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Thursday, March 19, 2015, 11:52 AM
Have you known or heard of someone who seemed to receive a lot of praise or really good reports about him? It could be political, religious, or civil leaders, or even just ‘good deed doers’. In any event, from the Christian perspective, this could (not necessarily, but very possibly) could be someone to be careful or very aware of. Appearances aren’t always what they appear to be. Satan is the ruler of this world, and can pose as an angel of light or even as a minister of mercy. The Christian profile is to be one of being very humble (the worker who has only done what was expected of him) and not to ‘parade’ or ‘make a show’ of his goodness. This is who Jesus was speaking of when He said, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, …” in the passage below.
Luke 6:26 "Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. 27 "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 32 "If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
Again, here we are in Jesus teachings about loving your enemies. Also, what is it if you love those who love you back, as even sinners do so. Also in this post is the verse commonly called the ‘Golden Rule’, which because of the length of the post I will take up in my next post. (This should help keep posts from becoming so long.)
(Now Jesus gave His teachings many times to many people in many places. To some it may appear that this is the same story from the Matthew passage, but one of them must be ‘misquoted’. This is not necessarily the case. It may well be the same message, but may have been given at a different time to different people. Even if it is the exact same story as the Matthew passage, any slight variations in the wording may well indicate how honest the writers were. They recorded to the best of their memories, but did not have a photographic memory with perfect recall. Luke spoke to many people who knew Jesus personally before writing his account. Some people may remember some points or teachings that another may not call to mind. Some variations in wording would indicate that the Gospel writers didn’t simply plagiarize or ‘copy-cat’ one another.)
Thursday, March 19, 2015, 11:04 AM
In my last post were two verses that taught an eye for an eye from the Old Testament. That is the law, but it went on that there was no law that said you couldn’t forgive one for putting out your eye. Jesus says more on this below.
Matthew 5:38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Whereas the Old Testament taught an eye for an eye, it also taught that you should assist your enemy at a time when your enemy needed your help (Exodus 23: 4 below is only one of several examples of this). It needs to be noted that there is in Biblical thought a difference between an enemy that existed simply due to hard feelings between people and an enemy that was seeking to, for instance, go to war with you or who was under God’s wrath because of wickedness.
Many people can talk about good they have done for others, but how much of this good was done for family, loved ones, or friends. As Jesus pointed out, how is that anything to boast about? Even wicked people do good for those they love.
Exodus 23:4 "If you meet your enemy's ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. 5 If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.
God’s law of love and forgiveness not only applies to you, but to your enemies as well. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Him through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Thursday, March 19, 2015, 10:22 AM
Jesus said that nothing from the God’s law to mankind was to be lost. The law is from our Creator. The law is good, and true. (Passages from the English Revised Version)
Exodus 21:23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Leviticus 24:19 If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.
Yahweh created us, and gave us all we could ever need, but He called for obedience in a certain matter for our own good. Mankind disobeyed Yahweh, and continues to do so. The penalty for this is that we are destined to eternal separation from God in a place where only His disobedient angels were supposed to be. There are only two places- home with God, or eternity with God’s enemies.
Is it not right that if I put out your eye, then you should have the right to put out mine? This for that, right. If I put out your eye (intentionally), then it would be seem right and just that you could put out mine. That is the law, and the law is right (righteous) and true. But God prefers the higher law of love, mercy, and forgiveness. Though it may seem right that you could put out my eye for putting out yours, there is no law that says that you could not have mercy and forgive me. If I did it intentionally, then there would be no reason to suppose that I deserved your mercy or forgiveness, but that would be your decision whether to show mercy and forgive me.
One thing to note is that the law which you choose is to be the law you will be judged by. If you choose the law that says an eye for an eye, then you will be judged by that law. Since no one perfectly keeps God’s law, then if you seek an eye for an eye, your judgment will be eternal separation from God. But if you choose to accept the Lord Jesus as your Savior, then God’s law of love planted in your heart will teach you to forgive others for their sins, and you will be judged by that law that says, “You are forgiven.” (I hope I said that in words that make sense- I know what I’m trying to say, but may not always know the best way to say it. I strive to depend on the Lord to give me the right words, and pray that the reader understands.)
Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Monday, March 16, 2015, 12:03 PM
Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. (ESV)
You may see many claiming to be prophets of God and performing miracles of healing and perhaps other signs and wonders. Remember, Satan can disguise himself. Jesus warned that there would be “false prophets” who would lead astray, “if possible,” even the elect. Now the elect are those chosen ones. The chosen ones are the ones who have believed in their hearts that Jesus died to bring forgiveness for their sins and that He rose from the dead to prepare them a home in Heaven, as the Scriptures teach. Fully believing in Him means believing in all His teachings, and believing in those teachings we learn the necessity of striving to live the life that He would have us to live. But the powers of Satan are strong enough to cause even the elect to be sidetracked, but they will not lose their salvation. As Jesus said above, Satan would (through these false prophets) seek to lead astray “IF POSSIBLE”. You see, those who are saved by God’s grace are sealed by the Holy Spirit as the Scriptures teach. The Holy Spirit was sent from Jesus to guide the elect and seal them as God’s children. Satan has no power to break the seal of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of man is easily swayed, but the seal of the Holy Spirit is unbreakable. Satan knows that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will vanquish him in the end, and Satan is afraid of the Father, afraid of the Son, and afraid of the Holy Spirit. He is afraid of Christians who rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. Still, Christians are not perfect, and in faltering may sway, but that does not mean they lose their salvation. One has to be very careful of searching the Scriptures to be sure that they are not led astray by false prophets.
Sunday, March 15, 2015, 6:44 PM
Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me. (ESV)
Putting the Hebrew characters into English characters, Exodus 20: 3 comes out something like this: “Lo yiyeh-l’cha elohiym achariym al-pawnai.” Translating would be something like this: “No existing to you gods other over My face.” Literal translations are difficult because some words may mean different things depending on context. Expanding it could be more accurate: “No (or Don’t let or don’t allow) to (or for) you other (otherwise, moreover) gods (authority figures) over (before, in place of, (or in the sense of “more important than”)) My face.” Yahweh is the One dictating this to Moses, so “My face” would be “Yahweh’s face”. In one literal sense it could be saying not to have other authority figures along with or in addition to Yahweh. (Elohiym is a plural for a word that is sometimes translated as ‘god’, ‘judge’, ‘king’, or in essence ‘authority figure’.) However, though God declared that He was to be the King of His people, he allowed them to have judges (who in the plural could be called elohiym) and kings (also ‘elohiym’ in the plural form). So that should make it apparent that Yahweh was saying ‘authority figures’ (gods) that were placed in more importance to us than Him.
Next comes the other interpretation of ‘elohiym’ as ‘idols to be worshipped’. We may find it difficult to understand how one could see an inanimate object (carved idols or shaped images) as an ‘authority figure’. In other words, what kind of authority could an object have? So we have to look at the Western mindset used by the Romans compared to the Eastern mindset used by the Eastern cultures. Western thought is filled with an abstract vocabulary, whereas Eastern thought based all of their abstract thoughts into a concrete vocabulary. So understanding abstract thoughts from an Eastern perspective, one has to understand the abstract ideas represented by the Eastern vocabulary. Here is where the Western mindset runs into issues trying to understand the Eastern mindset. (Or at least the ancient Eastern, as I think many in the East today have adopted a Western mindset way of thinking, but the East hasn’t lost its memory of the Eastern way of thinking.) For one thing, the idols or images represented that belief that there are other powerful beings that these objects represent, and it wasn’t so much the object itself that was worshipped as a god (authority figure) but some mysterious powerful being that was being worshipped through the idols. Now for most people that would seem straight forward enough, but there is also a deeper level of understanding than that.
When anyone gambles on any idea that fate will let the cards fall where they may, then this concept of a mysterious power in the universe may be ‘fate’, then Fate becomes a god (authority figure). If one believes that the position of stars (astrology) can predict what may or may not happen, then the stars become elohiym (gods, authority figures). If one believes that they should turn to some mystical universal vibrations or spiritual beings or even contact with the spirits of dead people in order to learn ‘special knowledge’ or some form of enlightenment, then those vibrations or spirits become elohiym (gods, authority figures). This is a serious matter and totally objected to by our Creator Yahweh. This is well pointed out in the Scriptures, but many don’t comprehend it.
This is part of why Hosea said that because of a lack of knowledge, people perish (are destroyed). It isn’t that the knowledge isn’t available. It is that people are either not seeking that knowledge, or they are looking to the wrong elohiym. But this concept of elohiym can be carried somewhat farther. What people worship will be to those people their elohiym.
What is worship? Though many words may be used to represent it, the most basic refers to the bended knee. The Hebrew root word ‘BRK’ means knee. From this root word come the words that mean ‘bending the knee’ (or kneeling, as in kneeling before to worship), and gift (as gifts were often presented on bended knee), etc. So one bends the knee before authority figures in the sense of ‘pleading a case’ or ‘for mercy’ and in the sense of presenting gifts (or sacrifices) and can sometimes be translated as worship, as this is often seen as a sense of bending the knee before authority figures. Worship generally involves giving. Gold, silver, food, or anything material may be given. So the word for ‘gift’ can come from that root word ‘BRK’, though there are other roots that gifts can also come from. Work may be given, and that labor may be considered as a ‘gift as worship’ though this is not the same as ‘work for pay’ or ‘work that is owed’. The time spent doing the work can also be a ‘gift’ so time spent in any endeavor may be a ‘gift’ to that endeavor, so giving time may be a form of worship.
Now consider how much time do you have for your ‘elohiym’? Do you have more or less time for Yahweh in your life? Do you have more time for relaxing or entertainment than for Yahweh? If so, would it seem that you worship yourself more than Yahweh? Do you have more time for sports than for Yahweh? Do you worship sports figures more than Yahweh? Do you have more time for politicians (whether campaigning for them, or spending time studying them in the news) than you do for Yahweh? Is it just me, or does it seem that this world seems to worship so many things than Yahweh? I am guilty myself of not spending as much time in worship (prayer, Bible study, or service) to Yahweh as I should. Should we all not examine ourselves and consider where are our “PRIORITIES” are in this life? Now I hope we can see that even the term “PRIORITIES” represents our elohiym.