THE AVENGER


With the recent news headlines regarding the lack of justice in the land and in the world, let’s face it.   It’s frustrating!  It seems that hardened criminals get off with just slaps on the wrists.  I can’t stand the lack of consequences being dealt out for evil behavior.

While injustice in our country and the world abounds, my spirit rises when I ponder the Word of God when it clearly communicates that the wicked will not go unpunished.  As the Day of the LORD approaches, The Avenger of all the earth ensures that the wicked are done away with and justice is done.

In the last several weeks I’ve been reading and studying in THE BOOK Of Jeremiah, learning that because of the people’s constant sinning against the LORD, the Jews of Jeremiah’s day received what they deserved–the JUDGEMENT of the LORD.

God didn’t let them get away with rebellion against Him.

The people who God used to carry out His judgment were the Babylonians.

However, the tactics and methods of the Babylonians were absolutely unconscionable and brutal.  That gave rise to the question, which Jeremiah anticipates in the two chapters referenced:

“Will the Babylonians be punished for their evil deeds?  Will justice be done?”

And the answer given of Jeremiah 50-51 is “Yes, the Babylonians are going to be punished for the evil they commit against you.  The destroyer is going to be destroyed.  Babylon is going to fall and not rise again.”  

And for the Jews, Jeremiah 50-51 held a great comfort:

  1. The Babylonians were not going to get away with their evil deeds.
  2. The Jewish nation was going to survive.  God was going to redeem them in the land of captivity and return them to their homeland and be their God.

God’s JUSTICE…Is the fact that God will not let the wicked go unpunished.

But before we can have an understanding of God’s commitment to JUSTICE, we need to learn and understand about His vengeance and the anger that is aroused in Him by a person or nations in disobedience.

Jeremiah 50:15

Jeremiah speaks of the city of Babylon as an act of vengeance by the LORD:


Jeremiah speaks of how the time has come to be punished and how God was going to take vengeance on the Babylonians for what they had done to His Temple:

Jeremiah 50:27-31 (AMP)

[27] Slay all her bullocks (her choice youths, the strength of her army); let them go down to the slaughter!  Woe to [the Chaldeans]!  For their day has come, the time of their visitation (their inspection and punishment).

[28] Listen!  The voice of those [Jews] who flee and escape out of the land of Babylon proclaiming in Zion the vengeance [of the Lord upon the Chaldeans] for [the plundering and destruction of] His temple.

[29] Call together [many] archers against Babylon, all those who bend the bow.  Encamp against her round about; let none from there escape.  Recompense her according to her deeds; just as she has done, do to her.  For against the Lord, against the Holy One of Israel, has she been proudly defiant and presumptuous.

[30] Therefore shall her young men fall in her streets and squares, and all her soldiers shall be destroyed on that day, says the Lord.  [31] Behold, I am against you, O Babylon [you who are pride and presumption personified], says the Lord, the Lord of hosts, for your day has come, the time when I will visit and punish you.

Jeremiah’s prophecy of the destruction of Babylon was 170 years before its fulfillment.

In verse 29, God’s intent was to repay Babylon for her rebellion against Him.  Like things are said in Jeremiah 51:6; 51:11; 51:13; 51:24; and 51:36.

One of God’s Attributes: GOD IS A GOD OF VENGEANCE!

For some of us, the idea that God is a vengeful God just doesn’t seem right.  Yet in Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:19 we read:  “It is mine to avenge; I will repay”

And in Romans 12:19,

So what is the vengeance of God about?  —justice, retribution, punishment, payback, balancing the scales of right and wrong, righteous and holy anger.  It’s God’s response to SIN AND REBELLION.  Vengeance and the punishment of the wicked is God’s right and His duty.  In fact, if God can’t be true to His character of holiness and justice and if He allows SIN AND REBELLION to go unpunished…and if justice is to mean anything, then rebellion, lawbreaking, disobedience, arrogance, and all evil acts necessitate punishment.  God cannot and will not let the wicked go unpunished. 

As Nahum 1:3 says, “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished…”. 

Proverbs 11:21 also says “Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.”

Just so I don’t leave you with an inaccurate view of God, we need to understand that the Bible balances the fury of God’s vengeance against the sinner with the greatness of His mercy on those who repent of their wicked ways.  This includes the nations of the world as well.

Our God is incredibly merciful!

In Psalm 116:5 it says, “The LORD is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion.”

In 2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.” [AMP]

For in Jesus and the Cross, the full expression of God’s MERCY and GRACE is made available for us–for in the CROSS and the shed BLOOD of Jesus, the perfect sacrifice for sin, the remedy for our sin and the judgment of God we all deserve.

As the time came for Babylon to be punished and experience God’s wrath against her, so the time approaches for the people in our day to experience the same.

Without a doubt, the Day of Judgment approaches.

In Hebrews 10:30-31, it says “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge His people.”  [31] It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

And again in 2 Peter 3:10 it says,  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will vanish (pass away) with a tremendous crash, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.  [AMP]

There’s a reason for this happening:

  • BECAUSE of the wickedness of mankind.
  • BECAUSE OF OUR SIN.
  • BECAUSE of peoples refusal to live as God requires us to.
  • BECAUSE the justice and righteousness of God demands that sin and rebellion be punished.

While the great Day of Judgment approaches, the Bible also teaches us that after we die and face judgment, each one will appear before the LORD and give an account–and to Heaven or Hell one will go for all eternity.

I know, most pulpits today are not preaching this.  And why?  “People that come through our doors don’t want to hear negative sermons,” as it’s been noted in churches across the land.

Here is something to note:  The one who will judge, the one who determines where one’s eternity will be spent…IS JESUS!

John 5:22-23 records Jesus saying,  

TWO THINGS as it pertains to the coming Day of Judgment:

For most, the Day of Judgment will be a terrible day for them–for they will experience the LORD’S hand against them.

For the few righteous, the children of God, a glorious day, the Day of the Lord shall be!

For all the saints a day of celebration and praise will take place.  Along with the angels of Heaven who will declare “True and just are your judgments O Lord.”  [See Revelation 16:7, and note Jeremiah 51:48. ]

The Required Preparation for the Day of the Lord.

  • The only way to be prepared is to be right with God.  The only way to escape the coming JUDGMENT is to be at peace with God.
  • The only way to be right with God is to be a follower of Jesus.  As Jesus says in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
  • The only way to have peace with God is to humble ourselves before Him, confessing our sin, mourning over it, and embracing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

THE GLORIOUS NEWS OF THE SCRIPTURE–

For those who are right with God–meaning they’re disciples of Christ on the Day of Judgment–they shall not experience condemnation of God. 

Romans 8:1 (NIV) says, Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

As the angel of death passed over the houses of the Jews and the blood of the lambs spread on their doorposts, so the destruction of the Lord will pass over all those identified and spiritually marked with the shed blood of Jesus–the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

VENGEANCE IS GOD’S BUSINESS, NOT OURS!

Like the ancient Hebrews, many Christians have misapplied the doctrine of divine vengeance using it as an excuse for holding on to the “getting even” against others.  Jesus has clearly spoken out against this:

Likewise in Romans 12:17-21 the Apostle Paul by the Spirit of God, commands us saying, 

Since VENGEANCE and REPAYING EVIL is God’s domain, we need to ask:

  • Is there someone you are holding a grudge against in the present, or in the past?
  • Is there someone in your life who you would like to get even with?

If you are struggling with a grudge, with unforgiveness, and with a retaliation spirit, then confess it now and ask the Lord to forgive you and to give you the mind of Christ, which is LOVE for your enemies, to turn the other cheek, to forgive those who trespassed against you.

As much as I or you hate injustice in our society and wrong sinful behavior, God hates it 1000 times more.

GOD HAS MADE A PROMISE:

He will not let the wicked go unpunished,

His HOLINESS AND COMMITMENT to justice demands this.

The only way to escape the AVENGER’S wrath is to flee to Jesus Christ who took upon Himself the punishment for sin that you and I deserve.

On the CROSS He endured the wrath of God for our sins and that whoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The more injustice and evil abound, the greater the comfort comes from this doctrine we have looked at in this study will be to us.

While our God is a God of vengeance, an AVENGER, we need to remember it’s held in the perfect balance of His rich and undeserved mercy (1 Thessalonians 4:6).


VENGEANCE IS GOD’S BUSINESS, NOT OURS

We need to learn to turn the other cheek and to wait upon the Lord–for He will AVENGE the wicked–they will not go unpunished.

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CREDITS:

Encyclopedia:  International Standard Bible Encyclopedia – Avenge; Avenger.

Dictionary:  VINE’S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY.

IMAGES:  Google Image search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New American Standard Bible (NASB).

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Flowers Among The Thorns

Amos 9:1-15 ~

After studying God’s Word in the book of Amos over the past few weeks, I finally arrived at the last chapter.  It’s been a long haul meditating on the many verses, taking notes, underlining certain phrases.  I shook my head at times, thinking “Is there any good news in this at all?”  It seemed that the MESSAGE is only about death and destruction.

So many ways Amos tried to get his message across to the Israelites–the talk, the sermons, and finally the personal visions he had.

In all this, Israel wouldn’t listen.

They had wandered so far away from God’s Truth that they couldn’t find their way back.

And they further deceived themselves thinking that because they were God’s people and so blessed, that God would threaten JUDGMENT…BUT not carry through the threat.  Sound like any nation you might know today?

They forgot that one of the recurring themes of the book, the Sovereignty of God.

That concerns me today about the churches in America more than anything else.  With a loss of REVERENCE to God’s POWER, comes a loss of dependency on Him.  We think we can do it all on our own.

JUDGMENT ISN’T JUST AN OLD TESTAMENT CONCLUSION –

If the people of Israel were to see JUDGMENT for their transgressions, their SINS, how can the Church today fail to expect that same JUDGMENT?

But doesn’t the New Testament SAY…God is LOVE?

And it absolutely does!  [Matthew 6:33; 1 Cor. 11:31; 1 John 4:8]

God’s Word in the New Testament also points out that the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God is synonymous with His JUSTICE.

So how then can we take so much negativity laid in front of our eyes and find the flowers among the thorns of JUDGMENT and PUNISHMENT?

Judgment and Punishment have traditionally been seen as negative words.  We want people NOT to do a certain activity and so we punish them if they do.  That’s JUSTICE.

Children may recognize that we LOVE them when we punish them, but their view of PUNISHMENT is still not to do a certain thing.

There’s an element of RESTORATION that happens as the result of punishment or judgment.

Just as parents, God disciplines or judges His people to bring them back to a good relationship with Him.

That’s what LOVE can do.  RESTORES RELATIONSHIP!

In AMOS, Chapter 9, I found three things that can develop RESTORATION.

When I’m studying the Scriptures I like to break down the chapters when I can into categories:

AMOS CHAPTER NINE –

  1.  The Sovereignty of God (Amos 9:1-10).
  2.   The PROMISE of restoration (Amos 9:11-15).
  3.   The AGENT of the restoration (Amos 9:11-15).

God’s Sovereignty –

Amos knows why God’s JUDGMENT is coming.  In a vision, God shows Amos the extent of the Judgment: the very foundations of Israel are to be destroyed.

ALL of the people are involved.  Their land, their buildings, ALL were involved and destroyed.

WHY?

One reason is that it establishes the SOVEREIGNTY of God.

It’s just as a child in testing a parent to find out who’s the boss.  The child challenges the parent’s AUTHORITY.

If the parent doesn’t answer the challenge by responding to discipline, then the child doesn’t fear the AUTHORITY of the parent.  How that parent exercises that discipline can affect the challenge.

With my oldest daughter, a good strong word from my wife and I or a time-out on a chair would be good enough.  With my other two children, that would do no good at all.

For some, nothing short of a spanking would do.

For DISCIPLINE to be effective it must present the parent in a sovereign position of authority over the child, not visa versa. 

The same is true of God.  He doesn’t send JUDGMENT just for the sake of judgment.  He sends it to exert His SOVEREIGNTY on a people who have challenged it, or no longer believes in it.

He allows us to know who is really in control of the world, creator, not the created.

AMOS begins this chapter by establishing God’s SOVEREIGNTY.

He shows this in a VISION of God’s judgment in the first four verses.

God is pictured by the altar with a sword in His hands.

There’s no defensive armor mentioned because He wouldn’t need a defense!

He was to attack as if the SWORD is the only offensive weapon.

After He destroys the temple, God then continues His judgment with the survivors.

They couldn’t hide in the mountains nor hide in the depths of the sea.  The Sovereign God would find them wherever they hide.

AMOS continues to describe the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD (Verse 5, Amplified Bible) –

[5]  The Lord God of hosts, it is He Who touches the earth and it melts, and all who dwell in it mourn; it shall rise like the [river] Nile, all of it, and it shall sink again like the Nile of Egypt.

He identifies God as the LORD, the Lord Almighty.

God who can control the actions of the earth and the water:  Noah and the Flood; Moses and the Red Sea.

Having established His SOVEREIGNTY through the elements, look to VERSE 7:

[7]  “Are not you Israelites the same to Me as the Cushites?” declares the LORD.  “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?”  (NIV)

In this verse, God establishes the fact that He considers ISRAEL to be the same as the Cushites.  God has in the past delivered that which were not His chosen people out of captivity.  They wouldn’t recognize it, but Amos does here.

But in VERSE 8, the first glimmer of HOPE appears–finding the flower among the thorns.

[8]  Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom [of Israel’s ten tribes] and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground…EXCEPT that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says the Lord.  (Amplified)

God’s SOVEREIGNTY establishes His righteous JUDGMENT, but in His destruction, God makes a PROMISE not to totally destroy Israel or the house of Jacob.

In fact, the only time we can speak JUDGMENT without RESTORATION is the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).  

It is here we begin to see the budding of the flower start to develop.

THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL:

God has PROMISED (verse 8) that He will NOT destroy the house of Jacob.

Knowing what we know from verses 1-4, not all the Israelites will be destroyed.

This leads to two interesting questions: Who will be destroyed and who will be the remnant?  And why?

After the death of Solomon, a series of successive kings didn’t look to God for leadership, trusting rather their own power to lead Israel.

This is the foundation of the division of the 12 Tribes into countries.

  • The Northern Kingdom of Israel.
  • The Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Jeroboam, the king of the northern country, Israel, wanted to make it absolutely clear that the two countries stay divided.  To do this, he introduced IDOL WORSHIP to Israel, and the people wouldn’t go to Jerusalem to make SACRIFICE to God.

They went downhill after that began.

It’s also at this time they developed a false sense of independence.  Their WORSHIP became mechanical, not authentic.

They would go back and forth–they would make sacrifices to God, then turn to worshipping idols.

So EVIL had infested all aspects of Israel for literally hundreds of years.

God wouldn’t stay His JUDGMENTS forever in light of this.

It’s also important to realize that not ALL the Israelites bowed down to Baal.  They would ALL be part of the JUDGMENT but God would protect them.  That was a PROMISE!

God also left a gate of opportunity for individual REPENTANCE, even though the country would be JUDGED.

So with all this BACKGROUND in mind, we know who’s to be JUDGED:

  1. the religious leaders for their allowing IDOLATRY.
  2. to the political leaders whom wouldn’t look to God.
  3. to the wealthy for how they abused the poor.
  4. to the judicial leaders for abusing the system of justice.
  5. to the people who followed these leaders.

And the REMNANT?

  1. Those who REPENT of their wicked ways or have not turned their backs on God.
  2.  Those born while in captivity, although they go through the fire of JUDGMENT…they will be the REMNANT.

Verse Eleven and Twelve tells us that God will RESTORE the fallen tent of David and more!

“Raise, Repair, Rebuild”

God will REPAIR the broken pieces and RESTORE its ruins.

He will bring about a NEW NATION that’s stronger and more powerful than it was before.

This is a NEW DAY of the Lord.

One that’s brought forth JUDGMENT but in liberation.

Look at VERSE 13 and 14:

All the previous talk of JUDGMENT as now turned to RESTORATION and HOPE!!!

I find this next point invaluable on how this RESTORATION takes place.

THE AGENT OF RESTORATION:  Amos 9:11-15

It’s not enough to KNOW that restoration was to take place.  We must also know how.

Israel’s restoration would come in two ways.

One is immediate:

This would be their return from captivity under Nehemiah and Ezra.

The other is a future restoration when Christ comes back.

Let’s deal first with the immediate restoration:

What happened during Israel’s CAPTIVITY was several things.

  1. ALL OF THE BUILDINGS WERE DESTROYED.

This is important!

With the destruction of ALL THINGS…the places where IDOL WORSHIP was also destroyed.  Any place that could bring back any memory at all of any infection of their idol worship was gone.

Also with total destruction, any ill-gotten gains made by the rich were destroyed.

There would be a NEW START for God’s people with a NEW RELATIONSHIP with God.

Sacrifices and worship would be authentic and re-established under the Law.

But the FUTURE restoration God brought about was even more reconstructive than just the return to an existing form of WORSHIP.  The form of worship had to change, for, throughout Israel’s history, the people showed repeatedly that they turned AWAY from God under the Law.  They couldn’t keep ALL the Law, therefore, they could keep none of it!

For Israel’s RESTORATION to be complete, they would have to have a NEW WAY to worship.

The NEW WAY of worship would come with Christ. 

He came to COMPLETE the Law.

With Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, God completed the RESTORATION of the Law with the Doctrine of Grace!

And that DOCTRINE OF GRACE wrestled the control of religion from the hands of mere mortals and placed God in control.  It was no longer a system, a bunch of rules and regulations that man could try to adhere to, like directions on a roadmap.

SALVATION was now a GIFT that was open to everyone!

It was based on what God can do for a man, a GIFT that only God could give!!

With Christ Jesus, the RESTORATION was complete.

CHRISTIANITY was to become the NEW ISRAEL.

One day, as believers in JESUS CHRIST we will never again be uprooted as we join Him in glory.

What a great day that will be for those who are a part of the RESTORED KINGDOM!

Years ago, John Peterson and Don Wyrtzen wrote together I LOVE AMERICA that was sung by many choirs in the land during Memorial Day.  Yes, it was a patriotic musical, but for me personally, it was even more.

It was A CALLING to us all!

“Oh, the voice we could hear…”

 

____________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

Media:  You Tube video – Jesus Is Calling America.

Blog’s IMAGES:  Google Image Search – Settings, advanced.

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

Bible Commentary:  BibleStudyTools.com

 

 

 

Don’t Mess With God’s Kids! – PART 1

ezekiel-25-17-1080x675

As some of my readers know of late, I’ve been doing ‘detective’ investigations in The Book of Ezekiel (Hebrew -“God is strong”).  I was considering naming this study in Chapters 25 thru 32, the ‘Judgment on the Islamic nations.’  However, these verses not only cover SEVEN NATIONS, which happen to be ALL the Islamic nations, but the judgments apply to ALL other countries of the earth as well.  This includes godless or watered down Christian countries.

The SEVEN NATIONS included:

#1.  Ammon  (25:1-7)

#2.  Moab      (25:8-11)

#3.  Edom      (25:12-14)

#4.  Philistia  (25:15-17)

#5.  Tyre         (26:1 thru 28:19)

#6.  Sidom      (28:20-24)

#7. Egypt        (29:1 thru 32:32)

GOD IS STILL THE SOVEREIGN GOD OF ALL THE WORLD!!!

THE FIRST Nation we come across is AMMON (25:2). 

The Ammonites were relatives of the Jews based on being descendants of Abraham’s nephew, Lot.

Family relationships today in our culture can be…ARE at times difficult as well.  Because of this family relationship our Lord watched over and protected the people of Ammon.  The book of Deuteronomy 2 tell us,  “When you come near the territory of the sons of Ammon, do not trouble or assault them or provoke or stir them up, for I will not give you any of the land of the Ammonites for a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.” (verse 19).

Even though they were blood relatives to the Israelites, the Ammonites turned out to be enemies.  [see Judges 3:13, 10:6; 2 Chronicles 20:23]

Every social and moral aspect of our behavior is under the scrutiny of God’s all-seeing eye.  Just because these nations didn’t carry Bibles under their arms, it didn’t exempt them; their CONSCIENCES were enough to condemn them!

In one of Dryden’s poems, there is a line:  “And because the fury of a patient man” [footnote [i].  Ezekiel would add the thought:  “Beware the wrath of a patient God!”

AMMON and MOAB (25:8-11):

jord-mmap-md
AMMON: Northern Jordan (Amman) and MOAB: Central Jordan.

AMMON and MOAB, being LOT’S two sons born of his incestuous relationship with his two daughters were regarded as relatives of Israel, though both treated Israel with contempt.

AMMON’S CRIME

The ‘crime’ was the Ammonites delighted in the downfall of God’s kingdom (25:3, 6).  Not from just observing Israel’s destruction from a distance; like coming upon an accident on a freeway, slowing down, rubbernecking the scene, then passing on by–but the people were clapping their hands and stomping their feet with glee!

We all too frequently find amusement in the misfortunes of others.

Ammon’s heartless response to their neighbor’s fate was not only wrong but also blind; they too would fall (25:4).

“DONT’ MESS WITH GOD’S KIDS!”

When reading and studying Scripture there always seems to be a lesson to take in for all us.  The lesson here is one of failure to appreciate that the fall of a neighbor is one that can befall us too, apart from God’s GRACE.

Every time we see another fall into SIN, even if he or she is our enemy, we shouldn’t “clap our hands” and “stomp our feet” with joy, but rather offer compassion and thankfulness:  COMPASSION, for we should LOVE even our enemies, and THANKFULNESSESS that “There go I, but for the grace of God”  (Quote by John Bradford, 1510-1555).

THE MOABITES – Ezekiel 25:8-11:

[8] “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Because Moab and Seir said, “Look, Judah has become like all the other nations,”  [9] therefore I will expose the flank of Moab, because of Moab, beginning at its frontier towns–Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon and Kiriathaim–the glory of that land.  [10] I will give Moab along with the Ammonites to the people of the East as a possession, so that the Ammonites will not be remembered among the nations;  [11] and I will inflict punishment on Moab.  Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

“DON’T MESS WITH GOD’S KIDS!”

So what did the Moabites do wrong?  Look at the indictment:  “Because MOAB and SEIR say, ‘LOOK! The house of Judah is like all the other nations.’

They were in effect saying, the God of Israel is powerless.  He is just like all the other gods.  If Judah’s GOD is supposed to be ‘All powerful’, then why didn’t he protect the Jews from being protected?

They were MOCKING that the Lord is nothing special.

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Moabite Fortress

MOAB would receive the same punishment Ammon their brother received. These desert dwellers would come and destroy the mighty fortresses and notable cities they were so proud of.

Ezekiel 25:12-14 Now it’s EDOM’S turn!

“Don’t Mess With God’s Kids!”

[12] “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘Because Edom took revenge on Judah and became very guilty by doing so,  [13] therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will stretch out my hand against Edom and kill both man and beast. I will lay it waste, and from Teman to Dedan they will fall by the sword.  [14] I will take vengeance on Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they will deal with Edom in accordance with my anger and my wrath; they will know my vengeance, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

Southern Jordan, Edom, or Mt. Seir are slated for the grimmest JUDGMENT and it shall be rendered in places, utterly uninhabitable. [Ezekiel 35:1-7]

Ammon and Moab were BAD, but Edom surpassed these two others in its brutality against the Jews.

Psalm 137:7 (Amplified Bible):

[7] Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites, that they said in the day of Jerusalem’s fall,  Down, down to the ground with her!

When some of the Israelites tried to escape to Edom they were turned away by the sword.

Where are the EDOMITES today?

In Genesis 27 we read about Isaac’s two sons Jacob and Esau: Jacob received his father’s BLESSING by pretending to be his brother since Isaac’s eye site had failed.

Esau finding the results asks his father, “Bless me–me too, my father!” (vs. 34).

“Do you have only one blessing, my father?” (vs. 38)

[39] His father Isaac answered him:  “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above.

[40] You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother.  But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”

The “EDOMITE SPIRIT” is alive and well!

Although the land of Edom today is but a desolated and barren land today–the spirit of EDOM is apparently still alive and well.

Isaac’s Blessing on ESAU was very clear.  Isaac prophesied over his firstborn son and he gave him a “left-over” sort of blessing that provided me with some clues.

Isaac told Esau that his descendants…

#1.  They would end up dwelling in rich countries–the ‘fatness’ (KJV); the ‘fruitfulness of the earth’ (AMP).

#2.  He would live by the sword (gun).

#3.  Eventually, he would break free from Jacob’s yoke of civil behavior and run wild!  (Gen. 27:40)

If the Edomites are around today, they might be found in nations such as ours.  The richest nation is to be found in Western civilization.

Let’s face it, thousands of years have passed by and the spirit of Esau (Edom) is now flowing in nations far abroad with anti-Semitism.

The Philistines Enter The Picture!  (Ezekiel 25:15-17):

asshur_map_and_assad

[15]  “This is what the Sovereign LORD says…  

Don’t Mess With God’s Kids!”

‘Because the Philistines acted in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient hostility sought to destroy Judah,  [16] therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says:  I am about to stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and wipe out the Kerethites and destroy those remaining along the coast.  [15] I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath.  Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I take vengeance on them.”

“Philistines” or “Palestinians”?

It is from the term “Philistines” that the name “Palestinians” have incorrectly been taken.

Actually, the ancient Philistines and modern Palestinians DO HAVE something in common: both are INVADERS from other lands.  That’s precisely the meaning of their name, not an ethnic denomination but an adjective applied to the name–Pleshet, from the verb “pelesh”: “dividers” or “invaders”.

The PHILISTINES were a confederation of non-Semitic peoples from Crete, the Aegean Islands and Asia Minor, also known as “Sea Peoples”.

The original homeland was the island of CRETE.

Invaders from Greece took control of the island and the ancient Cretans arrived in Southern Canaan and were known as “Paleshtim” by the Hebrews and Canaanites (they became allied to fight the invaders).

EZEKIEL 25:16-17:

We now see our heavenly Father directs His attention to a non-relative, Israel’s old-time arch-enemy, the Philistines.  Although they were greatly weakened by king David, they continued to exist as a people.

The God of Israel–Jehovah Roi, has finally had enough of these foreigners.  His Mercy and Grace has come to an end!

In the book of Zephaniah, chapter 2, it mentions the Cherethites or ‘Cretans’.

[4]  Gaza will be abandoned and Ashkelon left in ruins.  At midday Ashdod will be emptied and Ekron uprooted.

[5]  Woe to you who live by the sea, you Kerethite people; the word of the LORD is against you, Canaan, land of the Philistines.  He says, “I will destroy you, and none will be left.”

The world has been tricked into thinking today’s Palestinians are Descendants of the Philistines.  This is NOT true!–

To insult the Jews after the Roman army destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD, they changed the name to PALESTINE.  There never was a group of people descended from this group of people.  The Philistines as described here in Scripture ceased to be a people.

PART 2– I’ll continue with the nations and the Prophecy Against Tyre–

Ezekiel 26:1-28 thru 28:19.

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS

Footnote [i]:  “Absalon and A. chi top el e-notes”

Credits:  

PALESTINIAN MYTHS – Myths, Hypothesis, and Facts Concerning the Origin of Peoples.

The Edomites Today – End-Time Pilgrim by Gavin Finley, MD

Jordan; Ammon, Moab, and Edom…Islam in Prophesy by Pastor Bill Randles Blog.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are the Motives Behind Our Serving God?

jehurides SCRIPTURE READING – 2 KINGS 9:1-37; 10:1-35

Before grabbing your Bible and diving into this story, let me give you but one definition for the word MOTIVE:

“An emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action; causing an action.”  [The Free Dictionary by Farlex]

We will be returning to this definition throughout this bible study.

“HOUSE CLEANING” –

My wife’s “desire” for an entire house cleaning, most often, does not necessarily incite action.  It is much like my DESIRE to exercise, knowing it’s physiologically healthy, but almost never causes an action on my part.  I am glad to get that off my chest before getting into this particular Blog Bible Study.

JEHU’S Commission from God –

A PROPHET was sent to pronounce God’s death sentence on AHAB (1 Kings 20:42) because of his DISOBEDIENCE of not killing Ben-Hadad, king of Aram.

Elijah later prophesied AHAB’S doom in 1 Kings 21:19 after he had murdered Naboth and seized his property (vineyard); the results in 1 Kings 22:38. 

Elijah prophesies AHAB’S descendants would be cut off and his wife JEZEBEL would be killed (1 Kings 21:22-24).

Because of AHAB’S subsequent humbling of himself before God, God took notice (as He always does), choosing to bring about these promised disasters during the reign of his son Joram, instead of in AHAB’S lifetime (1 Kings 21:27-29).

JEHU, a commander in the Israelite Army, is anointed king and commissioned to exterminate AHAB’S descendants (2 Kings 9:6-10), fulfilling the prophecies against the house of AHAB.

JEHU’S “ZEAL FOR THE LORD” in Cleaning House–the house (dynasty) of Omri and his son AHAB (2 Kings 10:16) –

The Killing Fields ~

  • JEHU kills Joram, king of Israel and AHAB’S son (2 Kings 9:24-26).  Joram’s body was thrown on Naboth’s plot of ground, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Elijah (1 Kings 21:19).
  • JEHU kills Ahaziah, king of Judah, one of Ahab’s grandsons (2 Kings 9:27; 2 Chronicles 22:7 explains how Ahaziah’s visit to Joram was used by God to bring about his downfall).  He also kills some of king Ahaziah’s relatives who were coming to visit (2 Kings 10:12-14).
  • JEHU has JEZEBEL thrown out of a window.  She is then trampled and eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:32-37).
  • He incites the officials of Samaria who were rearing 70 sons of AHAB, to kill all the royal princes (2 Kings 10:6-9).
  • JEHU KILLED ANYONE RELATED TO, OR ASSOCIATED WITH AHAB IN JEZREEL (2 Kings 10:11) and ALL his family in Samaria!  (2 Kings 10:17).
  • His final achievement was his killing of ALL THE BAAL PRIESTS, destroying the Baal Temple to the point it became used as a latrine–an outhouse.  (2 Kings 10:25-29)

For all of JEHU’S enthusiastic ZEAL, God rewarded him with the longest dynasty in the history of Israel (2 Kings 10:30).  But, did JEHU have an alternative MOTIVE behind his ZEAL?

JEHU’S MOTIVES EXPOSED and JUDGED!

The prophet HOSEA gives us a glimpse in exposing something I thought was quite interesting.

Hosea 1:4 (NIV):

Then the LORD said to Hosea,  “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.”

God was going to punish the house of JEHU for a massacre He had sanctioned and rewarded JEHU for (2 Kings 10:30).  

I thought to myself after reading this, “Wait a minute.  Jehu seemed like an obedient servant of the Lord.  What’s the deal?”

Outside Appearances Are Not Always As They Seem! –

2 Kings 10:28-29, 31 (AMP):

[28] JEHU rooted Baal out of Israel,  [29] BUT…

JEHU did not give up the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, by which he made Israel to sin,that is, the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.

[31] But JEHU paid no attention to walking in the law of the Lord the God of Israel, with all his heart.  He did not quit the sins with which Jeroboam made Israel to sin.

At my first reading, I found that strange, being that JEHU had exterminated Baal worship.  What happened to his ZEAL ( 2 Kings 10:16) that alone, should have led him to ridding a nation of every sort of idol worship?

I believe it never was purely there to begin with.  I also believe that JEHU’S AGENDA didn’t really include God.

JEHU, by cleaving, against the will of God, to Jeroboam’s SIN, which served his own political ends, showed that, in the slaughter of his master, he acted not as he pretended, out of ZEAL for God’s will, but served his own will and ambition.  [See Footnote [1] ]

Getting rid of Baal served his interests but getting rid of the Jeroboam calf idols cut in on his own political gains.

A sure sign of God’s immediate JUDGMENT on JEHU is found in 2 Kings 10:32; His reducing of the size of Israel.

[32] “[So] in those days the Lord began to cut off parts of Israel…”

While JEHU might have “slept with his fathers” as V35 says, meaning his physical death, I can assure you, that is NOT descriptive of what has been taking place for thousands of years in hell with his soul.

My JUDGMENT?  No, GOD’S JUDGMENT!

THE MOTIVES BEHIND OUR SERVICE TO GOD –

Some examples of SERVICE with impure motives is serving God out of SELFISH AMBITION.

The apostle Paul gave examples of selfish ambition in Philippians 1:14-18 (NIV):

[14]  Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

[15]  It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.

[16]  The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.

[17]  The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

[18]  But what does it matter?  The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.  And because of this, I rejoice.

Although Paul is speaking about preachers trying to make a name for themselves in his absence,  A. W. Tozer says,

“Many a solo is sung to show off, many a sermon is preached

as an exhibition of talent; many a church is founded as a slap to

some other church.  Even missionary activity

may become competitive and soul-winning’

may degenerate into a sort of brush-salesman project

to satisfy the flesh.”

[*See Footnote [2] ]

Serving God out of GREED –

Paul wrote about FALSE TEACHERS in 1 Timothy 6:3-10, who saw financial opportunity in the Gospel.  Unfortunately, that is still in place in the 21st Century in record numbers.

Serving God without LOVE –

HIDDEN MOTIVES
HIDDEN MOTIVES

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (AMP):

IF I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love (that reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion such as is inspired by God’s love for and in us), I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing.  Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.

Our SERVICE to God is but an empty service…a service without LOVE for others.

IMPURE MOTIVES –

“It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.”  ~ A. W. TOZER

GOD KNOWS YOUR MOTIVES!!

God is examining your MOTIVES.

Proverbs 16:2 (NLT):

“People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives.

God will reveal your MOTIVES.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV):

[12]  The word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  [13]  Nothing in all of creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

1 Corinthians 4:5b (NIV):

“He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.”

Over the years, I have noticed how some people treat God like a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card that they discard after He gets them out of their problems.

Some people climb the Church ladder of success much like folks climb the Corporate ladder.  They truly don’t care who they step over.

They wear their RELIGION like a cloak over their desires–camouflaged hearts– for 4-x4-camo-camouflage-heart-gas-cap-bumper-sticker-decal-window-stickers-decalsfolks to see them as spiritual.

They may speak in tongues and be used in great gifts of the Spirit, but their lack of LOVE for others reveals a HEART with impure motives.

So, why do we do, what we do, in SERVING our heavenly Father.

Why Are You Serving God?

Are you serving God out of interest in His plan for you, or, are you SERVING HIM to the extent that what He does benefits your plan for your life?

Why we SERVE won’t mean a hill of beans in the end, unless we truly had ZEAL for the Lord, rather than wearing a Cloak of sorts over who we really are.

Therefore, check your MOTIVES FOR SERVING CHRIST…today!!


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [1]:  Barnes – Notes on the Old Testament – (2 Kings 10)

Footnote [2]:  Draper’s book of Quotations for the Christian World – A. W. TOZER; by Edythe Draper.

 

CREDITS:

Commentary:  Why Did God Condemn Jehu?  By Troy Lacey and Tim Chaffey on April 8, 2011 – The Misconception Series.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP);  New International Version (NIV); New Living Translation (NLT).

 

 

 

 

The “MEAL” Makes the Difference

SCRIPTURE PASSAGE:  2 KINGS 4:38-41 The Message Bible (MSG)

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[38] Elisha went back down to Gilgal.  There was a famine there.  While he was consulting with the guild of prophets, he told his servant  “Put a large pot on the fire and cook up some stew for the prophets.

[38-40] One of the men went out into the field to get some herbs; he came across a wild vine and picked gourds from it, filling his gunny sack.  He brought them back, sliced them up, and put them in the stew, even though no one knew what kind of plant it was.  The stew was served up for the men to eat.  They started to eat and then exclaimed,  “Death is in the pot, O man of God!”  Nobody could eat it.

Elisha ordered,  “Get me some meal.”  Then he sprinkled it into the stew pot.

[41]  “Now serve it up to the men,” he said.  They ate it, and it was just fine–nothing wrong with that stew!

A SIMPLE BIBLE MESSAGE PRESENTED WITH THREE MAIN POINTS –

#1.  There is a FAMINE in the land.

#2.  Beware of POISONOUS STEW, and

#3.  The REMEDY if you are consumed by poisonous stew or bitter water.

There are two remedies found in the word for bitter things:

#1.  The Cross, 

#2.  The Word of God.

When there is DEATH in the pot, and the water is undesirable to drink, God has a CURE for us.

I want you to look at this passage of Scripture in the OT, where the Prophets literally had a poisonous stew, and how Elisha the prophet remedied the situation.

From the Literal Story, Spiritual Application Can Be found –

Sometimes words and deeds can be spoken to us and done to us that if not dealt with can produce negative consequences.

Keeping things in context, Elisha was in the presence of fellow prophets in Gilgal, which could be identified today, a church meeting.  They were learning from Elisha about the POWER of God.

There Was FAMINE In The Land –

Famine was often seen as a sign of JUDGMENT in the OT, where in Ezekiel 36:29 God says:

[29] I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine on you.  (NIV)

It can also be seen in the CURSES found in Deuteronomy 28:23-24:

[23] The heavens over your head shall be brass and the earth under you shall be iron.  [24] The Lord shall make the rain of your land powdered soil and dust; from the heavens it shall come down upon you until you are destroyed.  (AMP)

The physical reflects the spiritual as seen in Amos 8:11:

[11] Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but [a famine] for hearing the words of the Lord.  (AMP)

We are living in a society where the Word of God is scarce, even in the Church.  So it becomes our responsibility to SHARE what God has given us in the Bible.  This is the reason why I write a weekly Blog, sharing the Good News and as a constant reminder, I have a bible verse framed above my office desk:  Romans 10:15 ~

“How beautiful are the feet of messengers

who bring good news!”

FAMINE can be caused by materialism, scepticism (generally from others, even things we call ‘friends,’ for church, for God); the pursuit of those things that God hates from the lack of concern in reaching out to others with the LOVE of God.

The Community Stew in the Midst of Famine –

Lots of people contributed some things that were quite healthy and some things that were quite poisonous.

What I’m getting at here–there is a part of your personality that is just like the community stew and people are throwing things in the pot of who you are all the time.

Proverbs 4:23 reads,  “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.”  (AMP)

GUARD YOUR HEART
GUARD YOUR HEART

There is a certain amount of diligence required to being sure that poisonous and ruinous thoughts and ideas don’t take hold on our inner man.

Every word you hear, everything you see, every idea someone expresses is an attempt to contaminate (put something into) the STEW of who you are.  And sometimes, the words we say to ourselves are more dangerous than the words others say to us.  Everything that happens to us, we want to put our own spin on it, categorize it, and put it into the STEW of who we are.

The Amazing Life of Moses –

Moses was a Jew, raised by Pharoah.  At 40 years old, he reconnects with his people.  One day, Moses sees an Egyptian beating a Jew mercilessly and he attacks and kills the man.  The authorities find out about what Moses has done and Moses flees into the desert wilderness…for 40 years!

He went from the PALACE to the DESERT.

Moses marries and has two children, GERSHON, and ELIEZER.  Gershon is Moses’ firstborn and his name means:  thrust out, kicked out, rejected, shut down.  Every time Moses called this boy by name, he was reminded of personal rejection, and personal failure:

“Hey, ‘thrust out’, dinner is on the table.”

Some people today are like Moses, continuously bringing up a failure or rejection.  THAT’S POISON IN YOUR STEW!

When you view your life through the lens of failures and the “what if’s…”, you will be eating a meal without nourishment and that is destructive.

Moses named his second child, “ELIEZER,” which means “God has helped me.”

Spiritually speaking, everything in our lives should be stored in our “ELIEZER FILE”, because the Bible says God causes ‘some’ THINGS–no, “ALL THINGS” to work together for good (Romans 8:28).

If we don’t learn to categorize life events through the lens of the Word of God, we can become very miserable and a depressed person.

Whatsoever is pure, Whatsoever is lovely… (Philippians 4:8).

How To Deal With Poison That May Be In Your Pot –

In this biblical account, Elisha is told the STEW IS POISONOUS and the remedy he prescribes is to throw some MEAL into the pot.

And that is what they did, and the CURE was effected.

MEAL has no known power.  Starch does have the ability to mitigate certain bitterness and acidity in foods, so it’s quite possible that this ingredient actually “fixed the problem”  [ Biblical Hermeneutics ].

But to change the NATURE OF THE STEW required a miracle of God!

There is got to be a spiritual lesson here.  Similar incidents of Jews wonderings in the desert wilderness came to my mind:

Exodus 15:23:  When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter.

Exodus 15:24:  So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”

Exodus 15:25:  Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood.  He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

The water supply was contaminated, much like THE POT OF STEW in 2 Kings.

In 2 Kings there was DEATH in the pot, and in Exodus 15, the situation was very similar, for undrinkable water in the desert is a death sentence.

Moses prays and God shows him a tree, which when cast into the waters made sweet and they were able to safely drink.

Now looking back to the passage from a Christian perspective, we can see that God is implying that THE CROSS can make a bitter life sweet again!  That’s not a big stretch.

Going back to 2 Kings, the REMEDY for DEATH IN THE POT IS “MEAL”

MEAL is flour, the basic ingredient for BREAD.

how-to-feed-your-faithBREAD is the common metaphor for the WORD OF GOD (John 6:22-71).  

And, the Word of God is a strong testing agent to counteract all the negative thoughts and ideas placed inside of us.

Sure makes me hungry!

WARNING:  Being Careful What We Put In The Stew Pot– what you let others throw in the pot!

  • Are you living with Gershom–“thrust out”?
  • Or Eliezer– God of the right hand?
  • Have you been allowing the enemy, Satan, put bitter gourds into the STEW of who you are in Christ Jesus?

We all need to ask God to help us FILTER all of life’s events through the MEAL of the WORD for it really does make a difference.

 


BLOG CREDITS:

Bible Names – Moses’ Sons:  http://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?g=gershom&s=References.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

LIVING AS A WANDERER vs. AS A PILGRIM

GENESIS 4:13-16 (New International Version – NIV):

hiding-from-god-theme-2Cain said to the LORD,  “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

But the LORD said to him,  “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.”  Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

In 1952, John Steinbeck wrote the novel, East of Eden.  It’s a book that wanders through the subjects of depravity, beneficence, and yes, love.  It goes to great lengths to detail human struggle for acceptance, greatness, and freedom.  Also, it relates to man’s capacity towards self-destruction.

Despite being considered a great book, East of Eden hasn’t come close to the total number of sales of the BIBLE, nor lasted through thousands of years like the GENESIS account has.

As The Word Detective, I’m always curious to the origin of unfamiliar words; their meaning and sometimes, the geographical significance to the story.

Gordon-MacRae-Falsely-Accused-Priest-Land-of-Nod-East-of-EdenThe Land of Nod  (Hebrew: eretz – Nod) a place mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, located “on the east of Eden,” where CAIN was exiled by God after Cain had murdered his brother Abel (Gen. 4:8).

“NOD” is the Hebrew root of the verb “to wonder”–therefore, to dwell in the Land of Nod is usually taken to mean that one takes up a wandering life.

In English, to “nod”  is to fall asleep suddenly.  Consequently, in the United Kingdom, to go to the Land of Nod is to go asleep.  [Footnote [i] ]

CAIN was worried, in despair, about the PUNISHMENT that had been handed down by God.  Based on our laws today, the sentence was less than it deserved perhaps.

In his anger, Cain kills his younger brother over jealousy:  “…And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering,   But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed”  (Genesis 4:4-5 AMP).

Ah, that old SPIRIT OF JEALOUSY and ENVY had gotten hold of Cain that day.

JEALOUSY is a feeling of discontent because of what others possess.  Jealous people view someone else’s success as a threat to their success–their existence.

ENVY on  the other hand, is proof that the SPIRIT OF JEALOUSY is present in your life and as a result, there will be negative consequences.

In CAIN’s future, he certainly faced in his wandering, negative consequences, spiritually and physically.

Although JEALOUSY is a tool the devil uses in our lives at times, there are ways in which you can open the door to that spirit.  I’ve been down that road myself too many times before.

James 3:14-16 – AMP:

[14] If you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth.  [15] This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, even devilish.  [16] For wherever there is jealousy and contention, there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.

[See also, Philippians 2:3; Proverbs 14:30]

And what was Cain’s outcome, his punishment from God regarding his selfishness?

He was left aimlessly to WANDER the earth as a vagabond; even the ground wouldn’t yield for him.  Whatever he sowed…would fail!

Our bibles make a contrast between the sowing of unrighteousness and the harvesting of FAITH.

Cain sowed the ground with BLOOD of his brother as the result of his JEALOUSY.  

It was because of Abel’s FAITH that his offering was acceptable to God.  [See Footnote [ii] ].

Cain’s lack of FAITH, instead of being converted–a change of mind–through the lessons God had presented, led to the murder of his brother resulting in NO HARVEST at all, even for the duration of his life.

We have exactly the same thing going on in the world today.  Christians are murdered in large numbers for their FAITH by the modern spiritual successors to Cain–the “peaceful” religion of Islam.

But in the end, those faithful Christians will stand in JUDGMENT over those who kill the body but can’t harm the soul.

The WAY of Cain leads to DEATH whereas, the FAITH of Abel last for eternity.

After his sentencing, Cain cried out “from Your face I will be hidden”  (Genesis 4:14).

The greatest honor that can be placed upon a person is to have the face of God shine on their life.  For this reason the High Priestly Prayer found in Numbers 6:24-26 not only includes it, it states it twice–

[24] “The LORD bless you and keep you;

[25] the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

[26] the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

In 1 Peter it says the reciprocal is true for Evildoers –

“For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,  And His eyes are open to their prayers;  But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil”  (1 Peter 3:12).

CAIN understood this in his limited way and cried out at the loss–a loss which he had brought upon himself.

The very first thing I noticed Cain doing AFTER God banished him from His presence, was to continue to defy God after He said, he would be a fugitive and a vagabond.  (4:14).

BUT verse 17 tells us Cain “built a city”.  Apparently Cain still didn’t believe that God’s Words were true.  Cain was attempting to establish a permanent place of settlement, a place for him to find residence after God had declared that he would never find such.

Some Bible Scholars believe that because of God’s punishment, CAIN only started building a city, leaving a legacy, letting his son Enoch to complete his unfinished work.

Despite of CAIN’s SIN, his murder, we see a great demonstration of the LORD’s MERCY.

In order to protect him, the LORD said  “…if anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.” 

Just so you know, CAIN was given a mark to protect his earthly life, but those who call on JESUS, the last chapter of the Bible says we too will have a mark.

The MARK will be on our foreheads and will be the very name of God–an eternal reminder that we have been purchased with the most precious substance in the universe–THE BLOOD of Jesus Christ  (Revelation 22:3, 4).

Revelation 22:3, 4
Revelation 22:3, 4

If you find yourself “wandering” aimlessly…staying away from God’s presence and a rewarding life because you think you’re living under God’s punishment, you are a vagabond in the Land of Nod.

BUT…there is a way to ESCAPE!

Wandering vs. Pilgrimage –

A TRUE BELIEVER’s life is at its very heart a PILGRIMAGE–LIFE on this present earth is not the final goal.

252717_orig

To be sure, the Christian Pilgrimage, unlike the WAY OF CAIN, while coming with difficulties, can none-the-less be productive and filled with assurance.

God is with us and the best is yet to come!

As BELIEVERS, we must neither wander for the presence of God nor His standards.  In fact, to live a lifestyle of a WANDERER, invites His righteous response in JUDGEMENT.

If we are tempted to do so, let’s be quick and earnest in seeking our Heavenly Fathers’ COMPASSION from a living God (Psalm 103:1-18).  

For He will TRANSFORM our earthly desires into even better ones.  Moreover, to begin WANDERING could lead to further Wandering and take us even farther away from God’s BLESSINGS in our life.  And of course, this could lead to even more punishment, chastisement.  A vicious cycle indeed.

Rather than Wandering, wasting our productive life away from God and following one’s own selfish, worldly desires, BELIEVERS should keep in mind…this earth is not their true home and final destination.  Ours is a PILGRIM’s JOURNEY while we work out our salvation.

Therefore, as the apostle Peter admonishes his readers, 

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us”  (1 Peter 2:11-12 – NIV).

BELIEVERS therefore should remember and honor the fact that living as PILGRIMS, we should put away selfish lusts and desires, for it only causes their condition to worsen further.

As Grant Osborne’s commentary on 1 Peter 2 advises,  “We…can trust our lives to our Creator, but we are also at war with our ‘worldly desires’.  Every part of our life is involved–the physical and spiritual, the internal and external–and when one gives in to sinful behavior, Satan is waging WAR against us.”  [Footnote [iii] ]

As PILGRIMS in this world, abandoning self-centerness and personal wandering (not focused) becomes a daily exercise, not a one time experience (Romans 12:2).  

BASK in the full light of God’s abundant grace.

May we be careful in our living and keeping His standards; be living testimonies as His redeemed people, glorifying the LORD by experiencing the BLESSINGS of His presence and His guidance,

I still love singing Old Hymns that used to be sung in the church but not so much today.  I rediscovered the words to a hymn, I think best sums up my thoughts:

‘O Jesus I have promised to serve Thee  to the end,

Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend;

I shall not fear the battle, if Thou art by my side

Nor wander from the pathway, if Thou wilt be my guide.


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:

Footnote [i] : Land of Nod – Wikipedia. 

Footnote [ii]: See OUR “OFFERINGS”; The “Why’s” and “How’s” of Our Giving – at https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/our-offerings-th…ws-of-our-giving/

Footnote [iii]:  Grant R. Osborn, “1-2 Peter,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Ill. Tyndale House, 2011; 18 vols.).

Photo’s:

Land of Nod Map: In the Land of Nod, East of Eden – These Stone Walls.com – All other photo’s obtained from Google Image Search.