Parental transfer (Part 1)
I would like to share with you what I have found to be the single most important key to psychological health and development, which leads to multiple kinds of blessings in our life. It has to do with relationships with our parents.
Relationship with our parents is mentioned in two out of the Ten Commandments. That itself is an indication of its significance. One reference is positive; one negative.
Exodus 20:5 – I am YHVH your God, a jealous god, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children upon three and upon four generations to those who hate me.
Bad behavior (sin) will be transferred from a parental generation to that of the children, even until the third and fourth generation. This was not God’s intention, since the passage goes on to state that He will bless unto a thousand generations. God set up a mechanism of generational transfer in order to bless; but if it is misused, it will still have effect.
Visiting iniquity does not mean that God will punish a child for his parents’ sin. It means that the influence of destructive behavior will be carried on. A parent who is abusive, absent, or aberrant will hurt his children, who will in turn tend to hurt their children, and so on. We are morally responsible for our behavior, and our behavior affects those around us.
Reverse the Curse
We call this destructive generational influence a “curse.” However, it is possible to stop this negative transfer and restore the mechanism to its original positive purpose. Primarily there are three components to “reverse the curse”:
1. Repent: don’t continue the negative behavior. No matter what the influence around us, we can always choose to do the right thing. If your parents were violent (for example), you can choose not to be violent yourself
a. To change, one has to first identify the negative behavior and then decide not to do the same thing.
b. Sometimes the pattern is continued by doing the exact opposite. A person with violent parents can become overly passive. A woman who experienced sexual abuse, may become sexually unresponsive to her husband.
c. We decide not to continue the pattern, by not doing the same thing, and by not reacting in the opposite way. We choose to act in a healthy and ethical way in every situation, free from all past negative influence.
2. Forgive: release negative feelings toward our parents. No one had perfect parents. Some parents are much better than others, but no one is perfect. There is always something for which we need to forgive our parents.
a. God forgave us by grace through Yeshua’s atonement on the cross. We did not deserve to be forgiven. God expects us to forgive others in the same way. This forgiveness starts with our parents.
b. Forgiving parents is not easy because we are influenced by parents even in our mother’s womb; our very physical make-up is composed from the DNA of our parents. Our identity and personality are connected to theirs. We have to search deep inside to forgive them.
c. We remove all bitterness and resentment from our heart. Forgiveness is a one-way street. We forgive whether or not the other changes his behavior. This does not mean we trust them in everything, or continue to allow them to easily hurt us.
d. Trust is a two-way street and demands the participation of the other. If the person wants to build a cooperative relationship, that is preferred. However, even if not, we can remove unforgiveness in our heart towards them. In this way, we free ourselves from psychological bondage.
e. Forgiveness also means to forget. The negative event must not be “replayed” in our consciousness again and again. It may be in the memory bank of our mental computer, but it is deleted from any active appearance on the screen of our thoughts and imagination.
3. Proclamation: we also break curses by speaking positively and canceling their “legal” jurisdiction in our lives. Words have authority in the spiritual realm. We simply state, “I forgive my parents of all wrongs toward me; I break all curses and cancel any negative influence in my life, in the name of Messiah Yeshua.”
Next week, in Part 2, I will walk you through the positive second reference in the Ten Commandments concerning our relationship with our parents.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, June 26, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Blaming G-D for our choices
The 12 spies spread a bad report about the Promised Land. We don’t need to do that as well.
Recently I was counseling a young person who was having difficulties in their life. After only a few minutes, it was clear that their problems were the result of their own choices and actions. My response to their situation was to turn to Number chapter 20:1-5 and read it with them.
1 In the first month, the entire community of Bnei-Yisrael arrived at the wilderness of Zin. The people stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. 2 Now there was no water for the community, so they assembled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The people quarreled with Moses saying, “If only we had died when our brothers died before Adonai! 4 Now why have you brought the community of Adonai into this wilderness, for us and our livestock to die here? 5 Why have you brought us from Egypt to bring us to this evil place—a place without grain, fig, grapevine or pomegranate—and there’s no water to drink!”
To understand this text, we first have to look at the context of what has just happened to the Children of Israel. They were redeemed from Egypt by G-D’s miraculous power through the Ten Plagues and then the Parting of the Red Sea. They have traveled to Mount Sinai and experienced the thunderous voice of G-D from the Mountain. They arrived at the border of the Promise Land and sent the 12 spies into the land which came back and reported that the Land was exactly as wonderful as G-D had promised it would be. A place of milk and honey full of grain, fig, grapevine or pomegranate—and water to drink!”. Yet the Children of Israel because of fear and unbelief chose not to enter the land. So when we come to Numbers 2 and the people are complaining because there now in a place without grain, fig, grapevine or pomegranate—and there’s no water to drink!”
How many of us like the Children of Israel and the young person I was speaking with have made choices that were contrary to G-D’s Word and promises and ended up in “the wilderness’ only to complain about how G-D allowed these things to come upon us?
G-D’s word is clear about His desire for us to be blessed and prosper as our souls prosper. So if you are looking around today and find yourself in a “wilderness” without the blessings of G-D, take a moment to search and see if you have rejected the “Promised Land” then repent and go back to the border and this time enter in!!
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
In your anger, do not sin
PARASHAT CHUKAT (STATUTE OF)
BAMIDBAR (NUMBERS) 19:1–22:1
I entitled last week’s blog, Guard your heart, and felt that it directly connects to our portion this week. This week, we read of a well-known story that ended in a tragic result:
Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation; and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. The people thus contended with Moses and spoke, saying, ‘If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD! Why then have you brought the LORD’s assembly into this wilderness, for us and our beasts to die here? And why have you made us come up from Egypt, to bring us in to this wretched place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, nor is there water to drink.’ Then Moses and Aaron came in from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting, and fell on their faces. Then the glory of the LORDappeared to them; and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.” So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Those were the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel contended with the LORD, and He proved Himself holy among them.
There is no doubt that the end of this story is tragic. Because Moses and Aaron did not trust God, and did not follow His instructions, they never entered the Land of Promise. I cannot imagine how devastating that was for Moses, especially (See more about this topic Parashat Chukat (Statute of)).
It occurred to me, however, as I reread this Scripture that perhaps there was something else happening in the account. I want to offer another possible interpretation, and approach it from a somewhat different perspective. Could it be that Moses’ anger caused him to sin? Is it possible that his anger blinded his trust in God to the point of disbelief? Verses 2 and 3 tell us that due to the water shortage, “the people assembled against Moses and Aaron” and quarreled with Moses. This was not the first time it happened and I believe it is fair to suggest that Moses had a growing frustration with his people, and their wandering in the wilderness.
Can it be that the reality that Moses faced this time was too much? Could it be that he allowed anger to fill his heart, so much so that maybe he did not pay attention to God’s instructions, and that him hitting the rock was as a result of anger and rage… i.e., “I am done!” I think this is a very real possibility, even though the text does not explicitly say so.
Anger in itself is not sin. It’s what we do with our anger that can lead to sin! Do we allow our anger toward someone or a situation to overcome us, even to the point that we cannot hear God? Even to the point that we may sin against God? This is yet another reason why we must guard our hearts!
BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
I encourage you to take time to pray, asking the LORD to reveal any area in your life that might be full of anger, which could open the door to sin. Anger that is not dealt with can have disastrous consequences; give your anger to God and allow Him to take care of every situation in your life!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Gen 10: History of origins, roots of humanity and nations
Chapter 10 of Genesis is also referred to as the Table of Nations (70, the same as the number of the children of Israel (Ex 1:5; Dt 32:7-9)). All of us come from at least one of Noah’s three sons — Shem, Japheth, and Ham (there have been mixed marriages along the way), whose own children were all born after The Flood. (The Hebrew word used for The Flood in Noah’s day is hamabool/המבול , and is not used for any other type of flood or flooding in The Bible. See also Ps 29:10) The covenant promise of God to Noah and to his sons with him, and to their descendants after them, is never again to destroy all flesh and the earth by a flood (mabool). (Gen 9:8-17) There have been many other lesser floods which have destroyed cities and islands, but none of these have been world-wide, nor are they called a mabool. Yeshua has promised to return in time to prevent all flesh from perishing during the Great Tribulation before God’s wrath. (Mt 24:21-22)
Remember from Ch 9:24-27 that Canaan, Ham’s youngest son, was the one cursed for his father’s sin – to be a servant of servants (slave of slaves) to his brothers and uncles and to their descendants. Yeshua/Jesus our Redeemer and Savior took this curse upon Himself by becoming a servant of servants (slave of slaves), whose example He has called us to emulate. (Phlp 2:3-11; Lk 22:24-27; Jn 13:12-17) What a blessing to know what it is to serve others, especially as unto the Lord! He lifts our heads and gives dignity to all peoples, whatever earthly lot or destiny we may have. He is the Son of Man, and knows our situations and circumstances.
It is important to read genealogies: God knows us by name, and the lists also have some interesting and significant facts written within them. Genealogies also give proof of human history, and of Yeshua as the promised Messiah, the Son of God, Son of Adam, Son of Abraham, Son of David. They help us to see God’s redemptive plan unfold through significant choices which He sovereignly makes at different times in history among people groups, and within those groups.
The Hebrew word toldote (transliteration is never simple!) speaks of giving birth, or begetting. Noah and his three sons and their wives (isn’t it fascinating that the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to tell us the names of Lamech’s two wives, but not to give us the names of the wives of the fathers of all humanity today?!) were the eight people saved in the ark that Noah, in the fear of God, built in obedience of faith to God’s word and instructions. (Heb 11:7)
The separation of the nations in Ch 10 is of the time after the Tower of Babel, since the language before that was one and the same for everyone. (11:1) In general, the descendants of Japheth settled in what is today Europe; the descendants of Ham settled in what is today Africa; the descendants of Shem settled in what is today Asia, which includes the Middle East. We can know this by the names of the sons and descendants given us, some of whose names are still used in Hebrew for certain nations and countries. At that time in history, there were not yet Jewish Israeli people, just “Gentiles”.
Here are some of the interesting things to notice in these genealogies:
–Japheth is the father of Magog, whose name is infamous from Ezek 38 – 39, and from Rev 20. Japheth’s sons and grandchildren became nations associated with Turkey, Greece, and other European nations. Yavan is today’s Greece, but is also connected with western Turkey. Tarshish is mentioned in other parts of the Bible, including where Jonah was headed trying to avoid God’s call on his life to preach in Nineveh, which Nimrod built. Tarshish is also mentioned also in Paul’s writings.
–Cush is a son of Ham (a Hamite). Cush today is the name for Ethiopia; in the Tanach it also refers to the area of Sudan today;
–Cush was the father of Nimrod. It was Nimrod, “a mighty hunter before YHVH” (v 9), who began the first Gentile kingdom of the world, in Shinar, also known as Babylon (today the area of Iraq), located today in the Asian Middle East, not in Africa.
–Nimrod was the first to conquer in order to rule over others besides his family. He established the first kingdom in the land of Shinar. The prophecy of Nahum is a burden against Nineveh, the great city. (see also Jonah). In Micah, Assyria is called the land of Nimrod, and the Assyrian is a major character in the end-times of the last days. (Mic 5:5-6)
–Ham is the father of Canaan, most of whose sons inhabited what is today’s Israel, including the disputed territories and Gaza, plus part of Lebanon. This Land of Canaan is the geographic territory which YHVH God, Creator and Possessor of all, promised in covenant with an oath to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob/Israel, and to their descendants. (Gen 13:12-17; 15:18-21; 17:1-8) The Jebusites were the inhabitants and rulers of what became Jerusalem until the days of King David. (2Sam 5:5-12)
–Mitzraim is also a son of Ham; and Mitzraim is the name for Egypt in the Bible until today. Mitzraim is related to the Philistines through his descendants, the Casluhim. (v 13-14) The Philistines inhabited Gaza, and their spirit is still present there today.
–Shem is the father of all the sons of Eber, whose name is the root for the Hebrews (both people and language). Eber means crossing over; passing through; going beyond. The fathers of Israel were called Hebrews, including their descendants (Joseph, and the nation; Jonah confessed to serving YHVH, God of the Hebrews). All who are called children of Abraham through faith in Jesus are strangers and pilgrims in this world — crossing over, passing through, going beyond. . . to Zion, the heavenly city and country.
–One of Shem’s sons was Arphaxad, who is recorded as being the father of Salah/Shelah. In the New Testament genealogy of Yeshua given in Lk 3, Arphaxad is said to be the father of Cainan (different spelling and person than Canaan), and that Cainan was the father of Shelah. These two lists are variations in two Hebrew texts of the Tenach — one used for the Masoretic text, the other for the Septuagint.
–Peleg was one of Eber’s two sons. (v 25) It seems that he was born during the division of the Earth/land, into the continents which we have today. (Gen 1:9-10; 10:25; 1Chron 1:19) The Hebrew word used to express Peleg’s name and the division of the land is different than the Hebrew words used for God separating the nations and their languages. This would also better explain how The Flood was global, not local. It is my opinion that He did both, as a judgment against the unified rebellion at Babel, and to protect His interests in having a holy seed, and a people who dwell alone for His redemptive purposes. (Num 23:9) Even secular scientists accept that the earth/dry land was once one large mass, but that it divided/separated hundreds of million years ago on an Earth billions of years old. Such a time-frame is nowhere hinted at in the God-breathed written record that He has given us in The Bible. “Is anything too hard for YHVH!?” (Gen 18:14) The Apostle Paul commended the Berean believers for checking the Scriptures after they heard his teaching, to see if what he taught was true. Shouldn’t we do the same when “the world” teaches us about how we got here that is contrary to what the Spirit of God and the Word of God teaches us?
We can see throughout the Scriptures that ALL of the people groups, nations, and families oppose those whom YHVH chooses and elects, and ALL oppose His Kingdom and His righteousness. ALL have sinned, and there is none righteous – except for the Holy One of Israel, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ, the promised Seed of the Woman.
The Flood was about 1696 years after Adam and Eve (Creation), and approximately 2304 years before Yeshua was born, or about 4323 years ago. Peleg was born between 100-200 years after the flood (again depending on which Hebrew text is used). The enormous Earth-shattering events which both caused The Flood and resulted from it prepared the Earth for our great and mighty God to carry out His command after The Flood, which the people refused to do: be fruitful and multiply, and fill the Earth/land. (Gen 9:1) YHVH God confused the languages, separated the families and people groups by their languages, and according to their lands and nations, with their boundaries. (Dt 32:8; Acts 17:22-31) He also divided the one land mass to separate the people even more definitely, and broke up their ungodly unity.
We can see in Ch 11 what God did. Remember that there were no chapter divisions in the original manuscripts. The last verse of Ch 10 connects simply and plainly to the first verse in Ch 11. The fear of YHVH is the beginning of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, and keeps us from evil.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses….” (Rom 5:12-14)
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23)
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we, through the patience and comfort of The Scriptures, might have hope.” (Rom 15:4)
God’s plan of redemption is not completed until it is finished, just as the Creation was not completed until after the sixth day. He does not stop short. Thank and praise God for Jesus!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, June 28, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
How to do it wrong
Once upon a time there was a pastor. (It wasn’t me. Honest.) This pastor had just stumbled upon an allegorical method of reading Old Testament stories and through it had made some wonderful discoveries. Now he was tempted to apply this method in every situation. And as this pastor was from a congregational culture where sermons were “led by the Spirit” (in other words, not prepared in advance), trouble ensued.
One bright Sunday morning, our enthusiastic pastor chose a text from I Samuel 6, where the ark of the covenant is returned from Philistia to Israel. The ark had been taken by the Philistines as spoils of war. After the Lord had rained various disasters upon them, the Philistines finally took the hint, and returned the ark to Israel. In the pastor’s sermon, the cart carrying the ark of the covenant became an allegory of the congregation carrying the Word of God. The cows pulling the cart were the believers, each of whom has a great calling to carry His word in this world. The encouraging allegory ended short when the pastor reached the point in the text where the cart was disassembled and the cows were sacrificed over the fire made from the wood of the cart.
One might conclude that advanced reading and preparation would have been in order.
In an interesting parallel, not only was the aforementioned sermon a good example of things going wrong… so was the entire story of the return of the ark of the covenant to Israel and ultimately, to Jerusalem. The background of the story is a military and religious catastrophe which resulted in the ark of the covenant being carried off by the Philistines – until they realized they were safer off without it, and returned it to Israel.
Here we come to the part of the story which has caused difficulties to more than one pastor. The part played by the Philistines was fulfilled when the ark of the covenant reached Bet Shemesh. There, the cart was broken up and used as wood to burn the sacrificed cows which had pulled the ark to the Israelite town. However, the point at which the unfortunate pastor completed his failed allegory was the point where things began to go wrong for the Israelites.
What happened next is determined by your choice of base text. The Masoretic Hebrew text and Greek Septuagint give slightly different accounts of the following events. According to the Hebrew text, some in Bet Shemesh looked upon the uncovered ark of the covenant and died because of that. Looking directly at the uncovered ark had been strictly forbidden even for those who were tasked with caring for it (Numbers 4). According to the Greek text, there was a particular family in Bet Shemesh who didn’t join in rejoicing over the return of the ark. Thus, their indifference towards the Lord resulted in them being struck down. (Another point of dispute between the texts is the number of casualties.) However, the end result remained the same: the ark of the covenant was not accorded the proper respect instructed by the Torah, and this resulted in immediate judgement. If God had been harsh to the Philistines, how much more to the Israelites who had received written instructions regarding the ark?
From there, the situation turned from bad to worse. Bet Shemesh was a Levite city. It was not by accident that the ark ended up there. The Levite inhabitants of Bet Shemesh would have included priests, descendants of Aaron, whose task it would have been to cover the ark of the covenant, and also the descendants of Kohath, son of Levi, who were instructed to care for the covered ark. These people should have had an in-depth knowledge of the proper handling of the ark of the Lord. Instead of doing their jobs, after the deaths of several inhabitants, they decided to send the ark to the neighbouring town of Kiryat Yearim. (This might actually hint at an ancient case of enmity between two neighbouring cities.) Regardless, Kiryat Yearim was not a Levite city, but a part of the area given to the tribe of Judah, which had not been tasked with caring for the ark. No one in the tribe of Judah should have had anything to do with the ark of the covenant. Nevertheless, there it was sent, and one of the inhabitants, Eleazar son of Abinadab, was consecrated to guard the ark. The lack of casualties in Kiryat Yearim (despite this clearly being against the Lord’s instructions) can only be because of God’s great mercy.
Can things get any worse? Of course they can! Incredibly, the ark of the covenant was promptly forgotten for at least one generation. More than twenty years passed… Samuel’s judgeship began and ended… Saul’s regime began and ended… and the ark remained in the house of Abinadab, where it was seemingly passed on from Eleazar to his sons. Only after the death of Saul, the ensuing civil war and David’s inauguration as king, did anyone recollect the existence of the ark. From 1 Samuel 6 until 2 Samuel 6, there is not even one mention of the ark of the covenant.
Was the location generally unknown? Possibly, but there’s no indication of that. On the contrary, when David makes the decision to recover the ark, its location does not appear to surprise anyone. Was the importance of the ark forgotten? This, too, is a possibility; although even that would be hard to comprehend. The ark of the covenant had been in Shiloh where Samuel grew up. Samuel was a Levite of the Kohathites (I Chronicles 6:27-28), who had been tasked with taking care of the objects in the sanctuary, including the ark of the covenant. Still, even Samuel himself was not recorded as having mentioned the ark – nor did he attempt to return it to its rightful place. All in all, we don’t know exactly what happened, nor do we know what caused this inexcusable ignorance – but somehow, somewhere, things went very, very wrong.
After a generation of ignorance, the ark of the covenant returned to center stage. David had established his rule and was in the process of moving his capitol to the old Jebusite city of Jerusalem. To centralize the regime, both the political and religious powers were concentrated in one spot: the city that God had chosen to be a dwelling place for His name (Deuteronomy 12:5). On the road to the new capitol, however, things went wrong again, and the body count grew even greater.
1 Chronicles 13 records a confession of past ignorance and an attempt to make things right. A great gathering of political, military and religious leaders heads to Kiryat Yearim to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. Honor is given to sons Uzzah and Ahio (or more likely, grandsons or even great-grandsons) of Abinadab to escort the ark in the final leg of the journey to the ark’s rightful place. However, one day turned into three months. How did this happen? The ark of the covenant was placed onto a cart pulled by oxen. The journey began with great rejoicing and celebration. At a certain point, the oxen stumbled; to prevent the ark’s falling to the ground, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark. God struck him, and he died. This is considered to be one of the hardest parts of the bible: Why would God strike a man who wanted to protect the ark?
The reason is again found in the Torah. First of all, Uzzah and Ahio never should have been there. They were inhabitants of Kiryat Yearim, and as such, almost certainly members of the tribe of Judah. Secondly, the ark was not to be moved by cart, but only carried by a certain family of Levites, after it had been properly covered by the priests. To summarize: everything about this journey went against God’s instructions. Instead of questioning why Uzzah died, we should be wondering why he was the only one! Again, one can only conclude that God chose to have mercy.
It was only after the death of Uzzah that David came to comprehend the holiness of God. And it scared him. David realized that God doesn’t tolerate lax obedience – something he would continue to struggle with the rest of his life. This newly discovered fear of God prevented the king from continuing in his failed endeavor to bring the ark to Jerusalem any which way. It also prevented further casualties from being incurred, as David finally made the first correct decision in the ark debacle: he left the ark of the Covenant in the house of a man by the name of Obed-Edom.
Whether this decision was the correct one, or whether David actually accomplished the very difficult task of making a terrible situation even worse would depend upon the identity of this Obed-Edom. Obed-Edom was said to originate from Gath. Gath is commonly known as one of five key Philistine cities in the area. (And if Obed-Edom had been a Philistine, this would have been another tremendous error.) However, it is also possible – and indeed, most probable – that the name “Gath” referred to a city named, in part, “Gath”, e.g. Gath-Rimmon, a Levite city in north. In fact, “Obed-Edom” was named among the Levite musicians when the ark was finally brought to Jerusalem (I Chronicles 15:21), and his family as gatekeepers, just prior to that (I Chronicles 15:18). It seems that this turn of events was finally in the right direction.
After three months of quiet, David revisited the idea of bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. This might have been the result of jealousy (or just a lack of ark-related disasters), as the idea was inspired by reports of Obed-Edom’s blessings. Whatever the case, it seems the instructions concerning the proper handling of the ark of the Lord had finally been remembered and put into practice (I Chronicles 15).
At long last, after so much trial and error, they finally got it right. The ark was carried by the appointed Levites who had consecrated themselves and dressed appropriately. They celebrated jubilantly: the ark of the Lord was finally on its way to its rightful place, physically and spiritually.
What are we to learn from this story? The long, convoluted journey of the ark is a warning to us not to neglect the Word of God. Good intentions will never replace the actual reading of the Bible and following our Lord according to His instructions. Without the Bible, our faith may be genuine, but it will end up in disaster. In order to obey, we need to take God’s holiness seriously, while also being aware of our dependency on God’s great mercies and forgiveness when we – inevitably – fail.
Avoid casualties; read the bible.
Terho is a Lutheran pastor from Finland studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.