Monday, March 28, 2016

Seven Woes

Jesus in Matthew 23, speaks directly to the religious leaders of the day.  Taunting or calling out of the issues of the day; namely a wrong message of what makes one righteous.  Jesus gives an example of direct confrontation of the battle that is fought with men that are in conflict with the will of the Father.  The recorded word is given to combat pride, greed, self-will and sin in light of the provision and providence of God.
     Jesus speaks the Seven Woes against the Pharisees and Scribes; the commanding rulers of the day.  Jesus challenged the norms of society[1] and desired to confront and give direction to the people of the Jerusalem that the pathway being preached was leading them to a false doctrine of God’s love and will for them. This conversation happened in a public forum and the gathering crowd existed of Scribes and Pharisees, in addition to the common Jews of the city.  Jesus is publicly calling out the teaching of the leaders for their contradiction with God’s Word.
     Jesus is preaching the gospel that love of God is imperative and that belief in the Messiah offers everlasting life for every Jew.  It is love and grace, not law.  The Pharisees are in direct contrast to this:
In the case of the Pharisees and their scribes there is the very serious accusation that they shut up the kingdom of heaven before men. They were in reality effectively shutting people out of God’s kingdom at the same time that they claimed they were helping them into it; in that lay their hypocrisy[2]

     Jesus baits the Pharisees to call them out, for the purpose of truth.  Christ knew the plan and the consequence of His actions.  Jesus was going to the cross to pay the price that could not be paid by anyone other than the perfect Lamb of God.  There was no other option.  Truth needed spoken; hypocrisy needed called out and the position of God and His will need to be completed.  Jesus calls the Pharisees and Scribes out for what they were; self-serving hypocrites.  This preaching from our Lord was meant to redirect the purposes of man to serve the righteous purpose of God.

[1] Life Application Study Bible (p. 1583). Wheaton, IL:Tyndale House Publishers. 2005

[2] Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (p. 579). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Does God Command Genocide in the Old Testament

Exploring the concept of following a God that would command genocide is a tough concept to grasp. Yet there are revelations that are exposed that show who God is, the intensity of his love and the depth of His protection for His holy people.  In Joshua 1:11 and 3:10, there is a commanding from God for the Israelites to dispose (or dispossess) of a nation.   This command, “According to Deuteronomy 7:1–11 the Lord would remove the inhabitants of Canaan and settle the Israelites in the land.”[1]; goes back to a promise made to Moses and shows planning and consistency of our Lord.  God desires a holy people and knowing the hearts and minds of the Israelites; God will need to have the land purified.
     Knowing that the concept of purifying is difficult, there are practical arguments that can be applied so that it is clearer to any skeptics.   In the case of a medical procedure, the goal would be to completely eliminate any germs, or potential cause for infection.  The goal would be a sterile environment.  God is wiser than any human understanding, and knows the need for a pure, clean, fresh start for His people.  Many parents would desire to remove any negative influences that would cause harm to their children.  God’s command here, as hard as it may be to understand, is to display His love and protection of His children. The Canaanites were not a pure people, in fact the Teacher’s Commentary tells, “Yet for all their material advancement, the religion and morals of Canaan were degraded.”[2]  This statement could lead us to understand that the advancements of the Canaanites may set up the Israelites for covertness. Additionally, causing separation of the Israelite’s obedience to God alone.  Idols have arisen before, and God’s desire is for sin to be absent from His nation.
     God does command genocide, defined as a complete removal of evil minded people that would be able to contaminate His holy desire for the Israelites.  God desires all to be holy, yet evil will be removed from this world in His time and in His way.  A commentary of the Old Testament adds this point; “The God of Israel would now manifest himself as a living God by the extermination of the Canaanites.”[3]  This active approach to revealing Himself is beyond the normal understanding of these events.
     In modern times, there will be a reappearance of Christ.  At this time, there will be an extermination of the evil and the preservation of the good.  These verses in Joshua are much like the days ahead.  Christians standing on the borders of the New Jerusalem, and God ushering them in to the pure and holy land prepared for them.  In these days the glory of the entry will be the goal and the understanding for purity complete.

[1] Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 326). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
[2] Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (p. 163). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[3] Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 2, p. 32). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Focus on Him Alone

As the Westminster Catechism famously states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.” Yet if I’m completely honest, I must confess I have lived most of my life trying to glorify myself in the eyes of other people. My greatest desires were to create wealth, acquire stuff and spoil my children. I accomplished all of my goals, to a certain degree, but unfortunately none of those accomplishments were the ones the Lord had in mind for my life. I used my time to build my little kingdom on earth while leaving a few spare minutes now and then for him. That’s where the words of Psalm 90 convict me. I’ve not always been a wise steward of my time. Furthermore, since I was created to glorify God and enjoy him, why don’t I start acting like it?

What does God say

For impact upfront --- Let me restate that if you truly are a Christian then you have Christ in you.  He lives in you.  Your body is His temple.  Chose to sin chose to dirty the temple of God. 
1 Cor 6:18 tells us of the nature of sexual sin--- it is internal.  You bring it into the Temple of the Holy Spirit. You!!  Not your spouse--- not your dating partner but YOU.
You have been bought at a price-- the very blood of Jesus. 
Society tells us it's okay, it's fun.  God asks, why do you defile me?
Sex is for marriage.  Therefore dating fun--nope.   Fiancé fun--nope.
If sex with another outside of marriage is not okay then sex with another inside the marriage vow is not okay either. 
I deal with many that justify sex outside of marriage yet would not condone adultery in marriage.  That is wonderful but we need to stand with the Word of God.  Intimacy in any form is sin outside of marriage. 
Non married people--- spend your energy getting to know if the person your dating is walking with God fully.
As my brother LaCrea says... "if he ain't rolling with God, don't let him roll with you."
My add--  a guy or gal rolling with God is easy to spot.  They wouldn't ask you to sin against God and defile His temple.
As the most interesting man in the world would say. Stay pure my friend.
I don't always follow the Word of God-- but when I do its Dos Blessings!!
Stay pure my friend.