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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

What Should A Church and A Charging Rhino Have In Common?

I love hearing kids telling stories of events that have happened in their day.  They seem so intent in their observations.  But I really enjoy the smiles on children’s faces when they have heard a “kid’s joke”, dying to tell it to you by asking the set-up question:

“How do mice kiss?”  ANSWER:  Mouse-to-mouse (mouth-to-mouth).

“How did the patient get to the hospital so fast?”  ANSWER:  Flu.

And then I heard this riddle the other day which gave me an idea for this BIBLE STUDY:

How do you keep a rhinoceros from charging?”  ANSWER:  Take away his credit card.  [See Footnote [i] ].

BLOG-STUDY VERSES 1-24

KEEP YOUR EYES ON A ‘CHARGING’ CHURCH –

Anytime that people, the CHURCH, undertake to BUILD…there will be challenges, there will be opposition…

There will be challenges…

There will be opposition…

There will be trials and troubles.

BUT we must give a “full court press” (a basketball term)–never giving up in the process.

  • The CHURCH (the people) must charge forward…
  • The CHURCH must be built.
  • The CHURCH must grow.

I’m not referring here to church BUILDINGS.  I’m pointing out something vital to the CHURCH–THE PEOPLE,

WE MUST CONTINUE TO BRING PEOPLE INTO THE “FAMILY OF GOD” BY THE WAY OF SALVATION!.

BUT, sometimes, the church DOES stop growing.  And that’s NO JOKE!

It happened in EZRA…and, in looking at what happened to the people of God in Ezra chapter 4, I pray that the people of God in our communities avoid the same pitfalls.

Ezra 4:1-6, 23-24

[1]  When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel,   [2] they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said,  “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.”  [3] But Zerubbabel, Jeshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered,  “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God.  We alone will build it for the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, commanded us.”

FIRST of all, there will be opposition to moving forward.  The church will not grow while her enemies look on, doing nothing.

We see here in the following verses that the ENEMIES of God heard about the goings on…so they put their heads together and they came up with a very cunning plan.  They came to the leaders of the Church, and offered to HELP them!  I’m pretty sure that the leaders would have been tempted by their offer.  Who wouldn’t want some help in any rebuilding effort?

They even gave a believable explanation why they were offering their services.  They said, “WE ARE JUST LIKE YOU…”  and we know, from reading God’s Word that they DID sacrifice to God.

BUT…that wasn’t the WHOLE truth.

We find the REST of the story in 2 Kings 17, where we read about the people who settled in the area; how they came to arrive there and some of the trouble they got into.

And in 2 Kings 17:33 (AMP) we find the rest of the story –

[33]  They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods, as did the nations from among whom they had been carried away.

So, when the Samaritans, “the enemies” came to Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the other leaders, their offer to HELP would have been tempting…who wouldn’t want some help.

AND their statement about worshipping God was also true.

But they also served other gods as well, and their MOTIVE in offering help, WASN’T so they could be helpful, but their offer to help was so they could get in on the inside–

  • SLOW IT DOWN.
  • DISRUPT THE WORK
  • TRY TO THROW A WRENCH INTO THE WORKS
  • CLOG IT UP!

I might point out here that this plan has been copied over and over again right up to today where individuals or groups are trying to infiltrate the Church–

  • To change it from within…
  • To dilute the message…
  • To try to stop the church from charging forward…
  • To soften the message…
  • To change our stance on issues.

We’ve already seen some church denominations embrace certain practices that are against Scripture.  One such example is homosexuality.

We’ve got to be more like Zerubbabel and Jeshua!

We must stand for what’s right and stand for the truth…NOT truth as WE see it, but the truth as God sees it.

So, how do we know God’s truth?

It is REVEALED in His Word!

Thankfully, God’s people in Ezra’s day DIDN’T allow compromise to affect the CHURCH.  And we see that Zerubbabel and the others said “NO”!

And the Church kept charging forward!

When those opposed to the Church were unsuccessful in getting the Church to compromise, they resorted to DISCOURAGEMENT and INTIMIDATION.

BUT THERE’S MORE…

They even hired antagonists (“counselors”) to work against them.

Psychological warfare has been used in battles for centuries and here, we see that those OPPOSED to the church began using psychological warfare against the church.

  • Perhaps they tried to slow down the shipments of building materials from Lebanon to the building site.
  • Perhaps they just continued chipping away at them to the arena of public opinion.

The USED whatever means they could when compromise didn’t work–using fear-mongering, intimidation, and discouragement.

The OPPONENTS to GOD’S WORK use the same methods today–

They try to create public distrust of Christians and Christianity:  “we certainly can’t have prayer in schools”…we’ve got that ‘separation of church and state’ thing.”

“We can’t post the TEN COMMANDMENTS in public areas because that’s a ‘Christian’ thing”…

“We can’t have a Nativity or sing Christmas carols in school…BECAUSE ‘God forbid’ someone actually starts to follow Christ.”

So the enemies of God’s people create fear and distrust OUTSIDE the Church, and it appears they have been quite successful at it.

But I’ve been concerned for some time that the enemies of God’s people are making inroads into the churches–creating fear and distrust WITHIN the Church.  Making us afraid to take a stand; making us fearful to stand up for the TRUTH and making us afraid to speak out in the name of Christ.

And the psychological warfare continues on.

Finally, we read that the enemies of God resort to POLITICS to stop the CHURCH from charging forward.  In EZRA 4:11-16, we can read a copy of a letter that the enemies of God wrote to the king.

And in Ezra 4:17-22 we READ the king’s response:

[17] The KING sent this reply:  To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates:

Greetings.

[18] The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence.  [19] I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition.  [20] Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute, and duty were paid to them.  [21] Now issue an order to these men to STOP WORK, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order.  [22] Be careful not to neglect this matter.  Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?

THE RHINOS ARE STOPPED!

We see that while COMPROMISE was an ineffective tool against the church…and see that DISCOURAGEMENT & INTIMIDATION slowed things down, we now see that through the POLITICAL process, the church was stopped in its tracks.

As soon as God’s enemies, Rehum and Shimshai and their associates had their ammunition loaded against them, they went to God’s people and forced them to STOP building the church.  And we find those fateful words in verse 24.  “That put a stop to the work on The Temple of God in Jerusalem”  (MSG).

I found it interesting to see who these ENEMIES of God’s people were.

Verse one calls them the “adversaries of Judah and Benjamin”, it doesn’t say, “the Chaldeans”, or “the Persians”.  Matthew Henry’s commentary calls them “the rebels of the 10 tribes and the foreigners that had joined themselves to them”  [See Footnote [ii] ].

I dare to mention that the enemies of God’s people are the same today.  They’ll take Christianity, mix it and match it with all sorts of other thoughts and philosophies so that people today are then quick to say they BELIEVE in God– “But there are many ways to God…Budda, Mohammed, the worship of nature…”

But we stand on God’s Word, and God’s Word, in the words of Jesus Himself, says “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me”  (John 14:6).

THERE IS NO OTHER WAY!

The Church has always faced opposition,

There are people who don’t WANT the church to charge forward, and SOME of these people may even be people who USED to follow Christ Jesus.

But NOW, they’ve gotten sucked into worldly thinking–the church becomes just another sociological experiment, or the church becomes a pawn in political maneuvering.

But I SAY the Church is simply God’s people, going God’s way, and if we as the CHURCH start letting the opposition get a foothold, we’ll see the church come to a complete standstill, just like it did at the end of EZRA 4.

Is this a way then, to stop those who wish to STOP a ‘charging rhino’, the church?

There is, and I had to search closely for it all the way back to VERSE ONE where Scripture tells us, “the exiles were building a Temple for the Lord”.

It seems innocent enough at first glance but when we read it from the KJV (King James Version), it adds one more description:

“the children of the captivity built the temple unto the LORD”

It doesn’t say, “The children of GOD were building the Temple”…it says, “The children of the CAPTIVITY”.

I don’t believe that I’m reading too much into Scripture when I say this points to their thinking.  They viewed themselves as “children of the captivity”, even though King Cyrus had issued the DECREE to allow the construction to begin.

These people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin still felt the oppression of 70 years of captivity upon their shoulders.  They still felt that these foreign rulers had AUTHORITY over them, and while for the most part, they did have CIVIL authority over them.  GOD WAS STILL GOD, just as He is today!

GOD WAS STILL GOD, just as He is today!

And they had, not only a DESIRE to worship God together, but they had an OBLIGATION to worship God.  No civil or government authority can take that away UNLESS we let them.

In EZRA’S day, they allowed the ENEMIES of God bring the Church to a standstill.

WHY?  Because they were thinking like children of the captivity.

What does that mean for us today?

That meaning seems quite obvious to me.  The KEY goes back to our thinking.

Do we think of ourselves as children of the captivity?  People under the rule of governments and nations?

Or, do we think of ourselves as God’s children?

Scripture says,  “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21), and what’s is God’s is our WORSHIP.

AS GOD’S PEOPLE…

We are OBLIGATED to see the Good News of Jesus Christ continues to spread like a ‘charging Rhino’; we will NOT allow the enemies of God cause us to compromise–TO BE STOPPED!

So, how’s YOUR thinking?

Are you a child of the KING, or a child of captivity?

The ANSWER to that question will determine the direction of the Church!

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i] :  Oddball Riddles – Kid’s Jokes

Footnote [ii] :  Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol. 2.  EZRA 4.

Photos:  Google Image Search, Advance Setting.

Bible Translation (s):  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.