Script for the May 21st episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the May 21st episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is in 1 Chronicles 13-15 and John 7. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.

1 Chronicles 13

David now has the hearts of the people of Israel. Everyone has willingly embraced him as their king. The good times are rolling.

But you can’t rest during good times, especially as a leader. While you have everyone’s approval, you need to think about what needs to happen to create an even better environment for those under your care.

For David, he knew that Jerusalem was a great neutral site from which to lead all of Israel. But Jerusalem needed to also be the religious capital. To do so, he wanted the most sacred piece of furniture, the Ark of the Covenant, in Jerusalem. King Saul had only referred to it once in his 40-year reign. But David would acknowledge this sacred piece of furniture by bringing it to Jerusalem and then preparing to build the Temple where it would be housed in.

King David and a large number of Israelites went to Kiriath-jearim to get the Ark. But they weren’t too careful in how they planned to get it back to Jerusalem on the roughly nine-mile trek.

1 Chronicles 13:7 (CSB): “At Abinadab’s house they set the ark of God on a new cart. Uzzah and Ahio were guiding the cart.”

This would have been an exciting journey. There was much singing and dancing for joy as the Ark was being transported on a cart led by two oxen. But tragedy was about to strike.  

1 Chronicles 13:8-10 (CSB): “8 David and all Israel were dancing with all their might before God with songs and with lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets. 9 When they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzzah reached out to hold the ark because the oxen had stumbled. 10 Then the LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had reached out to the ark. So he died there in the presence of God.”

This seems unfair, doesn’t it? It seems like Uzzah was an innocent man, trying to do the right thing, and the Lord killed him.

Well, first of all, we don’t know for sure that the Ark was about to fall. It could be that Uzzah used the shaking of the cart as an excuse to touch the sacred Ark, something that less than a handful of people had touched in its 300 or so years of existence.

Second, even if the Ark was about to fall and Uzzah reached up to steady it, this doesn’t mean that Uzzah wouldn’t have experienced consequences. Remember when Russia captured the atomic power plant in Chernobyl as it invaded Ukraine? We were told on the news that because of power outages the plant could put off radiation while the Russians were forcing the Ukrainian workers to stay at the plant. Just because the Ukrainians workers were innocent of any wrongdoing doesn’t mean that they were all spared from radiation poisoning that could kill them.

The fact is that David was so excited to get the Ark to Jerusalem that he failed to read the Scriptures. He failed to see that there was a very specific way that the Ark was to be carried. The Levites were to carry it on poles. Any other way of transporting the Ark could lead to death.

David apparently got upset at the Lord for killing Uzzah when it was David’s actions that put Uzzah in a place where he could be killed. So King David left the Ark at Obed-edom’s house in Gath where it stayed for a few months.

Friends, God is precise. There is a way of doing things. And when His Word clearly outlines how things are to be done, it is intended for our good. When we violate God’s Word because we want to do things our way, it can bring harm to people. So study God’s Word and obey it just as He has instructed.

1 Chronicles 14

In this chapter, we read about the various ways that God blessed David.

One way that God blessed David was in the form of a master craftsman who came to Jerusalem to help.

1 Chronicles 14:1-2 (CSB): “1 King Hiram of Tyre sent envoys to David, along with cedar logs, stonemasons, and carpenters to build a palace for him. 2 Then David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been exalted for the sake of his people Israel.”

Then, we read of another way that David would have been blessed, at least from the perspective of the people who lived in David’s time. Marrying multiple wives, particularly the daughters of other rulers, was seen as a way of making peace with other nations. After all, what king would want to attack a nation and risk killing his own daughter, the ruler’s wife?

Yet even though this made sense to the culture at that time, it was in direct violation of God’s law. Moses directly forbids this as God’s Holy Spirit wrote Scripture through him.

Deuteronomy 17:17 (CSB): “He (Israel’s king) must not acquire many wives for himself so that his heart won’t go astray. He must not acquire very large amounts of silver and gold for himself.”

We read about the third source of blessing for David in verses 8-17. God blessed him militarily against the Philistines in a couple of battles. Everyone else got the message!

1 Chronicles 14:17 (CSB): “Then David’s fame spread throughout the lands, and the LORD caused all the nations to be terrified of him.”

Living for the Lord will bring blessings. But we cannot determine the way that God will bless, the extent that God will bless, or the timeframe of when God will bless. So, we simply commit to a life of obedience to the Lord and let Him determine the what, how much, and when of His blessings.

1 Chronicles 15

The Ark of the Covenant has been in Kireath-jearim for a few months. David had initially planned to bring it to Jerusalem, but Uzzah died after touching it. But now, David has done his research in the Scripture and knows how the Ark is to be transported. He’s ready to bring it to Jerusalem.

1 Chronicles 15:1-3 (CSB): “1 David built houses for himself in the city of David, and he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. 2 Then David said, “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the LORD has chosen them to carry the ark of the LORD and to minister before him forever.’ 3 David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring the ark of the LORD to the place he had prepared for it.”

Once they were gathered, David called for the priests and the Levites. He told them to consecrate themselves as they prepared to transport the Ark. Essentially, this meant that they were to take measures to purify themselves spiritually and physically. This added a sobering element to transporting the Ark that had previously killed one man.

But even though this was a serious, sobering endeavor, it was also to be celebrated. The Ark of the Covenant, the piece of furniture that represented God’s presence, would find its new home in Jerusalem. And this was a cause for celebration!

1 Chronicles 15:14-16 (CSB): “14 So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel. 15 Then the Levites carried the ark of God the way Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD: on their shoulders with the poles. 16 Then David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their relatives as singers and to have them raise their voices with joy accompanied by musical instruments—harps, lyres, and cymbals.”

Friends, I don’t think we celebrate enough anymore. Especially those of us in the white communities, we tend to associate worship with peace and quiet. Honestly, if someone in our worship services gets a bit excited as they are enjoying the Lord, they may get a few glances, or maybe even a stare or two, from other more reserved worshippers.

But I want you to notice that the celebration we are reading about in 1 Chronicles 15 didn’t happen in a worship service. It didn’t happen in a building. It happened on a weekday when people just got excited about something they were doing for the Lord.

Friend, you don’t have to make a scene in a worship service. Certainly, don’t hold back if you are enjoying the Lord but the worship services shouldn’t be crazy and out of control. Doing so would draw attention to us and not the Lord. But feel free to cut loose, especially when you are at home. Break out into a song of praise to the Lord. Passionately pray out loud, wrestling with the Lord in prayer.

I would even encourage you to dance before the Lord. I know that many denominations would frown on dancing, but I would encourage you to look up all of the times that dancing is mentioned in Scripture. It is almost certain that Jesus would have danced at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. Dancing before the Lord is just letting your body feel the praise and excitement of the moment. Besides, dancing releases endorphins (the ‘feel good’ hormones) into your brain which will do wonders for your attitude. So read what the Scripture has to say about dancing and then simply do what Scripture says.

However, I want to forewarn you. When you are enjoying the Lord in a way that is visible to others, there will be some who despise you for it. They’ll look down their nose at your behavior. Just listen to how King David’s wife responded when she saw him dancing before the Lord.

1 Chronicles 15:27-29 (CSB): “27 Now David was dressed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, as well as the singers and Chenaniah, the music leader of the singers. David also wore a linen ephod. 28 So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, the sound of the ram’s horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and the playing of harps and lyres. 29 As the ark of the covenant of the LORD was entering the city of David, Saul’s daughter Michal looked down from the window and saw King David leaping and dancing, and she despised him in her heart.”

As we observe Michal’s response to the joy her husband was having in the Lord’s presence, we need to determine once and for all – who are we trying to please? Are we seeking to gain the affirmation of people or of the Lord?

Seeking to please the Lord doesn’t mean that we aren’t sensitive to how others may perceive our expressions of joy. There are some times and places when it is appropriate to keep things toned down. But when you are on your own, then enjoy your relationship with your Lord in a way that conforms to the biblical standards, is pleasing to Him, and enjoyable to you.

John 7

We pick up after Jesus spent time sharing the Good News of the Gospel with the crowd in Capernaum in Galilee. He had fed 5,000 men, plus women and children. He then taught that He was the Bread of Life that provides eternal life and can satisfy our soul’s hunger.

So as we look at the first 9 verses of John 7, we realize that Jesus was surrounded by unbelief and threats.

John 7:1 (CSB): “After this, Jesus traveled in Galilee, since he did not want to travel in Judea because the Jews were trying to kill him.”

Jesus wasn’t afraid to die. Dying on the cross is why He left Heaven. But there was so much else to do before He died. So, He had to be cautious not to allow sinful humanity to kill Him before His time had come.

Then, we observe Jesus’ own half brothers demonstrating unbelief and even contempt for Him. They knew that Jesus’ life was in danger when he went to the southern region of Judah, but they told him to go anyway.

John 7:3-5 (CSB): “So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples can see your works that you are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’ 5 (For not even his brothers believed in him.)”

Jesus lightly reprimanded his brothers and told them that the world hated Him because He pointed out the evil within it. Yet, the world couldn’t hate them. Why? Because they fit right in. They didn’t yet have a relationship with the Lord, and they certainly weren’t pursuing holiness. So, they fit right into the way that the sinful culture expects people to act. But since Jesus called out sin, He was hated. Nobody likes to be told that they aren’t measuring up. Yet, that’s what we need. It leaves us helpless and sends us to the cross for the ultimate answer.

But then we come to an apparent problem when we read Jesus’ final words to His brothers.

John 7:8 (CSB): “Go up to the festival yourselves. I’m not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”

What’s the apparent problem? Verse 10!

John 7:10 (CSB): “After his brothers had gone up to the festival, then he also went up, not openly but secretly.”

Jesus told His brothers that He was not going to Jerusalem. Then, He went to Jerusalem. What are we to think of this?

Did Jesus lie? Our answer to that question is a resounding “no!” God cannot lie according to Titus 1:2.

Did Jesus change His mind? Our answer to that question must also be a resounding “no!” God doesn’t change His mind according to Numbers 23:19 and James 1:17.

So, what is going on here? How can Jesus tell His brothers that He isn’t going to Jerusalem and then, He went to Jerusalem?

It seems to me that Jesus often shared His will and His intentions with His believing disciples. They often didn’t understand what He was saying but He told them. But Jesus didn’t like the truth being expressed by or told to folks who did not believe it. Demons were forbidden from speaking the truth about His identity and He concealed the truth from the self-righteous Pharisees who refused to believe. So, I believe that Jesus was concealing the truth from His half-brothers.

Essentially, “You’re on a need-to-know basis, and you don’t need to know.”

Well, Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Festival of Shelters. This was a 7-day celebration when the Israelites would live in tents to remember God’s provision of the Israelites during the 40-year wilderness wandering. The Scripture tells us that He stayed in the shadows for the first few days.

The Jews in Jerusalem were looking for him. The Festival of Shelters was one of the three greatest annual festivals, and it was a time when all devout Jews showed up.

Then Jesus burst onto the scene. He was so well known by this time that He couldn’t help but be noticed. So, He set the time and terms. He determined that He would walk right into the Temple and begin teaching the masses.

John 7:14-15 (CSB): “14 When the festival was already half over, Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15 Then the Jews were amazed and said, “How is this man so learned, since he hasn’t been trained?”

Jesus had a grasp of Scripture that was both rich and soul-penetrating. He knew the Scriptures, was able to weave them in and out of His teaching and did so in a way that moved His listeners. Few people could ever listen to Him without having some sort of emotional response.

As Jesus spoke to the crowds, He noted that those who genuinely wanted to obey the Scripture would be given an understanding of the Scripture. Clearly implied is that God won’t waste spiritual understanding on those who will do nothing with it.

Then, He addressed head-on the fact that some of the people were trying to kill Him. Jesus never beat around the bush. He sometimes prepared the heart before He jabbed it with truth but that was intentional. Jesus was ALWAYS intentional when He spoke. Every word mattered.

Then, Jesus justified His actions of healing a man on the Sabbath. He pointed to the Scriptures and said that circumcision was justified if it fell on the Sabbath. So it was obviously good to help people. Acts of mercy, no matter how strenuous the work, were never forbidden by the Sabbath law.

Then some of the crowd began to question if this one who was speaking to them was the man that the Pharisees were trying to kill. Since they brought Jesus’ identity up, He played along. He began speaking of who He was.

John 7:28-29 (CSB): “28 As he was teaching in the temple, Jesus cried out, ‘You know me and you know where I am from. Yet I have not come on my own, but the one who sent me is true. You don’t know him; 29 I know him because I am from him, and he sent me.’”

This sounds cryptic. We may hear those words and think that we wouldn’t have understood what He was saying. But when we read the next couple of verses, the Jewish folks in the crowd fully understood.

John 7:30-31 (CSB): “30 Then they tried to seize him. Yet no one laid a hand on him because his hour had not yet come. 31 However, many from the crowd believed in him and said, ‘When the Messiah comes, he won’t perform more signs than this man has done, will he?’”

The Pharisees heard about what Jesus was saying in the Temple and how the people were responding, and they sent messengers to arrest Him.

Two or three days passed and then Jesus spoke publicly again.

John 7:37 (CSB): “On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.’”

One of the many things that Jesus loved to do when He taught was to use word pictures. In the previous verse, we are told that He said He could satisfy the inner thirst of a parched soul.

So, when did Jesus say this? The last day of the Festival of Shelters, the annual celebration intended to remind the Israelites of the wilderness wandering. How did the Lord provide for them? He sent manna, to which Jesus said that He was the bread that came down from Heaven (John 6:41). The Lord also provided water from the rock, and now Jesus is telling the Jews that He is the one who can satisfy their thirst.

Jesus is making it abundantly clear that the way that God provided for the Israelites during the 40-year wandering pointed to Him, Jesus! He is the bread from Heaven. He is the living water. He is ultimately what our parched soul needs as we go through this dry weary land.

Then we read that some in the crowd believed that Jesus might be the Messiah. Others were mentally thinking through Jesus’ claims and their implications. But they demonstrated that they weren’t doing serious research. They were merely whimsically tapping into their limited knowledge.

John 7:40-43 (CSB): “40 When some from the crowd heard these words, they said, ‘This truly is the Prophet.’ 41 Others said, ‘This is the Messiah.’ But some said, ‘Surely the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? 42 Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David’s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David lived?’ 43 So the crowd was divided because of him. 44 Some of them wanted to seize him, but no one laid hands on him.”

Some demonstrated that they knew enough of the Scriptures to know that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David and would come from Bethlehem. Yet, they blew off any serious thought that Jesus could be the Messiah because He was from Galilee. But they didn’t bother asking him where He was born. The Apostle Matthew recording in his book, in Matthew 2:1, that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

This is a great time to note that we need great thinkers. Far too many people are lazy thinkers. They haven’t filled their mind with God’s Word. They don’t ask questions and then seek the answers, regardless of where their search takes them. They just whimsically refer to their limited mental library and come to faulty conclusions. Friend, be a thinker. Ask questions. And then have fun digging up the answers. God created us to enjoy the thrill of discovery. So have fun!

In verse 45, the servants of the Pharisees return to them. They had been sent to arrest Jesus, but they came back empty-handed. They told the Pharisees that “no man ever spoke like this!” They had been captivated by Jesus’ teaching. But they were soundly reprimanded and demeaned by the Pharisees for their naivete.

We’re even told that Nicodemus, the Pharisee who had visited with Jesus at night in John 3, asking questions and seeking answers, stood up for Jesus – kind of.

John 7:50-51 (CSB): “50 Nicodemus—the one who came to him previously and who was one of them—said to them, 51 ‘Our law doesn’t judge a man before it hears from him and knows what he’s doing, does it?’”

Nicodemus said that sound minds needed to prevail. They shouldn’t judge Jesus unless they sit down with Him and listen to Him. He appealed to the law as his authority for this stance.

And then the Pharisees showed their hand. They demonstrated that they were so blind with anger that they didn’t care what the Scripture said. They would even misrepresent the Scripture if it helped them.

John 7:52 (CSB): “‘You aren’t from Galilee too, are you?’ they replied. ‘Investigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee.’”

No prophet arises from Galilee? Really? According to 2 Kings 14:25, Jonah was from the city of Gath-hepher, a city near Nazareth in Galilee.

The Pharisees prided themselves on knowing the Scriptures and their own oral law. So any statement like this did not demonstrate an oversight; it pointed to intentional misrepresentation of the Bible. They didn’t submit to the Bible. They made the Bible submit to them. And this is incredibly dangerous.

Friend, let’s be students of God’s Word and submit to its teachings. They are the very words of God to us. They are intended for our good, the flourishing of society, and God’s glory. So don’t distort them if it would serve your purposes. Instead, submit to them.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank You that You have given to us Your Word. You say in John 17:17 that Your Word is truth. It’s not merely truthful. It is the standard of truth. So help us, Lord Jesus, to study it, grow in our understanding of it, submit to it, and obey it as Your very words. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!