Two Went to Pray

“And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’
”  Luke 18:9-14  (KJB)

Two men are mentioned who went to pray.  That is not to say that it could be members of the feminine sex as well, because there are those two kinds of women as well.

One full of themselves; and the other repentant and humble, realizing they are in need of God’s bountiful grace and mercy.

The Pharisee knew the law, and exalted himself in his own purity, and talk about judging others unjustly; this Pharisee certainly did.  He saw himself as better than the publican.  The Pharisee being a “great” religious leader.

The publican (not Republican), was a despised, and hated tax collector.  He gathered taxes from his own people (the Hebrews), and many counted them as traitors to Israel.  Matthew was a tax collector when Jesus called him to follow, and he left his table and followed Jesus (Matthew 9:9; 10:3).

It is the heart that our Lord sees. Repentance, humility, before the throne of God is what He desires.

God does not hear neither grant request from an arrogant and prideful heart.  It was the hated, despised tax collector who went home justified by God.

The apostle Paul writing on the matter of Justification said,,,

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2

It is by God’s own declaration of justification that we are made just; not our own.  Who then are made just?  Those who come before the cross of Jesus Christ, lost, lonely, sinful, broken, and ashamed, and plead for His mercy, love, and grace.

Deliverance for Mount Zion

“But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.”  Obadiah 1:17-18 (KJV)

The shortest book of the Old Testament with a very blunt message for a arrogant a prideful people of Edom.  Edom was a nation who had Esau as its father, its founder.  Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, and there was a sibling rivalry from birth… Jacob had grabbed hold of the heel of Esau at birth (Genesis 25:24-28).  It turned out that Edom always hated the people of Jacob/Israel.  Take note of what God says through the prophet Obadiah above.

  1.  Mount Zion shall be delivered; they will be holy, and the people will possess their possessions – living in their land, in their own homes, growing their own crops, having their own government; and not ruled over any other.
  2.  The people of Jacob – will be a fire and Joseph a flame.  They will be a people to fear, to follow, and to dread the offending of their God, YHWH.
  3.  There will be an end to the house of Esau.  In their pride and arrogance they assumed they were safe in their mountainous homes, and the land they inhabited; yet God sent the Babylonians against them; and by the time of the New Testament they are no more.

Lesson for people today.  God never forsakes His people forever.  He will always get His people where He wants them to be.  You become His people through the new birth of coming to Jesus Christ as the Savior who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and arose the third day.  There is salvation for all who will call on His name.

Wisdom, Praise, and Boasting

“Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both. Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.” Proverbs 27:1-10 (KJV)

Some thoughts on Proverbs 27:1-10…

Verses 1-6 – Boasting, pride, arrogance, leads to sorrow (vv. 1-2). The anger and wrath of the cruel is heavier on their own lives than is a stone over a wells mouth (vv. 3-4).

“The rabbins have a curious story on this subject, and it has been formed by the moderns into a fable. There were two persons, one covetous and the other envious, to whom a certain person promised to grant whatever they should ask; but double to him who should ask last. The covetous man would not ask first, because he wished to get the double portion, and the envious man would not make the first request because he could not bear the thoughts of thus benefiting his neighbor. However, at last he requested that one of his eyes should be taken out, in order that his neighbor might lose both.” Unknown

The rebuke of a friend is sweeter than the flattery of an enemy (vv. 5-6).

Verses 7-10 –

“Prov. 27:7–10 These four proverbs each teach an element of wisdom that can stand on its own, but they have additional application when taken together. Verse 7 deals with honey, a pleasant treat, and v. 9 deals with oil and perfume, luxuries that here represent a banquet (an ancient host provided perfumed oils for his guests at a banquet). Also, v. 7 says that something bitter is sweet to a hungry man, while v. 9 speaks of the sweetness of earnest counsel. Together, vv. 7 and 9 suggest that it is good to have friends for the occasional party, but it is better yet to have a friend willing and able to give good advice. Verse 8 speaks of someone who wanders far from his home (his immediate family) and leaves it unprotected, while v. 10 concerns someone in need whose brother (his immediate family) is far away. Together, they teach that there are benefits in remaining close to family, but a person should not hesitate to turn to a true friend when in need.” From the ESV Study Bible pp. 1181 & 1182.

Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred and Sixteen

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want any pride or arrogance in me to yield allegiance, faith and life to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and that I might never forget that the Almighty GOD is the One who holds my life’s breath in His hand.

“…But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified…” Daniel 5:22-23 (NKJV)

Jesus Speaks – Christmas Day One Hundred Ninety and Six

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5 (KJV)

With pride, arrogance, and power being the perfume of the culture we live in this verse stands in stark contrast to the rest of the world.

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to have a deeper understanding of meekness; the meekness of which Jesus speaks; and to have that in me;  I want to see more fully that meekness is not weakness, but strength under control, and I want the kingdom of Jesus Christ in this world to practice it.

Pride, arrogance and power are a stench in the nostrils of holy GOD.

Jesus Speaks – Christmas Day One Hundred Ninety and Eight

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3 (KJV)

What do I want for Christmas?

I want the “kingdom of heaven” to be mine through Jesus Christ my Lord; to be so dependent upon Him that there is no pride, arrogance, or selfish bone in me.

This morning I wrote of this verse in my journal;

Those who have no rebelling spirit against God and right; those who humble themselves  before God and the holy; those who realize their purpose in life is to give glory to God, the One who made all things.

Christmas Day Two Hundred Forty and Three

What do I want for Christmas?

I want my heart to be humble before God, my mouth to be silent about things too profound for me that I do not understand, and that my hope, and strength might always be in the LORD through His Son Jesus – God the Son.

LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.” Psalm 131:1-3 (KJV)

Humble Yourself Before the King of Heaven

For the most part chapter four of Daniel is the writing of Nebuchadnezzar, sharing his personal testimony of a tragic, yet humbling, and redeeming time of his life and reign as king of Babylon. He had grown proud and arrogant (4:28-30), and the King of heaven brought him down.

The following are the final words of Nebuchadnezzar in the testimony he shares:

“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.” Daniel 4:37 (KJV)

Pride is one of the abominations which God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19); called “a proud look”, and the king of Babylon had it. It is a dangerous thing to try and exalt oneself above the word, and words of God. The LORD had given Nebuchadnezzar warning through a dream of a tree being cut down; but he did not listen to it; he did not fear the word of the LORD.

How about you today? Is there a arrogant, proud mind, and heart where you are saying to yourself; “I am a self-made man. I do not need God.” That is the height of arrogance and pride. Every man and woman needs God, His mercy and His grace. He is offering it to you today through the cross of Jesus Christ His holy Son. Believe Him today. Humble yourself before God, and He will lift you up (Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; 1 Peter 5:5-7).

Humble yourself before God; and He will not need to abase you. Honor the King of Heaven with your life.

Bow down Thine ear…

“Bow down Thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.” Psalm 86:1 (KJV)

A prayer, a Psalm of David; he humbles himself before the LORD in a time of need.

As should any child of God; but also any who realize they are outside the will of God, and will humble themselves before the Potentate of all of life.

God will hear the prayer of the humble.  He has no ear for hearing the self sufficient, the arrogant, the proud; for they are holding on to the iniquity of their hearts (Psalm 66:18).

If you will notice the position of David’s heart.  He sees himself as “Poor” and “Needy”.  His greatest need; as is mine and yours is God Himself.  He has given us Jesus, and His death on the cross that we might come to Him.  It is the only way.  So come.

Day 52 – The Sovereign Holy One of Israel

There is one phrase which keeps coming up in the prophecy of Isaiah.  It is more than a phrase, it is a statement of the character of God.  In Isaiah, as well as in other parts of Scripture we hear of “the Holy One of Israel”.  It is a good term, a great reference to the character of the Creator of all that is; both seen and unseen.  As I read chapters 35 – 48 of Isaiah this morning I noticed the presence of God in the nations around the tiny nation of Israel.  You really cannot help but notice that God is God of the world when it gets right down to it.

If God reigns, and he does, in Israel; then, He also is reigning throughout the whole world.  He is, though, not often recognized as being the one who is reigning.

In chapters 36 – 39 we hear about Hezekiah, and his struggle against the pride, and arrogance of Assyria, and her king Sennacherib (36:1).  No army had been successful against the Assyrian army, and the king wanted Hezekiah to know it.  In his arrogance he blasphemed the God of Israel, seeing Him as nothing more than the idols of the fallen nations he had conquered.  However, since God is defensive of His own glory, and Hezekiah had a heart for God, then God was not going to let this arrogant king get by with it.

We also see in the reading that God is not at all well pleased with Israel, and that they are going into captivity because of their rejection of God, His Word, and His ways. Babylon was God’s source of captivity and judgment upon Israel, however Babylon showed them no mercy, and in their arrogance they brought judgment of God upon themselves to destruction;

“I was wroth with My people, I have polluted Mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.  And thou saidst, ‘I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it.’  Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: but these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.  For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, ‘None seeth me.’ Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, ‘I am, and none else beside me.’   Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.   Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.  Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.” Isaiah 47:6-13 (KJV)

If you will notice this announcement of judgment is due to “thou didst shew them no mercy”.  Because of this Babylon would fall to a king that God names in chapers 44 and 45;

“That saith of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, ‘Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, ‘Thy foundation shall be laid.” 44:28

“Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut…” 45:1

The LORD is THE SOVEREIGN HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL; however He is Sovereign of the whole world, yea, even of the Universe.  A final word in the reading for today says this,

“There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.” Isaiah 48:22 (KJV)

The wicked are all those who refuse to submit to the Lordship and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ, and His finished work on Calvary’s cross.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Day of the LORD is at Hand

The title comes from Isaiah 13:6.  Yes, I am doing some catch up work here.  On Sunday nights at Carr Lane Baptist I have been preaching through the Prophecy of Isaiah, however, I have not been prone to publish on the blog until now.  I pray you will be able to follow along and get them in order if you need to do so.

Chapter 13 begins a series of messages from the prophet to foreign nations  who have not heard the LORD God; and mistreated the people of God known as Israel or Judah, and continues through chapter 23.  From Babylon to Tyre, and includes God’s anger toward His people as well in chapter 22.

Chapter 13 and 14 deals with Babylon, which at this point in history was not considered a world power, yet it would become so, in about a hundred years.  How did Isaiah know this?  By the Word and wisdom of the LORD of hosts.

Babylon would be a proud and arrogant people; worshipping their own deities which were in signs in the stars, the stars, and idols made of human hands.

In many ways Babylon represents the world and its arrogance against God and His people.  The world, its inhabitants, its governments often have no friendly hand toward God’s people; be they Christian or Hebrew.  We see this quite often in many foreign lands today where Christians are persecuted for their faith.  Where we are not free to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and many brothers and sisters die for their faith.

We see it often in history concerning the Hebrew people.  One instance of great persecution against the Hebrew people is in the death camps of Hitler.  The numbers of murdered Hebrews during that time of holocaust in Germany.  It was a growing problem throughout the history of man.  No one of the surrounding nations wanted the Jewish people around.  They worshipped the one true God, and He is the only way to paradise or heaven.

“Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.”  Isaiah 13:6 (KJV)

The warning is to Babylon and their destruction should they fail to heed God’s warning.

If you will notice the very things which they admire and worship are taken from them.  “The stars of heaven and the constellations will not give their light…” (v. 10), the sun darkened.  Now I don’t know how this was done; and it is most likely a prophetic word which has yet to take place and the prophecy is basically to the world itself for turning their back on the message of God, His Word and His servants and His people.  With the same judgment they have wreaked out so shall they receive like judgment.  Remember even Jesus said, “Judge not, that  you be not judged”  (Matthew 7:1) and God will carry out His judgment to the fullest extent, and will let sin run its course (SEE verses 15-16).  Babylon will fall by the power of the Medes (Daniel 5:30-31).

The kingdom of Babylon as it was known in that day has fallen, just as God has said.  It was a glorious nation of wealth, gold, jewels, many riches.  It was full of pride.  God says, “…Her days shall not be prolonged” (v. 22).

The days of pride and arrogance of the world will come to an end.  God’s glory will be seen by all, rejoiced in by all who love Him, His Word and His people. His kingdom will be prolonged for all eternity.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Glorify The Lord

Glorify the Lord.  Now that is a grand statement, and it is one that describes how our lives are to be.  The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  How can we who are born sinners, then, glorify the Lord?  Of ourselves we cannot.

“I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.”  John 17:4 (KJV).

Now that is a bold statement coming from a man who some would say, and are saying that He is not deity.  No mere man could make such a claim, but Jesus does in His prayer to the Father.  How could He make such a claim were He not equal with the Father?  He could not.  It would be the height of pride and arrogance for anyone else to say such a thing.  It would be next door to blasphemy.

To glorify the Lord would be to be obedient to Him in all things, and fulfill every thing that God has for you and me to do.  There would be no disobedience.  There would be no mistakes.  There would be a life completely “Sold out” to doing the Father’s business.  Jesus has lived a life of complete obedience to all the Father had for Him to do, and all the way to Calvary; the cross of sacrifice.

The desire of every Christian is to live for the glory of the Lord.  The only way of doing that is to live the life of Christ in you, the hope of glory.  We do that by realizing that it was by the sacrifice of the life of Jesus that God has reconciled us to Himself, and given us means to glorify Him in Jesus.

Tim A. Blankenship

Independence? Godly And/Or Ungodly?

The prophet Isaiah has already warned of dependence upon the Assyrians for the help of Judah. Yet, Ahaz refuses to relent, and depends on them anyway. That rebellion on God is really based on a “Godless Independence”. Anything but depending on the only one who can truly help us.

Due to the rebellion of Ahaz, the Word of the LORD comes to Isaiah once again, and here is what we read:

“The LORD spake also unto me again, saying,  Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son;  Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.

Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.” Isaiah 8:5-10 (KJV)

Ahaz was independent, or so he thought. He was independent of God, the LORD. He was however, very dependent upon the Assyrians. He truly had a faulty independence.

Many citizens of the United States of America believe themselves to be independent, yet they are in slavery, and dependence upon things which basically control their lives. Like debt. There is the debt on their house they live in. They are in debt for the cars they drive. Some are even indebted to their children. They trust in these things to get them through life. Too many are not depending on God.

The people of Judah had refused the refreshing water that flowed from Shiloah. The “Waters of Shiloah ” was the stream which flowed from the Gihon spring outside Jeruslem’s wall which flowed to the Pool of Siloam which supplied the city’s water. It was a symbol of the people’s dependence upon the LORD, but they, through king Ahaz were forsaking it for the overflow of Assyria.

The prophet likens the Assyria as the banks of the Euphrates River overflowing and coming and conquering the land of Judah, and Israel. “O Immanuel” is a sadness because the land of Immanuel was about to be stripped of her glory. “What a pity that He who owns and will someday possess the land must see it in such a devastated condition!” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE p.967.

“Be broken you peoples” God says to the Assyrians who are full of pride because of their conquest of the land. “Your time is coming” seems to be God’s warning to them in their arrogance. Your armor, your vast army will be shattered. And, God states this twice as though to give them double damage. The plotting and scheming of the counsel of men cannot stand against the Almighty God. Their words, their plans will fall to nothing, and so will those of the world leaders today. They will come to naught. God is with us.

God is with us, or “Immanuel”. He is still with Israel, and will fulfill all His promises to them. He will never fail to fulfill His Word. His promise is “God is with us”. That is not “Godless Independence”; that is Godly dependence.

-Tim A. Blankenship

For The Glory of His Majesty

Prophet’s Possible Perspective

I am longing for the day when the Holy One of Israel and Judah makes us one nation once again and their will be peace and such blessing, such as we have never known before.

YHWH has called us to walk in His light. The house of Jacob has for too long been in darkness, influenced by the dark actions and deeds of the Assyrians and Babylonians. They have gotten into the worship of their idols made by men’s hands, and darkness covered the land of God’s promise and people.

Pride has filled the hearts of the kings and nations of the earth, because they have overwhelmed the nation of God. They believe their gods are more powerful than the God of Heaven. The One who created all that is will come and judge these nations, and they will fall. They will crumble to the earth. ‘The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.’

There is a day coming when all the arrogance and pride of men will be brought low, and no one will stand against the Holy One of Israel and Judah. Men of flesh will bow before the Almighty. The works of their hands, their idols, will go up in smoke, the ones made of stone will be smashed to pieces. The ones of precious metals, as gold and silver, will be put the fire and be purified, and go back from whence it came.

At the time of the Holy One’s judgment many will flee to the rocks and caves, and holes in the ground, fleeing from the splendor of His majesty and power. He will come as a terror to those who dwell on the earth.

There is nothing; no man, no idol, no building of man’s making will be able to stand. O, that the people who dwell on the earth would only realize that man is nothing before the power and fierceness of the judgment of God.

Read God’s Word:

“Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not. Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” Isaiah 2:6-22 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Dehorned

Dehorned

Anyone who has watched the Professional Bull Riders riding bulls will understand the power of the horns on those bulls. They can cause terrible damage to a cowboy, even kill him. There have been a few cowboys and a few of the “Bullfighters” (were called Rodeo clowns) who have been gored by those bulls and their horns.

On many farms which have raised horned cattle, there has been the annual roundup for de-lousing, vaccination, castration of bull calves, and dehorning of the calves as well. I can remember a couple of different dehorning tools used. There was one pair which was really large and could dehorn a larger animal, then, there was a smaller set used for smaller animals. Either one used was usually a bloody mess, and had to be done just right, in order to keep the horns from growing back.

I mention these things to illustrate the power of the horn. Most of the time when we see the horn mentioned it is a symbol of power, and refers to a king or kingdom. There is a reference in Scripture even to “The horns of the altar” (Leviticus 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34; 1 Kings 1:50-51; 2:28; Psalm 118:27; Jeremiah 17:1; Amos 3:14) , which of course would be speaking of grasping hold of God.

In the prophet Zechariah’s vision he sees four horns:

“Then I raised my eyes and I looked, and there were four horns. And I said to the angel who talked with me, ‘What are these?’ So he answered me, ‘These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.’ Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. And I said, ‘What are these coming to do?’ So he said, ‘These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one could lift up his head; but the craftsmen are coming to terrify them, to cast out the horns of the nations that lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.’” Zechariah 1:18-21 (NKJV).

As you can see there are four horns, thus representing four nations, and the nations to which Daniel the prophet refers to in Daniel 7 which are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, and all of them were the enemy of Israel, and oppressed them. These kingdoms were Gentile nations, and God used each of them to judge Israel, Judah and Jerusalem. However, they were often treated with disdain, hatred, and as though they were unworthy of life. Because of the way these nations treated them while they had them in captivity they [these nations] would be judged harshly by God.

The four nations were used to judge Israel, they were taken from their homeland, and they were gone for 70 years of judgment.

There are also “Four Craftsmen” whose work it is to cast out the horns. These “Craftsmen” are probably likened to the stone masons, metal workers and carpenters. Each one has a hammer. The hammer of the stone mason is used to chip away at the stone in order to form the object desired or just simply remove a large formerly immovable stone. The hammer of the metal worker is used to beat and form the metal to form objects. The hammer of the woodworker is used for building things of wood. The craftsmen are used to drive each of these horns into oblivion. In the writings of the prophet Jeremiah he uses the picture of a hammer, “Is not my word like a fire’ says the LORD, ‘and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29). It is for the purpose, that each nation might know, that there is a God in heaven who oversees and directs the affairs of men.

When there is arrogance in the hearts of God’s children He will send oppressors to humble us before Him. It is better that we humble ourselves before Him never forgetting that it is God, and God alone who has blessed us, saved us, and by Him He will be glorified through us.

One thing by these verses we can be sure of and that is this. God will not allow nations to mistreat His people, except that He will destroy them when they do. God works in His people’s lives to accomplish His purposes, His will and His own glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Married to a Backslider

Married To A Backslider

 

There has been many a father and mother who pleaded and pleaded with their children to return home, after they have ran away from home. Some children, after reaching the mid to late teen years, begin feeling they can run their lives without someone “telling me what to do”, and so they run away. It is sometimes by the deceptive words of a “friend” or an older individual persuades them to do so. These are heart breaking for every loving parent.

Questions like; “Where did I go wrong?”, “What could we have done different?”, “Why is this happening now?”, and feelings of being a failure with your family hit hard. Since I have never experienced the sorrow of a runaway child, I really don’t know all the questions asked, or the pain that it causes. I have known a family or two where the runaway scenario has happened.

You could call their leaving home, “Backsliding”. That is what has happened in the life of the divided nations of Israel and Judah. Israel left home and began worshipping golden calves in Dan and Bethel, set up by their first king Jereboam. The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Backslide” as “To lapse morally or in religious practice”. That, in my opinion, is a gross understatement.

Before we go on let’s hear the Word of the LORD from the prophet Jeremiah:

“Return, O backsliding children,’ says the LORD; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:14-15 (NKJV).

What does God mean by “Backsliding”? It is the act of treachery, turning away from God, His Word, and sliding on a slippery slope to one’s lowest point. God is not pleased when His people turn their backs on Him and then, offer Him sacrifices which do not come from a heart of devotion and praise. Sacrifices offered with a backslidden heart are a stench in heaven and the nostrils of God.

Why people say that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament is beyond me. The means of salvation is by grace through faith. The Old Testament people were saved looking forward to the cross of Christ; shown in all the blood sacrifices offered with a clean motive, and the people from the cross forward are saved by looking back to the cross of Christ by faith.

This word from God through his prophet Jeremiah is given to His backslidden people. It is not to the heathen, unredeemed, but to the people of Israel and Judah. This says to us that God’s people do go astray. We do get out of the will of God, but God will spare no grace to pursue us, pleading with us to get us back into our personal walk with Him; in more complete agreement with Him; at peace with Him. The backslidden child of God is not at peace with God. The backslider is not even at peace with himself/herself. They want their own way, and they are going to have their way. Even if that way leads to the “pigpen”. Remember the Prodigal son of Luke 15:11-32. The father’s love seen for a rebellious son who had wanted to do things his way returns to the loving father, after realizing his own desperate plight. The writer of Proverbs says of the backslider, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.” Proverbs 14:14 (NKJV).

It doesn’t matter what the child of God has done you have a loving Father who is pleading for you to return to His fellowship and enjoy the peace, comfort, love and joy that is found only in the presence and power of God. Don’t take this wrongly. This is not an invitation to do evil and wrong. We have been freed from such arrogance, and pride. Because we drag the carcass (Isaiah 5:18 ) of the flesh around with us, we have not laid it down yet, it is still a battle we face everyday.

For too long the nations had had shepherds who were “devouring their sheep”, and not teaching them the truth, or leading them in the true ways of God. They were self seeking. Read Jeremiah 23:1-2ff. The responsibility of the shepherd of people is an awesome responsibility. Those who preach, teach, and minister the word of God, are especially on notice to take great care in what they say, teach and preach. It seems quite clear that the priest, and other shepherds of Israel had gravely failed to lead in the way of God and His righteousness, grace and justification.

God now says to Israel and Judah, “I will give you shepherds according to My heart…” These will not be after the heart of man, but the heart of God. The true shepherd of God needs to know the heart of God. We learn that through His Word, prayer, and service for His glory.

The Christian of our day (2008 ) is living in times of great opportunity. Let us be devoted, committed, and crucified with Christ; being so will not allow us to backslide away from where God desires us to be, and that is with Him. Let us walk in His Spirit, His Word, and do things using His methods. Whether some want to admit it or not there are some methods that are being used to “Reach people for Christ” which are not after God’s heart. You know them. They give more glory to the program, the actors, the performers, the stunts, the numbers of people who are drawn to these events, and even to the numbers of “decisions”, than they do to the Lord for whom they are presumably there.

O, backsliding children God pleads for your return, “Return, O backsliding children…”

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Meeting God in Person

Meeting God in Person

“And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.” Genesis 16:7-16 (KJV)

Remembering now that Hagar had received some harsh, and unkind treatment from Sarai, she has fled from her husband and mistress. We must remember some things about Hagar too. She had become “Highminded” against Sarai; though not specifically charged, it is definitely implied by the phrase, “despised in her eyes” (v.5). Sarai was her master wife, the ruler of the household. Now notice who appears to Hagar after she has fled from the Abrahams.

The Angel of the LORD is the one who finds Hagar by a fountain of water. The Angel of the LORD is believed to be a manifestation of the pre-incarnate Christ. This angel is never mentioned in Scripture following the incarnation of Christ in Bethlehem. This shows us that the LORD is indeed concerned with the people of all races, and countries, and that He is involved in the affairs of humanity. The LORD cared for Hagar and went to her.

Notice how the LORD addresses Hagar; He calls her “Sarai’s maid”, reminding her that she has attachments, and obligations, and that she is still a servant to Sarai. The question asked by the LORD is not one seeking information, but rather one seeking repentance. What is Hagar’s need for repentance? She has been rebellious, and proud concerning Sarai; and sought a higher place than what she was allotted by God. She was a servant girl, nothing more. The first born son of promise was to be from Abram and Sarai; not Abram and Hagar.

The LORD’s word to Hagar is, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” She is not to exude an attitude of arrogance or supremacy over Sarai, but be an obedient servant girl. God gives her a promise, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly…”, and the promise did not stop there. Hagar is told that she is with child, that she would bear a son, and call his name Ishmael. The promise is one that has not only been fulfilled but makes history practically everyday. It is seriously believed that Ishmael is the father of the Arabic people. This is mostly a people who are also followers of Mohammed who is the founder of the Muslim religion. They fulfill the discription in God’s “promise” to Hagar. “He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren”. In the naming of her son Ishmael she would always look at her son and remember the day she heard from the LORD.

Hagar then names the place where she has met God in person “You Are the God Who Sees” (Beer Lahai Roi). This is the same place (24:62) where Isaac, the promised son, would be waiting, years later for his bride; which the servant of Abraham had gone to find.

What did Hagar do upon meeting the LORD and hearing His voice? She honored Him with a great name. She returned to her mistress, and we must believe that she returned in a submissive manner. This experience for Hagar was a blessed experience. It is a privilege, an honor, a blessing, and grace that any one can meet God. All can meet God, however, by the person of Jesus Christ. This Angel of the LORD was He before He ever became man, and walked among us.

God shows His mercy every day. Some may wonder “How?”, and that is really simple to explain. If He indeed did create all things, and He did. If He does indeed still involve Himself in the affairs of this world, and He does. Then, surely He holds the power to stop your breathing, and the beating of your heart with only a word. That is His mercy displayed. His grace was displayed as His Son Jesus hanged between earth and heaven, and all of heaven’s wrath was poured onto the Son in our behalf. The life given by Himself, that we might live with Him eternally. Have you met God personally?

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Building Insignificant Towers

An Insignificant Tower

Genesis 11:1-9

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” Genesis 11:1-9 (KJV).

At this time, which according to any records, that are of around the time of Nimrod (10:8-11); tell us that Nimrod was probably the builder of this city and religion. The whole earth – the Japhethites, the Hamites, and the Shemites were all still hanging around together. They all still had the same language and speech.

They journeyed together, found a fertile, pleasant plain in which to farm, build, and to erect a monument to man’s achievements – the tower of arrogance. This would indeed come to nought. Human government without God will always fail. In Daniel 2 Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and in the dream he saw four Gentile Human Governments fall, and come to ruin.

In the Second Psalm we find these words, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His anointed saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.'” (Psalm 2:1-3). The purpose of human government; because the devil is the prince of the power of the air; is to overthrow the God of Creation. Don’t you believe for an instant that he has any sincerity in it; because he knows he is already a defeated foe. He has already lost the battle. Jesus won the victory on the cross; and the resurrection is all the evidence that we need.

The building of the tower was really only a monument to the achievements of man. So soon following the flood they are still filled with arrogance, and haughty spirits. There are Insignificant Towers we build even today. One of those towers of insignificance is the Space Program [NASA]. Has anyone noticed the arrogance involved in this program, yet we are reminded occasionally of how small, and fragile we really are. With the space shuttle exploding in 1986 and killing all on board, then again, another one burning up coming back down to earth, and killing all on board in February of 2001. Yet we persist in its foolish endeavors Let me tell you this – the idea of space adventure fascinates me. I think it would be a glorious sight to be in space and look back down to earth and see this wondrous globe as it rotates and revolves, just as God ordained it to be. But, there is so much, too much pride and haughtiness involved. When we exalt ourselves over God we fail.

Another tower of insignificance would be technology. Medical, electronic, automotive, communication, etc.. Again, don’t take me wrong. I appreciate all this stuff. It is great to have, at least until it breaks down or just outdates itself; or I don’t know how to use it. The problem with the things are that our pride leads to the place of exalting ourselves over God, and that brings His judgment upon us.

That is what happened at Babel “the gate of god”. Then, because it became a place of exalting self over God; God came down and confused the languages, making it a place of “Babel” or “Confusion”. God puts no approval in Global Human Government. He commanded the people to scatter over the earth, and that is clearly what He did by the confusing of the speech. It seems that He did it with care keeping the families all together. Husband and wife went together with their children if they had children. The families of Japheth were with Japheth. The families of Ham were with Ham. The families of Shem were with Shem.

I believe that it was at this time or not long following that there was the massive earthquake that makes mention in chapter ten verse 25. This set each one in a different area on the globe. When God brings Global unity, togetherness it will be by His holy Son Jesus Christ, and He will rule on earth.