Marriage Should Not be Sterile

December 3, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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In previous lessons in this series on Isaiah 62:1-4, I said that marriage should not be secret, static, spurious, or somber. Now will see that marriage should not be sterile.

Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.

Isaiah 62:4

For God’s people, desolation would become “Beulah.” Fruitlessness can become fruitful marriage – often (but not necessarily) with children and grandchildren, but, even more so, with the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit brings happiness to the bearers and the consumers, and joy when shared. Joy and God’s glory should be the “product” – like the fruit in the “produce” section of a supermarket – of our marriages.

It is certain that a major part of the original dominion mandate – God’s pronouncement about marriage in the first marriage – was that child-bearing (fruitfulness, the fruit of the womb, not the Fruit of the Loom, that’s a different lesson, just “kidding,” no pun intended) was the responsibility of spouses who want to honor God. Does this mean that married couples who cannot conceive children, or who are past the age of child-bearing, or who have made the decision (often with the assistance of some type of pre-conception surgical intervention) not to have any more children are failing God by living on the “desolate” rather than the “Beulah” side of His favor? No! Certainly your life as a married person – and as a married couple – can still be very fruitful. Make your marriage about producing SPIRITUAL fruit to the glory of God. Win souls. Make disciples. Plant seeds in the lives of unbelievers. Pull out weeds of sin and and distraction. Water the soil with tears of compassion in your prayers. Consider adoption. Consider investing in the lives of your grandchildren or other people’s children. Encourage other married couples in the Lord. Be a blessing in the name of Jesus wherever you go and whatever you do.

God proclaims fruitfulness in general as a blessing.

Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.

Deuteronomy 7:14

He proclaims fruitfulness as a source of joy in the HOME.

He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 113:9

He proclaims fruitfulness as fulfillment and strength.

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:4-5

The world says a happy marriage is insular – that’s it’s peaceful and that no internal problems or conflict between the spouses disturb it. That’s nice when it happens, but God wants the happiness to spread out and multiply – to ENGAGE the world and to ADVANCE God’s Kingdom in it.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

November 26, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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The well-known Incarnation celebration hymn, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” was first written by Charles Wesley, and later changed by George Whitefield, who changed the first line from, “Hark, how all the welkin ring,” to “Hark, the herald angels sing.” This changed the emphasis from the regeneration of the natural world, including inanimate creation, to the regeneration of mankind, God’s image-bearing creation.

The word “hark” does not appear in the Bible, but it is a shortened form of “hearken,” which does appear in 150 verses. For example,

Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?

Isaiah 42:23

Hearken means to listen closely, to listen with intensity and purpose, and with the intention of responding to what is heard. It is a great word to use in connection with the Annunciation: the announcement of the birth of Christ. Only those with “ears to hear” had been listening to the prophecies in the Word of God for centuries and centuries. Now was the time to hearken with joy, for faith to become sight AND to become audible.

The angels are called “herald” angels, and they were announcing good news. Before the internet, television, or even newspapers, the “town herald” heralded good news. The word “angel” means “the deliverer of news,” and, in the case of the EvANGELion, the greatest news of all.

Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

Psalm 103:20 (emphasis added)

The angels who announced the good news (“good tidings“) of “great joy” were angels which had hearkened, and which must be hearkened unto.

“Hark, the herald angels SING.” Singing, in the Bible, is often a sign of joy.

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Ephesians 5:19

New Testament singing is a gift of encouragement. The angels weren’t content to make a simple spoken announcement. This was an event worthy of sublime poetry in beautiful song.

“GLORY to the newborn King.”

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:14

Glory” is the weight of God’s attributes. It also speaks of His renown. It is His greatness showing forth – being revealed and made known. It is extreme. We like knowing that He is a powerful, transcendent, glorious God, but His glory also makes us “sore afraid.”

The phrase, “glory to the newborn King,” is a striking paradox, for this King was God, but how could the eternal God be “newborn?” This was a proclamation that God had become man – still God, but now adding humanity to Himself in order to accomplish the redemption of His fallen creatures, now His kinsmen: His own “race.”

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

Acts 17:6-7

It took people a while to realize the full meaning of the announcement that the King had arrived as a newborn baby, but, once it was understood, the Apostles and the early Christians turned the world upside down with this message: The true King had died, risen, and ascended to sit down at the throne of God.

The message of the Incarnation of the Son of God (which this world calls Christmas) is a history lesson, but it is also a prophecy, a promise, and a sure prediction that will be fulfilled in a greater way yet to come. We must hearken back, and, every time we hear the familiar song, or think about Christ in any circumstance, to hearken forward as well.

Marriage Should Not be Somber

November 14, 2018 at 4:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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In previous lessons in this series on Isaiah 62:1-4, I said that marriage should not be secret, static, or spurious. Now will see that marriage should not be somber.

Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.

Isaiah 62:4

God’s people had been called Forsaken – forgotten or abandoned by their God – but the parallel contrast is that He would remove the name “Forsaken” and replace it with “Hephzibah” which translates as “My delight is in her.” Normally, I’m a proponent of being somber over being silly. That’s kind of my personality, and, as Christians, although we are not opposed to fun, we don’t want to be primarily identified as frivolous. In our marriages, we don’t want either spouse to be – or even feel, for that matter – “forsaken,” nor do we want people to get that impression. We want our marriages to show off the joy of the Lord. In fact, that joy follows closely on the heels of the idea of exercising dominion and kingship in this world, and, according to the Bible, it is a source of our strength:

The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah. For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head.

Psalm 21:1-3

We hear much about having a “happy marriage” these days, but, for Christians, the idea of joy in marriage is not that we have settled into a complacent peace that is dependent on everything going smoothly in our circumstances. The idea is that we are abounding in joy, and that our joy is contagious because we have been “saved” from the curse of sin. We have been given our “heart’s desire.” We have been crowned, not with a withering grass laurel, but with a crown of “pure gold.”

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

Proverbs 5:18

Not only will this delight us because of God’s promise of blessing, but the Lord Himself will “Hephzibah” – delight! – in us and our marriages.

In the next lesson we will see that marriage must not be sterile.

Marriage Should Not be Spurious

October 29, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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In previous lessons in this series on Isaiah 62:1-4, I said that marriage should not be secret or static. Now will see that marriage should not be spurious.

Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.

Isaiah 62:3

Crowns and diadems are terms of royalty, sovereignty, ruling and reigning, kingship, but what do they have to do with marriage?

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:26 (emphasis added)

Men and women are made in the image of God. We are to be accurate representatives of Him in His earth, and we are to exercise authority over every aspect of life in a way that shows Who He really is and what He is really like.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:27-28

This is so-called “dominion mandate.” We are to subdue the earth and make it fruitful and productive and a place where every nook and cranny of it glorifies the Creator.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18

Eve was a helper that was perfectly suited to Adam, but to help him do what? To help him accurately express God’s image in God’s world by exercising dominion and being fruitful. God made sure Adam understood this.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

Genesis 2:19-22

This was the first wedding and the first marriage. This was before sin entered into the world, so this is our ideal for Christian marriage.

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Genesis 2:23-24

Marriage gives us joy, it gives us companionship, it gives us pleasure, it gives us friendship. It is good for problem-solving. It produces new human beings so that Jesus will get new disciples. But it is very much about symbolizing the crown of God’s royal authority in this world, and the diadem in His hand whereby He issues forth His Word. Married couples play a key role in bringing God’s will to pass and enforcing it in the world, so we must not be spurious image-bearers. We must not be out of order, with the wife leading when she should be following, and the husband following when he should be leading. We must not be at odds with each, any more than the Persons of the Trinity are at odds with each other, and we must not drop out of the world out of fear or laziness, and let it run to ruin. We are ambassadors of an invisible King, so we must make His presence known with our marriages, in order to bear His image accurately and genuinely (which is the opposite of spuriously).

In the next lesson we will see that marriage must not be somber.

Motivated by Fear?

October 26, 2018 at 9:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Question: When I get tempted to sin, sometimes I overcome temptation out of fear of going to hell. Is this a sinful motivation?

Answer: There are two separate issues to address here. First, someone who has truly been born again is never in danger of going to hell. Christians are tempted to sin all the time, but someone who has truly been born again will be helped by the Lord, rather than condemned, when he or she faces temptation. If anyone reading this has any doubt whatsoever as to whether he or she has truly been born again, please click here, read the referenced Bible verses, believe them, and call upon Christ to save you this very moment.

Second, fear of the Lord is not a bad motivation for overcoming temptation and avoiding sin, as long as it accompanied by the motivation of remembering that Christ died and rose again to set you free from, not just the penalty for sin, but also the POWER of sin, and then to remember that all temptations faced by true Christians come to us pre-allowed by God Himself with built-in escape routes.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

Marriage Should Not be Static

October 11, 2018 at 10:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Last time, I looked at Isaiah 62:1-4 and developed the principle from Verse 1 that marriage should not be secret. Additionally, marriage should not be static.

And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.

Isaiah 62:2

One day the Lord will give His people a new name. As Christians we are associated now with suffering and failure, unpopularity and persecution, but there there will come a day when non-Christians (described as “Gentiles” in Isaiah 62:2) – even the mightiest of them – will see the glory that our glorious God shares with us.

In marriage, wives get a new name when they get married. Husbands do not, except collectively. A married couple comes to be known as the “Smiths” or the “Joneses” or the “Wilsons.” For Christian married couples we should not be satisfied with a shared and commonly known “new” last name. We want to achieve even more names that reflect glory on the Lord of our marriages. We want to be the married couple about whom people say: “They go to church;” “They teach their children to pray; “They look so IN LOVE.”

When you refer to your spouse in the presence of other people, don’t fall into the worldly practice of speaking disparagingly about him or her, calling your husband, “my old man,” or calling your wife, “the old lady.”

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

Your spouse may know you’re joking, but we’re talking about other people and their perceptions, and what they think of marriage in general and yours in particular. Don’t let the way you talk about your marriage become static. Avoid terms that are presumably supposed to be funny, but, in reality, reveal boredom, dissatisfaction, or exasperation about your spouse or your marriage. Don’t say rude things like “the old ball and chain” or “the battle axe.”

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.

Ephesians 4:29

“Hearers” in that verse is plural, and being “edified” means being built up, not remaining static. Unkind words, and, worse, false unkind words, not only fail to minister grace to the one you are saying them ABOUT, or saying them TO, but to everyone else listening in, or to whom they are repeated.

You don’t want your spouse telling his or her friends bad things about you, but the best remedy for that is not to swear your spouse to silence. The best remedy is to give your spouse good things to say – to improve yourself, with God’s help, as a spouse, rather than merely trying to hush up the talk about your relationship.

Next time we will see that marriage should not be spurious.

Marriage Should Not be Secret

September 24, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Posted in Isaiah, Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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After the initial novelty of marriage wears off, it can be easy for some spouses to view our marriages as just a fact of everyday life – part of who we are and what we are allowed and not allowed to do because of the fact that we are married. Even Christian spouses, if not regularly involved in church ministry that emphasizes the importance of marriage, can forget that what is taught in the Bible must be applied not only to how we think about marriage, but how we live within our marriages. Most secular marriage counseling, and even much church-related marriage counseling and teaching, focuses on things like finances, parenting, scheduling and time management, jobs and careers, hobbies, communication, etc. If we’re not careful we’ll spend so much time and energy trying to figure those things out, that we will miss the significance of God’s true intentions for marriage, and will fail to plumb the depths of the greatest source of wisdom concerning marriage: the Word of God.

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.

Isaiah 62:1-4

The children that God has entrusted into my care as a father have some pretty unusual names, and people have been known to occasionally give them a hard time because of it. For this reason, I’m the last person to make fun of someone’s name. However, there are some names – names that in years past were popular – that have simply gone out of style, and that you just don’t hear much anymore. Take, for example, the name “Beulah.” Do you know anyone named Beulah? It was a fairly popular name from 1890 to 1911 (which also happens to be the year that the famous hymn “Dwelling in Beulah Land” was published). In 1901 almost 4000 out of every one million baby girls were named Beulah. However, the popularity of the name plummeted rapidly after the turn of the 20th Century, and last year only ten out of every one million baby girls were named Beulah.

In Isaiah 62:4 the name Beulah means “married,” but the context is not, strictly speaking, marriage itself. Isaiah 62 is talking about how God will restore exiled Israel, and, in a greater sense, how He will regenerate, renew, and restore all His people in the New Covenant Church. However, it is a very relevant passage on the topic of literal marriage because it gives insight into how God – the Creator of marriage – expects marriage to be.

I. Marriage should not be a secret.

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace…

Isiah 62:1

To hold our peace means to be quiet. We should not be quiet about our marriages. They are great vehicles for glorifying God. Fallen sinners do not naturally (nor should they) trust and commit to each other, but as Christians we do not wear the label of fallen sinners as our primary identity. We have been redeemed by God’s grace, and we are allowed and encouraged to advertise this reality.

… I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.

Isaiah 62:1

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

Three groups of people immediately come to mind when I think about those who need to hear that Christian marriage is absolutely wonderful:

A. Young people who will soon be of the age to consider marriage or possibly get married

Marriage is not for everyone, but it is for most, and it is a great gift from God. It should be seen as a goal strive for and a victory to obtain, not as the end of freedom and the beginning of a life sentence of fun-denial.

B. Non-Christians

Whenever I see a pagan couple who claims to have a happy marriage, it is bittersweet. I’m thankful for the “common” grace of God that keeps them from killing each other, but I know that their marriage could be so much better.

C. People having marriage problems (whether they are Christian or not)

Every time you speak of your marriage you might be giving marriage advice or acting as a marriage counselor, whether you intend to be or not. The last thing someone struggling in his/her/their marriage needs to hear is another complaint or gripe about marriage. People need encouragement. They need to see how wonderful marriage truly can be. Is it bragging or boasting to sound off about how much we love our marriages? No! Because people are supposed to see our “good works” not so they can glorify US, but so that they may glorify OUR FATHER which is in Heaven!

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.

Isaiah 62:1

Don’t be bashful or withdrawn about your marriage. A torch is given for the purpose of lighting up the darkness and showing off the Truth.

Next time we will see the importance of spiritual growth within our marriages.

Faith in God

July 11, 2018 at 9:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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In Christian ministry we try to balance correction with encouragement. We definitely want to make sure that, as Christians, we are not provoking God to anger by the hardness of our hearts, which is Bible terminology for a willful and obstinate refusal to obey Him. On the flip side, we should be jumping at opportunities to please God in any way we can, after all He has done for us. Well, if you are someone has trouble with the concept of faith, there is no real nice way to say this: If we want to please God, there is absolutely no way to do it without faith.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Mark 11:22

It is one thing to believe that God exists. It’s a whole other thing to believe that He will do what He says He will do. Christians must believe that He is real; that He can do what He says; and that He will keep the promises He gives to those who obey Him.

In everyday English, if I say, “I really believe in my wife,” you would not take me to mean only that I believe that there is an existential entity named Laura Hampton. No, you would take me to mean that I have faith in her character. I believe she is going to do what she ought to do in a given situation.

Jesus knew God better than anyone knows God. When He told the Disciples, “Have faith in God,” He was telling them that God can and will do what He has said He will do. Vance Havner used to talk about the seemingly contradictory, but actually miraculous, power of faith, by saying that real faith believes the incredible, sees the invisible, and does the impossible. The miraculous is only the miraculous from our point of view. From God’s point of view there is no “miraculous,” because He can do all things (Mark 10:27). From God’s point of view nothing is invisible, because He sees everything (Matthew 6:4). From God’s point of view nothing that He says is “incredible,” because, as the only One Who can not lie, He is completely credible (Hebrews 6:18). As Christians, we must learn to “believe in God.”

Jeremiah and the Blackhearts

May 30, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Posted in Jeremiah, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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It is almost as if the Lord turns introspective in Jeremiah Chapter 8. He was clearly both angry and sad (grieved) by the people’s refusal to understand (or accept) the basic concepts of being blessed for loyalty, and being punished for treason.

Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.

Jeremiah 8:5

Some backsliding was to be expected, perhaps, for fallen sinners, but they had become “perpetual” – permanent, continual, unrepentant – backsliders who WOULD NOT turn. They had let go of the Lord so easily, but they held onto to obvious lies like drowning men clinging to a floating log. Such nimble “turners-away” seemed to be so dead-set against “turning back.”

As Christians, we must be careful of that same problem. We may assume that we can always come back to the Lord, or come back to church, or come back to what we once knew was right, but self-deceit has a way of sinking its hooks into us and brainwashing us.

It’s much easier to get out of church than to get back in, but it’s easier to STAY in church than to get back in, too. Set your anchor in God’s Word and in His body. Don’t experiment with the world. Don’t try to prove your will power or your false maturity by “proving” that you can handle what God says you can’t.

I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.

Jeremiah 8:6

It’s an uphill battle to get back on the right track, obeying God, but our sin nature will charge into sin and evil like a horse charging into battle.

Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord.

Jeremiah 8:7

Even birds follow their instincts to go where their Creator programmed them to go. How could God’s “greatest,” “wisest” creatures defy the law He has given to them?

How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.

Jeremiah 8:8

This is the first mention of “scribes” in the Bible. These were men who should have been faithfully recording and teaching God’s law, but instead were adding silly legalistic rules to it, in order to cover up its true spirit.

The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?

Jeremiah 8:9

The canon of Scripture wasn’t closed in those days. God was still speaking through prophets like Jeremiah and Hosea and Malachi, but the priests and scribes and kings and false prophets were too “wise” to listen to God’s Word. They used the Law as a covering for their sin instead of using it as a mirror to point them straight to the Law-Giver and His Savior.

Jeremiah’s feelings mirrored God’s feelings:

When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.

Jeremiah 8:18

Every time he considered the people’s hearts it affected his own heart. Their behavior should have been hurting their own hearts, but it was hurting Jeremiah’s instead.

Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the Lord in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

Jeremiah 8:19-20

This was a proverb for the years when the wheat harvest would fail, only to have the fig, olive, and grape harvests fail, too. It meant that there would be no food that winter, and that people would starve.

For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.

Jeremiah 8:21

Jeremiah had worse than a case of the “blues.” He had a case of the “blacks!”

The Real Emancipation Proclamation

March 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

Proverbs 20:6

We have a strong tendency to promote ourselves. The Hebrew word translated as “proclaim” in Proverbs 20:6 is qara. It is from a root word meaning to stop someone and accost them. Most of us are willing to go out of our way – to insert ourselves into someone else’s path if necessary, to stop them in their tracks, to grab hold of them – and in some way try to cause them to think well of us as individuals. We are like traveling salesmen or street-corner preachers, distributing a good opinion of ourselves and seeking our own glory.

This category, “most men,” is contrasted with the “faithful man.” The rhetorical question, “Who can find one?” emphasizes the scarcity of faithful people, but it also draws a sharp distinction between the self-promoter – the one who accosts people to tell them of his own goodness – and the faithful person who is literally hard to find. Why is he hard to find? Because he’s not trying to be found. He’s too busy serving other people.

In the Book of Exodus God spoke with Moses face to face, in a sense. He spoke to him as a friend, and assured him that He had favor with God. This prompted Moses to ask for a huge request. Knowing that ordinarily no man could see God with His glory unveiled and live, Moses asked for a special dispensation: “Lord, show me your glory.

God agreed to a partial granting of this request:

And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

Exodus 33:19 (emphasis added)

God, like the boastful men of Proverbs 20:6, proclaims, too, but this is a different type of proclaiming. This is an announcement not tinged with a desperate need for acceptance. This is a bold, straightforward, official proclamation of Who God is – according to God Himself! And he told Moses flat-out: “I will decide on my own – without anyone else’s help or input – who will receive grace and who will receive mercy.”

As Christians, we are commanded to serve. Part of our service is to proclaim the truth about God, and part of that truth is that the results are up to Him, not us. Our part is to be faithful – to walk humbly with God, and to obey His Word. Our accosting of other people on God’s behalf may be successful or unsuccessful according to our estimation, but we should find comfort and hope and the resolve not to quit in knowing that the distribution of God’s grace and mercy to those to whom we minister is in His hands.

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