Saturday, April 30, 2011

"What will ye do in the end thereof?"

A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Jeremiah 5:30-31

The condition of the land of Judah was so deplorable in God's eyes because the shape of the "church" was so deplorable.  It was this fact that showed the impending judgment of God was upon them soon.  Of course, we know that the Jews were not called the church at this time, but in our parallel of Jeremiah 5 to today we are investigating the church in America, and there are many ways that the church in the US is in the same condition as believers were in the days of Jeremiah.  It is this apostate church that has become ineffective, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.  Here are a few of the reasons that Jeremiah could not find enough righteous to convince God to hold off His hand of discipline.

False Profession--"And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely." Jeremiah 5:2  Many in the land had a false profession of faith in Yahweh.  They claimed "salvation" but did not manifest the fruits of an ongoing relationship with God.  Is is not the same here in America?  A recent survey of Americans found that 70% believe that they will go to heaven.  Furthermore, of those who go to church, many hold to universalism--the idea that all will eventually be saved.  Many Born-Again Christians Hold Universalist Views, Barna Finds, Christian News, The Christian Post

Wrong theology-- "They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine:"  Jeremiah 5:12  At the core of universalism is an error about God and His attributes.  He is seen as so loving that He longs to graciously give heaven to all men regardless of a profession of faith.  No matter how sinful men are, a "loving" God would never judge or send men to hell.  Ancient Judah could not see that their troubles were sent by God in a loving attempt to bring repentance.  Contemporary America is following the same path.  We forget that this very loving God is also utterly holy and will not have sin in His presence.  He also is a correcting Father who will send judgment.  Maybe with the top 10 worst disasters in American history happening in the last two decades, we might ought to see if we have offended His holiness?

False teachers-- "And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them."  Jeremiah 5:13  Not only have more cults and false teachings erupted here in America in the last 100 years, but now the church has grown too undiscerning to weed the truth from the error. Judah seems to have had their share of false prophets just as we do here in the US.  Find me 10 TV "Evangelists" that plead for the lost to turn to Jesus Christ and the cross on a consistent basis.  It will be hard since the majority of teaching is self help, high esteem, get rich and satisfied in this world "preaching".  

Sinful ministers-- "Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you. For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked:"  Jeremiah 5:25-28a  Part of the message of these verses is still focused on false prophets.  Please take notice of the prophets in Jeremiahs day focused on amassing wealth.  God was not impressed. He called them wicked men.  Is it me, or is it hard to find a preacher who endorses living their faith anymore?  

A wrong view of ministry and service-- "... they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge." Jeremiah 5:27b
If all of the preaching is about me--then who is serving the LORD?  Who is being a servant to the lost?  Who is serving the hurting in the community?  Sometimes I think that we should take the word "service" off of a meeting at the church house since very little true service is done there!  

A love of sin-- "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so..."  Jeremiah 5:30  The people had grown so accustomed to a watered down relationship with God that they could not see that there was not a relationship at all.  God was calling for repentance, but they would not heed His call.  So HE asks the question, "and what will ye do in the end thereof?"  

Today's news

Man Arrested Outside Calif. DMV for Reading His Bible Out Loud | The Blaze
Church Touts Homosexuality as a Gift, Not a Sin, Christian News, The Christian Post *****
Tennessee Considers Banning Teaching Homosexuality in Elementary Schools -
Former Obama Adviser Van Jones Helping to Push 'Human' Rights for Mother Nature -
US: 61% Support Defending Israel - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News
Report: Abbas’ Holocaust-Denial Dissertation Widely-Taught in PA - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News
South Tries to Pick Up Pieces as 339 Dead From Tornadoes -
Kahlon: Annex W. Bank in response to unilateralism

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Assayer's Evaluation

Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely. O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.
Jeremiah 5:1-3

A video that I shared Monday and could not finish watching has had me so burdened over America.  It is absolutely apparent to anyone who understands the Bible that our nation is ever tumbling down the precipitous slope leading to an encounter with God's utter holiness. In a post last week from Isaiah 5, we examined the last few decades of our nation as they paralleled Isaiah's message to Judah before God sent final judgement.  Reading Jeremiah 5-6, I can see more parallels to Judah's demise as a nation and their inability to repent as compared to our current condition in America.  Will we heed the warnings, or will we fall under ever more severe punishment as a nation?

The word reprobate means to be rejected, refused, found spurious, or unaccepted.  As the word's origin is studied, it is found to be related to the assaying of precious metals.  Under fire, the metal is found to be unfit for the task assigned it.  It simply did not stand the test of the assayer.  In Jeremiah 6:27-30 God was looking for precious silver (symbolic of redemption and its fruits) but all He could find was brass and iron.  These two semi-precious metals are both representative of judgement.  The silver that God did find was considered "reprobate silver".  It did not meet God's standards of righteousness.  What a terrible rating for a people He called His own! God, the assayer, cast them away.  Under His ever diligent eye, where does America stand today?

Jeremiah's message begins with a similar plea similar to Abraham's prayer for Sodom and Gomorrah.  If enough righteous people could be found, God would hold back judgment.  If they would repent, as did Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah, God's disciplining hand would be stayed. God always wills to redeem before He sends His justice.  As Jeremiah looked he only found unrepentant men who could not understand that the nation had already been chastised to a certain degree in order to draw them back.  (We will investigate Jeremiah's reasons for this negative assessment in another post.)  With no one heeding the call to turn things around, God was forced to reject them and allow the nation to be crushed by Babylon.  Until May 14, 1948, Israel has never been a sovereign nation since God refused them after the preaching of Jeremiah and the other pre-exhilic and exhilic prophets.  The Jews were either dispersed or under foreign rule.  God did as he said he would do!  They exist today as a part of God's faithful covenant promises to Abraham,  David, and the remnant of the ancient nation.  This is THE sure sign that we are in the Acharit Hyamim--the last days!  

Where are we today in America?  We seem to be a land unhooked from the spiritual moorings that we were founded on.  Are we crying out to God for our nation?  Some are but more are needed.  Are we seeking to win the lost?  Are we showing love and preaching the everlasting gospel to those estranged from God while revealing the truth that their sin has separated them from God?  Do we cry and weep at the injustice in the land?  Are we burdened at the ever increasing judgments upon our nation?

It is apparent that we are terribly backslidden as a people.  Christ's redeemed need to weep for the lost and cry out while sharing the only means for salvation--the cross of Jesus Christ.  We need to quit living for self and start living as His servants.  We need less of this world's trash (the fruits of the materialism that is continually preached as the signs of "God 's blessings") and more of heaven's presence in our lives.  If all we "serve" God for is more blessings, who is really being served? We need to petition God continually for our nation!  It seems we are failing the Assayer's evaluation.  Here is proof!  

I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way. They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters. The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.
Jeremiah 6:27-30

Israel and the Middle East

Monday, April 25, 2011

Eternal Blood

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
Leviticus 17:11

"Why did Jesus have to die?"  "Why did He have to rise again?"  These two questions were asked the other day by a young pastor who I knew understood the answers.  The query was to find scriptural support for a sermon to be delivered yesterday.  Yet, it is a question that many do not understand.  Even in the early church there was much misunderstanding and human speculation about the answers to these very questions.  So why did Jesus have to die?

God is so awesome and holy that He is unapproachable by human means.  Anyone who has sinned cannot get near to Him without incurring His holy wrath.  Even those who walked close to God in the Bible were overwhelmed by His utter holiness and glory when in His presence.  Isaiah cried, "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts (Isaiah 6:5)."  John, who had followed Jesus for 3 years while Jesus was here on earth, could not stand in His presence when the full revelation of His power and majesty was seen at Patmos.  The man called the disciple Jesus loved could not bear the utter grandeur of the glorified Savior.  He fell at Christ's feet as if he were dead--Revelation 1:17.  If His friends and followers struggled that much to stand in His presence, where will those without forgiveness for sin stand? No wonder another friend of Christ uttered an often misunderstood question, "And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1Peter 4:18)"   

Sin is a crime to the holiness and glory of God.  At its very core it is merely selfishness.  Men prefer self interests over obedience to God and service to others.  The teaching of Jesus was in direct opposition to this and is embodied in the two greatest commandments.  We are to love God foremost and love others as ourselves. Since sin is also an eternal crime, against an eternal God, there is no way for any man to be forgiven without a substitutionary sacrifice.  God's holiness and justice demands that the penalty for sin be met.  God is not an earthly judge that slaps the wrist only to allow greater injustice.  

In the Old Testament we are introduced to the shedding of blood as just such a sacrificial payment for wrongdoing.  The problem still was that these sacrifices were only temporary at best.  Remember, eternal sins can't be cleansed by that which is temporary.  Jesus, however, was not merely a man--He was God.  He was God and man at once.  He was and is fully God yet fully man.  He is the perfect High Priest.  He can be touched by our infirmities, and He can touch the heart of the Father at once.  His blood, shed for our sin, was the suitable eternal sacrifice of love needed to wash our sin away.  Without that blood, there is no forgiveness.  Let me reiterate that with scripture, "...and without shedding of blood is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22b)"  

The Savior had to also be greater than the worst effect of sin--death.  Adam's purposeful disobedience brought this curse upon all humanity.  Not only was there to be physical death, but also spiritual death--separation from God--as well.  Jesus was just that--a Savior greater than sin and all of its consequences such as hell and the grave.  The second question above was the very heart of Paul's defense of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.  It seems strange, but there were people in the church that did not believe in a resurrection. More than likely they were subverted by some remnants of the teaching of the Sadducee's.  Without the blood and the resurrection of Christ, you have mere religion and social works programs; most sadly, you are without forgiveness.  It took Christ's death and resurrection for us to have forgiveness and newness of life.  

Because of these great blessings procured by Jesus Christ we can assuredly wait with anticipation for another great an prophetic event--the rapture of the church and the hope of eternal reward.  There is only one way--by the blood.  What world religion other than Christianity has the blood that forgives sin available today for the forgiveness of all sin which is absolutely required by God? 

 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept..... Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Godlessness in the Last Days

Israel and the Middle East