Friday, July 6, 2012

Psalm 86 - A Prayer of Jay

The Affair of Reading - Jay Quine
I've read this countless times.  Lord, you know my heart.  Hear my prayer of David.

Psalm 86
1Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me;
         For I am afflicted and needy.
2Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man;
         O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You.
3Be gracious to me, O Lord,
         For to You I cry all day long.
4Make glad the soul of Your servant,
         For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
5For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
         And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
6Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
         And give heed to the voice of my supplications!
7In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You,
         For You will answer me.
8There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord,
         Nor are there any works like Yours.
9All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
         And they shall glorify Your name.
10For You are great and do wondrous deeds;
         You alone are God.
11Teach me Your way, O LORD;
         I will walk in Your truth;
         Unite my heart to fear Your name.
12I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
         And will glorify Your name forever.
13For Your lovingkindness toward me is great,
         And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
14O God, arrogant men have risen up against me,
         And a band of violent men have sought my life,
         And they have not set You before them.
15But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
         Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.
16Turn to me, and be gracious to me;
         Oh grant Your strength to Your servant,
         And save the son of Your handmaid.
17Show me a sign for good,
         That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
         Because You, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

Do I hear an "AMEN?"   Can I get a witness?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summary of the OT Prophets in Historical Order

Chronological Arrangement of the Old Testament Prophets
Historical Observations in a Short Narrative
Dr. Jay A. Quine

Before 722 BC (to Israel)
As Israel's rebellion became increasingly acute, the Lord sent messengers to deliver warnings of certain judgment unless they repent.  Reminding Judah (Israel) of the absolute sovereignty of God who controls not only the affairs of nature (drought and locust plague) but also of nations (Gentile armies), the prophet Joel was the Lord's first spokesman (c. 830 B.C.; 2Ch 23:1--24:27 assuming Obadiah is later and not 845 B.C.).  The Lord provided an example of a people moved to repentance by the preaching of a prophet sent not to Israel, but to a Gentile city state. Jonah (Jeroboam II's reign, 793-753 B.C.; 2Kg 14:25) was commissioned to Nineveh to proclaim its destruction.  Ironically Nineveh responded to God's servant, but the Northern Kingdom did not even though they heard the message from both Amos (c. 760 during Jeroboam II), who wrote during a time of great prosperity and described the Lord as a Lion roaring against them for their abandonment of the Covenant, and Hosea (during the time of Tiglath-pileser III, Shalmaneser, Sargon II, and Sennacherib of Assyria, and Jeroboam II of Israel; c. 750-721 B.C.), who saw Israel's final days and whose marriage pictured her adultery against the Lord. 

Before 586 BC (to Judah)
During this time Judah's spiritual integrity continued to rise and fall.  Summoning Judah to "hear" the indictment against them, Micah began his ministry to the south before the north's fall (began about 735 - 679 B.C.).  His preaching with Isaiah's (his 58 year ministry began just prior to Uzziah’s death in 740 B.C.), who called them to be the servant the Lord intended, may have in part contributed to the miraculous deliverance Jerusalem and Hezekiah experienced from Sargon's army (701 B.C.).  Yet they both maintained that God would judge Judah just as He had Israel.

After Israel fell to Senacharib of Assyria in 722 B.C. the Lord sent Nahum (c. 663 the fall of Thebes - 612 the fall of Nineveh) to predict Nineveh's own destruction and provide comfort to Judah (during Manasseh's reign in Judah; Ashurbanipal in Assyria).  Yet soon thereafter Zephaniah began his ministry (c. 628 - 612 B.C.) to stress the inevitable judgment on Judah for her evil (such as Manasseh's evil reign) in his day and in the future as part of the day of the Lord.  Recording his own dialogue with the Lord, Habakkuk (612-590 B.C.) asks how evil Gentile empires can be used as instruments of God's judgment?  The Lord promised that they will in turn be judged for their evil, and God's people living by faith will be extended mercy. Echoing this promise, Obediah (586 B.C.) illustrates by proclaiming judgment against Edom who, rather than come to the aid of his "brother," joined forces with Babylon and looted Jerusalem.  Using Edom's fall as a prototype for the future, he concludes by looking to the ultimate day of reckoning when the Lord's judgment will fall on all of His enemies and His eternal Kingdom will be established.

Just before and after 586 BC (to Israel/Judah)
First warning of the coming of the Gentile armies and explaining the New Covenant God will make with his people, the prophet/priest Jeremiah (from 605 - 584 B.C.) witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and was carried to Egypt with those who fled.  As part of the first exile to Babylon, Daniel (605 - 562 B.C.) served as an example of how God could bless His people even in exile.  Trusting in God's sovereign control of his life, he is shown God's sovereign plan for world history into which will erupt the Son of Man and His Kingdom.  Taken as part of the second wave of captives to Babylon (597 B.C.) Ezekiel writes and illustrates God's judgment not only on Judah but also those Gentile nations who believed they escaped the Babylonian threat.  He encourages the captives by reminding them of the New Covenant and the reunification and resuscitation of the dead bones to the Land.  
As the Lord promised Jeremiah, the return from exile came 70 years after Jerusalem's destruction.  The mission of the first returning group to rebuild the Temple (under Zerubabbel, 538 B.C.) was frustrated for 17 years.  The Lord sent Haggai (520 B.C.) with four messages of challenge ultimately reminding them of the eschatological hope connected with their own faithfulness.  Returning as part of this first group as a boy, Zechariah (writing 520 - 518 B.C. and 485 B.C.?) grew up to also encourage its construction through ten visions of the Temple and the end of resistance from Jerusalem's neighbors.  Extending his message to the future, he concludes with two apocalyptic messages describing deliverance from Gentile domination upon the Messiah's return.  The importance of obedient living in light of this hope is addressed by the Lord's last prophet of this era, for Malachi (438 B.C.) explains to a despondent generation nearly 100 years after the first return that their indifference to the Law of the Lord must change in view of His coming day.

Some Historical Background to the Exilic / Post Exilic Prophets
In 626 BC the great neo-Caldean/Aramean/Assyrian Empire begins to fall (“neo” because it follows the Chaldean Emipre of the second millennia of which Hammurabi was a part). The Chaldean[1] Nabapollassar begins to rise up against the Assyrian Empire.[2]  Finally in 612 BC the Medes, Cynthians, Elomites and Chaldeans unite together to destroy the great city of Nineveh.  The Assyrians flee to Harran (west).  Nebuchadrezzar pursues to fight the Assyrians, who are joined by Pharaoh Necho (who has defeated Josiah at Medeggo along the way).  They are routed from Harran in 609 BC, and suffer final defeat at the Battle of Charcemish in 605 BC.[3] The Assyrians never again rise to power.

Nebuchadrezzar reigns from 605 – 562 BC (approx. 43 years).  He is succeeded by his son Labashi-Marduc who reigned only a few years.  Naraglisis enjoyed only a short reign, but Nabonidus ruled from 556 – 539 BC, although from Temah (likely exiled there by the powerful priesthood) for 10 years.  In his absence from Babylon, Belchazar reigns.  Cyrus becomes leader of the Medes (559 or 550 BC) and topples the Babylonian Empire under Belchazar’s reign (539 BC).

During the Babylonians supremacy there were three main contacts with Judah.  In 605 BC Jehoiakim submits to Babylon.  The Chronicles state that he was seized and taken to Babylon (2Ch 36:6). In 597 Jehoiakim is murdered, and Jehoichin (then 8 years old) is placed on the throne (2Ch 36:10).  He is exiled to Babylon (2Ch 36:10) with many others, including Ezekiel.  Zedekiah is set up as their last king.  In 586 BC Jerusalem falls (2Ch 36:11-21). 

It is during this time period in which Ezekiel prophesied and Daniel served.  Before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC yet after his own exile to Babylon in 597 BC Ezekiel condemned Judah for their idolatry and warned of the judgment from God’s instrument, Babylon.  Afterward he spoke / wrote of the future restoration of Jerusalem and re-institution of the Levitical priesthood.

In 538 BC Cyrus issued a decree allowing the Jews exiled by Nebuchadrezzar to return to Jerusalem and reconstruct their religious shrines.  Zerubbabel led the return in 537 BC alone with some 50,000 people with hopes to rebuild their homes and the Temple (Ezra 1:1-4).  Shortly after beginning the reconstruction of the Temple (having laid the foundation, Ezra 3:11-13) the work was hindered by the Samaritans (Ezra 4:5).  Work was halted until 520 BC when the document authorizing the project had been found by Darius the Great (522 – 486) who then forbid any more interference.  It was at this time that Haggai and Zechariah began their prophetic ministries.[4]  A simple timeline of these events is as follows: 
            Cyrus (550 – 527 B.C.)
                        539 B.C.   The Fall of Babylon
                        537 / 538   Decree allowing the return to Jerusalem
                        537 B.C.    Zerubbabel, et. al., leave Babylon
                        536 B.C.    Temple construction begins
Cambysis (527 – 522 B.C.)
Gaumata (522 – 521? B.C.)
Durias the Great (522 – 486 B.C.)
                        520 B.C.  Haggai’s and Zechariah’s Ministries begin
            516 B.C.  Temple Completed

Xerses  (486 – 465 B.C., aka, Ahasuerus; cf. Ezra 4:6)

Artexerxes I  (465 – 424 B.C.)
            454 B.C.   Ezra Returns
            445 B.C.   Return under Nehemiah; building of the city

[1] In Daniel, it appears that “Chaldean” refers both the ethnic designation as well as to denote the court wise men.  Nebopollassar was ethnically Chaldean.
[2] Part of the agitation against the Assyrians may be seen as far back as 702 BC when a delegate is sent to Palestine to stir up trouble with Hezekiah in Isaiah’s day.
[3] Cambridge Ancient History, Vol III, The Assyrian Empire, 1929, Chapter X, p. 210-212.
[4] See generally R.K. Harrison, ”Zerubbabbel,” Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia, 5:1057.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What God Says about Your Money, Quine

Matters of Your Money
Now that we know the benefits of work, and the work ethic of the believer, we can expect to make some money.  It naturally follows that from work comes money.  What do we do with our money? How can the believer who desires to serve God in every area of life, honor God with money? Proverbs speaks of at least three wise uses of this commodity.

1.      Glorify God with Your Money
This is an overall principle.  It comes from Proverbs 3:9-10. To "honor God" is a general reference to the righteous use of money.  The word honor also involves "give" or "pay" (See Isaiah 43:23).  In other words, we are to "give to God with our wealth;” use our money in a way in which. He would approve.

Notice, nothing specific is said in this passage.  There is, for example, no reference to the Mosaic Law's requirement of the tithing tax here.  It is just a general principle of using your money righteously (which would include giving today, or  tithing then).  This does not preclude spending money for things like entertainment, but it may effect the ways in which we are entertained.  We are to spend our money with God's own character in view, so that by its use He will be honored.  Proverbs does mention some specific ways in which we can honor the Lord with our money.

2. Generosity, Giving, and Benevolence
One way to "honor the Lord with your wealth" is by being benevolent to those who are poor.  Read it for yourself in Proverbs 3:27-28 and 11:24-25.  Generosity was a sign of righteousness and an act of one rightly related to the Lord.  It fulfills the general principle of Proverbs 3:9.

Notice in these two passages another truth: by honoring the Lord with your wealth through generosity the Lord will honor you! The fact that the Lord is generous to the generous is more clearly stated in another passage.  Read Proverbs 19:17.  The Lord repays! Read on in Proverbs 22:9 and 28:27.  This is not prosperity theology (that if you are a believer He will bless you), but does confirm the principle in Proverbs 3:5,6 that the Lord takes care of those who trust in Him.

It is unfortunate that Christians are not known for their generosity.  Our giving is considered first a tax deduction, and second a burden.  We find it difficult enough to give to the church, let alone ever consider giving to the poor!  What we give is what we don't need; what is left over, rather than being the "first of all our produce,” Proverbs 3:10.

David and Jeannie were on furlough from their missionary work in Kenya, traveling the country to visit and thank those who had supported their work.  One Sunday they walked into a supportive church wearing what we would consider rags.  David had on a badly worn jacket with blown out pockets and holes in the elbows. Jeanie wore stockings which gathered around her ankles and had several runs in them.  Her dress was filthy; its color was faded. They began addressing the congregation by thanking them for their support and for the care packages they received.  "In fact," David said, "to show our appreciation we thought we would wear for you the clothes you have sent us."  Christians are cheap.  Who would ever think of getting the size of a missionary and buying them a new coat or dress.  Instead, we give what we don't need--what we have left over.

Christians today are not known for their generosity.  Yet Proverbs is clear. One way to "honor the Lord with your wealth" is our generosity, giving or benevolence.

3.    Grow it For the Future
Besides giving, Proverbs also teaches that the accumulation of money for the future is a legitimate way to "honor the Lord with your wealth."  But, first, three quick warnings:
-          Do not overestimate your financial abilities, Proverbs 28:11.  You may need some help.
-          Do not overestimate the value of money, Proverbs 11:4,28. Its accumulation is not to be your preoccupation in life.
-          Do not weary yourself to gain riches, Proverbs 23:4,5.  Our efforts are not to be spent pursuing wealth in itself.

So, in addressing the legitimate accumulation of money, these three warnings should be kept in mind.
If the accumulation of wealth is legitimate, (with these limitations) then how does the Christian do it? Again, Proverbs is specific in how to grow money.

A.    Be Honest and Diligent in Your Work
These two aspects of the Christian Work Ethic discussed above also apply here.  Those verses which mention the blessing from honesty and diligence are certainly one way to grow money.  These are combined in Proverbs 13:11.

B.   Minimize Borrowing
Turn to and read Proverbs 22:7.  If there ever was a verse addressing the spendthrift yuppie generation it is this one.  We somehow think we can spend ourselves rich.  We want right now what our parents worked a lifetime for.  And there is a quick way to get it--charge it.  So quickly we mount huge debt.  Through the use of plastic it doesn't even seem like spending money, but a $7,000 or $10,000 limit is quickly reached.  We are financially enslaved to our bank cards. 

Read a very interesting verse, Proverbs 22:27 - If you have nothing with which to pay, then CHARGE IT!  a commercial might say.  But not Proverbs; "why should he (the lender or creditor) take your bed from under you?"  It is as if the one with “nothing to pay with” has used for collateral the very thing which gives sleep, comfort, and rest.  Perhaps it is describing the sleepless nights spent worrying about the debt accumulated from borrowing.  In a figurative way, the creditor has "taken your bed from under you."

Be careful with debt.  Don't spend more than you make.  If we complain about the huge federal deficit can we be so two-faced and spend ourselves into debt?  If in seeming uncontrolled debt then get some professional help.  Many bankruptcy attorneys offer methods in family financial planning short of bankruptcy.  Seek out some help.  The avoidance of debt, or getting our debt under control is one way to make your money grow.

C.      Save It
Another way to make your money grow is by saving it. Encouragement to saving money is imaginatively stated in Proverbs 13:22.  Read it for yourself.

An attorney friend of mine who handled many personal bankruptcy cases first fully analyzed a client's financial situation.  More often than not he was able to consolidate their debts, arrange their accounts and payment structure so that not only was filing bankruptcy unnecessary, but also provided a way for them to start a family saving program!  Admittedly, it was usually not much (maybe only $50 or $100 per month) but it was something.  More importantly was an attitude they developed.  Most people want to save, but they would not think of not paying on their accounts.  This attorney advised them to "think of yourself as one of your creditors."  Such a mindset allowed them to grow their money through savings.

Amazing things happen to savings which generate interest and accumulate over time.  Even with relatively modest amounts, figures of compound interest are sometimes startling!  Yes it is possible even with an ordinary income to make your money grow through savings, and leave an inheritance for your children.

Quine writes of the Protestant Work Ethic

Many professions have a code of professional ethics.  Turn to Proverbs to see what the book of wisdom tells us about a Christian work ethic no matter what your business.

     1.    Honesty
The Lord takes a personal interest in the conduct of his people in the marketplace.  In the agrarian society of Solomon's Israel, this principle was communicated through weights and measures.  The Lord concerns Himself with the honesty of the weights so that He delights in a true weight, but hates a false balance.  Read this for yourself in Proverbs 11:1, 16:11, and 20:10,23.  Because the use of weights and measures were common practice in commerce, the Lord is therefore seen as taking personal interest in the commercial transactions of everyday life.

Proverbs 11:1, 20:10, and 13 inform the person in business that the Lord hates commercial dishonesty.  "Abomination" means that such practice is disgusting to Him.  He has the same disdain toward those who gain by crooked means (3:32), liars (6:16, 12:22), the wicked or even criminal in business (15:8,9), and those who pervert justice (17:15).

The dishonest will face consequences for their lack of integrity in business.  Note the parallelism between the man who does right and has "wealth," and the man who is wicked and has contrasting "trouble" in Proverbs 15:6.  "Trouble" could be shame (Genesis 34:30), death (Joshua 7:25), or general affliction (Isaiah 14:29), but is opposite to "wealth" here in Proverbs. What is true today in business was also true in Solomon's day:

What goes around comes around.  Income dishonestly gained ultimately does not profit, and will lead to discipline from the Lord.  Read the warning in Proverbs 10:2; 16 and 11:18.

Proverbs mentions few but important specific dishonest practices.  Although many feel it a legitimate business procedure, Proverbs 15:27 couples bribery with "illicit profits” Literally the word here means "to cut."  The person who uses bribery "to cut the big deal" is not outside the eyes of the Lord.  The benefit sought will really bring trouble to his own home.  Bribery is a perversion, Proverbs 17:23.

Lying may be thought of as necessary, or even legitimate sales puffing, but the prosperity it brings will only be short lived.  Proverbs 20:17 and 21:6 speaks to this.

These passages from Proverbs definitely reveal the Lord's intimate interaction with those in business.  The believer must consider honesty as part of his work ethic.

2.    Diligence
A.    Energetic Action
The believer in business is to be characterized by diligence.  "Diligence" (XXXX) in the Old Testament portrays decisiveness of action.  The diligent is one who is energetic so that there is accomplishment of the goal.  There is a sense of sharpness, and alert action with the diligent (cf. Isaiah 10:22-23; 28:22).

In Proverbs the diligent are contrasted with the sluggard, whose actions, when finally taken, are listless, inappropriate, and ineffective in securing their goal.  Diligence denotes conscientious and persistent activity, where actions are not wasted but part of achieving the goal.

B.   Results of Diligence
i.     Material Wealth
Material prosperity is the expectation for the alert and active worker.  Read it for yourself in Proverbs 10:4, 21:5, 13:4. In these verses, "soul" is used for one's desires.  The desires of the soul are fulfilled, or "made fat" for the diligent in business.

ii.       Leadership Opportunities
Leading others is also the reward of diligence according to Proverbs 12:24.  One author comments, "Through his industry a man reaches the position where he becomes the employer of labor." (Cohen, Proverbs, p.78)    The one who proves he is diligent is blessed with the greater responsibility of leading others who do not possess this alert and energetic nature. We all know someone who started out working as a janitor or some menial job and worked through the corporate ladder to become a manager, vice or even president.  The simplicity of diligence is often rewarded with leadership opportunities.

C.   Diligence versus the “Get Rich Quick Scheme”
As if written for our generation, there is a stark contrast to diligence.  Notice the reward of those who try to profit by some "get rich quick" scheme.  Read it for yourself in Proverbs 20:21; 21:5; 28:20,22.  The destructiveness of the get rich scheme is the attitude involved.  It is a mental outlook which quickly brings poverty, Proverbs 2l:5b. 28:22. The "get rich quick" attitude corrupts good practice.  Proverbs 28:22.  The word "to haste" describes one who is "unbridled...not the master of himself." (Delitzech, Proverbs, p.65)   This person ends up with an "evil eye" towards others.  In the field of law these kind are the "ambulance chasers."  They act like vultures who look at others as prey to take their money.  Proverbs condemns this attitude.

D.   Diligence versus Laziness
As greatly as diligence is extolled, sluggardliness is ridiculed.  Most frequently the consequence of being lazy is poverty.  Proverbs 6:6-11; 20:4,13; 24.30-34.  The lazy prefers just a little more sleep to hard work.  When he finally gets up and gets going it is not to perform quality work, for Proverbs 10:4 tells us that he is a negligent worker.  A sluggard would not make a good employee.

It is important to note that the poverty of the lazy is not the result of a lack of resources but due to failed use of opportunity.  In Proverbs 24:30-34 we see that the sluggard possesses a vineyard, yet fails to use it.  It is similar to Proverbs 12:27 where it is presumed he shot his game, but fails to clean, roast, and eat it.  The advantages and opportunities given a lazy person are wasted.

The sluggard therefore becomes hungry, Proverbs 19.15.  His problem could lead to a lack of quality in life, or Proverbs 21:25 possibly even indicates a premature death!  Laziness is a serious problem.

The ways of the sluggard bring shame, Proverbs 10:5.  Servitude is his future.  The sluggard should never be in management because he has never learned to manage himself, Proverbs 12:24.  He should not be trusted in business because he will cause disaster, Proverbs 18:9.

In Solomon's position as King he must have had the opportunity to see all kinds of people and evaluate the consequences of character.  The lazy go hungry, don't use their God-given talents, are on their  way to a premature death, bring shame, miss management opportunities, and bring destruction to one's business.  Solomon describes a bitter life for the lazy.

3.       The Work Ethic
While the focus of many universities and business colleges has finally turned to ethics in the marketplace, Proverbs has spoken to those in business for centuries.  No matter what our work, two basic principles directing our professional conduct are clearly stated:  Honesty and diligence.  These characteristics should follow the follower of the Lord.