Beware the Fattening Fantasy

June 1, 2015 at 12:07 pm | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Some people call it the “American Dream.” It’s the idea that you and/or your family will become successful according to worldly standards. You will have a good job and a lucrative career. You will own a nice home with modern amenities. Perhaps you will eventually acquire a luxury car, or a boat, or a summer home. Your kids will have the latest gadgets, technology, and toys. You will put away funds with a view toward retiring at a fairly early age.

You might give regularly to charity as your budget allows, but, for the most part, your life plan will be mainly focused on you and yours. You will apply the moniker “Christian” to yourself, and you might even officially join a church, but, to the extent you concern yourself with spiritual things, your worship of the Lord of all the Earth, and your service in the name of Christ, will be, at most, in the nature of a figurative accoutrement to an already-full, self-sufficient, and subjectively satisfying life.

If this sounds appealing, or actually describes you, beware of seeing such “success” and “prosperity” as a sign of God’s blessing.

Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

James 5:5

The glory that the Lord God will get from your life may come from the sacrificial, Christ-exalting things you are allowed to voluntarily do now, or it may come at some point in the not-too-distant, or perhaps eternal, future when He glorifies Himself by involuntarily stripping you of the things you loved more than Him.

Like an animal wearing a prize-winning ribbon at a county fair, you do not want to find out one day that you’ve been fattening yourself up merely for a slaughter.

The Horizontal Words

January 7, 2015 at 10:25 am | Posted in Exodus | 13 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The first four “Words” of the Decalogue are the so-called “vertical” words or commandments. They deal with the relationship between God and man. Starting with number five, the commandments are “horizontal.” They deal with our relationships with each other. Remember the summation of the Decalogue: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength – and your neighbor as yourself.

The horizontal words begin with the relationship between children and parents.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Exodus 20:12

The provision, “that thy days may be long upon the earth,” is not really a promise that if you obey your parents you will live longer. It’s really more of a reference to “the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee,” meaning Canaan, the promised land. It expresses the idea that, if the elderly are not honored and respected, then in three or four generations the nation will lose the blessing that God gives it. It is also a reference to caring for the elderly.

Thou shalt not kill.

Exodus 20:13

The “killing” that is prohibited in this Word is unjustified killing, so that, depending upon circumstances, war, capital punishment within government-sanctioned laws, and self-defense are still permissible.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Exodus 20:14

Notice that adultery is listed right after murder. It is a sin that is a reflection of the loyalty to God that His people are supposed to have. It is the most extreme kind of unfaithfulness. It is worse than talking bad about your spouse, insulting your spouse in public, refusing to provide food and shelter for your spouse, even worse than physical abuse – everything but killing your spouse. Sex is only for married people, and it is only to be done within a one man-one woman marriage relationship.

Thou shalt not steal.

Exodus 20:15

The eighth Word highlights God’s endorsement of private property – which would have held special significance for former slaves such as the Israelites.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Exodus 20:16

The ninth Word prohibits perjury, but, by extension, all other forms or lying or deceit as well. In the Bible, a “neighbor” is more than the person who lives next door to you. It is anyone with whom you deal. The commandment also prohibits spreading lies about others to damage their reputation.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Exodus 20:17

The examples in the commandment against coveting are intended as an illustrative, not an exclusive, list of things not to covet. Covetousness is a desire to have for myself what God has given to another. It includes the sins of greed, dissatisfaction, discontentment, ingratitude, scheming, and envy. It is the only “word” that is unenforceable by the government, but it is not listed last because it is a lesser sin. It is listed last to highlight the idea that it is the sin that can cause us to break all the others. The greatest remedy to covetousness is contentment, and the only way to true contentment is faith that God really does know what is best.

The Ministry of Micah

April 14, 2014 at 11:13 am | Posted in Micah | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Idolatry and greed are two sins that often go hand in hand. Human beings are prone to find their security in things that we can see and handle. The first two of the 10 Commandments were very strong prohibitions against worshiping, fashioning, or ascribing “need-meeting” power to anything other than the One True God. In the prophet Micah’s day these commandments were violated with reckless abandon as the Northern Kingdom fell under the curse that befalls all who forsake the real God for little man-made substitutes. It is a curse that entails oppression of the poor, the forsaking of mercy, and debased unrighteousness. Micah warned the people that God would not let such things go unnoticed nor unpunished.

Below is a list of links to lessons on the Book of Micah:

1. When God Makes Fun of Your Name
2. The Raptor and the Captor
3. False Prophecy and Disappointment
4. Condemning the Princes, Prophets, and Priests
5. That Man Was Certifiable! *
6. One Sin Lighter
7. Cut-Outs, Cut-Ups, or Cut-Offs
8. Our Own Worst Enemy
9. What Does God Want from Me?
10. Opportunities / Obstacles
11. The Breathtaking Wonder of God

* most-viewed post in category

When God Makes Fun of Your Name

December 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Posted in Micah | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Old Testament prophet Micah’s name meant “Who is like God?” He was a contemporary of Isaiah, but he prophesied to the rural people in Judah, whereas Isaiah prophesied mainly to the courts in both Jerusalem and Samaria. Micah was from Moresheth, about 25 miles from Jerusalem. He warned of God’s judgment coming upon Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom).

For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, [and] as the waters that are poured down a steep place.

Micah 1:3-4

The people of Judah saw what the Assyrians had done to Israel, and it should have caused them to repent. The northern kingdom became openly idolatrous and competed with Judah’s “true” worship. The Assyrians and other gentile peoples brought in by the Assyrians intermingled with the Israelites and became the despised, half-breed Samaritans. Spiritual adultery – in the form of “watered-down” worship – is contagious, and the sickness of Israel began to infect Judah.

For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem?

Micah 1:5

You can call it worship, but if it’s idolatry, it’s idolatry. You can call it spiritual, but if it’s flesh, it’s flesh. Micah prophesied about the cities in Judah and God mocked their names. God has a way of taking what is nearest and dearest to you, and, if you disregard Him, taking it away, or turning it into a curse.

Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust.

Micah 1:10

“Gath” meant “declare it” and “Aphrah” meant “house of dust.”

Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, having thy shame naked: the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Bethezel; he shall receive of you his standing.

Micah 1:11

“Saphir” meant “beautiful,” “Zaanan” meant “come out,” and “Bethezel” meant “taking away.”

For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem.

Micah 1:12

“Maroth” meant bitterness.

O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee. Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moreshethgath: the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel. Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel. Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.

Micah 1:13-16

“Lachish” meant “team of fast horses,” “Achzib” meant “deception,” and “Mareshah” meant “conqueror.”

These were God’s covenant people, but being in a covenant does not excuse sin. The first sin addressed in Micah Chapter 2 is covetousness.

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time is evil.

Micah 2:1-3

The second sin addressed is false prophecy.

Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame. O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?

Micah 2:6-7

Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.

Micah 2:10-11

Prophets who are truly from God are seldom popular. One of the marks of a false prophet is that, in telling people they are good, he is loved by the people. Note how the sins of covetousness and false prophecy often go hand in hand.

The Stones of Covetousness

December 31, 2012 at 10:20 am | Posted in Habakkuk, Luke, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 7 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Lord Jesus was moving toward Jerusalem. Those who had plotted to tempt Him, to cause Him to fall into sin, to argue against Him and to try to prove Him a to be a blasphemer, and those who had tried to kill Him, had all failed – because His time had not yet come.

The Lord Jesus, Who had never allowed His followers to engage in a public demonstration for Him, allowed it this one time, and they treated Him like a triumphant King. Garments were laid on the animals and on the road. Palm tree branches were waved and spread before Him (John 12:13). He rode a “colt” (a young donkey) which had not been broken or trained by men, but which submitted to Jesus because He, as the “second Adam” and as God incarnate, had dominion over all creation.

And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.

Luke 19:35-36

The crowd was excited. Many of them had seen this Man – Jesus of Nazareth – perform miracles, heal the blind, even raise a man from the dead. Possibly others – even some of the Disciples – believed Jesus was entering Jerusalem to overthrow the Roman government there. This is indicated by their use of the messianic Psalm 118 (118:26).

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

Luke 19:37-38

But there were also Pharisees in the crowd, and they were upset.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.

Luke 19:39

In the Lord’s response to them, you might recognize a very common modern church expression:

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Luke 19:40 (emphasis added)

This expression is used to encourage and exhort people to “liven up” – to get excited in worship – to “get free” – to “loosen up” – to sing louder and with greater emotional enthusiasm. This will be the plea of song leaders and worship ministers all across America this Sunday morning: “We don’t want the rocks to put us to shame – come on, please – if we don’t praise Him, the rocks will! You don’t want us to be outdone by a rock, do you?”

One of the things that happened often in Christ’s ministry on earth is that He would speak a great truth and people would put their own stamp of perception on it. Instead of hearing what He actually said, they heard what they wanted Him to say. When He said that the temple would be torn down, and in three days He would raise it again, they thought He meant the temple building. When He said that in order to see the Kingdom of God you must be born again, they asked Him how someone could get back into his mother’s womb. When He told people that those who eat of His flesh and drink of His blood would have eternal life they were offended at the thought of eating literal flesh. I wonder if Jesus’s followers knew the deeper spiritual meaning when He said, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out?”

I don’t know for sure, but I believe the Pharisees must have known. They were students of the Word. They knew the writings of the prophets. Surely they would have recognized the quote from Habakkuk:

Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

Habakkuk 2:9-11

See, the followers of Christ wanted Psalm 118 – “Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord!” – but Christ’s point was, “What about Habakkuk 2:11? Thou hast brought shame to thy house! The very stones of the houses cry out!”

Is your house just a pile of stones (or bricks or wood or aluminum siding)? What is it about your house that cries out about the glory of God? About the salvation of Christ? I’m not talking about the materials out of which your home is made. I’m talking about what takes place in your home. If the praises of the Lord are not heard in our homes, we won’t have to worry about the paneling and the bricks crying out in praise. Oh, they’ll be crying out alright – but they’ll be crying, “Covetous! Covetous! I am a house full of furniture! Full of television sets! Full of computers! I am a house full of possessions – of material treasures – I am a monument to covetousness!”

Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Habakkuk 2:19-20

Let’s make sure our homes are places where the Word of God is taught. Where the fear of God is evident. Where the love of God is shown. Let’s make sure our possessions “keep silence” before Him. The “stones of covetousness” which make up our homes don’t have to cry out, but if they are crying out already, how will we respond?

Next time, we will take a look another of The Stones that Don’t Cry Outthe Stones of Condemnation.

The Last but Not the Least – Part 2

August 20, 2010 at 10:05 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Previously, we saw that:

Being content brings generosity, but being covetous brings greed.

Now we will see that:

Being content brings gratitude.

What are you thankful for? “Count your many blessings – name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done,” says an old hymn. Do you ever feel like God has not really done so much for you? Do you ever think that your car isn’t the fanciest car, or maybe parts of it don’t even work that well? Do you ever get depressed because your house isn’t the nicest house? Do you sometimes think your marriage is not all you hoped it would be, and wonder, why did I wind up with this spouse? Are there times when your kids are behaving like heathens, tormenting you to death, and you think, why can’t they be like so-and-so’s kids? When that happens, grab your steering wheel and say, “Thank You, Lord – this is the car You’ve given me – it gets me from work to home and home to work – thank You for it!” Husbands, when your wife isn’t always nice and sweet – or when you wish she looked like she did when you first married her – or when you wish she looked like that Hollywood actress or model – look at your wife and say, “Thank You, Lord – this is the wife You’ve given me!” Wives, when you think, why can’t my husband be more romantic – why can’t he spend more time with me or with the kids, why doesn’t he ask me how my day was, or why is he too tired to talk after working all day – look at your husband and say, “Thank You, Lord – thank You for a husband that works, that supports the family!” Parents, look at your kids and say, “Thank You, Lord, for these kids – these are the kids You’ve given me – I love them – help me to be a help to them!”

When you are not satisfied with your husband, your wife, your job, your home – when your children don’t make good grades like someone else’s children, ask God to change things – but THANK HIM for what He’s given you already. Contentment is when a Christian draws on Jesus Christ for his or her joy. Covetousness is when you blame God because you think deep down He didn’t know what was best – that He gave to somebody else what He should have given to you. Be very careful about thinking you know better than God. He sees things we don’t see – and He knows who can handle what. I once heard an evangelist named John Bishop say, “If we took all our problems and hung them on a line, you’d choose yours, and I’d choose mine.”

Being content brings gratitude, but being covetous brings gall.

What is gall? It’s the Bible word for bitterness. When God brought His people out of Egypt He warned them not to covet after all the things and the possessions and the ways of the Egyptians and the Canaanites.

(For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;

Deuteronomy 29:16-18

According to God, the water of covetousness is poisonous water. This poisoned water waters a poisonous little root – a root of bitterness. And bitterness, when it grows into full bloom, doesn’t just defile you – the Bible says beware of a root of bitterness because many therewith will be defiled.

The things and the people in your life that tempt you to covet may be ordained by God to make you like Christ. Don’t spit in God’s face by being covetous – by wanting what He’s given to someone else. The grass is not always greener on the other side – sometimes the grass is Astroturf – and you’ll die trying to digest it.

Next time: Being content brings glory to God, but being covetous brings grief to a generation.

The Last but Not the Least – Part 1

August 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Jeremiah | 28 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:11-13

To covet is to have a sinful desire directed toward what someone else has. Is it a sin? Yes (“Thou shalt not covet“), but let’s be honest – how many of us have coveted at least once this past week? Most, if not all.

If you are not covetous, what are you? What is the opposite? To not be covetous is to be content. It is to be satisfied with what God has given you and done for you.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11 (emphasis added)

In the Old Testament, priests and Jewish scholars, and those serious about obeying God, bound the Word of God on their arms, on their foreheads, on their chests. It might be good for us to put Philippians 4:11 on our refrigerators, on the dashboards of our cars, on your coffeemakers, on our bathroom mirrors, on our alarm clocks, on the covers of our Bibles.

What is the opposite of contentment? It’s covetousness. Covetousness is a sin. It’s not one of the 10 Suggestions; it’s one of the 10 Commandments. It’s number 10. It comes after commandments like, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Most people won’t voluntarily admit it if they commit adultery – or murder – but if you ask a group of people, “Come on, how many of you have coveted this week?” most will be willing to raise their hands. We consider covetousness to be, not only the last of the 10 Commandments, but also the least – thus the title of this message: “The Last but Not the Least.”

Is it really that bad to covet? Let’s look at a few places in the Bible and see how God looks at the “little” sin of covetousness:

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Mark 7:21-23 (emphasis added)

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Romans 1:28-31 (emphasis added)

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Ephesians 5:3 (emphasis added)

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Corinthians 5:11 (emphasis added)

How does God classify the sin of covetousness? He classifies it along with murder and fornication and theft and extortion and adultery and all the worse types of behaviors that sinful man can dream up in his sinful heart. “Thou shalt not covet” is not the 10th Commandment because it’s the 10th in importance. It’s the 10th Commandment because it is the sin that leads men to break all the nine other ones. It’s the last, but not the least.

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Treat it as a command. BE content. We’ve been led astray by psychology. We’ve been taught to think we have no control over our feelings or our emotions. So we say, I either am content, or I’m not – I can’t just make myself ‘be’ content.”

But we can:

… bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2:5

“Let” in that verse means “make” or “cause.”

Being content brings generosity.

Jesus Christ had the right to act like God – to take control and enjoy everything He owned. But He took on the form of a Servant and He was content. There is a freedom that comes with wanting good things for others, and not for ourselves. Children think they will be happy if they win the fight they are having over who will get the front seat of the van, or who will get to use a toy over the exclusion of his brother or sister, but that type of squabbling really enslaves them and makes them miserable. The world says that if you do not covet – that if you don’t make sure you get what’s coming to you – you won’t get anything good. But as Christians, we don’t want “what we have coming to us,” anyway. We don’t want what we deserve. God gave His Son for me. How freeing it is to remember that, and to try to be like Him – to get excited about giving instead of getting. There are bumper stickers that say, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but that’s not true. Life is not a race to see how much we can get. It’s a race to see how much we can give. It’s not, “He who gets the most, wins.” It’s, “He who gives the most, wins.”

Life is for living, not for making.
Life is for giving, not for taking.

(Couplet I made up, which proves I stink at writing poetry, but which helps me to remember a Bible principle)

Being content brings generosity, but being covetous brings greed.

How many sermons have you heard about supposed solutions for the problem of how “empty” we are? I said earlier that Christ Jesus took on the form of a Servant, and was more of a giver than a taker – and yet, according to Scripture, He was not empty. Up until the days when He was preparing to go to the Cross, He was full. He was constantly full. I’m not one of those “prosperity” preachers, but from what I can see in Scripture, the Lord wants us to be continually full. We are to be like Christ. Why are we so empty, and always trying to get more things, and always wanting more and better? Why are we not full? It’s not because we don’t have enough. It’s because we have too much: too much vanity.

Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

Jeremiah 2:5

The Lord is telling these people that their fathers became vain because they walked after vanity. Jesus was never empty because He never walked after emptiness. His meat was to do the will of His Father (John 4:31-34). When I am vain – when I am empty – it’s because I’ve been walking after vanity – after emptiness. When I am walking after the things of God, I am content – I am full. And when I am full, I not only have the ability to bless others, but I am reminded to be grateful to God. This point will be developed more in Part 2.

Arise: Naboth’s Vineyard, Ahab’s Vice, and God’s Vengeance – Part 2

November 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Posted in Arise, Biblical friendship | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In Part 1 we met:

I. The Pious Patriarch (Naboth)
II. The Pouting Potentate (Ahab)

Now we will meet Jezebel, the wife of Ahab.

III. The Poisonous Puppeteer

And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

I Kings 21:7

This is so characteristic of how the devil works. Lacking the ability to know the thoughts and intents of every heart the way God does, he watches and observes… Until it’s time for him to “arise.” He rises like a serpent with its head poised to strike. He finds someone who is saying no to God’s way – someone who loves things more than God – someone who loves self more than God. Then the devil arises, and he strikes, and he tells his servants to arise. Beware of the poison of those who will manipulate you at the behest of the devil.

Jezebel knew just which strings to pull. She injected the poison of greed and covetousness, and she started to put on the devil’s own puppet show.

Take a moment to figuratively look around you right now. Who has hold of your strings today? Are you surrounded by good and Godly friends? People who will hold you accountable in tough love? Who will tell you when you’re sinfully pouting? Or do you have acquaintances who are working for the devil? You can recognize them by the way they always have a soothing word – they’re quick to tell you just what you want to hear. And secretly they are pulling the strings and they are moving your hands away from prayer and the Bible. They are moving your feet away from the church house. They are pulling your eyelids open until the wee hours on Saturday night, and holding them down on Sunday morning. You need to ask God to cut those strings.

When Jezebel started pulling the strings for her devilish puppet show, she played a masterpiece of evil. First, she forged Ahab’s name on a poison pen letter.

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.

I Kings 21:8

Then, she blasphemed God by pretending that someone in Jezreel had sinned against Him and Ahab.

And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:

I Kings 21:9

To be “set on high” was not an honor. It was to be placed in the seat of the accused. Naboth, who had honored God, was being falsely accused of dishonoring God. When the devil says “arise,” there are always plenty of his children eager to do his bidding. Jezebel brought out two puppets to bear false witness.

And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.

I Kings 21:13

Covetousness led to lying, and to blasphemy, and to theft, and to murder. Never kid yourself that the sin of coveting what your neighbor has is a harmless or a minor little fault.

II Kings 9:26 tells us that not only did these sons of Belial, these worthless puppets – playing on the ends of their strings for their evil puppet-master Jezebel – kill Naboth, but they took his little sons out and killed them, too. They did this so that Ahab would not have to contend with any heirs to Naboth’s vineyard.

If you play with sin, sin will play with you. And if sin plays with you, it will wreck your life. If you fool around with sin, sin will make a fool out of you.

Sin will take you further than you wanted to go.
Sin will teach you more than you wanted to know.
It will keep you longer than you wanted to stay.
It will cost you more than you wanted to pay.

So far, we have seen two despicable characters: Ahab, the Pouting Potentate, and his manipulative and evil wife, Jezebel, the Poisonous Puppeteer. We have seen one person in this whole account who has acted honorably: Naboth, the Pious Patriarch. And he and his beloved sons have been killed for their trouble.

Now we will see that when someone arises to the cause of God, and then the devil and his minions arise to do battle, the outlook is not always rosy from start to finish. When the devil says “arise,” sometimes his victims are struck down. But aren’t you glad that, even though Satan has his followers to whom he can say “arise,” God has His man to whom He can say “arise?”

And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.

I Kings 21:17-18

IV. The Pestering Prophet

Elijah was Ahab’s and Jezebel’s old foe. He did not live in a palace like Ahab. He was from the little town of Tish. He did not wear fancy clothes like Ahab. He wore rough clothes. He did not dine on delicacies and herbs like Ahab. He had a strange diet in the wilderness. But underneath his rough exterior, he had a pure heart, a holy devotion to God. Ahab’s fine garments covered a corrupt, rotten heart.

Ahab wandered through the vineyard that Jezebel had got for him with treachery. We might wonder if a shadow suddenly fell across his path: the shadow of Elijah the prophet.

I call Elijah the pestering prophet not because he was a pest in general, but because in the days when Ahab’s wife and yes-men encouraged every frivolous sin he indulged in, Elijah alone was the one voice who would not condone, who not go along, who would not soften his tone, who would not bow before the throne of the wicked.

And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.

I Kings 21:20

Elijah was not really Ahab’s “enemy.” No, he was the only friend he had in all the land. Your best friend is the one who tells you the most truth. Elijah was no more Ahab’s enemy than Christians who are intolerant of sin are the enemies of a nation. We live in a day and age when we are not only allowed to sin, not only tempted to sin, not only encouraged to sin, but praised and honored for being good at sin. We tolerate everything in this world – except intolerance.

Liberalism says that everyone is free to do what he wants – except to tell the Truth about Jesus. We don’t want Christ in anything anymore. We are not supposed to talk about celebrating Christ’s birth in December – we’re just supposed to say “Seasons Greetings.” We are not supposed to celebrate Resurrection Day – we are supposed to have “spring break.” We don’t pray in our schools anymore – we’re too busy reminding our kids that they came from an amoeba or a monkey. A man can fornicate with a man or a woman with a woman – and celebrate it in a parade. But if you stand up and say the Bible says it’s not marriage, it’s sin, then you’re guilty of a hate crime! When a missionary or a pastor or a Christian father or mother who was faithful for 60 years dies, it’s not on the news. Because if it were on the news, it would have to interrupt the spectacular tribute to some idol whose great contribution to society was wearing a sequined glove and walking backwards while pretending to walk forward! According to today’s society it’s narrow-minded, close-minded, “everybody who rejects Jesus is going to hell” Christians who are the only problem we have in this country. And that’s the way it’s portrayed in the media.

Ahab called Elijah “my enemy.” “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” And this wasn’t the first time Ahab had taken this attitude toward Elijah. After Elijah had told Ahab it was not going to rain, he went to see him after three years of drought.

And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?

I Kings 18:17

That’s what the government – that’s what society – that’s what popular culture – is saying to Christians today: “You are the ones who are troubling America.” One day – and it might be soon – they’re going to see just what this world will be like without Christians troubling it – and they’re not going to like it one bit.

I. The Pious Patriarch
II. The Pouting Potentate
III. The Poisonous Puppeteer
IV. The Pestering Prophet

In Part 3, we will examine the Preeminent Precept.


Entries and comments feeds.