Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ten "lost" tribes

Dr. Paul Manuel—Revised November 2003

The Bible traces the history of Israel's descendants from their beginnings as a loose tribal confederation to their formation as a cohesive nation, from their division into two kingdoms to their eventual fall and exile, and to a partial restoration of the people in their land. The post-exilic authors write from the perspective of the returnees, the members of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, who constituted the Southern Kingdom. What became of the other tribes? Their almost total absence from post-exilic literature is not simply the result of writer bias; something happened to wipe them from the pages of history.

The Assyrian exile was certainly a contributing factor in the disappearance of the northern tribes, but the exile was not solely responsible for their demise, because the southern tribes also went into exile yet managed to return, at least in part. What other factors led to the decline of the northern tribes, did they vanish completely and, if not, what was their part in the return? Although the Bible does not record a detailed history of each tribe, it does include a number of incidents for several of them that may suggest an answer to these questions.

I. Causes of the northern tribes' decline
A. Poor decisions
The first possible reason for the loss of the northern tribes is that they made poor decisions, resulting in a reduction of their number. Although not necessarily true of all tribes, Simeon, Dan, and the transjordanian tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh made choices early in their history that weakened them and that exacerbated the effect of the exile.
1. Simeon
The tribe of Simeon may have led a pro-assimilation faction at Peor and, consequently, suffered more in the ensuing plague than did the other tribes.
Num 25:14 The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family.
A comparison of the census figures before and after that incident shows a decline in their number of over fifty percent (from 59,300 in Num 1:23 to 22,100 in 26:14), far more than any other tribe. (Ephraim, the next largest tribe so affected, was down twenty percent, from 40,500 to 32,500.)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sermons: Spiritual gifts (1 Chr 25:1-7; Rom 12:3-8)

(1 Chron 25:1-7; Rom 12:3-8)
Dr. Paul Manuel—2006

(Two sermons: the first considering the place of music among the spiritual gifts, the second considers the gifts as presented in the New Testament)

The holidays should bring out the best in us, but the stress that often arises sometimes generates a less than gracious and grateful attitude.
This year, Jane wanted to be ready for company long before their arrival, so she started cleaning her house right after Halloween. She ran out of cleaning supplies before she finished and had to go to the store. What should have been a quick trip was anything but that, and Jane found herself standing in the checkout line for over thirty minutes, arms full of cleaning solutions as well as a broom. A deepening scowl marked her growing impatience. Finally, Jane reached the cashier, only to find that he needed a price check on one of her items. Sighing heavily, she said with more annoyance than necessary, "It'll be a miracle if I'm out of here and home in time for Thanksgiving!" "Oh I don't think you have to worry lady," the clerk answered cheerily.... "With the strong wind out there and your new broom, I'm sure you'll be home in no time."
While waiting in line, Jane could have been passing the time by counting her blessings and not just cooling her heels. She could have prepared for the holiday by reviewing all the ways God has blessed her and the many gifts He has given her.

The apostle Paul, especially, talks about the many different gifts God gives to His people.
  • He gives the good news about Jesus as a gift.
  • He gives forgiveness from sin as a gift.
  • He gives eternal life as a gift.
James says that...
Jms 1:17a Every good and perfect gift is from above [i.e., from God I....
We can always look forward to The Gifts of God.