Saturday, March 17, 2018

Exodus 36:14-34 comments: some construction comments

36:14 ¶  And he made curtains of goats’ hair for the tent over the tabernacle: eleven curtains he made them. 15  The length of one curtain was thirty cubits, and four cubits was the breadth of one curtain: the eleven curtains were of one size. 16  And he coupled five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves. 17  And he made fifty loops upon the uttermost edge of the curtain in the coupling, and fifty loops made he upon the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second. 18  And he made fifty taches of brass to couple the tent together, that it might be one. 19  And he made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of badgers’ skins above that. 20  And he made boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood, standing up. 21  The length of a board was ten cubits, and the breadth of a board one cubit and a half. 22  One board had two tenons, equally distant one from another: thus did he make for all the boards of the tabernacle. 23  And he made boards for the tabernacle; twenty boards for the south side southward: 24  And forty sockets of silver he made under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons. 25  And for the other side of the tabernacle, which is toward the north corner, he made twenty boards, 26  And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. 27  And for the sides of the tabernacle westward he made six boards. 28  And two boards made he for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides. 29  And they were coupled beneath, and coupled together at the head thereof, to one ring: thus he did to both of them in both the corners. 30  And there were eight boards; and their sockets were sixteen sockets of silver, under every board two sockets. 31  And he made bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle, 32  And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the tabernacle for the sides westward. 33  And he made the middle bar to shoot through the boards from the one end to the other. 34  And he overlaid the boards with gold, and made their rings of gold to be places for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold.

Notes made previously are relevant here. Goats’ hair will be used for the curtains for the tent over the tabernacle. Modern-day Bedouins have tents, tent-ropes, and rugs made from spun goats’ hair. It was used for pillows.

1Samuel 19:13  And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth.

Writers talk about the goat hair of Asia being very fine and long and how it feels like silk. It was combed off, they write, rather than sheared. Of course, there was coarser goats’ hair which was used in the clothing of the poor, according to some writers.

Rams’ skins dyed red and badgers’ skins taken together suggest that they were used for their being impervious to the infrequent rain. However, scientists who study ancient climate patterns say that there were periods of wet and dry and we are in a dry period now. There could have been much more frequent rain storms during the time of the Exodus. Their dating methods, often hinged to assumptions and variables that can be questioned and should be, should not be taken as absolute facts. Evidence is evidence, but remember, evidence is useless unless it is interpreted. The interpretation is where the vagaries of human viewpoints, worldviews, and culturally mandated assumptions interfere, not just education. (27) Just remember that the world is drying out after the Flood of Noah’s time in a process that is still going on today.

Shittim wood, according to Strong’s dictionary, would come from the Acacia tree. The Ark of the Covenant will be made of this wood.

(27) Abdou Abouelmagd, Mohamed Sultan, Neil C. Sturchio, Farouk Soliman, Mohamed Rashed, Mohamed Ahmed, Alan E. Kehew, Adam Milewski, & Kyle Chouinard, “Paleoclimate record in the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt,” Quaternary Research, 81 (2014) 158–167.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Exodus 36:8-13 comments: a point about not misusing the Bible

36:8 ¶  And every wise hearted man among them that wrought the work of the tabernacle made ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work made he them. 9  The length of one curtain was twenty and eight cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: the curtains were all of one size. 10  And he coupled the five curtains one unto another: and the other five curtains he coupled one unto another. 11  And he made loops of blue on the edge of one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling: likewise he made in the uttermost side of another curtain, in the coupling of the second. 12  Fifty loops made he in one curtain, and fifty loops made he in the edge of the curtain which was in the coupling of the second: the loops held one curtain to another. 13  And he made fifty taches of gold, and coupled the curtains one unto another with the taches: so it became one tabernacle.

Notice the orders given in chapter 26 contrasted with the carrying out of them here. This tabernacle; its instructions for building and the carrying out of those instructions play a very important part in this phase of God’s ministry of reconciling mankind to Himself.

Here, God would meet with His people. Here was to be a point of reference, a place of focus for God’s presence and His worship. Christians have tried to reproduce that feeling by setting apart special buildings typically used for not much more than worship and Christian fellowship. While this is fine it often leads to a sense of there being the only place where God’s presence is acknowledged.

This is a precursor to the temple that Solomon will build. But, in the time after Christ’s resurrection God meets with His people in the human heart and mind where the Holy Ghost of God dwells although it is also clear that we are to meet together with people of like faith often and God also meets with us there, in that fellowship.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Luke 17:20 ¶  And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

1Corinthians 3:9  For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

1Corinthians 3:16 ¶  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

1Corinthians 6:19  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

It can be said that there are no sacred spaces in Biblical Christianity outside of the human heart of the believer. However, it is also clear we are called to meet with people of like faith often. Here in the following verses are a command from Paul that most fundamentalist pastors love to quote even while they deny that Hebrews is written for the Christian. It’s very confusing how they insist upon Dispensations and yet make this verse preeminent for Christians today as opposed to the Tribulation to come, which they often say the book of Hebrews relates to.

Hebrews 10:23  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Still, there are many instances in Paul’s letters referring to churches that meet in individual’s homes as there were no separate buildings set apart for worship until later in the second century AD. Meeting as the church was and is very important. But there is no need to lie about God’s word to underscore this command’s importance. The necessity of meeting for worship, for encouragement, to render assistance, to join forces to do God’s work, and not just the necessity but God’s will for it to be are clear from many, many verses in the New Testament.

However, the danger is of unscrupulous preachers and evangelists taking verses out of context to mean something they were not given to mean in the context.

For instance, some will take a verse in Luke in the context of our behavior toward each other linked with so many other verses about our willingness to forgive, not to judge unrighteously, and our charitableness toward each other and make it simply about showing up at church whenever the doors are opened saying that if you don’t you are denying the Lord.

Luke 6:46  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

They will take a verse that has to do with not having your own mind conform to the world’s values and then after the verse giving the expression of what that looks like in the believer’s behavior toward others and make it about church attendance with your reasonable service about being, “in your place,” in the pew on Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday night along with any other time a meeting is called.

Romans 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

This isn’t just error. It is blasphemy, misrepresenting what God has said and what He wants from us as stated by Himself. It is the sin of not only Job’s friends but Satan himself.

Job 42:7  And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

Genesis 3:1  Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

It is an all too common error in Protestant Fundamentalism in America. Twisting the text like taffy to justify a belief, desire, or conviction of the speaker is unacceptable. If you’re going to take a verse and apply it to something not in the context, say a point you want to make, at least acknowledge that is what you are doing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Exodus 36:1-7 comments: the concept of 'enough'

36:1 ¶  Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded. 2  And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it: 3  And they received of Moses all the offering, which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the sanctuary, to make it withal. And they brought yet unto him free offerings every morning. 4  And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made; 5  And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make. 6  And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. 7  For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.

This passage is very interesting for a number of reasons. First, Moses writes about the wise-hearted being willing. God put wisdom in their hearts and they had a desire to work for Him. He gave the willing the skills they needed to serve Him. Bezaleel and Aholiab will also teach the willing, verse 34. Having a willing heart, being taught in a skill, and God imparting wisdom is important as all part of the same process. In modern society we often view reality through the too many movies and TV shows we’ve watched expecting some magic moment of sudden insight to come upon someone who has shown no previous interest. But, in the Bible we see cases of people who first have a desire, prepare themselves or are prepared by others, and then given wisdom by God. If we get back to the idea that all understanding comes from God on a willing heart prepared for the work then so much more would be opened to us of use. But, the current paradigm is that some men and women are so brilliant that they create within themselves by themselves some great skill. This is rubbish thinking.

Proverbs 2:6  For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Ecclesiastes 2:26  For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

1Kings 4:29  And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

Daniel 2:21  And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:

James 1:5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Wisdom and understanding is given for a purpose. Why do you think that mankind has been propelled “forward” in the last century? Is it because we are so much smarter than our ancestors? Is it because of some kind of fluctuation in the magnetic field of the earth or some other explanation? In the last century we’ve made more technological strides than in the previous three thousand years. And the modern person just thinks that we are just that much smarter than people were in the past. If you believe the Bible, though, you can see God’s hand in history.

This passage has some interesting applications to working in the church family. A person who is willing to do something even outside of their comfort zone and is willing to be taught by others with more experience and understanding will be given the understanding they need to do something successfully.

Finally, there is enough. The stuff is not stored for later use. What is needed is all that God wants to collect. This brings to mind a principle that God stresses repeatedly in the Bible for us personally that although not related directly to the service given in Exodus by the Israelites has some import for us to consider. We are to pray for what we need today.

Matthew 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread.

Luke 11:3  Give us day by day our daily bread.

We are to ask for what we need today, not a huge surplus to grow fat and contemptuous of our need for God from. In reference to the events of chapter 16 in regard to the collection of Manna, Paul wrote to the Christians of his day.

7 ¶  Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 8  I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9  For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 10  And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11  Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. 12  For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 13  For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14  But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15  As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

The Bible clearly is in opposition to the American ideal of dreaming of being rich, buying a yacht, never having to work again.

Proverbs 23:4  Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

Paul lays out the ideal for Christians.

1Thessalonians 4:11  And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12  That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

We need to learn to trust God for what we need today.

Matthew 6:25 ¶  Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Philippians 4:19  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

We must always remember the dangers of putting the pursuit of money ahead of obedience to God.

1Timothy 6:6 ¶  But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Capitalism and its mirror image, Socialism, along with its offshoot, Materialism, have one abiding principle that keeps them all going. It can be summed up in one word. That word is “more.” But the Biblical principle is, “enough.” This isn’t to say that savings or insurance are wrong, sinful, or show a lack of faith. God honors prudent behavior, responsible behavior, in our personal dealings. It is the attitude that desiring to be wealthy fosters in the Christian heart that God does not like. When we have plenty, more than enough, even a great surplus, we tend not to depend upon God for our daily lives but depend on the money or the possessions, which is idolatry.

Luke 16:13  No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Saying that you should be rich because if you have a lot of money you can do a lot of good is akin to saying that it’s okay for you to be a card-dealer in a casino because you’ll have access to a lot of people to witness to for Christ. It’s a worthless dodge, a pathetic excuse, and a meaningless self-justification of one’s own lack of faith in God and one’s bloated sense of self-worship. In the 1800s in America the most popular sermon, judged by how many thousands of times it was supposedly preached, was called Acres of Diamonds, written by the founder of Temple University, a Baptist preacher. It extolls the virtues of being rich and claims that the richest people are the best people and they do the most good. This celebration of the wealthy is evidence of the spiritual state of the typical postmillennialist American evangelical of the nineteenth century. It is never good to have enough, never good to be satisfied or content, and trusting the Lord is fine, in their book, as long as you satisfy your insatiable lust for more and are never happy with having enough. Based on the Bible’s clear statements would you say this the attitude that God wants from Christians?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Exodus 35:30-35 comments: the cunning workman

35:30 ¶  And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31  And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; 32  And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 33  And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. 34  And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35  Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.
This is a confirmation, a reemphasis, of something discussed in chapter 31. I’ll repeat some comments from there, as well. The instructions were given in 31, then the apostasy of the worship of the calf took place, but now a grateful and relieved Hebrew populace will begin the work.

Notice here that the word spirit starts with a lowercase ‘s’. In a prophecy of Christ in Isaiah it is written;

Isaiah 11:1 ¶  And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2  And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3  And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4  But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

The Holy Spirit, uppercase ‘S’, refers to the agency through which God works in creation and in the hearts and minds of His people.

Genesis 1:2  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Ephesians 4:30  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

The Spirit of God can be referred to as an it.

Romans 8:16  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…26  Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

And can also be called the Spirit of Christ, as God is one being containing three parts as I have previously shown. See the following for the three parts of God mentioned in passages; Matthew 28:19; 2Corinthians 13:14; 1John 5:7.

Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

This is in contrast to the Holy Ghost, which is a reference to the third part of God, referred to, always, as he.

John 14:26  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

But, spirit with the lowercase ‘s’ is a reference to a trait, a quality, a skill, an emotion, the foundation of an ability, or the spirit of man, the part of man that God uses to know our thoughts and the function of our bodies.

Proverbs 20:27  The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

These men have been given talents and skills to serve the Lord’s purpose and notice in verse 6 that God puts wisdom in those people whose hearts are able to receive it. We must remember, as said before, that wisdom and knowledge come from God. For instance, a scientist is prepared by training to receive knowledge and he or she discovers something useful as a result. The understanding came from God to a mind that was able to bear it. This is an important point to consider.

Ezra 7:10  For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

The way to receive knowledge and wisdom and understanding is first to prepare the heart and mind. Then, it is given. Someone who wants to be a mechanic just doesn’t pray to God for the knowledge. God would say to him, “study the trade and then I will give you understanding. Learn how to do it and I will give you wisdom.” It is a fact of life that if you want to do something of value you need to prepare yourself for it. I don’t remember reading about any brain surgeons or rocket scientists who said they woke up one day and just knew how to do their jobs to the best of their ability without education or training.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Exodus 35:1-29 comments: a willing heart

35:1 ¶  And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them. 2  Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. 3  Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day. 4  And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, 5  Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass, 6  And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, 7  And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood, 8  And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense, 9  And onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod, and for the breastplate. 10  And every wise hearted among you shall come, and make all that the LORD hath commanded; 11  The tabernacle, his tent, and his covering, his taches, and his boards, his bars, his pillars, and his sockets, 12  The ark, and the staves thereof, with the mercy seat, and the vail of the covering, 13  The table, and his staves, and all his vessels, and the shewbread, 14  The candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and his lamps, with the oil for the light, 15  And the incense altar, and his staves, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the door at the entering in of the tabernacle, 16  The altar of burnt offering, with his brasen grate, his staves, and all his vessels, the laver and his foot, 17  The hangings of the court, his pillars, and their sockets, and the hanging for the door of the court, 18  The pins of the tabernacle, and the pins of the court, and their cords, 19  The cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office.

Moses’ speech here is a recap of previous commands. Notice that the children of Israel were not even to light a fire in their dwellings on the Sabbath. I’ve read that people, back in the days before electricity and central heating, might not even light a fire in their home for warmth unless they had company visiting, if wood for fuel was scarce or if they used coal, due to its expense. Of course, it could become unbearable as in most old dwellings for common people there might not even be a door or window covering, save for a flap of some kind of material.

Verse 5 tells us of an offering from those with a willing heart. This sense of voluntary offerings is very important in Christianity, where the offering isn’t like an imposed tax but something from the heart.

2Corinthians 9:7  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

As slaves the Hebrews would have had ‘next to nothing’ but, remember, their Egyptian neighbors had loaded them up with wealth.

Exodus 11:2  Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold…12:35  And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36  And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

Not long ago an Egyptian commentator made the public claim that Israel still owed Egypt for the wealth the children of Israel walked off with 3,000 years ago. Of course, besides being legally laughable, historically Egypt did get paid back.

2Chronicles 12:9  So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made.

    35:20 ¶  And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21  And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. 22  And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD. 23  And every man, with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, and red skins of rams, and badgers’ skins, brought them. 24  Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass
brought the LORD’S offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it. 25  And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. 26  And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair. 27  And the rulers brought onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the ephod, and for the breastplate; 28  And spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. 29  The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.

A willing spirit and a willing heart are emphasized here. As an application to Christians the essence of Christian service is willingness not some church or government authority imposing some type of legal requirement. Nor should there be any guilt or manipulation. The heart is made willing by God and what God requires comes from the heart of a Christian prepared by God.

Since the tithe is not a part of the instructions given by Paul let us look at the remarks about Christian giving in the Church Age. First, in regard to helping other Christians and then beyond that to anyone in need.

6 ¶  But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9  (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10  Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 11  Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth
through us thanksgiving to God. 12  For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13  Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; 14  And by their
prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. 15  Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

Note that giving in the New Testament when Paul begins his ministry to we Gentiles is not about supporting a tabernacle or embellishing a building but about helping those in need, first to the saints as it says in verse 12, and then, as verse 13 says, to all men.

In the age where the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ and God, indwells all people who believe the Church is the body of Christ, the people who have faith and believe in Him. The individual Christian is the temple of the Holy Ghost, where that Spirit resides.

1Corinthians 6:19  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Why do the "innocent" suffer? sermon notes

We believe that nothing happens, no reality, no action of any kind, that God doesn’t either cause to happen or permit, allow, to happen. He is absolute sovereign over the universe and all that is. Therefore, there is no war between God and Satan, as if they were two opposing Gods, one good and one bad. The book of Job and elsewhere teaches us that Satan, who hates mankind and slanders Christians daily, can do nothing without God’s permission and within the limitations he is given.

If that is the case and the God who created us is a loving God, a God who loved mankind so much He paid the penalty for our wickedness against Him on the cross and rose from the dead to legally justify us before Him, paying a ransom to His own self for us, and satisfying all requirements for the payment of our sin debt, then why does He allow children to starve to death or be sexually abused? Why would He permit the Sewol ferry full of 300 teachers and teenagers on a field trip in South Korea in 2014 sink with all aboard lost? Why would he let a mentally challenged person in a nursing home be abused? We know why bad things can happen to good people. Just read Job.

We know that being a good person by Protestant Baptist standards; faithful church attendance, tithing, Bible reading, and praying often does not guarantee you a life without sickness or sorrow, or even a painless death. The book of Job makes it clear that bad things happen to good people without them knowing specifically why or even being told in this life and we are called to simply trust God. 

Remember also that God verbally condemned Job’s friends for misrepresenting Him by assuming that there was a direct cause and effect; that Job must have been being punished for some secret sins for such bad things to happen to him. We are often guilty of that, like saying someone got cancer because we just know they balked at God’s call to be a missionary. God eliminated such pagan rubbish-thinking in the book of Job. You really don’t know why a lot of things happen and God makes it clear you won’t, at least in this life.

But, why do they happen to people who are without any understanding of what is happening to them and who weren’t even capable of doing anything to deserve their fate? I know, I know, the angry, mean fundamentalist turns red and shakes his fist and shouts, “They’re all sinners! They deserve it!” But, for us sane people who are not filled with hate and contempt for humanity but have God’s love for the lost and for many of the people who need you to share your faith with them this is a legitimate problem.

It’s not the problem of suffering, per se. It’s the problem of the clueless, the hapless, the innocent, the helpless suffering horribly for no apparent reason other than someone’s wickedness or a seemingly random accident. You will be asked that and someone will say that is the reason they cannot believe in God. Either He’s weak, as far as they are concerned, or He’s evil, or maybe He just doesn’t exist.

The author, Thornton Wilder once wrote a book, in 1927, entitled The Bridge of San Luis Rey. In that fictional book several people die when an Inca rope bridge collapses somewhere in Peru. A priest witnesses it and goes on a search to try to understand the purpose of God bringing these strangers together to die. He’s looking for a reason. Why did they have to die?

But, there is no reason. You see Wilder believed that there is no purpose in life beyond your own will. There was no greater meaning to anything, in Wilder’s mind.

The Bible has a few examples of the suffering and death of the innocent and not-so-innocent but clueless nonetheless. There is a child that God takes home because He sees some good in him and rather than let him be raised by evil people God just takes him.

1Kings 14:12  Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die. 13  And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.

Other children and pregnant mothers are killed mercilessly by enemies.

2Kings 15:16  Then Menahem smote Tiphsah, and all that were therein, and the coasts thereof from Tirzah: because they opened not to him, therefore he smote it; and all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.

Children are killed by bears as part of the fulfillment of a prophecy said fulfillment being prompted by their mocking of God’s prophet.

First, the prophecy;

Leviticus 26:21  And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. 22  I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.

Then, the fulfillment;

2Kings 2:23  And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24  And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

And then Jesus Himself made remark about some men who had been murdered by the Roman governor and some more who had died in an accident as being no worse than the men he was talking to at the time, who thought themselves good.

Luke 13:1 ¶  There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2  And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3  I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4  Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5  I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

To some unbelievers, none of this makes any sense, if there truly is a loving God. Nor does it make sense to many Christians.

The person whose son was murdered working late at night and trying to get home demands, “Why did my child die doing what he was supposed to be doing? He was good. He was loved. This makes no sense. He didn’t deserve that in any way, shape, or form. It was such a waste of a good life.”
 But, there are a couple of things we must lay down as a foundation before we can proceed.

First, without belief in the resurrection then none of it makes any sense and the God of any religion becomes a twisted monster. But, we’ve been promised repeatedly that there will be a resurrection. And not just some kind of spiritual resurrection but a resurrection of our bodies.

In what may have been the first book of the Bible that was actually written down sometime closer to 2000BC than any other book in its writing we have the book of Job.

Job 19:25  For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26  And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27  Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins [that’s your insides, your internal organs] be consumed within me.

Jump ahead a thousand years to the time of Isaiah, the prophet.

Isaiah 26:19  Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

Again, jump ahead two to three hundred years to the time of the Persian and Mede emperors ruling over Babylon, and Daniel.

Daniel 12:2  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Then, you know that the New Testament is filled to overflowing with talk of eternal life and resurrections.

John 11:25  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Romans 8:23  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Revelation 20:5  But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Another thing we have to understand is that God’s mercy is preeminent. It is very important to Him. It is an attribute of God that is revealed all through the Bible.

Psalm 89:14  Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

Psalm 101:1  « A Psalm of David. » I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.

But, remember;

James 2:13  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

And we must see that God’s focus is on eternity, time without end.

Isaiah 57:15  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Exodus 15:18  The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.

Revelation 4:10  The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

Psalm 90:2  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

That’s where our focus should be as well. That is how we should be thinking as Christians.

Matthew 6:19 ¶  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

1Peter 1:3 ¶  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5  Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

We also know that the world is under judgment because of our first parents’ sin.

Romans 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 8:22  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

The only way out of this mess is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was God in the flesh, who walked among men, the only time that happened in a human body, in other words, the only-begotten Son of God, not Alexander the Great who had himself declared the son of God in Egypt or Augustus Caesar who signed his decrees as the son of God.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Acts 4:12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Of course, the skeptics dismiss the resurrection and eternal life as so much, “pie-in-the-sky” hopeful thinking, mostly because the thought of a God who judges sickened them because of their life’s choices as in the case of the previously mentioned Thornton Wilder.

But, being of a sounder mind we can see the brilliance of God’s plan, at least in part.

In the Bible several times a man of God complains about how, in this life, things make no sense because the wicked seem to get away with everything. As an example, Jeremiah wrote;

Jeremiah 12:1  Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?

We see something else about the wicked in the Bible that is important to this study. Just as the earth has been drying out since the Flood of Noah so sin is revealed until it is fulfilled and receives God’s judgment. Note here what God said to Abraham.

Genesis 15:12 ¶  And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. 13  And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14  And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15  And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16  But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

The child-sacrificing, temple prostitute-patronizing, bestiality practicing Canaanites were to have their way until there was some kind of tipping point, some kind of rim of the bucket over which their iniquity would spill when that bucket was full. God was waiting on the full expression of their wickedness, the point at which He would drop the hammer on them.

The book of Revelation, at the end of the Bible, has an interesting name. Something is revealed, the lid is taken off the boiling pot, the end of human-centered history, when things have gotten to the point beyond which God will not let them proceed, takes place. It gets really bad. As Christ said in reference to the end, as noted by Mark;

Mark 13:20  And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

So, just as the earth has been drying out since the Flood so has man’s iniquity added to iniquity has been proceeding since Adam and Eve disobeyed God.

Romans 1:16 ¶  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

    19 ¶  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness
through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
There are two things going on here. In a single person’s life God will let things happen, let you do things, although sometimes He does prevent you as He has done me on several occasions, do things that give you bad consequences. Preachers say that sin will take you further than you want to go, make you stay longer than you want to stay, and force you to pay more than you want to pay. We know, from reality, that at some point it’s all going to come crashing down on us if we persist in sin. But, we don’t know when God is going to call in our debts and expose our wickedness, do we?

In the life of humanity in general, in this fallen world under judgment because of man’s sin there is a great deal of suffering. Richard Dawkins, a militant atheist, has written about it this way in his disbelief in any purpose to life. In reference to the animal world he wrote;

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored….In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. (1)

History shows us a swirling mass of humanity, selfish emotions, greed, exploitation, murder, rape, and abuse. History is the story of man’s crimes (and I’m using the word man for men and women because I’m lazy) History is the record of man’s crimes against God, against his fellow man on an individual basis and on a group basis, and against nature. This boiling pot of iniquity is going to seethe and bubble like the proverbial witch’s cauldron until the time comes for God to completely take over from mankind. History, as we know it, human-centered, will cease and God will be present again as He was in the first century but this time as a sort of military dictator, allowing no more nonsense from humanity.
Psalm 2:9  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Revelation 2:27  And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

Revelation 12:5  And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
Revelation 19:15  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

Regarding the state of affairs now, things are building up to an appointed time and end.
Matthew 18:7  Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
This is our reality until the Lord’s return. Great evil, calamity, disaster, accidents, pain, suffering, and grief. This is part of the judgment on the world because of man’s sin. It is building up to an appointed time, which we do not know as yet. It’s not just a general idea for discussion in polite company. This suffering has real faces, broken bodies, and shattered dreams. It has anguish, tears, and much grief and sorrow.
We are reminded of this general judgment each day as we drive around using fossil fuels, the remains of life before the Great Flood of Noah. We are reminded of the current judgment we are under when we watch a loved one die, hear of the abuse of a child, a fire that kills an entire family, or even see a dead animal on the side of the road.
President Lincoln said that God wasn’t on either side in the American Civil War. He declared that the war was a judgment on both sides.
We’ve resolved now why the suffering of innocents happens in a world under judgment racing toward its end, toward the fulfillment of its iniquity, its sin, and its evil. We know that all of these questions will be answered in eternity. As God suggests in Job to us, “Bad things happen for no reasons you will know in this life. Trust me, though. I have it under control.” Our real question, the one that involves us and which we must answer, is how are we, as Christians, to respond to this judgment and its consequences.
We talk about our rights to express our religious faith in this country. We scream and rant and cry that the “gubmint” is trying to keep us from worshipping God. But, the Holy Spirit tells us;
Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
James 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
A famous atheist of the 19th century said to us, if I may paraphrase, “Your actions are speaking so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
It has become increasingly common, since the early 1900s, for premillennial, fundamentalist Christians to throw their hands up and say there is no point to trying to make the world a better place. After all, you’re only redecorating the waiting room to Hell. But, we are called to fight evil. We are called to help others weaker than ourselves. We are called to do good to others.
Ephesians 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
1Timothy 5:10  Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
Yes, it is good to fight a strip club attempting to open up in your neighborhood, to fight the heartless act of abortion, to see that those who are helpless are fed, clothed, housed, to see that elderly people have heat, food, and shelter or to support a children’s hospital or to insist on stronger laws against child abuse and neglect. It is good to do good. Righting a wrong, or demanding that government right a wrong with its power, is a good thing, a useful thing, an opportunity to show, to reveal who you belong to. It is only pointless if Christ is not in it if you are just offering someone a temporary respite but being silent about an eternity of suffering that awaits them if they don’t walk away from the world and trust Christ.
Terrible stuff happens in this world and will continue to happen until the end. Innocent children and helpless adults will suffer horribly. First, in our individual lives our wicked choices will be permitted until our time has come and God visits us for our iniquity. So, if you are refusing to forgive your family, stealing from your employer, cheating on your spouse, being proud and self-righteous, trying to control other people, or holding any one of the myriad of attitudes in your heart that symbolize fallen humanity, your time is coming. You just don’t control when that will be. You may be under judgment right now and not realizing it as you cry the blues for being wronged by a family member or a stranger.
Second, in a world under judgment things seem careening out of control in every generation as human beings seem to be stumbling about in a darkened room. Spiritual beings and earthly beings with evil intent and wicked motives spend a great deal of their energy doing bad stuff, as we see in Job. God allows it and will allow it until the appointed time. Planes will crash, boats will sink, criminals will go about their business, and other accidents will happen and you might not have a clue as to why no matter how much you proclaim you do.
Third, these awful things will continue to happen without your knowledge of any immediate cause and effect in many cases in spite of your pretense of knowing, in your superior spirituality, why God is permitting or doing something.
Fourth, our response is to be one of mercy, extending God’s grace to those in desperate need, those who have suffered and are suffering, helping the helpless, and comforting each other.

Fifth, we need God’s mercy and should be praying for it for ourselves and for others. It is not that God is somewhere far off and doesn’t know these things are happening. Nothing can happen that He doesn’t either allow to happen or cause to happen.

Here are two versions of the same prayer that Jesus gave His followers. Bear with me as I need to set this up. Modern Christians are not in the practice of cross-referencing the Bible for meaning as they’ve been taught to go outside of the Bible, to Webster’s 1828 dictionary or to the opinion of some notable Christian celebrity for meaning, which is fine, but sometimes misleading.

Note, for purposes of understanding, that a temptation is a test in the Bible, a trial, a difficulty, or a provocation (comparing Genesis 22:1 with Hebrews 11:17; then look at Psalm 95:8; Hebrews 3:9) even as Paul referred to in the case of his eyes as sickness or disability. (Galatians 4:14). The only reason I can think of for Pope Francis thinking that this prayer suggested that God tempted us with sin is his lack of reading comprehension, inability to cross-reference meaning, or just the bad translations the Vatican uses. God doesn’t tempt His people for the purpose of making them fall like Satan does. Notice in the following our minds fill in, “tempted with evil,” after neither tempteth he any man as that is the meaning of the verse.

James 1:13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

Evil is calamity, distress, disaster, and trouble or malice and intent to do violence or hurt in some way. (Genesis 37:20; Isaiah 45:7; Matthew 6:34; Ephesians 4:31; 1Thessalonians 5:22).

So, here are the prayers given to Jesus’ followers at different times and under different circumstances but given as models for us to pray from.

Matthew 6:9 ¶  After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11  Give us this day our daily bread. 12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever. Amen. 14  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Luke 11:1 ¶  And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 2  And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3  Give us day by day our daily bread. 4  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

We NEED to pray each day that God NOT lead us into trials, testing, or struggles and that He deliver us from trouble and grief and suffering.

We NEED to pray for mercy, for ourselves and for others. We desperately need God’s mercy and those who are suffering and have suffered need God’s comfort which we should be willing to provide as He has done for us, to forgive those who sin against us as well as He has forgiven us so much more.

We NEED to trust God, that He will straighten things out in His time, and that we might not know when that time is until it happens.

John 16:4  But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

Suffering, like death, is one of the most commonplace things living things encounter. It is almost inevitable. It is visited upon the innocent and the guilty alike. It is permitted to happen as part of the judgment on our lives but it is also allowed to happen because of the judgment on this world. Many bad things and awful circumstances seem like they have no reason, no purpose, no justification. Evil people get away with things it seems and accidents, unintended consequences of a lack of prudence or diligence in safety or preparation, or even for no apparent reason at all, happen all the time. Unless doctors drug you up or you die instantly in an accident or from a sudden medical event you can die in agony. Children will suffer at the hands of wicked people and mentally handicapped people and the elderly will suffer neglect and abuse.

We must fight wickedness whenever we encounter it. We must offer God’s comfort to those who are suffering. We have to accept that there are many occasions when we just won’t know why a thing happens. But, we must trust God, that His mercy, His grace will prevail in eternity. It is the essence of our faith, to trust God that He is good and that He is in control. Our place isn’t always to trumpet that we know why a thing happens. We are simply told;

Romans 12:15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

And always remember;

Matthew 5:4  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Revelation 21:4  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Don’t dismiss the question of why an innocent person suffered when asked. Weep with those who weep. Remember what James wrote about someone else’s need.

James 2:14 ¶  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

It will end, even sooner than you think it will. And when it does man will know that there was no good thing in his sin-corrupted soul that God did not put there in spite of him.

Why do the innocent suffer? Because we live in a wicked and fallen world that, because of man’s sin and his sin nature, will continue its horror, its crimes, its seemingly random so-called accidents until God puts an end to it. In the meantime we are to trust God, to tell others about the salvation that is offered only through Christ, to show God’s mercy on the suffering, the helpless, and the weak, in other words, to do right, and to not only do it ourselves but demand that those with real, physical power in this world do right by the suffering, the helpless, and the weak. The world needs God’s salvation and His mercy. A suffering or abused innocent one needs your kindness, your love, and your real, physical help in Christ’s name.

Remember, your response to your own suffering and to the suffering of others if you have walked with and experienced the comfort and joy that Christ wants to provide you.

2Corinthians 1:3 ¶  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

This is our answer to suffering, suffering that is real, horrible, and constant in this world. The real question isn’t why the reality of suffering happens but what are you going to do about it with Christ’s Spirit dwelling in you.