Saturday, July 24, 2010

GOD HAS CHOSEN HIS FAVOURITES


In 1st Corinthians chapter 10 God gave us these examples to warn us that we should not fall into the same sins of rebellion against those whom God has appointed to be our rulers.

We read in 1 Corinthians 10:10-11.

1 Corinthians 10:10
Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

1 Corinthians 10:11
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

We have seen that this refers to the Rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Moreover Korah has obtained the support of 250 princes of the congregation, meaning that actually the majority of the congregation was on their side. And we see this in the sixteenth chapter of Numbers.

Here in the Prophecy of Numbers we find all the historical details of the wanderings of the children of Israel in the wilderness. But all these historical details have been written in such a way that we can find their spiritual meaning as it applies to our days. God was angry and God swallowed up in the earth Korah, Dathan and Abiram with all their household and all that were in their families, their wives, their children, and even their little ones. In addition a fire from God killed the 250 princes of the congregation that were joined to the rebellion. Then we read about the hardness of heart of the children of Israel.

The Double Rebellion (1 Corinthians 10:10-11, Numbers 16:1-3, Romans 9:16)

The next day, after everyone saw the wrath of God on the rebels, the majority of the congregation again rebelled against Moses and Aaron, blaming them for the death of Korah, Dathan and Abiram and the 250 princes. Again God was angry and sent a plague of flesh eating bacteria among them and 14,700 people died within a few hours. Then God finished this entire debate about who was really appointed by God to represent Him as priest and prophet.

You can see that the following chapter, Numbers 17, is intimately tied to chapter 16, and here God shows everyone in the world how God’s salvation plan operates. The principle is written for us in Romans 9:16, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”

Therefore the title of this article is, “God Has Chosen His Favorites”.

What exactly was Korah's rebellion?

Korah wanted to usurp a place of honor in the congregation, a place where people would accept his words as words coming from God, much like where Antichrist wants to be near the end of time, in the middle of the New Testament congregation. But God’s plan is not to go along “with him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,” like Korah; but God’s plan is to have mercy with those on whom He planned to show mercy. God has made His choices long before the foundation of the world. And so, this chapter deals with a sign from God who He has chosen; a sign who His favorites are.

Take a Rod According to Each Tribe (Numbers 17:1-5)

In the kingdom of this world it is commendable if we seek to climb up the managerial ladder, but in the Kingdom of God, it is God who makes the appointments, and He chooses whom He wills. We do not lift up ourselves. God calls this: Rebellion. The children of Israel had to learn this the hard way. It was in this context, right after the double rebellion, that the LORD created a miracle to establish Aaron as His chosen one. We read in Numbers 17:1-5,

Numbers 17:1
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Numbers 17:2
Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man's name upon his rod.

Numbers 17:3
And thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers.

Numbers 17:4
And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.

Numbers 17:5
And it shall come to pass, that the man's rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.

In other words, God commanded that each tribe of Israel be represented in the Tabernacle by a rod, which is a wooden stick. Moses wrote the name of the tribe on the rod that was submitted. Twelve tribes submitted their representative rods, and God commanded Moses to add a thirteenth rod for the tribe of Levi.

How many rods were there in total?

There were thirteen rods, because there are thirteen tribes in Israel. Not one could be missing. But God commanded Moses to write the name of Aaron on the rod for the tribe of Levi, because the entire tribe of Levites was given to the house of Aaron as a gift from God to do the service of the Tabernacle. Therefore Aaron was their representative and their federal head. These thirteen rods were to be placed before the Ark of the Covenant, in the Holy of Holies. The Ark of the Covenant is here called "the testimony", because inside the Ark was "the evidence of the revelation of God's Will".

It contained the Ten Commandments written on two stone tables, and it contained a pot with manna. Both of these were evidences, or witnesses, or testimonies of God's Will for Israel. Israel was to feed on the Word of God and they were to feed on the manna from heaven. Then God promised in verse 5 to make one of those rods to blossom. And that was the miracle by which:

God Shall Appoint His High Priest (Numbers 17:6-9, Deuteronomy 18:2, Deuteronomy 18:5, Psalm 110:1-2)

Numbers 17:6
And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers' houses, even twelve rods:

Numbers 17:7
And the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses laid up the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness. And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness;

Numbers 17:8
And, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.

Numbers 17:9
And Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod.

And then they saw that Aaron's Rod had changed. It was no longer a dead wooden stick, but it had become so much alive that it was bearing buds for new flowers, and it was bearing blossoms, and it was bearing almonds, indicating that it was already bearing fruit.

That was a stupendous miracle that God performed, but what was it for?

Why did God do that?

Was this only for the purpose of showing that in the history of the nation of Israel God appointed Aaron as high priest?

But then, what has this to do with the Gospel?

Well, first of all, God showed hereby that He had chosen Aaron to be the High Priest in Israel, and God had chosen the tribe of Levi as a symbol of His special people, His elect. The picture is that God has given all His elect to the high priest Aaron. But take notice that twelve of the thirteen tribes received real estate as their inheritance, a symbol of something earthly, like the earthly kingdom of God, but not the tribe of Levi. Actually the tribe of Levi received the greatest inheritance, because the LORD is their inheritance. We read in Deuteronomy 18:2 and 5 about this honor that was bestowed upon the tribe of Levi, and upon Aaron.

Deuteronomy 18:2
“Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the LORD is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them.”

And then Deuteronomy 18:5, “For the LORD thy God hath chosen him (the priest) out of all thy tribes, to stand to minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons for ever.”

And notice the words “for ever.” It means that this has everlasting consequences. But now, imagine the consternation of the other twelve tribes: The rod of Levi was transformed from dead to life, but their wooden sticks remained dead wood. It indicated that the tribe of Levi was alive unto God, but the other tribes were as good as dead wood. And Aaron was undeniably the high priest of Israel. All their murmurings against Moses and Aaron were actually rebellion against God.

Now they saw it themselves. Is it not interesting that the word for "Rod" that is used in Numbers 17 is the Hebrew word "matteh". Aaron’s rod is the word "matteh".

Is it not amazing that God used this same word "matteh" in Psalm 110 where it refers to Christ?

Psalm 110:1-2 <>
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod (matteh) of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.

This is unmistakably a Messianic Psalm, because the Lord Jesus quoted these words to the Pharisees. He says in verse 2 that God shall send Christ, the Rod of His strength, out of Zion, which is the place where God resides, and Christ shall rule in the midst of His enemies.

And how shall He rule there?

We already know that our God is an absolutely righteous God, and we already know that our God is a Sovereign God, which means that God does not wait taking the next step until He has seen our reaction. God rules as a Sovereign King.

But we also read in the Bible:

The Lord Killeth and Maketh Alive (1 Samuel 2:6-8, Genesis 15:1, Romans 9:15-16)

This is how God rules. Is it not amazing that this verse is in the Bible?

We read in 1 Samuel 2:6-8,

1 Samuel 2:6
The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.

1 Samuel 2:7
The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.

1 Samuel 2:8
He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them.

What is the common denominator in all these examples that God brings up here?

You see, all these examples show how God brings salvation. In each case a person is first made low, and then he is lifted up. First he is dead, and then he is made alive. Just like Aaron's rod that was dead, and then it was made alive.

When Adam and Eve sinned they came under the curse of God, spiritually they became dead; the LORD killeth. Afterward, God had mercy on them and He made them spiritually alive.

God brought Christ down to the grave, and then He raised him up.

For what purpose?

To bring justification to many.

Before we were saved we were spiritually poor, but then He saved us and made us spiritually rich. Before God saves us, God first makes us see what a terrible sinners we are; He bringeth low; and then He lifts us up. Before God saves us, God first makes us see that we are poor and made out of dust, and we are actually beggars pleading for salvation because this sin cursed earth is but a dunghill. But then He found us on the dunghill, and when He saves us He sets us among princes in heaven, and makes us inherit the throne of glory.

And then God says to us, like He said to Abraham in Genesis 15:1, "I Am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward".

What greater glory could God bestow upon us?

We inherit God Himself. There is no greater glory that He could give us. You see, that is the significance of the miracle of Aaron's Rod that budded. It signified the miracle of salvation. Something that was dead was made alive. We all were dead in trespasses and sins, and by nature children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, has made us alive together with Christ; therefore, by grace are ye saved. And then God gave Himself to us. In the tabernacle not all thirteen sticks of dead wood were made alive. God chose only whom He wanted to make alive.

God says in Romans 9:15-16,

Romans 9:15
For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Romans 9:16
So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

God chooses whom He wants to save. God does the saving. It is all a gift by the grace of God.

But now, let me show you another aspect of Numbers 17.

The Shadow; the Ark of the Covenant (Numbers 17:8-10, Hebrews 9:1-4)

Numbers 17:8
And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.

We have seen that God performed this miracle to show that He has chosen Aaron as the high priest and that He has chosen the tribe of Levi as His special people to minister unto Aaron. We have seen that God performed this miracle to show us what salvation is: God takes something that is dead and makes it alive. But there is more that is attached to this miracle done with Aaron's Rod.

Numbers 17:10
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.”

In other words, God said to Moses: "Bring Aaron's Rod back before the Ark of the Covenant, to be kept for a token against the rebels".

To be kept where?

Is it in front of the Ark of the Covenant?

But we don't read anywhere in the history of the nation of Israel where Aaron's Rod was kept. It is only when we turn to the New Testament that we see Aaron's Rod again.

In Hebrews 8 God declared His terms for His covenant of grace: God takes the initiative. Salvation is entirely in God’s hands, and does not depend on our will, or our desire for salvation. Then in Hebrews 9 God speaks about the ceremonial law as an integral part of His covenant with the children of Israel. Within that ceremonial law was the command to build a tabernacle, or tent, wherein was a compartment that was called the Holy of Holies, and therein was the Ark of the Covenant.

We read in Hebrews 9:1-4,

Hebrews 9:1
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

Hebrews 9:2
For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary.

Hebrews 9:3
And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

Hebrews 9:4
Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

There you have it. The Ark of the Covenant contained the golden pot with manna, and Aaron's Rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant, which refers to the Ten Commandments. If we did not have the New Testament we would never have known where Aaron's Rod was kept.

But why was Aaron's Rod so special that it should be kept in the golden Ark of the Covenant?

It was because Aaron's Rod, together with the two other items in the Ark of the Covenant, were types of Christ as savior, and Christ the giver of life. The Ark of the Covenant was kept behind the second veil in the Holy of Holies, where only the High Priest was allowed to come, once a year on the Day of Atonement, and he had to come with blood of a goat, which was a picture of the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, and the High Priest had to sprinkle the blood on the lid of the Ark, which was called the Mercy-Seat.

The Word of God, and the Bread of Life (John 1:1-4, John 6:33-35)

The tables of the covenant were two tables of stone that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai. On those tables were written the Ten Commandments, written by the finger of God. These Ten Commandments were not the whole Law of God, but these were a representation of the Law of God, and these were a representation of the Word of God.

By itself, the Law of God could not save anyone, because the Law could not change the rottenness of the human soul. These two tables of stone were only a shadow of the real Word of God. And the Word of God could bring salvation, because the Word of God stands for the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ could bring salvation.

We read in John 1:1-4,

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:2
The same was in the beginning with God.

John 1:3
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jon 1:4
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Do you know who is in view here in this passage?

It is Christ as the Word of God.

Did you notice verse 4?

In Christ as the Word of God was life, and it is this life He could give to men so that they could see the light of the Gospel. Thus Christ as the Word of God is pictured here as a life giver.

The second item in the Ark is the golden pot with manna. The Jews knew the manna as "the bread from heaven". But the Lord Jesus corrected that view. The manna was only a type of the real Bread from heaven. The Lord Jesus said in John 6:33-35,

John 6:33
For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

John 6:34
Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

John 6:35
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The Lord Jesus said that the manna was only a shadow of Christ. He really was the bread from heaven, and He was not just food for their physical life, but He was food for their spiritual life, because everyone who comes to Christ shall never hunger nor thirst. Christ did not mean to say that we as Christians would never be hungry or thirsty any more. He was speaking in spiritual terms. The Lord Jesus said that He is the true bread from heaven, and that He is the bread of Life. Christ is the bread that was pictured as the life giver. The pot with manna was only a shadow of that bread.

How do we partake of Christ as the bread of Life?

How do we eat Christ?

Many people believe that we eat this bread of life in the communion service when the bread and wine are passed around. But that is false. To partake of Christ, the bread of life, means to read the Bible and to believe with all our heart that the sufferings and death of Christ were a complete atonement for all our sins. Thus, to partake of Christ means to draw closer and closer to Christ, by reading His Word and beseeching Him in prayer.

The Rod that Budded (Hebrews 9:11-15, Numbers 17:11-13)

Let me come back to that Hebrew word for "Rod". You remember that is the word "matteh". That word matteh has been translated "rod" 52 times, but the same word has been translated "tribe" 182 times. Of course it was not the whole tribe of Levi that was locked up in the Ark of the Covenant. But Aaron's Rod was representing the whole tribe of Levi.

But how does this apply to us?

Well, this Rod that Budded was representing a whole tribe that was dead, and was made alive. Aaron's Rod that Budded was a picture of Christ as the life giver of the tribe of all His elect, because He as our High Priest was giving His blood behind the veil. When the high priest, once a year, on the Day of Atonement, went behind the veil with the blood of a goat and of a bullock, that was a spiritual picture of Christ as our High Priest going behind the veil, sprinkling His blood on the mercy seat.

Hebrews 9:11
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

Hebrews 9:12
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Hebrews 9:13
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:

Hebrews 9:14
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:15
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

All the Old Testament ceremonial laws were just shadows of the more perfect sacrifice that the Lord Jesus Christ gave when He was crucified. On the Cross, Christ was the Lamb of God that was slain, but Christ was also the High Priest who killed that Lamb, and Christ was also the Tabernacle where the High Priest offered that Lamb. His body was a greater and more perfect tabernacle than the tabernacle that was made with hands. He offered not the blood of goats and calves, but He offered His own blood. He did not have to do this year after year, but only once.

All this is symbolized in Aaron's Rod that Budded, and that is why it was placed in the Ark of the Covenant. Something that was dead was made alive. And that Rod symbolized the tribe of all the saints throughout time. This is the tribe that budded, and brought forth flowers and fruit, because we all must be fruit bearing.

Now, take a good look at why God did all this in Numbers 17.

The Substance; the Kingdom of God (Numbers 17:10)

Look closely at the wording in Numbers 17:10.

There would be a change within the children of Israel.

Numbers 17:10
And the LORD said unto Moses, Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.

In other words (and now we use our New Testament information) God says: "Bring Aaron's Rod again before the Ark, and later place it later in the Ark of the Covenant, to be preserved for a token against the rebels; and hereby you shall make an end of their murmurings, so that they die not".

But what does this mean?

Why would the act of placing Aaron's Rod that Budded into the Ark of the Covenant, have the double effect that they would stop murmuring and that they die not?

Is this really what God means?

Check again.

God says in verse 5, “to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.”

Definitely, God said it twice that this miracle and the act of placing Aaron's Rod in the Ark will stop the murmurings of the children of Israel. But if we continue Israel's history in Numbers 20, we read that the people again murmured for lack of water, and nobody died there. If God was not lying in Numbers 17, verses 5 and 10, then we conclude that we must not interpret verses 5 and 10 in a historical fashion.

What then was God saying in verse 5 and 10?

What was Aaron's Rod representing?

Aaron's Rod that Budded was a picture of Christ as the life giver of the tribe of all the elect, because He as our High Priest was giving His blood behind the veil. Aaron's Rod became a symbol of the Atonement. Christ became the giver of Life to those for whom He died on the cross of Calvary.

For whom did Christ die?

For rebels like you and me; for dirty rotten sinners like you and me.

Now look again at the words of verse 10, Aaron's Rod was to be kept before the testimony of Christ, as the Word of God, and Christ, as the bread of life, for a token against the rebels that their murmurings might be taken away, that they die not.

What was that token before Christ died?

It was Aaron's Rod that Budded.

What is that token after Christ died?

It is the cross of Christ: It was an empty Cross, because Christ was risen from the dead, and all our sins have been taken away, so that we die not: We will not be condemned to Hell. Instead we will be drafted into the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Did the children of Israel understand all of this?

Perhaps not, but these words were written for our instruction:

Numbers 17:12
“And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish.” They realized that they all were dead in trespasses and sins.

The Honor of Making Atonement for Us (Numbers 17:5, Ephesians 1:4)

Were all of them condemned for their sins?

Or were they all saved from their sins?

Let us look again at the words of verse 5.

Numbers 17:5
“And it shall come to pass, that the man's rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.”

God says: "It shall come to pass that the man's tribe whom I shall choose, shall blossom", shall be made alive. God chooses whom He will make alive, and God chooses whose sins He will make to cease from Him, by casting their sins into the depths of the sea. That rod, or that tribe of Levi, was symbolic of all the elect who belong to Christ.

We, the elect of God, were all at one time, by nature the children of wrath, even as others. We all were dead in trespasses and sins. We all started out as dead sticks. Therefore, it is impossible that God would reward anyone with the gift of salvation based on something that we did. We could not do anything right, because we were dead.

Is it then any wonder that God will choose whom He wishes to save?

It is no surprise to God who will become saved and who will remain in their sins. God decided that before the foundation of the world and His plan is the wisest plan there is, and He has so written it in the Bible.

God says in Ephesians 1:4,

Ephesians 1:4
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”

Is it then any wonder that the Lord Jesus Christ died only for those whom God has chosen to save?

That is why God said to Moses: "and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel".

But which Israel did God have in view?

The Lord Jesus Christ is called Israel in the Bible.

We only need to read it carefully.

Who then are the children of Israel?

We call ourselves Christians, meaning "of the family of Christ", or "of the family of Israel".

And how can we know that we indeed are the children of God?

This is how: "and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel".

Do we still murmur against God?

Do we grumble and complain that we deserve a better life?

Do we feel sorry for ourselves?

Stop it!

It is all rebellion. God says that He will cause to cease from Him the murmurings of the children of Israel. God's children are going to be content with their lot. God's children are not complaining to God that God has given them the short end of the stick. But also, it means that God has removed the sins of His children far from Him. He has removed the sins of our past murmurings far away from Him, as far as the East is from the West.

Murmurings; Are They Still With Us? (1 Corinthians 10:11, Isaiah 58:13-14, Jeremiah 17:9)

It certainly seems so.

Why else would God remind us of these sordid stories?

For example, God says in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

Therefore, we need to meditate on the following question:

Why does God take rebellion against His instructions so seriously?

Why did God take such drastic measures sometimes?

And why was God so lenient at other times?

Do we still have to worry about our sins?

Did not Christ pay for all our sins?

Did He?

How can we know the assurance of our salvation?

Remember the words of 1 Corinthians 10:11. God wrote these words for our admonition, for our learning, because we need this instruction.

Why is God warning us for falling into these sins?

And what has this to do with the words, “upon whom the ends of the world are come”?

Are these sins particularly magnified when we approach the end of time?

Just think of what happened to so many marriages; they ended up in divorce. But God hates divorce. People divorce anyway, regardless what God says, for when we approach the end of time the Word of God becomes more and more scarce, and people are less and less interested in learning what the Word of God says.

Just think of why so many women are fond to occupy the office of elders and deacons in the church. God said that an elder or a deacon is to be the husband of one wife.

But people ignore what God says. They go their own way.

Just think of what happened to the Sunday Sabbath. It used to be a joyous celebration. But people have taken the joy out of it and made it a law. And then it became an obligation, and there was no more joy in worship any more.

But God said in Isaiah 58:13-14, (and I am paraphrasing) ”This is My Holy Day; this is the day you shall set aside; not finding thine own pleasure but finding pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight.” J

ust think of how many people generate idols. When they do not consult the Word of God they generate idols, for all the things they imagine out of their own mind come out of an evil heart.

God says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

And so, all concepts of God that do not find a solid basis in the Bible are actually idols, and people really fall down and worship these idols. It sounds unbelievable, but that is what most people do these days, because their Bibles are collecting dust on their bookshelves.

And what about their murmurings; are they still with us?

Those who have an unhappy marriage and seek for a divorce are murmuring.

Those women who occupy a church office such as elder or deacon are murmuring, for they do not find many men who are willing to take their place.

Those who are attending church reluctantly are murmuring, for they rather be on the beach.

Those who generate idols are murmuring, for their idols do not seem to do what their owners desire, And so on, and so on.

But let us now look into our own bosom.

We like Christ to be our Savior. O Yes!

Was that not nice of Jesus to go to the cross for us?

But we do not like it when Jesus says: "He who does not take up his cross and follow Me, is not worthy of Me". And yet, this is nothing compared to what Jesus has done for us.

And will we then treat Him like the children of Israel treated Him?

They had no love for the God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery.

God demonstrated by this great miracle of Aaron’s rod that God has a desire to dwell with man?

Is this a one way love, or do we see in ourselves a passionate desire to be with God?

Let us consider if we might have lost our first love, for that is an important sign.

Let us now summarize what we have learned in this study: Aaron's Rod that budded is synonymous with the Tribe of Christ that blossomed in the midst of a Congregation that was in rebellion against Christ. That is how we were. We were in Church, we were in the Congregation, but we were not saved. The Lord killeth and then He maketh alive.

How do we know if we have been made alive?

Are those murmurings still with us, or has Christ become our greatest desire in this life?

How great is our love for Him?

Now the BIG question:

Are you one of God’s favorites?

Only you know the answer to this question.

Amen.

By Alfred J. Chompff

Friday, July 23, 2010

IDOLATRY IN THE HOUSE OF GOD


1 Corinthians 10:11
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Now, when it concerns sins the sky is the limit. But we need to learn how to focus. And so, let us look what took place in these ten verses. Which sins is God actually talking about?

We read in 1 Corinthians 10:1-10.

1 Corinthians 10:1
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

1 Corinthians 10:2
And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

1 Corinthians 10:3
And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

1 Corinthians 10:4
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:5
But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

1 Corinthians 10:6
Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

1 Corinthians 10:7
Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

1 Corinthians 10:8
Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

1 Corinthians 10:9
Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

1 Corinthians 10:10
Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

Idolatry in the Old Testament Church (1 Corinthians 10:1-11, Act 7:38)

The first example was given in 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 where Moses struck the Rock at Horeb and then again at Meribah.

Why did Moses strike the Rock?

He was getting impatient because the entire congregation rebelled against Moses and Aaron for the lack of water and food. They loved their water and food more than the God who saved them out of the house of bondage.

What is this?

This is idolatry. Their food and water were their idols which they loved more than God. They knew full well that the God who performed such marvelous miracles in Egypt would not let them die of thirst. But this was not idolatry by a few individuals. This was collective idolatry in almost the entire congregation. That is why I called it “Idolatry in the Old Testament Church”.

The Bible calls it the church in the wilderness in Acts 7:38. Let us now look at the second example, in 1 Corinthians 10:5, where we see the children of Israel South of the land of Canaan, refusing to enter the land of Canaan because of the bad report that ten of the spies brought to them. They believed the ten spies more than they believed God, like Adam and Eve believed the serpent more than they believed God. That is idolatry. And again we see that it is collective idolatry in almost the entire congregation.

Let us look at the third example, in 1 Corinthians 10:7, where the whole congregation asked Aaron to make them gods which would take them back to Egypt. And there Aaron made the golden calf and they worshipped it. It was a clear case of rebellion against God. Here again we see collective idolatry by almost the entire congregation.

Let us now go to the fourth example in 1 Corinthians 10:8, where the majority of the congregation committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab and Midian, and Israel was joined to Baal-peor, a god of the Moabites. Again we see collective idolatry by a majority of the congregation. At that time Phinehas rescued the congregation from total destruction by killing the chief instigators of this rebellion against God.

The fifth example was shown in 1 Corinthians 10:9, where the majority of the congregation complained against God and against Moses that there was no water and they were despising the manna which God so generously provided for them six days per week. Then God sent fiery serpents among them and a great many of them died. This was again a case of collective idolatry where they loved their food in Egypt more than the God who has delivered them out of Egypt.

The sixth example was shown in 1 Corinthians 10:10, where Korah’s rebellion was supported by the majority of the congregation, for the next day almost the entire congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron. This was again a case of collective idolatry, where they preferred a rebel like Korah to be their leader rather than Moses and Aaron whom God has appointed.

The seventh example was shown in 1 Corinthians 10:10, where God put an end to the murmurings of those who are His elect among the children of Israel. The majority of the congregation was still murmuring and still looking for a replacement of Aaron as their high priest. But God put an end to this by making Aaron’s Rod to bud, and to blossom, and to bear real almonds. This was again a case of collective idolatry, where they preferred anyone else than Moses and Aaron to be their leader to take them back to Egypt.

Therefore, if these are the ensamples that are written for our admonition in the New Testament church, God is focusing on the sins of idolatry, and particularly the sins of collective idolatry by a majority of the church. And then when we read the words of 1 Corinthians 10:11, “upon whom the ends of the world are come”, we realize that God is now focusing on the New Testament church near the end of time. God is focusing on collective idolatry in the New Testament church which will occur all over the world during the Final Tribulation Period.

Idolatry in the New Testament Church (1 Corinthians 10:11-14)

This was not something that I pulled out of my own imagination. The Bible prophesied that this would occur, and this is found many times in the Bible. The fact that you did not hear other pastors preach about this does not take away that God spoke about it many times. But the church has failed to warn the congregations about this future event. Let us continue to read 1 Corinthians 10:12-14. And there we read,

1 Corinthians 10:12
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

1 Corinthians 10:13
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:14
Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Can you see from verse 14 that God is not just talking about any sin, but God is focusing on idolatry?

And the context speaks of collective idolatry. God is warning us for idolatry in the church especially near the end of time. And so, not every church will fall for the idolatry so prevalent in the end of time, for God is faithful to some churches whom He favors, and He will give us a way to escape the apostacy that is presently running over almost all churches in the world.

But why have the churches not warned their congregations for these troublous times; for the present is indeed a troublous time for the saints, since most churches have given themselves over to another gospel, and have bowed down to worship another god than the God of the Bible.

God warned us for this. God told us very plainly that the saints shall be overcome by Satan and his human helper Antichrist, in the persons of the Beast and the False Prophet. And so, the Final Tribulation Period is not a tribulation for the unsaved world, but it is a tribulation for the saints. Let us remember that God said in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “These words were written for our admonition.”

Written for our Admonition (Daniel 7:23-26, Amos 8:11-12, Isaiah 4:1, Matthew 24:21-24, Luke 21:20-22, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, 2 Peter 2:1-3, Revelation 13:7-9, Revelation 13:13-17, Revelation 17:1-18)

What was written for our admonition?

For example, in the Prophecy of Daniel, especially in chapters 7 and 8, God speaks about a Little Horn, representing Antichrist. He is called the Little Horn, because Christ is the Big Horn. This description in Daniel 7 corresponds with the Beast in Revelation 13, whereas the description of the Little Horn in Daniel 8 corresponds with the False Prophet in Revelation 13.

We read in Daniel 7:23-26,

Daniel 7:23
Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.

Daniel 7:24
And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.

Daniel 7:25
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Daniel 7:26
But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.

And so, eventually he will be defeated, because Christ is stronger than Satan. But in the meantime, during the Final Tribulation Period, Satan “shall wear out the saints of the most High”, and “they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” We need to recognize this and be prepared to put up a fight. The promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is that God will protect us to the end.

We read in Daniel 8:23-25,

Daniel 8:23
And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.

Daniel 8:24
And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.

Daniel 8:25
And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.

And so, here again we see that eventually Satan shall be broken without human hand. But in the meantime, during the Final Tribulation Period, Satan “shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.”

How will he go about doing this?

We read in verse 25 that he “by peace shall destroy many.” And thus, he will not overcome the saints by force, but by words of peace that deceive the congregations. Now, there are many, many passages in the Bible that deal with this same subject matter, if we only want to listen.

For example, Amos 8:11-12, Isaiah 4:1, Matthew 24:21-24, Luke 21:20-22, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, 2 Peter 2:1-3, Revelation 13:7-9, Revelation 13:13-17, Revelation 17:1-18, and many more.

You need to look at these passages and see if you can recognize Antichrist in these verses. All these things deal with idolatry in the New Testament church. This is how Satan operates. He will not directly attack God, but he will try to make us believe concepts of God that are not in the Bible. Then, when we worship those false concepts of God, Satan will rejoice. Let us now look at our own bosom and see if we are cherishing one of these snakes in our own worship services. Let us continue in 1Corinthians 10:15

Idolatry in the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 10:15-18, John 6:37, John 6:44, John 6:53)

1 Corinthians 10:15
I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

1 Corinthians 10:16
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?

1 Corinthians 10:17
The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

1 Corinthians 10:18
Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

What is God saying here in this brief passage?

Certainly it is in the context of idolatry, because verse 14 is concerned with idolatry and verses 19-22 are also dealing with idolatry. Wedged in between these two passages about idolatry is a passage about the Lord's Supper. It is as if the Lord is saying: "Watch out, because this wonderful ceremony can also drift into idolatry".

That is why He starts this section with the words: "I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say".

God gives us advance warning that we must listen carefully to His words that follow.

Does this cup with grape juice contain a special blessing for us from the Lord?

No, because it is "The cup of blessing which WE bless".

WE are praising the Lord for this wonderful cup, which is symbolizing the blessings that we have received through the Cross of Christ. We raise the cup in praise and thanksgiving for God's wonderful work of salvation through Christ. There are two things we have to distinguish in all this: It is the Shadow and the Substance. The cup with grape juice that we drink is the Shadow of a much greater cup that the Lord Jesus had to drink. He had to drink the Cup of the Wrath of God; that was the Substance. Christ had to drink the cup of God’s fury. To misunderstand this is idolatry. And then Christ imputed the results of His atonement to our soul. Whatever we do on the outside of our body is only a shadow of what God does on the inside of our soul, and those two actions are most often not synchronized. The next sentence we read in 1 Corinthians 10:16 is:

1 Corinthians 10:16
The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

The bread and the cup with grape juice that we pass around are just as much a shadow of the Cross as the bread and the cup that were passed around by Jesus at the Last Supper.

Why did Christ give us this ceremony, if it is only a shadow of His Atonement?

Answer: Christ gave us this ceremony to let us know, here in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, how intimately we are united with His Body and Blood. He said in verse 17, "For WE the many are one bread, one body: for we are all partakers of that one Bread".

That last "one Bread" refers to Christ, who is the Bread of Life. We are all partakers of Him.

How do we become partakers of Christ?

We read in John chapter 6:

John 6:44
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:

The Lord Jesus said:
NO ONE CAN come to Me, or no one can become saved, except the Father, which hath sent me, has decided to draw him.

And in Ephesians chapter 1 we read that the Father has chosen us already before the foundation of the world.

Therefore, what can we do to become partakers of Christ?

Nothing!

It is a decision that rests entirely in the Godhead. God does the saving and we do not give God a helping hand, for that is an insult to God. But then we read in John 6:53, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”

Now it seems that we have to do something to be saved.

Is Jesus speaking here in Verse 53 about the Lord's Supper?

Is the Lord Jesus perhaps saying?

"Well there is one thing you can do for your salvation, you must partake of the Lord's Supper. O yes and you must be baptized in water, and you must believe on Me.”

You can see how ridiculous all this is.

Are there any preconditions to our salvation?

NO!

There are NONE.

Our salvation is FREE.

How free is FREE?

God does the saving 100% and our contribution to our salvation is zero.

In John 6:53 the Lord Jesus could not be referring to the Lord's Supper, because that would make the Lord's Supper a condition for salvation. And when we believe that John 6:53 speaks of the Lord’s Supper we have generated the same error that the church of Rome made, that Christ would be present physically with His body and blood in the bread and in the grape juice. This is an abominable idolatry.

Now, what does John 6:53 mean?

John 6:53 says that Christ gave His flesh, which means His body and His blood, which means His life, body and soul, for those He came to save. John 6:53 is not speaking about the Lord's Supper, but it is speaking about the cross. We become partakers of His flesh and blood by being there when He was crucified. And that is indeed what the Bible says. Since we were in Christ from before the foundation of the world we were crucified with Christ, we died with Christ, we were buried with Christ, we were raised with Christ, we ascended with Christ into heaven, and we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. Christ did not come to save every one in the whole world, but only those whom the Father had given Him, as He says in John 6:37 and 44. This is the preaching of the cross that is an offence to the world, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. All those who believe that Christ paid for the sins of the whole world are not reading John 6, or John 10, or John 17. They have developed a different concept of Christ; they worship an idol. They engage in idolatry for they have violated Revelation 22:19.

Where Must Our Focus Be? (John 6:37)

The Lord Jesus said to the Samaritan woman: We must worship God in Spirit and in Truth. We do not worship God by going to a particular place. We do not worship God in the things that we do or in the ceremonies that we do. We worship God in our heart. We praise Him in our heart. God looks upon the heart. We do not worship God because we are sincere. We can be sincerely wrong. For example, we cannot have a picture of Jesus on the wall. Jesus is God, and God has forbidden to make images of God. If we have Jesus in a picture on the wall, then we tend to worship God in that picture on the wall. Then that picture has become a high place. But high places are taking away from the glory of God. High places give glory to another god, or they give glory to man. We must refuse to give glory to man. We must apply to ourselves the words of John the Baptizer, who said in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Where must our focus be? We must go to the Bible and seek for God on the pages of the Word of God. There is where we find our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is where we find what God has done to save us. We did not do anything. He did everything. The reason why we worship Him is because He drew us to Himself. The Lord Jesus said it so plainly and so clearly in John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

In a nutshell the Lord Jesus told us here the whole Gospel: "All those whom the Father has chosen to become saved, the Father has given to me, so that I may atone for their sins on the cross and save them from Hell. And at sometime in their life God the Holy Spirit shall give them a new soul. They shall hear the preaching of the Gospel and shall be drawn to me. Therefore, him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."

This is what God has done to save us. He did everything.

Do we find within ourselves that we are drawn to the preaching of this Gospel straight from the Bible?

Then in time we will understand that it was God who made us spiritually alive and made us able to hear this Gospel and believe the Bible.

Then you will jump for joy!

Do you realize that there are very few people who actually want to read and know what the Bible says?

Most people just pick and choose from the Bible. Most people take for granted what their church teaches them. For many their church teaches them that they must accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. They do not realize that they are following a man made gospel.

Idolatry in Our High Places? (Leviticus 26:30, John 6:63, Exodus 34:14, Romans 10:17)

Let us now ask ourselves if we perhaps have developed high places that seem as holy as the Bible is.

What are our holy places?

Do we have any things that take away from the true worship of Christ?

Do we have writings of wise and holy men that we consider so valuable that we cannot live without them, even though they contain errors?

We struggled with this question many years ago when we saw the errors in our Confession of Faith, also known as the Belgic Confession.

Keeping the Confession of Faith would elevate this document to one of our high places. Our response was that we should do away with this Confession of Faith, because it is more a hindrance to our faith than an asset.

That was a right decision we made, because the works of men may never be so holy that we do not dare to toss it out.

But why did we not continue to clean house?

The Heidelberg Catechism is another possible source of promoting error. Perhaps you have noticed that I do not quote the Catechism in my sermons. I do not like to put myself in a straitjacket. The Catechism should not dictate what I must be preaching, because the Catechism does not have the authority that the Bible has. But when we hear someone on the Radio state that sacraments increase our faith, and when we discover that the Heidelberg Catechism may have something to do with that idea, then we should take a closer look at the Catechism.

Is it possibly promoting error?

Let us make sure that it does not become one of our high places.

Is there someone here who believes that the sacraments, like the Lord's Supper, increases our faith?

You must throw that idea out as quick as it comes. The sacraments should not become a high place. We should heed the warning that Old Testament Israel was snared by the Ceremonial Law.

Do not let our ceremonies ensnare us. If we assign spiritual value to any ritual that we do, then we are on dangerous ground, because that is something that is done outside the body.

Why do we celebrate the Lord's Supper?

Because the Lord Jesus said: "This do in remembrance of me".

We remember His suffering and death, but the bread and the grape juice do not suddenly become magic potions which increase our faith. The Bible does not teach that at all.

Think of it: If we indeed have become saved, do we lack anything before we partake of the Lord's Supper?

NO!

Have we become more holy after partaking of the Lord's Supper?

NO!

There is no special grace in the Lord's Supper. Our children may think so, because you can hear a pin drop during the Lord's Supper. Our children may think that the Lord's Supper is more holy than the preaching of the Word of God. But the truth is that it is just the other way around. When God's Word is opened and preached, that is when you should be able to hear a pin drop, because the spoken words from the Bible are literally words from God. God is speaking.

Now, can we set our priorities straight?

No one should be running to the bathroom when the Word of God is preached, because that indeed is a holy hour.

Another high place, of course, is the Westminster Confession where divorce and remarriage are condoned, and where our faith is described as an instrument of our justification before God. This is where the idea of "saving faith" comes from. But check your computer program. "Saving faith" does not appear anywhere in the Bible, because it is not our faith, but it is Christ who saved us.

Whenever we discover errors in our ancient documents, we should be willing to throw them out, or else they will become high places, and these high places are taking the place of the Word of God. When we have high places, we are worshipping other gods in those high places. That is why we want to spend time learning about those high places and we want to teach our children right.

Now let us talk about: Our Holy Rituals.

Do we have any rituals that we think are so holy that we believe they are from God?

We do have rituals. Every Church has them. But rituals can be very dangerous when we value them for the wrong reason. For example, when I give the parting blessing at the end of the service, I say very clearly: "Receive the Lord's parting blessing" and then I read a doxology from the Bible. I do not make something up, but I read aloud God's words, because it is God who is giving these blessed words. I am not blessing you, but God is speaking the blessing, and God is speaking to whosoever He intends the blessing should go to. But this does not mean that we become more filled with the Holy Spirit after the blessing. Rituals do not fill us with more of the Holy Spirit.

How can we be more filled with the Holy Spirit if the Holy Spirit already dwells in us?

Did we leak, and now we need to be filled up again?

You can see that this is getting ridiculous. One of our rituals is that we sing from this blue hymnal. But did you know that singing these hymns is like singing praises and prayers to God.

Do we really mean what we sing?

"Take my silver and my gold, not a mite will I withhold".

Do we check the words against what we believe the Bible teaches?

If we just sing to get into a spiritual high, then we do not understand what we are doing. It is vital that we get understanding of the things that we do. When a Church does not teach these fundamentals, then the rituals become high places, just like they are in the Roman Church where rituals have completely taken over everything.

From earliest times people have chosen high places on top of hills or mountains.

Why did people choose these high places?

Because they felt there to be a little closer to God. They thought of their Deity as someone dwelling in the heights. These days we are a little more sophisticated. We don't go to a mountain, but we build these high places in our mind. We are imagining that a special grace is attached to our ceremonies. And we do that because we want so much to reach out and touch Him. That is what people do with Baptism and with the Lord's Supper. We do it more subtle than the Jews did with their ceremonial laws, but it is just as bad. High places are places where we serve other gods. High places are most often created sincerely, but then we are sincerely wrong. High places are made from spiritual items. We like to exalt these things. However, we must not lift up anything but God. Our God is a jealous God. God says in Exodus 34:14 that His name is "Jealous".

We have more Biblical information than any of the generations that were before us, and so we will be held more accountable.

God warned us way back in Leviticus 26:30, “And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.”

Paraphrased God says, "If you do not put down these high places, then I will."

For some people a big high place is their stubborn determination to view the Bible simply as a history book. They will avoid spiritual interpretation at any cost. They think that believing the stories in the Bible is sufficient unto salvation. But the Lord Jesus said in John 6:63, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life". In fact, the whole Bible contains the words of Jesus. Therefore Jesus said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing". In other words, "The historical account does not give life". It is the Spirit that gives life.

Let me tell you from my own personal experience. I grew up under the teachers from the Jesuits in Indonesia, and I heard all the Bible stories from a historical perspective. I never saw a Bible until I was 40 years old. I never saw a need for it, because I believed all those stories as they were told me. But I was not saved. Only after I received a Bible did God the Holy Spirit begin to work a miracle of salvation in my soul. Just hearing and believing the stories from the Bible did not do one bit of good to my soul. Only then did I begin to understand what God says in Romans 10:17, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Therefore we must remember:

The Things Which Are Not Seen (Romans 15:4, 1 Corinthians 10:11, 2 Corinthians 4:18-5:2, 2 Corinthians 5:6)

The things which are not seen are more important than the things which are seen. God did not write the Bible to satisfy our curiosity about the history of the nation of Israel, or about the number of miracles Jesus did, or about the fearful and wonderful travels of the Apostle Paul. God wrote the Bible for us, so that we could be saved from our slippery slide into Hell.

God says in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

And God says in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” In other words, there is a spiritual dimension in all these things that have been written. They were written to teach us some aspect of the Gospel of salvation.

That is why we now read in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Do you know what myopia is?

Myopia is another word for nearsightedness. You can only see things that are close by; you cannot see things that are far away. When we develop spiritual myopia we tend to develop high places, because we do not see the important things that are far away. We humans are inclined to focus on the things that are seen, and not on the things that are not seen. For example, we grieve about the 6000 or more people who were killed in the terrorist attacks on the twin towers in New York and in Washington D.C. but we do not grieve that every day about 150,000 people die all over the world and most of those will stand for judgment on the Last Day, then we have developed spiritual myopia.

We do not see God's salvation plan clearly. When we believe that the Bible was written mainly to teach people how to better get along with each other, then we have developed very bad spiritual myopia. This is a high place for many people. They do not see God's salvation plan clearly, and they worship a god, which is not the God of the Bible. Our God teaches us in the Bible that the life hereafter is far more important than our life in this vale of tears. That is the future we live for. That is our Hope. God says in 2 Corinthians 5:1-2,

2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 Corinthians 5:2
For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

Now, drop down to verse 6. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:6, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:”

If we are feeling at home in this earthly body, we have developed myopia, and we tend to look at the Bible as a good book teaching us good morals through the examples given by the moralizing stories in the Bible, and before you know it we will be developing a list of Do's and Don'ts, which is another high place for many people. This is another example that the flesh profiteth nothing. "The historical gospel does not give life". It is the Spirit that gives life.

But where should our focus be?

Our focus must be altogether on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the One whom we worship in Spirit and in truth. And He gave us the task to be His witness in the world, so that we are testifying to the world what He has done for us. We are eyewitnesses of His sufferings, and with our words we are His ambassadors, and with our actions we are the tools that He uses to draw many people to Himself.

Are we willing to be used by Him?

Do we have compassion on lost souls?

Souls are dying out there. Remember 150,000 die every day, and most of them are not saved. They are facing a horrible Christless eternity. But we are ineffective witnesses if we still adhere to our high places. We must lean on God alone, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and we can use the Bible alone, for it alone has the words of life, and we must believe the grace of God alone, for we are saved by grace alone, God’s unmerited favor.

AMEN.

By Alfred J. Chompff

Friday, July 16, 2010

THE HERESY OF ANNIHILATIONISM


Inquiry

Messrs. Editors, Will you be kind enough to insert the following queries in your next periodical.

1st. Was the soul of Adam in his first created state mortal or immortal?


Answer

Most certainly immortal.



2nd. Did his soul die and become annihilated when he departed this life?

Answer

Who but an infidel could ask such a question?

An immortal soul cannot die, or be-annihilated.



3rd. Did the human soul of our Lord Jesus Christ die when he gave up the ghost, and so become annihilated, or not?

Answer

What a question to ask!

Did not the Lord Jesus himself say to the penitent thief, "This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise"?

What is this "me"?

Not Christ's Deity, for that is present everywhere; nor his body, which was on the cross or in the sepulchre; but his soul, that human soul of which he himself said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death;" (Matt. xxvi. 3;) and the travail of which it was promised he should see and be satisfied. (Isa. ciii. 4.)



4th. Are both the bodies and souls of the wicked to be finally destroyed and become annihilated, or not?

Answer

The Lord's own words decide this point beyoud all doubt or controversy: "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous in to life eternal."

The fire and the punishment are as everlasting as the life and the happiness.



5th. Are the wicked, the devils, and hell to be finally destroyed and annihilated or not?

Answer

This question is sufficiently answered by the preceding.

Yours for the truth's sake,

J.C. Philpot (Gospel Standard Editor 1855)

We are fairly ashamed of inserting and answering such Inquiries; but we have done so very much to give our readers a specimen of what questions are sometimes submitted to us for answer. Perhaps the next Inquiry will be whether the Bible is the word of God, or whether there be a God at all.