Blog Archives

Flee from the Place of Idols

“Thus, Ehud fled to safety while they hesitated and he went beyond the idols and fled to safety to the Se’iyratha.”

(Judges 3:26)

Ehud, thus, makes his escape while the servants hesitate, not wanting to stumble upon Eglon in a compromised state — of course, he is in a tremendously compromised state indeed! I think that the reference to the place of idols is important for us here as it is mentioned twice. On one level, it seems to be a location where graven images are kept that becomes a turning point for Ehud. On the other hand, it seems that there is significance to the notion that he is leaving behind these idols as Eglon has been slaughtered. Indeed, on a spiritual level, that is what God has called his people to do — pass away from the place where idols have any influence on their lives. And, indeed, that is what God calls us to as well.

The place to which Ehud flees is called, “Se’iyratha” in the hill country of Ephriam (see the next verse). The word has a definite article, so scholars debate as to whether it is the name of a city or the name of a region. Given its context, it seems that to consider this a location rather than a town makes more sense. Assuming that to be the case, the word would break down to mean something like “goat mountain.” It will be from here, then, that he gathers his troops and prepares to wage battle against the Moabite troops that are sure to give chase.

Given the significance of goats in the ancient times as well as their significance to the day of Atonement, one might suggest it rather ironic to see Ehud, after passing away from the idols, fleeing to the mountain known for its goats. That is speculation, indeed, but in a story that is so filled by word play, it is something that is perhaps worth speculating on while also not pushing too hard. For the Christian today, Christ has become not only our Passover Lamb, but also our sacrifice of Atonement and when we repent of our idols, it is to Christ and only to Christ that we too must flee. Will you?

Judges; A Messianic Warning

“And Yahweh raised up Judges. And they saved them from the hand of their looters.”

(Judges 2:16)

The role of the Judge is one that clearly is designed to prefigure Christ. They are redeemers of the people from their adversaries. They are signs of God’s grace, given that the people are in the hands of their adversaries because of their sins. They are signs to the people that God will not leave or forsake them, despite their sin. They are often prophets in their role, they often offer sacrifices as the priests do, and they certainly have a kingly function as they rally the armies (or are a one-man army) against the enemies of God’s people. Thus, they fulfill to a limited extent the role of Mediator, which again we find Jesus fulfilling in an ultimate sense.

As we arrive at this verse, though, we also enter into a summary of the whole book of Judges (we have moved from looking back to looking forward). The sad thing is that this cycle of sin is not unlike the cycle that Christians today, Churches today, and even nations today find themselves falling into. Yet, we must be aware that God also gives the warning to the church that he will remove their lamp stand from its place if they persist in their sin. Judges is far more than a history book. It is Messianic as it points toward Christ. It tells us of the long-suffering of God towards his covenant people. But it also stands as a warning to us today lest we turn to idols of our own making.

What, Me, Worry?

“‘Behold, I am positioned over the spring of water and the daughters of the men of the city are coming to draw water. May it be that to the girl to whom I say, ‘Please extend to me your pitcher that I might drink’ and she would say, ‘Drink and I will also water your camels.’ Let her be the one appointed to your servant, for Isaac, and through her may I know that you work covenant faithfulness for my lord.’”

(Genesis 24:13-14)

 

Notice the language of appointment being made here. There is a clear expectation on the part of Eliezer that God has orchestrated things from beginning to end and that one of these girls coming out to water will be the one that God has chosen to marry Isaac. He sets the standard as he prays, asking that the one whom God has chosen shall show courtesy toward him, offer him a drink, and water his camels for him. Certainly, the young girl that shows this kind of grace and hospitality will be the one that God has appointed in his covenant faithfulness. And thus, he waits and will soon meet Rebekah — again, an instance where God demonstrates his control, for he sees Rebekah coming out of the city.

How quick we can often be to doubt the faithfulness and grace of God. We doubt and worry and second-guess, but none of these things befits us as children of the living God who loves us. Jesus says that it is the role of the pagan to worry for these things that we need (Matthew 6:32); indeed, the pagans have gods that neither can speak nor hear nor move (Psalm 135:15-17) and thus neither can hear nor answer the prayers of those who serve them. Our God is living and active and not only hears but acts in the life of his loved ones — we need fear nothing.

Worry robs our hair of color, our nights of sleep, and our friendships of depth. We fear committing because we fear that the end might soon be near. Loved ones, fear the Lord and him alone. He is the God over the heavens and the earth and he has chosen to come into a relationship with you. He promises to provide for all of our necessities and he promises to never leave or forsake us…what more do we need? God is even the God who ordained the timing and the manner in which Rebekah comes out to the watering hole for her family — who knows, she might have come down with a cold and been sick that day — and that is the point; when God so appoints, this things will come to pass — and God has appointed (Ephesians 1:11), so why worry?

 

Ego Decipiam

While the pastor must confess that he will fail his flock, the world makes a different profession. The world says, “I will deceive them” or “I will ensnare them.” How much more sinister is this response than the one that went before, yet how often has this been our experience. The world promises us wealth and success if we just compromise this or that set of morals—which at first seems small, but like a drug, it demands more and more and more. At first it might take the form of justifying a little lie, then it may grow into envy coveting either the wealth or the success of another. Gradually it progresses from there onward. We end up make idols of the things of this world and in doing so, we compromise God’s law as a whole.

Jesus speaks of the cares of the age and the deception of riches as that which chokes the Word of God in our lives (Matthew 13:22). The cares of life often fill our days and rob us of sleep. We pretend that we are just trying to be responsible citizens and parents who provide for our families, but how often those words, while well intentioned, are placed in our mouths not by the Holy Spirit, but by those who are of this world. Yet this world and the things therein are passing away (1 John 2:17). While sounding noble, such cares betray a lack of reliance upon the promises of God to provide for his children.

The world masquerades its temptations as love and care for us, while in reality, the world hates us and the one we serve (John 15:19). Like a treacherous counselor, the world pretends to be our ally, all the while manipulating our thoughts and actions toward sedition against the great King and High Priest, Jesus Christ. Our ego is flattered and our lusts are excused. These are the ways of this world.

How essential it is for a person to keep their guard up against such treachery. The Apostle Paul warns us to be careful that no one takes us captive through vain or empty deceit (Colossians 2:8) and the author of Hebrews warns against the hardening that comes through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). It is likely, though, that Paul offers the strongest warning on this matter to the church in Thessolanica when he warns that with the coming of Satan’s influence and that the reason we are ultimately deceived is because we have refused to love the Truth and in turn, rejected salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). How often we are guilty of desiring the so-called comforts of the world that we choose to allow ourselves to be deceived, yet do not consider this willful deception to be a rejection of God’s Truth!

How do we protect ourselves from this deception? The psalmist sets 8 principles before us in the second stanza of Psalm 119.

    • We must guard our way according to God’s word (Psalm 119:9)
    • We must seek God with our whole heart (Psalm 119:10)
    • We must store up God’s word in our heart (Psalm 119:11)
    • We must seek to learn God’s statutes (Psalm 119:12)
    • We must declare to others the law of God (Psalm 119:13)
    • We must delight in the testimony of God and in his ways (Psalm 119:14)
    • We must meditate on God’s precepts (Psalm 119:15)
    • We must delight in the law of God (Psalm 119:16)

Seek these things, the Psalmist insists, and you will guard the way that is before you. Deception is all around; do not fall prey to the wiles of the devil, but indeed, guard yourself with the whole armor of God which he has given to you (Ephesians 6:11).

Our God in Heaven (Psalm 115:2-3)

“Why should the nations say,

‘Now, where is their God?’

Our God is in the heavens—

All that he delights in, he does.”

(Psalm 115:2-3)

 

            Indeed, those who have made gods to worship out of gold and silver do look at us and ask us how we can worship a God that we can neither see nor touch?  The psalmist’s reply is an important one.  Often, when we are pressed with the same question from a secularist, we retreat and are a bit defensive with our answer.  We usually say something to the extent of, “well, it takes faith…”  Or, if we are a bit more astute, one of the classic answers that is given is, “you cannot see the wind, but you see the effects of the wind—so it is with the Holy Spirit and with those born again of the Holy Spirit,” making a reference to Jesus’ language before Nicodemus.  Yet, there is nothing defensive about the psalmist’s response.  The psalmist replies to the question by saying, “Our God is in the heavens and he does all that he pleases.”  Do you see what the psalmist is doing here?  It is as if the psalmist is saying—you are criticizing me for not having a god made out of metal or stone that I can see, but your gods are inanimate objects—the creation of your own hands—how can I bow down to one who is incapable of answering my prayers?  I worship a God who rises high above the heavens—he cannot be constrained by puny things of metal or stone, nor can he even be constrained by the world itself—and all that takes place is a result of my God’s good will.  So, who will you worship, the god formed out of the dirt by the sweat of your own brow, or the God who created the dirt and all that is around with but a word of his power.  Beloved, statements like this are anything but defensive, they cut to the quick, and address the problem at hand—who is the true God of heaven and earth and what ought to be done with all of the bad imitations?

            Loved ones, why are we so often intimidated when people challenge our faith?  We know the effect of the hand of God in our own lives, we have seen God’s work in the world, and we know the truth of God that is found preserved for us within the Holy Scriptures.  In addition, creation itself testifies to God’s majesty!  Where is there room for anything but bold assurance?  It is not incumbent upon us to prove to the atheist that God does exist—it is his responsibility to prove that God does not exist if he wants to hold a position that is so contrary to reason and observation.  Because we have allowed ourselves to be intimidated by academic degrees and titles, we have allowed unbelievers to turn the tables on us, forcing Christians to swallow lies in the name of “science”—lies that do not even stand up to the secularist’s own scientific methods of scrutiny. 

            The final statement is also telling for two reasons.  First of all, it compliments the previous statement about God in the heavens.  We do not worship a God that was like the gods of the Greek philosophers—ones who were transcendent and so separate from the world that they do not act, but only observe—but we worship a God who does act within the realms of men.  But what is also important is that not only does God act, he takes pleasure in his acting.  We spend a lot of time talking about God’s sovereignty and that he works out all things according to the council of his own will (Ephesians 1:11), but we often neglect the principle that is expressed here—that God does take pleasure in his actions.           

            Beloved, think on things this way:  God is satisfied with himself to such a wonderful degree that all that he thinks and does brings him pleasure.  And, to continue the line of thought to its logical end, if God finds his ultimate satisfaction in himself and finds profound pleasure in all that he does, we can find our ultimate satisfaction in Him and pleasure in all that he does in our lives.  That is an easy statement to agree with when things are going well, but what about when the world around us seems to be falling apart?  Can you affirm, even in the midst of your greatest heartache, that God is still working all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose?  Though we may struggle with it, this is exactly how we should be thinking.  Our God rules the creation and works out his good pleasure in your life and in mine; let us strive to take our pleasure in the working out of these things by his strong and steady hand—finding our hope and satisfaction in Him and in Him alone.