Saturday, August 28, 2010

For They Are A Rebellious House...

Note:  This post is out of cycle, and is not a part of the current series.  Thanks for reading! 
And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. (Eze 2:5 KJV)
As I begin reading the book of Ezekiel I find that this is a refrain repeated three times in the second chapter.  Now we all know that if God says something even once, that it is of utmost importance.  But here, in the prophet's commissioning He repeats it thrice.  That's huge.

Even more significantly, He repeats that characterization ten more times throughout the book.  It might be said that  the God of the universe is trying to make a point.  If He is, then it is one that should be taken well by all peoples in all ages.  Thirteen reiterations to the man of God, concerning a nation should be sufficient.

You see, Israel had been weighed and found wanting.  They had forgotten the God of their fathers, and had habitually, and insistently pursued their own lusts for many generations.  At the opening of this book, they had been in captivity thirty years.  The great Diaspora had only just begun.  They had been admonished by prophets, beginning with Moses, to remember God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His statutes.  We find the greatest summation of all this in Deuteronomy 28.  In it, all the blessings for keeping God's ways are delineated.  Likewise the penalties for transgression are also laid out.

This was God's own people.  His chosen ones.  The apple of His eye...

If they were not exempt from His blessings or His judgement, then how can any other nation be?  It is a sobering thing to witness America drift further and further from her Godly founding principals.  We who study the scriptures are alarmed at the downward turn our nation has taken.  

It's true that among the rich and powerful are evil people doing evil things that are leading the populace astray.  But what's even more damning is that so many are completely ignorant of God and His ways.  In an era where the written word of God is so readily available, the masses largely remain ignorant.  The Bible is still the all time best seller (incidentally, the most stolen too).

This is a serious point to ponder.  Like Israel, this nation seems preoccupied with forgetting the One who made them great.  It is thankless, and shameful.

But there is hope yet.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Ch 7:14 KJV)
Here, we find a four step national recovery program, all rolled into one verse.

  1. Humble ourselves, that is, acknowledge that without Him we can do nothing.
  2. Pray. I think many people even believers know little about prayer.  But that's another posting.
  3. Seek His face.  How many decisions do we make without Him?  A point to meditate upon.
  4. Repent.  Do we who are called by Christ's name practice wickedness?  We must walk circumspectly.

The promise is that if we, who are His follow these steps that He will hear.  He will forgive.  He will heal our land.  We simply cannot, CANNOT rely on government to keep us safe, happy, and prosperous.  Our forefathers were quick to acknowledge this.  They debated it, wrote about it, and codified it into our founding documents.  How very different it is today.  Do we see many of our nation's leaders consulting with God about how they should govern?  There are some, but you most likely never hear of them.

But we as Christians do not have to be elected to an office to abase ourselves before God, to pray, to seek Him, to repent on behalf of ourselves and our nation.  We only have to do it.  Are we?  Are you?

Let's begin to turn our hearts to the God of OUR fathers, and let the healing begin!

No water, no fruit

This post is a follow up to last week's post, Clouds and wind, but no rain. To recap a little bit, we examined two portions of scripture:
A man boasting himself in a false gift is like clouds and wind, but no rain. (Pro 25:14 MKJV)
The brother of our Lord, Jude repeats this sentiment in his tiny, yet powerful little book over in the New Testament: 
These are sunken rocks in your love feasts, feasting together with you; feeding themselves without fear; waterless clouds being carried about by winds; fruitless autumn trees, having died twice, having been plucked up by the roots; wild waves of the sea foaming up their shames; wandering stars for whom blackness of darkness has been kept forever. (Jud 1:12-13 MKJV)
The link between these passages is obvious even to the most casual reader.  I dare say that Jude had read the aforementioned proverb at least once in his lifetime.  He probably had heard it quoted by his big brother Jesus, many times.  There is an important point to be made here. Jude addresses fellow believers:
Having made all haste to write to you about the common salvation, beloved, I had need to write to you to exhort you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. (Jud 1:3 MKJV) 
He wrote this little book as a dire warning TO fellow believers.  He warned about those in the midst of the Body, having been fellow Christians, or those merely posing as such.  Jude's book deals primarily with apostasy. What is an apostate? Webster defines it thus:

Apostate APOS'TATE, n. [Gr.] 
One who has forsaken the church, sect or profession to which he before adhered. In its original sense, applied to one who has abandoned his religion; but correctly applied also to one who abandons a political or other party. 
APOS'TATE, a. False; traitorous. 
He likens apostate believers to sunken rocks which are a dire navigational hazard.  They are out of sight, and mind until they puncture the hull of, and sink a boat.

Waterless clouds as we have discussed previously can be a major disappointment, especially during times of drought.

Fruitless trees are also disappointing, and as we shall see in our next installment receive special treatment within the pages of scripture.

Waves of the sea.  Having been a sailor myself, I have witnessed the awesome destructive capability of raging waves.  As yet, there has been no real advances of technology to efficiently harness this energy.  They remain largely a destructive force of nature.

Wandering stars are a curious idiom of this passage.  Without going too deeply into orbital mechanics or some other deep scientific exploration, the implications thereof are profound. Stars are massive celestial bodies, boasting huge gravitational pull. Wandering stars are those that are out of their proper place, and not doing what they were designed to do.

Do apostates tend to draw all men unto themselves? One only has to look around to witness the answer to this question.

All of these similitudes have seriously negative connotations. They are destructive in nature. They have no practical use.  They are unproductive.

Interestingly enough, two of these ideas are logically related:  Clouds with no rain, and trees without fruit.

There is no fruit without water.  And without fruit, there is no harvest.

In the next post of this little series, we will be examining this aspect a little closer, so stay tuned!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Clouds and wind, but no rain

A man boasting himself in a false gift is like clouds and wind, but no rain. (Pro 25:14 MKJV)
Clouds and wind without rain is something that we in the deserts of the southwest are are fully acquainted with. During the monsoon (fancy name for rainy season), we get a great display of weather, usually in the afternoons.  Great thunderheads build over the mountain tops and all around. The wind picks up and you can perhaps even smell the promise of moisture, nourishment, plant growth, and a little bit cooler weather. 

It causes disappointment when all that meteorologic activity fails to produce anything other than high heat and humidity. In this part of the world, that disappointment is especially poignant, considering the typical aridness of the region.

Here, King Solomon compares natural events to human failings. Like clouds and wind, a big talker builds big expectations. We can all think of someone who has crossed our paths that remind us of this idiom. Perhaps we have actually been that person.  Lord help us from our pathetic ways!

A word, borrowed from that FOX news luminary, Bill O'Reilly, is 'bloviation'. To bloviate, means to: Orate verbosely and windily. This term seems to fit this Biblical similitude to a tee.  Do we do that in our daily testimony?  Heaven forfend!

It as been aptly said that 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people.  While not necessarily a scientific conclusion, it does seem to point to an underlying principle.  No matter where you go, there seems to be dead weight enough to provide enough drag to eventually slow down any movement of God's Spirit in any church.

Jude, the younger brother of our Lord put it like this:
These are sunken rocks in your love feasts, feasting together with you; feeding themselves without fear; waterless clouds being carried about by winds; fruitless autumn trees, having died twice, having been plucked up by the roots; wild waves of the sea foaming up their shames; wandering stars for whom blackness of darkness has been kept forever. (Jud 1:12-13 MKJV) 
This paints a gloomy picture of these types of people.  We will be examining this verse in greater detail in the next few blog posts.  But for now, the message is cautionary; Don't BE that person!  I don't want to be, and I dare say that many that are, do not, in their heart of hearts want to be either.

For more on this, stay tuned the the next post.  We shall continue!