. He’s been down here to Jerusalem.” See, David tried to get him to go and live with his wife. Uriah said, “I won’t. The armies of Israel are fighting for God, and I’m not staying at home.”
He sat out in the street, and he wouldn’t go in his house because the armies of God were at war against Rabbath-ammon. And then David got him drunk and he wouldn’t go in. So, he writes that note to Joab, and he says, “Joab, you go ride up there next to the wall. Ride up there next to the wall. And then when you get right up there at the wall, with Uriah in front, then the rest of you fall back. Leave him there by himself, all the blaspheming infidels of the Ammonites to slay.
That’s what David wrote in that letter. And then he said, “When the report is made what you’ve done, I won’t castigate you for your strategy. I’ll understand.” And Joab did that. He took his army, pressed against the walls of Rabbath-ammon with Uriah at the front. And then in the midst of a battle, he gave that secret command and all of the other soldiers withdrew, and Uriah stood there, one soldier, fighting God’s battles.
And the Ammonites slew him, and he died there at the hands of the infidels. And Joab wrote back to David and said, “The war’s going like this. We went up, and then we withdrew, but before you say anything, Uriah, the Hittite, is dead.” Ah. Then the next sentence says, “But what David did displeased God.”
And the next day, Nathan, God’s prophet – the next day, Nathan, God’s prophet, comes in. And he says to David, “Sir, there is in this kingdom a man who has vast flocks. And across the way, there is a poor man who has one little lamb, and he nourishes the lamb, the only pet and the only love and the only thought that he has, that one little lamb, and that rich man, that man with great, expensive flocks and herds had a visitor. And instead of taking up his own flock, he went across and forced from that man that little lamb. And he dressed it.” And David was angry and said, “Why, that scoundrel, he’ll; he’ll restore it fourfold.”
Nathan looked at him and pointed his finger and said, “David, thou art that man. Fourfold.” And the sword never left his hands. Fourfold. First, first, the lad died, born to Bathsheba. God said he will not live. Fourfold. First, the lad died.
Second, that beautiful son Amnon: Amnon looked upon Tamar, the full sister of Absalom, and he forced her, and Absalom kept it in his heart, and after two years, he slew Amnon. Fourfold. Two of them.
And then Absalom, the most beautiful prince the world ever saw with his flowing, golden hair, with his marvelous, scintillating presence and personality, and all Israel loved him so much – they chose him instead of David, and they rebelled against David and David fled for his life, because all Israel loved Absalom, the beautiful prince and son of the great king.
And over there on the other side of the Jordan River, there is a battle fought. And when Joab sees Absalom, caught in an oak by that beautiful hair, he takes a dart and thrusts him through, and thrusts him through, and thrusts him through. Number three. David cries, “Oh, Absalom, my son, my son Absalom, would God I died for thee, oh, Absalom, my son, my son.” [2 Samuel 18:33] Number three.
Number four. Fourfold shalt thou restore. Adonijah. Adonijah was like Absalom – beautiful, personable, gifted. And when he sought to subvert the kingdom of Solomon, Solomon had him slain. Fourfold. And the sword never left his house.
Throughout the story of the kings of Judah, bathed in David’s blood. And 2 Samuel’s closes with the tragic story of the pestilence. God says to David, “Choose, choose. Shall it be seven years famine? Shall it be three months before your enemies or shall it be three days pestilence?” Ah, what a choice! What a choice! Seven years famine, three years to be pursued by my enemies or three days’ pestilence. He said, “Three days’ pestilence. I cast myself on the mercies of God. Maybe He will remember.” And thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of God’s poor people began to die, to die, to die.
And when David arises one morning, he sees the destroying angel with his sword raised over the city of the great king in Jerusalem to destroy it, and David falls in the presence of the Lord God and says, “O, God, O, God, against me and against my father’s house, O, God, O, God, but not these sheep.” And the Lord says, “Get thee up.” Mount Moriah, I’ve heard of that before, where Abraham offered Isaac, “Get thee up.”
Araunah’s threshing floor on the top of Mount Moriah, go, build an altar, sacrifice, the scarlet thread through the Bible. “When I see the blood I will pass over you, I’ll spare the city.” David goes up, and Araunah sees him coming, “Oh, my king.”
“I’ve come, Araunah,” says David, “to build an altar to God and to sacrifice lest the people be destroyed.”
And Araunah says, “My, lord, oh, king, I give you the place, I give you the instrument, I give you oxen for sacrifice.”
“Nay,” says David, “I’ll buy it. I won’t offer it to God that which costs me nothing.” He bought the threshing floor, and he built the altar.
And God, when he saw the blood, forgave and saved; and there they built the temple of Solomon, and there they erected the great altar. And there the prayers and intercessions arise unto the Lord for these years and years, and someday when they rebuild that temple, the songs and praises of God will go up again from that same and sacred place.
Ah we have been going about forty five minutes this time. Let’s do this. We are going to have an intermission in Coleman Hall from 10:30 until 11:00, isn’t that right? Isn’t that right? From 10:30 until 11:00; let me go on until 10:30. Let me go on and we’ll just take thirty minutes off. Now, oh, just as rapidly as we can. Ah. All of you who are standing in the back, there are seats up in that topmost balcony if you want to go to them.
Now, until 10:30, just seventeen minutes, just as rapidly as we can, so we come to 1 Kings. First Kings is divided like this: The first eleven chapters describe the reign of Solomon. The second part of it, chapters 12 through 22, give the story of the divided kingdom to the days of Ahab, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah.
Now, about Solomon: apparently, this is the pattern of life. Solomon began gloriously. God loved Solomon, the Book says, and crowned him with every gift. At Gibeon in the dream God said, “Anything, Solomon?” And Solomon asked for wisdom in order to rule his people well. And God said, “Because you’ve asked that, I’ll give you everything else. I’ll give you fame, and I’ll give you fortune, and I’ll give you victory, and I’ll give you a kingdom. And if you’ll be faithful to Me, I’ll give you length of days.”
Well, what did he do? Solomon began gloriously and triumphantly, and the Lord extended his kingdom and blessed him on every hand. And then, and then, Solomon fell into the most tragic decline of any king that you could read of. God said, “You shall not multiply unto you gold and silver.” And Solomon did that until it was as common in Jerusalem as stones on the street.
And God said a second thing, “And you shall not multiply unto you wives.” God hates that thing. Malachi says, “God hates that,” and – and Solomon multiplied 700 wives and 300 concubines. The little Sunday school boy said, “Solomon sure did like women and animals.” And they said, “What do you mean he liked women and animals?”
“Well, he said, “he had 700 wives and 300 porcupines.”
And the closing ministry of Solomon is tragic, tragic. There is rebellion on every side. He didn’t get length of days because of his disobedience to God. And his empire fell into disunity and disorder, and Solomon died one of the most abject failures in all human stories.
On his death, Rehoboam is the king. And because of his cruel attitude, you see, he was reared in Solomon’s court. And when you hear Rehoboam speak, you hear the speaking of a young man who grew up in Solomon’s day. Instead of being young men of great dedication and great commitment to God, all they love is pleasure and the things of the likeness and the gladness and the emptiness and frivolity and foolishness of this world.
That’s Rehoboam, so that his kingdom divides then, Jeroboam to the north, king over the ten tribes of the north, and the lion of David over Benjamin enmeshed in David in the south. In the two kingdoms, there are 19 kings in the south and 19 kings in the north, though the south and the kingdom of Judea lasted 135 years longer than the kingdom in the north.
In the upper kingdom, there are nine different dynastic changes. In the southern kingdom, of course, there’s no change at all. The line of David goes all the way through. And the Kings closes with the idolatry of Ahab and Jezebel and the rising of Elijah, the prophet of God.
Now, to 2 Kings. 2 Kings is divided like this: From 1 to 17 is the history of the two kingdoms to the fall of Samaria. And the last part of it, 18 to 25, is the history of Judah to the fall of Jerusalem. Now, we come to one of the great principles of the Word of God.
Over here in the book of Isaiah, chapter 10 and verse 5, Isaiah says, “Oh, Assyria, the rod of Mine anger and the staff of Mine indignation.” And in the Book of Habakkuk, which I had planned to speak of and haven’t time to read, the same thing God says about Chaldea, the kingdom of the Babylonians. So, these prophets now are beginning to prophesy.
There is coming the destruction of Israel, and they prophesy, “There is coming the destruction of Israel.” And they are describing that bitter and ruthless and merciless nation, Nineveh and Assyria, but they are coming. “The rod of Mine anger and the staff of Mine indignation,” says the Lord God, and Tiglath-pileser and Nabopolassar and Shalmonezer and Sargon and Assyria, Samaria, Ashurbanipal and Esarhaddon. They come down from the Lord, and they carry away Israel into captivity and destroy the kingdom forever and plow under Samaria.
“The rod of Mine anger and the staff of My correction.” That doesn’t mean that Assyria was any better than Samaria, and it doesn’t mean that Soviet Russia is any better than the United States. It just means that God raises up these empires that chasten God’s people. That’s why we tremble today in the presence of Soviet Russia, not that God favors them or loves them, but the favor and blessing of God is upon His people, and if His people don’t get right and if they don’t draw nigh and if they don’t serve God, the Lord raises up these bitter and merciless and cruel nations in order to chasten His people.
That’s what the prophets were preaching to Israel: “If you don’t get right, if you don’t get right, if you don’t get right,” then the great Assyrian hoards came down and carried away the northern ten tribes in 722 BC, and then that left Judah alone. And down there in Judah, there was Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.
And the great Assyrian invasion came in the days of Hezekiah. And Sargon finally took Samaria. And then his son, Sennacherib, came down to take Judah. How do you have a fight, a war? Well, you do it with armies and a battle array. That’s how you fight a war.
Sennacherib absolutely surrounded Jerusalem and took all of Judea. Hezekiah, the king, who was a godly man, made it a matter of prayer, and while he was down on his knees talking to God, the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, the son of Amos, saying, “You go tell Hezekiah, you go tell him that I’m going to put a up fort, I’m going to put a fort, I’m going to put a ring in Sennacherib’s nose. Send him back by the way that he came; for this is My battle. This is My war,” says the Lord God.
The next morning, there were 185,000 corpses when the angel of the Lord got through with the armies of Sennacherib, all in answer to good king Hezekiah’s prayer. America may be delivered somewhat by her armies and her air force and her men in uniform, but the imponderables of God either say life or death to a nation. Whether we live or die is in the hands of Almighty God.
Then after King Hezekiah, there follows – until finally we come to the last great revival, Josiah. Josiah was one of the Lord’s anointed, the good king Josiah. And he did one of the most foolish things in this world, one of the most inexplicable, one of the most un-understandable things in this world. In the days of Josiah, there was a great revival, one of the great revivals of all times. Josiah repaired the house of the Lord, and on the inside of the house of the Lord he found the Bible. And wherever the people read the Bible, you’ll have a revival. And when the people read the Bible, they had a great stirring of the devoted love of their souls to God.
And the people began to live right and to do right and to love God and to serve God, and it was a marvelous thing. And the prophets prophesied, and everything was blessed of heaven. And right in the middle of that, Pharaoh Necho who was the king of Egypt, Pharaoh Necho, made an agreement up there with the remnant of the Assyrian hosts from Nineveh.
We’re going to find out if we have time, Nahum prophesied the destruction of Nineveh exactly like it was going to be. The remnant of Assyria – Pharaoh Necho, was going up there to join hands with the Assyrians in order to stop forever the rise of those Babylonians under Nabopolassar and his son, Nebuchadnezzar.
And when Pharaoh Necho took up his army at Megiddo, there we got that same place again, Armageddon, where the battles of the world are fought. When Pharaoh Necho brought up his army there on the plain of Jezreel and at Meggido, to go up there and to join the armies of Assyria to fight against Nabopolassar and his son, Nebuchadnezzar, Josiah – the good king, Josiah, who had sworn allegiance to Babylon – Josiah took his little army and there on the plains of Megiddo, he tried to stop Pharaoh Necho in his onward march up there to the north. And what Pharaoh-Necho did was what you’d think he’d do; he ran over the little army at Judah, and he slew Josiah, the good king, and never was there a lamentation in the world as Judah and the prophets of God lamented over King Josiah.
First, the rest of it: Pharaoh Necho joined the Assyrian up there at the head of the Mesopotamian Valley in a little place called Carchemish, and at Carchemish was fought one of the great battles of all time. Nebuchadnezzar – who was one of the ablest generals and one of the greatest kings who ever lived – Nebuchadnezzar was in charge of the armies of his father, Nabopolassar; and there, in 605 BC, the armies of Nebuchadnezzar overwhelmed the armies of Assyria and of Egypt. And they were never great powers anymore, not Egypt, not Assyria again.
And there, riding across the civilized world, stood that great colossus of a man, Nebuchadnezzar. And in those days, Jeremiah lifted up his voice and he preached to Judah, saying, “Repent ye, repent ye, get right with God.” And Judah never repented, and Nebuchadnezzar came in 605 from the battle of Carchemish, and he seized Jerusalem, and he took Daniel and the fairest of the land to his kingdom in Babylon in captivity.
And Jeremiah lifted up his voice, and he said, “Repent, repent, get right with God.” They never repented and they never got right with God, and Nebuchadnezzar came back the second time in 598 BC and he took Ezekiel and ten thousand of the fairest to that captivity in Babylon. And Jeremiah lifted up his voice once again and cried, saying, “Repent, oh, repent, get right with God, turn ye, turn ye.”
And they didn’t repent, and they never got right with God. And Nebuchadnezzar came the third time in 587 BC, and he didn’t have to come back anymore, for he destroyed Solomon’s temple, and he beat down the walls of the city. And he plowed under the holy city of God and sowed it down with salt.
And he took the people into captivity into the land of Babylon, and the whole face of God’s earth turned dark in fear, bathed in tears and in sorrow.
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning.
If I prefer not thee, O Jerusalem, to my chief joys, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.
By the waters of Babylon, there we sit down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion
For they that took us away captive, required of us a song and they that wasted us asked of us,
How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land.
[Psalm 137:5, 6, 1, 3, 4]
Israel wept and they cried, and they got right with God. And out of that Babylonian captivity came the three great institutions by which God has blessed our world. One, they were never idolaters again, never, never. No Jew’s been an idolater since that time.
Second, the synagogue was born, and this is a synagogue, the services of Judah are the services we have today. The synagogue was born. And third, out of the captivity came the canon of the Holy Scriptures. The old rabbis began to pour over the books and began to read the prophets and began to teach their people the Word of God.
And in those days, came Jesus with the scroll of the prophets in His hands, the same today. Today is this prophecy fulfilled in your ears! Ah, the wonder of the blessing of God as He guides through human history to that ultimate and final consummation!