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Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Dumb Decision, or What?

The facts of how what has always been a topic of controversy came into being have never been hidden from people, they just haven't been learned by a great many people, both Christians and non-Believers alike. 

'8 Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.  4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”  6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9 Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”  10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. 11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”  19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”  21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the Lord. 22 So the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed their voice, and make them a king.”  And Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Every man go to his city.”  (I Samuel 8:1-22    NKJV)

First we have here what it was that changed in regards to the life of the Children of Israel, that Samuel, who had been the judge over Israel for some time, was getting old, and so appointed his sons to carry on his judgeship.  It wouldn't be a reach here to assume that Samuel did this so as to not leave a vacuum in this important office should his death come suddenly, which is still not uncommon amongst those who have a long life behind them.  Now, whether Samuel's sons had always lived in ways contrary to what God would require from any of us, or only began the type of behavior discussed in the beginning of our Scripture with their judicial appointments we don't know from the reading of it.  The only real reason for this to become an issue would be for those who would want to question Samuel's judgement in appointing his offspring as successors, and exactly what point that would serve, I've no idea.  So, let's get on with our purpose here today, shall we?  The point we're looking at here is that the people gathered together and let Samuel know that they wanted a real, live, flesh and blood king.  They didn't want to have a king they couldn't see anymore to rule over them, and as God pointed out to Samuel, who it sounds like got his feelings hurt  (See I Samuel 8:7), the people were not rejecting Samuel, but God Himself.  Samuel warned the people of what to expect, that they would be used and abused by any earthly king, but the people persisted, with God finally telling the retiring judge to give the people what they wanted, and to send all the people home.  (See 1 Samuel 9 and 1 Samuel 10 for more on the first king of the Children of Israel).  

Now let's jump ahead several thousand years to when the Pharisees were attempting, yet again, to entrap Jesus with a combination of legalism, Old Testament Law and traditions, and downright orneriness.   

' 15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. 17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”  18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.”  So they brought Him a denarius.  20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”  21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”  And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.'  (Matthew 22:15-22    NKJV)

A good friend of mine acually brought up the subject a couple of weeks ago of just where the line was that Christians have no business crossing in regards to getting the Church (the one built without hands) involved in secular politics.  The whole reason I got into the history of how God's Chosen People, and have no doubt that New Testament Believers are just as much His Chosen People today as the Children of Israel were during the days of the Old Testament, was to get in firmly in mind that God never intended, by His choice, that mankind would have a secular government leadership apparatus.  In God's Perfect Will for His people, He and He alone, would be our only King, in all respects.  Just one of the reasons for this is illustrated in our Scripture from the book of Matthew we've just looked at.  Man, and it doesn't matter for this point whether they were Pharisees or Sadducees or Babylonians or Muslims, has always and will always use anything to attempt to undermine the authority of God.  We're warned about this throughout the New Testament, to ever be on watch for any kind of contrary teachings and rifts and dissension amongst those who profess Christ.

'17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.'  (Romans 16:17-20    NKJV) 


'10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  '14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.'  (I Corinthians 1:10-17    NKJV) 

As we can easily see here, what we refer to as the 'Early Church' was no stranger to people trying to use God's people, His Words, and His Will to accomplish their own ends.  In both of these excerpts from epistles, or letters, written by the apostle Paul to the churches in Rome and Corinth, Paul warned of what we still see today.  I included these last two bits of Scripture for the purpose of making it clear that what we had looked at earlier for the account of Matthew wasn't, and isn't, limited to just those who are openly adverse to the teachings of Christ and the Will of God.  There are many in this world [gone mad] that we live in today who do their best to distort the Word of God while at the same time professing the [shed] blood of Christ.  So, a word of caution to my Brothers and Sisters, 'Beware!' 

In getting back to the attempted trickery of the Pharisees, they were trying to trip Jesus up by mixing secular statutes up with what should be Spiritual worship of God.  If Jesus had been anyone other than who He was, and is, He would have found Himself crossing the line that we all should learn by His example to not cross.  We, as Christians, have available to us an invaluable weapon in our Spiritual arsenal, if we'll only use it.

2 My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, 2   So that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding;  3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.  6 For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; 8 He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints.  9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.  10 When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, 11 Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things,  (Proverbs 2:1-12    NKJV),
The very important Spiritual weapon I'm talking about is identified by name in verse three up above here, as discernment, and then verse four stresses just how valuable discernment can, and should, be to those who believe in God.  It's important to have developed the habit of praying for discernment on a whole multitude of issues, with this line between secular politics and New Testament worship of God being right near the top of the list.

Let's talk some more about this line I keep going on about.  I'm not talking about not voting for elected officials and public issues put up for a vote.  Neither am I talking about isolating ourselves from the secular world in its entirety.  What I am talking about is first and foremost seeking direction from God, often in the form of the  discernment we just looked at in the book of Proverbs.  What I've often heard from people when this subject comes up is something like, 'Well, that don't always work.'  Hey, here's a newsflash, if praying for discernment doesn't always work, then maybe you aren't always praying!  God will never abandon any of His chosen ones when the need and the petition is real and sincere. 

5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”  (Hebrews 13:5-6    NKJV)

These two verses are what I think of as 'promise verses' from God to all Christians everywhere.  If anybody says that they've prayed for discernment from a sincere heart based on a real need and didn't get an answer, they are a liar.  The alternative is that God lied when He made the two promises recorded here in the book of Hebrews, and God is not a liar! 

So where exactly is this line I've been going on about, the one we should never cross between secular politics and our Spiritual worship of God?  That's the tricky thing about this whole issue, which is why discernment is so important.  The line doesn't stay in one place, it can and does move around quite a bit, but what else should we expect from something firmly anchored in a world ruled by satan?  One easy test to conduct that will show us whether an issue is something we need to get involved with is a simple question, 'Does this issue have any impact on my, or anybody elses, ability to start and maintain a relationship with God?'  This is the ultimate 'litmus' test.  It's a pass or fail situation.  If you find yourself having to qualify your answer, then something is already wrong.  

Be right, and be strong in all that you are before the Lord!

Be Blessed Don B., and we thank God everyday that you and your wife are who you are!

Serving Him in Absarokee MT and all points of the compass,
Reverend Terry and Faith Keiner 

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