Unto Him Who is Able to Keep You from Falling

“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, called: mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though you once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.  And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.  Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.  Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.  Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’  But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.  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.  These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withers, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.  And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying,

‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’

These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaking great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
But, beloved, you remember the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.  But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”  Jude 1:1-25

REFERENCES: 2 Peter 2:4, 6, 10, 17; 3:2, 12; Revelation 12:7-9; 20;10; Psalm 34:7; 104:4; Deuteronomy 34:6; Numbers 31:16; Isaiah 57:20; Philippians 3:19; 1 Samuel 2:3; Romans 8:26; Ephesians 3:20; 6:18; Zechariah 3:4, 5; Colossians 3:22; Hebrews 13:8

Have a glorious Resurrection Day.  Because He lives we live, and live eternally with Him.

The Will to Discern

God had promised Abraham and Sarah a child; not through a surrogate; not be adoption, but one of their flesh and bone.  One day as Abraham was possibly contemplating this promise of God he and Sarah have some visitors show up:

“And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.  And the LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.’  And the LORD said, ‘Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto Me; and if not, I will know.’  And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.”  Genesis 18:16-22 (KJV)

There are three of what the book of Genesis calls men, but Abraham recognizes one as being the LORD Himself.  So these other two men must have been angelic escorts.  For the LORD of the universe to appear as a man is almost unheard of unless you know of Jesus, of course.

You will notice in the text before the text above there were further promises of a son for the two; the Patriarch of our faith, and his wife Sarah.  Then the two “Men” departed and went toward Sodom; and Abraham went with the three for a little distance, then the LORD considers telling, and does tell Abraham what He is about to do in Sodom and Gomorrah.  Abraham pleads for the cities, and probably due to Lot’s being present in the city of Sodom, so Abraham prays for mercy for the cities in the behalf of any that are righteous in the cities getting all the way down to only 10 people (18:32).

With the passage above we see two of the “Men” angels go on without the LORD.  One thing we can see by this is that the LORD knew Abraham, and Abraham knew the LORD.  That is important for us to know.  One can know the LORD; know all one can know about Him, and still not be known by the LORD.  Now is the time to have the will to discern.  Abraham had the discernment that this was truly the LORD.  He heard the LORD’s word, believed it and pleaded his case before Him.

Note that it was the LORD who came to Abraham and entrusted to him that which He was about to do in the matter of the judgment of  a people.  Is Abraham angry that God would consider such a thing?  It sure does not seem that way to me.  He discerns that God is worthy and has cause to pass judgment upon the people.  Sometimes I do not see that some Christians have the right heart for God in His judgments today.  We hear far too often, “Now, God wouldn’t do that.  He does not judge in that fashion.”  O, really.  Where do you read that in Scripture?  That kind of judgment is based on sinful human emotion, comparing God with their own feelings rather than the truths of Scripture.

We have lost the Will to Discern.  Consider the following verses from Matthew’s gospel:

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”  Matthew 7:15-20 (KJV)

Jesus teaching us to beware of false prophets.  False prophets, false teachers, “In sheep’s clothing” teaching things about God that are not true.  The word of God is true, and any teacher, preacher, or spiritual leader who teaches that God does not or will not judge is false; and should not be heard.

God is holy, righteous and just; and because He is love; He also must judge the righteous judgment.  He will not allow His children to sin successfully.  “By their fruits you shall know them.”  Do not throw the words of Jesus (“Judge not…”) at those who know the word of God, because we are also told to make judgments; such as “By their fruits you shall know them”.  You will be putting yourself on a mighty thin thread when  and if you do.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Major Moral Issue

The following is an article from Kairos Journal

The Pansexual Appetite

4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” 6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.”

Genesis 19:4-7 (NIV)

Sociologically speaking, homosexuality ultimately leads to predatory activity. Research has shown that male homosexuality specifically is associated with a ravenous “pansexual” appetite that spawns other, even more heinous perversions. As psychiatrist and physician Jeffrey Satinover has demonstrated, “What we call the ‘gay lifestyle’ is in large measure a way of life constructed around unconstrained sexuality.”1 Wherever homosexuality flourishes and the cultural limits of sexuality are broken, not even children are safe from the effects.2

When the wicked men of Sodom approached Lot’s door and demanded access to his two male visitors, their intent was clear. The phrase “so that we can have sex with them” is synonymous with the rendering “so that we can know them.” The Hebrew verb “to know” used in this context carries with it the connotation of sexual relations (e.g., Gen. 4:17, 25). In verses 7-8, Lot clearly understands the word to be used with a sexual meaning. He calls their desire to “know” the men a “wicked thing” and offers his virgin daughters as a substitute. If their desire were simply to get acquainted with the men over a drink, Lot’s response would be absurd. Seeking to dismiss the matter of homosexuality as the sin in this passage, one modern interpretation insists that evidence in Ezekiel 16:49-50 suggests that God actually judged the Sodomites for their pride and lack of hospitality. But this explanation is weak if not laughable: both of these sins were bound up with a whole city engulfed by a drive for same-gender sexual relations. The sin had been compounded to such an extent that every man of the city viewed mere visitors as prey (v. 4).

Other pro-homosexual biblical interpreters argue that the sin of the Sodomites was not homosexuality per se, but the violence that they coupled with it—that is, their intention of gang rape. Jude 7, however, simply states that the sin of Sodom was that they “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued ‘strange flesh’”—the typical language Scripture uses to refer to homosexual activities. But what those who would seek to find something exceptional about the homosexuality in Sodom do not recognize is this: homosexuality in general opens the floodgates for all sorts of other deviant behaviors. They are inextricably linked. The men of Sodom who had given themselves over to same-sex intercourse eventually became the men who preyed on innocent visitors to their city.

Those calling for the normalization of homosexuality in modern cultures may not realize what they are asking for. Although many homosexuals are not predators like the men of Sodom, the truth is that the general practice always opens up a Pandora’s box to other kinds of deviancies such as pedophilia. Again, Satinover reports that “careful studies show that pedophilia is far more common among homosexuals than heterosexuals.”3 For this reason, those who seek to prevent special “rights” being given to same-sex relationships do not do so out of spite, bigotry, or hatred toward any persons. Rather, they act in the interest of the social good; they realize that if homosexuality is given a “free pass” in society, a host of attending evils will follow in its wake. Long before the fire and brimstone fell, the judgment of homosexuality had already begun within the walls of Sodom and Gomorrah. The same will occur in any culture that permits the practice to spread unabated.

Footnotes:
1     Jeffrey Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 61.
2     Satinover warns that the acceptance of homosexuality results in a “general lifting of sexual constraint, which the philosophy that undergirds gay activism necessarily promotes.” Such an environment, he goes on to explain, produces an environment in which pedophilia becomes more acceptable. Ibid., 62-63.
3     Ibid., 64.

You can find other interesting articles on spiritual and moral issues here and you can receive free email updates from them.

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

The Perils of Friendship With the World (2)

“Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:24-26 (KJV)

With Lot and what there is of his family safe in Zoar the LORD sends down the rain of fire and brimstone. This brimstone could refer to sulfur which will itself burn, with an unseen flame. It could refer to several different flammable substances. The picture we are given seems to be that of falling substance from the skies. It was in the form of visible flames, and hot, with hard substance as well forming a crushing effect as it hit the cities, and the lands, of the plain. No living person would want to remain in that kind of tragic environment. It would mean certain death.

Some have located the previous area of the cities of Sodom on the Southern end of the Dead Sea. The area is evidently under water. That would actually mean that the judgment was what formed the Dead Sea, or at least a portion of it. According to some archaeological people these cities were destroyed by volcanic eruption or something along that line of thought. It seems that no one wants to acknowledge that God judges sin and rebellion.

The Bible says, and this is our final authority, “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom…” When will those who profess the name of Jesus begin to realize that God still judges sin. When we live in a profligate nation, where sin is more a joke than a problem, and we start seeing tragedies of all sorts begin, surely that should make us wonder. It seems that when sin is on the increase, and mocked at, and promoted as being a normal part of life, then earthquakes will increase, wild storms of wind, and rain continue to increase, but the “scientist” will tell us these are only natural phenomena and is due to today’s popular event called “global warming”. Whether we want to admit it or not all these things are due to sin in the first place; from the sin of Adam and Eve to our sins today; we all stand guilty before God. It is only His hand that keeps this world from flying apart, and when these things begin happening; it is due to His hand gradually being removed. Gradually being removed so as to warn us, and turn our hearts toward Him.

There was not much warning for the cities of Sodom, except what Lot provided for his sons-in-law. The people of Sodom and the plains had the testimony of creation, ie., the stars, the sun and the moon, the singing birds, and all flying fowl. As the Psalmist wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1). They had the witness of Lot and his family, though it may have been a weak one; he was still a witness, which can be used against them. Lot was evidently afflicted by the sins of this city, “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:” 2 Peter 2:7. We can see that Lot did have a hatred for the sins of his culture. Remember how he sought to protect the visitors from harm by the people of the city.

God so hated the sins of Sodom and cities of the plain that He destroyed all the inhabitants of those cities. They were polluted by immorality, and they were full of themselves, as we saw in Ezekiel 16:49-50. When people get too full of themselves they have no room for God, and God, according to His Word is a jealous God; no matter what Oprah thinks. Nothing much grows where these cities once stood.

One woman has been immortalized by Jesus in a far different way than anyone would want to be. Her name was lost with Lot and His daughters, because we don’t know it. God had warned Lot, his wife, and their two daughters, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee…”, and it was after they were all safely in Zoar, the city that was protected because of Lot’s plea with the visitors, that the judgment fell upon their city. For whatever reason she “looked back”, and became a “Pillar of salt”. Jesus refers to Lot’s wife in the Gospel of Luke: “Remember Lot’s wife.” (17:32). It is not mentioned why she looked back, and I don’t think we can go far wrong in bringing some things to light concerning her backwards look. First of all, her heart was still in Sodom; maybe it could be daughters who never came with them, the sons-in-law, and maybe grandchildren. Secondly, her heart could have still been there because of the power and popularity she and Lot had in the city, and she just couldn’t leave that behind. A third thing, could have been their wealth; by this time, the years they had spent there they could have achieved much material gains, gold, silver, jewels, precious garments, and the lifestyle they lived was comfortable; she was leaving it all behind. Remember Jesus’s words, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21. Someone has said of Lot’s wife, “She became in death, what she never was in life. Salt.” The warning of Lot’s wife stands for all time to all who will cherish the physical and material over the Word and will of God.

“And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.” Genesis 19:27-29 (KJV)

The morning of Lot’s deliverance, and at about the time of the destruction of the cities, Abraham got up early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood with the LORD probably just the day before, and looked toward the direction of Lot’s location; the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he saw the smoke billowing up through the air and the sky. I am sure Abraham’s heart must have sped up and skipped, and practically stopped. There were surely tears in his eyes knowing the hundreds, thousands of human lives that were given in judgment that day. Abraham surely believed that Lot and his family, or at least some of them had been spared; he was trusting the LORD for that matter and God would not fail.

Is there anything wrong with godly people grieving over the loss of human life even when it is known to be the judgment of God? It would seem to me to be ungodly not to grieve. Though “God is angry with the wicked everyday” (Psalm 7:11); He does not desire to destroy them but to save them. Hear the prophet Ezekiel: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways and live?” (18:23), and once more, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and and live ye.” (18:32). It seems quite clear that God grieves in the judgment too. We can rejoice in that God is glorified in the judgment of sin. We can rejoice when justice is carried out, and God is glorified. We must remember this world and this life is not about us; it is, however about Almighty God, and His glory.

“And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Come, et us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.” Genesis 19:30-38 (KJV)

 

Zoar was a city of the plains which was spared from the judgment of God. To those in “science” who would proclaim that “This was just a volcanic eruption” would have a hard time explaining how this city was kept from the judgment, and it is just a short distance from the Southern end of the Dead Sea. God’s grace is truly sufficient.

Why Lot feared dwelling in Zoar we are not told. It does tell us that he was fearful there, so he went and lived in a cave. Maybe he was fearful because the people there thought Lot was responsible for the deaths of so many, or at least he may have thought they were thinking that, and fled for his life. We often do not realize it but fear has a very crippling and disabling affect on us. It causes us to flee when nothing pursues us. The writer of Proverbs wrote, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (28:1). When our hearts are not with God, that is usually when we are fearful. That is our weakest time, and that is when we flee. To what we have no idea, we just must flee, and it is most likely into more fearful surroundings, and into sin.

We would surely mostly admit that a cave would not be as comfortable as a home in a city. There is much evidence of what happens when we start living with fear. The people of the city of Zoar may have despised Lot, thinking that he was responsible for the demise of the other cities, and maybe accusing him of that, and he may have had just a paranoia thinking such things. Even though he was delivered to this city by God he grows in fear. Fear in the heart shouts loudly and clearly that things are not right with you and God. When you are in the Spirit of God, walking with Him, and doing His will there is no fear, but rather “peace, love, joy…”. John the apostle tells us, “Perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18), and we need to know that when we have the proper fear of God, there is no need to fear anything else.

This fear led him to withdraw from the city. Some of the fear may have been that God would destroy this city too. If that be true then Lot’s faith is certainly wavering, and he is gravely in doubt. God had brought him here and saved this city from destruction, why would he now destroy it? He went to a cave with his two daughters. The daughters determined that they needed to have babies, if their race of people were to continue. They devised a plot of getting Lot drunk, getting him in their beds or them into his. Lot may have not noticed the special treatment, the wine, the excess, because he was hurting from the death of his wife, and most of all he was fearful. Fear mixed with sorrow are two of the strongest emotions that can ruin and take control of our thinking. They can get us to the place of amusements; and it would do us good to do a word study here. The word “Muse” means “thought” or “thinking”. When you add the “a” to a word it usually means basically “No”. When you put these two together you have the meaning of “No thinking” or “No thought”. Amusement is usually for the purpose of taking our minds off of problems, and thus that is what has happened to Lot. From Lot we should learn how our fear, our emotions, and our amusements can so easily detract us from the direction and path of holiness, and righteous living in Christ our Lord and Savior.

There is a lot to be said for sobriety, and sober thinking. Without it you end up with fathers having incestual relationships with daughters, mothers having incestual relationships with sons, cars careening out of control killing an innocent family driving down the highway, on their way to grandma’s house. Without sober thinking you will have step fathers raping and killing their step daughters, and /or their sons. There is really no limit to what evil can come from drunkenness. As a result of this debauchery Lot fathers two of his own grandchildren. One of them is Moab which becomes a nation which hates Israel, desires to curse Israel, hires a false prophet to do so, brings immorality into Israel and a plague ensues (Numbers 22-25). The other son/grandson born to Lot by his younger daughter is named Ben-ammi and these are the Ammonites which also hated Israel. But, then, these were only personal choices; no one was hurt by them were they??? Think again.

Moses, in his writing the Pentateuch wrote, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). I think he knew what he was writing.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Perils of Friendship With the World

According to the New Testament and the writings of the Old Testament too, God knows how to deliver the righteous from the judgment of the unrighteous. In 2 Peter 2:9 it is written, “…Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment…” We should understand that the Lord is not surprised by our sins, but He is offended by our sins. He is the offended One. He is the one to whom the debt was owed for sin. There is still sin in our world. Even though that sin debt has been paid in full by the life, shed blood of Jesus Christ it yet needs to be put away.

As Christians we face our sin, others sin, and corporate and national sin each day of our lives. We can choose to deal with it by the flesh; which is to just give in to it, go with the flow, never rock the boat, never speak a word against it, and even at times participate in a little bit of it which gives us some pleasure. We also have the choice of choosing to be like Jesus Christ, standing up, giving our lives, making a difference, being a difference. Being a fresh drink of cold water in a dry, barren desert of sin is far better for the world and us, than to just be part of the barren and dry desert.

What happened to Lot and his family? Lot may get a little more bashing than he deserves, but I do see Lot as being a compromiser. Yet God tells us that He calls him “Righteous” (2 Peter 2:7). A majority of Christians probably fit in with Lot more than with Abraham. Lot representing a “carnal” Christian. Abraham representing the faithful Christian.

“And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;” Genesis 19:1 (KJV)

 

We should notice in this first verse that the LORD who was with these two, when they were visiting with Abraham, is no longer present with them. He has sent His ministering spirits into the pits to deliver the righteous and rain down justice upon the unrighteous (Psalm 104:4). Their arrival at the gates to the city of Sodom is evidently the same day in which Abraham is pleading for the righteous. There are those who would blame God for sin. God cannot look upon sin, nor is He the author of it. It is blasphemy to call Him the author of sin. He does not lead anyone to sin. He delivers us from sin, and can often deliver us from its judgment.

It is quite apparent that Lot has become stable with the world in which he lives. He is in a position of authority and power. “Lot sat at the gate of Sodom” implies that he is a leader of the city. Now, let me assure you that it is good for Christians to have leadership positions in places of authority, such as city, State, National government, but never at the expense of one’s honesty, integrity, character, or Christian witness and testimony. There is nothing that tells us that Lot had done any of these things, but we will see later that even his family had no respect for him or his words.

There are two positions we can take in life. One is like that of Abraham who chose to live in tents; and there is the life similar to Lot’s who chose to live in a permanent dwelling in Sodom. Abraham was trusting in a celestial home, and Lot’s was a temporal home. Abraham had built many altars in his worship to the Lord; there is no evidence that tells us that Lot ever built a single altar.

It is evident that Lot was familiar with the spiritual. He did recognize the strangers when they arrived in Sodom. He did invite them to his home for the evening to get them off the vile and mean streets. He bowed before them implying humility, though true reverence is reserved for our LORD.

“And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.” Genesis 19:2-3 (KJV)

Lot’s hospitality was genuine. He had probably learned much of this from Abraham his uncle. Lot knew the condition of the town, and the town’s people; and that was why He would not except the thought of these two staying out on the street. What kind of hospitality would that be?

Lot “pressed upon them greatly” that they would come to his home, wash their feet, and get in off these streets. It is a great Christian quality to be hospitable, and have people in our homes. Everyone will accept family into there homes, but not everyone will accept a stranger. A stranger being someone we have never met before. Most of the time when we see forms of hospitality in the Bible we see they spare no expense. They “kill the fatted calf” so to speak to be sure that there is plenty to eat. Possibly realizing that these two were special strangers he only gives them “unleavened bread”. They did eat it.

It is almost as though Lot realized that the mission of these two guests was one of haste. It was upon the departure, the night previous to their departure, that God instructed Israel to make only “unleavened bread” because they would be leaving in one big hurry, so needed to have all their things together. They would not have time for the rising of the dough. The guests of Lot also, had no time to waste. The night was about to become even more in need of an expeditious act.

“But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.” Genesis 19:4-11 (KJV)

It was the time of the evening that most people would be thinking of laying their heads down on their pillows for a night’s rest. As Lot, his family and the guests of the house were preparing for their complete rest and trust in the LORD; their night’s sleep; there must have been quite the ruckus at their door. O, how the evil and stench of Sodom must have formed and stank in heaven on this evening.

There is perversion in the hearts of those who come knocking at Lot’s door. They have fallen far from the presence, power and grace of God. They plead with Lot, “bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” In Lot and this situation we can get a good glimpse at what happens when believers/followers of Jesus Christ compromise with the world, thinking, “If I can be a little more flexible with my beliefs, and my convictions, then I can have an influence in their lives”, then we lose the respect of any convictions we may have, and the respect of the people we pretend to be helping, we lose respect for ourselves, and most of all lose the power of God.

One of the things that to me shows the backslidden state of Lot is that he offers his two unmarried, virgin, daughters as replacement for the guests. I understand the culture of the day was a low view of women, but it is never seen, or is rarely seen in the godly of the Bible, and that only seen in the godly when they have a lapse in faith. It was the culture with Lot. He had became one with it, and had no impact against it. Abraham had the greatest impact on Sodom outside. With his prayers, at least three were delivered.

We Christians often have said that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of the sin of homosexuality, but that is only partially true. The prophet Ezekiel gives us a fuller message on the matter. “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.” Ezekiel 16:49-50 (KJV). The basic sin of Sodom was they turned away from God. When people turn their backs of God, His Word, His messengers, His grace, and His mercy; sin begins to rage in the hearts of the unbelief. The depravity of man begins to roar against all that is holy, and turns the mind and body against the love of God. All that seems to come out when sin is on its rampage against God is more and more perversity.

The only father and/or mother who could sell their child for sexual exploitation are one’s who have fallen from the mercies of God. They at one time have heard the voice of God, turned their backs on Him, and arrogantly chosen to go their own way. As more and more people turn their backs on God, and choose their own gods, or no god, sins power will begin to get worse and worse. It will reach its climax, and then, Jesus will come and put an end to it.

When the rebellious, licentious men of Sodom were at Lot’s door trying to press their way through Lot, the guests pulled Lot inside to safety, and then, struck the eyes of the “small and great” with blindness. They certainly had no eyes to see and understand the plan and will of God concerning their lives and behavior, and no eyes to see who these two visitors were. The sins of Sodom and surrounding cities of the plain would end on this evening. The judgment of God was about to fall; but what about Lot and his family???

O, God, let us not be a part of our culture or society, but in it as a light, and salt, but distinct from it, that they all may know that there is one God, one LORD and one faith, and that is through our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us hear Your Word when You say, “Come out from among them and be separate.”

“And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law. And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.” Genesis 19:12-23 (KJV)

 

It was the task of the angelic visitors, Lot’s guests, to deliver all of Lot’s family where possible. No one would leave under duress though, and when Lot went to warn his sons-in-law they only saw him as a mocker of such a message. How many sons-in-law did Lot and his wife have? We are not told. There are evidently other daughters other than the ones in the house, and which left with them. These sons-in-law had witnessed the life of Lot and his family. They had evidently seen no difference in his life and the lives of the people who lived there, so when Lot came knocking at their door they saw only a man mocking, thus, they would not believe, therefore they stood condemned with the rest of the city, including Lot’s other daughters.

The angels had warned Lot of imminent judgment coming upon the cities. “Whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.” The judgment would be imminent because it was dependent upon the departure of Lot and all who would leave with him. Lot had no power, no right or authority to say to the angels, “Just let me stay and I will see them converted”. The time had passed for that. Lot was not near to the LORD, and needed delivered.

Great haste was in the voice of the visitors as they spoke to Lot, “Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.” There was, however, no haste with Lot, or his family. When family, be they daughters, sons-in-law, sons or daughters-in-law, will not heed the voice and warning of God, and/or His messenger, and judgment is imminent as in NOW; it is too late to linger. The time required haste in getting out of town.

It becomes quite clear in looking at this story of Lot, and his family, that the teachings of the God of Abraham had not been in this family. Lot, his wife, and their servants had been more consumed with the elements of the material world. Maybe it was pursuing his career as a judge of the city, and having that high position. Other things became more important than pursuing God, His Word, His way, His righteousness, and His grace. Had these things been taught, then the married daughters upon hearing the message of judgment coming on Sodom, would probably have went with their father. It seems they must have had the heart and attitude of their husbands instead. I realize that this concerning these daughters is only an assumption on my part, but I believe it to be a good one. The hearts attitudes is later seen in the hearts of the two daughters who were delivered.

Lot and his family were very hesitant about leaving. That can be understood when we know that there was family they were leaving behind, and knowing the fiery judgment of God was about to fall, destroy, and kill every living being within this valley. Nevertheless, the angelic visitors grabbed the hands of Lot, Lot’s wife, and his two daughters and practically dragged them out of the city, and pointed them in the right direction. They are told to “escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed”, but Lot had no desire to go to the mountain. He still wanted a city. The notes of the MacArthur Study Bible says of this:

19:17-21. An urbanized lifestyle was apparently superior to a lonely one in the mountains and might be why Lot, playing upon the mercy already shown him, negotiated for an alternative escape destination–another city! The angel’s reply (v. 21) indicated that this city included the original judgment plan, but would be spared for Lot’s sake.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, (NKJV), p.41.

If you look at verse 21 it was the original intent of the judgment to destroy this city. For Lot’s sake, however, it is spared, and the lives within it as well. We will see later that Lot never stayed there; he ended up living in a cave, probably in the mountain.

The journey must have been a long arduous one, because it took them the whole day to get to Zoar; the city spared for Lot; and then the LORD (v.24) destroyed the other cities. The LORD delivers those whose hearts are in Him. Though Lot was not one who was walking with God; God certainly was with Lot.

Why would God deliver a man whose heart was not entirely true to Him? Why would God take the time to send messengers to a family who has lived in despite of God to gain the world’s favor and its goods? There is only one answer to that question, and it most certainly is grace. Someone had paid the price of Lot’s and his families redemption. God was the One who took that task upon Himself, and due to the prayers of Abraham, and his faith; God delivered “Just Lot”.

“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds; ) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished…” 2 Peter 2:6-9 (KJV)

 

Lot is decreed “Just” by God. He had not earned it. It was a gift. He certainly did not keep it by his goodness, and kind deeds. He is decreed “Just” by God, and thus we have the record of “Just Lot” given to us by God. Our justification is by God, from God, given to us a gift for all time and eternity. No one can ever take that away. It is certain that God will not.

(…to be continued…)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Abraham, Prophet and Priest

Abraham, Prophet and Priest

The LORD had come to visit Abraham and Sarah and to reassure them of the fulfillment of the promise, and that promise was a son. It seems quite likely that Sarah’s faith was improved, strengthened by the appearance of the LORD.

When the LORD’s visit had come to an end they began to journey away from Abraham’s camp, and Abraham went with them for a distance. When the LORD comes and puts in a personal visit with you, shares the promise, and renews it who wouldn’t want to go on with Him? As they go walking the LORD contemplates sharing with Abraham something further that He is about to do. He shares it with Abraham. From this part of God’s visit we learn much about intercessory prayer.

“And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” Genesis 18:16-19 (KJV).

It would not be wrong to call Abraham a prophet. I am not sure there is anywhere in Scripture which calls him “Prophet”, but we know that he walked with God, even though there is no specific verse which tells us that. He is doing it right here in verse 16. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3 (KJV). We also have the Lord revealing secret things to Abraham which would place him in the category of a prophet. “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (KJV). Is the LORD not here revealing a very secret thing to His friend Abraham? We must answer in the affirmative. According to the word of the LORD spoken above, He is giving to the descendants of Abraham and his children, that, “they shall keep the way of the LORD…” They are being given the oracles of God at this point. It is being given, and was given to them to do justice and judgment, and they were the people whom God used to born the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, into this world.

Prophets for the most part are messengers of God; warning God’s people, and in a lot of cases even the heathen of the coming wrath of God. In Abraham’s case he is not given the opportunity of being a prophet with a message to warn people, but he is given a message to pray for the people. It is especially a message to pray for Lot and his family, because they are living in the cities which are about to be destroyed.

We see in these the LORD’s confidence in Abraham being faithful to become what God has told him that he will become. God even says here (v.19), “I know him”. What a endowment of praise and encouragement that is to hear the LORD say of His friend, “I know him”. If the LORD knew Abraham, we have an assurance that He can know us too. Does the LORD know you? There is coming a day of judgment which we read of from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Himself, and He says, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity” That is not the words I desire to hear from His lips. That is not the desire I have to hear from His lips for any of my friends, family or any of those who might be seen as my enemies. I do not desire to hear that from His lips for debtors or creditors. The best and sweetest phrase I want to hear on that day is, “Enter into thy reward, thou good and faithful servant”. And, that for all who will hear and follow Jesus.

“And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.” Genesis 18:20-22 (KJV).

It was the LORD who had came to Abraham, visited with him, ate with him, and had wonderful fellowship with him. He has now sovereignly determined to reveal to Abraham what He is about to do. It is in verse 20 that the LORD speaks, and reveals to him what He is planning to do. We can know from the testimony of Scripture that God already knows the spiritual and moral condition of Sodom and Gomorrah.

It is indeed, a very merciful thing for God to come down and appear to men. Three “men” had come and appeared to Abraham, and one he recognized as the LORD. The other two were inevitably angels. The LORD has remained behind to speak with Abraham, and reveal to him what He is about to do in the cities where Lot; his nephew and family are living.

By what we have in these three verses it seems that there is a “cry” from evil. Does evil have a voice, a cry? It must. According to Strong’s

H2201 = za‛aq ze‛a^qa^hzah’-ak, zeh-aw-kaw’ (Feminine): from H2199; a shriek or outcry: – cry (-ing).”

 

No one rejoices when evil rules a land, a city, a home, or a family. And the person who is practicing evil, has no form of joy or peace. It is their way of ‘Thumbing their nose’ at God, His Word, His Son, and His people. There is a cry from evil. Even evil hearts sooner or later will cry for justice, and they shall have it. Surely we can hear the cries of evil in our Country of the USA. Surely the scent of the blood shed in homes, cities, States, and our Nation is a putrid scent to all decent, law abiding people. Or, are we so, “law abiding”, that we don’t smell the scent, because we think we are a nation which has been built solely on man made laws? That is a stench in the nostrils of Holy God.

We as the people of God ought never forget that evil is “grievous” in the sight and sound of almighty God. With him there is no little immorality. It is all vile in His sight, and it cannot dwell in His presence. Apart from the grace of God no fallen man can dwell in His presence, unless, the price of sin, ie., the sin-debt has been paid in full. God owes no accountability to the devil. He is not accountable to the devil. God’s Word is not answerable to the devil. The sin-debt is owed to God; He is the One who is the offended party.

When evil people are in authority people mourn. In the Proverbs we find the wisdom of Solomon saying, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 (KJV). And we also find more wisdom from this wisest of men, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Prov 29:2 (KJV). The cry of wickedness was horrific to the ears of holy God. The cry of wickedness is still horrific in the ears of God. They should be horrific to the ears of every child of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Lot’s Drunkenness

Lot’s Inebriation

In this study of beverage alcohol and its usage I have given you one example of its bad usage; and now I give you another. As I stated in an earlier post, there is more evidence against the usage of beverage alcohol than there is commending the use of it in the Scriptures.

The nephew of Abraham [Lot], and his family have been delivered from the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, as God has rained down judgment upon a vile and wicked people. The only thing that has saved Lot and his family is the wonder grace of Almighty God. Lot’s wife never made it, because she turned and looked back toward the city despising the warning of the angels not to do so. She has turned into a pillar of salt.

Now the daughters of Lot conspire together to sleep with their father, because they possibly believe that there are no men left, and that they will never bear children unless they do this vile deed. Their conspiracy is to get their father drunk on wine, the elder daughter sleeping with her father the first night, and the younger the second night. Read Genesis 19:32-38.

“Lot departed from Zoar and lived in the mountains along with his two daughters, because he was afraid to live in Zoar. Instead, he and his two daughters lived in a cave. Then the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man in the land to sleep with us [as is] the custom of all the land. Come, let’s get our father to drink wine so that we can sleep with him and preserve our father’s line.” So they got their father to drink wine that night, and the firstborn came and slept with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she got up. The next day the firstborn said to the younger, “Look, I slept with my father last night. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight so you can go sleep with him and we can preserve our father’s line.” That night they again got their father to drink wine, and the younger went and slept with him; he did not know when she lay down or when she got up. So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The firstborn gave birth to a son and named him Moab. He is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger also gave birth to a son, and she named him Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites of today.” Genesis 19:30-38 (HCSB)

This man Lot would have never agreed to sleep with his daughters if his mind would have been clear to make the judgment. It was not. Lot was surely grieving for his wife, and the alcohol in the wine was surely having a numbing effect on his hurt and pain he was feeling, but that is still no excuse for his drunkenness. This act by Lot, or these acts by Lot and his daughters were acts against God and mankind. How? The sons that were born to Lot became trouble for the people of Abraham; a throne in their sides. One drunken act, or two in this case resulted in the moral failure of a nation –

“While Israel was staying in Acacia Grove, the people began to have sexual relations with the women of Moab. The women invited them to the sacrifices for their gods, and the people ate and bowed in worship to their gods. So Israel aligned itself with Baal of Peor, and the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the Lord so that His burning anger may turn away from Israel.” So Moses told Israel’s judges, “Kill each of the men who aligned themselves with Baal of Peor.” An Israelite man came bringing a Midianite woman to his relatives in the sight of Moses and the whole Israelite community while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw [this] , he got up from the assembly, took a spear in his hand, followed the Israelite man into the tent, and drove it through both the Israelite man and the woman—through her belly. Then the plague on the Israelites was stopped, but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.” Numbers 25:1-9 (HCSB)

You might take that drink thinking, “Oh, one drink is not going to hurt me, or anyone else.” You may be in control as you take that drink, but somewhere, you surrender your will to the will of the drink. Then, the power of the spirits take over. At what point does this happen? Does anyone know? If they believe they know, are they sure? I don’t know, and I really don’t think anyone does, except the Almighty. Do you want to surrender your mind, your body to the control of a substance which will ruin your life, your family life, and the lives of others who know and don’t know you? When you don’t know where drunkenness takes place, why even take that first sip or drink, if that might be even the slightest possibility of drunkenness?

Christians, we are to be sober in our thinking. That is, we are to have a clear mind and able always to make clear decisions. I don’t know about the rest of you reading this, but I have a hard enough time making clear and godly decisions without drinking any alcoholic beverage. I sure do not need any help from alcoholic beverage to numb my thinking.

We are to always be “sober” as Christians. In the epistle of First Peter is written, “Be sober” (1 Peter 1:13; 5:8), and I know this is speaking of a spiritual mind, but can we be sober spiritually if we are not sober physically? Not in my thinking. Every drunk I have ever spoken with knows all there is to know about God, Jesus, salvation, and living, but none of these are having an influence or changing affect in their lives.

Can any Christian honestly say that even one drink of wine at a meal has absolutely no influence in their thinking, and thinking soberly, clearly, and godly thoughts? It seems to me, that even one drink can influence one’s thought processes in the negative, not the positive. If so, then, would that not be sin against God?

In this I am an advocate for Christians to have a clear and sober mind. Think on Christ Jesus. We do not need the mind numbing affects of beverage alcohol. Remember what happened to Lot.

As a fallen race we have problems enough; and as being redeemed through faith in Jesus Christ what place has alcoholic beverage for those who have the New Wine in Him? It seems to me that the Christian who chooses to drink the wines of men, has so little faith in the one who desires to fill us with Himself. With Jesus we will have clear and sober minds, clean hearts, and good deeds.

-Tim A. Blankenship