“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1 (KJB)
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’ saith the Lord.
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21 (KJB)
Overcoming of evil is not expected of evil. It is expected of those who have been overcome by the One who has conquered the evil one who is Satan. He was defeated by Jesus Christ on the cross.
Our battle is not against flesh and blood. It is not against our neighbor across the street or across the creek, or on the other side of the fence. Our battle is against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). We are to love one another as believers in Christ.
We are to also show love to those who would mean us harm. Give them food and water. Give them wood for their fire. Overcome evil with good.
If you think this is difficult then just think of what Jesus Christ did for us. The sinless, guiltless, Son of God went to the cross to die for the sin laden, guilty, dirty, filthy, stinking sins of the sinners that you and me are. He really was overcoming evil with good.
Vengeance is God’s. Leave it with Him. Also see Deuteronomy 32:35 and Hebrews 10:30.
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6:16 (KJB)
As if to say “Don’t forget the shield of faith” the Apostle gives instruction on using our faith in the spiritual battle we face. We cannot face the enemy without it.
“…The wicked” of the verse above is definitely speaking of the enemy of God (who is Satan), and ours; but we must not forget that wickedness, evil can be found in the people who live around us, and are pawns of the evil one. As Christians we are warned to guard our own hearts and minds; if we do not, then evil can come into our own lives.
Wickedness is all around us. Can you see it? There are people who call what is good “evil” and call what is evil “good”. As Christians we must stand for what the Bible, the Holy Bible, the Holy Scriptures say; the word of God stands sure. Without Scripture we can have no genuine faith.
Christians, Stand by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
From the Commentary of Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown…
“Above all — rather, “Over all”; so as to cover all that has been put on before. Three integuments are specified, the breastplate, girdle, and shoes; two defenses, the helmet and shield; and two offensive weapons, the sword and the spear (prayer). Alford translates, “Besides all,” as the Greek is translated, Luk_3:20. But if it meant this, it would have come last in the list (compare Col_3:14).
shield — the large oblong oval door-like shield of the Romans, four feet long by two and a half feet broad; not the small round buckler.
ye shall be able — not merely, “ye may.” The shield of faith will certainly intercept, and so “quench, all the fiery darts” (an image from the ancient fire-darts, formed of cane, with tow and combustibles ignited on the head of the shaft, so as to set fire to woodwork, tents, etc.).
of the wicked — rather “of the EVIL ONE.” Faith conquers him (1Pe_5:9), and his darts of temptation to wrath, lust, revenge, despair, etc. It overcomes the world (1Jn_5:4), and so the prince of the world (1Jn_5:18).”
Do not remain blind to the Truth of who Jesus Christ is. Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and He rose again. He will one day return and put away all evil; and it will be what He declares as evil; not what men say.
“These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter. The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable. Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.
Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: for better it is that it be said unto thee, ‘Come up hither;’ than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.” Proverbs 25:1-7 (KJB)
Kings, Neighbors, Enemies, and Honey – Proverbs 25:1-28
VERSES 1-7 – On verses two and three the MacArthur Study Bible notes, “God…kings. The roles of God and the king are compared. God, whose knowledge is above all human knowledge (cf. Ps. 92:5; Eccl. 3:11; Is. 46:10; Acts 15:18; Heb. 4:13), and whose ways are unsearchable (cf. Job 5:9; Ps. 145:3; Is. 40:28), keeps things to Himself because He needs no counsel (see Rom. 11:34). On the contrary, kings should rightly seek to know what they must know in order to rule righteously.”
Looking at verses four and five we can conclude that kingdoms of men are established by God when wickedness is removed and righteousness is in place. There is silver present, but it must be refined by fire.
In verses six and seven we see that humility is an honorable trait even in places of authority.
VERSES 8-20 – Getting along with neighbors will be aided by not being hasty in judging them when they seem to be unwise, and in the end you are shamed by your own actions (vv. 8-10).
Using words wisely when dealing with our neighbors (vv. 11-12). Refreshing and encouraging words from a messenger (v. 13). Forbearance or patience is a necessity for good neighbors (vv. 14-15). Too much of a good and sweet thing will end in hatred of that very thing (vv. 16-17).
Being a good neighbor involves confidence in the right place and people, respecting truth and, others comfort, shelter, and nourishment (vv. 18-20).
VERSES 21-28 – We ought to treat our enemies as we would treat our neighbors. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt. 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8).
VERSES 16 and 27 – Honey is a natural sweetener. Too much of this sweetener will make one sick. Verse 16 prepares us for verse 17 where spending too much time a neighbor’s can be a thing that turns to hatred if not done in moderation.
To search for one’s own glory is as bad as eating too much honey. It will make others sick, and possibly you sick as well.
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 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 of sincerity and truth. I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” 1 Corinthians 5:6-13 (KJB)
References: 1 Corinthians 3:21; 2 Timothy 2:17; Exodus 12:15; John 17:15; 1 John 5:19; Deuteronomy 13:5
Your Own Wickedness
“Is Israel a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why is he spoiled? The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant. Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head. Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when He led thee by the way? And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?
‘Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee,’ saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” Jeremiah 2:14-19
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:44-50 (KJB)
The finished result of the kingdom of heaven will be the final putting away of all that is evil and false. The complete redemption of all who are bought and claimed by the Redeemer. All the parables of Matthew 13 give us an outline, together, of the Church Age. First of all in the parable of the “Sower” we see individual’s responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, in the parables of the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven; we see Satan’s opposition to the work of God in His kingdom, and his attacks upon it. Thirdly, we see the results of Judgment upon the “Treasure” [Israel], the Pearl [the Church], and the dragnet [Gentile nations]. This parable shows us that there is evil in the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom of Christ while He is not bodily present, and it will progress until He comes again.
I. In the parable of the “Wheat and the tares” the field is the world (v. 44).
* + In this world “a man” is God in the person of His Son, and the “treasure” is true Israel.
* + When God called Israel to be His people and Nation He had a plan for them, and He still does.
Warren Wiersbe says, “That nation was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation (John 11:51). On the cross, Jesus died for the whole world; but in a special way, He died for Israel (Isaiah 53:8). The nation suffered judgment and seeming destruction, but in God’s sight it is ‘hidden’ and will be revealed again in glory.” From the Bible Exposition Commentary by Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 47, VOL. 1.
II. Pearls are made through the much tribulation of the oyster (vv. 45-46).
* + I don’t know all the mechanics behind the making of the pearl, but what we have all heard is that it begins with a grain of sand being on the sensitive part of its body.
* + In the parable of the “pearl of great price” (vv. 45-46), it has seen the similar interpretation as the above “treasure”, the “pearl” being Christ Jesus and those who give up all they have, and purchase the pearl have made a great bargain.
” Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” 1 Corinthians 10:32 (KJV). “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (KJV). “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:4-7 (KJV). “The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalms 14:2-3 (KJV).
III. In this parable of the precious pearl the “Merchant man” is surely representing Jesus Christ (vv. 45-46).
* + Jesus saw the Church as being a precious pearl, and gave up the splendors and glory of heaven to come and redeem fallen men to God.
* + In Scripture we always have God seeking for men.
* It was Jesus who said, “I came to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10).
* + The pearl which the Merchant man seeks is the Church.
* + The growth of the Church is unseen by the world, just as the pearl within the oyster.
IV. Jesus once again goes to the sea, only in a bigger way (vv. 47-50).
* + Keep in mind that we are to understand that the “kingdom of heaven” contains both the good and the bad [evil]; the true and the false.
* + The good and true ae the ones who are genuine believers.
* (Daniel 7:1-3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).
* + The time of this judgment is at the end of the age, when God is going to make all things right.
* It is not the end of the Church Age, but the end of the age of a “Mixed Multitude”.
-by Tim A. Blankenship
For further study and reading
The Peacemaker Has a Wise Tongue – Proverbs 17:14-20
The verses of these Proverbs warn us of the folly of strife, wickedness, evil, injustice, adversity, and the peril of those who follow that way of living. I want us to look at the opposite side of these warnings.
Verse 14 – A dam may start to break with just a pinhole in it, and if it is left untended it becomes a flood of water. Think of the flooding of the biggest part of New Orleans a few years ago. Most of the damage was caused by the breaking of the dikes that held back water from the city. When they broke the breaks got larger until there was no stopping the flow. That is likened to someone loving strife.
The answer to that is when we see the beginning of strife it needs mended. If it is passed that point then we should probably leave it alone and walk away.
Verse 15 – As God’s children we should always honor justice, and condemn injustice whenever we see it. There is a great tendency in this 21st century to vilify the righteous, and justify wickedness. From this verse we see that that is an abomination to God. (Isaiah 5:20).
Verse 16 – Biblically wise people will pay any price for godly wisdom. If it takes money we will pay it. If it takes study of God’s Word, then we will study God’s Word; if it takes listening to others, then we will listen to others. The price we will pay for wisdom is worth it.
For those who have no heart for wisdom he/she will spend their money, time and listening to other things.
Verse 17 – John Gill says of the first part of this, “A friend loveth at all times,…. A true, hearty, faithful friend, loves in times of adversity as well as in times of prosperity: there are many that are friends to persons, while they are in affluent circumstances; but when there is a change in their condition, and they are stripped of all riches and substance; than their friends forsake them, and stand at a distance from them; as was the case of Job, Job_19:14; it is a very rare thing to find a friend that is a constant lover, such an one as here described;” SEE Proverbs 18:24; 27:10; Ruth 1:16; Job 6:14.
I am thankful for the Friend who sticks closer than a brother. His name is Jesus.
Verse 18 – A true friend would not ask a friend to be “surety” on a debt; at least in my mind. Why would a friend want to make a friend do a foolish thing. The proverb author says this is only the act of “A man void of understanding”.
The Believer’s Bible Commentary states, “17:18 This verse modifies the previous one by showing that love should not be without discernment. It would be a case of bad judgment to agree to guarantee a friend’s debts in the event that he should default. Any man who needs a surety is a bad credit risk. Why be surety for a bad credit risk?”
Verses 19-20 – This verse takes us back to verse 14. Transgression is the treasure of one who loves strife. The obedient and humble hate transgression as well as strife.
The froward heart is as the one who loves transgression, and finds no good. The heart of a man or woman who loves God not only will find good, but also be the source of good to others; even those who do not seek it.
The Mouth; Wisdom and Wickedness – Proverbs 11:7-14
Jesus said, “Hear and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” Matthew 15:10b-11
In this study there is more in dealing with the mouth and the tongue. This is a very important matter with God, or there would not be so much of Scripture dealing with it. In chapter ten we dealt with “The Mouth of the Wise and the Righteous”.
Verses 7 – 8 – A contrast is given of the hope of the wicked; and the hope of the righteous. It could be highly implied within these verses that the wealth spoken of is unjustly acquired.
From the ESV study Bible notes:
“Proverbs contrasts this with the hope of the righteous (see 10:28) to warn against being fooled by the apparent security in dishonest gain and to assure those who fear the Lord that their hope, manifested in seeking the path of wisdom, will not be in vain (see 23:18; 24:14).”
Verses 9 – 11 – Notice there is still the contrasting of the wicked and the righteous. The contrast is a matter of dealing with the mouth. Even when the righteous are slandered they know how to conduct themselves in the right fashion. Conducting one’s self in the right fashion does not include slandering the slanderer.
The mouth of the righteous blesses people (v. 11)
Verses 12 – 13 – The evil intent of a talebearer is to destroy another’s life, reputation, or character.
From Matthew Henry Commentary:
“Speaking spitefully of a man behind his back: A tale-bearer, that carries all the stories he can pick up, true or false, from house to house, to make mischief and sow discord, reveals secrets which he has been entrusted with, and so breaks the laws, and forfeits all the privileges, of friendship and conversation.”
Verse 14 – It is good for leaders, Christians and for all to have godly counselors. Those who would be godly counselors would also keep watch over their tongues, lips; their mouth.
The ESV Study Bible notes:
“The role of counselors is to aid a person in making wise decisions (cf. 15:22; 24:6). While this is particularly important for those who lead a people, Proverbs also stresses its broader application to people’s decision making in all sorts of situations—cf. 11:5 and the contrasting description of how the wicked falls “by his own wickedness.””
-Tim A. Blankenship
Why Will You Die???
“Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal. When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways.” Ezekiel 33:10-20 (KJV)
Balances, Integrity and Righteousness – Proverbs 11:1-6
1. Balances were a means of conducting much agricultural, metals, and other forms of business in days of the past. Notice that the “False balance” is an “Abomination to the LORD” – something that is disgusting, and wicked in the sight of the LORD.
This proverb (v. 1) can be tied with the command to “Love our neighbor” (Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31) as ourselves; and the final six of the Ten Commandments. The Lord delights in a just weight or right balances.
2. Pride, arrogance, insolence, presumptuousness are words very similar in meaning. Most people hate arrogance when it is seen in someone else. The Mirriam/Webster Dictionary defines “arrogant” as being “Offensives exaggerating one’s own importance”; “insolent” is defined as “contemptuous, rude, disrespectful, or brutal in behavior or language: OVERBEARING, BOLD”; “presumptuous” means “overstepping due bounds; taking liberties: OVERBOLD.” With this “Pride” comes shame following closely on the heels – see Proverbs 16:18.
In contrast is the “lowly” or the modest individual. These are usually the thankful person. The individual who knows they are not alone and trust the Lord for their every need.
3. “Integrity” equals “Soundness: adherence to a code of values: utter sincerity, honesty, and candor: completeness.” These, of course, would be guided by the teachings of God’s word and the Holy Spirit in the Christian.
In this verse as well as verses 2, and 4 through 6 there are contrasting statements: “The integrity of the upright” and “The perverseness of transgressors”; Riches and righteousness; “The righteousness of the perfect… but the wicked shall fall…”
There is destruction awaiting those connected to unrighteousness.
There is deliverance for the righteous; but “transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.” (Jeremiah 2:19)
-Tim A. Blankenship
Hearing and Holding On – Proverbs 4:1-27
Verses 1-13 – Hold on to wisdom; like a family heirloom. Children are the fruit of marriage, and the responsibility of their teaching, their learning is that of the father and mother. It is, however the responsibility of the child to learn the teachings which they are taught. Hearing instruction; godly instruction; as lived by the parent is necessary for the child to see as well as hear.
When God is our Father, our Instructor/Teacher we know that His teaching is never in error. If we err from His teaching it is the child who errs not the Father. Remember Wisdom is personified in Proverbs, and is seen in the New Testament as Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.
Verses 14-19 – There are two paths which each individual must choose from. “The way of wisdom” is mentioned in verse 11. We are shown that there are two paths people can take. “…The path of the wicked…” (v. 14), and “…The path of the just…” (v. 18).
The just and wise person is warned not to enter the path of wickedness. It is the path of darkness and the way of evil men. The path of the just is “…as the shining light…”. The way of darkness is filled with dangerous, headlong, falls, that lead to death, destruction, deception, and eternal despair. Most of all eternal darkness, separated from God, and His grace, mercy and love.
The path of the just is light filled with visibility. There are falls, but the righteous can fall and rise again to continue in the way of light (Proverbs 24:16). Decisions are made with clarity, and with a cause that will glorify the LORD.
Verses 20- 22 – The child must give heed to the teaching of the parent’s wisdom received from God.
“Then Jesus said unto them, ‘Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” John 12:35 KJV
There is life and light for all who choose wisdom, justness, and righteousness.
“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8; also see Psalm 16:11).
Verses 23-27 – From the e-Sword edition of the Pulpit Commentary we find,
“WHAT IS TO BE KEPT. The heart. In the Bible the “heart” represents what we call the “head” as well as the affections and conscience to which we confine the word “heart;” i.e. it stands for the whole inner nature, the life of thought, feeling, and will. This is the “Town of Mansoul,” and it has the various constituents of a town.
1. Entrance gates. The soul is always receiving thoughts and impulses from without. It is important to see that no adulterated article, no poison, no subject of infectious disease comes in. Debased, false, and immoral impressions must be warded off.
2. Ways of exit. The broad river bears on her bosom argosies from the busy city to many a distant port. Let us see that the cargo is of good wares, in good measure, honestly realizing professions, containing no injurious things. Some hearts export only sham products, some deadly poisons. Deeds, words, even smiles and glances carrying thought and influences out of the soul must be carefully guarded.
3. Internal thoroughfares. The town is a network of streets and passages. Busy thoughts run to and fro in the heart. Let the traffic be orderly, the road well preserved, lest pure thoughts should be smirched with the mire of an unwholesome mental habit.
4. Storehouses. Memory has her treasuries, warehouses, granaries. Let us see that they are not crowded with rubbish, left in disorder, made fever nests by the corruption of any unhealthy contents. Nourishing truths and beautiful ideas should stock them.
5. Factories. In the heart we weave fine webs of fancy see that the pattern has the beauty of holiness; there, too, we forge great engines for future work see that they are constructed on safe and serviceable principles.
6. Halls of amusement. Let them be places of recreation, not of dissipation.
7. Shrines for worship. See that no idol takes the place of the true God, no hypocrisy does service for the incense of spiritual prayer and praise.
8. Graveyards of dead hopes and loves; keep them beautiful with flowers of tender memory. Are there also graves of dead sins? Plant weeping willows of penitence over them.” Pulpit Commentary; e-Sword edition
“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” Matthew 12:35
The point of verses 25 – 27 is for the just to keep their eyes open so as not to end up on the path of darkness and wickedness. See Deuteronomy 5:32.
-Tim A. Blankenship
This is the fourth message in the series SEVEN ABOMINATIONS WHICH GOD HATES.
The Heart Of Imagination
“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
“The heart of the human problem, is the problem of the human heart.”
It is not by accident, nor coincidence that this abomination is at the center of this list. The heart is at the center of our emotions, even our thoughts and actions, are moved by the heart. Now we are not talking about the thing in our bodies that pumps the blood that courses through our veins.
“IMAGINATION —the power of the mind to form a mental image. The Bible uses the word imagination to refer to evil plans, purposes, and thoughts (Gen. 8:21; Jer. 7:24; Luke 1:51). It does not use the word to describe forming mental images of things that do not exist.” Nelsons New Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
“Subtlety in the contrivance of sin, wisdom to do evil, a heart that designs and a head that devises wicked imaginations, that is acquainted with the depths of Satan and knows how to carry on a covetous, envious, revengeful plot, most effectually. The more there is of craft and management in sin the more it is an abomination to God.” Matthew Henry Commentary.
THE CENTER OF MAN’S BEING IS HIS HEART.
God saw in the beginning and told us about it, “…The thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5). Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts…” (Matthew 15:19; See also Mark 7:21). If man’s heart could be changed then the world can be changed.
There is one man who has a pure heart. He gives it to whom ever will believe in Him. According to 1 Corinthians 2:16 those who are “spiritual” have His mind. This means a new heart, new hungers, desires, and longings. Along with the new heart comes the “new mind” and thoughts.
THE PLOTTING OF THINGS IN WICKEDNESS.
To plan to do something which is right and good – godly – is honorable. To plan on doing the right thing is a good deterrent to keep from doing the wrong and evil thing. It is always right to plan right things, and do them with the right motive. Wrong motives come from the wicked heart that devises wicked imaginations.
“Devising” is a word for plotting or planning an evil act or deed. A word that is known today for plotting and scheming is “Designing”. You have probably heart the title “Designing Women” – I believe that is the title of a television sitcom some time ago. The idea of both is to scheme and plot for the purpose of going outside of God’s plan and direction. I find it sad to say, but there is too much of this going on in local churches, and denominations. When we have a gathering of brothers and sisters in Christ who are in Christ, believe God’s Word, and have a common agenda, why do we need to have groups planning who the next President of the Convention is going to be? “Designing” people. “Devising”, “Designing”, these come from one’s own mind. Thoughts like, “How do I get even?”, “How do I force this person out of his/her position so I can work my way in?” “What is the best way to steal money from my employer?, my bank?, my government?” Do you get the picture? Then, people who have this thought pattern set out to “devise” a plan for the events to occur. They will do it secretly; maybe with some help.
The words, “Devise”, “Designing”, “Plotting”, and “Scheming” all have connotations of evil within them. Of course, it will also depend on how the word is seen and used in a sentence.
The good – godly – heart plans to do good and right. Remember the One with the pure heart. Be born again.
WICKEDNESS AND GOODNESS.
The wicked heart devises wicked ways. It does not know good. Evil cannot know righteousness. Even when an evil/wicked heart does a “good” thing there is usually a hidden motive. It is the motive of the heart that really makes the difference.
Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (17:9).
Overcome evil with good, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21). Light always cancels out darkness. Good will always overcome evil – not because of the power of good, but because of the power of the good, holy, and righteous God. It will do that in our hearts as long as the light of Christ is shining – Let it shine in.
THE IMAGINATION OF MAN.
Our imaginations can be used for evil or good. The imagination which God is referring to, and which He hates is the “Imagination” which plots an evil plan for their own purposes, and against God and anything godly. A deliberate act against God. When we know the will of God and deliberately disobey, is that an act of a wicked imagination? The inclination of our hearts is to imagine evil – to manufacture it and perform it. That evil inclination, however, can be changed by a change of will – a supernatural change.
Children’s imaginations are really vivid and quite colorful. We let children imagine, that is why there are so many copyrights and inventions (Patents). The automobiles we drive came along because of someone’s imagination – the train, airplane, etc. Electricity, television, radio, recordings, all came from an imagination somewhere. We have sent men to the moon, because of an imagination or two.
Think of the imagination it has taken in medicine. Forty years ago no one did “Open heart surgeries”, and if it was attempted, it failed with death of the patient. Now it is a procedure that is conducted everyday, and probably many times a day around the world. Now the imagination of man is wanting to play with creating life, and then taking it by means of Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer or SCNT, for the purpose of stemcell “Research?”, supposedly to save the lives of needy individuals, probably more of those who could afford the procedure or have the insurance to cover it. This is the “Wicked Imagination” of which God hates.
The heart that devises a “wicked imagination” is not the heart of God. It imagines doing evil to others for personal gain – in the case of SCNT it is against the life of the embryo on which they will kill to “Research?”. For the most part selfish gain is what is involved in this procedure, this killing of innocent life to supposedly save the life of others. Let us leave the giving and taking of life in God’s hands.
Only Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins, was buried carrying our sins far away, and rising again to life; can change the heart that deviseth wicked imaginations; into a heart that glorifies Him.
In conclusion, shun every vile imagination – plan to do what is right and good. You were born with an evil heart – You can be born again through Jesus Christ and have a new, clean heart. There is no good in mankind – goodness is solely a God thing – it comes from God. In Jesus Christ you receive a sanctified imagination.
-Tim A. Blankenship
“And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak.” 1 Kings 22:14 (KJB)
The king of Judah, the southern kingdom; and the king of Israel, the northern kingdom were joining together to fight a common enemy who was Syria. Jehoshaphat the southern king went to visit Ahab. The characters and hearts of these two kings were completely opposed to the other. Jehoshaphat was a king who did what was right in the eyes of the LORD (22:42-43). Ahab was so wicked he sold himself to do wickedness against the LORD (21:20, 25).
Micaiah, whose name means “Who is like the LORD?” is the same as that of Micah, the name of the prophet Micah of the Minor Prophets of the Bible. I do not think they are one and the same. Micaiah was a captive of king Ahab. Ahab hated Micaiah, because he never spoke favorably to what Ahab desired. He spoke what God said.
In this cooperative effort Jehoshaphat wants to hear what God says about going to battle against Syria. Four hundred prophets; and I would put a question mark around the word “Prophets” in that statement. They only spoke what this king wanted to hear. Jehoshaphat realizing that calls for a different prophet. Micaiah is called, told to speak what the others have spoken, and he says the words of the verse above.
O how we need those who stand in pulpits today to speak the word of God, rather than the words of men. We are told by Paul the apostle to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14-15). Ahab did not care for the truth. Notice his words when Micaiah uses sarcasm to him what he wants to hear, “How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD?” (22:16)
The Christian pastor, preacher, deacon, Bible study teacher, bus driver, etc. needs the resolve, and to resolve to speak the word of God which is truth. It is the only truth worth speaking. Do not add to it. Do not take away from it.
The Truth of God is powerful to change lives. It is powerful to change your life. Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son is the Living Truth (J0hn 14:6). He is alive and well. He loves you so much that He went willingly to an old rugged cross, laid down His life, died, was buried, and He rose again declaring the victory over sin and death. That is the Truth.
Resolve today to receive the truth, live the truth, and speak the truth in love for Christ.
“…The LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness.” 2 Samuel 3:39 b (KJB)
There are battles within kingdoms of men. There are battles which occur within each individual man and woman.
King Saul had died in the battle with the Philistines by falling on his own sword, for fear that the enemy would mistreat him if he were taken alive. David had been chosen as King of Judah, but the other tribes were still being led by the General of Saul’s army, and he had appointed the young son of Saul, Ishbosheth, as king. That is an inside battle. A nation at war against itself.
Abner had been murdered by Joab, David’s General, because Joab because in a battle between the two factions Abner had killed Asahel Joab’s brother. Joab killed Abner in hatred, revenge, and at a time David had made peace with Abner. It was not the act of King David. It was the act of a vengeful Joab.
Joab’s act was a wicked act against God and King David. The words of David in the Scripture of 2 Samuel 3:39 are words that are just and right.
Again the reader is reminded that there are consequences to our actions. Good from good. Evil from evil. We all reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). We need; all of us who take a breath of air; need to flee to the cross of Jesus Christ where, there alone, our sin debt is paid in full.
“The LORD shall repay the evildoer according to his wickedness.”
Our hope; mine and yours; lies in the death, the burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
“Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble? The wicked in his pride does persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire, and blesses the covetous, whom the LORD abhors. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” Psalm 10:1-4 (KJV)
Does GOD ever come into your thoughts? Is your life planned around the godly events that go on in your life? Do you have godly events in your life? I know, what a way to begin a lesson in God’s word. Asking such personal questions. Maybe these are questions we need to ask ourselves. It seems quite clear to me that we do not question ourselves enough concerning our relationship, our fellowship with God; or even if we have either one. It is clear that one who has no relationship with God will have no fellowship with God.
It is the wicked who persecute the poor. It is also the wicked who do not think of God, neither of godliness, of what is right in God’s eyes or wrong in God’s eyes. The wicked bless the covetous; those who are always grabbing for more stuff, more gold, silver precious jewels – more wealth of whatever kind, and at the expense of others.
The wicked are secure in themselves and in their pride and arrogance do not want, neither do they need God; so they think. They are very much like the man Jesus tells us about who built many barns (Luke 12:16-21).
It would not be in error to say, “If you are secure in yourself, you never think of God, nor godly things; you never experience grief over your sins, then you are without God, and you are one of the wicked”. Is there hope for you? Just like for the rest of us; only through the cross of Jesus Christ who was put to death on the cross, was buried, and arose from the grave.
There is no hope for any except through the grace of God displayed in the cross of Jesus Christ.
Let it be certainly known that nothing is hidden or secret to our God and Savior. Jesus said,
“For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.” Mark 4:22 (See Luke 8:17)
We are still looking into the Proverbs of Solomon. Words of wisdom written thousands of years ago by the wisest men who ever lived, and put together in one book by king Solomon.
The verses from Proverbs I share today are the conclusion of chapter 26, and seem to summarize the chapter.
“He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; when he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart. Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.
Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.
A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” Proverbs 26:24-28
More thoughts on chapter 26…
Verses 1 – 12 — Matters concerning the foolish individual.
Verse 1 – The honor of a fool, a foolish person, is about as likely as “Snow in summer”, and as unneeded or as unwanted as “Rain in harvest”. See 1 Samuel 12:17. Verse 2 – See Psalm 32:9.
vv. 4-5 – These seem to be a contradiction; however it is a matter of judging when to be silent and when to speak. Use discernment.
v. 12 – Romans 12:16; Proverbs 29:20
Verses 13 – 16 — A description of the slothful, lazy individual (22:13).
v. 13 – Excuses and difficulties, even dangers of the job are ever the slothful man’s heart and tongue. Note the location of the lion [on the streets]. Typically lions do not inhabit streets, but rather the plains, woods, and fields. (20:4)
v. 15 – Proverbs 19:24
Verses 17 – 23 — The character of the “talebearer”.
From the Believer’s Bible Commentary –
“I am more deadly than the screaming shell of a howitzer. I win without killing. I tear down homes, break hearts, and wreck lives. I travel on the wings of the wind. No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me. I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless. My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea, and often as innocent. I never forget and seldom forgive. My name is Gossip!” Alanta Journal
From the English Standard Version Study Bible –
“Prov. 26:17-22 These proverbs describe a person who uses his words carelessly. Examples include interfering in other people’s arguments (v. 17), deceiving people as a joke without concern for the consequences (vv. 18–19), and gossiping, especially where gossip provokes conflict (vv. 20–21). Verse 22 directly warns the reader that gossip is seductive, and the proverb serves as a bridge to the next section (vv. 23–28), on the liar.” ESV Study Bible note
Verses 24 – 28 — The deceitful, lying hypocrite. Care will be taken by the wise individual when hearing the words of someone who might gain by the telling of lies. Whether the lie be flattery, or denial of a charge one must hear with judging ears, and mind.
The hypocrite’s life ends up being not so secret.
There are many gifts given that are given in sacrifice. Some even given so hopefully to appease a wrathful god who holds a scale in his hands weighing our good and our evil deeds. No one can judge another heart in the matter. But the Almighty God knows.
In a couple of verses we look at today we see what God thinks of sacrifices given by the “Wicked”; and the prayers of the “Upright” or the “Righteous”.
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8
“The LORD is far from the wicked: but He heareth the prayer of the righteous.” Proverbs 15:29 (KJV)
It is good to be reminded of king Saul’s sacrifice (1 Samuel 15), and Samuel’s words to Saul concerning sacrifice,
“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, He hath also rejected thee from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23
Wickedness is the act of hostility toward God, His Word, His messengers, and His works. Who are the wicked? Those who practice such things. For those who are the wicked; God does not honor, remember or bless your “sacrifice”. It is an abomination to Him; and will be counted against you unless you believe Him.
Proverbs 15:29 tells us that “The LORD is far from the wicked”. He is far from them as far as their wickedness is concerned. The place where they lie at night He is there; but they are far from Him.
In both of the verses of Proverbs is mentioned “Prayer”. The prayer of the upright; and the prayer of the righteous. The righteous are those who have heard the Word of God, believed it, received it, and are born into the kingdom of heaven because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“The prayer of the upright is His delight”. The “Upright” are the righteous, and God is delighted– favors, finds pleasure, good will, and acceptance in their prayers. For those who are born again in Christ Jesus it is wonderful to know that He hears our prayers…
“And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14
O turn away from your wicked hostility toward God, His Word, His people, His messengers, and His works. Call on the name of the Lord.
“When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways.” Ezekiel 33:18-20 (KJV)
What do I want for Christmas Today?
I want to live, walk, and stand in the righteousness that is found only through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and to live in His power, glory, and strength; and I want you to join with me; because the righteousness of mankind is as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), and will keep us from GOD.
What do I want for Christmas?
I want to always recognize that the LORD He is God, and rules over the whole world; and I want every person, president, king and nation – even the United Nations to know the LORD is God and that He reigns.
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever. Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.” Psalm 9:17-20 (KJV)
What do I want for Christmas?
That all evil and wickedness be done away with; all wicked politicians, presidents, despots, dictators, all evil rulers; and all the evil among all people, including myself.
Wait on the LORD, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
I have seen the wicked in great power, And spreading himself like a native green tree.
Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more; Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.” Psalm 37:34-36 (NKJV)
Also look at Psalm 37:28, 38.
I thank GOD for His daily mercy, and His grace displayed through His Son Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.
“Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; Shall they fall, and not arise? Shall he turn away, and not return? Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? They hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? Every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle. Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but My people know not the judgment of the LORD.” Jeremiah 8:4-7 (KJV)
Along about Spring, and usually days before the official arrival of Spring, Robins begin showing up in our backyard. A while before Spring the bald eagle leaves, and is not seen until about October in our backyard. It is amazing how one can learn from God’s creation and created order. My how much we can learn from what we call “Nature”.
The prophet being used by the LORD speaks of three different birds of the Palestinian area. The stork, the turtle dove, the crane, and the swallow. They are all what we might call migratory birds, which show up in the Spring, then probably in the Autumn of the year they fly away to a suitable climate for the rest of the year.
How is it that these birds, and others like them know when to go? It is given them by their Creator. We call it “Instinct”; but it is a God-given instinct. They know.
The lesson Jeremiah is giving us, and the question being asked is this: Since the birds know their timing for going; why do God’s people not know the judgments of the LORD? We can be under God’s discipline, and justice, and blame it on weather activity, or inactivity. We experience great numbers of animal attacks on humans, and we call it a “Freak of an animal”, or “animal anxiety” or something, but never the judgment of God.
Humankind is blind to the judgment of God. It has been upon us because we have turned our backs on God, and His Son Jesus. Let me tell you something about the judgment, or justice of God. In Washington, D.C. stands and idol unto “Lady Justice”, she is blindfolded with a set of scales in her hands; symbolizing to us that our justice is blind; meaning it is supposed to be fair to all. Well! God’s justice is much different. He judges with His eyes wide open, and it is just still. Just as He judges with His eyes open; He also forgives with His eyes wide open.
When God judged our sins upon His Son; His eyes were open. When we come to Him broken and contrite (and that is the only way we can approach Him), seeking forgiveness He forgives with His eyes wide open.
We do not have to fear the judgment of God; today’s, tomorrow’s or in eternity. We/You can seek His forgiveness today through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ His only, holy and blessed Son.
“Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert. Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of His hands, He shall destroy them, and not build them up.” Psalm 28:3-5 (KJV)
To be drawn away with the wicked, with the workers of iniquity would be drawing the Psalmist into the pits of hell. That was not his heart, nor his destiny.
The heart of the Psalmist is already established in the LORD. He calls the LORD “my Rock” his faith is in Him, and in no other.
The “wicked” are those who are deceived by their own lust, they are morally corrupt, they are ungodly, wicked, and condemned. These are they who speak well of their neighbors to their face, but will destroy them with an opportunity to prosper at their expense.
The “workers of iniquity” are the wicked. Their endeavors and their words condemn them. They have no regard for God. When the rain falls they are unthankful to the One who alone gives the rain. Of the “Operation of His hands” Spurgeon in the Treasury of David has written,
God works in creation – nature teems with proofs of his wisdom and goodness, yet purblind atheists refuse to see him: he works in providence, ruling and overruling and his hand is very manifest in human history, yet the infidel will not discern him: he works in grace – remarkable conversions are still met with on all hands, yet the ungodly refuse to see the operations of the Lord.
His hands, and His operations are great. He is Awesome and glorious in all His ways. He is in the operations of the universe. He holds the earth on her axis, and the planets and stars in their place. If He were to remove His hands everything would fly apart, and explode into pieces. Do you O sinner not see His mercy? Do you not see His grace given in the sending of Jesus Christ His holy and blessed Son; dying on the cross for our sin debt? O condemned one you need not be “drawn away” with the wicked. Through Jesus Christ He will give you a new heart, and a new life.
“Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren: and all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.” Judges 9:56-57 (KJV)
Jerubbaal is Gideon (Judges 7:1). Who had at least seventy sons, and one by a concubine (Judges 8:30-31) whose name was Abimelech, and he was evidently very jealous of the other sons of Gideon.
Gideon would not accept the position of ruler of Israel; he said “The LORD shall rule over you (8:23). He never intended for any of his sons to be ruler, yet that was what Abimelech desired; and he killed all the sons of Gideon, except for Jotham (9:5).
Jotham warned the people of the plight of Abimelech (vv. 7-21). The above verses confirm that what he said came to pass. There is a Just Reward for all who will destroy those whom God has blessed; and that reward is death.
Lust for power in rule is a sad thing, yet our world is full of it. It is seen in homes, churches, local governments, State governments, Federal governments; and it comes from an evil heart. Even a redeemed heart who leads must keep guard against this lust to rule people. Jesus warned His disciples against seeking to be “first”, and He said if one wanted to do so to be a servant (Mark 9:35).
As followers of Christ, Christians, let us have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:1-7) who did not seek to be served but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). The Just Reward for following Christ is eternal life; given by God’s grace.
“Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.” Psalm 58:1-2 (KJV)
It seems that when men get power they begin to think in their own minds that they are right. No matter what they do it is right in their own minds and heart they are convinced of that. Men and women who get into politics seem to think they better know what is right for the State government or the Federal government; and the people have no clue. They are right the people are wrong.
In David’s case the “congregation” evidently believed they were the righteous ones; but they were against God. They are in fact the wicked, and are working wickedness. It may be that David has king Saul, and his people in mind here.
As followers of Jesus Christ we need to know that “Power does not make right”. Those in authority do not have permission to suddenly change what is right and what is wrong; making right wrong and wrong right. And in the United States of America the Supreme Court does not have the right, nor the power to change the laws of God. Just because they have deemed something legal, does not make it right. They are in fact, before the eyes of God, declared unrighteous, unholy, and wicked.
I want to ask all Christians to pray for our Supreme Court of the U. S. of A. as in a few weeks they will hear arguments concerning “Same sex marriage”; an abomination in the eyes of God, and according to His Word. Let us pray that the court will make a godly decision, and uphold the law of God. If they do not, then they break His law; and are indeed wicked, vile and evil.
O turn to God through His Son Jesus. Hear Him, believe and be saved.
In our world today we hear parents saying things like, “I want the best for my children”, or “I will do whatever I can to protect them from harm”, while at the same time let them live in immorality. Even letting the “Make up their own minds concerning morality or religion.” Parents putting their daughters on birth control pills, so they will not get pregnant is one good example of what I refer. Another is the new vaccine which supposedly protects young girls from getting a cancer which can only be contracted by sexual intercourse prematurely. That is another example.
One of the things I have noticed about God is that He does not prevent us from sinning, in most situations. He does let our sin cause us grief and sorrow.
Therefore do parents do their children good by trying to protect them from means that should teach them responsibility.? It is my belief that it is harmful to their eternal well being to try and protect them from the means that could be used to bring them to God, or to become right in fellowship with Him
Here is God’s Word from the prophet Jeremiah:
“Is Israel a servant? Is he a homeborn slave? Why is he spoiled? The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant. Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head. Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when He led thee by the way? And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor; or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” Jeremiah 2:14-19 (KJV)
God is not as concerned for our physical health or wealth as He is our holiness. He despises sin and wickedness. He despises even more His own people turning away from Him. When we look to other means for safety, such as the people in the prophet’s day were doing in “Take(ing) the road to Egypt…” and “…the road to Assyria” we have turned from the Lord our God.
God is greatly grieved when His own people turn from Him to serve other gods, which are not gods, but only stone, wood, metal, or flesh. Why would the people of God do such a thing? One of the things that was prevalent in Jeremiah’s day was they had grown comfortable, wealthy, fat, and satisfied with themselves. They had the attitude, “We can never fall. We are a God blessed nation. We have the temple of God, and He will never let anything happen to it”.
I look around our Nation today, and I see much of that same attitude. Even though there is the imminent threat of terrorists infusion, bombings, and destruction we still are not trusting our Lord. We have placed more confidence in our economy, our bank account, our government, but where is our faith in God?
Since the bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 we have been under the merciful hand of God. Our Nation has not been attacked within our borders since that time. Is that because of our great government, our President, our wonderful Congress, and Senate? No way. It is due to the mercy and grace of God. However, that mercy and grace protecting us from terrorists attack will be removed. It has been the hand of God. He has been calling us back to Himself, and giving time for others to come to Him. That time may soon be over, then we will see the worst of terrorism.
Our own wickedness, our own backslidings will correct us. God gave a message to the two and one half tribes of Israel who were to settle on the East side of Jordan. After telling they they were to go and give aid to their brethren who were going to settle on the West side, He said through Moses,
“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23 (KJV)
If your life is filled with fear; you are not trusting the Lord. If you are trusting in things, or government for security; you are not trusting the Lord. If you are looking to any thing other than to God; your own sins will correct you. If you are His He will make you holy, and He will do whatever it takes to make you so.
-by Tim A. Blankenship
To Be Called By His Grace…
I. …WE ARE DELIVERED FROM CONDEMNING RELIGION (Galations 1:13-14)
II. …WE ARE CALLED TO A NEW LIFE AND MINISTRY (1:15-17).
III. …WE ARE DEAD WITH CHRIST; YET RISEN WITH HIM (Galations 2:18-21).
EVENING MESSAGE –
When the LORD is Great in Our Lives…
I. …WE WILL GUARD OUR WAYS AND OUR TONGUE (Psalm 39:1-5).
II. …WE WILL BE COMPASSIONATE TO OTHERS (Psalm 41:1-4).
III. …WE WILL REJOICE IN HIS GREATNESS (Psalm 48:1-7; Psalm 54:1-7.
IV. …WE WILL KNOW AND RECOGNIZE THE HEARTS OF WICKEDNESS (Psalm 58:1-5).
V. …WE WILL THIRST FOR GOD DAILY, AND OFTEN (Psalm 63:1-2).
VI. …WE WILL SEEK THE LORD FOR OUR KEEPING (Psalm 64:1-6).
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.” Psalm 27:1-3 (KJV)
What place does fear have in the life of a Christian and/or Christian living? One place; Fearing God is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). Someone has said, “If we fear God we need fear nothing else”.
The Psalmist tells us that the LORD is his light and salvation. If that be so, then whom does the Psalmist need to fear; or who does any Child of God need fear; or what do we need to fear?
We can be troubled on every side. Health, wealth (or lack of wealth worry about paying the rent, house payment, bills), personal attacks from others, even looming death may be one of the things that strike fear into our hearts. There is no benefit from this worry. Worry is nothing more or less than fear. God is our strength.
We need to hear the words of Jesus and trust Him…
“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, ‘What shall we eat? or, ‘What shall we drink? or, ‘Wherewithal shall we be clothed?’ (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:30-34 (KJV)
The following is an article from Kairos Journal…
23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. . .
Acts 17:23-26 (ESV)
In 1799, the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher published On Religion. His seemingly noble aim was to promote Christianity to its “cultured despisers,” people who had moved on from religion. Yet, to remove stumbling blocks, he eviscerated the gospel of many key truths. For similar reasons, in 1984, the then Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus. In an effort to appeal to skeptics, it is all too tempting to downplay “incredible” biblical truths. Today, this temptation is nowhere more apparent than over the doctrine of creation.
Although Paul’s evangelism consistently centered on Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah, the precise way he presented the gospel varied from audience to audience. When evangelizing Jews, he emphasized the biblical text (e.g. Acts 13:13-41), but when preaching to pagan polytheists, he emphasized the doctrine of creation (Acts 14:15-17; 17:22-31). For Paul, the fact that God created everything is foundational to the gospel.
Amongst the Athenian altars to Zeus, Athena, and Demeter, Paul spotted one to the “unknown god” (v. 23); Athens kept its options open and tried to cover every base. Yet, in the midst of this plurality of idols, Paul went on the offensive, proclaiming that the God whom the Athenians did not know is the true Creator of all, the only God. Unlike their pathetic idols, He does not require housing or food (vv. 24-25). Rather, He gives life and a dwelling place to humans (vv. 25-26). In other words, He is not man’s debtor—He does not depend upon the religious devotion of humanity to provide His needs. Quite the reverse: all people depend on Him; all are indebted to Him. Only with this foundation in place could the Athenians have any hope of grasping their debt to their Creator; only then would they fear His coming judgment and repent (vv. 30-31).
The doctrine of creation is integral to the gospel. Modern men and women will never understand their need of Christ as a Savior from God’s wrath if they do not first have some comprehension that they owe their generous Creator everything. Nor will they grasp the wickedness of rejecting Him and running life their own way. Divorced from belief in a sovereign, holy, gracious Creator, the gospel makes no sense at all.
In the face of frequent public ridicule, holding on to the truths of creation requires clear-thinking courage. But, if the gospel is to grow and spread in the modern West, Christians dare not follow Schleiermacher and Jenkins by cutting and pasting the Bible to appeal to the modern mind. Embarrassed silence concerning creation will help no one; if God did not create, Christians have no gospel.
When we “Cut and paste the Bible to appeal to modern mind” we are actually making a god after our own image. Let us stick to the God of the Bible as He presents Himself.
-Tim A. Blankenship
NOW Is the Time to Seek the LORD</>
Hosea 9:1 – 10:15
Herschel Ford has told a story of a man who committed suicide. He was rising higher and higher in a hot-air balloon. He took a knife and began to cut the three ropes holding the gondola to the fabric of the air-ship. A crowd below was watching. They shouted warning after warning. “Don’t cut it”, until he came to the third, and still they were shouting, “Don’t cut it”. He did not listen, and fell to his death.
When people persist in cutting off the strands that keep them in the way of God we commit spiritual suicide. Cutting the cords of God’s love ends in destruction. God continues to warn His people, giving us ample opportunity to turn from our sin and walk in His paths. This period of grace does not last forever. He does and will cut it off, and bring evil to an end.
“Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor. The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her. They shall not dwell in the LORD’S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria. They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto Him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD. What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD? For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles.
The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God. They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore He will remember their iniquity, He will visit their sins.” Hosea 9:1-9 (KJV)
How blind the children of the LORD tend to be when the LORD’S judgment and justice has come upon us. When the Bible speaks of judgment it often puts it in the present tense – as being here. Now!
There was no reason for joy in Israel due to the fact they had left God to walk in the harlotries of other nations. The “other people” were rejoicing in their idol worship – the licentious sexual behavior of Ashtoreth. God’s people were never called on to worship anything but God. To do so was “Whoredom” and wickedness in God’s sight.
The very idea of them actually worshipping Baal was proof of their unfaithfulness to God.
There are seven features of God’s judgment upon Israel listed in verses two through six:
- God would attack the heart of fertility worship by taking away the bountiful harvest (v. 2);
- He would remove them from His land (v. 3);
- He would place them in Assyria in Egyptian-like captivity (v. 3);
- God would bring an end to their wicked worship (v. 4);
- God would cut them off from their appointed feast days (vv. 5-6a);
- They would die in captivity (v. 6);
- God would desolate Israel’s fertility idols and shrines (v. 6).
In verse six “Memphis” is a place in Egypt where the dead are buried. They would die.
“What will ye do?” Hosea asked. How one responds to God’s warning determines one’s eternal destiny.
There is a story told of two brothers who lived in a sheep herding area of Europe. These two brothers were caught stealing sheep. The sentence the community gave them in judgment was that they be branded on their foreheads with the letters S T and understood to mean “Sheep Thieves”. These young men in later years met Jesus as their Saviour and their lives were radically changed. They became a credit to their community; giving help to people in need; aiding struggling city coffers when they possibly could. All the time bearing the marks on their foreheads “ST”. As the years went by one day a young boy with his mother saw these two godly men with “ST” branded on their foreheads; “What does that “ST” mean?” The mother answered her son and said, “I don’t know; but I suppose it means Saint.” There is hope and change for all who will believe God, trust His Saviour and His Word.
The people of Israel were guilty of rejecting God’s prophet, and accepting the foolish jibberish of the paid off cult and court prophets. Calling God’s man a fool. Hosea remained faithful to God, because he was certain of God’s calling and confident of God’s message. The sin and iniquity of the people causes them to hate the message of God and His messenger.
“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.
As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer. Give them, O LORD: what wilt Thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of Mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters. Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto Him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.” Hosea 9:10-17
From the preceding verses we find Israel in persistent rebellion, and judgment will sweep them away.
In verse 10 Israel is likened to a fruitful vine found in the wilderness- and what a magnificent find that would be to a weary and thirsty traveler. They are also likened to a first ripened fig – the best. Made this way by God in His bountiful grace they have chosen to leave this condition in God to serve idols, and destroy their land, their homes, their kingdom, and their relationship with God, who placed them in His glorious position.
They bring shame and their glory flies away as a bird. Their children shall die. The wombs of the women will be fruitless, those who do conceive will never hold a live child in their arms (v. 14). The greatest tragedy of sin is found in verse 12 “…Woe also to them when I depart from them!” For God to depart, to hold back His mercy and grace is catastrophic to His people. They get what they deserve. The blessings they had before was God’s mercy on display.
Verse 15 makes a bold statement of God’s hatred for sin and evil. Israel had given themselves to evil, were bound to evil, and could not get free. The “Wickedness of Gilgal” is a reference to Saul’s rebellion in 1 Samuel 13. King Saul determined to not wait for Samuel, and to offer sacrifice himself. In this he showed much pride, impatience, and rebellion toward the laws of God. He also tried to sacrifice to justify his disobedience (1 Samuel 15), which is also seen of Israel in Hosea’s day.
God would cast them out to be strangers and foreigners in other countries. God loves His people so much He will not allow us to live in unrepented sin.
“Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images. Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: He shall break down their altars, He shall spoil their images. For now they shall say, ‘We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us?’ They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field. The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it. It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel. As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water. The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, ‘Cover us;’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us.’
O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them. It is in My desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows. And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.” Hosea 10:1-11
Now, God says, that, they are an “Empty vine”. This is a drastic contrast to what we found in verse 10 of chapter 9.
Israel had a heart condition. No electrocardiogram would be able to detect the problem. Nevertheless, they had a bad heart. Their heart was divided. God cannot use divided hearts. This compares with the “Double-minded man” of James 1:8 – unstable and unfit for service to God.
The people of Israel had two institutions which were highly esteemed by them; their kings (politics, military, and democracy for us), and their religion. Their kings were unjust and greedy, and their religion was empty and separated them from God, because they were more concerned with ritual sacrifice and offerings rather than a personal relationship with God.
Kings make promises, but do not fulfill them (v. 4). The graven images which they have worshipped will lose their glory – no one will be able to protect them. Who needs a god that needs protection anyway? God is having their idols carried away shows the futility of trusting in them (Isaiah 46:1-5).
“Aven”, mentioned in 10:8 means deception. It has been a place of deception because the people were deceived by their own desires and they strayed from God’s paths. God says, that, He will destroy their sin. The power of sin has been ultimately destroyed by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, and overcoming sins power by His resurrection from the dead. All who refuse God’s way suffers eternal judgment.
Instead of crying out to God for mercy they cry out for the rocks and mountains, “Fall on us” (v. 8; Revelation 6:16).
Because of their stubborn and rebellious hearts they would be as a heifer yoked to hard labor whereas, before their labor had been light and blessed.
“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till He come and rain righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children. So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.” Hosea 10:12-15 (KJV)
The “Fallow ground” of verse twelve is land that had previously been plowed, but now left unused. God’s Word and His Spirit is the plow that is needed to break up the soil of a hard heart (See Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23). Hard hearts cannot yield crops of righteousness and mercy.
It is a prominent theme in Hosea that the children of Israel will reap exactly what they have sown. It is a law of God’s created order to reap what we have sown – and that, no matter the timeline, culture or society which we may live.
Hosea gives us three steps to heal the land:
- Break up your fallow ground (v. 12);
- Put God’s Word in your heart – “sow with a view of righteousness” (NAS v. 12);
- “Reap in accordance with kindness (NAS) referring to the breaking of their hard hearts through repentance and sowing the seed of God’s Word in their lives.
God gives Israel every opportunity to repent. It is God’s desire then to cleanse them, and make them a vessel of His grace. Judgment would come.
“Hosea 9 – 10 reinforces the basic lesson that persistent sin eventually leads to destruction.” Traylor. This is also true for people of the 21st century as well. God’s people (Christians) need to open their eyes and know that the Lord, though He has provided a way into His presence, still calls for His people to repent.
We need to keep this thought in mind; “God loves us the way we are; but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.” He will do whatever it takes to make us holy.
There is only hope for all through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross of calvary – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; Son of the Living God.
-Tim A. Blankenship
The People Deceived and Deceitful
Can you imagine the actions of Gomer when Hosea came to redeem her from the slavery she was in? “I have no need of deliverance” (Proverbs 30:20). Hosea had her best interest at heart. She was relishing her “Freedom”. His interest was Gomer and her healing. Eaten up and ensnared by pagan practices, and worship, which destroyed her relationship with God.
Remember Gomer is representative of the nation Israel, and Hosea is representative of God.
“When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without.” Hosea 7:1 (KJV)
The message is God’s to Israel. “I would have healed you.” His mercy was waiting to work. Even though redeemed they refuse to turn from their evil ways.
The death of Jesus on the cross was the price paid to redeem and heal all mankind, yet people persist in sin refusing to let God do a work of grace and redemption in their hearts and lives.
Because grace is rejected evil continues to work like leaven [yeast].
“And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before My face.” verse 2
Israel was continuing in sin and rebellion against God believing He would not see, He would not punish or chastise. They were dealing falsely with God. If one can be deceitful, and operate falsely with God they can, and will with their fellow man as well.
To think that we can hide our sin and disobedience from God, or to think He does not take notice is completely ludicrous. The psalmist wrote, “Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance” (Psalm 90:8). Only the wicked can believe that God does not, or cannot see our sin, and does not punish it. Ezekiel heard God speak saying, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land’” (Ezekiel 8:12 NKJV Also see Psalm 10:2-11).
God does “Remember” sin. He does not turn away, but it is judged. All sin was for all time judged in God’s Son Jesus Christ. He who rejects God’s Son rejects God’s love, and can expect judgment for his/her own sin – the price is eternal.
“They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened. In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners. For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire. They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto Me.” verses 3-7
There was a familial delight in evil deceit, debauchery and anarchy. Instead of a family or house of God delighting in holiness, and seeking Him; there was a family of deceit. Seeking to seduce and lead others away from, rather than toward the Lord God.
It even seems tha the rulers, both the religious and civil were “Glad” with the wickedness. It is quite likely that there was great financial gain through wickedness. Why else would they be “Glad”? Except for their evil indulgence.
Their passions burned within them; keeping them “Banked” until the time was right – until sin reached its height. Then, like the baker, the fires were stirred and the fires burned hot. Their lust is pictured as an hot oven. Lust is pictured as a burning fire; also in the New Testament. Paul writing to the Corinthians said, “But I say to the unmarried adn to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am [unmarried]; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9 NKJV).
When the time for the putrid party begins the baker [initiator] stirrs the fires, and it becomes a “Flaming fire”. Its leaping, dancing, gyrating flames alluring, inviting the masses to join in.
The ruler are bought and paid for by the wicked. They cannot rule justly. They cannot judge rightly or mercifully. The judges, the kings have fallen. Fallen to their own lusts and greed. Fallen from the way of mercy and justice. They all seek their own way. God says, “None… calleth unto Me.”
“In terms of human relationships, adultery is the ultimate act of deceit, betrayal, and treachery.” (John Traylor).
Evil became such a way of life that anarchy began to prevail. Kings died by assassination, and judges perished by same. If God pulls back his hand, his “Hedge” of protection, and lets man have his own way anarchy rules.
“Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not. And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him for all this.” verse 8-10
Israel turned from the Law of God, and accepted heathen practices. It is hard for many of us to see the picture portrayed in verse eight, “A cake not turned”. The picture is like a pancake, similar to like mothers or cooks prepare everyday for children or visitors to restaurants. A pancake left unturned by its cook. It burns on one side, and is left as dough on the other. It is unfit for consumption, and the best thing to do is toss it out.
They have given themselves to evil. They lose their strength of youth without even realizing it. He has lost his power, because of turning from God to serve self, and does not even notice, that, God is no longer upon him. Sin so blinds that the direction headed, and the direction turned from cannot be seen. It is a great tragedy for the child of God to go on in sin and not realize that God’s Spirit, power and strength has departed.
Even though God continues to reach out to Israel, in pride they reject Him. Their pride is a testimony against them (5:5). We can handle it ourselves while we head to destruction. The LORD hates “A proud look” (Proverbs 6:17).
“Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.” verses 11-12
Have you ever had a bird in your house, or caught in any building? It flies into the windows, the walls, ceiling, and frantically searches for a way of escape. The door can be open, but it wants its own way out. Most times you have to catch the bird, carry it to the door, and then release it. The “Silly dove” is a picture of Israel seeking her own way. Mankind seeking his own way. You seeking your own way. In order to be delivered God must capture her, and show her the way out in His hands of chastisement.
“Woe unto them! For they have fled from Me: destruction unto them! Because they have transgressed against Me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. And they have not cried unto Me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against Me. Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against Me. They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.” verses 13-16
Again God’s heart cry for His people is shown. They flee from God to seek evil, and to their own destruction. They lie about God, and to Him. They “Lie against” God in two ways;
- By denying that Hosea’s message is from God;
- By attributing the blessings of their past to their worship of idols, and a possible third;
- By making God equal with all others.
Even though God has redeemed them they still persist in denial of God’s deliverance and power.
They are returning to ritual. Ritual has no holiness requirements. It has no power to change lives. It makes many other requirements but provides no personal relationship.
Like an archer’s bow that is not true, and curved rightly it will not hit its target, even with the best of archers. The bullseye is missed. The bullseye of God’s glory; “For all have sinned, and come short [missed the mark] of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
There are seven reasons given for the destruction of Israel [Ephraim];
- They were set in their rebellion (v. 13);
- They were set in false witness against the LORD (v. 13);
- Their insincerity in calling upon the LORD (v. 14);
- The committed apostasy in the way they sought for yields or better yields of their crops (v. 14);
- The people “devised evil” against the LORD (v. 15);
- The Israelites did not seek God (v. 16);
- The scornful speaking of the rulers of Israel (v. 16).
“Woe unto them! For they have fled from Me” Beware children of God when you are getting so close to culture, and society you begin to identify more with them than with God. When we begin to call good evil, we are in disagreement with God and in agreement with the world.
-Tim A. Blankenship
In the book of Genesis there is a paragraph of mysterious Scripture. I say mysterious, because, of the various interpretations that have been given of it. My interpretation is not an uncommon one, but I do not believe it is the most popular among us. I think you understand my interpretation by the following commentary on the verses.
“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.’ There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.’ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Genesis 6:1-8 (KJV)
I will be looking at the “sons of God” as being the sons of Adam who were following the commands of the LORD as much as they were empowered to do so. However they were enticed by the beauty, and affections of the “daughters of men” who were the daughters of the ungodly; possibly men who were engulfed by evil in so called magical arts, reading the stars, etc. Christians of today; for the most part; know the commands given by Paul, and from the Old Testament; “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14ff).
The lesson is also taught in the commandments dealing with farming. See Deuteronomy 22:10; because the ox and the donkey have two completely different mindsets. The same is true with a believer and an unbeliever. There will be often excruciating pains and problems related to the differences. Marriage is tough enough without entering into already fully divided.
There is warning given in the above printed verses that “My Spirit shall not always strive with man…” Which seems; at least to me; to be saying their time is short. That mankind of that day had only 120 years until judgment would come on them. The wickedness had grown so monstrous that the holy and righteous One could not put up with it any longer; yet He gives them time to change their ways.
Some may ask, “What were the “Giants in the earth in those days…?” They were possibly those wicked men who were known and popular for their demonism, witchcraft, spells, and other kinds of evil practices. The imaginations of mankind had run wild. Could we not say that also of the day in which we live? I certainly think so.
More and more professing Christians see no wrong in participating the speech, behavior and acts of the world around them. Christians are marrying the “daughters of men”, joining in the practices, and at the same time attempting to worship the Creator.
When the sons of GOD marry the daughters of men evil increases. Good is diminished. The Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ is neglected, rejected, and despised.
Christian we might be complaining of losing our rights as citizens of the United States of America; however, we need to be more concerned that we have lost our power with God. We have lost that because we have joined ourselves with “the daughters of men”, the unrighteous and the unholy.
Thank GOD for His grace. Just as Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD; so too do we all as we come to Him through His Son Jesus. I leave this for you to muse on. God loves you the way you are; however, He loves you too much to leave you the way you are.
-Tim A. Blankenship
For the past six years when our church conducts its monthly Business Meeting I read a portion of Scripture to open our sessions. This past month I read Psalm 12; and verse 8 really “Jumped off the page” and into my heart. It was as though I had never read it before. I post today Psalm 12:6-8, and pray you will see why.
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever. The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.” Psalm 12:6-8 (KJV)
The following are the notes from The MacArthur Study Bible:
“12:7,8 The hostile realities of v. 8 call for the heavenly resources of v.7.”
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:44-50 (KJV)
Jesus gave the price of His former glory, to come to purchase His treasure with His blood. He lived glorifying His Father; died on the cross, was buried, and rose bodily from the grave and is now forever glorified at the Father’s right hand.
There is evil in the world. I do not think there is anyone with a clear and sober mind who would deny that is true. The definition of evil may be different for some people. Some who call evil good; and call good evil (Isaiah 5:20). Our understanding of evil must be based upon how the Word of God explains evil.
It is quite clear from our understanding of Scripture that what Ahab has done is evil. He has hated, and despised God, His Word, and His prophet greatly. There are some who would call the victory of Mount Carmel over the prophets of Baal, “evil”, because they were all put to death. Those who would call that evil are probably haters of God and righteousness.
Ahab was an evil king; the king of the Northern kingdom called Israel; and he had a very wicked wife. This all become more and more apparent as we get into chapter 21 of First Kings. There are a couple of verses I want to post in this article 21:20 and21:25.
First let me give you some background. It seems that the wicked, vile and evil king saw something he wanted, and he sought to get it. It was a beautiful vineyard owned by a man named Naboth. Now, Naboth had reverence for the commandments of the LORD,
“And Naboth said to Ahab, ‘The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.” verse 3
Naboth was thinking of the law of the LORD concerning land ownership and the law of God (Leviticus 25:23). When Naboth refused the land to the king, Ahab went home flopped himself down on his bed, because someone stood his ground; and he pouted and moaned; and I would not be surprised to know that he also cried like a baby who did not get what he wanted at the candy store. Guess what. His wicked wife Jezebel, set him straight, and promised him that she would get that vineyard for him.
Jezebel set about with a scheme – a wicked and vile plan – by which she would break the ninth commandment. “Thou shalt not bear false witness…” She set Naboth up; set up liars against him, accused him of blaspheming God and the king. It is not like she cared for God; because she hated and despised him as did her precious hubby. The accusations stuck, and they took Naboth out of the city and stoned him to death (v.13). Then, she tells Ahab, “Naboth is stoned, is dead, now go and claim your vineyard.
The prophet of fire hears of this evil deed the king and queen has devised and performed; because “the Word of the LORD came to Elijah”; and God’s Word to Ahab is this,
“And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, ‘Thus saith the LORD, ‘Hast thou killed, and also taken possession?’ And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, ‘Thus saith the LORD, ‘In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.” 1 Kings 21:19 (KJV)
The Word of the LORD is spoken thus it shall be done. Notice how the wicked king responds, and Elijah’s response to that,
“And Ahab said to Elijah, ‘Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?’ And he answered, ‘I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.” verse 20
He sees Elijah as an enemy. It should be quite clear to all that if Elijah was his enemy; Ahab hated the Word of God, hated God, and he hated God’s prophet; thus Ahab considered God his enemy. The love of God for Ahab is quite apparent in these verses. He has sent Elijah time and time again to warn him, give him direction, and prove Himself to Ahab, but Ahab refuses the mercy, grace and love of God.
The two verses I mentioned at the beginning, was verse 20, and the last part of that verse,
“I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.” verse 20
and verse 25,
“But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.”
Elijah tells Ahab, “You have sold yourself to work evil in the sight of the LORD”. Just what does it mean to “sell yourself”. When one sells themself; they are no longer the one in control. Their owner is in control. The owner of Ahab, and his wife Jezebel was their lustful, vile, and evil desires for possessions, power and prestige. Ahab sold himself to do evil. He loved evil and hated righteousness.
When Ahab hears the word of God he humbles himself (vv. 27-29). My first thought would be to say that he only humbled himself because he knew he was caught; but God knows the man’s heart. Nevertheless the word of God is true. It will not be voided; it will come to pass just as the LORD has spoken (1 Kings 22:27-29 and 2 Kings 9:30-37). It has been said, “Some sow their wild oats, then pray for a crop failure”. Some may sin against God, His Word and His prophets again and again, but judgment is coming.
O hear the Word of God. Repent of your sins and be saved through the blood of God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Confront the evil of your life today.
-Tim A. Blankenship
There is probably nothing more sure and clear than the title of this post. “Sin in the Church”. To ask, “Is there sin in our churches?” is a very unnecessary question. Where there is a church without sin; it is of their own confession; and not the truth. Besides where there is people there will be sin. By that statement I do not mean to lessen the gravity and seriousness of sin in the church.
In my reading this morning of 1 Corinthians 3 – 12 it was quite apparent that the apostle is writing this church to confront a major problem they have. First of all they seem just a bit proud of their “Spirituality” and “love” since they have tolerated an adulterous affair to continue to go on in their midst (chapter 5).
The apostle addresses their immaturity at first,
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (KJV)
We see there are other problems of sin within the congregation as well, “strife and divisions”, arguing and debating over who is the best preacher, and probably other things. Too many times in today’s society Christians “wear their feelings on their sleeves”, are easily puffed up, easily knocked down, and easily offended. That is the height of immaturity.
Paul’s intent for writing this letter is not to shame or offend this people,
“I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” 4:14-16
We live in a time where “Tolerance” is king. At least much of laws are written with tolerance in mind. What is the idea of tolerance? The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Tolerance” –
1. the act or practice of tolerating; esp. : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from one’s own 2: capacity for enduring or adapting (as to a poor environment) 3: the allowable deviation from a standard (as of size).
Today’s tolerance police would be proud of the Corinthian church. They loved this couple so very much, and were so very tolerant they were about to bring the wrath and judgment of God upon themselves, and the whole church. The apostle was not pleased when he heard of this, and this very well could be the main reason for writing this letter; the “straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak. Hear what Paul told the church to do with the man:
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 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.” 5:4-8
If you will notice Paul’s concern was at least in part for the man to be delivered from this grievous sin. He was also very concerned with what it was doing and would continue doing if the rebelliousness and evil were not dealt with.
There is much to learn and hear for the guidance of the post modern church. There is sin in the church today that needs to be dealt with. I hear of adulterous affairs going on between couples within some local congregations; and if these sins and others are not dealt with then those churches will fall.
The first step in dealing with sin in the church is for each individual to keep their accounts short with God. Read the Bible daily, hiding the word in your heart that you sin not against the LORD. By taking heed to the Word of God their is cleansing and forgiveness.
To tolerate sin in one’s own life is not love; that is arrogance. To tolerate sin within the church is not love, nor is it spiritual; it is pride and rebellion.
-Tim A. Blankenship
Someone might say, “There are no false prophets today.” My action toward that remark would be to tell that individual to remove the blindfold. In reading the prophets of God we find the example of false prophets, and they are quite plentiful today as well.
The true prophet of God seeks first, to glorify God and His message; and second to warn God’s people of their sins; and third to call them to repentance; at whatever the price – even his own life. The false prophet seeks to ease the hearts of the people through encouragement in their trials and pains that are actually for their chastisement. I agree that there are times the preacher of God needs to encourage the people; the encouragement we give needs to be according to the Word of the LORD, not fanciful, psychological, mumbo-jumbo seeking to the ease of pain and trial. The encouragement from God will be to get people to love the Word of God; and loving Him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.
In my reading this morning – Ezekiel 10 – 23 – I noticed several instances of God’s rebuke of the false prophets and teachers, and this is what I believe needs addressing.
One of the things I read in Ezekiel is the continued use of a phrase, “[they, you,] shall know that I am the LORD”. Throughout the prophecy, beginning in chapter six, that phrase is used over sixty times. The reason, Ezekiel stresses, for Israel’s captivity and judgment is so that they will know that God is the LORD.
God says to the prophet Ezekiel,
“Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, ‘The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off. Therefore say unto them, ‘Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘There shall none of My words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done,’ saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 12:26-28 (KJV)
Also hear what the LORD says of the prophet who is deceived, and deceives the people,
“And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of My people Israel. And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him; that the house of Israel may go no more astray from Me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be My people, and I may be their God,’ saith the Lord GOD.” 14:9-11
If you will notice the people who went seeking the false prophet and his prophecy would be held to the same end as the prophet himself.
At least twice God tells the elders who come to Ezekiel to inquire of him, “I will not be inquired of by you.” (20:3, 31)
Also notice what God says to the priests and the prophets in chapter 22. I will let you get out the Scriptures and read that for yourself. Notice the “daubing… with untempered mortar”. Have you ever seen whitewash. Can you imagine laying brick, or even patching brickwork with whitewash, yet that is what the false prophets do.
The LORD will not long tolerate the wickedness of the false prophet/preacher. He will not hold him guiltless who leads people astray, making the evil believe they will live, and making the righteous feel they will die. The false preacher calls evil good, and good evil.
Turn to the Lord Jesus Christ today. Repent of your sins, believe and live.
-Tim A. Blankenship
From a different setting of things two people can see the same thing or event in a slightly different way. That is the way of the gospels of the New Testament. It is also the way of the prophets we will look at today. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were men in two different locations. They are contemporary with the other. One, however, Jeremiah is in Judah or Jerusalem preaching and calling the people to repentance; while Ezekiel in in Babylon as a captive of Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom; along with king Jehoichin.
Jeremiah’s message in Lamentations seems to have taken place after the city of Jerusalem is defeated, the walls broken down, the temple destroyed, and the precious articles for temple worship taken away. We can see Jeremiah’s being known as “the weeping prophet” as we read the laments that are written there. Ezekiel speaks to the people as God gives him visions, and acts for illustration. Ezekiel’s message would be mostly to the people who are captive in Babylon, or the written message to be taken back to those still in Jerusalem.
My reading, if you have not figured it out by now, was Lamentations 1 – 5 and Ezekiel 1 – 9. These prophets being contemporary with the other are coming from different perspectives, yet pretty much with the same message. Jeremiah wrote his prophecy trying to save as many lives in Judah as possible, calling people to turn from their idolatrous worship, by turning back to the LORD of hosts. Ezekiel sees the need for the people of Israel/Judah to realize that the LORD is the LORD.
Jeremiah was allowed to stay behind with a remnant of people, and the laments are written as he sees the city broken down, destroyed and forsaken;
“How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits. The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy. And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer. Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths. Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward. Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter. O LORD, behold my affliction: for the enemy hath magnified himself. The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things: for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter into thy congregation. All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul: see, O LORD, and consider; for I am become vile.” Lamentations 1:1-11 (KJV)
The prophets heart is grieved because of the cities destruction, but he knows it is due to her transgressions. She has sinned against the LORD, been given many opportunities to repent and change, yet has continued in debaucherous rebellion against the loving, merciful LORD of hosts.
The prophet Ezekiel is taken by the hand of the LORD, in a vision to Jerusalem, and sees the wickedness going on there in the face of judgment,
“And He put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.” Ezekiel 8:3 (KJV)
By way of a vision the LORD took Ezekiel back to Jerusalem and showed him the evil that was taking place at that time in their previous “glorious city”. The “Ancients of the house of Israel were saying, “The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.”
We do see in these to priests and prophets that there perspective is different, their views are different, but the message of God is still the same. The people of the land have forsaken the LORD. There is a need for cleansing, healing and renewing.
A different view? One was viewing from Jerusalem [Jeremiah]. The other was viewing from Babylon [Ezekiel].
The LORD of hosts, who holds the world, the universe in His hands will not tolerate evil in His people. He will not allow His children to live successfully in sin. He will judge our sin. It has already been judged in His Son Jesus Christ. However, when a Christian sins willfully, there remains no more sacrifice for sin. As it is written, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
-Tim A. Blankenship
Today marks our halfway point in 90 days of reading through the bible. We will have 45 more to go. It has been a blessing, and a challenge.
My reading today took me from Psalm 136 through Psalm 150 finishing the reading of the Psalms, and by reading 15 Psalms today. There is much mention of the term “Mercy” in the Bible; and in Psalm 136 it is framed in every verse; with the phrase, “For His mercy endureth forever”. And so it does.
There are two acts of God that are confused at times; and they are mercy and grace. There is much said of both.
I know an individual who frequently uses the word “Mercy” when someone says something that might be considered shocking. Both mercy and grace are needed by humanity. We need to receive both, and we need to practice both; but only God can give them in all their fulness.
Let me give you a definition of each one, then, we will deal with the mercy of the Psalms. First, “Mercy”, the way I understand it is; not receiving what we justly deserve – which is the wrath of God. Secondly, “Grace” is receiving from God what we do not deserve – that is His love, His mercy, His presence, power, glory, His Son, His redemption. Only those who submit to Him, His Word and the work of His Son Jesus on the cross experience His grace.
God gives the human race His mercy everyday. If He were to become unmerciful He would destroy the whole of creation, and there would not be one living person left. Because of the gift of His Son we can be assured that will not happen. Jesus Christ has paid the sin debt that humanity owed to God.
In Psalm 136 all 26 verses give tribute to the mercy of God. His mercy endures forever. There is nothing like His mercy.
We find that we are to give thanks for His mercy,
“O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the God of gods: for His mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for His mercy endureth for ever.” Psalam 136:1-3 (KJV)
We find His mercy in the wonders that He performs; and in the Universe He has created –
“To Him who alone doeth great wonders: for His mercy endureth for ever. To Him that by wisdom made the heavens: for His mercy endureth for ever. To Him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for His mercy endureth for ever. To Him that made great lights: for His mercy endureth for ever: the sun to rule by day: for His mercy endureth for ever: the moon and stars to rule by night: for His mercy endureth for ever.” 136:4-9
In His mercy God gave Egypt the chance to “Let My people go”, but they would not; so His mercy was displayed in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt –
“To Him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for His mercy endureth for ever: and brought out Israel from among them: for His mercy endureth for ever: with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for His mercy endureth for ever. To Him which divided the Red sea into parts: for His mercy endureth for ever: and made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for His mercy endureth for ever: but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for His mercy endureth for ever.” 136:10-15
God was merciful when He was leading His people through the wilderness. There was many a time He would have destroyed them, but His mercy endured, and He delivered them, and took them to the land He had promised. Read verses 16 – 22.
The psalmist even goes on to state for all who are under His purview are provided for by Him –
“Who giveth food to all flesh: for His mercy endureth for ever.” v. 25
All of creation, God’s created order; whether they believe in Him or not; whether they are good or evil, are recipients of the mercy of God. O, wicked man; you deny God’s mercy and grace, yet you breathe His air, you walk on His dirt, you experience His gift of your beating heart; when He could at a word, stop it, and send you into a dark and Christless eternity.
“O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for His mercy endureth for ever.” v. 26
As the Psalm began,so it ends. With thanksgiving to the One who is merciful. How will you thank Him today. Begin by receiving His gift of grace given us in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, and His death on the cross, His burial, and bodily resurrection.
-Tim A. Blankenship
Remembering that God is gracious should not be too difficult of a matter. However, when we as human beings and as Christians get side tracked from the obvious, ie., God’s grace; it is generally due to blessings we have received. We tend, at times, to be side tracked, and caught up in the blessing rather than the Blesser.
My reading for day 12 consisted of Deuteronomy 1 – 14. The reading of Deuteronomy is of Moses reminding the children of Israel of the events of the past 40 years wandering in the wilderness. He reminds them of their deliverance from Egypt; of times when God supplied them water; when there appeared to be no water. How God supplied them bread when there was none to be had; and He, the LORD, gave them Manna – bread from heaven; and they ate it each day. He reminded them of their past failures; particularly of their sin with the golden calf. He also reminds them of God’s grace; and His promises to give them a land “flowing with milk and honey”.
“Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, ‘For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land:’ but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.” Deuteronomy 9:4-6 (KJV)
In the four hundred plus years since Jacob entering Egypt God was providing grace to the people of the land of Canaan. Someone may ask the question, “Does scripture tell us that anywhere?” I do not have a particular verse or verses in mind, but scripture always assumes and promotes the wonderful grace of God; so that is what I stand on here. While God is preparing Him a people, a nation of people He is also giving the nations in Canaan opportunity to repent; but rather than repent their sin escalates toward destruction.
God reminds Israel of His grace by reminding them that He is giving them this land, and driving out its inhabitants; not because Israel is a righteous people, but because of the “wickedness of these nations”. God does know that the children of Israel are a “stiffnecked” people – a stubborn, obstinate, rebellious people. Yet, God in His grace blesses them with His grace.
God has blessed the world with His grace. It is available to all who will believe in, trust His Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins, was buried – carrying our guilt and condemnation away, and rose bodily from the grave to ever live making intercession before the Father for all will believe.
Grace is God’s undeserved favor toward those who believe in Him.
People today are a stiffnecked, obstinate, stubborn and rebellious people. We are undeserving of God’s grace, yet He offers it freely to all who will trust in His Son and His finished work. Jesus said,
“This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” John 6:29
The presence of God, His glory, and righteousness is for us because of the cross of Jesus, His burial and bodily resurrection. Remember God’s Grace.
-Tim A. Blankenship