Circumstance

The hard circumstances, the really difficult unbearable ones, can be used as an excuse to turn away from God, or as an excuse to cling tighter to Him, and make the promise of His Word become what the circumstance says it cannot and will not be: “Yes, and Amen, in Yeshua/Jesus” (II Cor. 1:20). Victory.

The Hurt that Heals

Genesis 38 records an unrighteous act of Judah, a son of Jacob. It is an unusual story, but one that shows the power of confession.

Judah arranged for his firstborn son, Er, to be married to Tamar. The Torah says that Er was wicked in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord put him to death. As per tradition, Er’s brother Onan was to produce a child with Tamar, to be raised up in Er’s name. Onan would not do so, so he also died.

Judah withheld his third son Shelah from Tamar, as he was too young; and he did not want to lose him as well. Yet, years later, after he had matured, while Tamar was still promised to Shelah, Judah continued to withhold him.

Tamar takes matters into her own hands; as to be childless was not just a social blemish, but, as she advanced in age, it meant certain death. She, hearing where Judah was settled, endeavors to trick him.

Tamar, dressed as a prostitute, is approached by Judah, who makes a business arrangement for her services. He gives her his cord and staff as a pledge of payment – items that identity Judah.

Tamar, then, disappears.

Months later it is discovered that Tamar is pregnant. When it is reported to Judah, since he has withheld Shelah from her, she can only be with child by an unrighteousness act. Judah demands the pregnant Tamar to be brought out, and burned alive.

The power of confession.

Imagine Judah marching, self-righteously, with torch in hand to put to death his daughter in law. In the face of the flame, Tamar bravely says, “I am pregnant by the man who owns these” … “And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are” (Gen. 38:25).

Judah had a choice, acknowledge his sin or put innocent life to death to cover his sin. Judah, recognizing his cord and staff confesses, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah” (Gen. 38:26).

Undoubtedly others would have recognize Judah’s possessions, but faced with the evidence – the truth – he confesses his guilt.

Judah’s confession saved three lives: Tamar and her unborn twins.

We do not often think of it in this way, but confession goes hand in hand with repentance. Repentance is, in the most basic understanding, a turning from to. Before God, repentance turns us, while confession moves us face to face.

The fruit of Judah’s confession and repentance are witnessed when we next hear from him: as he stands before his yet unrecognizable brother Joseph. Judah was not the man he once was, and Joseph recognizes this. Judah has experienced the deep pain of loss, and the humiliation of public exposure and confession.

The gift of God’s grace frees us from the grip of secret and shame, to soar upon confession, forgiveness, and restoration.

The apostle James writes, “Confess (acknowledge, talk about, profess) your trespasses (fault, sin, wrong) to one another (those injured by your action), and pray for one another, that you may be healed (made whole). The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man (clean, right, straight before God) avails much” (Jas. 5:16, amplification added).

John wrote, “If we say we have no sin (professing innocence), we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (because we speak against the truth). If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:8-9, amplification added).

Confession will result in restoration (being made whole), and cleansing. Judah did not recognize his brokenness until Tamar, the one he condemned to death, held up the evidence of his sin, “she has been more righteous than I.”

When we are fractured, broken, or soiled, especially by our own doing, we scarcely recognize the lengths we go to in order to cover it up, and plead righteousness, deceiving ourselves.

Confession brings the wounds to light for healing. Grace then does its work as the faithful are embraced by forgiveness, and confession clears away the debris of destructive sin.

Judah’s confession saved three lives, and the reformed Judah offered his life to save Benjamin from years of prison, as Judah was already free.

Confession, along with the shame and embarrassment that often accompany it, renews our walk with God, and the human other. It is a hurt that heals under His sovereign hand, and a sorrow leading to cleansing by the faithfulness of God.

Yeshua/Jesus has already paid it all. Everything needed, the grace for cleansing, forgiveness and reconciliation is in Him.

Be well. Shalom.

Close to the Ezel Stone

From the moment Samuel anointed David, by the direction of the Lord, he was a king (I Sam. 16:12-13): without a recognizable throne. The present king, Saul, initially loved David, and was soothed by his sweet singing (I Sam. 16:21-22), as personal torment increased after the Spirit of God departed him (I Sam. 16:14).

The love of Saul quickly turned to murderous rage, as David increased in fame, and songs proclaimed his greatness. The story of David and Saul is fascinating for many reasons; just too many for this blurb. The friendship between David and Jonathan, Saul’s son and heir, is equally fascinating, but for entirely different reasons.

Bottom line, the friendship between Jonathan and David is one we should all be blessed with.

Jonathan chooses faithfulness to God, and friendship with David over his fathers rule, and what would be his future throne. Simply: Jonathan knows David is God’s anointed.

The stone of Ezel.

Jonathan and David devise a plan that will either let David know that Saul does not intend him harm, and he is free to reenter Saul’s court; or, Saul intends harm, and David should flee (I Sam. 20:18-42).

The plan involves a stone, three arrows, and a third day.

Jonathan confirms Saul’s intent, and follows through with the plan on the third day. Arrows are loosed. David is sent away. Oversimplified summary, read the original, it’s much better.

There were times in David’s life when he did not much look like a king. And in this moment, as he awaits Jonathan’s report, hiding in a field, by a stone, kingly he was not.

What happened here?

Jonathan told David to “stay close to the Ezel Stone” (I Sam. 20:19). Why? This marker, the stone, will be where David is shown the way. Ezel is from a Hebrew root meaning departure. The “Ezel Stone” is sometimes translated as the “Traveler’s Stone.” It was a marker of direction for those on the journey, or departure for those leaving.

The Ezel Stone was the spot where David would begin to make the journey to his promised throne. What a journey it would be.

The arrows, sent the his friend and natural heir apparent to Saul, signaled David to depart. The arrows sent him out. Jonathan and his arrows, in that moment, became God’s voice of direction to the would-be king. David knew the direction – stay or leave – by where the arrows landed.

The third day is significant for many reasons. In some rabbinic literature the third day, the day after tomorrow, is known as the day of hope. On the third day, David would emerge, and begin the process of renewal to who God anointed him to be.

The arrows did not direct him immediately to the throne. Rather, they sent him to the mountains and valleys, to caves and deserts. They sent him to hardship, pressure that would bring forth the treasure of his psalms, and the unification of Israel.

Jonathan, as the way maker, decreased in order that David would increase; a pattern we see again in the life of John the Baptist, who said of Yeshua/Jesus, “He must increase, and I must decrease.”

Each of us will find ourselves waiting at the Ezel Stone at some point, wondering which way to go. Praise the Lord that the Stone the builders rejected is our Traveler’s Stone, Yeshua/Jesus, and He sends us out by the arrow of the Holy Spirit indicating the way.

When the arrow message arrives at Ezel, don’t look back, just go. The Lord has made the way. It may be to the unknown, but remember this, the One sending you said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Did you notice that Jonathan never left David; if this is true of Jonathan, how much more so of the covenant Lord who is, “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8)?

It was from this journey, triggered by three arrows, that David would learn to sing:

“…strangers have risen up against me; cruel men seek my life, men who have no regard for God – Selah. Look, God is my helper; the Lord is the one who sustains my life. He will repay my oppressors for their evil. By Your truth destroy them. To You I will offer a free will sacrifice; I will praise Your name, Lord, for it is good. For He has saved me from all danger; my eyes have seen my enemies downfall” (Ps. 54).

Be well. Shalom.