May 15


II Samuel 16-20

We are in the Nation Stream today and will discover what happens to the battle between King David and Prince Absalom. We are reading from the Common English Bible this week. | @7StreamsMethod | @serenatravis | #7Streams

Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord, you preserved David through these difficult years, and we are comforted by your preservation of the King.  We also gain reassurance knowing that you do the same for us.  Amen.

We are in the heart of David’s troublesome years. I think the Absalom factor cut David the deepest. Absalom was not in line for the throne, though there may have been generational priority over Solomon. I mean, really, Solomon was the son of Bathsheba – a wife obtained through illicit processes but… Be that as it may, David’s affections for his womEn [plural] had created a sequence of events that birthed chaos and pained David the rest of his days.  So here we are in the thick of the skirmish caused by his “pretty-boy” son who felt he deserved even more than was due him.  A strong motif today is seen in how David treats each and every-one.

16 – The revelation of loyalties v.s. disaffections, the treachery and the intrigue of today’s reading unfolds as a very high stakes, life and death chess game. We never can tell what each person’s next move is going to be.  David is still enroute fleeing Jerusalem -namely Absalom; his rebel son, when he encounters Mephibosheth’s aid; Ziba. M- was Saul’s grandson whom David was endeared to and took him in. David still honors them despite the national tension. Then Shimei appears. He was a relative of Saul’s.  Shimei is a agitated soul and curses David. This was extremely foolish since David is guarded by warriors who could kill Shimei at any moment. Oddly enough David halts any possible retaliation and lets Shimei yap away. This seems to reveal that DAvid is still feeling guilty –> Seriously, the king being treated this way (and musing about it being God’s doing) just isn’t right. But all things considered, David is being overly gracious these days. Remember, David’s attitude toward Absalom is basically, “oh well, let him be King now…” (huh!?)
Next Ahithophel reveals how far gone he is by advising Absalom to violate his father’s concubines on rooftop in view of all the people.  Absalom obliges. It’s like Jerusalem has gone crazy.
17 – Ahithophel then advises that 12K soldiers go hunt down David to scatter the soldiers and isolate David for the kill. Absalom [who’s gone amok] loves the plan. Hushai intercepts (at God’s prompting) and advises to pull in all Israel “against” David so that David and Co. can annihiliate Absalom’s support. Hushai then goes completely stealth to spirit away and warn David of what’s coming. Ahithophel learns his advice wasn’t followed, so he goes home and hangs himself.  Gee, where did anyone think this turncoat rebel would end up?
Meanwhile refreshment and comfort is provided to David’s men so they are ready for battle.
18 – David snaps back into warrior-mode. He organized matters brilliantly under his command (On their departure he gives comment about Absalom – that puzzles his men more than anything) –> and off they ride into the battle! David’s victory is swift and decisive as 20,000 of Absalom’s loyalists (Israelites) are killed. Absalom, fleeing on a mule (not exactly a valiant picture!) gets himself killed/hung by his neck in a tree.  Joab learns of Absalom hanging in a tree unable to get free and he thrusts him through with three javelins (today’s translation of “sticks” is a trifle weak). This rebellion ends. The victory is grand though grievous for David as his son was killed. He leaves his men in a bit of a lurch as he mourns Absalom’s death in a rather protracted (and pathetic) manner. The victory, for him was an internal conflict that he couldn’t resolve.
19 – General Joab’s heated monologue of exhortation snaps David out of his mourning.  It seems Joab is perhaps more into David and the Kingdom than David is. A rally cry arises and David is called to return and resume as King of Israel. During the return Shimei comes forward for his sappy apology while falling prostrate before David.  David’s graciousness was more than Shimei deserved for cursing the King [back in ch. 16.]  During the journey back to Jerusalem we see David handling many interactions that show his regal character in forgiving Shimei, Interacting tenderly and wisely with Mephibosheth and Ziba, being grateful to Barzillai and Chimham (“KIM-ham”). We see a tussle/argument break out between Israel -the conglomerate of the 10 tribes of the north and Judah -the chief tribe of the south.  It’s a virtual harbinger of what is going to happen two generations later when, upon Solomon’s death, the north splits away.
20 – Well, we’re all heading back to Jerusalem and the rebellion is over, riiiight?  No, Sheba, a Benjamite rallied Israel against David and they followed Sheba against David! David acted quickly, put Amasa on task to assemble Judah to stop this rebellion.  Amasa took too long in the process and who [sensing divided loyalty!], who steps forward to ante-up and kill Amasa and roust the army? Joab!  He was quite-the-Patton we could say [during WWII] or Sherman [during the Civil War]. He was doggedly Patriotic and loyal to David; almost more “Davidic” that King David was! He pursued Sheba, like a cheetah after a gazelle, to where he was ditching out in Abel [“Ah-BELL”]. And Joab did not stop until Sheba’s head was thrown over the wall and landed amid Joab’s army.  The intervention of a wise woman in Abel was what ended sparing bloodshed on both sides and the city of Abel Beth Maacah [“m’-AH-cuh”] being razed-to-rubble.  Wow, what a read!

May 14


Exodus 23-26

We are reading more of the law and the instructions for the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle today. We are reading from the Common English Bible this week. | @7StreamsMethod | @serenatravis | #7Streams

Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord God Almighty, seeing you and experiencing you is why we are alive. Prepare US to meet YOU.  Amen.

23 – The Book of the Covenant (Ex.21-24) continues and we finish that today [23,24] plus read the first two chapters that give directions for the Tabernacle [25,26].  To summarize 23: there will be justice and mercy. do not follow rumors or tell lies or lie as a witness, Justice means no favoritism, follow decency- not sentiment, take no bribes and do not oppress newcomers.  The land needs a Sabbath (ea.7th year), as do you and your slaves (ea.7th day). Follow no other gods. You will have festivals and celebrations in each season and God will be in the middle of them. People may ponder this but of a truth we all know; people either party with God or they will party with the Devil. God is commanding that they keep Him in the middle of their celebrations and He institutes these celebrations to assure the culture be a God-centered culture.      So much can be said about the dietary matters of blood, the yeast, the fat, the cooking process, the prohibition of mixing meat with the milk of that same animal – there is a landmark book titled Purity & Danger by Mary Douglas [1966] that offers a good explanation of the depth of this. It all could be summed up that God wants us to be whole and healthy and well. Many particular meats especially are unsanitary, from disorderly garbage minded-animals, putrid and therein they lend toward insanity and symbolize chaos. They were to avoid them and everything about them.  Each person will bring offerings to God / no one comes empty-handed. God led them via Moses and He was also sending an angel ahead of them (this “Messenger”) This angel would protect against enemies, diseases, displacement, or becoming cowardly. They will have security and must avoid false gods.

24 – The Covenant is confirmed in an over-whelming event of effects and visions and fire and smoke and colors and revelations of God this all let the people know that God is abundantly serious and excited about what He is laying down here! The Israelites pledged to God and the elders proceeded into a venue that was most impressive. In case anyone is wondering, the word “lapis-lazuli tiles” is the light effect of azure-blue or sapphire. It’s a deep sky color one sees when looking upward from an airplane at a high altitude. Here they are seeing God. My heavens! Moses then goes up into the cloud to listen/converse with God. Keep in mind that as we are reading the next 7 chapters (do not get bored amid the details of ch. 25-31!) Moses is IN the cloud getting these matters noted straight from God as He is talking to him. What an experience.  This time OMG means OMG literally!
25 – The offerings for the Tabernacle are to be gathered. This is very precious material being stored up. The instructions for the Ark are given as are the Table and the Lampstand. It may help to see this better by searching “The Tabernacle of Moses”. This opens a series of sketchings. Most impressive is the one with the tall flame above the actual Tabernacle. This is the flame that God brought down along with the cloud that we read of at the end of Exodus 40. This assured that God was with them – that’s all anyone needs to know, really.  But at the present there is alot of preparation yet to do to welcome God into their presence in majesty that will help make an impression on these people they will never forget.
26 – The dimensions of the Tabernacle are given.  The details are many and we may feel belabored by all this, but it matters. It matters to God so it needs to matter to us. [Again, searching Tabernacle photos can be helpful]  This is the place where God is going to appear and show his glory.  No house is built without specifications. Homes/Mansions are built and the more important it is, the more details there are. They were to follow these matters every one. Following this was prerequisite for God to appear. Sloppiness here would not be tolerated.  If they were sloppy here, they would be sloppy with everything. Going through Israeli neighborhoods today, the attention to detail is a marvel. Gates, gardens, fences, edging, etc. They get these notions from here in Exodus and it still shows 3,400 years later.  What are we studying and therefore what are we committed to?

May 13


I Corinthians 1-3

We are starting a new book in the Church Stream! We are reading from the Easy-to-Read Version this week. | @7StreamsMethod | @serenatravis | #7Streams

Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

God, thank you for caring for us enough to walk us through such matters as we read about today. Church and Christian Fellowship is the best place on earth to find support and comfort, safety, strength, discipleship, and teaching. You certainly love your bride; the church. And we are grateful – because it is us you love. Amen.

Paul wrote this letter from Ephesus to the Corinthian church after he had left the first time. Corinth was along a busy trade route. It was a cultural and wealthy city of influence. Paul was spurred to write the Believers in Corinth because leaders from there had come to visit him in Ephesus as they were in duress and vexed with how to handle troubles, sin, misconduct, plus relational and doctrinal matters back in Corinth. [btw, Olympic trials were held here before Paul arrived and shortly after he had left.] There was an Aphrodite Temple above town. It had been closed by the New Testament era but there were residual effects from it in Corinth, Paul ended up addressing this issue also. It became an influential church and Paul was fervent to see them “aright their ship”. For within a century there would be a population of 3/4Million people in the area, so now was the time to set the church straight.

1 – Paul encourages them that they are holy because they belong to Christ Jesus. The Greek culture had a goal of attaining a perfect body and a perfected mind. [E.g. the muscle-bound statues, the ‘thinker’, etc.] We can still view this art today. This was a Grecian’s grid of value. and Paul wanted them to know that their value was that they belonged to Christ. This was news!

Churches here (as elsewhere) had not built central meeting places. That happened a couple of centuries after Rome had committed to stop harassing and executing Christians. Churches met in homes, halls, fields, caves and were therefore almost never “all together” as a unified group. The tendency was to become competitive. They were following different factions they had created. Paul reminded them that they were all following Christ, together, so stop bickering. And it was vital that they understand the Cross. Greeks didn’t like it because they felt, “why follow a man who surrendered himself to die? I don’t want to die. I’ll follow Apollos! He’s alive…”
[or we’ll follow Peter or Paul or Aquila].  And then there were the Jews who were taught for 1400 years that a lamb was to be sacrificed, not a human. That was too much like Molech or the pagans in Rome. yuck!  As you see, Paul needed to explain the Cross to them….[and to us!] And because of this Cross, Jesus is your strength, your mind, your justification, your freedom.
2 – It was important that their confidence switch from being rooted in human thinking (mind worship) to confidence in Christ.  THIS is the root of true wisdom.  The Greek mind and language structure was a rather brilliant system – it still affects the way we think and talk even today.  But it is the wisdom of God, found in Christ Jesus, that we access through His Holy Spirit that leads to true wisdom that transforms us and the world.  This is the wisdom that Paul mentors us into finding and living by.  God has such marvels and wonders to share with us and bring us to, but we won’t find this life in Him via a human path or cranial activity. We will find it by surrendering to Him, His wisdom, His Spirit.
3 – Paul takes the time to tell them that the teachers that pass through their live are God’s Servants – not Their Masters.  Follow Christ, let the teachers guide you, and the arguing and comparing would simply cease – as it needed to!  The Greeks (and Corinth is a city in Greece) were very immersed in learning and growing and perfecting and building. There are structures from centuries before Christ that are still matters to marvel over today.  Paul, amid this thinking, asserts to them that THEY are a temple, Christ is at work on this temple. They must bring Christ into all their thinking and building and activity and hobbies and obsessions. Christ would then therefore be their “obsession”. <– We’re saying what Paul is implying though he doesn’t word it this way.  Paul simply wants Corinthians to latch on to a totally higher way of thinking, and wisdom and operating that supersedes anything they have ever known before.  Christ owns you and has so much to bless you with. Let Him.

The Thread Through the Streams

:You will all follow a higher wisdom, what God has laid out, or you will end up killing what you think it is you love.

In Exodus, God laid out the plan; the “Decalogue” and numerous subsequent laws. Each persons impulses and passions were not to rule the day. God’s Law was the law. What happens in the world, in villages, in families where God’s law is not followed? Eventually murder rules and worse.

-In II Samuel David is feeling the affects of not following God’s 6,7,8, & 10th Commandments. He repented and was restored, yes. But it ends up terrorizing and killing his children however.
-In Psalms, the Sons of Korah are at a crossroads many times. They are so down-hearted. Thankfully they choose to look up to God, and His higher wisdom, and to be encouraged and not let their feelings override their faith.
-Jeremiah is urging them to follow God’s laws and wisdom. But they follow their own vices and darkness – what they think they love.  And it’s going to kill them, their towns, and Temple too.
-Hosea tells them that they are living wrong (teaching their children wrong too), Your idols, your judges – it’s all poison and you will lose everything and be destroyed for turning against God.

-Jesus, in Mark, asserts definitively that He must die (so that you/us/we can live.  This is higher wisdom – the plan that God laid out. This must be loved more than our own lives or we won’t find life ever.  Our life is found in Jesus’ death. [born once/die twice – born twice/die once]

-The Corinthian Church will follow Paul’s higher wisdom and the Corinthian Church will turn from their selfishness or there is going to be no Christian testimony in this city or this region. Their love for Greek culture and argument and body and mind will be surrendered to Christian codes for living or this church is going to devour itself.