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
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

The Husband of One Wife – Part 1

September 23, 2010 at 9:02 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Marriage | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why did some of the Old Testament patriarchs have multiple wives?

I. What God Authorized

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:18-25

From what part of Adam was Eve taken? Not from his head or his foot, but from his side. This symbolizes equality, protection, and proximity to his “heart.” How many ribs did God take from Adam? Not two, not three – just one. Adam named the fish and the birds first. They could do things he couldn’t do: live underwater and fly. The land animals were doing something that Adam couldn’t do alone: mating with the females of their kind – and the fact that Adam did not have a mate was not good. God created man so that one woman is sufficient to meet all his needs. That’s God’s plan. That’s His standard. That’s what He authorized. God made it very clear: one man; one woman; two people; one made for the other; becoming one flesh.

However, note that they became one flesh – not one spirit. Marriage is a physical, earthly union, not a spiritual, eternal union. Marriage is an earthly institution ordained by God. God’s rules for it are to be obeyed. He does not want us tampering with them. When God ordains something there are blessings in doing it right. There is danger in doing it wrong. The same principle applies to baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Church.

Are there people who were married on earth who are in Heaven right now and are still in a marriage relationship?

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation 2:17

Marriage relationships in Heaven would require divided affections as spouses would still owe allegiance to each other. In Heaven all allegiance, service, and worship will be directed toward the Lord alone. My wife is God’s daughter first and foremost.

So, what about the polygamy that we see in the Old Testament? It’s always good to look in the Bible and see the “firsts.”

And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.

Genesis 4:23

The Lamech from the ungodly line of Cain was the first bigamist. (He may have also been the author of the first sinful poem or song.) The “and” in Genesis 4:23 does not denote two separate killings. It is like when I say, “I went to the store and I went with my shoes on.” That does not mean that I went to the store twice. It is parallelism for emphasis. The same kind of “and” connects Genesis 1:1 and 1:2: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Lamech not only celebrated his killing with a little ditty, but he made a mockery of God’s mercy to Cain.

If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

Genesis 4:24

Jesus made a mockery of Lamech, though, when He said that His followers were not to get revenge to a degree of seventy times seven, but are to forgive to the degree of seventy times seven.

What God authorizes (what He “wills,” in one sense) and what God allows are two different things.

II. What God Allows

Remember, God destroyed the world, saving only Noah and his family, but at the tower of Babel men turned to idolatry and paganism. God called Abraham at a time when there weren’t that many Godly women around. When we read about the patriarchs of the Old Testament we have to remember that Old Testament examples are given for good and bad examples. God did use bigamists and polygamists at times. Who is He using today? “Great men of God?” No, He is using liars, adulterers, murderers, idolators, blasphemers – broken, pitiful, sinful, wretched men of a great and merciful and loving and holy God: trophies of His grace. Therefore, we can not assume that because God used polygamists in the Old Testament to do His will that He condoned their polygamy.

If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:

Deuteronomy 21:15, emphasis added

This is a case where the first wife has died.

Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:

Deuteronomy 21:16

Now the husband is focused only on his living wife, but God is saying that he must not forget his firstborn child.

But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his. If a man have [present tense] a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them [present tense]:

Deuteronomy 21:17-18, emphasis and parentheses added

To say that polygamy is okay with God based on Deuteronomy 21:15-16 is the same as saying that having a stubborn and rebellious son is okay with God based on Deuteronomy 21:17-18.

Many times the New Testament clarifies the Old Testament.

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Acts 17:29-30

God, in patience, longsuffering, and love, overlooked the iniquities of men. But where Christ is proclaimed, God will not wink at idol worship.

Consider the Words of Jesus:

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Matthew 19:4-8

Some Old Testament patriarchs had multiple wives and appeared to be blessed: Jacob, David, some of the kings of Israel and Judah.

Here are some men greatly used by God that had one wife: Adam, Noah, Isaac, Moses, Job, Isaiah, Hosea, Joseph, Jesus (His “bride” being the Church).

The practice of multiplying wives grew and increased under Saul. David engaged in it. It culminated under Solomon.

We have seen:
I. What God Authorized

Next time we will finish looking at:
II. What God Allows,
and discuss:
III. What God Accepts

Warning Sign #5: Naming Pet Demons

June 18, 2010 at 10:24 am | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The idea that our loving Lord could allow something “bad” like poverty or sickness or persecution into the life a Christian is especially abhorrent to a prosperity preacher. But railing against politicians, doctors, and “dead religious Pharisees” can only get you so far. When you really want to drive your congregation into a frenzy and get them hyped up into a display of emotionalism, you’ve got to portray yourself as a big bad demon-fighter. And what “spiritual warrior” worth his salt isn’t even on a first name basis with his enemies?

Therefore, beware of this kind of blustering and showmanship:

I call you out, Spirit of Jezebel! I’m gonna send you back to the pit, Spirit of Leviathan! We hate you, Spirit of Wormwood!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Now, I know what you’re thinking: These names – Jezebel, Leviathan, and Wormwood – are in the Bible (Revelation 2:20; Isaiah 27:1; Deuteronomy 29:18, Revelation 8:11). However, nowhere does Scripture explicitly state that these are the names of specific demons that today attack our finances, our relationships, our physical bodies, or our desire for exuberant worship. That type of preaching is fanciful at best and misleading at worst.

However, don’t try to tell this to the demon-fighting prosperity preacher! He’s already on to your type. You are one of those who has a “spirit of fear” or a “spirit of intimidation.” After all, God hasn’t given us the “spirit of fear,” according to II Timothy 1:7. This is the “you-are-just-scared-of-a-move-of-the-Holy-Ghost” card that the prosperity preacher loves to play when questioned about Biblical accuracy. Please note however that the rest of II Timothy 1:7 reads, “but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” so the “spirit of fear” is not the name of some devilish imp lurking around underneath the discarded hymn books. It is simply the carnal default position of our flesh nature when we are not being led by – and bearing the fruit of – the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, when Michal got huffy about David’s public display of dancing (II Samuel 6), there is no Bible verse that says she was possessed by the “Spirit of Intimidation.”

Beware of the preacher who is more comfortable railing against principalities and powers than he is dealing with sin in the camp and in his own life.

A Fake in the Grass

November 5, 2009 at 11:20 am | Posted in Genesis | 38 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Satan can disguise himself, even as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14). A while back there was a trend in pop culture whereby, when a person looked faint and started to keel over, an observer would jokingly say, “Whatever you do, don’t go into the light!” This was making fun of the commonality of so-called “near-death” experiences, where people come back to consciousness saying they saw a bright white light, which they believe represented the “after-life,” and that they felt drawn to it, but decided to “come back” for the sake of their loved ones or whatever. Knowing that Satan can disguise himself as an “angel of light,” maybe the warning not to go into the light is more prescient than most people realize.

In Genesis Chapter 3, Satan chooses to disguise himself as a serpent.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

Genesis 3:1-2

We might wonder whether Eve should have known that serpents can’t talk. Was this her first encounter with a serpent? When my wife makes a bad decision because I’m not with her (which almost never happens), I think about Adam, and say, “If Eve would have stayed close to her husband, he could have told her, ‘That’s not a parrot, let’s get out of here!'”

Seriously though, Satan is a counterfeiter. He has a counterfeit righteousness (Romans 9:30). He has counterfeit ministers (II Corinthians 11:13-16). He has counterfeit believers (II Corinthians 11:26). He has counterfeit churches (Revelation 2:9). He even has counterfeit mysteries (Revelation 2:24).

In Genesis 3:1 he first says, “Hey let’s discuss God’s Words – did He really say that?” He tricked Eve into following his example. Here is what God really said:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16-17

Here is Eve’s subtle alteration:

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Genesis 3:2-3

She subtracted from God’s Word. She added to God’s Word. Finally, she changed God’s Word. That’s what will happen every time we allow Satan to deceive us into questioning God’s Word.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

Genesis 3:4

Changes to God’s Word invariably become direct contradictions to God’s Word. Satan questioned God’s Word (Genesis 3:1). He denied God’s Word (Genesis 3:4). He made up his own word (Genesis 3:5).

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

John 8:44

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Romans 1:25

Note the singular in Romans 1:25 – this is A lie and it is THE lie: you shall be like God. The “New Age” movement is not really “new.” It started in the Garden of Eden.

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Genesis 3:24

God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden for their own protection. For them to eat of the Tree of Life after disobediently eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil could have been disastrous.

The categories of sin set forth in I John 2:16 are all present in mankind’s first sin:

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, [the lust of the flesh] and that it was pleasant to the eyes [the lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [the pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:6 (Bracketed phrases added.)

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:7

Even their very first attempt at self-righteousness – as useless as it was – was counteracted by the grace of God’s plan going into motion. I heard an illustration once of a tree being stripped of its leaves by two people. God’s original plan for trees did not include stripping the leaves to make clothes. This stripped tree grows into a Cross. The sinners cower in fear, trying to cover themselves.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8

The sinners are trying to hide from God, which is useless. Aren’t all attempts at self-righteousness really attempts to hide from God that which cannot be hidden?

Now, picture Christ going up on this leafless tree – meant by men to be a symbol of death. He is crucified upon it. He makes an instrument of torture into a bridge of everlasting salvation, so the frightened ones can come to Him and be forgiven.

Notice that God is the One Who comes looking for Adam and Eve – not the other way around.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Genesis 3:9

Billy Sunday used to say that sinners can’t find God for the same reason criminals can’t find policemen – they’re not looking for them.

Here we see the first instance of blame-shifting:

And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Genesis 3:10-13

There are three questions in Genesis which many of us need to be asking ourselves:

1. Where are you? (Genesis 3:9)
2. Where is your brother? (Genesis 4:9)
3. Where is your wife? (Genesis 18:9)


Entries and comments feeds.