Oh, be Careful, Little Ears, Thumbs, and Toes

June 29, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Exodus | 7 Comments
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The framework of the Tabernacle was built with acacia wood, which is strong, pliable, and abundant in the region where the Israelites were encamped. Acacia wood was also used in the furnishings for the Tabernacle, some of which would then be covered with gold, although some of the furnishings were actually made of solid gold.

The inside coverings of the Tabernacle were linen, woven, and thicker and coarser toward the outside. Goat hides with the fur still attached were used for one layer. The metals and materials that were used went from being more precious on the inside of the Tabernacle – closer to the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies – to less precious as the construction moved further toward the outside.

The altar that would be used for the burnt offerings was similar to what we would think of as a big grill. There was also a laver for washing.

All the people who were allowed to worship would be allowed in the courtyard. Only priests could go into the Holy Place, although this area was visible from the outside.

There was the Table of the Bread of the Presence, which symbolized God’s fellowship with His people. In ancient customs – especially between the parties of a covenant – the eating of a meal together signified honor, respect, and trust. There was a lampstand for light, and to represent God’s light in the world. There was the altar of incense, by which the people were reminded of the need to live lives that smelled pleasing to God.

Only the High Priest could go into the Most Holy Place where the Ark was. No one else could even see inside there. The Ark was wrapped for moving, and carried by poles inserted through rings, because it was holy, but also to keep it from being damaged or worn.

In Exodus Chapter 29 we can read about the ordination or installation of the priests. They had special washing rituals, which symbolized washing off the world. They had special clothing so that they could be visually recognized as dedicated unto God. They performed special sacrifices to remind them that the external things they were doing were only symbols, and that the real focus was on God.

And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.

Exodus 29:19-20

They received symbols of special consecration upon their:
-Ears, to remind them of the importance of what they would hear – the Word of God and the petitions of the people;
-Thumbs, to remind them of what they were to do with their hands – pick up the burdens of God’s people and minister to Him in symbolic sacrifices;
-Toes, to remind them of where they were to go – into and among God’s people, and into the Tabernacle.

Just like New Testament believers, they were called to present their bodies as living sacrifices. If we fail to surrender our bodies to the Lord, it will do us no good to plead the excuse that God looks upon the heart and isn’t concerned with our outward actions, because our outward actions are the best indication of what’s really going on in our hearts. God wants both – the inward and the outward. Those of us who are Christian fathers and husbands especially need to be careful about what we listen to, what we pick up, and where our feet go.

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Martin Luther Told the Pope to S.W.I.M. out of the Sea of Flattery

June 26, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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For since I know that Your Blessedness [sic] is driven and tossed by the waves at Rome, so that the depths of the sea press on you with infinite perils, and that you are labouring under such a condition of misery that you need even the least help from any the least brother [sic], I do not seem to myself to be acting unsuitably if I forget your majesty [sic] til I shall have fulfilled the office of charity. I will not flatter in so serious and perilous a matter; and if in this you do not see that I am your friend and most thoroughly your subject, there is One to see and judge.

Martin Luther, writing to Pope Leo X in the prefatory remarks of On Christian Liberty

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.

Psalm 5:9

He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.

Proverbs 27:14

A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.

Proverbs 29:5

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.

Psalm 107:23-27

God’s Dispositive Will

June 24, 2015 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 3 Comments
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A third broad category of thought about the will of God is called the dispositive will, or the will of disposition. Your “disposition” is how you are inclined to feel about something. It does not necessarily dictate that you will act in accordance with your feelings, but it can certainly influence your actions. It can be helpful to think of it as God’s “emotive” will because we know that God does have emotions. His emotions are holy and perfectly controlled, but if we ascribe human emotions to Him for the purpose of being able to discuss His character and actions (and the Bible does this) it is called anthropopathism.

The Bible does not always let us in on God’s inclination or disposition about certain matters, but sometimes it does. For example:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

II Peter 3:9

What does this tell us about God? It does not reveal His decretive will because obviously many are going to perish despite the fact that He is not “willing” that any should perish.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

Nor is II Peter 3:9 dealing expressly with God’s preceptive will, because, although He does command everyone to be saved, this is talking about His desire rather than a command. What it is revealing is God’s dispositive will – His inclination or His feelings about those who reject Christ, regardless of how they wound up in that condition.

Another example of the Bible describing God’s will in dispositive terms is:

Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

Ezekiel 18:23

This verse is speaking about earthly, temporal life, not eternal life, and it asks a rhetorical question, so the answer should be clear.

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Ezekiel 33:11

The Lord could force the wicked to turn from their ways, and His disposition is inclined toward delighting in repentance, but He does not always do so. In fact, the punishment of the wicked conversely satisfies His justice, wrath, and holiness, but it gives Him no predispositional or emotional delight, and – emphatically and obviously – no sinful delight.

Here is another example:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:29-30

These verses express God’s will in the preceptive sense because they command us not to do certain things, but they also give us insight into the dispositive sense of His will because they tell us He can be grieved (a combination of sadness and anger). Am I really powerful enough to grieve the Spirit of God? My “power” is not really the issue, but my sin and rebellion certainly do affect our loving and caring God, and He responds with love and what seems in our finite human understanding to be a “hurt” response, although He keeps His promise to eternally seal us, despite our sin.

Neither the apparent conflicts between these operations of God’s will (preceptive, decretive, dispostive), nor the recognition of their complementarity, can be explained away by appeals to the “free will” of man, because God is still omniscient and omnipotent and omnipresent and omnibenevolent, which leads us to consideration of God’s secret, or hidden, will, which we will look at next time.

Weeping with the Enemy

June 22, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Posted in Weeping Creeping and Sleeping with the Enemy | 8 Comments
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The Israelites were traveling as a nation. They carried their place of worship – their Tabernacle – with them. They were strangers in a strange land. They were supposed to stay separated from the pagans they encountered because God did not want the false religions and these false gods they worshiped corrupting His people.

So, instead of attacking the Israelites, the Moabites sent women into their camp – women who did not have the same standards of purity and marital fidelity that God had commanded His people to have.

And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.

Numbers 25:1-2

This was so much more effective than attacking with an army of soldiers. It caused their own God and their own earthly leader, Moses, to have to deal with this sin very harshly.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.

Numbers 25:4

God told Moses to “take the heads” of the families, which does not mean that He ordered them to be decapitated, but that He wanted the leaders and princes of the tribes – the ones who had failed to restrain their families – to be rounded up. They were to be killed and displayed before sundown – in broad daylight – so that everyone could see, and possibly so that their bodies were left hanging up, and not buried, to show that they were cursed as Covenant-violators. God also sent a plague into the camp, and people were dying by the thousands from what appeared to be disease.

And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.

Numbers 25:5

Now we see why there was weeping: Israelites killing Israelites; dead bodies everywhere; God angry – fiercely angry – at His own people for their rebellion and sin, after all He had done for them. This is a brutal tableau.

Generally in the Bible there are two types of weeping. There is genuine weeping over genuine sorrow – sometimes caused by the pain of separation and even death – but often caused by sincere repentance over sin. One example is:

And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up.

II Samuel 15:30

King David’s son, Absalom, had rebelled against him because of David’s own sin. David wept, though, not out of despair, and not because he thought he was getting an unfair deal. He wept because He knew His Heavenly Father was displeased, but forgiveness was still available.

Another good example is:

Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.

Ezra 10:1

As Ezra was trying to rebuild the Temple, the people fell into sin, divorcing their wives and marrying pagan women. The result was that people began weeping in confession (agreeing with God) and repentance (determined to try to make things right). God does not turn away those who are truly brokenhearted, if they are brokenhearted because they have betrayed Him.

Weeping selfishly is a sign of immaturity in babies when they do it as a means to get their own way, but it is actually a sign of maturity for Christians who finally see the depths of our sin, and the richness of God’s mercy in forgiving us.

There is also, though, a type of weeping which is useless. One example is:

For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Hebrews 12:17

The weeping of Esau was the weeping of the “I wish I had not done that, because it did not work out well for me” variety. His tears were not the tears that say, “I am sorry for what I did because it was against the God Who loved me.”

Another is example is:

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

Luke 13:23-28

This is the weeping of “it’s too late for me now” and the weeping of “I’m sorry I got caught,” not the weeping of “I was wrong and God was right. I humble myself and ask for the mercy I do not deserve.”

There is a weeping before the Lord, and these tears affect Him because they are really about Him and our relationship with Him, but there is a weeping with the enemy, too, whether that enemy is Satan, the world, or our own flesh. This weeping falls under the category of feeling sorry for ourselves, and it results in tears that wash the altar of a false little god called “me.” They are ineffectual and useless tears, and if you and I find ourselves having this kind of pity party, we don’t need a pat on the back or a soothing lullaby. We need a strong dose of Bible truth and a good Holy Spirit-shaking and slap across the face, in order to get the focus off of ourselves, and to get it on the crucified and resurrected Savior Who has the power to wipe away all tears once and for all in eternity.

Next time, we will see the results of one couple’s callous actions in the midst of all this weeping.

Beware of Fresh-Faced Frowardness

June 19, 2015 at 4:04 pm | Posted in The Fives | Leave a comment
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Youth is prized in our modern culture. Actually, a youthful appearance has probably always been coveted among those who seek a shallow outward-focused beauty. But it is only in relatively recent times that youthfulness has started to seem like an indicator of quick-wittedness, intelligence, discernment, or at least innovation.

The Bible, as is so often the case, stands in contrast to, and corrects, the “wisdom” of the world.

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

I Peter 5:5

Humility is an important trait for every Christian believer to cultivate, but it is especially incumbent upon those who are less mature, both in age and in spiritual growth, to be in subjection to their elders.

Submission can be a tricky and touchy topic these days, but the admonition and command concerning church authority, leadership roles, and attitudes is that the younger believers generally defer to the elder believers, who, through experience, are in a better position to govern (as undershepherds) the Body of Christ.

The Rules of War

June 17, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Matthew | 2 Comments
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In Matthew Chapter 10 we can see the King giving power to His workers.

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Matthew 10:2-4

They are listed in pairs because Jesus sent them out two by two. They would go forth and confront people, some of whom would become upset.

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 10:32-33

Open proclamation of Christ is a key element of being a Christian.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

The Bible does not teach that God throws believers in hell if they don’t witness often enough, but it does remind us that He is able to throw people into hell, and He will throw unbelievers who have rejected Christ into hell, and, therefore, we should not fear anyone or anything more than we fear Him.

Before salvation we were at war with God. There was enmity between us. We hated Him and He was mad at us. When we surrendered, we switched sides. Now we are still in a war, but we are on the winning side. God can’t lose.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:34-39

In a war, even the winning combatants suffer, but it is a privilege to suffer for the winning side – for Christ. All the troops will be honored, but the wounded or the prisoners will be even more honored. There is no middle ground with God. We’re either on His side or rebelling against Him – fighting for or fighting against.

Restless Unbelief

June 15, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Some Christians are like the children of Israel in the wilderness. They struggle with entering in to the rest of assurance, which was foreshadowed in the Old Testament by the promised land of Canaan.

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Hebrews 3:19

True Biblical belief isn’t all about just believing in what God can give you. It’s believing that God is still God – that He’s still in control – when you don’t get what you want. It’s believing that He wants you to do right, and that, if you don’t, He’s going to do something about it, because He loves you.

Many people look at the Old Testament story of Moses in the wilderness, and they think that Canaan is the Old Testament version of Heaven. That’s why some songs talk about crossing over the river Jordan when you die. But Canaan doesn’t represent Heaven. There were battles, and even defeats, over there. Crossing over into Canaan represents the point at which believers – true Christians – by faith receive their spiritual inheritance this side of Heaven. Those who died in the wilderness were still believers and followers of Yahweh, but they kept wandering around in unbelief, and were continually being chastened by their loving Father because they would not “draw near” to God.

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

Hebrews 3:7-11

Let’s draw near to God when times are good – and when times are bad. Let’s not be bold in the sense of demanding, but let’s be bold in the sense of openness and confidence. Entering into our rest doesn’t mean lying around on a cloud all day, playing your harp. It’s not early retirement from the pilgrimage to the Heavenly home. It’s certainly not – despite what you might have heard from the flavor-of-the-month TV preacher – getting a mansion, a Rolls Royce, a bunch of jewelry, and the best plastic surgery. No, entering into your rest is being able to confide in God – because you have drawn near to Him – and you know that He is working things out for your good.

Lord, thank You for those in our lives that we love, and for those that love us. Thank You that You are love. Help our love to bypass the stage of feeling and emotion, and to become active. Help us to be a people that shows love, and make us conscious of opportunities to show love to others. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

Worship Is about Sacrifice

June 12, 2015 at 9:31 am | Posted in Exodus | 6 Comments
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The instructions that God gave to Moses and the people for the construction of the Tabernacle let them know that this was going to be a movable structure, but its mobility was not merely functional, like a circus tent. The purpose of the Tabernacle would be greater than simply providing shade or a central location to worship. It was supposed to inspire appreciation for God’s attributes.

The Tabernacle would point to God’s strength and His beauty:

Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.

Exodus 26:1

It would inspire reverence of Him:

And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.

Exodus 26:33-34

This was going to represent the place where the presence of God on earth lived.

It would be a place of sacrificial worship:

And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass.

Exodus 27:3

True worship always involves more than receiving. True worship is primarily about giving – giving that which is costly and valuable to us – ultimately, giving ourselves.

In Exodus Chapter 28 we see the ordination of the Aaronic priesthood. The priests were ministers – to the people, yes, but not primarily to the people.

And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.

Exodus 28:1

We forget this aspect of ministry too often. We think we are doing what we do for others or ourselves (and they and we do benefit), but true priests ministered unto the Lord, which means that we need to ask, “Is what I’m doing pleasing to Him?” In order to know what’s pleasing to Him, we need to ask Him, by looking for the answer in His Word. We must think of Him even before the people who are in danger, even before our own children, even before my spouse. The very clothes and garments of the priests reflected that whatsoever they were to do, they were to do it unto the Lord.

And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.

Exodus 28:2

When Is It Good to be Proud? (Spoiler Alert: Never)

June 8, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 18 Comments
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I have written about this before, but – and this is hardly surprising – I apparently managed to influence exactly no one. In fact, I have either gotten more sensitive to the problem, or it has actually become an even worse epidemic.

“Here is a photo of my kids’ report cards, honor roll certificates, dance trophies, and character medals. I’m !!!!SO PROUD!!!! of them!”

“Junior got his driver’s license today. I’m one proud mama!”

“Sissy was baptized last Sunday at church! #BeyondProud!!!!”

“I don’t care what those liberals say, I’m PROUD of what this country stands for!”

“Tough loss for State U last night, but proud of those boys for giving it their all!”

“I’m proud to be a dad.”
“I’m proud to be an alumni.”
“I’m proud of my heritage.”
“I’m proud to be a Christian.” (duck, lightning warning!)
“I’m proud to call you my spouse.”
“I’m proud to be an Okie from Muskogee.”

Good grief! Where will it end? As Jerry Seinfeld might say, “What’s the deal with pride?”

seinfeld

Look, if you don’t believe the Bible, or if you’re pretending that you don’t believe in God (even though you and God both know that you really do), or if you’re not a Christian, then I understand. Being proud of all kinds of stuff is sort of your thing, and that’s to be expected. You’re not only proud, you’re obsessed with announcing your pride, and compelled to put it out there for eveyone to see. In fact, you are proud of being proud. You should read this, and then come back here.

And I know I’m not the Christian language police, but, if you’re a Christian, you should be concerned about things like truth and obedience and righteousness and specifically what the Bible says about our attitudes and expressions. Good news! I did the research for you. Here’s a list of all the Bible verses that mention pride. Here are the ones that use the word “proud.”

Did you see anything good? I didn’t. I saw stuff like pride leading to destruction, and pride exciting God’s wrath, and proud people grouped in with people classified as liars and murderers and evil-doers and the wicked. The word “abomination” was used at least once. Ouch.

Let me anticipate the argument, because I have heard this before. When Christians say, “I’m proud” or they talk about having “pride” in such and such, they don’t really mean the sinful kind of pride. They mean they’re happy for someone or happy about something. Sometimes they’re really lifting up another person’s accomplishments, or they just want someone to acknowledge their own hard work or sense of worth.

Okay, fair enough. I know people mean different things, but let’s examine this more closely. When you say, “I’m proud of my kids,” why exactly are you saying it? Are you saying it because you want people to see you taking the credit for what they’ve accomplished? That’s called bragging, and it’s certainly a form of sinful pride. Are you saying it because you want other people to be impressed with what your kids have done on their own? That’s taking credit and glory away from God, Who enabled, and sovereignly caused, your kids to have success at something. Why would you want to do that? That will bless neither you, your kids, nor the people who read or hear it.

If you say, “When I say I’m proud, I really mean I’m pleased with them. Or they’ve brought me joy. Or they’ve encouraged me by their hard work. Or I’m grateful and thankful for what they’ve accomplished. Or I want to give honor where honor is due.” There, you’ve solved your own problem! Say those things instead of saying you’re proud. Because here’s the deal with what we say:

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

Matthew 15:18-19

And if you say, “What we think and do is more important than what we say,” then consider:

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Matthew 12:35-37

The bottom line is, what’s coming out of my mouth is a really good indicator of what’s in my heart. So, I’m going to admit it: I have four wonderful daughters and I’m proud of them. But I’m sinfully proud, and I’m asking the Lord to deliver me and change my heart and to forgive me for my pride. It’s not a good thing for me to be proud, and I shouldn’t want to announce it and show it off.

Or, for example, when the Houston Astros, a team that has suffered three straight horrible seasons, finally get the season off to a great start, the way they have this year, I do want to retweet all the game updates that are hashtagged #HTownPride, but I’m not going to – (1) because it makes no sense for me to be proud of something which is not my own personal accomplishment; (2) it’s sinful to be proud, and; (3) even if I’m feeling sinfully proud, I don’t want to brag about my pride and compound the sin even more.

I’ve been told repeatedly that I must tell my children that I’m proud of them. The Lord knows I’m not a good father. Many if not most of the problems that my daughters have (and they certainly have their fair share) are my fault. They sometimes evoke a gasp when they tell people, “My parents told me they’re not proud of me and they never will be.” They say this because we have tried to stop using that terminology. We love our daughters very much. We are thankful for them. They bring us unbounded joy. We are pleased with them. They work hard, and they have been gifted by God in amazing ways. We praise Him for them. We want them to feel loved, secure, and encouraged. If they don’t know those things, then I must take the blame for not telling them often enough, or making my feelings evident enough in my actions and attitudes. But if you tell me, “You have to tell your kids you are proud of them,” I’ll say, “Show it to me in the Bible.” When you show me a Bible verse commanding me to be proud, and then to truthfully express that pride verbally, I’ll confess, repent, and ask God to help me obey His Word. Until then, though, I’m going to battle against my pride and encourage my family, friends, and loved ones to do the same. And if I manage it, God will get all the praise and glory for it, not me.

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Setting the Scene

June 5, 2015 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Weeping Creeping and Sleeping with the Enemy | 1 Comment
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And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Numbers 25:6 (emphasis added)

God through the leadership of Moses had delivered His people from the bondage of the Egyptians. They had crossed the Red Sea into the wilderness. The plan was that they would follow the guidance of the Lord into a land which God had promised to the descendants of Abraham for their inheritance. When they had met resistance, God had won the battle for them.

And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho.

Numbers 22:1

This was to be the staging area from which they would cross the Jordan River into the land of Canaan – the promised land – the land flowing with milk and honey. They had defeated the Amalekites, the King of Arad, the Amorites, and the great and mighty Og, King of Bashan. They had lost a smaller skirmish to some Canaanites they rashly attacked outside of the will of God, but their win-loss record was 4-1, and they were on a roll. So, obviously, the
King of Moab, whose name was Balak, was afraid of them.

And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel. And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.

Numbers 22:3-4

His plan to deal with them was two-fold. First, he would form an alliance with the Midianites. Second, he would hire a famous sorcerer and (false) prophet named Balaam to put a curse on these Hebrews, so that the Moabites and the Midianites could defeat them in battle. Balak went to great expense to hire Balaam’s services.

He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me: Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.

Numbers 22:5-7

At first Balaam refused to come. Despite his status as a practitioner of divination, the true God had spoken to him and told him that he would not be able to curse a nation of people who God had blessed. Nevertheless:

And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they. And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people. And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.

Numbers 22:15-18

Balaam ended up coming with Balak’s representatives anyway, and, although God was displeased with him, He allowed him to go. There is a very funny story about his trip, during which he rode on a donkey, if you want to take the time to read it, but I will probably save it for another lesson, except to say that perhaps the most amazing thing about Balaam’s donkey talking to him is not the fact that his donkey did in fact speak, but that Balaam does not seem to have been surprised by it in the least when it happened. Possibly Balaam was quite used to demons and evil spirits speaking to him through animals, in much the same way Satan spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden through a serpent.

God spoke through Balaam, and he gave great prophecies about God’s people. They were great because they reiterated the blessings that God had promised to the nation of Israel, but, even more importantly, they were true. God can speak through a donkey, and he can speak through an otherwise false prophet. It was not all these supernatural phenomena, nor the behind-the-scenes scheming and machinations of Balak, that ultimately brought God’s people to a place of weeping. Ultimately, it was a very mundane, a very worldly, a very no-nonsense, down-to-earth plan of action that brought God’s people into condemnation, and they had themselves to blame for it. Next time, we will see precisely why the Israelites were weeping.

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