The New and the Old

“And Jesus said unto them, ‘Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.  But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.  And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.’
” Mark 2:19-22  (KJB)

From John Gills Exposition of the Bible…

No man also seweth a piece of new cloth, The traditions of the elders are meant, particularly concerning eating and drinking, and fasting, things before spoken of; and which occasioned this parable, and which were new things in comparison of the commands of God: some of them were of very short standing, devised in, that age; and most, if not all of them, were since the times of Ezra.
On an old garment; the moral and ceremonial righteousness of the Jews, in obedience to the law of God; signifying, that the former were not to be joined with these, to make up a justifying righteousness before God; which were not sufficient for such a purpose, either singly, or both together:
else the new piece that filled it up, taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse; for by attendance to the traditions of the elders, the Jews were taken off from, and neglected the commandments of God; nay, oftentimes the commands of God were made void by these traditions, so that the old garment of their own righteousness, which was very ragged and imperfect of itself, instead of being purer and more perfect, became much the worse, even for the purpose for which it was intended; See Gill on Mat_9:16.

Woman Wise; Woman Folly

The Woman Wise, and the Woman Folly – Proverbs 9:1-18

In this chapter we have already spent one study on verse 10.  We continue in this chapter by looking at the comparisons, again, of Wisdom and Folly or foolishness, and seeing both as personified in a feminine personality.

Verses 1 – 6 –  Wisdom’s Divine Invitation.
The house wisdom builds is a complete, perfect, holy, unified, house of blessing; represented by the number seven [7].

Jesus Christ has prepared Himself the Church (Ephesians 5:23-27).  She is wise, beautiful, and complete in Him.  As individuals within that body called the church; we are to be wise; through reading and spiritual understanding of the word of God

The table of Wisdom and the table of the LORD are filled with delicious delacacies of food and drink.  Jesus said, “I am the bread of life”.

Verses 7 – 12 –  Warnings of Wisdom to the Wise.  (Matthew 7:6).

John Gill writes of verse 7;

He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame,….Intimating, that though the simple, and such as want understanding, and of whom there is hope of doing them good, are to be invited into Wisdom’s house; yet not the haughty scorner, the abandoned sinner, the scoffer at all religion, who walks after his own lusts, and is quite irreclaimable; it is but casting pearls before swine, and giving that which is holy to dogs, to reprove and exhort such persons; though the Gospel is to be preached to every creature, yet when men despise it, and make a mock at it, they are to be turned from, and no more is to be said to them; as the Jews of old, they were the first invited to the Gospel feast, the same that is described in the context; they made light of it, contradicted and blasphemed the word, and so judged themselves unworthy of it; wherefore Wisdom’s maidens, or Christ’s ministers, were bid to turn from them, and go to the Gentiles, and preach it to them; for it is to no purpose to address such persons; “shame” is the sure consequence of it, because a man is disappointed of the end he has in view, which is doing good;

and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot; this shows who is meant by a scorner, a very profligate man, bent on his wicked ways, and quite incorrigible; to rebuke such an one is not only labour lost, and in vain, but the rebuker getteth himself an ill name, and is sure to have the dirt of reproach and scandal cast upon him; though this a man might patiently bear, if there was any hope of doing good.”

Verses 13 – 18 –  Folly’s Invitation to Death.
The woman known as folly may be beautiful in appearance, yet, vain, deceitful, malicious, hating God and all that is holy.  Revelation 17:3-5.

Her destination is Hell, and she will lead others in that same direction, to that same eternal destination.

Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding

I long to be a wise individual, a man of wisdom.  I want my wife to be a woman of wisdom, and my children to be sons and daughters of wisdom.  The wisdom I speak of of course is godly wisdom.  I have enough of the world’s wisdom in my head which is devilish.

As we have  previously seen “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”, and we begin fearing the LORD, by believing what He says, and putting it to work.  That starts with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Do you believe? To not believe in the life, ministry and the works of Jesus Christ, Christ Himself is to condemn yourself to a live of foolishness.

Hear what the writer of Proverbs says…

“He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.” Proverbs 9:7-12

Now I leave you with the writing of a man from the past.  Warnings of Wisdom to the Wise. (Matthew 7:6). John Gill writes of verse 7;

“He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame,…. Intimating, that though the simple, and such as want understanding, and of whom there is hope of doing them good, are to be invited into Wisdom’s house; yet not the haughty scorner, the abandoned sinner, the scoffer at all religion, who walks after his own lusts, and is quite irreclaimable; it is but casting pearls before swine, and giving that which is holy to dogs, to reprove and exhort such persons; though the Gospel is to be preached to every creature, yet when men despise it, and make a mock at it, they are to be turned from, and no more is to be said to them; as the Jews of old, they were the first invited to the Gospel feast, the same that is described in the context; they made light of it, contradicted and blasphemed the word, and so judged themselves unworthy of it; wherefore Wisdom’s maidens, or Christ’s ministers, were bid to turn from them, and go to the Gentiles, and preach it to them; for it is to no purpose to address such persons; “shame” is the sure consequence of it, because a man is disappointed of the end he has in view, which is doing good;

and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot; this shows who is meant by a scorner, a very profligate man, bent on his wicked ways, and quite incorrigible; to rebuke such an one is not only labour lost, and in vain, but the rebuker getteth himself an ill name, and is sure to have the dirt of reproach and scandal cast upon him; though this a man might patiently bear, if there was any hope of doing good.”

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

 

The Secret Place of the Most High

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 (KJV)

I will let John Gills commentary speak with you concerning this verse today.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High,…. Or the Supreme; a title of God, who is superior to all beings, the Creator and Preserver of them, God over all, higher than the highest of angels or men; see Gen_14:22, “his secret place” is his heart, his bosom, where his only begotten Son lies; and into which he takes his people, where they are set as a seal, and who enjoy intimate communion with him; which is no other than his gracious presence, called “the secret of his presence”, Psa_31:20, which none but saints are admitted to, when his everlasting love, which was a secret in his heart, is made known unto them, and in which they also dwell, 1Jo_4:16, as they likewise do in the eternal decree of election; which perhaps is meant by “the clefts of the rock, and secret places of the stairs”, where the church is said to dwell, Son_2:14, unless rather Christ the Rock, and who may be signified by the cleft of that Moses was put into, when the goodness of the Lord passed before him, is intended; and who is the hiding place from the wind: mention is made of “the secret” of God’s “tabernacle”, Psa_27:5, in which he hides his people; alluding to the tabernacle, or temple, and the most holy place in it, called his secret place, Eze_7:22, and may refer to the ministry of the word and ordinances, where saints dwell, and enjoy much communion with God; and who are particularly under his special providence, protection, and power; which may here be designed:

shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty: who is able to do all things for his people, and is “Shaddai”, all sufficient, as this word is thought to signify; has a sufficiency of happiness in and for himself, and of provisions for all his creatures, and of power and grace for his own children: his “shadow” may be the same with his secret place, his power and protection, often in this book of Psalms called “the shadow of his wings”, Psa_17:8, in allusion to birds that overshadow and protect their young with their wings; though perhaps the allusion here may be to the shadow of a tree, and design the word and ordinances of the Lord’s house, which are a delightful, refreshing, reviving, and fruitful shadow, Son_2:3, where gracious souls dwell, and abide with great delight and pleasure. Christ, the Son of God, is sometimes compared to the shadow of a rock, or tree, which screens and shelters from heat; as he preserves his people from the heat of a fiery law, the flaming sword of justice, the wrath of God, the fiery darts of Satan, and the fury of persecutors: under this shadow do they abide or lodge all night, safe and secure, as the word (o) signifies: the Targum calls this shadow the shadow of the clouds of glory; the Arabic version, “the shadow of the God of heaven.”

From e-Sword John Gill Commentary.

It is in the heart of every believer to desire to dwell in that Secret Place.

Words for Christian Living – Edification

“Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.”  2 Corinthians 13:10 (KJV)

A lot of times as a pastor, preacher of the gospel there will be times things within the Church, the local congregation you lead with strike up a hot response in your heart.  There are things that go on sometimes that ought to make us angry.  We see a family angry at another family; one member mad with another member; and they are casting insults at one another.  Maybe one member maligning another when the other being maligned is not guilty of much, or anything that is being charged.  It could be a member you know is in personal sin.  These things should cause some anger, with self-control [temperance] from the pastor, preacher.

In the above verse Paul has expressed that he should use “Sharpness”  or “Severe reproofs and censures… the exercise of the apostolic rod” (John Gill Commentary e-Sword).  You will note his words though “To edification”.  It should never be the intent of correction, reproof, rebuke to destroy; but to always edify.  To build up takes more effort than tearing down.  Sometimes tearing down is necessary, but the ultimate end is for “Edification”

Be Fruitful

Be Fruitful

Col 1:10 (KJV).Might be fruitful in every good work…

When a tree matures enough to begin bearing fruit it will bear the fruit it is supposed to bear. An apple tree will bear apples. A peach tree will bear peaches. A thorn tree will bring forth thorns. You get the picture.

People bear fruit as well. When you were a lost sinner you bore fruit which would be compared to a thorn tree – basically useless and certainly not glorifying the Lord. We all were in that “thorny situation” at one time. A sinking ship, that was going down fast.

Now, that we are saved we will bear fruit that is honoring to our Savior, and will glorify Him. What kind of fruit do Christian’s bear? 1) Evidence of a changed life; 2) Telling others about Jesus; 3) Praising God; 4) Living a holy life; 5) Displaying holy attitudes. The Christian, when sin has invaded the heart, is convicted, and immediately upon the conviction by the Spirit of God will seek forgiveness. She/he does not let sin lay around for long, but wants that fellowship with Jesus Christ sweet and glorious.

When we pray for fruitfulness in one another we ourselves will become fruitful.

Last Sunday morning we looked at the first part of the prayer Paul prayed here in the first chapter of Colossians, “…to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;“ Col 1:9 (KJV), and Sunday evening at the second part, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” Col 1:10 (KJV).

Is this prayer important to the life of the church? Is it important that the Christians of today pray a prayer similar to this? I believe so to both of the above questions. It should be every Christian’s desire to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. It should also be our desire to walk worthy of the Lord and be pleasing to Him; glorifying Him. It should also be our desire to see all our brothers and sisters in Christ fulfilling the same. Therefore, we must pray for one another to that very effect.

The desire of Paul’s heart for this part of the prayer is that, “We might be fruitful in every good work”.

Let’s define what ‘Every good work’ is. It would seem to me that every is self explanatory, as is good, and work. Does anyone do “good works” apart from the work of Jesus Christ in us though? It is necessary that on the outward appearance, there are many who do ‘good works’, but what is meant by us being ‘fruitful in every good work’? It would most certainly mean that all the good things we do in the Spirit of God working in us, which brings glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

A quote from John Gill, “being fruitful in every good work; saints are trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord; good works are the fruit, which, under the influence of divine grace, they bring forth; and this is not of one sort only, as trees usually do, but of every kind; being ingrafted into Christ the true vine, and deriving life, sap, and nourishment from him, they are filled with the fruits of righteousness by him, which they bring forth and bear, to the glory of his heavenly Father; and being such, they are pleasant plants to him, as fruit bearing trees are to the owner of them: wherefore, in order to the saints walking in their lives and conversations unto all pleasing, or pleasing in all things, the apostle prays they might be fruitful in good works, and that in everyone, in every kind of good works: “ (From John Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible – e-Sword).

We cannot bear fruit except we abide in the vine. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.“ John 15:1-8 (KJV). Part of being in the vine and bearing fruit is getting answers to your prayers. That is seen in the above verse seven.

Let’s look at some of the fruits that we bear when we give ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.

1.  There will be evidence of a changed life, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.“ 1 Cor 6:9-11 (KJV). Note, particularly the last verse. “Such were some of you…”
2.  Telling others of Jesus, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matthew 28:18 (KJV). This commandment/commission is for all who follow Jesus;
3.  Praising God, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Heb. 13:15 (KJV);
4.  Living a holy life, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Cor. 5:7-8 (KJV);
5.  Displaying the “Fruit of the Spirit”, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” Gal. 5:22-26 (KJV).

This fruit is not the same fruit. It is multiple fruits, and they are the good fruits of the Spirit of God, that works in us to accomplish the will of God and glorify Him.

Without knowledge which we spoke of last time, there would be no fruitfulness. Fruitfulness is a product of righteousness, which is produced through knowledge received by the Spirit of God, working in the mind, accomplishing the will of God in us. Every Christian bears fruit.

Let’s look now at how this fruit it produced.

1.  Comes by union with Christ Jesus, “ Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:4-5;
2.  The wisdom of God is needed, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” James 3:17. John MacArthur writes, “Lack of fruit is directly related to lack of spiritual wisdom”. (From THE MACARTHUR NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY pg. 32).
3.  As Christians we must make every diligent effort, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Sermon notes from a sermon preached at Carr Lane Baptist Church September 17, 2006.

A Cautious Eye

In a day when there are people who think they are doing good by deceit and fraud; though they definitely would not see it as deceit and fraud; it is imperative that the people of God; those who are Christians be prudent in their lives.

The word means Cautious or discreet, cunning is even a good definition of prudent.

The wisdom of Solomon is found in Proverbs 22:3,

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.”  Proverbs 22:3 (KJV)

Of course this is mostly having to do with having an eye against that which is evil, and not just letting it creep up on you.  Be aware, be alert; and that is probably what Peter had in mind as he was inspired to write,

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8

I will let a couple of the sages of the past give their comments on this verse:

See here, 1. The benefit of wisdom and consideration: A prudent man, by the help of his prudence, will foresee an evil, before it comes, and hide himself; he will be aware when he is entering into a temptation and will put on his armour and stand on his guard. When the clouds are gathering for a storm he takes the warning, and flies to the name of the Lord as his strong tower. Noah foresaw the deluge, Joseph the years of famine, and provided accordingly. 2. The mischief of rashness and inconsideration. The simple, who believe every word that flatters them, will believe none that warns them, and so they pass on and are punished. They venture upon sin, though they are told what will be in the end thereof; they throw themselves into trouble, notwithstanding the fair warning given them, and they repent their presumption when it is too late. See an instance of both these, Ex. 9:20, 21. Nothing is so fatal to precious souls as this, they will not take warning.

Matthew Henry Commentary.

and now John Gill,

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself,…. A wise man, whose eyes are in his head, who looks about him and before him, and is cautious and careful of his conduct and behaviour; he foresees the evil of sin he is liable to be drawn into by such and such company, snares, and temptations; and therefore he keeps from them, and abstains from all appearance of evil, or what would lead him to it; and he foresees the evil of punishment, or the judgments of God that are coming on for sin; and he betakes himself to the Lord, to those hiding places and chambers of retreat and protection he has provided for his people, till the indignation be overpast; see Isa_26:20;

but the simple pass on, and are punished: foolish persons, devoid of the grace of God and the fear of him, go on careless and unconcerned in their sinful course of life, transgressing the law of God; they proceed from evil to evil, from lesser to greater sins; they go on in the broad road to destruction, and are punished with temporal judgments here, and with everlasting destruction hereafter.

John Gill’s e-Sword Commentary

Be watchful, but trusting the LORD through it all to protect and keep you.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

To Have Strong Confidence

“In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.  The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”  Proverbs 14:26-27 (KJV)

Fear is a topic of great importance and influence in the Bible.  Fear is a good thing when it comes to certain things; as long as one is not overwhelmed by it.  Fear can be a nudge to safety.

In the case of the Proverbs today “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence”.  The following is John Gills commentary on verse 26,

In the fear of the LORD is strong conficence,…. Such who fear the Lord may be confident that he has a love to them, a delight in them; that his eye is upon them, and his heart towards them; and will communicate every needful good to them, and protect and defend them: or the Lord himself that is feared, who is the object of fear, called the fear of Isaac, Gen_31:42; he is a strong tower, a place of defence to those that fear him and trust in him, Pro_18:10;

and His children shall have a strong refuge; the children of God, as those that fear him are; the Lord is a place of refuge to them, from the avenger of blood, from the vindictive justice of God; from the storm and tempest of divine wrath, and from the curses of a righteous law; as well as from the rage and persecutions of men. FROM e-Sword

and verse 27,

The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,…. Where the true fear of God is, there is a real principle of grace, which is “a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life”, Joh_4:14; eternal life is connected with it; it makes meet for it, and issues in it: or the Lord, who is the object of fear, he is the fountain of life: as of natural, so of spiritual and eternal life; spiritual life springs from him, is supported and maintained by him, the consequence of which is life everlasting;

to depart from the snares of death; sins, transgressions, as Aben Ezra interprets it; these are the works of men’s hands, in which they are snared; these are the cords in which they are holden, and so die without instruction; the wages of them are death, even death eternal: likewise there are the snares of the world and of the devil, temptations to sin, with which being ensnared, lead to death; now the fear of the Lord is a means of delivering from and of avoiding those snares, and so of escaping death.

When you are living your life trusting the LORD, loving Him, depending on Him, walking with Him; then, there is nothing to fear.  Those without the love and faith of God have everything to fear; and nothing to have confidence in except their own ways.

Trust in the LORD begins with trusting His way of salvation, and that is through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.  Believe, and be saved.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Cause Worth Fighting For

1 Samuel 17:29

There are times we need to heed the wise advice of who ever coined the phrase “Choose your fights”, or maybe you have never heard the phrase before.  That is okay.  The advice is good to heed when it comes to family, friends and neighbors.  You might include in that the people you work with in case some don’t understand the neighbor part.

There are times we must fight when no one else will, and this case in David’s life is a great example.  His brother was willing to start a quarrel with David, but unwilling to face Goliath.

What is there that is worth fighting for; even if it could mean our death?

OUTLINE from 1 Samuel 17:29 –

I.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE IN FEAR (vv. 11, 24).
II.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THERE IS NO FEAR IN THE ENEMY CAMP (vv. 3-10).
III.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE ONE WITH NO FEAR IS CHARGED WITH PRIDE (v. 28).
IV.  THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE NAME OF GOD, AND HIS ARMY IS DEFIED (v. 10).

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE IN FEAR (vv. 11, 24).  I would imagine that all of us have been intimidated by some one or some thing at some time of other.  Intimidation is fear.  King Saul and his troops were in fear of this behemoth of a man, the soldier of the Philistines who challenged them to send out their best man, and end the battle.

Saul was a king who had allowed pride, and his own personal accomplishments to get between himself and God, and fear was a side product of this.  The Lord Jesus has said,

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 (KJV)

Saul seems to have been more concerned with losing the battle than that the name of God was defied.  Compare the heart of the king with young David, and you see quite the contrast.  David had the heart like what our Lord spoke, believing God would deliver;

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32 (KJV)

The fear in the troops of God was evident for the young David who had a heart for God.

David was angry by the man who defied the armies of God; defying God.  When God’s people see people defying our God; it should cause us to rise up and confront the enemy of God.

Christian, let us maintain our right fellowship with God.  Let us always give Him the glory for any accomplishments.  Let us never fear the flesh of man, but always fear our God, knowing that it is He who raises up kings, and prime ministers,  presidents, and princes.  Christian, always walk in the fear of God and you will fear nothing else.  Paul the apostle has written by the Spirit of God,

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THERE IS NO FEAR IN THE ENEMY CAMP (vv. 3-10).  The words of Goliath continued haunting the host of Israel day after day after day, and no one is doing anything, except shaking in their sandals.  It is a good sign that the people of God are not living by the commandments of God and have fallen away from Him.

It is quite evident by Goliath’s challenge that the Philistines are not shaking in their sandals.  The giant is boastful, arrogant, confident that he can win against any “poor soldier” of Israel.  They have forgotten the power of one man who is right with God.

Saul’s sins are many, but there are two which bear remembering.  The first is his impatience in waiting for Samuel to come and offer sacrifice; so he offers it himself (1 Samuel 13).  The second sin is one of disobedience.  In chapter 15 the LORD sent Samuel to command Saul to destroy the Amalekites, and to leave none living; and to kill all the animals in their possession; to take nothing.  Saul saved many alive, saved some of the animals, and saved king Agag alive; in disobedience to God.  Some of today’s people might call Saul a “Real humanitarian”; however the issue was a commandment of God, he disobeyed, and the issue is obedience, godliness, and righteousness and Saul was none of them.

Due to the sin of Israel, the king and the troops they now live in fear.  Some fear with over coming faith in God can be a powerful thing.  When there is no faith in God, however, it [fear] is crippling.  Such was the case with Saul.  Now because of this there was no fear in the Philistine camp.

Could it be, that the reason there is no fear of God in the enemy camp today [2009] is due to the disobedience of many of God’s people?  The love, power, grace and mercy of God is not seen in our lives.

The cause for the Christian today is to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10), and stand upon the teachings, the death, burial, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the promise of His imminent return for His bride.  To be honest, forthright, just, faithful (first to God, and to one another), loving, generous, kind, having self-control, being filled with joy, peace, and patience (Galations 5:22-23).

When Christians are walking with God the world will respect us, and they will fear YHWH.

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE ONE WITH NO FEAR IS CHARGED WITH PRIDE (v. 28).  You could say that Eliab, David’s brother, was accusing him of “grandstanding”.  That sounds like many who have accused men of God in past generations of Christianity, and not so distant days of “grandstanding”.  It could be called, “Making a spectacle of one’s self”, or using an opportunity to call attention to one’s self as the answer to the problem at hand;  just for selfish cause.

David’s heart went immediately to God when he saw this treacherous event from the Philistines.  He saw a cause in this and he, though just a youth, was willing to give his life in God’s hands and go and conquer this mocker of God.  David did not say, “I think I can conquer this giant”,  he said,

“The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” (v. 37).

There is no question in the mind of David.  God will give him the victory, and he is going to give God the glory.

THERE IS A CAUSE WHEN THE NAME OF GOD, AND HIS ARMY IS DEFIED (v. 10).  This thought is tied very closely with the second thought.  When there is no fear in the heart of the enemy of God, and His people they will defy the name of God, and His people.

To defy is to belittle, mock, to make light of, to accuse of cowardice, or impotence in battle.  John Gill in his commentary wrote;

“1Sa 17:10 – And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day,…. Or “reproach” them; that is, should they not accept his challenge, and send down a man to fight with them, he should then upbraid them with cowardice; and now he disdained them, as if there was not a man among them that dared to encounter with him:

On verse 26 Gill writes;

“for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? there were two things which provoked David, and raised indignation in him against this man; the one was, the character of the person that reproached, a Philistine, an uncircumcised person, a profane man, that had no true religion in him, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger to the covenants of promise; and the other was the persons whom he reproached, the armies of the living God, of the King of kings, and Lord of lords; and which in effect was reproaching the Lord himself, and which David, filled with zeal for God, and for his people, could not bear; and the consideration of these things animated him to engage with him, not doubting of success.”

Back to the thought of fear.  It cripples, it keeps God’s people from the power which God has given us through the seal of the Spirit of God (Ephesians 1:13-14).  We begin to fear the shadows of life when we are not walking with God.  We fear physical assaults, we fear every turn of our lives, we fear that our friends are whispering about us behind our backs, plotting to ruin or hurt us in some way, we fear financial ruin, we even begin questioning our salvation, the love of God, and the love others have for us.

When we, like David, are walking in the Spirit, walking with God, then we fear nothing but God Himself.

When God and His army is defied, that should cause His people to rise up, and be brave, bold and beautiful in our Lord.  We are living in a day of darkness.  It is not the time for fear, but faith in God through His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus’s words, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1) were words of assurance, peace and encouragement.  We must live, love, and fight in those words.  When others try to tear you down, the body of Christ down, your church down;  let us stand strong in God; in His Word, in and through the power of His Spirit.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Beheading a Prophet

“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.” Matthew 14:1-13 (KJV)

The third sermon given by Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew has just been delivered by our Master. After the parables of chapter 13 Jesus returns to His home town, and they will not receive Him for who He is. They are too familiar with Him as a child who grew up in the area. This does not mean that He was known as an “honery or mean and vicious, rude or trouble maker child”, but that they are familiar with the family, and that they saw nothing special about Him in His youth and childhood. Part of this may have been due to their own blindness, because after all Mary was a mother before the wedding celebration.

The fame of Jesus had grown though. Herod had heard of Him. This is not Herod the Great who is responsible for killing the male children 2 years and under after the birth of Jesus. This is Herod the Tetrarch.

Mat 14:1 – At that time Herod the tetrarch,…. Not Herod the Great, in whose reign Christ was born, and who slew the infants of Bethlehem, but his son; this was, as the Jewish chronologer rightly observes, ‘Herod Antipater, whom they call טיתרקי, “the tetrarch”; the son of Herod the First, and brother of Archelaus, and the third king of the family of Herod.’” From John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, e-Sword edition.

Herod has already put John the Baptist to death, and then, we are given more of the details of the matter. He supposed that Jesus was John risen from the dead. He sure wasn’t with the news of the day, or that would not have even crossed his mind. Herod is most likely overcome with guilt for his murderous action of beheading the prophet. John had directly proclaimed to Herod that to take his brother Philip’s wife was an act of adultery; and because of this had him imprisoned. He was fearful to have him put to death, because he feared the people; they thought John was a prophet, which he was.

What he would not do because of fear of a crowd he was able to do through the lust of his heart. The power of the lust of the heart fueled and fed by the dance of the daughter of the wife he had gotten by adultery, which the prophet had warned him of was also bringing on guilt. As it should.

The terror and reproach of conscience, which Herod, like other daring offenders, could not shake off, are proofs and warnings of a future judgment, and of future misery to them. But there may be the terror of convictions, where there is not the truth of conversion. When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility; but the most powerful enemies can go no further than the Lord sees good to permit. Herod feared that the putting of John to death might raise a rebellion among the people, which it did not; but he never feared it might stir up his own conscience against him, which it did. Men fear being hanged for what they do not fear being damned for. And times of carnal mirth and jollity are convenient times for carrying on bad designs against God’s people. Herod would profusely reward a worthless dance, while imprisonment and death were the recompence of the man of God who sought the salvation of his soul. But there was real malice to John beneath his consent, or else Herod would have found ways to get clear of his promise. When the under shepherds are smitten, the sheep need not be scattered while they have the Great Shepherd to go to. And it is better to be drawn to Christ by want and loss, than not to come to him at all.

—Matthew Henry Concise

Parties, especially those which are known for having liquor, drugs, and dance will be parties where the debaucherous activities go unbridled, and due to mind altering “spirits” will end in the changing and/or ending of lives. You can almost be certain that this party was laden with an unlimited supply of liquor; either wine or strong drink [hard liquor]. The party which Herod orchestrated would end in the ending of the prophet’s physical life, and a life ridden with guilt and fear for Herod, and maybe for all those who had a hand in the death of the man who warned them of their sin. This adulterous wife of Herod knew the heart of her “husband”; that is was filled and fueled by unbridled lust. She too hated John the Baptist. She hated the prophet for his message of adultery against them both. She wanted him dead and would get it by any means possible; even to the lusty use of her own teenage daughter. (There is nothing which tells us the age of her daughter, but still being under the care of her mother one would assume that she is still at home and at least in her teen years.)

John the Baptist had become outraged by the flagrant sin of a leader of the nation of Israel. There was first of all a very incestuous problem within the family with girls marrying their father’s brother, etc. This was the case with Herodias. Philip was her uncle – her father’s brother – and that being the case Herod Tetrarch would have also been her uncle. This thing was being done openly and no one was challenging it or crying out against it; but John did, and was imprisoned and later lost his life because of it.

Where is the courage for our day Christian pastor, preacher of the Gospel? There are people in many of our churches who are committing the act of adultery by unlimited divorce, and remarriage. For no legitimate reason they leave one to go to another. Where are the cries of adultery. One pastor I know and who was my pastor for a while, about six years, once said, and I am not sure this is verbatim, “I was reading this about John the Baptist, realized he lost his head for calling it adultery, therefore I have no business performing marriages of people who have been divorced”. As far as I know he has stuck to that, and I have taken that as my stand as well. Not too long ago I was having a conversation with an older pastor concerning divorce and remarriage. I told him my stand and that I had held to that since near the beginning of my preaching. He told me, “If one of your daughters or sons get a divorce and want to remarry, and they come to you to do the ceremony, you will change your thinking.” I told him “No I won’t, because my kids have more respect for me than to ask, and even if they did my answer would be NO!” My oldest son told me, “I would be too ashamed to come and ask.” When you take stands like that you will lose favor with family, relatives, and friends. Whom are we called to please, God or man, God or family when it comes to morality, and right and wrong? It grieves my heart to tell them that I cannot, or will not, but it is a conviction that I have and will continue to hold. It grieves me even more that someone who knows me, and my conviction would bother to ask.

The Baptist chose God and His Word, even at the expense of imprisonment and his life. We, if we are to be the people of God can choose no lesser way.

The news of the death of the prophet got to Jesus, and it grieved His heart, and He went away to a deserted place for Himself and the disciples. This departure seems to come after the disciples had spent several days out preaching the gospel of the kingdom; by reading this in its context, and following, Mark 6:30-31, and Luke 9:1-10 the departure to a “deserted place” was a different time than for the beheading. Remember John the Baptist was the one who came before Jesus to prepare the way. Are we preparing the way for Christ’s return as He has called us to do so? He is coming back. What condition will the hearts and lives of those to whom we have preached be in? What is the condition of our own heart and life toward God?

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Heart of Hard Ground

There have been times when a farmer has plans for a piece of ground for a certain crop. He goes and plows the ground, spends several hours doing it, and maybe a day or two, three, or more; depending on the size of the piece of land, and the mode of power for plowing. Something happens; maybe too much rain, a family emergency, or just other duties come into play; and the ground goes neglected. That ground may have been plowed, harrowed, completely ready for seed, fertilizer, and all necessary preparations, but it goes neglected.

For a year maybe even two, or more, that ground lays there, growing grass, weeds, thorns – weeds and thorns are mostly what will grow on “fallow ground”. “Fallow ground” is what that land has become. There is no good fruit coming from this land. It really has no beauty to it. It has become hardened and needs to be broken up in order for it to be useful, productive.

Productivity for this land will only come about when that ground is plowed again, or broken up. You would not want to just plow the weeds and thorns under because of their seeds. There will be some in the ground already. Then, you would want to burn the ground off before it is plowed. Burning it off might be all you would need to do before you plowed, with some cleanup following the burn. After cleaning up some of the thorns and weeds following the burn, then you would set about the plowing or the breaking up of the “fallow ground”.

“For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: ‘Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.'” Jeremiah 4:3-4 (NKJV)

There is a portion of land, a couple of acres, on the farm where I grew up, that is called, “The Pickle Patch”. I have never seen any pickles grown there. I think my Dad has, but I never have. I have seen and helped pick corn from there for feeding cattle and hogs, but that was when I was a very small boy. Today that small amount of acreage has grown up into a thorn patch. It does have a good set of fescue grass growing under all those thorn trees, (also known as “thorny locust”; at least around this part of the world), and it is there for wildlife to eat. That has happened from years of neglect.

The hearts and lives of men and women can become hard, calloused, and of no use to God when they are neglected. That is what has happened with the people to whom Jeremiah is speaking. The men of Judah and Jerusalem are the main ones the prophet addresses.

Just how, does the heart of a man become likened to “fallow ground”? How can a man become hard hearted toward God, and unproductive? There is only one step toward a hard heart. There is only one turn toward that “fallow ground”. That step and that turn is away from God. It may happen gradually with the coming of many blessing, comfort sets in, then, a complacent, apathetic attitude. It happens by missing just one quiet time with God, then one more, then one more. Then, there is the missing of one assembling with the saints of God in the worship of God. It happens by getting too involved in the pleasures and comforts of the society around us.

Jesus uses a parable concerning four different soil conditions in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23. Jesus calls it the “Parable of the sower” (v. 18). It does deal with the conditions of the soil, however. The first is the hardpacked path area where people walk through the fields (common for that day); the second was shallow soil – shallow due to bedrock directly under a very thin layer of soil; the third could be compared to the “fallow ground”, because it is weedy and thorny soil; and the final soil is “good soil” which means that it is soil that has been worked and prepared for the seed, and it is the only one of the soils which produces fruit.

God is not pleased when His people are hardened by their neglect of their hearts. We know Jeremiah is dealing with their heart conditions when he writes of “circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts…”. The study note from the MacArthur Study Bible says,

 “4:4 Circumcise. This surgery (Gen. 17:10-14) was to cut away flesh that could hold disease in its folds and could pass the disease on to wives. It was important for the preservation of God’s people physically. But it was also a symbol of the need of the heart to be cleansed from sin’s deadly disease. The really essential surgery needed to happen on the inside, where God calls for taking away fleshly things that keep the heart from being spiritually devoted to Him and from true faith in Him and His will. Jeremiah later expanded on this theme (31:31-34; cf. Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Rom. 2:29). God selected the reproductive organ as the location of the symbol for man’s need of cleansing for sin, because it is the instrument most indicative of his depravity, since by it he reproduces generations of sinners.” MACARTHER STUDY BIBLE, p. 1067, (NKJV).

The child of God must never forget to maintain His walk with God. Why are some Christians so cavalier about their relationship with God? Could it be that they really have no relationship with God? Therefore, if that be so they don’t even know Him. God’s call through the prophet is for the people to break up the “fallow ground”. In other words, “Take those hardened hearts of yours, and plow them; do what is necessary to break them and humble yourselves before Me.”

The following is a quote from John Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible:

break up your fallow ground; this is ground that lies untilled, not ploughed, nor sown, on which nothing grows but the produce of nature, as weeds, thorns, briers, &c. is common to men and beasts, and is trodden upon, and, so is hard and unsusceptible of seed; which, if it accidentally falls upon it, makes no impression on it, and is not received by it; and the breaking of it up is by the plough. The “fallow ground” fitly represents the hearts of unregenerate men, which are unopened to the word, and unbroken by it; nor have they the seed of divine grace sown in them; but are destitute of faith, hope, love, fear, and the like; there is nothing grows there but the weeds of sin and corruption; and are like a common beaten road; are the common track of sin, where lusts pass to and fro, and dwell; and so are hardened and obdurate, as hard as a stone, yea, harder than the nether millstone; and who, though they may occasionally be under the word, it makes no impression on them; it has no place in them, but is like the seed that falls by the wayside, Mat. 13:4, unless divine power attends it; for the Gospel is the plough, and ministers are the ploughmen; but it is the Lord alone that makes it effectual to the breaking up the fallow ground of men’s hearts, Luk 9:62, but when the Lord puts his hand to the plough it enters within, and opens the heart; it is quick, powerful, and sharp; it cuts deep, and makes long and large furrows, even strong convictions of sin; it throws a man’s inside outward, as the plough does the earth; and lays all the wicked of his heart open to him; and roots up the pride, the vanity, and boasting of the creature, and other lusts; and so makes way for the seed of divine grace to be sown there:” e-Sword edition.

 It is a hard and evil heart that will not follow the path of our Lord. It is a hard and calloused heart that refuses to hear the Word of the Lord. God holds us, yea, even keeps us from falling. O, how God yearns for His children to continually walk with Him, and those who are His have the heart to walk with Him, but too often are turned aside by the allures of the world, thus the heart can grow fallow.

The prophet calls for a circumcision of the heart, or as it is worded, “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD…” This requires a conscience act of the men to whom he speaks. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Well! I am only human, you know.” We are human, and we do sin and make mistakes; however; that is no excuse for the child of God. He has equipped us to overcome the temptations which lure us from our walk with Him. We have His Spirit within us. This is that same Spirit which is in Christ Jesus. That is right. You have the power in you, as a Christian to resist temptation, the hardening of your heart to God, and anything that will turn you away from Him. One thing I might add here concerning things that can cause the heart to grow hard toward God would be the satisfaction and pride, even an arrogance that you are the child of God, leading to an attitude that you are better than anyone else. God forbid we ever do that. That is a hardened heart.

This circumcision of the heart [of yourselves] is taught by Jesus and the apostle Paul. Paul wrote, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2. This requires that the power of the Spirit of God be in you. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21. When God is on your mind your thoughts will be on the things of God. When God is your treasure your heart will be set on Him, and in neither one of these can there be “fallow ground” or a hard heart.

This message is to the people of God. This message is to those who once had a thriving relationship with the LORD, but have grown hard of heart. He is calling you back. Plow the ground. Get into His Word, seek His face, repent of your sins, confess Jesus Christ is Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Shall Not Be Moved

The nation has been a wayward nation. It has deliberately turned its back on God, and served its own gods which are idols; a means of worshipping devils or demons. It is a sad thing for a nation, in this case the Northern kingdom to walk away from God. It is, however, joyous to see that God is gracious, forgiving and still He is just.

YaHWeH [God] has been calling the spiritually adulterating nation to repent. He has been pursuing her. God will have His way with His people. Let us never forget that. He will be glorified through His people as well.

“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto Me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” Jeremiah 4:1-2 (KJV).

This call is clearly to Israel, the Northern kingdom. What is it to “return unto ME [the LORD]”? It is clear from these verses what the LORD expects. “Put away thine abominations…” is one of the clearly sought after things of the LORD. According to Strong’s the word “Abominations” has to do with the filth of idolatry.

 H8251shiqqu^ts shiqqu^ts; shik-koots’, shik-koots’; From H8262; disgusting, that is, filthy; especially idolatrous or (concretely) an idol: – abominable filth (idol, -ation), detestable (thing).” From e-Sword.

You will notice that the word “disgusting” is used, and “abominable filth”. That only shows us the way God sees this adulterous relationship between His people and the gods of the nations. There must be a “Putting away” of all that is vile, unclean, detestable and idolatrous in God’s sight before there can ever be cleansing, renewal and a return to God. When will the people of God come to the place to learn that to depart from God is about the easiest thing we can do. It can happen just by dropping our attention away from the LORD, and putting it someplace else.

In calling the Northern kingdom to return God intends for a true repentance in returning; not as the Southern kingdom of Judah who gave acknowledgement by words, but not in action. Judah gave a lip service to the LORD, but in truth their hearts were far from Him. That is why earlier we see God referring to Judah as being treacherous (Jeremiah 3:11). God does not approve of hypocritical lip service or pretense. Even Jesus says, “Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Those who have a true love for our Lord do not serve Him to gain anything from Him; however we do serve Him with love knowing who he is, and because of His wonderful gift of grace.

Jehovah’s call to Israel to return is for them to turn from their sin, and to Him. We are to worship God and Him alone. There can be no honor given to other gods, which are not gods, but demonic representations of men’s desires. “If you will return, O Israel, then return to Me” is the desire of God’s heart. This could be for their return to God’s land from which they have been carried away captive. There will be no return to the land unless they return to Him could be the meaning.

return unto me; with thy whole heart, and not feignedly and hypocritically, as Judah did, Jer_3:10. Some render the words (and the accents require they should be rendered so) “if thou wilt return to me, O Israel, saith the Lord, thou shalt return” (l); that is, to thine own land, being now in captivity; or, “thou shalt rest” (m); or “have rest”; so Kimchi interprets the last word; see Jer_30:10, and these words may very well be considered as the words of Christ, and as spoken by him, when he entered upon his ministry, who began it with calling the people of the Jews to repentance, and promising to give them rest; and all such who return to God by repentance, and come to Christ by faith, find spiritual rest for their souls now, and shall have an eternal rest hereafter, Mat_4:17,” FROM JOHN GILLS EXPOSITION OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE, e-Sword edition.

 If you will put away these abominations, “Out of My sight” then you will not be moved from the promised place. God would speak to the prophet concerning the return of the people in seventy years (25:12; 29:10-14; Daniel 9:2). This time in captivity would be a time of chastisement, cleansing, and bring glory to the LORD. During this time the Babylonians and the Persians would mistreat the captives, and in this God would be glorified by His wrath and judgment upon the nations for thier evil doing on the people of Israel; both the Northern and Southern kingdoms.

If you will now, notice what happens when the people do return. It is first to be a speedy return, ie., when they realize that they are away from God, they are not to merely speak of returning, but quickly return, and not to the land, but to God, then they will go to the land, after the seventy years have been fulfilled. When they have returned to the LORD, then they will “swear, ‘The LORD LIVES’…” This “swear[ing]” is more than an oath. It seems to be a very full and genuine heart change, realizing the greatness of the LORD our God. Strong’s gives us this concerning the word, “Swear”:

H7650 – sha^ba‛; shaw-bah’; A primitive root; properly to be complete, but used only as a denominative from H7651; to seven oneself, that is, swear (as if by repeating a declaration seven times): – adjure, charge (by an oath, with an oath), feed to the full [by mistake for H7646], take an oath, X straitly, (cause to, make to) swear. From e-Sword.

 The people of Israel will truly see the living LORD, and they will see that He is truth, and He is righteous in all His ways and truly just. When the nations of the world see what God has done for the people of God they will rejoice in Him, and “In Him they shall glory”. They will boast only of the LORD, and His greatness, they will celebrate in His glory, they will shine for His name. John the Revelator wrote,

 “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:22-27 (KJV).

 “And the nations…” is the phrase we need to see in the previous verses. The nations of the world; those who have been saved by the blood of the Lamb; will gather in that new city, and will celebrate the glory of the Lord.

The word that is needed for our day of 2008 is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” JESUS (Matthew 4:17). The LORD is calling for the return of those who have gone astray, serving false doctrine, false gods, and false christs. He is also calling those who have never known Him to call on the name of Jesus Christ, and He will save you.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Messengers Going

The King’s Messengers Going

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The King and Blind Men

The King Meets the Need of Sightless Men

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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