Friday, May 28, 2010

One Door And Only One...

Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. (Deu 28:6 KJV)
Going in and coming out;  The language suggests an image of one thing. A door. This is a device that allows one to come and to go at will. It is indicative of one of those core values we all treasure. Freedom. There is a door however, that only allows a one way passage, and that is a prison door. Passage through that door allows only a one way passage into the house of bondage. There are only two routes of egress, having done one's time and served a sentence. The other way is to escape.

But what about a third way? Get a better door! Jesus said this:
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. (John 10:7 KJV)
There are many doors of opportunity in life. We are completely free to choose which ones we enter. But how many of them are merely cleverly disguised prison doors?

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.  (Pro 14:12 KJV)
Jesus made the claim of being THE door. There are many times in life that we find that the decisions we've made have landed us in bondage. Sin, sickness, poverty, depravity.  The list can go on and on.  Jesus gives us a way of escape. He also said this:

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luk 21:36 KJV)

He, along with vigilance in prayer causes a third door, yet the only REAL door to be present in all situations. All it takes is to pass through...

So, how about it?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

One Coin, Two sides

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Pro 14:12 KJV)
It has been on my mind of late, that as far as overt wickedness and perversion goes, there are far less than six degrees of separation today. It touches all our lives in some way. We all know someone who is entangled in a wicked lifestyle, or know someone who knows someone... Or perhaps it is we ourselves.

There is a lot of confusion, no doubt deliberately sown into society about the difference between right and wrong. It has even found it's way into churches all across the country. It is ironic that the Bible contains no such ambiguity. In my daily devotion, it was in my schedule to re-read Romans chapter 1. It was striking to me how much the writer, Paul, the same penman that wrote so eloquently on grace, sounded so 'old testament'.

There are many today in Christianity who would simply like to explain away Paul's opening remarks to the believers in Rome, as being merely idiomatic, or allegorical. Others say that it is merely mistranslated. Usually these remarks originate from those who are engaged in one or more of the behaviors that are enumerated within the passage. The 31st verse seems to put a huge exclamation point on all that he was expounding upon earlier in the chapter.

We seem to be living in an era of 'sloppy agape' and 'greasy grace'. Make no mistake. God is the God of love and grace. He is also profoundly patient, but there is a limit to such. Within hours of reading this remarkable chapter, I happened upon a truck stop chapel marquee bearing the following byline:
'Do not confuse God's patience with the final outcome.'
It struck me how much this meshed with what I had just been reading. Many in the body of Christ have been coasting along blithely resting in grace, while engaging in practices that have been clearly outlined in scripture, both old and new testaments, as being off limits for a Godly people. In light of the following verse, I have to honestly include myself from time to time in this company:
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, (Eph 5:15 KJV)
Circumspection simply means to take inventory of yourself, your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Do they line up with the word of God? If so, then good. Continue on in the faith. Where we get tripped up is when we react to conflicts by changing God, or at least our perception of Him. I heard a brother in Christ in the entertainment industry, Kirk Cameron, assert that to build a mental image of God in any other way than what the scriptures teach constitutes idolatry. This violates the very first of the ten commandments. Serious business.

I had someone recently endeavor to explain to me how Romans chapter one was mistranslated from the original language and that it did not at all mean what it said particularly the part about homosexuality. My mouth fell to the floor and continues to fall whenever it comes to mind. I got out my e-sword program and looked up the passage in as many translations as I could, including the Greek rendering. Hundreds of scholars over hundreds of years, and hundreds of translations must have gotten those two verses wrong. I am being facetious, of course. My conclusion is that the Bible means exactly what it says.

Romans chapter one is far from being merely a treatise against homosexuality only. There is a very comprehensive list of spiritual conditions along with an even greater list of amoral symptoms. It is significant however that homosexuality occupies two whole verses in this very economical passage. In fairness though, I believe it behooves us to examine the passage as a whole, in order to get a greater contextual picture.

Let us begin at verse 17, the previous 16 being primarily Paul's greeting to the church at Rome. This verse contains a statement that has become a touchstone for the Church: 'The just shall live by faith'. It certainly does not say that the just shall live by what seems right in their own eyes. The book of Judges chronicles the sad account of a people that did this and the moral depravity that was the result.

Faith on the other hand, 'comes by hearing, and hearing, the Word of God'. We cannot build our faith by cherry-picking. Either all of the Bible is true and applicable, or none of it is. There is no middle ground, yet many, many of the so-called seeker sensitive churches try to find or create a gray area. It is a double standard and is intellectually dishonest to think otherwise. If you knew a person who was known to lie, would you have any regard for what they have to say? Yet people approach the Holy Scriptures all the time with this very same mental dichotomy.

The next verse puts an even more profound punctuation to it. The nature of God has been revealed to man, in his heart, and in God's very creation, the very creation that men mistakenly worship, as we see later. Paul states it plainly. We are without excuse. On that Day, what will be the excuse of many? I'm sure there will be some, but they will probably die, unsaid on the lips of those about to offer them. The writing was mistranslated? I was taught wrong? I don't think any of these things will have any traction.

I didn't write it, I simply embrace it as God's Word.

Rom 1:19-31 seems to give us a logical progression, or a downward moral descent. It's track goes from knowing God to a completely Godless existence. Paul is recounting the downfall of Israel, yet the application is universal. It applies to all nations, tribes, tongues, and individuals. Let's examine the steps:

  • They had known God v.19-20. This is a very damning indictment, one that all believers should be conscious of. Having known God, and His nature, laws, precepts, etc., and having departing, sets one up for all the dark and dismal conditions subsequent.
  • They did not glorify God v.21 How often are we guilty? I mean, really how often? How often do we fail to give glory to God for the good things in our life? How often do we ascribe them to luck, fortune, or our own hard work? This verse should give pause for contemplation.
  • They were thankless v.21 There is no thanksgiving where proper glory is not given. This seems a next logical step into a downward spiral. Thankfulness to God is vitally important to spiritual growth, health, prosperity, and happiness.
  • They had vain imaginations v.21 In my last blog post, we explored in detail the pitfalls of an unproductive thought life. One of the seminal verses on the subject that Paul also penned is found in 2Co 10:5, Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
  • They became foolish v.21 Many times throughout scripture, foolishness is equated with Godlessness, or a lack of Godly wisdom. In light of this, would it be a good idea to seek wisdom as James 1:5 says? Solomon said that to seek wisdom is the principal thing, Proverbs 4:7.
  • They were sophomoric (wise fools) v.22 The word sophomore is derived from two Latin roots that literally means 'wise fool'. It seems a contradiction in terms, however this is the very language that the scripture uses. The wisdom of the ungodly is in fact utter foolishness. To think otherwise is to indulge in that same foolishness. To seek God in all matters, on the other hand, is wisdom.
  • They engaged in idolatry v.23 Idolatry typically follows foolish thinking. Oh, we are not carving idols out of wood or minerals for the most part, but are there things in life that are taking the place of God? Circumspection needed in this area...
  • They became perverted in their bodies v.24 Sexual immorality and idolatry nearly always went hand-in-hand together. History bears it out. Have things really changed all that much?
  • Worshiped creation, not the Creator v.25 Paganism, Animism, Nature worship, all permutations of idolatry. We see a secular form of these same practices on the rise today in the form of environmentalism and humanism. As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun...
  • Engaged in homosexual practices, both male and female v.26-27 Taken in the context given here, there can only be one interpretation of these two verses. There really is no ambiguity to the honest reader.
  • They set God aside in their thinking v.28 Since the 1960's God has been systematically removed from the public market. This effort continues to this day. The God-haters have and continue to make giant leaps in this direction, despite many attempts to forestall them.
  • Were set aside by God in return v.28 This is the end result of this slide into darkness. God removes his hand, turns his face away, and destruction comes. This is always the result. We see it taking place throughout the world today. The more we stray from God, the more frequently tragedy strikes. Watch the news!

The logical result: v.29-31

We can clearly see a long slide into apostasy. These things never occur in an instant, rather slowly over time, beginning with one small compromise. One compromise makes it easier for the next, and the next, and so on. This applies to individuals as well as nations. Churches are not immune. After all, Paul was writing to a group of believers.

The last four verses provide a symptomatic overview of society once this process has run it's full course. It is a fairly comprehensive list. Let's take a look, and see if any of these conditions fit our modern world; Or ourselves:

Sexual promiscuity has been like a canary in the coal mine, heralding the downfall of many great civilizations throughout history. Over the past 50 or so years, this has been on an exponential increase. There are many many social ills that spin off from this one root cause: illegitimate birth, sexually transmitted disease, abortion, crime amongst teens, the list goes on. Is any of this going on in America?

Wickedness Webster defines wickedness as; Departure from the rules of the divine law; evil disposition or practices; immorality; crime; sin; sinfulness; corrupt manners Wickedness generally signifies evil practices. The word is actually derived from wicker, which means twisted. We see many ministers, particularly of the seeker-sensitive variety actually twisting the Word of God, in order to salve itching ears. Biblically speaking, this is wickedness.

Covetousness Webster also defines covetousness; A strong or inordinate desire of obtaining and possessing some supposed good; usually in a bad sense, and applied to an inordinate desire of wealth or avarice. We are immersed in a world where literally every decision that is made, both on a personal level as well as societal, is based on money. It's not that money is intrinsically bad, but the scripture tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil.

Maliciousness, the disposition to injure, or cause injury. Is this a problem? Watch any prime time television lately? The desensitization has been at work for decades. Then we wonder that children are taking weapons to class and massacring their class mates. Again the examples are innumerable.

Envy American consumerism is completely driven by envy. Our social structure, and how government is able to manipulate the masses is driven by class envy. The 'haves' versus the 'have nots'. We against they. The Bible warns in many places against this type of behavior.

Murder is condemned in every civilized society and many aboriginal as well. Yet it continues to be a problem on the rise. Where there is no morality taught and adhered to, there is no value for life, and murders will reach epic proportions. Murder isn't the problem, merely a symptom of the problem... Lack of God-consciousness.

Debate- Webster's definition: Contention in words or arguments; strife in argument or reasoning, between persons of different opinions, each endeavoring to prove his own opinion right, and that of his opposer wrong; dispute; Strife; contention. To engage in combat. Is this a problem today? There are people everywhere, both in and out of churches who seem to be quite willing to argue over anything. Simply put, this is strife, and is the enemy of peace. Some things just need to be let go.

Deceit Lying is done out of hand these days. There is no honor in a man's word. Lawyers and barristers get rich off of creating and destroying long, verbose contracts. Truth seems to have no place in everyday dealings now. Lying is forbidden by God, among the same ten commandments that murder is.

Malignity- Webster's definition: Extreme enmity, or evil dispositions of heart towards another; malice without provocation, or malevolence with baseness of heart; deep rooted spite.
1. Virulence; destructive tendency; as the malignity of an ulcer or disease.
2. Extreme evilness of nature; as the malignity of fraud.
3. Extreme sinfulness; enormity or heinousness; as the malignity of sin. This hardly needs further comment. It is merely another aspect of moral depravity.

Whispering- Albert Barnes' commentary treats it like this: Whisperers - Those who secretly, and in a sly manner, by hints and inuendoes, detract from others, or excite suspicion of them. It does not mean those who openly calumniate, but that more dangerous class who give hints of evil in others, who affect great knowledge, and communicate the evil report under an injunction of secrecy, knowing that it will be divulged. This class of people abounds everywhere, and there is scarcely any one more dangerous to the peace or happiness of society. Perhaps another way to view this is gossip. Again, the Bible roundly condemns it.

Backbiting Another aspect of gossip and whispering. Forbidden in the life of a believer. It will halt your prayer life. That old saw that your mother used to say bears repeating: If you can't think of something good to say, then say nothing at all.

God haters I never really understood as a boy how this could be, but in my nearly half-century on this sod, I have come to witness first hand those who hate God. It is still difficult to wrap my mind around, but we do, in fact, have a generation of people alive in America, who shake defiant fists in the face of God. Some of them are even in our government. God has this to say to them: And repayeth them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hateth Him, He will repay him to his face. (Deu 7:10 KJV) I would not want to be one of them...

Despiteful Matthew 7:12 says: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Yet, the rules of the road nowdays seem to be the opposite. Looking out for number one is what is taught to the youngsters. There seems to be no milk of human kindness anymore..

Proud, Boasters This has been on the rise so swiftly that the change in society is profound. Yet pride is one of the big sins the Bible talks about. I believe the Catholics call it one of the cardinal sins. Pride is the enemy of repentence. What is there to repent of if one is never wrong?

Devising evil things Conspiracy and conspiracy theories abound. Organized crime is on the rise rather than in decline, yet no one seems to want to prosecute the criminals, only disarm the victims. This seems oddly backwards.

Rebellious to parents This is actually being taught systematically in our schools and universities. Again in defiance of one of the ten commandments. And yet again people are horrified when violence breaks out amongst our youth.

Lack of understanding Ignorance gone to seed, is how one of my friends characterized it. Dumbing down seems to be the fashionable thing to do nowadays. Original and free thinking on the other hand, seems to be under vicious attack. Those who seek Godly wisdom are nearly viewed as enemies of the state. Oh how we've abandoned our founding principles.

Covenant breakers As I alluded to earlier, there is a burgeoning industry that centers around reading small print and hunting loopholes. A man's word is no longer his bond. Tragically this has only occurred within the last two or three generations. In my granddad's day, a handshake and a promise was an ironclad contract. Not so today.

Lacking any natural affection The thing this brings most readily to mind, is abortion, child abuse, child neglect, and other such crimes against humanity. God did not create us this way, it only comes through a hardening of the heart.

Implacable Webster defines this as: The quality of not being appeasable; inexorableness; irreconcilable enmity or anger. When I was a kid, 'anger management' was a term that nobody then could have conceived of. Now, it's common household term. Courts routinely sentence offenders to attend these courses.

Lacking in mercy This may be the final nail in the coffin. Much of what was previously discussed could probably be contained in this final indictment. Nobody seems to get a break from anybody now days, even if the offense was unintentional. Ancient wisdom tells us this: It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel. (Proverbs 20:3)

As I mentioned at the opening of this bloated post, verse 31 really lowers the boom. One of the most common arguments against what we are discussing is “Don't judge”. The fact of the matter is, they are already judged. Both by themselves and the choices that they have made, and by the Supreme Judge. They KNOW the judgment of God, and according to this verse, are worthy of death. I don't judge, and don't need to judge. It's already done.

It's not enough though, that they do such things, They seek others who do them. Seekers. And as Paul said in his letter to Timothy: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (2Ti 4:3 KJV)


As we can see in this short span of verses, the progression was from knowing God to a complete and utter lack of knowledge of God. Can this happen to a nation? It has been historically documented to have happened many times. As Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In this modern age of rapid information exchange, and the ready availability of the Word of God, we really have no excuse.

Can this happen in a person's life, in the course of a life time? Can it happen to a believer? Verse 28 declares that God gave over His chosen people to a reprobate mind. Here, we see it more succinctly in another portion of scripture: For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Heb 6:4-6 KJV)

This is serious business gang. It's no small matter to turn away from God, or His laws and precepts. As we can see from our Israelite examples, that God is patient, but not infinitely patient. There is an end. We can see in our modern world that the End of All Things is near, and God's forebearance is winding down. Like the sign said: 'Don't confuse God's patience with the end result.'

God is the embodiment of love and mercy, but He is equally the embodiment of justice. Both sides of the same coin, so to speak. Let's not trip ourselves up trying to reconcile our own idealized contradictions in the supposed nature of God's character. Rather let us simply accept what He has to say about Himself, and us.

Seek Him, not acceptance from some group.

Listen to Him, not having itching ears.

Obey Him rather than our own flesh.

Accept Him as Lord and master.

Let's go to Heaven, shall we?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Tale Of Two Kingdoms

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (Php 3:13)
This is a beautiful passage, one that speaks of redemption, forgiveness, and hope.  I like to think of it as the "do-over" verse.  It's always good to get a "do-over", isn't it?  It reminds us that our past sins are forgiven. Forgotten.  As the Psalmist says:
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psa 103:12)
And the prophet Isaiah:
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. (Isa 43:25)
It reminds us that we are made free to move ahead into the future, absolved from the weights of the past.  There are plenty of failures to forget, we all have them.  No one gets a free pass here, but God says in his word that if they are under His blood, then they don't even exist as far as He is concerned.

But what about the successes and achievements of the past?  It is good to remember the successes, but is it good to rest on one's laurels? Not necessarily.  Now the Patriarchs often erected memorials to God by raising standing stones.  They also carved memorials onto their staffs.  Whenever you see a passage where one of them 'leaned upon his staff', they were remembering the good things God had done for them.  This is a good utilization of our thought life, as far as it goes.

What we are really focusing on is idleness in the life of a believer.  Another way of viewing it would be a lack of spiritual growth, or lack of progress in one's calling.  Self satisfaction and complacency are all too common of failings in the human family.  It occurs with little effort at all, and it takes a conscious effort to correct.

Let's take a look at the lives of two kings in scripture.  They were two different types of men, ruling two different kingdoms, even in different eras:
And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies; That the king said unto Nathan the prophet, See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains. (2Sa 7:1-2)
The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? (Dan 4:30)
Here we see snapshots of two kings, with two different heart conditions.  David had a heart for God. He desired to build a grand temple for God, a better dwelling than his own.

Nebuchadnezzar by contrast was a selfish man, desiring to glory in what he had built, to magnify his own name.

In both of these cases we see them in a similar situation.  God had blessed both of them, established their kingdoms, and given them peace from all enemies.  But we can also see in the different accounts that they simply “too much time on their hands”.

We see the sad tale of David's downfall in 2 Samuel 11-12.  God had blessed him.  God had established his kingdom in Saul's place.  God had given him victory over all his enemies

Nebuchadnezzar had a downfall as well:
While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws. (Dan 4:31-33)
God had also blessed him and established his kingdom.  He had also given him victory over his enemies.

The common problem here seems to be idleness, or maybe better described as lack of forward momentum.   Both were resting in the glow of achievement.  In the case of David, in God's blessing:
And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies; (2Sa 7:1)
Nebuchadnezzar's problem lie in his own arrogance:
The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? (Dan 4:30)
In David's case, his idleness got him into trouble by allowing himself to put his eyes and mind where they did not belong as we see in 2 Sam 11-12, the account of Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite.

Nebuchadnezzar's problem was with a sense of self pride and infallibility.

The penalty for David's downfall was conflict that would plague his family for generations.  Amongst his own children there was murder, rape, incest, and attempted regicide.

Nebuchadnezzar's penalty was in his own flesh, as we read in the earlier passage.  Some sort of weird lycanthropic disease or mental condition plagued him for seven years, also depriving Babylon of a king.

Trouble can come through idleness, or pride one's accomplishments.  Simply put, if you're not going upstream, then you're going downstream.

Can a Christian be tripped up like these two kings?  There can only be one correct answer to this question.  It is a human tendency to live in the glow of success, but the Bible calls this pride.  It is good to glorify God for all the things He has done, but never to glorify self.  It is God who 'exalts in due season'.

There is a saying: “An idle mind is the devil's workshop”.  It's not a scripture, but it certainly contains some good old common sense.  This is something we know innately to be true.  It's a good thing to stay busy, working with one's hands, etc.  Productivity is good.  But it's not always enough. Keeping one's heart and mind on God is extremely important, the most important thing, and can often be crucial in averting disaster.

We can all call to mind some high profile minister that has stumbled and fallen from grace.  In most cases they repented, but their name as well as their ministry was diminished, and was never quite the same.  Pain and difficulty was caused among their families and flocks.  It did not just “happen” one day, we only heard about it in a day. It all started with just a thought that grew, developed into an action, then a series of actions.  The Bible admonishes us, 'Be sure your sins will find you out', as David discovered.  Disaster strikes, and the tragedy is that it is completely avoidable.

Lest we judge too harshly, it could happen to any one of us.

In light of all this, are there ways to avoid these types of pitfalls in the life of a believer?  The Bible gives us many, many tools.  But let's explore a few of the main ones here.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2Co 10:3-5)
Recognizing that the conflict is spiritual is absolutely critical if we are going to deal squarely with our issues.  No amount of 'white-knuckling it' will ever completely avert disaster.  We need to recognize our strength is in God.

Looking at the verse above lays the ax to the root, so to speak.  What are things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God?  In a nutshell, Things that violate His law, or are contrary to His Word.  Things or people that seek to take His place can also exalt themselves against God.  There is no shortage of unsolicited advice in the world.  Not that all advice is bad, but it has to square with scripture in order to be beneficial.

A lifestyle that practices a Godlessness can exalt itself against God.  Conversely, practicing the presence of God will nearly always cause us to avoid the snares of the enemy

Captivate every thought.  It is actually possible to examine every thought in your mind.  The scripture directs us to do so, so it has to be possible.  No more excuses for a poor thought life.  You can't keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep him from nesting in your hair.

We have the glowing example of our Master to follow.  It was one of the reasons He came to Earth and ministered as a man.  Ask yourself, what would Jesus do?  Compare your thought life and actions with His perfect example.

Study the Word diligently. Push out unproductive thoughts with the mind of Christ.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Ti 2:15)
Develop a prayer life, a two way exchange, to the point where you can easily hear His voice.   It takes some development spiritually to be able to hear God, and it is founded firmly in the last tool we mentioned: diligent study of His Word.  One of Jesus' most oft used phrases: “Who has ears to hear”. Only those who have developed ears to hear will be able to hear His still small voice.  But once you do,  He is always there, speaking comfort, guidance and correction for the true disciple.

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. (1Sa 15:22)
Obedience always trumps works. You can never do enough, if it is not what God has directed.  It pays to take inventory once in a while, get rid of preconceived notions about what is right, and simply seek His will.

Seek to grow. Never be satisfied.  Sometimes this is a conscious decision. It does not always come automatically, or easily.  But by keeping it in the forefront of your mind, and on your lips, it will come to pass.

Be determined to do the right thing, even when no one is looking. Do it right simply because it's right, and do it right every time.  If in doubt, check it out in scripture.  Seek Godly counsel if you are unsure.


Serve God, in any way that you can.  This can be best done by serving others. “If you have done this to the least of these, you have done it unto Me...”

Be on guard at all times:
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Pro 4:23 KJV)
Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. (Pro 4:23 GNB)
Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life. (Pro 4:23 CEV)
These are all things that we can do.  The life of a Christian can be challenging, but the principles are simple:  Put God first.  Never be satisfied with where you are at in your walk.  Pray.  Study the Word.  Pray some more.  Study some more.  You get the idea...  Don't be a hearer only. As James, the brother of of our Lord said, "Be a doer."  Find a need and fill it.

Anybody with me? Go!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Magog Invasion, Stage1?

As a long time student of eschatology (study of the end times), I along with many others, have been intrigued by the description of the invasion of Gog and Magog outlined in Ezekiel chapter 38.  Many commentators locate this event near the rapture of the Church, either shortly before or after.  A few have placed it concurrently with the rapture.

While this post is not intended to deal with all the differing views of the event of the rapture, we can definitely see where the events on the stage of geopolitics seem to be aligning themselves with the Biblical end time scenario.  With anti-Israel sentiments we see so wide spread in the world, many commentators are taking a closer look at the 38th chapter of Ezekiel.  Many seem to believe we are at the very doors of this event.

We may well be.  With only a minimal amount of research, one can discover that the players listed by nation, are still in existence today.  The names are changed, but the game remains the same.  The passage lists a roll call of nations that invades Israel near the End Of Days, and are summarily destroyed by God.  Many students of eschatology equate this with the infamous Battle of Armageddon.  For reasons too many to list, I do not subscribe to this view.  I see it as a separate event, one that evidently sets the stage for Armageddon.

Looking at the geopolitics of the Middle East at the time of this writing, one could easily conclude that the passage of Ezekiel 38 is right around the corner. Yet, the passage itself is somewhat problematic given the current situation.  Let's examine them more closely:

After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you shall come into the land turned back from the sword, gathered out of many peoples, on the mountains of Israel, which have always been waste. (But he has been brought out of the peoples, and they shall dwell securely, all of them.) 
(Eze 38:8)
At the outset of the Ezekiel 38 campaign we see Israel brought back from war and spared from destruction.  Moreover it states that the land is dwelling securely.  This is far from being the case at this time.  Israel is bordered on all of it's landward sides by hostile enemies determined to erase Israel from existence.  In Ezekiel 38, we see that all of the nations gathered against her are farther away, not necessarily bordering her.  Also their motivation has always been somewhat perplexing to Bible students:

And you shall say, I will go up to the land of open spaces. I will go to those at ease, who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and there are no bars nor gates to them, in order to take a spoil, and to steal a prize; to turn your hand on the inhabited waste places, and on the people gathered out of the nations, who have gotten cattle and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land. 
(Eze 38:11-12)
This is quite literally a conquest of pillage.  The invaders wish to take the land, the resources, and the riches of the land.  Today, Israel's antagonists seek noting but the utter destruction of Israel.  Could it be then that the Ezekiel 38 campaign speaks of a different conflict?  Possibly even a later stage of the conflict?

Perhaps we find the answer in the Psalms.  There is a long held, but perhaps not a widespread school of thought, that the Psalms are full of prophetic passages.  This is borne out in the 22nd Psalm as regards the crucifixion of Jesus.  It is referred to multiple times in the gospels.

It is the 83rd Psalm that might hold some clues to a conflict that might possibly precede Ezekiel 38.  This short passage not only lists the players that we see holding a finger to the trigger today, but it also reflects their attitude toward Israel, as well as the current political climate.  Let's take a look:
For lo, Your enemies roar; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They take shrewd counsel against Your people, and plot against Your hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, so that the name Israel may be remembered no more. For with one heart they have plotted together; they have made a covenant against You-- 
(Psa 83:2-5)
It sounds as if the conspiracy to destroy Israel today, was reported upon thousands of years ago.  The antagonists have made themselves the enemy of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  They have been the enemy of His people.  They seek her utter destruction.  'With one heart' they have conspired against Israel and any that dare to ally themselves to her.  Let's read on:
the tents of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarites; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the people of Tyre; and Assyria has joined with them; they have helped the sons of Lot. Selah. 
(Psa 83:6-8)
This roll call differs from that of Ezekiel 38 in that these nations all border Israel and always have.  The names are given in their aboriginal form, but are still composed of  the same geographical areas and ethnic groups today.  To call all the indigenous people of the Middle East 'Arabs', makes as much sense as calling all Americans white.  There are many many ethnic groups in the area, each having a long history and ethos.  And many of them feel they have an axe to grind with Israel that goes back for thousands of years.

Let's take a closer look at the players.  I have provided a breakdown of the nations listed with a small description.  Included is the names rendered in Hebrew, pronunciation, the translation of the names with a small Bible synopsis.  I have done this courtesy of a free Bible study program called e-sword which is available for free download.  The Bible translation that I have been using is the Modern King James Version.  Strongs Concordance numbers are also provided for further study.  The bullet statements are mine:

Notes on Psalm 83

The Players:

1.) Edom H123 אדום אדם 'ĕdôm 'ĕdômed-ome', ed-ome' From H122; red (see Gen_25:25); Edom, the elder twin-brother of Jacob; hence the region (Idumaea) occuped by him: - Edom, Edomites, Idumea.
  • Edom as a nation was founded by Esau, brother of Jacob. He married two Hittite women out of rebellion against his father Isaac.  And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite; who were a grief of spirit to Isaac and to Rebekah. (Gen 26:34-35)
  • The Edomites became subjugated by Israel later in the conquest of Canaan. The Edomites were given the choice to convert to Judaism, leave, or die. The ones that converted became known as Idumeans, and to outsiders were viewed as Jewish. Israelites never considered them to be so.
  • The area of Edom is encompassed by the modern nation of Jordan, along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.
  • Later, the Edomites were driven west into the Negev by the Nabateans.  They became known as Idumeans
  • The Herodians were Idumean, and were the ruling class in Israel at the time of Jesus.  Interestingly, The mother of Caesar Nero was Herodian.
2.) Ishmaelites H3459 ישׁמעאלי yishmâ‛ê'lı̂y yish-maw-ay-lee' Patronymic from H3458; a Jishmaelite or descendant of Jishmael: - Ishmaelite.
  • The first born son of Abraham by Hagar, Sarah's Egyptian maidservant.
  • Ishmael was rejected by God as the child of promise. This sparked conflict in the household of Abraham, so much so that he felt compelled to send Hagar and Ishmael away.
  • The Ishmaelites are commonly regarded as the progenitors of what is collectively known as Arabians. They are probably more properly identified as Bedouins.
3.) Moab H4124 מואב mô'âb mo-awb From a prolonged form of the prepositional prefix “m-” and H1; from (her (the mother’s)) father; Moab, an incestuous son of Lot; also his territory and descendants: - Moab.
  • After the fall of Sodom and Gomorrha, Lot and his two daughters were bereaved of their spouses. The daughters deceived Lot by getting him drunk on wine, then each in turn laid with him.
  • Each had a son, one was named Moab, and became the founder of the nation of Moab.  The other was Ammon, the father of the Ammonites.
  • The territory of Moab now is in Modern day Jordan, along the eastern shores of the Dead Sea.
4.) Hagarites H1905 הגריא הגרי hagrı̂y hagrı̂y' hag-ree', hag-ree' Perhaps patronymic from H1904; a Hagrite or member of a certain Arabian clan: - Hagarene, Hagarite, Haggeri.
  • Unsure, possibly Egypt or a portion of Egypt
  • Chuck Missler seems to believe that Hagar moved back to Egypt after the account of her in Genesis
5.) Gebal H1381 גּבל gebâl gheb-awl' The same as H1380; Gebal, a region in Idumaea: - Gebal.
  • See Edom
6.) Ammon H5983 עמּון ‛ammôn am-mone' From H5971; tribal, that is, inbred; Ammon, a son of Lot; also his posterity and their country: - Ammon, Ammonites.
  • See also Moab
  • Half brother of Moab, became the father of the Ammonites.
7.) Amalek H6002 עמלק ‛ămâlêqam-aw-lake' Probably of foreign origin; Amalek, a descendant of Esau; also his posterity and their country: - Amalek.
  • a)See also Edom
8.) Philistines H6429 פּלשׁת pelesheth pel-eh'-sheth From H6428; rolling, that is, migratory; Pelesheth, a region of Syria: - Palestina, Palestine, Philistia, Philistines.
  • Originally Greek invaders. After being repelled by Egypt, they settled along the southern coastal area of the Mediterranean sea. Israel never fully subdued the Philistines.
  • The Latin rendered the area as Palestina, and after 70AD, renamed the entire province Palestina as an insult to the defeated Jews.
9.) Tyre H6865 צור צר tsôr tsôr tsore, tsore The same as H6864; a rock; Tsor, a place in Palestine: - Tyre, Tyrus.
  • Northern coastal area of the Mediterranean sea. Much is said in Scripture concerning Tyre and Sidon.
  • In modern times this area is known as Lebanon, with it's capitol, Beirut. There has been considerable conflict in this area concerning Israel. Much of it fomented by terrorist interests in Syria and Iran.
10.) Assyria אשּׁר אשּׁוּר 'ashshûr 'ashshûr ash-shoor', ash-shoor' Apparently from H833 (in the sense of successful); Ashshur, the second son of Shem; also his descendants and the country occupied by them (that is, Assyria), its region and its empire: - Asshur, Assur, Assyria, Assyrians. See H838.
  • Assyria predates Babylon and is now encompassed in the areas of northern Iraq and Iran.
  • Could refer to Syria, operating as a client state of Iran, as seems likely in today's geopolitics.
Even upon casual perusal of this list of ten, we can see that this is precisely the makeup of the nations that directly threaten Israel's existence today.  As noted earlier, these nations are all mysteriously absent in the Ezekiel 38 passage.  In fact it would seem that the green line is dismantled by then and Israel is living under a sense of false security.  But it would appear that the prophet, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, speaks of a different outcome:

Do to them as to Midian, as to Sisera, as to Jabin at the torrent Kishon; who perished at Endor; they became as dung for the earth. Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb; yea, all their princes like Zebah, and like Zalmunna; who said, Let us take possession for ourselves of the houses of God. O my God, make them like a wheel; like the stubble before the wind. As the fire burns a forest, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with Your tempest, and make them afraid with Your storm. Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Jehovah. Let them be ashamed and troubled forever; yea, let them be put to shame, and lost; so that men may know that Your name is JEHOVAH, that You alone are the Most High over all the earth. 
(Psa 83:9-18)
The message seems clear.  God has not, nor will He ever abandon His covenant people Israel.  Although things may look bleak, never fear for He is with you, an ever present help in time of trouble.  Taken together, the Psalm 83 and the Ezekiel 38 passages actually paint a pretty dismal picture for the Islamic world.  After the restitution of Psalm 83, Ezekiel foretells an utter decimation of the confederation that would come later:
Therefore, son of man, prophesy against Gog and say, So says the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the chief ruler of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. And I will turn you back, and lead you on. And I will bring you up from the recesses of the north, and I will bring you on the mountains of Israel. And I will strike your bow out of your left hand, and will cause your arrows to fall out of your right hand. You shall fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your bands, and the people with you. I will give you for food to the birds of prey of every kind, and to the beasts of the field. You shall fall on the face of the field, for I have spoken, says the Lord Jehovah. 
(Eze 39:1-5)
He concludes with a wonderful promise to Israel:

Therefore so says the Lord Jehovah: And I will return the captivity of Jacob, and will have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for My holy name; after they have borne their shame and all their sins by which they have sinned against Me, when they dwell securely in their land and no one terrifies; when I have brought them again from the peoples, and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; then they shall know that I am Jehovah their God who exiled them among the nations. But I have gathered them to their own land, and have not left any of them there. Nor will I hide My face from them any more, for I have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel, says the Lord Jehovah. 
(Eze 39:25-29)
So, the point of all this is that there is no use to all this squabbling over land in Israel.  God has already decided the outcome.  To be on the wrong side of history in this era is to invite His terrible wrath.  And you can be assured that it it is on it's way.  Here's a little homework for you fellow Bereans:  Look at all the 'natural' disasters that are occurring all over the world.  Take note of the dates.  Then get on Google and check those dates and places against political maneuvering to attempt to pressure Israel into some kind of land settlement. I can promise you it draws a very startling picture.  The future of Israel is in God's hands and is completely off limits to the governments of men.

God told Abraham this back in the very beginning:

And I will bless those that bless you and curse the one who curses you. And in you shall all families of the earth be blessed. 
(Gen 12:3)
Do you want to be blessed?  I do.  I support Israel in every way I can.  I urge my government to do the same.  To do otherwise is to lead a cursed life.  There are a list of nations in the passages we just discussed who are about to discover just how bad it is to go against God.  

Let us not be among them.

    First Post

    Yes, another blog.

    I may be biting off more than I can chew, but I have been toying with the idea of starting a blog of my Bible studies. I'm not sure how this will work out, with running a full time tech blog. Hence, the use of one of the freeb blogging services. We shall see.

    I don't have anything I'm ready to post at this time, I just wanted to launch the blog and get it all set up. After all, I'll never do it if I don't do it.