Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.
It’s hard to move forward when you don’t know where you’re headed or why. God’s plan gives us the answers to life’s most basic questions like, “Where did I come from?” “What’s my purpose here?” And, “What happens when I die?” Knowing the answers gives us hope and helps us find peace and joy.
Your life didn’t begin at birth and it won’t end at death. Before you came to earth, your spirit lived with Heavenly Father who created you. You knew Him, and He knew and loved you. It was a happy time during which you were taught God’s plan of happiness and the path to true joy. But just as most of us leave our home and parents when we grow up, God knew you needed to do the same. He knew you couldn’t progress unless you left for a while. So he allowed you to come to earth to experience the joy—as well as pain—of a physical body.
One thing that makes this life so hard sometimes is that we’re out of God’s physical presence. Not only that, but we can’t remember our pre-earth life which means we have to operate by faith rather than sight. God didn’t say it would be easy, but He promised His spirit would be there when we needed Him. Even though it feels like it sometimes, we’re not alone in our journey.
That doesn’t mean He expects you to be perfect. He knows you won’t be. But He does expect that while you’re here on earth you try to the best of your ability to be more like Him and that you learn and grow from your mistakes. Each time you make a poor choice with painful consequences, that decision leads to unhappiness—sometimes immediately, sometimes much later. Likewise, choosing good eventually leads to happiness and helps you become more like Heavenly Father.
After such a tremendous victory at Jericho, Joshua chapter 7 is surprising to say the least. Suddenly we are presented with a series of failures that stand in striking contrast to the wonderful victories of the past six chapters. How instructive this is if we only have the ears to listen to the message of this chapter. The thrill of victory was so quickly replaced by the agony of defeat. This is the story of life, and something we each must learn to deal with in our daily walk. One minute we can be living in victory and next in defeat.
The distance between a great victory and a terrible defeat is one step, and often only a short one at that. A fact of reality is that in a fallen world we can be riding high on the cloud of some great spiritual success, and the very next moment find ourselves in the valley of spiritual failure and despair. One moment we can be like Elijah standing victoriously on Mt. Carmel, and the next hiding out in a cave, fearing for his life, and complaining to God (1 Kings 19:10).
Ai was the next objective in the path of conquest because of its strategic location. As with Jericho, its conquest was vital to the conquest of the entire land. It was smaller than Jericho, but its conquest was essential because this would give Israel control of the main route that ran along the ridge from north to south along the highlands of the central portion of the land.
Jericho had been placed under the ban, a phrase which comes from the Hebrew word, herem, “a devoted thing, a ban.” The verb form, haram, means “to ban, devote, or destroy utterly.” Basically, this word refers to the exclusion of an object from use or abuse by man along with its irreversible surrender to God. It is related to an Arabic root meaning “to prohibit, especially to ordinary use.” The “harem,” meaning the special quarters for Muslim wives, comes from this word. So, to surrender something to God meant devoting it to the service of God or putting it under a ban for utter destruction.1
For something to be under the ban meant one of two things.
(1) Everything living was to be completely destroyed. This has been called barbaric and primitive—nothing less than the murder of innocent lives, but the Canaanites were by no means innocent. They were a vile people who practiced the basest forms of immorality including child sacrifice. God had given them over four hundreds of years to repent, but now their iniquity had become full (see Gen. 15:16; Lev. 18:24-28). The one family who did turn to the Lord (Rahab and her family) were spared. As with Sodom and Gomorrah, if there had been even ten righteous, God would have spared the city (Gen. 18), but since he could not find even ten, He removed Lot and his family (Gen. 19). Further, if any city had repented as did Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah, He would have spared that city, but in spite of all the miraculous works of God which they had heard of, there was no repentance, they remained steadfast in their depravity. Note Norman Geisler’s comment:
… the battle confronting Israel was not simply a religious war; it was a theocratic war. Israel was directly ruled by God and the extermination was God’s direct command (cf. Exod. 23:27-30; Deut. 7:3-6; Josh. 8:24-26). No other nation either before or after Israel has been a theocracy. Thus, those commands were unique. Israel as a theocracy was an instrument of judgment in the hands of God.2
(2) All the valuable objects like gold and silver were to be dedicated to the Lord’s treasury.This was evidently to be done as a kind of first fruits of the land and an evidence of the people’s trust in the Lord’s supply for the future (cf. Lev. 27:28-29).
Chapter 7 opens with a small but ominous word, the word “but,” which contrasts this chapter with the preceding one, particularly verse 27. First, there was the thrill of victory, but now theagony of defeat. This little conjunction of contrast is designed to drive home an important truth, the reality of the ever present threat and contrasts of life—victory is always followed by the threat of defeat.
Never is the believer in greater danger of a fall than after a victory. We are so prone to drop our guard and begin to trust in ourselves or in our past victories rather than the Lord. One victory never ensures the next. Only as it builds our confidence in the Lord and develops our wisdom in appropriating God’s Word do our victories aid us for the next battle, but the basis of victory is always the Lord Himself and our faith/dependence Him. A New Testament chapter that deserves consideration here is 1 Corinthians 10 and especially verse 12, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
The problem is clearly stated in the words, “The sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard …” Let’s note several things about this problem facing the Israelites as a nation.
(1) The word “unfaithfully” represents a Hebrew word that means “to act underhandedly.”It was used of marital infidelity, of a woman who was unfaithful to her husband. The sin here was both an act of spiritual infidelity, being a friend of the world rather than a friend to the Lord (Jam. 4:4), and a faithless act, seeking happiness and security from things rather than from God (1 Tim. 6:6f).
(2) The Lord held the whole camp of Israel accountable for the act of one man and He withheld His blessing until the matter was dealt with. There was sin in the camp and God would not continue the blessing of the nation as long as this was so. This does not mean that the rest of the nation was sinless or that this was the only sin, but this sin was of such a nature (a sin of direct disobedience and rebellion) that God used it to teach Israel (and us) a couple of important lessons.
a. God viewed the nation as a unit. What one did was viewed as a sin for the whole nation because Israel’s corporate life often illustrates truth and warnings for us as individuals (1 Cor. 10). As a warning for the church, it shows us we cannot progress and move ahead for the Lord with known sin in our lives because that constitutes rebellion against the Lord’s direction and control (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19). It is a matter of loving the world and to do so is make one behave as though he or she was an enemy of God (Jam. 4).
b. One believer’s sin impacts everyone. Achan’s behavior also illustrates how one believer out of fellowship, pursuing his own selfish desires and agendas, negatively impacts and creates trouble for an entire group. Achan’s name, the Hebrew, akan, is a play on the word akor, which means “trouble.” So Joshua would declare that the Lord would bring trouble (akor) on Achan who had become a “troubler” to the nation because of his sin (cf. 7:24-25). Thus, the site of Achan’s death and grave was called, “the valley of Achor” (Hebrew, akor, “disturbance, trouble”). This should also call to mind Hebrews 12:15-16 and 1 Corinthians 5:6-7.
Though the crime was committed by one person, the whole nation was considered guilty. The nation was responsible for the obedience of every citizen and was charged with the punishment of every offender.
The Apostle Paul saw the same principle of solidarity at work in the church (1 Cor 5:6-13). Unjudged sin contaminated the whole assembly—“Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?” (v. 6).3
(3) We are also reminded how nothing escapes the omniscience of God (Psa. 139:1f). Sin never escapes His watchful eye. We can fool ourselves and others, but never the Lord. God sees the sin in our lives and desires us to deal with it, not hide it. Hiding it only hinders our progress in God’s will and plan (Prov. 28:13) and creates trouble for others. Numbers 32:23 reminds us, “be sure your sin will find you out.” This is similar to the idea of reaping what we sow because of the natural consequences of God’s spiritual and moral laws and because of God’s personal involvement, but the Numbers text does not just teach that sin will be discovered but that the consequences of our sin become active agents in discovering us (see Gal. 6:7-8).
(4) Sin is no small matter to God. The words, “therefore the anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel,” dramatically call our attention to the holiness of God and the fact that sin is no small matter with Him because it is rebellion and rebellion is as the sin of divination (1 Sam. 15:23). Even though the Lord died for our sins and stands at God’s right hand as our advocate and intercessor, God does not and cannot treat sin in our lives lightly. It is against His holy character (His holiness, righteousness, love, etc.) and against His holy purposes for us since it hinders His control and ability to lead us.
Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning?” But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble” (James 4:5-6, the NET Bible).
In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
Jer 6:15 (NAS) “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; they did not even know how to blush.”
- The Way Of Shame
Shame, guilt, and condemnation are similar in that they all have to do with sin, but different in degree, duration, and scope.
- Shame is an intense feeling of angst that makes you wish you could evaporate; extreme humiliation and remorse; a despairing of life from abject embarrassment.
- Guilt is realizing you have done wrong, usually for some particular sin.
- Condemnation is being sentenced (convicted) for doing wrong.
Shame is deeper than guilt. It is not based on having done something wrong so much as a soul ache of being wrong at the core. Shame is more piercing than condemnation where the reality of judgment is mentally apprehended from an outside arbitrator. With shame we palpably feel our own depravity in vivid self-realization.
With this definition, what could possibly be the benefit of shame in the lives of the redeemed? Should its debilitating presence be given no quarter, or does God use it–even require it? Is it a pity party, or the Holy Spirit’s doing?
The Case For Shame
1 Cor 15:34 (Wey) Wake from this drunken fit; live righteous lives, and cease to sin; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak thus in order to move you to shame.
1 Cor 6:5 (Wey) I say this to put you to shame…
Eze 16:63 (NKJ) that you may remember and be ashamed…
Ps 69:5,7 (NKJ) O God, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hidden from You… Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face.
Heb 12:2 (Phi) …For he himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame [NIV: scorning its shame] because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering…
The Case Against Shame
Isa 54:4 (NKJ) “Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth…”
Joel 2:27 (NIV) Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.
1 Pet 2:6 (Wey) For it is contained in Scripture, “See, I am placing on Mount Zion a Cornerstone, chosen, and held in honour, and he whose faith rests on Him shall never have reason to feel ashamed.”
- Now, it might be understood that these and other “no shame” Scriptures are a future promise–spoken as a destiny and hope. Or again it might be pointed out that these types of texts are promising that we will not be ashamed at “throwing in” with God in the long run. But still, there they are: and should we not strive toattain them?
Refusing The Treatment
- Is shame good or bad? Useful or destructive? In small doses or large? And what does shame have to do with love?
Jer 3:3 (NIV) Therefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen. Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame.
- In previous studies, we have looked at conviction and condemnation in the way of repentance. Conviction is portrayed in Scripture as the first (welcome) work of the Spirit, and condemnation as the (just) sentence of God on our sinful natures. This much, hopefully, is clear in its practical benefit in our spiritual reflexes to prod us back into Christ when we find ourselves “in the flesh”.
Jer 6:15 (NAS) “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; they did not even know how to blush.”
- Shame might also have a use in our sanctification, and this might be good to understand. For example, often we flinch at looking so closely at our proclivities to sin because we feel a deep sense of shame… and so turn our eyein order to temporarily ease the pain. The sermon is over, the session is done, and we go away from the mirror and forget what we look like.
- Part of the romance of God may be to prepare us to be a “blushing” bride. We certainly have enough to blush over, if we will just let the Spirit search us. But this blushing of shame “the flesh” HATES more than anything! It touches the very nerve of “self” in a most painful way. So why should we, or why must we, endure this awful feeling?
Reactions To God
Luke 5:8 (Wey) When Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at the knees of Jesus, and exclaimed, “Master, leave my boat, for I am a sinful man.”
- Simon Peter’s response is part of anyone’s reaction to a realencounter with God. By seeing Jesus he was “undone” by the resultant heightened sense of his own depravity; how far He was from the glory of God.
- It is one thing to play with words and self deception concerning our state before the Holy One; it is another to come up against His pure goodness. What we thought we wanted now makes us feel dirty. When goodness is laced with badness it is easier to take, easier to relate to. But pure goodness is alien to us. And we know God is powerful, but to experience that power brings our own insufficiency into the light. We tend to recoil from what we also most want.
- Jesus did not leave Simon Peter for his honest reaction, speaking words of comfort instead and calling him as an apostle. For Peter’s will power had come up against a greater will. But Peter’s “reaction” remained for a deeper “treatment” at a later date.
- Are we greater than Simon Peter? Are we less in need of being saved “in the highest way” than him? Will we not have to be cured of this same problem in the future, even after hearing words of comfort? Even after confessing Christ? Even after walking in intimate fellowship with our Lord?
The Problem Of Self Confidence And Pride
Luke 22:31-34 (Phi) “Oh, Simon, Simon, do you know that Satan has asked to have you all to sift like wheat?–but I have prayed for you that you may not lose your faith. Yes, when you have turned back to me, you must strengthen these brothers of yours.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison, or even to die with you!” “I tell you, Peter,” returned Jesus, “before the cock crows today you will deny three times that you know me!”
- Peter was a boaster, being confident in himself. Like us, he was prone to make grand promises to God and then to blow it inactual experience, leading to the ache of shame.
Luke 22:59-62 (Phi) “I am convinced this man was with him…” “Man,” replied Peter, “I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crew. The Lord turned his head and looked straight at Peter, and into his mind flashed the words that the Lord had said to him… “You will disown me…” …and he [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly.
- In this dismal process of humiliation we perhaps can understand at a deeper level how God is going to work out that no flesh will boast in His presence.
- Come on, with us? Really?
God’s Method For Turning Us Into Good Lovers
Eze 16: 54,58-61 (NIV) ” …so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done… You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices… This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will deal with you as you deserve… Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed…”
- These shameful failings are indeed painful, but Jesus took the blow for Peter, and for us as well. He was well aware of the emotional impact it would have on Peter when their eyes met. He knew about all thisin advance. And it was no whim or chance, it was planned that way. He deliberately chose this path and “took the blow” with/for us because our souls needed this particular medicine.
Jer 31:19 (NAS) For after I turned back, I repented; and after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh; I was ashamed, and also humiliated, because I bore the reproach of my youth.
From Glory To Shame And Back Again
- In Romans 9-11, Paul gives an overview of God’s dealings with genetic Israel (this “generation”–or progeny) and spiritual Israel (the church), pitting the two in temporary contest–yet tracing out God’s destiny for each. By the end (where we will now enter in) Paul is soaring as he considers the majesty of God’s plan–so full of the mind of Christ he is about to go “bonkers” in verses 33-36. But before he does, he makes an essential point on God’s dealing with both the Jews and Gentiles, that is a summation of the wisdom of God.
Rom 11:32 (Phi) God has all men penned together in the prison of disobedience, that he may have mercy upon them all.
Rom 11:32 (Wey) For God has locked up all in the prison of unbelief, that upon all alike He may have mercy.
Rom 11:32 (Jer) God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.
Rom 11:33-36 (NIV) Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord?” or “Who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen.
- What “sent” Paul into this ecstatic revelry? How can the shame of the fact that all of us have been grievously disobedient end up as being to God’s praise and glory?
Answer: The Contrast Of Pharisee And The Really Good Lover
Luke 7:36-38 (Wey) Now one of the Pharisees repeatedly invited Him to a meal at his house; so He entered the house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the town who was a notorious sinner. Having learnt that Jesus was at table in the Pharisee’s house she brought a flask of perfume, and, standing behind close to His feet, weeping, began to wet His feet with her tears; and with her hair she wiped the tears away again, while she lovingly kissed His feet and poured the perfume over them.
Luke 7:39-40 (Wey) Noticing this, the Pharisee, His host, said to himself, “This man, if he were really a Prophet, would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching him–and would know that she is an immoral woman.” In answer to his thoughts Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have a word to say to you.” “Rabbi, say on,” he replied.
Luke 7:41-43 (NAS) “A certain moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
Luke 7:44-47 (Wey) Then turning towards the woman He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house: you gave me no water for my feet; but she has made my feet wet with her tears, and then wiped the tears away with her hair. No kiss did you give me; but she from the moment I came in has not left off tenderly kissing my feet. No oil did you pour even on my head; but she has poured perfume upon my feet. This is the reason why I tell you that her sins, her many sins, are forgiven–because she has loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Sine Qua Non: Without Which Not
Rom 11:32-33 (NIV) For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!….
- Let us be clear about this: sin stinks–to us and God–but it has a purpose. Boy it hurts, but God feels the pain all the more. So why does He in His Sovereignty allow us to make such a mess, especially if He Himself feels the pain more acutely than we do? Is this really the right way to cure our wound? Is this the treatment needed to craft souls that can and will show true eternal passion towards God?
Luke 7:47 (Phi) “That is why I tell you that her sins, many as they were, are forgiven; for she has so much love. But the man who has little to be forgiven has only a little love to give.”
- Notice, here, that Jesus is not content with the positive case; he comes around and underscores the negative case. Those forgiven little are in the position of disadvantage when it comes to love. Wild!
- So, having been exposed by God so grievously entrapped by sin, we find ourselves at once ashamed and at once joyous. For God has made “good lovers” of us after all. And He knew just how to do it. It certainly was not our idea! We did not counsel Him to do it this way!
The Way Of “Much Love”
- On seeing this, we are moved to lavish His feet with kisses and wipe His feet with our hair. Let the Pharisees see it and “have a cow”. For we know from what He has saved us, and feel the shame as palpably as the glory of His salvation, and cannot help but praise His Holy Name for saving us in the highest way. Let them look, we are enraptured with our Savior.
Ps 40:1-3 (NIV) I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see it and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
Ps 40:5 (NKJ) Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered.
- Notice, above, that David launches off into ecstatic praise similar to Paul’s–from the same insight that “sent” Paul into God’s presence: the shame of our own need.
The Residue Of Shame And The Eternity Of Love
- Our attempts at love before were ephemeral and fickle. Sure, we have had our good moments, and hope for more, but then again our duplicity surfaces. How did we ever think this would do? Was God going to wave a magic wand and “cheat” to cure us? No, this is not like Him. His solution is just and true, and it will work forever.
- Beyond recognizing we have sinned (guilt) and that God has seen it (condemnation), feeling shame for WHO WE ARE is “fit” for us as well. It transforms the instincts of our hearts and shatters every idol of our own self-sufficiency.
Rom 7:24 (NIV) What a wretched man I am!…
- Shame is the “school of love” in Christ. Have we dropped out before graduating? Can we still blush?
1 Jn 1:8-10 (NAS) If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Love Me As You Did At First?
- At first, it was shame that led us to the love and forgiveness of Christ. But we have grown calloused, desensitized, even brazen. Where is the instinct of shame that threw us onto Christ to begin with? Can we now love the Lord as we did at first?
Rev 2:2-5 (Wey) “I know your doings and your toil and patient suffering. And I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, but have put to the test those who say that they themselves are Apostles but are not, and you have found them to be liars. And you endure patiently and have borne burdens for My sake and have never grown weary. Yet I have this against you–that you no longer love Me as you did at first. Be mindful, therefore, of the height from which you have fallen. Repent at once, and act as you did at first, or else I will surely come and remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.”
The Example Of Messiah
Heb 12:2 (Phi) …For he himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering…
Heb 12:2 (Wey) …He, for the sake of the joy which lay before Him, patiently endured the cross, looking with contempt upon its shame..
Heb 12:2 (Jer) Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings us to perfection: for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the right hand of God’s throne.
Phil 2:5,8-9 (Phi) Let your attitude to life be that of Christ Jesus himself… He humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, to the point of death, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal. That is why God has now lifted him to the heights, and given him the name above all names.
- Shame is the wounding of our flesh towards its death with the truth of God.
The Way Of Shame
- If we will but see it, God has revealed the glory of THE WAY in which He is saving us. He is not merely “just” and “true” in the abstract, or in the “big picture”, just and true are His ways as well.
Dan 4:37 (NIV) “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, [after the shameful rebuke of the Lord] praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”
Rev 15:3 (NIV) …the song of Moses [a debilitating prophetic song of the failings of Israel] the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.”
Acts 5:41 (NAS) So they went… rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.
- Shame And The Sovereignty Of God
We are persuaded by Scripture that God has in mind to rebuke all flesh, and to “get in our faces” about election in these last days. This will be consummated in the final reconciliation of Israel after showing the world just how rotten they are. This grand display of God’s prerogative will be the ultimate revelation of election, to be sure, and He is turning this same fire loose on the church in advance, so that we can be purified as well. Many of the previous texts, it might be pointed out, concern Israel.
But are we less apostate than the Jews? More discerning? More obedient given the riches we have in Messiah? The truth is, that even with such advantages, the Lord’s name is blasphemed most lavishly and without repentance by us.
If the “shame treatment” is good enough for Israel in large doses (and stand by for the largest dose), then we in the church should revel in getting the same treatment. We are indeed “first fruits”.
- The Shame Of The Church
The modern church seems divided into two camps: One that thinks anything purporting to be supernatural is of God without testing or discernment (the “horneys”), and the others who would just as soon have God leave them alone now that they are “saved” (the “frigids”). Each group justifies itself by comparing itself to the excesses of the other. As this pathology continues, healing and unity look even more unlikely as we diverge into alternate ditches off of the narrow path.
“A house divided cannot stand,” our Lord said. Considering this, only God can save us now from the storm to come. He told us in advance–just like he told Peter that he would surely fall away–and this episode appears to be necessary to God “saving us in the highest way”. But, boy, is it ugly to consider.
Mat 26:75 (Phi) …and he [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly.
What was our basis for glory–the finished work of Christ–has now become the crowning horror of our shame. We are without excuse on every side, showing unbelief and disobedience in legalism and license, despite every encouragement and warning given. But the good news–the supernatural spark of hope–is that our shame may yet become His glory.
The Shame Of The Ingathering
Zeph 2:1-3 (NIV) Gather together, gather together, O shameful nation, before the appointed time arrives and that day sweeps on like chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you. Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.
Hos 5:15-6:2 (NIV) “Then I [the Lord] will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.”…”Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”
- Feel it? It is the unfinished suffering of Messiah. Out of such shame will God make His election most obvious. And if the church falls away from such riches even now, then let us welcome the “treatment” given to those God loves enough to bring so low, only to exalt in due time. Perhaps this is the proper training even, for those servants chosen to minister encouragement and safety to the people God loves enough to bring even lower before exalting them to the highest place?
Luke 22:32 (NIV) “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
A series of rare lunar eclipses occur between 2014 and 2014, with the first, with the first ‘blood moon‘ eclipse, which took place early Tuesday morning, April 15, 2014.
Stargazers were mesmerizd as they looked up to see the moon blushing, as the eclipse began at about 2 a.m. ET on the early hours of Tuesday and lasted about 3.5 hours. The eclipse was full by 3 a.m. ET
The next three lunar eclipses are expected to appear on Oct. 8, 2014, Apr. 8, 2015 and Sept. 28, 2015.
A lunar eclipse happens when Earth, the sun and the moon align in a way that makes Earth’s shadow falls on the moon, giving the moon a dark color. The moon will appear to look blood-red, which happens when earth deflects the sun’s light.
A small group of Christians see the lunar eclipse series as a sign of End Times and the second coming ofJesus Christ, an event described in biblical prophecy.
This belief is based on biblical prophecy. In Joel 2:31, the Bible says, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD comes.”
Megachurch pastor, televangelist and author John Hagee is warning his congregation and the rest of mankind that there’s a “world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.”
Hagee, who is founder of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, TX, believes the “four blood moons,” (four consecutive and complete lunar eclipses) also known as a lunar tetrad, is a significant event.
The televangelist and author had garnered vast amounts of attention as the date of the first blood moon drew near. Hagee believes the event will change world history, which he discusses in his book Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change. He will be airing a TV special on GETV regarding this topic on Tuesday, April 15, the first night of the tetrad.
The ‘blood moons’ will also coincide with Jewish holidays. This year’s lunar eclipses on Apr. 15 and Oct. 8 concur with the Jewish Passover and feast of the Tabernacle. Lunar eclipses falling on Apr. 4 and Sept. 28, 2015 also concur with the same Jewish holidays.
NASA also believes the lunar tetrad – four successive blood moons – is also very unusual and that it will be a unique sight to behold,
This series of rare astronomical events only happened a handful of times in the last 2000 years.
The last three times have coincided with globally significant religious events.
The tetrad that took place in 1493, saw the Catholic Spanish Inquisition expel Jews. It was an event that changed western Europe dramatically.
The second tetrad took place at the same time the State of Israel was finally established in 1949, after years of struggle.
The last tetrad, which occurred in 1967 happened at the exact same time of the Six-Day Arab–Israeli War.
“Every time this has happened in the last 500 years, it has coincided with tragedy for the Jewish people followed by triumph. And once again, for Israel, the timing of this Tetrad is remarkable,” Pastor Hagee told Express News.
According to Earthsky.org, three out of four of the blood moons cannot be viewed from Israel.
Although Pastor Hagee believes that the upcoming tetrads are significant, Rev. Mark Hitchcock, a preacher and biblical prophecy expert in Edmond, Oklahoma says he doesn’t believe the eclipses are related to Bible prophecy.
Hitchcock pointed out that while rare astronomical occurrences can often be read about in the Bible, the upcoming lunar eclipses is not one of them.
In his recently released book, “Blood Moons Rising: Bible Prophecy, Israel and the Four Blood Moons,” Hitchcock, who serves as senior pastor of Faith Bible Church, explains his stance on the universe’s upcoming event.
The Oklahomian reports that Hitchcock began writing his book because many people were asking him whether the blood moons were linked to prophecy. His colleagues were also overwhelmed with questions about the ‘blood moon’ eclipses. Hitchcock shared that the growing interest resembled the fascination people placed in the Mayan calendar’s end of world prophecy on December 21, 2012.
“The difference in the Mayan calendar idea in 2012 was that it really was kind of outside the Christian world.” However, Hithcock stated, “This is a prediction being made by Christian pastors and Christian teachers.” The Oklahoma-based pastor explained that after examining historical and scriptural information, he believes that “the conclusions they draw on this blood moon prophecy of 2014 and 2015 are not valid.”
The eclipse on April 15 was observed from all around the world, from the central Atlantic westward to eastern Australia.
The significance of lunar eclipses is noted in “the Babylonian Talmud, written almost two thousand years ago, and it records in Jewish thinking that whenever the sun is in total eclipse, it is a bad omen for the nations” (p. 31).
However, if only looking at the world through the prism of a Western or Gregorian calendar, one misses the boat entirely: “If we are not on the biblical calendar, we lose all the significance of the totally incredible signs God is revealing to us” (p. 147). In Pastor Mark book Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, Pastor Mark explained things quite clearly. He alluded to our paying attention to this phenomenon as the “Super Bowl of human history.” While refreshingly making it clear that he doesn’t know what the sign means other than something big is coming, based on previous occurrences, he did cite the possibility of a prophetic war. He also observed, “In the context of the prophet Joel, it mentions twice the moon turning to blood in the context of God’s warning against the nations who divide His land. I believe these could be prophetic warnings not to divide the land of Israel.”
In his book, he asks, “Wouldn’t you want to know in advance of a major catastrophe that would impact your life? Wouldn’t you like to be told when a tornado was about to strike your house or when the stock market was about to tank? … God always warns before He brings judgment. In His mercy, He is sending big time warnings from his heavenly billboards. You can ignore them at your own peril, pooh-pooh them and try to ride out the storm, or you can come to the dress rehearsals and be prepared for what is coming” (p. 63).
Salvation Is Not Cheap: σωτηρία, ας, ἡ … Cognate: 4991 sōtēría (from 4982 /sṓzō, “to save, rescue”) – salvation, i.e. God’s
We are all by nature, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, unclean and defiled in God’s sight. For before Him all our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). Any and every man in his own name, and on the grounds of his own merits has no approach to God and no standing in the presence of God. He must find his cleansing and his moral fitness outside of himself if he desires “to ascend to the hill of the Lord and stand in His Holy place!”
First there must be a stripping of self (Phil. 3:7-9). A repentance from following the sinful way of man and then after this confession of his guilt and repentance, as with Adam and Eve, we must also be clothed by a garment which came by the blood sacrifice of another (Gen. 3:21). Then we will be cleansed and covered in the robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:1-4 – (10) 11 Revelation 7:9-13-17
SATAN REBUKED & MAN CLEANSED
The fourth vision deals with the problem of sin. Before the promised blessing of inhabiting God’s holy habitation can come about, there must be a spiritual transformation in Israel. God’s people, both then and now, have fallen into the mire of sin. Spiritual restoration must occur before God’s called out ones can fulfill their priestly ministry to the world. Both Israel then and God’s people by His new covenant have rebelled and experienced the ensuing filth and marring of sin because they have refused to heed the Word of the Lord.
Here Satan takes these sins of disobedience and prosecutes them before the Lord, making his case that they-we are neither worthy of salvation nor able to be servants to God. But here we have the glorious picture of the Angel of the LORD rebuking Satan and giving the representative of the people, and thus the people, full and final acceptance before God.
God’s people have been called to glory but because of their grievous sins and moral defilement, they must be cleansed or be excluded forever from the holy habitation of the Lord God. (Our text reveals the fact that the exceedingly great and precious promise has been given to the representative of His people, the great High Priest, when He returned from His redemptive mission for fallen man.) Let man understand that their salvation and restoration cannot rest on their own merits of worthiness but only upon the grace which cleanses and gives righteousness to His chosen people who let their great High Priest represent them.
This vision, using very graphic symbolism, is about the restoration of God’s people who having found inner deliverance from sin and its moral defilement will inherit salvation’s outward manifestation and all its attending blessings partially set forth in the first three visions.
THE LORD REBUKES SATAN, 1-2.
Verse one introduces the three main characters featured in the new vision. Then he showed me Joshua, the high priest, standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
Joshua was the high priest who returned with the governor Zerubbabel at the head of the first colony of 49,697 exiles from captivity some sixteen years before. The name means YHWH is salvation. Jesus is the Greek translation.
The Angel of the LORD’s divine character, which shines out in a most striking manner in this vision, can be none other than the pre-incarnate Christ, the second person of the holy trinity. (See Josh. 5:13-15; Judg. 6:20-22; 13:19-22).
The high priest Joshua is standing before the Angel of the LORD expressing that he is in attendance upon or ministering to the Lord before whom he stands. The high priest is the mediator of his people. He stands before the Lord representing the nation. This was understood in Israel where the high priest represented the entire nation before God on the Day of Atonement each year.
The scene may be imagined as the high priest engaged in his high priestly duty of interceding for mercy on behalf of the people he represents. The Angel of the LORD comes down to answer his plea. But Satan, the sworn enemy of the church of God, with jealous eyes, looks on preparing to interrupt by his accusations in this dramatic court room trial. The prosecuting attorney is Satan, the defense attorney is the Angel of the LORD, the judge is the LORD, and the accused is the high priest. The decision; what to do with the sinful people whom the high priest represents.
Satan’ means ‘an adversary’ or ‘accuser’. Here he is specifically identified as ‘the adversary.’ Why God allows Satan to stand before Him as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10) is not answered in Scripture. But we do perceive a part of Satan’s character here. First, he lies and lures mankind into sin(s) and then when the seduction is accomplished, he turns around and becomes man’s accuser.
That is a solemn truth which should never be forgotten. A Christian’s sins do accuse him before the bar of God. They are all made visible there. But it is not mere malice against Israel or us which brings the deceiver there as our accuser, it is Satan’s hatred of God and his desire to frustrate God’s plans to show His love toward us.
In verse 2 the Angel of the LORD steps in and defends His people against their accuser. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebukes you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”
Blessed be the Sovereign LORD! Our adversary may accuse us but it is not in his power to condemn us. Only the Judge has the power to condemn and also to acquit.
Read 1 John 2:1-2. Even though guilty we need not fear the accusations or the fury of Satan. For we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is our representative. Satan may roar but we, who can and do appeal to our High Priest who is also our judge, will never be devoured. All we must do is submit our wills to Christ and stand in the strength of Christ against Satan and God will send him fleeing (Romans 8:33-39).
The LORD rebuke you Satan! When God rebukes it involves a withering of power and suppression in the rebuke. When the LORD rebuked the Red Sea, it dried up (Ps. 106:9; Mk. 4:39). Notice that we don’t rebuke Satan, God does. Jude 8-11
The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem–What continually keeps us attached to God is not our strength to hold on to Him but His choice of us. If our position as God’s redeemed people depended on our faithfulness, then we would have all lost our salvation long ago; but our hope rests safely on the unchangeable character of God who has a hold of us. God acquits not because Satan’s accusations are false but because of God’s love for His people.
Here the choice of Jerusalem is used to signify the final working out of God’s purpose on earth which culminates with Jerusalem becoming the reigning earthly city despite all the enemies roaring and devouring.
Satan was seeking to thwart God’s purpose, or to suggest that in some way the divine choice of Jerusalem (1 Kgs. 11:13, 32; Ps. 132:13-16) was wrong. The LORD’S rebuke is not merely an expression of displeasure or disapproval at the sentiments expressed by Satan. It is accompanied by divine power to give effect to the rebuke.
Is this not a brand plucked from the fire? The Angel of YHWH bases His answer to Satan’s unrecorded accusations on the grounds that what His people had already suffered was punishment enough for their sins. Fire, of course, is a symbol of punishment.
And in a terrible sense, sin lights its own punishment fires. Israel had just been plucked from captivity, the Land of Babylon, where they were paying the penalty for their disobedience. God removed them from the utter destruction of the flame.
[PICKED FROM THE FIRE] John Wesley never forgot a terrible night of his childhood. He was only six years old at the time, and he had awakened in the family’s old rectory to find it ablaze from top to bottom. Everyone else had been dragged from the building, but by some extraordinary oversight he had been forgotten. At the very last moment, just before the roof fell in with a crash, a neighbor climbed on another’s shoulders and pulled the terrified child from a window. Later that scene was drawn for Wesley, and he kept the picture until the day of his death. He wrote under it this verse in the third chapter of Zechariah: “Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?”
Wesley’s experience in being literally saved from fire was unusual, but all of God’s people experience it in a far more important sense. Jesus Christ has rescued us from the fires of hell. We too are encouraged to do so for others. Jude 23 reads, “save others snatching them out of the fire.”
[Christians too are in a testing fire. And the time we spend on this earth is the only hell we will ever know.]
CLEANSING AND CLOTHING, 3-5.
A further description of Joshua’s condition is given in verse 3 to help clarify the situation. Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel.
The reason for Satan’s accusations is Israel’s impurity. The word for filth here Tsoyim is the strongest expression in the Hebrew language for filth of the most loathsome kind. Excrement would be a mild translation for it. And so the garments of the peoples’ representative are sickly defiled. This loathsome, smelly filth are the sins of the people as viewed by the Holy One. Only a forgiving God can love a people so deeply who are so defiled.
[LUTHER’S INK STAIN] Some of you may know someone who has visited the WARTBURG CASTLE in Eisenach, German. The tour guide regularly points out to the black spot on one of the walls of the room which Luther occupied during his benevolently intended imprisonment. Let me share the legend connected with it is this spot. One night during this mournful solitude, when suffering from great depression, because, as he himself expresses it in a letter to Melanchthon, dated May 24, 1521, “I do see myself insensible and hardened, a slave to sloth, rarely, alas! praying–unable even to utter a groan for the Church, while my untamed flesh burns with devouring flame”–the great Reformer dreamed that Satan appeared to him with a long scroll, in which were carefully written the many sins and transgressions of which he was guilty from his birth, and which the evil one proceeded to read, mocking all the time that such a sinner as he should ever think of being called to do service for God, or even of escaping himself from hell. As the long list was being read, Luther’s terrors grew, and his agonies of soul increased. At last, however, rousing himself, he jumped up and exclaimed: “It is all true, Satan, and many more sins which I have committed in my life which are known to God only; but write at the bottom of your list, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.'” Then grasping the inkstand on his table he threw it at the devil, who fled. The memorial of the event being left in the ink-splash on the wall.
No picture can be painted too black of God’s peoples’ disobedience, backslidings, and apostasies. No human lips can sufficiently describe the heinousness of God’s peoples’ sins and transgressions. But when all the long and lengthy indictments have been read, write at the bottom of the list, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (Jer. 31:37; Lev. 26:44).
In verse 4 the Angel takes action that neither Joshua nor mankind can take for themselves. “And He spoke and said to those who were standing before Him saying, “remove the filthy garments from him.” And again He said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.”
In the first three visions reveal God’s grace toward His people in the judgment of her enemies and in the restoration of them and their land. How can an infinitely holy God have such plans with a sinful people? How can the wondrous manifestation of divine mercy to them be consistent with God’s righteousness (Ezek. 36:16-32)?
God has given us the answer prophesied long before the actual event occurred. When the great High Priest took our defiling filth upon Himself and gave Himself as sacrifice for it and us. If by faith we have united our self with the High Priest, Jesus Christ, then He represents us before the Judge. Therefore, there ensues a wondrous transference of character. Our sins become His and His righteousness becomes ours. He takes our sin away and imputes to the sinner who receives His offered grace is His own righteousness. Praise the name of Jesus!
The act envisioned here is performed by the attendants in strict adherence to the Lord’s command and is symbolic of what happens to the individual sinner be he Jew or Gentile who trusts Christ. God never alters the Robe of Righteousness to fit the man, but He alters the man to fit the robe.
Two elements occur in this transaction: First, the taking off–the removal of the filthy garments from him is emblematic of the taking away of sin (Romans 3:25, Eph. 1:7). This action is the result of forgiveness for sin.
Second, the putting on–the clothing in festive robes portraying the imputation, clothing of the righteousness of God through Christ accounted to the believing sinner (Romans 1:16-17). The symbolic transaction of the old character being removed and the new character of purity, joy and glory being given as its replacement.
Note the striking contrast from the filthy, smelly excretement stained garment to the splendid, costly, pure robe (Romans 3:22-26). God not only forgives, He clothes us in the costly robe of Christ’s righteousness.
First He cleansed, then He clothed and now He crowns in verse 5. Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the Angel of the LORD was standing by.
A glistening turban completes the attire. This is not such as might be worn by anybody but is the type of headdress worn by princes and kings. The high priest wore a turban that had written upon it (Ex. 39:30-31) godesh layahawah; Holy to the Lord. Every person who received the Christ in this life will one day be made completely holy to the Lord.
Here we see the LORD standing by approving and directing Joshua’s cleansing, clothing, and crowning because of the fact that God’s mercy and righteousness were bestowed on the basis of the messianic servant’s substitutionary atonement.
The Message (MSG)
4-8 “I will heal their waywardness.
I will love them lavishly. My anger is played out.
I will make a fresh start with Israel.
He’ll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring.
He’ll put down deep oak tree roots,
he’ll become a forest of oaks!
He’ll become splendid—like a giant sequoia,
his fragrance like a grove of cedars!
Those who live near him will be blessed by him,
be blessed and prosper like golden grain.
Everyone will be talking about them,
spreading their fame as the vintage children of God.
Ephraim is finished with gods that are no-gods.
From now on I’m the one who answers and satisfies him.
I am like a luxuriant fruit tree.
Everything you need is to be found in me.”
My God is like the dew He was to Israel to me. I have been able to understand just a little better what is going on in my season of drought because of His wonderful spirit that’s upon my vessel. The god’s I once depended on are gone and He has filled that vacuum with understanding never to allow a void to occur. I have been made aware that the dew or “The Holy Spirit” is a source of freshness. It’s nature’s provision for renewing the face of the earth and His people life. It falls at night, and without it vegetation would die. It is this great renewal value of the dew that is so often recognized in the Scriptures and used as a symbol of spiritual refreshment. Just as nature is bathed in dew, the Lord renews His people. In Titus 3:5 the same thought of spiritual refreshment is connected with the ministry of the Holy Spirit and referred to as “renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
Many Christian workers do not recognize the importance of the heavenly dew in their lives, and as a result lack freshness and energy. Their spirits are withered and droopy for lack of dew. Beloved fellow workers, you recognize the folly of a laborer attempting to work all day without eating, but do you recognize the folly of a servant of God attempting to minister without eating of the heavenly manna? Neither is it sufficient to have spiritual nourishment only occasionally. Every day you must receive the “renewal by the Holy Spirit.” You know the difference between your whole being pulsating with the energy and freshness of God’s divine life or feeling worn-out and weary.
Quietness and stillness bring dew. At night when the leaves and grass are still, the plants’ pores are open to receive the refreshing and invigorating bath. And spiritual dew comes from quietly lingering in the Master’s presence. I can remember not long ago when I was toiling in my own strength to obtain employment, I interviewed over 100 times for positions that I prostrated in prayer over only to be rendered the same results time after time. My anxiety level was high and my peace vexed after every attempt. Now that God has established my understanding and whispered into my quiet vessel I am not moved by toil and running after other god’s. It all came by way of seeking His presence and will for my life, It came by way of surrender to His all and my none.
Getting still before Him is the key, for haste will prevent you from receiving the dew. Wait before God until you feel saturated with His presence. Then move on to your next duty with awareness of the freshness and energy of Christ. Dew will never appear while there is either heat or wind. The temperature must fall, the wind cease, and the air come to a point of coolness and rest-absolute rest-before the invisible particles of moisture will become dew to dampen any plant or flower. And the grace of God does not come forth to bring rest and renewal to our soul until we completely reach the point of stillness before Him.
Drop Your still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our souls the strain and stress;
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Your peace.
Jeremiah 7:1-11 (The Message)
1 The Message from God to Jeremiah: 2 “Stand in the gate of God’s Temple and preach this Message. 3 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, has this to say to you: 4 Don’t for a minute believe the lies being spoken here – “This is God’s Temple, God’s Temple, God’s Temple!” 5 Total nonsense! Only if you clean up your act (the way you live, the things you do), only if you do a total spring cleaning on the way you live and treat your neighbors, 6 only if you quit exploiting the street people and orphans and widows, no longer taking advantage of innocent people on this very site and no longer destroying your souls by using this Temple as a front for other gods – 7 only then will I move into your neighborhood. Only then will this country I gave your ancestors be my permanent home, my Temple. 8 “‘Get smart! Your leaders are handing you a pack of lies, and you’re swallowing them! 9 Use your heads! Do you think you can rob and murder, have sex with the neighborhood wives, tell lies nonstop, worship the local gods, and buy every novel religious commodity on the market 10 – and then march into this Temple, set apart for my worship, and say, “We’re safe!” thinking that the place itself gives you a license to go on with all this outrageous sacrilege? 11 A cave full of criminals! Do you think you can turn this Temple, set apart for my worship, into something like that? Well, think again. I’ve got eyes in my head. I can see what’s going on.'” God’s Decree!
A friend sent me photographs of twenty beautiful churches through-out the world. Located as far apart as Iceland and India, each of them is architecturally unique. The most beautiful place of worship in Jeremiah’s day was the temple in Jerusalem, which King Josiah had recently repaired and restored (2 Chronicles 34-35). The people were fixated on the magnificent building (Jeremiah 7:4), and they foolishly thought that having the temple there meant that God would protect them from their enemies. Instead, Jeremiah pointed out the sin in their lives (vv.3, 9-10).
God is not impressed by beautiful buildings constructed in His name if there is no inward beauty in the hearts of those who go there. He is not interested in an outward legalistic worship that is not matched by inward holiness. And it is wrong to think that God protects people just because of the religious things they do.
Just because we’re reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers doesn’t mean that God is somehow then obligated to do something for us. He cannot be manipulated. The purpose of those external activities is to develop our relationship with the Lord and to help us live differently than those in the world around us.
Lord, with all the funny business associated with faulty doctrines and church leadership, help us to remember that you are most interested in an obedient heart. Change us when we think you’re obligated to us because of our religious acts of worship or service. Give us a pure heart Father in Jesus name Amen….
God cannot and will not be manipulated!!!!!!