cle, while others were there to learn from Jesus and thought about His message. Some even asked: “Who is this?” Is it possible that after three years of all the teaching and miracles and healing and meetings, there were some who had never heard of Jesus? It seems to be so. Strange! Yet there are many today, who are completely ignorant about who Jesus is, despite going to Sunday school, receiving a Gideon Bible at school, passing Churches, attending weddings and funerals, hearing His name taken as a swear word on television and in every day life. Yet they still have no idea about who Jesus is. It is strange – but true! The religious people did not rejoice. Jesus brings people to a point of decision. Darkness hates light. The presence of light either disperses the darkness or makes it even darker. The Pharisees asked Jesus to keep the Disciples quiet. “I cannot. If the people do not rejoice, the very stones will shout out for joy at my presence.” Jesus was welcomed as a prophet. There had been no prophet from God for over 400 years since Malachi. This was a significant event. The act of carrying palm trees was an act of honour to a victorious person. John also says that many were there that day because Jesus had just raised Lazarus from death. They were drawn by the spectacular. How did the people respond? They shouted out three things. 1. “Hosanna. This means: “save us, we pray.” There was a great need of salvation in the hearts of the people and they called out to Jesus to save them. That was exactly what Jesus had come to do. 2. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Baruchaba is the Hebrew word for this phrase. It is sung today at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. Jesus said to the city on the occasion when He wept over the city – Jerusalem was the capital city of the nation and as such it represented the whole nation – “Behold your house is forsaken and desolate. I tell you that you will not see me again until you say – Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Matthew ch 23 v 39. Until the Jewish people earnestly seek God with all their hearts, they will not find Him. Jesus had witnessed the rapturous reception in Jerusalem but He knew the hearts of the people and knew that they would not serve Him as long as he was the suffering servant – only if He had come to throw the Romans out of Israel. To that extent the taunts of Satan were right. Despite all the praise the real agenda of the crowds was some kind of coup. Pilate was afraid of just such an event, which is why shortly afterwards he had to resolve the matter very quickly. Jesus knew that they would not be shouting for His release when Pilate offered them the choice. Jesus could see right into the hearts of the people. He sees into the heart of every man. He knows just how committed he is to Him – whether he will last to the end of the time of worship – or half an hour beyond – or until Sunday night – or perhaps Tuesday, before he falls away. He knows those who will persevere to the end. That is why He could prophesy that the path to life would be narrow and few there would be who would find it. The praise was shallow for many and many had false hopes of an early departure of the Romans. The people were deceiving themselves. 3.”Hosannah in the highest.” Blessed is the Kingdom He is bringing in. Jesus had spent a long time teaching them about the Kingdom of God – the rule of God in the hearts of men. Some recognised His teaching in their shouts. But were they prepared to submit their lives to let God rule in their hearts? Many will attend Church for various reasons. Are they seeking the true meaning of life? Are they aware of the need to repent of their sins? Is it just an occasion for putting in an appearance and having their religious card stamped, in the hope that they will have enough stamps when the card is called in? Are they there to salve their conscience or to look good to the neighbours? If a man today had been in the crowd would he have taken off his jacket and it down in the mud for an ass to walk over it? There was an exuberant response from the people. However, as events later in the week proved, it was short lived. How fickle a crowd can be! Were there some in the crowd on that day as Jesus rode on the ass also in the crowd before Pilate shouting: “Crucify Him?” How easily a man is influenced by others. The Lord wants people who will not follow the latest fashion but follow Him in a determined fashion. Remember Jesus warned that many “Christs” would come with the purpose of drawing the people away from following Jesus. Who will heed the message today?
THE ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM. Matthew ch 21 v 1-11. Zechariah ch 9 v 9- 10.
What was the message, which Jesus brought to the people of His day, when He entered into Jerusalem? Jesus had been planning for this day for a long time. He knew that it was in Jerusalem He would lay down His life for the sins of the World. He was totally in control as He came to the climax of His public ministry on Earth, just as He had been throughout the whole of His public ministry. More than half of a man’s communication is conveyed by body language – by his actions, hands, posture, eyes, appearance etc. Jesus entered Jerusalem on an ass or donkey. He might have been expected to have ridden in on a horse or in a chariot or even to walk in on foot. But Jesus rode on an ass. All four Gospel writers refer to this event in the public ministry of Jesus. Many of the prophets had acted out their messages in earlier days. One prophet even walked about virtually naked to draw attention to his message.
Three questions confront a man about this event in Jerusalem.
1.What was the significance of Jesus riding in on an ass?
2. How did Jesus know that He was to ride in on an ass?
3. What were the consequences of His message on this occasion?
Jesus did not as much as speak to the people, yet they responded in a positive way. They cheered, and shouted and laid palms down on the road. His very appearance brought the crowds to the point of a decision. Symbolism is rife throughout speech and actions. If the Prime Minister visits a place he usually arrives in a big car. That conveys the idea that an important person has arrived. If a leader chooses to speak to people in the streets standing on an orange box, he is using the symbolism to show that he is close to the people. To attend a wedding in full dress shows respect for the host and the occasion. To arrive in jeans and a tea shirt would show disrespect. Symbolism is important.
The symbolic message of Jesus was that He was coming to them on a mission of peace. He was well aware that the people wanted to be rid of the Roman occupation. He had almost certainly witnessed the cruel oppression of the Romans and of crucifixion. He knew of the corruption amongst the tax gatherers like Zacchaeus. As it was then, so it is today. There is widespread corruption in the political and business community. Jesus knew that what was needed was not more legislation or regulations or physical strength against the Romans but a change of heart. He longed to see a time when people would not want to fight. Perhaps Jesus had read the words of Micah the night before He set out on His mission to Jerusalem: He knew them well. Micah ch 4 v 3. “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations shall no longer fight each other, for all war shall end.” That was the utopia the prophet had longed for. Jesus longed for that also, as did many in His day and as do many today – in all sincerity. The difference was that Jesus knew that the utopia could only be attained, if mankind surrendered their greed and pride on the altar of personal sacrifice. Jesus had come to lead the way, so that, with sins forgiven, a man could at last be at peace with other men. He knew that sin not only separated a man from God but also man from other men. There was no other way but for a price to be paid for the sin in the World. That price was to be paid for by Jesus with His own life.
Jesus would not be diverted or side-tracked in fulfilling the plan of God for His life. Similarly a man should be single-minded in carrying out the will of God for his life.
Jesus had chosen an ass as a symbol of the peace mission on which He had set out. The Roman legions entered the city on horseback. The horse was the symbol of war. It was the equivalent today of tanks as the most powerful weapon of war. The ass was the symbol of peace. History reveals that the city of Jerusalem would not accept His message. Instead the city chose to fight a war of rebellion against the Romans, which ended in the destruction of the city and the dispersal of the Jewish people for 1,900 years. If only they had heeded the message of Jesus – but they would not. It was for that very reason that Jesus wept over the city. Luke puts it this way – “Eternal peace was within your reach and you refused it. And now it is too late. You have rejected the opportunity God offered you.” How many human beings reject the opportunity, which God offers them to find peace in their hearts in a relationship with Jesus – but they would not do it. Jesus comes to each person to bring peace but the message also conveys another aspect – the offer is conditional and will not always be available. Grasp it now or take the consequences. For 1,000 years the people had waited for a king like King David. Was Jesus to be such a king to free them from their oppressors? They have waited nearly 2,000 years to have Jerusalem back under Jewish control. Today the whole World wants to take Jerusalem away from the Jewish people.
Looking back on these days John, when he wrote his Gospel account, comments in ch 12 v 42: “Many of the Jewish leaders believed Jesus to be the Messiah but would not admit it to anyone because of their fear that the Pharisees would excommunicate them from the synagogue. For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” What a sad commentary on the response to the invitation by Jesus. That is the very same reason why many people will not make a decision for Jesus today. They like the praises of men rather than of God. They are afraid of change. “What will the others think, if I leave and go elsewhere?” They might be put out of the institutional Church, if they preach the Gospel. Jesus told the Disciples very clearly that was what would happen to them. “They will drive you out of the synagogues in my name.”
Jesus confirmed the message later when He addressed the crowds. John ch 12 v 47 confirms it. “If anyone hears me and does not obey me, I am not his judge – for I have come to save the World and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged at the Day of Judgement by the truths I have spoken.”
That was the message Jesus came to deliver that day in Jerusalem. It is the same message Jesus delivers to the World today, as people gather today to reflect on the events of that day. It is an eternal message – one of opportunity.
The coming in peace was not a sign of weakness or lack of commitment on the part of Jesus. When Jesus entered by the Eastern Gate, He turned not to the right – to the Antonio Fortress – but to the left – to the Temple. Within a very short time of His entering the city, He drove the moneychangers out of the Temple with a whip. This was not a mission of peace, which saw Jesus in a passive role. Peace is a costly business. Doing good to enemies is a very positive thing. Blessed be the peacemakers. It is necessary to do something positive in order to make peace between people in a state of conflict. Instead of the Temple being a place of quiet and peaceful prayer, it was a noisy market. Jesus had righteous anger for His Father’s House. Real love deals with injustice and corruption.
What was going on in the mind of Jesus as He rode through the cheering crowds? There must have been an assault by Satan on the mind of Jesus, trying his level best to divert Jesus from His purpose. He had tried through Peter to dissuade Jesus from going to Jerusalem in the first place. Matthew ch 16 v 22. That had failed, because Jesus recognised the hand of Satan speaking through His very own Disciple. It does not take too much to imagine the words, which Satan would hurl at Jesus. “It is not worth it. Think of all the pain of crucifixion! These people are only here because you healed them or because of the miracles. You can lay your life down for them, if you like but none of them will follow you. They are a miserable bunch.” Possibly Jesus had to agree with that comment. They were a miserable bunch! “Men today are a miserable bunch!” Satan may well have come to Jesus again: “Even your own Disciples will deny you. Remember how I offered you the kingdoms of the Earth, if you would bow down before me. Well, the offer is still on the table.” Satan comes again and again with the same temptation, until a man yields to him. He nags a man into submission.
It must have taken some little time from entering the city to reaching the Temple. These were possibly the thoughts, which entered the mind of Jesus as He rode along. But Jesus had set His mind to fulfil His Father’s plan of salvation. He would have rejected the fiery darts of the enemy in the same way as He had always done – with the Word of God.
There were perhaps two million attending the Passover in Jerusalem. “Would Jesus come this year?” At the Passover the people ate the lamb to strengthen them for a journey ahead. The blood was placed on the door-posts. Jesus offered bread as symbolising His body and His teaching as the spiritual food of life to strengthen the people for a journey to Heaven.
How did Jesus know about the ass? Was it a word of knowledge? As He sought to do the will of His Father Jesus had come to a big day. It was important that He got the message right. Obviously He prayed about it. Surely God the Father spoke to His Son through the word in Zechariah. He had prophesied through Zechariah that the Messiah would come to the people as their king riding on an ass. Therefore it had to be done in that way, because that was the way the Father had planned it. Jesus would know that that verse was a prophecy concerning Himself as the Messiah. That is a model for a man. When a man has an important decision to make, he should be looking to find out what the Lord wants him to do. Ask Him a simple question and wait for an answer. God has a very full agenda and wants to speak to many people through the actions and words of believers. That is why it is important to be obedient and sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The ass had never been ridden before. In the natural it would have been wild. It had not yet been broken in for riding. Jesus had a very significant effect on all the people He met, including Pilate. It seems that this effect extended to the ass. At every point in His walk through life, Jesus had to exercise faith – believing the Word of God. The Word of God said there was an ass waiting for Him. Jesus believed that – and so there was. Jesus believed it, because God had said it. “What is a man to do now in his life?” Wait for the word of God. Be sure that it is the Word of God for him and then believe it. It may not seem possible or sensible but, if it is the Word of God, a man should proceed and let God unfold His purpose piece by piece as he walks in faith. The first thing for Jesus to do was to call up the ass.
The ass had never been tamed. It shows that Jesus can take anyone, untamed and use him for His purposes. He needed the ass. Jesus needs people to serve His purposes here on Earth. When a man makes his talents and finances available to Jesus, then He can get to work.
The response of the people. As usual the people polarised. Some were excited, while others were suspicious. Some rejoiced, while others schemed and plotted. Some were there because of the spectacle, while others were there to learn from Jesus and thought about His message. Some even asked: “Who is this?” Is it possible that after three years of all the teaching and miracles and healing and meetings, there were some who had never heard of Jesus? It seems to be so. Strange! Yet there are many today, who are completely ignorant about who Jesus is, despite going to Sunday school, receiving a Gideon Bible at school, passing Churches, attending weddings and funerals, hearing His name taken as a swear word on television and in every day life. Yet they still have no idea about who Jesus is. It is strange – but true! The religious people did not rejoice. Jesus brings people to a point of decision. Darkness hates light. The presence of light either disperses the darkness or makes it even darker. The Pharisees asked Jesus to keep the Disciples quiet. “I cannot. If the people do not rejoice, the very stones will shout out for joy at my presence.”
Jesus was welcomed as a prophet. There had been no prophet from God for over 400 years since Malachi. This was a significant event. The act of carrying palm trees was an act of honour to a victorious person. John also says that many were there that day because Jesus had just raised Lazarus from death. They were drawn by the spectacular.
How did the people respond? They shouted out three things.
1. “Hosanna. This means: “save us, we pray.” There was a great need of salvation in the hearts of the people and they called out to Jesus to save them. That was exactly what Jesus had come to do.
2. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Baruchaba is the Hebrew word for this phrase. It is sung today at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.
Jesus said to the city on the occasion when He wept over the city – Jerusalem was the capital city of the nation and as such it represented the whole nation – “Behold your house is forsaken and desolate. I tell you that you will not see me again until you say – Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Matthew ch 23 v 39. Until the Jewish people earnestly seek God with all their hearts, they will not find Him. Jesus had witnessed the rapturous reception in Jerusalem but He knew the hearts of the people and knew that they would not serve Him as long as he was the suffering servant – only if He had come to throw the Romans out of Israel. To that extent the taunts of Satan were right. Despite all the praise the real agenda of the crowds was some kind of coup. Pilate was afraid of just such an event, which is why shortly afterwards he had to resolve the matter very quickly. Jesus knew that they would not be shouting for His release when Pilate offered them the choice. Jesus could see right into the hearts of the people. He sees into the heart of every man. He knows just how committed he is to Him – whether he will last to the end of the time of worship – or half an hour beyond – or until Sunday night – or perhaps Tuesday, before he falls away. He knows those who will persevere to the end. That is why He could prophesy that the path to life would be narrow and few there would be who would find it. The praise was shallow for many and many had false hopes of an early departure of the Romans. The people were deceiving themselves.
3.”Hosannah in the highest.” Blessed is the Kingdom He is bringing in. Jesus had spent a long time teaching them about the Kingdom of God – the rule of God in the hearts of men. Some recognised His teaching in their shouts. But were they prepared to submit their lives to let God rule in their hearts?
Many will attend Church for various reasons. Are they seeking the true meaning of life? Are they aware of the need to repent of their sins? Is it just an occasion for putting in an appearance and having their religious card stamped, in the hope that they will have enough stamps when the card is called in? Are they there to salve their conscience or to look good to the neighbours? If a man today had been in the crowd would he have taken off his jacket and it down in the mud for an ass to walk over it? There was an exuberant response from the people. However, as events later in the week proved, it was short lived. How fickle a crowd can be! Were there some in the crowd on that day as Jesus rode on the ass also in the crowd before Pilate shouting: “Crucify Him?” How easily a man is influenced by others. The Lord wants people who will not follow the latest fashion but follow Him in a determined fashion. Remember Jesus warned that many “Christs” would come with the purpose of drawing the people away from following Jesus. Who will heed the message today?
LEGION. Mark chapter 5 v 1-20.
This is a strange and fascinating story of a madman and a herd of pigs. The location is easily established. There is only one place on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee where there is a rocky outcrop going steeply down into the Sea. Tourists can visit the exact location today. The meeting with Legion follows after the calming of the storm on the Lake. Jesus recognised that it had been Satan who stirred up the storm and he demanded that the storm cease. This was an attempt by Satan to drown Jesus and the Disciples and so frustrate the work of God. Jesus was alert to the attack and exercised control over the powers of darkness when He calmed the storm. The area is a predominantly Gentile area.
There are five lessons.
Lesson One. This was no chance meeting. Jesus came ashore at the very point where He would meet this man. His mission was to rescue the man from the power of Satan. The man had an unclean spirit. The demons in Legion could not prevent the man from meeting with Jesus. God allows evil for His purposes and the situation is never beyond His control. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Legion was well and truly lost. The demonic web had been wound very tightly around the spirit, soul and body of Legion. Satan was in control of Legion. He was the worst case encountered by Jesus in His three-year public ministry. What did the Disciples think? Were they having a good look at the boat and judging the distance? Did they feel afraid? But Jesus was in control of the situation. In a strange way the man was religious. He fell at the feet of Jesus and worshipped Him. In all his torment he was calling out for help. If Jesus can solve the problem for Legion, He can solve any problem. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. The passage invites a believer to take his problem to Jesus.
Jesus took the initiative, just as His Father had done in Egypt. He saw their oppression and resolved to do something about it. The Hebrews had no hope of escape. God took the initiative just as he did in sending Jesus to die for the sins of the World. There is no other way for a man to be reconciled to God but by the cross of Jesus. Ezekiel ch 34 v 11. “I, I myself will lead my sheep.” Jesus confronted the enemy head-on. A believer must face the challenge facing him today and not run away from it.
Jesus asked his name. Jesus is interested in people. God knew all about Legion. Jer ch 1 v 5. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” People say: “It is the drink talking.” 95% of crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol. The demons asked Jesus: “What have you to do with me, Jesus?” The demons knew whom Jesus was and that He had authority over them. Anger on the part of the demons is a sign of a spiritual power trying to frighten a man and intimidate him. Name the demons. Jesus knew the demons. He had created them as angels before they rebelled against His Father. The demons asked Jesus to send them into the pigs and not to send them to the abyss. Jesus did as they requested, thereby demonstrating that He was in control of the situation.
v 2. Legion approached Jesus. Legion was a non-believer in Jesus living in a Gentile region. Legion had supernatural strength. He was exceptionally strong. No one could hold him with chains. Everyone was petrified of Legion. The local road had become a no-go area. What was behind the supernatural strength? The strength manifests itself to protect the demonic kingdom within the person, to give powers to the host who uses the demons to give him power and influence.
Legion lived among the graveyards. Demons and death go together – hence the graveyard. There would be a bed for the night, if the stone at the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away. The people of that area believed in an after-life and brought food to the graveyards for the deceased. Legion would be able to eat regularly every morning. For many involved in the occult there is a strong compulsion to visit graveyards, to lie on the tombs at night or even lie on the grave of a freshly buried corpse. What appears to be happening in that event is that demons from those who have died are attempting to transfer to new homes, and the demons inside a living person are trying to attract new demonic powers in order to enhance their power and further demonise their host. So as a result there were many demons living inside Legion. Some writers picture demons like bats. How could there be many bat-like beings inside Legion? It is better to think of demons like germs. After a cut infections can enter the body. The indication from the story is that the man was highly demonised and that his original demons had successfully attracted a huge number of evil spirits, many of which would have come from the dead who had been buried in the tombs. The more demonised a person is, the greater the control by demonic powers and the greater the supernatural strength, which can be displayed through the victim’s body. The local people almost certainly did not understand that any more then most people today, including some believers.
Legion cut and bruised himself with stones drawing blood. When a person cuts himself, it is a sign of demonic activity. It is not natural. Eph ch 5 v 29. 1 Kings ch 18 v 28-29. Elijah watched the prophets of Baal cutting themselves. It was part of the Baal worship. The demons within a person demand blood Exodus ch 20 v 5 says that one of the consequences of idolatry is that the sins of the fathers are visited on the children. Demons can travel down the family line affecting future generations. Perhaps Legion was the descendent of someone who was a worshipper of Baal. If so, then as a result he was forced, against his will, to fulfil the rituals of a form of worship that was probably foreign to him. For some who cut themselves it is a means of masking intense emotional pain, which cannot easily be fought. The physical pain caused by cutting themselves is a focus for pain, which distracts from the real source of the emotional hurt inside. Freemasons are worshippers of Jabulon – three gods – the middle one being Baal. How many today are abusing their bodies – with nicotine, alcohol, drugs and over-eating and tattoos.
Legion had been naked. Luke ch 8 v 27. People who are mentally deranged very often lose all sense of personal modesty. It is not unusual for patients in mental hospitals to wander about naked by preference, giving staff problems when visitors arrive. Many of the rituals of witchcraft and Satanism are carried out by participants who are naked. Many of them include sexual acts and perversions as part of the initiation ceremonies and the ongoing practices of the covens. Nudity, under demonic direction is part of a way of life. In the past twenty years the World has become progressively less self-conscious and nakedness on beaches, in films, on television and in print has progressed at an astonishing speed. Nudist camps and nudist sun-bathing are on the increase. It may be that ancestors, who have been involved in the occult, are affected by spirits, which make the person want to remove their clothing. As soon as sin entered the World nakedness has always been associated with sin. Satan has always wanted to destroy and pervert everything, which God created. Satan’s perversion of the flesh leads to lust. Satan’s character has been implanted in fallen man and the capacity for lust has become part of man’s fallen nature. Satan and his demons encourage nakedness and pornography because it encourages lust, which like all sin is a form of rebellion against God. There is an explosion of pornography in the present day.
Lesson Two. It seems that people had tried hard to control Legion. Perhaps they had tried to educate Legion and integrate him into society. They may have intentionally attempted to help him but Legion was stubborn and refused to accept their advice. Today there are young gang members wandering the streets of most cities, bullying and intimidating people, pushing drugs and ignoring all the advice of parents, teachers and government. There is an education system, there are welfare benefits, counsellors, charities and social workers. Millions are spent by governments in an attempt to solve the problems. Yet there are more and more people like Legion, enslaved by evil spirits and bent on self-destruction. One soul conquered by Satan can cause a lot of harm to others. That is the way Satan likes it. Many in large housing estates live in a socially terrified World, afraid to go out at night in the dark. More that half of primary children in Britain choose not to walk to School. Their parents are afraid for the safely of their children. In many cities Satan is in control. When a society believes that it has it all together and claims that there is no God, it is bent on self-destruction. Nation after nation looks to solve its problems by throwing more money at the problems but the leaders cannot see that the problems are actually getting worse. Many nations are very like Legion – controlled by Satan and disintegrating into moral and financial chaos. The permissive society of the 1960s simple surrendered to lust – lust for money, lust for fame and lust for sexual experience. Jesus was intolerant of evil. Yet today people – including believers – are encouraged to be tolerant of every point of view.
Lesson Three. The grace of God brought Legion to sit at the feet of Jesus in his right mind. He was no longer naked, restless or raging. Where did Jesus get the clothes from for Legion? How did Jesus get clothes when He rose from the dead? Jesus said: “I only do what I see my Father doing.” God met the needs of Adam and Eve and provided clothes for them to cover their nakedness. Did Jesus do the same for Legion? How long did Jesus spend with Legion? Probably 3 hours. At least enough time for the man who owned the pigs to go to town and come back with the people from the town.
Lesson Four. The response of the townspeople is most interesting. They came to see for themselves and to find out the facts of what had happened. Legion was healed and the Sea of Galilee was full of dead pigs. As they arrived at the scene they might have thought of asking Jesus to heal others in the neighbourhood. They could have asked Jesus to teach them about God. Instead they asked Jesus to leave. They saw a miracle but asked Jesus to leave. Jesus was demonstrating to the people that one person is of more value that 2,000 pigs. Today man is in danger of putting animal rights before people. Save the whales – but what about the seven million of babies aborted in Britain since 1967? Man is the pinnacle of God’s creation. Kick the kids and stroke the cat. There is something wrong when a person spends more time with a pet than with other people. There is a contrast between the people who had money and were in danger of losing it and the woman with bleeding who had lost all her money to the doctors and had nothing left to lose.
The townspeople were guilty. They were biblically illiterate and knew that they should have done for this man what Jesus had done. Jesus showed them up. Darkness enfolded them and they asked Jesus to leave. It seems that they were as afraid of Legion in his healed condition was they were previously. The people preferred the value of the pigs to the health of the man. They loved money more than people. Jesus had been teaching people on the other side of the Lake: “Your heart will always be where your riches are.” Nothing could have been clearer in this instance. The value of the pigs was more important that the health of Legion. Jesus left. He never forces Himself on anyone but left the people to their own devices. He lovingly invites people everywhere to move from the duty of religion to the joy of a personal relationship. People today, who gradually drift away from Church, are making the very same decision as the people in the story. They weighed the costs and made their choice. They had freedom to do that. Indeed Jesus advises them to do that very thing.
Lesson Five. Legion wanted to be a full time servant of Jesus. He wanted to follow Jesus. Jesus sent him home to witness to his own people as to what God had done in his life. Legion wanted to join the Disciples. As Jesus was getting into the boat to depart Legion begged Jesus that he might go with Him. Legion wanted to be in full-time service. Mark ch 5 v 19-20. After being rescued Legion was not taught and made a disciple to any great extent. Jesus must have spent three hours with him. On one occasion Paul taught in one town for two years. There is such a lot to learn. Legion was sent away into a pagan region with a testimony and little else. Maybe God would put him in touch with other believers in that area. What was Legion to do to earn a living after being healed? The passage does not say. But God is Jehovah Jireh. The Lord who provides.
Surely every believer should be in full-time service. What of John on the Island of Patmos.
How many cold, wet, shivering nights did John endure on Patmos? How often was he soaked to the bone by the Mediterranean’s storms? Did he even have shelter, or a change of clothes? How many colds and diseases did he have to battle? What kind of diet did he have? Maybe a few bags of rice? Did he have to ration it, knowing it would last only so long until the prison boat returned? Was he forced to catch snakes or lizards to supplement his meagre food?
By anyone’s standard, John was a failure. Many believers today would look at him and say, “What a waste. Why would God allow one of the most anointed men of all time to be isolated this way? Why would he allow a devoted disciple to be exposed to the elements in a prison camp and nearly starve? Did John ask God for deliverance? Later John wrote that Jesus said: ‘Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you…ask, and you will receive’ (John 16:23-24). Where was John’s faith?”
Many Church leaders today would measure John by the current standard of success: he had no congregation, no church building, no money to rent or buy a structure. He had no vehicle to travel in, no house, no decent suit to preach in. He had no ministry agenda, no outreach to the community, no plan to win nations. Leaders today would quickly write him off, saying, “This man has nothing. Why was he called to ministry in the first place?”
It was not on a mountain-top but in a prison camp that Jesus came to John. On that very first Sabbath on Patmos, John started a church. He called it The Church of “I, JOHN.” He wrote, “I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ…was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Rev ch 1 v 9-10). John was saying: “Yes, I’m shut off from civilization. But I have a church. And I minister to the Lord here. I have no brother or sister to join me. But I am in the Spirit.” Something incredible happened to John after his first few days on Patmos. He made a decision that impacted the entire church world for eternity. Simply put, John died to all his own plans and thoughts of ministry.
As far as John knew, his exile on Patmos was his final lot. He probably thought, “I may be stranded here for life. But I am not going to lose the fire of God. Even if it is only me here, I am going to worship the Lord. I may have no congregation, no fellowship with brothers or sisters. But I am going to walk in the Spirit. And I am going to give myself to seeking the face of God. Now I have time to get to know Him as I never have before.” John sought the Lord fully in his isolation. He moved in the Spirit. And he gave himself as a living sacrifice. John was in full-time ministry. It was full-time in the sense that John had God all to himself.
On Patmos there was no need for fund-raising, slogans or hype. There was no need to compete with other ministers or erect a bigger church building. There was no one around to praise John or to congratulate him. His life was reduced to a single focus, a single ministry: Jesus Christ alone. That is all John had. He said in essence, “That is all I will ever need: prayer, worship and communion with the Lord.”
Full-time ministry does not simply mean pastoring a church. Nor does it mean travelling as an evangelist or holding revival meetings. Full-time ministry is not determined by a diploma, or a certificate from a Bible College, or ordination from Church officials. In fact, you can pastor a large, successful church and still not be in full-time ministry. You can preach hundreds of messages and reach crowds of thousands. But none of these things makes you a full-time minister in God’s eyes.
There are many Legions in the world today but still only one Jesus. He is still sovereign over the nations and sovereign over Satan and his demons. Why is one saved or healed and not the others there? That remains a mystery. Today each believer is part of the body of Christ. The same Holy Spirit who empowered Jesus is available to empower each believer. There is a big World with many like Legion hurting and crying out for help. Legion was delivered and set off into full-time ministry in his area. This story challenges each believer. “Are you in full-time ministry for Jesus Christ?”
DEPART FROM ME. Mat ch 25 v 14-30. Hebrews ch 6 v 4-8.
Every day which passes takes believers one day nearer that moment when they will stand before Jesus in judgement. There will be no discussion. There will be no mistakes. There will be appeals tribunal. There will be no one to speak for them. There will be no second chance. Each believer will stand all alone. There will be two doors open – one into Heaven and the other into Hell. Jesus said: “It is appointed for a man to die once and then the judgement.” To some Jesus will say: “Well done good and faithful servant.” To others He will say: “Depart from me. I never knew you.”
There are two conflicting statements by Jesus.
John ch 6 v 37. “He who comes to me I shall never cast out.”
Mat ch 7 v 21-23. “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven but he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. On that day many will say to me ‘Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.”
Jesus concludes with these solemn words: “Depart from me you evildoers, I never knew you.”
In Mat ch 25 v 28 it says that when Jesus was finished the crowds were amazed at His teaching. No wonder they were amazed. No one in the history of the World has ever spoken like Jesus. These people were privileged to hear Jesus speak in person. The verses in Mat ch 7 are troubling verses. So is the verse in Mat ch 25 v 41: “Depart from me, you cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.” It is clear from the Bible that while some men clearly knew about Jesus they did not know Jesus personally. On these occasions Jesus told people to depart because they never knew Him. These passages leave a question in the mind of those who hear them or read them. The question is this: “Might Jesus one day say that to me?” How can a man be absolutely sure that Jesus will never cast him out? If Jesus were to say that to a man on Judgement Day then he will be going to Hell. It is a very serious thing for Jesus to have said. These are not passages, which can be read quickly without serious thought.
William Barclay said: “When mankind loses sight of the Second Coming of Jesus, he slides downhill morally and spiritually.” Isaiah ch 45 v 23. Isaiah says that all men will kneel before the judgement seat of Christ. How can all human beings who have ever lived be there at the same time? God created time for mankind. God created the sun and moon and seasons. Living in time is all that human beings on Earth have ever known. A man probably looked at his watch several times already this day to make sure that he was on time. It is difficult to imagine living where there is no time. It is as if a man lives in a time bubble or zone. When he dies he will leave the time zone and enter eternity. In that sense everyone who has ever lived and has left the time zone has arrived in eternity at the same time – only there is no time in eternity. So if that is true a man’s parents who have already died have not been waiting for him to arrive. He will arrive in eternity at the same time – only there is no time. Pilate and Caiaphas will not have been waiting for two thousand years. They will arrive at the same time – but there is no longer any time. A man will never need a watch again. Isaiah said that all men will bow the knee before Jesus. What a moment!
Luke ch 22 v 21. At the Last Supper in Jerusalem the night before Jesus went to the Cross Jesus said to the Disciples: “One of you will betray me.” It might have been expected that the heads of all eleven would have turned towards Judas. They might even have pointed to Judas? It is obvious that Judas was the one to betray Jesus. But it was not obvious to the other eleven Disciples. Each of the Disciples said in reply: “Is it I, Lord?” Clearly the Disciples did not grasp the significance of the moment. They had been with Jesus for three years. They had seen the miracles. They had witnessed the healing of many people. They had seen demons cast out of people. They had heard the teaching of Jesus. They had been there at the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. They must have been aware of the tensions in the atmosphere. Jesus had just done an extraordinary thing. He had washed their smelly feet. They must have been smelly. Jesus would not have done it just for show. It was a necessary service. Why had none of the Disciples thought to wash their Master’s feet or even their own feet? There was a dispute as to which of the Disciples was the greatest. Why did they doubt that they might betray Jesus? And yet actually they did all betray Him. When Jesus was arrested they all fled and left Jesus alone. Peter followed at a distance but then, when challenged, Peter denied Jesus three times. The foundations of the house of Caiaphas are still there in Jerusalem – preserved under a block of flats. The place where Peter stood outside in the courtyard and denied Jesus is there today.
Caiaphas was the High Priest. How had he been appointed? Herod approached several of the leading families in Judea. He asked them what percentage of the Temple taxes they would give him, if he appointed them as High priest. The one who offered the highest percentage was given the job. Caiphas had offered the highest percentage of the temple taxes to Herod. Jesus would have known that system. And Ciaphas would have known that Jesus knew that he was a fraud. Caiaphas was not really the High Priest in God’s sight. Jesus was the real High Priest and he stood before Caiaphas.
The passage in Hebrews ch 6 v 4 speaks of some believers who fall away. It is a very challenging passage. They had been true believers. They had received the Holy Spirit. They had understood the Word of God. They had almost certainly testified that they had been saved by the blood of Jesus. Yet they committed apostasy. They fell so far that it was impossible to restore them again to repentance. The passage asks this question: “Could this happen to me?” Do you know someone who was once on fire for the Lord? But today he is not to be found in worship.
Falling away is not due to weakness. It is not because a believer is overcome by awful circumstances. It is a deliberate decision of the will by a believer, which puts Jesus to shame. People in the World had heard his testimony and observed his life-style. Perhaps they were challenged by his life-style. Now they know he is no longer interested in the Lord Jesus. There is a clear danger that the believer has reached the point of no return. As Hebrews says: “It is impossible to bring him back to repentance.”
David Pawson brings out in his book “The Road to Hell” that the teaching of Jesus about Hell was directed to His Disciples. They knew that those who rejected Jesus were bound for Hell. What Jesus was doing was impressing on His disciples that they must ensure that they also did not also end up going there.
This raises another challenging question. Is there such a thing as a false conversion? These passages clearly imply that there is.
Without repentance there is no true conversion. Luke ch 3 v 3. John the Baptist went into the region about the Jordan preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He challenged the people who came to him: “Bear fruits that show true repentance.” He told them: “Go and prove by the way you live that you really have repented.” John the Baptist called the people of his day to repent of specific sins – corruption by the soldiers who looked for a bribe, unpaid taxes by those who were fiddling their tax returns. He told some to share their goods with the poor. He told others to be content with their wages. If they repented of these things – and others – people would know that there was a change in their life. Repentance had to be specific.
Mat ch 4 v 17. As soon as Jesus began to preach He said: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Jesus called sinners to repent. Every prophet had a theme to his ministry. Isaiah preached about the holiness of God. Jeremiah preached about judgement. Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God – the rule of God in the heart of man. Without true repentance there can be no true conversion. Repentance is simply a man agreeing with God that He is right and the man is wrong. There is a change of mind and then a change of life style. In Jer ch 17 v 9 Jeremiah reminds us that the heart of man is deceitful. Only God knows fully what is in a man’s heart.
The good news is only good news in light of the bad news. An ambulance is not good news unless a man is seriously ill. The sound of an ambulance coming is good news to a man lying in the road with broken bones. A man needs to be convicted of what he has done wrong before he understands the need for a saviour. The moral law of God is given to challenge a man that he needs a saviour. No man can keep the whole of the moral law of God. Psalm 19 v 7 says: “The law the Lord is perfect for converting the soul.”
We see that true conversion begins with repentance. A false Gospel seeks Jesus for His joy, His peace, His healing etc. The real Gospel asks people to seek Jesus for His holiness. Heb ch 12 v 14: “Strive for holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” What place does sin take in a man coming to Jesus? Often the evangelist invites people to Jesus and tells them to repent of their sins – but which ones? It is not difficult for a man to accept that he is not perfect. The conscience of each man tells him that he is not as good as he should be. John the Baptist was very specific about sin. It is not enough to accept that a man is not as good a person as he might be. He has to accept that he is a sinner and that his sins have offended a holy God. Every sin is a personal insult to a holy God.
There are Church records of one denomination in America with 11,500 Churches. They reveal that nine out of ten people who had made a decision for Christ were not going on with the Lord after a period of time since their decision. Was this because they had never really repented of their sins in the first place? To tell a man that Jesus died for his sins, when he does not regard himself as a sinner, is foolishness. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to the sinner. He needs to know that he has offended God’s holy law. He needs to know that he is deserving of Hell. The moral law of God leaves the whole World guilty of judgement before a holy God. The Bible teaches that all men stand guilty and condemned before a holy God. The Bible is very honest. Much of modern evangelism has neglected the proclamation of the moral law of God. It has chosen instead a message of “life-enhancement.” It proclaims that Jesus will give you peace, joy, love and everlasting happiness. But Jesus did not come to Earth to make a man happy. He came to make a man holy. That is why Jesus said to His disciples: “Be perfect.” In other words – “Be holy as I am holy.” Coming to Jesus in repentance will not just improve the quality of life. It will avert the wrath of God. The true convert has a deep-seated assurance that he is saved from eternal torment in Hell. He has real gratitude for his salvation. There should be a humble gratitude of love in a believer for the Saviour who died in his place. There is a song, which contains these words: “What kind of love is this that gave itself for me? I am the guilty one, yet I go free.” The moral law can only chase a man to Calvary and no further.
The true convert experiences difficulties, trials, hatred and persecution. This is exactly what Jesus warns when He invites a man to follow Him along the narrow path to life. “If they hated me, they will hate you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. If they killed me, they may want to kill you.” Jesus warned: “It is appointed for a man to die once and then the judgement.” If a man has never been confronted by the Devil in life, it is probable that he is travelling in the same direction.
When David sinned with Bathsheba he broke all the Ten Commandments of God in one day. When challenged by Nathan the prophet David cried out to God: “Against you and you only I have sinned.” Horizontal repentance is really either regret for making a mistake or remorse for what a man has done to other men. Vertical repentance is true repentance towards God. Try to save a man from drowning when he does not believe that he is drowning. He will not be too happy with you. He did not understand that he was in any danger. No one had told him that he was under the wrath of God – that he was a condemned sinner.
When a man has a terminal disease and is shown the extent of it he will not hesitate to accept a cure. But if he is not convinced that he has a terminal disease he will not be much interested in the cure. Sin is a terminal disease. The wages of sin is death. For broken bones the grace of God has provided a doctor. For sin God has provided the man Jesus as the cure – the only cure.
There is a story of a young man who met an older man on the bank of a river. The young man said that he wanted to know God. The older man took the young man by the arm out into the river. He thrust the young man’s head under the water. He held him under the water until the young man was desperate for breath. Then the old man let his head out of the water. The old man said to the young man: “When you want to know God as much as you wanted to breathe just now let me know.” How badly does a man want to be saved? This is a matter of the utmost seriousness. There is no place for casual evangelism.
With the moral law Jesus breaks the hard-hearted man. With the Gospel He heals the broken heart. A lawyer tempted Jesus. He was a professed expert in God’s law. He said to Jesus: “Who is my neighbour?” He wanted to justify his love but he did not love his neighbour. He was proud. His heart was hard. Jesus gave him the moral law. Nicodemus was a teacher of the Jewish people. He was a humble man. He acknowledged Jesus as a man sent from God. On that occasion the moral law was a schoolmaster bringing Nicodemus to accept Jesus as a gift from God. John ch 3 v 16. Jesus was not hard on him. He was gracious to him. The moral law was made for sinners. It was designed to convict them of their sins so that they cry out for mercy. The moral law shows a sinner his true condition. By the moral law is the knowledge of sin. Instead of justice God gives a man mercy. Christ redeemed His followers from the curse of the law.
The consequences of the new birth. At a true conversion there should be seven natural consequences.
1. The angels rejoice. There may be a guardian angel appointed for each man.
Psalm 91 v 11. “God will give angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways.” Hebrews ch 1 v 14. “They are sent forth for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation.” The true convert should be aware that there are angels ministering to him
2. An awareness of sin. A believer should be growing in an awareness of sin. There is a danger of becoming complacent. If the sharpness is lost he becomes tolerant of sin. If he keeps a short account with God then his awareness of sin increases. If he does not keep his conscience alert, it stops growing. Believers are constantly aware of the standards, which God seeks, as they study their model – Jesus. Sins are like weeds in the ground. They must be pulled up regularly or they will choke the life out of the plants. Repentance is always specific and not general
3. A hunger for the Word of God as spiritual food. There is something wrong if a man does not have a physical appetite. A spiritual man does not grow unless he feeds on the word of God by regular Bible study. The Word of God is addictive, provided believers act on it. Then they want more of the Word when they see that it works. A spiritual appetite develops. Jesus is the bread of life. The Church at Sardis had a name for being alive but was dead. There is always a possibility that a Church may seem to be doing all the right things but there is no real spiritual life. A true convert will not need to be encouraged to read his Bible. There will be a hunger in his heart to feed on the Word of God.
4. A desire for a changed life and to be rid of sin. It was sin, which caused a man being destined for Hell. This may involve a change of work, leaving ungodly friends or destroying an idol.
5. A love for brothers and sisters in Christ. They are members of his new family into which the new believer has been born. This should be as natural as a love between brothers and sisters in a natural family. Jesus challenges His Disciples: “By your love
for one another people will know that you are my disciples.”
6. A degree of testing in life. Jesus warned His followers to expect it – count the cost. Royal children are expected to undergo special training and discipline, which other children escape. This is to prepare them for their high destiny. They have a special responsibility. So it is for all children of the King of kings. All a man can take with him into eternity is his character or integrity. That should be the number one goal in life. Jesus offered a great promise to the seven Churches in Revelation. There will be a prize for those who overcome. Testing strengthens character. Believers present to the World a contradictory life style. Testimony helps a believer to face the testing. To shun trials is to imply that the believer does not want to grow.
7. A strong desire to share the news of Christ with others and to testify. When a man has good news – a job, a child on the way, a grand child – he longs to share it with others. It is hard not to share it. It should be natural for the believer to tell others about his salvation.
If there is such a thing as a false conversion, what is the evidence of a true conversion? What is the evidence of fruit in the life of a new convert? What do the Scriptures say about this?
1. Mat ch 3 v 8. John the Baptist said: “Prove that you have turned from sin by doing worthy deeds.” The fruit or evidence of repentance is seen in the conversion of Zacchaeus. Luke ch 19 v 1-10. “Half of my goods I give to the poor.”
2. Col ch 1 v 10. The fruit of good works. The life lived for God will produce all kinds of good deeds and a hunger for knowledge of God.
3. Heb ch 13 v 15. “Offer up a sacrifice of praise to God. The fruit of lips, which acknowledge His name.” A Church should give believers an opportunity to express their praise to God in words as well as song.
4. Gal ch 6 v 10. “Whenever we can we should always be kind to everyone and especially our Christian brothers.” Start the day by saying to God: “How can I co-operate with you to be an instrument of blessing to everyone I meet this day.”
5. The fruit of the spirit is: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. Is the fruit evident in the life of a believer? Is it growing or is it beginning to shrivel?
6. The fruit of righteousness. A righteous man does the right thing in every situation. Mat ch 7 v 19. Jesus said: “A tree, which does not bring good fruit, will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Mark ch 4 v 3. There are times when Jesus introduces His teaching with: “Behold. Listen carefully.” The parable of the Sower is one such instance. There are four categories of people who hear the message of the Gospel. Which of them is a true convert? Only the fourth person who bears fruit. The Disciples did not understand what Jesus was speaking about. v 13. Jesus asked them: “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you ever understand any parable?” This parable appears to be the key to understanding the other parables like the wheat and tares and the sheep and the goats. The test is about bearing good fruit.
These consequences in the life of a true believer are matched by certain characteristics of a false conversion.
1. No weighing of the issues. Jesus warns about counting the cost before making a decision. In life it is vital to weigh up the consequences of every action. Everything a man does and says has consequences for him and for others. If there is no thought for the consequences it suggests that there is no true conversion.
2. A lack of real fellowship. A true convert craves fellowship. Moses had Aaron. David had Jonathan. A believer who thinks that he can cope on his own will be open to being picked off by the enemy.
3. Tribulation, temptation and persecution all reveal what is the heart condition of a convert. A new convert needs persecution. It will cause him to grow. 1 Pet ch 1 v 6 says: “Welcome trials and difficulties.” Persecution fell on the early Church and that helped it to grow. Persecution is helping the underground Church in China to grow. Persecution reveals to a convert his shallow belief and true condition. New converts need protection and feeding with the Word of God. But it is not good to shield the new convert from difficulties. Allow a new convert to experience persecution. Jesus sent His lambs out amongst wolves. It is in overcoming the difficulties that the new convert will grow spiritually.
4. If there is no zeal for the lost or hunger for the Word it suggests that the man has not received the Holy Spirit. Judas hid his iniquity. He kept his mask of respectability in place and the other Disciples did not realise that he was a man of iniquity.
5. A pig returns to wallow in the mud to cool its flesh. A false convert will go back to wallow in the ways of the World to cool his sinful flesh. That flesh life has never been crucified with Christ. Every believer has a battle with the fallen nature. He sins against his will. The false convert makes provision for the World. The Bible speaks of false teachers, false prophets and wolves amongst sheep. Mat ch 7 v 15. “You will know them by their fruits.” A genuine convert brings forth fruit with patience. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. 1 Tim ch 4 Paul warns of doctrines of demons. A false convert will not take time to test what he hears against the Scriptures. A true convert will not look back and long for the ways of the World and the pleasures of the flesh. There is no such thing as spectacular growth. It takes time for the fruit of the Spirit to grow. It is those who persevere to the end who will be saved.
If a plant is placed in a pot and given adequate soil, light and water, it will grow. But if the pot has little soil and is full of rocks the growth will be very limited even if placed in the sun and given plenty water. Eventually the plant will die. There are certain basic requirements if a person born of the Spirit of God is to grow spiritually. There are various obstacles to spiritual growth such as inferiority complex, false teaching, rejection, shame, fear, memories, idolatry, soul ties, addictions, etc. Each of these in the life of a believer will stunt his spiritual growth. As a result many believers do not grow spiritually as they ought to grow. Have they experienced a true conversion? It is sometimes difficult to tell.
Evangelists may preach a message about Jesus and claim that it is now up to them. “It is their responsibility. Their destiny is in their hands.” Many come to Jesus in response but the obstacles to growth in their life are never dealt with. A shallow diagnosis of their problems leads to a shallow cure. There needs to be a true biblical diagnosis before true conversion. Only a small percentage of people who respond to the call of the evangelist are able to persevere to the end. Why is this? Is it because their spiritual doctor does not tell them either that they need to deal with their problems or, if they do, how to do it. There is such a thing as generational iniquity. Lam ch 5 v 7. “Our fathers sinned and are no more but we bear their iniquities.” These iniquities need to be severed.
Thomas asked Jesus: “How will we get to Heaven?” It was a genuine question. He needed to know. A man needs to be absolutely sure that he will reach Heaven. The alternative is too horrific to contemplate. Jesus answered Thomas and would answer us in the same way: “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.” So the only guarantee is to live as Jesus lived and to live in truth. In v 15-16 Jesus gave us the key: “If you love me and obey me.” That is the key. Go on believing, go on repenting and go on serving the Lord and our fellow man.
What will Jesus say to each man on the day of judgement? A man cannot live each day as if it is his last day on Earth. Yet for some it is. It is essential to pay solemn attention to these particular words of Jesus. “If you love me and obey me.” Then each man can go through life confident that at the end of his life – whenever that comes – as he kneels before Jesus on the Day of Judgement – he will hear these words: “Well done good and faithful servant.”
DOEG THE EDOMITE. 1 Sam ch 21 and ch 22.
There are some wonderful characters in the Bible who set an example to follow today. Paul said: “Be imitators of me.” Phil ch 3 v 17. There are other less savoury characters whose example should not be followed. Doeg is a less-savoury character. He is more than a character. He is a type. Indeed he was possessed by a spirit, which gave him his character. There may be one of his type in the vicinity or in the Church. His name is Doeg. He was an Edomite.
This is a disturbing passage in several respects. Firstly because of what David did. God calls David a man after His own heart. Yet David lied to Ahimelech twice and to the Philistines. It raises the question: “What might I be capable of doing to save my own life?” Another disturbing aspect is the behaviour of Saul in his unjust accusation of Ahimelech and his irrational behaviour.
There are four steps to understanding the Scriptures. 1.God gives a physical picture to teach spiritual truth. What is the physical picture? 2. What is the spiritual truth? 3 How did it apply to Israel? 4. How does it apply personally?
The first question is – “Where is Nob?” It was situated two miles northeast of Jerusalem. Nehemiah ch 11 v 32 mentions it as one of the villages settled by the tribe of Benjamin after the return from Babylon.
The second question is – “Who are the Edomites?” They were the descendents of Esau. Read all about them in Genesis and Obadiah. Esau should have been the spiritual head of the family to succeed Isaac but he considered his spiritual inheritance of less importance than something good to eat. Then when he realised that he had been deceived by Jacob and felt guilty, he transferred his guilt onto Jacob. There was a family feud. The unforgiveness and bitterness of Esau became rooted in the Edomites. There was a stronghold of hatred against the descendants of Jacob – the Children of Israel. That hatred is still evident to this day. Obadiah records various incidents, which showed the outworking of that bitterness. The Edomites gloated in the day of Israel’s calamity. They rejoiced at Israel’s downfall – as did the Palestinians when the Twin Towers collapsed. The Edomites looted the goods of the Israelites. They captured the fleeing Israelites and handed them over to their enemy. It was nothing to do with the Edomites but they enjoyed getting their own back. They were neither part of the problem nor part of the solution but they relished getting their own back on the people God had chosen to serve Him. Doing good to their enemies was not a phrase, which was in their vocabulary. The same sort of hatred can be found in families today and in nations. Mat ch 15 v 19. “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.” A man’s fallen nature desires to destroy others and elevate self.
The third question is about Saul. “What led to his having a pity party and his irrational behaviour?” Ch 22 v 8. “You have all conspired against me.” Saul could not see his faults and he blamed everyone else for his ills. Everybody else could his faults. Pride and jealousy have a specific result. Truth becomes a casualty.
Saul was not God’s choice but was the choice of the people who wanted a king like the other people. Despite that Saul was initially blessed and used by God. However, when Saul went into disobedience he lost his anointing. He was still the king but no longer had the anointing of God. David was chosen by God and anointed by God but was not yet the king. Therein lay the struggle. Any believer who moves away from the Lord and rejects the truth he has been taught can move into serious disobedience and lose the anointing he once had. Saul felt guilty before God and – like Esau – he transferred his guilt to David. Pride was present in Saul. Pride is the only disease, which makes everyone else sick but the one who has it himself. Repenting is a man taking responsibility for his own sins and not blaming another. Saul even blamed Jonathan for David’s being against him. Yet it was Saul who had rejected David and thrown a spear at him. The psychologists call it “transference of guilt.” Everyone is doing it. The politicians blame the other side for their failings. Saul was now an enemy of David. Why?
Jealousy. Saul had a big problem when Goliath challenged him. Saul lacked wisdom and was outwitted by the enemy. Saul did not need to accept Goliath’s proposal for settling the war. Instead of defying Goliath and fighting in the normal way Saul went along with Goliath’s idea. “This is a situation not of my choosing nor to my liking.” Saul hid in his tent. For 40 days Goliath challenged Saul and Saul felt defeated. Throughout life a man meets situations where he is involved not through his choice or desire but is forced to make a decision. In the natural most men prefer to hide away and let someone else deal with the difficulties. Saul’s army was facing defeat. David did not accept the proposal from Goliath. He tested it against the Word of God and knew that this blasphemous giant had to be tackled. David arrived on the scene and by faith in God he rescued the situation. He was the hero. Saul should have appreciated David’s faith and courage and zeal for God. As soon as the people sang David’s praises Saul felt jealousy rise up within him. Jealousy is the feeling of coldness and resentment, which sometimes stirs in the heart when another is praised – somebody with whom a man matched himself in thought and to whom he imagined himself to be superior. The people said: “Saul has slain his thousands but David has slain his tens of thousands.” Sometimes a leader has to acknowledge that God is going to use another man for a particular purpose and let that man get on with the task. Leaders often hold others back in case they show up the inadequacy of the leader. The genius of leadership is to bring the best out of everyone under their leadership. Saul’s fury did not let him consider the goodness of Ahimilech. He was so self-focused that he did not consider anyone else. Every self-centred person is an unhappy person.
As Saul pursued David with a view to killing him David sought the help of the priest Ahimelech. 1 Sam ch 21 v 1. David lied to Ahimelech. He said that he was on a mission from the King. David and his men were hungry. There was no common bread – only the shewbread. The shewbread comprised 12 loaves representing the 12 tribes of Israel. The shewbread was baked fresh every Sabbath and the old bread thrown away. The bread was to be eaten by the priests. Often a man does not understand the spiritual significance of God’s commands until a later date. All that is required is sheer obedience. Ex ch 19 v 14-15. On special occasions men were not to go near women. Was this total or temporary abstinence? David assured the priest that the men were sexually pure and as a result the bread was given to them to eat. Why David was unarmed is not explained. David also received the sword of Goliath. He was entitled to use this. He had won it fairly in battle.
David was in trouble and he involved Ahimelech. Later Ahimelech may well have heard Satan’s favourite words: “If only”. If only David had not come to him on that day. Ahimelech could not have prevented David from calling but he chose to assist him. The charge later was of collaborating with the enemy.
For the moment David thought that he was free from Saul – his enemy. However, there was a man there that day called Doeg. Ch 21 v 7. He was watching what went on. Later in Saul’s presence- ch 22 v 9 – Doeg could have kept quiet but he chose to speak up to stir up trouble. Proverbs ch 6 v 19. God hates one who stirs up trouble between brothers. Doeg is what might be called a tell-tale or a gossip or a clype. Prov ch 26 v 20. “Fire goes out for lack of fuel and tensions disappear when gossip stops.” Doeg was a servant of Saul. Doeg was a hatchet man – known for his brutal dealings. He was the equivalent of a hit man for the Mafia. Prov ch 11 v 9. “With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbour.” That is exactly what happened when Doeg spoke up. The dictionary definition of gossip is: “Idle (malicious) talk about other persons.” It embraces criticising one another and running another down. Gossip is simply passing on facts about another person. On this occasion the gossip was malicious and not careless. The essential aspect is the motive behind the words. Jesus is always interested in a man’s motives and He tests the motives. Are they to lower the standing of the man in the eyes of another so that the one who hears the gossip thinks less of that man than he did previously? Psalm 101 v 5. “I will not tolerate anyone who secretly slanders his neighbours.” God clearly takes a serious and solemn view about gossip.
“You never know a man until you step on his toes or touch his wallet.” Believers need to choose their friends carefully. Gossiping is a national pass-time. A man often sees people in trouble and rushes to pass on the information to others. Small minds talk about people. Larger minds talk about events. Great minds talk about truths and principles. Believers are commanded to “Love the Lord your God with all your mind.” Nothing so enlarges the mind but a study of the Godhead. Gossiping usually means passing on information when a man is neither part of the problem nor part of the solution. It is like accepting stolen property. It makes him just as guilty of the crime. “People who gossip to you will gossip about you.” They cannot be trusted. When a man entertains gossip he is a trouble-maker. Prov ch 17 v 4. “The wicked enjoy fellowship with others who are wicked – liars enjoy liars.” It is sad that in the flock of God the greatest wounds are cause by other sheep and not from wolves. Gal ch 5 v 15. “If you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.” Never say behind the back of another what you would not say to his face. Who is able to say that they have never done that?
Ahimelech protested his innocence. He knew nothing about a plot against Saul. He pointed out that David was the King’s son-in-law, a faithful servant of the king and a highly honoured member of the Royal household. Ahimelech spoke the truth to Saul. It was an honest apology. Darkness hates light and so Saul did not like to hear the truth about himself. He would lose face before his men. Saul summoned the priests and after investigating the situation he condemned the priests to death. He commanded the soldiers to kill the priests. Ch 22 v 17. The soldiers refused to obey the order from Saul. They feared God rather than Saul. In the Second World War German soldiers hid behind their orders when they killed the Jewish people – men, women and children – in the concentration camps. They claimed when caught that they were only following orders. Roman soldiers did the same in Judea. These soldiers of Saul recognised the gravity of the situation. These priests were the Lord’s anointed. 1 Sam ch 24 v 6. David refused to lift his hand to the Lord’s anointed. A Church leader is the Lord’s anointed and yet members lift their voices against him so readily. Often those closest to such people raise their voices and criticise them at the very time when they are in need of help and encouragement. Who really knows the burdens and personal battles the leader is fighting? Saul turned to Doeg. “You do it.” Doeg did not need to be asked twice. He enjoyed destroying the Israelites and went on a spree of carnage and murder.
There are three important lessons in this story.
1. Choose your company carefully. Saul chose Doeg to be an important person in his court. He was Saul’s chief herdsman. In choosing Doeg Saul was befriending the World. Be alert to the wiles of the Devil and keep well clear of anyone bearing the resemblance to Doeg. 1 Cor ch 15 v 33. “Bad company ruins good morals.”
2. Be aware that in making decisions a man will involve other people, particularly if he is in a position of influence or in a position of leadership. In the spiritual battle between Saul and David the priests and their families became involved. David caused the death of Ahimelech and the wives and children of the priests. A dispute between husband and wife will inevitably involve their children and wider family. How many families fall out after a death when the estate falls to be divided? If neighbours fall out those in the vicinity tend to take sides. Gossip runs rife. If people are neither part of the problem nor part of the solution they should keep their mouths shut.
3. Watch what you say. Ch 22 v 22. David realised that Doeg had been there. He knew that he should have been more careful in his dealings with Ahimelech. There is an enemy who loves to twist a man’s words. If Satan hated a man before he was saved to the point of blinding him as to the truth of the Gospel, how much more will he hate the man now that he is a believer? Satan deals in half-truths and lies. He is always watching and listening to what is said. With persecution in Britain coming ever-closer believers – especially those who take a stand for Israel – need to be aware that they are marked by the enemy. A man should watch what he says about others in public and even in private. Eccles ch 10 v 20. “Never curse a king, for a little bird will tell him what you have said.” Every action taken and word spoken has consequences for the individual and others. 1 Sam ch 22 v 22. When David found out what had happened, he realised that he personally bore responsibility for the deaths of all the people. He had seen Doeg and but failed to keep matters private with Ahimelech. David should have realised the danger. Was it because he had told Ahimelech a lie that he became less spiritually aware of the danger? A lie will always allow an area of darkness to enter the proceedings. Joseph was not very wise to boast of the favouritism of his father before his brothers. It played a part in his subsequent troubles. David was not very smart in not making sure that Doeg did not know what was going on. It was none of Doeg’s business. David clearly knew that Doeg was present. When a situation develops and there is potential trouble it is essential to deal with it before the trouble escalates and not sweep the problem under the carpet. Now the survivor, Abiathar, was an enemy of Saul as well and he needed protection. It is essential for a man to choose his companions carefully.
THE FUTURE OF BRITAIN. Amos ch 5 v 21 – ch 6 v 8.
It is a dangerous thing to ask the Lord a question. Because in His own time, He will answer it. However, the answer is not necessarily the one a man expects to hear. But, having asked the question, and having received the answer, he can no longer plead ignorance; nor can he have the excuse that he does not know what the Lord’s will is in that situation. And a message from the Lord always calls for action.
There are many questions in the Bible? The Disciples said: “Lord, why do you teach in parables?” When the Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem the whole city was in an uproar. “Who is this man?” the people asked. The rich young ruler asked Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The Disciples asked Jesus: “When will the Temple be destroyed and what will be the signs of the end of the World?” And the Lord always answered the questions put to Him. It is rude not to answer a question.
Jesus says: “Watch and pray.” There is no point of praying in a vacuum and no point of watching and not praying. What of Britain? In a land, which was once strongly influenced by Christianity every kind of wickedness, immorality, violence, injustice, anxiety is evident.
In 1984 the Lord was asked this question: “Lord, what is the future for Britain?” It is as if He in turn asked a question. Now the great thing about the Bible is that God has hammered out His message on the anvil of history – after all it is His story. He said: “Look at my people Israel and see what I am saying to Britain at this time.” He showed five lessons.
The FIRST lesson. In the beginning the Lord heard the cry of His People in Egypt and He remembered His Covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and He was concerned for them. They had been there for 400 years but had not called out to God for help. If they had, surely he would have responded sooner. When they finally called out to God for help, God sent Moses to rescue them. It is a thrilling story how, through Moses, God led the people across the desert to the edge of the Promised Land. It is a story of miracles – the manna, the quails, water from the rock, sandals, which did not wear out, the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day – assuring the people of His presence with them – the crossing of the Red Sea and so on. There are always miracles when God is at work. When Jesus came to live on Earth there were miracles. It is as if the supernatural God just has to break through the natural realm. Yet despite all the miracles, when they reached the Promised Land, the majority doubted that God would do what He said He would do – namely drive out the occupants of the land.
“There are giants in the land and the cities are fortified.” Because of the doubters, those who would not trust in God, the people turned back and spent 38 years in the wilderness. A whole generation apart from Caleb and Joshua died in the wilderness. It was their children whom the Lord led into the Promised Land.
What is God saying though all of this? The first lesson is this: Britain is to trust the Word of God always. If He says that He will do something, then He will do it. To doubt the Word of God is sin.
The SECOND lesson. God wanted His people to be different – not peculiar in a strange way but He wanted them to be a holy People. He did not want a bunch of religious fanatics stuck in the desert. He wanted a people who would be like Him and would live like Him in the midst of the World, so that the peoples of the World would know that their God was The God. However, the Children of Israel just wanted to be like other people – they wanted a king. They badgered Samuel to appoint a king like the other nations around them. It is exactly the same in Israel today. The Israelis want to be like the other people. Do you get tired of being different and want to be like your neighbours? Well the Jewish people had their king – Saul – and a bad lot he turned out to be. Every time God’s people did what they wanted and not what He wanted, they stumbled into difficulties.
What is God teaching through this lesson? God always knows better than we do.
The THIRD lesson. Time and again the Children of Israel turned away from God and God sent them a prophet – a holy man – one who was so close to God that he knew the mind of God and could speak the Lord’s message to the people. The call was always “turn back to God”. The very name “Israel” means “struggle” or “God strives”. Chapter after chapter the people struggle with God. One day they were all for Him. The next day they did their own thing. They were always prone to wander away from God. In Duet ch 28 Moses had warned the people right at the beginning of the task set before them by God of the consequences of disobedience and the blessings of obedience. Judges ch 2 v 10-14 shows how quickly the people can forget about God. Within one generation the people forgot about God. The Church is only one generation away from extinction.
What is the message from the third lesson? Britain has been warned by God of the consequences of departing from His ways.
The FOURTH lesson. By the time of Amos in the mid eighth century B. C. the people enjoyed great prosperity. There was no time for God. The Home Improvement Stores were sprouting all over the land. There were second houses in the countryside. The women were drinking heavily. There was injustice, corruption and nominal religion. Perhaps it all sounds a little familiar. Amos warned the people. So did Isaiah, Micah, Hosea and Habakkuk. Habakkuk even wrestled with God. Surely God would not allow His own people to be taken into captivity in Babylon passing through the gates of Babylon with their 337 snake gods. For the Jews it was like entering Hell itself. But God meant what He said and it came to pass. The warnings of the prophets went unheeded and the people went off into captivity in Babylon. The Northern Kingdom of Israel disappeared first and the Southern Kingdom of Judah followed into captivity in Babylon for 70 years not long after. It was only out of His mercy and for His own name’s sake that the Lord allowed them to return to the Land.
What can is learned from this lesson? Punishment follows disobedience. God is not only a God of love but also a consuming fire. Wrath is the other side of love.
The FIFTH lesson. Then the Lord Jesus Himself came to live on Earth, just as He had said He would in Ezekiel ch 34 v 11.
“Behold I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.” In John ch 10 v 11 in one of the great “I am” statements Jesus called Himself “the good shepherd”. And Jesus taught and He healed and He performed miracles and He spoke the truth. He offered eternal life to all who would repent and serve Him as Lord. Yet only a remnant of the people followed Him. Thousands queued up for healing but when Pilate sentenced Jesus to death where were they? Not a voice was raised in protest. There were no marches or demonstrations. No wonder that Jesus speaks of the broad path to destruction and the narrow path to life. The whole Bible makes it clear that just a small number will respond to the call to repent and turn to God. Most people love their sins too much.
Then Jesus went up to Jerusalem. How the Lord loved Jerusalem, the city set on a hill. He said: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem how often I would have gathered your children as a hen gathers her brood under her wings but you would not. You would not. Behold your House is forsaken and desolate – until they say ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” And the Lord laid down His life for the sins of the World. The ordinary sinners ignored Him but the religious ones crucified Him. He allowed the religious, self-righteous ones to hammer Him onto a cross. 35 years later Jerusalem was sacked by the Romans and the Jewish People were dispersed for 1900 years. Just a tiny remnant spread the Gospel. People often marvel about the fact that 3,000 were converted on the Day of Pentecost. However, during the Passover celebrations Jerusalem was heaving with pilgrims and it is estimated that 300,000 were present in Jerusalem. 3,000 is a large number but it is only 1 per cent of 300,000.
Now the Jewish people had the Scriptures, they had the Covenant, the Miracles, they had the Law given by Moses, the promise of the land, they had the ritual worship and sacrifice system, the Patriarchs were the fathers of the Jewish people, the Lord Jesus Himself was Jewish and lived amongst them and at Pentecost they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Apart from a small remnant, the Jewish people rejected God. They turned away from a living, trusting relationship to a formal religion. These are the sad facts. Those who survived the Roman persecution were driven out of Judea to the ends of the Earth.
What can Britain conclude from the fifth lesson? God gave the Jewish people all that He had to give. He gave them his Word, His Son and His Holy Spirit. He gave them Heaven. Surely the lesson is that rejection of God’s provision leads to disaster.
Well the question was: “What is the future for Britain?” Britain has had the Gospel for centuries, the Bible, Christian literature and books as never before, excellent Bible teachers, World evangelists, missionaries, peace – one of very few countries in the World – perhaps the only one, which has not been invaded for 900 years, it enjoys a temperate climate, material resources and there are Churches everywhere. This is a period of prosperity and medical facilities such as this country has never known since the beginning of time. Perhaps after Israel Britain has been the most blessed by God. The people have heard of Jesus all right. His name is on many lips – as a curse. When people bang their finger with a hammer why do they not say: “by Hitler”. But no! It is the name of Jesus, which is used, in order to drag that name down to the level of the gutter. T.V. screens mock the name of God. There is hardly a programme without blasphemy. Islam is regularly promoted but Christianity is limited to a few songs and a thought for the day, shared with Hindus and Bhuddists.
Britain is the twenty-third Empire to fall in the history of the World. What did the Lord say to Israel through Amos? “I hate your religious festivals. I cannot stand them.” Recently there have been religious people calling themselves Christians and denying the Word of God. In effect what they are saying is: “God is a liar. We cannot trust His Word.” It is not clear which offends God more – one who ignores Him or one who calls Him a liar! But this is clear. Anyone who calls God a liar will not inherit the promises of God – the promise of eternal life. For God Himself has said so in Rev ch 22 v 15. What does the Lord think about religious funerals for people who never went near a Church in their life and never showed the slightest interest in Jesus? God will not be mocked. For many it would at least be more honest to have a humanistic funeral.
Well, what will happen to Britain? Will there be an economic recovery? Will democracy prevail? Will the forces of law and order keep the peace or will crime spiral out of control? Could there be a Muslim Government one day? Muslims clearly state their desire for this to happen. Will Britain one day be ruled by foreigners? Unthinkable? Britain is virtually ruled by foreigners as it is. Spanish banks own many of banks and many of airports. Japanese cars fill the roads. Arab investments own a substantial part of London. Polish workers are often preferred to British people. Migrants from all over Europe work in Britain. What was it that Habukkuk asked the Lord? Ch 1 v 12-13. “Surely you would not let the pagan Babylonians capture Your chosen people?” “Would I not? ” said the Lord “You watch and see – I am going to do something, which will astonish you.”
So many presume on the love of God as He pours out His blessings on the righteous and the unrighteous. God showed His love – a love, which sent Jesus to die for the sins of man on the cross. But there is more in the Bible about the wrath of God than the love of God – more about Hell than Heaven. Countless millions were swept away in the Flood and Jesus has said of His Second Coming: “As it was in the days of Noah so it will be in the day of My coming again.”
Look at the five lessons, which the Lord showed from the Jewish people.
1. Are the people of Britain trusting in the Word of God today? There are a lot of religious people. There are many who have said: “My father was an elder in the Church of Scotland.” Gordon Brown speaks of his father being a minister in the Church of Scotland and having a moral compass – yet he never quotes the Scriptures. Experienced Christians estimate that one per cent of the population of Britain are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Just a remnant. David Pawson speaks of the need for 5 per cent being believers in order for the salt to influence society. British laws are no longer based on the Bible but on the European Court of Human Rights. The leaders of the nation no longer consult the Word of God or the Church for moral guidance. Therefore the nation as a whole is not trusting in the Word of God.
2. God knows best. Those who know the spiritual scene in Britain today will say that humanism is the religion of the day. Glory to man in the highest – marvel at his achievements. Millions are worshipping the god of their imagination today but are running away from the real God. The prisons are full to overflowing. There are so many in prison that the government lets some out to reduce the over-crowding. The mental hospitals were full until the Government decided to tip the human contents out into the community to effect savings. Divorce was one in three – the highest in Europe. Now so many are living unmarried that statistics are difficult to determine. God cannot be impressed. Humanists put their faith in human nature. People say of a particularly bad crime: “It is enough to make you lose your faith in human nature.” That is where they put their trust – in the inherent goodness of man. But human nature is fallen. God alone is trustworthy. God would lead the people along the paths of righteousness, if they would seek Him. The conclusion from listening to the leaders in the nation is that they claim to know better than God.
3. Britain has been warned. On the night the Russian Revolution took place on the streets of Russia the Russian Clergy were meeting to decide the colour of their vestments for the following year? God may be about to astonish Britain. Many of the consequences of disobedience listed in Deut ch 28 are already being experienced in the life of the nation. Foot and mouth disease. Flooding. Financial crisis. Political turmoil. The breaking up of the Kingdom of Great Britain. The worship of many false gods. Is the Church heeding the warning? Some years ago David Pawson warned that Britain will or might become the first Islamic country in Europe. Little attention was paid by the Church to his message
4. Punishment follows disobedience. The wrath of God is simply His implacable hostility to sin. There is a lot of suffering already in Britain – the misery of broken relationships – aids and sexual diseases are on the increase. Shoddy workmanship has lost Britain business to her competitors. Drugs are pouring into the land. There is a danger of a break-up of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with division and isolation. The country is being invaded financially. The financier Rothschild said: “Give me control of the finances in a country and I do not care what policies the government pursues.”
5. Disaster follows rejection of God’s provision. In the case of the Jewish people they are back in their own land. This is not because they deserve it. It is only because God promised in His Word to do it and He is desperate to show to the World that He is a God of mercy and to receive glory. There is no such promise to Britain in the Word of God.
Malachi ch 3 v 10 says: “Put me to the test and you will see that I will pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things.”
Will there be total rejection of God leading to disaster or will Britain turn back to God?
“Lord, what is the future for Britain?” The answer is this:- “The future for Britain depends on the response of the people of Britain to the Word of God.” The call to the nation is to repent and turn back to God. There is a limit to the patience and longsuffering of God. Of those to whom much is given, much is expected. There are a number of occasions in Scripture when God said: “Enough is enough. Your wound is too deep to heal.” Nahum ch 3 v 19.
It is late in the day for nice Bible stories and academic theological points. Who runs this country? God or man? Judgement appears on almost every page of the Bible. The state of Britain is too serious to ignore the Word of God. Britain needs much prayer, if it is not to fall under the judgement and wrath of God.
Britain has broken all the Commandments.
1. False gods have been welcomed into the land. The law has even legalised witchcraft. Prince Charles wants to be the Defender of faiths.
2. Britain is a materialistic society – sport – property – cars –computers – television – art – science and entertainment. They have all become more important than worship of God.
3. God’s name is taken in vain in public life and on television.
4. The Sabbath is no longer kept. Increasingly sporting events and Party Conferences take place on Sunday.
5. Parents are despised and not honoured. The young no longer respect the aged and mature members of society
6. Abortion Act in 1967. 7 million babies have been murdered and there are 1,000 murders in Britain each year.
7. Divorce is no longer a sin. Partners live together out of wedlock. Promiscuity is rife.
8. Theft and tax evasion is on the increase as is organised crime.
9. Truth is a stranger to advertising and politicians. Gossip is a national pastime.
10. Greed has gripped the nation. The National Lottery encourages man to covet.
From 1957 there has been a succession of legislation passed contrary to the Word of God. As soon as man departs from the ways of God, he loses his vision of where he is going. Problems increase in relation to the economy, lack of success in business, a fall in agricultural production, health, rainfall and the fertility of the land, international reputation and mental health problems. Britain is the 23rd Empire in the history of the World to go into decline and the same symptoms are evident in each empire as it declines.
Why the Arab World is lost in an emotional Nakba (catastrophe) and how the West keeps it there.
Anthropologists and legal historians have long identified certain tribal cultures – warrior, nomadic – with a specific set of codes whose violation brings debilitating shame. The individual who fails to take revenge on the killer of a clansman brings shame upon himself and weakens the clan, inviting more aggression. It makes the man feel like a woman. Arab political culture tends to favour ascendancy through aggression. This tends to produce a Middle East caught between prison and anarchy, between Sisi’s Egypt and al-Assad’s Syria. To understand the honour/shame concerns in the attitude of Arabs to Israelis it is necessary to know of the history. For 13 centuries before the foundation of the State of Israel, the Jewish people had been subject to a political status in Muslim lands designed around issues of honour to Muslims and shame to Jewish people. The Jewish people were regarded as Dhimmi (protected) from Muslim violence by acceptance of daily public degradation and legal inferiority. The Jewish people were in poverty at the hands of the Muslims.
For more than 1000 years Arab and Muslim honour resided. A Muslim deeply deplores loss of superiority and believes that a Jewish man and a Christian man is an inferior being to himself. For an honour driven Muslim the very prospect of an autonomous Jewish political entity is a blasphemy against Islam, endangers all of Islam and is an insult to Arab virility. It undermined Islamic theology. For the sake of Arab honour the Arab leadership concluded that Israel must be destroyed and that those who were not in agreement were traitors to the Arab cause. This threat to Arab superiority came from the Jewish people who were traditionally the most passive, abject and cowardly of the populations over which Muslims ruled. History records that when the Armenians rebelled against their Islamic Turkish overlords, there was an enormous massacre of Armenians.
The establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 constituted a catastrophic insult to the honour of the Arab peoples. Seven Arab armies representing hundreds of thousands of Arabs were defeated by less than a million Israelis – people who were so low on the scale that it was almost dishonourable even to fight them. In 1948 the Arab leaders assumed it would be a rout of the Jewish people. In the eyes of the World audience the members of the Arab League were humiliated. When appearances matter above everything any public criticism shames the nation, the people and the leaders.
In a state of intense humiliation and impotence on the World stage, the Arab leadership chose denial – the Jewish people did not and could not have won. The war could never be over until victory. If the refugees from Palestine had disappeared, absorbed by their fellow Arabs in the lands to which they fled, it would acknowledge the intolerable conclusion that Israel had won. Driven by rage and denial, the Arab honour group redoubled the catastrophe on its own refugees. They made them suffer in camps, frozen in time at the moment of their humiliation, waiting and fighting to reverse the Jewish victory, which could not be acknowledged. The continued suffering of these sacrificial victims on the altar of Arab pride called out to the Arab World for vengeance against the Jewish people. Whenever Muslims held power in Yemen and Iraq, they drove their Jewish population out as a preliminary act of revenge, retaining their property and bank accounts.
The Arab leadership’s interpretation of honour caused them to move from their determination to massacre the Jewish people to a position of damaging the Jewish people – no matter how much that effort might hurt Arabs, especially Palestinians. Hence they adopted the stance against Israel of “No recognition, no negotiations, no peace.” They would rather die than negotiate a solution. They would sooner commit suicide to kill Jewish people than to make peace with them.
However obvious these observations are, their implications rarely get discussed in the media. Peace plans assume that both sides will make the necessary concessions for peace. Any acceptance of the State of Israel is impossible for the Arabs. Any concession by the Arabs is a sign of weakness involving a sense of shame, a loss of honour and an insult to the Arabs.
Call of God.
Grace despite sin.
The Holy Spirit.
Eschatology – the Second Coming.
First Corinthians summary.
Meaning. To elect is to choose for oneself. Its beginning is in the Old Testament. God chose people for a covenant relationship. Deut ch 4 v 37. Deut ch 7 v 6-8. Deut ch 10 v 15.
Application. The choice involves privilege and responsibility. Sometimes there is only a remnant. Others were chosen for a specific office. Moses, Samuel, Jeremiah, the Apostles etc. Jesus was chosen as a mediator. The believers are chosen for a different purpose. 1 Pet ch 1 v 2. 1 Pet ch 2 v 4. 1 Pet ch 2 v 9-10. Believers are in no doubt that they are chosen by God. The elect are marked off from false believers. The effective call came through the Gospel. Election and conversion come together in practice but election precedes conversion in theology.
The believer’s election is in Christ. Eph ch 1 v 4. Jesus was elected to be the head of the Church and believers are only co-workers with Christ. There are levels of election. Man is a believer because he is chosen and not chosen because he is a believer. Eph ch 1 v 4 does not say that a man is chosen because he is in Christ – simply he is chosen in Christ. Rom ch 3 v 23. It is God’s plan throughout. The Father has given Jesus the promise that there will be a Church – a people sent by God to Jesus and kept by his power. It is Jesus who is the way to God and not God who is the way to Jesus. ” He who has seen me has seen the Father.” Believers are drawn against a natural resistance – dragged in spite of their rebellion, desiring to be established by their own righteousness. God pulls people out of darkness, rebellion and unbelief into His Son – into light, belief and faith.
Purpose. Election is that eternal act of God whereby He, in His sovereign good pleasure and on account of no foreseen merit in them, chooses a certain number of men to be the recipients of special grace and of eternal salvation. It is eternal, unconditional and irresistible and renders the salvation of the elect certain. It is His purpose that certain individuals should believe and persevere to the end. The purpose of election is to bring glory to God. Col ch 3 v 12. Believers are chosen to bring into the World the virtues and values which it desperately needs. They are servants – Eph ch 1 v 4 – so that they should be holy and blameless before God. Everything is in it for them, but the emphasis is to bring glory to God. God therefore has witnesses in the World. Election is an expression of the sovereign will of God and is His divine pleasure. God can and does exert such an influence on the human spirit as to make it willing to serve God.
God chooses on whom He will have mercy. There is no question of unfairness. All deserve nothing, since all have sinned. Others He allows to become hardened in their sin. The potter can make what He likes with the clay. Jer ch 18 v 5. God would have been perfectly just, if He had not saved any. God has been patient with sinful man. Paul explains the reality of the Gospel and says the same thing as Jesus does. God’s call to Israel was not to be realised in the whole nation of Israel but only in the true Jew who was circumcised on the heart. Not all of Abraham’s natural children are children of faith. There is no reason why God chose Jacob and not Esau. Man must simply accept what God says and not twist it round. Esau could have asked for mercy and asked God to forgive his treating his spiritual inheritance lightly. Rom ch 1 v 18. Since man did not see fit to retain the knowledge of God, God gave them up. They could not be bothered with doing the right thing, even though they criticise others for doing the very thing they are doing. In His wisdom and grace He chose Jacob. God chooses to set His love on people. It is all mercy and not justice. If man asks for justice he only brings on himself condemnation. All he can do is to ask for mercy. If God does anything for sinful man it is pure mercy. We do not bring to God anything, which He has not given us in the first place. If God left mankind to itself the World would quickly descend into abject misery. Man is prone to wander from the ways of God, is reluctant to praise Him, is indifferent to His Word, is cold in prayer and is reluctant in witness. The unbeliever rejects the doctrine of election, while the immature believer does not fully understand it. Modern man thinks that he is pretty good, despite all his faults. He thinks that he is a pretty good chap and that God agrees with him. The thought that he is fit only for condemnation never enters his head.
” Why should God allow any to enter Heaven? ” That ought to be the question and not
“ Why does God allow people to go to Hell?” If God chooses to extend His grace to some, there can be no complaints. Believers pray for others knowing that only God can do what they cannot do. Human responsibility lies alongside divine sovereignty. An antimony is an apparent incompatibility between two apparent truths. Man cannot see how the two are fitted together, but yet each is true. How does man reconcile evangelism with election? ” Election is the doctrine I am called to believe. Evangelism is a command I am called to obey.” John Blanchard.