We are living in a day when we see the price of everything going up and out of reason. I was at a Ford dealer the other day (1988) and the price of a station wagon was $18,000.00 This is beyond my comprehension. We see another sign and this is a truer sign of what is happening than about anything else. That is the lowly postage stamp. It has risen from 2 cents in the 30's to 29 cents today.
On the other end of the stick would be that 25 cents as an investment in the 30's. It would have bought twelve postage stamps at that time, yet now it will only buy one. This shows us that the investor LOST eleven postage stamps. Someone stole those postage stamps from him. Who was that? Who is the guilty party? Did they stick a gun in my mother-in-laws ribs and say, "Give me those eleven postage stamps or your life"?
No, it was much more subtle than that. Because it happens so slowly the thieves can get away with it. Because the embezzling is over an extended period of time the embezzler is not called into account for his actions even though he embezzled $23,000.00 from a $25,000.00 savings account. Besides, the embezzling was done with the permission of the owner of the account. As we look at this, we will be able to say that this is done even with the owners encouragement.
It is like the frog in the water. Try to place him in a pan of boiling water and he will jump out as soon as he touches it. But, place him in a cool pan of water and he will stay there. Turn the heat up and slowly warm the water and he will stay in until he is scalded to death. He adjusts to the heat and pays no attention to it. This is how the $23,000.00 can be embezzled with the owners permission and even encouragement. Who in the world would not only approve but encourage another to rob from him over a period of time? We have a problem connecting cause and effect. It is well hidden from us.
Who is at fault? Who causes the inflation which robs a person of their property? The banks? It is not hard to get a crusade against the "greedy bankers". Maybe it is the civil government. Again, its not hard to get a movement together against "big government" which squanders and misuse trillions of dollars, and then taxes to the death its citizens. But can we legitimately lay the blame at either one of these two?
As with everything else, God gives us the answer in His inspired word. Let's trace the lawbreaker down from His word and place the blame where it belongs. Let's start with Lev. 19:35-37. Here we have a call for honest weights and measures. When this is ignored the natural results will be inflation. Probably inflation which we haven't even dreamed about yet, lies in the near future.
Now your going to say, "There, it's the civil government's fault for allowing the banks to print our money with nothing behind it." Hold on, follow us through. The founding fathers, in framing the Constitution, foresaw the situation we are in today, and in seeing this they formed the Constitution after the Biblical laws laid down here in finances. A reform preacher, John Witherspoon, was probably one of the most influential men in history in the foundation of our country. Out of his students were Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Congressman and Judges, who set the standards of this country.
Pastor Witherspoon, on the bases of this principle found here in Lev. 19:35-37, saw to it that the Constitution contained the provision calling for our money be coined only out of gold and silver, containing a just weight and measure. As we can see, the more we remove ourselves from the principles of God found in His book, the more problems we find ourselves in. Not only in our private lives but in the civil government.
As our finances and the principles behind them become more and more pragmatic, "what works best for now," we see the results. In fact, every time we go to the store, buy gas, cars, houses, even a hair cut, we see this at work. This principle of finances control what we eat, where we live, and the kind of car we drive. Sometimes where our kids go to school, the friends we have, where we work, when we work, how much we work, our attitude toward our work, or even if our wife works. The list is endless. Suffice it to say every area of our life is greatly influenced by finances.
As society removes itself further and further from this principle of Lev. 19:35-37, we are moved further and further from control of our lives as well as from God's control of our lives. We are forced to become a slave to a system which works to undermine Lev. 19. No doubt this is a reason why it is being done.
When God's principles are obeyed the person, family, society, and nation prospers beyond imagination, but, when they are laid aside we have chaos. The Christians cry "legalism," "grace not law," which is true, we are saved by grace. This principles has been from the beginning, that pleasing God is the result of grace, His Holy Spirit within us. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we as individuals can please our God as we keep His principles of life. We are going to look at just one of these principles of life.
Now let's look at some thing about this passage. This is interesting. First of all, economics means "household management". The central governments economic policies control; 1) the household of the government; 2) The household we have.
In Lev. 19:35-36, we see these words: 1) Mete yard = length, 2) Weights = talent, shekel, money, 3) Measures = capacity, homer, ephah, hin, 4) Balances = scales (money)
Money since earliest times has been measured in weights, I Chron. 21:25; Gen. 23:16. Weights in silver or gold. Israel, under God, appointed public overseers to inspect the weights and measures all over the nation. They also prohibited weights to be made of iron, lead or any other metal likely to become lighter by wear or rust and ordered them to be made of polished rock or glass. This prevented their being chipped away without notice.
Our early original coins were not by dollar value but by weight. One ounce, one-half ounce, quarter ounce, 1 eagle= 1/2 ounce, Double eagle= 1 oz. etc. 90% Fine, pure. Our original trade dollar was by weight, the number of grains at 90% fine. This was the reason the United States' coins were so respected world-wide. The Puritan influence of Witherspoon's writing this Biblical principle into our laws had been evident until 1965 at which time, the silver was removed from our coinage.
I suppose Israel has the closest history to the U.S. as you can get without us being named. Israel lasted several hundreds of years as a nation under its own rule. Can we possibly last that long?
Now let's look at something in Isaiah 1:10-23. First, the people are compared to Gomorrah and Sodom, as they violate Lev. 19:35. They offered many sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord, the fat of well fed beasts. They kept the holy days and the feasts, 13, 14. They made many prayers, v. 15, yet, their hands were full of blood. Even with all of these good things God is demanding they make their sin right. Wash your hands, put away evil, cease to do evil, learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and plead for the widow. God pleads with them in v. 18 to make their sin right. He promises to wash them white as snow if they will make their sins right. Then they will eat the good of the land, and if they will not make their sins right they will be devoured.
Now God names the sin: vv. 21-23. Instead of the city being faithful in their dealings they have become harlots; Instead of justice they are murders; Instead of honest weights and measurements they are thieves. Their silver has become dross, and their wine mixed with water. By their economic policies they have become oppressive. They no longer protect the fatherless. They do not care for the widow. Rather than protecting with their policies they now destroy the middle class as well as those on the fixed income.
God's people had departed from Lev. 19 and as a result God said (Isa. 1:25), I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away the dross, and take away all thy tin. 1. Dross dilutes gold. 2. Tin dilutes silver. God's judgment will take away the dross and tin. God will deal with a society that gets away from Lev. 19:35-37.
From the beginning of coinage the most popular form of inflation has been to plate copper or lead with gold or silver so it will look real. Today it has even gone as far as to plate aluminum with copper. The governments have improved their methods of theft by replacing true coinage with paper check. Inflated paper money is the government writing bad checks and the people they are written to honor them. These bad check "sop" up goods. Thus the person writing the bad checks gain power by acquiring the goods and services with them. These goods and services flow to the people who write the bad checks. These bad checks are also put into the economy by credit. Therefore, the only thing behind these "bad checks" is DEBT.
If you want to borrow some money the Federal Reserve Bank gives you a bad check which must be repaid with real money. Before WW I, all credit was short term credit which prevented the plundering of the people with compound interest. Roosevelt, through the FHA, gave us the long term, easy credit, but even after World War I, the people resisted the easy credit and kept the notes short term, five years.
But inflation cannot be blamed upon the government. We need to keep in mind, we have socialist in office because the people voted for them. They want their brand of socialism. They have respond to the peoples demand for easy credit as well as cradle to the grace security. They respond to the people's desires for more services from "big brother", Isa. 24:2. Jer. 5:31, The prophets prophesy falsely and the priest bear rule by their means: and my people love to have it so...
The government lowers the amount of reserve required behind the "check" being written in response to the request of the people. This makes is easy to obtain these bad checks which are written with nothing behind them. Through this easy credit, the real wealth is confiscated by the one writing the bad check, by the banks and government. The people who beg for these "bad checks" willingly turn over real wealth as security that they will honor these bad checks. It is craziness of the highest degree when a "sane" man goes to a money merchant and offers his real wealth, his labor or material possessions as security for a piece of paper which has nothing behind it but debt.
Now we get down to where the hog ate the cabbage. Our foundation was started right, Lev. 19. In the last 75 years we have seen it crumble. Within the next ten years we will probably see it gone. Why? Ph. 4:11-12, gives us our answer. Christians have moved their eyes from the supply and peace in Christ to material things.
In V. 19, we see that Christians seek more than what God will supply them with. Rom. 9:20 goes further as we see that Christians are discontent with their background and heritage. They want something better. They are dissatisfied with their economic circumstances. Dissatisfied with their abilities because abilities should determine our living standard, not our credit ratings. Rom. 9:20 is a central part of sin, being dissatisfied with where God has us and what He has provided us with. Yielding to this dissatisfaction is rebellion and discontent against God.
How do we cope with inflation? Rom. 13:8, Owe no man anything. A Christian must learn to live on what he has instead of what he wishes he had. Borrowing puts the Christians into bondage to man instead of to the Lord, Prov. 22:7. (60% of the U.S. claim to be Christians.)
The government inflates the money to give the Christians what they demand from credit instead of from God. Debt now supplies their heart's desires. We demand social programs and easy credit, so we can have a better standard of living then we can afford. The demand for credit leads to inflation. Inflation magnifies self, not God. Inflation leads to judgment and the fall of the nation who turns its back on God's principles. It looks like the principle involved here is that inflation is a natural result of God's people being controlled by the sin of covetousness. By God's people we mean the individual as well as the group of Christians (church, mission board, etc.).
We receive letters from mission boards telling how God is blessing and they had to go borrow money so they can grow. It's too bad that our God cannot bless in the area of finances so we can pay as we go.
Certainly, there are legitimate Bible reasons for borrowing, such as business loans designed to make a profit. But when God's people borrow to fulfill their desire for "bigger and better" rather than, let their request be known and wait upon the Lord to provide our needs according to His riches in glory, inflation comes as sure as the sun rises. God's way is to pay as we go. The sin of covetousness has its rewards.
We cannot place the blame on the "big bankers" nor on "big brother". The blame lies in one place and one place alone. The further we get from God's way the more bondage there is to the world's way. The judgment of a nation is the result of God's people not obeying God's principles of life, II Chron. 7:14. When they borrow and demand easy credit to satisfy their covetousness, then economic chaos follows as sure as night follows day. The answer lies within the heart of God's people not in political or social action.
What can we do? 1. Pay off our bills, live within our income, and pay cash, Rom. 13:8. 2. Confess our covetousness (Lk. 12:15; Eph. 5:3; I Thess. 2:5; II Pet. 2:3; each of these have a message within them). 3. The government will not go back to Lev. 19, because of the pressure from the 60%. Nor can we expect the government to live within its income when the Christians will not. 4. Give the truth to the 60% so God can turn them, II Tim. 2:24-26. 5. Get ready to face the results of covetousness controlling God's people because it will control the national leaders as a natural result. Of course we are now caught in the web of the inflation to where it takes every thing to live.
We cannot prepare for the future results. But again, until we are willing to face up to the cause (the sin of covetousness) all of the weeping and protest in the world over the results is useless. There is going to be a terrible price to pay as we "bite the bullet" and pay off our bills then save enough to purchase what we want or need.
Do God's people love the "good life" to much to tighten down? Only He knows. We must warn, He must give repentance. We do know that until God's people are willing to obey Prov. 28:13, 14, (Rom. 13:8) the leaders in civil government will not, and really, we cannot expect them to. Judgment must start in the house of God, in the household of faith, I Pet. 4:17.
We hear pastors and Christians rejoicing over the low interest loan they were able to obtain when they should be weeping because they were forced into slavery to a lender. As long as Christians, whether as individuals or as groups, think debt can be used to serve God or to glorify God we will have inflation and with that inflation will be God's judgment against the sin, the sin of covetousness. That sin leading to willing bonding to a lender.
We received a letter from a group trying to call Christians back to the principles of God's word. As always, they had a order blank for their material, which is very good material. This time they added something. They now offer to take credit cards. That would be like us taking an offering after this message and passing out charge card slips for folks to give through their debt card. We are starting to see a lot of this today as the electric churches offer to take charge cards. (I realize the advantage of fast service and records.)
God help us. Where are we at today. Can't anyone think through what they are saying or doing?
The investor is stealing from himself and his posterity. The Christian is stealing from himself and his children as he seeks to fulfill his covetous desires and lives beyond his means through debt rather than depending and waiting on God to supply all of his needs.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. No doubt, this is one of the hardest of all seven which we are given here to accomplish in our lives. This poverty called for is as contrary to todays doctrine of self-esteem as anything can be. This poverty wars against the built in sinful nature which came as a result of the fall when the devil told Eve, You shall be as gods...
The devil's original sin was also centered in this as he said in Isa. 14:14, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most high. His offer to Eve was only an extension of what he had already done. He persuaded her to enter into his sin of rebellion against God.
Matt. 5:3 is the very basic of all the teachings of our Lord. This principle of poverty (humility) is throughout the Scriptures. There are probably more warnings against pride than against any one other sin because really, pride is the original sin. Satans fall was pride. Eve's offer and temptation was pride and we see pride in control today. The sad thing, it is being fueled in the "self-esteem, self-acceptance" movement of our day and people love it.
Matt. 5:3 is probably one of the most resisted of all Scriptural principles of the kingdom of God. It is resisted by the world around us. It is resisted by the flesh, the sinful nature within us. It is ridiculed by other Christians and dismissed as not for us today, yet, if we cut Matt. 5:3 (poverty of spirit) out of our period of time, we must also remove the doctrine of meekness and humility. This is a basic building block for the rest of the word of God. Our Lord confirmed this in Matt. 7:24-27 as He refers back to Matt. 5:3 on.
If we remove Matt. 5:3 we must also remove the other doctrines which are built upon it. Really, we only have two ways we can go with Matt. 5:3. Either poverty of spirit, humility, meekness, attitude of a servant (Gal. 5:22, 23), OR self-assertiveness (Gal. 5:19-21). There is no middle ground. Christ's example for us as He washed the disciples feet in Jn. 13 (v.15) is built upon Matt. 5:3. To remove Matt 5:3 must also say that Christ example in Jn. 13 was not for us but for someone else. People think Christianity is a life of neutrals but it is a life of absolutes. Here it is either poverty or assertiveness.
The doctrine of meekness of II Tim. 2:25 is built on Matt. 5:3. Instruction with meekness is God's methods of bringing repentance. The doctrine of humility of Ja. 4:6-10 (I Pet. 5:5-8) is built on Matt. 5:3. Ja. 4 goes much further as it says the doctrine of the grace of God to do His will is built upon Matt. 5:3, poverty of spirit. God resisteth the proud but giveth grace to the humble. Humility and meekness will result in His power intervening in the situation. The lose of this poverty will be the lose of His grace. Then we only have the wisdom of words to lean on.
Are we raising a generation of self-assertive Christians who God is resisting? Christians who do not have the grace of God? Now, they may be exalted or raised up in men's eyes but do they have the hand of God resisting them? Has their preaching has been rendered powerless and of none effect?
In Deut. 31 we see Moses giving his final instructions to Israel. Let us see what happened. We all know the story of the rebellion of Israel and the faithfulness of Caleb and Joshua. Joshua, up until Num. 27:18 was referred to as the servant of Moses. In Num. 27:18-20 God instructs Moses to place some of the honor upon Joshua which had been upon Moses. This is AFTER the forty years in the wilderness and the death of the previous rebellious generation.
What stand out here is this choosing of Joshua, the servant of Moses. Joshua probably had no idea he was going to take Moses' place. He was just busy serving in the capacity which he found himself in. It looks like the instructions of Num. 27:18-20 and Deut. 31:3 caught Joshua completely by surprise.
The parable of our Lord in Lk. 14:8-11 tells us of a person who sought the higher room rather than the lower. Jn. 12:24-26 tells us of the corn which must die before it can bring forth fruit. He follows this with v. 26, If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my father honor. Ja. 4:6-10 and I Pet. 5:5-7 makes it quite clear that only as a person humbles themselves before God and quits seeking what they want to do and does his very best as a servant where God has him, can God "raise him up".
This is a major problem in a Christian. Yet this is the number one requirement for a Christian if they expect God to use them. This attitude is almost unheard of today among Christians. The feeling today is "Joshua, your master is about to RETIRE, pass on. You need to submit your "resume" to Moses and butter him up if you want that position." "You need to start exerting your abilities."
We can safely say that Joshua exemplified I Pet. 5:5, 6, for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of the Lord, that he may exalt you in due time. Joshua was a faithful SERVANT for forty years before he had any idea that he was the one to replace Moses, Deut. 31:3.
Joshua 1:1-9 shows us that Joshua felt totally unqualified to do what God had now exalted him to do. The Lord Himself has to encourage him with "Don't worry, I am the one who has placed you here. You do what I have instructed through my servant Moses and you will succeed in all that you do."
Let's consider this question. That which we "feel" qualified in, do we need God's supernatural enabling grace in it?" I Cor. 1 indicates that it is only as we realize our lack of qualifications canGod work through us.
No doubt we can have many human qualifications but they must be submitted to God or we will end up believing we can work apart from God in that area. Paul is a good example. He had every human qualification that would be needed to do a great work for God but notice what he says about them, Ph. 1:1-13. V. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ, yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I might win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law--. V. 10, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection---.
We find the result of Ph. 3 in Ph. 4:13. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. This would be an easy statement for someone like us with very little, if any, human qualifications. But this was just not the case with Paul.
Ph. 4:13 was written by a man who had reached the very peak of the worldly wisdom, understanding, and acclaim. This is written by the man who wrote Ph. 3:1-6 and had everything the religious world of his day held important. Is it any wonder he could write so much about the grace of God? It was only by the grace of God he was able to lay all of the worlds attainment and acclaim aside, Ph. 3:7. Ph. 4:13 (and I Cor. 2:15) would be a much more difficult place to reach for a person of Paul's tremendous statue in men's eyes than it would be for us who are unknown. Yet, it must be obtained by EVERY PERSON who desires that God use them.
I Cor. 2:4, 5 gives us the result of Paul being able to lay it all aside for what is available in Christ. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
This shows us a major problem in Christian thought of our day. Christians are being taught that they can succeed in their service to God (everything we do is to be service for God, I Cor. 10:31) without "stopping at" or having Ph. 3:7, 8 accomplished in their lives. I Cor. 2:4-5 shows us the results of Ph. 3:7, 8 which come from this. This Ph. 3:7, 8 also must be a work of the Spirit of grace because the natural man will not desire nor be able to rid himself of these worldly appealing things.
"Christianity" is teaching Ph. 4:13. We are training up new Christians and our children on Ph. 4:13 which is fine. We should, but a large majority of the teaching ignores I Tim. 6. Far too often we condone covetousness with Ph. 4:13. We try to obtain Ph. 4:13 and by-pass Ph. 4:11. What has happened with godly contentment? As we lay aside these principles we see I Cor. 2:5 come to pass. We see the results will be after the wisdom of men rather than the power of God and do not last.
Are we are raising up a generation of Christians (young people and young Christians) completely contrary to Matt. 5:3? Is it any wonder power is gone from Christianity? Are we raising up a generation who abhor the doctrine of "poor in spirit"? Really, most have never heard of it. The doctrine of being a servant is unheard of or if it is, people hate it.
Ph. 4:13 is viewed as permission to be very discontent with where God has us and press ahead at all cost with His blessing on what WE WANT TO DO.
Are we training up a generation of leaders, "champions for Christ", rather than a generation of servants for Christ? Are we are training up a generation of leaders for tomorrow rather than a generation of servants for tomorrow? Are we are training up a generation completely contrary to Matt. 5:3; Ja. 4:6-10; I Pet. 5:5-8?
We must get back to emphasizing what God emphases. Meekness, humility, service. Where are the Joshua's who go through forty years of being a servant? Or who even see the need to?
More often than not, a place of authority is viewed as an opportunity to enforce our will upon others. This is quit contrary to Scriptures. Our Lord came as a servant, Lk. 22:27.
Eph. 4:5, For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus sake. Gal. 5:13, For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; and use NOT this liberty for an occasion to the flesh (to do as you please) but by love serve one another. Acts 13:36, For David, after had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption. Ph. 2:13, Let nothing be done through strife, or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Here is Bible esteem. Esteeming others better than ourselves will enable us to serve them. (Abraham, the heir to the promise of God. --The head of a very great household that he could call out 300 armed servants to fight a war [Gen. 14:14]-- gives us a very good example of this servant's attitude, Gen. 18:3).
We see from these passages (and many more like them) that God sees the place of authority as an opportunity to serve others. Again, this is contrary to what the world says. Rather than looking for what can be done for us, we should be looking for what we can do for others.
Are we training our kids to be servants or leaders? What is our desire? To be a leader or a servant? What do we hold as the most important, the servant or the "leader", Lk. 22:24-30. Are we by-passing Ph. 3:7-10 as we race toward Ph. 4:13?
The blame lies at our door step. We are the ones who have skipped Ph. 3:1-10 and 4:1-12 as we madly dash toward Ph. 4:13. Sermons abound on Ph. 4:13, yet the ones of poverty and servitude from 3:1-10; 4:1-12 are few and far between. Isn't it amazing how we can build such firm doctrines on one verse, yet, ignore scores of verses around it which will cast a different light upon our teaching.
The things Paul left behind in Ph. 3:13 were all his worldly wisdom, acclaim and attainments so he could press on to Ph. 4:13 and do all things through Christ. If we bring ANYTHING with us to 4:13 from chp. 3-4:12 then why do we need Christ? The flesh will leap for joy at the prospect of being able to do all things. It will even pass off doing all things through Christ. Yet it will groan, and fight to the death over Ph. 3:7-10 and 4:1-12. The death to our own feelings, emotions, desires and even natural abilities.
Phil. 4:13 is written as the result of a total realization that all we have obtained is totally worthless before God. Not just in the "religious" realm but in the realm of all things. The only thing that counts is knowing from God's word what to do then doing it by His enabling grace. Everything else is as dung. Have we been able to lay it all aside? Have we realized the absolute necessity of godly contentment (4:11), as we do what is pleasing to Him? Have we realized the requirement of God of servitude? The attitude of a servant?
Everyone wants to be a leader. Men will spend truck loads of money and hours without number. They will sacrifice their sanity, their families and their walk with God in order to learn to be a leader. They will run from city to city and buy truck loads of books at seminars on ten easy steps to be a leader, but no one wants ten steps on being a servant. Yet as we see with Joshua, it was the servant of Moses that became the great leader as God promised to be with him in everything he did.
It looks like we have churches and "Christian works" built on the wisdom of men, rather than the power of God; built upon nice sounding words, words of persuasion, rather than words of trembling which God can use.
This brings us to a passage of Scripture which we need to consider, I Cor. 2:2. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. We hear this taught as only preaching Christ and Him crucified. This is used as a reason to either ignore or avoid any other Scripture or doctrine which might create conflict. As we have pointed out in "The Doctrine of the Gourd," Caesar will allow and even encourage this Christ and him crucified because it creates no conflict.
But, is this what Paul is saying here in 2:2? Is our message to be restricted to Jesus Christ and Him crucified? Especially if any thing else might create a conflict. No, the context will not bear this doctrine up. Just the fact that the Gospel of the Kingdom created great conflict should blow this false teaching out of the water, Acts 17:7; 20:25; 28:23- 31. But this is not our context which we are referring to here.
First, Paul had tremendous human attainment. If anyone was qualified to preach and teach he was. He sat at the feet of the best and most respected teachers of his day. Second, he had the heritage which was the most important of his day. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a Pharisee. He lived perfect according to the law, Ph. 3:4. Third, we see that he had the power of persuasion. In Acts 22:1-5 he tells how he persuaded the counsel of elders to give him letters of authorization to bring the Christians in for punishment and even death. Fourth, we see that Paul was also well learned in several tongues, at least Greek, the common language of his day, and Hebrew, Acts 22:1; 26:24. Fifth, we see that he had commitment, dedication and much boldness in his cause, even though it was anti-christ, Acts 22:3,4. As we know, this kind of commitment, even on the part of a fool can turn the world upside down. We have seen this many times over in history. Marx is a good example as is Joseph Smith, Charles Taz Russell and many others. Sixth, Paul had tremendous name recognition, Acts 9:13, 14 21. I can just see the advertising of our day. "Come see, meet and hear the great Evangelist Paul, formally Saul of Tarsus. Come hear his amazing testimony of how God appeared to him in a blinding flash. Hear how he was struck down with a bolt from heaven on the road to Damascus. Come see and hear this great man of God tell you how he turned from killing Christians to building Christians through the power of God." We all know what kind of promotion that we would use to attract people to hear him speak.
It is not hard to see: 1.) If anyone had the qualifications to preach and teach, Paul did. 2.) If anyone had the qualifications to be a missionary and a church planter, Paul did. 3.) If anyone had the qualifications to be a great evangelist, Paul did.
Paul had all of the excellency and wisdom which the religious system of his day could offer. It was only by the grace of God that he was able to put it all behind him and say, But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung. That I might win Christ, Ph. 3:7,8; I Cor. 15:10. What did Paul count loss? At least the six things above.
Now, let's put I Cor. 2:2 back into the context of who is speaking and in the context of what he has said elsewhere. Paul is telling them that he determined to lay all worldly attainment and wisdom aside. He determined to lay aside all of his natural abilities of speaking and boldness. He determined not to depend upon (the word he uses is KNOW) any of those things. As he came to them and preached the total law-word of God, he was determine not to use any of his worldly qualifications. Rather he was determined to depend totally upon the power of the crucified and risen Christ. He is not saying that all he is going to preach is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. In fact, he is very upset and disappointed with the Hebrew Christians for not maturing beyond this milk of the gospel. He told them that once this is settled, move on, Heb. 5:11-6:3 (This laying aside can only be done by the power, grace of God).
Isn't this what he said in Ph. 3:8. He had to suffer the loss of all of these things (these worldly attainments) that the power of Christ might work through him. Notice what he says in v. 9, And be found in him... Then in v. 10, That I may know him and the power of his resurrection...
He is talking of two results of laying aside human attainment and wisdom. One is for salvation, the other the power for service. The one we are covering is for service and is included in v. 3. ..and have no confidence in the flesh. If anyone could have this confidence in the flesh, he could, v.4.
With this in mind, I Cor. 2:2 we see that he determined to lay all of this confidence behind him and only know One power in his preaching. That power being the power of the crucified and risen Lord alone working in him. There are an astounding number of passages which will confirm this, not only Ph. 3 but Rom. 6 is very clear on this.
As we started out saying, for Paul to reach this point of being able to say, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me required a tremendous work of grace. Grace to be able to lay aside all of his worldly attainment and wisdom. Grace to be able to depend upon the power of the crucified Christ in him.
Let me say here. It takes more grace for a person with a nice outgoing personality to be able to lay that aside and depend upon the power of Christ through them than it does for a person with a hard personality which pushes people away from them. Those natural abilities are so tempting to use. Yet, it is just as wrong to use the good and attractive things of the flesh "for God" as it is to use the ugly things "for God". It is much harder to lay aside the attractive things than it is the ugly things.
To use I Cor. 2:2 as an excuse not to preach anything other than the crucified Christ is to misuse the verse. That is not at all what Paul is saying here. What he is saying is that he laid aside all the worldly attainment and things of the flesh (no matter how good they might be) and depended totally upon the crucified Christ to work through him.
The result, I Cor. 2:3-5. This looks like much of the increase we see today is due to the wisdom of men and not the power of God.
Each of us have these things which need to be laid aside so we also can do all things through Christ. Only as we can lay aside all human abilities and attainments (confidence in the flesh) will we see men stand in the power of God. There is no doubt but that the wisdom of men will produce results. We can see this all around us, but are these the results which we want? Which God wants?
Paul goes even further in I Cor. 1:17. Here he points out that if we preach Christ with the wisdom of words, that preaching will be of none effect. We can safely take this further. Any work we might attempt to do for God, if it is done with men's wisdom or even in dependence upon the natural ability, it is of none effect for God. Anything done apart from complete, total death to the flesh will have God's curse against it and there will be no power of God for men to stand in, Jer. 17:5.
Only the work of the second Adam can counter the inherent sin from the first Adam as the first Adam fell into the first lie "You can be as God..." You can serve God and please him in your own human attainment, personality and wisdom, Gen. 3:5. Paul points out that through the work and power of the Second Adam he was able to be free from the hold of Gen. 3:5. Then the results of his efforts would be men standing in the power of God, I Cor. 2:1-5.
Satan will convenience God's people that they can succeed with their excellency of spirit or of speech, or really any of the six things above. In fact, he will encourage and even empower God's people to use these "good things" of the flesh because he knows the results will be in the wisdom of men and not in the power of God.
He will encourage us to memorize Ph. 4:13. Yet, completely avoid Ph. 3:1-14 and 4:1-13. Paul did not leave us stranded as he put in Ph. 3:15. He points out that if any person wants to know the truth of what they are operating in (wisdom of men and the fleshly abilities or the Spirit of Christ) they can know. If a person wants to face facts, God will show him. If we want to know if we are deceived in any area, we can.
How much of our work is done in the wisdom of men, and confidence in the flesh? The result will be people trying to stand in the wisdom of men.
Ph. 4:13. Paul wrote this from a view which we cannot really even identify with. He was totally qualified in the flesh to do all of these great things, yet by the grace of God he was able to lay it all aside and his message was in the power of God.
We desperately need a generation which knows its utter inability and total dependence upon the work of Christ. Where is the meekness, gentleness, humility? The attitude of the servant?
Ph. 3:15. Do we need God to reveal anything? Are we even willing to face up to the fact that we might be trying to carry on without Ph. 3:7, 8? If we are willing to admit this then we can claim Ph. 3:15.
Both will see results. One in the wisdom of man. The other in the power of God. Which do we want to see?
We have in Matt. 21:33-39 the parable of the landowner and the vineyard. The landowner planted a vineyard, built a wine fat for harvesting the fruit, hedged it in, built a tower for protection and then let it out to the husbandmen. When it came time to receive the householders portion of the fruit he sent his servants to get it. The husbandmen refused to give the fruit to the servants to return to the householder. Not only did they refuse to pay the rent on the vineyard but they mistreated the servants. Beating, stoning and evening killing them.
Finally, the householder sent his only beloved son. "Surely" he said, "They will respect my son and give to him my share of the fruit". But they took the son and killed him with the intention of taking the vineyard.
Our Lord then put a question to His hearers. What will the householder do to those husbandmen? The religious leaders which He was talking to spoke right up. "He will come and destroy those wicked men, and give it to someone who will give the fruit to the householder." Our Lord then quoted a OT passage, vv. 42-44. Then His hearers understood that He was talking about them and sought to lay hands on Him but couldn't because of the crowd.
Now, the thing that catches our attention in this parable (sermon actually) was the tremendous span of time which our Lord covered here in just a few verses. We see from, Matt. 23:34, 35 that the period of time covered by our Lord here in six verses is the period from the murder of Abel to the murder of Christ at Cavalry. This is quite an extensive period, in fact probably about four thousand years. Our Lord spoke of this period of time as though it were only a few days.
I don't know about you but I find this overwhelming. We are so used to living in "time" that we find it almost impossible to think in terms of two generations down the road. Yet, the word of God is not written in terms of one or two generations. A couple of examples would be Deut. 7:9, know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations. Deut. 32:7, Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations:-- We will find this a consistent theme throughout Scripture. Prov. 13:22, a good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children. The word of God is given in terms of many, many generations.
As I was thinking on these things, something came to my mind. Here the Lord speaks of four thousand years as though it were a day or two. Maybe a period of a week. Regardless, He summed up four thousand years of history into one simple illustration and then drove the illustration right to the heart of the problem (truth here made these men very angry. Truth will do that today. Either make people angry or closer to God).
What is so striking is that we seem to feel that if it doesn't happen within our lifetime it isn't going to take place. Or, worse yet, we feel that if everything is okay in our lifetime, everything will continue to be okay for generations to come, (As Hezekiah did in II Kis. 20:19). Zephaniah 1:12..and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, the Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil.
If we don't see results almost immediately, we have a very hard time getting enthused about it. If we can't see something take place within our lifetime we have a very difficult time dedicating ourselves, or our energy and even the finances which God has provided to the task.
Now, I am admitting that I have a problem with this. It is human nature. You will have a problem with this also if you be honest. But the aggravating thing is the devils crowd. His crowd can get very excited over and totally committed to plans which reach hundreds of years into the future. Carl Marx and Lenin are two good examples although history is full of examples. Men who knew they would not live to see their wicked devices come to pass, yet they invested every moment of their lives, every ounce of strength, every dollar they could scrape together, and others supported (and do support) their efforts which would not bear fruit for many generations. They have invested (and are investing) absolutely everything so that the future generations could control not only society but the world for evil.
It strikes us as strange that Christians see nothing but failure and wasted time, energy and money to invest in the advancement of God's kingdom into society. They consider it useless (even unscriptural) to try to apply God's word to every situation as well as to social issues at hand. On the other hand, the devils crowd sees nothing but success to invest in the kingdom of men which is in rebellion against God.
Isn't it strange that Christians cannot see their investment resulting in the overthrow of the world's and the anti- christ's crowd (I Jn. 4 and 5)? At the same time the devils crowd is totally convinced that their dedication, service and commitment of all of their resources will see the overthrow of God and His people.
We have a very difficult time seeing past our own generation or maybe our children's generation. God help us to see past ourselves, our near-sightedness is costing us the world.
The purpose of this is not to paint a bleak picture. Rather it is to encourage us to look past ourselves. To try to get us to look past the next car payment, house payment, pay-day, trip to the grocery store, past the education of our children, past even our own funeral (prepaid funerals!). Also, past retirement. We must learn to think in the terms which God (and even the devils crowd) thinks in. We must think and plan into the very far future or we will lose society by default. Christians cannot withdraw into the here and now and survive. We must learn to think ahead, even to many generations.
Let's look at a Bible character which comes to mind as we consider this. In I Chronicles we have the record of David's desire to build the temple to Jehovah God. God told him he could not accomplish what he desired to do for the Lord in his lifetime. Rather it would have to be his children which would do it.
David of course, was disappointed, because he had his heart set on doing this great work for God, within his lifetime. But David did not allow this restriction to cause him to lay down and quit. In I Chron. 28, 29 we have some of the steps which David took to see that the Lord's work continued on. Actually we have quit a contrast between David's attitude here and Hezekiah's attitude in II Ki. 20:19.
Hezekiah's attitude was, "I'm going to die. As long as there is peace in my day, I'm happy. (This seems to be the all too prevalent attitude of our day. This attitude turned God's people over to the king of Babylon.) David's attitude was, "I'm going to die. I didn't get done for God all I wanted to do so I am making provision for my son (Solomon) to carry on where I must leave off."
David (the man after God's own heart) definitely had his faults, but here we are shown a strength which we need to imitate. David wanted the future generations to serve God and advance His kingdom so he made provision as best as he could for them.
Quickly, we need to look at some of the provisions he made. (This is probably one of the most basic principles that we as well as new Christians must learn. We must learn to look past the effect of our decisions upon us or even our children and to the future generations. How will this decision effect four generations?)
1.) Of course, it all start's with salvation. Without salvation, there cannot be a godly heritage for our children. On this salvation let us also mention, not only the parents salvation but the children's. If we have some children today who are not saved, why are we taking it so calmly? Why are we not bothering everyone you know who might be someone of prayer to pray for those children? Don't we realize this is our hope for the future? This also goes for their desire to serve God. If they are indifferent to the cause of God, yet claim to be saved let me offer a suggestion or two. A.) Is it our indifference which is being reflected? Are we praying for them? Are we doing all you can with words and action to encourage them to serve God faithfully? The world's crowd considers this complete foolishness. In fact, our Lord points out that it is these foolish things (salvation included) which will bring down the wisdom of this world, I Cor. 1:27- 31.
But salvation does not solve the problem. This only solves the sin problem. Salvation alone does not counter the devil's crowds dedication to bring in wickedness world-wide and overthrow God. Saved parents will not save the generations to come. We know many saved parents whose kids have gone or are going to the devil.
David gives us some more things here which are necessary in order to control the future for God. Things which must be placed into action by faith because at the time they may seem to be foolishness of foolishness. At the time the worlds crowd will probably mock and ridicule those who do these things. There is no doubt that the flesh (old nature within us) with resist these things will all of its might.
2.) I Chron. 28:7 repeats a warning and promise which started with Moses and is continued throughout scripture. This is to constancy. Consistently toward His commandments. STRONG TO DO HIS COMMANDMENTS. The inconsistent life of the child of God (parent) absolutely destroys the children. The claim to be one thing and a life of another thing. The claim to love God, His word, His people, His work and then not live up to those claims is destructive to the generations to come.
Of course, God knows that we will not consistently live up to what we claim (and made provision, I Jn. 1:9; Prov. 28:13, 14), but our children can tell if we are trying to or not. Sincerely trying and failing is quite different than not trying at all, and the kids can tell the different. To claim to love God, then have an indifferent attitude toward the things of God creates a double-minded child which will be unstable in all his ways, Ja. 1:8. (Solomon is a good example. David, his dad, claimed to love the law of God with all his heart (Ps. 119), yet David took a woman who was forbidden to him. One of the first acts which Solomon did was to marry a woman who was forbidden to him, the daughter of the king of Egypt.)
3.) To pursue this one. The education of our children must be in the terms of God's law. The king was to have a copy of God's law. It was to be read daily. If the child is not trained up in the way he should go in accord with the total law-word of God, he will go the way of the world. In fact, Deut. 4:9 requires the parents to teach the law-word of God not only to our children, but to our children's children. Anything less will cause the next generation to be lost to the devils crowd. Notice, it is the parents responsibility to see that this is done. Not the school's or the church's, but both must reinforce the teaching of the parents according to God's law-word or they will go to the devil as a double-minded person. The fault will be in the home.
We must train them to do every area (Agriculture, Science, Music, Art, the trades, Civil Government, Education (etc.), to the glory of God. In this education in the word of God, we also have education in Christ-like attitudes. What do we do when things don't go right? Do we have a clam and cool spirit or do we rant and rave in anger? Do we fuss and complain about the authority over us? Do we look for ways to "cut corners" to save money. Perhaps cheat a little or fail to be truthful? What kind of priority do we show when it comes time to make a choice? Do we choose what pleases us or what pleases God?
Far more training takes place in the home than does anywhere else. Here is where the children learn their response to situations. Here is where they learn consistency (or lack of). Here is where they learn love toward God, love toward His word, love toward His work. Here is where they learn their care or concern toward others. Here is where they learn character and discipline.
NOW GOD CAN (AND DOES) CHANGE PEOPLE, BUT IT IS THE EXCEPTION WHEN GOD RAISES A PERSON ABOVE THE CHARACTER WHICH WAS DEVELOPED IN THE HOME. The home is where respect for authority is learned. The home is where the work ethic is developed. The home is where the children find out if Christianity is real or just a matter of convenience, Ps. 127:1.
4.) Another thing we see David doing is encouraging his son, Solomon to walk with the Lord, I Chron. 28:20. With every stroke of David's pen, with his every breath, even his dieing breath, David had one message. The only means of prosperity and success is serving God will all of our heart.
What do we teach our kids with our words and actions? Where do we place our emphasis for our prosperity and/or success? Work, knowledge, education, (Thomas Edison finished only fourth grade. When was the last time we took this into consideration?). All of these things are no doubt important, but our children can tell which is more important to us. Obeying God's word and pleasing Him for our prosperity and success, or, following after the world's methods.
Let us point out. Not only our own children but the kids around us. We are being watched especially by the young people of our church. As they make plans for their future they will watch those who are already there. They will watch for how they got there and what they are doing now that they are there.
What do they see as they watch us. A person who puts pleasing God first? A person who puts pleasing self first? What kind of children are we raising?
5.) Another extremely important principle here with David and his son. One which we do not hear preached or taught. This is is the matter of inheritance. As we read, I Chron. chps. 28 and 29 something really stands out which we just do not like to consider. David passed this wealth on to his son, Solomon. Not so Solomon could go do his thing. The purpose of that wealth was to build or advance the kingdom of God, 29:2.
With this in mind let's look at a principle here. The Biblical word for a will or testament is blessing. An inheritance is exactly that, a blessing. For a parent to pass a blessing (inheritance) on to an unbelieving child, or an indifferent child, or a rebellious child is to bless evil. To cut of such a child is to curse that child's actions. We put our money where our mouth is.
No doubt, it God's people would quit giving or leaving their wealth to those who are either indifferent to or are against God's work, a lot of that foolishness would stop. When we give that property or those finances to that child who is cold or indifferent to God, we are blessing their indifference. When we finance those who are in opposition to the cause of Christ we become partakers in their opposition. "But," you say, "They are not against Christ. I'll admit that they are not doing anything to promote what we believe, but they aren't doing anything to hinder us either."
Matt. 12:30, He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Can we support (or justify) those who are against Christ? Can we support those who are scattering abroad in opposition to Him? These are strong words from our Lord but He makes it very clear. If a person is not seeking to advance the cause of Christ, they are against the cause of Christ.
Whatever property or wealth which God might allow us to accumulate He has allowed for only one purpose, to advance his cause. When people who claim to love God leave that wealth to those outside of the kingdom of God they are paying for the overthrow of the cause of Christ. They are paying for the scattering (destruction) of Him. (Let us add. It isn't really the heathen, God hating, Christ-rejecting crowd that is destroying society. If there is any truth which stands out in the OT prophets it is that judgment came because of the indifference of God's people. When we leave our wealth to those who are indifferent to the cause of Christ we are helping support the very ones who are bringing God's judgment upon this nation we love.)
"But I love that child (relative or person who is to receive our inheritance, blessing) as much as life itself," Matt. 11:34-39. Again, our Lord spoke to this siyuation very clearly. That personal tie cannot be what makes the decision for us, Matt. 10:34-39, etc.. The word of God alone determines how we are to act, respond, and use our finances.
Isn't it strange how a parent will admit that a child is not all they should be (none of us are) and that they wish that child would show more of an interest in the things of God. The parent will even criticize the child for not having a concern for advancing the cause of Christ. The parent will admit the child is misusing, even squandering, their money on the lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life. Yet even with this knowledge they will leave them the finances which God has given for His cause. The parent will give the money to the child to support them in their rebellion against God and support their pursuit of pleasure.
We are talking about raising many godly generations. With the inheritance,that parent stopped the cause of Christ in their families. Isn't it amazing how, when it comes to our children, most of us are as blind as anyone can be. "But my child is a good child." Of course, they are. Yet we cannot overlook their spiritual temperature when we leave our inheritance. WHEN WE GIVE OUR FINANCES TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN SEEKING FIRST HIS KINGDOM, WE ARE FINANCING ITS OVERTHROW.
Along this line. We see the bumper sticker once in awhile that says, "I AM SPENDING MY CHILDRENS INHERITANCE." Let us say this about that. Our goal should be like David. He laid up his wealth to support the following generations so they could fulfill their responsibility to build the kingdom of God. God has not given and will not give us prosperity to consume it upon our own lusts. We will have to give an account for that consumption to God. His blessings come as we use what He has provided for His glory in accordance with His Word. Those blessings upon us and upon society.
Also, let us reason together for a moment. I would suppose one of the greatest dangers in Christianity today is the lose of reality. The reality of CAUSE and EFFECT. Folks no longer connect the two, but they cannot be separated. We must try to instill in our children (no matter how old) the law of cause and effect. If they are going to pursue their own lusts, they must learn that there is an effect. There is a price to pay for pursuing our own thing.
What incentive is there if they can pursue their own lusts and still be supported in that pursuit by their parents? There is no incentive to turn from their wickedness. "Well, how about the prodigal son?" If we would try to teach any more from that than what our Lord did, we will be in trouble. He gave that story to teach forgiveness, when a person has a repentant spirit. Let us not add to it. "But I don't have any heirs who are interested in the cause of Christ." Then the scriptural principle would be to rewrite our will and leave the property or finances within the kingdom of God, to some one or some place where you know that wealth will be used for the cause of Christ. Anything less is to pay for the destruction of the kingdom of God by supporting those who are not seeking first His kingdom.
We are living in a country and enjoying the freedoms which some men stood on 300 years ago as they did everything in terms of the many generations to come according to God's law. "I'll be gone, therefore, I will not be responsible for how the inheritance I leave will be used," will not hold water with the Lord.
We need to take the funds provided by God for the cause of Christ out of the hands of those who are indifferent to Christ.
There are many things we could mention here. 6.) There is the necessity of seeing that there is a godly civil government for our children and then training them to keep it godly, Hosea chp. 8. 7) There is the absolute necessity of speaking out and standing against evil and wickedness and teaching our children the necessity of speaking out and how to do it. This speaking out against the evil of society in the terms of God's law-word is required. John the Baptist did this and it cost him his head. (See Deut. 22:1-4; Prov. 24:10-12; Ezek. 3 and 33; Ps. 50:18.) Hosea 5:11 and Jer. 15:4 speaks of God's judgment against His people who would not stand against the evils around them. They failed to use God's word to expose evil.
There are several more area which we won't pursue because of time. In conclusion we need to see the principle involved.
1: The anti-christ crowd is totally committed to their goal of overthrowing God and His word. Their goal is a long term goal. Started on this side of the flood by Nimrod at Babal. 2: They will dedicate all of their heart, soul, mind and strength to this goal, as well as their (and our's) children and all of their wealth. Nothing will stop them, or discourage them from their goal to overthrow God. They know that they will not see success in their life-time but they press on by faith. Their commitment to free society (their children) from the confines of Christianity (God's word) is total. They have set everything that money can buy into action and by faith they believe that one day they will succeed. Succeed in freeing society (through the children) from the bands and cords of God's law (Ps. 2). To them this will be paradise on earth.
We as Christians should be at least as dedicated in seeing that the bands and cords of God's law remain in effect. We know that these bands and cords represent freedom and life. Freedom to do right and protection of life. With the lose of the foundation of God's laws in society, our children's children will not be safe on the streets.
I watched "Larry King Live" on CNN concerning the "worm" in the computers. One of his guests made this point. It is absolutely impossible to prevent this from taking place again apart from a policeman on every computer terminal. It must be a moral training. They have taught a "a-moral" education and now the results are starting to come to pass.
The next generation will lose the freedom to follow God and good as they feel God would have them to do. The freedom to raise their children as the word of God demands will be gone as it is already in a large portion of the world. Worse of all, the indifference toward God and the cause of Christ which we permit in our lives and in the lives of the following generations will bring the judgment of God. To the wicked who want to pursue wickedness, His laws are restraints and death. To those who love God, they represent life and freedom.
This warfare for the future is fought by faith. The wicked have faith that breaking the bands will result in paradise. They are investing all into this warfare. The righteous must fight the war by faith also. We must have faith that God's law represents God's requirements on mankind. As His laws are obeyed, the fruit is given to the householder. We must be dedicated to our faith or face the results. (Truth or consequences. Either the truth applied for the future or face the consequences.)
The warfare is for the future. This is why the socialist fight so hard for the upcoming generation through day-care centers and educational facilities of all kinds. We must have a God oriented vision of the future. We must work for future generations who will love the law of God (Ps. 119) and rejoice in keeping it. The devils crowd is winning this war because they are willing to invest everything in their desire to control the future. They have no problem putting plans into operation which may take hundreds of years to fulfill. God's people must also learn to plan with hundreds of years (many generations) in mind. If we don't, it will all be turned over to the world and the anti-christ by default and we and our following generations will pay the price.
God's people have an extremely difficult time seeing the need to set long term goals into action (lack of savings shows this). We have a very difficult time seeing the need to make a sacrifice now that will not see results for maybe 3 or 4 generations. We have great problems seeing how such long term goals could possible work out. It seems so foolish. We have lost the faith of Heb. 11, these all died not having obtained the promise. Our faith in the future which once made Christianity so powerful has been destroyed.
It must be renewed. Debt has done its dirty work. Debt destroys that faith. "I want it now, pay later." Rather than the scriptural way, "I'll plan now for what I want to see accomplished later." What has happened to our faith in the future?
The promise that was for Solomon and is for us, is found in I Chron. 28:7. Moreover, I will establish his kingdom forever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day. We need to ask God to give us a Biblical view of the future; to reset our sights and priorities; to enable us to see past our lifetime and even our childrens lifetime. We must rethink our outlook and have it changed to, "How can I apply the principles of God's word so it will benefit my great-great grandchildren? What can I set in motion which, with God's blessings can influence many generations for Christ and advance his kingdom? It will take a supernatural work to overcome years of short-sightness, but God's grace will supply the needed glasses if we are willing to confront our failure.
3: God's people must realize that they are responsible for the funds which God has provided for them. They are to be good stewards. This responsibility does not stop at death but plans are to be made to see that God's funds will continue within His godly cause. The inheritance MUST GO TO GODLY CAUSES, whether to the godly children or godly institutions. We are only stewards.
Amos 3:1-8. We have used this passage before but not in depth. We will look at the outline of this principle then look at the NT conformation.
First, notice who Amos is speaking to. O Children of Israel,.. which I brought up out of Egypt. It is directed to God's people who He redeemed out of Egypt, out of bondage to the world. We can easily follow that these were God's covenant people so we'll not spend any time establishing this. Second, notice what God is going to do. I will punish you for all your iniquities. The alternate reading is, visit upon. In other words the results of their inequities are going to return upon them. In fact, it is God who is going to see to it that the results of their iniquities will catch up with His people. Thirdly, we see why He is going to do this.
God gives us the definition of iniquities. Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Then He explains who doesn't agree; God and His covenant people. He explains what they don't agree on, 2:4, Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked: But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.
God and His people are parting company because His people refuse to walk in His law. (Isa. 30:21, and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Then Isaiah goes on to describe the blessings of walking in the way [law] of the Lord). When His people fail to walk in the way of the Lord then there is destruction ahead. As Isaiah said, a fire is ahead when we walk in our own way.
Now, let's emphasize something. This failure to walk in His way could be caused by several things. (1.) Absolute refusal. "I know what God's Word says. I don't agree, therefore I'm not going to obey." (Pride, rebellion, stubbornness, etc.) (2.) A sincere misunderstanding or misinterpretation. There are vast multitudes of sincere people of God following false teachers. We could think of illustration after illustration of this. Yet, even if warned, these folks would not heed the warning. They are committed to men, institutions, ideas, programs, over the word of God. "My mind is made up..." (3.) Then we would have folks who are just uninformed. They have every desire under the sun to obey God's every word, yet they haven't been told. When they are told the way of the Lord they joyfully walk in it. They don't argue or try to justify why they are in violation of Scriptural principles. They examine it and move on in obedience.
There are other reasons for not walking in His way but this gives us a good idea. Regardless of the reason for not walking in His law, the result is always the same. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the way of death, Prov. 14:12. Destruction awaits those who have departed from His authority and law.
This brings us to the next point. Fourth, God always has a watchman for His people. Whether His people are a group, such as a church, or a nation as in the OT, or an individual.
Watchman--a look-out, spy or to keep watch. Here we have a look-out. A man looking out for approaching judgment for evil. There are a vast multitude of verses which shows us this. Probably the best known would be Ezek. 3 and chp.33. (Others, Isa. 52:8; 56:10, His watchmen (are) blind... Jere. 6:17, etc..)
The responsibility of this watchman is to sound the trumpet for war, Num. 10:1-9. In Ezek., we see the responsibility of the watchman was to sound the alarm of approaching danger. If the man of God saw a righteous man turn from his righteousness and commit iniquity, he was to warn that person of what he was doing and of the result of his iniquity which was ahead. God has established a watchman over His people, the pastor. This watchman's job is to sound the cry of alarm or warning. This is especially true concerning those God has made him responsible for.
Bringing us to the fifth point. Here in Amos (3:6) God says, Shall a trumpet (of warning) be blown in the city (city of God, the church, Heb. 12:22) and the people not be afraid? The responsibility of the watchman is to blow the trumpet of warning or of alarm at the approach of danger to God's people. God says with amazement, "Will the alarm be sounded by My servant and the people not take action to counter the danger?" THE ALARM IS SOUNDED, YET THE PEOPLE IN DANGER WON'T HEAR. And to this, let us add, "More often than not, they will hear and ignore the alarm."
The sixth thing here, v. 6. It is the Lord who is the one bringing the evil against them. Evil in the sense of judgment against sin in this case. This could be "evil" in the sense of trials or testings of faith, but here in this context, vv. 1-5, this evil is judgment because the people have departed from the Word of God. The people departed from God therefore the lion of judgment is roaring, the trumpet is sounding for the coming judgment. But the bird steps in the snare anyway. The man doesn't flee the lion.
The next thing (v. 7), the Lord God will do nothing unless He first reveals it to His servants. This is as blunt and clear as it can be. No judgment against sin will come against God's people UNTILL He first reveals it to His servants. GOD WILL NOT JUDGE WITHOUT WARNING, giving them the chance to turn from that sin. Primarily, the warning will come through their pastor.
If the pastor is sold out to the world, flesh and devil, and doesn't warn, God will see to it that the warning gets to them from another source. But the clear principle here is that HE WILL WARN where His people have departed from Him (God's law), v. 3.
The saddest thing of this passage is v. 8. The lion roared as he prepared to pounce (God warned as He prepared to judge). This gave the pray (victim or sinner in this case) time to turn and flee from their sin, YET they did not. They feared not and the lion overtook them.
The principle here. (1.) God will not judge His people without sounding a warning. The warning does not necessarily have to come from other Christians. God alone decides how to give this warning. (Although I believe we will find the predominate scriptural principle is that the warning will come through the authority over us. Physical, civil or spiritual authority.) (2.) This warning comes primarily through their pastor. a. The preaching from the pulpit the truth which God has laid upon his heart at that time. b. Or from individual counseling.
God will get the warning to them. But neither the pastor nor God can force His people to believe the warning or act upon it. Most preaching (if not all) and even personal instruction is accepted with, "My, that's interesting," then they go ahead and go their own way.
When God's people dismiss the warning of God's man they are ignoring the roaring of the lion before he pounces. (Remember the disobedient prophet, I Ki. 13:24? He ignored the warning of God and the lion met and killed him. The amazing thing is that he was warned by the older prophet even after he went the wrong way, then he went ahead. We wouldn't have left the older prophets house. Or would we?)
We know of people, even today, who are ignoring the warning which God has and is sending. The lion of destruction lies ahead. A vast majority of God's people refuse to take serious the warnings of God's servants, pastors, as being a warning from God. They continue on in their way and the lion meets them. Then they wonder what happened or where they went wrong. Even then, many times they still will not accept the warnings of God's man, then total destruction comes. The truth that God had for them at that time was ignored.
The NT conformation of this principle is found in I Thess. 2:13. Here we see that people refuse to accept the preaching of the word of God as the word of God. Far to often God's people fail to realize that God is the One who raises up His men, His servants. They often fail to realize that God is the One who lays the message from His word on the heart. They fail to realize that what God's man is saying is God's truth for the present need in their life (of course, there are many compromising pastors and false prophets around. This is why we must know the word of God. Most folks don't know God's word therefore must take the word of others. This really lays open for false prophets, see Ezek. 13.)
These people (I Thess. 2:13) accepted the preached word as the word of God, the truth of God for the present time. Most folks receive the instruction of their pastor as the word of men. This leaves them open for the lion to devour them and their families. Many won't receive the exposition of the word of God as truth from God, the illumination of God's word for them at that time. People get up and walk out of a service and never consider that it was God's truth for them. They are opposite of the ones in I Thess. 2:13. They view the instructions of the pastor either from the pulpit or from individual instructions as the word of men to be accepted or ignored as they feel convicted about it.
Ezek. 33:30-33 describes these kind of people. Human nature has not changed. Grace (the NT coming of Christ and His indwelling Holy Spirit) does not change the old nature, rather it gives power over the old nature.
Here we see (found in Jer. 42-43 also): (1) They say they want to go hear God. (2) They go hear what the servant of God says, etc.. (3) They hear, yet don't agree with what they hear, therefore refuse to do it. (4) Their mouth speaks of much love but their heart is hardened in covetousness, idolatry (Eph. 5:5). (5) They refuse to believe that what they heard was God's truth for them, rather, they want to believe that what they heard was as the word of men.
(6) They get up and go their way, considering the truth they heard as a lovely song, pleasant voice and well played instrument. (7) Verse 33. Not until it comes to pass as the servant of God spoke that it would, will they believe. Yet even in this, we must keep in mind other Scriptures which points out that these folks many times will dismiss that judgment as something else, maybe a trial of their faith. They have accepted the instruction from the servant of God as information, to be accepted or rejected. They fail to see it as instruction from God for them.
There seems to be a built-in theological sieve. It strains a message which folks hear. It places any Scripture used as the word of God, yet it places any illumination which the teacher might give as information about that passage. That information is placed in a file to be used or discarded, at the desecration of the hearer. That instruction is seldom seen as instruction from God. Or as a warning from God.
The conclusion of this lengthy matter.
1. Sin will be judged. The departure from the principles of His law has a result. Whether as a society, institution, church or individual. All men everywhere are covered in this principle. This is well enough established that we all know it and take it for granted.
2. That judgment will not come without warning. With that warning will be the opportunity to turn from that sin and claim God's mercy and grace.
3. Here in Amos we see that this warning comes from God's servants which He has sent to His people. Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. This servant, more often than not, is a pastor but it may be an evangelist or any other means which a sovereign God might chose to use. (Remember, He used an ass to deliver a warning to the wayward prophet.)
4. Now His people have a choice. a.) Receive the instruction from God. Turn from where they have departed from God's law-word and return to Him. He will abundantly pardon and forgive. His mercy is overwhelming. b.) Dismiss that warning as just the words of a man and continue on in stubbornness, covetousness and idolatry. (See I Sam. 15:23. Compare with Amos 3:1-8 and I Thess. 2:13.)
We should mention here that many times because people see that God's servant through whom He is sending the warning has feet of clay, they dismiss the warning.
5. Lastly, no person has the total mind of Christ. Therefore we should be praying that God would let us see his warnings then that we would have the grace to turn toward His mind and claim His mercy.
1. God in His justice must judge sin.
2. God in His mercy warns us.
3. God in His love (proved that love in Christ) provided the means. If we will heed the warning and turn from our wicked ways we can have His judgment turned back and replaced with forgiveness and mercy as well as wisdom to deal with the situation, Prov. 28:13, 14.
Matt. 22:23-33. The pressure does not let up on our Lord. He had silenced one group of enemies and now another rises up. We will see that when He answers this group, then there will be another group rise up. We also can be assured that there will always be men raised up to oppose Christ. We may see victory in one area but there will be opposition in another.
In this confrontation up to here, our Lord had spoken very strongly against these men, these builders who thought they were something. He had exposed them for who and what they were, false teachers who were bringing judgment and wrath from God upon themselves and upon their followers. Now in these three passages, verses 15-22, 23-33, and 34-40, these men who He has "scalded" are seeking to discredit Him in front of the very ones that He had discredited them before. Their very best efforts fail.
Verses 23-38. The Sadducees were "cross-ways" in several areas although our Lord only points out one of the ways here. They did not believe in the resurrection. Evidently they attempted to use an argument with our Lord which they had used successfully on others because they seem to have it down pat. It had perplexed other men but they are now confronted with the Wisdom of God. The questions which may throw men into silence for lack of answers are no more than a vapor to Him. They might as well have asked Him whether it was day or night.
Verse 29. Here is the answer to every perplexing question which arise. We do error. We error in not knowing the Scriptures. We do error not knowing the power of God. The answer for every question which arises is in our hands. The problem is not that the answer is not there but that we don't know the Scriptures. We fail to study and search the Scriptures. We fail to pray and let the Holy Spirit (the power of God) reveal the Scriptures to us.
Evidently these men studied Scripture, v. 24. Yet they studied Scripture to confirm the traditions which they had been taught and which they wanted to hang on to. In this kind of study they overlooked obvious truths which would counter what they wanted to believe, v. 32. Christ quoted Moses whom they quoted to back up their tradition.
Their supposed perplexing argument was based upon error. Their error was based upon a misuse of Scripture. Really, their argument was based on the overlooking of a truth in favor of their tradition.
Of course, the application is quite apparent. Probably the number one error of our day is the study of Scripture, not with an open mind, prayerful for the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth to us, but study to confirm tradition. Study to confirm what we want to believe. Study to support something we have been taught.
As we discuss in our paper on Darbyism (Darby Vs. The Baptist), this was the way Darby studied Scripture. He built a doctrine then looked for Scripture to confirm what he believed. This method of study was not new with him nor did it die with out with him. It was around with the Sadducees here in vv. 23-38 and it is still very much with us.
A vast amount of false teaching (if not all) is built like this. The false teachers have some very well studied passages to support their doctrine. They have these passages down. They know these passages inside and out. With these very well-known passages they can usually tie their opposition in knots (as evidently these Sadducees had been doing. Their confidence here indicates this). The reason they can do this is because their opposition does not know the Scriptures. If they did, these false teachers would not be able to do this. They would be confronted with the whole of Scripture (the total context).
Our Lord had no such "handicap". He knew it all, after all, He had given it originally. Immediately He gave them the total context of their one point. This made their argument vanish as darkness vanishes when a floodlight is turned on.
We might mention. The reason the false teachers study so intensively their false doctrine is usually because it appeals to the flesh and/or strengthens power over people. The flesh might enjoy the emotion that comes with it, or the promise of prosperity, the promise of glory, or the promise of deliverance from trials or from a very difficult situation. Whereas a study of the total context might require a death to what the flesh wants (in fact, probably will) and a submission to God's will. This is far from enjoyable at the time.
Christ identified the problem. Those who prided themselves of their knowledge of Scripture were in error not knowing the Scriptures.
Let us also mention here. Those who have obtained honor in men's eyes in the Scriptures are as hard to convince of their error as were these Sadducees. They were "someone" in their attainment. They were not about to admit their error, v. 33. When confronted with the clear truth of Scripture they ignored it and went their way as did the Pharisees of vv. 22, 46.
We see this over and over today. As a rule, the more men advance in the eyes of themselves and in the eyes of others, the more committed they become to error if they are involved in error. They are not about to allow someone who is not one of them point out the truth from God's word to them. Even if one of their group should happen to see the truth of a matter, the group will accuse them of joining with the opposition. Men such as these Sadducees, will use every excuse under the sun to keep from having to admit that truth is truth. In these confrontations with Christ, they just shut up and walked away. But more often then not the response found in Jn. 9:34 is far more typical. "Who are you to teach us? We have arrived. When you arrive to the plateau where we are, or above, then we might consider what you have to say. Until then, how dare you to even think of instructing us."
Christ confronted them with truth. A truth they had overlooked. They were not about to admit they had overlooked that truth. To do so would have severe repercussions. First, they would lose their position in the eyes of those following them. Second, they would have to change their doctrine and their current false doctrine had indeed been lucrative to them. Third, no doubt, they did not want to be disloyal to those who had taught them their false doctrine. After all, they were good, sincere men. A sum total here would be, "I'M COMMITTED IN WHAT I HAVE BEEN TAUGHT AND WHAT I HAVE TAUGHT OTHERS, I AM NOT GOING TO CHANGE NOW."
As we said, we see this over and over, especially as we try to confront those who have "obtained" with some very pressing issues of our day. They may hear out the truth of the matter but in the end it is Jn. 9:34, maybe even coupled with the marveling at the truth as in Matt. 22:22. Then they turn from it and go their own way.
These men which were confronted with the truth did not know the Scriptures and when confronted with the Scriptures, ignored the truth. They hardened their hearts in their error and became more committed to that error, Ja. 1:22.
Verse 30. Notice here that our Lord did not attempt to prove the truth of the resurrection or of angels to these who did not believe in either. These were established facts and arguments were not the answer. The power of God was the answer.
This is another point too close to by-pass. The gospel is not an intellectual challenge or choice. Let us direct our attention to a well-known author of our day, Josh McDowell and his book, "Evidence That Demands a Verdict". There are a couple of quotes which we will look at and then examine them in light of the Scripture.
In the foreword written by William R. (Bill) Bright, we have this statement. "For example, a brilliant but confused psychiatrist who came to Arrowhead Springs for counsel frankly confessed to me that he had never been willing to honestly consider the claims of Christ in his own life for fear that he would be convinced and as a result, would have to change his way of life... Those who have [considered Christ's claims] have found the evidence so convincing that they have accepted the verdict that Jesus Christ is truly who He claimed to be..."
In his preface, McDowell makes this statement, "Apologetics is not for proving the word of God but simply for providing a basis for faith." On pg. 3, we find him quoting this statement. "Christianity is based on indisputable facts". McDowell makes this statement on pg. 4. "When Christ and the apostles called upon a man to exercise faith, it was not a "blind faith" but rather an intelligent faith."" He goes on to quote another source, "We believe in Christ today because it is rational to believe in Him, not though, it be irrational..." We will give one more quote here. "Faith in Christianity..is based on evidence. It is reasonable faith. Faith in the Christian sense goes beyond reason but not against it. Faith is the assurance of the heart in the adequacy of the evidence. (Above emphasis added.) He should read Rom. 8:24. If there is evidence beyond doubt that we can see with the natural mind then no faith is required.
We will stop with these quotes from his introduction. Here is enough to see where he is coming from and what he is building on. As well as the purpose of his book.
Let me add a few remarks from what he gives as his salvation experience (pgs. 373-4). "They challenged me to intellectually examine the claims of Jesus as the Son of God! ---As a result, I found historical facts and evidence about Jesus Christ that I never knew existed. ---I found that I was rejecting Christ on the bases of ignorance." "I had two choices, I could invite Jesus Christ to come into my life as Savior and Lord. Or I could reject Him." "---Sin is basically an attitude of indifference toward God (He needs to read Jn. 3:18, 36). So I asked Him to forgive me. Then I prayed, "Jesus, I invite you to come into my life as Savior and Lord. I exchange my will for your will." Finally, by faith, I thanked Him for coming into my heart." Then he goes on to tell how much his life changed. He tells of the many folks after that who he influenced to "commit their lives to Christ."
At the very end of his book he covers the "Four Spiritual Laws". The last one bears looking at. The third one talks of Christ dieing in our place. This is good, even the devils know this and so should people. The problem is in the fourth one where he explains what it means to receive Christ. "Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self, trusting Christ to come into our lives, to forgive our sins and make us what He wants us to be." For assurance he says this, "Did you receive Christ into your life? According to His promise in Rev. 3:20 (Can you imagine a "Bible scholar" using Rev. 3:20 as a salvation verse?), where is Christ right now in relation to you? Christ said that He would come into your life.---" "Thank God often that Christ is in your life..." "You can know that the living Christ indwells you, and that you have eternal life, from the very moment you invite Him in on the basis of His promise..."
We have two things here concerning Mr. McDowell's own personal testimony. First, his decision was an intellectual one. Second, his plan of salvation, by his own words, are the words of a false prophet. They sound good, yet totally miss the truth in the redemptive work of Christ the Lord (See THE GOSPEL PERVERTED).
Based upon what we are told here, the book we are considering is written by a man who has trusted the wrong thing for salvation. This would make the whole foundation of the book very shaky. No doubt the facts are honest, yet the philosophy behind those facts would not be right.
Back to his basic premise for the book. Salvation is presented as an intellectual challenge, then the choice is made. We would think that folks, especially those who make their living from the word of God, would at least read Heb. 11. There we have a clear principle laid out, that principle is that faith is NOT a choice of an intellectually superior way. Faith is what causes us to make a choice when that choice goes completely contrary to human reasoning. In fact, faith causes a person to choose when the result of that choice to the natural man looks like nothing but failure. Faith looks ahead and says, "This is what God's word says. I will go this way even though it seems to be the wrong way."
To reduce faith to the realm where the natural man is able to understand enough to make an intelligent choice is contrary to Paul's instruction in I Cor. 2:9-16. Clearly he says that the natural man cannot receive the things of God. Only as the Spirit of God reveals the things of God is their any power of God. To attempt to reduce the things of God to the natural level so the natural man can receive it, borders on apostasy.
Heb. 11:3, through faith we understand... The doctrine being presented by McDowell (as well as many other groups along this line) is through understanding we have faith. This is heresy to say the least. As we know, McDowell is one of the more popular college age speakers. No doubt a reason for this is his appeal to the intellectual part of man.
Was not this what made the offer in Gen. 3:5 so appealing? Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Intellectual facts become the basis for decisions, not God's inspired word. Can we use enticing (persuasive) words of man's wisdom to persuade men that Christ is the superior way without losing the demonstration of the Spirit and of the power of God, I Cor. 2:1-8?
Yes, Paul used wisdom but it was the wisdom of God not the wisdom of this world. We will find that every argument in the word of God was an argument based in the written word of God, not an argument bosed on "historical facts". The word of God brings conviction.
Think for a moment. If the many professions which these groups claim are a result of an intellectual challenge rather than a Scriptural challenge, what do we have? Is it any wonder that these people are having very little if any changing power upon society? And, really, very little change in their lives.
No doubt there is a place for Christian Apologetics but when argument seeks to convince the natural man then clearly we have departed from the faith. Faith does not come by intellectual argument of facts but faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, Rom. 10:17. (See Rom. 14:23.)
Look at what our Lord did here in Matt. 22:29-33. He did not argue with them with historical facts concerning angels nor concerning the resurrection. He confronts them with the word of God. We will find this consistent with our Lord. The astonishment came from the doctrine which Christ presented, v. 33.
Yes, we should have an answer for the hope that lies within us, but we will find that Peter is encouraging the study of Scriptures that we might have a Scriptural answer for that hope, I Pet. 3:15. It is the Scripture which brings shame and conviction to the sinner, not intellectual facts.
Our Lord gave us the example that we should follow (in his steps). The example He left us with here in His confrontation with these wicked, Christ rejecting men (and really, even when He confronted the devil) was to confront their evil efforts and their rebellion against the King with the word of God. It was the word of God which put them to silence.
Blind faith? My, my, yes. First, the unsaved man is as blind as he can be. It is the stepping out on God's word in his blindness which saves him, II Cor. 4:2-6. Second, how about our daily walk, blind faith? Again, yes! Heb. 11 is clear on this. Abel's sacrifice was not intellectually superior. Abraham's choice to follow God (v. 8) was not an intellectual choice for he didn't even know where he was going. How about Moses? His choice (v. 25) was intellectually stupid. The list is far to long for so short of a space, Heb. 11:32.
Faith steps out on the word of God even though the end result appears to be total folly and foolishness to the natural man (by the way, that natural man will war against faith until we die).
THE SPIRIT OF EPHRAIM
I had someone ask me if I though the U.S.A. had any relationship to the "lost tribe of Ephraim." I told them that I believed it did only not in the way which many are making the connection. There are folks who would try to make the U.S.A. or the white races part of the "ten lost tribes", yet to do this requires some major rewriting of Scripture. Just one point of disagreement would be Shem (the yellow races, Hebrews included), Ham (the dark skinned race, Egypt included), and Japheth (the white race, Angelo-Saxon included). To try to make the white race part of the Hebrew (Jewish) race would be to mix Shem and Japheth.
Yet, no doubt the connection between Ephraim and the U.S. is very close (close enough to get our attention), which we will see as we look at an application of Hosea chp. 13. This is lengthy but we do hope you will take the time to look through it. There may be some material which might be of use. The connection between our society and EPHRAIM is to obvious to pass over lightly and quickly.
13:1 Ephraim was exalted and made strong as the direct result of his dead's dedication to God. Joseph served God with all of his heart and soul, with a complete dedication to God. Joseph is the only one other than Christ who has no sin mentioned of him. The result of Joseph's dedication to God and His principles of life brought tremendous blessing upon Ephraim (Gen. 48:20) even above his brothers. The blessing of strength and numbers. Read the prophecy.
Now, Ephraim inherited this. He grew mighty in numbers and strength because of the dedication of his father. Notice what this increase in strength did (the cross reference here is Prov. 18:12). Rather than this increase in strength causing humility, and thanksgiving to the God of his father, it caused haughtiness, pride. When Ephraim spoke, the rest of the tribes trembled because of his might. (Therefore the purpose of all education should be how to serve, not how to lead. "Training tomorrows leaders" should be "Training tomorrows servants, Gal. 5:13.) He exalted himself in Israel... His physical strength caused him to exalt himself. There is no record of Ephraim being humble.
Thus we see: First, his Father served God in total, complete dedication. His dad inherited the manifold blessings of God. These blessings were passed down to Ephraim from his dad. Second, these blessings caused Ephraim to be lifted up with pride and exalt himself, rather than humility. Third, As Ephraim prospered by the grace of God, rather than serve God he served Baal (simply means "lord"-- Baal would be a generic name for many false gods , Baalzebub means, "lord of the flies").
The wages of sin is death. and Ephraim died, (I Tim. 5:6). He died spiritually and he died as a nation. His sin separated him from God who is the giver of all life. He took the promised prosperity from his dad (Joseph) and used it to serve his false gods. Really the Lord is only repeating what He has already said (10:1, 11, etc.). Ephraim took what God blessed his father with as the result of his faithfulness to God and served other gods with it.
Let's look at a short application of this here and will pursue it much farther as we go along. This is exactly what we have done in the U.S.A.. We are not the physical heirs of Ephraim but we sure are his spiritual heirs. No one can deny that as we compare Ephraim's spirit with modern Christianities spirit.
Our fathers were totally committed to God. Check any good history of our nation from 1500-1750. That 250 year period saw a complete dedication to the Lord God and His laws and principles of life (Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, B.F. Morris). This nation inherited a tremendous blessing of prosperity and numbers (strength) as the direct result of our fathers dedication to the Lord God.
But, look what has happened. That blessing of God has been, and is being more and more used to pursue the false gods of this world. Materialism, lust, pride, etc.. There has been very little humility since this nation was founded and even less as God prospered it. Just like Ephraim, rather than glorify God as He prospers us (INCLUDING OUR INDIVIDUAL LIVES) we have and are using that prosperity to pursue the false gods. This is human nature and unless it is guarded against, in fact warred against, we will end up serving the gods of this world with the prosperity God provides. Wealth comes from Him, and as with all things which comes from Him, this also can be usurped by the enemy and totally corrupted.
I am inclined to think that even when people make a deal with the devil to gain wealth, the Lord says, "Okay, if it's that important to you, here you are. You will also have to pay the results" and they do. "Go ahead, try it your way" and the terrible results come to pass. "Man has been given the freedom to sin but not the freedom to avoid the results."
It doesn't matter how prosperous we seem to be, when we "offend in Baal, we die." When we recognize other "lords" over us, only death is in store for us. Either as an individual, church, or nation. The nation only reflects the individual's attitude toward God. We might add, it reflect the Christian's attitude.
V. 2, of course the context is Ephraim. They served the calves under Jeroboam. They worshipped Baal under Ahab, and here they go the next step with their individual, private lives and make images of silver. It doesn't take as much money to make images of silver as it would gold. "According..", they made gods as they felt was best. They decided what their gods should look, act and be like. "Kiss..", a sign of homage, worship (Ps. 2:12, kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are they which put their trust in Him). Might mention here, as the people worshipped the "hosts of the heavens" being unable to kiss the moon, they kissed their hand and threw the kiss to the moon. We still hold this practice today as "blowing a kiss" to someone which we cannot reach.
Now for the application: (1.) The blessings of God were given in response to the faithfulness of their fathers. (2.) Rather than this drawing them closer to God it caused pride. (3.) The pride, prosperity, caused a turning to Baal which resulted in death. (4.) (Isa. 9:13)-- We see that even though God smote them they would not return but continued on in their sin. (5.) They made idols according to their own understanding. Rather than returning to the Lord God as the plagues and droughts came they became even more committed to their false god.
We are living in a sad day. We have prospered because our fathers served, believed and obeyed God. We have used this prosperity to serve other gods. Gods of lust, covetousness, pride, etc. (might say here, gods of science, education). God has warned but rather than return to Him it has caused us to become more committed to the false gods. A very pointed example of our day of course is AIDS (as well as the rest of the VD). No doubt these terrible diseases are a direct result of the refusal to honour God's laws regarding marriage, sex and morality.
But rather than an all-out cry to reinstate God's laws in these areas the answer is more money, more scientific research and more education. So rather than the death of 13:1 causing a return to God, it causes a greater commitment to the other gods, -- money, science, education.
We are not picking on AIDS but it is one of the more well-known of all right now. We have heard "tens of millions will be dead in the 1990's if something isn't done." No doubt God is sending judgment against sin. But rather than men turning to God and repenting of their sin, look at what they are doing. They want billions spent on research and education about it all the way down to the third grade. There is no way to avoid it, AIDS is causing more of a dedication to the false gods of science and education. It should be causing men to see their hopelessness in the face of this dreaded disease and calling them to repentance before the God of heaven. It should be causing men to kiss the son...
The drunkenness of our day is treated the same as well as other areas like drugs. If we would believe all the propaganda you would think that with enough money and education any problem of man can be cured. This clearly shows us the humanist philosophy which says that the right combination of laws can save mankind. Many Christians are caught in this. This is saying that the state can save; that salvation is by serving the state with total dedication and obeying its every desire. We look to them to provide the right leaders, laws, money to combat these social ills as well as to educate people to the evils of these things.
See the thinking behind all of this? "We must teach our people (kids down to the 3rd grade) about drugs and the harm they do. We must teach about the dangers of VD, AIDS etc.. We must teach about the danger of alcohol. "If we teach all of these things then these people can make an intelligent decision and we can keep these social evils under control." No. Anything which is against God's law hold a tremendous excitement in it. Man will pursue it until they die or are saved. This is one reason why sex outside of marriage is so exiting and it loses that excitement once they are married.
This is the lie satan offered Eve. "Eve, if you will only eat of this tree of knowledge you will no longer need God's word to tell you what is right or wrong. You will be able to make you own intelligent decision." All of the understanding in the world will not enable a person to make the choice which will please God and has life in it. The way which seems right to a man is the way of death. The way that seems wrong is the way of life, Prov. 16:25.
So we see here that knowledge and education apart from God only makes the person more convinced their ways of reasoning are more correct. It makes it harder for them to follow God's ways. It only strengthens the original sin that said, "If you know enough about the matter then you can make the right decision without the word of God." Only God's word and His grace can enable man to make the right decision. In fact, that decision has already been made for us.
It is understanding God's word and applying it in the area of business, science, math, language, music, art, medicine, law, politics, marriage, the works of our hands as general labour, interpersonal relationships, sex, in fact, even in our eating and drinking. Understanding what God's word says in each of these areas, applying that law-word of God, then making the decision based upon His word and we will make the decision which has life in it. Anything less has death built in.
The answer to the massive confusion today on even "Surrogate motherhood" isn't more education, counseling, or more money for research. The answer is found in God's word and the decision is made... Surrogate motherhood is WRONG. (Remember the Challenger disaster. They sent in a bus load of "counselors" for the poor kids who had to see that on T.V.. Where were the preachers?)
Another application here much to good to pass up.
According to their own understanding... Not many people today are serving the God of the Bible. Almost all are serving gods after their own understanding. They put together a god which they can understand. They want a god who they can figure out, and that fits into their timetable. They want a god which will let them do as they desire or as they can reason out on their own.
The "church" today seems more interested in a god which will fit into the tradition of the elders (Mk. 7:5-9) than in the Lord God of Scriptures. We had a young man come see us one evening. He told of the B.B.F. College in Springfield, MO. They teach all views of creation, evolution, etc., and make no effort to cover it up. The reason given for it is that young people need to know the other side (doctrine of errors) so they will know how to combat it. This is tradition and nothing else.
The word of God is very plain on this. 1. Jer. 10:2, Learn not the way of the heathen... 2. Col. 2:3-8; I Tim. 4:7, 8, we are to avoid anything which does not build us or our children up in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thus we see that such a doctrine as "You need to know so you will know how to stand against it" is nothing but a lie of the enemy designed to win God's people away from the truth. These are enticing words used to undermine God's word.
We want a god who will allow us to keep these corrupt ideas which appeal to the flesh and to the human understanding. We don't want a God whose thoughts and ways are so much above our thoughts and ways that we need a supernatural revelation to understand and approach Him. Is this not why He had to have a literal, physical nation in the OT (Israel)? Because His ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours that we could not even begin to understand them unless He acted them out. This He did with Israel. Isa. 55:8, 9 doesn't fit well with modern theology so we must try to bring Him down to our level to where we can understand Him. Then we don't have the Lord God of Scripture but an idol after our own understanding.
To say that the Lord God permits the learning of these humanistic (evolution, etc.) teachings is to offend in Baal..and sin more..and make for ourselves..idols after our own understanding. No wonder our pastors and Christians today won't submit to the clear plain teaching on many other subjects. They have been taught in the ways of the heathens even in the "best" Bible colleges. They aren't training men to serve the Lord God of the Bible by faith, but training men to walk after their own understanding.
How can we blame our young people for serving their god in their own way (not the God of the Bible, Him you serve in His way) when their parents, teachers and spiritual leaders insist on having a god they can understand and reason out.
"I don't do that" we might say. The question then is, "How much of the word of God will we believe. 1.) That violates the traditional doctrine or interpretation? 2.) That does not fit in with what we can understand. (a) The example here, Don't learn the way of the heathen. Do we allow the teaching of ourselves, or of our children that which does not build up in the Biblical faith? Do we allow our children to be taught evolution, as just one example? If so, then are we not failing to serve the Lord God of Scripture? rather idols according to our understanding. If we refuse Scriptural teaching because it doesn't agree with the "tradition of the elders", are we not then serving a god after our own understanding? The persons who do these things (just two examples of many) might as well go ahead and kiss the calves because they did in their heart when they rejected the word of God for a way which they could understand.
"I just don't see it that way", is an idol after our own understanding and is far different from, "That is not Scriptural." We can stand and call any doctrine heresy no matter who teaches it as long as we base that call upon God's word. God, shed Your mercy and grace on Your people, (v. 14).
V. 3, ..cloud, ..dew, both have a promise of some benefit. For a while it looked prosperous to serve the calves, but look what was in store for them. You will find that the ungodly nations seemed to prosper the most just before their downfall. Remember the prosperity of Solomon and Jeroboam II?
The early dew promises hope but is soon "passed away," as the chaff. The grain fell out but the chaff is blown away. How? With the whirlwind. They sowed to the wind and now they reap the whirlwind which blows them away (8:7).
An illustration here would be the ability to seed the clouds to cause a tornado. Here the cloud is "seeded" by ignoring God's law-word and the whirlwind develops. The tornado blows them away (see 13:9).
Smoke... As you look at it coming out of a chimney it seems to have a substance to it. Just wait a minute, it will be diluted and gone, Prov. 10:25. There never was any substance to it and it will soon show there wasn't. (We see smoke so thick that it looks like you could walk on it. This is an illusion.) Here is a picture of the false security which is offered in a false prosperity. Prosperity apart from God's word. It looks good and promising but it will be exposed for what it really is one day. The house will fall.
Their own understanding may have some prosperity in it but it is only smoke. Hosea 6:4; 8:7; 10:1. This book is full of this principle. Ephraim served his gods. He prospered and felt that the Lord God was overlooking his idolatry. Actually, God was only holding back judgment in his Mercy hoping Ephraim (and Israel) would return to Him Rom. 2:1- 11. Someone says, "I am not doing all God wants me to do, yet I am prospering." It is like smoke. That prosperity will pass away. Only what is done to God's glory will last.
How many people do we know and have known,-- They have put God and faithfulness to His word on a shelf. They seem to be prospering any way. They still have good jobs, cars, houses and material things. It looks like God is blessing them in their indifference. We sit back and say, "Look at that, what profit is there in my trying to do right? They aren't and look at how God is taking care of them," (Ps. 73). They look prosperous but their foot is in a slippery place and the closer we are to Christ the better we can see this. If we get away from Him we cannot see this because this will be through the eyes of faith. Faith tells us their end is established, no matter how prosperous they seem.
V. 4, of Egypt.. He reminds them that He is still the same Lord God which brought them out of Egypt. Not only did He bring them out with a high hand of power and might (it's good to remember His miracle working power), but He also is the same God of Deut. 28; The same One who promised a blessing for obedience and a curse for disobedience. It is good for us to remember His miracle power, especially in our salvation. It's good to remember His delivering power and mercy. His love shown to us in Christ Jesus. His grace toward us as we look back over the changed life of where He brought us from. The list is endless of His goodness to the sons of men.
Just as important, if not more so, is the remembrance that He is also still the same Lord God today as He was in Deut. 28 (Heb. 10 & 12). He has rewards for obeying Him and judgments for ignoring Him. In fact, we need to be reminded even more of this because the truth is so easily corrupted. The enemy comes to us and says, "God is such a good God of love that you don't really have to worry about His judgment against your sin of indifference." He is the same God as delivered His people from Egypt and His people STILL have the same responsibility to Him.
Notice He is also Saviour. He is the one that saved them. This alone would give Him the claim over them. It wasn't the works of their own hands; it wasn't the gods after their own understanding. IT wasn't the calves which they kissed. (Isa. 40 fits good in here. In fact, 40-55 [45:5, 6, 18, 21, 22; 46:5, 9, etc.]: Also notice the many times God speaks to Ephraim. It wasn't the false gods which redeemed them so why serve them?)
Example: Isa. 28:1-8. As we said, the spirit of Ephraim seems to be the most prevalent of any. His father Joseph paid the price in purity. He spent many years in prison, faced many false accusations as well as put his life on the line in order to remain pure and holy before his God. God honoured and exalted him more than we can imagine. Along with this came a tremendous promise of blessing to his children and especially Ephraim, the younger. But rather than using or seeing this prosperity as a call to serve the Lord God, Ephraim used this to serve himself. He was lifted up with pride and rebelled against the God of his father.
Oh, my! How typical of the spirit within God's people today. Our fathers paid the price with persecution, suffering and ridicule of all kinds that they might serve and be true to the living God. God poured out His unlimited blessings upon them and their children. But rather than this prosperity being used to serve God and advance His kingdom it was (and is being) used to exalt ourselves, just as Ephraim did there in Isa. 28 and in many other places.
Now, there is nothing wrong with God's people enjoying the prosperity which God honoured their fathers with but the problem is, are they enjoying this prosperity at the expense of obeying God's principles of life?
Look at what the Lord here is telling them. Hosea 13:5, 6 (here is a application). He knew His people in the wilderness; in the time of drought. Here we are again, it seems His people today know Him during this time also. When things aren't going to well we have plenty of time to search, seek and serve Him. Many promises are made here. The list is endless of the vows and commitments which are made. You would think Joseph himself had come back to life as His people get right with Him. They put aside their idols. They renew their commitment and start serving Him once again.
VV. 5-6, God's people make the vows. They do this with the very best of intentions. Things calm down and smooth out. He leads them to the green pastures and once again things start working out. They start eating good and sleeping good once again. Their conscience leaves them alone. They get out of the wilderness, they have food to eat and water to drink. Then look what they do. 13:6 They have forgotten me. (Here is Ecc. 5:4-7 acted out).
The spirit of Ephraim is very much alive and well and in control today. The temptation is to forget Him when things go good.
I had a individual call me at 4:00 a.m.one morning and they told me they had hit bottom and needed help so we arranged to meet with each other. I talked to them and they told me they were afraid to try again because they had tried before and failed. We talked some more and it turns out that when they got saved (again, at that time on the very bottom) God lifted them up. He set them free from all of the ungodly lusts and desires and the individual lived for and served the Lord for a few months. The Lord gave them a good job and even a promotion on that job within those 3 or so months. They got lifted up with pride, thinking they had accomplished the change in their life. They laid aside their personal time with the Lord (prayer and Bible study), became unfaithful in church and it wasn't but a very few days until they were right back in the same mess. This has been quite a while ago and things just keep getting worse and worse for them. They knew it is the Lord dealing with them and they are fearful of the results of the way they were going. They forgot God when they were filled and watered (exalted). They used what God provided when they vowed to Him, to serve the wicked desires of the flesh.
As we talked I pointed out that they were not in that mess because Christianity didn't work for them but because they wouldn't "work" Christianity. They knew that as long as they kept up their personal walk with the Lord (including the assembly together) they had the victory over ungodly lust but when they let down the flesh gained control in a very short time.
Now, I am not saying that this personal walk is the "magic formula" over the lusts of the flesh (Ja. 1:12-17) but here is where it starts. If Christianity is not fulfilling the claims of God's word in your life, the problem is not in God's word. It works if we will work it. A person who claims Christ and yet they survive "just fine" without this personal walk really don't have any claim on Christ because I Cor. 3:16, 17 makes it very clear. A person who lays God on the shelf is headed for destruction. Whether an individual, family, society or nation and it doesn't matter how good things look right now, it is smoke.
As we pointed out I Cor. 3:16, 17 to this individual they said, "I know, that is exactly what God is doing to me. He is destroying me and I must change." We reminded them that God wasn't destroying them, they were destroying themselves, to which they agreed, (Hosea 13:9).
Things may look good to a young person right now but they cannot ignore God's claim upon their life and expect anything except Hosea 13:9 to come to pass. They can spend a fortune on doctor bills but the answer is found in serving God.
VV. 7-8, these people prospered under the promised blessings of God. They used that prosperity to serve their own understanding. Now God becomes as a wild beast toward them, lying in wait and at the right moment they will be torn apart. This is something because this is exactly what this individual said to me. "I'm being torn apart. I don't know what to do. My life is ruined and I'm headed for destruction." (This person was 23 yrs. old.)
Here God is waiting as a wild beast. The people are enjoying the prosperity promised to their father, Joseph, who served God with his whole heart, soul and being. They are using this prosperity to serve the idols according to their own understanding. God withholds His judgment in His mercy, yet they refuse to return to Him.
As a dam holding back the water of chastisement, it is about to burst. It is about to leap upon them as a wild beast from his hiding place and rend them asunder. (See II Ki. 2:23, 24. Here, for mocking the man of God, (therefor God), the bear rends them. Be not deceived, God is not mocked, Gal. 6:7. See also I KI. 13:24. Here the man of God disobeyed God, didn't do what he knew he was to do, allowed someone else to influence him away from the clear plain instructions of God. A lion met him and slew him. Notice, neither the bear nor the lion ate the victim. Only rent, slew them.)
VV. 5-9, the application (allegory, Gal. 4:24; Rom. 15:4) is just to good to pass over lightly. The devil, for all he is cracked up to be, is only a tool in the hand of a Sovereign Lord God. He really is only a "rod of chastisement" in the hand of our Lord Jesus Christ (Isa. 10:5). We know that he will deny this but all power is our Lord's. So the devil can only do what he is given power to do.
The individual sat there and told us they knew they were being devoured by the devil. Why---? Because they quit doing what they knew they should have been doing, I Ki. 13:24.
If the prophet had obeyed God the lion would not have touched him. Notice also in that story. No matter how good or holy the source of the suggestion might be, if it doesn't correspond to the revealed word of God, we are to avoid it. The other prophet who influenced him away from obedience was, no doubt, a man of God as he claimed to be. God may have even told the second prophet to go and offer the meal to the first prophet. Why? To try the prophet's faith. Now, the first prophet was lead astray by his own lusts and those lusts not put there by God but by the flesh, Ja. 3:13, 14.
The lion here would be the natural result of obeying the lust of the flesh over the desires of the Holy Spirit. We can hang it up, the lion will be right there to devour the person. (See I Pet. 1:7-9; 5:8.) The prophets (II Pet. 1:19, 20) will come, even sent by God, to try our faith, that we might be strengthened and receive the reward (I Pet. 4:12-13). Do we claim to love God and want to obey Him? There will be a "prophet" to try to get us side-tracked, Deut. 13:1-5. Notice Jn. 15:17. The prayer is for the Father to keep His people true to Him and His word in the midst of the evil around them.
It is mockery to God for a child of God to think he can lay aside his responsibility to his Lord and escape the bear or lion. God makes it clear over and over. A child of His who avoids his responsibility either in his personal or public walk with Christ will be attacked by the lion. If that attack is not there then the person is not saved. Why should he attack one of his own?
This person knew exactly what was happening and why. They knew they were in the process of being devoured. We pointed out to them that there is nothing worse than dieing in the devil's slaughter house and they knew that was where they were headed. God had made it very clear to them. (They have since served jail time, yet still just as hardened in their sin.)
This is exactly what God tells Ephraim, "You are destroying yourself" (Israel here in v. 9). A person can blame everyone and everything else under the sun, as well as spend themselves into the poor house but the doctor can do nothing. Why? They are doing it to themselves. God gives us the principles of life.
This is exactly the message to God's people today as we take the prosperity which God gave to this nation as a direct result of our fathers walking with Him and serve the idols of our own understanding. The bear is about to leap out and rend those who are mocking God. As they say, "We don't need You over these areas of our life, God. You stay over there in Your house and we'll stay here. You do Your thing and we'll do ours (and part of ours is telling You how to do Yours)." God is not mocked and He has His tool, the wild beast, the bear, in the bushes along the road, and when the time is right, he will receive his command and he will come out and kill those who mocked the Lord.
When is the time right? We don't know. Only the Lord knows His schedule. The only thing I know, it's time for God's people to quit mocking God. It's time for God's people to turn from their disobedience in what they know their responsibility is, and turn back to HIM. He has the bear and the lion on the chain. They will ONLY move at HIS command.
From the looks of things, He is about to give that command as He did with Ephraim (and Israel) here in Hosea. But we have hope. Even in His anger, His hand is still stretched out to His people. They can return to Him and they will have His mercy rather than His anger (Prov. 28:13, 14). See also Joel 2:12; Jer. 3:12, 13.
It would seen though the spirit of Zephaniah 1:12 is the spirit in control today. The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil (judgment). This is the spirit which Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea (and the other prophets) had to contend with. This is the spirit today and most will not even recognize that the bear is the result of mocking God when he does come. (Just a note in passing. On the Disney channel [cable], they had Mickey Mouse in Russia. He was escorted around that nation by their mascot. The Soviets sure were proud to have the American mascot, a mouse, escorted by their mascot, a bear. Is there a significance here?)
V. 9, thou hast destroyed thyself-- (4:6, 9, 10; 7:2, 13; 8:1; 10:1, 2, 13, etc.). Hosea reminds them of this many times over. This is not only Hosea's message but the basic message throughout all of the prophets (examples: Jer. 32:23; 11:17; 5:25; etc.). Evil, destruction cannot be blamed on the Lord, which takes us back to James 1:13-15. The Lord clearly states that our own lusts leads us into sin. Just as sure as night follows day, that sin has a result attached to it (Rom. 1:17, 18; 2:2, 6, 11; 6:16; I Cor. 3:16, 17; Heb. 12).
As we face destruction in our lives we can place the blame no where except on ourselves. Society is facing total collapse (death) because we have removed God (His principles of life) right out of it.
The leopard is about to spring; the bear is ready; the lion is roaring; the wild beast is prepared and there is no one to blame except ourselves. We have chosen to forget God as did Ephraim and Israel. Nothing can destroy us but sin and that sin completely of our own doing, for God can have no part in it. He can allow our faith to be tested and tried but the following after that sin is from our lust of the flesh.
On the other end though, any "upward climb" is of God. Any help is of Him. Barnes' makes a good point here (Minor Prophets I, pg. 130). "Thy captivity, Israel, is from thee; they redemption from Me. They perishing is from thee; they salvation is from Me. Thy death from thee; they life from Me; They evil from thee, they good from Me. Thy reprobation from thee; they predestination from Me. Thy dereliction from thee; they calling from Me. Thy misery from thee; they bliss from Me. Thy damnation from thee; thy salvation and beautifying from me."
Now, the other side of the coin. Every aid to withdraw from that sin is from God. The "thing" which keeps us from falling is from God alone who is the only source of mercy and salvation. This is revealed here in the OT but much clearer in the NT, called GRACE (Heb. 4:16; Ja. 4:1-10; I Pet. 5:5, 6-11; and Ph. 2:13, etc.. See Lam. 3:22).
No one will be able to lift their hand toward the Lord in that day and say, "Look what you allowed to happen--." Nor can they do it now. The clear plain simple truth is that we destroy ourselves. I know those who try to blame the preacher, their parents, environment, spouse and an endless list of others but they did it to themselves. Maybe they wouldn't believe the preacher; study the word of God; apply God's principles; pray; tithe; assemble together. There is an endless list of what God has written down, then how we can avoid this destruction. It's no ones fault if we don't avoid it.
As we said though, Hosea doesn't leave us on this "down note" but points God's people back to our only source of help, HIM.
CONTENDING WITH THE WICKED
We have a principle given to us in Zech. 3:2 which is quite important for our day. This deals with a very misunderstood and misused subject. That would be the statement, The Lord rebuke thee. Joshua did not attempt to defend himself against the accuser of the brethren, the adversary. Joshua stood before the angel of the Lord (actually before the Lord Himself. Compare v. 1 and v. 2. And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. V. 2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
This is not only a OT doctrine because we find this statement used in the NT as Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. Probably the only connection between Zech. 3:2 and Jude 9 is the use in both places of the same words. This would show us that the same basic principle is valid in both dispensations (before Christ and after Christ).
This brings us to a important point. This being contending with (or against) the wicked. As the wicked become more open in their evil ways, how are we to contend with that evil (stand against them)?
There are several passages which talk about contending with the wicked. There are four which we would like to look at, two from the OT and two from the NT. The thing about these passages is that the two OT passages seem to contradict and the two NT passages seem to contradict one another.
Prov. 13:10, only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom (See Prov. 28:25; Ja. 4:1). Then on the other hand we have a passage which seems to call for the contention which these passages condemn. Prov. 28:4, they that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
Before we look at a answer here, let's examine two NT passages. Jude 3, beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Then on the other hand we have Jude 9, yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
What do we have here? On the one hand we are commanded to contend for God against the wicked around us. On the other hand we see contention condemned. We seem to have a contradiction. Which way do we go?
"We must indeed contend for the faith" (Gal. 11.5; I Thess. ii. 2; Jude 3), though it be with our compromising brethren (Gal. ii. 11). But even here how yet imperceptibly may pride insinuate itself under the cover of glorifying God!" (C. Bridges).
Most of us accept the definition of contending as fighting with another. If someone yells at us, we yell back. If someone strikes at us we strike back. If they get pushy, we push back. If we don't think they are doing right, we fuss and complain at them. If they are argumentative, we argue back. They get their group together to defend their views, we get our group together to defend our views. We think they are taking advantage of us, we demand our rights. How many of these things are proper to do? How many are improper, therefore are calling for God's judgment against those who do them?
If anyone would have had the right to speak evil of anyone it would have been Michael against the devil. (Rail -- evil speaking [Eph. 4:31], which even a Christian can be involved in [I Tim. 6:4]. Very closely related to speak evil of in Jude 8, 10 & II Pet. 2:2, 10, 12; Tit. 3:2, etc.. More specifically, slander, detraction, speech injurious to another's good name [strangely enough this is what is used in Jude 9, railing]. In Jude 10, speak evil of, is to speak reproachfully, dishonor). "Michael restrained himself, leaving all judgment and vengeance even in this case to God." (P.C.)). But we see that to contend with evil persons by speaking evil of them is condemned by God.
Probably the clearest picture of what the wrong contending is against evil is to examine what Biblical contending is against evil men and their ungodly ways. Anything less than the Scriptural response is pride and leads to wars and fightings which are not pleasing to God, Ja. 4. It leads to victory for the enemie's camp because the power of God is lost when the contention against evil is not carried out as the Lord directs.
I was watching a service telecast from over in Ohio the other evening (2-21-89), from a well packed auditorium in a "Chapel". I forget the name but evidently it is a quite large "Charismatic" church. The preacher was using Ex. 15:26 for I am the Lord that healeth thee as the text for his message. He used this text over and over, even getting the people to repeat it after him and really building up the emotions (folks like this and it will pack a service). He quoted the text, for I am the Lord that healeth thee. Then he said, "If thou wilt diligently harken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and obey him in (I thought, "Oh boy, he's going to tell the folks to obey God's law because that is the context, this guy isn't so bad after all. I think I like him. Park on that awhile, brother. Talk about the authority of Christ and the word of God over the individual, over society and over the Church.) all He has to say in regard to healing." Talk about garbage. He was dealing it out by the dumpster full and the people were eating it up like pigs at the feeder. He pulled that "healing" verse out of context like it was a greased pig. The Lord clearly says that the healing there is conditioned upon doing that which is right in his sight, giving ear to his commandments, and keeping all his statutes. It could not be any clearer that the healing was conditioned upon keeping all of the law-word of God, all of His commandments and statutes.
How like this we are. We will find a phrase or two which we can really use to promote what we want, yet cut it out of its context as skillful as a surgeon with a knife. We divide the word of God all right. Sad to say, that division isn't very rightly at times.
All of that to say this. Let us not be guilty of dividing up passages to condone what we (maybe even in our pride) want to do or teach. It feeds the ego to be able to fight (contend) with those we feel are not acting according to God's law-word. How many times have we fed our pride and ego in confronting those we feel aren't doing right under "the cover of glorifying God?" This would especially hold true in contending with those in authority or who may be exalted in mens eyes (II Pet. 2:10, 12; Jude 8, 10, etc.).
Probably the best place to start would be Prov. 28:4. This gives us our basic principle and within this principle all the rest of the passages will easily fit, whether OT or NT.
Look at what is said. This is a two part verse. Part A cannot be divided from part B without destroying the meaning. We will fuss at the televangelist about greasing the pig. Let us be careful not to grease the pig to fit our purpose also.
28:4A. They that forsake the law praise the wicked: Here we are told that when a person forsakes the law of God they praise the wicked. To fail to teach it, to fail to observe it, to fail to keep His law foremost in our meditation is to praise the wicked, Neh. 9:25, 26; Ps. 1:2; Ps. 119 (v. 2, although there are far too many verses which apply to this to choose one); I Jn. 3:4. Therefore, even a child of God can praise the wicked by failing to walk in the ways of the Lord; by failure to obey the principles of His word in all situations and circumstances, Ps. 119:105.
Anyone (saved or unsaved) who fails to make the forsaken law their standard of conduct, praise the wicked. To fail to continue in the ways (law) of the Lord in the face of the wicked and their devices would be to consent with them, Rom. 1:32. Time would fail us to pursue this so we will only give one more reference, Hosea chp. 4 (esp. v. 6) which is directed to My people.
The conclusion must be that no matter how sincere a person might be, no matter how vocal he might be against the devices of the wicked or the wicked themselves, no matter how many enemies he may have collected among the wicked, if he is not following the principles established in the law-word of God in his confronting of the wicked, he is PRAISING THE WICKED.
Now, Prov. 28:4B, but such as keep the law contend with them. We could say here that if I am going to be a law-keeper then I must contend with the wicked regardless of what God's word has established as a principle of conduct. But we don't think either the context of this passage, or the established principles of God's word even in the NT will support such a conclusion.
"While they that keep the law are at strife with them.. with those that forsake the law (BDB)." "The servants of God maintain the same unity of spirit. They cannot call sin by smooth names and gloss over an ungodly character. If they keep the law, they contend with them that forsake it (Charles Bridges)." How do the godly contend against the wicked? By keeping the law of God. Keeping the law of God is given first in Prov. 28:4. The result of keeping the law is given second (contention). To reverse the order to "We keep the law by contending with the wicked" is to destroy the word of God. In other words, the keeping of the law causes contention with those who do not keep the law. Our goal is not to contend with the wicked but to please our Lord by obeying His every word and seeking to advance His principles into every area of life (His Kingdom).
As a child of God dedicates himself to pleasing God rather than man, he can fully expect this to cause problems, Acts 5:29. As we give to God what belongs to Him, we won't have to wait long for the wicked to be upset. The wicked won't waste any time before they will lay claim to what belongs to God and the contention will be there.
The first example we find in Scripture would be the contention which developed between Cain and Abel. It wasn't over an argument. It wasn't over Cain wanting to live an ungodly life style. The contention was over Abel's obedience to God and God accepting Abel's offering, Gen. 4. It was Abel's godly activity which caused the contention.
Then we have Noah, as he moved with fear and obeyed God's word in the preparing of the ark, he condemned the world, Heb. 11:7. Yes, he preached (II Pet. 2:5) but we read that what condemned the world was his faith in the word of the Lord and that faith exhibited in action as he built the ark. He aggressively confronted the evil of his day, yet the thing which brought the condemnation was his faithful obedience (action) to God's word. (See also I Ki. 18:18; II Ki. 3:13; Matt. 3:7; 14:3, 4.)
Also as we separate from the works of darkness, we will reprove them, Eph. 5:11. There is no neutrality, Ps. 139:21, 22: II Chron. 19:2; Matt. 12:30. The promise is that godly living will result in contention, persecution, II Tim. 3:12. The chase conversation coupled with fear will bring conviction and contention, I Pet. 3:1-4. Ps. 15 gives the requirements to stand before God. As we do this (obeying His word) contention will develop between us and those who desire to ignore God's word. As we try to reclaim all areas of life for Christ, there will be contention with the wicked. They will not give them up without a fight.
The principle is well established in Daniel. Do what God's law-word requires and the wicked councilors will gather their followers together as they attempt to put a stop to the godliness which exposes and convicts them. They will pass laws and regulations in their attempts, yet our path is clearly established. Follow God's word and do those things which are pleasing in His sight (Dan. chp. 6). The keeping of the law of God in our attitude and actions will contend with the wicked.
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. Michael, rather than bringing a railing accusation against the devil in his dispute said, The Lord rebuke thee. Michael was going to obey God and let the Lord take care of the devil.
How about the contending for the faith as in Jude 9? No doubt if we will check it out we will find this is the effort to uphold truth by argument (confronting error with God's word) and a steady consistent life according to His standards.
"How about the contention which Paul faced in II Thess. 2:2?" This is a reference to "any struggle with dangers, annoyances, obstacles, standing in the way of faith, holiness, and a desire to spread the gospel." No matter what hindrances (contentions) may arise to our faithful obedience to God's word and the spreading of the gospel, we press on to the goal which is before us in Christ Jesus our Lord. The gospel is far more than the death, bural and resurection. It includes all things, Matt. 28: 20.
The conclusion would be that in the face of the wicked and their devices, we must keep our attitude and actions proper and in accord with God's word. As we do, contention and strife will develop, even contention and strife to the death. This is a natural result of being faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and the law of God.
To respond in that strife and contention which develops in any manner other than what is established (Ph. 2:15,16; I Pet. 2:12, 15; 3:16) in the word of God is to praise the wicked as well as loose the power of God to silence the wicked. The wicked detest anyone which would seek to operate outside of their authority yet we cannot give in to their unbiblical demands. Our faithfulness to God's revealed will (word) with a spirit of meekness and fear (I Pet. 3:15) is what will cause the contention and strife. Never does God permit railing against even the devil himself. He never permits the return of evil for evil.
It is the keeping of God's law that brings the contention. That keeping of the law must be done in a meek, humble manner. It cannot be in a self-assertive, contentious manner. Anything less than God's way will praise the wicked and cost us the power of God.
(Working for Godly Government, Hosea 8)
As each of us know, there are some tremendously corrupt ideas of the Christians responsibility in civil government. Is the Christian to be involved? If so, to what extent?
As always, our instruction in righteousness must come from the Scriptures, not from any man. Our correct conduct, even in this area, must be from Scriptures. As we have pointed out so many times, the instruction given to Timothy by Paul was to search the OT Scriptures. For here alone can we find the proper application of God's principles of life in these many areas, II Tim. 3:16.
A little passage stuck over in Hosea is often overlooked. There the Lord lays out one of the sins which caused the downfall of His people. To be involved in this sin today will bring the same downfall. Look at what the Lord says here in this verse.
Hosea 8:4 They have set up kings, but not by me: They have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.
A tremendous application of this here would be that they have another king over them other than King Jesus. They have submitted the local body of believers to another authority as they signed their name on the line, and it was done because of the financial benefit, The silver and the gold. The result is that they may be cut off.
The same principle applies to the individual. When any authority is recognized above the Lord over the believer he has done exactly the same thing as God condemns here and will reap exactly the same results.
We read their cry in v. 2, "My God, we know Thee, why are you allowing this to happen to us?" Yet, if you look close at their lives you will see the area in which they refuse to glorify God as God over, Rom. 1: 22.
The sin may be well concealed from view, but it is there unless God is working a much higher purpose in their lives by allowing these things to take place. The first call when the enemy comes against us is to look for the area He is not being glorified as God in, and, more often than not, this will be the problem. Because good (and God) has been cast off in that area, the individual is wide open to the enemy.
When we see the ungodly start to be exalted, we need to look for a reason why God is allowing him to be.
Idols.. We live as Hosea did, in a very covetous generation. (Study says materialism shows no sign of slowing,-- Indianapolis Star, 7/24/89, "Americans aren't about to turn away from material possessions... Americans, as well as comsumers around the world, are expected to be more self-indulgent than ever through the turn of the century. "Materialism will continue to be one of the driving forces in American society over the next decade, and an increasingly important force in other major markets as well."") Idols of gold and silver, and when the enemy is pursuing you all the gold and silver in the world will not help. Gold and silver will not buy protection from God's judgment against sin, Prov. 21:31.
Notice also one of the matters of controversy which the Lord has with His people. They set up kings and princes, civil rulers over themselves without consulting with the Lord or His Word, therefore apart from God's Word.
I heard a speaker on the radio by the name of Chuck Swindall (8/9/86). He said that it was unscriptural for a Christian to be involved in politics or to try to influence the world for Christ through political means. He also said that absolutely nowhere in Scripture is there permission given for God's people to do such things. I guess he has never read this passage. Here God is upset because His people did not consult Him as they set up the civil leaders over themselves and the result is going to be that they might be cut off.
They set up kings but not by His standard. They made princes, yet they were princes which did not know God and God didn't know them. These civil leaders that they set up did not govern according to God's law-word because they were not godly men.
God's Word gives the principles which reflect God's Holiness. These principles come from God's nature and are as everlasting as He is. His nature will never change, therefore, what please Him and what doesn't will never change. When ungodly rulers are set up or are not challenged by God's people, His people will be cut off just as sure as Gal. 6:7; Rom. 6:16; Heb 10:30-31, is in the Scriptures.
Isn't this exactly what Peter said in Acts 4:27-28. God's people (here the nation of Israel) chose to follow men who were ungodly as they cried out, We have no king but Caesar (Jn. 19:15). They rejected the offer of rule according to God's laws and standards and chose ungodly rule according to men's laws and standard and in doing so, they said let his blood be on us and our children. It was and they were cut off (Matt. 27:25).
They only voiced the typical thought of our day. The idea that the Kingdom of God is strictly within and spiritual. God is NOT interested or concerned at all with any kind of outside activity. There is a secular and sacred part of life. The spiritual being "soul-winning" and dealing with inner attitudes. The secular being anything else and the secular is to be avoided like the plague because it does not concern us. Is it any wonder the devils crowd is in control? This kind of attitude destroys Matt. 6:33.
Here we see God Himself is going to cut off His people by allowing the enemy to pursue them.
The cry today that is raising up even from those who profess to be His people is, "WE HAVE NO KING BUT CAESAR. Caesar is our authority. We live by the grace of Caesar and die by the wrath of Caesar, so we do all we can to stay in his grace and avoid his wrath." (I guess I am more than a little upset over this. This is a false doctrine which is going to cause this nation and God's people to be cut off, unless there is a turning around.)
"We don't want God's law over us. We don't want godly men over us. We don't want to work to get godly government over us. We don't want Christ over us." NOTE, godly men would be Christ over us. Because salvation is not I, but Christ liveth in me, Gal. 2:20.
The principle is clear cut. When a pastor or anyone for that matter, says, "I don't believe a Christian should be involved in (whatever area including politics)" they are actually saying, "We do not want Christ in control of that area". We can just hang it up that there are results of this kind of philosophy just as sure as here is a God in heaven.
1. The devil will take it over. This cannot be avoided.
2. There is a choice which is being made between Christ and the devil.
3. When the devil is chosen over Christ, the result of that decision will not only come down on the head of those who made the choice, but, also on their children (Matt. 27:25; Ex. 20:5). Lk. 20:12-15. They did not want the Son in authority over them. Therefore, the owner of the vineyard (WORLD) shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others who do want the Son to reign.
Again, notice it is God which takes a hand to remove those who refuse to allow the Son to reign. The ones who do want Him to reign must depend on God to remove the ones who don't as He did here in the context. He used Rome to do it in 70 A.D..
Who will He use today? By what method will He put His Son in control of the vineyard? There is much speculation but I don't think we can build doctrine on speculation. Although one thing is for sure, in God's time and in His way Christ will rule and every knee will bow to that rule and as for me, I will rejoice when that day comes.
All of that to say this, for anyone to say "A Christian has no business in that area": is to say that area is outside of Christ's controls. What is actually said is "We do not want Christ to control that area."
It is to say with the chief priests and the Jews of Christ's day, "WE HAVE NO KING BUT CAESAR. We do not want any laws or controls in that area except man's laws and controls." And those who say this will be cut off by God Himself.
Before we leave this let's point out one more thing. The incorporation of a group of people under the name of a church or mission board, etc., does the same thing. Christ is not reigning even over those who claim to be His people when this is done. This is to try too swear by Malcham and by the Lord and the result will be the same as it was for those who Zephaniah wrote to, Zeph. 1:5, 12; 3:7.
God promised through Moses that there would be false prophets which He would permit to be raised up to prove the dedication of God's people to His law. They would look good, sound good, and have everything which would indicate they were of God, yet, they would influence God's people away from God's law. They would convince His people that God's laws don't really apply for those areas, Deut. 13:1-5.
God will cut off His people for their refusal to glorify Him as God over EVERY area of their life and they can blame no one but themselves. In fact, Hosea calls it self-destruction, Hosea 13:9; Isa. 50:1.
The prophets abound which cry out the false message, "A Christian shouldn't be involved in politics." To believe this must avoid Hosea 8:4. We see the results all around us of this message which is contrary to God's Word.