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JUNE 2009

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Some Prophets do not Tell the Truth

 

2 Chronicles 18:17 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would not prophesy good unto me, but evil?

 

Ahab, the wicked King of Israel, and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were going to join forces and go to war against the King of Syria. Before going to battle Jehoshaphat wanted to consult the Lord. So they brought prophets, four hundred of them, and they all with one accord told Jehoshaphat and Ahab that they were going to prosper. Jehoshaphat wasn't satisfied. While the passage doesn't say so, these may have been prophets of Baal, because they certainly weren't speaking for the Lord. They were prophets who told the Kings what they thought the Kings wanted to hear.

Both Jehoshaphat and Ahab seemed to know that the prophets were lying. Jehoshaphat wanted another opinion, and he wanted it from a prophet of the Lord. Ahab knew that there was another prophet and that his message was going to be different. Micaiah the son of Imlah was apparently known as a prophet of Jehovah and Ahab knew that he would tell him he was going to fail. So why ask for prophets to tell you what you already know? And why penalize the prophet for telling you what you know in your heart is true?

Apparently, the four hundred prophets thought they had a word from the Lord because the story says that the Lord sent a lying spirit to the four hundred prophets. But they had safety In numbers. How could four hundred prophets prophesy in unison and be wrong? Micaiah had been told to confirm their message by the messenger sent to get him. So he told the kings what they wanted to hear, but Ahab knew that he wasn't prophesying the truth. Ahab didn't need a prophet, he needed a conversion. Jehoshaphat didn't need a prophet, he needed to separate himself from Ahab who was worshiping Baal instead of the Lord.

People act as though they are ignorant when it comes to their relationship with God when in fact many people know that they are sinners and that they are not prepared to meet God. They don't need to be told that. Most of us don't meet our own standards of behavior, how could we possibly meet the standards of God? And yet, we like to hear preachers who tell us that all is well. However, most people have a conscience that tells them that all is not well (see Romans 2:15). I suspect most people are like Ahab and Jehoshaphat, they know the truth when they hear it, but they just don't like to hear it.

Ahab and Jehoshaphat would not listen to the one prophet out of four hundred and one who told them the truth. Ahab died that day just as Micaiah had prophesied. Wouldn't it be nice if we listened to that inner voice that the Lord uses to convict us of sin? Then we could listen to the message of the Gospel that tells us that God commends his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). While we would apply this story to the unsaved, sometimes we who claim to be Christians look for preachers and prophets that will tell us what we want to hear as well.

Ahab and Jehoshaphat rebelled against what they knew to be true and disaster resulted. They didn't need a prophet, they needed to submit themselves to the authority of the Lord. We cannot resist what we know to be true and expect that everything is going to be all right even if all the preachers in the world tell us that we need not worry.

 

Meditation for the week of June 7, 2008

The Influence One Person has in Life

 

Romans 5:19

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.

 

Years ago, when the world was in its infancy, Eve made a decision; and then Adam, her husband, made the same decision. They decided to disobey God. Eve made the decision because Satan deceived her. Adam made the decision because he loved his wife and didn't want to lose her (See 1 Timothy 2:14). He was willing to leave paradise because of his love for his wife, and that is exactly what Christ was willing to do for His bride (the church) as well. The difference was that Adam sinned while Christ did not.

However, that one sin has brought sorrow and death into this society that we live in. All of mankind faces death and many of us face many kinds of sorrows all because of the one sin of one man. I wonder if Adam knew what we now know, if he would have made the decision that he made. Because of the sin of one man, Cain would kill Abel, ultimately man's heart would be evil continually (Genesis 6:5), the earth would be filled with violence and God would finally have to say, "Enough!" and bring the destruction of the flood. The coming tribulation period with all of its wars and destruction will be the result of that one sin. Look at the influence for evil one man had who would probably be considered a good man by our society today.

Adam and Eve were not the first sinners. Satan had sinned before them, but he apparently was not a part of this society that God had created. He had already rebelled against God before he influenced Adam and Eve to do the same. So it was by Adam's sin that sin entered into this society or world. The angels had already experienced sin. Adam was charged with this sin because he had been put in charge of this society.

Satan is no one's friend, but he appears to be friendly. He uses "philosophy and vain deceit (Colossians 2:8)" to rob us of our God given blessings. Philosophy is man's logic based on what man thinks is right. A philosopher will usually start his sentences with "I think" or "It seems to me". A man who wants to please God starts his sentences with "God says" or "the Bible says." Vain deceit is just empty lies; but when Satan lies, he tells us what we want to hear. Because of that, often we are not discerning when He is getting us to question the truth of Scripture or the ultimate goodness of God.

But there is another man, and He had great influence for good. The man Christ Jesus was obedient and because of His obedience many will be made righteous. Here we have a lesson in Bible interpretation. We cannot go to a dictionary to find the meaning of the word many in a technical sense and understand this verse. The first many obviously means all. We know that is the Biblical message. All have sinned (Romans 3:23). All we like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). But just because Christ died, not all are saved or made righteous. But the many who are made righteous will be made righteous by one man's obedience. And that is also the Biblical message. We have to believe on the Lord in order to be made righteous as we read in Romans 3:22-23, "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." When God says many are made sinners, He means all everywhere. When He says many will be made righteous, He means all everywhere who believe.

We all influence others. Adam's sin affected everyone everywhere. Christ's obedience has provided salvation for everyone everywhere. But righteousness is only obtained by those who are willing to believe on Him. We are all affecting people every day. Each individual is ultimately personally responsible for his or her own relationship with God, but it would certainly hurt me to know that my sin or hypocrisy was their excuse to turn away from the Lord.

 

Meditation for the week of June 14, 2009

The Sins of the Fathers

 

Nehemiah 8:8

So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

 

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah represent a period of revival in the history of the nation of Israel. In the book of Ezra, the temple is rebuilt and the worship of Jehovah is reestablished there. Ezra records the remnant keeping the passover which spoke of the coming Messiah who would die for the sins of the world. The revivals under Hezekiah, Josiah and Ezra all involved keeping the passover. It was supposed to be kept once a year to remind the nation that God had redeemed them from the bondage of Egypt and to remind them of the blessings that the Lord wanted to shower upon them. When the passover became unimportant, Jehovah also became unimportant and, over and over, the people turned to idolatry.

In Nehemiah, the wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt. The wall allowed them to defend themselves and required them to separate from the people of the land who worshiped other gods. Separation was probably one of the great marks of the revival under Ezra and Nehemiah. Another mark was reading from the law of the Lord. Reading and understanding the the law caused the people to confess their sins. At first it brought them sorrow; but when they realized that God really did want to bless them, they found joy.

These revivals involved confessing the sins of the fathers. In Nehemiah 9:2 we read, "Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers." The history of Israel was one long journey where the nation was blessed by God and worshiped Him faithfully. They then found themselves attracted to the pagan gods of the land and would turn from their faithfulness. God would judge them, and when they realized that they had been brought into bondage and not into blessing, they would call out to God for mercy. Then He would forgive and save them. The current situation in the Mideast is the result of Israel being unfaithful to God and being dispersed into the nations because of it.

Are there lessons in Ezra and Nehemiah for us today? I think so. The passover lasted until the Lord was crucified but spoke prophetically of the crucifixion of Christ. The Lord's Supper was instituted by the Lord after the passover on the night that the Lord was betrayed. The Lord's Supper will last until the Lord comes again. The Lord's Supper had a predominant place in the worship of the early church. But today the Lord's Supper often gets in the way of the activities that many churches really consider important. But the Lord's Supper keeps our focus on the Lord while the activities that replace the Lord's Supper often keep the focus on us. Just as revivals in the old testament seemed to be associated with keeping the passover, I believe any "revived' church will keep the Lord's Supper prominent in their meetings.

In addition, the church by and large does not know or really study the Bible today. We used to carry the Bible to our meetings and we looked up the passages preached on in the Bible. We read it with our children and we helped them memorize it. We did not assume that it took a degree from a theological seminary to understand it. I believe that the personal and corporate reading and study of the Bible is the first step in reviving any church.

We used to believe that meetings for the church were meetings for believers and not for unbelievers. We didn't encourage the unsaved and unbaptized to be part of our worship though we had meetings where they were welcome so that they could hear the Gospel preached and could get to know Christians. Marriage was between believers. Business partnerships were between believers. We had had relationships with unbelievers but never the kind of relationship where the decisions we made as believers were affected by the attitudes of unbelievers. A church will never be revived unless it recognizes that the Lord wants his people to be set apart for Him.

The Fathers are supposed to teach the children the right ways of the Lord. It is a shame when the children through reading the Bible on their own realize that the Father's have caused them to depart from the worship of the Lord. That happened during the revival under Ezra and Nehemiah. I hope that my children never come to that conclusion about what I have taught them.

 

Meditation for the week of June 21, 2009

The Sorrows of Death

 

Psalm 116:3

The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow.

 

Death is the "preacher of the old school" according to an old tract that I have. Death preaches when people least expect it. It doesn't always say things in a kind and gentle way. But when death speaks we ought to listen.

Last week death was speaking loudly. Ed McMahon, the sidekick on Johnny Carson's show passed into eternity. He had a lot of money at one time and then lost it through poor management. Even though he had enjoyed riches and fame, when his time came, he died.

Farrah Fawcett, the blond who was one of the detectives on the TV show called Charlie's Angels, died of cancer. She was once on top of the world and a lot of girls wanted not only to look like her, but they would have loved to be her if they could have been. I wonder if they would trade places with her now. When her time came she died.

Michael Jackson whose album "Thriller" sold more copies than any other album in history died last week of cardiac arrest. His tours were legendary. He had more awards given to him than any other entertainer. However, his personal life was a mess and when his time came he died.

In addition, last week, a coach in our community was gunned down by a former student. The coach was a Christian who lived it. When his community was devastated by a massive tornado a year ago, he was one of the motivating forces that kept the community moving forward so it could rebuild. His teams were winners and he did his best to instill character in those he coached. But he didn't get the job done with one student, and that student killed him. When his time came he died.

None of these who have died will be back to spend time with their loved ones. Sin brings death and death brings sorrow. Anticipating death brought sorrow to the Psalmist even though later he was delivered from death. The Psalmist found that in death, the only comfort is found in the Lord. He said, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is death of his Saints (Psalm 116:15)."

Death is a great leveler. The rich and the poor, the good and the evil, the popular and the despised, the leaders and the followers all die. All end up being buried. However, death is not the end. Death is just the beginning. But what is just beginning? Even the atheist and agnostic would have to agree that time continues after death and that something continues. They would just like to believe that the person who dies ceases to exist and knows nothing from that time on. But what scientific evidence do they have to support that? What empirical data is available that proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt?

There is no absolute scientific evidence that proves that man has an eternal part to him that does exist for ever. However, the Lord Jesus said that was the case. Job said that was the case. Daniel said that was the case. David said that was the case. We sell a lot of vitamins on flimsier anecdotal evidence than that. I believe that we exist forever, some in heaven and some in eternal conscious punishment separated from God.

Having people cut off in an untimely manner always causes us to think about the sorrows of death. We who are saved are reminded that we need to be real. The coach's friends have all said that his Christianity was real. He practiced what he said he believed. I believe that he was prepared for what happened.

For those who died unprepared, their sorrows will be real and eternal according to the Word of God. The Lord said that if we would trust Him, our sins would be forgiven and our sorrows would cease the moment we die. We would go to a place He has prepared for us and we would begin a new existence where sin and death and sorrow would no longer touch us.

What do you suppose those who have died this last week believe about these things now?

 

Meditation for the week of June 28, 2009