Living In Little, Staying In Small

A Study In Genesis 19:17-38 [You will need your Bible]

ZOAR – “Zoara,” the biblical Zoar, was previously called Bele (Genesis 14:8), and one of the FIVE “cities of the plain” – a pentapolis apparently located along the lower Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, plainly mentioned in the Book of Genesis and other Bible passages as well.

 

Regardless of your opinion of the JUDGMENT of Sodom and Gomorrah, you have to admit that it was a tragedy and a trauma to the three known survivors.

TRAGEDIES HAPPEN.

Your character determines how the substance of a trauma directs your life.

A large event has energy attached to it and it can propel you.  Yet the direction in which it propels is mostly up to you.

As an illustration, in the Columbia tragedy over the Texas sky on February 1, 2003, the stunned NASA officials who tearfully spoke of Columbia’s horror, were not hesitant to remind the watching world that it wouldn’t stop adventures into space.  In fact, the tragedy actually spurs on the survivors of the team to continue with greater vigilance and excellence.

A natural response to TRAGEDY/FAILURE/LOSS is to withdraw, to reduce. This response shows up in the characters of this study in Genesis 19:19 –

[19] “Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life.  But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die.”  [NIV Bible]

The FIRST FOCUS of Lot was:  “I CAN’T” –

Then in Genesis 19:20 (NIV)

[20] “Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small.  Let me flee to it–it is very small, isn’t it?  Then my life will be spared.”

AND, the FIRST FALLOUT of “I Can’t” is, it ties up God in the process.

Lot had a bent toward little.  (ZOAR means “little”).

SURPRISE!  Divine Behavior isn’t natural! “I don’t want to go there!”

(Genesis 19:20 NIV)

[20]  Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small.  Let me flee to it–it is very small, isn’t it?  Then my life will be spared.

(Genesis 19:30 NIV)

[30]  Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar.  He and his two daughters lived in a cave.

In each move (vs. 19, 30), Lot’s motivation was FEAR.

  • It was FEAR for the angels’ well-being, not hospitality, that motivated Lot to invite them overnight. [vs. 2-3]
  • It was FEAR that caused Lot to wrongly offer the COMPROMISE of his daughters as an appeasement to the mob that appeared at his front door.
  • It was FEAR of change that made Lot almost late in leaving the city, “when he hesitated” (vs. 16)…and the angels took him out of the city.

Lot was AFRAID to make a LIFESTYLE CHANGE and his wife’s hesitance made her infamous.

“REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE” – Jesus’ words (Luke 17:32) as He explains to the disciples what it will be like on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.

Lot’s issue was to still be in a ‘city’.  Afterall, he was an urbane man–a ‘city’ kind of guy.  You know the old expression, “You can take the boy/girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy/girl.”  Well, in Lot’s case, I’m going to change one word:  “You can take the boy out of the ‘city’, but…”

Lot and his family had earlier been abducted in a military raid on the city and had been rescued by his uncle Abraham.  Even then, Lot and his family remained in Sodom.

The Bible tells us in 2 Peter 2:7 that Lot was considered a RIGHTEOUS MAN and that the behavior of the people of Sodom infuriated him (“distressed him” – NIV).

There’s a terrible silence when it doesn’t tell us how he acted on his infuriation…his ANGER, his DISGUST, to the surrounding culture.  Maybe it was out of fear.  In fact, Scripture reveals that Lot assimilated into his culture, even as what might have been called, a city leader in Sodom.

Often, city leaders, government officials, would be positioned at the gateways of the town. (19:1)  Sort of like members of the local  Chamber of Commerce for the city–a standout in the community; a civic leader.  Someone you would know if his name appeared in the local newspaper or the church bulletin.

Lot’s thinking over time took him to the place where he believed he could not live away from a town.

Living in SIN will blind you to true reality and cause you to start believing the cultural LIES!  

EXAMPLE: “Quit fighting it!  Cultures change over time, so you might as well just accept the changes!”

Has FEAR of LIFESTYLE CHANGE blinded your thinking into believing a false reality?

FEAR WILL MOTIVATE YOU TO MISS BLESSED OPPORTUNITIES –

Lot was afraid that he couldn’t live in the mountains (vs. 19), but the irony is, he had spent years living a prosperous life in the mountains with his uncle Abraham.  If he had gone to the mountains as the angel(s) had said, God would have provided again, perhaps to restore to prosperity.

Moving to the same mountain later, however, after the open opportunity presented itself, wouldn’t recapture a prior promise.

LIFEPOINT:  Delayed OBEDIENCE is NOT Obedience!

Sometimes, you can press God and get what you desire (or think you did, anyway!). But sometimes the worst thing you can have is to have your own way.

An illustration came to mind of an old episode from the TV series, The Twilight Zone: “The Man in the Bottle”.  It’s where the man gets 4 wishes from a genie and the last wish being Hitler in the bunker.

“We Better PRAY First.”

In 1980, I was given the job opportunity to relocate from Southern California to the Grand Pacific Northwest.  My wife and I both decided this was a good move for ourselves and the family.  No state income tax, clean air, beautiful green trees, etc.  And yes, we better pray about it too.  We had already made our minds up that pulling roots up, leaving friends and family behind was what God must want for us.  “But we better pray first!”  Did we get what we desired?  For the most part, we did, in spite of being disobedient in relational PRAYER first.

IF YOU AREN’T TRANSFORMED, LIVING IN LITTLE WILL LEAD YOU TO LESS –

Genesis 19:14 (AMP)

[14] And Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will spoil and destroy this city!”  But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be [only] joking.

Genesis 19:30 (NIV)

[30] Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar.  He and his two daughters lived in a cave.

The ROOT of the Hebrew word for CAVE is “naked”, that is, to have nothing.

The Lot who went to Sodom was a wealthy rancher, with herds and servants.  He was a man who walked with God, who had a young family and a bright future.

The Lot who left Sodom was a man whose light-weight LIFESTYLE had made his spiritual impact on those close to him seem like a joke.

He fled from there an impoverished, fearful widower, finding himself now as the single parent of two daughters who had lost their finances when their life was literally obliterated!

Living with SIN in your life will slowly strip you of your stuff, trample your treasured possessions and parch your purest pleasure–your relationships.

Words determine your THINKING; Thinking determines BELIEF; Belief incites EXPECTATION; Expectation forecasts ATTITUDE; Attitude is what motivates BEHAVIOR.  It’s BEHAVIOR that creates the outcome.  (John Maxwell)

LIVING IN LITTLE, STAYING SMALL CAUSES PEOPLE TO…settle for the way things are–to base their lives on the low levels of circumstance and customs.

John Maxwell and the man who went to the fortune teller (45 years of misery then you’ll just get used to it.).

Genesis 19:31

THE GIRLS, Daughters of Lot…

Lot’s daughters chose to settle for what was, to make do with what was convenient, rather than BELIEVE God for what was right.

FAITH doesn’t deny reality but believes beyond reality.

Remember, just because a thing can be, doesn’t mean it should be.  Basing our lives only on our circumstances and customs results in our destiny being directed by SIN.

And when you start in SIN you launch its CAREER–and the consequence to follow can be far-reaching.

The offspring of this conspiracy to commit two counts of aggravated sexual assault and incest (the modern charges that would have applied) were TWO NATIONS of people who became enemies of God’s people, a major influence in their perversion of WORSHIP (idolatry).

Ultimately, the DESTRUCTION of the nation of Israel and the termination of a PROMISE of God, ” a nation of priests to bless the world” (19:6).

God has also in His plan made us as true believers in Christ Jesus to be “A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS” to serve God (Revelation 1:6).

It all started when a FEARFUL MINDSET of ‘living in little’ wasn’t transformed.

At the time of this writing in The Book of Genesis, they knew of MOAB and AMMON but had not interacted with them as enemies, yet.

 

Thoughts lead to BELIEF…to EXPECTATION…to ATTITUDE…to BEHAVIOR…to PERFORMANCE.

Here is another way of putting it:

James 1:13-16 (AMP)

[13] Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one.

[14] But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).

[15] Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.

[16] Do not be misled, my brethren.

If you’ve been reading all of this and convicted in making a move…from living in little, settling for small, then it’s time for a change in direction.

IN STOPPING SIN IN YOUR LIFE!

You need to move out of the “Little”, and not leave your forwarding address.  Quit basing your life on CIRCUMSTANCE and CUSTOM, get out of staying in SMALL, being mentally naked.

I will look forward to reading your REPLY on your decision and desire for transformation in the COMMENT section of this page.

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CREDITS ~

John C. Maxwell:  50 Inspirational John C. Maxwell Quotes, by Addicted2Success

The Columbia Tragedy:  Wikipedia.

PHOTOS:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), or where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staring Into the Abyss – Revelation Chapter 9

Why have the pulpits stayed away from teaching…preaching from The Revelation to John?  We seem to hear about Heaven in messages, but Hell…not so much, if at all.  And did you know, that “Hell” is mentioned in Scripture more than Heaven is?  So in my reading and study in Revelation this month, I’m sharing my understanding in Chapter 9 beginning with the Fifth Trumpet Judgment:

REVELATION 9:1-21

The chapter begins with a STAR falling from heaven and being given the KEY to the Abyss.

Revelation 9:1 (NIV)

[1] “THE FIFTH ANGEL sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star had fallen from the sky to the earth,  The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.”

There are those today who use this kind of apocalyptic language when they speak about what to fear today.

To my friends in Great Britain…those who are freaked out about what Brexit will bring and here in the United States…what President Donald Trump might bring about as ‘staring into the Abyss’.

In the culture of the Apostle John’s day, the ABYSS was considered to be the place of the dead and the demonic.  [See footnote [i].]

The STAR (Rev. 9:1-2).

It’s important to notice in verse 1 that the word “star” isn’t being used literally but figuratively.

How do we know that?

Well, deductive reasoning comes into play.

The “star” is given the KEY to the shaft of the Abyss and in verse 2 is referred to as “he”.  You can’t hand an actual star a key, but you can hand it to a being.

So who’s the Star then?

There are several times in Scripture where STARS refer to angels.

In Revelation 20:1 at the end of the Great Tribulation, an angel comes down from heaven;  “he was holding the key of the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and a great chain was in his hand” [AMP}. 

 I believe in the study that this is the same angel as in Revelation9:1.  This angel returns the KEY through the Tribulation.

I’ve read some commentaries that say the STAR refers to Satan on the basis of Isaiah 14:12:  “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn!  You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations.”

The reason why the “star” in verse 1 can’t be a reference to Satan is that Satan will not be thrown down to earth until Chapter 12 of Revelation, and only then will he have no access to God’s immediate presence where he goes to accuse the brethren as he did in Job 1.

So it has to be the FIFTH TRUMPET ANGEL who in 20:1 of Revelation comes down out of heaven with the KEY to the Abyss.

The ABYSS (“bottomless pit” KJV), is NOT Hell or Hades.

I’ve read commentaries by scholars in the past that believe the Abyss may be the bottom of the great gulf fixed in Hades.  This is the gulf that separates the place of torment and the place of comfort we read about in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.  As a side note, remember that Ephesians 4:8-10 tells us that Jesus cleared out Paradise.

Scripture supports that Hades included both Hell AND Heaven (Abraham’s bosom, or what Jesus and many of the everyday Jews of His day referred to as Paradise).

According to Jesus, in between the TWO was “A great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.”  (Luke 16:26) [See footnote [ii].]

Abasos (bottomless) appears seven times in Revelation.

It is always in reference to the place of residence to the incarcerated DEMONS (9:2, 11; 11:7; 17:8).

Satan himself will be held there during the Millenial reign of Christ, chained and locked-up with the other demonic prisoners (20:1, 3).

God is SOVEREIGNLY chosen to place DEMONS in the Abyss for the purpose of punishment.

We don’t have much information as to what the PIT might look like other than the CREATURES that come from this “bottomless pit”.  

It’s important to note there are TWO types of DEMONS described in Scripture.

  1. Those that are FREE to roam the earth.
  2. And those that are confined to a certain place in Hell.

The FREE Demons – (Matthew 12:43-45)

There are those “unclean (evil) spirits” that seek to indwell the bodies of people.

This is the “evil spirits” that were cast into the PIGS by Jesus.  [Reference]: https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/thats-a-lot-of-pork-chops/

Evidently, these DEMONS travel in groups and there must be many of them.  Apparently over a thousand “evil spirits” possessed the wild man of Gerasa, because they gave themselves the name “Legion” (Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-29).

I believe these “evil spirits” are the fallen angels and we need to understand that they are real.  The good news for Christians is we cannot be possessed by a DEMON because the Holy Spirit possesses us.  Although, if we are not following Jesus daily, we can be influenced by these evil spirits.

The IMPRISONED DEMONS – (Jude 1:6-7) 

[6] And angels who did not keep (care for, guard, and hold to) their own first place of power but abandoned their proper dwelling place–these He has reserved in custody in eternal chains (bonds) under the thick gloom of utter darkness until the judgment and doom of the great day.

[7] [The wicked are sentenced to suffer] just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns–which likewise gave themselves over to impurity and indulged in unnatural vice and sensual perversity–are laid out [in plain sight] as an exhibit of perpetual punishment [to warn] of everlasting fire.  [AMP]

These fallen angels have been imprisoned.  I’ve read in commentaries where scholars believe that these are the ANGELS who violated the laws of God–“took wives of all they desired and chose” from the “daughters of men” [Genesis 6:2, Amplified Bible].

These are the fallen angels referred to as “the sons of God”.  Their offspring have been called the Nephelium who were giants.  There are some controversies with this thinking, but that’s another study.

In 2 Peter 2:1-10 we find more confirmation of these imprisoned demons.

The Greek word for HELL in 2 Peter 2:4 is “Tartarus”, which is a portion of HELL.  Some Bible teachers believe that this is also the Abyss.

The First Woe – Revelation 9:2-10.

The Abyss is opened and there is so much SMOKE, it became “smog like” in appearance.

In 1967-2001, my family lived in Costa Mesa, California, south of Los Angeles.  There were days that the smog conditions were so bad that your eyes burned, lungs were affected, and a dense haze closed in as a squeezing bench vise.  I haven’t been back to the area since then, so I don’t know if the conditions have improved.

Out of this “SMOG” in Revelation 9, come locust-like scorpion creatures.

They will be shaped like LOCUST, likened to horses, have faces like men, hair like women, and teeth as lions.

These creatures have breastplates of iron and their wings are like “the roar of a vast number of horse-drawn chariots going at full speed into battle.”  [Rev. 9:9; Joel 2:5]

They also possess stings in their tails like scorpions.

It’s been suggested that these might be helicopters armed for war.

Although, you might see some similarities in this description and John would have no idea what a “helicopter” was, personally, I still believe these are literal creatures.

Some would say that no one on earth could see them because they are “spiritual creatures”, but that doesn’t add up in study after reading Joel 2:6 – “At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale.”  

In Joel 1-2 we find this scene being prophesied.  You should make time to read these two chapters and I believe you’ll get a better picture of how terrible this JUDGMENT will be.

The Destroyer (Apollyon) – Revelation 9:11

In VERSE 11 we find the angel of the Abyss and the king over these terrible creatures.

Although the above IMAGE comes from an artist’s imagination, it still captures the essence of the character portrayed in Scripture.

His Hebrew name (Abaddon) and his Greek name (Apollyon) are both given.  Both names mean “Destroyer”.

This fallen angel must be of high rank in Satan’s army.  Now don’t be led astray here in believing this is Satan, himself because Satan isn’t locked up in the Abyss.  He’s roaming around like a lion, seeking who he can devour [1 Peter 5:8].

As Satan always tries to copy God, I believe Apollyon is probably equivalent to an Archangel in Heaven.  The main thing here is to notice, just as his leader’s goal is to DESTROY, so is his!

The Torment – (Revelation 9:5-6)

Notice that these CREATURES will not kill those who they sting.  The STING will torment them for five months.

The PAIN is so bad during this time period that they will wish there were dead and think they will die, but they won’t.  Maybe the reason they won’t die is so that they will get some of their attention and submit to Jesus Christ as Savior.

Joel 2:12-13

[12] “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

[13] Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

I also believe that some may notice certain people are NOT stung by the creatures.

In Revelation 9:4 we’re told that the CREATURES were instructed to only sting those who don’t have the seal (mark) of God on their foreheads [AMP].

This means that just like the plagues of Egypt, God’s people are not harmed during the JUDGMENT.  As far as what the “seal” or “mark” is…that’s another blog-discussion.

As terrible as this JUDGMENT is, we can see that God is giving people another opportunity to follow Him.

Maybe you are reading this without Jesus.  God is giving you an opportunity.

Don’t wait until it’s too late!

And, Christians, as always:  Be urgent about sharing the Gospel message.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [I]:  “Revelation 9: Are We Heading Into the Abyss?” – By David Peterson, in Christian Today, Jan. 3, 2017.

Footnote [ii]:  Devotions.com – “Bible Indicates Paradise Was Once Part Of Hades”.

Blog’s Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) – Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 By Biblica, Inc., except where indicated in the text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide!

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  Revelation 6:1-17

SINNER MAN –

I first heard this song on the car radio the year after my wife and I were married, in 1965.  I was struck by the question in the lyric, “Sinner Man, Where You Gonna Run To?”  I discovered later that the song originated from an African American spiritual song that had been recorded by a number of performers (Bob Marley, Peter, Paul and Mary, Les Baxter and more).

The lyrics go on telling the story with…He [the sinner man] runs to the rock, to the sea, to the Lord and ultimately to Satan because he comes face to face with the wrath of God and he’s so frightened he’s looking for ANY way to avoid God’s anger.  But there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide because he had rejected God for so long there was no longer hope.

I thought to myself, now where would the writer for this old spiritual song get his idea?

Right here in Revelation 6.

That’s pretty scary stuff!

These SINNERS are running from God.  They’re RUNNING from the wrath of the Lamb.

In my reading of John’s words here, something just didn’t seem to correlate with my knowledge of the bible.  John 3:16 tells us that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

And Jesus spent His time among the tax collectors, and the prostitutes and the SINNERS.

Over and over again we read throughout the New Testament hearing the message repeated and it all seems to be summed up in 2 Peter 3:9.  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to yo repentance.”

BUT in our passage in Revelation Chapter 6, we have sinners running from the Wrath of the Lamb.  They are running from the wrath of the very One who died for them.  What’s going on here?

After re-reading and meditating on the previous verses in the chapter, the answer is found in verses 9 thru 10:

I see two things in play here.  1st – the scene here shows God’s vengeance on mankind.  As Hebrews 10:30 tells us and we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”

The major focus in Revelation 6 is GOD’S JUDGMENT on those who’ve persecuted and slain His people in the name of His Son Jesus.

Jesus, while on this earth, told us what was going to happen when He said “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” (Luke 6:22).

AND Luke 21:17 – “And you will be hated (despised) by everyone because [you bear] My name and for its sake.”  [AMP]

John wrote in 1 John 3:13 – “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.”

DID IT HAPPEN?

Yes!  Within the first 3 years of the EARLY church’s existence.

  • The Apostle James was executed.
  • Peter was thrown into prison.
  • Philip was stoned to death.
  • And a man named Saul had Christians arrested, jailed, beaten and even killed.

And that was just the beginning.

Down through the ages Christians have been murdered and tortured for their FAITH.

In my research, for this study, I came across some statistics that shocked me. [See Footnote [i].]

Every month…

  • 255 Christians are killed.
  • 104 are abducted.
  • 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage.
  • 60 churches are attacked.
  • 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned.

And this isn’t a new situation for BELIEVERS.  Christians have been suffering and dying for their FAITH for centuries!

And Jesus’ Revelation to John is telling us that God knew this would happen and it made Him angry.

And He was so angry that He said:  “Vengence is Mine”.

You REALLY don’t want to be on the receiving end of that kind of anger.

Paul wrote:  “God is just:  He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you”  (2 Thessalonians 1:6).

I literally feel sorry for the people who try to harm God’s people because I know the truth of Revelation 6.  You don’t mess with God’s people!

Hebrews 10:31tells us “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

So the 1st thing I see in Revelation 6 is THIS:

  • God will bring JUDGMENT on those who hurt His people.

But there is something else here that I almost missed:

God’s JUDGMENT isn’t just about VENGEANCE, it’s ALSO about reaching out to the lost!

In the Youtube video presentation at the beginning of this Blog, listen to this verse:

RUN TO THE LORD

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

RUN TO THE LORD

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

RUN TO THE LORD.

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

“And the Lord said ‘sinner man’ – you shoulda been prayin.”

Do you know what this verse is saying?

It’s saying, it’s too late Sinner Man…you shoulda been a prayin!  BUT you didn’t, so don’t bother me.  You’ve messed up big time and now there’s no hope.

I have a real problem with that thinking.

Isaiah 55:7 – “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.  Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

As Long as the wicked are willing to REPENT…God will forgive. 

That’s the MESSAGE throughout Scripture.

Hebrews 9:27 tells us “And just as it is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgment”  [AMP].

But these guys (in Revelation 6) aren’t dead yet!  Until they die they still have the opportunity to REPENT.

And besides, it doesn’t say that the “Sinners” were appealing to God.  These folks weren’t running TO Jesus…they were running AWAY from Him.

Revelation 6:15-16 says they “hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains”

These folks aren’t appealing to God to hide them, they “called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne’.” 

They were calling on the rocks and Mountains to fall on them and protect them.

I remember growing up in a home where the punishment my folks dealt out to my brother and I definitely got our attention.  So much so, that even a slight look of dissatisfaction was all that was needed.

And there are times in Scripture where God disciplined entire nations in order to get their attention to REPENT–“turn from their wicked ways”  (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Psalm 32:4, we see David speaking about how God dealt with him after he had sinned with Bathsheba.  He wrote: “For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me…”  (AMP).

It was a repeated theme throughout the Old Testament.  God would slap the people in order to wake them UP!

And God hasn’t changed.  He’s still working on sinners NOW as He did back then.

One of my favorite bible verses is where Jesus says:

What does Jesus mean when He says the Holy Spirit (“the Helper”) will CONVICT?

It means that someone has been convicted of their GUILT.

It means to make a person FEEL their Guilt.

AND that’s the Spirit’s job–to CONVICT people of their SIN.

CONVINCE them of the need of RIGHTEOUSNESS and remind them of the coming judgment.

Now, how’s the Holy Spirit going to do that?

As my mother would try to explain when I was a child:  “That small voice inside of you will make you very uncomfortable, Mel, when you are doing something you shouldn’t.”

Being AWARE…

Being aware of what the Spirit of the Lord is trying to get your attention for.

Be open to receiving His correction and what He is showing you that you need to REPENT of and change direction in your life.

The word REPENT means to turn in the direction you were headed; change the way we did something or the direction we are thinking of proceeding.  [See Footnote [i].]

Remember always, the Holy Spirit is CONVICTING and NOT CONDEMNING us! 

That’s what the enemy does.

HOLY SPIRIT is NOT going to badger or nag us about the same thing.  He is going to show us the MISTAKE–laying it on our hearts to REPENT and ask for forgiveness and then… He is going to expect us to move on.  He will keep on until we do something about it!  That’s not “nagging,” that’s the Father’s LOVE for us.

In reflection and asking myself the question. who do I know, or don’t know today who are living in the ‘spiritual caves’ right now while shaking their fists at God?

Should I be praying that the Holy Spirit might CONVICT them to REPENTANCE?

QUESTION:  “But aren’t these people really God’s enemies and if they are God’s enemies, they have to be mine too? And shouldn’t God’s enemies be put in place–PUNISHED?”

MY ENEMIES–GOD’S ENEMIES deserve to be punished!!

Well, here’s the deal.

If I rejoice when my enemy falls, I prove I’ve missed something.

You see, Jesus came to die for SINNERS.  Now–are my enemies…SINNERS?

Yeah!  I’m pretty sure that’s part of the reason they’re my enemies.

There’s an interesting passage of Scripture from Proverbs 24:17-18 (AMP).

[17] Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown.  [18] Lest the Lord see it and it be evil in His eyes and displease Him, and He turns away His wrath from him [to expend Thit upon you, the worse offender].

There’s a hint given in the verses at the fact that your ENEMY is being punished for a reason.

THE REASON is this:

God is punishing your enemy so that you can show them GRACE.  You see God punishes your enemies so that you can come into their lives and show them God’s LOVE for them which lends to REPENTANCE.

You and I need to be constantly reminded by God’s Spirit that we were not SAVED so we could be pampered.

We were SAVED because we were going to HELL!

We were SAVED because we didn’t stand a chance without God’s MERCY!

It’s not that God doesn’t want you to have a better life than you’d have if you didn’t become a Christian; it’s just that God has SAVED us to become something more than just self-centered and self-serving individuals.

GOD SAVED you and I–and enlisted us to be His Ambassadors (His missionaries) to a lost world.            (2 Corinthians 6:20)

Now here’s the deal–you may be thinking that you are not qualified–not important enough to become a missionary–an ambassador.  But if you are willing to go to the “sinner man” during their struggles and SHARE with them the LOVE of God and HOPE of His forgiveness…then you have a chance to change the world!

Are you willing to take a chance?

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i] :  Statistics –  https://www.opendoorusa.org/christian-persecution/

Credit:  Charisma News – Discerning the Difference…Between Holy Spirit Conviction and Demonic Condemnation.

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  The New International Version (NIV), or elsewhere noted in the text.

Media:  Sinner Man by the Seekers, 1965.  Courtesy of YouTube. 

 

Divinely Supplied, Humanly Gathered

Scripture Study – Revelation 2:12-17 “The Church in Pergamum”

PERGAMOS –

Pergamum is located about 100 miles north of Ephesus with Smyrna located halfway between.  It still survives today as the Turkish city of Bergama.

Pergamos was considered Asia’s greatest city.  By the time the Apostle John received the revelation and wrote this section of the book, Pergamos had been the region’s capital for about 250 years.

Pergamos was an important center of culture and learning.  The city considered themselves as “the defender of Greek culture” in all of Asia Minor.

The city was also considered an important center of worship.  Four of the main deities of the Greco-Roman world had temples dedicated to Athena, Asklepios, Dionysos, and Zeus were located there.

But overshadowing the worship of all these deities of Pergamos’ devotion was the cult of emperor worship.  Christians of the day were in constant danger of harm from the emperor worship cult.  Elsewhere, Christians were primarily in danger of one particular day of the year where they were required to offer sacrifices to the emperor; in Pergamos, they were in danger every day.

The Church At Pergamos Was One That Lived and Served In The Shadow of Satan’s Headquarters.

Revelation 2:13 (a).

“I know where you live–a place where Satan sits enthroned.”

Notice the introduction Jesus used in introducing Himself to Pergamos as “the One Who has and wields the sharp two-edged sword”.

In ancient times, the highest symbol of authority was the sword.  It represented the greatest authority that people knew.  It represented absolute authority!

Jesus’ introduction leads one to believe that God wasn’t at all happy with the church at Pergamum.  So I found it quite interesting to what Jesus had to say to the Assembly.

The Church’s Dedication Observed (2:13)

Here was a church positioned on a hill, so to speak, that was in the shadow of Satan’s throne, and Jesus noted their dedication.  I can only imagine their struggle.

WOW!  How complacent we can get while sitting in church on Sunday’s feeling comfortable without obvious persecution by the community in the valleys of our culture constantly trying to blow out the candle.  “No LIGHT in shinning in that building!”

The headquarters of Satan is a strategic place best used by his influence.

Then Jesus goes on to say, “[Yet] you are clinging to and holding first to My name”.  That meant they had not denied the purpose for which Jesus came.  They had not turned their backs on the gospel.  And in spite of the difficult circumstances that surrounded them, the BELIEVERS at Pergamos courageously maintained their FAITH in Jesus Christ.

A Period of détente –

détente [a French word meaning release from tension] and a name given to a period of improved relations during the Cold War, between the United States and the Soviet Union that began tentatively in 1971.

Revelation 2:14-15

There was a problem in Pergamos.

It’s a problem that exists in our own backyards today as well, perhaps more strongly than ever in history.

Notice the church’s détente–détente meaning an easing of friction between two groups.  It means compromising so as not to muddy the waters.

The church was faithful; it believed in Jesus.  It was a strong church, an Orthodox church.

They had not denied His faith, BUT…they were tolerating false views.  They tolerated what should have been expelled from the church.  Don’t get me wrong here.  The church didn’t hold onto false doctrines.  It was a proper, orthodox, fundamental church in the city.  There are churches similar in communities today.  Perhaps you belong to a “fundamental” church like Pergamum. But the assembly in Pergamos held fellowship with those views ignoring the Truth laid down by Jesus.  That was the thing Jesus attacked.

What has this assembly of believers allowed in their fellowship?

First, they allowed the doctrine of Balaam.

Balaam was called by a king to curse Israel in Numbers 22-23. 

Balaam didn’t try to change the theology or to curse the nation.  He just encouraged them to COMPROMISE the purposes of God.  He polluted the people socially and spiritually.

THE END RESULT (vs. 14), A “stumbling block” before the children of Israel, resulting in the eating of things sacrificed to idols and committing immorality.

They taught that ORTHODOXY gave license to SIN.

What does the word, “Orthodox” mean in this context?  It means “conventional Christian beliefs” or “traditional beliefs and customs of the early church that Jesus had established”.  [See footnote [i].]

The church at Pergamum ‘new age’ thinking was “Believe in the right things, church, and you can do anything you want to do!”

I once had a pastor who rationalized celebrating Halloween activities in the church parking lot with this same reasoning, using 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23 as his point of reference–“All things are lawful”; as a believer, we are free to do anything we please.”  He left out the rest of the verse:  “but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome…”  This isn’t to say that every Christian who uses this phrase “All things are lawful” has the wrong general idea.  But I think it’s fairly clear that this is an example of a legitimate intention from the wrong text, with wrong teaching. We don’t want to cause a wave with the world over issues like homosexuality or abortion so we will allow FALSE TEACHING to enter in and adjust our doctrine, keeping everyone happy and the attendance up.

Given Direction (vs. 16)

“Repent [then]!  Or else I will come to you quickly and fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”  [AMP]

NOTICE the direction Jesus gives to them, “REPENT!”

He’s not talking to the people who had the doctrine of Balaam.  He’s speaking to the CHURCH.  He was telling the church to repent.

As I pondered over Jesus’ words, I began trying to understand His words here on how the CHURCH could repent.  They weren’t guilty of believing those things.  Jesus essentially says to the church, exclude those people from fellowship.  Don’t give them false security.  They were wrong; they were destroying what the church believed, so the church should remove them.

Jesus was saying to the church to exercise discipline, people!

Do we realize the danger of someone who rebels, fights against the things of God?  The danger of someone in the midst of the fellowship who stands for that which contradicts the doctrine and gospel of Jesus?

Jesus said, you as a church better REPENT and ACT on this matter, or I will come and work against them.  Basically, you take care of them, or I will take care of them!

DELIGHT (vs. 17) –

Revelation 2:17 (The Message Bible)

“Are your ears awake?  Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blows through the churches.  I’ll give the sacred manna to every conqueror; I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name.”

The hidden or sacred manna typifies the spiritual food provided by God in His Word.  Jesus is talking about individual feeding, not a church function.

The manna is something that you receive daily already in life.  It corresponds to your hidden life.  A place inside where no one knows what’s going on except for you and God.  It’s where you are tempted to impure thought, to pride, to lying, etc.  It’s where you fight and overcome those temptations.

The sacred (hidden) manna, is the help you get when you pray for it in those times.  It’s the nourishment you receive, by the power from heaven. It’s given to everyone who asks for it, everyone with a longing to be free from sin.

The hidden manna gives vitality and life.

But like the Israelites in the wilderness, God provided the MANNA for sustaining the daily physical life, but the people had to go out and gather it in daily.

Manna was divinely supplied but had to be humanly gathered.  

God gave it, but the people had to gather it!  God will not spoon feed you!!

 The “White Stone” (“clear stone”) and the “New Name” meaning: [See footnote [ii] ]

  • The WHITENESS represents the PURITY and the HOLINESS of God.
  • The NEW NAME represents the name that a BELIEVER (“overcomer”) receives one day in Christ.

Sometimes a white stone was given to a person after a trial.  The STONE symbolized NOT GUILTY,

Sometimes after a battle, the VICTOR (“conqueror”) was given a white stone representing total victory.

Sometimes a stone was given to an individual signifying CITIZENSHIP.

When we apply that to our Christian faith, it forms a beautiful picture.

But the Scripture is very clear here that the CHURCH must not tolerate those who lower the STANDARDS of the Truth.

It’s not a question of holding the TRUTH; Pergamos did that.

As a Church, we too face the same choice that Pergamos faced.

We can repent and receive ALL of God’s blessings, or, we can refuse to perform a spiritual self-examination and face the terrifying reality of having the Lord Jesus Christ declare war on us.

We need to remain to hold true to the Word of God and never compromising our position in Christ Jesus.

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CREDITS AND FOOTNOTES –

Credit:  ActiveChristianity – Hidden Manna, White Stone and a New Name – Revelation 2:17.

FOOTNOTES:  [i] The Christian Crier – “What Does Orthodox Mean?”; [ii] Word Detective’s White Stone, New Name blog – https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/a-name-change-at…heavenly-arrival/

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, settings advanced.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:  Amplified (AMP), New International Version (NIV), or where noted in the text.