Judgment of the Wicked

There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof: for I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure, saith the LORD.

They shall howl, ‘How is it broken down! How hath Moab turned the back with shame!’ So shall Moab be a derision and a dismaying to all them about him. For thus saith the LORD; ‘Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.” Jeremiah 48:38-40 (KJB)

The Moabites hated the Israelites. As Israel was traveling through the wilderness following their deliverance from Egypt the king of Moab hired a false prophet named Balaam to curse them (Numbers 22-25). When Balaam realizes that God will not allow the cursing of Israel he tells Balak, the king of Moab how to cause them to fall.  Be sure you read the story. Moab hated Israel, and Israel’s God who is the LORD of Hosts – YHWH.

The judgment that was coming on Moab at this point in time was Babylon. The same one who was used by Holy God to judge His own people because they had turned their backs on Him.

While God desires that the world knows Him to be God, the LORD God, He still judges iniquity, and those who defile and hate His people.

At the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy it has been hundreds of years since Balak’s hatred has been displayed.  That hatred had continued through the many years.

There are those in our government of the United States of America and other governments of men who want nothing more than to see the demise of the nation of Israel; and for that matter all those Christians also who love Israel.

A word of warning to you who hate Israel, and who hate Christians because of our faith in the God who loves us, and showed it by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins; if you continue in your hatred you will come to an end, and that end will be eternity in the fires of a burning Hell.

God who is the Creator of all things has loved you, offers you forgiveness, salvation, grace, love, and peace through the cross of Jesus, His death, burial, and resurrection.

Turn from your hatred to Jesus Christ and live.

It Ain’t Over Yet

Sometimes we people of the human race do things we do not exactly want to do, or like to do to survive.  Abraham left the Promised Land of Canaan when famine came, and Hagar came back with he and Sarah (Genesis 12:10-20).  Look at the heartaches, and sorrow that has brought on us all.  We all do some things for which we are ashamed, and God forgives and delivers us who trust Him; but often not the consequences of our bad behavior, and actions.

The book of Ruth in the Bible is a very precious story of history and lineage of king David, and our Savior.  Let us look at the first five verses…

“Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there. And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.” Ruth 1:1-5 (KJV)

The events of Ruth – beginning to end – take place during the early part of the book of Judges.  Remember that the judges were given by God to the people of Israel after they had become disobedient, rebellious, and began worshiping foreign gods – which were not gods – and when they would be troubled by plague, disease, famine, etc. then they would call on their God; and He would send them a Judge to deliver them (Judges 2:16).  Certainly showing the love, mercy and grace of God.

Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons Mahlon and Chilion went to Moab; a foreign land near by, and they were a unholy bunch of people; ones associated with the curse Balaam because they were fearful of Israel, and their God.  So they sought to curse them.  You can read about Balaam in Numbers 22-25.

When we leave the place the Lord has promised us we will always be a hazard to people around us.  Consider this.  Elimelech probably went to Moab for his family; at least that was his reasoning.  The country of Moab was rich and green, and Israel was in drought and famine.  This wayward journey cost him his life, and the lives of his two sons.

This  is a story of God’s love and grace.  When we as Christians mess up, sin against God, and leave our promised position God is not finished with us.  He sees the bigger picture.  We only see the brush strokes; the aches, the pains the sorrows; and we can rest assured that God will get us where He desires us to be.  It may be costly.  It will be worth it.

The story ends with Ruth a Moabite woman; Naomi’s daughter in law in the Promised Land, and marrying the kinsman redeemer.  There is redemption for all who will come to faith in Jesus Christ a descendant of Ruth – a Moabite – who became a faithful follower of YaHWeH [Jehovah].  Jesus is the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer having died on the cross for the sins of the world, being buried, and rising from the grave alive forevermore.  Believe Him and you too will live.

 

The Land is GOD’S to Give as He Pleases

“God hath spoken in His holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the strength of Mine head; Judah is My lawgiver; Moab is My washpot; over Edom will I cast out My shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of Me.” Psalm 60:6-8 (KJV)

One of the things people and nations need to understand is that God is the owner of all lands, and distributes those lands as He sees fit.

The land of Canaan was promised to Abraham, and His children through Isaac the promised son. He gave the land of Canaan plus land on the east side of Jordan to the people of promise.

Down through the ages there is still contention over that land. It is simply because the people will not submit to God’s ownership and division of that land. If the people would submit to God’s ownership, division of that land, and realize we are all only stewards of where we dwell; then there could be peace.

The Psalmist speaking the words of God notes this division. Shechem and Succoth are land on the east side of Jordan, and were given to two and one half tribes of Israel, because of their request for it (Numbers 32:1-5). Gilead, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Judah are God’s people. God says, “Gilead is Mine.” He also says, “Manasseh is Mine”; and “Ephraim is the helmet for My head” (NKJV), and “Judah is My lawgiver”.

To think about “Moab is My washpot” we are the surrounding enemy nations; along with Edom, and Philistia. We might consider Moab as the “washpot” in that when Israel strayed God uses them to discipline, chastise Israel for their waywardness.

Do we as Christians today understand that all God has given in our hand, under our feet, even on our back are His; and we are uniquely His stewards to care, and work it for His glory? The land is His and everything on it.

When we know God through His Son Jesus Christ we will understand this and will direct our lives accordingly. We will love the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We will love the Word of God, we will hear it and do what He says. When we fail, or fall we will trust Him to pick us back up; and we will continue on the path of holiness.

Bone of Life

“And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.” 2 Kings 13:20-21 (KJV)

Elisha’s death was not a good thing for Israel. It spoke of their death, their future captivity. Just as Elijah was honored after his departure, and during his departure (2 Kings 2:11); so too was Elisha honored following his death.

In Elisha’s life and ministry there had been resurrections (2 Kings 4:31-37), and other great miracles (chapter 5 Naaman is healed of leprosy).

Here is a man being buried by his family possibly. The Moabite invaders are coming suddenly, and in haste they put the body of the man in an already prepared tomb; which is the tomb of Elisha. They get more than they expect, and as the body of the dead man touches the bones of Elisha; showing all that there is life after death; the man is resurrected.

This power shows us that Elisha is still living. It shows us that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Mark 12:26-27).

Jesus the living Son of God, and God the Son came out alive after 3 days in the tomb. He Himself is the giver of life. Believe Him to be delivered from death; and to live eternally with Him.

The Vessel God Uses

“And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: he hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the Most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come He that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.” Numbers 24:15-19 (KJV)

To me Balaam is a puzzle. He is a man of enchantments for foretelling the future, and evidently for pronouncing curses on whomever he will (Numbers 24:1). Yet in the above verses, and in others in the saga of Balaam, we see him as a man who appears concerned with saying what the LORD says.

If God could use a donkey to speak to Balaam (Numbers 22:22-41) I do not know why God could not use a lying  prophet to speak His truth.

In the prophecy written above we see a prophecy of the coming Messiah of Israel. Balaam speaking of Jesus Christ coming. The prophecy is pointing mostly to the second coming of Christ, but Jesus was the fulfillment of “There shall come a Star out of Jacob”, and the rest of the prophecies as well.

He will come again and all who have opposed Him will be destroyed.

For more study on Balaam you may follow this link.

Jesus Through the Bible – Even the Vision of Balaam

“And he took up his parable, and said, ‘Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: ‘He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.  And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come He that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.'”  Numbers24:15-19

Often the words of a false prophet are not worth posting; however in this case they are documented in Scripture and the prophecies of true prophets to be considered worthy.

Balaam prophesied of Jesus.  Jesus is the “Star out of Jacob”.  He is also the “Sceptre” that “shall rise out of Israel”.  Jesus is the Conqueror of the enemies of Israel, and forever shall be.

If a false prophet has some vision of who Jesus is why do you not have the heart and vision to see, that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, crucified, buried, raised bodily from the grave; and coming again.  Jesus is the conqueror of all sin, and the Victor over all enemies of God and His people (1 Corinthians 15:51-58;  Romans 8:35-39).

Day 60 – Knowing the LORD God

Reading the prophecy of Ezekiel can lead a person to only one good conclusion, and that is that GOD wants people to know Him.  Some of the reading sounds harsh, deadly, and judgmental; however we are speaking of our Creator; and who are we to question how He works.  Can the clay say to the potter, “You don’t know what you are doing”.  Not at all.  The God of creation has one thing in mind, and that is the glory of His name; and He will accomplish what He has started to do – that the people of the earth know Him.

My reading this morning was Ezekiel 24 – 37.  I have mentioned it in passing, but today I will spend some time with the phrase, “…Know that I am the LORD”.  In looking at this phrase and its use in Ezekiel we find it at least 24 times in today’s reading.  I will only give you a few of those references.

First in today’s reading I read these words being spoken to Israel of Ezekiel’s service,

“Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do: and when this cometh, ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 24:24 (KJV)

Ezekiel’s wife had died.  He was not to weep or mourn publicly because of her death.  By this Ezekiel was a sign for Israel and their captivity; no time for grief and mourning over the dead.  The second time in my reading this morning is in verse 27,

“In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.” 24:27

Previously, Ezekiel had been unable to speak, but now the LORD was going to open his mouth, and he would speak, and by this the people would know that Jehovah/YHWH is the LORD.  Remember the LORD is proper and just, Righteous, and holy and can do how He pleases to bring people to the one conclusion the human race needs to know; and that is that He is the LORD.

“And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am the LORD.”  25:11

The LORD of hosts speaks these words through Ezekiel and to other people; not just to Israel.  He desires the nations to know Him.  He desires Moab to know that He is the LORD.  One day at the final day of judgment the world will know that He is the LORD.  That however does not mean, that all will be with Him in His glory.

To the land of Tyre [Tyrus] God says,

“And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.  It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations.  And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I am the LORD.”  26:4-6

Many an arrogant nation have exalted themselves over what GOD had for them.  Many of these nations will be removed from the earth, their lands left desolate; and never restored.  It is to the king of Tyrus that we find him to be filled with the evil of Satan himself (28:12-15).

The Nile River is a very important river in Egypt.  However the nation’s leader had exalted himself to the point of being Egypt’s god, claiming to have made the river himself and it being his river.  To this arrogance the Lord says, through the prophet,

“And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it.”  29:9

God is especially grieved when His people; the one’s He has chosen to be His light, and the glory of His name; when we turn our backs on Him to other gods [idols made by the minds and hands of men in their own images].  This was the guilt of Judah and Israel. God says to Israel again,

“For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate, that none shall pass through.   Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.”  33:28-29

God will not leave His people without judgment.  In fact He will judge His people first and foremost.  The arrogance of Israel was so bad, so gross they had been secure in the temple, also made by the hands of men; in thinking and saying, “God will never destroy this nation, or this temple.  It is the Temple of  the LORD”.  They found out differently.  God is more involved and careful that we might know Him, than He is in our security, survival or success.

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.  As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD.”  36:37-38

God will not leave His people without hope.  In their captivity He continually reminds them of their return to the land.  It will of course be after the land has been restored its sabbaths lost by the years of neglect of sabbaths by her  people.  A final promise I want to leave with you is that,

“And David My servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them.  And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and My servant David shall be their prince for ever.”  37:24-25

“David My servant” is none other than the King of kings, born in Bethlehem, died on a cross in Jerusalem, buried, and bodily raised from the dead; justifying all who will believe in Him.  The world will know that Jesus Chirst is LORD.  Bow now; or bow later.  It is your choice.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 57 – The King, Whose Name is the LORD of Hosts

The reading of the prophecy of Jeremiah can be a difficult read; and even difficult to write about; especially if you focus on the judgment part of the prophecy.  Jeremiah lived through much of the fall and destruction of Jerusalem, Judah and Israel.  He also wrote many promises of God.

My reading today was Jeremiah 38 – 52 finishing up this portion of the prophecy of Jeremiah.  I say this portion, because we have Lamentations to read yet, which is part of his prophecy.

“As I live,’ saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts, ‘Surely as Tabor is among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, so shall he come.'” Jeremiah 46:18 (KJV)

One of the things I learn as I read the Bible, and that I am reminded of everyday is that God is the Supreme Ruler over the earth.  The phrase in the verse above, “…the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts” is used in two other verses in today’s reading – 48:15 and 51:57.

The LORD of hosts is King of every nation, tribe and tongue, and His will will be done.  His name will be glorified.  Egypt of the above verse was prideful.  The remnant of Judah who had been left behind by Nebuchadnezzar, had asked Jeremiah to seek the LORD and they would follow His guidance about what they were to do.  They were to stay in the land of promise; yet they disobeyed the LORD, and chose to go into Egypt seeking security from Babylon.  They would, instead of finding security, find themselves a part of another captivity, because Babylon was going to come to Egypt conquering them.  He is the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.

In the second verse the word is against Moab,

“Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.” 48:15

Moab, thinking themselves strong, mighty, and secure would fall by the “King, whose name is the LORD of hosts”.  Egypt, Moab, Ammon, Bozrah, Edom, and even Babylon would fall by the decree of the King; “the King whose name is the LORD of hosts”

No king or president or senator or congressman or any leader can stand long against the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.  He is the King of kings, and the LORD of lords.  One day every tribe, tongue and nation will bow before Him.  The One whose name is above every name.  The One to which every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 50 – Israel, Egypt and Assyria

My apologies for my inability to count in yesterdays title.  It was day 49 not 48; and if you noticed it was not until the end of the day that I noticed the error.

My reading today was Isaiah 7 – 20.  That reading is interesting, full of Messianic prophecies, and hope for the rest of the world.  The language toward Judah and Israel is quite strong and warns them of their need to return to right worship of YHWH [the LORD].

In chapter 7 we have the prophet telling the king Ahaz to ask the LORD for a sign, he refuses, and the LORD gives him the sign of a virgin conceiving and bearing a son (7:14), of course, ultimately prophetic of the coming Christ hundreds of years later.  There are also more prophetic pictures of Jesus’s coming in chapter nine.  In verses 1-2 we have Him coming as a Light; and in verses 6 and 7 a ruling Prince of Peace; whose rule will be forever.

A personal word is given to the prophet Isaiah, by the LORD in 8:11-18 and I want you to note especially verse 13;

“Sanctify the LORD of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” Isaiah 8:13 (KJV)

The prophet of God was not to walk in the way of “this people”.  They were fearful, and afraid of enemies conspiring against them.  The LORD tells Isaiah to fear only the LORD.  Set Him apart in your heart alone and when you do that you will fear nothing else.  When a person fears nothing but God; there is nothing that will be impossible to that individual.

Though God has warned Judah and Israel of their future captivity, He also gives them hope of a future back in the land of Promise, and the envy between the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah will be over;

“And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.   The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.  But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them.” 11:12-14

What is taking place in the Middle East today with the nations of the world trying to bring peace to Israel is a part of prophecy; and God still forever reigns, and is accomplishing His purposes in this world.  There is also coming a day when Israel, Egypt and Assyria will be united in Christ the Messiah of Israel.  Hear the word of the LORD:

“And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it.  And the LORD shall smite Egypt: He shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and He shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.  In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.  In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance.” 19:21-25

Let those of us who know the LORD through the Son of God trust and believe that one day every knee will bow to God and every tongue will confess to Him that Jesus Christ is Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 17 – Judges to Ruth

My reading today was only 13 chapters.  It was however a very rewarding experience; as it usually is reading the Word of God.  Reading the Judges chapter thirteen through 21 you will find a common phrase in it in the latter chapters.

“In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6

That verse is also the very last words of the book of Judges.  We will look at that a bit later. One other time the phrase “In those days thee was no king in Israel” (18:1) is used.  My thought on that is that God is speaking of a godly spiritual leader.

The stories of the Judges is a dark one due to disobedience or “partial obedience” which is disobedience.

We read of God’s grace toward the people of Israel by the appearance of the “angel of the LORD ” appearing to Manoah’s wife, and telling her she will have a son.  This angel of the LORD is believed by many; and I am one of those; to be the preincarnate revelation of the Son of God.  If you will note Manoah and his wife “fell on their faces to the ground” (13:20); an act of worship; and Manoah confesses “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” (13:22).  The “angel of the LORD” accepted the worship without any rebuke to them.

Samson was the promised son to Manoah and his wife from God.  Samson was truly a “rascal”.  He was a pain in the sides of the tormenters of Israel.  He was however faithful to God and God’s ordained purpose in his life.  Of Samson the writer of Hebrews mentions him in the “Hall of faith” (Hebrews 11:32); along with Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, David and Samuel.

There are probably many professing Christians today who might say something like;  “Well I sure don’t want to be in place where people like that are.”  Too bad.  If you have that kind of attitude you have yet to see your own heart; and the evil within.

There was much rebellious, rachus living going on in Israel in those days.  We find a man who made on Levite his own private priest (chapter 17).  He and his idols were taken by the Danites for their own private priest; and this is all contrary to the word of God.

Another Levite took a concubine who was unfaithful, and ended up in war with the tribe of Benjamin nearly destroying the whole tribe.  There is much darkness and evil in Judges, yet God rules, even when there is no other king in Israel (see also chapter 19:1).

The book of Ruth takes place during the time of the Judges; and is such a great story of redemption, grace and the power of God and His sovereignty.

Elimelech, due to a famine  in the land of Israel, packs up his family and moves to Moab, the land which wanted to curse Israel; and he and his sons die in the land; leaving their wives widows.  Naomi, the wife of Elimelech and mother of Mahlon and Chilion  hears things are better back home and proceeds to leave, but tells her two daughters in law they are not required to go with her; but Ruth chooses to go.

Because of Ruth’s faith she is now in the lineage of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  From what had been a judgment upon the nation of Israel, God was working, to bring redemption to His people and to the world.

“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25

“And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.  Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.”  Ruth 4:17-22 (KJV)

You might also want to read Matthew 1:1-17;  the lineage of our Lord and Savior.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

 

Day 11 – The Doom of Balaam

The prophet of God was to be faithful to God, God’s Word, and to God’s people.  The prophet of God was to speak the truth, speak what God said, and on the immediate surface of things it almost seems that Balaam was faithful in those things.  However,  What was he doing going with the enemy of God, and God’s people anyway?  There is a clue itself.  If we listen to the arguments of our day; it might go something like this; “Well! We need to join with them, identify with them, know their desires, likes and dislikes if we are going to win them to Christ.”

What it ultimately comes down to is are we going to serve God and be faithful to Him; or are we going to serve mammon [material gain, popularity] and people’s approval?  Balaam does not want to “rock the boat”.

My reading today consisted of Numbers 24 – 36.  We are told in Numbers 24;

“And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way.”  Numbers 24:25 (KJV)

We are not told precisely what Balaam has done but we see the  results when in chapter 25 we have the evidence of his fine demonic labors.

“And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.”(v. 1ff).

There was a man in Israel’s camp who saw the tragedy unfolding and became bold, courageous and filled with righteous indignation;

“And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.  And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.”  25:6-8

The Moabites had joined with the Midianites to destroy Israel.  Balaam had failed to curse Israel as Balak had wished; but he did leave them a means to curse Israel.  It seems that Balaam may have seen a weakness in some of Israel’s people, so he suggested to king Balak of infiltration with their debauchery in idol worship; and profaning the people of God and violating the laws of God.  He is no prophet of God at all who shows the enemy of God the weaknesses of God’s people to cause their downfall.

In the end Balaam and five kings of Midian are killed by an army of 12,000 Israelite men (31:8).  In verse 16 we are told that it was Balaam who caused the “trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor”;

“Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.” Numbers 31:16

The New Testament gives three verses dealing with the “prophet” Balaam,

“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;” 2 Peter 2:15
“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 11
“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”  Revelation 2:14

Woe be to the pastor, preacher, evangelists, and any believer who follows the way of Balaam, who runs greedily after the error of Balaam; or holds the doctrine of Balaam, casting a stumbling block before the children of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Numbers – 021611

Reading from Numbers 22-24.

The reading today deals with the prophetic work of one of the prophets of the Old Testament.  This is a prophet who was in the “ministry” for a profit.  He was in it to make all he could.

The Moabite people were fearful of this massive group of people who were traveling across their part of the wilderness.  The king of Moab, Balak, calls for Balaam the prophet of whom we speak.  The comment of Scripture says,

“And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.” 22:3

Let’s first examine who the people called the Moabites are; just to keep it in mind.  Moab was one of the sons of Lot by the eldest daughter (Genesis 19:37).  So by this we can see a kinship between these two people – Moab and Israel.  Of course, many years have passed, more than four hundred at least.

Balak calls for the prophet Balaam, and seeks him so that he may curse Israel.  Israel is a nation blessed by GOD.  Called out of Egypt by GOD.  Led by GOD.  A questions should enter our minds upon reading this, “How can a prophet of GOD even consider taking Moab up on this thought.  They have promised him great reward.

The prophet is blind to the ways of God.  God tells Balaam, after he has already turned down Balak’s first request to come, and he sends a second group of messengers,

“And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, ‘If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.'” 22:20

Here is Balaam’s fault.  If you will note what God says; Balaam is to not go with the men unless they come to call him; yet Balaam arises and goes to them.  He is eager to go and curse Israel, yet says, “All that the LORD speaketh, that I must do.” 23:26.

In the process of all this we find that his eyes are not open as he says in 24:3, but that they are set on deception, and the receiving of blessing for himself and funds for his pocket.  His ride has more spiritual perception than Balaam does (22:22-35).

By the end of chapter 24 we see Balaam speaking prophetic words of blessing upon Israel.  Yet, be warned Balaam is still a prophet of the worst sort.  We are warned of his work and “ministry” in the New Testament:

“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.”  2 Peter 2:15-16″Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”  Jude v. 11

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

Later on in the daily readings we will see that the prophet finally succeeded in gaining what he wanted, yet failed GOD and His people greatly.

Remember to read Numbers 22 – 24 for today’s reading.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

The Error Of Balaam

Numbers 31:16

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

That tends to be the problem with Balaam.

The Bible says;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some signs of the blindness of Balaam:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus said;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

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