The Lion Men of Moab....Ariel's

topic posted Sat, March 10, 2007 - 1:08 PM by  Unsubscribed
2 Samuel 23:20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow: (KJV)

1 Chronicles 11:22 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many acts; he slew two lionlike men of Moab: also he went down and slew a lion in a pit in a snowy day

Benaiah was quite a man, wasn’t he? It says that he slew a lion on a snowy day. He killed a giant, an Egyptian. And then there’s this Ariel. Now it’s a little bit difficult to be here this morning trying to talk about Ariels when I don’t even know what Ariels are. Maybe some of you know and if you do, I wish that you would share it with me. Nicholas told me before the first service that he thought it was an antenna for a television [laughter]. But anyway, we find that our guy, Benaiah, killed an Ariel, or actually two Ariels. Ariel is one of the few words in all of the bible in which the translation has been lost. We really don’t know what an Ariel is. The King James translators actually translated Ariel to be two lion-like men of Moab, and then the Revised Standard folks decided that they would just anglicize a word to make it sound like the Hebrew word. So, we don’t really know what Ariels are. But based on the context in which Benaiah’s exploits are being listed, I think it is safe for us to assume that whatever Ariels were, they were probably pretty tough hombres. They were rather bad characters, and Benaiah met a couple of them and single-handedly put them down. And this along with two other deeds that he did — two mighty deeds of valor, two great exploits — made him a very famous man throughout the nation of Israel.

This passage talks about two groups of people. One group is the group of Thirty, the other is the group of the Three. The group of Three — maybe you remember a guy named Moab, I mean Joab (excuse me, you get all these “abs” mixed up sometimes, especially when you’re down here among the folks [laughter]). But anyway, Joab was one of the Three. Joab was one of the mightiest men of Israel. He was a close confidante of David the king. And all of this happens during the reign of King David in Israel. These were the glory days of Israel, when they were a great military power. But anyway, we have the Three, and then we also have the Thirty. Now Benaiah wasn’t great enough to be a member of the Three, but he was great enough to be a member of the Thirty. Perhaps the Three would be like our Joint Chiefs who oversee our armed forces, you know those guys that hang out over at the Pentagon. They are the ones in charge of all the different branches in our Armed Forces. . And then there is the Thirty, the mighty Thirty, who are probably the various division commanders.

So we’re looking this morning at these military guys — mighty men, valiant men, warriors, fighters, guys that can do incredible feats and exploits. And so Benaiah is one of these men and, in fact, he’s been made the captain of David’s bodyguard because of his exploits. I can tell by the glaze I see in your eyes now that you’re wondering what is this all about? Why is he telling us this? Why do we want to know about Ariels and Egyptians that are five cubits tall and a guy that can kill a lion in a pit on a snowy day?

The first one that I would like to examine is the Egyptian. Now, no offense to any Egyptians. It’s just that in this particular time, Egypt was the greatest power in the world. They were the nation. They had the greatest military power. They had all the greatest libraries. They had all the greatest thinkers. They had all the greatest philosophers. And, Egypt was the place to be. So, Egypt symbolizes, if you will, the world and all of its finery, all of its prestige, all of its pomp, all of its power, all of its ceremony, and all of its ungodliness. And so, the first enemy that Benaiah faces, or the one that we want to talk about first anyway, is a guy that was five cubits tall. Now that puts him in the league of Goliath. In the story it says that he had a spear that was as large as a weaver’s beam. Now, most of us have done away with our looms, and we’re not weaving our own material any more, so we’re probably not exactly familiar with the weaver’s beam. But, it was the huge beam across the loom, maybe six or seven inches thick. It was big. So, not only is this a big guy, he’s a big guy with a very large spear. Now somehow Benaiah was able to take his spear away from him and slay him with his own weapon. He overcame him. So what I reason from this, what I want to suggest to you is that whatever it was at that time, what it can be for us is a symbol of the overcoming power of God against the power of the world that all of us have to deal with.

The Bible says we all have three enemies. I don’t know if you knew that, but we actually have three enemies. They’re called the world, the flesh, and the devil.

But the world’s system is definitely opposed to God and is our enemy. The world and all of its vainglory, all of its emptiness, all of its hedonism, all of the things. So I think that this giant perhaps that Benaiah slew represents for us today the world that stands in opposition to God and all that God wants to do in our lives. And so he slays the giant that represents the world. He overcomes the world. Benaiah is an over come

So I think Moab represents the flesh, or can represent the flesh for us. It’s that part of you that lives in the back room, the part of you that you’re ashamed of, the part of you that you don’t want anybody else to know about, the part of you that you spend a lot of time asking God to remove or change. “Why don’t you change me? Why don’t you make me different? Why don’t you deliver me from this? Why don’t you give me victory over this?” But then when you least expect it, you’re ambushed. There it is, it’s still there even though you prayed about it, and you try to reform yourself. You find that there is this capacity within you to do the absolute worst thing at the worst possible time. At least that’s what I find about me. And my wife can tell you that. She chronicles these things, keeps them in the journal for us. No, not really [laughter]. But I suspect that those closest to you know about your struggle with the flesh, with your flesh, that part of you that you just can’t seem to overcome, that part of you, that you would like to be rid of, but that you just can’t seem to do anything about, but live with it and hope that some day you can overcome it. Well, Benaiah faced that enemy, and he overcame him.

Then there’s one more enemy that he faced. And this one is perhaps the worst enemy of all: the lion. I don’t know if you realize just how powerful and mighty a beast a lion actually is. Did you know, for instance, that a lion with one slap of his paw can crush the human skull? He is enormously powerful. Have you ever wondered what would happen if a lion and a tiger were to get into a fight. I am sure that you, like Judy and I were probably discussing this at dinner last evening. [laughter] Seriously, have you ever wondered what would happen if a lion and a tiger actually got in a fight? Which would win? Well, this happened once in India and it was actually caught on film. In India there was a fight between a lion and a tiger that occurred down in a pit. These two mighty creatures circled each other and lashed out at each other, and spit, and snarled, and leapt lightly as only cats can do. They grappled and rolled and roared and bit each other. And finally in a split second the tiger dropped motionlessly to the ground. Far too quick for the eye to see, but just at the right moment, this lion, delivered a well-timed blow to the side of the tigers head, and crushed his skull. The lion is a mighty beast. Benaiah, went down into a pit on a snowy day and faced a lion, and he killed him. He met the worst possible foe at the worst possible time under the worst possible circumstances, and he prevailed. And now I know what you want me to do is tell you how.

Well that is another problem I with this sermon. I don’t know how he did it. The scripture doesn’t tell us how he did it. But there are some clues that I would like to explore. But before we do that I would like to point out that he was able to kill the lion because he was a mighty man of valor. That’s who he was. He was an overcomer. He knew how to go against his enemies and to win. The circumstances that he faced in life and the situations that he found himself in only revealed who he really was. I have always loved to read about David and Goliath. I would tend to think that oh, he must have been afraid going out to face this mighty giant, but then you read that he said, “I know that the God who delivered me from the lion and from the bear will also deliver me from this uncircumcised Philistine.” These were mighty men of valor who had been in skirmishes all their lives and had learned to trust and rely upon the power of their God. They knew that they were overcomers. They knew that they were mighty in the power of God. And that’s the primary reason and the primary way that Benaiah won this battle with the lion.

I don’t know. It’s possible that many of you are facing a lion in your life. This very day you may feel that you’re down in a pit with a ferocious lion. It may be some problem with your finances. Maybe you’re facing financial ruin or maybe you’ve already faced it and you’re in the middle of it. It may be your health. It may be a heart attack or a stroke. It may be cancer, a tumor. Lions come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and fashions, and we face them every day. And maybe you’re wondering, how am I going to face this ferocious foe? How am I going to stand against an enemy that seems so powerful, an enemy that’s so relentless? In fact, our own scripture says, “Your adversary, the devil, is as a roaring lion walking about seeking whom he may devour.” And maybe he’s got his eyes set on you. Maybe you feel like today that you’re in the crosshairs of a mighty lion. Maybe you feel a great deal of fear and powerlessness.

Well, who are you? That’s the question. Who are you? Maybe you’ve never thought of yourself as a mighty warrior. But do you realize that if you’ve become a new creation in Christ, that the Spirit of the living God actually lives within you? That you’ve been given all of the power of God to face the difficulties and the trials that you have? Not only do we have the Spirit of God who lives within us, God has given us each other. What did the epistle say this morning? That those who are strong should bear with those who are weak. We are all in this together. We’re not facing the lions alone. We face them as the community of faith. We face them as the people of God. We must learn to bear one another’s burdens. That is the way we fulfill the law of Christ. It’s a team effort. It’s about a body. It’s about a group of people who love God and each other. This is how we defeat the lions that we face. This is how we defeat the enemy that is our flesh. That’s how we defeat the enemy that is the world system that is always seeking to squeeze us into its mold.

So all through the Old Testament we have God either giving special names to people or changing their names. One that I read about recently (I never knew this), but all of you know this name so I’ll throw it out to you. There was a man named Methuselah. Everybody’s heard of Methuselah, huh? Who was Methuselah? That’s right, the old guy. He’s the guy that lived longer than anybody else. And you know his name had a special meaning. His name meant “When he dies it will come.” What will come? Believe me, everybody was watching him. [Laughter.] When he dies, it will come. That’s what it means. You know what came the year that Methuselah died? The flood. The flood came. Enoch's son

But anyway, names are important. And every time you see Benaiah’s name — or at least almost every time you see Benaiah’s name, and you see it quite a few times — it’s always mentioned in tandem with his father’s name Jehoiada. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And if you’re weird and strange like me, and are curious about things like this, and like to read about these kind of things, then you begin to think “Oh, yeah, those two things go together, they mean something, they mean something together. Yeah, I got it. Yeah I see it.” Benaiah and Jehoiada together pack a very powerful punch, because, you see, Jehoiada’s name means “God knows.” God knows. And the comfort that I take in that today is that God knows exactly where I am. God knows exactly where you are. God knows exactly what you’re going through. God knows every trouble and trial and tribulation and sorrow that you face. He knows about every lion, he knows about every giant, he knows about every Ariel. He knows. Jesus said that even the hairs of our head are numbered. Our God knows who we are and he knows where we are. Not only does God know, but he cares and he feels what we feel. In Hebrews it says that we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched by the feelings of our infirmities, but we have a high priest who has been tempted at all points like we have and he knows about what we face. He knows about what we struggle with. Corrie Ten Boom and her sister, Bessie, were in a Nazi prison camp, one day they were taken out and had to march naked in front of a bunch of arrogant Nazi men. And Corrie says to Bessie, “Bessie, don’t forget, Jesus was naked on the cross.” He understands. And Bessie says to Corrie, “Yes, he was, wasn’t he. That really helps me.” And you know, it helps me too, to know that Jesus knows. He knows where I am. He knows where you are. He knows about the trouble and the sorrow and the problems that you face every day in the struggles of life. And let me tell you, if you’re at least over 15, you’ve got to have discovered that life is about struggling. Life is about pain and sorrow. Life is about heartaches. Life is about discomfort and misfortunes and things that go wrong. Especially if you have a teenager, you know this. But what we learn from Jehoiada is that God knows all about that. God knows.

And then there is Benaiah. Benaiah means, “God builds.” God builds.
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    Re: The Lion Men of Moab....Ariel's

    Sat, March 10, 2007 - 1:39 PM
    Four different versions give four different translations in reference to the same group: the ariels of Moab. The Anglicized “ariel” comes from the Hebrew word ‘ariyel, which is a compound of the words ‘aryeh, which means “lion,” and ‘el, which means “God.” This literal translation, “lion of God,” does not explain to whom the authors of Chronicles and Samuel were referring. However, when taken in context, it appears that these were warriors of stature that were feared for their might.

    The Revised Standard Version did not translate the word, but placed a transliteration from Hebrew into English in the passage. The American Standard Version also transliterated the word, but inserted the phrase “sons of ” into the text, seeming to assume that ‘ariyel referred to a specific man named Ariel. However, this does not seem to fit with the text. The passage continues the record of Benaiah by speaking of his killing an ‘aryeh (“lion”), as if the passage were speaking of him killing two “lions of God,” and also killing a lion. To make ‘ariyel a name breaks the continuity of the passage in its references to lions, whether they be of God or otherwise.

    Probably the best treatment of this passage would come from a mingling of the New International and King James Versions. The NIV translated ‘ariyel by the phrase “best men,” as in men of might and valor, while the KJV used “lionlike men” (NKJV—“lion-like heroes”). When taken in context, something along these lines would be the better translation. The passage in 1 Chronicles 11:10-47 speaks of the men that David considered mighty, as well as some of their exploits. The record of Benaiah (vv. 22-25) states that he killed the two ‘ariyel (along with a lion) and an Egyptian giant whose height measured about seven and a half feet. Therefore, the best rendition of ‘ariyel is probably something that conveys might and strength, more so than what “best men” or “lionlike men” convey—they were mighty men who fought like lions from God. In the Old Testament, the image of a lion was used often to express power and strength when describing warriors. Soldiers from the tribe of Gad were described in 1 Chronicles 12:8 as having faces like “the faces of lions.” David’s lament for Saul and Jonathan called the deceased “stronger than lions” (2 Samuel 1:23). Proverbs 30:30 described the lion as “mighty among beasts.”

    Perhaps these ‘ariyel were a special elite corps in the army of the Moabites, similar to our special forces (U.S. Navy SEALs; U.S. Army Green Berets, Airborne Rangers, and Delta Force; etc.). They also could have been two men who referred to themselves as the ‘ariyel, in reference to their abilities as warriors; likewise, it could have been an epithet given to them by their enemies. Whatever the reason, these men must have been known as some of the fiercest fighters, because they were compared to the “king of the jungle”—the mighty lion. Defeating two of them obviously was a feat worthy of mention in the list of mighty men. It is very hard for a single English word to convey the idea of warriors that go by “lions of God,” but it is obvious that they were considered some of the mightiest of men in that day.

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