7 Leaders        


Moses - Meek
Joshua - Brave and Obedient
Saul - Insecure Pretender
David - Brilliant and Humble
Ahab - Evil
Josiah - Righteous
Nehemiah - a Builder

Moses        [Contents]

Moses did not a volunteer as leader, he was not chosen by men,
    nor did he grab leadership by force.
He was a leader ordained by God. It is the Lord who appointed Moses.  1 Sam 126
    Called by God at the ‘Burning bush’ that was not consumed, aged 80.  Exd 32
But before that:
    Prophecy given to Abraham.  Gen 1513,14
    Parents knew their 2nd son was ‘special’.  Exd 22  Heb 1123  Act 720
    When 40 he went out from Pharaoh’s court to visit the Hebrews.
        Moses thought that his own people would recognise
            that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.
 Act 725
    He spent the next 40 years exiled in Midian, working as a shepherd.
    God knew his man and his plan would not be hastened by a man’s eagerness.
    Moses learned much about life in the desert that would help him lead
        the Israelites for 40 years in Sinai.
When God revealed his choice, Moses said,
    What if they don’t believe me ... (like 40 years earlier)
    I’ve never been eloquent ...
    Please send someone else to do it!
 Exd 41,10,13
    How different from earlier when a young man in Pharaoh’s court.
    Having tasted the Lord’s anger, he never again questioned the wisdom of God.

The people believed Moses
    when he told them all that God had said and showed them the signs.  Exd 431
    But it didn’t last long - the emotion of signs rarely does.  Exd 43-9
    At the first problem, the people questioned Moses’ leadership.  Exd 521
Pharaoh dared to declare,
    “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him? ... I will not let Israel go.”  Exd 52
    He would soon find out!
    God, the great I AM, is not just a another national leader to obey;
        he is the Lord Almighty,
        the One who designed and created all the dimensions of space and time.

This same God then reveals his plan for Moses’ life,
    and his plan for Israel for all time.
    Four Seder Cups drunk every Passover by Jews for 3,500 years.  Exd 66-8
        1. Freedom.  I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
        2. Redeem.   I will redeem you with an outstretched arm ...
        3. Chosen.    I will take you as my own people ...
        4. Land.       I will bring you to the land I swore to give to Abraham ...
Moses tells Israelites all this fantastic truth.
    But they were too discouraged, too cruelly enslaved to hear.  Exd 69
So the battle began: the Lord Almighty .v. the tin-pot gods of Egypt.
    Exodus reveals just how one-sided this battle was.
    Moses’ leading consisted of listening to God; and speaking to Pharaoh.
        Moses learned obedience and saw
            God acting in judgement against the gods of Egypt.  Exd 1212
Only then did the Israelites begin to respect and follow Moses - and God!
    They even obeyed when told about the Passover - temporally.

But at the Red Sea the terrified people complained.
As leader, what did Moses do? He spoke the truth to them:
    “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will
    bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.
    The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
 Exd 1413,14
    And Moses cried to the Lord, who told him what to do.
    The Sea divided to let Israel cross,
        and then the same sea drowned the whole Egyptian army!
    That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians.  Exd 1430
    Moses sang, Miriam danced and all the women followed her.
        Scripture is silent as to the reaction of the men!
    The Israelites were saved from Egypt - but not from sin, rebellion.

At every problem (no food or no water) they grumbled.
When Moses was with God on Mt Sinai, they even made a golden calf to worship.
When the spies returned from Canaan (the land promised to Abraham)
    they refused to believe God could ever give it to them. So he didn’t!
    But the faithful God did give the land to the next generation.

As leader, Moses had a tough time.  Heb 316 (2 Tim 38)
    But he remained faithful.  Heb 35
    Compassionate. He repeatedly pleaded for the undeserving people.
        Exd 3210,11  Deut 916-20,25  Ps 10623
    Decisive.  Exd 3220,26-28
    Selfless. Blot me out rather than them.  Exd 3232
    Just. How did Moses deal with Korah’s rebellion?
        God will be judge.  Num 1116
        Prays for the people.  Deut 1010
    Obedient.  Num 17,18 Staffs prove God’s choice of Levites to be priests.
    Deligated.  Exd 1813-26
    Meek (= teachable).  Num 123

As leader under the Lord Almighty, what did he achieve?
    Deliverance. Egypt, Red Sea, Desert. Redeemed from slavery.  Mic 64
        - but not delivered from sin.  Dan 913
    Moses made known the ways of God.  Ps 1037 (Neh 914)
    Gave Israel and the world the 10 Commandments and 613 Laws.
        1. So all men may know what is right and wrong in God’s sight.
        2. “The Law is our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ.”  Gal 224
            Act 2823  Jn 145  Lu 2427,44  Jn 632-35

Then and now:
    Baptised into Moses (in the cloud and the sea, ate manna and drank water),
        but all except Joshua and Caleb, died in the desert.  1 Co 102-5
        Experience doesn’t always change the heart.
    Refused to listen to Moses.  Lu 1631
        Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.  Math 517
    Has not Moses given you the Law? Yet not one of you keeps the Law.  Jn 719
        The Law is read, but men are often deaf and blind.  2 Co 315  Jn 929
    The Law did not fail; but man did, and he still does.  1 Kg 856

Songs and Prayers of Moses.  Ps 90  Exd 15  Deut 32  Rev 153,4

Moses - signpost of Jesus 1st Coming as Deliverer and Redeemer.
Joshua - signpost of Jesus 2nd Coming as King and rejoice living in land of promise,
           full salvation - the kingdom of God over all the earth.

Joshua        [Contents]

Chosen to lead the fight against Amalek who had attacked Israel.  Exd 178-13
    Battle was won through prayer and fighting - mostly prayer! Spiritual battle.
Why was the Lord angry with Amalek? Descendants of Esau.  Gen 3612  Ro 913
    First people to attack Israel in desert. Probably the weakest stragglers.  Exd 178
    One of many Satanic attempts to destroy God’s chosen people.
        Egypt, Canaanite kings, Arad, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Herod, Rome,
            Crusaders, Russians, Muslims, Quartet ...
Make sure Joshua knows that the Lord will completely blot out Amalek.  Exd 1714
    Saul, David and finally Hezekiah completed the task.  1 Sam 15, 30  1Ch 443

Goes up the Mt with Moses for 40 days to receive Commandments.  Exd 2412,13

Name changed from Hoshea (Saviour) to Joshua (the Saviour).  Num 1316

One of 12 who went to spy out Canaan.  Num 13,14
    The land is good, the people are powerful, cities fortified.
    Only Joshua and Caleb said “The Lord will give it to us.”
        The people wept and rejected the Lord God’s assurance.
God’s verdict: “No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.”
    10/12 spies died. Only Joshua and Caleb would enter land 40 years later.
        (for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.  Num 3212)

Moses about to die. Joshua commissioned.  Num 2718-23  Deut 3114
Encouraged.  Deut 138 328 317 He will cause them to inherit the land.
The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you.
He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land.
 Deut 313,23
    “None is like Jeshurun’s God ...” He will destroy sin and all that opposes him.
Joshua was filled with wisdom. Israelites listen to him and obey the Lord.  Deut 349

As I was with Moses, so will I be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you.
    ... Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law ...
 Josh 15,7
    How did Joshua hear such a clear declaration by the Lord?
Sends spies into Jericho. God turns the heart of Rahab the harlot.
    She said, Everyone’s courage failed because of you,
    for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below.
 Josh 211
What was Joshua’s response on hearing this?
    The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands ...  Josh 224
    Jericho was a strongly walled city. How could Israel defeat them?
    But that was tomorrow’s problem. First they had to cross the Jordan.

The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel,
    so that they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.”
Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.
This is how you will know that the living God is among you ...”
 Josh 39
    Joshua does not claim the Lord is with him, but that the Lord is with them.
Jordan was in full spring flood (melting snows on Mt Hermon + ‘latter rain’)
Priests carrying the Ark lead the way.
    As soon as their feet touched the water’s edge,
        the waters upstream stopped flowing.
    The Ark stood on firm dry ground in the middle of the Jordan.
    All the people passed close by the Ark of the Covenant and crossed over.
    They take12 stones from the middle of the river and make a memorial.
    As soon as the Ark crossed over, the river flowed again as before.  Josh 4
    The Amorite and Canaanite kings were impressed!  Josh 51

Joshua first confronts
    and then bows before the Commander of the army of the Lord.  Josh 514
The ‘Commander’ gives him the extraordinary battle orders for Jericho.
    Joshua obeys. Jericho falls at the Lord’s trumpet call.
    But one man did not obey. And 36 die in battle for Ai.
        Joshua finds out why and who. Achan and family stoned. Justice.

Brings us to a world problem. Not unrelated to election (of Jews and Gentiles)
    Can ethnic cleansing be God ordained? Is it right to punish sin?
    In this case not covetousness, but Divine justice.  Josh 1116-23  Gen 1516

So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn ...
Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed;
    every one was fulfilled.
 Josh 2143,45

Caleb blessed and given Hebron
    Because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.  Josh 1413,14
    His daughter Acsah asks for and was given springs of water.  Josh 1519

Joshua’s farewell address.
    So be careful to love the Lord your God.  Josh 2311  Obey him always.

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ...
    But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
    We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.
    You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God.
 Josh 24

Saul        [Contents]

Why did Israel change from judges to kings? How did Saul come to be king?
    1. The people didn’t want Samuel’s unjust sons to be their judge.  1Sam 81-5
        Children can be the greatest delight of parents - and the greatest heartache.
    2. They insisted they wanted a king in spite of the warning. 810-19
        Kings will take, take, take ... you yourselves will become his slaves.
    3. God tells Samuel it is not you they are rejecting, but me.  8
        They even wanted to be like the other nations.  85,20
    4. God chose Saul and tells Samuel to anoint him.  915-17
        We are not told the reason for his choice - foolish to speculate.

Saul has no thoughts of high office.  921
    He and his father ran a good donkey business. 93 They were comfortably off.
        He had no great needs for anything, not even for God!
But 1Sam109,10 tells us that:
    As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart ...
    the Spirit of God came upon him in power and he joined in their prophesying.

He is secretly anointed king  101 - and returns to Gibeah + his donkey business.
    But who should be there? A band of prophets! And Saul prophesies with them!
    Even when questioned by his uncle he says nothing about kingship. 1014-16

Samuel then calls all Israel and Judah to Mizpah to proclaim a king. 1017-27
    They cast lots (though Samuel and Saul knew whose name would come up!)
        Lots - first Benjamin, then the Matrite family, then Kish, finally Saul!
    But where is Saul? Hiding in the baggage!
        Not because timid or incapable.  92 1023,24
        He just didn’t like God’s plan for his life.
        He wanted to continue as he was.
So God roused him to battle.
    An incensed Saul summons all Israel to rescue Jabesh Gilead.  1Sam 114-7
    He led 300,000 troops and slaughtered the attacking Ammonites.
    He was a hero.

Samuel gives his retirement speech; since Israel now had a king:
    Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.  1224
    There can be no better advice in any age to all kings, PM’s and Presidents.
    The big question is: will Saul heed these words? Will any king?
            Sadly, the answer is No.
And Samuel does not retire yet - Saul needs him too much.

How did it all go so wrong for this tall, able, brave, handsome leader?
    One to whom God had given so much natural ability.

Saul offers burnt offering instead of waiting for Samuel. Foolish.  1313,14

Saul makes a stupid vow - no food for the army till evening.  1Sam 14
    Jonathan and armour-bearer attack Philistines. Kill 20.
    God sends an earthquake.
        Chaos in Philistine camp. They kill each other. Starts a complete rout.
        Jonathan eats honey (hadn’t heard vow).
        Saul would have killed him, - only saved by popular vote!

Scripture sometimes gives us great detail - i.e. the lost donkey saga.
    Why was this important? Saul meets Samuel and becomes king.
Other times Scripture is very brief - e.g.
    All the days of Saul there was bitter war with the Philistines.  1Sam 1452
    And he reigned for 42 years.  131

Saul told to attack and destroy all Amalekites and all that belongs to them.  152,3
    Only partly obedient. Spared Agag and best livestock.  159
    He thought his plan was better than God’s. He even made a statue!  1512
        Samuel arrives; “I’ve been a good boy!” says Saul. Not so.
    You have rejected the word of the Lord,
        and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel.
    Gave feeble excuse.  1515,20,21  Did not repent or seek the mercy of God.
    Samuel kills Agag; and mourned.  The Lord was grieved.  1535

Samuel anoints David as king.  1Sam 16
    The Spirit of the Lord departs from Saul.  1614
Jealous. 1Sam 188,9 Pursues David for 13 years.  1Sam 2314
Kills priests of Nob who supported David.  1Sam 21,22
Consults witch.  1Sam 28
Finally killed in battle against Philistines. Also Jonathan.  316
The end of a great man who made many bad choices. The worst?
    Although God changed his heart,
        he never really humbled himself before the Lord.
    He feared men more than God - he compromised and therefore failed.
    It seems he never expressed gratitude for sins forgiven.
    He did not hunger for God himself (like Jacob at Peniel)  Gen 3226  Ps 421 631
    He failed to see the Lord as the Almighty, Sovereign Lord.
    He had the opportunity to do far more and far better.

        David        [Contents]

Wealth of detail in 60 chapters in  1Sam 16-30,  2Sam 1-24,  1Chron 11-29,  1Kg 1,2
    + 98 of the 150 psalms. Far more than any other character in Scripture.
Huge influence on Jewish history and also world history.
Matthew opens with A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David ...
Jesus acknowledges the title ‘Son of David’.  Math 927 1522 2030 219  Lu 2041
What was his beginning and what was his end?
What did God do in the life of David to make him such a remarkable man?

The early life of this 7th (or maybe 8th) son of Jesse: (1Sam 1610 c.f. 2Ch 215)
    Probably born in Jesse’s old age, not to 1st wife, but to the widow of Nahash.
        1Ch 215,16 refers to Nahash’s daughters Zeruiah & Abigail as “their sisters”.
    David and his elder brothers didn’t ‘get on’.  1 Sam 1728,29
    Jesse sent him out to watch over the few sheep - and avoid family friction!
    Rejected, alone, but bright, fit, determined. And he loved his sheep.
        Learned to fight and win.  1 Sam 1734-36a
    “David your sheep are safe with you; but who looks after you?!” Answer Ps 23
    Alone, he longed for love and security that is the birthright of all children.
        Deprived, he longed for God, the Lord of Hosts. He found and was found.
        In fact God chose him above all others in Israel.  1 Sam 161, 13
            Years earlier God sought out a man after his own heart.  1 Sam 1314
    Much to the annoyance of his brothers, Samuel bypassed them all.
        He anointed David - rejected by men; but chosen by God.

    God revealed to David the chink in Goliath’s armour.
    David had justified confidence in the Lord of Hosts.  1Sam 1743-47
        David just did what he had learned to do on the hillside with his sheep.
            A 2" target at 20 paces was easy. Goliath hadn’t got a chance!

Early manhood:
    David had become famous.
    King Saul had failed. Having no respect for God and no thirst for him;
        he was disobedient and foolish. All his natural ability was of no avail.
    David played music to sooth Saul’s temper.
    David was sent on missions and led by God was always successful.
    Saul jealous. David fled. Spent next 10 years ‘on the run’ in the desert.
        Although anointed king, he didn’t doubt God’s purpose.
        Twice he could have easily killed Saul, God’s anointed.  1Sam 243-7 267-12
    Then came the day when Saul and Jonathan were killed in a Philistine battle.

David enquires of the Lord and becomes king in Hebron over Judah.  2Sam 2
    He never fought to gain or maintain kingship or presumed it his right.
        God had anointed him, God would appoint and keep him in his time.
        Israel and house of Saul also made him king after infighting.  2Sam 5

King for 40 years:
    Conquers the presumptuous, insulting men of Jebus (Jerusalem).  2Sam 56-8
    Defeats the Philistine ‘super-power’ - twice.  2Sam 517-25
    David brings Ark of God into Jerusalem. What a day! 2Sam 6
        Nearly failed. Why? Beware of the easy way.
        In preparation, David wrote Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?  Ps 24
        David, does that include you? Remember:
            The 200 Philistines you killed and circumcised for Saul’s daughter.
            Your murderous intent towards Nabal. Only saved by the lovely Abigail.
            Those months of lying to the Philistine leader Achish
                and all the killing of complete Negev villages while living in Ziklag.
            And what about Ahimelech and the 85 priests of Nob?
                Though responsible, you did nothing to help.  1Sam 2222
        David remembers these things all too well and cries to the Lord.
            He writes his answer in Ps 130 and 34
            He now knows he can only ascend because of God’s abundant mercy.
            See the sheer joy that assured forgiveness brings. 2Sam 614
            Sadly Michal was Saul’s daughter and knew nothing of such joy.
    God makes known his covenant with David.
        Your house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me.  2Sam 716
        Though he would not be allowed to build the Temple. Jesus, his son would!
        David’s response?
            Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your words are trustworthy ...  2Sam 728
            He lays plans and makes provision for Solomon to do so.  1Ch 2214 294
            (100,000 talents of gold = 3,400 tons = £143billion @£1500/oz)

During these years David defeats Edom, Moab, Aram, Hamath, Ammon, Amalek.
    The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.  2Sam 814b, 15
    David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people.
    David shows great kindness to Mephibosheth. 2Sam 9

One spring, when it seemed that our hero could do no wrong;
    it is revealed how fallible, how frail every human being on earth can be.
There was victory and peace in the land.
    David had sent a detachment to a minor border dispute,
        while he enjoyed a little ease and quiet.

One afternoon he looks over the palace wall.
    There was the beautiful Bathsheba - bathing. Lust kicked in and sin prevailed.
    Adultery was compounded by scheming, lying and murder.
    God was not blind or fooled.
        He sent his prophet Nathan to David. What a task to be given.
    Nathan carefully constructs a case for David, the just judge.
        He tells the story and asks for a verdict.
        David is incensed at the injustice of the rich man
            who ‘stole’ a lamb from his poor neighbour to entertain a friend.
        “You are the man!” says Nathan.
    David makes no excuse. He weeps at the truth. Sin can be so blind, so bold.
        Now there is only tears and shame, even despair.
        He declares, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
        Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin ...
            the son born to you will die.”
 But it is not as easy as it may sound.
David writes Psalm 51 - detailed and painful.
    To him is revealed the awful truth - there is nothing good in us, nothing.
    The mighty God whom he trusted and revered must create a new heart.
    This is what must be revealed to anyone who would ascend the hill of the Lord.
    Whether we are born rich or poor, rejected or born in a loving family,
        intelligent or with only little education. We all need to be born again.
2,000 years later even Nicodemus had to be taught the same lesson.  Jn 3
And another 2,000 years later, God has had to reveal this to me too!

David’s request was granted. He was given a new heart.
    So bright, so new, so faithful and true, eternal and incorruptible,
        that Jesus was glad to be called “Son of David”.
Why was he so glad?
    It is a constant reminder that David was to be redeemed - by him!
    God’s forgiveness is complete
    By the blood of Jesus, sins are totally erased.

Thank you David. Thank you Jesus, O mighty Saviour!

Samuel anoints David.  1Sam 16  A man after his own heart  1314
    From that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.  1Sam 1613
David and Goliath.  1Sam 17
Plays harp to calm Saul’s tormented spirit.  1Sam 18
David’s pure friendship with Jonathan.  1Sam 19,20
Chased by Saul for 13 years!
David spares Saul’s life. Cuts corner of robe.  1Sam 24
Nabal and Abigail.  1Sam 25
Again spares Saul’s life.  1Sam 26
Settles in Gath with Philistines.  1Sam 27
Amalekites take Ziklag while David away - and pay heavily!  1Sam 30
Saul dies. War, divided loyalty, family feud between house of Saul and David.
    David grieved by many needless deaths. He did not seek kingship by war.
    David king in Hebron for 7½ years, then also king of Israel.  2Sam 5
David takes Zion (Jerusalem) from Jebusites.  2Sam 51-10
David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel
    and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.
 2Sam 512
David defeats the Philistines, twice.  2Sam 517-25
Brings Ark of God from Kiriath-Jerarim to house of Obed-Edom to Jerusalem
    with much rejoicing (mostly!).  2Sam 6
David desires to build Temple. Nathan says he cannot, but reveals God’s promise:
Your house, your kingdom and your throne will be established for ever.  2Sam 716
    David prays: O sovereign Lord, you are God! Your words are trustworthy. 728
    Provides Solomon with plans and abundant finance. (>£140B!)  1Ch 2214 294
David defeats Philistines, Moab, Aram, Hamath, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Amalek.
    The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.  814
He reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people.  815
    He is unique in all human history!
Shows kindness to Mephibosheth. 2Sam 9
But when he should have been at war, he falls for Bathsheba. Adultery + murder.
    But his repentance is full and complete, an example for all time.  Ps 51
    And his forgiveness is also full and complete -
        such is the fullness of God’s mercy and grace.
    Jesus is not ashamed to be called Son of David as well as the Son of God.
        Math 927 1522 2030 219  Lu 2041

Absalom’s rebellion.  2Sam 1322 - 18
David’s song of praise.  2Sam 22
Last words.  2Sam 23
David makes Solomon king.  1 Kg 1,2  1Ch 11-29 + Psalms

Ahab        [Contents]

Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him...
Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel ... did more evil in the eyes of the Lord
    than any of those before him.
 1Kg 1625,29,30

What makes a king or a leader evil?
God wants us to know what is evil - so he tells us clearly in these chapters.
God wants us to know what is evil in his sight, not in the world’s sight.

1. He considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam.  1Kg 1631
        Jeroboam made two golden calves to worship.  1Kg 1226-33  Exd 321-6
2. He also married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians.  1Kg 1631
3. He built a temple to worship Baal in Samaria. (Prosperity)  1Kg 1632
4. Ahab also made an Asherah pole. (Consort of Baal - Sex, fertility)  1Kg 1633
5. Hiel rebuilt Jericho - at cost of 2 sons. (Defiance)  1Kg 1634  Josh 626
6. Jezebel set about killing off the Lord’s prophets.  1Kg 184
That was just for starters.
Why did they worship idols? How do we worship idols today?  Col 39  1Pe 43

One man had watched Omri for 12 years, and then Ahab with ever growing grief.
Every day he pleaded with God to put a stop to all this evil - but nothing.
Then God spoke.
    Tell Ahab I am going to send a disastrous drought.
    There will be neither dew nor rain till I say so.
Elijah knew better than to argue with God.
    He went and told the king exactly what God said. And fled!
In the third year at God’s command came the challenge on Mt Carmel.
What was the significance ?
    Baal was supposed to give agricultural prosperity, thunder and rain.
    It had failed miserably.
    On Mt Carmel it failed even more miserably!
    The Lord Almighty proved to all who is the only God.
        Incidently the hymn we sung last week was wrong.
        The priests were not overwhelmed. The only ‘priests’ were prophets of Baal.
        The people fell prostrate, but Elijah immediately commanded them,
        “Seize the prophets of Baal.” And he slaughtered all 450!
        This event is not so much one of triumph, but of God’s judgement of evil.
Then the rain fell heavily.
Did it change Ahab? Did he realise his folly and repent? Not one little bit.
How many leaders today bow before the Lord Almighty?
Ahab told Jezebel the whole wonderful story of what had happened.  1Kg 191
    But Jezebel didn’t think it was wonderful!
    Elijah’s life was on the line.
    But God is not in the tiniest bit threatened by any mere man, or angry woman!
        He protects and encourages Elijah and gives him Elisha.

Ben Hadad, king of Aram, attacks Samaria.
    Victory prophesied so that he would know that God is the Lord.  1Kg 2013
    Ahab defeats Ben Hadad, who escapes.
The prophet tells Ahab he must prepare for another attack in the Spring.  1Kg 2022
    Why assured of 2nd victory?  Because Aram claimed they were only defeated
        because Israel’s God was God of the hills.
        He is the Creator and Master of the hills, the plains and the whole Universe!
    Ahab defeats Aram, but spares and makes a treaty with Ben Hadad.
    Prophet tells him therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.
        Ahab’s response?  Sullen and angry.  1Kg 2042,43

Our response to not getting what we want reveals much about our true character.
Last week we saw David’s response to wanting (and getting) his neighbour’s wife.
    When confronted by Nathan, David cried, I have sinned against the Lord.
    No feeble excuses; just deep and total repentance,
        and the earnest pleading for a new clean heart.  Ps 51
But let us go back to Ahab - another time and another desire.
    Ahab wanted his neighbour’s vineyard for a vegetable garden.
    Naboth refused. He valued God’s gift to him and his family.
    Ahab sulked. Jezebel murdered. And Ahab got his plot of land - at a price.
        Neither he nor his wife would die with any dignity or honour.
        Dogs would lick up his blood, and dogs would eat Jezebel!  And they did.
            3 years later Ahab was wounded in battle and died.  1Kg 3238
            12 years later Jezebel pushed out of window and eaten by dogs.  2Kg 935
    Ahab humbled himself and so God deferred his judgement.
        But no real repentance (only regret and remorse).
            And no forgiveness that brought such relief and joy to David and to God.

God’s verdict of Ahab remained unchanged:
There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel.  1Kg 2125,26

I would hate to die with this epitaph.

Josiah        [Contents]

Aged 8 when Officials assassinated his evil father Amon.
    Then the people killed the Officials and made Josiah king.
        (Josiah with no father, David rejected by family - both sought the Lord)
Reigned 31 years and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.  2Kg 2119> - 222
Last week we looked at Ahab and what was evil in the eyes of the Lord.

In 621 BC when aged 26 he ordered the repair of the Temple.
    Why did he suddenly become concerned?
    Jeremiah had been preaching in Jerusalem for 5 years!  2Kg 223  Jer 12
What did the young, faithful, obedient Jeremiah proclaim?
My people have committed two sins:     they have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
    and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
 Jer 213
    Arrogant men dismiss their need of God.
I planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock.
    How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?
 Jer 221  Is 51-7
    By known choice, just content without God, or peer pressure.
“Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap,

    the stain of your guilt is still before me,” declares the Sovereign Lord.
 Jer 222
    No man can earn his forgiveness; requires the perfect sacrifice Jesus.
You say, ‘I am innocent; he is not angry with me.’ But I will pass judgement on you
    because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’
 Jer 235
    No man is naturally ‘innocent’. We cannot dismiss God’s just judgement.
They have lied about the Lord; they said he will do nothing! No harm will come to us ... they dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.
So ... they will be brought down when I punish them.
 Jer 512 613-15
    Some think God is just a benevolent ‘God of love’ - (then and now) -
    that sin doesn’t matter, there’s nothing to worry about.
    Only paedophiles and rapists face public anger.

It seems that king Josiah was the only one who took any notice of Jeremiah.
Shaphan, the secretary, found the book of the Law - covered in years of dust.
    How did such neglect come about?
        After Hezekiah, Manasseh reigned for 55 years and Amon 2 years
Shaphan reads to the king from the Book.
Josiah repents, tears his robes, commands Hilkiah to enquire of the Lord.  2213
For great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because we disobeyed the Lord.
What would you have expected the Lord to say?

Hilkiah went to Huldah the prophetess who said:
The Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people,
according to everything that is written in the book the king of Judah has read ...
Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord ...
your eyes will not see all this disaster I am going to bring on this place.

Why did God answer in this way?
    Again let Jeremiah tell us God’s clear answer.
To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so that they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them ...  Jer 610
I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But you said, ‘We will not listen.’ Therefore ... hear O earth: I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their schemes, because they have not listened to my words and have rejected my law.
 Jer 617,19
God saw that the heart of the people was not like the heart of their king.
They ignored Jeremiah. They did not share Josiah’s earnest for God.

Josiah not only read the Scriptures, but he immediately acted on it.  Math 724-27
    While the people could ridicule Jeremiah, they had to obey the king.
So out went all the articles made for Baal, Asherah, and all the starry hosts.
    He burned the lot!  2Kg 231-24
Gone are the pagan priests and the disgusting male shrine-prostitutes.
And gone are all the mediums and spiritists.
He destroyed the furnace where children were sacrificed to Molech.
He makes a covenant with the Lord to keep his command with all his heart.
Then they celebrated Passover for the first time since Samuel, 400 years earlier.

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did - with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.
Nevertheless, the Lord did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger. So the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘There shall my Name be.”
 2Kg 2325-27

Then, as now, there is no escape from the justified anger of the Lord Almighty.
15 years after Jeremiah declared these words, Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem.
    In 605 BC he took Daniel, his friends, and others to Babylon.
    And in 586 BC he destroyed Jerusalem, just as God had warned them.

In spite of all Josiah’s reforms, the heart of the people had not changed.
    At best it was idols + the Lord. And mostly it was just idols.
    And that disgusted the Lord Almighty.
        Just as it had a century earlier in the northern tribe of Israel. Amos 521
        And so do those multi-faith advocates today.

His righteous rule after the reforms lasted just 12 years.
Then Pharaoh Neco came up from Egypt to support Assyria,
    who was being attacked by Babylon.
Josiah was warned not to interfere, and he died in battle.  2Ch 3520-24
    A righteous king who was deeply mourned by Jeremiah.  2 Ch 3525

What do we learn from this godly king who is honoured in heaven?
    God sees through any shallow ‘revival’
    We cannot change our own evil hearts; and neither can a righteous king.
        Only God himself can cleanse and renew a right spirit within us.
    An evil father can have a righteous son,
        and sadly a righteous father can have an evil son.
            Samuel’s sons were evil; as were Josiah’s 3 sons who each became king.
    Praise God for a man who was so determined, so thorough, so wholeheartedly
        for God. He is a shining example for us all to follow.

Nehemiah        [Contents]

Ezra goes to Jerusalem 80 years after return from Babylon. See time chart
And Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem 13 years after that.
What was he primarily noted for?
    Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (not the Temple - over 70 years earlier).
    Also set up a righteous priesthood and a new civil administration.
How did a wine steward to the Persian king in a foreign capital achieve all this?

Deeply moved by news of Jerusalem walls broken down - God dishonoured.
    Wept, Fasted and Prayed to God who is faithful to his covenant and word.  14
    Confessed his and their sin.  16
    Pleaded to God faithful in punishment and faithful in mercy.  Deut 427-31 302,3

5 months after news and much prayer, Artaxerxes sees Nehemiah is sad.  11 21
    He had successfully hidden his sadness all that time.
King asks why? Tells him the city where his fathers are buried lies in ruins.  22,3
    What do you want? His concern reveals a good and rare relationship for a king.
    ‘Arrow’ prayer. c.f. disciplined prayer, casual prayer and special prayer.
        Asks to go to Jerusalem. Request granted. (Went for 14 years, 445-431)
    Also asks for letters for safe-conduct and for timber.  27,8
        Nehemiah had thought through detail.  Not a sloppy man.
        God ensures that the king grants his requests.

Sanballat (Governor of Samaria) and Tobiah were very much disturbed.
    And we are told why.  210
    It would promote the welfare of the Israelites.  Times don’t change much!
    True motives for war or peace are difficult to ascertain in any age.

Neh. carries out discrete survey of Jerusalem’s walls on a moonlit night.  211-16
Then reveals his plan to rebuild the walls. They agree and work begins.  217,18
    It only required God’s ‘right man’ at God’s ‘right time’.

Sanballat ridicules them, and asks if they are rebelling against the king.  219
Neh. replies, “The God of heaven will give us success.”  220
    Then adds, “You have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”
    Neither have the Palestinians today.
        Pretence at being the only indigenous people only began in 1964.
        Arafat was born and brought up in Egypt! A homosexual who died of AIDS.
        He was a crafty liar like Satan, who hates God and all who he has chosen.

Sanballat and Tobiah now get angry - again, they ridicule the Jews.
    If even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones.  41-3
Nehemiah leads them in prayer.  44,5
    “Hear us, O our God, for we are despised ...”  And so was their God!

Under good, respected leadership The people worked with all their heart.  46
    And God prospered their zeal.

Sanballat and the Arabs now get very angry. They plot an attack.  47,8

    Again, the Jews prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night.  49
    Don’t be afraid of them.
    Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight ...
        Exd 1413  2 Ch 2017  1 Sam 1710,11, 41-47
Prayer often needs to be backed up with action.
    And faith is built up by the Word of God.
The workload seemed huge and the enemy strong.
    Nehemiah is undaunted. He posts armed guards and tells them:  413,14
        Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome ...

The enemy saw that their plot was known, and that God had frustrated it.  415
The Jews did not become presumptuous. Each builder wore his sword at his side.
They worked from dawn to after dusk.

Normal civil administration was not neglected. Taxation, Usury and Justice.  51-19
Kings and Governments always take.  1 Sam 89-18
    But the old problem is, who pays? The rich or the poor?
    What is it spent on, or to whom is it given - the powerful, the sick or the lazy?
Jewish law forbade usury for own people.  Exd 2225  Deut 2319,20
    Also 50 year ‘Jubilee’.  Deut 151-6
Neh. insists on upholding the law. Angry because poor were being fleeced.
    He did not ‘acquire’ any land, nor did he eat the food allotted to the governor.
    He set a good example for leaders in any age.

More evil schemes by Sanballat and co.  61-13
    Meet in remote village (x4).
        Then open letter inciting revolt against Persian king.
    Gershem the Arab lied. Jn 844b
    Satan never rests from his hatred, lying and enticement.
Neh. prays, trusts in the Lord and resists their intimidation.  James 47
    He refuses to compromise, to meet enemies or spies in the Temple.
With the help of our God the walls were completed in just 52 days!  615
    Confidence of enemy shattered.
    Gates built and set.
    Godly men put in charge of the guards.

Neh 8, 9 (445 BC)
Ezra reads the Law from daybreak till noon ... All the people listened attentively.
Levites gave instruction, making it clear and giving the meaning.
    The people wept. Their hearts were convicted for failing to keep God’s Law.
    Like the fervent Jews at Pentecost who cried, “What shall we do?”  Act 237
        Note this was at Tabernacles - nearly 500 years earlier.  81,14-17
Nehemiah tells the people that this day is sacred to our Lord.
    Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
    What gives the Lord and all heaven joy? Real repentance.  Lu 157,10
    Yom Kippur on the 10th day follows 9 days of ‘Trumpets’ and repentance.
    Then the Jews collected branches to build booths - and celebrated.
The Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.  817
        Just as in Acts 2, and as it will be at the final ingathering.   
But 2 days later the people were again weeping and confessing their sins.  92,3
    Like Bunyan’s Christian, they could not get the burden of sin off their backs.
    So the Levites told them again to stand up and praise your God.  95a
Therefore the people promise (to keep the Law):
    Not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us.  1030
    Not to buy on the Sabbath.  1031a
    Every 7th year we will forego working the land and will cancel all debts.  1031b
    We will pay all our tithes.
    We will not neglect the house of our God.  1032-39

Nehemiah left Jerusalem for approx 8 years 432 to 425? BC
    By the time he returned they had broken all their promises. 136-30
        Tobiah (47 61) had been given an office in the Temple.
        Tithes to the Levites had ceased so they had to go back to the fields
        They trod their wine presses and loaded donkeys to trade on the Sabbath
        Judah had married women from Ammon and Moab.
He once more enforced the law. But as in the days of the Judges,
    the people soon forgot the law when the righteous judge died.
Sins grows easily and quickly - like weeds in any fertile garden.
    Constant vigilance and effort is needed to overcome temptation.
Thank God for men like Nehemiah.

Nehemiah an outstanding leader; a godly and just administrator. A man of :
    prayer 14 24 44 49 69 519 1314,22, 29,31
    no compromise 220b 137-9,28
    courage 22 220 414 69
    action 217 49,13 1325
    anticipation 27 418 938
    discernment 612,13 89,10
    sensitivity 14 22 56
    hard work 410 421,23 615
    inspiration  46,15 512 816,17
    history 18,9 97-32 131-3 1326
    wisdom 212,16 417 57
    humility 515 937
    confession 16 217 44 933
    honesty and plain speaking 23 59 68 930 1311 1315,17,23-27
    justice and compassion 57,11,14
    trust  220a 414,20
    and above all a man of God who saw him as the Lord Almighty.

Such a man deserves to be the subject of many sermons as an example to follow.

Evil men can quickly degrade Israel; or any nation. 210,19 41-3,8 62,9,13