Tag Archives: rebellion

Afflicted on Every Side

Psalm 119: Heth – Lamed; I know that is a weird way of starting this blog entry, but with the 119th Psalm and its construction, I didn’t know of a better way. As we continue reading this Psalm, it is evident by the repetitious words of “statutes, Word, Testimonies, Ordinances and Precepts usage, the focus is the Law -Bible. Repeatedly, the writer makes metaphors to the Law and describes it with various similes. I want to draw attention to the fact that the writer, loves the word of God; he knows that it is “like a two-edged sword” because when he reads it, like a knife it cuts with conviction and truth.

In verses 67, 71 and 75; the word afflicted is used and the writer is pleased to have been afflicted; knowing that his affliction has brought great benefit and restoration with the Lord. This makes a point for every believer; during the good times, we can become lax in meditating and reading the Word of God. In Hebrews 12:4-6 we find that God disciplines those whom He loves. Now I grew up during the time that it was not only right, but expected to correct/punish children and adults for improper behavior. In fact if my neighbors saw me doing something that was wrong [community law] he corrected me and told my dad. Without correction and or discipline, there is a vast amount of unruly children who someday become adults that act just like children, whining and bellyaching about not getting their way. Does this sound all too familiar of our present day culture?

The Psalmist understands that to be admonished, punished, corrected and disciplined was to be loved. We all have heard the phrase – spare the rod hate the child. While there does need to be more firm discipline and correction of obvious bad behavior, the whole point of discipline is to use the correct amount of punishment to bring behaviors back into alignment. I don’t know what the Psalmist did, but whatever it was “he was afflicted by God and he knew it.” Being afflicted can be for various reasons; it may be for wrongful actions, but also may be for strengthening, as was the case for Apostle Paul in 2 Cor. 12:9

Verse 75, in faithfulness you have afflicted me. In other words we will find God faithful in executing His responsibilities are our “heavenly Father.”  Something I learned, being a parent doesn’t have it limitations. After the children are married and gone with children of their own, I am still just as much a parent to them. The reason for the affliction is found in verse 65 – the child had gone astray – went their own way, as an act of rebellion. The Psalmist knows the Word of God; He knows it is Truth, it is righteous and that it is eternal – it won’t change with the winds of society or culture. There are times when the only way to teach a child a lesson is to allow them to endure hurt or hardship. God does the same to us, He isn’t a tyrant or an evil Father; but there are times when like the Prodigal Son who had to be let go so he could learn just how faithful and loving His Father was. Many believers do not grasp the mercy, grace and goodness of God until they are out in the world on their own – usually in direct disobedience.

Restoration is the purpose of the affliction in this case; having drifted away, the Father “nudges” us back. Obviously there are times when the nudge, or hint doesn’t work and more drastic measures have to be employed.

The Apostle Paul endured much hardship; not for doing wrong, but for the refining of his nature. Someone once told me that is God would have healed Paul’s affliction in the flesh, He would have lost Paul. So the thorn was used to keep Paul close to the Lord in dependency. The Psalmist desired the Word of God, to meditate and to gain discernment and understanding. The Psalmist see the treatment of affliction to have as its reward – Personal revival. A renewed joy of salvation.

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Snakes and Mistakes

Numbers 20-21 are two more accounts where the people of God; Israel are still the stiff-necked people. The change in their hearts has not been made. Time after time the people will rebel and then when things go haywire, they cry out in distress for the LORD to deliver them. One would think that after so many times of rebelling and failing that after the Lord delivered them, the people would get a clue. Wait a second, this sounds like how many believers live their lives out! The Book of Judges is reflective of the roller-coaster ride many professing Christians experience. The on and off dedication to the Lord is cause for so much agony and heart ache.  Chapter 20 starts out with Miriam dying, the older sister of Moses. So at Kadesh, after refusing to enter the Promised Land, the people start singing the same song about “why have you brought us out here to die, would that we stayed in Egypt.’ If we think about this a bit; if the spies had just brought the glowing report of food and sustenance about the Promise Land, then the people had to be satisfied with the Manna and Quail now; I’m sure we would complain a bit too. However, this complaining has its effect on the Leader. Now leaders are human beings too; but that doesn’t give us excuse. In the heat of the conflict, Moses gets angry and instead of “speaking to the Rock” he strikes the Rock twice. The water comes forth from the Rock – but the event of rebellion against God has its consequences. Moses will not be allowed to enter in the Promised Land when the time comes. In Deuteronomy Moses is not sick, or blind, in good health, but taken up the Mountain that overlooks Jericho, Moses sees the picture of “what could have been.” Joshua will lead the people across. Now I have to admit I was a little ticked about the harsh punishment Moses received because he disobeyed God. I thought of all the ways that the people behaved, and felt that God should give him another chance – in fact Moses addressed the punishment with God – and the Father got ticked “what I have said, I have said – no more talk about it!” Only until I was reminded of how close Moses was allowed to get to God and the privileged position he was in did I understand that if anyone should have gotten it right – Moses would have been it. Speak to the Rock, don’t strike it. The is a metaphor of Jesus – Jesus only needed to be struck/die once. We do not need to repeatedly re-crucify Him. Also Moses struck in anger at the people. I wonder how many times have we struck out at God when people made us angry?

The second event is the Snakes – The same song is sung “why have you brought us here” – this time the complaining of the people to Moses draws the ire of God. He sends a plague of fiery snakes on the people. The people start dying because of the snake bites. Moses begins to intercede for the people to the LORD; God gives the cure to the people – don’t look at the snakes on the ground look at the standard with the bronze serpent on it. Jesus uses this metaphor about Himself – just as Moses lifted the serpent up in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up. As the people “looked and lived” by believing [faith] the serpent standard would heal; so it is with people who look to Jesus who was lifted up on the Cross. Healing from sin and death is a result of our faith looking. The symbol of the medical field is one similar to the Nehushtan. As the people of Israel were plagued with the fiery serpent that caused death, so are we people who are plagued by sin and death [Satan the serpent] the cure then and now is to Look and Live. Look at the Savior and live. For all the healing mankind needs is found not with a snake on a standard, but the Son of God on the Cross.

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Death of a Generation

I find that Numbers 13/14 to be some of the saddest chapters in the Bible.  After having camped at Mt. Sinai for a year, the nation of Israel is finally on its way to the homeland – the Promised Land. The blessing of God that was promised to Abraham all the way back in Genesis 12/14/17/22 is finally coming to a crescendo; but the lack of faith by the generation appointed to enter the land results in children wandering in the wilderness for forty years, watching their disobedient parents die. The tribes of Israel had been witness and recipient to the power of Yahweh for the last 18 months. They had tasted of His provision of manna, water and quail. The people had personally received the mercy of God during their rebellious behavior [Exodus 32]. Each tribe afford the privilege to send out a scout to see the Land of Promise and bring back a report. The orders were to “spy out the Land; investigate the cities and people of the Land and bring back some fruit from the Land.”  For 40 days the spies enjoyed the provision of the land; all the while collecting data about the Land God said He would give them. I cannot imagine having to cut down a sapling tree in order to carry back a cluster of grapes. The question – is the Land as God said it would be? Is it a land “Flowing with milk and honey?”  True enough was the report from the 12 spies. But – oh, why did there have to be a “But”? Yes the land is like the Lord promised – but the cities are fortified, and there are descendants of Anak in the land [Anak or the Nephilim are ancestors of the Philistines – remember Goliath was a Giant some 9 feet tall.] Fear had gripped the 10 spies who saw the obstacles in the land not the opportunity of the land.  Caleb tries to quiet the people; fear has gripped them – their thought obviously was that they would just walk into the inhabited land and take it without fighting or conflict. Just as Egypt saw the “strong hand of the Lord” so will followers by faith. The people saw their own limits and determined that even though the land was as described – they were like “grasshoppers” and would be nothing more than cannon fodder for the giants. Walking by sight says we can’t – walking by faith says we can’t but God can!

Caleb and Joshua some men who were 40 and 45 at the time relived that God could do what he said. Joshua the son of Nun had been the commander of the armies and witnessed the “battle strength” of God during the fighting of the Amalekites. [Exodus 17] For he had been part of a battle with the enemy where if Moses hands being lifted up , fighting a battle he couldn’t lose; and when Moses hands were down, fighting a battle he couldn’t win. The faith of Caleb and Joshua would be rewarded, not on this day though. The crowd or mob that was forming would win the day. FEAR won that day. Numbers 14 is just as sad – for now the people have realized no promise land, so they complain against Moses and Aaron. “Would that we would have died in Egypt”  – Let’s get another leader and go back.

Moses challenges the people not to rebel and not to fear the people of the land. I wonder how many churches have not conquered their “land” because of fear of the people? We find out later that the people of the land were already gripped with fear in the story of Rahab [Joshua 2].  In Numbers 14:18-19; there is a great warning and punishment for failure to accomplish what God had set out to do through us. To know that our rebellion will be found in the 2nd – 4th generations – this is the great influence and impact that we pass on to our children and grandchildren. While that is the negative, we also know that faith expressed is a source of influence for good to the generations that follow us. After the people of Israel had been chided for disobedience; they try to go take the land in their own strength. This is a big mistake; this was the source of their fear – Not by the strength of man, but by the Power and authority of God the Land would be theirs. The change of mind and attempt to do what only God could do ended in disaster. Doing the right thing at the wrong time is still disobedience. The people of Israel and the church often have learned the difficult lesson following God. Many a church has balked at the “Promised Land” because they saw obstacles. Would that Churches today would trust more in the power of Jehovah than in the programs of men!

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Nineveh where hast thou fallen?

Nahum is an oracle of God against Nineveh, the capital of the Northern Kingdom. The Assyrians are in power and God reminds the Northern Kingdom just who is the authority and power  that rules. We all are familiar with the book of Jonah, the wayward backslidden prophet of God who refused to go to Nineveh because he knew that Jehovah was merciful and long-suffering, not willing that any should perish. Jonah’s refusal to go to Nineveh did not prevent God from pouring out a revival/great awakening on the King and the people of Nineveh that lasted for 100 years. Now a 100 years later, the Assyrians are attacking a killing the people of Israel. Of course, this is part of the plan of God. The Northern Kingdom [Israel] has been entrenched in Baal cultic worship. Oh, Ahab and Jezebel have made sure of that!

Nahum opens up with a vengeful passage. The LORD is jealous, avenging, wrathful, anger against adversaries. Trouble is on its way! Samaria, the center of Assyrian empire is going to fall in 722 BC. The Great kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar is on the rise. The Assyrians will fall completely by 612 BC, very close behind will be the deportation of the Jewish exiles in 587-582 BC. I have been amazed at how our God draws all things unto Himself. He speaks and it happens. Yet the thought that the Old Testament God is a mean, anger, evil God is wrong. It may appear to be so, but Yahweh does not flippantly judge people. He is long suffering and compassionate, even to His enemies. Our Father in heaven acts, when He has exhausted all attempts to reconcile with His people. While we know that kingdoms come and kingdoms go; they rise and fall with the strength of the LORD.  When I think of our current situation here in America and the political upheaval abounding, I cannot help but wonder how long before Yahweh says enough is enough? No people can thumb their nose at God and expect to be unaffected by His awesome power. Assyria, Babylon, Persians, Medes, Greeks, Romans and yes the Americans all are subject to the power of the LORD of the universe!

While the LORD used several empires to bring judgment upon HIS people, the problem occurs when the empowered kingdom, no longer adheres to the plan of God and takes allowances that are not permissible in God’s plan. The evil religious practices were rampant in Israel and Assyria. The people of God acted like their foreign neighbors.

Nahum is an oracle of God describing what will happen to the once enlightened and revived Nineveh. A familiar illustration of locust, is found in 3:15-17; this same language is found in Joel 1:14. The prediction of devastation and destruction is sure. Often though when there is a delay, people think that God has forgotten, or worse yet that they got away with something. All the world will submit, and bow down to Jesus – nations, kingdoms, and people. Even though there was a great revival and saving of people in Nineveh for 100 years, they forgot, drifted away and got completely absorbed into cultic worship. This happens today to churches, nations and people.

R.G. Lee preached “payday, someday” sermon. It is a truth we all must believe. God is a loving and compassionate God, but He will not tolerate any worship other than to Him!

There are many that proclaim that our nation “was a blessed nation by God” but can we really say that we are today? Nineveh tasted of the goodness of the LORD, but then left Him. Has America done the same? Have we not been blessed by God, because He chose to do so, and we have disregarded His love for us, thinking that we are the power behind our success? Will the locust be coming soon to America? We do well to heed the past work of God on other nations of disobedience!

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In That Day

“In That Day” is a frequent phrase found in our reading this week from Isaiah 26-30. The struggle readers will have is what is reflecting the “then” and what is pointing to the “future” in prophetic writings? Often there doesn’t need to be a then and future choosing, because the writing applies to both situations. Such is the case here with Isaiah. Obviously, Isaiah is writing to warn Judah of the coming judgment and devastation because of the rebellion. Judah has not learned from the previous destruction of Israel [Northern Tribes and Samaria] and have continued to commit gross idolatry towards God. The case Yahweh has against Judah doesn’t stop with just being disobedient to Him, but how that their rebellion has affected “life in Judah” and the citizens. Treacherous dealings in the market places, the drunks and care free lifestyle reflect total disregard for others welfare and the willingness for communal living. I cannot help but think of the stature and condition of America and the world as a whole in respect to this book. Everyone wants what they want, at the expense of either loss of freedoms to others or at the expense of corruption in civility.

In chapter 26, we have the prophecy of the “rock” of God, we find this also addressed in 28:16; where the Stone becomes a stumbling block – this reflects the impact and offense of Jesus and the Gospel. [1 Peter 2:6-8] The LORD God was being rejected. I wonder if it was because of the ROTE knowing of God? [29:13] or because they were more enticed with Baalism and the sensuous aspects of the cult. Our passage declares the empathy of God for His people. While He must discipline and bring the foreign nations against Judah, the is always the element of restoration. If people will repent, God will hear the cries of His people and respond. In that day, regardless of the time, place and people, – In that Day – means that God will act. When modern nations who profess to be Christian, act like Israel and Judah they can expect to be treated with harsh discipline from the Lord. But, God has limits to His dealings with His people. Chapter 28:24-25, reveal there are limits to what is done, and even the way things are done.

God will deal with His people for restoration, He will not destroy them completely. However, this cannot be said of the pagan, unbelieving nations. Then as in the future, God will deal with the unbelieving nations.

One cannot overlook the strong language of how Judah will have everything destroyed, crushed, and laid to waste. The nation and all of its pride in buildings, fields, and culture will be laid to waste by the enemy. While there is warning after warning, people just won’t pay attention to them. Isaiah’s message is met with a counter message from the priests and prophets who were “drunkards” saying everything was well. [28:1, 3; 7-8]

I was confused at first with the repeated verses of 28:10 and 13, but illuminated when I put – yada, yada, yada in place of the words. Israel and Judah had heard all of the word of God; to them to hear the messages of Isiah, was like – yeah, yeah yeah – been there done that!

Chapter 29:11-12; finds its future fulfillment in Daniel 12 and Revelation 5. Worthy is the Lamb who can open the scroll. The scroll contains the judgment of God, both now and then. I hold to the Seals and Trumpets as the working of God through man-made tragedies and natural disasters to bring the Lost to Him in repentance. Even though we have warning signs; we will live out our disobedience thinking we are “hiding” from God. [29:15-16]

Yet through all of this, there is a light at the end, a ray of hope for all. Chapter 30:18-22 is descriptive and prescriptive of 2 Chronicles 7:14 – God is ready to forgive and restore, but we have to be responsive to the “hand of discipline” from our creator and sustainer – Jehovah God! If . . . . then; the LORD longs for you and me to come back to Him.

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Discipline of the Lord

Isaiah 11-15 is our text for the week. I want to first go to Hebrews 12:4-11 and the discipline of God. Often we find ourselves in times of crisis and trials, when this occurs we ask ourselves many time “what did I do Wrong?” This is healthy as long as it doesn’t get out of control, for we do need to have spiritual obedience check-ups. Usually we go down our list of “normal disciplines” that we know we are supposed to be doing – much like a Sunday School envelope – in hopes of 100% for the week. As the writer in Hebrews indicates, our earthly fathers punished/disciplined us for our own good. Our heavenly Father does this even more. Actually this is a good test to determine if you are a child of God – Heb. 12:8.  The focus of punishment is to get the violator to repent and return to an appropriate behavior pattern. Again the discipline/punishment must be different depending on the level of disobedience and the length of disobedience. If there is a pattern of continual rebellion, even after other “nudges” of discipline, than radical or more severe punishment must be enacted.  Before a punishment is put into action, I know with my children I had to first determine did they know what they did was wrong. If it is an ignorance issue that means I have a teaching moment, but if they willfully disobeyed, then I must discipline.

Now looking at Israel, theirs is a willful, knowing disobedience. They were well acquainted with he Father and His desire for Holiness. He had proven His love for them. Everything about Israel was a direct result of the providential care of Yahweh. So in our passage we find that God has reached a point where there must be a severe discipline put in place. Now at the onset of entering the land of Canaan, Israel was told do not take on the culture, gods,  women or men of the Canaanite people for they would lead them astray. If the truth be known, Israel had always had a problem with “other gods.” Joshua 24: 12-15, show that even after being in the Promised land for years, Joshua still was fighting with people on who their God was going to be. Gods of the Mesopotamia region, Egypt, Canaanite tribes or Jehovah. While at times there was great allegiance to God, Israel as well as us, drift into culturalized worship. In our passages, we read that God is going to raise up some powerful enemies that will be under the power of God to inflict His judgment on the nation Israel/Judah. What a paradox, the very tribes and people who God displaced to put Israel in the Promise Land was now going to be the instrument of God to discipline His people in an attempt to restore them back to fellowship. Early on [Chapter 11] there is the Messianic hope of a deliverer. One cannot read this without getting both a then and future element of prophecy. Throughout Isaiah thus far we have learned of both the punishment of God and the hope of restoration of God. While there is severe punishment, He [God] does not give up on them. In Isaiah 14:1-14, the Fall of Lucifer is described; the basis of his fall was pride. It is the lie that was used to beguile Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the same lies that are perpetuated today for mankind to fall into sin and rebellion.

It is interesting to read of the prophecies about Babylon, the Medes and Persians, for we read that earlier in Daniel and the Image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Historical accurate, and prophetically descriptive of how the kingdoms of the ancient worlds rose and fell.  The lesson to learn from our reading this week is summed up – God will use gentile kings and armies to discipline His people, but the kings and armies should not think they were the power behind the victories. Such was the prideful case of the Assyrians and Babylonians. God will inflict His discipline, but when the instrument goes further than God intended, the roles are reversed and the kingdom/armies falls via defeat of another kingdom.  It has to be asked; when we look at our nations, why are we experiencing such crisis and trials? Has/is God using our enemies to discipline us to bring us back to a holy people? This is an election year in America; the Presidential election looms large – but will we get a leader that will lead us, or will we be subjected to the leader God the Father gives us, because we have not turned/returned to Him?

King Nebuchadnezzar was God’s instrument to bring punishment for the prideful idolatry and rebellion of Judah. Though they may have complained and such, they were unresponsive to the “nudges” of God to return, so a more drastic measure had to be implemented. Even so, God will have mercy on His people, for while they were taken captive, they were spared the atrocities of the Assyrians and the Northern Kingdom, which is called the “Lost Tribes” of Israel. O, that we would be responsive in our churches and nations to come back under the gentle persuasion of Jehovah and not have to experience the harsh, severe punishment of God!

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