Tuesday, June 25, 2019
HERE was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (Luke 16:19-23)
This hymn was written by a minister well-acquainted with the doctrines of the Bible and a prolific writer of hymns to make those doctrines clear to the hearer. His name is Philip Doddridge (1702-1751). His many hymns are all designed to further an understanding of Holy Scripture even for those who were illiterate in reading. The tune is PENTECOSTwritten in 1864 by William Boyd, and it conveys the reverence of God’s holiness to the lyrics composed by Doddridge though the tune was first written for “Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire.” The name of the hymn is sometimes referred to as “IN WHAT CONFUSION EARTH APPEARS!” - the first line.
The Rich Man and Lazarus
In what confusion earth appears!
God's dearest children bathed in tears;
While they, who heaven itself deride,
Riot in luxury and pride.
But patient let my soul attend,
And, ere I censure, view the end;
That end, how different, who can tell?
The wide extremes of heaven and hell.
See the red flames around him twine,
Who did in gold and purple shine!
Nor can his tongue one drop obtain
T' allay the scorching of his pain.
While round the faint so poor below
Full rivers of salvation flow;
On Abra'm's breast he leans his head,
And banquets on celestial bread.
Jesus, my Savior, let me share
The meanest of thy servant's fare;
May I at last approach to taste
The blessings of thy marriage-feast.
1 In what confusion earth appears! God's dearest children bathed in tears; While they, who heaven itself deride, Riot in luxury and pride. Does this first sentence not perfectly describe this orb of chaos upon whose turf we dwell and make our lives? Those issues such as love, marriage, civil restraint and courtesy, and sobriety were merely the natural state of decent society in the days of my youth – today, there is a rarity of decent society. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)The dignity of law is given to perversions of sex and the sins of Sodom. Pornography is elevated in sex education classes for our youth while prayer and Bible readings are forbidden. The abortion of innocents in their mother’s womb is praised while Godly family life is assailed as quaint and out of date. The wicked seem to prosper while the righteous suffer want. But there is purpose in all of God’s plan for His Elect, and that purpose is easily observed in the account of Lazarus and the Rich Man just as it was revealed in the life of dear Job.
2 But patient let my soul attend, And, ere I censure, view the end; That end, how different, who can tell? The wide extremes of heaven and hell.” Success in life itself is closely reliant upon our measure of patience – a Godly virtue, indeed. If we will patiently forego the little luxuries of life in our youth and save, we may have the resources to invest in business or profession when our savings allow. But spendthrifts lack patience and enjoy the summer corn and starve in the winter months. In living the life God has willed for us, we must exercise that same patience of a wise steward. Though our righteous honor may seem to cut us short from the advantages of the less honorable in life, a patient reliance upon the Providence of God will bring a more enduring reward in the end. There is a thin line between Heaven and Hell, but the degree of difference is beyond description. The story of Lazarus and the Rich Man will bear that truth out in bold relief.
3 See the red flames around him twine, Who did in gold and purple shine! Nor can his tongue one drop obtain T' allay the scorching of his pain. The Rich Man can lay claim to no asset at all – even a name which he needs not in the lonely fires of Hell. He carelessly enjoyed his finery in selfish living in this life, and will suffer every deprivation in the life to come. (By the way, we all will spend an eternity someplace – either in Heaven or Hell). The Rich Man never wanted of a drop of water when the world seemed to lay at his feet. Now, the most routinely available of natural resources are withheld. Not only is he without material blessings, but immeasurable pain and suffering are added in the place thereof. Even his mind is tormented for his brothers who seem destined to share the same end.
4 While round the faint so poor below Full rivers of salvation flow; On Abra'm's breast he leans his head, And banquets on celestial bread. Bread and water are the essentials of life. Lazarus, who begged for bread from the Rich Man and his friends now has an abundance of the best Bread of all – the Bread of Heaven. But the Rich Man, never lacking the best cuisine and wines, now yearns only for a drop of water from the finger of Lazarus. The text is not about ONE beggar, but TWO! Lazarus was a beggar on earth but a rich man in Heaven; and the Rich Man was wealthy on earth but has become a beggar in Hell. Wealth is no bar to salvation, but it is a hindrance to many whose eyes are blinded by that wealth so much so that God is eclipsed by things of this world engendered by greed and lust. It should be noted that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. If one considers a life in Hell to be defined as living, the Rich Man is also as alive today as Abraham. But eternal damnation is an existence apart from God and Love. Eternal life is on a far different scale than the life of damnation reserved for the wicked.
5 Jesus, my Savior, let me share The meanest of thy servant's fare; May I at last approach to taste The blessings of thy marriage-feast. Who was the Savior of Lazarus as he lay before the Rich Man’s door? It was the same Lord Jesus Christ upon whom Abraham fixed his faith, and upon whom you and I look for salvation. The poor feel the need and presence of God more commonly in their lives of deprivation than those to whom every need is provided by a wealthy sire. I have noticed this fact in the mountains of Luzon, the jungles of the Solomon’s, the rice paddies of Asia, and the bush country of Kenya. When the next morsel of food seems too much to hope for, the poor turn to God who provides for those who believe. The feasts and banqueting of the Rich Man were enjoyed in the sight of poor Lazarus, yet no one cared for him or invited him to the feasts thrown by the Rich Man. Now the Rich Man can see Lazarus as he enjoys his own feast of opulent provision given on his behalf by His Lord and Redeemer, but no one will notice the Rich Man’s cries and screams in Hell for that wide abyss to which Abraham made reference precludes Heaven from witnessing the pains of Hell, but not those in Hell from witnessing the splendors of Heaven. Our Lord has made His Invitation list In Heaven for His greatly anticipated Marriage Supper. He will invite those only whose names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I pray that your name appears there.
Sunday, June 23, 2019
First Sunday after Trinity.
GOD, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee; Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
HERE was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and wasAnd in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:19-31)
Today we will be looking at the lives, deaths, and afterlife of two beggars – one, Lazarus who begged during this life; and the second, the rich man, who begged in the fires of Hell.
An important point raised in the text is the importance of a NAME. A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.(Proverbs 22:1)What difference between the rich man’s name and that of the beggar, Lazarus. Much to be treasured for the Beggar Lazarus HAD a name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life; and the rich man had no name, nor did he need one, in the fires of Hell.
Before delving too deeply into the account, let me provide you some food for thought. Suppose you were blessed with great riches. You needed for nothing, and yearned for EVERYTHING. You had such an abundance that you could feed an army and not miss a single grain of wheat. But one day, your lavish living came to an end. You are taken captive by a band of marauders from far across the sea. They strip you of your finery, take all of your identification from you, and cast you into a subterraining prison somewhere in the far-off Gobi Desert. You are isolated from all other human beings. Your only meal is a slow rat. Your water is the filthy streams of bacteria-ridden water that descends into your dungeon. Who will you call upon for help? There is only one, and that is God. But God will not hear the prayers of a man whose heart is filled with iniquity.
The salient question is this: Of what value to you is all that wealth and opulence you left behind? You will never lay hand on a silver spoon or a silk shirt again. Your hope is forlorn. That describes Hell except for the better state of the dungeon. That is the situation the rich man faced once separated from his luxury and ease of living.
This Gospel text for today, like every textual passage in Holy Scripture, not only bears counsel and guidance to those of the time of their being spoken, but also to us in our day. In the Reformation Church, all preaching was conducted expositorily – that is, the scripture passage itself was used as the outline, substance, and meaning of the sermon. Sermons were not built upon isolated verses often taken out of context. It is God’s Word we are to preach, not ours. In the sermon, it is the solemn responsibility of the preacher to draw direct comparisons to the manner in which the textual passage has direct bearing and meaning to us. God’s Word is not only history, it is also of present currency in our time and for ALL time. It is a Living Word to all who read and believe – but also to those who reject it and incur the curses and wrath that is sure to follow such rejection. Jesus taught in parables to make the Gospel clear and relevant to the people of faith. We must make our preaching relevant as well. The world is very frank in its expressions of evil, so why should the ministers of God be abstruse to the point of obscurantism in preaching?
The text for today is not only a Parable ensconced in real truth, but presented by Christ in a perfect compendium of much broader truths. These truths will escape the understanding of the heathen, but come as refreshing showers on a dry and thirsty land to those who love and cherish His Word. Many will refer to this account of the Rich man and Lazarus as merely a parable; but I disagree due to the fact that this is the only such parable that includes actual names of real people – not the least, Abraham! And do not forget Lazarus! Before we look more closely at this great parable of Jesus, we must understand that Christ never uses a parable of things physical or spiritual whose principle is not consistent with the truth. This story of the rich man and Lazarus may be just as actual as it is figurative. God’s principles never change and neither does His truth.
From today’s text, there are two opposing personalities involved – a rich man (whose name is not given), and Lazarus, a poor beggar. As we explore the Deep of this Parable, I hope you will be asking yourself this question: “Which am I – the Rich man, or Lazarus?” A good friend of mine from the West Coast recently reminded me of the words of Solomon the King, 9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.(Eccl 1:9-10)Solomon was referring to newness of evil and wickedness – it has always been; but I aver that there does exist, in the Kingdom of Heaven, a newness that is readily and easily seen and defined – the New Creature in Christ that we all become as devotees and believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. And not only that, but our understanding may reveal new truths (to us) that we never observed in God’s Word before and after many readings. When I refer back to the numerous sermons and devotions I have delivered, or written, concerning today’s text, I am amazed at the newfound gems of truth that emerge with every successive reading of it.
One profound point immediately comes to fore in this text is the reality of an actual Heaven and an actual Hell. Each reader of this devotion has his final estate in one or the other of these two destinations. Yet another point is this: God does not always provide material reward to His righteous in this world. The tables are often turned so that the wealthy are the wicked, and the poor, the righteous. It does not necessarily need to be so, but often is. Even a very righteous man may be corrupted when he comes into great wealth. He may forget the estate from which he has come, and dwell only on the improvement of his finances.
The deference which Christ shows to the poor man in giving him a Godly name, Lazarus, or Eleazar (in Hebrew), is notable. The name means, God is MY Help. We have churches in the AOC in parts of the world in which every member depends upon God alone for the next morsel of food they consume. This Holy name imputes a righteous character to the poor man.
But what of the rich man? He is given no name at all. Why do you suppose this is so? Because if our names are not written in the Book of Life, then they are not written at all. In fact, there are no names in Hell. Why would you need a name there? (see Rev. 3:5)
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day.
This man was filled with himself and cared not a whit for those around him. He had much more than he needed, yet was unwilling to share a morsel from his well-stocked pantry to a poor man diseased and dying. The love of wealth petrifies the heart and closes its gates of mercy. Christ only refers to this man as a “rich man.” He has no redeeming qualities that recommend him to God. The rich man, by the way, has no wicked reputation mentioned here either. The world considered him quite honorable – but, like the rich young ruler, there was one thing the rich man was missing!
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores
You may wonder why Lazarus is a beggar? Could it be a result of his complete helplessness due to disease? He could not help himself – he had to be helped. Someone must help those around us who are unable, due to tragic circumstances, to help themselves. Before the advent of utopian and socialistic philosophy, the Church and Community were the source of help – and still should be.
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
He desired no great thing – only to be fed the crumbs from the rich man’s table. These the rich man did not need, but it is doubtful that the rich man cared enough to give them to Lazarus. Even though men of means showered no mercy on their own kind, at least the dogs lived up to their reputation of loyalty. The dogs comforted Lazarus – not with food which they had not – but with compassion and love. Are we better than dogs?
22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried.
How casually does the LORD make reference to that grave which awaits every beloved reader of this devotion. It shall come to pass that each of us shall die. Then what?
You will observe a great difference in the disposition of Lazarus after death, and that of the rich man after death. Christ says of the beggar (he) was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosomTruly the destination of all righteous souls. Abraham is father, not only to the Hebrews, but all who believe in the Promised Seed – Jesus Christ! What a royal sendoff did Lazarus receive. Though a poor, sick beggar, he was honored with the dignity of being carried by the angels to Abraham’s Bosom. Angels are important heavenly dignitaries, but not so dignified as to ignore any soul that dies in Christ.
How does the honor paid Lazarus differ from the disposition of the Rich Man’s body? The rich man also died, and was buried. He was placed, not in the Bosom of Abraham, but in the depth of the earth – his eternal home, or ultimately, Hell. Instead of the angels carrying him to Abraham’s Bosom, the rich man lies in the cursed soil of the world.
Our words do not fully reveal the extent of the tragedy of such a lifestyle – the fires of Hell await such a one the very moment his eyes are blinded by death.
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Christ does not leave the reality of hell open for question, but states the fact outright. There are FIRES in Hell, and torments as well. There are no medical stations there to relieve the pain for, in Hell, the character of its citizens rule – NO MERCY! The rich man can see Lazaraus “afar off” in the bosom of Abraham. Heaven is a far off place from Hell. But the wicked can see the delight of those in Heaven.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
The pride of wealth no longer dominates the rich man’s thinking. He takes no longer pride in his fine raiment for that was burned away the moment he was cast into Hell. The rich man begs for that which he had none of in life – MERCY! Lazarus is now rich, and the rich man a beggar. He begs for mercy to be delivered by the very finger of him to whom he granted no mercy. Hell is a hot dry place. The drought never ends there. It is interesting to note that there is no evidence that Lazarus is aware of the rich man’s condition in Hell. Such knowledge might dampen his joy in Heaven for he obviously was a man of compassion as opposed to the rich man. Hell is a place of torment. God sends no one to Hell – we send ourselves.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
We sometimes find men in conditions and circumstances from which we cannot extricate them, but we still should have what kindness we can have and show respectful regard. Observe with what sympathy Abraham addresses the rich man in Hell: He calls him “son!” It is possible that this man could have been a true son of Abraham as was Lazarus had he followed in that faith of Abraham in Christ. But he was more likely a son by hereditary descent and not spiritual. The temporary luxuries of riches born out of greed will avail nothing in Heaven. The pleasure is so temporary, and eternity so very long – endless in fact.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
We must recognize that the distance is so great between Heaven and Hell that none can pass to and from. No one has descended to Hell and returned to tell of it, and the same is true of Heaven regardless the cheap little books of commercial fodder marketed today. If you believe that you can visit Hell, you probably will do so for longer than you wish.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Even the wicked in Hell are aware of the lost condition of their loved ones. Does this give cause for pause? Those in Hell would do anything to save their loved ones (for the damned also love their own) from coming to such a place of hot torment.
29Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
Have we, too, heard the voice of Moses from the beginning in Genesis? Have we heard and heeded the writings of the prophets and the Gospel and Epistles that tell of Christ? If so, it is enough! We need no astounding signs to prove our faith else it is not faith. An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matt 12:39-40)Is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior enough for you, or do you seek cleverly designed signs of men?
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Really? Christ rose from the dead and the obstinate, faithless Jewish rulers still hated Him. Faith is based in hope and love, not sure evidence.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
If our faith is not founded on God’s Word, no other considerations are important. We believe because God’s Love is reflected to our hearts in the hope and reality revealed by Scripture. If our hearts are made of lead, the iron Magnet will not attract it. There must be a kinship (even if distant) in the heart that responds to the Call of God. Do you have that kinship?
Friends, let us consider this last verse more intently. The Jewish rulers claimed to be righteous and Holy, yet, their lives and conduct belied the fact. They constantly pestered Christ to show them a miracle because that would be their only foundation for faith; but miracles are not the foundation of faith – our faith is based upon the Person of Jesus Christ, and His Truth. The Law and the Prophets pointed, as surely as does the Holy Spirit today, to the Lord Jesus Christ! Even if One were to return from the dead, yet will they not believe if they have not known the Mentor of our Faith! Jesus Christ did, indeed, return from the dead, and the rulers of the Jews maintained their obstinacy of faith. They still did not believe! Christ and His Life, Death, and Resurrection are not merely historical facts, but are great stones of faith and remembrance to us. If we do not see our own privilege of eternal life in the resurrection of Christ, we may perish in doubt and loss of hope.
Today, the world and its so-called churches, are morally anemic and fearful to address sin and the devil as the enemy of our souls which they are. In fact, many of our churches today have embraced the most egregious sins and perversions. Our pastors are afraid to mention sin, or to criticize the secular arm, for breaches of the moral law. Until we identify the enemy and offer the means of biblical defense, what purpose do we serve as ministers and as Christian people?
Will you beg for mercy in this life while salvation is possible, or become a beggar like the rich man when Hell is your only abode?
Friday, June 21, 2019
AY ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah. 2 Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; 3 Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. 4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. 5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. 6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. 7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. 8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. 9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. 10 And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand. 11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. 12 And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. 13 And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD. (Hosea 2:1-13)
There is merciful purpose even in the judgments of the Lord as shall be brought out in this Book. The heart of man remains unchanged from Adam’s Fall even until today. The imagination of men’s heart is continually evil. (see Genesis 6:5)The wickedness of Gomer can clearly represent the wickedness of the faithless church of our day. They have invented gospels to satisfy itching ears and fill coffers for filthy lucre.. The buildings, grounds, and bank account of the modern church has replaced a fervency of preaching the Gospel in all lands and all tongues. The Redeemer of the Old Testament Church is the same as that of the New Testament Church. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORDof hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.(Isaiah 54:4-5)
Many are offended at my constant derisions of the modern Church. If my commentaries are consistent with Holy Scripture, it matters not, for then it becomes God’s judgment and not my opinion only. If they mocked the prophets of old such as Jeremiah, Isaiah and Hosea, I do not feel unfairly condemned for being mocked as a lowly believer.
Our Lord will not allow His Bride to play the harlot as did Gomer. He will rebuke and chasten until repentance and restoration occurs. In the Book of Revelation, our Lord makes reference to the Seven Churches as an example of those which reflect the fullness of His Church. Each has a different character. He finds fault with all but two – Smyrna and Philadelphia. Both of these latter two were not great in the world of finance or politics, but were faithful to God in all ways. The other five were faulty in many ways. Each represents one or another of our churches of today; but two – Ephesus and Laodicea – seem to represent the greater number of churches of the modern era. The first, Ephesus, is described by our Lord in this manner: I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (Revelation 2:2-4) This church is like many of our day – respectable in the eyes of the world, but unholy in their remembrance and loyalty to Christ. This is the kind of adultery committed by Gomer in forgetting to whom she was married.
The second, Laodicea, perfectly depicts most other of the modern churches. They are lukewarm. The Lord makes a serious indictment against this church, and churches of like nature: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (Revelation 3:15-17)Do you know any such churches today? Some of our modern churches fit both descriptions of the Laodicean and Church and that of Ephesus.
Like Gomer and her offspring, the churches are playing the harlot by opting for the politics of man above the truth and beauty of the Gospel of Christ. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. 5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. 6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. 7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. 8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. 9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. 10 And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.The big ‘first’ churches of every city have sold out to politics and spawned subordinate churches who are beholding to them for leadership and money; and not only those first churches, but many of differing error who have replaced the truth of God with a spiritualism that defies His Word. As God told the Woman at the Well, we must worship in Spirit AND in Truth.
There is a very interesting passage in Isaiah that describes most modern churches in America. And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach. Isaiah 4:1)Have we not reached THAT day when those seven churches of Revelation will attempt to take hold of one Man (our Lord Jesus Christ) for the sake of prestige and dignity of His Name, but refuse to wear His white robe of righteousness or to eat His bread of Heaven? They prefer their own perverted righteousness and their own polluted bread of false doctrine.
And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD. We are approaching that day, or far-spent in it, which Gomer depicts. She burned her incense of worship to the gods of Baal (plural: Baalim). She has forgotten her First Love as did Ephesus.
There yet remain some faithful bodies who worship our lord in Spirit and in Truth, but these are more like Smyrna and Philadelphia – unpretentious, not lifted up in pride, and loyal to their First Love in Christ.
God has His chosen from among the lost tribes dispersed around the world. They are those whose faith, regardless of bloodline, is wholly centered on the Redeemer and promised One of Abraham. Perhaps we will find traces in Europe, in India, in eastern lands, and in the Americas. Wherever faith and loyalty to God are represented in the effectual calling of the Holy Ghost, there you will find the other sheep not of the same flock – And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. John 10:16) God knows His own sheep and He will winnow them out of all pastures. God knows His own and p laces them in the sure hands of His only Begotten Son: My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:29)
The offspring of Gomer proliferates in our day, but God is sovereign and shall bring them to kneel before Him even if at great suffering and hurt on their part. It is my prayer that the churches of America will soon repent and turn back to our Lord Jesus Christ before hard judgment is sent in our midst by an angry God.
In comparing your church with the spirit of Gomer and her children, as well as the Seven Churches of Revelations, where does your church fit.
As we go deeper into this study, the more we realize the marks of old Israel and her modern manifestation is plain and clear. God will not leave her soul in Hell.
Thursday, June 20, 2019
HE word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. 2 The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. 3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. 4 And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel. 6 And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. 7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen. 8 Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. 9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel. (Hosea 1:1-11)
One great error plaguing most modern denominational churches is that of dispensationalism – the belief that the plan of God is constantly changing in His dealings with mankind. His works are as steady as a Rock and unchanging as the North Star. “For I am the LORD, I change not;” (Malachi 3:6a)He changes not in character nor in His dealings with mankind. His only Begotten Son, being of the same nature and substance with the Father, likewise changes not. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)I merely point this out to deepen the understanding that the manner of God’s dealing with Israel and Judah can also be expected in His dealings with a modern apostate Church. I am sorry to say that many who read this study may be members of that apostate Church. It has become nearly impossible to find churches in our day that are steadfast in their love and loyalty to God’s Holy Word.
Many are deceived in our day to believe that God will not allow His people to pass through the tribulation of persecution and devastation. Many are taught that God will ‘rapture’ His people before that hard time of evil shall arise. How provincial and prideful we are to believe that other Christian brothers and sisters of stronger faith in foreign lands are not already undergoing the tribulation of rape, pillage and beheadings; and yet they refuse to deny their Lord. How many ‘pulpit dandies’ of our day would remain so faithful in the face of such persecution? Such false teaching as dispensationalism undermines the faith of those who are deceived when tribulation does arise.
Gomer, the prostitute wife whom God commanded Hosea to take for a wife, is a symbol of perversion – both physically and spiritually. Bible scholars of greater understanding than I claimed that Gomer was likely a temple prostitute to the Baal, a matter I will take up in our next study. It seems so in latter writings.
Gomer is very much like Israel. She has followed after other gods which is idolatry. But idolatry and adultery are of the same nature with a Holy God. Idolatry is Israel (the Old Testament Church) and Israel (the New Testament Church) turning to other gods. Spiritual adultery is synonymous to spiritual idolatry in the eyes of God. It is going after other gods in abandonment of the true God in Heaven just as a wife abandons her legitimate husband and goes whoring after other men. It is tantamount to claiming God and Allah are the same.
God declared that He would have no mercy on old Israel (the Ten northern tribes) and sent them into captivity and oblivion (to our sight and understanding). Yet, God says He will later declare Israel to be His own in the same place He rejected them. God promises that they will be as the sand of the sea. How can this be? The Israel to whom God spoke was not that middle eastern Israel of today for that nation would be more properly called Judah for geographical composition. Israel proper did go into captivity and has been dispersed among the nations of the world, and have lost any national identity with Israel of old. But it has never been the physical blood coursing through the veins of a people that identify them as the Children of Israel – it has, from the beginning, been the spiritual faith they have demonstrated in believing in that promise made to Abraham of a Redeemer. How do we measure Israel as so plentiful as the sands of the sea? “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” (Galatians 3:6-9)All nations are a considerable multitude even considering those of faith who have belonged to all nations from antiquity past to the present.
Gomer was perverse spiritually and physically just as the modern Church in America has become. The modern Church has abandoned God’s Word and claimed Allah to be identical to the Holy Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. They have endorsed every perversion of marriage and moral living. They have cheapened the Holy Bible to reflect a lowering view of the Lord Jesus Christ as divine, as well as the Holy Spirit of God which they have simply labelled, ‘spirit.’ Wicked men and false prophets have not been able to challenge the Word of God in open battle, so they resort to the subterfuge of ‘changing’ the Bible to mean what they consider to be socially and politically acceptable for their income and living, i.e., the use of non-gender terms in a day of perverse acts.
Such perversions as the ESV, NIV, and a host of other so-called translations have sought to gradually turn the believer’s faith into belief in another God, another Holy Spirit, and another only Begotten Son of God. They have placed their souls in the jeopardy of counsel given in Revelations: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:17-19) The new versions of course are not God’s Word for they are copyrighted. If I wish to quote extensively from them, I must obtain the permission of the copyright holder – so not God’s Word. It is also notable Verse 17 above is careful to point out that the Word of God and its benefits are FREELY given. REALLY!
The children of Gomer were also cut off from the Kingdom. Why is that? I believe the churches that are being spawned today by false churches are also false themselves. If we trace the bloodline and the money, we will likely find that to be the case.
This first chapter of Hosea closes with stimulating promise: “10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves ONE HEAD, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel. (Hosea 1:10-11)Judah and those who belong to the faith of Abraham shall come into complete accord only in the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be none who call themselves Messianic Jews, or Christian plus anything. We shall all be united in Christ as One for which He prayed at last at Gethsemane.
NDnow I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:11-23)
The problem with the modern Church is no different from the Old Testament Church – they have brought the world into the Church rather than taking the Gospel into the world.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
HENshall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel. (Hosea 1:10-11)
We are beginning a study of the Book of Hosea today. As a preface to the study, I am appending some introductory thoughts as well as a former devotion I did on Hosea as a type of Christ.
Hosea is a prophet whose message is primarily addressed to the Ten Tribes of Israel though Judah is referenced at points. In reviewing the first eleven verses of chapter one, we find Israel in material prosperity. Such prosperity is never proof positive of the favor of God, and Israel is an excellent example of that fact. Hosea is called to proclaim to the Ten Tribes their sins of apostacy and coming destruction. Their major sin is that of idolatry – a sin common to the modern churches of America in placing the God of buildings, wealth and growth ahead the God for whom these were dedicated.
God uses a repulsive physical example to reveal the enormity of their sins in commanding Hosea to take for a wife, Gomer, a notorious prostitute. This character of this woman is not only similar to that of Israel, but also of the Church today which is not faithful, in Word and deed, to their Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Israel and Judah will be united under the Messiah in the calling of the Gentiles. Though God renounces Israel as not His people, He later will call them His own under Christ: “As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.” Romans 9:25-26 (KJV)The salient point is this: None are righteous and deserving of the grace of the Lord, but He has prepared for us a Redeemer whose sacrifice will render those who are His called to be righteous by His ‘imputed’ righteousness. “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:10 (KJV)
Hosea as a Type of Christ 2012
My heart is rent for poor Hosea when I read the account of all that God had commanded him to do and to suffer. But, then, I consider that all of the commandments of God are a joy to him who receives them. Hosea obeyed God without question when God directed him to take for a wife a whore. There is a deep significance to the purpose of God in such a command, and Hosea well understood and gladly complied. As a matter of fact, Hosea would have yet complied even if he had not understood the purpose of the Lord in the command. We all are to be as a good and obedient soldier facing the enemy on the field of battle. Whatever command is given by our Line Commander, we obey immediately and without reservation. It is impossible for the common soldier to know the tactical plan and purpose of the field Commander, so he must trust to that better judgment and understanding just as we must trust to that perfect will and knowledge of God in all things. Hosea is the perfect example for us.
Please imagine, if you will, the plight of the prophet Hosea. He was a God-fearing Hebrew Prophet. Yet, God has ordered him to take a whore for a wife. When she proves unfaithful and returns to her former lovers, God tells Hosea to take her back at a great expense to Hosea, and he does! What does this tell us of God’s dealings with His people and the role Christ played in coming among us?
Hosea was a prophet of Israel though he also addressed the affairs of Judah. These were, unlike the common perception, two separate peoples. Israel was those ten tribes that had broken off and formed the Northern Kingdom – later taken into captivity and dispersed in unknown parts. They are the scattered flocks of God which are hidden, as a remnant, among all the world. Judah and Benjamin were of the Sephardic Jew who claimed lineal descent from Judah. There are few Jews in Israel today who are of Sephardic descent. Most are of the Ashkenazi race from central Europe and who, it is doubtful, have a single drop of Judah’s blood in their veins. At length, the blood type is of no account, for Christ came to save all of Israel – those who are the Children of Promise who are of the ‘spiritual descent’ and not the bloodline of Israel. (see Romans 9:8, Gala 4:27-31) It is a known fact that many lineal Jews are now coming to Christ – not as Messianic Jews bearing Judaic superstitions in their hearts, but simply ‘Christians’ as are all who are the Children of the Promised Seed (Christ).
11.Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land There is neither Jew nor Gentile, for all are ONE in Christ Jesus. (see Romans 10:12 & Gala 3:28) Hosea is a type of Christ in that he suffered as did Christ by having an unfaithful spouse. It is amazing how the prophets of the Lord were called upon to bear such heavy crosses, but they did so because they belonged to Christ by faith. The One Head to which Hosea pointed was none other than Christ! The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. (Gen 49:10) Shiloh is an epithet for the Messiah. He is the ‘sent One’. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.(John 17:3) For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Eph 2:14-15)
Christ is a pure and true Bridegroom. But His bride, the church (in both the Wilderness and the Christian era) has committed adultery. Israel was in a fallen and immoral state when Christ came. He bought her with the cost of His own bloody sacrifice, yet, she remained unfaithful. As Hosea prophesies the falling of Israel from her lofty place, so Christ pronounces the judgment on Jerusalem. He tells the Jewish leaders Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. (Matt 21:43)This seems and irreversible circumstance, but it is apparent only and not fixed. Just as God, through Hoseadeclared to the off-spring of Israel, Now when she (Gomer, the prostitute wife of Hosea) had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.(Hosea 1:8-9)This is a time-limited pronouncement against Israel. See what God later says through Hosea: Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. (Hosea 1:10)It is at the time of the uniting of the people of God of the Old Testament with those who have been gathered from every tribe and people from all over the world (scattered believers) in Christ that has reference here.
Christ came to mother Israel and was rejected. She played the whore. She wanted nothing to do with her offspring (descent from Abraham as the Promised Seed). Even as Christ pleaded with her to gather to Him, she was aloof and resentful. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under herwings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. (Matt 23:37-38) We see a description of the coming persecution of Israel and the Elect Church in Revelations 12. The mother of the New Testament is the Old.
Time will not allow for a fuller study on Hosea in a mere devotion, but I encourage every Reader to study this book to the enlightenment of your souls. There are some particularly disconcerting points raised in Hosea (depending, of course, on your perspective of being in – or out – of a state of grace). Hosea has his most horrific warning to the apostate people of God: For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up. (Hosea 8:7)One cannot help but observe the devastating effects of those great whirlwinds that have battered the coastal cities of America over the past few years. Such storms, coming in quick succession, render us helpless and hopeless in contending with them. They cripple our economy and reduce us to hunger in many places. The remarkable references to the Whirlwind in bringing God’s judgment are too numerous to discount (a single reference would be sufficient). Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. (Prov 1:24-27) Have we set at naught the counsel of God once heeded by our Fathers? Is it likely that God will apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah for harshly judging them while ignoring the sins of a nation that has been so richly blessed by His bountiful grace?
I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. For who hath stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. (Jer 23:13-20)
I am not drawing any conclusions, but I will ask you to consider these things.