Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Interesting tidbit - 2 (Proverbs 6:16-19)

There are six things which the LORD hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him:
Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
A false witness who utters lies,
And one who spreads strife among brothers.
(Prov 6:16-19)

Q:  Six things or seven; which is it?  What exactly is Solomon saying here?

A:  This is what's known as a Semitic expression, similar to those we frequently use in English.  For example, it is not uncommon to hear someone say: "It's six on one hand and half a dozen on the other."  In other words, it is essentially the same either way you look at the matter.

"There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him," simply means the list is incomplete.  Solomon begins with the sins of the flesh that are the most serious infractions against God, but there are many, many more which follow.  Interestingly, the first sin Solomon mentions is not murder, but pride.  Also, the list of sins seems to follow closely the order that they took place in the early chapters of Genesis.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Many that are first shall be last and the last shall be first
(Matt 19:30). 

"We are living in a topsy-turvy world.  We have come through the looking glass into the land of the Fall, and all our views are distorted.  Small things seem great and great things seem small.  Our whole world is an illusion, created by Satan to deceive us, and the only spiritual truth in life is to be found in the Word of God.  Those who refuse the Word are unable to see because they have rejected light, have adopted other standards which they think are light, and are therefore in greater darkness.  The Lord said, "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness" (Matt 6:23).  Today is the day of darkness, but when the light of God's judgment breaks forth, all standards will be the divine ones, and many of the first shall be last and last shall be first."

(God's Wrath, Romans 2-3:1-20, Expositions of Bible Doctrines Taking the Epistle to the Romans as a Point of Departure, by Donald Grey Barnhouse (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), 1953.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Church bulletin bloopers

"Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person(s) you want remembered."

"Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a healthy lunch."

"The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility."

"Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 pm - prayer and medication to follow."

"The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon."

"Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door."

"Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa will be speaking tonight at Calvary Memorial Church in Racine. Come tonight and hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa."

"Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands."

"The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict."

"Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance."
"Please remember Marge Smith in your prayers - she will be having an autopsy Thursday morning."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

God's faithfulness

Corporate prayer is a funny thing.  Someone stands up in front of all those gathered and leads them in prayer, confessing their sins for them, pleading for healing for some and for His wisdom and courage for others, and thanking Him for bringing in the money previously requested.  Once in a while I think to myself, "I would never say something like that; please just let me speak to my heavenly Father myself."  For example, last week someone prayed this for me: "And thank you, Lord, that when we are faithful to You, You remain faithful to us."   What a tremendous burden to put on us all, but is it true?  Is God's faithfulness to us based on how faithful we are to Him?  And what did he mean, exactly?  I'm sure he knows that God is always faithful, no matter what man does, and that this was as true in the OT and NT as it is today.  So because it is a very common belief today, I think he must have meant, if we are obedient and faithful to Him, He will be faithful and bless us.

Then yesterday I read this Bible verse on somebody's status on facebook:  "Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Mal 3:7 #Truth42day"  It has the same gist as the prayer I heard, doesn't it?  If man does this, then God will do that.  Many such verses can be found in the OT (e.g., Deut 7:9, 30:1-33, 32:20; 1 Sam 7:3; 2 Chron 10:11, 30:9; Prov 28:20; Jer 3:12-25, 15:19; Hos 6:1; Zech 1:3).

But let's back up a bit and look at the context of Mal 3:7.  To whom was this promise given?  It was given to the nation Israel — not to an individual.  Of course individuals made up the nation Israel, but the nation as a whole had to return to the Lord.  Many apply this verse to the nations in which we live today, but we must remember this promise was given to the nation Israel, not to the United States, the UK, Canada, etc...    So direct application to ourselves starts to break down already.

Looking further at the context of Mal 3:7, what were the circumstances regarding this promise?  First of all, keep in mind that Israel was under the law and God had promised to bless them when they obeyed it and punish them when they didn't (Deut 11:26-28).  By the time the book of Malachi was written, about 100 years had passed since Israel had returned to Palestine.  The city of Jerusalem and the second Temple had been built, but initial enthusiasm had worn off.  Although the people and priests had backslidden and become lax in their worship (1:7) and mechanical in their observance of the law, they couldn't understand why God was displeased with them, so God sent Malachi to rebuke them for their neglect of true worship of the Lord and to call them to repentance (1:6; 3:7).

We, however, are not under the law, nor has God promised to punish us for disobedience or bless us when we obey.  But the law did (and continues to do) its job.  It clearly shows us we were incapable of remaining faithful to God and need a savior.  So, Christ took our punishment upon Himself (Is 53:5; 2 Cor 5:21) and blessed us with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3).  What unfathomable love!  I think Charles Ryrie in his book, The Grace of God, explains what this means rather well: 

"One could say that he will live for the Lord in order to be blessed, but since we have already been blessed with all spiritual blessings, no amount of good works can add to that fact."

Under the law, however, mans' unfaithfulness could cause God to turn away for a time.  But now, because of Christ's death and resurrection, God sees Christ's righteousness when He looks at us (Acts 13:38-39; Rom 3:24, 5:8-9, 8:33-34; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:24), we are already seated in the heavenlies in Him (Eph 1:3, 2:6; Col 3:1-2), and our blameless position depends on God's faithfulness, not on our own (1 Cor 1:9; 1 Thes 5:24; 2 Tim 2:13).  

It makes me sad to think that many believers listening to that prayer last week thought, "Yes, I must get right with God again so that He will be faithful to me and bless me."  I remember having similar thoughts and feelings of tremendous pressure at such times, before someone helped me understand that Christ did it all because I was incapable of doing any of it. 

I can't say this emphatically enough, fellow Christian: Because of Christ, we are right with God now!  No longer is it — "If man does this, then God will do that."  Everything's been completely flipped around; now it's — "Because Christ has done it all at the cross, I serve Him out of deep gratitude and love" (Eph 4:32). 

It's so easy to get confused, and to confuse those around us, when we carelessly drag OT promises into the present that were never intended for us.  So please, please be careful and "diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Do you really want to live under the law?

Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says?

(Gal 4:21)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Interesting tidbit (Isaiah 45:7)

Lately I've come across some interesting tidbits that have been rather helpful to me.  One such tidbit answers the question, "What does Isaiah 45:7 mean?"

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things (Is 45:7). KJV

The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these (Is 45:7). NASB

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things (Is 45:7). NIV

A:  This verse is actually a favorite of the Universalists, who teach that since God created evil, He is responsible to save all men from the consequences of evil.  However, we know that "evil" here is not sin or moral wrong, for these reasons.

The Hebrew word for "evil" is sometimes translated "trouble," "calamity" or "affliction", things God used to chasten Israel when she was disobedient.  We know this is the meaning here because of the context.  When God claimed to "form the light, and create darkness," these things are opposites.  And so the "evil" here is the opposite of "peace," and refers to the wars, military losses, captivities, and subsequent unrest that God allowed to come on Israel to chastise them.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Funny you should ask ...

A Jewish businessman in New York sent his son to Israel for a year to absorb the culture. When the son returned, he said, "Papa, I had a great time in Israel. By the way, I converted to Christianity."

"Oy vey," said the father, "What have I done!"

He told his problem to his best friend. "Ike," he said, "I sent my son to Israel, and he came home a Christian. What can I do?"

"Funny you should ask," said Ike. "I, too, sent my son to Israel, and he also came home a Christian. Perhaps we should go see the Rabbi."

They explained their problem to the Rabbi.

"Funny you should ask," said the Rabbi. "I, too sent my son to Israel, and he also came home a Christian. What's happening to our young people?"

So they prayed, telling the Lord about their sons.

As they finished their prayer, a voice came from the heavens: "Funny you should ask," said the voice, "I, too, sent my son to Israel ..."