About Myles Elton

I am a follower of Christ, a husband, a father of three, a pastor, a reader, a theologian, a friend, an observer of culture, a enjoyer of the beauty of creation, and in awe of all God has done and will do in this world.

The Lord is with you so Be Strong and Courageous

Joshua 1

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

Context

For the people of God they are going through a change of leadership. Moses has passed away before entering the promise land. Joshua has been given leadership and God has promised to fulfil all the promises he made to Moses to God’s people.

God makes a promise of allegiance with Moses. That he will be with him and never forsake him. This is the promise of the blessing of the presence of God and extension of the promise that he will be their God and they will be his people.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Unchanging walk with God

The nature by which the people of God are to go into the land is in dependence on God. They do not need to be afraid, nor turn from his commands, nor be discouraged because the Lord is with them. What they need to do is meditate on the law of God so they know the kind of people God is shaping them to be. Here we see the Lord’s emphasis on the kind of people he is making even more than what he is going to ask them to do. They are to be followers of the Lord’s word, keeping it on their lips and that will lead to their blessing.

10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’”

12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said,13 “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ 14 Your wives,your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lordyour God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses.18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”

Action taken

Joshua moves from his alone time with God to leading the people. He shares with them everything God has commanded them. He continues proclaiming the promises that God made to Moses. He calls them to obey his commands, mediate on the Law of God, rely on the Lord for rest, and to be strong and courageous for the Lord is with them.

 

Whatever situation we find ourselves in life under the Lord is very similar. Regardless of circumstance we meditate on the word of God day and night praying the Holy Spirit would bury it in our hearts, we seek to obey the Lord as he has commanded us to live not to earn his favour but as a result of his favour to us, we rest when the Lord gives us rest, and we are strong and courageous for the Lord is with us in all circumstances by his Spirit indwelling us. The promises of Moses are passed to Joshua and then through Jesus they are passed to us.

So be strong and courageous for the Lord is with you.

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Jesus fan theory – Luke 19.28-48

Luke 19.28-48

As we read this story we need to get into the mind of someone from the time who had written this. We need to see things with a slight sense of a Fan Theories. Fan theories are all about making sense of a TV show, or a series of books, or something to see a bigger story going on. Everything is connected. When you are looking for connections then it makes it look for meanings in all events.

Fan theories like –

  • Titanic – Jack is actually a time traveller sent back to save Rose from killing herself. makes you watch that movie completely differently. Mentions places that dont exist yet to Rose and he has a haircut straight out of 1930 – 18 years after titanic sank.
  • Pixar universe – that all the pixar movies take place in the same universe on a singular timeline beginning with Brave and finishing with Monsters INC. Google it – change your life.
  • My favourite is that Bananas in pyjamas is secretly played out in a mental institution where each of the characters has a different mental health problem and the main form of currency is crunchy honey cakes also known as the medication they receive. B1 and B2 are not twin brother bananas but one banana with split personality disorder. This makes watching ABC kids in the afternoon and whole different experience.

As we look through this passage we need to be thinking fan theory. What are the little parts in this story that point to other parts of God story so we can see what is being said here.

Lets walk through it and see the fan theory that pops out –

Read v28-36 picking up these points – 

  • Bethphage and Bethany near the mount of olives – Mount of Olives points both backwards and forward. It looks back to 2 kings when King David (one of God’s kings) walks up the mount of olives to repent of disobeying God and comes down glorifying the Lord and looks forward to the moment when Jesus is arrested about a week from now and is given a crown of thorns as king of the jews.
  • Colt – or a foal of a Donkey. As this part of the story happens Zechariah 9.9 – a prophecy of the king pops into our minds.
    • Zechariah 9.9 – Rejoice greatly , O daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 
  • The Lord needs it – with authority of someone who has power he gets the colt.
  • cloaks on the ground and on the colt – reminiscent of 2 King 9.13
    • 2 Kings 9:13 (NIV) – 13 They quickly took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”
  • a sign of respect for the king.

Read v37-38

  • a kingly procession extolling the good works of the king
  • misquote psalm 118 but like on purpose. They misquote it to capture something else.

They celebrate with these words from a Psalm. This is of massive importance to them. Right now they are under the rule of the Romans. There is even rumour in some texts that on this day that Jesus is entering on one side of town and on the other side enter Pontius Pilate who represented the Roman Rule.

From one side of town we have a ruler representing one Roman rule and on the other we see Jesus entering representing God’s rule. For the people of the time there is a significant clashing of images going on. Two rulers entering Jerusalem at the same time.

The point being made again and again and again. Rather then a slightly imaginary fan theory this text which in simple terms is describing a man riding into a town on a donkey is actually a statement of the identity of the man. He is the king.

Jesus is the king

Jesus is the king

Jesus is the king

Jesus is the king


As the story continues in v38 the people are also proclaiming

The pharisees who are priests of the jewish temple ask Jesus to rebuke the disciples for what they are saying.

Jesus, as he is prone to do, instead rebukes the Pharisees. He says the stones will cry out which is a quote from another old testament prophet Habbakkuk 2.11. It is him making a reference to the unstoppable nature of God’s mission, that it would be an injustice. Even if the disciples were to stop shouting it wouldnt stop the truth that the king is in town. If I was a disciple though I totally would have asked everyone to stop to see if the stones cried out – Jesus does some legit miracles.

 

Jesus makes one of the most explicit statements of his nature here. Stating you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you. As in right now – I am God and I am here you guys are in trouble.

A tension is created here in the story. The people had just been proclaiming Jesus as the king who is returning to Jerusalem which was to be the centre of his Kingdom. The centre of God’s kingdom. Yet he says that the city and its people will be destroyed. Jesus is bringing this new kingdom and yet immediately predicting the end of it. In fact his prediction comes true 64 years later when Jerusalem is destroyed by the Romans who kill and force the rebellious Jews to flee.

This tension is picked up even more when a week after Jesus comes into town as a king whom is praised is up on a cross alone being shamed. King fail. Yet that is not the end but the expanding of the kingdom and the disciples perhaps unknowingly proclaim it.

      38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”  

         “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Rather then being a king of a group of people in the middle east Jesus dies and rises again to achieve much more. He becomes a king not of a kingdom bound by location. But a kingdom bound by what he does on the cross. For the issue was that there was not peace in heaven and through Jesus death and resurrection peace is brought between God and man. The insult of sin is removed and a new kingdom begins. One where the king is eternal, and his kingdom is not bound physically but is found wherever the people of God who are in it are.

We need a king. We need a king that can make Psalm 118 come true. For the disciples who were celebrating Jesus coming to town they were hoping for a king. i take it that they quote the one line from that Psalm to point us to that Psalm to see what the king and his kingdom is like. They are hoping this kingdom becomes real.

Isaiah 7.14, Luke 1.26-38

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you[a] a sign: The virgin[b] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[c] will call him Immanuel.

The Lord himself has given a sign of the one to come. God with us, Immanuel, he will come and he will save us from ourselves. The sign – 

  • Virgin gives birth to a son – a genuine miracle that comes true in Luke 1.26-38 where the birth of Jesus is foretold. 

What does Immanuel mean? God with us. God who is separate from the world has come down to us to be in the world. He does this for our good and the good of all creation. God came to us because we could not be with him. God is still with us by his spirit to bring us to him. 

Immanuel is born is the best news we could ever hope for. 

Amos 6, Luke 15.11-32

God through Amos brings two accusations against his people in this passage. 

1. They are complacent – v1-7 – they are not following God, they are not loving what God loves, they are seeking to obey him, but potential worst of all is they think that is ok. They living it up and not seeing the danger of the situation they are in. It is the equivalent of being asked by your boss to get the job done and instead going and playing xbox for 6 hours.
2. He abhors their pride – v8-14 – the source of complacency is pride. When you think you are better then you are then you act better then you are. If you think you have no problems then you live as if you have none. 

God attacks the complacency and pride of the people of God. Both pride and complacency are reflections of their relationship with him. In Jesus our complacency and pride are undermined by needing someone else to do what we could not do ourselves. 

Hosea 2.2-23, Luke 10.1-24

The situation – V2-7a – these verses capture the unfaithfulness of Hosea’s wife as a metaphor for Israel. 

The selfish response –  V8-13 – these verses show the wife going back to her husband. She doesn’t do this out of respect or repentance but because she knows life was better with God. The husband, God, sees that the actions are from self preservation motives. There is no acknowledgement of past failings or even the need for punishment of past crimes. 

The redemptive response – V14-23 – the repeated phrase used in these words of “I will” highlights Gods initiative in redeeming his people. He is the one that will bring about change. He is the one that will bring the people back to him. He is the one who will, through Jesus, bring about the reconciliation of these broken parties. A sacrificial husband saving his wife. A sacrificial God saving his people. 

Psalm 88 – overwhelmed and coming to Jesus 

Psalm 88 has been a powerful pastoral tool for me personally and with others. 

The feeling that is created by the author is one deep sadness and mourning. From conversations with people this psalm seems to capture some of the feeling from those in the depths of depression. It is in the context of someone being given a diagnosis of depression that I have used this Psalm. I have done so for two reasons – 
1. God acknowledges that experience 

I have found it helpful to show people that there is somewhere in Gods word that acknowledges their experience. If God’s word captures that experience then there is a place where God understands you. Rather then being caught in victory verses or rejoice pick me ups here is a psalm where the situation did not change. They started sad and ended sad. For some people this is their day to Day experience. Gods word and thus God acknowledge their experience. 

2. Teaches us where to go in our distress

It is right to cry out to God when things are at their worst. This psalm acknowledges the pain and gives an orientation for stepping forward. The situation isn’t solved and I like that cause God isn’t a vending machine that does what I want him to do. He is God whom I am honest with and whom is with us in our darkest moments. 

Conclusion 

Psalm 88 gives us an image of humanity at its saddest and lowest moment. Psalm 88 acknowledges the truth of that experience and points us to the one who has brought a solution. Maybe not in this life but definitely in the life to come – and while we wait we cry out to him knowing he hears us 

1 Chronicles 19

 

‘If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to rescue me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will rescue you. 13 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.’ 1 Chronicles 19.12

The people of God under King David find themselves in a conflict that they did not choose. They had approached a new neighbouring king with a peaceful offering and the response had been to shame those bringing the offering.

This results in two conflicts in which the people of God are victorious. A particularly interesting moment in the midst of the first conflict is when the commander of the army sees that they are being attacked from two sides. He makes a battle plan with the other commanders. It is a plan of dependence on each other, a statement of action based on their identity as God’s people, and all done under a knowledge that God is in control.

As we live as the people of God now we can take their same approach.

  • We walk through life together under Jesus – Galatians 6.1-2, Ephesians 4
  • We have statement of action based on who we are in Jesus – Titus 2.11-15, Ephesians 4.32-5.2
  • God’s got it in Jesus  – Romans 8.31-39

In the midst of trial we walk in the pattern of Gods people past and present.

 

 

19 In the course of time, Nahash king of the Ammonites died, and his son succeeded him as king. David thought, ‘I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.’ So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.

When David’s envoys came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites to express sympathy to him, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, ‘Do you think David is honouring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven’t his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?’ So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved them, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.

When someone came and told David about the men, he sent messengers to meet them, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, ‘Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.’

When the Ammonites realised that they had become obnoxious to David, Hanun and the Ammonites sent a thousand talents[a] of silver to hire chariots and charioteers from Aram Naharaim,[b] Aram Maakah and Zobah. They hired thirty-two thousand chariots and charioteers, as well as the king of Maakah with his troops, who came and camped near Medeba, while the Ammonites were mustered from their towns and moved out for battle.

On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance to their city, while the kings who had come were by themselves in the open country.

10 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 11 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother, and they were deployed against the Ammonites. 12 Joab said, ‘If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to rescue me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will rescue you. 13 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.’

14 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 15 When the Ammonites realised that the Arameans were fleeing, they too fled before his brother Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab went back to Jerusalem.

16 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they sent messengers and had Arameans brought from beyond the River Euphrates, with Shophak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them.

17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel and crossed the Jordan; he advanced against them and formed his battle lines opposite them. David formed his lines to meet the Arameans in battle, and they fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven thousand of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. He also killed Shophak the commander of their army.

19 When the vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with David and became subject to him.

So the Arameans were not willing to help the Ammonites any more.