Until I Entered the Sanctuary

(Psalm 73:16-28; Job 42: 5, 6; Lamentations 3:20-23)

But as for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had well-nigh slipped, for I was envious of the foolish and arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (Psalm 73:2, 3).

Why is it that “the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence?” I suppose a cow could answer this question. Sometimes our hearts are so full of self-pity and wants that we become blind to the blessings before us; we keep looking out for it instead in someone’s success and desiring it for ourselves in the spirit of envy and jealousy, as the Psalmist so wrote, But as for me, my feet were almost gone. . . for I was envious of the foolish and arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.. .  Until, I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end (Psalm 73:17). In the presence of God the psalmist saw the end of the wicked whom he envied the riches and success. When he realized their end, he also realized his sin of envy and there in the presence of the Lord he repented. He said, For my heart was grieved, embittered, and in a state of ferment, and I was pricked in my heart, so foolish, stupid and brutish was I, and ignorant; I was like a beast before You (vs. 21-22).

The Two Witnesses

At the beginning of Israel as a nation, God established the law of two or three witnesses against the accused person. He said, One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity of any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established (Deut. 19:15). The importance of more than one witness in any case is necessary, for it provides protection for the innocent accused of things he has not done, especially in a court room when the accused faces the judge with his sentence: condemned or acquitted. If every court in this world would practice this law, there would be fewer innocent people sent to jail. A false witness, the Bible tells us, is an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 6:16-19).

The End of the Matter Is Fear God

(Ecclesiastes 12:13)

King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. God so blessed him because he did not ask for riches or anything else, but for wisdom. At the very beginning of his reign the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, Ask what I shall give you. Solomon (then) said, I am but a lad: I know not how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen a great people who cannot be counted for multitude. So give You servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge and rule this Your great people? It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, Because you have asked this and have not asked for long life or for riches, nor for the lives of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to recognize what is just and right, behold, I have done as your asked. I have given you a wise, discerning mind, so that no one before you was your equal, nor shall any arise after you equal to you (I Kings 3: 5-12). God not only blessed him with wisdom but also with riches and honor. But something happened to Solomon in the course of his reign that caused him to forsake the Lord, His commandments and statutes. He grew proud and defiant. The Bible says that he [defiantly] loved many foreign women- the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were of the very nations of whom the Lord said to the Israelites, You shall not mingle with them, neither shall they mingle with you, for surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods, Yet Solomon clung to these in love (I Kings 11: 1-3). He embraced and made alliance with those nations through marriage; he abused his position of king by adopting the practice of having wives and concubines in numbers unheard of. Seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines.  I suppose he practiced this idea of alliances to keep peace with the nations.

A Tree With Spiritual Meaning

Three important events happened in the life of YAHSHUA before His death: the triumphal entry, the cursing of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple.

After His triumphal entry to Jerusalem, He and His disciples, on the following day, when they had come out of Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, He went to see if He could find any [fruit] on it [for in the fig tree the fruit appears at the same time as the leaves]. But when He came up to it, He found nothing but leaves, for the fig season had not yet come. He said to it, No one ever again shall eat fruit from you. When evening came on, He and His disciples, as accustomed, went out of the city. In the morning, when they were passing along, they noticed that the fig tree was withered away to its roots (Mark 11:12-14,19-20).

The fig tree is mentioned first in Genesis, when Adam and Eve used its leaves to cover their nakedness after they transgressed against God’s command. “They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves apron like girdles” (Gen. 3:7). The fig tree in this instance served as a temporary covering for our parents in the garden, until God provided them with long coats of skins and clothed them (Gen. 3:21). Fig trees were prominent in Palestine, where Israel was heading in their journey of forty years. Moses told them that the Lord God was bringing them into a good land…a land of wheat, barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive tree and honey (Deut. 8:7-8). Fig trees were a symbol of blessing. In the days of King Hezekiah when he rebelled against the King of Assyria, he responded to Hezekiah by trying to sway his army by offering vine and fig tree. The fig tree constitutes a symbol of peace. In Proverbs 27:18 Solomon compares the tending of a fig tree to looking after one’s master. In the Song of Solomon chapter 2:13 the fig tree is a sign of the times. The prophet Micah mentions the fig tree in the latter days as a symbol of peace and security. “But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Micah 4:4). In Jeremiah’s vision of baskets of figs- one good and the other very bad figs, the message here was of redemption and of judgment. Like these good figs so will I regard the captives of Judah whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good, (says the Lord) For I will set My eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up, and I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. And as for the bad figs… I will even give them up to be a dismay and a horror and to be tossed to and from among all the kingdoms of the earth for evil, to be a reproach, a byword or proverb, a taunt, and a curse in all places where I will drive them. And I will send the sword, famine and pestilence among them until they are consumed from off the land that I gave to them and to their fathers (Jer. 24:1-10). In the book of Joel, the fig tree is a sign of Israel’s restoration. The prophet encourages all to rejoice. He said, Be not afraid, you wild beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness have sprung up and are green; the tree bears its fruit, and the fig tree and the vine yield their strength (Joel 2:21-15).

Esther’s Moment

A Bible story we read from the book of Esther, is more than a children’s story “They lived happily ever after” happy ending. Hard to understanding the culture of those days, we wonder why it had to be so. Reasoning the whys, we come to the understanding it was in the spiritual sphere, purposed by God Himself, for a reason or redemption of Israel as “For such a time as this.” Hadassah, Esther’s original name, was a young and beautiful maiden, who was chosen among many others to be Ahasuerus’ wife. This Persian king reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces (Esther 1:1). It all happened in a controversial and hard to understand way, when King Ahasuerus, being drunk, commanded his wife, Queen Vashti to be brought to him to show her off to the peoples there represented. But she refused to do so. For that, the king was enraged, embarrassed, and humiliated at that reaction, which lead him to divorce her. After a while, the king’s servants recommended to be sought beautiful virgins for him. That’s the background in which Hadassah- Esther came in this story of redemption of her people, Israel.