Amalek is born

The Amalekites — First in a series

Time began with Seth in the sense that we learn Adam's age at Seth's birth, so from then on we know what year it is.

We read that Adam lived 130 years and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth (Gen 5:3), and that Adam lived 800 years after the birth of Seth. Genesis 5 gives the ages of the patriarchs who descended from Seth.

Though some have speculated that not every generation or son is recorded, conservative Bible scholars agree we live on a young earth and many say we are now roughly 6000 years beyond "In the beginning."

Time began to be marked at the start of a new race of men who called on [in fact, were called by] the name of the Lord. (Gen 4:26) It was not framed by the line of Cain even though his progeny invented music, metallurgy and the science of animal husbandry (Gen 4:19-22) Time is bounded by those who are alive to God, who live for God.

When Christ, the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45), was born, time reversed because men came to recognize in the centuries following there had been a sea change in the world's understanding of life and God.

To preserve a race of men so that Christ would be born in a sanctified family, God carefully guided history. The line of Seth was preserved through Noah, whose son Shem became the forbearer of Abraham. Abraham's grandson Jacob was chosen to become Israel.

Why did the Lord select Jacob and not Esau, the firstborn? Practically speaking, it was because Esau did not demonstrate much interest in God's world. God's world is full of unseen yet very important concepts such as headship which must be exercised, and submission, honor, patience, and glory; things that might never be thought about much, if you're lucky, and Esau was.

Jacob was instead blessed, which is always better than being fortunate. Perhaps, too, God chose Jacob because He desired to create a "breach," that is, to upend the established order. The firstborn should be the leader, but Cain had marred that concept, so to honor Abel, God at times remembered his perfect sacrifice (Gen 4:4) by favoring the second born. Thus we are kept "on our toes." We cannot predict God's movements, so that we must strive to stay close to him, to find out his mind.

Amalek was Esau's grandson, born to a father and mother outside the chosen race. But let's be careful in that observation. Branches were broken off so that you could be grafted in. But if God spared not the natural branches, take heed … (Rom 11:19-21) And remember, the branches referred to are the Jews, so that the sons like Amalek and all us Gentiles could be brought into God's family. But in the end, the Jews will be re-grafted after the fulness of the Gentiles be come in (Rom 11:25) O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable [are] his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (Rom 11:33, 34)

Was Amalek any worse than Jacob's grandsons, Er or Onan? Was Jacob somehow better than Esau? Jacob was a terrible person. When Esau asked him for food, why did he not graciously feed his brother, his twin, seeing he was famished and weak? Why barter for what was rightfully Esau's?

Perhaps his mother had told him God's explanation to her as to why her twins struggled within her: Two nations [are] in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and [the one] people shall be stronger than [the other] people; and the elder shall serve the younger. (Gen 25:23)

Jacob saw a way to make God's words true. What if, instead, he had determined never to do anything in his own power to reverse the birthright order? What if you and I would resolve never to force events, but always to wait on the Lord? Yes, what if, but we often fail and sin.

Isaac and Rebekah were not good parents in certain respects. Each had a favorite son, and that is no way to rear happy children. The Bible does not varnish the lives of those we read about. They are simply presented to us, and we certainly have no difficulty in identifying with them.

We do find that distinctions are drawn and punishments are given, for all. Jacob deceived Esau to gain the blessing (in addition to the birthright), but soon discovered what it feels like to be deceived, when he was given Leah and not Rachel for the wife he worked seven years to attain. God is not mocked. The one who transgresses will be punished and there is no favoritism. Yet, there are distinctions in judgments.

Esau was judged for despising his birthright. His sin is described in Hebrews 12:16 and in verse 17 it is explained: For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Who rejected him? Not Isaac. Rebecca arranged for the deception, but God alone was the arbiter.

Does verse 17 really mean there is no place for repentance in God's providence? Of course not. It means Esau sought his father's blessing with tears because he wanted the privileges; however, he was not willing to exercise obedience to God's rules for life. He had married two Canaanite women, which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah (Gen 26:35) — not just to Rebekah, but to Isaac as well.

The generations of Esau are named in Genesis 36. His first born, Eliphaz, had five sons by an unnamed wife (Gen 36:11), and one by a concubine named Timna. That one was Amalek. (Gen 36:12) He is then noted as a duke, a leader or sheik, of the sons of Adah, Esau's first wife, though he was her grandson. (Gen 36:16). And though a duke, he is not mentioned further in the chapter as having possessed land within Esau's territory.

In First Chronicles, Esau's sons are recorded ahead of Jacob's, and again, Amalek is mentioned last among Eliphaz's sons as a son of Timna, but is not further recognized. (1 Chron 1:36)

Be Goaded

Twenty-first and Final in the Solomon Series

This series of posts began with these words: O Solomon, Solomon, from the heights to the depths, and then back to a level place, but never again to the heights?

I believe Solomon did attain to great heights after his sinful exploits; that is, we will see him in heaven. Some who have studied his life have their doubts. However, God disciplines those whom He loves, and Solomon was disciplined. Also, we have the evidence of his repentance in the book of Ecclesiastes.

There are numerous studies that could be pursued to further explore Solomon's life and influence on Israel and to learn from his writings. In Ecclesiastes 10-12 you will find exhortations to greater diligence and soberness of spirit.

In Ecc 12:12, we read that…"because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, [and] set in order many proverbs." Does that suggest that some of the Proverbs were conceived after Solomon was chastised for his sinful harem? There are many verses in the book of Proverbs that warn against illicit relations. Pro 5:3-5 is one example: For the lips of a strange woman drop [as] an honeycomb, and her mouth [is] smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.

Was Solomon stating what he learned first-hand? Only a Bible scholar with thorough knowledge of chronologies could answer this question.

We have looked at many Scriptures in this study of Solomon, but not at his Proverbs. How could we end a series on Solomon without reading some of these?

  • The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction. 1:7
  • Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 3:5, 6
  • My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son [in whom] he delighteth. 3:11,12
  • Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life. 4:23
  • These six [things] doth the LORD hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. 6:16-19
  • He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. 13:24
  • In the fear of the LORD [is] strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. 14:26
  • A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. 15:1
  • Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. 16:18
  • The name of the LORD [is] a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. 18:10
  • A [good] name [is] rather to be chosen than great riches, [and] loving favour rather than silver and gold.22:1

These proverbs remind us of Solomon:

  • Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy. 20:28
  • [It is] better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house. 21:9
  • Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 22:6

Well, perhaps he will depart, but he will also return.

And finally, from Ecclesiastes 12:11, The words of the wise [are] as goads, and as nails fastened [by] the masters of assemblies, [which] are given from one shepherd.

Turn your back on the past

Twentieth in the Solomon Series

The life story of Solomon in the Bible is a land of contrasts. From the mountaintop of his earnest prayer in the newly built temple, he descended to the starkest desert where he built high places for the worship of Chemosh and Molech, the abominations of Moab and Ammon. These were gods with strange rituals, even passing children through fire, or much worse.

From being the wisest of all rulers to attempting the murder of the rival God raised up to "tear the kingdom" (1 Ki 11:11) from him, Solomon rode down the steepest of paths, to the brink of hell. Perhaps you will ask, "How can we say that he ended in a level place, and that he remained beloved of God after his sinful exploits?"

We will now look further at Ecclesiastes. In the 18th post we covered Chapters 1 — 8.

At the end of chapter 8, Solomon acknowledged that God's ways are higher than man's, beyond our discovery. Then, at the start of chapter 9, he states he has determined to declare his conclusions: that the righteous are known by the Lord. Matthew Henry's commentary is worth reading to penetrate the first verses of Ecc. 9:

The great difficulty which Solomon met with in studying the book of providence was the little difference that is made between good men and bad in the distribution of comforts and crosses, and the disposal of events… Before he describes the temptation in its strength he lays down a great and unquestionable truth, which he resolves to adhere to, and which, if firmly believed, will be sufficient to break the force of the temptation. This has been the way of God’s people in grappling with this difficulty. Job, before he discourses of this matter, lays down the doctrine of God’s omniscience (Job 24:1), Jeremiah the doctrine of his righteousness (Jer. 12:1), another prophet that of his holiness (Hab. 1:13), the psalmist that of his goodness and peculiar favour to his own people (Ps. 73:1), and that is it which Solomon here fastens upon and resolves to abide by, that, though good and evil seem to be dispensed promiscuously, yet God has a particular care of and concern for his own people: The righteous and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God, under his special protection and guidance; all their affairs are managed by him for their good; all their wise and righteous actions are in his hand, to be recompensed in the other world, though not in this... He lays this down for a rule, that the love and hatred of God are not to be measured and judged of by men’s outward condition.

The living are better than the dead: once you die it is too late to repent (Ec 9:4, 5). Enjoy your life now, for today is the day that the Lord regards your work (vs7).

Ecclesiastes 9:8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.

Solomon was clad in white (JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 8:7,3); hence his attire is compared to the "lilies" ( Mat 6:29 ), typical of the spotless righteousness of Jesus Christ, which the redeemed shall wear ( Rev 3:18 7:14 ). ointment — ( Psa 23:5 ), opposed to a gloomy exterior. (ibid, Faucett)

It would be nice to see more people in our society and churches dress and appear more refreshed and respectful.

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that [is] thy portion in [this] life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. (vs 9) Solomon here acknowledges his failure.

To reach a level place, we must confess our sins and failures.

But is "vanity" a good description of our lives on this earth? Perhaps so. We are dust (Ps 103:14) For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. (1 Pe 1:24) The grass withers, the flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever. (vs 25)

To honor God, we should do our work with heart and zeal, for we will not have this opportunity after we die (Ec 9:10).

Again, Solomon considered life's arbitrary ways and the fact of injustice, yet concluded, Wisdom [is] better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good. (vs 18)

Wisdom has the power to deliver nations, families and individuals from destruction, but a lone sinner can destroy himself, his family and an entire kingdom. Solomon had reason to be discouraged.

A level place in one's life is not devoid of times of depression and halting steps, but it is a place where we rest in Christ by his help. We will not go back.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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