Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This is an uplifting article written by a friend of mine.


 Patricia L. Williams

Copyright © 2006 by Patricia Williams
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A recent visit to a symphony concert was very enjoyable. I delighted hearing Brahms Symphony No. 2 performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. I did not realize at that time how God would use that experience to give me a deeper understanding of His precious word.
In musical terms, a symphony is described as a compound form. The classical symphony usually has four sections, or movements, and while it is possible for each movement to be performed separately, that is rarely done. The relationship between the movements, such as the interplay of mood, the creativity of structure, or the unfolding of a story, is what makes the listening experience complete.
Obviously, the Word of God is a compound form with 66 separate movements, or books. Each book can be read separately, but the full satisfaction comes from recognizing how each section is skillfully integrated into a meaningful whole.
There are two levels of appreciation when listening to a symphony. The first and most elementary is the emotional response. Every listener is able to appreciate on this level. However, the skill of the conductor lies in his ability to direct the various emotions to a point of unity. In other words, each listener will be directed toward the same emotional response. That feeling of oneness generated in an assembly of strangers is reason to visit a concert hall, as opposed to listening in solitude, where one misses out on that experience.
When we read or hear the Words of God, each of us can have an emotional response. We can marvel in awe at the act of creation, or cheer with the Israelites when David slays the giant. We cry along with Jeremiah and walk and leap and praise God with the lame man who was healed by the Apostles. These are common emotional responses. The role of the Holy Spirit, when we read or hear the Words of God, is to take us as individuals and lead us to a point of unity in Christ. Similarly, just as in a concert hall, for the blessing of unity to be realized, the assembling of the saints together should not be forsaken.
The second level of appreciation for a symphonic composition is reached through an understanding of the mechanics of construction. The whole process begins with a design concept in the mind of the composer who employs musical symbols on a printed page to transmit his concept to others. It can readily be seen that Scripture began as a design concept in the mind of the Almighty who chose to transmit this concept to us living today, through the printed page, the Holy Bible. Less obvious however may be the mechanics of this transmission, which will now be examined in detail.

Musical notes can be arranged in two ways; the linear arrangement which creates melody and the vertical arrangement which creates harmony. A melody is a meaningful arrangement of tones that is constructed with a plan or purpose. It is designed to attract our attention and elicit a response. Symphonic compositions that have delighted people through the ages are the ones that have immediately recognizable melodies. These melodies that are elevated to prominence in a composition are called themes.
Our beloved King James Bible has beautiful melodies that sing out from the pages. Each melody is made up of a series of words, for example, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.This melody abounds throughout the Bible, in many variations and in many different contexts, but when we hear it, even if it has been disguised, we remember that we have heard it before and it is familiar to us. Or, consider the melody, “Behold the Lamb of God.When this theme is encountered in the Bible and we remember the Lamb and think on Him, we interact with that melody to the stirring of our very soul.
One of the marks of greatness of a classical composer is his ability to manipulate melodic fragments into various constructs and then reorganize them into even more meaningful patterns. Full enjoyment of a symphony on this second, deeper level depends upon our ability to remember the melodies heard previously, and when, after a sometimes prolonged interlude, they reappear in all their majesty, it is like reuniting with an old friend. The more familiar we become with the composition, the more we anticipate the arrival of that recognizable melody. The same is applicable to the Bible’s major themes. Just as a symphony, with its different movements, is united by its thematic material, so is the Bible. The themes are manipulated, maneuvered, transformed, and sometimes disguised, but study and meditation can often reveal them. A musician who has studied the composition will understand it in greater depth and see the marvelous intricacies better than someone hearing it for the first time. However, the conductor, or in our analogy, the Holy Spirit can guide us into a more complete understanding.
Let us digress at this point as we ponder the role of the conductor. He (or she) never adds to, subtracts, or in any way changes the score that the composer has written. The job of the conductor is to interpret the information on the page and to lead, guide and direct the musicians in the performance. As pertains to the matter of interpretation, there are certain notations that may not be changed; for example, the notes themselves may not be altered unless there is an obvious misprint. The work must be performed in the same key that was chosen by the composer because a certain mood or impression can be generated through this choice of key. However, when the composer writes “allegro” on the score, to define the speed at which the music is to be performed, just how fast is “allegro”? If he writes “pianissimo” on a section, just how soft is that? The conductor determines these criteria within certain universal parameters and thus puts his signature on the performance.
As the Holy Spirit clarifies God’s words and brings us to a knowledge of the truth, it is not accomplished by changing or modifying those words in any way. What God has written is forever settled and preserved for us. The role of the Holy Spirit is to equip us to understand and perform God’s Words as was intended by the composer Himself. Just as a conductor cannot transmit the message without participation by the musicians who bring their own special gifts and abilities to the performance, the Holy Spirit uses the saints of God to perform the Words of God.
Now we revert back to our study of the mechanics of a symphonic composition. We have discussed the linear construction, or melody. Next we consider the vertical structure, or harmony. The chordal structure is implemented to support the melody by setting the melody in a certain tonal environment. This setting, or context, then determines the mood of the composition, much the same way that wall color determines the mood of a room.
To illustrate this concept as it applies to The Words of God, let us consider various books of the Bible and establish a prevailing mood for each. For example:
The book of Psalms                majestic
Song of Solomon                    intimate, playful
Jeremiah                                 melancholy
Proverbs                                            neutral
Ruth                                        bright
Revelation                              foreboding
If we were musically notating the book of Ruth, we would certainly not end it in a minor key. This book, with the underlying theme (melody) of redemption, would undoubtedly end in triumph, the genealogy of David triumphantly proclaiming the redeemer to come. Contrast this with the book of Jeremiah “the weeping prophet,where the idea of redemption is more obscure and the entire book would be musically portrayed in a minor key. It is the harmonic construction that gives each book its distinctive color, or mood.
The third element in a musical composition we have not yet mentioned. It is the element of rhythm. One can readily understand that even the most sophisticated progression of notes would be meaningless without rhythm. Rhythm brings order; that order resulting from repeated occurrences. God Himself established rhythm; in the seasons, in the oceanic tides, and in the heavenly spheres, where events are repeated enough to establish meaning. In fact, as early as the second verse in the creation account (Gen 1:2) we see the earth without form and void until the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. That word, “moved” means, literally, “vibrated,producing rhythmic waves of energy. So, we can see how the Creator used rhythm to bring order out of formlessness.
The examination of the subject of rhythm in God’s Word brings numerous
examples to light. We have obvious rhythm in the book of Judges, each leader punctuating the course of a nation’s history, either for good or for evil, one reign flowing rhythmically into the next with the often repeated refrain, “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord.” We see rhythm in the book of Joshua; in fact, it is a
marching rhythm as Israel conquers the Promised Land. We have obvious rhythm in the Psalms, the structure of which is sometimes so precise and the words so melodious, even in translation, they can be turned into song without any modification at all. With the advent of computers, we have discovered Bible codes, (an unfortunate term) where rhythm is being discovered in the actual words themselves as they appear on the printed page, and that rhythm pulses as intended so long as the words have not been altered or changed. The truth is, if the Words of God are quick and powerful, then they have the pulse beat or the rhythm of life itself.
As with any comparisons, more could be said. Perhaps through this short musical journey where we have compared Scripture to a finely constructed symphony, we have come to appreciate our KJB even more. Unfortunately, as with any comparison of things earthly to things heavenly, the earthly falls far short. One observation does remain true however, the Words of God, although composed in eternity past, have been completely recorded for us in book form and preserved by divine covenant. We are able to hold this miraculously written letter from heaven, stained with the blood of martyrs, in our very hands, translated into the English language and infallibly preserved. Our beloved King James Bible resonates with the harmonies of eternity and the rhythm of life. But it is the glorious melody, that pervasive theme, composed of the notes of mercy and grace, that saturates the whole so completely and lovingly. It is a melody we can sing in our hearts. Jesus Christ, our blessed redeemer, is that unchanging melody. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.
The foregoing treatise is an analogy that perhaps gives one a greater understanding and appreciation for God’s Word. Comparing Scripture to a finely constructed symphony is a delightful exercise, both intellectually and spiritually. However, if the treatise ends here, is there any lasting effect? To make an impact, we must make it apply to our lives. The remainder of this presentation will instruct you on how to perform God’s Symphony. You, the saints of God, are the musicians called to perform the Words of God each and every day. Are you qualified?
Let’s suppose for a moment that you are going to an audition for participation in a symphony orchestra. Obviously, the first requirement is that you are able to play your instrument; that you can decipher the notes on the page and produce an accurate rendition. If you are going to accurately decipher the Words of God for performance purposes, the first qualification is faith. You must have faith in the living Word, Jesus Christ, before you can acceptably perform God’s written Word. While it is true that there are those who attempt to perform the Words of God without possessing a saving faith, their performance is not pleasing because without faith it is impossible to please Him. (Heb 11:6). The performance may be technically flawless, every note accurately played, but there is no connection. The performance is lifeless; without heart; dead. Why is that? We remember in the OT how God condemned the bringing of offerings and sacrifices to Him without the right attitude of the heart. Their performance was technically correct, but without understanding. Faith is the qualification that makes us alive to the things of God and gives us an understanding heart so that our performance may be acceptable in His sight.
The second qualification is a desire to perform well. While there is a place for amateurs in a youth orchestra, musicians are expected to perfect their skills. This is impossible without practice; many, many hours of practice. As a musician desiring to play God’s Symphony, you must also practice. You must study the notes (Words), engrave them on your heart, meditate on them in your mind and thoroughly understand
them before you attempt to bring them to performance. Do you have a musician’s
This brings us to the question, “What will you do with the difficult passages?”
There are two possibilities. One is to practice them unto perfection. The second is to allow the other musicians to carry the difficult passages without you. Ladies, do you allow your husband’s commitment and dedication to carry you through the difficult passages? Do you allow him to carry the load that is rightfully yours? Do you understand that the trumpet cannot play the part that was written for the violin? The performance of God’s Symphony with your husband should be a duet; each part in harmony with and complementing the other. The part he has been given to play may be the more prominent, but he needs the underlying harmonic support that has been written for you. We must study the whole Word of God, being familiar with all, but we must, as individuals, be dedicated to performing the passages written specifically for us.
There is one more qualification that is absolutely essential to symphonic performance. Each musician must be subject to the authority of the conductor. Remember that previous imaginary audition? Suppose you only agreed to perform on Sundays? Suppose you only agreed to perform your musical version even though it was far different from the original? Suppose you only agreed to perform at your convenience; in your season? Suppose you insisted on being the final authority of how those notes should be interpreted instead of being guided through the performance by the conductor? You
would soon hear the words, “audition over” and your chance to shine would be extinguished. But Jesus says, “Ye are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14) and “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works (a pleasing and acceptable performance of God’s Words) and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Mt 5:16).
My prayer for all of us is that we learn to be proficient, capable musicians, dedicated to the performance of a lifetime. The house lights have dimmed, a hush has descended and the curtain is rising. The audience is watching and prepared to listen. The musicians are tuned up and ready to perform. All are anticipating the arrival of the conductor who appears from the wings and makes his way to the podium. There is no delay; he lifts his baton and the performance begins. The Symphony of Praise rings out from the stage, fills the hall, and resounds in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8) The magnificent harmonies reach the heavens and enter into the court of the composer Himself, where it is forever settled.

O God, we desire to bring honour and glory to you through our performance of your precious, preserved Words. Under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, may those eternal Words become A Symphony of Praise.


Thursday, December 11, 2014



Robert J Sargent
Permission granted to use this article 12-10-2014

Texts in Question

2 Kings 8:26—“Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel.”

2 Chronicles 22:2—“Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri.”

Is there a discrepancy between 2 Kings 8:26 and 2 Chronicles 22:2? To the casual reader, there indeed appears to be a contradiction between two parallel accounts of the accession of King Ahaziah over Judah. Was Ahaziah 22 or 42 when he ascended the Judean throne?

The “Scholarly” Solution

There is an easy solution to the problem—if you are a Bible corrector! Obviously this just has to be an error! The “scholarly” statement of this “explanation” is: “The number ‘forty and two’ in 2 Chron 22:2 is evidently the mistake of a copyist.” In other words, since Ahaziah’s father Jehoram died at age 40 (2 Chron 21:20), it would have been impossible for Ahaziah to succeed him at an age of 42! Therefore, somewhere in the history of the transmission of the Hebrew text, a careless scribe committed a transcriptional error.

The problem with this easy solution is: if there is one error in the Bible (albeit an innocent slip of the pen), who is to say there are not other errors in the Bible? How could we be absolutely certain that the precious verses God used to speak to our heart and save our soul are not among those containing errors? Can we really trust our Bible?

For a number of compelling reasons, we believe the Bible is the Perfect Word (Ps 119:140) of a Perfect God (Tit 1:2) and given to man in a Perfect Manner (2 Pet 1:21, 2 Tim 3:16) and preserved in a Perfect Form (Ps 12:6-7). Our Bible is not only infallible in all its teachings but inerrant in all its content. That is why we can say with full assurance: “I know whom I have believed;” that is why we can say with absolute confidence: “there hath not failed one word of all his good promise.”

Statements of Fact

How, then, can we understand this apparent contradiction concerning the age of King Ahaziah when he began to reign? Before we come to untie what one writer calls “the Gordian Knot of the Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah,” several statements of fact need to be made.

Some parts of God’s Word are likened to milk (1 Pet 2:2), while other parts are called strong meat (Heb 5:12-14). This conundrum most definitely falls into the strong meat category.
Every Christian is commanded to study the Bible (2 Tim 2:15). This particular question is one which requires much careful and diligent study.
Whenever we encounter a difficult-to-understand Bible passage, it does not mean the Bible is somehow in error. We have to consider two realities:
that we may not be of sufficient spiritual maturity to grasp the deep treasure God has put there in His Word (1 Cor 3:1-2, Luke 24:25), and must therefore keep growing and keep studying; or
that God never intended for us to know everything there is to know (John 21:25), and must therefore be content with the knowledge that He has given us all we need to know until we enter into His glorious presence in heaven (1 Cor 13:12).

The two passages in question are accurate English translations of the Masoretic Hebrew text—all the extant Hebrew manuscripts say the same thing! This is not some supposed “poor translation” by the translators of the Authorised, King James Version. Why, those men would run rings around 20th century scholarship—and do you not think they would have had enough sense to “patch up” such a glaring inconsistency if they really believed it was an error? (This perplexing question is actually a wonderful demonstration of the honesty of the translators of the Authorised, King James Version.)
When interpreting the Bible chronologically (which is part of the solution to these problem texts), it is absolutely necessary to keep in mind some important facts:
Scripture deals only with whole years when it comes to the reign of the kings. A part of a year is counted as a whole year, and when applied to the kings of Israel, that part of one year may actually be counted twice—once for the outgoing king, once for the incoming king. As a matter of fact, at time of the events mentioned in our problem text, the Northern kingdom of Israel had three kings reigning in the same year—Ahab (absent in battle, then killed), his son Ahaziah (co-Rex, then dies of a fall), and his grandson Jehoram.
Sometimes the reign of a king is dated from the beginning of a dynasty instead of the beginning of his own succession to the throne. The classic example of this is found in 2 Chronicles 16:1 where the reign of Asa at the time of Baasha’s invasion has been counted from the division of the united monarchy under Rehoboam. (This explains the apparent contradiction with 1 Kgs 16:8.) Chronicles records the length of the kingdom; Kings records the length of the term of office. We may find this a strange way of reckoning, but that is the way it is sometimes counted in the Biblical record.
Sometimes the beginning of the reign of a king may be given from his anointing or from his accession, or both! The Lord Jesus Christ was born King of the Jews (Matt 2:2), but His reign will not begin until He sits upon David’s throne in the Millennium. Following the deportation of his father, Jehoiachin legally became king of Judah when he was eight years old (2 Chron 36:9), but his mother ruled for him as queen (Jer 13:18) until he was 18 (2 Kgs 24:8). Three months later both king and queen mother were deported (2 Kgs 24:12).
It was not uncommon for there to be more than one king reigning at a given time in either Israel or Judah. Some ruled as pro-Rex (in place of the king), others as co-Rex (together with the king).
The term “son,” as it is used in the Bible, does not always mean the contiguous male offspring of a father. A father may actually be a grandfather (Dan 5:2—Belshazzar was Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson), or step-father, or a distant forebear (Matt 1:1).
This particular question is somewhat complicated by the similarity of names of the kings of Israel and Judah during the period of time. There were in fact two Ahaziahs, one in the Northern kingdom of Israel and one in the Southern kingdom of Judah. One way to keep them straight in your mind is to remember the following formula: ISRAEL = A-A-J (Ahab-Ahaziah-Jehoram); JUDAH = J-J-A (Jehoshaphat-Jehoram-Ahaziah). Lastly, Ahaziah has three names in the records: Ahaziah (2 Chron 22:1), Jehoahaz (2 Chron 21:17), and Azariah (2 Chron 22:6).

The Biblical Solution

The “key” which unlocks the door to our understanding this matter is found in the New Testament. The royal genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ is recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew. Matthew 1:8 lists the kings in the Davidic line at the time of our particular concern—and there are some notable omissions!

The following chart compares the kings of Judah as given in the Old Testament record to the same kings listed in Matthew 1:8:


Three kings of Judah are not counted in the lineage of Jesus Christ! Why? The answer to that is found in Exodus 20:5, Numbers 14:18 and Psalm 109:13-15 and is seen in the character of this reign (2 Chron 22:2-4). The fact is, Ahaziah is not counted as a seed of David—his ancestry is traced to the house of Omri. The Bible accentuates both the bloodline and the influence of his mother (Athaliah), who is the daughter of Omri—either literally, or in the sense that she is the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel (2 Kgs 8:18), i.e., she is Omri’s granddaughter.

Two Possible Explanations

This being the case, there are now two possible explanations:

Solution #1

Ahaziah was literally 22 years old (2 Kgs 8:26) when he ascended to the throne of Judah. He was the actual son of Jehoram and Athaliah.

Ahaziah was co-Rex with his ailing father Jehoram (2 Chron 21:18) for one year (2 Kgs 9:29—the 11th year of Jehoram of Israel) and sole king for one year (the 12th year of Jehoram of Israel—2 Kgs 8:25).

Ahaziah ascended to the throne in 894 BC [Ed: 842/1 BC]. If we count backwards 42 years (to 936 BC) we come to the first year of Omri [Ed: 885/4 BC]. In other words, Ahaziah was indeed 22 years old (as stated in Kings), but his reign is counted (in Chronicles) from the beginning of the evil dynasty of Omri. This is the Holy Spirit’s way of highlighting the wicked aberration in the royal Davidic line.

The phrase “Forty and two years” may then be taken as a Hebrew idiom “A son of forty two years”—meaning that it was 42 years from the beginning of the dynasty founded by Omri.

Solution #2

Ahaziah was literally 42 years old (2 Chron 22:2) when he ascended to the throne of Judah. He therefore was not the literal son of Jehoram (who died at age 40), but a son in the sense of being a step-son. His mother was his father’s wife.

If we count back 20 years (to when Ahaziah was 22 years old—2 Kings 8:26) we come to the year 914 BC [Ed: 862/1 BC] which is the eighth year of Jehoshaphat. This was about the time that Jehoshaphat “joined affinity with Ahab” (2 Chron 18:1), since we know that in the third year of Jehoshaphat’s reign he instituted a revival in Judah (2 Chron 17:7-9), following which his kingdom prospered (2 Chron 17:12).

We are told in 2 Chronicles 18 that several years after this alliance was forged, Ahab and Jehoshaphat engaged in a joint military venture against Syria (2 Chron 18:2). Both kings went into battle (2 Chron 18:28) and Ahab was killed (2 Chron 18:33-34). Prior to the battle the faithful prophet Micaiah was deported in chains to Amon where (the one-year-old) Joash was residing (1 Kgs 22:26). It is here, in this passage, we have a most revealing statement: Joash—the biological son of Ahaziah (2 Chron 22:11)—is called the “king’s son,” indicating that Ahaziah was already a king! How could this possibly be? If, as part of the affinity Jehoshaphat made with Ahab, Ahaziah was anointed king at this time, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together.

In other words, Ahaziah was anointed king at age 22—he finally sat on the throne of Judah 20 years at age 42.

The Word of God does not give all the details of the affinity between the two monarchs. Evidently, it was far-reaching because in 2 Chronicles 21:2 Jehoshaphat was given the title “king of Israel!” Furthermore, when Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram finally gained sole rule over Judah, he not only murdered his brothers, but “divers also of the princes of Israel” (2 Chron 21:4). Why would he do that if they were not a threat to the Judean throne?

Not only that, but Ahaziah obviously felt “right at home” in the Israeli court (2 Chron 22:6). Perhaps both kings were interested in reuniting the monarchy which had been divided for about 70 years—undoubtedly with different motives. Ahab (or Jezebel!) conspired to install one of his own on the Judean throne following the death of Jehoshaphat—a move which would be accomplished by earmarking Ahaziah (whose mother was Ahab’s own daughter) ahead of time. When Ahab’s scheme to have Jehoshaphat killed in battle backfired (2 Chron 18:29, 31-33), Ahaziah had to wait 20 years to be enthroned.

In this way, Ahaziah was both 22 and 42 when he began to reign—22 when he was anointed, 42 when he was seated.

The only question which remains is: Who was his biological father? The affinity struck between Ahab and Jehoshaphat appears to be somewhat sordid—a tangled web in fact! Consider that Ahaziah is said to be:

The son of Jehoram (2 Chron 22:1). Since Ahaziah was two years older than his “father” Jehoram, he must have been his step-son, brought into that relationship with his mother Athaliah when she married Jehoram.
The son-in-law of the house of Ahab (2 Kgs 8:27). This relationship would have been established by his marriage to Zibiah (2 Chron 24:1) who must have been either a daughter or grand-daughter of Ahab.
The son of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 22:9). It seems Ahaziah was given a decent burial only out of respect for the fact that he was a son of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 22:9). Could it be that in earlier times, Jehoshaphat followed the custom of cementing royal ties (1 Kgs 3:1) by going in unto Athaliah, Ahab’s daughter? Perhaps it is at this point that the Biblical record ceases to give sufficient details for anyone to know for certain.

The Almighty God is never pleased with unholy alliances (2 Cor 6:14-17). The Lord never recognised the reigns of Jehoram and Azariah, who both sought to introduce Baal worship into Judea—along with Joash, they are omitted from the genealogy of the Saviour. When Ahaziah died, God Himself cut off the house of Ahab from the royal line (2 Chron 22:7-9).
Robert J Sargent serves as pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Oak Harbor, Washington. The above article is taken from Things Hard to be Understood by David Cloud, Way of Life Literature (http://wayoflife.org), 2001. Permission granted to use this article 12-10-2014