Saturday, October 24, 2020

Zealous And Jealous


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

There are six verses (Six being the number of man in the Bible) that speak of God being a jealous God. All six serve as a warning to mankind to not fall away from God and worship strange gods. There are three verses (Three being the number of God and the Trinity) that speak of the zeal of the Lord. All three speak of the Lord’s provision and protection over His people.

God is both zealous for us, and jealous for us. So often, as did the Israelites, we turn away from God and follow our own hearts. And as often happens, our hearts can be even further divided and we go in multiple directions, and have no time for God.

All the world’s population began somewhere in the line of Noah: the world was populated either from Ham, Japeth, or Shem. According to the Bible, Jesus was descended from the line of Shem (Semites), and prior to that, even the Godly line of Seth, Adam’s third-named son (again, the number three is dominant).

Does God follow numerology? No, for there is no science in the numbers God uses in scripture, other than the numbers of holiness, Godliness, sin, and judgment seem to appear repeatedly. Seven? Completion. Eight? New beginnings. Six? Mankind. Four? Judgment (These make for a curious study).

Whole cultures have turned their backs on God and created their own god or gods. And though we all have a tendency to wander away from Him because something else catches our eye, we should always be aware that all that glitters is not gold. Call it the “bling factor.” Satan uses it all the time in the temptations he presents to us.

Today in the second half of Jeremiah 49, we learn of a few more cultures that went their own way and find themselves on the wrong side of God and without a relationship with Him. But we also learn of God’s zeal towards one tribe of people. With the Elamites, after they suffer a while, God raises them up to receive a promise in Latter Days. God’s zeal for His own, a grandson of Noah, by Shem, displaces the judgment sent to them at first.

The Lord knows how to deliver His Prodigals from their troubles and trials.

Today's Audio Message: "Zealous And Jealous"

We could title the last few chapters of Jeremiah, “God’s Word Tested and Proven.” What a testament of a “MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY,” as the inspiration of Scripture is proven by its fulfillment. These chapters have been somewhat difficult as we read of the pronouncements of judgment against several nations surrounding Judea, but we must never forget that “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable”; and we can be sure that these portions of scripture were written for our admonition.

As we finish up chapter 49 of Jeremiah, verses 23-39 focus on the prophesies against Damascus, Kedar, Hazor and Elam. Those who reject God’s Word should take heed, He will not be trifled with. God’s standard of judgment is defined by His holy character, before which none of us can stand.

In the age of grace, God who is infinitely rich in mercy, provided for us the perfect sacrificial Lamb as a sacrifice for our sins. He gave His Son to die in the place of corrupt men and women (John 3:16).  Our salvation depends upon Jesus' flawless nature because, as God made clear to the Israelites, only a perfect sacrifice would do.  Jesus, the Son of God,  was the perfect Lamb, unblemished in every way, and that is why God accepted Christ's sacrifice.  The way we lay claim to the offering made on our behalf is by placing faith in Him. Our salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.  Those who come to Christ by faith are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who will teach us all things and lead us into all truth.





Saturday, October 17, 2020

Hath Israel No Sons?



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The Ammonites, and others, are the focus of Jehovah’s wrath in chapter 49 of Jeremiah. The modern Heshemite Kingdom of Jordan lies to the east of Israel, just across the Jordan River. Its Capitol is Ammon. The name Heshemite comes from the Royal Family’s name, Heshim. The family line goes back thousands of years, and includes the Prophet Muhammad in the 6th century, and before! This extended Arab family has ruled over the Countries of Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia at one time, and continues to rule. King Abdullah, and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan have a peaceful, if controlled relationship with Israel, but it wasn’t always so.

The Ancient Ammonites were perennial enemies with the Israelites, and occupied the land of Gilead, near Mt. Gilead. The Ammonites eventually established their own kingdom, north of the Moabite land in the Thirteenth Century. It is the land of Gilead. It was a land for grazing, and the Tribes of Reuben and Gad had many cattle. The ancient City of Rabbath-Ammon was an Israelite city. In truth, the Heshims were squatters on Israelite soil. As we read in Genesis 15 today, all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates was given to Abraham and to his seed. It was part of the Abrahamic Covenant.

All that land is referred to as “the Levant.” There we find many countries today. The Israelites never received all the land they were given by God, because of their disobedience. They were to be conquerors over the heathen tribes, and purge the land of its idolatry, making the land a Holy Land in which God was served. In obedience, God would go before them, but in disobedience, they fought alone.

Instead of God’s plan, they chose their own, and the Nation-State of Israel today is but a fraction of what God gave them. They’ve been persecuted and under severe judgment ever since. And the nations that occupy the majority of the Levant today are among Israel’s staunchest enemies who now have their own Prophet, their own faith, and their own god.

Islam did not exist until 500 years after the diaspora of 70 A.D., so although Israel could not have adopted anything from Islam, they did adopt the idolatrous practices those of the heathen pagan cultures around them.

The leaven of sin will cause even the chosen dough to rise and be unclean.

“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”  1 Corinthians 5:6


Today's Audio Message: "Hath Israel No Sons?"

As we look at the first part of Jeremiah 49, we see more of the judgments being poured out on the nations surrounding Israel. This chapter contains the poetic oracles against Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam. God declares to kingdoms, tribes and cities, those who have set themselves against Him will be called to accountability. These lands are part of the covenant promise that God had given to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 15:18-21). God had chosen Abraham and his seed, and this land to be a holy people and set apart for Him. Yet because of disobedience and rebellion, the children of Israel had become corrupted by pagan nations. Their enemies would rejoice in their ruin, and take part in their destruction. These enemies are nations who would not submit to God’s authority but exalted themselves over him. As always, God will have the last say!

First up - the Ammonites. 
They were related to the Israelites, being the descendants of Ben-ammi, the son of Lot by his younger daughter. Yet they were hardened enemies to Israel.  They exalted in the miseries of Judah.  They Ammonites had cruel animosity towards them, and they made great show of inappropriate celebration of the sufferings of their brethren.  Their lack of decency marked their depraved nature.  Ezekiel 25:1-7 tells us they stomped their feet and clapped their hands in great delight over Judah's misery. When the King of Assyria invaded them, desolated their land and took them captive, they rejoiced. When Judah was conquered and carried into exile to Babylon, they triumphed in their national ruin. They rejoiced in the desecration of God's temple, blaspheming the Lord God. "Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamity shall not be unpunished" (Proverbs 17:5).

Next up - the Edomites. These are the descendants of Esau who dwelt in the land south of the territory of Moab. These people had a long history of antagonism with the Israelites that date back to the days of Jacob and Esau. Their sins included revenge. Revenge is an act of passion, it is wicked, cruel and malignant; vengeance is an act of justice, it is righteous and majestic and belongs to God. Edom exercised vindictive revenge upon the house of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, the Edomites joined them taking active part in the plunder of the city and slaughter of the Jews. Their cruelty is declared in the 37th Psalm. The Edomites hated the Jews and rejoiced in revenging themselves upon them. Paul writes, "Render to no man evil for evil...Avenge not yourselves, beloved…Vengeance is Mine; I will repay saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:17, 19-21).


 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Pride Of Moab



Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we learned last week, the LORD shall not be “quieted” until He has silenced His enemies, and fulfilled His judgments against them. The seven verses last week pertaining to the Philistine judgment is multiplied nearly seven-fold against the Moabites. Idolatry was rampant among the Moabites, and they even worshiped their National Deity, “Chemosh.” (Pronounced khem-owsh’)

With their roots in the family of Abraham, they fell away from Jehovah and the faith of Abraham and eventually fell to drunkenness and sin. Their namesake ancestor was Moab, a child born in illegitimacy by Lot’s eldest daughter, and fathered by Lot himself. Living in the sexually free society of Sodom and Gomorrah had taken its toll, and 
come full circle to Lot’s daughters. (Aptly named, “Moab” means “of the father.”)

It is still sin when a nation of foreigners fall into Idolatry, like the Philistines, but it seems to raise the ire of Jehovah God all the more when the family of His chosen Abraham falls away from Him, and into the worship of false gods. A god of learning and “letters,” Chemosh was not unique to the Moabites. First and foremost, he was a Babylonian deity, and that’s a problem. But Chemosh also corresponded to Hermes of the Greeks; to Mercury of the Latin speaking Romans; and to Thoth of the Egyptians. Wherever cultures cropped up, the same gods followed them, because their gods are man-made.

Humanity shares this common trait: we all recognize our need to worship, but the majority of cultures miss God’s revelation of Himself in His creative work in nature, and in the world around us. From Romans 1:19, to the end of the chapter, the Holy Spirit sheds light on the issue, exposing the error, and telling us the results of that error: “professing themselves wise, they became fools...”

How gracious God is, however. He sent His only begotten Son to us, that whosoever should believe on Him would be saved from the judgment coming against those that refuse and reject His witness. Jesus also affords us the benefit of the Holy Spirit, teaching us of all God’s mighty works, and that God alone is worthy to be worshiped.

Revelation 4:11 – 

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”


Today's Audio Message: "The Pride Of Moab"

The judgment of the Moabites is their pride. We have seen God’s judgment poured out over His own people, using Israel’s enemies to humble them, and for the last few chapters we have been reading about God humbling Israel’s enemies for the very same reason. God hates sin and will ultimately judge it! 

Those who trust in the LORD, understand God’s goodness, mercy and grace. They follow His leading and rest under His protection. They hide His word in their hearts and count themselves blessed as they openly declare their dependence upon Him.

Those who easily forget God take great pride in their own abilities opening themselves up to moral corruption and apostasy. The pride of man is the root of ALL sin! Moab had become complacent in its relationship with the Lord. Satisfied in their own abilities and situation, they were completely unaware of the danger they were in. They had forgotten God, and in their arrogance and pride began worshiping false gods, adopted the pagan culture around them, and legislated their own law after their own lusts. They have become the dregs at the bottom of the wine vessels, impure, bitter and foul.

Lukewarmness is a spiritual condition that Jesus can’t stand. Another name for it might be “complacency.” Complacency is not contentment. Where contentment is finding joy in the blessings of walking with God, complacency has stopped walking in truth and perfectly satisfied to do so.

If we view ourselves higher than what God determines to be true. (Luke 18:10-14). If we live in an attitude of self-sufficiency. (Proverbs 3:5-6). If we are comfortable in the sinful culture in which we live. (1 John 2:15-17). If we are spiritually satisfied, in false spirituality. (Ephesians 6:12-18). We have fallen into spiritual complacency, sin and may even end up apostate.

The way to guard against complacency is to seek the Lord with all diligence - heart, soul, mind and strength. Real contentment is in Christ. He is our life. He is our satisfaction. He is our Goal. He is our ALL! Run the race and finish strong!






Saturday, October 3, 2020

Can The Lord Be Quieted?


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

In our reading this morning, we are reminded of that false prophetess, Jezebel, wife of King Ahab, who was a King of Israel for 22 years, reigning from Samaria, (see John 4:9). King Ahab did more to anger the Lord than all the kings that went before him. Among other things (SO MANY other things) Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of the King of the Zidonians (City of Sidon), of the Philistine tribes.

This “Power Couple” were exceedingly wicked. 1 Kings 21:25 says this of them: “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.” It is one thing to marry unwisely, and another thing to marry unwisely and get thoroughly caught up in the sin, wickedness, and idolatry of the world.

What we know from Scripture is that God will not always supply grace, particularly to His enemies and His children that align themselves to them. God’s boundless grace and forgiveness has its limits towards those that refuse His Word, His Counsel, and His Law(s). Accordingly, Isaiah 55:6, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:” Clearly, at some point, the Lord will withdraw Himself from those that resist Him.

The horrors of Jezebel’s death can be read in 2 Kings 9. God did not let her live, due specifically to what she was modeling for the northern Tribes. The wife of their King was steeped in all the idolatrous practices of her family, the Philistines.

Jeremiah’s prophecy against the Philistines is our study in Jeremiah 47 today. The cities of Tyre and Sidon will be chewed up as Jezebel, with nothing left of them. The parallels of Jezebel and the Philistines are uncanny. Have you met a Philistine... ever in your lifetime?

Take heed!

Damascus, Syria is fulfilling a prophet’s warnings today in the media:
“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.”  - Isaiah 17:1 -

“Seek ye the Lord, while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near.”
~ Isaiah 55:6 ~


Today's Audio Message: "Can The Lord Be Quieted?"

When God sends judgment it is always just! God is not a warmonger who arbitrarily takes out his frustration out on innocent people, as some have suggested. Nor are the judgments of God some meaningless whim. He doesn’t just suddenly decide to move against people based upon prejudice or revenge. The Creator of all things and Sovereign over all will not allow rebellion against His word, nor His name to be polluted. He is the Judge of men and nations, the self-revealed God wields unlimited authority and power. He will not share His kingdom and His glory with the false gods made by man. He will not tolerate their sin, idolatry and wickedness. God who is merciful will reason with man to repent and turn to Him, but He will not strive with them forever. He promises blessings to those who receive His Word, and judgement to those who reject Him.

The sword of the Lord now comes against the Philistines just as he came against the Egyptians in the previous chapter. They had long been a thorn in Israel’s side, a warring and a wicked people. And we know that those who touch God’s children, touch the apple of His eye. The sword of the Lord cuts deep reminding all people that His power and authority is unmatched, His enemies will fall. It is a stunning and powerful reminder of the sovereignty of God over both his people, but also, everyone else in the world. When he commands one army to defeat another, it happens exactly as He said it would.

All of man’s lofty ideas are nothing compared to God who is all-wise, merciful and just. He calls all men to repentance and to put their trust in Him. God is not willing that any should perish. His abundant grace provides us space to repent, but when we refuse to do so and reject His word, judgement falls upon all those who align themselves against Him.




 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

I Will Deliver


Bobservations Column
By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

We have repeatedly seen in the scriptures, that when Israel looked to their neighboring countries, they failed to draw the line when it came to the pagan religious beliefs of those neighbors. God’s Commandments were quite specific, and held no room for compromise. In the New Testament we read how we are IN the world, but God calls us to not be OF the world. So the same concept of separation applies to the Church that applied to Israel. This is not a double-minded message; we can live peacefully among those with whom we do not share beliefs and cultures. It’s called “civility.” But we cannot adopt their pagan beliefs without putting our faith at risk of compromise. This is a major pitfall in a multicultural society like our own.

Whether it was Egypt, the Philistines, Assyria, or Babylon, it was a rule of international law that you “conquered, or be conquered.” Being at the crossroads of ancient trade routes between three continents, Israel always found themselves with foreigners in the land. And for the biggest and most powerful nations, whoever controlled the Trade Routes, controlled the spread of great wealth. They all had their eye on Israel because of its strategic location.

God is more powerful than them all, so Israel should have been turning to God at every threat. But they didn’t. They turned instead to the pagan gods of enemy nations to supply provision and protection. God eventually used those same foreigners to bring judgment upon His people.

But in God’s anger, He never sought to destroy them, because they were His people. And to free His people from idolatry, He would judge the ones He used to bring judgment upon His own. That’s what these next few chapters are all about: Judgment against the nations that sought to overrun Israel and conquer her, and to use and abuse her people... God’s people! Egypt, the Philistines, Assyria, and Babylon all became targets of God’s wrath.

God wants His people to be free, free to live for Him, and free to worship Him only, and free from the world’s habits and tenets.


Today's Audio Message: "I Will Deliver"

As the book of Jeremiah comes to a few remaining chapters, God has some final words for the surrounding Gentile nations who had not escaped God’s judgment for their own sin.  In the OT we have the Word of the Lord against the Gentiles, in the NT we have the Word of the Lord for the Gentiles.  Egypt is the first to be judged. In 605 BC two major world powers would come to a face off.  The Babylonians were on the move to take over as the most powerful nation. God had warned Judah not to go to Egypt because He knew they would be defeated, yet they willfully disobeyed.  Judah would not be safe apart from God, they would be punished for their disobedience and deliberate sinfulness. Egypt is defeated by the Babylonian armies and ceases to be a dominant power. 

Eighteen years is a long time for God to move on His prophetic word, but He did, and He will. Today is no different! As we await the Lord’s return and coming judgment, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God has delayed His coming.  The apostles expected him in the first century, but he did not come. Now many centuries later, those who have given up the hope of His return have fallen away serving themselves and other gods. When you do not take God at His Word, the consequences are devastating. One thing is for sure, He Is Our Hope, We Can Be Sure Of His Word, and He Will Bring It To Pass.  His delayed timing is an act of mercy, giving His children time to repent and turn back to Him. Don’t overlook the years of mercy that He is possibly extending to you, because He will keep His word and it will come to pass! God is merciful, longsuffering and loving, and is not willing that any should perish, but He is also Righteous, Holy and True, and He will not turn a blind eye to sin.

Chapter after chapter we have seen that when we stray there are dire consequences. But we also see when we repent, He forgives and restores us.  When we are overcome by the enemy, He provides protection.  When we feel abandoned, He comes to our rescue.  When we are discouraged, He give us Hope!  And He certainly provides hope for Israel as He reminds them of His promises to come! 

“ . . . behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2


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