THE MOUNTAINS OF BASHAN
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Bashan symbolizes that which is exalted in the flesh, that which God’s people will conquer as they make their way toward the rest of God. The elect have labored for many centuries in the bondage of spiritual ambition. God will bring His chosen people from the bondage of sin and self-will and establish them on Mount Zion, the place of their true inheritance.
Salvation and eternal life are found only on Mount Zion. The mountains of Bashan, of human endeavor, strive in vain to give life. Eternal life comes only from the Father through the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Receiving Christ does not solve the problem of self-will. We are not converted from self-will until we have allowed the Lord to remove self from the throne and assume His rightful place as King of our personality.
Table of Contents
The Universal Problem
The origin of the problemCain and Abel
The chosen One
Your will be done
Envy and rageKorah, Dathan, and Abiram
Sacred and secular
Ahimaaz and the Cushite
The Palace Prophets
Jesus and the Priests
The Adversaries of Paul
THE MOUNTAINS OF BASHAN
The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan; an high hill as the hill of Bashan. Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever. (Psalms 68:15,16)
“Why leap ye, ye high hills?”
For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. (Psalms 132:13)
Bashan was an area east of the Jordan River. Og, the King of Bashan, fought Israel in the battle at Edrei. Israel prevailed and the territory was given to the half-tribe of Manasseh.
And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants. (Deuteronomy 3:13)
The “mountains of Bashan” are those who seek to be “giants” in the Kingdom of God, who are soulish and self-willed.
Og, the king of Bashan, was a giant and his territory was the land of the giants (the Rephaim). Bashan symbolizes that which is exalted in the flesh, that which God’s people will conquer as they make their way toward the rest of God.
The elect have labored for many centuries in the bondage of self-will and fleshly ambition. But God has promised to bring them back from the “depths of the sea” of humanity and give them their true inheritance.
The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea: (Psalms 68:22)
The “mountains of Bashan” are high mountains. They “leap,” that is they look and act enviously regarding the mountain God has chosen. The mountain God has chosen is Mount Zion.
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. (Psalms 2:6)
Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt. (Psalms 74:2)
In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. (Psalms 76:2)
Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. (Psalms 48:2)
God will bring his chosen people from the bondage of sin and self-will and establish them on Mount Zion, the place of their true inheritance.
For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession. (Psalms 69:35)
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (Hebrews 12:22)
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
Salvation and eternal life are found only on Mount Zion. The mountains of Bashan, of human endeavor, strive in vain to give life. Eternal life comes only from the Father through the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. (Psalms 133:3)
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Joel 2:32)
The Universal Problem
The universal problem, the problem of the angels and of mankind, is that of will. God has made angels and men with wills, with the ability to make choices, with the capacity for personal ambition and direction.
Christians have assumed there will be no self-will or sin in Heaven or in the ages of eternity that follow the Church Age because angels and people cannot rebel any more.
There is no scriptural basis for this assumption.
The truth is, rebellion originated in Heaven. The reason there will be no sin in Heaven or in the ages to come is that Christ, Head and Body, will enforce righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. Angels and people always will retain the ability to rebel against God and His laws.
In order for sin and rebellion to be impossible God would have to remove from the heavenly creatures and from man the power of choice. If God did this His creatures would be different in kind from what they are.
The reason there is a huge wall surrounding the new Jerusalem is to prevent rebellion and wickedness from entering the Paradise of God.
God trains us and deals with us as He does so we will not sin in the future. We always shall be able to choose to disobey God. Our guarantee that we shall not disobey God is not that God will remove our power of choice but that Christ is dwelling in us and His Nature is free from disobedience. If we are saved and yet are so weak we cannot be trusted not to rebel against the Father, being taken captive by Satan at his pleasure, we will be governed by victorious saints who can be trusted.
The origin of the problem. The problem began in Heaven.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:12-14)
“I will ascend into heaven.”
“I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.”
“I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.”
“I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.”
“I will be like the most High.”
I will! I will! I will! I will; I will! Sickening! Disgusting! The cause of six thousand years of insanity, agony, frustration, violence, perversion, destruction, ruin, death.
I will elevate myself in the spirit realm (Heaven). I will raise my authority and power over all the other sons of God. I will reign over the congregation of Zion in the sides of the north. (But God has made His choice as to who shall rule in Mount Zion—Christ and His saints.)
Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. (Psalms 48:2)
I will elevate myself in the material realm (above the heights of the clouds). I will be an imitation, a usurper of God.
Apparently, Satan originally was without sin. But personal ambition seized him as it can any one of us—angel or human.
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. (Ezekiel 28:15)
The chosen One. At some point, either before or after the “I will” of Satan (the adversary), God the Father declared that Christ would inherit the wealth, the glory, the splendor, the peace, the authority, the power, the wonder, the beauty, the inexhaustible sources of joy of God’s universe, as well as eternal life as a human. Also, He would be the risen King over the new material creation about to come into existence.
I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen [nations] for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. (Psalms 2:7,8)
Even though the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth were created by the Lord Jesus, they had to be gained as an inheritance through the experiences of Bethlehem, the wilderness of temptation, Nazareth, Judaea, Gethsemane, Calvary, and the cave of Joseph of Arimathea.
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Psalms 45:6,7)
Who Christ’s “fellows” (companions) are we do not know. We do realize, however, that God has singled out the Lord Jesus to receive all of the Divine inheritance. As the fullest expression of man He has received authority and power over all the works of God’s hands; for the inheritance of all the works of God has been assigned by the Scriptures to “man.”
But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:6-8)
The usurpers. Satan and his followers lust after the joy, the glory, the power, the grandeur of the Kingdom of God. They have been in Eden and understand from that brief experience the marvels of the glory of the Kingdom of God that is coming. They despise Jesus and His saints. They hate them with relentless, savage fury.
They want the Kingdom. They want the joy. They want the power of the Kingdom, the authority, the beauty. They crave above all the worship of the human race that God has created. They lust after all the gifts of God, especially the gift of love. We are certain of this because of the ceaseless talk of humanists about the value of “love.” We know from sad experience that the “love” of humanists is filled with malice, self-seeking, deviousness, bitterness, and every other evil that can be imagined.
Everything the wicked touch turns to ashes. The Kingdom becomes an arena of competition, intrigue, and treachery. The joy turns into a frantic pursuit of “fun” and thrills. The power is an insatiable craving for control. The authority is a wrestling match in which every participant is seeking to overcome and destroy his opponent. The beauty is weird, bizarre, seeking to amaze and shock. Love is perverted into an unquenchable burning, mutilation, cannibalism.
The fallen heavenly lords rage, they curse, they struggle against one another being bound in the chains of darkness. They push, jostle, scheme, plot, seek advantage in their vain attempts to seize the Kingdom of God by their violence.
They desire to be “like the most High.” They are imitators of God but they have no intention of doing God’s will or of being in union with God. They are usurpers!
Your will be done. The universal problem is that of “will.” There is only one legitimate will in the universe—the will of the Father. The greatest lesson any individual, angelic or human, can learn is to do the will of the Father always, in every situation, totally, without one hair of disobedience. Even the Lord Jesus learned obedience to the Father, saying “Not My will but Yours be done.”
Satan and his followers always are usurpers, imitators, seeking to obtain the joys available in the Kingdom of God. They have come down to earth in the hope of gaining the glory they seek. Because Adam and Eve admitted them into Paradise they have gained a foothold among people. Since that time, mankind has revealed the nature of Satan. Men and women always are usurpers, imitators, seeking to obtain joy by means of their trickery and violence, unless the Lord Jesus is able to bring them to obedience to God.
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. (James 4:2)
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (James 4:15)
James is speaking to Christians!
Receiving Christ does not solve the problem of self-seeking. We are not converted from self-will until we have allowed the Lord to remove self from the throne and assume His rightful place as King of our personality.
The Lord’s disciples argued among themselves about which of them was the greatest. Jesus bore patiently with them, speaking of the self-exalting ways of Gentile leadership and urging them to choose the lowly role, and then warned Peter that he was to be sifted. So must all of us be sifted until the desire to be exalted, to do what we desire, to have our own way, to receive the worship of others, is purged from us.
The democratic form of government is spreading in our day. The goal is to ensure that every citizen has as many choices as possible. The concept of the “rights of people” is heralded. The ideal is for the individual to be “in control.” All of this is Antichrist and is supported by the False Prophet, the spirit of religious delusion.
The issues of the Gospel are those of kingdoms and thrones, of doing God’s will.
The almighty Word is: “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done in earth as it is performed in Heaven.”
What throne do you serve?
Cain and Abel
Envy and rage. The first man born on the earth murdered the second. The motivation was envy.
Somehow Cain became aware that God was pleased with Abel’s offering but not with his. Cain should have gone to the Lord and inquired as to why his offering was not satisfactory. Instead, the mountain of Bashan began to leap. Cain wanted the approval.
Whenever man seeks to force his own will instead of going to the Lord to find His will in the matter, Satan enters in—as he no doubt did here. Sin was crouching at the door, looking for an opportunity. He found it in Cain’s envy and rage. The result was the murder of a totally innocent person. How many times have innocent people been murdered because of someone’s envy and ambition!
How much better if Cain had shown love and trust toward the Lord (and toward his brother) and yielded to the Lord’s judgment, determined to improve his relationship to God at the first opportunity.
But Satan will not permit such an attitude in those whom he controls. Satan has lost forever the opportunity to love and serve God. In his jealous rage he is determined no one else ever will love and serve God.
The mountains of Bashan have raged and exploded in their murderous envy for six thousand years.
Sacred and secular. The tragedy of Cain and Abel was in a religious setting. Men and women seek advantage in both secular and religious settings—there is no difference in the motives or the results.
All ambitious people, whether in the so-called secular or so-called sacred realm, seek bread (security in the world), pleasure (the kingdoms of the world), and to fly off the “gable of the Temple” of frustration and impotence at their will (personal glory and achievement). All sons of God are tested in the same three areas.
There exists in the world a delusion. The delusion is that the affairs of men, including government, can be divided into the sacred and the secular. A notable case is the attempt of people to use the Constitution of the United States of America to separate the state from the church. This is folly and confusion.
People are both material and spiritual. Some people have eternal life because they are abiding in the Lord Jesus. Others are living in spiritual death. But this does not divide mankind into the secular and the sacred.
Some people belong to one religion or another, or one church or another. But this does not divide mankind into the secular and the sacred.
Some governments profess to be secular in philosophy. But this does not alter the fact that only the Lord Jesus is their lawful King and only God is their Creator and Father.
Church governments profess to be sacred in philosophy. But this does not change the fact that only the Lord Jesus is their lawful King and God is their Creator and Father.
Some governments, such as of Muslim countries, are pervaded with religious philosophy and religious political power. But this does not change the fact that only the Lord Jesus is their lawful King and God is their Creator and Father.
Some devout Christians repair cars for a living and some preach the Gospel. This does not mean God regards the Christian mechanic (or any other mechanic) as performing work in one realm while the preacher is in another domain that is more sacred, more holy.
The difference in people is not that some are in secular work and other in sacred employment. This is a false division produced by individuals who are seeking their own ends. The true division is between those who possess eternal life and those who do not possess eternal life.
God’s elect have been called to be holy, to be close to Him. It is the responsibility of the royal priesthood to bring God before men and men before God. Even this, however, does not separate the activities of life into the sacred and secular. The earth and those who dwell therein belong to the Lord, and this makes them all sacred.
The problem of self-will, of personal ambition, of scheming, trickery, violence, of seeking preeminence among one’s fellows, is identical in the governments and in the churches. The forces are identical. The results are identical. The judgment on all is identical.
The mountains of Bashan leap in the governments of the great nations, in the cathedrals of the historic denominations, in small Christian fellowships, and in families—both Christian and non-Christian. It is the same spirit, the spirit of self-will, of personal pride, the spirit that caused Lucifer to be hurled from the Presence of God.
The only legitimate will in the universe is the will of God. Every saved individual must one day learn to exclaim from his or her heart, “Not my will but Yours be done.” To say and practice this declaration is to enter the land of promise, the rest of God.
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: (Numbers 16:1,2)
Korah, the son of Izhar, was a Kohathite Levite, which meant he was among the men privileged to carry the Ark of the Covenant when Israel was on the march.
Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them? (Numbers 16:9)
It seems, as we examine the problem of the mountains of Bashan, that it is those who already are gifted or prominent that rise in rebellion. Satan held one of the highest honors in Heaven, apparently. He was one of the two cherubim assigned to cover the Throne of God with their wings. Absalom, the rebel, was David’s son. The Pharisees and Sadducees who resisted Jesus were highly placed in Israel. The Judaizers who opposed Paul no doubt were gifted Jewish teachers. But all were imitators! Usurpers! Doomed to fall to destruction!
Blindness. Imitators and usurpers are characterized by blindness.
Moses and Aaron had been chosen of God, called by name. They had stood before Pharaoh and worked miracles. God Himself had spoken to them on numerous occasions and directed their roles and activities. All Moses and Aaron did was obey the Lord (as is the case with each individual who truly has been called by the Lord).
Why couldn’t Korah see this?
One of the major problems of the Christian churches has been the desire of people to excel in religious activities. Ambition in spiritual matters is not discouraged in our day, it is encouraged as though it were a good thing. “Do great things for God!” “Step out in faith!”
One will look through the Scriptures in vain to find any such exhortation. The Kingdom of God advances only when God speaks to chosen people and they obey Him. Faith is not a case of people deciding what needs to be done and then attempting to force God to do it. Faith is obedience to what God has specifically commanded.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (Hebrews 1:1)
It is not enough to say the Scriptures have commanded it. We indeed must obey the Scriptures; but obedience to the Scriptures is possible only as we look to the Spirit of God for wisdom and strength to obey. In the realm of morality we are to do the best we can, meanwhile seeking the Lord’s help continually. In the realm of service we are to be particularly careful that we are not running ahead of God as well as not lagging behind.
It appears that much of the work performed in the Christian religion is done in the blindness of the flesh. The blind are leading the blind.
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, were leaders in Israel, men of renown. They were ambitious, self-seeking, and blind!
Why didn’t they stop and realize they had seen no burning bush, they had not been called out by name, they had not been many days on Mount Sinai with neither food nor water, miracles had not been performed at their hands? How could they be so blind as to suppose they could imitate and usurp the roles of Moses and Aaron?
They were blind and leaders of the blind. They were mountains of Bashan. They were leaping in envy, seeking to take the Kingdom by violence. They sought the Divine Glory given to Moses and Aaron, the honor, the authority, the power, the reverence of the people.
Satan was in them with his demons, seeking to ascend into heaven, to exalt his throne above the stars of God, to sit on the mount of the congregation in the sides of the north, to ascend above the heights of the clouds, to be like the most High.
What were these usurpers planning to do after they had persuaded Moses and Aaron to turn over their God-given authority to them? Did they suppose God would change His mind about the leadership of Israel and bless the ambitious in their hatred and rebellion?
They were blind and all who followed them were blind. They came to the end common to all the mountains of Bashan.
And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. (Numbers 16:32)
Aaron’s rod. At that time, God gave us an illustration of the sovereignty of God in the selection of the members of the royal priesthood.
Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man’s name upon his rod. (Numbers 17:2)
Twelve rods were placed before the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place of the Tent of Meeting. Aaron’s name was written on the rod of the Tribe of Levi.
The next day, only the dead wood of Levi had produced buds, blossoms, and almonds (life, beauty, and fruit).
So it is true that every member of the royal priesthood, of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the Head, is chosen by the Lord God, is brought down to death to self-will, and then is lifted up to life, beauty, and fruitfulness by the power of eternal, incorruptible resurrection life.
And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. (Hebrews 5:4)
The mountains of Bashan leap in vain. God has chosen Zion and every member of Zion.
And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. (Psalms 87:5)
Absalom was the son of King David by Maacah, the daughter of the king of Geshur. He was a handsome man, distinguished by the luxuriance of his hair, physically unblemished.
But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. (II Samuel 14:25)
Bashan represents that which is marvelous in the flesh.
Absalom spent his time in the gates of Jerusalem to political advantage while his father, David, sought and performed God’s will in governing Israel.
And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel. And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice! (II Samuel 15:2-4)
Soon Absalom had captured the hearts of the men of Israel and rebelled against David, seeking the throne of Israel for himself.
David was forced to flee for his life.
Not too long afterward, Absalom, evidently a large and heavy man, became caught in the branches of a tree and was unable to extricate himself. He hung between heaven and earth until Joab and his armor bearers killed him. Then Absalom’s body was thrown into a large pit and rocks were piled over him. This always is the end of Bashan.
As in the case of Korah, we are astounded at the blindness of Absalom. What did he think he would accomplish? David had been selected and anointed by the Lord. David was the man after God’s heart. David possessed the key of the Kingdom of God. Whatever David did, God blessed—even to the point of permitting the Ark of the Covenant to be kept in Zion, separated from the remainder of the Tabernacle, with its own altar and priesthood.
David and his men ate the showbread—unheard of!
The Book of Psalms, composed to a great extent by David, continues to be a major source of strength and wisdom for God’s elect. When Gabriel spoke to Mary he referred to the Throne of David. The Lord Jesus will occupy the Throne of David.
None of this is true of Absalom. Can you imagine Gabriel saying to Mary, The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father Absalom?
The nation of Israel under the rulership of King David was the Kingdom of God on the earth. God was the focus of the daily life of Israel as well as the Ruler of the king of Israel. What would Absalom have done with the throne, he being a rebel and murderer?
Like all the mountains of Bashan, Absalom was blind to truth. He saw the glory, the beauty, the authority, the reverence of the people. He saw the desirability of leading God’s flock. But he could not see the Lord. He was not a man after God’s own heart. He was not anointed with the Spirit of God. He sought to gain the Kingdom by trickery and violence. The Kingdom never is gained permanently by trickery or violence but only as God chooses and assists the individual.
The mountains of Bashan leap in vain!
David suffered for his affair with Bathsheba, and then God took care of the usurper, the imitator, Absalom. He hung between heaven and earth, being acceptable to neither. This is true of all usurpers, all imitators.
And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the earth; and the mule that was under him went away. (II Samuel 18:9)
Ahimaaz and the Cushite
An incident took place in connection with the death of Absalom that further illustrates the folly of personal ambition. One sin always gives birth to another.
A runner was needed to carry the news of the battle back to King David, who was waiting in the city of Mahanaim.
Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, Let me now run, and bear the king tidings, how that the Lord hath avenged him of his enemies. (II Samuel 18:19)
Zadok was a priest and a friend of David. Ahimaaz and his friend Jonathan, the son of Abiahar, had acted as spies for David when Absalom first proclaimed himself king of Israel.
Joab rightly decided that Ahimaaz, a distinguished Israelite and favorite of King David, would not be a suitable messenger to bring to David the tragic news concerning his son, Absalom. Instead Joab selected a Cushite, an Ethiopian, to carry the news of victory in battle and the death of Absalom.
And Joab said unto him, Thou shalt not bear tidings this day, but thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the king’s son is dead. Then said Joab to Cushi, Go tell the king what thou hast seen. And Cushi bowed himself unto Joab, and ran. (II Samuel 18:20,21)
Notice that Ahimaaz understood Absalom was dead.
The faithful Cushite started toward Mahanaim with the report from the forest of Ephraim.
The mountains of Bashan in Ahimaaz began to leap. Here was an opportunity to be grasped, a chance to receive the glory of bearing to the king the news of victory. Ahimaaz implored Joab to let him go also.
Ahimaaz did not consider the effect of his personal ambition on the Cushite, who was diligently carrying out his responsibility.
Self-serving people are so set on exalting themselves they do not consider the feelings of the people they step on during their climb to the heights.
But God does!
Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready? (II Samuel 18:22)
Joab consented, against his better judgment. In his frenzy to bring the tidings of the victory, Ahimaaz passed the Cushite. No doubt the Cushite was an experienced runner. Ahimaaz also was a distinguished runner and could be identified at a distance by his style.
And the watchman said, Me thinketh the running of the foremost is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man, and cometh with good tidings. (II Samuel 18:27)
“Bashan,” the lover of preeminence, had succeeded in “taking the kingdom by force.” One wonders what the faithful Cushite thought as the ambitious Ahimaaz passed him. How many times in the history of the world has some faithful servant gone about his business, only to be put in the background by a “star” who was seeking his own aggrandizement? Without doubt the number is legion.
Ahimaaz called out the news of the victory to David. He then fell on his face and congratulated the king on the defeat of his foes.
Of course, David asked immediately about Absalom. The mountain of Bashan, in typical fashion, desiring not to be associated with anything except success and exaltation, professed ignorance concerning the fate of Absalom.
And the king said, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Ahimaaz answered, When Joab sent the king’s servant, and me thy servant, I saw a great tumult, but I knew not what it was. (II Samuel 18:29)
This was a lie. The mountains of Bashan often lie to further their personal ambitions.
Then the steadfast Cushite arrived and told the king the truth—just as he had been commissioned to do.
The Christian ministry, as well as all other human endeavor, has its Cushites and its Ahimaazes. The former go about their business from day to day, faithfully carrying out the commands of the Lord. The latter are forever preening themselves, proclaiming their own importance and seeking their own advantage—lying when it becomes necessary to further their ends.
We are not to judge. The Lord Jesus will bring everything to light at His coming.
It has become fashionable today to preach a “positive” message. A minister is considered to be a defeated prophet of gloom if he says anything negative to his listeners.
We asked the Lord about “positive preaching.” The Lord responded, “Whoever preaches only the negative is emotionally ill. Whoever preaches only the positive is seeking his own glory. The Word of God is both positive and negative.”
Then He took us back to the beginning where there was a tree one should eat and a tree one should not eat. Then to the mountain of blessing and the mountain of cursing. And so on through the Scriptures.
It must have been the Lord who answered us, for here we find Ahimaaz, who clearly was seeking his own glory, telling King David only the positive information, only what David desired to hear, refusing to give the whole message.
Ahimaaz accomplished nothing except the increasing of his own importance. It was the Cushite who performed the required task.
The Palace Prophets
The kings of Israel surrounded themselves with hundreds of prophets. Their task was to speak in the name of the Lord, advising the king of the Lord’s will in important issues.
They prospered when they said what the king desired to hear.
Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. (I Kings 22:6)
This was not true. In fact, God had determined that Ahab, the King of Israel, would fall at Ramoth Gilead. The palace prophets were not hearing from God.
That there were four hundred men employed as palace prophets who had not been sent by the Lord, who were not hearing from the Lord, gives rise to a question: Why were these four hundred men not employed in some useful occupation? They could have followed any number of occupations. Why did they choose to be a palace prophet? What was their motivation?
A false prophet is of no use to man, no use to God. Like Absalom, the false prophet is suspended between heaven and earth. His head is not in Heaven and his feet are not touching the earth.
Why are there so many people in the Christian ministry who are not hearing from the Lord? Some of them, like Absalom, are highly esteemed by the people. They seem to be preaching the Gospel. In actuality they are imitators. Those who truly have been sent by the Lord appear at times to be outnumbered.
Perhaps there are two motivations. The first motivation, that which inspires people to seek high rank in the church world, is common to rulers in all areas of endeavor. It is the desire for status, fame, wealth, the authority and power to govern one’s fellow creatures. This motivation proceeds from man’s self-will and self-love and often is strengthened by Satan.
And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. (Luke 22:25)
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: (Isaiah 14:13)
People who seek authority over other people have many explanations why they actually are benefactors—helpers of the people whom they govern. In church circles the excuse is that by seeking to be a leader they actually are helping God build His Kingdom.
The truth is, they desire to be preeminent. Unless it indeed is the Lord who is guiding us in our endeavors to govern, we are being moved by self-seeking.
The second motivation, which is restricted to areas of religious activity, is the feeling of deliciousness that is present when one is dealing with the supernatural. There is a deliciousness in spiritual things. There is a deliciousness in preaching and some preachers have a lust to preach. They are not faithful “Cushites,” as were the Apostles of the Lamb. They enjoy preaching and the accompanying spiritual deliciousness.
Deep in the spirit of mankind is buried the memory of the delights of Eden. Also in the spirit of mankind is an anticipation of the Kingdom of God, of Paradise in the spirit realm and of the return of Paradise to the earth. Eternal wonder, glory, delights of every sort are just around the corner.
The true saints bow their neck and take the yoke of the Lord Jesus. They know glory is coming but also that there is work to be done first.
Babylon is institutionalized religion—religion organized and directed by man rather than by the Lord. The ways of Babylon are delicious for they include a dabbling in the spirit realm, anticipating Paradise that has been and Paradise that is coming. Satan, the false day star, is active among the members of Babylon.
For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. (Revelation 18:3)
Would you like to see a picture of Babylon (man-directed religion) in the Old Testament?
And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat each on his throne, having put on their robes, in a void place [the threshing floor] in the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them. (I Kings 22:10)
What a picture of the palace prophets! What a picture of Babylon What a picture of so much of the Christian ministry throughout the centuries! The self-appointed religious leaders, sitting on their thrones, are candidates for Divine judgment (the threshing floor) although they do not realize this!
How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. (Revelation 18:7)
“How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously.”
Here are the false prophets. Here is a summary of a large segment of the Christian ministry! The palace prophets glorify themselves. The palace prophets live deliciously. They could make a contribution to the world by working at an honest craft. As false prophets they are as Ahimaaz—glorifying themselves, outrunning the true messengers, calling out the victory of Christ and falling before Him in “worship,” obscuring the truth, and accomplishing nothing of value to God or man.
And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the Lord, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them. And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the king’s hand. (I Kings 22:11,12)
And this when the Lord had purposed to destroy Ahab!
There also have been true men of God in Israel, and on occasion they have proclaimed that which was obnoxious to the rulers. John the Baptist lost his head doing that!
And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. (I Kings 22:8)
In a spirit of mockery, Micaiah, when he was summoned, parroted the palace prophets:
So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. (I Kings 22:15)
Ahab knew that Micaiah was lying. The whole world knows the truth of God, the right way to live; but self-serving people choose to believe a lie. However, something drove Ahab to find out what God actually was saying.
And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the Lord? And he [Micaiah] said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace. (I Kings 22:16,17)
Ahab asked for the truth and he was given it—straight from the mouth of the faithful “Cushite.”
The mountains of Bashan rose up in Zedekiah, the palace prophet, and he was driven to violence and blasphemy:
But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee? (I Kings 22:24)
Ahab and Jehoshaphat went to the battle. Ahab disguised himself but he died at Ramoth Gilead.
And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot. (I Kings 22:35)
This is the end of all who deceive themselves by preferring to listen to the mountains of Bashan.
We can imagine what happened to Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah, when he attempted to hide himself because Micaiah’s word was fulfilled and Zedekiah was revealed as a false prophet.
And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself. (I Kings 22:25)
Jesus and the Priests
Christ Himself, the truest of all prophets, the most faithful of all the “Cushites,” came to earth. He spoke only the truth—the good and the bad, the positive and the negative, the delightful and the dreadful.
There were numerous peaks of Bashan in those days, as there always have been and always will be until the only lawful King returns with his crucified and risen saints.
The Shechinah of Israel walked the streets of Judaea. The Glory was splendid. It was a foretaste of the day when the Glory of God covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.
The common people heard Him gladly. He healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead, and taught the wondrous laws of the Kingdom of God.
Soon the leaders of Israel, the “important” among the people, the guardians of the Law, became aware that this Jesus, this nobody, was being exalted and revered by the multitude.
The priests and elders had striven for many years to gain the preeminence and reverence that came to the Lord Jesus by Divine right.
The mountains of Bashan began to leap with envy.
The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. (John 12:19)
There have been a number of instances in the world’s history when self-seeking people have gone to absurd lengths to protect their position against the encroachments of the truth. Perhaps one of the most remarkable was the attempt of the chief priests to kill Lazarus so people would not realize Jesus had raised him from the dead.
But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. (John 12:10,11)
One wonders at the mental processes of men who made a profession of belief in God, seeking to kill a man who had been raised from the dead because the miracle was threatening their position as leaders of God’s people.
Lord Jesus, deliver us from such blindness. Make us lovers of truth. Drive from our personality the mountain of Bashan.
Jesus of Nazareth was an exemplary rabbi. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. No one, including Pontius Pilate, could find any wickedness in Him.
Yet, the hills of Bashan persisted until Pilate felt compelled to crucify Him in one of the most outstanding miscarriages of justice in the history of the world.
Cain, Korah, and Absalom would understand the motives of the chief priests. So would countless other ambitious men and women. Personal ambition, choosing to do our own will instead of God’s will, is the source of the anguish of the creation. Sin is a bondage, a chain. Personal ambition is the murderer of the prophets, of Christ.
Jesus was not murdered by the Jews but by the spirit of envy in the religious leaders, by the mountain of Bashan that dwells in all who imitate and usurp the place of God.
The Adversaries of Paul
One may note in the Scriptures the tendency of the Lord to entrust important work to one individual. The Scriptures to a great extent are the record of individuals to whom God appeared.
Noah, Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Paul the Apostle—these are among the stars that to this day guide God’s elect.
The gift given to the Apostle Paul was remarkable. To him alone, apparently, was entrusted the understanding of the transition from Moses to Christ. The subtle distinction between keeping the Torah when written on stone and keeping the Torah when written on the heart was presented clearly by Paul, but misunderstood and perverted to their own destruction by Christians to the present day. The revelation of the Body of Christ, an important topic of Paul’s exhortations, was mentioned by no other writer.
What if Paul had failed!
Whenever God chooses a man as He did Paul and entrusts him with the wealth of the Kingdom of God, we can be sure that the mountains of Bashan will spring to their feet. “If Paul can explain the new covenant, so can we—and in a much better fashion. Why should Paul receive all the credit? Paul has many faults. We can do a superior job. If we can convince the Gentiles that Paul is not worthy of their reverence and love, maybe they will turn to us.”
There were many Jewish teachers who believed Jesus to be Christ. They wanted to show their superiority to Paul so the Gentiles would acknowledge their learning and high status in the Kingdom of God. A substantial part of Paul’s writings were defenses of his apostleship against men who never had been sent to the churches by the Lord Jesus. The faithful “Cushite,” Paul, had been sent by the Lord. The Judaizers, like Ahimaaz, also desired to run. They brought confusion to the churches in their desire for preeminence.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (II Corinthians 11:13)
There is no need for any person to strive for position, to imitate, to usurp. God has determined from the creation of the world each individual’s proper role.
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4:3)
If we will present our body as a living sacrifice we will find the plan of God for our life. It is only as we find God’s plan for us that we enter love, joy, and peace in the Spirit of God. This is the Kingdom, God’s righteousness, and the “rest” of God.
It is not necessary for us to launch out in religious activities unless the Lord leads us to do so. The Scriptures direct us to fear God and keep His commandments; to provide for the orphans and widows and keep ourselves unspotted from the world.
It is good to live quietly before the Lord, working with our hands that we may have the ability to provide for others. This is acceptable to the Father in Heaven.
Throughout history the world has witnessed the wild struggling of men and women as they have sought to outdo one another, to knock down other people in order to obtain advantage. There is no need for this. Promotion comes from God alone.
Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck. For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. (Psalms 75:5,6)
Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. (Psalms 127:1,2)
The Lord Jesus is our example of quiet obedience to God. He did not grasp His right to live in an exalted state. Instead, He refrained from all seeking of glory for Himself. He humbled Himself and lived as a lowly individual.
Self-seeking men, encouraged by Satan, put the Lord Jesus to death. But God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name that is above every other name.
Jesus is Lord over all. Jesus has all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth. All that He turned away from in the wilderness of temptation is now His. All the glory, beauty, joy, love, peace, and every other desirable thing and circumstance can now be found only in Jesus. But He never lifted a finger to obtain these for Himself.
As the Lord said, the Kingdom is subjected to violence and violent people take the Kingdom by force. But they cannot keep it. All of their gain will, in the end, be given to the meek of the earth. It is the meek who will inherit the earth, not the violent and grasping.
To sit at Jesus’ right hand in the Kingdom of God will be given to those for whom such an exalted station has been prepared. No individual not of the Father’s choice will ever gain such preeminence—not if he spends his entire life in scheming, trickery, and violence.
If we are willing to wait with Jesus, patiently enduring denial and affliction, we will reign in glory with Him. But if we seek to save our life we will lose it.
The Day of the Lord will witness the Divine judgment falling upon all who are lifted up in the envy of Bashan.
For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, (Isaiah 2:12-14)
But those who wait for God shall prevail.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever. (Psalms 68:16)
(“The Mountains of Bashan”, 3681-1)