John’s Blog 06/01/2015

MEPHIBOSHETH-The Cripple who was blessed by the King

The experience of Mephibosheth is a story which is rich in the teaching of divine grace and mercy. But before we look at these aspects, let us review the background of the life of Mephibosheth.

It all begins with Mephibosheth’s father, Jonathan. While Saul was king his jealousy of David knew no bounds and on several occasions he tried to murder David. Jonathan, Saul’s son, however, knew in his heart that David would become the next king of Israel instead of himself. Jonathan and David had a deep manly respect and love for each other, and on more than one occasion Jonathan saved David from the wrath of his own father.

Things finally came to a head when Saul attempted to murder Jonathan because he spoke to his father in defense of David. Jonathan and David then made a covenant together and David decided to make himself scarce from Saul’s influence. In 1 Samuel 20:15, Jonathan asks David to promise, that when he became king, he would treat with loving kindness any remaining members of Jonathan’s house. This David did. Later in 1 Samuel 31:2 we read of the slaying of Saul, Jonathan, and two other sons of Saul by the Philistines. Then, in 2 Samuel 4:4 we are told of one of the results of this disaster. “Now Jonathan, Saul’s son, had a son crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the report of Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened that in her hurry to flee, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.”

In 2 Samuel Chapter 9, when David had become king over both Judah and Israel, he remembered his promise to Jonathan and said, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” And through an ex servant of Saul, David learned of the existence of Mephibosheth, and where he was living, “and that he was crippled in both feet,”2 Samuel 9:3. Having sent for him, David restored to Jonathan’s son all the land and possessions which had belonged to Saul, his grandfather.

When Mephibosheth came into David’s presence he prostrated himself before David. But ”David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan,…….and you will eat at my table regularly,’” 2Samuel 9:7. “Mephibosheth shall eat at my table regularly,” 2 Samuel 9:10. “So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table as one of the kings sons,” 2 Samuel 9:11. “So Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, for he ate at the king’s table regularly. Now he was lame in both feet,” 2 Samuel 9:13.

In this short chapter of 2 Samuel 9, we are twice told that Mephibosheth was lame, or crippled in both feet; and four times that he ate at the king’s table. When God tells us of something so many times, it would reward us to pay attention and ask ourselves, “What does God want us to see or learn from this incident?” Another interesting fact is that in verse 5, Mephibosheth, before coming to David, the king, was living in Lo-Debar, which means “pastureless.” We can therefore surmise that here we have a man who was both lame and poverty stricken.

The story of Mephibosheth has often captured the imagination of the preacher. Why? Because Mephibosheth both in his life and his person encapsulates a wonderful “type,” (or picture) of a sinner coming to faith, and of his life afterward as a Christian.

In 2 Samuel 4:4, we are told that Mephibosheth, who was of the royal line, became a cripple through a fall. Our Bibles often refer to the sin of Adam as the “fall,” and in Adam we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. As a result of his fall, Mephibosheth suffered with an imperfect walk and his way of life was crooked. Does this not describe the way of our own life before our coming to faith in Christ? We did not walk in God’s way and our life was so wrapped up in self and the world that we told ourselves that we had neither time or need of God, so our lives were often crooked.

Like Mephibosheth, who was no longer a prince of the royal line and lived in exile, so we, as sinners were estranged from the Kingdom of God and lived in a spiritual Lo-Debar. We may have been materially wealthy, but spiritually our lives were dry and barren. It was while living in this state that both Mephibosheth and we received a summons from the King. He had made a Covenant to save us, and this was His time.

In 2 Samuel 9:7, David said to Mephibosheth, “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan.” Has not God shown kindness to us for the sake of Jesus Christ and for all He did for us through His Cross and Resurrection? Not only this, but David restored a heritage which had been lost. And we too have been made into sons of the King and we have a heritage in the Kingdom of God, and in which we shall reign with Him throughout eternity.

Whenever Mephibosheth was sitting in the Kings presence at his table, you will notice that his crippled feet were hidden and out of sight from the king’s gaze. This is so with us; whenever our sin is confessed and forgiven by the King, it is as though it never existed. Our sins are put behind His back, and buried in the deepest sea, to be remembered no more, Isaiah 38:17, Micah 7:19. Hallelujah!!

For a period of time David was later absent from Jerusalem, and during this period Mephibosheth lived a life of self-denial and experienced persecution and slander, 2 Samuel 16:3 and 19:24-27. Once again, this is so like the experience of Christianity. While our King is absent, in many countries of the World, God’s people are suffering persecution, and in our own Country it is ever more difficult to confess our faith without being slandered due to “Political Correctness,” and other reasons.  However, in 2 Samuel 19:30 we also note how Mephibosheth rejoiced at the return of the king. Are you looking and hoping for our King’s return? Surely, His return is the only answer for this sin-sick world, and He cannot come soon enough.

Even so, come Lord Jesus!! In that day, our rejoicing will know no bounds.

God bless you

John.

John’s Blog 18/12/2014

Zacharias and Elizabeth – A Very Godly Couple.

As this is the Christmas period, I thought I would write about a very godly husband and wife, and their connection with Mary, the mother of Jesus.

All that we are told of Zacharias and Elizabeth we owe to Luke and what he has written in his Gospel. However, Luke, in very few words, tells us much about this godly couple.

Zacharias and Elizabeth lived during the reign of King Herod the Great, but we also know that at this time the days of his life were numbered, and within a few years of Jesus’ birth Herod died. We also learn that Zacharias was a priest and Elizabeth was a direct descendant from Aaron. Israelites were commanded to marry within their tribe, but priests were given the option to take a wife and marry from any of the tribes, but she had to be of pure Jewish descent. Zacharias was doubly blessed with Elizabeth, for not only was she born of the priestly line, but because of her upbringing she was also a woman of piety, strong faith, and spiritual gifts. Luke tells us that “they were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the Commandments and requirements of the Lord,” Luke 1:6.

Zacharias was a priest of the division of Abijah. King David, with Zadok’s help, divided the priesthood up into twenty-four divisions, (1 Chronicles 24:10). Each division would serve for two weeks attending to the offerings, the incense, the showbread and any other duty in the worship of God. At the festivals of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles they were so busy that all the priests helped in every way they could. At the return from the Exile only four divisions returned, so Nehemiah divided these up into twenty-four divisions and gave each one its original name. Each division was then on duty twice a year, for a week on each occasion, (Nehemiah 12:22-26).

There were so many priests in each division, that the choice as to who would serve in the Temple was decided by lot. This meant that the privilege of serving might only fall on an individual once in a lifetime. It was therefore a very great honour to be chosen. At the time we are considering, the lot to attend to the incense had fallen upon Zacharias. Zacharias, belonging to the order of Abijah, which was the eighth division, and would have been serving in the Temple about late June or early July.

The Jewish people kept two calendars. A civil calendar which was the Official Calendar of kings, childbirth, and contracts; and a Sacred Calendar from which Festivals were computed. Jewish months were alternately thirty and twenty-nine long, and this resulted in a year of 354 days, so every three years they would add a twenty-nine day month to correct things. Their Civil year commenced during our September/October, while their Sacred Calendar commenced March/April. This is how we know the time when Zacharias was serving in the Temple. You might ask, “Does it really matter?” Only that it gives us an approximate time of the actual conception and birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So then, as Zacharias was within the Holy Place of the Temple attending to the Altar of Incense, he was staggered to see an angel standing by the Altar. To help him recover, the angel spoke to calm him and allay his fears. Then came the most amazing message that he had ever heard. Gabriel explained that Elizabeth would conceive and bare a son, who would be filled by the Holy Spirit before his birth and be the forerunner of the coming Messiah.

The longer Gabriel spoke, the more problematic and impossible it all sounded. The main problem for Zacharias was the fact that both he and Elizabeth were now elderly and his wife was past childbearing age. Beside this, they had prayed much during their married years for a child, but their prayers had gone unanswered. In that society, to be childless was considered by some to be a curse. But despite this they had both kept faith with God. Glory to God! Their prayers were now about to be answered in a way that they could never have believed.

Through the experience of Zacharias and Elizabeth we are taught a very valid lesson on prayer. For how long had this loving couple prayed and pleaded with God for a child? A possible estimate would be anything from thirty to forty years, depending on when they were married. They had arrived past the point where Elizabeth’s natural ability of childbearing could happen, and was now virtually impossible. But NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD! God had heard their first prayer so many years earlier. Yet, unknown to them, Mary of Nazareth had not yet been born. The birth and preparation of Mary to conceive the Lord Jesus was like the last piece of a jig-saw puzzle which makes the whole picture complete. But, at the time of their marriage, Mary existed only in the mind and plan of God.

Zacharias, having been struck dumb for his initial disbelief at Gabriel’s news, came to the end of his service and went home in somewhat of a daze. A short time after, Elizabeth conceived their child. The lesson we should learn from their experience is this. When God first prompts us to pray for something or someone, the answer may come quickly. However, if it doesn’t, it could be that the answer cannot come until God has put things into place, which we know nothing of. It may take days, months, or even years for Him to arrange the answer, but the time element should not cause us to give up and stop praying. Unless, of course, God prompts us to stop. We do not see what is going on in the unseen world of other’s lives, so we must trust God until the answer comes, or He says, “Stop praying.”

Six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy would be about the month of December. At this time Elizabeth received a visit from Mary of Nazareth to whom the angel had told Mary of Elizabeth’s condition. As Mary, who was now also pregnant with Jesus, entered Elizabeth’s house a remarkable thing happened. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy,’” Luke 1:41-44.

We can therefore surmise from Luke that if Mary was pregnant in December, the Lord Jesus could have been conceived early December and born the following September/October; hereby fulfilling the Feast of Passover in His death, Pentecost by giving the Holy Spirit to the Church, and Tabernacles by His birth or even His Second Coming to the world. However, to celebrate this, the most momentous event in the history of the world on December 25th is as good a date as any. And we do need to celebrate the event.

In conclusion, Elizabeth gave birth to her son, and at his dedication his father insisted his son be named John. At this point Zacharias’ tongue was released to speak again.

And the rest, they say, is history.

God bless you

John

John’s Blog 10/12/2014

CALEB-No Age of Retirement with God.

Our first reference to Caleb is in Numbers 13:6, where Moses chooses those men who were to be sent into Canaan and spy out the Land with a view to occupying the inheritance which, through Abraham, had been promised by God to Israel. Judging by his later experience, at this stage, Caleb must have been about forty-one years old. He would have celebrated the night of the Passover in Egypt; walked through the Red Sea; eaten the daily Manna; drank water from the Rock; and seen the descent of God upon Mount Sinai, and the reading of the Law by Moses.

So, here we have a man who had walked the miracle path of God. A man who was full of faith, and knew that he followed a God who was almighty. Within himself, Caleb knew that from a feeling of his inner knowledge, he would act fully to fulfill his God’s expectations.

At the end of forty days, the spies returned and gave their report to Moses. Their report (Numbers 13:25-29), contained both good and bad news. Unfortunately, it was the bad news upon which the people focused. Have you ever noticed, even today, it is often bad news which people latch on to, even when there is good news as well? It was the same here with Israel, and despite all they had seen of the works and character of God, they still wanted to return to Egypt. How typical of some people; they hear bad news and immediately think of the worst scenario. Unfortunately, in that frame of mind one can, like Israel, make wrong decisions.

Into this disarray of Israel’s lack of faith in their God, stepped Caleb. “Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘we should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it,’” Numbers 13:30. Yes, he had seen and heard the bad news, but he had not panicked. Instead he had weighed it against the power and might of his God, plus the good news of the Land. What a good example Caleb is for our Christian attitude of seeking to fulfill the will of God.

In Numbers 14:5-10, Joshua and Caleb plead with the people to change their minds and to arise and take the Land. However, instead of listening and following, they picked up stones to stone Joshua and Caleb, and at this point, the glory of God appeared before them as He threatened to destroy His people for their unbelief.

Before continuing with Caleb, there is a very important spiritual principle in Numbers 14:9, “Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the Land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” The Amplified Version reads, “Their defense and the shadow (of protection) is removed from over them.”

What Joshua and Caleb said here is a very, very, important encouragement to all those who have an opportunity to speak, (under the anointing and prompting of the Holy Spirit), to an unbeliever, or to pray for someone or a situation. If God has prompted us, then we can be assured that He has already gone ahead and removed Satan’s covering or protection, and thus, His Word can become effective. Of course the old nature in the mind of the unbeliever may resist God’s Word for some time, but preparing the person to receive Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit.

The upshot of Israel’s rebellion was to be turned around and to wander in the wilderness until all that generation from forty years and upward when they left Egypt, had died. That is, except Joshua and Caleb. These two faithful men later led a new generation across the Jordan to take Canaan. We also find in Numbers 34:19, both Joshua and Caleb were chosen to apportion the area of Judah as their inheritance, after its capture. Caleb’s portion was to be the area which he had spied out forty years previously, Deuteronomy 1:36.

By the time Caleb was able to receive his possession of the Land, he was eighty-five years old. “I am still as strong today as I was in the days Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and for coming in,” Joshua 14:11. So what did he request as his portion? A nice verdant valley for his flocks? Somewhere where he could settle down and live out the rest of his life in peace and quiet?

No, not at all! “Caleb said to Joshua, ‘Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken,’” Joshua 14:12. “So, Caleb was given Hebron for his inheritance, because he followed the Lord God of Israel fully,” Joshua 14:14b. We read further on that Caleb and his sons and nephews drove out the Anakim and took full possession of his inheritance. What a man!

I noted in my heading that, “There is no age of retirement with God.” There is no such thing as an O.A.P., Senior Citizen, or ‘wrinkly,’ in God’s kingdom. God does not regard age as does the world. Speaking to a very dear friend recently, he said, “Our Pastor is aged ninety-three, and we think he will die in the pulpit.” It is so sad that so many elderly godly men and women are written off as being past their sell-by date of usefulness when they reach the age of Government retirement. If that had been the rule for Caleb, he never would have experienced the most fruitful and satisfying time of his life.

Age does restrict us in some ways, but if we seek God, we will find that He will always have something new in His heavenly cupboard into which He can direct us. He may switch our life into a completely new direction and a different way of serving Him. Let us learn a lesson from Caleb. A person’s age never was, nor never is, a barrier to God. If we are committed to serving and trusting Him, who knows what can be on His heavenly agenda for us.

Be encouraged. Be like Caleb; hold your faith; seek His face, and who knows where it might lead.

God bless you,       John.

John’s Blog 19/11/2014

LOT-THE RIGHTEOUS BUT WORLDLY MAN.

Genesis12:4, “So Abram went forth as the Lord has spoken to him; and Lot went with him.”

At the call of God, Abram, on leaving his father in Haran, took his wife Sarai and nephew Lot, and set out southward toward Canaan. He did not know what to expect, only that he was in the hands of God and obeying His guidance. Thinking of the way Abram set out on his journey always reminds me of a little song which my wife and I use to teach in the Children’s Bible Club. We used to run this Club in our home for our own children and their friends in the same street. The first verse and chorus went as follows:-

Abraham where are you going?
Anywhere that God will say;
Will you leave without first knowing?
Yes for God will show the way.

Chorus: Faith is just expecting
What God says He’ll do;
So Abram went and lived in a tent
For God’s Word he knew was true.

This is a simple song, but it encapsulates the step of faith which Abram made. From Ur to Harran, and now on faith’s journey to Canaan’s, Abram’s nephew Lot must have both caught and been taught something of living by faith in the One supreme and true God in whom Abram believed and followed. As Abram was moving through Canaan (see Genesis 12:6-9), he pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai, and there built an altar and worshipped God. Here again, it is quite possible that Lot assisted with the sacrifices which Abram made upon the altar, and would have learned of their significance. We can only gather from all this that, like Abram, Lot also became a believer in the One Who became known as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

As we follow Abram, and those with him, we learn that due to a famine in Canaan, they all went down to Egypt and awaited better times. This was not a particularly happy time for Abram and as soon as possible they all returned to Canaan. We are not told any of Lot’s experiences in Egypt, but it is certain that he observed many of the ways and attitudes of those among whom he lived, and may even become influenced by the things he had both seen and heard.

As soon as they arrived back in Canaan, Abram rebuilt his altar to once again establish his worship of God. However, trouble was already clouding the horizon. Genesis 13:5 tell us that when they came back from Egypt, both Abram and Lot were very wealthy with flocks, and herds, and tents. Unfortunately, Lot could not handle his wealth, and had become mean-minded and self-seeking. Genesis 13:7 tells us “And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling in the land.”

Abram was content to live peaceably with Lot and the land’s other inhabitants until God fulfilled His promise to give the whole land to him and his descendants. Lot’s mind though was filled with other ideas. He observed that his uncle still had no children and was getting older. With no visible descendants for Abram, Lot began to visualise himself as taking Abram’s place, and therefore began to stretch his wings. Lot then gave instructions to his herdsmen to begin to stir up trouble with Abram’s herdsmen by moving Abram’s landmarks, taking most of the good water, and being generally offensive to the other herdsmen.

The unfortunate thing about this strife, was that it was observed by the other inhabitants, namely the Canaanite and the Perizzite. The Holy Spirit named these people in the last sentence of Genesis 13:7 for a purpose. It was to remind us that when there is contention and falling out among God’s people, it does not go unobserved by non-Christians in the world.

The fact is, that sometimes there are differences among Christians and occasionally a group in one Church will leave and begin another Church a short distance away. This can happen for a number of reason; the Lord may do it for some purpose of His own; or a disagreement within the leadership; or a struggle for power among the members of the congregation. We should always remember that whenever there is a problem within a Church or Fellowship, we need to take notice that we are living among the Canaanites and the Perizzites of this world, and the first thing we should wish to avoid, through our differences, is to cast aspersions upon the name of Christ.

Abram, being the senior, the leader, and the wealthier with not only substance, but through God, holding the title-deeds for the whole land, could have told Lot to pack up and go to a place allotted for him by Abram, thus avoiding any further conflict with his nephew. However, with the two men deciding to go their separate ways, we see full blown evidence of their natures. Abram put his authority and position totally aside and placed himself on an equality with Lot. Rather than be caused to reflect upon Abram’s nobility and high-mindedness, Lot’s heart turned to stone. Instead, without even a ‘thank-you,’ he looked out the best land and the best water in all the country around, and moved off without a moment’s hesitation .Lot ignored the fact that the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were where he had chosen to live, and also ignored the fact that he had often heard his uncle pouring out his heart to God for those cities. Well could the Apostle have been speaking of Lot when he wrote to the Galatian Christians, “You were running well, what hindered you from obeying the truth,” Galatians 5:7.

Like Lot, many Christians have done well in their employment, but have been bitten by the bug of “success at any price.” The thought of a higher salary, or a better position has ensnared many at the expense of their Christian walk. I am not saying that a desire to improve one’s working situation is wrong, far from it. But not at the expense of one’s faith and family. I was once offered a very responsible positon in a Company for which I worked. The position would entail ensuring the legality of all the future financial transactions of the Company. Having learned something of the past history of the Managing Director I did not feel that as a Christian I could put my name to some of the transactions that were being planned. Was the salary good? Yes. Was the position good? Yes, excellent. Would all the transactions of the Company be honest and above board? Doubtful. So I turned down the Company’s offer. As Christians, we have to deal with the Canaanite, but we do not have to pitch our tent near or live in Sodom to do so.

Lot, however, allowed the glitter of more wealth and position to dazzle his thinking into compromising his weak and shaky faith. He did not ask any advice from Abram, and through his mean and selfish attitude, by choosing what he thought was the best, ended up by living in the worst of places.  This proved his undoing. There are many Scriptures which point out the danger of compromising with the world and James 4:4 tells us, “Friendship with the world is hostility toward God.”

Lot had not long been living in Sodom when it was attacked, and Lot (with others), were carried off as captives. On hearing this Abram gathered together a force, pursued the invaders and rescued Lot. Did Lot learn his lesson from this experience? Not at all. He returned immediately to Sodom. “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly,” Proverbs 26:11.

Later on, Sodom was visited by two angels who had come to rescue Lot and then destroy the city. Some of Lot’s righteousness at last began to re-assert itself as he tried to stop the Sodomites of the city from abusing the angels. These angels finally managed to drag Lot, his wife and two daughters away from the city, while they destroyed it. What a cost to Lot. He lost all his wealth, his wife, and was sadly debased by his two daughters. As Jude instructs us, “save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating the very garments polluted by the flesh,” Jude 23. Lot was literally saved from the fire, but with his garments smelling of the smoke. However, Peter does refer to Lot as righteous. “…and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), 2 Peter 2:7-8.

As Christians, there is much we can learn from Lot. Who does not have a family member, or a friend or acquaintance who once had a lively faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and was used by God in the Church? There are many around us whose faith has grown cold because of other attractions, or by making compromises have become entangled with the world.

Please pray for them until their faith re-awakens and they once again enjoy their faith in God.

God bless you,

John

John’s Blog 11/11/2014

TERAH-THE MAN WHO STOPPED HALFWAY

GENESIS 11:24-12:1.

There was once a family who lived in Ur of the Chaldeans. The father’s name was Terah, and he had three sons; Nahor, Haran and Abram. To Terah’s son Haran, was born a child who was named Lot. Like all families, they were a very mixed bunch, and, as often happens there was one son who was noticeably different from the others. This one was named Abram (Abraham), and he was always listed first among the brothers because God put a special calling upon his life. He was to be the first member of the Hebrew nation and very special to God.

There is very much which could be said and written about Abram, but it is about the others of the family who are to be the subjects of this Blog. Abram was like a planet around which, like asteroids, the other members of the family circled and were ultimately influenced.

We know from Joshua 24:2, that Terah worshipped idols and possibly the rest of the family, except Abram. According to Rabbinic sources they suggest that Abram discovered the One true God even before God called him. Neither is there any suggestion in Stephen’s defence in Acts 5:1-53 that Abram was an idol worshipper. However, when God’s call came to him in Genesis 12:1-3, it had a profound effect, not just on Abram but the rest of the family. He obviously spoke to the family about God’s call and his proposed leaving of Ur. Such was Abram’s faith in God, that when he set out on his journey out of Ur, he had no idea as to where God was leading him.

The fact that Terah, Lot, and Sarai (Abram’s wife), uprooted themselves,(Haran died in Ur, and Nahor remained behind), and followed Abram did show a willingness to believe the veracity of Abram’s calling and revelation.

Both Terah’s and Lot’s interest and curiosity must have been aroused for them to go with Abram. No doubt Terah talked with Abram for many hours as they journeyed northward from Ur. They finally came to Haran (or Charon), which was the half-way point between Ur and Canaan. The family then settled in Haran for a number of years, then Abram, Sarai, and Lot departed for Canaan. Terah, however remained in Haran for another sixty years, at the end of which he died. Who knows, God may have arranged it in this way because Terah was becoming a drag on Abram, thus preventing him from fulfilling God’s plan and purposes.

There are two possible ways to consider Terah’s life. One way is to assume that through Abram’s experience and calling by God, Terah too had become a believer and given up worshipping his idols, and was willing to follow the One true God. In Genesis 11:31 we read, “Terah took Abram his son, and Lot……,” does suggest a position of leadership regarding the family move and a practical faith in the whole event.

Alternatively, Genesis 12:1 says, “Now the Lord said to Abram, go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house…” Abram alone received both the calling and the instructions and was therefore the prime mover in the whole venture. The fact that we are told Terah took them would only be to give him the honour as to his position within the family. Also, with Joshua 24:2 written many years later and still calling him an idolater it could be that he had never really changed his beliefs.

So then, in Terah we see two types of Christian enquirer. Firstly, we see the person who comes into contact with a Christian and realises that his own life is lacking. He asks questions of the Christian, and the unbeliever begins to go to Church with him, and as a result begins to make changes in his life. So, he begins the journey of faith toward the place of promised fulfilment. However, like Terah, who lived in Haran for sixty years after the departure of Abram for Canaan, the enquirer never reaches the place of faith in Christ. He has tasted of the good things of the Gospel, but the pull of his old life is too much. Like Terah, he can only stand there and watch others going on to enjoy the life of faith with God.

The second type of Terah, is the person who enjoys the company of Christians. He will spend time with them and even ask them questions about their faith, but does not see any need to make changes in his own life. He doesn’t swear and use foul language, or act selfishly or unlovingly, or nastily when in Christian company, but at home or in his place of work, he is a different man. Like Terah, he may be quite willing to stay where he is. Perhaps he may be somewhat envious of the Christian way of life, but he is happy to see Christians enjoy their faith, and to watch them go about their life, but make no effort to follow after them.

In our contact with people, we meet many “Terahs” or one sort of another. Who among us has not talked to a person about their faith; encouraged them to come to Church; or even to accept Christ as Lord and Saviour; even seen them begin to respond to the teachings of the Gospel, only to see them fall away and go back to their old life? How many hours have been spent talking to someone and answering questions, only to be told, “I’m happy with my life as I am, thank you very much?”

We must not be downcast by these experiences. The Lord Jesus had them too. What we have said to another, may be just one small link in the chain which will one day result in them being saved. God has a time for everything, and your word at any one time may be something God can use ultimately to later bring that person to faith, so do not be discouraged if you do not succeed in winning a person to Christ. It’s all in God’s hands.

God bless you

John.

John’s Blog 05/11/2014

JOHN’S BLOG-BIBLE CHARACTERS (2)

NIMROD.

In my last Blog I wrote of Enoch, who was good and righteous. This time the spotlight is turned upon a character who was bad and rebellious, for that is what his name means. It comes from the Hebrew word “Marad,” which means “rebel,” or “he will rebel.” This is what he did: Nimrod didn’t just sin, but led mankind in an open rebellion against the person of God.

To learn of Nimrod’s rebellion, we need to refer to Genesis 10:8-12; and Micah 5:6, but before we look at it closely, we see that open sin was already running in the family. As we read the genealogy of Noah’s sons we find that from Shem’s line was born Abraham, and ultimately the Messiah, Jesus. From Japheth descended many of the northern and eastern nations, and Ham was the founder of the Canaanites and many of the Middle Eastern nations. From the beginning, Noah laid a curse upon Ham and Ham’s son Canaan because Ham had abused his father, Genesis 9:24-27. From another of Ham’s sons, Cush, came Nimrod, so his family history was not too good.

It appears that Nimrod grew up as a wild and rebellious person. The Jewish historian, Josephus, tells us that “Nimrod persuaded men not to ascribe their happiness to God, but to him as the cause of it. He became a great leader; he taught men to centralise; and defied God to send another flood.”

In Genesis 10:9 we see the term referencing Nimrod as a “mighty hunter.” This could refer to the hunting of animals or could also mean the hunting of men to enslave them. Psalm 52:1-3 describes the spirit that was in Nimrod. “Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The loving-kindness of God endures all day long. Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit. You love evil more than good, falsehood more than speaking right.” The different Hebrew words describing Nimrod could be translated; powerful warrior, tyrant, champion, giant, or strong one, and has reference to those like Nimrod who were renowned for their wickedness.

In Genesis 10:10, Nimrod set up a kingdom with Babylon as his capital. In Genesis 10:11, Ashur, another descendant of Ham built Nineveh in Assyria. These were the first two empires, and throughout the Scriptures they were opposed to God and God’s people Israel. This was the beginning of empires, not guided by God, but by lawless tyrants who taught men to revolt against Divine laws and authority. According to Strong’s Concordance, the Scriptures mention Babylon two hundred and ninety seven times and Assyria one hundred and forty one times, with very little good said of either of them within the pages of the Bible.

The history and fortunes of Israel, Babylon and Assyria take on the appearance of the two sides of a balance. When Israel is living in obedience to God, Babylon and Assyria are minor players on the world stage. But when the situation is reversed and Israel has turned from God to worship idols, then Babylon and Assyria are in the ascendancy

In Genesis 11:1-9, we read the events of why the people were scattered and their language changed. Again, Nimrod was at the root of it. Not only did he establish the first kingdom, but the first universal false religion after the flood. We note in Genesis 11:1-2 that those who were born after the flood travelled from Ararat to the east of the Euphrates and were of one language (Hebrew), and one religion, and it was there that Nimrod founded his kingdom.

In the next two verses, Genesis 11:3-4 we read of a people determined to act through the motivation of self rather than God. “Let us make bricks; let us burn them; let us build a city; let us build a tower; let us make a name for ourselves.” Where was God in all this? God was quietly watching and taking notes. By the time the people had finished building the tower, God decided that enough was enough. Nimrod and others had said, “Let us make a tower whose top will reach into heaven.” In the Hebrew, there are no words to be translated “will reach,” which means that they were not trying to build as high as heaven. The Hebrew is, “and his top with the heavens.” So, what they were doing was to build a tower whose top would be dedicated to the heavens. This means it’s top would portray the signs of the Zodiac in such a way as to be objects of worship.

Among the ruins of ancient Babylon there is a ruin which rises to the height of one hundred and fifty three feet above the plain. It is made of kiln-dried bricks in seven stages to correspond with the planets to which they were dedicated. The lower black, the colour of Saturn; the next orange, for Jupiter; the third red, for Mars; and so on.

We read in Genesis 11:5-11, how the Lord came down, and between themselves (“us” the Trinity in vs.7) decided to make a dramatic change in the way people spoke and related to each other, which would result in them being scattered throughout the world into different nation groups. It is interesting that in Genesis 11, God gives various tongues as an expression of His judgement; but in Acts chapter 2, He gives various tongues as an expression of His grace; and in Revelation chapter 7 we see all those tongues gathered round the throne, all giving glory to God.

In the life of Nimrod and within succeeding generations, down to the present day, mankind is still suffering from the “self” complex and will continue to do so until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first four verses of Genesis chapter 11 there is no mention of God, and no house for Him. Man ever seeks to shut God out and exalt himself. We can observe the “Nimrod” character in the life of every ruler of note. We think of the Caesars; the Tsars; Napoleon; Hitler, and Stalin, up to the modern day rulers in various countries.

However, if we are honest with ourselves, this same “Nimrod” character of self-exaltation and self-desires is within us all. As Christians we call it the “old nature,” like Nimrod we sometimes prefer to go our way rather than God’s way.

In closing, let me encourage all who read this Blog, to recognise the stirrings of our “Nimrod,” and before it begins to affect our walk with the Lord, or our relationships, let us quickly seek God’s Spirit to overcome its desires. “Lord, please help us at all times to walk in the character of Jesus, in grace and humility, and help and strengthen us against walking in the ways of Nimrod, Amen.”

God bless you.  John.