More Strange Weapons: A Stone (God’s Will Is Functional)

June 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Biblical friendship, Strange Weapons | 3 Comments
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In a previous lesson we saw that the weapon of a millstone reminds us that God’s will is like a weapon in spiritual warfare in that stones are foundational.

This time we will see that stones are also functional. Stones do a variety of jobs. In Bible times they not only made up the buildings, they were sometimes the tools for building. Sometimes they were also monuments for remembering. Other times they were weapons for throwing. God’s sovereign will is the ultimate in functionality. It not only creates or allows all circumstances, but it functions and operates in all circumstances.

Under the heading that “Stones are Functional” I want to use the memory device “CPR:”

Career: When you are building a career, will you trust God’s will, and seek out a “vocation” (a calling from God)?

Priorities: When you are considering your priorities, will you trust God’s will and let Him order your priorities and arrange your time? His Word settles the “first things.”

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

Things that are “added” are things that come “later.”

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Revelation 2:5

The best place to get back into God’s will is the place you got out. Do the “first works.” The freedom we have in the Spirit is not freedom to do what we want. Relaxation is not true freedom. True freedom is freedom from the selfishness of sin, and it is the freedom to obey God. The good works that God has ordained for us to do are prioritized by His sovereign will.

Relationships: When you are building your relationships, will you trust God’s will and let Him pick your friends? God has appointed your spouse to be your special friend over and above other people in your life. Beyond that, He has sovereignly appointed who your neighbors happen to be, who your acquaintances happen to be, and even who your fellow church members happen to be. These people are in your life for a reason – they are not “random.” Trust God in your relationships – you need this weapon on your side in spiritual warfare.

The strange weapon of God’s sovereign will can be found in every locality and in every situation, because, in spiritual warfare, the place where you are subject to being attacked is everywhere: at home, at church, on your job, in your relationships, in Bible study, in prayer, in Christian service.

Stones are wonderful weapons because of their functionality. They can roll down mountains and crush cities, or they can fit in your pocket. There is nowhere you will not be able to see the weapon of God’s will at work in the battle.

Stones are foundational, stones are functional, and stones are used for friction.

The weapon used by the woman in the tower to kill Abimelech was a millstone. A millstone is a large stone placed on top of another stone. These stones are usually round, and they are used to grind against each other and smash into powder or “flour” the kernels of different kinds of grain (e.g., wheat or corn) that are fed between them. A millstone works by grinding and crushing, and it produces friction. Do not think that God’s will is not going to involve you in a great deal of friction.

John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

Luke 3:16 (emphasis added)

Notice that this verse says “and” with fire, not “in” fire. It is speaking of the heat of persecution not a “fiery” emotional manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

I Peter 4:12

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3

Christ the Lord – the Great Refiner – the Great Purifier of the Church – uses heat – friction – to purge impurities out of the hearts and lives of His people. If you have been a Christian for very long, then God’s sovereign will has sent circumstances into your life, sickness into your life, suffering into your life, even people into your life – to grind on you – to scrape away the rough edges and the impurities, so that you may be more conformed to the image of Christ.

The millstone in Judges Chapter 9 – the millstone that killed Abimelech – was the perfect weapon for the time and place of its use. It crushed Abimelech and cost him his life, his reputation, and his would-be kingdom. God’s will is perfect. Will you love it and trust it? Or will you try to resist it and be miserable? It is a weapon which we observe, not a weapon which we yield. The way to take advantage of this weapon is to stay close to God.

More Strange Weapons: A Stone (God’s Will Is Foundational)

June 3, 2011 at 11:23 am | Posted in Strange Weapons | 9 Comments
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Strange Weapons: A Prod, a Peg, and a Pitcher

More Strange Weapons: A Stone and a Bone

Last time, I reviewed the Biblical account of Abimelech’s death.

Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower. And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire. And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place. Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren:

Judges 9:50-56

Before I start making the application, we need to remember something very important about God’s will: God’s will is perfect.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2 (emphasis added)

Many people will acknowledge that the Bible is infallible and inerrant. But if God’s Word is perfect, so must His will be perfect also. If you hold an extravagantly expensive diamond up to bright light, it will reveal a myriad of different views – all breath-taking. Even the slightest change of perspective will cause the viewer to see new refractions of light through its facets. The clarity, color, and cut of some diamonds seem to offer endless worlds of beautiful variations. However, even the most exquisite diamond will eventually reveal some flaw somewhere in its make-up. God’s will is like a diamond without a single flaw. If we could inspect God’s will from every angle, each millimeter of movement around it would reveal only more absolute perfection for all eternity. God’s will is completely FLAWLESS.

Faith is a great challenge for Christian believers, and it is prone to much misinformation and misunderstanding. Faith is not me pronouncing my will to God. It is trusting that His will is right, and will ultimately be for my good – even when His will seems completely against my will.

The Bible calls the woman who hurled the millstone down from the tower at Abimelech a “certain” woman, meaning she was a “particular” woman. She was distinguished from the others by the fact that she is the one who threw down the stone. But, in our idiom, we have another meaning for “certain:” someone who is “sure,” someone who is absolutely convinced. Are we “certain” men and women when it comes to trusting God’s will in our lives? Do we know that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) to those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose? Or do we have uncertainty – do we think a few things can’t really work out for good?

The weapon of a millstone reminds us that God’s will is like a weapon of spiritual warfare in that:

I. Stones are foundational.

Stones form the underlying structure of things. In the Old Testament, the millstone was one of the basic, foundational tools for sustaining life.

No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge.

Deuteronomy 24:6

It would have been difficult to grind grain for making bread without a millstone. In the New Testament, we have better Bread. Jesus said, I AM the Bread of Life. He proclaimed that He was the foundational Rock of the Church – all other ground is sinking sand. Upon this Rock I shall build My church, He said – that He is the Christ – the Son of the Living God. If we are going to utilize the advantage of God’s sovereign will in our spiritual warfare, we are going to have to build our house upon the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ. Anything that we are hoping to build to last is going to have to be built on Jesus.

A. The foundation concerning God’s will is for building.

We must build our lives on the foundation of God’s sovereignty. When the people of Thebez ran into a tower to escape Abimelech, that seemed like a foolish plan. Abimelech was setting towers on fire, and battering doors down. But he could not defeat God’s will. God’s will was for him to die in defeat and disgrace – and God accomplishes His will.

When you are in trouble – financial trouble, relationship trouble, sickness, confusion – will you go through the Door which is Christ Jesus, and hide yourself in the Tower which is Almighty God? The Name of the Lord is a strong tower – the righteous run into it, and they are saved.

B. The foundation concerning God’s will is broad.

Remember, Abimelech had a will, too, but Abimelech’s will was opposed to God’s will. Abimelech wanted to be King, and among his followers he was popular and supported. But man’s will is fickle and transient. People can love you and support you one day, and betray you and desert you the next day. God’s will is a foundation that is broad in the sense that it covers all contingencies, and remains firm. God’s will is a rock that you may fall upon – but it is also a rock that you may never fall off. God is immutable. God does what pleases God, not what pleases man. In the warfare of the Christian life, you are going to want a weapon that is dependable – that will not let you down. You are going to want to place your trust in God, not in men. Even when God’s circumstances make it seem like He doesn’t know what He is doing, and people are giving you what sounds like good reasonable advice, trust God, not people.

C. The foundation concerning God’s will is found at the bottom.

Remember, Abimelech wanted to be the “head.” He concocted his scheme to be King in his own “head.” And he was defeated when God’s strange weapon – His sovereign will in the form of a stone – struck him on the head.

The foundation of a building is located at the bottom – it is the base. When a foundation is too narrow, too limited, and you try to build on it, to build upwards, it gets too “top heavy.” The things stacked at the top fall easily and they fall hard – and they destroy much around them.

If you are building your life on the world’s ideas of the future, on your own ideas of the future, on what you can only see – apart from faith – with your own eyes trying to look into the future, then your plans are liable to fall easily, fall hard, and to destroy those around you. The 9/11 terrorists flew their hijacked planes into the top of the World Trade Center. They would not have caused much damage if they had hit a building with a broad base and a narrow top. Church steeples are more sharp and pointed the higher they go in order to symbolize the fact that the closer we get to God, the smaller we realize we are, and the bigger we realize He is. Abimelech was a terrorist who wanted to cause maximum destruction.

When the tower in Siloam fell, what did Jesus say? “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” God is sovereign – He’s in control.

God’s will, like a stone, is foundational. Next time, we will see that stones are also functional.

More Strange Weapons: A Stone (narrative)

May 16, 2011 at 11:04 am | Posted in Strange Weapons | 5 Comments
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Strange Weapons (Series 1): A Prod, a Peg, and a Pitcher

Part One: The Prod (Judges 3:31)
A prod is used in provoking.
A prod is used in plowing.
A prod is used in purifying.

Part Two: The Peg (Judges 4:22)
A peg is a hidden weapon (like prayer).
A peg is a honed weapon (like the Bible).
A peg is a handy weapon (like love).

Part Three: The Pitcher (Judges 7:20)
Pitchers can contain.
Pitchers can conceal.
Pitchers can crumble.

Now we start series 2:

More Strange Weapons: A Stone and a Bone

The Stone (Judges 9:53)

Gideon had been used by God to defeat the Midianites. To his credit, he had no interest in being a king. But to his shame, during the “mopping-up” operations, he stopped honoring the Lord. He gathered a large fortune, and had 70 sons. When he failed to set a good example for the nation, the people fell back into sin. Judges 9 is the account of one of the sons he had with a slave. This son’s name was Abimelech.

Gideon did not want to be a king, but Abimelech did. His name meant “son of the king.” Abimelech started a political campaign to become king of both the Israelites and the Shechemites. By covetous scheming, by accepting money from Baal-worshipers (thereby promoting idolatry), and finally by murder, Abimelech sought a dual throne.

And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him. And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.

Judges 9:4-5

This is the first mention of a stone in the story of Abimelech, but it won’t be the last. Abimelech appeared to be successful for three years, but his whole plan fell apart in three days.

He had a falling-out with the Shechemites, instigated by a man named Gaal. After putting down the challenge of Gaal and punishing the Shechemites, Abimelech moved on to the city of Thebez, which had sided with the Shechemites.

Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower. And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire. And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place. Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren:

Judges 9:50-56

Next time, I will make three comparisons between the weapon of the millstone hurled down onto Abimelech, and God’s sovereign will. God’s will is not really a “weapon” per se, but it is an important part of the warfare of the victorious Christian life.


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