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Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 6:23 PM
Today from the Old Testament I had been in the time where the Jews were carried into captivity into Babylon, and the prophets messages to the people of Judah.
I had recently covered the passage where Paul revealed that the relationship between a husband and a wife was like a relationship between Christ and His church, but I can’t remember that I discussed that aspect. Anyway, whether with the Jews in the Old Testament, or the Christians in the New Testament, God’s people are to be dedicated and devoted to Him. In that dedication and devotion, God’s people turn to God when they are in need.
However, when God’s people go to Him in the temple with lip service, but turn to other gods with their dedication and devotion, God views them as an unfaithful wife in adultery, or as an harlot that is worse than the usual harlot. As the Jews were carried into captivity by Babylon, God spoke through the prophets often describing His chosen people as whores or prostitutes or harlots. He told them that whereas, prostitutes usually accepted pay for their services, they paid their lovers (their false gods).
Jeremiah 3:8- 15 “And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. Because of the lightness of her harlotry, she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. Yet in spite of all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but rather in deception,” declares the LORD. And the LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel has proved herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. “Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the LORD; ‘I will not be angry forever. ‘Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the LORD your God And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,’ declares the LORD. Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the LORD; ‘For I am a master to you, And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, And I will bring you to Zion.’ Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. (NASB)
When the Lord’s people behave in an indelicate fashion, the Lord may use very indelicate words to describe them. Have you ever been spurned in a relationship. This is how God describes His Own feelings when His people are not faithful to Him.
Ezekiel 16:23- 26 "Then it came about after all your wickedness ('Woe, woe to you!' declares the Lord GOD), that you built yourself a shrine and made yourself a high place in every square. You built yourself a high place at the top of every street and made your beauty abominable, and you spread your legs to every passer-by to multiply your harlotry. You also played the harlot with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and multiplied your harlotry to make Me angry. (NASB)
Ezekiel 16:33- 34 "Men give gifts to all harlots, but you give your gifts to all your lovers to bribe them to come to you from every direction for your harlotries. Thus you are different from those women in your harlotries, in that no one plays the harlot as you do, because you give money and no money is given you; thus you are different." (NASB)
Maybe this could be put in a little more up to date terms. Now remember- the harlot represents unfaithful Judah and the lovers represent false gods as opposed to the true Yahweh.
Have you known a girl who loved a man, gave him her affections and intimacy, and even helped to take care of him perhaps with money, gifts, home, and auto privileges etc., yet the man didn’t have to be concerned about any real responsibilities, because his woman took care of him? Then perhaps the girl knew a man that she could turn to for help when she needed extra help, but the man she turned to could never be worth as much as the man she lavished her love on. So this man could feel that he could never be worth as much as the man who used her, or that all he could ever be worth was what she could get from him. This is how the Lord says that Judah responded to her idols and false gods. They could turn to the Levites and the priests to tell Yahweh what their problems were, but for their true love and devotion they turned to other lovers, idols, and false gods. So could God feel as though they thought of Him as though all He were worth to them was what they could get from Him? So could God understand human feelings? Of course, as He is the one Who created man and knows all the details of how human emotions are put together.
God often used human situations to express to the prophets what His Own feelings were, and could use human feelings in the prophet to express his own feelings in a way that the people should be able to understand what He was saying. God had Ezekiel ‘act out’ certain things to demonstrate what was happening in the Jewish life in relation to God’s will. One dramatic instance was in the prophet Hosea. Hosea was told by God to take to wife a prostitute. He was to father children to this prostitute and give the children names that expressed His message to the northern kingdom of Israel. This prostitute would leave Hosea, and Hosea would feel the real emotions of this pain that demonstrated how God felt about how Israel was leaving Him. Yet Hosea was to go back and take back his prostitute wife to demonstrate that God would again go back and take back His people. So does God understand your hurts? Have you ever considered that God hurts to see so many people not coming to Him who will be eternally separated from Him. Have you ever considered that God hurts to see His people putting on a show of worship, yet in their lives, they do not show His law of love, and on the contrary live in ways to hurt and take advantage of one another. No, not all of course, but to many people, this is not so far-fetched an idea.
Notice at the end of the Jeremiah passage, God said that when they returned to Him, He would give them shepherds after His Own heart who would feed them with knowledge and understanding. God often referred to the religious leaders and prophets that led His people astray as shepherds who fattened themselves from the sheep rather than tended to the sheep to feed them. This is like those preachers who get rich from God's Word, fattening themselves. Emphatically in the Old Testament God told how disgusted He was with false shepherds who got fat feeding themselves with that stolen from the flock. So even in the Old Testament as well as often in the New Testament, God speaks out against shepherds of His people getting rich from tending God's sheep. Yet people don't care what God's Word really says, because they continue to run after the words of these people that God specifically spoke out against. So people will readily be led astray listening to people that God emphatically condemns. This is how people go into false doctrines listening to words that sound pleasing to their ears.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 3:55 PM
2nd Timothy 3:12- 17 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (NASB)
So have you been persecuted? Have you expressed a desire to live godly in Christ Jesus. Paul tells Timothy that ‘all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.’ Why would this be? Because this world rebels against godly living. This world is ruled by Satan, and Satan is a liar and the father of lies, so that is why he said impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Paul goes on to tell Timothy that to avoid the deceit of this world, he should continue in the ‘sacred writings’ able to lead to salvation through faith in Christ. What are those ‘sacred writings’? Why the Jewish writings we Christians refer to as the Old Testament. The New Testament hadn’t been written yet at the time Paul was writing Timothy. But the early church faithfully taught the faith that saves in Christ from the Old Testament.
2nd Timothy 4:1- 5 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (NASB)
There is a coming judgment, so the Word certainly needs to be preached. God doesn’t want anyone to be excluded from His Kingdom, but He cannot allow those whose sins haven’t been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Listen to evangelists who have been persecuted because of their godly lives (from first passage above) and preachers who have endured the hardships of the ministry (from the second passage above). If you listen to preachers who have learned to find the ‘easy’ life in God’s Word, then you certainly haven’t found the ones the Bible teaches suffering persecution for their godly lives and who are enduring the hardships of living the evangelist’s life. At least that’s what is taught in the passages above, but some people seem to prefer a different Bible that uses mainly the verses that sound good to people rather than the sound doctrine as the passage above says.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 12:16 PM
Colossians 4:16 When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea. (NASB)
An important consideration in studying the epistles in the New Testament is that they were written to various churches addressing various problems within them. Though the applications may be specific, all teachings apply to any church for the purpose of learning how to live and how to deal with any problems that may arise. So a letter to a church in Colossae may well apply to Laodicea and also to any church anywhere. It is very helpful in understanding the letters to understand also the situations in the churches in the various cities that they were originally dispatched to.
1st Thessalonians 2:5- 9 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed--God is witness-- nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. (NASB)
Here are some very good teachings for consideration when choosing a pastor. Look for someone who doesn’t seem to flatter people (at least unreasonably- compliments are not the same thing as flattery, and praise for a job well done is not mere flattery). Also don’t seek someone who seems greedy or to look for glory (praise) from others. Look for someone who demonstrates that fond affection that will deal gently yet firmly and rightly even in hard, difficult times. This is a major reason an individual congregation in a church should be careful about becoming too large. If a pastor is to tend the flock as an under-shepherd to our Great Shepherd Jesus, then he shouldn’t overload himself with a flock that is so large that he cannot spread himself so thin on as to bond those fond affections. If a church congregation seems to be becoming too large, then consideration should be made to form separate congregations with new pastors.
1st Thessalonians 4:15- 18 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (NASB)
A reminder I have commented on a number of times concerning the rapture. This verse is usually always used in that teaching, but remember to add ‘all’ the references.
Matthew 24:29- 31 "But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (NASB)
1st Corinthians 15:51- 52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (NASB)
The Thessalonians passage above mentions the trumpet, but doesn’t specify which trumpet. The Corinthians passage above says that it will be “at the last trumpet”. The book of Revelations says that in those days there will be “seven (7)” trumpets, so it could be inferred that the seventh trumpet will be the ‘last’ trumpet. Remember that in that period there will be the breaking of the seven seals, and then the seven trumpets, so six trumpets will sound before the last trumpet. Also the Matthew passage indicates that it will be immediately after the tribulation of those days that He will appear on the clouds and with a “Great Trumpet” they will gather His elect.
That period is specified as seven years, but it is clearly divided into two periods of three and a half years each. Some people call the first period the Tribulation involving the seals and the trumpets, and the second period the Great Tribulation when the last seven bowls of God’s wrath are poured out. Some people call the first period the Tribulation and the second period God’s Wrath. God’s elect will be spared His Wrath as we are covered by the blood of Christ. Yet the Scriptures do not teach that we will be spared the Tribulation, but the Scriptures teach that the church will endure many tribulations, as it has already done so throughout the past. Something to think about, as I believe another period of tribulation is appearing before the eyes of the church. Jesus taught that this world would treat His followers as they treated Him.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 11:23 AM
Phlippians 2:1- 11 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (NASB)
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NASB)
Let us all learn more of this encouragement in Christ, this consolation of love which encompasses all of God’s law. I don’t believe there is any one of us who does not have some measure of selfishness or empty conceit. Let us all learn to take more humility as Christ did in taking on the form of a bond servant. Let us all learn to serve one another as He taught.
Phlippians 3:18- 21 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (NASB)
Elsewhere in the New Testament is taught of those who are among us but not a part of us, those who have come close to that enlightened knowledge of our blessed Savior, even claiming to know Him, yet they did not truly come to know Him in their hearts. John said that the antichrists were already among us. Though Paul does not state it specifically here, I believe that it is those that he is speaking of above regarding those who are walking as enemies of the cross of Christ. Though the cross of Christ has many enemies aside from those who are ‘professedly’ in the church but not a part of it, the opening verse of the above passage could be speaking of them, but I believe Paul is speaking to church members regarding those who are not truly a part of Christ.
Colossians 2:16- 19 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. (NASB)
Different people may have different ideas about a ‘proper’ day or way to worship, but any true worship is to come from the heart. The reference to those who defraud seems to be directed towards Gnosticism. There were many Gnostic teachings, some of which taught asceticism, others taught the opposite, self indulgence. Self-abasement was practiced in asceticism by punishing the body by depriving one’s self of many personal things, including food and/or basic comforts, and sometimes personal physical abuse. The true humility in recognizing one’s self as a sinner, undeserving of God’s love, care, and redemption is not what is considered the self-abasement here. Some Gnostics worshipped angels- we are to worship no one but our Heavenly Father, and pray to no one but our Heavenly Father. Some practiced self induced ecstasies and formed vain visions in their minds and taught them as though these were personal revelations from God- those are the one Paul is speaking of as standing on visions inflated by his fleshly mind.
Colossians 3:18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. (NASB)
Many people have taken this idea of the wife’s subjection to the husband to an extreme. It says the subjection is only to be “as is fitting in the Lord.” Many husbands have demanded a subjection to things that are far from ‘fitting in the Lord’. From the actual definitions of ‘subjection’ and ‘love’, there is not deep, true love without subjection to the one loved. In this sense, the husband is also in subjection to the wife. His love is to bring him into subjection to his wife, as his love is to be as to the Lord. Remember, in the definition of subjection, Christ’s love for us put Him into subjection to us in the sense that He subjected Himself to us in leaving His glory in Heaven to come to us and in dying for us. It is still in subjection that He binds Himself to us to deliver us at the proper time to present us to our eternal place that He is preparing for us. It is in subjection to us that He will supply us with all we need in carrying out His will for us in this life. This is why we are to fully subject ourselves to Him and to one another, for the cause of Christ.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 10:27 AM
For a little background- when David was made king over Judah and later all Israel, the ark of the covenant was not yet in Jerusalem. When David first sought to bring the ark to Jerusalem, he did not follow the proper procedures as laid out in the Torah for the transport of the ark, and his mission failed. Later he discovered that the ark was only to be carried by the Levites with poles and brought up the ark. After that it was in David’s heart to build a house (temple, shrine, permanent resting place) for the ark (as there had previously been only the tent (tabernacle) that had been used. The Lord sent word to David through Nathan that he was not to build the temple, but his son, Solomon, was to build it. I love studying the prayers in the Bible, especially those offered by David, Solomon, and Mary, Elizabeth, and Zacharias at the birth of John. Here Solomon is offering prayers at the dedication of the temple built for the ark of God, which served as the place where God would take the atonement from the high priest. Though Solomon is speaking in reference to the Jews as God’s people, he also mentions foreigners who come to seek God at this temple. I prefer to think of them as prayers which could be used by all God’s children who seek Him, though some details may apply only to the temple requirements.
2nd Chronicles 6:36- 39 "When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to a land far off or near, if they take thought in the land where they are taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, 'We have sinned, we have committed iniquity and have acted wickedly'; if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been taken captive, and pray toward their land which You have given to their fathers and the city which You have chosen, and toward the house which I have built for Your name, then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against You. (NASB)
Notice that Solomon rightfully acknowledges that “there is no man who does not sin”. We may strive to serve and please the Lord, yet living in this earthly, fleshly body, there is no one who is not falling to the pulls of this world. Still, anyone in faith can approach our Creator as He has sent His Son, Who willfully put off His Heavenly glory to become as one of us, to bring us to a position of peace with our heavenly Father through His death and resurrection on the cross.
2nd Chronicles 7:13- 14 “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Following Solomon’s prayers, God graciously offered the desired relief for the sins of mankind for those who sought for and turned to Him. Is there hope that our nation could turn to God and seek His healing. There could always be hope so long as this world continues, but personally I believe it is doubtful that we can expect to see that happen.