Staying the Course
Hear the Word of the LORD, children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
(A Faithful Version)
The more we read and study the Bible the more the events of this world seems like a version of the movie, “Ground Hog Day.” Hosea 4 above, was written in the 8th century BC and details the lack of knowledge and concern the children of Israel had for God. He had protected them for many years, blessed them and led them but their choice was to go after other god’s and leave the One True God. God was using Hosea to warn the northern tribes to change their evil ways and return to Him. They did not and were later taken into captivity.
Solomon noted in Ecclesiastes 1:
That which has been is that which shall be; and that which has been done is that which shall be done; and there is nothing new under the sun. (v-9).
It appears this has been the pattern of the world. Be bad and stray from the path God has set forth, be forewarned, ignore and be punished, then repent and repeat.
Is this indiscretion confined to ancient times or are we to suffer the same fate? Again, Hosea notes, “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” Look at this current election cycle, see any truth here? Lie upon lie upon lie. No one seems to care what they say and about whom as long as their agenda is heard above all else. They are too big a part of this worldly system, Satan’s system. God will only allow this system to run for so long before He shuts it down like He has warned and done in the past. Just because we’re here makes no difference in the overall scheme of things.
This current downward slide started in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The moral fabric that had been so prominent in this country for so long started to decay. People started expressing themselves and began showing less restraint doing what felt right to them. This was only a new pattern to them, as we’ve already noted, “there is nothing new under the sun.”
“In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6; 21:25).
Church attendance began falling and bit by bit “traditional” values began to erode. In 1962 the U.S. Supreme Court removed prayer from public schools and in 1973 the Supreme Court ruled it was okay for a pregnant woman to choose to have an abortion.
Removing God (prayer) from public schools where He had been for over 150 years was a bad and flawed decision by the court. Legalizing abortion, and subsequent decisions and laws, seems to be the lynch pin event leading this current decline.
Let’s put the abortion issue in a different light. So far this year 673 people have been killed in Chicago, 168 people lost their lives when the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed and more recently, 2977 people were killed in the Twin Tower attacks on 9-11-2001. WWII claimed approximately 50 million soldiers and civilians and Joseph Stalin is said to be responsible for the death of 20 million of his fellow countrymen to keep the Communist Party in power in Russia. Staggering numbers. In the U.S. alone we have killed approximately 74 million babies since 1973. That averages about 4300 babies each day, every day. More than the one-day totals of the Murrah Federal Building and the Twin Towers combined but this is every day. Where is the outrage? It’s become accepted.
Until people become responsible for their actions nothing can change for the better. It seems everyone is quick to tell you of their rights and what they can do but no one is able to relate the responsibilities that go along with those rights. They just continue to justify their bad behavior as we noted in Judges, above.
As members of the Church of God we must keep all of these unfolding events in perspective. This is Satan’s system, and it is “time stamped.” God is only going to allow this corrupt system to go on for a little while longer before He puts an end to it and establishes His Kingdom. We, brethren have been called to be part of that kingdom. It is up to us to choose the right path along the way.
We have to live in this world, but we must remove ourselves from the temptations and ways of the world that “attack” us each day. Is everyone and everything we meet evil? Probably not, but they are more susceptible to the pleasures and self-gratification this present world allows and it’s going to get worse.
“Do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him
Because everything that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pretentious pride of physical life—is not from the Father, but is from the world.
And the world and its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17).
We also have to be aware of how we deal with all people, brethren included. We cannot fall into the pattern where we automatically judge a person by appearance or a one time event. We have to be cautious. We are to function with a higher level of understanding. Also remember, we are in training for the future.
There are several scriptures that deal with judging and judgement we will explore. This first one tends to be held alone and it should not be. Remember earlier basic Bible study rules?
• What does the verse say?
• What is the context in which it is used?
• Are there other verses before or after it that further explain it?
Matthew 7: 1-2
“Do not condemn…
…others, so that you yourself will not be condemned;
For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with what measure you mete out, it shall be measured again to you.
Are we being told not to judge? No. We are being told that we will be judged by the measure that we mete, (dispense or allot) out to others.
In Matthew 23 Jesus is “scolding” the Pharisees for their neglect of the brethren.
v-23. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and anise and cummin, but you have abandoned the more important matters of the law—judgment, and mercy and faith. These you were obligated to do, and not to leave the others undone.”
They lacked judgement first. Did they actually know what they were judging and why? Once they knew this then they could give or show mercy. There is also an account in Luke 11 that adds an important element not in Matthew’s account.
v-42. “But woe to you, Pharisees! For you pay tithes of mint and rue and every herb, but you pass over the judgment and the love of God. …”
If we are to properly judge someone it has to be in a godly manner. We cannot have a proper judgement unless we love God because to love God is to also love the Truth of God. If we have and use love and truth we will be able to judge righteous judgement.
John 7 brings it together;
v-24. “Judge not according to appearance, …
(by what things appear on the surface);
… but judge righteous judgment.”
We’ve seen that righteous judgement includes getting to the truth of the issue and understanding the facts THEN making a decision in love. After this we may display mercy.
Be very careful that you never judge another person’s heart. We cannot know what is in their heart but we can certainly see the fruits or results of their actions. This is something we can know.
Remember, Satan’s hold on this world has a time stamp. While we are physically citizens of this world we have our spiritual citizenship in the Kingdom of God, as we see in Philippians 3:
v-20. But for us, the commonwealth of God exists in the heavens, from where also we are waiting for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
When we were baptized our old, worldly self died and we put on a new man. We have to put off the old things. Christ now lives within us.
Romans 6: 5-8
“For if we have been conjoined together in the likeness of His death, so also shall we be in the likeness of His resurrection.
Knowing this, that our old man was co-crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be destroyed, so that we might no longer be enslaved to sin;
Because the one who has died to sin has been justified from sin.
Now if we died together with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, …”
“I have been crucified with Christ, yet I live. Indeed, it is no longer I; but Christ lives in me. For the life that I am now living in the flesh, I live by faith—that very faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Jesus gave Himself for us so we may be saved from this world.
v-4. Who gave Himself for our sins, in order that He might deliver us from the present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father;
When the wrath of God is comes, and it is coming, we need to be separate and apart from the evil influences of this world. We need to love and support one another. God expects us to grow in grace and knowledge. We need to show each other and the world around us that we are growing, that we are true Christians by our actions not just by our words. Words only go so far. We need to produce good fruit as described in Matthew 7:
“You shall know them by their fruits. They do not gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles, do they?
In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a corrupt tree produces evil fruit.
A good tree cannot produce evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree produce good fruit.
Every tree that is not producing good fruit is cut down and is cast into the fire.
Therefore, you shall assuredly know them by their fruits. (vs 16-20).
This is what we need to project. We can say whatever we want. We can even convince ourselves we are absolutely doing everything right but with that attitude we are only fooling ourselves. No human is perfect or always right. Only God and Jesus Christ who is to be our example can claim that title.
Brethren, we need to pray every day that our most gracious God gives us the faith to do those things He would have us do. The faith and love and commitment to support this fellowship and to face the coming trials and to endure to the end so we may live into the ages of eternity with our Lord and Creator.