Archive for August, 2009

Yesterday we began to look at the fact that we have a choice and that we must choose. If we do not choose then we are choosing Mt. Sinai, the bondwoman, for each of us was born by her and thus into slavery. We need a new Master that will free us from our past and break the binds that tie us. We need to come to Mt. Sinai so that we can have an encounter with God.

Mt. Sinai is the place that we must appear before in order to come into the Presence of our new Master, God. Mt. Sinai is a picture of the law, ever present, immovable, standing throughout the ages, looming, dark, foreboding, perilous, unforgiving. The law is something that we must deal with if we are to move forward in our journey.

for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. 12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death. Exodus 19: 11,12

Notice first that "the Lord will come down". We do not ascend the Law — it is insurmountable. You can not climb it for there is always some precipice, some gap, some stone that stands in your way. Only One has ever scaled her lofty heights and conquered her regimen of discipline. Only One has claimed a victory of her perfect requirements, He is Christ Jesus our Lord. No, the Lord will come down. He must come to you, you can not go to Him.

Notice next that Moses "set bounds unto the people, round about, saying, Take heed… that ye go not up… or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death". God lives above Mt. Sinai, above the Law. He is superior to the Law for it is but an expression of His perfect requirements for holiness. And complete holiness is the requirement to come into His Presence.

So the Law, Mt. Sinai is covered with thunderings, lightning, the noise of the trumpet, and great smoking. It is an awesome sight and experience that is meant to produce fear and trembling. Who can approach God by it? The Law is meant to show us our utter unworthiness to come to God, to cause us to cry out for mercy. We are all undone in the knowledge of the Law. We can not perform her perfect requirements and we must be perfect to come to God. This is where the heart begins to show itself.

Those who are sold on the strength of man and pride of effort will determine to make a deeper commitment, to try harder, to resist the temptation to bend the knee and admit defeat. They will redouble their effort, they will re-energize their thinking and will to keep the law. They will not see that they have already faulted at one point and are therefore guilty of all. They will press on to touch the mount and thereby die. They have no respect or fear of God and His loving border. They charge through with Self in the lead, headlong to their destruction.

Then there are those who will be devastated by their fear and not have the heart, nor strong desire to continue. They will be crushed by their fear, lacking faith to trust. They want to approach God but lack the faith and do not believe that they will be safe. They trust their emotions and therefore retreat.

But those who hear the Word of the Lord, believe He is loving and can be trusted, sanctify themselves by repentance and the blood that they may come boldly before the Throne.

This the purpose of the Law, of Mt. Sinai, to bring us to repentance. Not to cause us to try harder and apply more human effort. Not to run in fear and make God to be a cosmic bully who likes to scare us. But to balance the love of God with the fear of God and see our need for Him and recognize that we can only come to Him if we trust and obey (love and fear) Him.
Continuing on with our passage from Galatians 4, Paul gives us a closer look at the law and what we choose when we decide to go the way of the law.

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

Two choices. There are only two. You come to a fork in the road of life and have to choose which way to go. These two sons or two ways of going forth are like signposts.

First there is the sign marked "Son of the bondwoman". This is the way that the clan that is born into bondage go. Every one from this household is held fast by the leash of another. Sometimes this leash is rather long and lets you roam with apparent freedom but if you get too close to the boundaries set by that master there is a quick tug and reality strikes. You can not go there. You are bound.
You are in covenant with the flesh and the flesh has certain rules and set principles.

The other sign is marked "Son of the freewoman". Now the freewoman is not in bondage and thus you are born into freedom when you choose this way. There are guideposts along the way to tell you which way you should go. There are the words of those who have gone before you, other children of the freewoman. To be sure there are boundaries but these are enforced by the loving hand of a Friend not a cruel taskmaster. There are principles that govern this way too, but they are not cruel and unforgiving but rather beckon and plead and encourage you by the Love of the Way Maker to stay the course you have begun on.

24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants;…

When you choose the way you will go, and you in fact must choose, you are agreeing to the terms of that way. Choose well. You are making a covenant, an agreement to the terms. The two Covenants are the Law (self-righteousness) or Grace (the righteousness or Christ).

… the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

Again, Paul wants you to see a picture of two ways of going, you have been given a free will and contrary to the cute little saying, "the devil made me do it", you (and no one else or no other thing) are held wholly accountable for your choice here. You can not say, "I didn’t understand the question", or "I didn’t understand how important it was". Ignorance is not excuse. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Romans 1:19,20.

We are born under the shadow of Mt Sinai, which is represented by Hagar, the bondwoman. There is an interesting and convenient study of the name Hagar which serves well to illustrate our point. Hagar in Hebrew means "ensnare" in Arabic it means "handmaid". Wow! So with a little imagination and spiritual guidance you can see how easily this Mt. Sinai, the representation of the Law can be seen in Hagar.

Here is Hagar, the handmaid, convenient, useful, always faithful to serve, close at hand and willing. She is the close companion of your wife. She is like one of the family for she is always with you, helping and assisting. Now you come across one of your greatest needs. I need to have children so that God’s promises may become realized in my life. God has said that I will have a nation and that many will be blessed through me. I believe God and yet see that He may need my help to accomplish this task. What can I do? My wife Sarah is barren and I see that God can not do this through her. I must make a choice. Wait to see what God can do (though I doubt that he can use an old, barren woman to produce sons) or take matters into my own hands.

Right here was the choice that Abram was faced with. Trust God or "get ‘er done" in my own strength. You can not wait on God AND sleep with Hagar. You are either waiting on God or you are sleeping with Hagar. Again Hagar is the representation of the law and self-effort and self-righteousness. Hagar is there conveniently on the side looking healthy, useful and vibrant. There is no doubt in your mind that she can do this. On the other hand is a barren woman, the opportunity of faith, and the urgency of my soul to have what God has shown me and promised.

Hagar, like the meaning of her name says, is there to ensnare. There is always this human reasoning and human effort (e.g. Self) right there to show you how to do this. Now God is not tempting you. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:13-15

Tempting, but not of God.
I want us to look together at a passage of profound importance in Galatians 4. Here is that passage:

21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. 28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. 31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. Gal. 4:21-31.

Paul, sets out an amazing picture that shows us the difference between 2 women, 2 covenants, 2 sons.

First notice that Abraham is a type, a representation, of God. We can only take this so far but it is helpful to understand this point for the sake of the allegory. Don’t take this too far, it will break down. There is only One God, and Abraham is not Him. But Abraham does have two tychildren — those of the Word and the Promise and those born of the flesh apart from tpes of he Word and promise — and so does God. Also, the children of Abraham, though bound to different destinies, come from his seed, they are all his children yet all are not of the Promise.

First Paul sets up the proposition, the point he wants to make in verse 21. He asks, "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?" Guess what Paul is asking the experts of the law? Don’t you hear what the law is saying? This is your territory of expertise and you do not understand this? Listen. Here again is the call to have ears that hear (e.g. listen). Putting words into your head without understanding them is pointless. Pray for understanding and wisdom. Listen!

So, you want to live by the law? That’s a tough row to hoe. It can not produce fruit unto salvation. For the first rock you hit (or should I say hits you) that you can not get around, you are through, undone,  your row will be crooked, imperfect, unacceptable. Don’t go there. No one can make his path straight by his own. There are too many real obstacles that you can not make that row straight. Has anyone ever gone through the field of life and kept their path perfectly straight? No, never. Why do you insist that you can. Listen to the law. It is woefully unforgiving. The first bump and your out.

v81 Creepers and Keepers

Following is an excerpt from my morning devotions. I am reading through some selected writings of George MacDonald (1824-1905), friend of Charles Dickens, Alfred Lord Tenneyson and mentor to Lewis Carroll author of Through the Looking Glass (better known as Alice in Wonderland). His words fit nicely with my morning Bible reading and I thought you would enjoy discovering their connection for yourself. Here is the passage from Rev. MacDonald:

Now the foreseen horror has come. Our Lord is drinking the dreadful cup, and the Father’s will has vanished from His eyes. Were that will visible in His suffering, His will could bow with tearful gladness under the shelter of its grandeur. But now His will is left alone to drink the cup of the Father’s will in torture. In the sickness of this agony, the will of Jesus arises perfect at last; feeling abandoned and utterly alone, He will complete the mission for which he was sent to earth. This is the faith of the Son of God. God withdrew, as it were, so that the perfect will of the Son might arise and go forth to find the Father’s will.

But wherein or what can this glorious peak of faith have to do with the creatures who call themselves Christians, creeping about in the valleys, hardly knowing that there are mountains above them, except that they take offense at and stumble over pebbles washed across their path by glacier streams? I will tell you: We are and remain creeping, stumbling Christians when we look at ourselves and not at Christ, because we gaze at the marks of our soiled feet and the trial of our defiled garments instead of up at the snows of purity.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Heb. 12:6-11

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. Heb. 12:28,29

And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation Heb. 13:22a
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 1 Tim. 4:1.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Tim. 4:3,4.

False teachers and false apostles are characterized by the ability to tickle itching ears. That should sound an alarm. What are itching ears? Ears that like to hear what makes them feel better. Are your ears being tickled? Then get out of earshot of that message. It is a message of false doctrine!

The Truth is neither passive nor aggressive and both passive and aggressive. It just stands there and violently assaults its enemies (lies and deceptions) by its mere presence. It is an offender only to those who are an offense to it.
Nowadays, in many circles, confessing Jesus Christ means something along the lines of telling Him you want eternal life and heaven, to avoid the whole hell thing with all its pain and suffering and you will believe in Him if He will just make your life prosperous and happy not withholding any good thing which you deserve because nothing is impossible with God, which is akin to saying I won’t worry any about what I do or my personal witness since I have received all His promises when I filled out the card at the front of the church. I will continue to live my life exactly as I please, exactly as I always have, knowing that I am safe because I have a card on file at the church. God knows my heart that I would serve Him and make Him more important if I just had the time, but He knows how much I want that new thing and if He is a Good Father he will give it to me when I ask but just in case I must work and use any and all means of manipulation and unethical behavior necessary and pursue it because He understands how important that is to me. He did not come into the world to condemn it but to offer His life up to serve me and my will.

God forbid!!!!!

This is more like it:

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment Heb. 10:26,27a

For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Heb. 10:30-32.

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. Heb. 10:35-38

This is not a popular subject but contrary to popular opinion and hope God is not mocked.

%d bloggers like this: