The Gospel Preached in the Midst of Religious Superstition

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by Man whom He hath ordained; He hath given assurance unto all, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.”  Acts 17:22-31  (KJB)

Worship: It’s Not For God, It’s For Us….SAY WHAT????

Truth in Palmyra

This is the very first post I ever published, other than the one where I first introduced the blog. Ah, memories. I am actually rerunning a lot of my older stuff. Many have not read much of it, I have been crazy busy with work and church/ministry stuff and am also getting all of my posts into Word so I have them always. Thanks for your patience and consideration. It’s a bit longish, Back then I thought the more words the merrier.
Crossing out Lies and writing Truth on a blackboard.

This is my first “official” blog post, and it’s about a topic/person I will probably write about often. It’s about my “favorite” pastor, Joel Osteen.

Mr. Osteen’s name will probably appear in this blog often since he often says things which make me want to say other things. Hardly a word comes from his mouth that doesn’t make me want to respond in some way. Having said that…

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Religions Resistance

There are many times when the message of Christ is clearly presented that there will be resistance, even persecution, because the gospel of Christ turns religion upside down.  It is as true in 2017 as in the days of the apostles of Jesus.

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” Acts 13:46-52 (KJV)

Paul and Barnabas were in a town where there was a Jewish synagogue, and they went there to fulfill the word of God, “To the Jew first…”.  They were made bold by the power of the Holy Spirit within them and upon them.

They had shared the history of the people of Israel; reminding them of the power of God on the people, His love, His grace, His mercy; upon the people in their journey in the wilderness.  All these as well with the Judges and the Kings of Israel, and how the LORD had called the Jews to be the messengers of God to the whole world.

Religion of men seeks to control men, women and children, and keeps people in bondage of sin.  Christianity, following Jesus frees men, women and children from the bondage, death, and scourge of sin.

What should the messenger of Christ do when opposed by the religious elite?  Do as Paul and Barnabas did.  Keep on preaching, teaching, living for the Lord.  “Shake the dust off your feet”, and go on doing the work of the ministry.

Christmas Day 80

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to be angry at what makes God angry, and to direct that anger to fulfilling the will and glory of God in my life; to not let the anger fester and become hatred, sin and evil.

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.'” Matthew 21:12-13 (KJV)

What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 359

What do I want for Christmas?

Like my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; I want to be a friend to the friendless, the oppressed, the fatherless, the poor, the hopeless, and the helpless, and by His grace and provision do what I can for them.

LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more.”  Psalm 10:17-18 (NKJV)

Doctrines of Death

There are teachings of men and religions which are doctrines of death; not life. Teachings which bind in sin, and offers no freedom from sin, are doctrines of death.

Of course when we live in a society and culture of sin; who knows what is sin? Who knows what is right and/or wrong? According to our culture today the only thing wrong, is to say sin is wrong, if that sin is how they are living. In other words to call adultery a sin is a sin, because you have offended the sinner.

Jesus came to give life to those who were living death sentences. We are all living a death sentence until we come to Christ Jesus Himself. Jesus saw the teachings of the Pharisees, and of Herod as leaven. In Scripture “leaven” or yeast is a type of sin which permeates, and goes throughout the “bread” causing it to rise, or puff up. Hear the words of Jesus:

“Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And He charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” Mark 8:14-15 (KJV)

Jesus addresses much of the leaven of the Pharisees in Matthew 23. They were making people more disciples of hell than they themselves were with their teaching. Herod was a political leader; and of that we need to be aware as well. Jesus called him “That fox” (Luke 13:32).

Religion and politics mix well when they are corrupt. The religion of the day; in the day of Jesus and ours, and politics are deceptive, and corrupt. The religion that mixes well with politics is the religion that believes politics is the answer for mankind’s ills, and works to attain God’s favor.

There is life when one comes to Jesus believing Him, and turning from sin to life in Him.

Confusing Laws

“The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day. The posts went out, being hastened by the king’s commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed.” Esther 3:14-15 (KJV)

The book of Esther is partly about a Jewish girl in the captivity in Shushan during the reign of Ahasuerus. The name of God is never mentioned, but let us never think that He is not seen, nor heard, nor in control of the events of the great book.

Haman is from the Amalekites who are descendants of Esau. They have hated the Hebrew people for at least a thousand (1,000) years. The Jewish people fought them from the time of their departure from Egypt, in the wilderness (Exodus 17:8-14). Haman is a descendant of Agag from 1 Samuel 15, and due to this history has a vendetta to kill and destroy the Hebrew people. He schemes and plots; after his appointment as the chief prince of the Shushan; and convinces the king to give the writing (3:11-13), and destroy, to kill all the Jewish people throughout the land.

In looking at verse 14 above; the final part of the last sentence says, “But the city of Shushan was perplexed” ie. “confused”. This was pure and simply a plot of demonic proportions. For God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). Yet we will see that God is in complete control to preserve and protect His people.

The king and Haman sat down to drink, to celebrate the writing; yet the city was confused. When kings and rulers make laws that confuse the people that is a simple sign that the laws and the rules are not to benefit the people.

There is peace, there is stability, there is knowledge, and there is wisdom for the people of God; for those who follow God’s way to life.

Wake up today, and walk in the law of God. Do not trust in the edicts of men; they only lead to confusion. The way of God is through the cross of Jesus Christ. He died, was buried, and rose again. One day He is returning to take His people to His place; then returning to this earth to rid the earth of all sin and evil. Join Him by trusting in His Son and His finished work.

No God???

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” Psalm 14:1 (KJV)

Who would dare to say that there is “No God”?  Not the wise, observant person who has eyes to see.  Not the one’s who know that things do not just appear from nothing.  Everything has a designer, and builder.

When I see this verse and the one similar to it in Psalm 53:1 my mind goes immediately to those who are non theist.  They have conventions.  Just recently they had one in Springfield, MO. calling it “Scepticon”  I guess for a gathering of non believers in God.  They try to win people over to the idea that “God does not exist”.

Notice what the Psalmist says of these people.  “They are corrupt” they are wasters, destroyers, spoilers.  “They have done abominable works” the works that they do may seem good in the eyes of men, but according to God and His Word they are “abominable” abhor the honor and glory of God. “None that doeth good” all that they do is done for their own pride and pleasure, rather than to glorify God in whom they say they do not believe.

I need not prove the existence of God.  “The earth is the LORD’S  and all that is therein”  He has made it.  It declares His glory; and the greatest knowledge of God comes from the cross of Christ.  God came to man in human flesh in His Son Jesus Christ and gave His life a ransom for all who will believe.  God is for He is the “I Am” of all eternity.

Jesus Does Good on the Sabbath Day

“And the scribes and Pharisees watched Him, whether He would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against Him.  But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, ‘Rise up, and stand forth in the midst.’ And he arose and stood forth.  Then said Jesus unto them, ‘I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? To save life, or to destroy it?  And looking round about upon them all, He said unto the man, ‘Stretch forth thy hand.’ And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.  And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.”  ~Jesus doing good anyway (Luke 6:6-11)

Condemned if He Does; Condemned if He Don’t

“But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, ‘We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.’  For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He hath a devil.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.’ But wisdom is justified of her children.”  ~Jesus (Matthew 11:16-19)

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,800 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

My prayer is that all who come to FIRE AND HAMMER will be encouraged, informed, convicted, and comforted in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have a great 2012

God of Purer Eyes

Habakkuk 1:12-17

Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.” v. 12 (KJV).

Habakkuk seems to begin to understand the immutable [unchanging] character of God. He even refers to Him as ‘mine Holy One. He realizes that God is definitely going to use these godless people, the Chaldeans to judge His own sinful people. The judgment of God, must begin at the house of God; “Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” Ezekiel 9:6 (KJV). NOTE: “and begin at my sanctuary”. In the New Testament Peter says something very similar, and may have had this verse in mind, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 (KJV).

The prophet realizes that God is not going to completely destroy Judah, but, he still has questions. Judah will be corrected, and made right with God through the process of cleansing of the fire.

Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” v. 13 (KJV).

Habakkuk also begins to see that God is pure, and recognizes this in Him when he says, “Thou are of purer eyes than to behold evil…”. This is a correct observation by the prophet. It seems, though, that the question is still lingering in his mind. How can God use this wicked people, when He is of purer eyes than to look on iniquity, to judge the people whom He has chosen?

Is the prophet wanting God to judge the sins of Judah? That is my question. If God is of purer eyes than to look on sins of people, surely it must begin with those who are His own. Another question I must ask is, ‘If God does not judge the sins of those who are His, how can He justly judge the sins of those who are wicked?’ In all fairness He cannot. Since the Holy One [using Habakkuk’s words for God] cannot look on sin, because He is of purer eyes, than to do so, He must judge His people’s sins. Especially, when they defiantly wear His name and practice the evil of their hearts.

Maybe Habakkuk is realizing that God is going to have His way in the hearts of His people, and in the hearts of the Chaldeans, as well. It is not God’s plan to wipeout His people, but to cleanse them. However, He will judge, later, those who mistreat His people, and He will do it with vengeance. Woe be to the man, or nation who mistreats the child of God, or the people of God.

For verses 14-17 the MacArthur Study Bible note says, “Lest God had forgotten just how wicked the Chaldeans were, Habakkuk drew attention to their evil character and behavior. Life was cheap to the Chaldeans. In the face of their ruthless tactics of war, other societies were ‘like fish of the sea, like creeping things that have no ruler over them.’ In light of their reputation (vv. 6-10), how could God have unleashed this ruthless force upon another helpless people?” (NKJV version pg.1319).

“And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them? They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous. Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?” vv. 14-17 KJV).

In looking at the context of verses 14-17 it seems that these, “…wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he” Habakkuk 1:13 (KJV) and, verse 15 would go together. The Babylonian/Chaldeans only see other people and nations as “fish to catch”, a prey to kill. Because they so overwhelm their prey they believe their gods are the ones to worship. This should cause us, I am sure it did the prophet Habakkuk, to realize they have brought shame to the name of GOD.

The prophet sees the people of God, though, defiled by sin, living in sin, and rebellious to God; as being the more righteous (v. 13). He sees the nations, including Judah, as being seen by them like ‘fish of the sea’, and all they [the Chaldeans] have to do is drop a hook or a net and pull them in.

Habakkuk has acknowledged in verse twelve that he realizes that the coming of the Chaldeans is the judgment of God upon an unholy people of Judah; who have forsaken the Lord their God, and worshipping empty vessels.

Sometimes it does seem that trouble just abounds, and comes to us like an enemy taking us like fish from the sea. Like the prophet, though, we can turn to our GOD and trust Him with the questions we may ask. When our faith is in Him, they are not questions of accusation, but, rather questions for faith learning and growing.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Originally published January 12, ’08

The Embracer

Some of you will  probably notice that these are reposts from November 2007.  I thought it might do us all some good to read again.  Be blessed.

WHO IS HABAKKUK?

The meaning of the name “Habakkuk” is derived from a Hebrew word which means “embrace” or “embracer”. It seems in my mind that this is a name which fits him to a tee. He may have been a Levite engaged in the temple choir, and had a great concern for the direction his people were taking, away from God.

Let me quote here from the Criswell Study Bible. “Realizing Israel’s iniquity and need for punishment, Habakkuk is perplexed with the moral dilemma of how a holy God could employ the more deplorably wicked Chaldeans to chastise His Children.” I can understand his dilemma. In looking at God’s holiness, though, I would have to say, that He is more concerned with His glory, than He is with how things may appear to us. To continue the quotation from Criswell – “God responds by asserting His sovereign prerogative as to the choice and the timing of His retribution. Though it may appear unreasonable, His way is best. Thus the prophet learns that to believe what God says and to heed His warning is to be numbered among the righteous who shall live by faith (2:4). Consequently, Habakkuk’s theme is faith triumphant over apparent difficulties.”

Habakkuk was a prophet who had a heart for God’s people, and a heart for God. That is after all what a prophet. He speaks with God about the people, their sins and problems. He speaks with the people of God, His Word, His way, and the direction of their lives.
The prophecy of Habakkuk was a “burden”, ‘a heavy load’, and that is due to the message contained here. The prophet prophesied near the beginning of the Babylonian exile. The people were going to face severe judgment. Habakkuk did understand that judgment was coming by God from an unholy source.

Are we, who are Christians, in the United States of America not also facing judgment from an unholy source?

Habakkuk was a prophet who cared, yet spoke the truth. Bless the Lord. May every pastor and preacher of God’s Word, and the gospel do the same.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Eleven – Twelve through Twenty six

“And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: 13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. 14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. 15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. 19 And when even was come, he went out of the city. 20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. 22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”  Mark 11:12-26 (KJV)

IN THE FIG TREE JESUS SHOWS US THE FRUITLESSNESS OF A DEAD RELIGION AND CONFRONTS IT.
As Jesus and the disciples were  leaving Bethany, back toward Jerusalem, Jesus spots a fig tree with leaves on it – advertising that it had fruit.  When Jesus arrives there they discover it has no fruit.  Jesus curses the fig tree.  To some this may seem unnecessary for Jesus to have done, but it seems to me that there is a message we must hear and heed.

  1. “There was a voice in it for the JEWISH CHURCH. Rich in the leaves of a formal religion, but barren of all fruits of the Spirit, that Church was in fearful danger, at the very time when this withering took place. Well would it have been for the Jewish Church if it had had eyes to see its peril!”
  2. “There was a voice in the fig tree for all the branches of Christ’s VISIBLE CHURCH in every age, and every part of the world. There was a warning against an empty profession of Christianity unaccompanied by sound doctrine and holy living, which some of those branches would have done well to lay to heart.”
  3. “There was a voice in the fig tree for all the branches of Christ’s VISIBLE CHURCH in every age, and every part of the world. There was a warning against an empty profession of Christianity unaccompanied by sound doctrine and holy living, which some of those branches would have done well to lay to heart.”   From J. C. Ryle commentary on Mark’s Gospel.

Dead religion offers nothing but leaves, and like the “fig leaves” which Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with were inadequate, so are the “fig leaves” of a dead religion.  In Scriptures the “Fig tree” often represents the nation of Israel and/or its religion (See Hosea 9:10; Nahum 3:12;  Zechariah 3:10).  It is somewhat intrigueing that we have Jesus’ strong words to this fig tree just before He enters the Temple compound and finds them “Buying and selling”.  You will also notice that when Jesus and the disciples pass by the fig tree again that it is dead.

Why did Jesus “curse” the fig tree.  First of all “it was not the season for figs” according to the text, but it had leaves, and most usually the leaves and the figs grew together.  Secondly, by having leaves but no figs it was “advertising” it had fruit when it did not.

There are many people who do not believe that Jesus ever became angry.  Those who think that must have never read of the two times Jesus cleansed the temple.  He cleansed the temple once when He had just began His ministry three years prior to this, and then He does it again here.  You can read about the first “Cleansing” in John chapter two, verses thirteen through seventeen.

Here is what was going on in the Temple compound.  It was expected that the animals brought to the Temple for sacrifice would be inspected by the priest, but it had became a practice to find fault when there was no fault.  It may have been something like this – A priest would say an animal was at fault then sell the owner of the “faulty” offering an “approved” offering, and then, he would sell this man’s animal as “approved” to someone else.  Some people who travelled great distances may expect to buy a Temple approved offering at the Temple.  It was nothing more than theft, and dishonesty that was taking place in the name of God.  There was no holiness, righteousness, or godliness in the place.  The “House of prayer” had been turned into a “Den of thieves”, and Jesus would not tolerate it.

The money changers would charge great fees for exchanging Greek and Roman monies for the Temple money.  They made a great deal of profit by this deed, and took advantage of many poor people by the selling of doves for an extravagant  profit.

The Church of the Lord Jesus this day needs to pay careful attention to this.  The things of God are not for the making of profit.  Using the name of God to attach a price on things is theft, and dishonors the name of the Lord.  There are business men today who attend church so as to maintain a base for their business, and to keep a good name in the community they are in.  Some will even try to conduct a little business in the church.  There are some who think the church should be conducted like a business, when it is not a business, nor should it be conducted as such.  It is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and is to be conducted by His guidelines and for His purposes, and glory.

In looking at the fig tree this is how we could define “Dead religion” – 1.  It offers much but delivers little;  2.  It is cold and formal;  3.  It seems alive by its much activity [its buying and selling], but God is not there;  4.  Its leaves cover its fruitlessness, but not to God’s eyes.

In verses 20 through 26 Jesus gives us a lesson in faith.  The fig tree He “cursed” the day before has already withered – it is dead.  It was so dead that even its roots were dried up.  “Have faith in God” is the statement Jesus issues to the disciples.  It is faith in God that makes all things possible.  Someone has said, “Where God guides, He provides”.  Is that true.  Yes! it is.

Faith is believing in what you cannot see, touch, smell, taste, or hear in the physical realm.  You can see evidences of faith in God, for instance; the rising of the sun, and its setting; the order of the universe; the intricacies of the human body, and the bodies of animals as well;  the singing of the birds;  and all the other details of life.  Faith believes in God, even when there is no possible way of something happening.  Jesus’ words on prayer are strong, and is telling us to ask as if we have already received it “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24(KJV).

That is genuinely the prayer of faith.  Believing you have received it before you do.

Notice the importance Jesus places on “Forgiveness”.  Without forgiveness we cannot expect answer to our prayers.  God is so good to forgive us, we ought also to forgive those whom we believe responsible for offending us.

Remember this, NO FORGIVENESS, NO ANSWER TO PRAYER.  KNOW FORGIVENESS, KNOW ANSWER TO PRAYER.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Defenses Stripped

A nation, an individual, a family that has been greatly blessed by God is truly blessed, strong, safe, protected and having the hand of God upon them. When these have grown to a place where they begin to trust their own strength, and wander from the trust and worship of the One who has given them these things, then, there is need for warning.

A man or woman who has lived by faith, because of the faith given them by God, who begins believing they are great because of their own efforts, pride, and strength will draw away from the Lord. They see only that God’s blessing is on them, and that will always be the same. What happens, however, when the blessing stops? What happens when this individual begins trusting the blessing rather than the Blesser?
The nation of Judah, to whom Jeremiah addresses had been in such a state. Greatly blessed over the years, but they would never hear of the decease of God’s blessing. Any prophet who warned them that God was going to send a sinful nation to avenge Him was considered a false prophet. That was Jeremiah’s case.

The nation of Israel was likened unto a vineyard by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 5), and that picture is given to Jeremiah as well;

“Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the LORD’S. For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the LORD. They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine: And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them.” Jeremiah 5:10-13 (KJV)

Though vineyard is not mentioned in the KJV that is the idea of the “walls”. Vineyards did have walls around them, and these “battlements” are speaking of the “branches” of the vineyard that are to be taken away.

The NKJV reads,

“Go up on her walls and destroy, but do not make a complete end. Take away her branches for they are not the LORD’s.”

The wall was the means of protection for the vineyard. It kept the livestock from getting into it, the wildlife from doing too much damage. To destroy the wall was to make the vineyard open to ruin.

Notice in these words that God gives hope to His people, “…but make not a full end” . The defense of God’s people is the LORD, not a our nation, not our president, not the military, etc. It is the LORD alone. When we turn our backs on God in favor of wicked leaders, and military defenses, politics or business; including Wall Street, then we will have our defenses stripped.

People no longer listen to the truth. We want to feel good and the truth doesn’t leave us feeling too well. The nation of Judah turned its back on God infavor of the lies of the false prophets. They rejected the word of God, and trusted lies. Judah and Israel said that “If there is a coming judgment, it is not of God”. They would not believe that God could do such a thing. After all, they thought, “We have the temple of God”. They may have had the temple of God, but God was not in His temple.

There may be destruction from God, but it is to call His people back to Himself. Christian of 2009 wake up and see and hear the truth of God’s word. Trust only in Him, and be at peace. God has our best in His heart. Repent, return and believe. Do this through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for your sins, was buried carrying your guilt, shame and condemnation away, and He bodily arose from the grave, and gives us eternal life. One day soon He is coming again.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Sorrow of Heart

We have all at one time or another, and maybe more times than not experienced SORROW OF HEART. What have we experience this for? Our financial condition? Our health? The health of a friend or relative? A family problem or situation, etc.? Have we ever really experienced SORROW OF HEART for the spiritual conditon of our nation, our family, or friends? Probably not as often as we should have.
Jeremiah experienced sorrow for his people. They had drifted away from God and in some things, just flat out rejected God, His Word, His prophets, and His law. They had decided that the Law of God was a reproach to them (See chapter 6). Have you ever heard anyone say something like this, “If it taste good, looks good, smells good, sounds good or feels good; its wrong”. That is really just a snide comment against God and His Word. God spells out clearly in His Word what is right and what is wrong, and these are based on His right and wrong. There are some things which are right or wrong in their time and place. For example; God has decreed that the “Marriage bed is undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4), so the right time for the marriage act is with one’s spouse following the wedding, and it is right and good. It is wrong, however, to assume the marriage bed without the benefit of marriage – one man and one woman; that too is clearly defined by Scriptures.
The only reason the word of God could be a “reproach” is because one wants to live their life free of any boundaries. You and yours and everyone around you will be the ones your actions will affect.
Hear the words of the prophet:

“For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Jeremiah 4:22 (NKJV)

When people begin departing from the LORD after they have received the knowledge of Him, their path is always downward. They may have a great education, a great job, a marvelous house in which to live. They may have all that is necessary for living in this life, but without God, they are perishing.
The prophet is grieved by the condition of the people’s hearts. God is grieved by the condition of the people’s hearts and lives. God even says, “My people are foolish…” How can anyone who has ever truly known God depart from God, never return? They are educated but not in God. God goes on and says, “They are silly children…”. God sees those who believe and trust Him as His children, and we are; however, we are silly children when we choose to do our own thing, and get away from our Father.
The prophet Hosea said,

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” Hosea 4:1 (KJV)

The prophet Hosea continues,

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Hosea 4:6 (KJV)

Is it any wonder that people turn away from the LORD when they do not care to read, study, and apply His Word to their lives? The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Where there is no vision the people perish” Proverbs 29:18, or as the NKJV records it, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.” When the Word of God grows cold in your life, so will your love for God, righteousness, and holiness.

People who refuse God, His Word, and His revelation are “wise to do evil”, should we all not rather be wise to do that which is good and godly; and that is doing all that we do for the glory of the LORD. Personal attention, or popularity, or power, and/or prestige is out of the picture when all we are seeking is the glory of the LORD.

Being wise to do good will end a whole lot of mess in relationships. Families, churches, communities, countries, and the world will be a better place when the glory of the LORD is everyone’s goal.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Deluded, Deceived and Destroyed

“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Surely you have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem,’ saying, ‘You shall have peace,’ whereas the sword reaches to the heart.” Jeremiah 4:10 (NKJV).

Like the majority of the people Jeremiah wanted peace. He was probably hoping for peace, even heard the false prophets, and thought how wonderful that would be for God to protect them from the coming invasion of the “Lion and company”. God will allow us to believe in lies of deception if we prefer that over the truth. Nevertheless, it is still inevitable that evil will come, and there will be no peace. God does not deceive, nor does He approve of lies and deception, but when He sees the heart of people given to lies, then He will use the deception and lies to carry out His divine will.

Peace is not possible when there is no peace with God. The lies of the false prophets of things getting better. No judgment is going to come on us. We are in a time of extraordinary blessing, not of judgment. There is a great and enormous wealth coming to the Church. Lies, lies, lies. In my heart and mind I long for those things to come to pass, but by the condition of the hearts of the people of God; they are in fact lies and deception.

A man, woman or a nation who believes they are at peace with God while living in immorality, and debauchery are deceived and lying to themselves. A man, woman or a nation that is given to the tolerance of alcoholism, drunkenness, and profiting from it is not at peace with God, and if they think so are deceiving and lying to themselves. Any business man, bank president, loan company manager, or national leader who belives they are at peace with God, while taking advantage of the poor, with housing foreclosures, and higer interest rates than the priviledged, are deceiving and lying to themselves.

Jeremiah was really horrified by the judgment he knew God was sending on Jerusalem. He could not keep silent. The prophet of God must speak the truth of the Word of God. What the feelings and the heart wants is not sufficient. Hope without promise is no hope. Hope based on feelings, or personal desire is merely wishful thinking.

“4:10 deceived. Like Habakkuk (1:12-17), Jeremiah was horrified at these words of judgment, contrasting the prevailing hope of peace. God is sometimes described as if doing a thing He merely permits, such as allowing false prophets who delude themselves to also deceive a sinful people into thinking peace would follow (cf. 6:14; 8:11; 1Kin. 22:21-24). God sees how people insist on their delusions, and lets it happen.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note, p. 1068 NKJV.

O, how deceived people can be and often are today. A man in Florida says he heals in the name of Jesus Christ, but kicks an old man in the head, because, “that is what God told” him to do. And, people ask is this of God? Why do we need to ask? The mere fact that people will believe such only shows what is said above to be true. People will believe what they want to believe, even when it is a lie.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Healing For Backsliding

In the previous writing we find a promise of God given to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel, and that promise is that they would both return to the land as one. Even in their backsliden condition they were to hear these words, and the prophet was to continue to proclaim their need of repentance, cleansing and healing for their backsliden condition.

How or why does one need healing from a backsliden condition. First of all backsliden as the prophet Jeremiah wants us to understand is referring to the people of God. Backsliden is a departure from a place or person you are supposed to be near; which in our case the person is God whom they have left. To backslide is almost always a slow deliberate departure. Slow because it begins with something that seems so small to begin with. “I am staying home from worship services this morning because I am so tired. I was up half the night enjoying family and friends”. Then, come Wednesday night and Bible Study time, “I am not going to Bible Study and prayer meeting this evening because it has been a long week already, and I can’t be getting home too late.” Or, how about this, “Just one peek at that site online won’t hurt. Afterall, I do need to be knowledgable about what’s going on.” Just one little step in the wrong direction leads to a slippery slope which slides you further and further away from God, His Word, and the gentle whispers of His Spirit.

“But I said: ‘How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’ And I said: ‘You shall call Me, ‘My Father,’ and not turn away from Me.’ Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD. A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God. ‘Return, you backsliding children, and I will hearl your backslidings.’ ‘Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God. Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel. For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth– Their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.” Jeremiah 3:19-25 (NKJV).

God sent forth His Son Jesus Christ to redeem the house of Israel. If you doubt that hear what Jesus has said, “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:6; “But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24; and it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was striken.” Isaiah 53:8. Even the high priest at the trial said, “…You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John 11:49-50, and the verse following says, “Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together inone the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (vv.51-52).

It is because of their backsliding that God has scattered them across this world; has hidden them in the world; and called the Gentile nations to believe in the work of the Son of God on the cross.

Did God not see them those many years ago, even before Jesus became man, and give them these exceeding, precious promises? Of course He did. Our God is sovereign, and in control of every situation. He did not cause Israel or Judah to backslide, but in their backsliden condition the will of God was done, is being done, and will continue to be done. Every sinful act of a human being is known by the LORD of hosts, and not one of them will be held agains anyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation. Yet every sin which finds no repentance in the heart of the child of God, will be used to work in the sinning heart, mind and soul, to irritate, sting, and and stick until that sinning heart finds rest in Christ Jesus.

When I pray for a lost person to be saved here is what I pray: Father, in Your mercy, love and grace touch the heart of this individual (Using their name here). Open their eyes to see their lost condition; that they are condemned by their sin, and for them there is no hope apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Make them miserable in their sin, until they look upon Jesus Christ who gave His life’s blood so that we might be saved, that He was buried carrying all sin away with its guilt, and that He arose from the grave and is everliving interceeding for us all. Save him/her (name) O, LORD, for Your own honor, power and glory. Amen.

Jeremiah admits the sins of the people for the nation in verses 22b through 25. How can God bring them back to the land which has been left desolate and barren? When they can come to the place they will call God “My Father”, and will not turn away from Him. Marriage is meant to be a illustration of God’s intimate relationship with His people, and of Jesus Christ and His relationship with the Church. God uses the idea of marriage to speak of spiritual adultery, of which Israel
and Judah were guilty. The whole book of the prophet Hosea is concerning the relationship between that prophet and his wife. Gomer, if not previous to their marriage, then after marriage, became a temple prostitute. God used this to make a very good, and strong point to the nation. In the prophet’s love for his wife, and continually pursuing her; we see God’s wonderful, marvelous love for Israel, and ultimately for the Church.

There are not many men in this current time who would pursue a wife who has deliberately chosen to lie around with other men, profaning and making a mockery out of her marriage, and of her vows to God and her husband. But this was the love which God has shown those who are His. Just as Hosea paid to redeem his wife from the fringes of the debauchery of prostitution, so the LORD our God has paid for our redemption from sin. O, how the heart of Jeremiah must have grieved for the people. Can we see and feel the heart of the prophet as he proclaims the message of Healing for the people’s backsliden condition?. They will not listen to the Word of God.

The tragedy of our day is very similar to those of Jeremiah’s. While some of the so called experts are telling us to tone down our Biblical expository sermons, if not completely stop preaching altogther; no one is wanting to hear the Word of God. We are being told by those experts tune the message to the ears of the hearers. God’s Word still proclaims, “Preach the word. Be instant in season and out of season” 2 Timothy 4:2. Jeremiah didn’t have the ear of the people, as far as it leading them to repentance, but he did wind up in the dungeon. Does the preacher today preach what the people want to hear, or does he preach the very Word of God, what God wants us all to hear. If I ever walk into a church to worship the Lord and all I receive from that “Preacher” is a 10 – 15 minute sermonette, and never mentions the cross of Jesus, never mentions the burial and resurrection of Jesus, or His coming again; that is one church I will never enter again. If I were ever to become a part of a church which adopted such a mentality, and if after much prayer and work could not convince leadership to go back to God’s method, then I would leave it as quickly as I could. People need to repent, quit living in sin, and come out unto the Word and way of God our Savior.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus and Politics

There is a whole lot of politics going on. You know the idea, and ask the question, “How do you know a politician is lying?” The answer is… I will let you know a little later. That almost sounds like a good answer. That is not it, however.

How should Christians who are ‘followers of Jesus Christ’ be involved in politics, or should they be? Jesus said, “Render to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”. It seems you could get a clear and distinct answer of being involved from that statement, “Render to Caesar…” When we are citizens of a Nation which has a democratic process of elections, then, we should participate in those elections and let our vote and voice be heard.

Should Christians try to get moral legislation for that Nation? That may be a little stickier. As Christians we understand that morality, nor legislation is going to change a nation. A nation changes as the hearts of the people are changed. That works in the positive and the negative. If the life changing message of the Gospel of Jesus is received by the populace, then there will be a positive change of hearts. If, on the other hand, society begins to turn more and more away from God, His Word, equal justice for all, giving of their resources to others in need, and morality, then there is the negative change and evil will increase. The streets will be filled with crimes such as street shootings, school shootings, robberies – banks, convenience stores, jewelry stores, churches, etc. Husbands killing wives, wives killing husbands, parents killing children, children killing parents, co-habitations, and all kinds of immoral sexual behavior.

Christians must have a voice, and that voice is in their church buildings and in the voting booth, and in the public forum. Christian, you have the right to vote: Use it or lose it.

I was behind a car from New Hampshire on the afternoon of Friday October 27, 2006 in Cassville, Missouri. I noticed something about that plate and the motto on the plate. It read, “LIVE FREE, OR DIE”. I thought when I saw it, “Now who ever came up with that one had a bold thought”. As long as you and I have the freedom to vote we have a say in the way things are run in our country.

If we get to trusting in the political process to save our Nation we are doomed. In the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ it speaks of a woman riding a beast. That woman represents religion, and the beast is – I believe – democratic government. I must say, has not religion in recent years been riding the beast of democracy? What follows is not pretty.

The Gospel of Jesus will change hearts and lives. No political process can do that. Legislate as you will.

Now to answer the question at the beginning. Their mouth is moving. But, you probably already knew that.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Jerusalem… The Throne of the LORD

The LORD in the previous verses has spoken through the prophet to plead with Israel to return to Him. It will require them to put away their idolatry, to renew their hearts and their lives in Him. The LORD even says, “I am married to you.” (v.14). The promise is for them when they return. The problem is they have not yet returned to Him. They one day will; by God’s own promise and assurances.

“Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,’ says the LORD, ‘that they will say no more, ‘ The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.” Jeremiah 3:16-18 (NKJV).

If you will note this promise is conditional upon their return to Him, from their state of a backsliding heart. I have stated it before and will state it again here, though this is not my own: I think Charles H. Spurgeon has been credited with this statement, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully.” The southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel, since the reigns of Rehoboam and Jereboam, are the children of God, or the nation of God’s choosing. If you will read all of the Old Testament from the Exodus through the book of Malachi, you will find God’s hand of correction, and discipline on the two kingdoms. In them we have examples of what the Christian’s life should be like and God’s discipline upon us when we rebell and sin against Him.

The LORD’s words spoken through the prophet are spoken as an already completed thing. It is completed in the mind of God. When God says something is going to come to pass it is as good as done. You will notice that He says, “When you are mutltiplied and increased in the land…”. It is an already decided and an already accomplished event; it just needs worked out in the people’s hearts and lives. There would be coming a time when the people were going to be carried away to Babylon, and in 70 years they would return. It this return they would return as one nation once again, but this promise has much more prophetic influence that just that fulfillment. The children of the nation of Israel, are still missing the ark of the covenant; they are even looking forward to the return of the ark of the covenant.

Even when Cyrus king of Persia made proclamation for the “house of the LORD” to be built in Jerusalem, and after Nehemiah was given permission to go and rebuild the wall of the city of Jerusalem, the people were still in bondage to a foreign power. Even in the day of Jesus they were still under the powers of the Roman government. Since the Babyloninan captivity they have not really been free. In our day, though they are supposedly a free nation, they are still under the rule of Gentile governments. The United Nations and the United States of America are pretty much their ruling nations.

There will come a day when Messiah reigns in Jerusalem. That it the time and the day they will no longer be depending on the representative power and presence of the Lord, ie., the ark of the covenant; but they will have the real, full, and glorious power and presence of the LORD in person. He will be their king. How is it that some Christians want to take these promises and spiritualize them, and make them for the church? This promise has not happened yet. It has not been fulfilled. It is yet to be fulfilled and to the letter. The amillennialist would have us believe that these events have already occured and the promise is fulfilled in the Church. The thing is this prophecy had nothing, has nothing to do with the Church. It has to do with the people of Israel. It is dealing with a real people, in a real land, with a real city of Jerusalem; not a figurative one.

The children of Judah and Israel did come back from Babylon, after seventy years, just as Jeremiah had prophesied; but they have never had free rule of the land. It has been ruled by other nations for centuries. When, however, Jesus sits as king on “The Throne of the LORD, then will all the nations be gathered into it. It won’t be so that they can rule, but so that they can worship the King. Jerusalem will be The Throne of the Lord.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

A Heart of Pretense

“Pretense” – a claim, not supported by fact; mere display or show. A false show. So is the meaning of the word. It would not be a pleasant or comfortable thing to be charged with. However, as we look into the book of Jeremiah we see that the nation of Judah, the Southern part of the divided kingdom since Rehoboam, is charged with this exact thing. “Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:10).

The Northern kingdom has been charged with adultery against God. God has called for their repentance (3:7), to return to the LORD. They had prostituted themselves against their faithful Husband and God, and become a immoral nation.

“…Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:8-10 (NKJV).

This was a prophecy given during the reign of Josiah (3:6), who was considered a godly king. Josiah became king at the age of eight years (Read 1 Chronicles 34 – 35). You will read of Josiah that he purged the land of Judah of the “high places”, of “carved images”, and of “molded images”, and that “He did what was right in the sight of the LORD…” However, it appears that much of what was done during Josiah’s reign was done with pretense. It does not seem to have been pretense on the kings part, but on the peoples hearts. Legislation, whether done by a monarch or a president cannot change the hearts of people. The hearts of the people of Judah were moved by Josiah, but not by God. Therefore, there was much pretense in the land of Judah.

Pretense or hypocrisy cannot be hid from the omniscient eye of the LORD. It is said quite often in Scriptures that “God looks on the heart”, and that seems to be something that all people tend to forget. Pretense and hypocrisy never fools, or deceives the Lord Almighty. It didn’t work in Judah or Israel, and it will not work in today’s world either.

If you will notice God even calls this act by Judah “treacherous”. Three times in verses seven through ten God calls Judah the “treacherous sister” of Israel. The word “Treacherous” is defined as ‘Characterized by treachery; untrustworthy, unreliable’ and “Treachery” is defined as ‘a violation of allegiance or trust’. According to Strong’s Concordance it is to deal deceitfully; and certainly the heart’s of the people of Judah were endeavoring to deal deceitfully with God.

At a time when our own nation is at war, and the hearts of people are growing more and more spiritual, but not according to the knowledge of God; there is much pretense and hypocrisy. There are religions on every corner that use the name of God, but know Him not. When religion denies Jesus Christ, they deny God. Jesus Himself said, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). There is truly only one true worship of God, and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ, by His death, burial and resurrection. Any other presumed worship is a treacherous and pretentious worship.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

By Faith, or By Flesh

Faith or Flesh

“Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.” Genesis 16:1-3 (KJV)

There are so many times that we make decisions by what looks like the right thing, and goes against what God has said, then later we pay consequences for doing so. Abram was no different. He experienced famine in the land of promise (chapter 12), then left that promise for greener pastures in Egypt. The act of proceeding down to Egypt was an act of unbelief, and in their unbelief they had taken to themselves a servant girl who would later become a source of temptation to further unbelief.

Abram needs not be put on a pedestal for us to admire, receive encouragement from, and seen as an example of faith. He was, and Sarai was; they were simple people capable, and quite able of making mistakes. We all can easily indentify with them. We have been there. We have had our faith tested, and tested again. If you haven’t; you will. You may even leave your place of promise, but God will bring you back to it, just as He did Abram and Sarai.

As far as Sarai was concerned things looked hopeless. They had no children, and it did not look as though God was going to do anything about it. Abram was now eighty five years of age – they had “dwelt ten years in the land…”. Sarai was seventy five; how could they have a son and fulfill the promise of God?

Waiting, waiting, waiting… It is such a grueling task. If you have not noticed recently, though; the Bible mentions, “Wait on the Lord…” so many times it should cause us to “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7). Far too many times I want to rush in, to solve the issue, the problem, and far too many times the flesh is involved, and receives fleshly results. Isaiah 40:31 says, “They that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength…”

In our churches and evangelical groups we have people rushing around trying to accomplish the mission of God in our society. They use every imaginable thing they can think of to draw crowds. Some have used strong men, breaking and bending objects, to the cheers of the crowd. Some have used motor cycle races, and jumping. All of this in the name of Jesus to “Win souls”. Did Jesus ever call us to draw a crowd? I admire the attempt to win souls. We long for the salvation of the lost soul, but it cannot be done by fanfare. Each believer is commanded to be a witness. As we wait patiently on the Lord, He will bring people into our lives in which He intends us to be witnesses. Yes, send missionaries to the foreign fields, and our home fields, to establish churches for training ministers, ministers of reconciliation. We are witnesses in our life, our work place, our play place, our driving, our children, our worship life, on vacation, etc.. If every Christian would live the life of Christ which we are supposed to live, God would bring more people into our lives, and we would have better ears for listening to people and their problems, and better eyes for seeing troubled hearts and lives, and be waiting “patiently on the LORD” in life. Thus, more people coming to faith in Jesus.

We have a zeal for reaching the lost, but not a trust in the Lord to give the increase; so we do our own increasing. In doing that we have people who profess Christ, but do not live Christ like lives. We have young, and a few older preachers who have no backbone to stand against evil, but would and will rather compromise to win a crowd of people.

The time is short, yet we must “Wait on the Lord” to give the increase. Just like Abram and Sarai should have and could have “waited on God”, yet ended up in a lack of faith; so too, do we in rushing headlong in the flesh to accomplish spiritual goals, which only God can do.

God could not have been pleased with what Abram and Sarai did. In fact due to their short sighted act, they brought terror into the world. From them we should learn that acts of the flesh never achieve the purposes of God, but God in His sovereignty works all things out for and in His glory.

Now, do not get the idea that “Waiting on the LORD” means sitting idly by watching the leaves fall or the grass grow, and doing nothing. Hopefully, and believing it to be so; in all these years together Abram and Sarai were trying to have a son, in the way children are conceived, and born; and it was entirely in God’s plan and timing to give that son, as He had promised. Waiting on the Lord is simply going about your life as God directs and leads, trusting Him and Him alone to fulfill His promises. You keep yourself busy doing the work you are called to do, and doing it unto the Lord, with all your heart, glorifying His name.

It Will Surely Come

IT WILL SURELY COME

Habakkuk 2:1-4

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:3 (KJV).

The verses of chapter one 12-17 are the comments of the prophet to the Lord. He seems to be recognizing God’s sovereign power, and that God can use the enemy to chastise and correct His children.

In chapter 2:1-4 the prophet is a watchman, but in this situation he is “watching” for an answer from the LORD. The prophet seems to be set on waiting for an answer. He is intent on getting an answer. The words “stand” and “set” imply that he will wait until an answer is given. Habakkuk is definitely exhibiting faith in God coming through with this act.

Strong’s word for “Set” Heb. 3320 yaw-tsab’ = ‘to place (anything so as to stay)’. Also the word “Stand” – Strong’s 5975 Aw-mad’ = to stand in various relations, abide (behind), appoint, arise, cease, confirm, continue, dwell, be employed, endure, establish…. Standfast.”. Habakkuk was set to stand until he received an answer from God; as to how long it would be, when it would come to pass.

In verse two the LORD does answer and confirms His message to the prophet. Habakkuk receives the message to “Write the vision…”. The vision of judgment upon the nation of Israel to continue until God’s work is finished, and the vision of God’s judgment on the instruments of God’s judgment of His people.

He was to write it and make it “Plain…” so that it could be read easily and understood by all who passed by. The message of God’s Word should be made where a child can understand. Some preachers use such elevated vocabulary that they cannot be understood by even a college or university graduate. If you must use a word that is of questionable understanding explain its meaning.

God speaking to Hosea the prophet said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6). Could that be so today because, God’s Word is not presented by the preachers in an understandable vocabulary?

Verse three tells the prophet that the vision God has given has an appointed time. It may seem as though it is being delayed, but it has a time of its own – by God. When its time comes it will not delay. It will not ‘tarry’. When God’s time for carrying out His promises come; they will be fulfilled, and to the letter. There are many who because, the rapture of the Church, or the glorious appearing of our Savior has not occurred yet think it is not literal, or that it has already happened. It will happen – in God’s time (His appointed time), and it has not happened yet. It will, and will not tarry. This is just as a means of illustrating, but it does make the point – God’s Word will be fulfilled completely.

Verse four provides a word of ‘faith’. The one who is lifted up in pride in themselves is one who will not be edified in the LORD.

“The just shall live by his faith” and in Romans 1:17. One’s faith is God cast out and cast off all arrogance and pride which exalts itself against God. When pride is there; there is no faith. It is said that this is one verse which God used to open the eyes of Martin Luther, led him to faith in Jesus Christ, and delivered him from the bondage of the Roman religion.

When God’s Word is at work in your life your faith will grow, Jesus will be glorified, and you will be satisfied in Him.

When was the last time we stayed put, set or stood pat until we received an answer from God for something which troubled us? If it is something God wants us to know He will answer. God’s Word will be fulfilled just as He has said, and when it is time it will not tarry. It will move very quickly. IT WILL SURELY COME.

The Soul Seeks for God

THE SOUL SEEKS FOR GOD

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6

Jesus said, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Mark 12:29-30

Oliver B. Greene once said, “Man could not have written this book (speaking of the Bible) even if he would have wanted to; and he would not have written it even if he could have.”

Likewise God is not the creation of man.

Man does, however, create his gods. Men make their gods after their own imaginations. The gods of men are non-restraining, non-threatening, require nothing of their creators. They have eyes, but cannot see; ears but cannot hear; feet, but cannot walk. They that make them are like unto them. If there is no other reason for not making a graven image, that seems sufficient for me. I want to be like the Creator, not these flimsy, wimpy, panty waist gods, who cannot know today from the future, and who has no power over the affairs of men.

THERE IS NO IMAGE OF GOD – EXCEPT MAN.

NOTE: To make an image for worship is to lower ourselves. “They that make them are like unto them; so is everyone that trusteth in them” (Psalm 115:8).

The “Zodiak” are images in the stars. The images of “Terot” cards. Some worship men, including themselves.

THERE IS A DESIRE IN MAN TO WORSHIP. We must worship something, someone. Even an atheist worships – either herself/himself,  education, academia, government, science or something. Wherever your heart is, there is what you worship.

Go to any continent, nation, city, or tribe and you will find worshipping people. In some places you will find people who worship the sun, moon, stars, and or planets. In other places people who worship the elements – water, wind, fire. There are many, probably on every continent who worship the dead through “seances” “necromancy” – wanting to know the future. In many places, and probably on every continent, there are those who worship God in Spirit and Truth.

God has placed this place in mankind’s hearts. Without God our lives are empty and without purpose. God has put “eternity in man’s heart” so that the things of this world can never satisfy (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NKJV, NIV).

Humans can search the world over for significance, peace, and for something worthy of their worship, but they will find none of those until they come to God by His Son Jesus Christ.

WORSHIPPING ANOTHER AND LESSER BEING. In God’s laws this is forbidden for the people of God.

Why does God forbid worshipping others? First of all, He says, “I am a jealous God”. He alone is responsible for our existence and sustenance. He is the One who has done everything to bring us to Himself. He is protective, loves us and desires that we be love Him. Secondly, He knows that whatever we worship is what we become in likeness. The Psalmist expresses this sentiment in Psalms 115, and 135. If we worship an impersonal idol with no restraints we will live with no restraints. The third reason is that He created us to worship Him, and to love Him and glorify Him.

When human beings devote themselves to another god they rob themselves of God’s glory.

To worship another is to add another burden to life. Idols have to be carried (Isaiah 46:1-2). I prefer the God who carries me.

WORSHIPPING ANOTHER AND LESSER BEING will not bring you peace, joy, fulfillment in worship, and will leave you condemned, and yet; in the end God will be glorified.

THE IMAGE THAT SEPARATES FROM GOD. “Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’ name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.” (2 Kings 18:4). It is obvious in looking at the totality of Scripture that images do not necessarily break the commandment. In Numbers God tells Moses to build a bronze serpent on a pole for the people to “look upon” – an act of obedience and faith in God (NUM.21:7-9). It is when the heart turns to that image and away from God and obedience to Him that is forbidden – to make the image an object of worship. In 2 Kings 18:4 the image of the bronze serpent on a pole is destroyed and called nothing but brass (“Nehushtan”= “That bronze thing”). King Hezekiah was angry with the people who worshipped this thing that had been a means of expressing faith in God.

Anything, from a “serpent on a pole” to a church building can become an idol. If it does it should be destroyed – at least in the heart of the one who worships it. Any object that is purposely built by another culture as an object of worship should be forbidden in our homes. To worship anything, but God is to worship demons; “What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?” (1 Corinthians 10:19-22).

What is THE IMAGE THAT SEPARATES FROM GOD? Anything or anyone that takes your heart and soul away from devotion to God and seeking Him.

THERE IS NO IMAGE OF GOD EXCEPT HUMANKIND. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:3-9. Though that image has been marred by sin, it is fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

Man is the only part of God’s creation of which God has said is made in His image and after His likeness. Remember, everytime you look at another human being you are looking at the image of God. Though this image is darkened by sin; there is light for thier soul. To murder the unborn in the womb is to murder the image of God. To curse another human being is to curse the image of God. To lie about another is to lie about the image of God.

IN SUMMARY –

I. DIRECT YOUR DESIRE FOR PEACE, SHELTER, GLORY AND WORSHIP TO THE ONE WHO IS WORTHY.

II. TO WORSHIP ANY OTHER IS TO LOWER YOURSELF TO THAT IMAGE, AND BECOME LIKE IT – WORSHIP GOD.

III. WORSHIP THE GOD OF CREATION, AND NOT THE CREATION.

IV. YOU ARE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD;

It has been marred by sin, but you can offer true worship to God through Jesus Christ – He is the image of God unmarred by sin.

Admit you have sinned, confess your sin and trust in Jesus who fulfilled all the law by meeting the demands of the law by His death on the cross, by His burial; carrying all our sins away, and by His resurrection.

God of Purer Eyes

GOD OF PURER EYES

Habakkuk 1:12-17

Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.” v. 12 (KJV).

Habakkuk seems to begin to understand the immutable [unchanging] character of God. He even refers to Him as ‘mine Holy One. He realizes that God is definitely going to use these godless people, the Chaldeans to judge His own sinful people. The judgment of God, must begin at the house of God; “Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” Ezekiel 9:6 (KJV). NOTE: “and begin at my sanctuary”. In the New Testament Peter says something very similar, and may have had this verse in mind, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 (KJV).

The prophet realizes that God is not going to completely destroy Judah, but, he still has questions. Judah will be corrected, and made right with God through the process of cleansing of the fire.

Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” v. 13 (KJV).

Habakkuk also begins to see that God is pure, and recognizes this in Him when he says, “Thou are of purer eyes than to behold evil…”. This is a correct observation of the prophet. It seems, though, that the question is still lingering in his mind. How can God use this wicked people, when He is of purer eyes than to look on iniquity, to judge the people whom He has chosen?

Is the prophet wanting God to judge the sins of Judah? That is my question. If God is of purer eyes than to look on sins of people, surely it must begin with those who are His own. Another question I must ask is, ‘If God does not judge the sins of those who are His, how can He justly judge the sins of those who are wicked?’ In all fairness He cannot. Since the Holy One [using Habakkuk’s words for God] cannot look on sin, because He is of purer eyes, than to do so, He must judge His people’s sins. Especially, when they defiantly wear His name and practice the evil of their hearts.

Maybe Habakkuk is realizing that God is going to have His way in the hearts of His people, and in the hearts of the Chaldeans, as well. It is not God’s plan to wipeout His people, but to cleanse them. However, He will judge, later, those who mistreat His people, and He will do it with vengeance. Woe be to the man, or nation who mistreats the child of God, or the people of God.

For verses 14-17 the MacArthur Study Bible note says, “Lest God had forgotten just how wicked the Chaldeans were, Habakkuk drew attention to their evil character and behavior. Life was cheap to the Chaldeans. In the face of their ruthless tactics of war, other societies were ‘like fish of the sea, like creeping things that have no ruler over them.’ In light of their reputation (vv. 6-10), how could God have unleashed this ruthless force upon another helpless people?” (NKJV version pg.1319).

“And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them? They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous. Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?” vv. 14-17 KJV).

In looking at the context of verses 14-17 it seems that these, “…wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he” Habakkuk 1:13 (KJV) and, verse 15 would go together. The Babylonian/Chaldeans only see other people and nations as “fish to catch”, a prey to kill. Because they so overwhelm their prey they believe their gods are the ones to worship. This should cause us, I am sure it did the prophet Habakkuk, to realize they have brought shame to the name of GOD.

The prophet sees the people of God, though, defiled by sin, living in sin, and rebellious to God; as being the more righteous (v. 13). He sees the nations, including Judah, as being seen by them like ‘fish of the sea’, and all they [the Chaldeans] have to do is drop a hook or a net and pull them in.

Habakkuk has acknowledged in verse twelve that he realizes that the coming of the Chaldeans is the judgment of God upon an unholy people of Judah; who have forsaken the Lord their God, and worshipping empty vessels.

Sometimes it does seem that trouble just abounds, and comes to us like an enemy taking us like fish from the sea. Like the prophet, though, we can turn to our GOD and trust Him with the questions we may ask. When our faith is in Him, they are not questions of accusation, but, rather questions for faith learning and growing.

A Higher Authority Than the Bush

Higher Authority Than the Bush

I do not wish this to be an article speaking against our President. In my opinion he has done a good job as our leader, but nevertheless he is only a man, and is susceptible to making mistakes. I just think suggesting the following, and forcing Israel to withdraw from their 1967 “Occupation” will in fact be taking the side of our enemy. The Palestinian’s; as a nation; not only hate Israel, they also hate the United States of America, and all Christians.

“I believe we need to look to the establishment of a Palestinian state and new international mechanisms, including compensation, to resolve the refugee issue,” . These were the words of United States President on Thursday January 10, 2008 as he addressed the media and heads of state for Israel and the Palestinian people. This according to the Jerusalem Post.

The President went on and said, “There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The agreement must establish a Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people.” From the Jan. 10, 2008 Jerusalem Post.  Where is Mr. Bush getting the authority to say these things? Where is he leading our nation? Any nation which stands opposed to Israel, and forcing them by quiet threats of embargo, withholding of arms, food, or anything else is opposing them; and is in grave danger of destruction.

Anyone who looks back at that 1967 war would have to see that Israel won due to divine intervention. Israel was ill equipped, poorly trained, and few in number; and they were surrounded by the enemy; yet Israel won the war. That sort of thing is not done except by the sovereign rule of the Divine One; also known as the Holy One of Israel.

Remember God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob [Israel]; “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3; 26:3-5; 28:12-16). There is no promise to a “Palestinian” people. Just who are the Palestinians anyway? They are a people, but are they to take from the nation of Israel what has been given them by God? Not according to Scriptures. Especially in light of the fact that they have and continue to do so by exacting terror upon the nation Israel, for their distinct purpose of the destruction of Israel. The Palestinians will not be happy until Israel is run out of the land, and they have complete control of Jerusalem. “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His anointed…” Psalm 2:1-2 (NKJV).

For my brothers and sisters in Christ who are also Palestinians you must submit to God’s plan for Israel. It is not for you or me to say what is to be done with the other nations; including your people. God has made that determination already, and He will continue to do so. To force a Palestinian nation is in fact an act against God.

There is one thing I am almost certain of concerning present day Israel. If the United States would truly support Israel by letting them defend themselves without rebuke; they would deal with the terrorist which have struck fear into the nations of the world with a ferocity which would leave the terrorist out of business, and pleading for mercy.

One day the land is going to be divided as God has directed. That can be read in Ezekiel 47:13-23. The North border shall be from the “Mediterranean above Tyre to an area near Damascus. The eastern border extends from the Dead Sea and beyond. The southern boundary stretches from the Mediterranean and the River of Egypt (not the Nile, Gen. 15:18) to south of the Dead sea. On the west is the Mediterranean.” From PROPHECY STUDY BIBLE, p. 890. It is most likely that in the Millennial reign of Christ on earth that the eastern border will reach at least to the Euphrates River.

God has given the land to Israel. Let’s keep it that way and trust God to handle the peace of it. Can we not realize and believe that there will be no peace in Israel until the Prince of Peace comes to reign on earth. Read Zechariah 14:1-21.

When the nation of Israel is wrong on certain things let us allow the Word of God to make that determination, and not the Unitied Nations or the terrorists. When God’s Word reveals they have wronged a people, then rebuke them. When they have not then encourage them. They will one day turn to their Messiah, and will look upon the One whom they pierced (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7). They will see Him and believe, and be saved.

God once spoke to a man through a burning bush; and this present Bush seems to be burning, but what he is speaking is not the Word of God. The first bush was unburned; this Bush’s Presidential term will soon be over, then that fire will be out. I have never seen Mr. George W. Bush as an opportunist, but in this it seems that he is out to make a name and legacy for himself. I may be wrong, but I see no other reason there. Don’t you have a legacy? Isn’t your legacy defending our nation against terrorism, and in my opinion you have done it well; and much tribute and honor to the young men and women who have sacrificed their time, their families, their lives, and so much more.

Let the citizens of the United States of America repent of our sins. Our sins of immorality, and sins of departure from faith of trusting God, and God alone to be our security, peace, and salvation. Let the citizens of the USA also repent of our failure to truly support Israel.

Jesus Christ is King of kings, and Lord of lords. He will and does reign forever.

The First Commandment

With the rise of celebrity worship, and an increase of pluralistic tendencies in our nation, and even among some professing christians; it seems to be a time to be reminded of the Ten Commandments, especially among followers of Jesus Christ.

The following article was previously published on The Watchman’s Trumpet, and I repost it here.

The First Commandment

“And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:1-3

There are many problems when there is more than one God. There is confusion. There is no proven authority. There will be problems with divided hearts or divided loyalties; how these things affect the human heart and mind. We are commanded to worship only one God.

God, the Creator of all things, is holy and requires His people to be holy.
Other “gods” require nothing, expect nothing, but exalt fleshly appetites.

In all truth there are no other “gods”. They are the making of man’s own imaginations and heart.

With one God there is unity of purpose – with many gods there is only confusion. With the human minds and hearts as they are, there are about as many “gods” as there are people in the world.

The only exception would be/should be Christians devoted to God in Christ. When there is more than one sovereign everyone does what is right in their own eyes, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25. In fact, everyone is their own sovereign, thus, confusion of ethics and morality.
Abraham was called by God to leave a land of idolatry and follow the LORD God. A question might be asked of this first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”. That question being; ‘Does this allow that there are other “gods”? The answer to that is an emphatic NO!

Man, of course, does make gods of flesh, blood, wood, metal, and stone, etc., but these are powerless. Manmade gods are made in the image of created things and beings, and require nothing of man. No man would have ever invented a god who was holy, righteous, just, and expected his worshippers to be like Him. Nor, would we have created a god who judges us worthy of eternal death. And, we certainly would not have made this god pay the sin debt of his worshippers. Who would/could have thought of such a thing?

The recognition of and worship of one God is of this God’s own making. He desires the worship of His creation. He desires to bless His people. He desires to bring His people into perfect holiness, and give peace to them.

When there is a god for every event, season, crop, success, failure, person, etc., then, you have nothing but confusion. The God who created all things does not want us confused – He is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). The New Testament also reveals to us that the worshipping of other so called “gods” is the worship of demons (1 Cor. 10:19-21).
Since there are no other gods, but gods whom the “Haters of God” worship; who are actually demons; then, it stands to reason that God alone is worthy of our worship.
The greatly implied emphasis is upon choosing God the Creator of all things, as the One and only. He is the One you can trust in time of drought and famine, and the One you can trust in time of blessing and plenty. HE IS I AM.

God – Jehovah – YHWH is your salvation, sustenance, shelter, song, shield, and sword, and so much more.

When you have “No other gods” you are completely God’s possession. Your priorities are in Him. Your time, your family, your vocation, your church, and your entertainment and relaxation are directed by Him and His Word.

If you desire peace of mind and heart it can be found through this one and only God by trusting His Son who died, paying our sin debt, was buried carrying that sin and guilt away, and rising bodily from that grave showing the victory won on the cross, conquering death, sin and the devil. God’s Son Jesus after rising from the grave, ascended to the Father/God, and has promised to return. Trust Him. Call on Him today

Habakkuk’s Questions

HABAKKUK’S QUESTIONs

Habakkuk 1:1-4

“The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.” Habakkuk 1:1-4 (KJV)

When we think of a burden we think of a load. When you are driving a automobile it has more get up and go when only you, and nothing else, is in it. If you load it down – a truck or car; it just does not have the same performance.

Now, is that the type of “burden” the prophet is writing of. Some translations call this an “oracle”, but it seems to me that there is something more here than mere words. If it is the mere speaking of words, it is an utterance of doom. So why have a problem with “Burden”. To answer the question – it is similar. It was not a physical load. It caused him to ask questions. It eventually caused him to “see God” as righteous in His dealings, and always just in His judgments.

Habakkuk has been accused of accusing God of three different things –

  1. God is indifferent – like He does not even care;

  2. God is inactive – He sees the corruption, sickness and disease, immorality and debauchery, and does nothing about it;

  3. God is inconsistent – He seems to judge wickedness in some cases, but not in the ones the prophet sees.

Are these things so? Is that what Habakkuk really means? These certainly are not true. When we look at these verses it is quite clear that the prophet is speaking to God/YHWH, has these burdens and questions, and really just wants to know what is going on. He does not understand. Like so many of us today, in 2007, we do not understand why it seems that the wicked prosper, and the righteous suffer. The prophet was not really going to like God’s answer either.

The prophet’s first question – “O LORD, how long shall I cry and Thou will not hear?” NOTE: The KJV has these as exclamations. It seems more reasonable to see them as questions. Remember, punctuation was added by others. It is not the inspired text.

The Baker’s Encyclopedia of The Bible – “The main purpose of Habakkuk’s prophecy is to explain what a godly person’s attitude should be toward the presence of evil in the world. It also addresses God’s justice in punishing moral evil.” (pg. 907).

Baker’s Encyclopedia of The Bible also sees two complaints from the prophet –

In verses 1-11 of chapter one including the questions the prophet asks, and how God could use a wicked and vile people such as the Chaldeans to judge His people;

Chapter 1 verses 12 through chapter 2 verse 5 – wondering how God – since He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity can use these Chaldeans and why He does not judge these godless people.

The prophet’s second question – “…Even cry out unto Thee of violence, and Thou will not save?” Of course, these seem to be related in dealing with the same complaint of the above mentioned reference.

A third question – “Why dost Thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?”

The prophet seems to see no justice or judgment on the sin of God’s people. It seems to the prophet that the wicked trample all over the righteous and nothing is done –

  1. There is no law – it is powerless;

  2. There is no righteous judgment;

  3. The wicked overpower the righteous;

  4. The wrong people suffer.

It just seems to me in reading and studying these words of the prophet that nothing has changed with God’s people. We still fall into sin. There are still some who are burdened about sin, and asking the same questions. Somehow, we in the United States of America think that judgment cannot come from an outside source. Remember 9-11-01?

God’s judgment is still not without precedence in any age; even our own.

The Embracer

WHO IS HABAKKUK?

 

The meaning of the name “Habakkuk” is derived from a Hebrew word which means “embrace” or “embracer”. It seems in my mind that this is a name which fits him to a tee. He may have been a Levite engaged in the temple choir, and had a great concern for the direction his people were taking, away from God.

Let me quote here from the Criswell Study Bible. “Realizing Israel’s iniquity and need for punishment, Habakkuk is perplexed with the moral dilemma of how a holy God could employ the more deplorably wicked Chaldeans to chastise His Children.” I can understand his dilemma. In looking at God’s holiness, though, I would have to say, that He is more concerned with His glory, than He is with how things may appear to us. To continue the quotation from Criswell – “God responds by asserting His sovereign prerogative as to the choice and the timing of His retribution. Though it may appear unreasonable, His way is best. Thus the prophet learns that to believe what God says and to heed His warning is to be numbered among the righteous who shall live by faith (2:4). Consequently, Habakkuk’s theme is faith triumphant over apparent difficulties.”

Habakkuk was a prophet who had a heart for God’s people, and a heart for God. That is after all what a prophet. He speaks with God about the people, their sins and problems. He speaks with the people of God, His Word, His way, and the direction of their lives.
The prophecy of Habakkuk was a “burden”, ‘a heavy load’, and that is due to the message contained here. The prophet prophesied near the beginning of the Babylonian exile. The people were going to face severe judgment. Habakkuk did understand that judgment was coming by God from an unholy source.

Are we, who are Christians, in the United States of America not also facing judgment from an unholy source?

Habakkuk was a prophet who cared, yet spoke the truth. Bless the Lord. May every pastor and preacher of God’s Word, and the gospel do the same.

The King’s Messengers Going

The King’s Messengers Going

As we look at this tenth chapter we will see some great things concerning those who were Jesus’s disciples during that time while He walked as man among mankind whom He created. We also see some great things concerning disciples of Jesus through all of time.

“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” Matthew 10:5-15 (KJV)

The disciples of the King are sent forth and they go where He sends them. He tells them not to go to the Gentiles. His message is first to the house of Israel; His people by birth (“He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” John 1:11 KJV). This was a “Command” of the King. “Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”, and as Paul the apostle wrote, “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek”.

Jesus will not always send His disciples to the most comfortable places. For the most part the places where it is needed that we go may be the most uncomfortable, and seemingly forsaken. It is the King’s command to go. He sends us to where He will.

Of all the people who should have known and recognized Him it should be the house of Israel. Why? They had the writings of the Word of God. They were a called out people to a special task. They had been chosen by God to receive the oracles of God, preserved them, present them to the world, and to live them for the glory of the Lord. They had continually received the mercy and the grace of God; and were on display to the world of the graciousness of God.

The very fact that their Messiah would send His messengers to the house of Israel shows that He saw their greatest need. That greatest need was not miracles. It was Himself; but they finally would reject Him, try Him, find Him guilty, mock Him, crucify Him, but ultimately they will be delivered by Him.

The message of the heralds/disciples is that the kingdom of the King is at hand. The kingdom for which Jesus addresses is His kingdom, and it is near. The time of His rule on earth is coming soon. Some may look at this and think, “Well! It has been nearly 2000 years since He spoke these words and it is not here yet”. On that I would differ. He has said that it is near and that it is “In you”. The message of John the Baptist was “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” Matthew 3:2 (KJV). The message of John and Jesus were the same. A call to repentance because the kingdom was approaching soon.

My idea of the kingdom of heaven is probably unlike many of our day, particularly in Baptists circles. The kingdom of heaven is the rule and reign of Jesus Christ in all creation. It is not the salvation of the lost, though, it could include that. It is not a program to get Christians active in doing the “work of the kingdom”. It is the present activity and reign of Jesus Christ in the hearts and lives of people, and all the created order. We cannot help but be involved in it. We can decide whether we will be active or passive in our involvement, in proclaiming the message of His kingdom. The message of repentance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand is still a needed, and pertinent message. We must proclaim the kingdom of our King.

Usually when we decide to go somewhere, particularly if it is of some distance and will take some time, we prepare and get ready to go. This commissioning/sending is urgent. It requires leaving without preparation, packing, and there is certainly no time for parking. People are perishing is the urgency of the call. This is not saying that one does not need to be prepared with knowledge of the Word of God, and dealing with people. When you have got filled up body, mind and soul, the work of the gospel of the kingdom is not one that requires a lot of baggage. The beginning of Abraham’s journey of faith shows us quite clearly that when we begin the journey with excess baggage God has a way of getting shed of it. On the beginning of his journey his father died. When they got into the Promised Land to stay the herds of Lot and Abraham grew where the herdsmen of both men began to quarrel, and so they separated there, thus Abraham is now without the baggage he began with.

The things Jesus spoke of in verses 9-10 was baggage. Baggage they would only have to keep up with. It was a way of dealing with only what is important in life. It is the way of the King to say, “You will need to trust Me on this mission. You may not understand, but I will provide all your need, as you walk with Me”. There will be those on the journey who will come to your aid, and you will not be tied to all those worldly possessions. It allows us to do what we must do with diligence and haste, in the fear of the LORD.

Wherever the disciple/herald of the King goes he needs to be a stable influence on the people where he/she is. If the disciple moves from one good home to another there is absolutely no picture of stability. John Gill writing on this writes:

and there abide till ye go out; of that city or town, to another city or town: for to be often changing houses would bring upon them an ill character, as if they were difficult to be pleased, not content with the provision made for them; and would look as if they sought to serve their own bellies, and gratify their appetites, more than to do good to the souls of men; and besides, moving from the house of a bountiful man, might bring some reproach upon his character, as if he had not used them well, and therefore left him. In short, Christ’s meaning is, that he would not have his disciples be difficult, and dainty, or fickle, and inconstant, but be content with such things they should have provided for them; and not seek for other, and better quarters, nor fear being troublesome where they were.” From e-Sword commentary on Matthew 10:11.

The disciple is to be a source of faith and stability, and not one that seems to be always uneasy, unsure, and dissatisfied. How stable do the Christians of 2007 and beyond appear before a world who needs the message of the King, and the King Himself.

One thing that is most needed by the disciple of Jesus Christ is discernment. It looks to me like there are many Christians who are laying “discernment” aside for the sake of “Unity” so called. Giving up on presenting the Christ like life as one of holiness, sound thinking and a sound mind. Many are more concerned with what draws a crowd than they are with holiness, and being separate from the world. Use it if it draws the people is the pragmatic approach in “ministry” of the day. The early disciple never used that approach. What did they do? They proclaimed the message of the King, and left the results up to the Spirit of God and each individual heart who heard the message of the kingdom.

Most of us, I am fairly certain, have been in the home of an individual where you had been invited in, but you just did not feel at all comfortable. As a matter of fact your thoughts were, “I am getting out of here just as quickly as I can”. It is sad to say, but in far too many homes the Christian and the message of Jesus Christ is not at all welcome. They do not want to hear it, most of them will tell you so, and there is no light in that house at all. The disciple of Jesus is not to have any part in that house, but go to the other where there is a warm welcome waiting.

When those disciples went into a house or a city and they were not welcomed warmly, that place was to be treated as though they were heathen by the Jews. “Shake off the dust of your feet” was the words of Jesus. Sodom and Gomorrah would be treated better in the day of judgment than that house or city who does not welcome the disciple of Jesus. Some do not agree, but the Bible does teach degrees of punishment in eternal hell. Verse 15 here in our text, and others. From Vine’s Word Study of e-Sword:

Mat 10:14 – Shake off (ἐκτινάξατε) “The very dust of a heathen country was unclean, and it defiled by contact. It was regarded like a grave, or like the putrescence of death. If a spot of heathen dust had touched an offering, it must at once be burnt. More than that, if by mischance any heathen dust had been brought into Palestine, it did not and could not mingle with that of ‘the land,’ but remained to the end what it had been – unclean, defiled and defiling everything to which it adhered.” The apostles, therefore, were not only to leave the house or city which should refuse to receive them, “but it was to be considered and treated as if it were heathen, just as in the similar case mentioned in Mat_18:17. All contact with such must be avoided, all trace of it shaken off” (Edersheim, “Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ”). The symbolic act indicated that the apostles and their Lord regarded them not only as unclean, but as entirely responsible for their uncleanness. See Act_18:6.

The disciple of Jesus the King needs to realize the tragedy of rejecting the message of the King and His kingdom. We should also warn all those who are in the way of rejection. God is never pleased that the wicked perish. (Read Ezekiel 18. See verses 23 and 32). Thus, the message of the King’s kingdom must continue. Receive the King and His kingdom.

Man of Mystery

Man of Mystery

“And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.” Genesis 14:17-24 (KJV)

It is with fascination that I notice that when one has his treasure in this world he falls with its kings and is captured like all the possessions. However, if the heart is on the Lord you will never fall.

Lot, backsliden, his heart drawn away by the pleasures of the world, worshipped the material, and went into captivity with the material. Abraham worshipped the God of Heaven and delivered all the people and their possessions from the captivity.

It is also interesting to notice that when Bera, the king of Sodom shows up, that Melchizedek king of Salem, and priest of the Most High God [El Elyon] comes to Abraham’s aid. Bera comes offering Abraham great material wealth as a reward for his victory. Abraham has, however, vowed to God that he would not take any reward from these perverse and rebellious people, lest they claim they have made Abraham rich (vv. 22-23).

Mechizedek’s appearance is reward enough for the “Friend of God”. Who is this Melchizedek? He is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament – here in Genesis and in Psalm 110:4; and the most mentioned of him is in the New Testament book of Hebrews. This scarcity makes him somewhat of a mystery character. Who is he? This Old Testament account calls him the king of Salem [present day Jerusalem]. He is called “the priest of the most High God [El Elyon] = “Possessor of heaven and earth”.

It seems that we are given license in Scripture of Melchizedek as a “type” of the Christ. “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” is written in a messianic Psalm (110) prophesying of the throne at the Father’s right hand, and His judgment on the nations.

There are good and godly scholars and pastors who believe Melchizedek to be a pre-incarnate visitation of Jesus Christ. The problem with that is he appears as an earthly king to Abraham – a highly honored one to be sure – yet he is the king of an earthly city. Another problem is Paul spaks of him in Hebrews 7:3 as, “…Made like unto the Son of God”. This certainly implies “type” or “Shadow” rather than substance.

In understanding who Melchizedek is we must first realize the mystery involved. Understand also, that, Scriptures were “God breathed” inspired by the Holy Spirit, and sometimes what is missing is, or can be a clue to correct interpretation. In Melchizedek’s case we have no record of his genealogy; “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life”. Yet, the Holy Spirit gives us a genealogy of our Lord’s human birth.

Let’s compare the two. Melchizedek: “Without mother or father”; no birth, nor death; A gentile priest of God; King of righteousness; King of Salem; A priest continually. Now let’s look at the One who is the substance of the shadow – Jesus Christ: without mother or father – in his deity only; no birth, nor death – also in deity only; a priest of God from the tribe of Judah (Both Melchizedek – Gentile priest of God, and Jesus – are declared by God to be priests); King of righteousness; King of Jerusalem; a priest continually – “after the power of an endless life” (Hebrews 7:16).

The comparisons are many. The one, however, is a shadow of the substance.

Abraham worships the “Most High God” by giving “tithes of all”. A tithe is one tenth. It is encouraging to notice that the tithe was initiated before the law of Moses. Not being subject to the law makes it a wonderful starting place for giving. To give less would be to insult the grace of God. Giving God ten percent of all acknowledges Him as Lord of all. We are to give willingly, cheerfully, proportionately, and promptly. Ten percent is a good starting place, but as God blesses the one’s who have a giving spirit will want to increase their giving for the glory of our Lord (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). This is proportionate giving, “…as God has prospered him”.

The true worshipper of God gives all to God, and withholds nothing.

The King, and a Mute

The King Meets the Need of a Speechless Man

“As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.” Matthew 9:32-34 (KJV).

The blind men who have received their sight do the obvious thing. They go and bring a demon possessed, mute man to the Lord. They had gone and told this mute of a man who could heal him, and brought him to Jesus. We are told to go and tell, but we won’t. Have we forgotten, or did we ever know the greatness of our Lord and Savior and King?

When Jesus cast out the demon the man was able to speak. It seems probable that the man was deaf and mute caused by demonic possession. Very often deaf people – especially those born deaf – are unable to speak. They have no means to learn to speak if they cannot hear. When Jesus casts out the demon the man now can speak, so if we assume that this man was deaf as well as mute he is now completely healed, no more oppressed by the demon; he can now hear and he can speak.

There is a man in this scene who is even worse off than the demon possessed. The man is controlled, not by a single demon or a number of demons, but controlled by hatred, fear, and the holding of tradition of his religion over truth. He attributes the works of Jesus to the works of satan. He is blind to the truth of who Jesus is, and those who condemn Jesus, thus condemn themselves. They are sentenced to the same destiny as the devil and his demons. To blaspheme the name of Jesus puts one in great peril, but to equate the work of Christ to the devil is to blaspheme the Spirit of Christ, and there is no repentance for that.

The King and Blind Men

The King Meets the Need of Sightless Men

“And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.” Matthew 9:27-31 (KJV).

There are two not so blind blind men who have follwed Jesus from a distance. The reason I say, “Not so blind blind men” is that they had clearer vision of the identity of Jesus than that of those who professed to seeing. The Pharisees had physical eyesight, but no spiritual eyesight; these two who were blind, had no physical eyesight, but they had 20/20 spiritual vision. They who had eyes to see, see not. The blind men recognized Jesus. They must have heard and known the prophecies of the “Son of David”.

They believed Him even though they were blind. Others were believing because of His powers, and instead of the Scriptures. As soon as He is gone they are practically unbelieving. Many of the crowd who later cried out for His crucifixion, and the release of Barrabus were those who had followed Him only because of the signs. Those who follow Him because of His Word are faithful without the signs.

Jesus gave these men their physical sight. Now, they had vision for this world and the world of new life in Jesus Christ.

Jesus gave these men a “Charge” to tell no one about this event. I wonder how they could remain silent. They did, however, disobey the Lord, though I really doubt that it will be held against them. The following is commentary from the Gill Commentary on this topic —

and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, see that no man know it. This was a very strict charge, and according to the signification of the word here used, it was given with great austerity of countenance, and severity of expression, in a very rough and threatening manner; which Christ might be the rather induced to, because he had given such like orders already, and they had not been observed: the reasons for concealing the miracle are not very obvious; it seems likely, that with the same view he took no notice of these blind men in the street, but went into an house, and cured them; which seems to be, to shun all appearance of vain glory, or seeking popular applause, that he gave these orders; or it may be, he did not choose to be made more known by this miracle, or at this time, or by these men; he might foresee that it would be attended with ill consequences; either the more to irritate the resentments of some persons against him; or to put others on doing things which were disagreeable to him; as setting him up for a temporal prince among them, being David’s son.

It could be that these are not being commanded to be quiet about the miracle of their healing. Their healing would be obvious for all to see. They might have been told, rather, to be quiet of His identity as “The Son of David”. At least that is a thought to consider. To have gone and boldly proclaimed His divinity as the Son of David would have caused Him greater discomfort, larger crowds, distraction from what His main reason for coming was. Remember His purpose for coming in the likeness of sinful man, yet without sin, was to die on the cross to put away sin, and reconcile God and mankind. These were actually some of the things the devil would have used to sidetrack Him from His task.

Doing good things, and giving good words and acts can often be distractions to doing the will of God. That is something we all need to be aware of. Is it possible that doing good things are not always the godly way?

A Ruler’s Need

The King Meets the Need of a Ruler

“While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.” “And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.” Matthew 9:18-19, 23-26 (KJV).

This man of the synagogue could very well represent anyone who is in a place of authority. This man’s name is Jairus. We know His name from reading the gospel according to Mark and Luke (Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41). Why Matthew does not name Jairus is not known, at least by me. Jairus being a religious ruler, when his daughter became very ill, suddenly did not care what his friends and associates thought about what he did.

This religious authority recognized a superior authority and worshipped Him. It is amazing what real needs do to people. A sense of desperate helplessness drove this man to a man his peers hated, despised, and counted as a blasphemer. Certainly this ruler recognized the truth of Jesus’s statement in verses twelve and thirteen. Now he needed a physician, at least for someone he loved and cherished, and that was his need too.

Jesus and His disciples followed Jairus home. They found the girl to be dead. Death offers no hope in the scene. The mourners are already mourning her death. Jesus, however, came into the world to deliver those who are “dead in trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1), and giving physical life to this girl is evidence and proof positive that He had power over life and death; both physical and eternal. The dead cannot have faith until there is regeneration. Jesus says, “The maid is not dead, but sleepeth”.

At the statement of Jesus’s words of assurance the people present at the home of Jairus’s family laugh at Jesus. We are told,

“And they laughed Him to scorn” – “Scorners who laugh at what they do not understand, are not proper witnesses of the wonderful works of Christ.” From Matthew Henry Concise.

In the eyes of Jesus the young girl was only sleeping. Her body was dead, or sleeping as Jesus said it, but her soul and spirit were very much alive and alert. Death is but a sleep from which we can only be awakened by the power of Jesus. Those who make a mockery of Jesus are put out — run off. The girl arose from her “Sleep” at the touch of the voice of the Master – King Jesus.

At the voice of the King, our Master, we receive new life through Him.  He is the resurrection and the life.  That is our greatest need.

Backsliding Lot

Backsliding By Looking Only On the Surface

“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” Genesis 13:10-13 (KJV).

When Lot heard the words of Abram he was thrilled. What ever land he would choose was his. Lot, like most people looked only on the surface of things; he looked at the fertility of the land without looking at the ultimate price that would be paid. He did not know what was in the future, however, it was evidently known by him of the depravity, perversity, and immoral behavior permeating the area. He was only considering the material without any consideration to the destruction this could bring to his family.

Lot did not even consider the Lord in the choosing. he “lifted up his eyes” guided by his desire for the material and led his family to destruction. Finally, now Abram was “Separated” from his kindred as the Lord had directed when He first called.

The infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have a story and a history that warns all who will read and hear it. It is hard to imagine a man, whom God calls “Just” (2 Peter 2:7), would become a part of the wickedness. Maybe it should not be so hard, because many Christians put themselves in situations similar to Lot, because they have been carried away by the lust of their hearts, rather than being led and controlled by God’s Spirit.

Lot may not have been an actual participant in their sin, though by his silence, and his “leadership” he condoned the behavior. He could have warned the people of their wickedness, but instead he adapted.

The phrase “Pitched his tent” means to make his abode; his habitation with. We know from God’s Word we are not to “Dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10b); but to “…Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

Lot bore little fruit. Maybe the only fruit he had was faith, and it was small because he did not exercise it. The way to bear fruit is to abide [make our habitation] in Jesus. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in Me.” John 15:4

Hunger For The King

Hunger for the King

“Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:14-17 (KJV).

The question of fasting comes from a source which is actually friendly with Jesus. It is possibly John the Baptist who sends his disciples to ask the question of Jesus. We see or hear nothing from Jesus concerning the matter of fasting.

Just what is meant by “Fasting”? We have doctors calling for patients to fast just before a medical test. I have known of some people who fast when they know they are going to have a big meal. They may miss a meal or two, in their own thinking, so they can eat more at the big one. If that is not the height of gluttony. There are the Biblical fasts. Many of the orthodox Jews looked upon the fasts as very important to spiritual life. Jesus and His disciples were not fasting. They were feasting.

Fasting is a Biblical practice. According to some it was only called for once per year within the Jewish orthodox system. It was called for by some of the prophets, such as Joel. Fasting is a time of sacrifice. It is the time of sacrificing a meal, or meals for a day or a number of days, for the purpose of seeking God and His will.

It, however, becomes a sad state of business when the religious begin using “fasting” as a means of glorifying self righteous behaviors, and for the attention of their people. It loses its whole purpose and meaning. That was the practice of the Pharisees of Jesus’s day. They would even put on a sad countenance to make it appear they were fasting, probably if they were not, and also when they actually were, at least attempting it. The law only required one fast per year, but the Pharisses commanded twice per week.

The fasting of John and his disciples was for the purpose of telling the message of the Messiah, and calling people to repentance. It was and still is a way of getting a contrite heart and a broken spirit in order to be holy and right with the Creator. The fasting of John and his followers showed a true broken and contrite heart for the fallen human race.

Jesus makes mention that the reason that He and His disciples did not fast due to the fact that He was with them. His reference to the Bridegroom is His own personal reference to His return for His Bride following His death, burial and resurrection. While He was with the disciples, there would be no mourning. The term “Taken from them” implies a great violence was going to take place. It was in deed the violence of the trial, the beating, and the crucifixion; in fact the event of the cross; the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The disciples might fast for awhile – while He is away, but that would only be for a short duration. Jesus would rise from the dead.

Following the resurrection and evidence of it is a time of rejoicing in any and all towns which have been blessed by His appearances. In Jesus Christ we have the greatest reason for joy. Sin has been cleansed and forgiven; death has been defeated along with the powers of evil and satan; Jesus is alove at the right hand of God the Father, seated in heaven. Although we rejoice in His presence and glory His presence is not powerful when sin is in our way. There is still need for fasting inconspicuously; to get things right between self and God; to seek in prayer the health and spiritual well being of self and others. There will be rejoicing eternally when we see the King face to face.

In the face of the Law; the resurrection fulfills the demands of it. For sin the Law demanded death. The Old Testament law bears out quite clearly that all have sinned. That, there is none righteous, not one. The Promise foretold by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jeremiah31:31-34; Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26) of the people receiving a new heart of flesh, to replace the heart of stone is fulfilled by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the power being applied to each individual’s life. The “old wineskins” of the law; as interpreted by the legalistic Pharisees cannot hold the New wine of the New covenant of Jesus Christ.

If you attempt to patch an old garment with a new piece of material; at the time of the first washing the new piece will shrink, and the tear will be made worse. If you put New Wine into old wineskins, the activity of the New will cause the Old brittle skins to burst.

The self standards and “loopholes” which are given and provided to, for and by the Religious elite; is insufficient for salvation. Those self-standards are the direction of death and hell. To mix legalism and grace is to pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Also to give license to sin is a perversion of the Gospel.

New skin is needed for the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for the expansion of the Gospel of Jesus. Just as the fermentation of the New Wine takes place and grows in that winekin with change; so too, does the life of the new believer, and all believers change Jesus writes the Law into the hearts of those He changes and His Spirit reigns in power and grows the changed one into the image of Jesus Christ.

There is a place for mouning in the heart and life of the believer who has a tender heart for glorifying Jesus Christ. We will mourn when we realize we have sinned and brought shame to the name of Jesus. We will mourn seeking repentance when we realize our sin. We will mourn when we sin permeating the society in which we live. We will mourn when we see a brother and/or sister in Christ sin, and does not repent. Mourning when we are separated from the Father by our sin will come without hypocrisy. There would be nothing wrong with followers of Jesus declaring a fast to mourn, seek God’s face, declare a call to repentance, declare a call to revival. It is much needed.

The old material of the flesh will tear away from that which is new. When Jesus comes into the individual heart He changes you into a person who loves God; who desires to do His will; who desires to get to know God better. As a matter of fact will do what ever it takes to get all the information possible to grow to become more like Jesus. Those old wineskins are tossed away, and good for nothing. The New Wine of the salvation of Jesus Christ is so powerful that if left to an old fleshy thought process it would burst and be absolutely good for nothing. That is why the heart is changed at the moment of rebirth. When your heart and mind is hungry and thirsty for more of God in Christ Jesus, you can know that things are going right in your life. It is only the changed life that will desire to be more like Jesus. I am in “Hunger for the King“.

Sinners Follow the King

Sinners Follow the King

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “What happens when someone joins the military service?” Those who are accepted into service basically give up their lives. They don’t sleep until it is commanded of them. They run on orders. They walk on orders. They basically have no life of their own. The become the “property” of the government which they serve. In the United States our soldiers are supposed to be under the care of our government as well. If one gets sick the government cares for it. If there is a need for dental work, we care for it. Housing and food is provided while in training and in service during war, at least.

I hope you see the picture we need to see in this message. When we choose to follow Jesus as He calls we forsake everything and follow Him. We are no longer our own. We belong to a new Master. We realize that it is by His hand we live, move, breath and or sleep. We are at His beckoned call morning, evening and night – 24 hours per day. It just might be at the expense of our life. It cost Him His for us.

When we follow Him we become His representatives of the healing and reconciliation power He alone gives.

“And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:9-13 (KJV).

In the thinking of the people of Jerusalem in this day the Tax Collector was a despised individual of their society. They viewed a fellow Hebrew as a traitor to have such a job. The friends of the tax collector was usually other tax collectors, because no one else wanted to be near them, nor did they want to be identified with them in any way.

Jesus finds Matthew (Luke calls him Levi in Luke 5:27) sitting at his usual site collecting taxes from the people. The Master extends a call to Matthew as, “Follow Me”. There appears to be no question, no hesitance; he just gets up and leaves his place of work, and follows Jesus. Matthew probably hated the job of tax collector anyway, but had chosen to do it because he needed to make a living, and it was the only means he had. When Jesus came along and gave him the recognition that He did, and spoke to him as though he were not a despised tax collector, but a man in need; he immediately left his despised position, and followed Jesus.

We also find that Matthew invites Jesus to his home, and has invited his friends to come and meet Jesus. When Jesus has so dramatically changed your life it is an exciting thing to tell others of what Jesus has done for you. The “Publicans” are the tax collectors. “Sinners” is reference to any who did not see themselves as better than others in religion and such. They also were the despised and rejected of society. We need to understand that Jesus still befriends sinners and calls them to Himself. Those who are clean – in their own eyes – try to find fault with the One who is pure.

The words of Jesus in verses 12 and 13 is a strong reference to the self-righteousness of those who attack Jesus. Jesus is stating quite clearly that physicians treat only those who come to them, but Jesus went to sinners; He came down for us didn’t He. There once was a time when doctors made house calls, but no more. It is almost so in the spiritual area of life as well. If the sick do not see themselves as sick they will not seek after a physician, even if one is standing by.

The one’s who hold the oracles of the faith have the means of healing sin sick souls. The doctor who has the means of healing and because of some bias or bigotry withholds healing is not a caring, compassionate individual. This is what the Pharisees were guilty of. This is what Christians are guilty of who withhold the gospel of Jesus Christ from others.

No one is righteous apart from faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work. Self-righteousness is seeing oneself as good enough without need of someone else to save. People come to this state of mind by keeping their own set of standards; or at least appearing like they do; and by adding “Loopholes” to God’s standards. Those who practice this sort of self-righteousness are also quick to condemn those who are already condemned, and offer them no hope.

The people who depend on Jesus and His righteousness are more apt to practice mercy (Hosea 6:6), and show Jesus in the way they live. Rituals were meant to be a means of worship, but they can often get to the place where they become a form of self-righteousness (Amos 5:21-24). It is quite clear from the teaching of the Old Testament and from the life of Jesus that He hates ritualistic sin that leads to a lack of mercy toward others. When people depend on ritual as their righteousness they often judge others without mercy.

We have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). The ministry of the resurrected Jesus Christ has been entrusted to the care of those indwelt by the Spirit of Christ Jesus for the purpose of reconciling sinners with the Father. To bring to God those who are separated from Him – the despised of society, the broken, the hurting, whosoever will. Jesus starts by reconciling us to God the Father. It is a privilege and an honor to bear, to the world, the most wonderful message the world will ever hear.

Only the despised, the broken, the sick, the forsaken can hear the voice of Jesus, and receive His righteousness. When you are so full of yourself, there is absolutely no room for God or His Son Jesus.

The Kings Authority Over Evil

The Kings Authority Over Evil

“And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.  And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?  And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.  So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.  And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.  And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.” Matthew 8:28-34 (KJV)

We have seen Jesus the King as He has dealt with physical ailments, sicknesses, diseases, and our infirmities. We have seen Him deal with the storm which came up at sea which could, itself, have been generated by supernatural means, through the demons we see in our text. It is only my supposition to think it was of supernatural means, and I think a good supposition due to the fear of the four fishermen who were on the boat of the previous verses. If it was not supernatural, then, it was one of the fiercest storms they had ever encountered.

In this passage of Scripture we see our King dealing with the hordes of hell. There are many who see demons in every ailment or problem which befalls mankind. Some call liquor, “Demon alcohol” or something equivalent. Not to long ago there was a celebrity “preaching” couple and the husband had beaten the wife, and he said, “The devil made me do it”. We must admit there is evil in the world, and demons are probably a motivating factor behind a lot of it, but they only inhabit bodies of human beings who have opened their lives to them. That is probably the case with these two men.

It is my fear that there are many people today who are demon possessed and receiving psychological or psychiatric counselling that will not do them a bit of good. They may calm down, put on an apparent new behavior, but still be under the control of demons. We see a progression of Jesus’s power in this chapter. Ailments, sicknesses, diseases, infirmities, storms, then, the spiritual realm.

All power has been given unto Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith. All power means over everything in, on, and under the earth, and all that is in heaven.

There are some who have supposed a couple of problems with this passage. The first one being the location. Matthew calls the land Gergesenes, and Mark, and Luke calls it the country of the Gadarenes. The following is the writing of John Gill,

into the country of Gergesenes, the same with the Girgashites, Gen_15:21 whom Joshua drove out of the land of Canaan; and who, as a Jewish writer (l) says, left their country to the Israelites, and went to a country, which is called to this day, גורגיסטאן, “Gurgestan”, of which these people were some remains: both in Mar_5:1 it is called “the country of the Gadarenes”; and so the Syriac and Persic versions read it here; which is easily reconciled by observing, not that Gergesa and Gadara were one and the same city, called by different names; but that these two cities were near each other, in the same country, which was sometimes denominated from the one, and sometimes from the other. Origen (m) has a remarkable passage, showing the different situations of Gadara and Gergesa; and that the latter cannot be Gerasa in Arabia; and also the signification of the name, for the sake of which, I shall transcribe it.

“Gerasa (says he) is a city of Arabia, having neither sea nor lake near it; wherefore the evangelists, who well knew the countries about Judea, would never have said so manifest an untruth: and as to what we find in some few copies, “into the country of the Gadarenes”, it must be said, that Gadara indeed was a city of Judea, about which were many famous baths; but there was no lake, or sea in it, adjacent with precipices; but Gergesa, from whence were the Gergasenes, is an ancient city about the lake; now called Tiberias; about which is a precipice adjacent to the lake, from whence is shown, that the swine were cast down by the devils. Gergesa is interpreted, παροικιαεκβεβληκοτων, “the habitation of those that cast out”; being called so perhaps prophetically, for what the inhabitants of those places did to the Saviour, beseeching him to depart out of their coasts.”” From the e-Sword version.

The second problem some see is in Matthew’s version we have two people. The gospels of both Mark and Luke mention only one. There is a good reason for this and one is that one of these demon possessed people was more fierce and vile than the other, and He is the one to whom Jesus Spoke. According to Matthew Henry’s Commentary, “And some think, these two were man and wife, because the Evangelists speak but of one” p. 112, VOL. V.

Remember the storm that arose at sea? Could it have been brought about by the “prince of the power of the air” trying to prevent the Prince of peace from getting ashore to give peace to these two tormented souls? We do need to remember even if this is so the devil has no power or authority except that which God allows. Even then, it is to display His glory.

As soon as Jesus is ashore the two possessed by the demons approach Jesus fully recognizing Him (v. 29). The other writers of this event tell us these two; at least one of them anyway; were uncontrollable; “chains had been plucked asunder… fetters broken in pieces…” (Mark 5:4). Luke confirms that these dwelt among the tombs (Luke 8:27). They are quickly identified as being closely associated with the buried dead – “coming out of the tombs”. The demons upon seeing Him are humbled before Him. People who came around this area always went around the area, for fear of these two demon possessed individuals. Matthew even calls them “exceeding fierce”. The English Standard Version says, “so fierce that no one could pass that way”. It was a dangerous matter to go by these tombs with these two there. One’s life could be in jeopardy by doing so.

To describe demon possession goes beyond human thought. An individual who is possessed by a demon or demons; as in this case; is under the control of a supernatural entity or entities. When the person speaks under the influence of the demon, the voice may be rough, angry, coarse, loud, arrogant, hateful, hollow. The physical strength of this individual would far exceed normalcy for a human being. The eyes would be distant, bloodshot, empty, cold, and hateful. Sometimes demon possession may be from the use of drugs. It always comes about because the person has opened their heart and mind to a power greater than themselves, except to God.

These demons are really nothing more than fallen angels. They are angelic beings who joined Lucifer in the rebellion of heaven, and were cast out. All the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had to do to cast the evil one from heaven was speak the Word, and it was done. We can see that rebellion in Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:13-19. Being the eternal beings that they are, ie., eternal from the time of their creation; they would recognize their Creator. They came to meet the Master, their Ruler and Judge, with humility. These are all condemned for all time and all eternity. They are bound to the fires of eternal judgment (Jude 6). They are concerned that the Lord may be come to judge them before their time has come, and to cast them into the eternal fires.

There is probably a tone of resentment in their question, “What have we to do with Thee…? Though they had been thrown out of heaven, though they may have shown some humility in recognizing Him, they still despise Him.

The only possible reason for the swine being mentioned in this story is probably that the people who were breeding hogs were Jewish. Thus, they were doing so illegally against the Mosaic Law. THE LIBERTY COMMENTARY states:

“This is Jesus’ only recorded miracle that was destructive in nature. The fact that Jesus granted the demons’ request was because of His concern for the man. The spiritual principle in this incident is that those who are deliberately disobedient (as was the case of the pig-breeders) deprive themselves of devine protection and place themselves at the mercy of the forces of evil. Certainly, losing the herd of pigs, which was unlawful in the first place, was insignificant when compared to the man’s gaining his spiritual health.” p. 1906.

Jesus had only to speak one word. That word was “Go.” He granted their request. It was only a delay in judgment. Their judgment would yet come some time in the future. The time unknown to them. We are told in Matthew of “an herd of many swine”, however Mark’s gospel tells us “(they were about two thousand)”. In the economy of that day this would have been great economic loss for these Jewish “pig-breeders”. The fact that these pigs are even mentioned, and that Jesus used them for deliverance of the couple, should show us that these swine were the herd of Jewish people. These swine ran down this steep place into the Sea of Galilee and all drowned. What happened to the demons? Only God knows the answer to that.

Jesus had just delivered two individuals – human beings – from bondage of supernatural spirit beings. The pork was now of no use to anyone. They were all drowned. The Jewish owners were now free from their disobedient living; if only they would follow the Savior. Instead, they are angry over the loss of their living. They are completely unconcerned with the two being set free from Satan’s bondage. The pig herders having seen what happened to the herd ran to tell the owners. They even told them of the deliverance of the two demon possessed people.

The whole city came out to meet Jesus. There was much curiosity. Rather than bowing before Him and giving Him glory and praise they ask Him to leave. Rather than inviting Him home with them; they do not want Him around. They are more consumed with the wealth they lost, and what other things that might be discarded should He come to their town.

The story here is of the deliverance of two people. There is no need for ritual in delivering people from the bondage of the devil. Only the need for Jesus. We give people Jesus when we proclaim the gospel. When an individual is given the gospel and believes no demon can stay around. They must flee when Jesus comes in and possesses the individual. Evil and God cannot possess the same vessel. When Jesus is present do you want Him to stay?

The Faith Beginning

The Beginning Faith Experience

Genesis 12:1-9

“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.” Genesis 12:1-9 (KJV).

The book of beginnings [Genesis] centers around four basic beginnings: 1) The beginning of all things; 2) The Human race; 3) The restart fo the Human race; and 4) A new Nation of people through Abraham.

God in His call to Abram said, “Get out of your country, and from your kindred… to a land I will show you” (v. 1). Then, He gives him a promise, “Unto your seed will I give this land”. The promise of the land is given with the call to depart from his country, kindred, father’s household, etc. In this call we need to understand the when, how and why of the call. Abram was called while he was still in Mesopatamia worshipping idols (Acts 7:2; Joshua 24:2). Now that should not burst anyone’s bubble concerning Abram. This in truth shows us that like us, Abram was also called by grace through faith. In Acts 7:2 we also learn how God called Abram, and that is; He appeared to him, and spoke to him. It is most likely the appearance of preincarnate Christ who spoke to him. We too have received revelation of Jesus through God’s speaking to us, and as the apostle Paul has written, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV). We answer then the “Why?’ of God’s call; Because of God’s glory; because He loves us all; because he wanted to bless the world; for an example of faith; because of grace – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

In the call of Abram is a covenant which God made with him. It is a covenant of faith. In this covenant God gives promise of what He will do and there is no requirements on Abram – thus, it is an unconditional covenant. Abram simply believes God, and as we are told in chapter 15 verse six, “…he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” For those who are going to be quick to respond, “But there was something required of Abram; faith”, then you need to reconsider. The grace Scripture of Ephesians clearly tells us that faith is the gift of God, along with grace. Saving faith is solely the gift of God. God gives the promise, and the faith and Abram believes, thus is saved. Since faith is not something that comes from within us, then, faith is not feeling mustered up within when we feel good about God, and His blessings. The faith in God and His power and ability to keep the promise was what kept Abram going, though he did err from time to time. As Abram grew in faith God gives him more truth to obey, and He does the same for you and I.

Looking at Abram’s faith it seems in some instances he failed. When God first called him to leave all those things, he took his father, and Lot with him, then stopped when they arrived at Haran. He stayed in Haran until his father died. After his father died he goes on to the land of promise still proceeding with Lot. Sometimes we all will follow how God leads us to a certain extent and yet be disobedient in a portion. Someone has said, “Partial obedience is disobedience”, and I tend to agree with that. God’s mercy is everlasting and endures forever so He still extends mercy to His disobedient people, and works in us the obedience that will give Him glory.

As has been seen in the previous paragraph Abram was a man prone to compromise. The old life we once lived creates problems, and we bring with us some baggage that God must and will work out in our lives. God will perform in His children however and whatever He pleases to accomplish His will and glory. The life of faith demands separation from the evil and total devotion to the holy. Abram must get away from the former life, his father, Lot were part of that former life. God will do whatever it takes to make us like His Son. When you walk the walk of faith you will lean of God and His Son Jesus alone.

Even though Abram failed several times in various ways we see that he was faithful. He had a commitment to the Lord. When we were lost in sin and in bondage to the wiles of sin – faith brings us out (vv. 4-5; Matthew 6:24; James 1:6-8); also when we get to a spot we want to quit, stop, or cease the journey of faith – faith will bring us in (vv. 6-8; Deuteronomy 6:23; Hebrews 11:13) to the place of God’s promise, even though we may die without seeing them in this life. Abram’s faith is marked by his setting up the tent, and by his worship of the LORD in building an altar. This clearly shows Abram’s grace/faith received from the LORD fully at work in his life. You can say too, that “faith brings us on” (v. 9). The Journey of Faith never ceases in this life. Warren W. Wiersbe has said, “The life of faith must never stand still; for if your feet are going, your faith is growing”.

Some points to ponder considering Abram’s faith, and how it is like ours: 1) He departed (v. 4); 2) He went forth (v. 5); 3) He passed through (v. 6); 4) He removed (v. 8); 5) He journeyed (v. 9). Like Abram and the building of the first altar and the setting up of his tent (v. 8) he dwelt between Hai and Bethel – the place of the House of God ie., Bethel; and the place of Ruin, ie., Hai. So too, is the Christian life. We live in an imperfect world with a sinful fleshly body, and we are always between the place of God’s dwelling and the place of Ruin, but by God’s grace and mercy He brings us through.