Friday, September 28, 2007

Are we affair proof?

Jeroboam was the first king of Israel, after the nation divided in two kingdoms. Fearing the people of his new kingdom would ally themselves with Judah when they went to worship there, he decided to create a worship system just for his new kingdoms. As we read in 1 Kings 12: 28-30.

1 Kings 12: 28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
1 Kings 12: 29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
1 Kings 12: 30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

He built two golden calves so people would worship them in Israel. He then proceeded to elect new priests for his new religion. This was a hindrance to Israel of course. In 2 Chronicles 11:13-16 we read what happened to the priests that lived in Israel.

2 Chronicles 11:13And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts.
2 Chronicles 11:14For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the LORD:
2 Chronicles 11:15And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made.
2 Chronicles 11:16And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.

As we Jerobaoam’s choosing of new priests, meant that the Levitical priests of Israel in were virtually ostracized. Because of this they migrated to Judah, to worship Jehovah.

Hundreds of years later, the priests were far from there predecessors. While they continued to work in the temple services, their hearts were far from God. No longer tempted with pagan God’s, they now worshiped money and reason. You see, a great number of them were Sadducees. They did not believe in resurrections or miracles, and probably did not believe that God speaks to man; hence, their skeptical stance toward Jesus - a miracle worker who preached resurrection and claimed that God spoke to Him (Desire of Ages 603-604). This would explain Zechariah’s – John the Baptist’s father – doubting the angel. Yes, he was a man that feared God; however it is possible that Zechariah had adopted some of the Sadducees’ beliefs.

How could a group of people that were once so faithful to God, generations later, while still claiming to love God, kill his Son? The answer is that they switched their loyalty from God to self. While they did not play the harlot with pagan Gods, they played the harlot with gods of their own creation. They flirted with Greek philosophy and thinking. They found themselves liking the company of the Greek theories, and chose to spend more time with them than with God. The Greek system was more pleasing to their senses than was having faith in God. After a while, God’s system of delayed gratification did not please the flesh as did the world’s system of gratifying the flesh here and now. So much that eventually they started to believe it was impossible to deny the flesh its wants. In other words, they believed a life without Sin is impossible, and thus the sacrificial system was needed to cover for man’s inability of keeping God’s Law. While they were not as strict as the Pharisees, they created another form of legalism, albeit subtle. You were OK with God as long as you sacrificed an animal.

Jesus stood against all of the Sadducees beliefs. A Man in every way as they were that lived without sinning, and performing miracles they claimed could not happen (Hebrews 4:15; Desire of Ages, 537-538).

If this sounds vaguely familiar it is because it is very near to our modern belief. We do not sacrifice animals. But, we have created other requirements to support our theistic and almost existentialist form of Christianity. As the wise man said, “There is no new thing under the Sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Likewise Jesus still stands against us and our beliefs. A Man in every way as we are that lived without sinning, and performing miracles we claim cannot happen. We may not see Jesus in person, but we see how the hearts of men are miraculously transformed after they give their lives to Jesus. They are converted through the work of the Holy Spirit. From proud and arrogant, they become humble and sensitive. From uncouth they become refined. From selfish, braggarts, and self–centered they become God praising and generous. Paul addresses this issue in Galatians 5, let us read

Galatians 5: 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Galatians 5: 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Galatians 5: 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Galatians 5: 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The Holy Spirit transforms you into a new creature, if you allow Him. The transformation will be evident to many others. Yes, many will still question your genuineness’. Rejecting the proof and going against their conviction. However, the question still remains, will you allow Him?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Should David had been stoned?

In the 1980s, there was a TV show in the United States called “Night Court.” As the name suggests it was set in a Court Room that held its proceedings at night. In one of the episodes, a handsome young janitor started to work in the court building. A female bailiff and the young janitor hit it off, and decided to go on a date after the work is over. Soon after that a marshal walked in, saying he was looking for a fugitive that reportedly was hiding in the court building. He wanted the judge to order a line up to see if the fugitive was there. After much deliberation, the judge conceded, however, the janitor was not in the line, which raised every one’s suspicions. The female bailiff caught up with the janitor and convinced the janitor to give himself up. The janitor agreed only if she took him to the Marshall.

The story ends with the Marshall saying that the fugitive janitor will be tried the fullest extent of the Law. Everyone laughed thinking he was joking. But, the Marshall insisted he was serious, as he ate donuts from a bag he found in the court room. All in the room start pleading with him, but the Marshall would not give in. Finally, the judge ordered the bailiff to arrest the Marshall for theft. The Bailiff grabbed the Marshall’s arm. The Marshall tried to force his arm away demanding an explanation. The Judge answered, “That bag of donuts is mine; you took them without my consent, which means you stole it. Put him away, bailiff, until his time for trial, when we will try him to the fullest extent of the Law.” Every one except for the Marshall cheered. The Marshall then spoke, “Ok, Ok, I get it; you let me go, if I am lenient with my fugitive.” The judge answered, “Do we have a deal?” The Marshall agreed and the bailiff let him go. After this, the Marshall left with his fugitive.
This story showed what most of us believe, that when a law is broken, the breaker of the law, should pay the maximum given penalty, unless it is one of us breaking the law. We suddenly have reasons why clemency should apply to us, but not to others. We are no different than the group who wanted the adulteress woman stoned. They said to Jesus, “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act, Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” (John 8:5, 6). The Law of Moses did say that, “And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10). But, Jesus was not interested in killing the woman. If He wanted any death for her, it was death to self. Yes, the law condemns the woman. But Jesus paid the wages of Sin, and we all die in Him (Romans 6:4). So, our debt to the law – and the woman’s - is paid in full. Jesus, tried to the fullest extent of the Law - was found guilty, and the sentence was death, the second or eternal death. He died that death – as one forsaken of God or totally separated from God; which is how this woman felt, until Christ gave her the good news, “I do not condemn you.”
David lies with a woman that is married to someone else. This is adultery. The Law says he should have been put to death. Why was he not put to death? Some may say, “Who would dare go against the King?” This is a good point. Many prophets died in the hands of the Kings they rebuked, John the Baptist is one example. However, I believe God was not interested in killing David. He was interested in David’s repentance, again death to self. And, David repented after he realized what he had done, not only to himself and the woman, but also to his soon to be born dead child, his family, her husband and those implicated in his death, the whole nation, and most importantly to God. Hence his words, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:13). David felt forsaken of God and received gratefully the news from Nathan the Prophet, “The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die” (2 Samuel 12:13).
This is the Gospel. The good news of Salvation is that God has put away our Sin in Christ – we will not die. God does not want to kill us; He wants us to die to self – to repent. He wants us to turn around toward Him, and receive from Him freedom from guilt and eternal life. Many reject this message, some believe they do not need to repent and others believe God will never accept them. A few believe the message and continually believe. Each group will receive their just reward. Do you believe David should have been stoned? Perhaps how you answer this question reveals which group are you in?