And Jehovah answered me, and said, Write the vision,
and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run that readeth it.
(Habakkuk 2:2 [ASV])







Eight Souls
In the age when men lived to be nearly a thousand years old, wickedness became so great that God only saved eight people.

Powe Of Prayer
A look at prayer and and its great importance to a genuine Christian.

Prayer: Standing In The Gap







Last Updated
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Biblical and Prophetic Perspective For Our Times



For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words,
of him shall the Son of man be ashamed,
when he cometh in his own glory,
and the glory of the Father,
and of the holy angels.
(Luke 9:26 [ASV])


I have set Jehovah always before me:
Because he is at my right hand, I
 shall not be moved.
(Psalms 16:8 [ASV])
***


Mark can be reached
here.

21 Jan

Job Part XXX


Man, that is born of a woman,
Is of few days, and full of trouble.
 He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down:
He fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
And dost thou open thine eyes upon such a one,
 And bringest me into judgment with thee?
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
not one. Seeing his days are determined,
The number of his months is with thee,
And thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
Look away from him, that he may rest,
Till he shall accomplish,
as a hireling, his day.
(Job 14:1-6 ASV)

Verse one? Never a truer word spoken about life!! But let's understand a little point here that commentators point out. It is seems like a little thing, but in reality it isn't. Note that Job says man that is born of woman not man (Adam - H120) has these tribulations. The trouble here is clearly differentiated from Adam who was made from dust and born into a blessed garden and not born of women. If Adam had trouble later, it was because of his own failure to comply with the Law of the Lord and restrict his dietary intake to the divinely approved tree's. One act of disobedience, seemingly insignificant, causes all of us more trouble that we often contemplate when we commit them.

Job then goes on to describe the pitiful fate of the sons of Adam. How vain it all is, sure he grows and flowers, but only to be cut down (die) later. He continues (vs. 3) to ask why God bothers with such creatures, who are here today and gone tomorrow. The sense here is that Job is bewildered that God would even mark such beings, let alone bring him into judgment, as Job believes (wrongly) God is doing to him. In verse four, Job appears to be saying that all men are sinful and it is not possible for men to be clear of sin. Who can undo the damage a sinful nature has wrecked on the character of us all? The answer is rhetorical, no one.

Job continues on marking that mankind's days are determined. God knows how long we each have and has given to each of us. He then begs God to turn from bothering mankind, the sense here seems to be 'he'll be gone before you know it, let him be for his short time allotted. Job likens life like that of a hired worker, who works the day until his shift is over.

For there is hope of a tree,
If it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
Though the root thereof wax old in the earth,
And the stock thereof die in the ground;
Yet through the scent of water it will bud,
And put forth boughs like a plant.
But man dieth, and is laid low:
Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?
As the waters fail from the sea,
And the river wasteth and drieth up;
So man lieth down and riseth not:
Till the heavens be no more,
they shall not awake,
Nor be roused out of their sleep.
(Job 14:7-12 ASV)


The above passage is self explanatory. Job is looking at the fate of man and comparing it with that of trees. Job, in his depressed state says that even if a tree is cut down, there is hope for it again. Job here is probably feeling the pain of the loss of all of his children and how now his own life will be without progeny as much as making a general observation of the shortness and vanity of the life of men. With trees sometimes that are cut down they can still put forth new shoots.

Job goes on to describe (vs. 10-12) how these things are not so with men, once he goes down to the grave, that's it - end of story. This appears to be the gist of Job's meaning.

Oh that thou wouldest hide me in Sheol,
That thou wouldest keep me secret,
until thy wrath be past, That thou wouldest appoint me a set time,
and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again?
All the days of my warfare would I wait,
Till my release should come. Thou wouldest call,
and I would answer thee:
Thou wouldest have a desire to the work of thy hands.
But now thou numberest my steps:
Dost thou not watch over my sin?
(Job 14:13-16 ASV)


Job here is asking for death. He wants God to hide him in the grave until all the troubles and pain in his life are gone. Job then asks that God would set him an appointed time. Some commentators see this as a reference to Job's hope of a Resurrection and that after he goes down to the grave, God would visit him again. But Gill I think gets the right sense particularly in light of vs 14, that being that Job is just asking God to schedule is day of departure from this life. The world Sheol is the one used for grave. Perhaps before we get to the end of Job we will talk just a bit about this place and how it is used and described in the OT.

Job again recalls how God has watched him (numbered his steps - H5608) and took heed over his sin. The word 'watch' here (vs. 16) means to mark, observe, to take heed (H8104). This passage as well as others show that Job was clearly conscious of his own sinfulness and shortcomings and accusations of self righteousness were unfounded.

My transgression is sealed up in a bag,
And thou fastenest up mine iniquity.
 But the mountain falling cometh to nought;
And the rock is removed out of its place;
The waters wear the stones; The overflowings thereof wash away
the dust of the earth: So thou destroyest the hope of man.
Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth;
Thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.
His sons come to honor, and he knoweth it not;
And they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.
But his flesh upon him hath pain,
And his soul within him mourneth.

(Job 14:17-22 ASV)

Job's transgressions which he acknowledges are seen by Job to have been sealed up in a bag. This is an interesting phrase. There are a few varying interpretation of it. One is that it is sealed up and hidden a bag as though being concealed. This does not appear to be the meaning, rather it is more likely the meaning is that God has marked out his sins, and put them in a bag to be counted later, like a bag of money.

I see this almost like we see at a crime scene on TV cop shows, where the crime scene team comes in and takes crucial evidence and seals it in a plastic bag to be used against the person accused of the crime in court.

Versus 18-22 continue Job's lament at the shortness and vanity of man's time on earth. In the earlier verses, he compared man's brief and terminal existence with the trees who have hope of sprouting again. In this passage he compares it to mountains and rocks. The passage is as much a lament at man's shortness of life as it is of God's great power and that no man can resist his will. Even if a man has sons, the man is unaware of their fate if they are successful or not, man is ignorant of this while in the grave. The last verse, 22 is a little more difficult to render and commentators differ on how it is to be rendered. Clarke, The Biblical Illustrator and Barnes have notes on it that may be of value to those interested.

We will continue our look at Job and the response of Eliphaz the Temanite next week, God willing!!


19 Jan


Looking Ahead

2021 may very well continue the difficulties of 2020, perhaps more so.

Then there are the social divides in the nation. They are deep and real as this election has demonstrated. The country has got a host of troubles with no one who has any real solutions to our collective malaise, just more partisanship that will only further split the nation up along partisan and 'identity politics' lines. I see no healing in this country coming, just more of the same old divisions, racial issues, gender issues, debt, money driven politics and blame that are driving the nation into the economic and social doldrums. Violence, hate, perversions, drug abuse, corruption... Our nation has got some serious issues that seem be getting worse, not better. Look at what has happened to the murder rates in the US. There are numerous MSM news stories on it.

I wish I could be more uplifting. I really do. But I don't see how anyone but God can fix what is broken in this once great land. Sure today we still can eat, put gas in our cars, entertain ourselves even if it is with TV, but how much longer? How much longer can the nation continue to borrow from the future to pay for today? To destroy significant parts of its businesses and employment on the altar of this pandemic?

Well, the answer lies with God and I think he is going to remain silent until we as a nation begin to start listening to him. We humans always seem to think communication with God is a one way street. We pray and God is supposed to answer. Well, that is only one side of it. The other side is that God speaks and we are supposed to listen, carefully and obey. Much of the world only has one side of the equation right. When we continually ignore God, he can ignore us and just stop listening. Or even worse, stop protecting us and 'running interference' against our enemies and the troubles that head our way that we are never aware of.

I think this is where this country is now. We have long ignored him and his ways and invited all manner of evils into the mainstream of our society. We have taken such things and flouted them in his face and some have had the temerity to mock God when praising such things. God see's this. He often does not move right away in the hopes that people can and will change their ways. But as the saying goes, 'he who laughs last, laughs best'. God can and will send great trouble upon those who are determined to move contrary to God and his ways. Oh, yes God has been calling out to this country and to our troubled world. God is indeed trying to get America and mankind in general to change course.
Turn you at my reproof:
Behold, I will pour out my spirit upon you;
I will make known my words unto you.
Because I have called, and ye have refused;
I have stretched out my hand,
and no man hath regarded; But ye have set
at nought all my counsel,
And would none of my reproof:
I also will laugh in the day of your calamity;
I will mock when your fear cometh;
When your fear cometh as a storm,
And your calamity cometh on as a whirlwind;
When distress and anguish come upon you.
Then will they call upon me,
but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently,
 but they shall not find me:
For that they hated knowledge,
And did not choose the fear of Jehovah:
They would none of my counsel;
They despised all my reproof.
Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way,
And be filled with their own devices.
(Pro 1:23-31 ASV)

No, the Lord will get the last laugh. He knows how to bring trouble upon those who hate him and his ways... trouble for which there is no remedy for, no answer to, no healing of and no recourse. He does not want to do that, but at the same time he will  - if we compel him to act along these lines. The deeds of much of America and our world are indeed beginning to force his hand.

It's late and no one marks how late the hour is and just how far from God the world is heading. America cannot continue on her current course and not expect the Lord to hit us where it hurts the most. But with America? God won't have to hit us too hard for the whole rotten, incompetence laden, corruption eaten, debt burdened structure to come crashing down on us. We have long been in the process of destroying ourselves and won't need but a little push to finish the job.

No brothers I think this - no repentance - no let up of trouble for America and I don't think any kind of national repentance is likely under the leadership in DC. So I suspect we will see more trouble with a capitol 'T' in 2021 and beyond. Where will it come from? A new pandemic? A series of natural disasters? Economic turmoil or even a financial crisis? A war where the US gets beaten? Some new weapon system launched on us by a foreign nation that our leaders have not told us about? Fires, floods or famine? Major insider attacks on key US facilities and infrastructure?

What is to come? I don't know but I would be surprised if at least some of those things don't happen in the years ahead if the nation continues on its dark spiritual journey.

Americans individually must make the first move. It's not going to come from Washington and probably not the Church. There must be a sea change in the way Americans behave and Americans just have to begin to have some real respect for God. Not lip-service, not the 'honor of hypocrites', but a genuine honor for him and his desires and ways. Otherwise, he may turn and have no respect for us - our nation or our ways and deal with us accordingly; with contempt rather than respect.

To put this all on a practical level - it's better to repent before the 'divine beating' than after.

It's far less painful.


God earnestly desires that people repent, do right and know him. He holds his hand of fellowship out every day to all the sons and daughters of men of all ages, colors and backgrounds. He is no respecter of persons.


Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you,
and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy,
and my burden is light.
(Mat 11:28-30 ASV)
And the Spirit and the bride say,
Come. And he that heareth, let him say,
Come. And he that is athirst, let him come:
he that will, let him take the water of life freely.
(Rev 22:17 ASV)

Brothers, let us put away the hate and learn to love and respect one another... but God first.

***
I write this piece under no special spiritual or prophetic anointing. These are just my own views based on the scriptures and how God has often dealt with nations, people's and with me.
***



15 Jan

Job Part XXIX

Your memorable sayings are proverbs of ashes,
Your defences are defences of clay.
Hold your peace, let me alone,
that I may speak;
 And let come on me what will.
Wherefore should I take my flesh in my teeth,
And put my life in my hand?
(Job 13:12-14 ASV)

Verse 13 is has presented translation and interpretation problem for a long time. I won't get into the debate. Barnes I think gives a good look at the debate.

Job was just telling them that what they had to say; words that they thought were such wisdom were of little real value and were like Job's situation, who was treated with contempt for having to sit among the ashes, so were their sayings.

He was tired of hearing the simplistic utterances of his so-called comforters and asks to be left alone. This probably does not denote a physical removal from Job, but rather he just wants them to be silent and to stop bothering him with their 'nursery rhyme' wisdom.


Job then continues on saying that he is going to have his say, come what will (vs 13b). Given the passages that follows, one gets the impression he is kind of like giving his 'final words' just before he is executed, not unlike we have seen in so many movies. He is going to say what he has to say before the sentence is read even if it makes things worse for him. In verse 14 we have the phrase take my flesh in my teeth and this is not an easy expression to understand. The major commentaries I use spend a lot of time with obscure arguments to try and explain it. It probably means just to bite ones lip.

The last part of verse 14 'and put my life in my hand' is also rather obscure, but one gets the sense that Job has to speak for his continued silence would kill him.
Behold, he will slay me;
I have no hope:
Nevertheless I will maintain
my ways before him.
This also shall be my salvation,
That a godless man shall
not come before him.
(Job 13:15-16 ASV)

Job 13:15 should be the verse that any suffering saint should remember during any trial. The KJV uses the word though, instead of behold in verse 15. Weather it be in jail for preaching, on a sickbed, standing in a divorce court with a broken heart as you husband runs off with some homewrecker, being falsely accused by evil men or whatever. The attitude of Job here is one that is remarkable in that despite all that has happened to him and how the devil was doing his utmost to provoke Job to sin against God, Job did not do it, even if God kills him, Job was going to keep his faith in God. This was exactly the test that God allowed to come onto Job from Satan and Job was passing it with flying colors.

How many of you have that kind of faith? I mean really?

When trials come your way, I advise you all to keep Job in mind and realize that God has a purpose for what he is doing. It may not always be clear, but he does have a purpose. How did Peter put it?


Wherein ye greatly rejoice,
though now for a little while,
 if need be, ye have been put to grief
in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith,
 being more precious than gold
that perisheth though it is proved by fire,
may be found unto praise
and glory and honor at the revelation
of Jesus Christ:
(1Pe 1:6-7 ASV)

Job had shown he was passing his trial of faith which is also a trial of trust. Yes, trust, we must entrust our souls to God and his word and this is one reason for many of our trials. That we place our trust fully in God and God alone. Brothers if you are willing to do that no matter what and I do mean that -  no matter what, you will pass any test the Lord sends your way, painful and sorrowful those trials may be. Keep faith with God and he will keep faith with you.

The following verse reiterates the idea that God is Job's salvation. But he also makes it plain that godless man or hypocrite has no standing with God.
Hear diligently my speech,
And let my declaration be in your ears.
Behold now, I have set my cause in order;
I know that I am righteous.
Who is he that will contend with me?
 For then would I hold my peace
and give up the ghost.
Only do not two things unto me;
 Then will I not hide myself from thy face:
Withdraw thy hand far from me;
And let not thy terror make me afraid.
Then call thou, and I will answer;
Or let me speak, and answer thou me.
How many are mine iniquities and sins?
 Make me to know my transgression and my sin.
(Job 13:17-23 ASV)

Job here begins a prayer to God and seeks an audience with the Lord. Job has prepared his case (ordered my cause) and he is confident of an acquittal. Job then asks his accusers to step forward (who shall plead with me). The 'give up the ghost' part of the passage has caused some confusion with translators, with varying interpretations of its meaning. I think the Pulpit Commentary sums it up the best. Job is adamant about his personal integrity.

The entire section in the Pulpit Commentary is worthy of a read by all (Homiletics Section on link). He lines this up with instances in the NT where men of God stood before magistrates for preaching the gospel and then reminds us of the words of Paul who said.


Who shall lay anything
 to the charge of God's elect?
It is God that justifieth;
 who is he that condemneth?
It is Christ Jesus that died,
yea rather, that was raised from the dead,
who is at the right hand of God,
who also maketh intercession for us.
(Rom 8:33-34 ASV)

In the New Testament, we who have come to Christ are already innocent until proven innocent in God's court because Christ has already paid the price for our sins!! Amen. The devil may accuse and try us, but we will always stand acquitted as long as we remain in Christ.

Only do not two things unto me;
Then will I not hide myself from thy face:
Withdraw thy hand far from me;
And let not thy terror make me afraid.
Then call thou, and I will answer;
Or let me speak, and answer thou me.
How many are mine iniquities and sins?
Make me to know my transgression and my sin.
 Wherefore hidest thou thy face,
And holdest me for thine enemy?
Wilt thou harass a driven leaf?
And wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?
For thou writest bitter things against me,
And makest me to inherit the iniquities of my youth:
Thou puttest my feet also in the stocks,
And markest all my paths;
Thou settest a bound to the soles of my feet:
Though I am like a rotten thing that consumeth,
Like a garment that is moth-eaten.
(Job 13:20-28 ASV)


Job here continues his prayer and complaint before the Lord. He asks the Lord to withdraw his hand from him and cease terrifying him. These were Job's requests. These seem to be made so that he could better prepare his case before God and do so without the distraction of his deep sufferings. Once that happens Job will be happy to answer or speak to God about these matters.

Job then directly asks, 'how have I sinned, when, where show me the evidence'. The rest of the passage is all pretty self explanatory. Job here does not claim sinless perfection, he admits that he committed sins in his youth for which he incorrectly assumes God is now punishing him for. He asks why God is pursuing him, as we would put it today, like the Cops chase a serial killer, 'what have I done?', is his question.
What Job has done here is to take his case to God and put his full and unreserved faith in the Almighty. God knows what is best even if we can't see it and what was best for Job was to silence the devil's accusations against him and also, if I may extrapolate, ensure that the all the host of heaven knew that Job's love for God was not just because he was previously blessed exceedingly, but because he truly trusted in his God. This was never explained to Job, but this trial worked in his interest and that of God.
We don't know why we suffer, not always. I can say this, there is a reason for it. God has put me through 'the ringer' before. I have been through a few trials in my life and some of the things I have learned are these.
Don't get too attached to anything here on earth. Not your job, possessions, family, friends or career. Keep a careful emotional detachment from them as though you may have to walk away from them one day at a moments notice. When the fires of persecution - real persecution arrive, you may have to.

Yet never cease to give thanks to God for what he has given you. Bless God for blessing you and keep a thankful, humble and faithful (loyal) spirit towards the God that we serve.

Never kick a man when he is down, not even your enemies. Don't take cheap shots at them, the Lord may see it and become sore displeased with you and you may have just put your name at the top of the 'trial request' list; people who just can't wait to have the Lord deal with them as he allowed Job to be dealt with.

Take your walk even in days of trial, one day at a time. Don't get ahead of God and don't anticipate what tomorrow may bring. We don't know, only God does. God forbid, but some of you may be hit by a natural disaster and lose all, or may find a rich Uncle left you a small fortune, or you may find a great Job in South America or lose the one you have now. Brothers we just don't know, but whatever happens we should take whatever God allows into our lives as being for the best, even if it does not seem so to our finite understanding.

Most importantly, when going through a trial, don't charge God foolishly, don't get mad at God. Examine your own life and make any corrections that need to be made, but don't blame God, he is on your side.

And we know
that to them that love God
all things work together for good,
even to them that are called
according to his purpose.
(Rom 8:28 ASV)

We will continue out look at Job soon, God willing.


13 Jan

Persecution Watch

There has been a lot of movement on this front but not many real headline grabbing events. Probably one of the more important that is not coming to the fore are the events now in India. It appears in some parts of the country, the anti-conversion law is being more stringently applied. This from the ICC.
01/08/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) learned that police officials in India’s Karnataka state banned a community of Christians from gathering for worship services indefinitely. The officials justified this unconstitutional action by claiming that none of the approximately 50 Christians were Christian by birth and must have been coercively or fraudulently converted to Christianity. - continues at International Christian Concern
This seems to be part of a growing trend in India. Voice of The Martyrs, in their recent 12/20 Special Report on India (via mail) gives some background on these kinds of things and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) as well as the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). The RSS, according to this report (and other online reporting) believes that all Indians are Hindu's, at least by identity. This goes to their Hindutva philosophy.

Needless to say and as many reports indicate, Christians are often under severe pressure and even attack. We must keep in mind that India's Prime Minister, Modi joined the RSS in his early years and is a member of the BJP. So for those of you who did not know, these are not obscure political movements. The ICC has more on these anti-conversion laws.
01/11/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) learned that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government of Madhya Pradesh has approved an ordinance entitled The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance 2020. The ordinance replaces the Madhya Pradesh’s Religious Freedom Act of 1968 and is considered by lawmakers to be the most stringent anti-conversion law in India...

...According to the ordinance, individuals seeking to change their religion will need to apply to the district administration 60 days in advance. Religious leaders facilitating religious conversions would also need to inform the district administration 60 days in advance. If the previsions of the ordinance are not followed individuals could face a sentence of three to five years in jail and a financial penalty of 50,000 rupees. - continues at International Christian Concern

Also in India

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – A Korean Christian and three nationals of India are in jail in Uttar Pradesh state, accused of fraudulent conversion attempts while distributing food and other aid to people in need due to COVID-19 lockdown, sources said. - continues at Morning Star News

Anti-conversion laws go against one of the primary charges of we Christians, to go and make disciples. But my view is that religious leaders who fear for their religious (and political) power and force their followers to live in fear as well, need such laws against the power of the message of Christ Jesus.

While I am a firm and committed Christian, I believe in religious freedom for all. Good religion is based on a person's free choice.

The site Persecution Relief has many stories about the situation in India.

Such is the world today in many places and not just India.

One area to keep an eye on where there has recently not been too much advertised activity is in Syria. The ISW is reporting that Salafist extremists are becoming more active (Syria Situation Report: December 16, 2020 - January 7, 2021).

In Pakistan, two Christian sisters were found murdered after their disappearance.

Here is an interesting story out of the Missions Box about probably the worst place on earth to be a Christian, North Korea.

In Africa, 12 have been killed in Northern Cameroon as a result of a suicide bomber.

Morning Star news reported last month the execution of five Christians in Nigeria. A video of the gruesome execution was released. The story can be found here. In Sudan, they also report that worship structures were burned down by extremists.

It looks like it is going to be another tough year for Christians in many parts of the world. The UK's Release International believes it's set to rise this year.

How will a Biden Administration deal with Christian Persecution? I think he will do just as well, if not perhaps a little better than Trump. Biden may hail from the left, but he is reportedly a regular Church goer (Catholic). So I don't think for one moment that he is going to sit back and do nothing as the Church is severely persecuted. In fact, he may be better at this than Trump, who was viewed by many as being too cozy with dictators and took too much of a 'hands off' approach to the internal affairs of other nations, sometimes to the detriment of America's long standing human rights policies. I don't think Biden is going to be a 'soft touch' on this issue. He may hail from the left, but true liberals believe in religious liberty. It's the hard core socialists that we should worry about and I don't think for a second Biden is one of those.

So while many religious conservatives are upset about Trumps loss, I don't think it's all 'darkness and dread' for Christians just because the Democrats have taken over the White House. CNN has an interesting piece on this written back on Dec 13th. Search on 'CNN Biden's Catholic Faith' and you should be able to find it.

Let Religious Conservatives catch their breath and put away the anger. There is no need for it. Let us rather do three things. Let us congratulate President-Elect Biden, Let us pray for him... sincerely and earnestly pray for him and finally, also thank President Trump for his four years of service to the country. That job is no picnic as any Former President (and their close advisors) will tell you and Trump's job was somewhat harder for reasons that many of you are fully aware of, though admittedly, more than a few of those problems are viewed by many as being of his own making.

Let us turn the page, pray as we are commanded (1Tim 2:1ff), respect our leaders, regardless of their political party and live our lives as God would have us...

... and remember the persecuted!!


6 Jan

Note: Yes, I messed up! I posted part 28 before part 27! I am sorry about that, so here is part 27 below. My apologies for forgetting how to count (!).

Job Part XXVII

Then Job answered and said,
No doubt but ye are the people,
And wisdom shall die with you.
But I have understanding as well as you;
I am not inferior to you:
Yea, who knoweth not such things as these?
(Job 12:1-3 ASV)

Job sure had a sarcastic wit! In reply to Zophar's diatribe, Job responds saying that once his detractors pass on all wisdom will pass on with them. Here he points out the arrogance of this accusers. But Job makes it plain he isn't dumb, he too has understanding. Clearly Job was irritated and hurt by the attitude of his so called friends. In short, they thought they were the only ones who had wisdom. But the only things they have said so far were common wisdom, the 'pop' culture wisdom of their times. There was nothing neither new nor profound in what they said.

Job is not speaking from pride here but to check his friends who have been spouting tabloid wisdom to Job thinking it their words were some great, sage utterances.

I am as one that is a laughing-stock to his neighbor,
I who called upon God, and he answered:
The just, the perfect man is a laughing-stock.
In the thought of him that is at ease
there is contempt for misfortune;
It is ready for them whose foot slippeth.
The tents of robbers prosper,
And they that provoke God are secure;
Into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.
But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee;
And the birds of the heavens, and they shall tell thee:
Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee;
And the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.
Who knoweth not in all these,
That the hand of Jehovah hath wrought this,
(Job 12:4-9 ASV)

The passage above shows how deeply hurt Job was by his friends. But in this he also shows a different side to the arguments heretofore given by his friends. The kinds of things they said, they sounded good, but they were not always the case. He says that there are times the upright man is laughed at, the place were thieves gather is prosperous and yes, even those that provoke the Most High are secure. Job is reproving their wisdom and pointing out the plain facts. The wicked are not always punished right way, the thief often does do well and those who blaspheme God often rise high. Job here cuts their pride down and says that even the birds and the beasts know this. The creatures that walk about on four legs? Even they have figured this out, but not Job's friends, in whom 'all wisdom would die with'.

In whose hand is the soul of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?
Doth not the ear try words,
Even as the palate tasteth its food?
With aged men is wisdom,
And in length of days understanding.
With God is wisdom and might;
 He hath counsel and understanding.
 Behold, he breaketh down,
and it cannot be built again;
He shutteth up a man,
and there can be no opening.
Behold, he withholdeth the waters,
and they dry up;
Again, he sendeth them out,
and they overturn the earth.
With him is strength and wisdom;
The deceived and the deceiver are his.
 He leadeth counsellors away stripped,
And judges maketh he fools.
He looseth the bond of kings,
And he bindeth their loins with a girdle.
He leadeth priests away stripped,
And overthroweth the mighty.
He removeth the speech of the trusty,
And taketh away the understanding of the elders.
He poureth contempt upon princes,
And looseth the belt of the strong.
He uncovereth deep things out of darkness,
And bringeth out to light the shadow of death.
He increaseth the nations, and he destroyeth them:
He enlargeth the nations,
and he leadeth them captive.
He taketh away understanding
from the chiefs of the people of the earth,
And causeth them to wander in a wilderness
where there is no way.
They grope in the dark without light;
And he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.
(Job 12:10-25 ASV)

Job then begins to extol the Majesty, power and inscrutability of God. God can do anything and who can stop him? Who can oppose his works? When he destroys something, it cannot be rebuilt (vs 14) he controls sea and waters (vs 15) and deals with counselors, kings and judges according to his will. Those who think they are wise, he can make into stammering fools (vs 20).

I think hits on a very important truth that even today many theologians and Christians have a problem with. It's in verse 16 where he says, 'the deceived and the deceiver are his'. This is also one of the hard truth's Job understands and is far above the tabloid wisdom that some of this friends have spoken.

I have used this passage before and there are others found in Revelation to show that wicked men, deceivers and their plans are used by God to fulfill his plan. But go back to 2nd Chronicles and we see that God is using deceiving spirits to deceive someone to fall into at trap.
And Micaiah said,
Therefore hear ye the word of Jehovah:
I saw Jehovah sitting upon his throne,
 and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand
and on his left. And Jehovah said,
Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel,
that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?
And one spake saying after this manner,
and another saying after that manner.
And there came forth a spirit,
and stood before Jehovah, and said,
I will entice him. And Jehovah said unto him,
Wherewith?
And he said, I will go forth, and will be
a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.
And he said, Thou shalt entice him,
and shalt prevail also: go forth, and do so.
Now therefore, behold, Jehovah hath put a lying spirit
in the mouth of these thy prophets;
and Jehovah hath spoken evil concerning thee.
(2Ch 18:18-22 ASV)

Yes, Job was absolutely right. The deceived and the deceiver are his. Those who work their web of deceit are often entangled in their own deceitful devices. Some are arrogant enough to think they can trick God!
God is sovereign and the first step in wisdom is understanding this and having the humility to say that many things God does and is likely to do is beyond human understanding. What happens to his people serves a divine purpose. He may or may not explain it to us.

And we know
that to them that love God
all things work together for good,
even to them that are called
according to his purpose.
(Rom 8:28 ASV)

Job did not know this then, but he could probably figure this out when his trial was done. That his trial was hard is beyond question, but it did work together for his good as he was doubly blessed at the end by a God who deeply loved and respected Job and had never charged him with the evil that Satan and his so called friends did. Job's friends were unwittingly doing the devils work by rubbing salt into the wounds that Satan had so masterfully inflicted on him.
Blessings to all of you who serve our Lord Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth!


5 Jan

Job Part XXVIII


Lo, mine eye hath seen all this,
Mine ear hath heard and understood it.
What ye know, the same do I know also:
I am not inferior unto you.
Surely I would speak to the Almighty,
And I desire to reason with God.
But ye are forgers of lies;
Ye are all physicians of no value.
Oh that ye would altogether hold your peace!
And it would be your wisdom.
(Job 13:1-5 ASV)

Job here continues his response to Zophar and his other accusers from Chapter 12 where he basically told them they were not as wise as they claimed to be and Job too had understanding. Job here in the opening passage seems to be saying 'Tell me something I don't know!'. Job understood the majesty of God, his justice and might. Job understood these things. The theme is essentially the same. But now, Job basically wants them to shut up. Why? They think they are wise and they in reality, don't have a clue. Job then makes it plain that the things they have spoken are not true (13:4). Job instead seems no longer to wish to converse with his comforters, but requests an audience with the Almighty. He wants to take his case directly to God (Job 13:3). Clearly he see's no justice or sympathy with his friends and turns to God, who his merciful, just and knows Job's righteousness. Silence would be the best tidbit of wisdom his friends could exercise (Job 13:5)! There is an old saying that has stayed with me over the years.

It is better to sit silent and be considered a fool,
than it is to open your mouth and prove it.
(Unknown - rough transliteration often attributed to A. Lincoln)

So job seems to be saying something similar in a round about way to his detractor-comforters.


Hear now my reasoning,
 And hearken to the pleadings of my lips.
Will ye speak unrighteously for God,
And talk deceitfully for him?
Will ye show partiality to him?
Will ye contend for God?
Is it good that he should search you out?
Or as one deceiveth a man,
will ye deceive him?
He will surely reprove you,
If ye do secretly show partiality.
Shall not his majesty make you afraid,
And his dread fall upon you?
(Job 13:6-11 ASV)

Job here invites his friends to listen, this after he tells them their wisdom should be to keep silence (vs. 5). Job was now going to plead his cause. But first he upbraids them. He says they are speaking wickedly for God. This is an interesting statement and one that bears a bit of comment. Albert Barnes says this.

The sense is, that unjust principles ought not to be advanced to vindicate God. The great cause of truth and justice should always be maintained, and even in attempting to vindicate the divine administration, we ought to make use of no arguments which are not based on that which is right and true. Job means to reproach his friends with having, in their professed vindication of God, advanced sentiments which were at war with truth and justice, and which were full of fallacy and sophistry.  - Barnes
How would I sum this up? Don't lie for God, don't prevaricate and make stuff up to defend him. He does not need our help and certainly is not pleased when we use dishonorable methods to do it with. As Barnes says towards the end of the comment on this passage..."Everything in speaking of God, should be true, pure, and sound". Job appears to be saying that his friends were overly zealous in speaking for God (or rather their conception of God) and have greatly erred in so doing. This is something we must always be careful of. It is one thing to be zealous for God, it is quite another to err in that zealousness. We have seen this in history time and again.

In verse eight is using the setting of a court and these his friends have shown partiality towards God rather than being unbiased judges when hearing the case. Here Job's pleadings seem to be saying, 'you have taken God's side of things or rather the doctrines that you think explain God, but what about my side of the story? In short Job is saying they gave too much partiality to God.

Here is where I think we get to the root of Job's problem as well as that of his friends. Job feels deeply hurt and betrayed by his God and his friends and he really does what to plead his case before God. Job basically is on their case about their lack of impartiality. Their case has not done justice to God nor Job but only satisfies their own spiritual smugness. But Job's argument borders on being prideful and putting himself on par with God.

Job continues on and asks how they would like it if God began to search them out, like he has searched out Job and run them through the 'divine ringer' as he was doing to Job.

The idea in verse nine is a little difficult and there are many ways other have interpreted it. Let start with the word for 'deceive'. Here is Strong's translation.

H2048
A primitive root; to deride; by implication to cheat: - deal deceitfully, deceive, mock.

The KJV uses the word 'mock'. So the passage can also be rendered as one man deceives another, will you deceive him? K&D has a slightly different rendition in its commentary, "Would it be pleasant if He should search you out, Or can ye jest with Him, as one jesteth with men?" The basic idea here seems to be that God searches out the deceitfulness of men and their partiality.

God does not like partiality in dealings. He is just and fair in all he does. So when men secretly accept persons (show partiality) they offend God. Yet Job here takes the argument to another level, that God's case must also be above reproach and this they have not done, showing favor towards God. Job's argument can be summed up 'fair is fair', if you are going to judge between me and how the Lord has treated me then you must be fair judges and not show partiality just to win a 'prize' or 'points' from God for taking his side. Job then invokes the majesty and dread of God, something that his detractors spoke so eloquently about.

Job here at times seems really does seem to be veering towards the accusation that he was wise and righteous in his own eyes. His argument at times seems almost to put him on equal level with God, though clearly this was not the case. No, Job just wanted a fair and just hearing by his supposed friends and this, they did not seem predisposed to do.

We will continue on with the book of Job next week, God willing!!


28 Dec

Job Part XXVI


Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said,
Should not the multitude of words be answered?
And should a man full of talk be justified?
Should thy boastings make men hold their peace?
And when thou mockest, shall no man
make thee ashamed?
(Job 11:1-3 ASV)


Zophar was probably the youngest of Job's 'friends'. As mentioned in a much earlier section of this study, not much is known about him. Some saw him as coming from near where Job lived (near Uz) and other saw him as the king of Mineans. We don't know. But his words indicated that he was probably a young man. He is brash with his words, less respectful and the fact that he spoke last probably means he was either the lowest in social precedence or was the youngest. He has an acid tongue and it is aimed directly at Job, whom the Lord loved. It is easy for us here in our times to be hard on Job's friends. But one commentary here makes this observation that I think important as we read the speeches of Job's friends turned accusers and detractors. The Biblical Illustrator has some excellent comments on these passages and they can be found here.

So as the author from the Biblical Illustrator above notes, these men were not moved by evil motives. They were men who were indeed devout and were trying to 'theologize' Job's situation with their limited human understanding. Yet in their zeal, they sinned and as we get towards the end of the book of Job, we will see just how badly.

Before we get to Zophar's words, we should mark this as well. Zeal for Christ is a good thing. But it can so easily be carried away. I think of Mary Tudor (1516-1558) one of the worst spiritual tragedies of any English Monarch. No one who knew her said she was not in the deepest earnest in her faith in Christ (Catholicism). She was deeply devout and charitable towards the poor. Her work in burning what she called heretics was not based upon dark political machinations or using religion as a way to dispense with political enemies. No, most historians agree that she sincerely thought she was doing God's will by burning Protestants. But she burned so many Protestants in her misguided zeal that she earned the name 'Bloody Mary'. Her reign began with crowds cheering her at her ascension and ended with them cheering her passing.

As we read Zophar's word, let's keep these things in mind for his words are indeed full of Godly zeal of a deeply misguided variety.

Zophar asks Job if his long winded speech deserves an answer. But he does not stop there. Zophar would not hold his peace and then accuses Job of mockery of God. So he levels all these accusations at Job, but does not stop there.

For thou sayest, My doctrine is pure,
And I am clean in thine eyes.
But oh that God would speak,
And open his lips against thee,
And that he would show thee the secrets of wisdom!
For he is manifold in understanding.
 Know therefore that God exacteth of thee
less than thine iniquity deserveth.
(Job 11:4-6 ASV)

Zophar goes on to accuse Job of self-righteousness. Then he says he wants God to speak and enter a charge against Job. Little does Zophar know that it is not Job, but Zophar himself who is showing self-righteousness in condemning Job so harshly and virulently based upon his very limited human understanding. Zophar will get his wish and God will indeed speak later, but what God has to say is going to give no comfort to Zophar and will send him before Job, humbled, in order that Job may make intercession for him when the words of Job's accusers friends are done.

Canst thou by searching find out God?
Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
It is high as heaven; what canst thou do?
Deeper than Sheol; what canst thou know?
The measure thereof is longer than the earth,
And broader than the sea. If he pass through,
and shut up, And call unto judgment,
then who can hinder him? For he knoweth false men:
He seeth iniquity also, even though he consider it not.
(Job 11:7-11 ASV)


Zophar here begins to describe the greatness of God and contrasts it with what he see's as Job's limited knowledge. He makes it clear than mankind cannot know the works of God and using poetry, makes it plain that such knowledge is beyond man's ability to understand.

God's power as well cannot be hindered. Zohpar's words here are indeed right on the money. Yet I often find that when misguided men who claim God's anointing on their misdeeds, often invoke God in the most beautiful and convincing ways as a kind of cover for the sins and abominations they have or are about to commit. Zophar has accused Job of a degree of wickedness that Job's deeds simply did not deserve. To accuse a righteous man like Job (Job 1:8) who has demonstrated his friendship and loyalty to God, is a very serious misdeed. Contending with God's friends and true servants is no light matter (
Isaiah 49:25).

But vain man is void of understanding,
Yea, man is born as a wild ass's colt.
If thou set thy heart aright,
And stretch out thy hands toward him;
If iniquity be in thy hand,
put it far away, And let not unrighteousness
dwell in thy tents. Surely then shalt thou
 lift up thy face without spot;
Yea, thou shalt be stedfast,
 and shalt not fear:
(Job 11:12-15 ASV)

Zophar gives us wise words about wisdom, iniquity and wickedness. Zophar is clearly one who understands the then 'pop culture' or 'tabloid religion' version of God's wisdom of his times. Let us remember that if this was written in the Patriarchal age, there was no Bible to refer to. Zophar knows the right things to say and is well studied in the common wisdom of his time.

Yet what Zophar lacks is a sense of mercy and enough humility and caution to not rush to judgment on Job based upon his self-admitted incomplete understanding of God's ways. Zophar is almost preaching to himself, extolling God's inscrutability and yet by his harsh words towards Job and by that very incomplete understanding of why Job was in his situation, he unknowingly condemns himself.


And I say unto you,
that every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give account thereof
in the day of judgment.
For by thy words thou shalt be justified,
and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
(Mat 12:36-37 ASV)

Zophar was using many words that sounded like wisdom, but in his speech were the seeds of his own condemnation.

And thy life shall be clearer than the noonday;
Though there be darkness, it shall be as the morning.
And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope;
Yea, thou shalt search about thee,
and shalt take thy rest in safety.
Also thou shalt lie down,
and none shall make thee afraid;
Yea, many shall make suit unto thee.
But the eyes of the wicked shall fail,
And they shall have no way to flee;
And their hope shall be
the giving up of the ghost.
(Job 11:17-20 ASV)

Zophar ends his first speech with the blessings of the righteous and the troubles of the wicked. He reveals nothing new or noteworthy in his observations, just the same old Patriarchal wisdom that was unable to correctly determine the real reason for Job's suffering.

Zophar's words are acidic and hostile to Job. His brashness shows a want of real wisdom and the restraint that the others of Job's comforters have thus far shown. To me, Zophar is a rather cold hearted person, who see's his friend in very serious distress, suffering and having lost all and the only thing he can offer him is a sharp tongued sermon. Then has the audacity to tell Job that he deserves to suffer even more (
11:6) for the imaginary evil Zophar sees in his theological hallucinations.

We will move on to Job's next speech next week, the good Lord willing!!



16-21 Dec

***Updates will be very sparse through years end.***

I need a break and will take one that is just a little longer than previous years. But we may have another update or two before 2021.

God bless all who serve the Lord, Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth!!


10 Dec

Job XXV

And if my head exalt itself,
thou huntest me as a lion;
And again thou showest thyself marvellous upon me.
Thou renewest thy witnesses against me,
And increasest thine indignation upon me:
 Changes and warfare are with me.
(Job 10:16-17 ASV)



The 'it' in this passage has been a bit contentious (KJV 'for it increaseth' - vs 16). What is it referring to? Some think that based on the way the word is interpreted elsewhere it means pride. But this does not seem to fit the context. Rather it probably means Job's afflictions, which were getting worse, not better. But other's see the passage as meaning that if Job lifts up his head, he thinks that God would hunt him down. This is the way the ASV renders the passage.

Job's words appear to have a bite of bitter sarcasm to them, as though Job is God's sport and like a hunter shoots a lion, so God is hunting and afflicting his prey in Job.

Job see's God as bearing witness against him and thus his troubles mount. He likens his situation to someone who is being continually attacked in a war.

Job was at and end of himself, a truly broken and deeply saddened man as the following passage makes clear.


Wherefore then
hast thou brought me forth out of the womb?
I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me.
I should have been as though I had not been;
I should have been carried
from the womb to the grave.
(Job 10:18-19 ASV)


Job asks why was he born and why he did not die in the womb. This is the same basic question he asks in Job 3:11. Job asks it yet again. The passage speaks for itself. Job had been through the divine 'ringer' and was weary of life. He even asks why he was even born in the first place. He wants God to stop what he see's as his persecution and let him be and die in peace just as he was being born.

We must remember here that in Job's time (if we are correct in extrapolating the events recorded occurred during the patriarchal age) had no real conception or theology of any resurrection or life after the grave. When you died, that was it and we have no references to show any belief in an afterlife formulated into any kind of theology in those days. So Job's cry seems to be just to stop existing and go to the grave and be let alone. Of note Sheol (the abode of the dead or grave) was indeed a concept in the OT and yes, the word used for grave here is not Sheol, but rather sepulchre
(H6913)
Are not my days few?
cease then, And let me alone,
 that I may take comfort a little,
Before I go whence I shall not return,
Even to the land of darkness
and of the shadow of death;
The land dark as midnight,
The land of the shadow of death,
without any order,
And where the light is as midnight.
(Job 10:20-22 ASV)


This is a continuation of the previous thought of getting a little comfort. He would like to have a bit of it before he makes the journey to the land from which no one ever returns. But in this passage we get a glimpse of how people from that age saw the end of mankind, even those who are righteous. There is no order and it is a place where the darkness itself is light. He saw it as a place where it was like chaos and confusion. It is to this place Job would rather go than continue on with his torment and sufferings in his request for death.

When reading much of the Old Testament, we must understand that they had little conception of a life after death and as noted before, even in Christ's time over a thousand years later, the issue was not settled as you had two major camps, the Pharisee's and the Sadducee's who had very different views on the matter.

Don't let us not be too hard on Job for his dark depression because we have a far greater revelation given to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. God has shown us many things that were hidden from those men of Job's time.


And turning to the disciples,
 he said privately, Blessed are the eyes
which see the things that ye see:
for I say unto you, that many prophets
and kings desired to see the things which ye see,
and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear,
and heard them not.
(Luk 10:23-24 ASV)


Let us also remember that Christ tasted death for us all and even descended to the abode of the dead and even preached to those souls who were once in rebellion against God.

Because Christ also suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the unrighteous,
that he might bring us to God;
being put to death in the flesh,
but made alive in the spirit;
in which also he went
and preached unto the spirits in prison,

 that aforetime were disobedient,
when the longsuffering of God
waited in the days of Noah,
while the ark was a preparing,
wherein few, that is, eight souls,
were saved through water:
(1Pe 3:18-20 ASV)

Christ having conquered death with his sacrifice and resurrection has given we who serve him a hope not just of a life after the grave, but of a high place in God's order and kingdom if we do as he commands us.

O death, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?
(1Co 15:55 ASV)


Let us not sink to the depths of despair as Job did when he was going through his personal hell, but remember the promises that God has given to those who love him. Faith in God rather than our circumstances is called for in God's saints.

I know... in some instances, it's much easier said than done but it is not impossible and once we come to that place where we can trust God fully, we often find our trials quickly come to an end.


8 Dec

'Till The Bitter End...

Grace and peace of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be upon all who serve him in spirit and in truth!

Today, I want to talk about something that has been an undercurrent in our news these past few years, but rarely makes it into the headlines as being what it really is. What is that? Apostasy.

The Holy Apostles warned us all that in the last days there would be this mass falling away; apostasy from the fundamental doctrines of the faith. We have all seen much of this of late. Be assured, the hour is late prophetically so we will see more, very much more. We have seen whole denominations move their whole doctrinal foundation away from the firm foundation of the Bible and Jesus Christ. This is not a new process, but it has taken on increasing speed over the past couple of decades.
We have to be ready for more, much more. We have to be ready for new leadership to rise to prominence in what is considered to be usually sound and doctrinally stalwart denominations. They will use their power within these denominations to entice and later deceive these denominations into the ways of the errors of the ancient past. We must never forget the awesome deceitful power of our adversary, remembering his deep hostility to God, his ways and his people. Satan and those fallen spirits and lost souls who work in his kingdom... they do not rest and they do not get discouraged. If they fail once, they just try again... they never stop trying this is why they eventually have so much success, as failure does not dissuade them from further efforts at temptation and subversion.
Some of you are surprised about some of the things in the news these days with regards to these matters. I say, don't be. This is exactly how the Lord told us it would be in the last days. None of this should shock any real saint who knows their Bible. The world is not just going to go into apostasy, it's going to go into out and out rebellion - a full scale satanic rebellion and the prophecies seem to strongly indicate that religious leaders are going to be a key instrument of the devil and his kingdom in that final hour. 

And I saw one of his heads
as though it had been smitten unto death;

and his death-stroke was healed:
and the whole earth wondered after the beast;
and they worshipped the dragon,
because he gave his authority unto the beast;
and they worshipped the beast,
saying, Who is like unto the beast?
and who is able to war with him?
and there was given to him a mouth
speaking great things and blasphemies;
and there was given to him authority to continue
forty and two months.
(Rev 13:3-5 ASV)


But I think it would be wise for me to point this out.

Evil in those days will not seem evil at all. Satanism will not only not have any 'wicked feel' about it. It will be popular, en vogue, trendy and most importantly, politically correct. The whole world will 'catch' the spirit of antichrist. It will be in three key realms of human society - religion (the False Prophet), politics (10 Horned Beast) and economics (the Mark of the Beast) but will almost certainly have its hooks into many other aspects of life on earth in those days as well. This will be through a steady program of indoctrination (propaganda) as well as a steady program of subversion against the churches. I think we have already seen a great deal of that. We will see more... much more in the days ahead. So as the days pass, I exhort you all to brace yourselves. There really are dark forces out there who are working in the realm of religion to 'capture' it into the world's and ultimately the prince of this world's service. If you faithfully serve the Lord, be assured, the devil and his servants will one day target you. This is one reason why you don't see many really good prophetic ministries out there that stick with the scriptures and are not afraid to speak truth - temporal and spiritual truth - to power. The devils imps can, have and will target them. They target people first by knowing everything about them.

I should add this as well, the surveillance system is real, very, very real and most of it is going on and you have no clue about it. How many big box stores have AI and digital facial recognition hidden away behind those one way mirrors? They don't tell you. Do your own search on the issue.

I don't want to go off subject but do not think for one second that it is impossible for you to be watched just about every place you go - to know who you are and what you buy and how you pay for it and how, what streets you took to get there, how long you waited at which traffic light and which parking spot you used. We may not be 100% there yet in most of the nation, but that does not mean we won't be 100% there soon. They are for lack of a better phrase, building a high tech prison system but are not telling the people about it. Medical data? Do your own search on 'health data hacking' and see what you find. They can find out just about anything about anyone, these days.
But it is this marriage that has taken place between secular leaders and Corporate Christianity (I won't use the world 'church' today for many of them) that is most troubling. Now I don't think we Christians should abandon our obligations in the country to vote and be a light, but more and more I see this melding of the two - the political system and certain elements in Corporate Christianity as a problem.

History has shown that when Church and State get too close, both are horribly corrupted. We just must not get too close to the system. We have been told, no commanded to come out and be separate from this world for this is a condition for God receiving us into his kingdom. We are to be a special people, different and most completely 'contrary' to the world and its ways.

Wherefore
Come ye out from among them
,

 and be ye separate, saith the Lord,
And touch no unclean thing;
And I will receive you,
And will be to you a Father,
And ye shall be to me sons and daughters,
saith the Lord Almighty.
(2Co 6:17-18 ASV)

This passage follows the admonition for us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (vs. 14). These are powerful admonitions that must be taken in context, yes -  but also must not be ignored for they are clear preconditions for acceptance into the Lord's family.

This is why we must be wary of Churches that get too trendy or too 'up to date'; Churches that put more emphasis on these things than on solid biblical teaching, particularly when those ignored or downplayed biblical teaching fly directly in the face of social and moral trends present in society. This may demonstrate a pastor who is either under political pressure to play down the Bible's admonitions or one who may just not care about them. In any event, he is missing one of the key jobs of a pastor - to preach and teach sound doctrine. Paul warned us of this and that there would come a time when people would not want to hear it.

I charge thee in the sight of God,
and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge
the living and the dead, and by his appearing
and his kingdom: preach the word;
be urgent in season, out of season;
reprove, rebuke, exhort,
 with all longsuffering and teaching.
For the time will come when
they will not endure the sound doctrine;
but, having itching ears,
will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts;
and will turn away their ears from the truth,
and turn aside unto fables.
(2Ti 4:1-4 ASV)
Timothy as you know was a pastor and one whom Paul kept a watchful eye on. He is warning his protege that one day, people are not going to want to hear what God wants preached and that the God's truth will be held in low regard in favor of new fables (G3454) that will be told and apparently believed.

The problem today as I see it, is that much of the corporate (christian) body will not do right. The leadership of many denominations can put quiet/silent pressure on their clergy at times to downplay some things and up-play another. I know, I have talked to some who are quietly frustrated with the system and the growing apostasy of the denominational hierarchy. Often the reason for such reticence boils down to money. If they start preaching solid Bible basics, they are afraid of falling Church revenues and empty pews. Such sermons may appeal to the older crowd, but not the younger. I think too often, these Church leaders are more concerned about the balance sheet than spiritual growth in God.
But this I think has been an avenue of apostasy. The focus on revenues in the Church. The lease, the mortgage, paying the pastor, the accountants, insurance... the whole nine yards. It costs a lot of money to run a Church. An awful lot of money to run a mega-Church. I think that many have unwittingly fallen into the snare of the devil with this modern Church model. I am not saying that these are necessarily 'evil' men, I don't think that is the case most of the time. Rather, I think that this financial 'trap' is laid for all who preach and teach in their own building and have their own Church administration and upkeep. They fall into this dilemma sooner or later and many are forced on some level to make a choice. Once the pressure is on, many will begin to have doubts and have a crisis of faith, not realizing it was their own as well as their Church/denominational choices in the beginning and not God that brought them to their then current state. What is going to happen to Churches if this whole pandemic induced economic crisis intensifies over the next couple of years?
But these choices, if a Church makes the wrong one, leads to apostasy; a falling away from the faith that sooner or later, the pastor dare not preach such Bible based doctrines lest he lose much of his flock and his revenues or get fired by the higher ups in the Church. Try and understand, this is less a criticism as it is an observation. But one day such a Pastor will probably be forced to make a choice. It is his responsibility to make the correct one.
So Pastors and other Christian religious leaders would be well advised to take heed to the Bible that they claim to live by and remember...

If any man teacheth a different doctrine,
and consenteth not to sound words,
even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
he is puffed up, knowing nothing,
but doting about questionings and disputes of words,
whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
wranglings of men corrupted in mind
and bereft of the truth, supposing that godliness
is a way of gain. But godliness with contentment
is great gain: for we brought nothing into the world,
for neither can we carry anything out;
but having food and covering
we shall be therewith content.
(1Ti 6:3-8 ASV)

Here in we see both things mentioned - godliness and gain (profit). This I do think is an unseen problem in parts of the Church. The Christian 'money making' system; the book deals, the speaking engagements, the large salaries in major Christian aid organizations as well as political lobbying firms. There is big money in modern religion and where there is money there is temptation. Paul had to deal with similar issues as there were those who were preaching unsound doctrines for filthy lucre's sake (Tit 1:11). So we must be wary. The devil's tricks are much more subtle today but no less lethal, so let us be on our guard.
We who have kept faith with God? Let us all be careful, most careful. Let us always measure things by the word of God and when we are not sure, get into your prayer closet and seek the Lord about it.
But if any of you lacketh wisdom,
let him ask of God,
who giveth to all liberally
and upbraideth not;
and it shall be given him.
(Jas 1:5 ASV)

In these times we will all need some of this wisdom. Why? Because of the enormously powerful deceptions that will be coming upon the earth. They are going to fool just about everybody including a lot of saints. We just have to be on our spiritual guard for the devils lies will be given great weight in society and God's truth will be pushed aside and even mocked. The prophet Daniel put it, referring to a future wicked political system, as to 'cast truth to the ground' (Dan 8:12). This is what is coming and there is no way to stop it. I think one of the hardest things we will be witnessing will be those who we love and once respected fall for these deceits in an irretrievable manner. That is going to be very hard on many.
But we must steel ourselves and not let lies get us down. There is a strait gate that we have to enter into and the path to that gate is none too wide. We must strive (not just seek) to enter therein.
And one said unto him, Lord,
are they few that are saved?
And he said unto them,
Strive to enter in by the narrow door:
for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in,
and shall not be able.
(Luk 13:23-24 ASV)

The 'map' to that strait gate is our Bible and the light of the Holy Spirit. If we don't follow the map or have a fake map given to us by the devil or a fake pastor, we will be lost and won't even find that strait gate (narrow door - ASV), let alone be able to enter into it. This is why sound doctrine is so important in our times and why I just see more and more apostasy in the days ahead in modern corporate Christianity. The reason? The lack of sound doctrine.

This is why we saints who love our God must always keep and hold to sound doctrine...

... till the bitter end.



3 Dec

Job Part XXIV


Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress,
 That thou shouldest despise the work of thy hands,
And shine upon the counsel of the wicked?
Hast thou eyes of flesh?
Or seest thou as man seeth?
Are thy days as the days of man,
Or thy years as man's days,
That thou inquirest after mine iniquity,
And searchest after my sin,
Although thou knowest that I am not wicked,
And there is none that can deliver out of thy hand?
Thy hands have framed me and fashioned me
Together round about; yet thou dost destroy me.
Remember, I beseech thee,
that thou hast fashioned me as clay;
And wilt thou bring me into dust again?
(Job 10:3-9 ASV)

Job here asks God not to oppress him reminding the Lord he is but flesh, nothing more than skin and bones. Why should God hound him so, who was made by the very same hands of God? He then asks why does God not deal with evil men but rather seems to favor them. This is followed by a rhetorical question about God's nature and if it is the same as mankind's.

Job continues his argument, but this is less an argument with Bildad, than with God. He wants to know about this sin God is so harshly pursuing Job about. Job see's himself as being oppressed. Well this is so, yet we also know that it was not God that was his enemy, but satan who was the cause of his woes.

Job is very much aware of his long life of integrity and honor for God. His reference to the fact that he is not wicked is not a declaration of his perfection, only that he has sought the path of righteousness and Job follows this comment with a reverence for God's power (vs. 7). God made him and yet from Job's perspective, the same God is about to destroy him (Vs. 8).

Job complains from the depths of despair. Only those who have been down to the depths really understands this. A few of you have been down in the dumps and even faced trials that you never understood why. For we Christians, these trials are often to help purify us, other times to chastise us. God has his own reasons for bringing them into our lives.

As with Job, he often does not tell us why, though at times as we look back we can see through a glass darkly.

Hast thou not poured me out as milk,
And curdled me like cheese?
Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh,
And knit me together with bones and sinews.
Thou hast granted me life and lovingkindness;
And thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.
Yet these things thou didst hide in thy heart;
I know that this is with thee: If I sin,
then thou markest me,
And thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.
If I be wicked, woe unto me;
 And if I be righteous,
yet shall I not lift up my head;
 Being filled with ignominy,
And looking upon mine affliction.
(Job 10:10-15 ASV)


Job here talks about his conception from the beginning and how from the act of conception he formed into a full human being (Gill, Clarke). Job remarks upon God's goodness and favor during Job's life. Job then remarks on God's justice and love of right and disdain for iniquity. Yet here is the issue that has Job confounded and confused. He has lived an exemplary life -  and this is God's opinion, yet the reward of the wicked has befallen him. This would confound any man, particularly one so hard hit and almost certainly in constant physical pain for no apparent reason.

In summary of these passages, Job is appealing to God and in a round about fashion questions his motivations as they do not appear to be consistent with what Job knows about God. Job appeals to God to be merciful because mankind is so frail and fleeting and at the same time acknowledges God's power, wisdom, favor and power.

For those of you who may not appreciate this commentary on Job as there is not enough spiritual meat or 'fire and brimstone' in it, I beg you to learn from Job. Many trials await the saints of God in the days ahead and many of them will seem and be very unjust to us. We must remember who Job's enemy really was and that God does allow the devil to test and try us. Again, we can see shadows of this in the New Testament.


And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These things saith the first and the last,
who was dead, and lived again:
I know thy tribulation,
and thy poverty (but thou art rich),
and the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews,
and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer:
behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison,
that ye may be tried;
and ye shall have tribulation ten days.
Be thou faithful unto death,
and I will give thee the crown of life.
He that hath an ear,
let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
(Rev 2:8-11 ASV)


So here Christ is doing something for the Church he did not do for Job. He is telling them the source of their tribulations and doing it before hand.

So again, as I move through Job, don't be bored because it not about the New World Order, Armageddon, Trump's deep state wars or some other highly emotional and dramatic event in our times. Suffering is for us all. We all have and will suffer as long as we are in the body and if we are here during the Tribulation be assured, we shall suffer. Let us remember the wailing's and lamentations of Job when its our turn.

We will continue Job next week, God willing.



1 Dec

Encouragement


Joshua the son of Nun, who standeth before thee,
he shall go in thither: encourage thou him;
for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.
(Deu 1:38 ASV)

But charge Joshua, and encourage him,
and strengthen him;
for he shall go over before this people,
 and he shall cause them to inherit
the land which thou shalt see.
(Deu 3:28 ASV)

Encouragement. We all need it from time to time and in the above passages, the Lord wanted Moses to encourage Joshua before he was to embark in his most important and difficult task. Anyone who serves the Lord, high or low will from time to time, need encouragement. The Lord knew what was ahead for Joshua and wanted to make sure Moses gave him that positive word of encouragement that he needed.

Brothers, I often need encouragement. Yes, I do and God often gives it to me in unusual ways. Pastors in these times, they need encouragement and so do evangelists, prophets and other workmen in Christ.

As we move into the holiday season we should give thanks and I have found that a thankful spirit, one that acknowledges the blessings that God has bestowed upon us can often be a source of encouragement. To humbly give thanks, sing a psalm of praise and keeping to our purpose in Christ. This can help us when we are feeling a little down.

With all of these COVID restrictions many people are feeling down and some are depressed. I have read that even children are thinking about taking their own lives as a result of these lockdowns. It is very troubling. It is important that we think on positive things, push ahead with what God wants for us and not get ourselves so wrapped up in ourselves and our own personal 'drama' that we can no longer keep a decent spiritual perspective. We must encourage ourselves in the Lord, despite what we see around us. Things may be difficult with hubby home all day... every day and the kids driving you nuts while the bills pile up; it may not be so easy to just catch your breath and get a few minutes of true quiet time. It can be hard if you live in a big house full of folks who haven't been working for a while.

When we get depressed and feeling 'down in the dumps' we can often get discouraged. We must learn to encourage ourselves or do as David did and call upon the Lord.


In the day
 that I called thou answeredst me,

Thou didst encourage me
with strength in my soul.
(Psa 138:3 ASV)

God can and will encourage us when things get hard. We must learn to really lean on him in those times. But let us have faith and not 'whine' and thus repel the Lord's good graces towards us. He does not like whiners (murmurers) or those who show an ungrateful spirit.

I write this today because the Lord had asked to write something on encouragement. I was not tasked on writing anything long or particularly 'deep', just something that will help some of you who may be having some struggles to be encouraged in these strange and difficult times.


And we exhort you,
brethren, admonish the disorderly,
encourage the fainthearted,
support the weak, be longsuffering
toward all.
(1Th 5:14 ASV)

We are on a journey. A journey to the promised land. A land built by our God and reserved for those who love him. Joshua in many ways is our 'type' in the OT. He was to take the people out of the wilderness and into the promised land. What were God's words to Joshua back then?

Have not I commanded thee?
Be strong and of good courage;
be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed:
for Jehovah thy God is with thee
whithersoever thou goest.
(Jos 1:9 ASV)


And Joshua said unto them,
Fear not, nor be dismayed;
be strong and of good courage:
for thus shall Jehovah do
to all your enemies against
whom ye fight.
(Jos 10:25 ASV)


You may want to read the surrounding passage around that last verse to demonstrate how the Lord deals with those who come against his people who are on a divinely ordained mission.

In closing let me give you this last passage from a Psalm of David.


Wait for Jehovah: Be strong,
and let thy heart take courage;
Yea, wait thou for Jehovah.
(Psa 27:14 ASV)


Brothers, in these times of great uncertainty and trouble, let us stand on the firm foundation of Christ. Come tempest, earthquake, tornado, fire, flood or plague of locusts, we will still be standing when the smoke clears if we keep our feet planted firmly on the rock of Christ Jesus. This does not mean we won't get smoke in our eyes, or have to repair the barn after the storm. It does mean that despite it all, God will bring us through it all if we keep faith... a stubborn, determined and relentless faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Amen!



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