Don’t Beat around the Bush

May 24, 2010 at 11:57 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Common Expressions, Exodus | 9 Comments
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The origin of the expression “beating around the bush” is thought to be from when hunters would employee folks known as “beaters.” These beaters (sort of the bird-hunting equivalent of golf caddies maybe) would beat the bushes to scare up birds. They would “beat around the bush” until the hunter would raise his shotgun and “get to the point.”

The common expression, “stop beating around the bush,” reminds us of Exodus Chapter 3:

Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

Exodus 3:1-3

Moses had killed an Egyptian and fled from Pharaoh. God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush and gave him a clear specific order. But instead of obeying right away, Moses started “beating around the bush.”

Sometimes we tend to do the same thing when God tells us to do something we don’t want to do. We don’t usually just say “No, God, I am in rebellion against You. Therefore, I flat-out refuse to do what You say.” Instead, we “rationalize.” The sin of rationalization, along with pride, may be our most frequent sin. I remember, as a kid, seeing a movie called The Big Chill. One of the characters, played by Jeff Goldblum, was explaining to his friends how frequently we rely on rationalizations. I’m sure this is a paraphrase after all this time, but he said something like, “Rationalizations are more important to us than anything. Try to get through a whole day without at least one big juicy rationalization.”

Here are Moses’s excuses or rationalizations – his “bush-beating:”

1. Who am I?

And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

Exodus 3:11

Moses says, “I’m not worthy, I’m a nobody,” and God basically says, “You’re right, but I will be with you.”

And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

Exodus 3:12

2. Who are You?

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Exodus 3:13–14

Moses didn’t have a Bible, but today we can know if we’re really hearing from God by comparing what we hear to God’s Word.

3. How will I keep them from thinking I’m crazy at best, or lying at worst?

And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.

Exodus 4:1

God told Moses that He would give him what he needed to do the job. Moses yielded his rod to God. When he thought of it as his, it was just a crutch. But when he thought of it as God’s, God used it to do His work.

4. What if I can’t say it the right way?

And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

Exodus 4:10-12

When we realize that our rod isn’t really our rod, and our tongue isn’t really our tongue – when we yield them to God, He can use them.

5. How about somebody else?

And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.

Exodus 4:13-16

This fifth rationalization seemed to make God mad. However, He told Moses to take Aaron along with him, reminding him that he would be accountable for him.

Let’s not rationalize and beat around the bush with God. When it’s time to serve Him, let’s trust Him, believe His Word, bring along a friend, and work together for God.

For Whom Are We Building this Temple?

February 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Haggai | 3 Comments
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Haggai prophesied that the Lord’s people were guilty of three sins:

1. The sin of rationalization (“It’s not the right time.”)

2. The sin of rationalism (“The evidence doesn’t support the work. Why is there opposition if God wants us to continue the work?”)

3. The sin of re-ordering their priorities (“Our houses come before God’s houses; our priorities come before God’s priorities.”)

Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?

Haggai 1:4

“Cieled houses” were houses that had a type of paneling.

They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.

Ezra 3:7

The stones could still be used, but the wood needed to be replaced.

Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.

Haggai 1:8

Rationalizations that excuse doing the work of the ministry are opposed to God’s revealed will in His Word. In our day and age I would be very skeptical of teachers or preachers who say, “The Lord told me not to give the Gospel because I am focused on some other doctrinal teaching at the moment.” I do not believe that the Bible teaches that it is ever God’s will for the Gospel message to be withheld.

Haggai Chapter 2 contains encouragement for the future. There is a looking-forward to Herod’s temple when the presence of God would move back into the temple in the Person of Christ Jesus.

And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.

Haggai 2:7

The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts. In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying,

Haggai 2:9-11

This is really Haggai’s 3rd “sermon” or prophetic message. It was delivered to the priests. Its theme is that holiness can only be “imparted” so far. But unholiness – or uncleanness – is very contagious. It is easily imparted. I can get you sick by sneezing on you, but I can’t get you healthy that way. There is assurance of mercy, and even blessing, with repentance, but it must be true heart repentance – the kind that seeks God’s glory.

Would the temple bring glory to God, or to the people who worked on it?

Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid, consider it. Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.

Haggai 2:18-19

Many husbands seek to separate the ministry of their family: They handle the material things and they let the wives handle the spiritual things. These must not be separated. Both areas of ministry require sanctification.

When It’s Okay to be Irrational

February 3, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Haggai | 14 Comments
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The people had made a good start. Bravely, they had gone back to Jerusalem, and had begun rebuilding the temple. Then, for 16 years the work stopped. God sent the prophet Haggai to get the people working again. We can see from the prophet’s words three major sins that were the cause of the delay.

First, the workers were guilty of the sin of rationalization. To rationalize something is to give an excuse for not doing what we really don’t want to be doing anyway.

Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built.

Haggai 1:2

When we say that we intend to do what the Lord has commanded, but that right now is not the right time, we must be careful of the sin of rationalization.

Second, the workers were indulging in the sign of rationalism. Rationalism is man-centered thinking in disregard of the principles and precepts of God’s Word.

Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.

Haggai 1:6

Man-centered reasoning says that if there is opposition to God’s work, He must not want us to continue. However, God-centered reasoning says that if God has commanded it, He will make a way to overcome all opposition.

Third, the workers had sinfully re-ordered their priorities. They were working on their own houses while the house of the Lord remained unfinished.

Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.

Haggai 1:9

We must put the things of God first on our priority list. If we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, all our needs will be met by Him (Matthew 6:33).

Christians today should beware of working for themselves instead of working for the Lord. Ask the Holy Ghost to give you a spiritual check-up today, to make sure you are free from the sins of rationalization, rationalism, and re-ordered priorities.


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