Hand to the Plow

“And Jesus said unto him, ‘No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’ ”  Luke 9:62

When Jesus extends His call to follow Him it is a matter of urgency. It is not a wait and see if it checks out. Neither is there time to say “Good bye” or to take care of family burials that are yet to happen some unknown day in the future.

When one plows a field they must keep their eyes focused straight ahead, so that they can have a straight row or furrow.

The one having taken the plow, and looking back is quickly off course.

Let us who are in Christ Jesus and are following Him be ever faithful to the task He has given us and keep our focus straight ahead, keeping His word, and hiding it in our hearts making it the main words we think, live and share. Keep your hand to the plow; look straight ahead. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

If you have taken your eyes off Jesus, or have never had your eyes on Him, and are focusing on family issues, debt, loss of a job, loss of a family member; just remember Jesus makes you fit for kingdom service.

Call on the name of Jesus. He is the One who died for our sins, was buried, and rose again for our justification.

Fear the LORD; Opened Eyes

“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”  Proverbs 3:7-8
“And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight.”  Luke 24:31

Let us pray that we fear God and nothing or no one else, because that is relying on His wisdom and not our own. Let us also ask Him to always keep our eyes opened to the truth of the identity of Jesus Christ who died on the cross, was buried, and He bodily arose and came out of the grave.

May we also pray for the eyes of the many who are hopeless, helpless, hurting and lost might be opened to see who Jesus is as well; that they might be delivered from sin and hell.

Prayer for January 5, 2021

For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He pondereth all his goings. Proverbs 5:21

Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, preach ye upon the housetops.  Matthew 10:26-27

Our Father who is in Heaven, Your name is holy, and Reverend, and no one deserves to attach those names to themselves, but You. No one knows Your ways, or fully knows You. You alone have given us the knowledge that we have of You.

Your word tells us that Your eyes are watching us, Your hands are molding us, who are in Christ Jesus, into the image of Your dear Son. Your eyes roam to and fro throughout the whole earth; and You show Yourself strong to those whose hearts are perfect in You.  There is none like You, O Lord.

I pray Father that I be always aware of the position of Your eyes; that they are on me, watching me; not only as a deterrent to sin, but also as a means of keeping me in Your way.

O Lord God, there is evil in this world. There is evil in the United States of America, and it is in the people of this land, and thus in our government. Leaders, so called, who are fighting for power, power to rule over the people, so that they may gain for themselves; and to bring the whole world together against You, Your Son, Your word, Your will and Your way. I pray, O Mighty God, that these be revealed, and their evil be exposed for what it is, and that You will turn the hearts of Your people back to You, calling on Your name, turning from sin to the righteousness that is received only through the faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, back to trusting Your word above the words of men.

There is evil in declaring that there are many genders, that sodomy is a legitimate relationship; and You have declared clearly that these are abominations. You have made clear that there are only Male and Female and no other in the race of Adam. Expose this evil for what it is. Complete rebellion against You and Your word.

Thank You for the forgiveness of sin through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. He is at Your right hand and praying for us daily. You, O Lord, are worthy of laud and honor and power and glory. Save Lord, to the uttermost those who are perishing. Amen.

The Selfish Shepherd

“Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.” Zechariah 11:17 (KJB)

Some thoughts from John Wesley…

“The idol shepherd – To them that are but the images of shepherds. That leaveth – Casts off the care of the flock. The sword – Of the enemy, shall break his strength and be – fool his counsels. Dried up – They that have gifts which qualify them to do good, if they do it not, they will be taken away. They that should have been workmen, but were slothful, and would do nothing, will justly have their arm dried up. And they that should have been watchmen, but were drowsy, will justly have their eye blinded.”  JOHN WESLEY’S NOTES ON THE BIBLE for Zechariah 11:17

John Gills notes on Zechariah 11:17…

Woe to the idol shepherd,…. Or, “the shepherd of nothing” (w); that is, no true shepherd, that is good for nothing, for an idol is nothing in the world, 1Co_8:4 and who is an idol himself, sits in the temple of God, and is worshipped as if he was God. 2Th_2:4 and is an encourager and defender of idolatry:

that leaveth the flock; has no regard to its spiritual concerns; does not feed it, but fleece it, and leaves it to the cruelty and avarice of his creatures under him:

the sword shall be upon his arm; with which he should feed the flock:

and upon his right eye; with which he should watch over it:

his arm shall be clean dried up; his power shall be taken away from him; the antichristian states, which supported him, shall withdraw from him; the ten kings shall hate the whore, strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her with fire, Rev_17:16,

and his right eye shall be utterly darkened; not only given up to judicial blindness, which has been always his case; but his kingdom shall be full of darkness, Rev_16:10 his hidden things of darkness shall be exposed; all his crafty schemes will be confounded; and all his wit, cunning, and subtlety, will cease; and everything desirable to him will be taken away from him. His “arm” may denote his secular power, which shall be taken away from him: and his “right eye” his knowledge of the Scriptures, judgment in controversies, and infallibility pretended to by him, which wilt cease, even in the opinion of men. Ben Melech interprets it the eye of his heart or mind; and so Aben Ezra.”  JOHN GILL’S EXPOSITION OF THE BIBLE

The Eyes of the Lord GOD

“Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.” Amos 9:8 (KJB)

 

eyes … upon the sinful kingdom — that is, I am watching all its sinful course in order to punish it (compare Amo_9:4; Psa_34:15, Psa_34:16).

not utterly destroy the house of Jacob — Though as a “kingdom” the nation is now utterly to perish, a remnant is to be spared for “Jacob,” their forefather’s sake (compare Jer_30:11); to fulfil the covenant whereby “the seed of Israel” is hereafter to be “a nation for ever” (Jer_31:36).”  From the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary

 

“The guilty will certainly be punished. If they enter the sacred place of worship, even that will not shelter them, Amo_9:1. Flight and concealment will be in vain. Let them climb ever so high, or burrow ever so deep; let them scale the loftiest hills, or dive into the deepest seas-the consequences of their sins will overtake them, Amo_9:2-3. How can sinners hope to escape from Him whose chambers are built in the heavens and whose voice governs the tides, Amo_9:6? The great desolations of the past prove the exactness and severity of His judgments, Amo_9:7-8. How remarkably Amo_9:9 has been fulfilled? Notwithstanding their scatterings, the Hebrew people have been preserved as a race.

The final paragraph, Amo_9:11-15, is very reassuring. It is a burst of noble anticipation, quoted by the Apostle James, Act_15:14-17. The promises made to Abraham and David are yet to be fulfilled. The derision of their foes, of whom Edom was the ringleader, will be silenced. Through the parted curtain, we descry the golden age of the future. There is a divine plan working to its conclusion, and Israel shall yet come again to the land given to their fathers.” From THROUGH THE BIBLE DAY BY DAY with F. B. Meyer for Amos 9:1-15

The Eyes and the Ears

“The word of the LORD also came unto me, saying,

‘Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.’ ”  Ezekiel 12:1-2 (KJB)

I thank the Lord God of Heaven and earth, for my eyes and my hearing as often as I think of the blessing.  That is almost every day, and sometimes several times through the day.

The above text tells us that this rebellious house had eyes, but did not see; and ears, but did not hear.  That means to me that they had chosen not to see what God did; and chose not to hear what God said.

This is a people to whom God had blessed with His word, His commandments, and they would also (and did) be the people through whom God would bring the Savior into the world.

When Jesus came into the world many still refused to see and hear. Even though it was quite clearly spoken in their covenant word of God, many of the elite scribes and priests refused to see and hear the One God had sent.

The Body of Christ, the Christian Church needs to realize today that we have been given the one way to salvation from sin and death; we have only one word from God; and today, neither any other day is the day to refuse to see God fulfilling His word, or hearing what He says.

See, and witness the power of God through the cross of Jesus Christ. Hear what God says, and do it. Several times Jesus said, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear”.

eyes to see, and see not, … ears to hear, and hear not — fulfilling the prophecy of Deu_29:4, here quoted by Ezekiel (compare Isa_6:9; Jer_5:21). Ezekiel needed often to be reminded of the people’s perversity, lest he should be discouraged by the little effect produced by his prophecies. Their “not seeing” is the result of perversity, not incapacity. They are willfully blind. The persons most interested in this prophecy were those dwelling at Jerusalem; and it is among them that Ezekiel was transported in spirit, and performed in vision, not outwardly, the typical acts. At the same time, the symbolical prophecy was designed to warn the exiles at Chebar against cherishing hopes, as many did in opposition to God’s revealed word, of returning to Jerusalem, as if that city was to stand; externally living afar off, their hearts dwelt in that corrupt and doomed capital.”    From the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary for Ezekiel 12:1-2

The Eyes, the Ears, and the Face of the Lord

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?  But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” 1 Peter 3:12-16 (KJB)

 

Also consider reading 2 Chronicles 16 and note verses 7 – 10 especially: and Romans 8.

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.

Leaven and Bread

“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 the leaven of Herod.’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ And when Jesus knew it, He saith unto them, ‘Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened?  Having eyes, see ye not?, and having ears, hear ye not?, and do ye not remember?
When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’
They say unto Him, ‘Twelve.’  ‘And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?’ And they said, ‘Seven.’  And He said unto them, ‘How is it that ye do not understand?’” Mark 8:14-21  (KJB)

Leaven is an ingredient which causes bread to rise giving the appearance of being more than what it is.  It is puffed up.  It is often used in Scripture as representative of evil and its influence in people, and doctrines of religion and men.

The leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Herodians which the Sadducees were part of and was more political than religious.  The Pharisees were always twisting Scripture to fit their own understanding to keep the people in bondage to them, and their understanding of Scripture.  They put burdens on others that they would not do themselves.

I realize there is more to understand in the above verses than of leaven, but it was the words of Jesus ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.’ which aroused my attention this morning.

Using Scripture to control others as did the Pharisees, and they tried to control Jesus too but could not; is an evil beyond description.  The preacher, the messenger of the word of God is to proclaim the truth of the word of God [Scripture] with clarity, understanding, and love letting the word and the Holy Spirit convict, comfort, encourage, and draw the lost, condemned soul to God.

Having a “Must do” list in order to be saved is leaven to the Scripture.  Salvation, sanctification, and glorification is solely the work of God.  Let us leave it there.

Our Hearts Burn Within Us

“And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?’
And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, ‘The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.’ And they told what things were done in the way, and how He was known of them in breaking of bread.” Luke 24:31-35  (KJB)

When we are first introduced to these two from Emmaus we are told, “But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him” (v. 16).  On the way the resurrected Lord spoke the Scriptures of Moses and the Prophets, and taught them of the Christ.  It was not until He broke bread with them in their home that their eyes were opened.

Jesus disappears from their sight.  They get up from their table, and return to Jerusalem to find the others, and share with them about their personal encounter with Jesus.

As I read this, this morning, it was fresh and new to me like I was reading it for the first time.  Though nothing new was revealed to me, but it was like the Lord Jesus was very very near to me, and He always is, but like a refresher filling of the Spirit. He is near.  He is always near.

He is risen just as He said.  Remember the Scriptures.  They tell us of Him.  That is when our hearts burn within us.  Our hearts burn, yearning, longing, desiring to see our Lord, and to hear Him speak to us.  Is your heart burning for Him?  The fuel for the fire is the Scriptures.

The Eyes of the LORD

Proverbs 15:1-33

1. THE ALL-SEARCHING EYES OF THE LORD (vv. 1-7) focus 3).
He watches from a “lofty tower” or a very high place.

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

22 times in the Old Testament is the “Eyes of the LORD” written and only once in the New Testament in 1 Peter 3:12
How John describes the eyes of the LORD – “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;” Revelation 1:14

2. THE SACRIFICE AND WAY THAT IS ABOMINATION TO THE LORD (vv. 8-10) focus 8-9).
Think of Cain’s sacrifice. Think of Saul’s sacrifice of disobedience (1 Samuel 15:22). God is not delighted by wicked sacrifice (Jeremiah 6:20).

3. THE INESCAPABLE PRESENCE OF THE LORD (vv. 10-24)focus v. 11).
Verse 11-

“If God knows the secrets of the world beyond the grave, much more does he know the secret thoughts of men on earth. The heart is the source of action. (see Mat_15:19, etc.)” Pulpit Commentary

4. THE DESTROYED HOUSE (v. 25).
The house of pride will be torn down, destroyed.
Psalm 52:1-5; 138:6; Isaiah 2:12; 1 Peter 5:5

“The proud, self-confident man, with his family and household and wealth, shall be rooted up. The heathen saw how retribution overtook the arrogant.” Pulpit Commentary

5. THE ABOMINATION AND THE PLEASANT WORDS (vv. 26-28)focus 26).
The righteous or good man or woman thinks before they speak. The tongue; a mighty force; will show the heart of an individual.

“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:34-37 (KJB)

6. THE PRAYER THE LORD WILL HEAR (vv. 29-33)focus v. 29).
“A MAN”S NEARNESS TO GOD IS TO BE MEASURED BY HIS CHARACTER.” Pulpit Commentary. Long prayers are not a sign of one’s nearness to God, neither are big and impressive words.

God is impressed with the humble and contrite heart. See Psalm 51:17

Seeing, Hearing and Understanding

Seeing and hearing are an important part of human living and existence. Without seeing we could not see the beauties of the created order around us; neither could we see to navigate as we walk, ride or drive through a countryside.

Without hearing we could not hear the sounds of animals in the creation, neither the cries of our children as young babies crying out for care and nourishment; neither the voices of our spouses and friends, or other family members. We would not be able to hear the warning shouts of someone warning us of an upcoming danger.

These two senses are an important part of human life. They are also an important part of our spiritual existence. In the spiritual realm we can be very easily deceived, unless we have someone in whom we can trust and depend.

In Jesus’s days on earth He taught people, and called people to Himself; teaching them how to live in the Word of God, to do justly, to love mercy, and how to walk humbly with God. Yet, there were many who would not hear; nor would they see who He really is. Jesus says that this too is a fulfillment of prophecy:

“And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” Matthew 13:14-16 (KJV)

Isaiah is the prophet whom Jesus quotes (Isaiah 6:9-10). The blindness and deafness of the religious leaders was fulfillment of that. It is a truth we cannot neglect to hear. When the truth of Scripture is rejected the truths of God will grow more and more dim; the hearing will fade away into oblivion and there will be no knowledge or understanding of God or His Word.

Those who know God through His Son Jesus Christ love the Word of God, and hide in the heart that we might not sin against God (Psalm 119:11), and make it a light for our path (Psalm 119:105).

The path to understanding God and His Word is through the cross of Jesus Christ who died for our sins, was buried, and bodily arose from the grave. Believe Him, trust His Word. It is the way of life, and life everlasting.

Now My Eyes See

“Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that Thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto Me. I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6 (KJV)

Job is not told why he has been through the trials, pain, sickness, loss, despair, which he has endured. We simply see in these verses that he has his chance to speak with God.

God, the LORD, has spoken in chapters 38 – 41, and He has asked Job the question stated above; “Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge?” Job confesses, “I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.”

We can learn from this that when we have truly seen God through faith, His Word, and His Son, then all our questions cease.

There has been many a time that I have questioned God; fallen before Him in prayer with fear and trembling; and arose without an answer, but I did not need one any longer. I had seen God; heard Him and that was sufficient.

When I say “I had seen God”; I mean that I had seen Him through eyes of faith, through His Word. One day I will look into the eyes of my Lord and Saviour, and I so long for that day.

Like Job, when we see God, we will see ourselves as we truly are. In need of repentance and forgiveness which only God gives through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.

A Finished Work

“So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.” Nehemiah 6:15-16 (KJV)

The enemy had perceived that the Hebrews would fail in their work to restore and rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. For fifty two days they labored; and after their days of labor the wall is finished.

The enemy is down hearted “cast down”. By restoring this wall God was glorified. They were fulfilling the word of the LORD.

The enemy had even tried to stop the work, and had failed. We as people of God, Christians, need to realize that when God calls, God meets the needs; we are to follow Him in obedience due to love.

There is nothing like finishing job you have started.  There was another work that started and was finished; and that was the work or our salvation upon the cross of Calvary.  Jesus Himself said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30).  Therefore it was. It is.  It forever shall be finished.  Meaning God will take it to His expected end for all who believe Him.

May all the labors which we do be seen as the work that is “Wrought of our God”. May we attempt in faith those works that only God can do. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only power that saves. May we proclaim it; may we ever lift up the crucified, buried and risen Saviour.

He Dwells in the Heavens

“Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens.” Psalm 123:1 (KJV)

To the child of God who reads this verse it should be quite obvious who the subject is.  He dwells in the heavens.  There is only one.

It is to Him that the child directs his/her gaze.  It is to Him that the child of God places their trust, and receives comfort, peace, rest, and salvation.

Yes, the Holy One dwells in the heavens, and He also dwells in the hearts of His children.

Make sure today that He not only dwells in the heavens, but that He also dwells within your heart; and that He shows through.

Others in the Kingdom

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:’ but I say unto you, ‘That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”  ~Jesus (Matthew 5:38-42)

Keeping Your Heart

Keeping Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23-27
Matthew 6:21; 12:34; Philippians 4:7

1.  Giving care to your very being. (Matt. 6:21)

2.  Cause you to speak righteously from your mouth. (Matt. 12:34)

3.  Will set your eyes on the prize ahead of you with distractions.

4.  With your eyes on the prize your feet will walk the same direction. (Heb. 12:13

5.  A right heart will give you the mind to refrain from evil. (Philippians 4:7)

-T.A.

These are some sermon thoughts from Sunday morning (09/04/11) sermon preached by Tim A. Blankenship at Carr Lane Baptist.

The Error Of Balaam

Numbers 31:16

There are some in the work of the ministry for the ministry of keeping, or getting into others wallets, billfolds, and purses.  Maybe it should be called the taking of others wallets, billfolds, and purses.  This is not a new thing.  The man who is called by God to proclaim the message of God’s word can find himself in many temptations.  One of the strongest is that of obtaining all the wealth of this world he can.

That tends to be the problem with Balaam.

The Bible says;

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 1:11 (KJV)

There are two other men named in this verse; Cain of Genesis 4, and Korah [Core] from Numbers 16.  Cain killed his brother; Korah verbally attacked and led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron.  What is the “error of Balaam”?  Greed for reward.  And that is not only gold, silver, precious stones; but it can be power, prestige, position, performance, and/or profit.

Let’s look at Balaam, and his life, his acts – both good and bad, and his demise.

I.  KNOWN TO BE A PROPHET; HE IS REQUESTED TO CURSE THOSE WHOM GOD HAS BLESSED (Numbers 22:6-14).

II.  SEEN TO BE AN ANXIOUS PROPHET TO CURSE WHOM GOD HAS BLESSED (vv. 15-21).

III.  GOES TO BALAK, BECAUSE HE CANNOT SEE (vv. 22-35).

IV.  BALAAM EVIDENTLY HAS THE RIGHT WORDS; BUT NOT THE RIGHT HEART (23:7-12, 18-24).

V.  BALAAM’S EYES ARE OPENED TO THE TRUTH OF ISRAEL (24:2-9, 15).

VI.  BALAAM PROPHESIES OF ISRAEL AND THEIR FUTURE BLESSING (vv. 15-24).

VII.  BALAK BRINGS A CURSE UPON THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL (chapter 25).

VIII.  WHAT BALAAM DID TO AID IN THE CURSE UPON THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL (Numbers 31:16)

NO ONE CAN CURSE THOSE WHOM GOD HAS BLESSED (Numbers 22:6-14).  God has previously told, and promised, “I will bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you” (Genesis 12:3).  What Balak was requesting was a curse on himself, but then, they were already cursed by their own fear, hatred, and rejection of God’s people.

Balaam seems to be a sorcerer that was well known among the people of the land of Moab.  His sorcery is spoken of,

“And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.” (Numbers 24:1)

He dealt with “enchantments”, “ritual”, or “performance”, and this is probably the very first time God has intervened in his greedy pursuits; and because it was going to relate to His people.  It can only be but by the mercy and grace of God that He intervened.  This could have been nothing more than God showing them, ie., Balaam, Balak, and the Moabites the power of the One True God of Israel.

The thought of Balaam’s face being set toward the wilderness is that he may find a way to curse them.  He at least desires that he may find a cause for God to judge them.  In other words he is not interested in doing the will of YHWH; he is interested in lining his pockets from the wealth of Moab, and their king.

TOO ANXIOUS, FROM GREED FOR WEALTH, LEADS TO THE ATTEMPTED CURSING OF WHAT GOD HAS BLESSED (22:15-21).  Remember Esau, and Jacobs stew (Genesis 25:29-34)?  Esau had gone to hunt or something; may have been gone for a day and without any game on returning.  He is hungry, tired, and the scent of Jacob’s stew makes his mouth water.  At what price will Esau feed his stomach?  At what price will Balaam feed his greed?  At what price will a pastor sell out his calling, ministry, family, or church?  At what price will the Christian man sell his faith and home for that woman at work who pays him more attention than his wife at home?  At what price will that Christian woman sell her faith, her children, her husband, for that more lavish lifestyle?

Is our faith something we can sell?  Some seem to think they can.  When Balaam set out on the journey which was fanned by the flames of greed and fear; the voice he heard louder than any other was the jingle of the gold and silver coins in their purses, the position, power, prestige and profit he could receive if he would just “curse” these people wandering in the wilderness.

He did the right thing in turning down Balak the first time.  He heard the word of the LORD there.  Then, the servants of Balak returned with a better offer, and if he would have been the man of God he should have been; his answer would have been an immediate, NO!

When God has given a clear answer in the negative; especially in this type of situation; there is no need to seek God’s advice again.  He is simply wanting God’s approval to go with the men (Numbers 22:1-21).  God in his patience with Balaam gives him a clear message which he disobeys (vv. 20-21).  Balaam is one of those who merely use God for his own means.  He is a sorcerer (he uses enchantments (24:1)), and he is also known for using all other kinds of sorcery, thus seeking the guidance of the devil as well.  He is a man, a prophet, with a divided heart, and no loyalty to God, holiness, righteousness, or justice.

What price did Esau pay?  He paid the sum of his birthright.  What price will Balaam pay?  That will become apparent by the end of the message.

WHEN THE DUMB CAN SEE AND SPEAK THE LORD MAY COME AND OPEN BLIND EYES THAT THEY MIGHT SEE (vv. 22-35).  Balaam, being anxious to sin against the will of God, and to get him his wealth arises early the next morning saddles his donkey, and gets himself ready to go.  Did Balaam not hear what God had said?  Hear God’s words to Balaam:

“If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.” 22:20 (KJV)

The text tells us nothing of the men coming to him;  he just rises up and gets ready to go.  His mind, his heart is not on God but wealth.

Why is it that we can get out of the will of God, then blame God for not working in our lives?  “I can’t see God doing anything anymore”; someone might say.  “What have you done to shun God or His Word?” would be my first question.  Have you gone your own way?  It could be that God may have some “donkey” to speak to you so as to spare your life.  And He might for me when I am in a similar situation.

Here are some signs of the blindness of Balaam:

1. It is quite clear that the first approach was from enemies of God’s people;
2. Their payment method of divination, shows us that he was viewed by the haters of Israel as connected with sorcery;
3. He listened to them and their payment a second time without reservation;
4. When God tried to stop him, or at least to get his attention, he could not see it.

When it got right down to the truth it was his lowly donkey who saw the “angel of the LORD” standing in the way, which would have killed him had it not been for the donkey.  Balaam could not see the hand of the Lord ready to slay him; he only thought it to be his donkey.

THOSE WHO SAY THE RIGHT THINGS; BUT DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT HEART (vv. 23:7-12, 18-24).  Can a  prophet or preacher say the right words without being in right relationship with God?  Is it possible for the preacher or prophet to know the Gospel of  Jesus Christ without knowing the Jesus Christ of the Gospel?  It is certain that Balaam knew the right words to say, and evidently God was giving him those words to say.  So the answer to those questions must be; YES!

That can go for the Sunday School Teacher, the Deacon, the Elder, the church Treasurer, or the pastor to the man and woman in the pew.  There are many professors in our churches who are not possessors of the person of Jesus Christ, ie.,  His Spirit within.  They know the right words to say in a personal word testimony, but their life bears no fruit.

Balaam’s life bore no fruit of righteousness.  Even John the apostle writing to the church of Pergamum,

“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Revelation 2:14 (KJV)

This plot between Moab, and the Midianites prove too that it doesn’t matter who is in your family line.  Moab is the eldest of the incestual sons of Lot [Nephew of Abraham] (Genesis 19:36-38).  The Midianites come from Abraham as well; through the wife named Keturah (Genesis 25:1-5); whom Abraham married following Sarah’s death.  Moab gets the Midianites to join them in trying to overthrow Israel.  It is not the bloodline that counts; it is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses all our sin.

WITH EYES WIDE OPEN; YET CONTINUE TO DENY THE TRUTH FOR SAKE OF LUST (vv. 24:2-9, 15).  It is the confession of Balaam himself that says his eyes were opened.  It is the LORD who opened his eyes (v. 4) to see Israel for who they were.  Yet, this man, who divines, who deceives, who has the revelation from the only true and wise God of the identity, work, and uniqueness of this nation, still hungers, craves, lusts for power, prestige, position, and profit.

Jesus said;

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 (KJV)

and the “things” He speaks of is not wealth, riches, power, prestige, position or profit.

There are many who say they know Christ, but have a greater heart for making wealth than they care to know the One who makes wealth.  All things are in His hands, and no one can take them away from Him.  We are, as Christians, “seated with Christ in heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20; 2:6).  The thing is the soul that is with Jesus does not have their hearts on the things of the earth.  Those who do fit into the same category with the “earth dwellers” of the Revelation.

Many of these know the truth of the Gospel, may profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; but they bear no fruit for Christ, thus are eternally lost.  These fit into the same type relationship with Balaam.

THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL, AND THEIR BLESSINGS (vv. 24:15-24). God has opened the eyes of Balaam.  Remember he couldn’t even see the “angel of the LORD” that would have killed him, but his donkey saved his life; thus the LORD was merciful to this false prophet.

His eyes have been opened to the blessing of God upon the nation of people called Israel.  This term [“eyes open”] is used by the prophet himself in a parable he speaks; and uses it at least three times (vv. 4 third parable, 15, and 16 fourth parable).

In this “parable” is a prophecy of the Lord Jesus; “there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel…” (v. 17).  Moab and Edom had been sources of conflict with Israel; even though related; and the coming King would and will deal with them according to His power and might.

The prophecies of Balaam are promises of Israel, and Balaam never fully realizes the truth of what he has spoken.  The mere mention of his name throughout Scriptures seem to indicate that he was false in his life, and that is one of the keys to the recognition of the man of God.

1. The man of God is true to God;
2. The man of God is faithful to God and His Word;
3. The man of God lines his life with the Word of God;
4. The man of God speaks and the Word of God comes to pass.

There are two examples of these in the five books of Moses (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:20-22).  Both of these examples speak of turning the hearts of God’s people to other gods (which are not gods at all), and the worship of demons (1 Corinthians 10:19-20).

The God of Israel is the Holy One; He is the only One;  He is the righteous One; beside Him there is no other.  He is known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; working in the flesh of His Son.  One day all of Israel will turn from their unbelief; and see their God through their Messiah.  The King of kings is coming to rule on His throne in Jerusalem.

AN EVIL THAT CAN BRING GOD’S CHASTISEMENT UPON HIS CHILDREN AND THE ANSWER (Chapter 25).  When God’s people sin it causes grief in the heart of God.  Yet, as the loving, forgiving God and Father that He is He desires to bring them back to Himself.  I have said it many times, and believe it to be a quote from Charles H. Spurgeon, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”.  His children, His people are those who believe Him and His Son Jesus Christ; and live their lives for Him and His glory.

Since Balaam could not curse the people of Israel; he did one of the worse things that a pretender, hypocrite can do; cause evil to come into the heart of God’s people.  There are those in 2009 who believe that just because they are descendants of Abraham they are God’s children; even John the Baptist and Jesus has something to say about that:

“And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Matthew 3:9 (KJV) [words of John Baptist.]

“I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.” John 8:38-40 (KJV)

Notice those words of Jesus; “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.  Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; Galations 3:6; James 2:23).

The only righteousness of God available is that righteousness which comes through the shed blood of Jesus on Calvary’s cross.

Though the death of Jesus Christ has paid the price for our sins we still sin; but as a child of God we have the power, and ability through Jesus Christ not to sin.  When we sin God is not pleased, but He does want us to know that we have and Advocate with the Father (1 John 1:9 – 2:1).

The deception of Balaam brought evil into Israel, and a plague destroyed many of the people, and Phineas acted jealously for God, and stopped the plague.  Some of the people of Israel had fell to the lust of other gods which involved prostitution, and it is the worship of demons.  In this plague 24,000 people died.  God will not, and does not allow His children to sin successfully.  There may be times that it seems; at least in our eyes; that He is letting some things slip by.  If you profess to be a child of God and can sin without guilt, shame, or fear of God’s judgment; you are not His child.

We are not to live in fear, but in peace and love and contentment with God.  You cannot have that if there is sin in your life.  Deal with it.  Paul said, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).  Deal with sin quickly.  “Keep short accounts”.

THE HEART OF BALAAM WHICH WORKS RUIN (Numbers 31:16).  Now, we come to the opening Scripture verse.

“Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.”

We see the trespass which Moses mentions in chapter 25, the wrath and judgment of God; the plague upon Israel taking the lives of 24,000 people; and some dying due to God’s commandment to slay all the guilty.

Though the heart of Balaam was with the Moabites and the Midianites; and for the wealth and perks that went along with it; there is in the midst of this immorality, and debauchery; many people who are grieved by the sins taking place in the camp of God.  These are found at the “…door of the tabernacle of the congregation”, and weeping because of this great sin against God and the people of God.

As the people of God we are to seek to bring good and blessing into people’s lives; not ruin, and harm.  We are to be springs of living water – cool and fresh; refreshing the weary soul.  We are to be hotsprings for healing, renewing and strength.  We are to be especially so to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

If we do things to cause a brother to sin; or to stumble and fall; then we fall into the category of the error of Balaam.  If we do or say something that causes us to look good while harming another; then that is the error of Balaam.  You may think, “I am not doing or saying it for pay?”  Oh!  You’re not?  You have taken away something that belonged to another.  You are in the “Error of Balaam”.  The heart of Balaam was to work ruin in the people of Israel.

Let’s always to seek to lift up our Lord Jesus Christ, glorify His name; and we will not be tearing others down to build up ourselves.  Nor, will we be leading others into sin.  Balaam died at the hands of Israel, along with the kings of Midian (Numbers 31:8).  Though the child of God cannot sin successfully; neither will God overlook those who treat His children poorly.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Smallness Approved

It has been quite some time since dealing with the prophecy of Zechariah, but I am back to it today.  The portion we look at in this study is while the Angel of the LORD is speaking with Zechariah concerning the temple which was built in the remnant’s return from Persia, and the Babylonian captivity.

There are people who seem to think that smallness is a bad thing, and some in Zechariah’s day were seeing the foundation of the rebuilt temple as smaller than the previous one, which was Solomon’s Temple, and it was significantly smaller.  Let us consider the significance of “Smallness” in life.  We all start out as wee little babies, that is no secret; but then grow into monsters sometimes to build majestic empires in our own names.  Smallness is not bad, especially when God is in.  In the case of churches; there are many more small churches, than there are large Mega-churches (if there is really such a thing).  When I speak of churches here I mean the people, the congregation which makes up the Church.  Let us not despise the blessing of “Smallness” as God leads us.

“Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” Zechariah 4:8-10 (KJV)

The Word of the LORD came to Zechariah; and this is the angel of the LORD who has been speaking with him since the beginning (v. 5, 1:11, 12); saying that Zerubbabel would lay the foundation of the “house” and would “finish it”.  This is during the time of Ezra (Ezra 5:1-2).  The people complained of the temple being so small in comparison to Solomon’s, and not so glorious (Haggai  2:1-9).  Reading Zechariah and Haggai we see that God endorses, designs, and approves this smaller temple.

Zerubbabel’s finishing the temple; though “Smaller” and “less glorious”; was evidence that the LORD of hosts had sent the angel to Zechariah.  There will be rejoicing in the presence of the LORD, and no one should despise the “small things” which the LORD has designed, and approved.

“The plummet” is the measuring line which Zerubbabel used in measuring and laying out the foundation.  The “seven eyes” is the fulness of the LORD’s Spirit in the rebuilding of this temple.  He is delighted in it.  He is glorified in it, and will be glorified in the future temple of the returned Messiah, the King of kings.  In the writings of the Chronicles of the kings it is written;

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 (KJV)

The “Eyes of the LORD” are eyes of peace and love to those who yield to His power and glory.  He knows every heart, and every thought, and sees every deed of mankind.  He does show Himself strong for those whose hearts are perfect toward Him.  The remnant returning to Jerusalem, and rebuilding the temple were blessed by God the LORD in their obedient faith to Him.  Those who return to the LORD in faith will be blessed for their obedient faith in that future day, and every day they will return to Him.

Let us not be down trodden with concerns about the size of our churches, businesses, or our “kingdoms”, but rather be blessed in knowing that God approves the work of “Small things” when they are done in obedience to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship