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Sunday, September 22, 2013, 10:29 PM
A portion of my Bible study today was in the 23rd chapter of Ezekiel, and the passage that stimulated my comments for today was rather lengthy, so I will simply refer you to the 23rd chapter of Ezekiel for you to read for yourself, but will simply discuss it here.
The passage speaks of two wicked sisters, Aholah and Aholabah. Aholah represents the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. These are the two nations that God’s chosen people were divided into after the death of King Solomon. They are referred to as wicked sisters because they had strayed so far from God’s intended will. God sees His people as His fiancé. They are to become married to Him at the great wedding feast in His coming kingdom. His people (both men and women) are referred to in the feminine, thus the Jews are here described as sisters, as the church is described in the feminine as His bride. So I don’t question my ‘so-called’ manhood, yet still I’m a ‘feminine’ bride to my Savior. I do not see masculine or feminine here to be a form of designating gender, as such, but simply as distinguish terms to separate the two positions between our Lord and His followers.
Our Lord is always faithful to His people, but His people are not always faithful to Him. Yet the faithfulness between our Lord and His people is to be constant, unwavering faithfulness. Any sign of unfaithfulness is akin to one spouse being unfaithful to the other. Thus, any unfaithfulness on our part is seen as if one spouse were unfaithful to the other.
This passage (Ezekiel 23) is very graphic in its portrayal of the unfaithfulness of Israel and Judah to their Creator. It speaks of God’s chosen people exposing their breasts to be fondled by admired lovers (other nations and the gods of other nations) and having their nakedness shamefully exposed as a harlot flaunts herself to her lovers. Even if you’ve never experienced the pain of having someone you loved dearly to be unfaithful to you, you could still imagine the hurt that could be felt deep inside to think of someone who was meant to be true to you and discover that he/she had betrayed that trust in faithfulness with someone else. Is not God understanding of these feelings when people who are to be true to Him hold up other people or materialism alongside of Him?
I know that I am often guilty of praying for what I shouldn’t be praying for, because I pray for what I want, rather than praying for what He chooses. I’m going somewhere in my car and pray, “Lord, please don’t let this car breakdown.” It could be that the Lord may have somewhere else for me to go instead of where I’m going. If my car breaks down, do I think that the Lord has not answered my prayer, or could I see that perhaps the Lord had intended for my car to break down because He had His reasons which would be better for His purpose and my life? So we would be better to pray that the Lord’s will be done, and if something that seems not good to us may be meant to result in what could be better for us. This is where we put our faith in Him, and not faith in what we think is best.
So do I pray that my car works properly? Maybe I am worshipping my car more than Him, because His will may not involve that car. Do I pray that my computer not break down? Maybe I’m worshipping my computer more than Him, because His will for me may involve something other than a computer. Even so, I am guilty of idolatry, because I think my heart would break completely if my computer broke down. So I have to confess that I’m a sinner who places my values in places that I think are best, rather than in trusting that God will bring about the best, even if I don’t see it. I could say, “Lord, please help my girlfriend to come back to me and love me again,” but it may not be the Lord’s will for me to be with that girlfriend, so I could be worshipping my girlfriend more than the Lord.
Do I have a failing relationship with a friend? Do I pray, “Lord, please don’t let my friend break up with me”? Maybe there is something about that friendship that I don’t see and that the Lord knows that it is not best for me to maintain that friendship. There is some misunderstanding that some feel that the Lord teaches that we are not to love our family, because it says we are to hate our family and love the Lord. The actual interpretation would be that the Lord says that we are to choose Him above our family. We are to love our family, but love and hate in the Bible is sometimes used to indicate choosing one above the other. So if a version says that we are to hate our family and love the Lord, the intended interpretation is that we are to place the Lord’s interest above that of our family. We are to love our family, but we are to love the Lord more. (Compare love/hate in Luke 6: 27; 14: 26; 16: 13.)
This can be especially tricky if a marriage is undergoing trials. Are the trials because we are striving to serve the Lord, and Satan is attacking us? Are the trials because we are not living as God would have us to, and so the Lord is allowing the trials to bring us to the realization that we need to find His will and come more into line with what He wants, rather than what we want? But the trials can become so severe that it would appear people were under a curse. So could the curse be as it was near the end of the book of Ezra, an indication that people had joined themselves together outside of His will? Then would be the more delicate task of deciding if the marriage could be salvaged by the people learning to better live within His will, or if that will may mean the marriage should be dissolved. This would require very deep and serious prayer and soul searching. But if I pray, “Lord, please work things out between me and my beloved,” then I could be asking contrary to His will, because His will may not be that it be worked out, but that it be ended. So could not one easily be guilty of loving a spouse more than the Lord? Then that would describe what was happening in Ezekiel 23 above where God’s people were loving other gods (materialism, idols, fleshly desires) more than their Creator, and this is why the Scriptures speak of our God as a jealous God.
We often think of children as being God’s gifts, and very much rightly so. Even so, having a child does not necessarily mean that God honors a marriage. In Ezra, those who had married outside of God’s will had children. Many wicked people in this world have children. So do we say that God’s blessings abound for the wicked? Even so, the wicked while still living have the option of turning to God. In any event, any time we try to put our will in place of God’s will (whether it be for a car, a computer, a girlfriend, a spouse, or a family) then we are guilty of loving this world more than our Creator. Therefore we are guilty of the same sin of adultery towards God as the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah in Ezekiel 23 above. I try to always pray, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.”
Saturday, September 21, 2013, 5:37 PM
Jeremiah 14:14 Then the Lord said to me, The [false] prophets prophesy lies in My name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, nor have I spoken to them. They prophesy to you a false or pretended vision, a worthless divination [conjuring or practicing magic, trying to call forth the responses supposed to be given by idols], and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the [false] prophets who prophesy in My name--although I did not send them--and who say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land: By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword; and they shall have none to bury them--them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their wickedness upon them [and not on their false teachers only, for the people could not have been deceived except by their own consent]. (Amp)
False prophets from the Old Testament days should be considered in comparison with false teachers in the New Testament days. As the New Testament teaches, there are those who will go to hear what their itchy ears want to hear, neglecting the truth, because the false teachings sound more sugar-coated. The New Testament also teaches that there are those who go out to teach God’s precious Word for the purpose of accumulating wealth and riches (i.e. rich mega-preachers). The Bible teaches to avoid these sort of teachers. This is why I don’t listen to Joel Osteen or Joyce Myers. Those who seek their rewards in this life have their rewards. I feel sorry for those who trade their eternal rewards for the wealth of this world. Generally, I don’t think you could expect teachers to get rich from teaching the truth. Consider school teachers around the world- how many of them get rich? Do we expect them to teach the young people the truth? So when people get rich teaching the Bible bewares. Jesus said that His followers could expect to be treated as He was treated. People sure didn’t attribute material wealth to Him.
Verse sixteen above teaches that those who listen to false teachers would be cast out. Why cast out the listener? As the Amplified version clarifies above- ‘the people could not have been deceived except by their own consent’. So how is it their own consent? God said that each person is responsible for seeking Him from the very depths of his own heart. He said that those who sought Him from their own hearts (the deepest part of the them inside of them) would find Him. Those who settle for easy to listen to words from a smooth talking teacher/preacher are happy to hear only what they want to hear, and that only reaches the surface level of their being. This is why many church-pew sitters are known as hypocrites or for only putting on a show of their religion. People have to be able to bring our Lord Jesus Christ into the deepest part of their very being. This does not immediately make them perfect beings, but it covers their sins, so that the Lord sees the ending perfection He has in mind for them. We still live in fleshly bodies, and may often fall, but with Him in the deepest part of our being- we shall always rise again.
Jeremiah 23:30 Therefore behold, I am against the [false] prophets, says the Lord, [I am even now descending upon them with punishment, these prophets] who steal My words from one another [imitating the phrases of the true prophets]. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who use their [own deceitful] tongues and say, Thus says the Lord. 32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the Lord, and tell them and cause My people to err and go astray by their lies and by their vain boasting and recklessness--when I did not send them or command them; nor do they profit these people at all, says the Lord. (Amp)
Saturday, September 21, 2013, 12:20 AM
In chapter two of Genesis God had said that it was not good that the man should be alone, so He created woman (eventually- after bringing the other animals before Adam). God said, also in Genesis chapter two, that the two should be one flesh. In chapter three of Genesis God said that there would be a natural desire between man and woman. Since men are sinners, this desire can become unnatural. Still, there are those that God joins. Jesus said that what God hath joined together, man should not separate. When asked why Moses allowed a bill of divorce, Jesus said that it was because of the hardness of men’s hearts. What would be this ‘hardness of hearts’?
Near the end of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah (both telling the same story) it was revealed that the Israelites returning from captivity to Babylon had brought a curse on the people by marrying outside of God’s will. Marrying outside of God’s will is one representation of how that natural desire between man and woman can become unnatural. So when what God has given for natural purposes is used apart from God’s natural purposes, then the users could expect to be under God’s curse. When Jesus said that we were not to separate what God had joined together, He was not saying that all that people join themselves together into is what God joins together. People can join things together that is contrary to God’s will, and this does not constitute what God joins together. Some may say that if children are born, that indicates that God made the two become one in the flesh. In the Ezra/Nehemiah account, children were born, and the cure for the curse was to separate not only the marriages, but also the children of those marriages.
Many people who don’t even know God come together into marriages in the eyes of people, but this does not constitute marriage in God’s eyes, nor does it mean that God had joined them together. For those who know God (or even for those who ‘claim’ to know God) due diligence should be sought in finding God’s will for joining them as one. It is not their feelings for one another, because people’s feelings can be fickle, and based on matters that have nothing at all to do with God’s will. People of God should find that indication from God concerning what was meant to be and that firm conviction and faith and confidence that they are following God’s directives.
Many people seek for God to make them and their fiancés one when they themselves are not even one within themselves. That is, the them on the inside of them is not in accord with the them on the outside of them. I think most can understand what I’m saying, but to illustrate, many may realize that there is that (whatchamacallit- spirit/essence of being/motivational life-force/etc.) within them, but many may live their life before others as a show to please others (perhaps pleasing society/social norms/etc.) even if there seems to be that inconsistency with what their ‘spirit’ seems to be true to themselves. Many are obvious- those who put on a show of being something they are not; but many may not be totally aware of this, because they have not found what they themselves truly are within themselves. If one hasn’t found his true self within himself, then the him on the inside of him is not consistent with the him on the outside of himself. So that would make him not one with himself. If he is not one with himself, then how could he be ‘one’ with someone else? So for two to become one, then there starts with two, but if one is not ‘one’ with himself, then the two are starting with three rather than two. If both he and she are not one with themselves, then that would be two and two, which would be four seeking to be ‘one’. One must become one with himself, and the other must be one with herself, before there would be two who could become the one.
To say that people live outside of God’s will does not mean that there is no chance for forgiveness, and finding a remedy to the situation. If those who are married decide that they are not certain that it was God’s will, divorce should not be considered an immediate solution. In the Ezra/Nehemiah account, they had an indication of God’s will in the observance that they were under a curse, and they prayed and sought God’s will and determined what that will was. If people decide that what appears to be a curse or other indication from God that they had married outside of God’s will, that doesn’t mean the God may not join them into becoming one. But before the two could become one, they would first need to be certain that each was one with himself/herself, then pray and seek God’s guidance in the two becoming one with each other. This does not presume that God will make the two one, but it is an effort to do that prayer and seeking God’s will before something as serious as a divorce should occur.
Many people live in abusive situations. Then do people feel that God’s will is to join people together for the purpose of abusing one another? Even that does not mean an immediate divorce is called for. People are human, and may be sinners, but a remedy may be sought to find the cause of the abuse and hopefully bring it to an end. At the same time, this may not happen, and then they would have to decide if a divorce may not be the better solution. This requires much prayer and seeking of God’s will.
Other marriages may be based on people making decisions who are not fully understanding of what that decision call for. There is a great deal of responsibility in undertaking two people to become one. That responsibility should be expected to be shared equally. It is not simply a matter of one person working to make money for bills and the other keeping house. It is the matter of sharing the burdens of decisions in many matters, sometimes even serious legal matters. If one spouse takes too much responsibility to make it easier on the other spouse, then one could become guilty of ‘pampering’ the other spouse, by not allowing the other spouse to share in the responsibility. This would put too much burden on the one spouse, and the other spouse would have a position of being ‘pampered’ or ‘put on a pedestal’ which is contrary to God’s will which teaches that only He (God) is to be exalted, not a spouse, and this is setting one spouse into an exalted position.
Too many times people who are not fully mature in their decision making capacities are deciding that they know what is best, and making decisions based on their own feelings, rather than seeking God’s will. This is a sin of presumption. It is presuming that one has enough of his own understanding to set his own will above God’s will, or in thinking that his own will is in keeping with God’s will, though God’s will was not even thoroughly searched.
I am not writing this to say that I have answers, but only that too many people try to make their own answers without seeking God’s will, and then try to presume that their own answers are God’s will. Something to think about.
Friday, September 20, 2013, 8:48 PM
Our Creator had some scathing accusations to make against the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and some also for the Southern Kingdom of Judah as well. Remember that these were His chosen people. God selected the Jewish nation to be an example to the world regarding our sinful nature and that salvation could only be found through His Anointed Messiah. Those He accepts as His children are those who accept His Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet we ourselves have many things to learn from His relationship with the Jewish nation.
Isaiah 46:6 They lavish gold out of the cup or bag, weigh out silver on the scales, and hire a goldsmith, and he fashions it into a god; [then] they fall down, yes, they worship it! 7 They bear it upon their shoulders [in religious processions or into battle]; they carry it and set it down in its place, and there it stands. It cannot move from its place. Even if one cries to it for help, yet [the idol] cannot answer or save him out of his distress. 8 [Earnestly] remember this, be ashamed and own yourselves guilty; bring it again to mind and lay it to heart, O you rebels! (Amplified)
People often made idols out of expensive materials. The idea is that they depended on their wealth, or their earthly material possessions to demonstrate their value for their ‘god’. Even today, people may make material possessions to be as ‘gods’ to worship. One may worship his automobile by striving to purchase and show off the most expensive auto he can afford. One may worship his computer by striving to buy as much power and capability as he can get so he can boast of his ‘mega-whatever’. One may spend a fortune on showing off the finest of clothes or whatever else they see to be fashionable. Our Heavenly Father fully recognizes our shortcomings. He desires perfection, but He also recognizes our realities. He expects us to recognize our own guilt and to be truly sorry (ashamed in verse 8 above). Then we are to strive to set aside our earthly, worldly, fleshly, material idols and turn to serving Him by using our resources to show His law of love to one another in terms of caring for one another’s needs.
Isaiah 48:8 Yes, you have never heard, yes, you have never known; yes, from of old your ear has not been opened. For I, the Lord, knew that you, O house of Israel, dealt very treacherously; you were called a transgressor and a rebel [in revolt] from your birth. 9 For My name's sake I defer My anger, and for the sake of My praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. 10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried and chosen you in the furnace of affliction. 11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it [I refrain and do not utterly destroy you]; for why should I permit My name to be polluted and profaned [which it would be if the Lord completely destroyed His chosen people]? And I will not give My glory to another [by permitting the worshipers of idols to triumph over you]. (Amp)
We are all guilty, and we are to recognize that it is not for our own sake, but for His Name’s sake that He accepts us. We may expect that living short of His will should subject us to His refining furnace where He may test, try, and refine us to bring us into His will, as the New Testament plainly teaches, and it was first told in the Old Testament in many places such as above.
Isaiah 51:4 Listen to Me [the Lord], O My people, and give ear to Me, O My nation; for a [divine] law will go forth from Me, and I will establish My justice for a light to the peoples. 5 My rightness and justice are near, My salvation is going forth, and My arms shall rule the peoples; the islands shall wait for and expect Me, and on My arm shall they trust and wait with hope.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath; for the heavens shall be dissolved and vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner [like gnats]. But My salvation shall be forever, and My rightness and justice [and faithfully fulfilled promise] shall not be abolished. (Amp)
Anything that complies with God’s pure law of love is completely established in justice. Pure love keeps the just in justice, and anything outside of love is outside of the boundaries of justice. This world will eventually pass away. Even if you believe in reincarnation, the structure of this universe is complicated by meteor strikes, volcanoes, earthquakes, flooding storms, and droughts. Would you see yourself being reincarnated into a world that is totally undergoing regular geologic convulsions, or would you consider that those who know their Creator will be taken to live in His eternal kingdom and those who don’t know Him will be forever separated from Him? Those who come to know Him has His salvation which shall be forever. We have this eternal security not for our own sakes, but for His Name’s sake. His mercy is that part of His character that firmly establishes our security in His salvation which shall be forever, not our being deserving of it.
Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Amp)
We in our vanity like to think of how lofty and high our own philosophies may rise, but man’s thoughts are nowhere near to approaching those of our Creator.
Isaiah 57:12 I will expose your [pretended] righteousness and your doings, but they will not help you. (Amp)
Many people like to think of themselves as ‘spiritually correct’ as many consider themselves to be politically correct. Those who depend on their ‘spirituality’ to redeem them cannot hide their innermost beings and selves, that part of themselves that is the deepest of them inside of them, from our Creator. Indeed, many who put on a show of ‘spirituality’ have such a thin veneer of pretence that even many around them can see through them.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013, 11:33 PM
People need to realize and understand that God is love, God’s law is love, and mankind is far from God’s pure law of love, and in need of His mercy and salvation. This salvation can be found only in our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us.
In considering that law of love, people need to consider their own understanding of what love is and what it means to them. How much thought do you give to whom you love, and why you love? In our shortcomings in fully realizing that law of love, we made ourselves separated from our Creator, Who calls us to love His creation. He loves us in spite of ourselves. How well do we love others in spite of themselves? This is why we are commanded to love even our enemies, because He loves us in spite of ourselves. We are commanded to love others as we love our own selves. How much do we love ourselves? It is taught that many will be lovers of their own selves. What does this mean, and why is it different from loving others as self?
Think of anyone and everyone you say you love (spouse, family, friends, etc.). Think about each one individually. Then ask yourself why you love them. Is it something they can do for you? Is it something they can give you? What do you get in return for loving each one that you say you love? Honestly ask yourself if they have very good reasons they deserve your love.
Then ask yourself why you should expect them to love you. Is there something you do for them? Is there something you can give them? What do they get in return for your love for them? Honestly ask yourself if you have very good reasons to expect that you deserve their love.
The rule of thumb called the Golden Rule says that we are to treat others as we expect them to treat us. How do we expect to be treated by others? How do we expect we should treat others? If we treat others the way we would expect to be treated, is that not demonstrating that love for others as we would expect to love ourselves? But seriously consider, if we expect to be loved and treated as we would wish to be, do we demonstrate that we are worthy of that love and treatment by treating others in that way?