Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Blood - sermon notes for a sermon given at Antioch 1611 Baptist Church in Stewartstown, Pa. on 9.17.2017

I want to discuss two definitions of family and the blood that connects them both. I want to talk about those definitions and blood. Yes, blood. Our blood that connects us to our loved ones and Christ’s blood that connects us to our Creator are worthy of thought.

The first definition of a family is that a family consists of people with whom you share blood or who live together under a roof even if they are not related. You know; genes, DNA, blood. It is typically made up of a mother, a father, and children that issued from them. In past times when men died young and women died in childbirth often it would consist of step-children, half-children, adopted children, and blood children. In modern times, this is the normal way of families by choice as people get divorced and change spouses as often as they change fashions, or so it can seem. But, family also consists of step-children, half-children, adopted children, and blood children with a parent or with two parents or sometimes another relative or relatives all living together or united by having lived together at some point.

It’s a mistake to downplay the importance of blood. I made that mistake and it has hurt me, and took the life of someone I loved dearly. Let me explain. I didn’t think of blood as being very important a long time ago. I grew up in a family that did little but fight and argue with parents that were unaccepting of me and each other, even though they bestowed material blessings on each other and myself abundantly. Also, I was never very popular, due to my personality, among the majority of my extended family of cousins, aunts, and uncles and even grandparents. So, for me, a family had to be a choice, not something that happened to you by accident. I had two biological daughters and I loved my daughters but I lacked that sense of duty that my grandfather told my mother once was the reason he was hospitable to us; it was his duty, he said. I just didn’t get it like most people do. Most people regard blood as very important. I still have trouble with that. My experiences with blood relations had not been, well, very satisfying.

So, to me, when I met Beth, and fell in love, marrying a woman with 9 kids wasn’t a sacrifice. I didn’t leap over something or have to ignore anything. I wasn’t worried about what my kids wouldn’t have or about any possible conflicts. I loved Beth and, in my fallible way, I loved her children, particularly the ones that took to me right away so it was no sacrifice or tough decision to marry her.

However, there was one thing I was missing. That was how important blood or not being blood would be to those children and my own, and my birth family. Now, understand I was a bit of tyrant or a grouch and was neither a good step-parent or parent from the position of what I know now so I had other issues with my parenting than just ignorance. One step-son eventually said in retrospect that I acted more like an angry employee than a father and he was right.

My oldest biological daughter grew up in an environment where I repeated my own father’s mistakes, as I seemed to stew in confusion and anger most of the time when I didn’t have a beer in my hand. On top of all that my daughter craved a relationship with her biological mother. This mother rejected her twice and threatened her life once for not calling her “mommy.” Beth was her step-mother and my daughter was the one who actually proposed that I marry Beth and kept asking, as a three year old, “When us gettin’ married?” but when she got older she still longed to know and be loved and accepted by a biological mother who simply did not want her, regardless of my daughter’s love for her, and took her frustration at not getting that acceptance from her birth mother out on Beth. That lack of feeling on my part and my lack of understanding of how badly my oldest daughter and my step-sons needed their biological parent who shared their gender and their DNA simply showed my own callousness and weakness of mind and heart.

But, even if I had been a wonderful person, a great father-figure, and a true encourager and supporter of my children and step-children, it would have been incumbent upon me and it is important for every parent, step-parent, and adoptive parent not to be angry or hurt when a child seeks out some kind of closure or acceptance from a biological parent, no matter what a jerk or what a worthless loser they might be. Do not underestimate the power of blood. If you ignore it that will be to your detriment and to the harm of your children, and not all of them will feel this way, but to the harm of your children and step-children who feel that need to connect, at least for closure, and possibly for acceptance with that biological parent.

Just think of the issues of blood in recent history; the Turkish massacre of the Armenians in WWI, the Holocaust, racial slavery and Jim Crow laws in the U.S., a Civil War where brother fought brother and father fought against son, Bosnian-Serbian atrocities, and even the Hatfields and McCoys. You’re not in my tribe. You’re not my blood. You’re an OTHER. On and on, blood causes issues. Anger. Rage. Murder even. But definitely pain. Remember David made a great slaughter of the Geshurites. See 1Samuel 27:8,9. He took the daughter of the king, made her his wife, and had a son, Absalom, by her. A son by another wife raped Absalom’s sister and Absalom killed him and fled to his maternal family’s protection. Forty years after the initial massacre, and people are always arguing about what that forty years means but it seems obvious to me, Absalom returned and rebelled (2Samuel 15:7 and context) against David causing great sorrow and pain for David, nearly costing him his kingdom and his life. This was permitted by God because David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, Uriah, by the sword of the Ammonites. We all know the story. Blood is important.

I only recently learned this. Years after my daughter’s suicide things started to come clear. My mother rejected my surviving biological daughter, her children, and my step-children and none of the latter want anything to do with her as she sits in a home for the elderly. Beth explained to me how my oldest daughter needed some kind of closure with her biological mother, some kind of acceptance and that final rejection, not long before she committed suicide, was probably a cause, one cause, of her final act. I didn’t get it, though.

I went through a lot of questioning, trying to understand why my daughter wanted so badly to be accepted by a mother who rejected her and also why my stepsons needed to connect with their biological extended family who had not been involved in their lives. I just didn’t get it. Finally, I read a story on the internet about a step-father who provided everything for his step-daughter, trying to buy his place to replace her father who was worthless. When she wanted her biological father to give her away at her wedding the step-father was paying for he exploded and canceled everything he was doing and left the girl and her mother. He was not appreciated or respected for his efforts. I thought, what an idiot, what a selfish dolt, to not respect the power of blood and the need for his step-daughter to be walked down the aisle, to be approved of, to have her life’s choice affirmed by her blood Dad. Then, I cried. That man was me or could have been. What I realized was that I had been as blind as the man I was condemning, and just as stupid. Blood is important even though I have pretty great relationship with most of my step-children. Some even love me. I have a good relationship with most of them and they have all been very kind and generous to me, plus, they have all turned out to be really good people thanks to God and their mother. My remaining biological daughter loves only Beth as her mother and never had an attachment to her biological mother who did not want her.

Now, let’s look at another definition of family. In one regard, a family consists of people who share your blood and a family can consist of people who would shed their blood for you. Numerous studies have been done and books even written about how in combat, soldiers don’t give their lives for the flag, the Constitution, apple pie, or mom. They give their lives for their comrades. The surviving heroes often say they just wanted the guys they were with to be able to go home. Soldiers who come home can get stressed out and even go berserk thinking of the guilt they have for leaving their buddies back in harm’s way or even surviving while others who they think of as good or better than they are died and they didn’t. It tears them up. That is a powerful family that war can create.

In English Literature there are few greater declarations of shed blood and shared blood outside of the Bible than Shakespeare’s play Henry V and the famous St. Crispin’s Day speech that preluded the Battle of Agincourt where he rallied the outnumbered English against a superior French army. In it, King Henry says,

“…We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother…”

We must also remember that we are in the family of God by virtue of Christ shedding His blood on the Cross for us. We are united by blood, but His, not ours. You can have 20 children, physical children, but the only ones who will go to Heaven are the ones who join that family. Paul says in the third chapter of Ephesians.

    14 ¶  For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

God has adopted us and this adoption is more sure than a normal birth. It can never be broken promising a type of body that can never die.

Romans 8:15  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father….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.

Jesus Himself extended the meaning of family in relation to Him in the passage starting in Matthew 12:46;
46 ¶  While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47  Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48  But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49  And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

In Revelation the prime characteristic of the end-time martyrs and, indeed, all Christians of all times, is to be their willingness to shed their blood for Christ as they are slandered by Satan continually.

Revelation 12:10  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

For the key element in a life for Christ is not holding that life to be greater than the one who gave it. 

Paul says in Philippians 3;
7  But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

    9 ¶  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11  If by any means I might attain unto (means understand or wrap my mind around; see Psalm 139:6 and Proverbs 1:5) the resurrection of the dead. 12  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect (complete and entire; see Colossians 4:12, James 1:4): but I follow after, if that I may apprehend (to know, perceive, or understand) that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Christ paid for the church, purchased, bought us with His own blood.

Acts 20:28  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

1Corinthians 6:20  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1Corinthians 7:23  Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
The blood that unites believers with God creates a stronger real bond that any other type of family blood. The proof is the promise of eternal life. When we receive Christ we receive the Holy Spirit, His Spirit, indwelling us, as earnest money, a deposit on our inheritance in eternity and the redemption of our bodies.

Ephesians 1:3 ¶  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Make no mistake. We are in a war as Henry’s English archers were and as American soldiers, marines, airman, and sailors in every battle from Brandywine to the Argonne Forest to the deserts of Afghanistan. But our warfare is never carnal with bombs and planes and bullets. It is spiritual against sin and disobedience to God.

2Corinthians 10:3  For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6  And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

And it is our union by way of Christ’s blood that makes us an eternal family, unites Jew and Gentile into the church of God, and makes each one of us a temple for God’s Spirit to dwell in.

Ephesians 2:11 ¶  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

    14 ¶  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

The earthly family spends its time seeking its own, worshipping Self, and demanding what it believes is its due. The heavenly family fights against sin and rebellion against God in its own soul and worships Christ, surrendering Self to Him while being willing for the Creator of the universe to work through them on earth.

Mark 8:34  And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

We have been born again, the second time into a family who will enjoy each other’s fellowship for eternity, who will not dispute each other there, who will cause no pain to each other, who will not shun each other’s company, or form cliques to push aside ones they don’t like or approve of, as human families do. This family is not based on our blood but on God’s own blood and we will be like Christ.

We would do well even now to love our heavenly family as we are compelled to do in the Bible. Paul gives us several commands of particular importance regarding our relationships within the church. Read Romans, chapter 12 and 1Thessalonians 5. Remember, we are going to be with each other and the people from Gorum Baptist down the road and the people from the Vietnamese church in the jungles of Southeast Asia and the Liberian church in West Africa FOR EVER and we would do well to get along with each other now. This family is based on Christ’s blood, not our own, and we will answer to Him for our treatment of each other in this family as well as in our earthly family.

There are two things that should stand out in our rules concerning our treatment of each other that are not often talked about. One, if you are what Discovery channel or Animal Planet people call an “Alpha male” or an “Alpha female” leave it at home. There is no place for your dominating attitude within the body of Christ. Neither is their room for your self-righteousness in thinking that anyone who has not accepted and applied to their own lives your convictions is less than you. Think of these things in both your relationship with your spouse and children and in your relationship with your church family.

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. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3  For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4  For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9  Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14  Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17  Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

The other is, don’t even let someone get the wrong idea about what you are doing or your intentions toward them. Evil can be sinful iniquity or it can be malicious intent, malice, depending on the context. In the following it can go either way. Again, these things apply to both families.

1Thessalonians 5:22  Abstain from all appearance of evil.

For either definition of evil don’t give someone the opportunity to think you are doing something sinful and don’t give someone the opportunity to think you have malice in your heart toward them.

And remember that family that God gave you here on earth, the one that consists of your blood and perhaps a step-child or adopted children? They are your first church, with father as pastor, or in some cases mother, when no father is present. You need to devote yourself to presenting Christ to them in the most God-glorifying way possible. Examine yourself. Are you presenting yourself as a Christian to them while you display these godless traits in your speech and behavior?

Romans 1:29  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:

So you clearly have responsibilities toward your blood family, your adopted children, your step-children that have direct implications and consequences in eternity. But, there are also, as I pointed out, responsibilities that have as great implications for the family you are in by virtue of your second birth, the family created not by your blood, but by Christ’s.

Remember, as you love your earthly family, even the unsaved among them, that you are called to also love your heavenly family. Do you love each other? Can you even say that you love God?

1John 4:20  If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

In the Bible the word charity is a reference to the quality of a Christian’s love for his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Colossians 3:12 ¶  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

1Peter 4:8  And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.9  Use hospitality one to another without grudging.10  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

2Peter 1:5 ¶  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;7  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Now, I want to finish with keeping that definition of charity in mind and I want you to contemplate this chapter in your future relations with your family in Christ.

1Corinthians 13:1 ¶  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

    4 ¶  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

    8 ¶  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

If you don’t love other Christians, don’t kid yourself into saying you love God. It’s a contradiction.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Exodus 9:13-21 comments: hail

13 ¶  And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14  For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15  For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. 16  And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. 17  As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 18  Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now. 19  Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. 20  He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 21  And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.

Here is a threat of death. Pestilence is verse 15 is a reference to plague and sickness.

1Kings 8:37  If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be;

This is brought to mind again much later when God condemns Israel for its apostasy.

Amos 4:10  I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

To be cut off from the earth is to be killed, to die, to perish.

Genesis 9:11  And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

Zechariah 13:8  And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.

2Kings 9:8  For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel:

Verse 16 has an interesting cross-reference in the writings of Paul.

Romans 9:17  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

The scripture saith unto Pharaoh? But, this is Jehovah God speaking through Moses? Is the scripture God? Are the words of God we hold in our hands likened to God? The scripture in Romans 9:17 is translated from a word that refers to the written word. We have to consider the following, as well.

Psalm 138:2  I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick [living, alive], and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

How then do so-called scholars treat the Bible as they would any old book and yet even hold it to standards they do not even apply to Plato or Aristotle’s writings? When you remove the inspiration of God on the hands of writers, translators, and copyists and the usage of the church itself throughout history in regard to the Bible, denying the work of God on His Bible, you do greatly err.

Job 32:8  But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

2Timothy 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2Peter 3:15  And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

How relevant then is the Bible to our faith? Let us look at the words of a prominent writer from several centuries ago.

William Chillingworth wrote in 1638, “The Bible, I say, the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants!”(2)

Now we have the threat of hail on any animal or person found in the field, out of doors. God said directly to Job;

Job 38:22  Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, 23  Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?

A rod turned into a serpent, infestations of frogs, lice, flies, a great plague among the Egyptian cattle, boils on the Egyptians themselves, and hail.

We will see that it is not just going to be hail that will afflict the Egyptians this time. The Hebrews and any Egyptians who feared the Lord should bring their cattle under shelter now.

(2) William Chillingworth, The Religion of Protestants: A Safe Way to Salvation (1638, repr. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1846), 463.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Exodus 9:8-12 comments: boils

8 ¶  And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. 9  And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. 10  And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast. 11  And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians. 12  And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.

Remember how when we considered Job that God gave Satan permission to give him boils all over his body?

Job 2:7 ¶  So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. 8  And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

Here is a point, also, of defining words in the Bible. Verse 9 refers to a boil breaking forth with blains. Blains, an inflammatory swelling or sore, is how the boils were expressed as they filled with pus and were very painful, preventing the magicians from even appearing to try to combat Moses. So, again, we see the Harry Potter wannabes unable to deal with what God is doing. (For all of you fans of Rowling’s books and the movies, keep in mind that a ‘muggle’ used by God is capable of far more than any graduate of Hogwarts.)

The furnace from which the ashes come carries with it an interesting comparison. Egypt is likened to an iron furnace. Imagine a brick-kiln, a furnace where bricks are baked.

Deuteronomy 4:20  But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.

1Kings 8:51  For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron:

Jeremiah 11:4  Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:

Still, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. A rod turned into a serpent, infestations of frogs, lice, and flies, a great plague among the Egyptian cattle, and now boils on the Egyptians themselves, but still this Pharaoh, that great type of Antichrist, refuses to yield to the God who created him and who gives him every moment of life. If you find this hard to believe remember how Germany and Japan’s leaders in World War Two kept ordering them to their destruction even when it was clear that all possibility of victory was gone and their homelands were on the verge of being invaded. Pride is a powerful drug.

Proverbs 16:18  Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Exodus 9:1-7 comments: a great murrain

1 ¶  Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2  For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 3  Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain. 4  And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel. 5  And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land. 6  And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one. 7  And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.

Moses is now told to threaten Pharaoh with a great death among all of his cattle. A murrain (mu-wren) is an infectious disease among animals and the Hebrew word murrain is translated from, transliterated as “deh’-ber,” is used most of the time for the English pestilence in the Bible. Again, too, nothing will die that belongs to the people of Israel. Still, the Pharaoh remained stubborn. Wonders continue as there was first the rod turning into a serpent, surface water turned to blood, infestations of frogs, lice, then flies, and now a great plague among the cattle of the Egyptians.

Remember how during the time of the great famine Joseph arranged for the Egyptians to sell their cattle to the government in exchange for bread and the Pharaoh wanted Hebrew men to watch over his cattle in Genesis 47?
Verse 3 gives us a definition of cattle in the Bible which is much broader than our modern consideration of beeves or cows and bulls only.

It is interesting how this happened right after Moses’s expressing of a concern about sacrificing that which was unpleasing to the Egyptians in front of them and I spoke of how they held many animals as representing gods. This is an attack on the Egyptian food supply and on their gods showing that Jehovah God, the creator of all mankind, has power over disease, a power these gods are helpless in front of. For a side note, Augustine of Hippo, the great Christian leader of the fifth century AD, also wrote in his City of God how the gods of the Romans were helpless to save them from the calamities they faced throughout their history.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Exodus 8:20-32 comments: swarms of flies

20 ¶  And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21  Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 22  And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. 23  And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be. 24  And the LORD did so; and there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies. 25  And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land. 26  And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? 27  We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the LORD our God, as he shall command us. 28  And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me. 29  And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will intreat the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to morrow: but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD. 30  And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD. 31  And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. 32  And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.

The rod turning into a serpent, the surface water turning into blood, the frogs, the lice, and now the flies. Baalzebub, a god of the Philistines at Ekron, referenced in 2Kings, chapter one, is the lord of the flies. In a play on this god’s name, we get in the New Testament Beelzebub, the lord of the house, whom Jesus called the prince of devils in Matthew 12:24. In Luke 11:18 we get, by virtue of parallel phrasing, the information that this god is Satan himself.

Matthew 12:24  But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

Luke 11:18  If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.

The Egyptian god of the flies was Kheper or Khepri according to some, pictured with a man’s body and a fly’s head, although some authorities name another god. God insulted and judged the Egyptian hierarchy of gods in these plagues as noted previously.

 It is a matter of common sense to believe these things did not afflict Goshen, where the Hebrews lived, but that exemption from suffering is only mentioned here first as a sign of God’s power in dividing His people from the rest. He had a reason for doing so here which He might not have in a natural disaster now when churches and Christians suffer along with the heathen.

 Pharaoh is now willing for the Hebrews to have a time of worship within his territory but when Moses persists he agrees that they go into the wilderness, only not too far. But again his heart is hardened and he goes back on his willingness to let them go.

When Pharaoh offered that the Hebrews sacrifice to their God in the land Moses declared that the sacrifice they would make to the Lord was the abomination of the Egyptians and that they would attack the Hebrews for doing so in their presence. This was his excuse for why they needed to journey into the wilderness. The Egyptians held several animals as sacred, for instance a cow for Isis, and it must be remembered that much later when the Romans ruled Egypt a Roman official was murdered by a mob for killing a cat. Moses was not willing to sacrifice in a manner unpleasing to God just to keep from causing a riot among the Egyptians for sacrificing in a manner that displeased them.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Exodus 8:16-19 comments: a plague of lice

16 ¶  And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 17  And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 18  And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. 19  Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

The court magicians could counterfeit the rod turning into a snake, the surface water turning into blood, and the frogs. However, they could not produce the lice. The Egyptians hated lice. Lice were a sort of personal horror to them. The remains of lice can even be found in Egyptian tombs. They were so sickened by the infestation of lice that normally Egyptian men and women shaved their heads and the hairstyles you see on statuary and tomb paintings represent wigs. The Ebers Papyrus, listing many medical remedies, contains remedies for lice as well.

This is very personal. I am reminded of the symbolic significance of the first wonders; the serpent, the blood, and the frogs. But, with lice I am reminded of the personal horror and nausea this entailed, much like the Philistine lords being afflicted with painful hemorrhoids in 1Samuel 5. The symbolic wonders that may have told a story of spiritual significance were able to be copied by the heathen magicians. But, this very personal pestilence was all God’s own. God even warns us now in our lives in many other ways, often, before afflicting us personally to turn us from our sin to Him.

Each of these plagues affect things that were worshipped as gods by the Egyptians. The earth the lice came from was no different. God is punishing not only the Egyptians, and the entire ancient world by example, but their devils, their gods.

Exodus 12:12  For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

In God’s ministry of reconciling man to Himself we have come to a critical point. As I pointed out in my comments on Genesis the ancient world had deteriorated spiritually to a point where idolatry was the norm, where gods were created who were gods of a particular city and family, and where the God who created mankind was ignored or forgotten. Political gods were part of a nation, a cultural entity’s sense of self-identity. A nation, an ethnic nationality, was justified by its political gods much like the Hindus and Muslims who battled at India’s independence from the British in the late 1940’s or the so-called Christian governments of Britain, Russia, and Germany during World War One or the fundamentalists of America who glorify the state with flags on the pulpit and celebrations at every national holiday and support any martial effort of this country no matter what the reason or consequence. It was all done to the glory of their gods, not the God of the Bible or creation. Yes, I am saying that many Christians in America today, Britain, Russia, and Germany in times past, and Hindus and Muslims worship false gods, devils, and not the God of the Bible. Their gods are wrapped in a flag, a political ideology, and a cultural chauvinism. That is why they hate each other so and why they kill each other so easily. But, even supposedly non-religious people will fight and die over secular gods whom they call ideals and ideologies thinking they have escaped the plague of religion. It is not so. Communists and other atheist ideologies are also bloody killers, trying to create a perfect kingdom out of millions of victims and great suffering they cause.

God is judging mankind here by proxy for its decay into the lunacy of national gods and cultural gods, as even the modern Christian merely worships a god who is a reflection of his own political beliefs, paranoia, and bigotry.

The magicians acknowledge that, because of their inability, they realize that this is proof of the God of the Hebrews involvement. This is not a saving acknowledgement however, as we see the Pharaoh, as a god-man, the only physical and living emblem of the gods on earth for the Egyptians, set his heart to oppose the God of the Hebrews, who, unknowing to him, is the God who created him and sustains him.

The Egyptian Pharaoh was the incarnation of gods on earth as he lived and when he died he was the representation of the god of the underworld. Pharaoh was a false god in the flesh. He, of course, possessed by devils, and filled with pride and exaltation, like the Beast of Revelation, sets his heart of stone against the God who created Him.

Some part of mankind will follow God through the only physical representation He has ever had, the incarnate God, the physical body of the invisible God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God by which all things were created and are sustained. But, it began with one man, Abraham, coming out of Ur of the Chaldees, and now this one group of people, the Hebrews, coming from Jacob, who was called Israel, who will depart from Egypt as Abraham departed from Ur and as the Christian looks forward to departing a judged world that is shrouded in darkness, a condition of which one proof is decay and death, the greatest temporal plague of all.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Exodus 8:1-15 comments: a plague of frogs

1 ¶  And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2  And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3  And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: 4  And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants. 5  And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. 6  And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. 7  And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. 8  Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the LORD. 9  And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only? 10  And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God. 11  And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only. 12  And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto the LORD because of the frogs which he had brought against Pharaoh. 13  And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields. 14  And they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank. 15  But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

We have the rod turned into a snake, the surface water turned to blood, and now, frogs unleashed on the land; three wonders that the heathen magicians are also permitted to copy.

Frogs, in a different context, represent unclean spirits.

Revelation 16:13  And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

Note: In the verse from Revelation the unclean spirits resemble frogs but are not frogs. Here are two more comparisons that we should examine and be careful of taking too literally of unlike things joined by like for a comparison. Remember, these things look or act like each other but are not the same thing as each other.

Job 11:12  For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.

John 1:32  And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

Events in the physical world often seem to represent events in the spiritual world and the spiritual world is more real even than the limited, finite world of the senses we perceive. We are like people chained in a cave facing the wall. We can only see shadows on the wall of what is going on behind us, out of our sight, where the greater reality, the real truth, exists. Some of us prefer the shadows but others long to turn and face the truth. Even heathen philosophers like Plato understood this in a limited way, as I took the cave allegory from him.

If there is a comparison to be made one might imagine the guiding rod of God’s instruction turned into the lying serpent by man’s choice of whom to believe in Eden, the surface water turned to blood as a representation of the will of God corrupted by man’s vain religion of the time from pure, life-giving water to a bloody mess, and the frogs covering the land of Egypt showing its infestation in every place by evil spirits. We might take this as a lesson for today, as well.

Pharaoh, for the first time, acknowledges the reality of Jehovah and asks Moses and Aaron to Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the LORD (verse 8). But, when relieved, Pharaoh’s hardened heart will not permit them to leave. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Exodus 7:14-25 comments: river turned to blood

14 ¶  And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. 15  Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river’s brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand. 16  And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear. 17  Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. 18  And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river. 19  And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. 20  And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21  And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. 22  And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said. 23  And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also. 24  And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. 25  And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river.

It was apparently the custom to go down the all-important Nile in the morning for bathing and perhaps ritual in the morning. There they met the Pharaoh. Between Moses and Aaron all of the surface water in Egypt was turned into blood. The only drinkable water was found by digging. Fish died and the Nile River stunk. This second wonder the heathen magicians could also duplicate which did not support Moses’ and Aaron’s credibility. This went on for seven days.

Psalm 78:44  And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink.

Psalm 105:29  He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish.

This sort of judgment will come again at the end of human history, perhaps referring to the Mediterranean Sea.

Revelation 8:8  And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9  And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

The Pharaoh’s heart is hardened and he will not listen to this warning. Later, after all of their interactions with God and after so many of their distresses that arose from disobeying Him, it will be said;

Zechariah 7:12  Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.