Take the Good with the Bad

May 23, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | Leave a comment
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It is commonly said that we often have to “take the good with the bad,” meaning that some things are so enjoyable, that, while they are not perfect or ideal, they are still worth the trouble that comes with them.

facts of life

Most people certainly do NOT enjoy being painfully injected with a vaccine, but they are willing to put up with it in exchange for crossing some deadly disease off their list of concerns. I abhor waiting a long time outside a restaurant for a table to become available, but I am willing to endure it if the food is delicious enough when it is finally served to me.

Biblically speaking, we find this principle having various applications, one of which is:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

II Corinthians 10:5 (emphasis added)

This is what some theologians have called “The Great Assize,” more commonly referred to as “The Final Judgment.” One day (and it could be today!), after Christ has returned to this world to claim His rightful ownership of it, and to assert His absolute authority over it, all the people who have ever lived will stand before Him in some sort of judgment. For Christians, whose sins have been forgiven, the judgment seat of Christ will be a place where our works, words, thoughts, and motives are judged. There will be rewards and there will be loss of rewards. For non-Christians, there will be a Great White Throne Judgment. There, sins WILL be judged. The Book of Life will be opened, and those who have not trusted Christ unto salvation will find that their names are not therein written, and they will be cast into the lake of fire forever.

So, while different judgments will occur for the two most important categories of people – saved vs. lost; born again vs. born once; saints vs. sinners; children of God vs. enemies of God; Christians vs. non-Christians; true believers vs. unbelievers; sheep vs. goats; wheat vs. tares; justified vs. unjustified – it is still true that everyone will be judged in some sense according to the things he or she has done during his or her earthly life.

This should be a powerfully bracing reminder to us that what we do each and every moment of our lives MATTERS. God is watching. He is keeping records. He sees our most secret deeds, hears all our words, and even knows our deepest, darkest, and dearest thoughts. We will truly, one day (much, much sooner than we think), take the good with the bad, and, let’s face it, as good as we think our good might be, our bad would far outweigh it on the scales of God’s perfect divine justice.

This is why it is vitally important to have an “alien” good (meaning a “goodness” or “righteousness” that comes from somewhere outside of ourselves) imputed to our account, and just as vitally important that our “bad” gets fully removed by someone who could pay the price for it in our stead. That’s where our Heavenly Advocate comes in. Only Christ can accomplish both of these gargantuan and eternal tasks for us.

When we have to cushion the blow of some disturbing information, we sometimes ask the recipient of the information, “I have bad news and I have good news: Which do you want to hear first?” You’ve already heard the bad news: We all stand condemned before God Almighty, the Judge of all the earth. Now, please, hear the Good News: Christ will remove your condemnation, pardon your crimes, justify you before the Judge, and give you eternal life, if you will believe, repent, turn to Him in faith, and ask Him to rescue you.

The Powers that Be

May 9, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | Leave a comment
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“The powers that be” is a common expression used to encompass worldly authority in general, or sometimes to refer to the state of things against which the “common person” has no recourse.

“I wish my taxes weren’t so high, but the powers that be have decided to make sure I never get ahead.”
“I don’t like to sit in a circle in Sunday School, but the powers that be have decreed that it’s the best way to generate class discussion.”

It is an expression that is often accompanied by eye-rolling, exasperated sighs, or exaggerated and resigned shrugs of frustration. However, its origin is straight from the Bible:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Romans 13:1

In a time when wicked Roman emperors allowed, encouraged, and even commanded the persecution, torture, and death of Christians, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul told the believers in Rome something that we might think very odd: Recognize that earthly governments and authority structures are ordained by God Himself, and willingly submit yourselves to them.

Since this world is, by nature, opposed to Christ and His truth, what hope is there for us who are commanded to live out our faith under this corrupt system? The answer is that part of our hope lies in the knowledge that these earthly powers, although they are called powers that “be,” are not really “beings.” Only our immutable God is truly a “Being,” since He is the only entity in all of existence Who is truly self-sufficient, eternal, infinite, and independent. Even you and I, His highest creations, are not being accurate when we call ourselves human “beings,” for we have no existence apart from God’s sustaining power. Only in Him do we live and move and have our “being.” We are far from immutable, changing by degrees from one moment to the next all our lives. “Human becomings” would be a more apt term for our race. If our state of existence is in such flux, even more flimsy and subject to rebellion, public opinion, and changing of the guard are the political parties and philosophies of the world.

This helps us to remember that God is sovereignly in control of all earthly authority. He has ordained even wicked governments and evil rulers for some good purpose we do not yet understand, and the knowledge that He is ultimately in control will help us to humbly submit even to those who have no desire to glorify Him or to treat His people with respect.

Hard-Headed

February 28, 2014 at 11:06 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 1 Comment
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My wife’s mother, who has been married to the same man for almost fifty years, gives this marriage advice: “If you want your marriage to work, you must be hard-headed about the right things.” Generally speaking, the expression “hard-headed” means stubborn. I think what she means, though, is that when times get tough in your marriage, you need to be downright stubborn about keeping the vows you made before God, and committing to stay together and work through the difficulties, no matter what.

I could not find the expression “hard-headed” in the Bible, but I did find a reference to hardening of the face.

A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.

Proverbs 21:29

This kind of hardening is not good. It refers to stubbornness that ignores wisdom. It is the outward result of the inner hardening of the heart.

The hardening of the heart is a process, and a head is hardened by repeated stubbornness. The hardening of the heart involves both our own wills and God’s will, and a hard head is the result of God finally reinforcing what we want to think, anyway. The hardening of a man’s heart occurs when God gives him over to his own way. A hard-headed man can’t “change his ways,” because they’re his ways, not God’s ways. The hardening of a person’s heart negates that person’s warning system. It keeps him from seeing the danger in the direction he’s “heading” (no pun intended). A hard-headed person is sometimes called a dullard. He’s sleepy and lulled into a false sense of security. When someone is hard-headed, he is unable to see the danger which is abundantly clear to others. Don’t be hard-headed when it comes to sin and disobedience. The only thing hard about a believer’s head when it comes to sin should be his helmet.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:17

O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

Psalm 119:5

Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

Ecclesiastes 8:1

Face to Face

November 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Ezekiel | 6 Comments
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In Chapter 18 Ezekiel begins to address the excuses of those who were being convicted by his messages. Their chief excuse seems to have been the age-old excuse of, “It’s someone else’s fault.” The people were saying that God wasn’t fair, even though He was keeping the covenant. The covenant breakers were blaming the Covenant Keeper.

God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked.

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

For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

Ezekiel 18:32

In Chapter 19 Ezekiel lays the responsibility at the feet of the the leaders. Israel is compared to a lion, but a lion that has been captured and taken into captivity.

And say, What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.

Ezekiel 19:2

Then the nations set against him on every side from the provinces, and spread their net over him: he was taken in their pit. And they put him in ward in chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon: they brought him into holds, that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel.

Ezekiel 19:8-9

Ezekiel also compared Israel to a vine, but a vine that had become withered and unfruitful.

Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters.

Ezekiel 19:10

But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them. And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground.

Ezekiel 19:12-13

This comparison would have reminded them of Israel’s blessing in Genesis 49.

In Ezekiel Chapter 20 the elders come to Ezekiel’s house, supposedly to “enquire of the Lord.”

And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to enquire of the LORD, and sat before me.

Ezekiel 20:1

But they had forgotten that Ezekiel was getting his discernment directly from God, and he gave them a history lesson instead. He reminded them that, even though they had been required to dwell among the heathen, they should not have been converted to the heathens’ ways. As Christians we should beware of becoming a part of the culture we’re trying to reach. “Undercover evangelicals” may think that they can lift up sinners out of their sin, but what usually winds up happening is that the Christians wind up getting dragged down into sin and ruining their testimony. Jesus ate with the publicans and sinners. He talked with them, and cared for them while they were yet in sin. But He did not sin with them.

And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone.

Ezekiel 20:32

George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That is what was happening to these Israelites. They had not learned from the mistakes of their forefathers and they were experiencing the same type of chastening from God.

And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.

Ezekiel 20:35 (emphasis added)

God told them that He would bring them into a figurative wilderness and deal with them face to face. This is in contrast to God telling Ezekiel to “set his face” toward Jerusalem. New Testament Christians look forward to seeing God “face to face,” because now we see through a glass, darkly. We are excited because we will know as we are known. But we have to make sure that we’re not like the people of Israel in Ezekiel’s day, who didn’t really “know” God. Seeing God face to face is different than seeing eye to eye with God. Seeing God face to face is an exciting and joyful prospect to those who know God through Jesus Christ, but it is terrifying for those who are known by God for their unfaithfulness, and do not know Him via Christ.

Lord Willing

November 28, 2011 at 11:31 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 2 Comments
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Have you ever qualified a promise to be at a certain place at a certain time with the condition, “Lord willing.” It’s sort of the Christianized version of the expression, “Weather permitting.” Some people say it all the time. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to say. There is some Scriptural support for it:

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

James 4:13-15 (emphasis added)

The Latin expression for “Lord willing” is “Deo Volente” and there used to be a practice of putting the initials “D.V.” on wedding invitations to indicate the possibility – however remote – of a last-minute cancellation. For some people it is almost superstitious to say “Lord willing” before committing to anything.

Considering the sovereignty of God, it is true that all our plans are subject to His overriding and supreme will. But does the Bible give us any clues as to exactly what the Lord is willing – or not willing?

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 (emphasis added)

We need to keep in mind every day, every minute, that we’re totally dependent on God. In the sense that God has desires, He is “willing” that we do His will. Therefore, it is good to pray, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

We are to put the will of our Heavenly Father ahead of our own will, so we have to to be very careful about saying what we do or don’t “feel” like doing. There are times when the providence of God hinders us from doing what it seems like He has called us to do, but, while it can be easy to deceive other people, it is impossible to deceive God. There are times when God wants my body to be used for His service, even though it is in pain. There are times when God wants me to go somewhere I don’t feel like going. There are times when He wants me to talk to somebody I’m embarrassed to talk to, or somebody I do not particularly like. There are times when He wants me to discipline my children even if it will disturb the peace in my home. I need to be even more enthusiastic about doing the Lord’s will when it feels bad than I am about doing it when it feels good. The remedy for a lack of enthusiasm about serving the Lord is not monotoning “Lord willing” every time I do my “Christian duty.” The remedy is remembering the Gospel and having it settled in my heart and in my mind that I really am excited and enthusiastic and zealous about doing what the Lord is willing – what He wants.

You Can’t Get Blood from a Turnip

October 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Common Expressions | 8 Comments
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If you are trying to convince someone to give you something that he simply does not have, or does not have access to, the person you are entreating might respond, “You can’t get blood from a stone.” It’s a way of saying, “No matter how hard you ‘squeeze’ me, it won’t do any good.” It is unclear whether this expression came before or after the expression, “You can’t get blood from a turnip,” which means the same thing.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/squeezing_blood_out_of_a_turnip.gif?w=300

If the “turnip” expression came first, it might have originally been a reference to the Bible’s account of Cain and Abel.

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Genesis 4:1-5

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Abel’s offering was a “blood” offering. This is probably significant as a type or foreshadowing of the kind of sacrifice that God required for sin. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. The price of our redemption was the precious blood of Christ.

We may infer that Abel’s offering was a more “obedient” offering than Cain’s. Surely Cain and Abel would have been aware that God had slain animals in order to cover the sin of Adam and Eve. Abel’s offering was a “faith” offering.

I know that the typical teaching concerning the offerings is that Cain’s offering was a “works” offering, contrasted with Abel’s “faith” offering, but it seems to me that “the fruit of the ground” (which might have included a turnip or two for all we know) was no more a product of Cain’s “work” than Abel’s care of the sheep from which he obtained his offering. I can “grow” turnips or “raise” sheep, but neither one of them really prosper by my own power. God is the one who makes things grow and reproduce. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Abel and Cain had different “jobs.” Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a tiller of the ground. If you grew up watching the television show, “The Rifleman,” then you might consider Abel to be a “rancher” and Cain to be a “farmer.” Lucas McCain, the main character of “The Rifleman,” used to take his fair share of grief from ranchers, who resented him for his perceived meekness and possibly for fencing off the land around his property.

the rifleman

Invariably one of these “tough” cowboys would call McCain a “sodbuster” and McCain would fill him full of lead with his modified repeating rifle. In the Biblical narrative Cain was the “sodbuster” but he is the villain rather than the hero of Genesis 4.

I would argue that what made Abel’s faith offering more righteous than Cain’s had more to do with the fact that Abel did it “God’s way” and Cain did it “Cain’s way.” Cain got his hands “dirty,” while Abel got his hands “bloody.”

Let us beware of trying to please God our “own way.” God is not impressed with our self-generated ideas. To try to achieve righteousness before God in any way other than the Way He has specifically ordained is like trying to get blood from a turnip: absolutely useless. The only place to find the blood that’s acceptable to God is from the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ – Whose blood has been shed for the remission of our sins.

Get a Life

October 19, 2011 at 9:24 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 4 Comments
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Has anyone ever given you this strange piece of advice? Maybe you were speaking to someone about receiving Jesus as their Savior, or about their relationship with God, or about coming to church or getting involved in Sunday School. Obviously exasperated, they told you, “Get a life! Stop bugging me about all that religious stuff.”

Christians are more interested in the Life than “a life.”

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6 (emphasis added)

Those who have the Life want to tell others to get the Life. When someone tells you to “get a life,” it is a snide way of saying there are many choices about how to live, and you are choosing the wrong way. But the born-again believer knows there are only two choices when it comes to eternal life. You will trust Christ and receive it or you will reject Christ and be denied it.

There are a number of ideas in the Bible which seem paradoxical from an earthly, finite point of view. For example, those who have been redeemed from slavery to sin have true freedom even though they are slaves to Jesus Christ. At the same time, those who are enslaved to sin often believe themselves to be free. It works much the same way with the concept of spiritual life and death.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Romans 8:6 (emphasis added)

The “dead” do not know they’re dead.

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:1-2 (emphasis added)

I couldn’t find the expression “get a life” in the Bible, but the Bible does talk about “finding” life and “losing” life.

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Matthew 10:39 (emphasis added)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (emphasis added)

The Bible says very specifically that Jesus is the way to the kind of life that is stronger than death.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

I John 5:11-13 (emphasis added)

Jesus is not only the way to life. He is the Life.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

John 11:25-26 (emphasis added)

The issue is not whether you will “get a life.” The real issue is whether you will believe and receive THE Life.

Made a Scapegoat

August 24, 2011 at 9:43 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 3 Comments
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The term “scapegoat” has come to mean a person who takes the blame as a sacrifice for someone else who is actually at fault. For example, imagine that a government entity is collecting taxes for the improvement of roads, but the funds are actually being spent on thousands of dollars’ worth of Community Coffee. When the matter comes to light, the government officer responsible will often fire someone in accounting who was only following orders and was not truly responsible for the misuse of the funds. The reason for this injustice would be to appease the public and create the impression that the “higher-ups” were not really at fault for the corruption. In that example, the fired person is said to be the “scapegoat.”

Another example is when a football team is predicted to go 12-4 in the preseason polls, but actually finishes 5-11. The owner and the general manager and the head coach will get together and decide to fire the special teams coach. This is supposed to satisfy the ticket-buying fans that real changes are being made for next year. In that scenario the special teams coach is the “scapegoat.”

“Scapegoat” is a term that is slowly being replaced these days by the ubiquitous phrase, “thrown under the bus.” To “throw someone under the bus” has a similar connotation in that the person being “thrown under the bus” is someone who is being betrayed by a lack of loyalty on the part of his former colleagues or employer. A “scapegoat,” in popular usage, is usually someone who doesn’t deserve the blame he is getting. Whereas, the person “thrown under the bus” may actually have done something worthy of blame.

I prefer the term “scapegoat” because it is found in the Bible.

And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.

Leviticus 16:7-10

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The laws of the “holy place” were given to Moses by the Lord after the death of Aaron’s sons. God told Moses to tell Aaron that this is how God wants the sacrifices done. The occasion described in these Verses is known as the Day of Atonement.

There is much disagreement among Bible scholars as to what the two goats represent. The lot for the Lord fell upon the goat which became the sin offering. The other goat was let go to escape in the wilderness after Aaron had laid his hands on it and confessed all the sins of the children of Israel on its head. Some Bible teachers think that the sin-offering goat represents Christ. Some think that the scapegoat represents Christ. Others say that the scapegoat represents Satan. Some say that the word for “escaped goat” or “goat removed” is “Azazel” who was a pagan god or symbol. Still others think that both goats represent Christ.

And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:

Levitcus 16:21, emphasis added

Notice that the scapegoat bore the iniquities of the people.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11, emphasis added

The scapegoat was not allowed to wander about until he found his way into the wilderness. He was “sent” away by the hand of a fit man.

Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.

John 19:16, emphasis added

And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

Leviticus 16:22

The scapegoat symbolically took away the sins of the people.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:29, emphasis added

There is a popular praise chorus which says about Jesus:
Living, He loved me;
Dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sin far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
Some day He’s coming back – oh glorious day!

Leviticus 16:21 says that the priest was to confess over the goat’s head all their iniquities and all their transgressions and all their sins.

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

I John 2:2

I believe that the scapegoat was a symbol or a foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ. I could be wrong, but what I do know for sure is that my sin has been carried away by Jesus. He has paid for it in full.

If someone tells you they’re tired of being the scapegoat, or if you ever find yourself in the position of being a scapegoat, remember the original scapegoat. The only way to be a true “escaped” goat – to escape the price that has to be paid for sin – is to put our faith and trust in the only One Who could pay – and has paid – the price for sin – the only One Who was sinless and perfect enough to carry our sin away.

Eye to Eye

August 12, 2011 at 10:06 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Common Expressions | 5 Comments
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Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.

Isaiah 52:8, emphasis added

The expression “eye to eye” or “seeing eye to eye” has come to mean “a meeting of the minds.” When we say that we see eye to eye with someone, it usually means we have found something on which we agree. I have to go to the eye doctor quite frequently, and the examination always involves him looking through this gadget that he jams into my eye socket. At that point, he and I don’t always agree on how “relaxed” I should be, but because our faces are so close together, and because he is using his eye to look into my eye, we are literally, if not figuratively, “eye to eye.”

The image of seeing “eye to eye” in Isaiah 52:8, however, is not really a picture of two people who are face to face. It is more of a description of people who are standing side by side, looking at something from the same viewpoint.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

Isaiah 52:7

God’s messenger is exuberant because he is bringing news of God’s deliverance. This is exceedingly good news, so the watchmen on the towers can actually tell from the way the messenger runs, even from a great distance, that he is bringing glad tidings of victory, not the discouraging news of defeat.

Therefore, the watchmen lift up their voices. They are excited to be seeing “eye to eye.” They are of “one mind with God:” they are seeing God’s people the way God sees His people.

Sometimes, as Christians, we are quick to get together and bemoan bad news: “Oh no, the stock market is crashing.” “Oh no, it hasn’t rained enough.” “Oh no, it’s raining too much.” “Oh no, the corrupt politicians are ruining our country.” We sometimes sound like a bunch of whining children, and someone who didn’t know better would get the impression that we have no idea that there is a God in Heaven Who is in control, Who hasn’t forgotten how to rule and reign, Who hasn’t fallen off His throne, and Who loves His people and is perfectly capable of making ALL things work together for an ultimate objective GOOD. Maybe we should stop fearfully and desperately searching each other’s eyes for some temporal, earthly sign of “hope,” and, instead, stand shoulder to shoulder, side by side, and train our eyes upon the King of Glory, Who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-seeing.

Beware of Dog

August 3, 2011 at 10:49 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 1 Comment
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I happen to like dogs in general. I wouldn’t want one living in my house, and it’s frustrating to have to take care of the one that was supposed to be my kids’ dog now that they don’t want to feed him or play with him any more, or give him his flea medicine, but dogs, in my opinion, are still the best kind of pet to have.

It is tough, however, to find anything good about dogs in the Bible. There are dogs eating the dead flesh of evil people (I Kings 14:11, I Kings 16:4), dogs lapping up blood (I Kings 21:19-24, I Kings 22:38, Psalm 68:23) and licking sores (Luke 16:21), dogs that will get you if you mess with their ears (Proverbs 26:17), dogs stirring up trouble in the flock of sheep (Job 30:1), dumb dogs (Isaiah 56:10), greedy dogs (Isaiah 56:11), and dogs eating their own vomit (Proverbs 26:11, II Peter 2:22). There is a popular cartoon movie called “All Dogs Go to Heaven,” but apparently not! (I like to think that my two favorite dogs, Trigger and Clarence, are going to be there, but I can’t guarantee it from Scripture.)

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision

Philippians 3:2

Dogs in Bible times, in the ancient Middle East, were scavengers, and were considered unclean by the Jewish people. They weren’t pets like they are today. They were thought of the way we think of rats today. Because they were not pets, they were semi-wild animals, and they did not have owners or “masters.” Like people, a dog who has himself for a master is a very sad dog.

Philippians 3:2 is a warning against false teachers and church infiltrators who taught salvation by works or by grace plus works. These “dogs” were disturbing the flock, and, like mean little yapping dogs, they were following the Apostle Paul around and snapping at his heels wherever he went. The “evil workers” were not just workers who happened to be evil. They were evil because they told people that their salvation was based on “works.”

The use of the word “concision” was a pointed insult at the false Jewish teachers who were teaching that Gentiles must be circumcised to be saved. “Concise” means to make shorter. If “circumcision” means to “cut around,” then “concision” means to “cut short.” Those who were being circumcised based on the belief that this act played a part in their salvation were really just mutilating themselves. So this Verse was a stinging jab at those who were encouraging people to “cut themselves short.”

If I see a sign on a fence that says “Beware of Dog,” my tendency is to want to stay far away. If you have ever been near a pond wearing nice clothes when a swimming dog decides to emerge onto the bank near you, you know it behooves you to back away as far as you can, because you are about to get wet when he starts shaking out his fur. If professing Christian believers with an agenda of works righteousness insist on skulking in among a church fellowship like dogs, and then shaking off their dirty beliefs all over everyone, the Bible says to “beware” of them. Stay as far away from them as possible, until the Shepherd can come over and crack them on the head with His staff.

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