1 Samuel 8:7 – Rejecting God

The mindset of the people in the Ancient Near East (ANE) was quite different from ours today.  This is a major reason that when we read the Bible, we need to do so with the mind of someone in ancient Israel.  If we don’t do that; if we read and judge from our modern perspective, there is much that we miss because we simply don’t understand what is going on.

We can see this fallacy in society today in our cancel culture.  People on the Left look at historical events through their own skewed lens of understanding that our schools have indoctrinated them with, and they cannot tolerate what they see.  They look at the past from the perspective of how they’ve been taught, deem it wrong (some of which may be), but then determine that what previously happened must be erased because it offends their sensibilities.  Rather than learn from history, they eradicate it and thus never understand how it has shaped them; it leaves them vulnerable to a future in which they repeat the mistakes of the past because they have no prior example.

In a sense, our church culture has done that same thing for years.  The teaching in seminaries and Bible colleges has been done from a position of superiority.  Because we are modern and so much smarter, that must mean that we know so much more than the ancients.  The pastors that are products of these institutions naturally have passed on what they’ve learned to their congregations.  What this means is that the people in churches read Scripture (if they read it at all) through a modern lens that has no comprehension of what people in the ANE thought and lived.

An example of how the ANE viewed life and all that happened through theological glasses shows clearly in the narrative of the Philistines capturing the ark of the covenant from the Israelites and the subsequent results.  Israel went out to battle the Philistines and were roundly defeated.  This was during the time of Judges and the people were far from God.  Regardless, they clamored for the ark, i.e. for the presence of Yahweh, to lead them in battle.  Eli’s corrupt sons brought out the ark, and when the Israelites saw it they gave a rousing cheer.  At that, 1 Samuel 4:7-8 tells us:

The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “A god has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness.

Do you see how both the Israelites and the Philistines thought?  By having the ark with them Israel believed that Yahweh would lead them to victory.  Conversely, the Philistines had heard about Yahweh (in a convoluted way) and knew that He was exceedingly strong, having previously done the miraculous to deliver Israel from Egypt.  Both sides in this thinking in the ANE attributed all that happened to God or the gods.

As the narrative continues we constantly see this perspective in view.  The Philistines captured the ark and placed it before their god Dagon.  That didn’t work out so well, and they realized Yahweh was more powerful (1 Samuel 5:1-5).  From the ark’s presence, i.e. from Yahweh being in their midst, the Philistines believed (rightly) that He was the cause of the plague that came upon them, represented by the mice and the tumors.  What did they do?  They set the ark on a cart and gave the cows free reign.  If they headed back to Israel the Philistines were absolutely convinced that it would be God’s hand at work.  There was no thinking that any of these things would be coincidental.  Everything, good and bad, was the result of divine influence.

Of course, in the time of Judges, everyone in Israel did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).  When God brought Samuel into the position of Judge, upon seeing how Israel lamented their lack of Godly worship and by being under Philistine domination (1 Samuel 7:2), this is what how Samuel framed the situation in (1 Samuel 7:3-4):

And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.

Samuel understood the situation.  God was truly in charge.  The people had to change their ways if they wanted His intervention.  Once they had done that for a time, they gathered to sacrifice corporately to Yahweh.  The Philistines saw this as a threat and came against them.  But 1 Samuel 7:10 informs us what happened next:

As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel.

Can you even imagine what that thundering must have been like to cause such confusion?  Yahweh responded to the concerns and prayers of His people.  Once more their God had delivered them.

Despite such evidence that Yahweh was their true leader and protector, Israel inevitably sought elsewhere for stability.  Unfortunately, Samuel’s sons weren’t much better than Eli’s sons; Eli had been a poor role model for Samuel in this respect.  The people of israel saw that Samuel was getting up in years; they didn’t want his immoral sons leading them, and in 1 Samuel 8:5 they demanded:

“Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

This grieved Samuel, but God consoled him.  Yahweh told him a truth in 1 Samuel 8:7 that is as relevant today as it was then:

“Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.”

Scripture depicts Israel as a theocracy, but one in which the God over the nation was never good enough for the people.  They wanted a king that they could see, just like they desired gods for which they could make idols and have something physical to worship.

Samuel warned the people what having a king – a man – over them would do to their lives.  He would cause them to serve him rather than direct their allegiance to Yahweh.  It didn’t matter; the desire to be like all the surrounding pagan nations was intense, and 1 Samuel 8:19-20 relates their response:

But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

They wanted to “see” a man leading them into battle rather than have the “uncertainty” of an invisible God.  Yahweh might have been more powerful, but that was immaterial.  Seeing was believing; they couldn’t believe and see.

In our present day, we generally don’t look at the world as though God is always at work, shaping circumstances and working through the events we experience.  We don’t have the mindset of the ANE whereby either God or other gods significantly influence people and events.  Yet, shouldn’t we?

There is a highly active demonic spiritual hierarchy (Ephesians 6:12).  If God speaks to those who believe, don’t you think that other gods – demonic powers – speak to those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ?  Remember the image of an angel and a devil standing on someone’s shoulders and whispering in his ear?  Which one does he listen to and follow?  If he’s not a follower of Jesus, this person certainly isn’t heeding the Word of God; the word of the demonic spirit is much louder and convincing.  Perhaps if we understood the world by considering it in this context, we’d have a better idea as to how things work.  Aren’t we in a constant spiritual battle?  Of course, and this is how it happens.  The bad “angels” whisper in their followers’ ears, and these people do what they’re told, except they think the ideas they have originate from within themselves.

For our part, for Christians, don’t we – or shouldn’t we – operate in the same manner?  Doesn’t Romans 8:28 tell us:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Perhaps if we took this verse more to heart in how we live day-to-day, the shape of our lives would be different.  God is with us constantly.  He is in our midst.  He loves us.  Because of that, He’s working in and through us to bring about His will and purposes for our lives.

Perhaps if we acknowledged this and gave Him praise for all things, we’d see a very different world, with outcomes more in tune with God’s intent for us.

Luke 12:46 – Cut to Pieces

When I read Luke 12:35-48, sub-headed in the ESV as You Must Be Ready, the passage inevitably disturbs me.  Jesus was speaking to His disciples and relating a parable that reflected directly upon His return from heaven.  The parable deals with the master who has gone away for his wedding feast and the servants who remain waiting for him to return home.  In the telling, it raises several questions.

The first question is who is the master, and who are the servants?  Jesus specifically answers that in Luke 12:40 in referring to the Son of Man; He is speaking of Himself.  But who are the servants?  Before we get to that, a more basic reference must be addressed.  The master has gone away and is now coming back.  He was at his wedding feast; upon having celebrated that, he returns home.  What is the wedding feast?  Is it a relevant reference here?  Where is home?

From the presumably parallel passage in Matthew 22, it appears that this aspect of the wedding feast is key.  The master has gotten married and has enjoyed the marriage celebration.  With all that done, he makes his way to his place of residence.  The servants then are those who are part of his household where he dwells; they are not people outside his house, i.e. strangers, in any way.

Are these servants the people of Israel or believers in the church?  Why does the text tell us several times about their need to be awake, alert, and waiting?

Bible experts, certainly more versed than me, point to this parable as referring to when Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation.  He has consummated His wedding with the Bride – the church – and is now returning with her to His native land of Israel for the final reckoning that will occur during the White Throne Judgment; where sheep and goats are separated, with some given over to glory and others to eternal damnation.

I see all that and some of the context makes sense to me, but not all.  If the wedding celebration is indeed the same one as described in Matthew 22, then it is certainly the final accounting of those in Israel.  But, here’s what disturbs me about this – of which, I could be totally off base: Why does Jesus stress the need to be alert and expectant for His return?  During the Tribulation will those Jews who have become believers – the servants – grow bored, fall asleep, or turn to violence against others?  It seems as if all of these would be expecting the Messiah’s return because of how deeply the Holy Spirit has convicted them.  In this telling of the parable relating to the end of the Tribulation, how is it that the time of Jesus coming back is unknown, unexpected, like the thief in the night?  Wouldn’t you think by this time that Jewish converts would be on the edge of their seats waiting for their King?

Now I get it; applying this parable to the church has a problem.  If the wedding feast is key, then the church has already been taken from earth in the Rapture and enjoyed seven years with Jesus as His Bride.  But, let’s set the wedding feast aside for just a moment and consider this parable as relating to the church.

Elsewhere in Scripture, church age believers (“brothers”) are told to be ready for the Lord to come as a thief in the night (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:2-9).  This is for good reason.  The Rapture of the church is described in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 as an imminent event; it could happen at any time, just as the timing of a thief entering a house in the dead of night is unexpected.  What I’m saying is that the language in this passage in Luke has many earmarks of applying to the pre-Tribulation Rapture as to when it seemingly occurs.:

Luke 12:37: “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.”

Luke 12:40: “You also must be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Luke 12:43: “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.”

Luke 12:46: “And the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know.”

Is it only me who sees this as more Rapture-like than that of the 2nd Coming at the end of the Tribulation when the timing of Jesus’ return can effectively be calculated and known?

The other disturbing descriptions deal with those servants – again, presumably, believers as opposed to Israelites? – who aren’t alert, waiting, watchful, and eagerly expectant for Jesus’ return.  The ones who are ready are blessed, as Luke 12:43 above notes.  They get the rewards because their master is exceptionally pleased with them.

If we’re talking about the church, then those who are asleep, i.e. those who don’t study Bible prophecy or ignore it, would fall into the unfaithful category.  When Jesus comes and they are oblivious to the concept that He will return in an imminent way, don’t care, or are backslidden and acting carnally, the consequences are extreme.  The final phrase of Luke 12:46 reads:

… and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.

This is someone who should have been faithful, but wasn’t.

Look at the final verses in Luke 12:47-48:

“And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”

Here, we have a servant who knows what is coming, but neglects it, and a servant who was ignorant, thus didn’t know.  The one who has the knowledge but refuses to act on it is treated more harshly than the one who never learned in the first place.

Haven’t we in the church been given much?  Shouldn’t more be required of us since we have the entire Word of God with all the prophetic warnings?  Weren’t we entrusted with this precious gift?  It just seems like at this point in time, for this to refer to Israel is problematic.  In the past, yes; God showed them extensively who He is.  But Israelites today, by and large, are simply not tuned into an expectant waiting for Messiah.

For me, another question arises with the next passage with the sub-head: Not Peace, but Division in Luke 12:49-53:

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

This certainly deals with how people throughout the world receive Jesus.  In every strata of society, in every nation on earth, there will be those who follow Jesus and those who reject Him.  The church is supposed to be unified, but nobody can say that it is in any real respect, given the denominational and doctrinal differences.  Is there conflict between churches and believers because of this where families are actually divided?  Could Jesus’ statement here also be a reflection of Christianity?  I can tell you as a pre-Tribulation Rapture believer and teacher, there have been multiple times when post-Tribbers have verbally attacked me.  They’ve called my pre-Trib belief satanic, with it being a doctrine of demons.  Believe me, as a small fish in this pond, I’m not the only one so attacked.  Others who are quite prominent in the pre-Trib belief community have been pummeled by those who for some reason cannot stomach the thought of a pre-Tribulation Rapture.

Is there a connection between this description of division with the earlier passage we considered?  Could the servants in Jesus’ parable be among those whom He said would be divided?  If the unfaithful servants are actually part of the church, i.e. believers, isn’t the punishment for their not being ready for the Rapture a disturbing thought?  How might it be possible that Jesus would cut them into pieces and put them with the unfaithful?

Listen, I don’t know the answers to some of these concerns I’ve raised.  The one thing I do know is that we should heed what Jesus tells us to do in Luke 21:28:

“Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

If we do this, then none of us – whether church or Israel, pre-Trib or post-Trib Rapture believers – will have anything to worry about.  If we keep our eyes on the Lord and expect Him imminently, all will be good.

1 Samuel 2:15-16 – Corrupt & Ungodly

The book of 1 Samuel gives us a glimpse into the condition of the priesthood in the days of the Judges.  God had been silent, as the Word of the Lord was rare (1 Samuel 3:1).  When we look at Eli and his worthless sons who ministered as priests, we can certainly see the reason this was the case.

Hannah was a Godly woman.  Her husband loved her, but the fact that he also had another wife was contrary to God’s plan for monogamy in marriage.  It’s easy to see why in this situation.  The ungodly wife tormented Hannah because she was barren.  Penninah lorded it over Hannah, since she had borne children – thinking she was blessed and favored by Yahweh – whereas Hannah wasn’t; thus earning derision.

Over time, as the family went up to Shiloh for their yearly sacrifice, Hannah continually prayed for fertility.  On one such occasion Eli the priest noticed her pouring out her heart before the altar of God.  Eli wasn’t very discerning.  He thought Hannah was drunk.  After she graciously set him straight, Eli blessed her desires in God’s Name.

Subsequently, Hannah did become pregnant.  Since she had vowed before the Lord that this firstfruit of her womb would be dedicated to Yahweh, once she weaned the child she brought him up to Shiloh for him to be raised as a Nazarite, holy to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11).

Eli’s sons were a piece of work.  As 1 Samuel 2:12 informs us:

Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.

In this corrupt and ungodly condition, they served the Lord.  But, how can anyone who doesn’t know God actually serve Him faithfully and from his heart?  These men certainly didn’t.

In the animal sacrificial system of the Israelites, the fat of the offering was holy to the Lord.  We see this in Leviticus 7:1-5:

“This is the law of the guilt offering. It is most holy. In the place where they kill the burnt offering they shall kill the guilt offering, and its blood shall be thrown against the sides of the altar. And all its fat shall be offered, the fat tail, the fat that covers the entrails, the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering to the Lord; it is a guilt offering.”

And there was a severe penalty for not obeying this command as shown in Leviticus:22-27:

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, You shall eat no fat, of ox or sheep or goat. The fat of an animal that dies of itself and the fat of one that is torn by beasts may be put to any other use, but on no account shall you eat it. For every person who eats of the fat of an animal of which a food offering may be made to the Lord shall be cut off from his people. Moreover, you shall eat no blood whatever, whether of fowl or of animal, in any of your dwelling places. Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.”

Yet, what did Eli’s sons do?  They operated contrary to God’s will.  1 Samuel 2:15-16 outlines this:

Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.”

You can be assured that this was not pleasing to Yahweh.

Indeed, Eli knew all about the evil his sons perpetrated as supposed men of God, even to the extent of serious immorality, as 1 Samuel 2:22 describes:

Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

The text tells us that Eli spoke to his sons about these actions, but it’s obvious he had neglected to truly raise them in the way of the Lord.  His reprimand was tepid at best and had no teeth.  As a result, the wickedness in the house of Eli earned God’s wrath, and He determined to put the sons to death (1 Samuel 2:25).

It took a true – unnamed – man of God coming to the temple to declare God’s displeasure upon Eli and his sons and the consequence for how they had scorned Yahweh.  He declared the judgment that the sons would both die in a single day.  Later, when the Word of the Lord came to Samuel as a youngster and the time of this penalty approached, we see how little it worried Eli.  He essentially shrugged it off, saying in 1 Samuel 3:18 when Samuel related what would soon happen:

“It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.”

This impending doom didn’t seem to bother him much.  Perhaps, since he was so far from the Lord in his relationship, Eli didn’t really believe Yahweh would carry out His Word.

The parallels to churches  and their leaders today shouldn’t be missed.  We are in the midst of a great apostasy with people turning from God left and right.  This wouldn’t be happening were it not for the congregations being led astray by the pastors and priests in charge of their flocks first heading down this wide road into unbelief.

I personally believe that a significant contributor to this condition is the lack of teaching regarding Bible prophecy.  If seminaries and Bible schools taught this 1/3 of the Scripture, and their students – the pastors and priests – took it to heart and conveyed it to their congregations, there might not have been such disdain for the plans and purposes of God.  And, let’s be honest.  There is contempt for Bible prophecy throughout Christendom.

Church leaders and their followers simply don’t believe what God has said will happen.  They are like Eli.  They have little regard for the truth of God’s Word and His warnings.  Instead, they follow their own inclinations.  It has left the church barren and asleep.  It also will cause great distress when God acts upon His Word – which He will.

God gave us the forewarnings of Bible prophecy for a reason.  We neglect them at our own peril.  This deliberate avoidance of God’s prophetic Word will have consequences.  It leaves people ignorant and unprepared for what is to come.  Some will likely also be left behind when the Rapture occurs, because they never learned the fear of God that serious Bible prophecy teaching can instill.

It’s as Jesus said in Luke 12:15:

“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

This is not our best life now.  We should not consider it as such, contrary to the teaching of many prominent pastors.  Instead, as Jesus also said a little earlier in Luke 12:5:

“But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”

Perhaps with this attitude that provides a holy fear of God, many would be spared from eternal torment, but also from the wrath that God will soon unleash upon this unbelieving world.  Sadly, I fear that many – being misled – will soon face this most ungodly of times.

We who know and understand the prophetic significance of God’s Word will do well to be watchmen on the wall and attempt to reach others so as to warn them.

Luke 11:50-51 – The Doomed Generation

On the heels of Jesus describing the people of His time as an evil generation because they sought a sign from God – despite having seen many signs from Yahweh in the person of Jesus – He condemned them.  He said that the queen of Sheba and the men of Nineveh would rise up in judgment over the people of Israel, but more pronouncements of doom were coming (Luke 11:29-32).

When Jesus sat down to eat with a Pharisee, who then criticized Him for not adhering to their religious traditions and practices, He told him clearly how God saw this ruling elite, and it wasn’t good.  In fact, their heart condition in the presence of God Himself would cause Him to pour down wrath upon them as a people..

Kind and gentle, loving Jesus, who would never say anything to harm the delicate ears of anyone (yes, I’m being cynical and speaking of those who preach only a Jesus of love, grace, and tolerance) first called the Pharisees fools.  Their greed and wickedness permeated them from the inside out; God saw it, and He wasn’t pleased at the results.  Although Luke doesn’t record this first statement by Jesus as a woe, it surely was.

Jesus went on to declare six more woes, making a total of seven (God’s perfect number, showing how short man falls; the significance of this is extreme in this instance).  The remaining woes were as follows:

  1. Addressed to the Pharisees for the manner in which they tithed.  They gave on every last part of all their crops, but neglected justice and love.
  2. Addressed to the Pharisees for their pride in loving the acclaim of the people.
  3. Addressed to the Pharisees for the spiritual death that radiated off them, just as physical death caused a Jew to become unclean.
  4. Addressed to the lawyers for how they burdened people with laws and made themselves exempt.
  5. Addressed to the lawyers for righteously burying the prophets of old, yet the guilt of their fathers fell upon them for having killed those prophets.
  6. Addressed to the lawyers for teaching people what they didn’t need, thereby hindering them from entering the Kingdom of God.

All seven of these woes had accumulated over the years and built up a store of wrath.  The fifth woe, however, seems especially significant.  Time after time God’s children shed the blood of the prophets that He had sent to them.  Jesus appeared to lump Cain with all the people of Israel despite his not being a Jew nor technically part of God’s Chosen People (as that designation didn’t come about until much later).  Cain killed Abel.  His blood cried out from the ground for justice.  Because of the lineage of mankind descending from Cain, God saw Cain’s sin in the same light as that which apparently caused the death of Zechariah.  Jesus referred to Abel as a prophet, just as Zechariah was.  For these men whom God designated and sent as His representatives on earth, those whose hands were drenched in their blood earned special wrath from God.  And in Luke 11:50-51 Jesus describes the bad news:

“… so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.”

The generation that Jesus spoke of was the one of which He was a part.  He singled out the people of His day.  Not long after, Jesus articulated why in Luke 19:44:

“… and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

It was this generation among whom Jesus walked who missed His visitation.  In other words, they didn’t recognize Emmanuel – God with us.  Yahweh walked in their midst but they rejected Him.  For their spiritual blindness that particular generation earned God’s wrath that perpetuated through the millennia.  Recall that just before He was crucified, the people called for His death.  Matthew 27:25 shows how they did it:

And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

They actually called down a curse upon themselves.

That curse has remained to this day.  God has blinded the Jewish people as seen in John 12:40:

“He has blinded their eyes

    and hardened their heart,

lest they see with their eyes,

    and understand with their heart, and turn,

    and I would heal them.”

This is in contrast to Satan’s actions upon the rest of the world as 2 Corinthians 4:4 shows:

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Isn’t that interesting?  God blinded His own people for their rejection of Jesus, whereas it is Satan who blinds unbelievers elsewhere (i.e. Gentiles) who aren’t Jews.  This is part and parcel of the special attention that God gives Israel and will do even more so in the Tribulation.

Once the church has been Raptured, God turns His focus on Israel.  He desires for His own children to love and honor Him.  They ultimately will, but their final years before that happens will perhaps be worse than all the time since they killed Jesus.  However, we know that God’s mercy will prevail in the end.  As Paul says in Romans 11:26, “all Israel will be saved.

We know from the description of this time in Zechariah 13:8 that this actually means that those who are saved are the 1/3 remnant that remains at the end of the Tribulation.  But, at that time, something glorious happens.  The next verse, Zechariah 13:9 describes it:

“And I will put this third into the fire,

    and refine them as one refines silver,

    and test them as gold is tested.

They will call upon my name,

    and I will answer them.

I will say, ‘They are my people’;

    and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

The curse that fell upon the Jewish people in the time of Jesus’ generation will finally be lifted.  They will declare that Jesus – Yeshua – is Messiah.  On that marvelous day, just as Jesus declared in Matthew 23:39 (also in Psalm 118:26), the people of Israel will say:

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Awaken Prophecy Update 4-7-21 – MMT Disaster

Awaken Bible Prophecy Update 4-7-21 – MMT Disaster

Discussion points:

Review of article by Jim Rickards –

* Introduction

* What is MMT?

* Money is no object

* Isn’t excessive debt a bad thing?

* The PAYGO system

* Here’s what’s wrong with MMT

* Who needs the bond market?

* What about the banks?

* The future of MMT

* What investors (and everyone else) should do right now

* My commentary

 

 

Subscription source: https://paradigm.press/2021/02/25/an-economic-disaster-prepare-now-for-the-rise-and-fall-of-modern-monetary-theory/?pdf=1

 

Judges 20:35 – Destruction of Benjamin

The final events in the book of Judges 19-21 are among the most grievous in Scripture.  From a human perspective, it also seems to make little sense how God operated.  If you’re like me, perhaps you come away from the narrative scratching your head and wondering what God had in mind the way everything transpired.

We get a glimpse in this account of the wickedness that prevailed throughout Israel during this period, particularly within the tribe of Benjamin.  Their actions remind us of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The men were satisfied to have forced sexual relations with either another man or a woman; it didn’t matter.  Worse, their collective lust was so great that the life of the one whom they ravished had no value.  In this case, the Levite’s concubine died at their hands following a night of pure horror for her.

The Levite’s actions in response were no less eye-opening.  When he returned home with the concubine’s body, he cut her into pieces and sent those parts throughout Israel to all twelve tribes.  The shock of receiving these body parts produced outrage, which is what the Levite desired.  When the tribes came together to understand this evil, they learned of Benjamin’s crime.  The Levite intended to stir up revenge against the perpetrators, and he did.  The Benjamites, rather than hand over the guilty men, defended them, and all Israel went to war: the eleven tribes against Benjamin.

In any normal circumstance, the odds that Benjamin faced were overwhelming.  They had 26,000 men of war, while Israel in opposition had 400,000 men.  In addition to that enormous difference in troops, Israel actually inquired of the Lord, doing so three times in this episode.  That’s unusual in itself during this period, but with each inquiry, Yahweh told Israel to go against their brother Benjamin.

To Israel’s surprise in their first two forays, their losses against Benjamin were staggering.  Benjamin seemingly lost not a single man in the initial two battles, while Israel with – 15 times the manpower – lost 40,000 troops.  It was only on the third try in coming against Benjamin that Israel prevailed with limited losses and destroyed the Benjamite army as noted in Judges 20:35:

And the Lord defeated Benjamin before Israel, and the people of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day. All these were men who drew the sword.

This left Benjamin with only a handful of men remaining in the entire tribe.  It grieved Israel, as they realized that God had purposed the nation to have twelve tribes, and the loss of Benjamin would destroy what He intended.  This made them have compassion for the remainder of Benjamin.  Because of Israel’s vow not to provide them with wives, they had a problem.  However, they found a way to circumvent their vow and all the remaining men of Benjamin ended up with wives.  This event is the reason why Saul in 1 Kings 9:21 later refers to Benjamin as the smallest tribe of Israel.

The book ends on this note with the reminder once more in Judges 21:25 that:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

It was a period of great apostasy.  Yahweh was little thought of, and His ways were certainly far from those of the inhabitants of the land.  The Bible shows us that God allowed these circumstances to occur.  Men made their own choices and lived their lives without regard for the Law that Yahweh had given them.

The question that arises is why did God let these things happen?  What do we learn from them?

Several lessons come to mind:

  1. The book of Judges illustrates the free will of men.  If God were directing the decisions of mankind in a Calvinistic manner, He would have allowed none of this.  If He had with that theological understanding that advocates predestination, then He would be responsible for, i.e. the initiator of, all the evil that occurred.  That’s certainly not the case, as we know that’s not God’s character.
  2. It appears that God allowed these events and then orchestrated the final outcome so that Israel would see that their wickedness had consequences.  When men went their own way and gave in to the deceitfulness of their heart, terrible things happened.  This may have been one of the factors in looking at their history as a nation that prompted the Pharisees by the time of Jesus to enact such strict legalism in their religious practices.  They had seen what happened when Israel neglected the Law of Moses, so they put severe restraints in place so that the people would follow what God decreed.  Of course, we know that morality cannot be legislated, which is essentially what the Pharisees tried to do.  Man’s heart must be changed from the inside.  Outward laws cannot change the heart of man.
  3. Finally, why God allowed this to play out as it did remains a puzzle.  Why did He permit Israel to lose so many men before He gave them the victory over Benjamin?  They actually did what they were supposed to do by inquiring of Him.  He gave Israel the go-ahead to fight, yet Benjamin’s first two victories appear to have been supernaturally orchestrated for them not to lose a single man.  On the surface it makes no sense.  We come away from that by realizing that God has a big picture view that we don’t have with our human limitations.  He had His reasons, and we don’t have a clue.

The one bottom line we take away from Judges is that when man does what appears right in his own estimation, that’s not necessarily in accord with what God intends.  Yet, He allows us to make our mistakes so that, hopefully, we eventually learn from them.  Only by surrendering our prideful thinking that we know best can God finally get a Word in edgewise to inform us otherwise.  In addition, we typically have to reach rock bottom to let go of our presumptions for us to let God intervene for our good.

He truly knows what is best for us.  How much better it is when we live life His way!

Judges 18:19 – “Keep Quiet”

What is it about so many of the priests and Levites we meet in the book of Judges?  Each one seems to be worse than the next.  Weren’t they supposed to be set apart by God for service to Him because they stood athwart the sin and evil they saw during the incident of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:28-29)?  Didn’t God consecrate them and give them special privileges because of their faithfulness?  How then could they stray so far from God and His design for them?

In the narrative of the Ephraimite Micah, we get a glimpse into the apostasy of – not only the common people of Israel – but of the Levitical class.  Micah stole money from his mother, who then sanctioned his actions.  Through that relational mess, Micah used the money to make a shrine, an ephod (i.e. a priestly garment), and several idols (Judges 17:5).  The thought of Yahweh and obeying His Law never entered this man’s mind nor that or his mother.

A wandering Levite came along, who Micah commissioned to be his household priest, so they could worship using these several items.  This was directly against God’s command that the Israelites not set up altars throughout the land, but only worship where He directed.  But, as the text says, none of this mattered because “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).  With this outlook, Micah believed that setting the Levite in this position to lead his household worship gave him Yahweh’s favor, as noted in Judges 17:13:

Then Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.”

Into this apparently blissful situation, men from the tribe of Dan enter the picture.  Dan had been allotted territory to the west bordering the Mediterranean Sea, but they never fought for it; thus they were without their own God-given territory (Judges 18:1).  These Danite spies recognize the Levite, who informs them of his position in Micah’s house and blesses them in the Name of the Lord, without actually consulting Him for that blessing (Judges 18:6).

The spies returned to their people and related that the town of Laish, which was far north in Israel, was a perfect place for them to conquer the people and settle down.  Laish was in the foothills of Mount Hermon in the area previously occupied by Bashan.  That region was also a hotbed for demonic activity.  Later, when Jesus came, it was nearby that He proclaimed that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church, speaking of that center of ungodliness and to the rebellious spirits surrounding them.

On their way to Laish (which the Danites would rename as the town of Dan – Judges 18:29), the tribe stopped at Micah’s house.  Because the spies knew of the various pagan items of worship that Micah had, they boldly entered his house and stole his possessions to make them their own.  As they did, the Levite – Micah’s priest – stood and watched.  When he asked them what they were doing, we see the response in Judges 18:19:

And they said to him, “Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?”

Rather than object and call out the theft, or to finally realize he was supposed to perform his priestly duties in service to Yahweh, the next verse of Judges 18:20 gives us the Levite’s response:

And the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.

In other words, the priest kept quiet and actually celebrated the evil that he witnessed; worse, he participated in that wickedness.

This brings us to the church today and the heart condition of far too many pastors in the shepherding of their flocks.  Like the Levite, they want the approval of the world, so they go along with every evil that they witness.  Because they don’t fear God, they seek the blessings of man and actually enable sin.  Somewhere along the way they decided that a true relationship with Jesus Christ couldn’t fulfill them.  Whether these men or women – placed in the position of authority over a church – ever had a true, personal relationship with Jesus, to submit to man’s wants and desires rather than to the commandments of God has certainly obliterated any semblance of intimacy with Him.

The world has told them to, “Keep quiet.”  They are not to stand against the homosexual agenda, the social justice gospel, or the demonic movement known as BLM.  Rather than hold back the tide against these heretical developments, they embrace them, with many becoming integral parts of these activities.  Why?  Lots of reasons.  Some were never saved.  Certainly the fear of losing tax-exempt status for their church comes into play for many.  Others – despite attending seminary, or probably because of that – they’ve never learned the truth of God’s Word.  It was perverted in what they learned, and they disciple their congregations in the same corrupted manner.

Is it any wonder the church is falling away rapidly in the prophetically foretold apostasy prior to the soon-coming Tribulation?

Does it grieve your heart to watch this happen?  It certainly grieves me.

For those of us who see this, what can we do?  I think James 5:19-20 says it best:

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

In other words, in these dark times, let us continue to do the Lord’s work, to proclaim the true Gospel, and to reach out to others in their sin to save them through God’s mercy, if at all possible.

Luke 10:20 – The Most Important Thing

Jesus demonstrated His authority when He sent out disciples in His Name.  When He first sent out the Twelve, they received from Him the power to cast out demons and cure diseases, but in doing these miracles, their primary purpose was to proclaim the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2).  These were His handpicked men who had, up till now, seen Jesus perform similar supernatural acts and wonder at them, but this was something entirely new.  To be granted the ability to do what only God could, must have astounded them!

Having been sent out, the disciples became apostles, i.e. “sent ones.”  The text in Luke or the similar accounts in Matthew 10 and Mark 6 don’t tell us much as to the reaction of the Twelve when they returned.  Jesus had warned them that going in His Name would mean persecution because of the hatred that many would heap upon them.  For those who listened and believed, blessings would come, but for those who didn’t, the wrath of God would fall.  Upon their return, Jesus brought the apostles together to a place where they could rest.  Instead, the crowds followed and the feeding of the five thousand ensued.  In the face of the overwhelming need to supply food to so many, the apostles completely forgot everything they’d just experienced.  They had worked miracles, but apparently the thought of something supernatural happening in this instance escaped them.  It took God’s revelation to Peter that Jesus was the Christ (Luke 9:20) after the fact to remind them.  Still, they didn’t truly understand who Jesus was or who they were in Him.

For Jesus to expand the influence that God had sent Him to wield, sometime after sending the Twelve, He appointed another 72 (or 70 depending on the translation) to go to every place in Israel that He would eventually also go (Luke 10:1).  This number ties in with the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 and is likely a foreshadowing and representation of those Gentile nations that would also receive the Gospel.  Whether the number is 72 or 70 depends on how a couple nations are counted, and is ultimately immaterial.  What we subsequently see in Scripture is the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys in Acts.  God tasked him with going out to proclaim the Good News to the known world at that time.  When we look on a map at how Paul’s three trips progressed, they basically swept from east to west, and at one time or another touched each of the nations in the Genesis 10 Table of Nations.  Eventually, Paul had one nation remaining that he believed God required him to go.  That was Spain, i.e. Tarshish.  It was for that reason that Paul was adamant in his letter to the Romans that he would make it there, stopping by to visit Rome on the way.  The book of Acts doesn’t tell us whether or not he got there, but extra-biblical sources indicate that he did; then he returned to Rome where he was killed.

As with the Twelve, the 72 likewise had God’s power resting upon them.  They did remarkable miracles and brought many into God’s kingdom.  It’s doubtful that their amazement was any more than that of their twelve predecessors, but Luke gives us a glimpse into their reaction upon returning.  Luke 10:17-20 recounts:

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Look at all they did in the authority Jesus invested in them!  They had such joy (and perhaps a bit of pride in having done such things?).  But, Jesus wanted to make sure their priorities were straight.  He hadn’t given them these abilities to exalt themselves or to provide a show to an interested crowd.  No.  The purpose He had appointed them was to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  The miracles were simply a means of convincing the people that God and His presence were truly in their midst.

As for this set of apostles (for they also should be considered as such), Jesus wanted them to understand the most important aspect of all this for themselves.  Because of their faith and faithfulness, their names were now written in the Lamb’s Book of Life in heaven.  Nothing else mattered.

So it is with us.  God might impart miraculous gifts to some of us who believe because He has tasked us with a certain purpose.  But, we are to remember that these healings, and casting out of demons, or whatever else may occur, are all from the wellspring of God’s mercy and grace.  None of us who may do such things accomplish them in our own power.  Thus, for pride or arrogance to swell within us is an inappropriate response.

We should respond to anything that God gives us with both humility and thankfulness.  In all circumstances, whatever may happen, we should praise Him as the author and finisher of our faith, and the One who has all power and authority in heaven and on earth.  We shouldn’t look at and exalt ourselves in any way; instead we should give all glory to God and what He has done in our lives through Jesus Christ to bring us into the kingdom.

We revere Him, and Him alone, because He is worthy.

Luke 9:57-62 – Costly Faith

How corrupted the Words and teachings of Jesus have become in these latter days!  For anyone who has read the Bible to think that Jesus came to give us our best life now is a mystery.  Well, maybe not.  Satan’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy.  Certainly his intent is to cause those who read Scripture to see it not as it is, but as Satan wishes it.  In his hatred of God and all that He created, Satan wants nothing more than to turn people from Him by stealing the truth of God’s Word; by killing their faith; and by destroying them along with him when his time comes to be cast into the Lake of Fire forever.

Jesus did not mince His Words when He spoke about the cost of following Him.  We see multiple times where He warned His disciples that true faith was difficult.  It takes perseverance, a contrary understanding of the world with its pleasures and lures, and a determination to obey Him regardless how costly it might be.

Luke 9:57-62 lays out one such instance where Jesus described what this kind of life might look like:

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

In these verses Jesus gave three examples of what it may mean to truly be one of His disciples:

  1. Some of His followers may not have a permanent home like the majority of people; rather, by committing their lives to Him, God might require them to live out of suitcases or with people groups foreign to them.
  2. Human beings naturally want to be with their family and friends, not all of whom are saved.  In the Kingdom of God, there are only two kinds of people: those who belong to God, and those who don’t.  Jesus describes those who do not know Him as dead.  And for all intents and purposes, they are.  If the Holy Spirit of Christ doesn’t animate them and give them life, then their spirit is dead, and their body will eventually go to the grave with no hope of resurrection to life eternal with God.  Sometimes in our walk with the Lord, we have to go a different direction from those we love.
  3. Once someone commits to follow Jesus, that must become the most important thing in his life.  If it doesn’t, the likelihood that he will fall away is great, as Jesus’ Parable of the Sower illustrates.  Another example is Lot’s wife.  She had been delivered from God’s wrath upon Sodom and Gomorrah, but her heart still longed for the world and its lifestyle.  For that, she paid the ultimate price.  She looked back and became a pillar of salt.  As Jesus implies here in verse 62, she was not fit for the Kingdom of God.

We see the cost of following Jesus most clearly through the lives of believers in the 10/40 Window.  In this region of the world, many of those who have come to faith, face the very real threat of death every day.  In Muslim, Hindu, Communist, and animist societies the beliefs of family and friends may vary significantly from faith in Christ.  That may cause great hardship as tensions boil and suspicions fester.  Those around a believer may feel threatened by his faith in Christ and come against him.  He may be beaten, robbed, tortured, or killed.  His family may disown him, or they may be harmed because he won’t turn from Jesus.

The astounding fact is that those who truly love the Lord cannot be shaken.  Believers bought by the price Jesus paid for their sins know their eternal fate should they turn away.  They know the value of this free gift offered to them.  But, their lives can be hard.

Jesus came to give us life and that more abundantly (John 10:10).  This does not mean that our abundant life happens here in this world through its riches and by fleshly gratification.  To believe that is to believe another gospel.  Paul put this principle into writing in at least two different places in his epistles.

In Galatians 1:8 he said:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

Similarly in 2 Corinthians 11:4 he wrote:

For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

The true Gospel isn’t easy.  It speaks of great joy and spiritual abundance in the Lord, and of the hope and certainty of life everlasting.  None of this depicts a life following Jesus as one that is easy or that elevates our worldly experience above the eternal.

We must be careful by being discerning.  Let us know the Word of God by reading and studying it so we recognize the true Gospel from one that is false.  Let’s follow Jesus as He declared, not simply as man with his carnal worldview would have it.

Judges 10:16 – God Grew Weary

In the time of their oppression from various foreign powers, Israel stubbornly and foolishly resisted turning to Yahweh for deliverance.  Judges 10:6 describes this:

The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him.

This resulted in God once more giving the people essentially what they asked for, the fruit of their choices, as seen in the next verse, Judges 10:7:

So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites.

From this situation, Yahweh and His children had a dialogue (how this occurred is uncertain as the text doesn’t tell us) in which the Israelites cried out to Him and He answered.  They acknowledged their unfaithfulness, and the Lord reminded them how He had saved them time and again.  Despite this, they returned to the pagan gods of their oppressors rather than to Yahweh.  From this, in disgust, God says in Judges 10:14:

“Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.”

God is tired of their unfaithfulness.  They are so bound and determined to serve any god but Him, He’s fine with that.  Since they love these foreign gods so much, the ones over the nations that severely distress them, then by all means they should go back to them.  Let these gods bring deliverance.  His people certainly don’t need Yahweh.

(With the free will that God has given us, the choices we make are often contrary to His will and what He would have us do.  When we persist in following our own way despite His continued intervention in our lives, He finally sits back in annoyance and lets us do what we will.  This is the circumstance this Scriptural passage is conveying.)

Apparently, the people get a clue and determine that perhaps the foreign gods won’t bring them relief.  (Again, you have to wonder: Why would the Israelites think that the gods of their enemies would deliver them from those enemies?  That’s truly convoluted thinking, yet that’s exactly what they were doing.)

This leads to Judges 10:16:

So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel.

The people knew this was part of the deal in serving Yahweh.  They had to turn from their idols and pagan gods; so they finally did, and actually served the Lord as He had commanded.  During this time, they were still oppressed.

This oppression brings us to an intriguing statement in the text: and he became impatient over the misery of Israel (ESV).

The two words, impatient and misery, are key.  The ESV translation of impatient is the Hebrew word qatar (Strong’s #7114) variously meaning “to be short;” “grieved;” “annoyed;” or “to reap,” seemingly in a disgusted manner.  The KJV puts it as: ”and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel;” while the NASB translates it: “and He could no longer bear (or endure) the misery of Israel.”

The word misery in the Hebrew is amal (Strong’s #5999) meaning “trouble, labor, or toil.”

From these definitions, it appears we’re being told that God had labored excessively with Israel.  Yet, for all His work in trying to reap a good harvest, it left Him disgusted, and grieved that so little had come of it.

Reaping, in a sense, is the operative word in this phrase.  God has put such effort into the crop which is Israel.  He hopes and desires a good outcome, i.e. a plentiful harvest.  When that fails to appear, it’s like the farmer who has put his hand to the plow day after day, applied the sweat of his brow and the strength of his arms, and wearied himself in his toils.  When all this work results in his crop failing to produce – it’s all simply dried husks – how grieved he must be at that time of reaping!

This is God’s response to the situation.  In the book of Judges, it happens over and over.  Regardless, Israel is God’s Chosen People.  They are His special heritage, and He can’t give up on them.  Ultimately, this stubborn people will realize they cannot live joyfully or abundantly without Yahweh.

The narrative of Israel throughout Scripture shows us that God is incredibly forgiving in His love.  However, this doesn’t keep Him from being thoroughly disgusted with those who should know better; who should follow Him and obey all His commands because of the mercy He’s shown through all the generations.  No other god is like Him.  There is no god besides Him.  Yet, in our human condition, whether the people of Israel or those who call themselves Christians, we all have the tendency to stray from God’s amazing grace.

How pleased God is then, when we actually  love Him in return, and demonstrate that love!  Given all this history of Jews and Gentiles, can you imagine the blessings God would pour out if we embraced being His children?

Here’s the secret: He does, because He desires to be a loving, generous Father.  When we turn from our sin to Jesus, this paves the way for us to have life, and to have it more abundantly (John 10:10).