Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The King of Glory

"The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; 
the world, and they that dwell therein."  
Psalm 24:1

English poetry is primarily concerned with the rhyming of words.  Such is not the case where Biblical Hebrew poetry is concerned.  The poetry of the Bible is primarily concerned with parallel thoughts.  This is seen throughout the Psalms and the Proverbs.  Parallel thought is what we observe here in this verse.  God is teaching a lesson by phrasing His statement two different ways.

"The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof...."  The word for earth is erets.  This is the common Hebrew word for the earth and is often translated land or world.  It is very general and here refers to the created world as a whole.  In six literal days, God created all of the earth (including all that pertains to the heavens).  We can read of this in Genesis chapter one.  The earth belongs to Him.  Mankind is quick to believe that he is the sole authority on this earth.  Man goes on throughout his day, doing as he pleases.  Some worship this earth and believe that they are supposed to be in submission to it.  Man utilizes its resources and harvests its crops.  He digs out its precious metals and enjoys its beauties.  He patterns his life according to its cycles, and he takes advantage of its various seasons.

Mankind as a whole lives upon this earth day after day without once realizing that it belongs solely to the LORD.  The Psalmist here uses God's highest name, Jehovah (translated LORD).  Man can choose to turn a blind eye to the witness of this world's creation, but Jehovah God has made all things for Himself.  In His goodness and mercy, He allows man to partake of its fullness.  Matthew 5:45 says, "...for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."  God has manifested His goodness to all, yet few acknowledge the truth of this verse.

"...the world, and they that dwell therein."  Continuing on with the same thought, the Psalmist (David) now phrases his lesson in a slightly different way.  The word for world is tevel which means fruitful or that which produces.  It carries with it the idea of the inhabited world.  All this world's productivity belongs to God, and the inhabitants who partake of that productivity themselves belong to God.  Man thinks he is so independent and free.  At every turn he struggles intensely to rid himself of God's authority; however, ultimately it cannot be done.  All of this earth's resources along with all of its inhabitants belong to God.  He owns the humble and the proud, the believer and the unbeliever, the righteous and the wicked, the poor and the rich.

Man will never free himself from the authority of the King of Glory.  Our Lord Jesus Christ made all for Himself as it says in the book of Colossians, "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Adulteress (Part II)

"So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.  And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground."  John 8:7-8

The Bible says, "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not."  No one is able to point the finger and declare guilt but God only.  God has commanded us to make judgments (J. 7:24) and to use discernment and to deal with sin; however, this must always be done out of a spirit of restoration and vindication of God's holiness, never in a spirit of condemnation and hatred (Matt. 7).  These men were not intending to uphold God's holiness, neither were they truly interested in putting away evil from Israel.  They had one motive, to condemn Christ.  Nehemiah was a man that dealt very harshly with sin, yet he had no oppressive thoughts toward his fellowmen.  He was entirely submitted to God's righteousness and he himself recognized that he too was a sinner.  His judgments of sin in the lives of others were based upon a desire to honor God and uphold His righteous standard.

Christ's answer to the self-righteous heart is always the same.  A self-righteous and arrogant heart is an abomination to God.  Consider what Isaiah 65:5 has to say concerning those who think themselves holier than others; God says of these individuals "...These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day." As campfire smoke that chokes the lungs and burns the eyes so is the self-righteous to the heart of God.

"And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst."  John 8:9

Not even the intensely religious Pharisee could argue with the power of such conviction as this.  This mysterious moral goad known only as the conscience was too strong for these men to argue against.  They knew that, despite all their religious trappings, at some point they had all offended God.  Mankind fights this very principle up to this very day.  We all know that we have in some way or another offended God but most of us are unwilling to completely humble ourselves and admit it.  These men walked away from the very One Who could have solved their moral dilemma for them.  Had they fell down at His feet and cried, "God have mercy upon me, a sinner," Jesus would have forgiven their sin even under such despicable circumstances.  He came "to seek and to save that which was lost."  However, though convicted by conscience, they simply walked away, and did not (at least at this point) choose the fear of the Lord.

"When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."  John 8:10-11

Many have come to this passage in an attempt to use it for proof that God overlooks sin.  Such rendering of this passage not only misses the point of what God is saying here but it also does injustice to a host of other Bible passages.  In grace, Christ came to this earth out of a desire to be the Sacrifice for mankind.  Without His grace, no one could be redeemed.  God is here showing both His grace and His holiness.  He says, "Neither do I condemn thee...."  To the humble sinner, God offers forgiveness and restoration.  Jesus then says, "...go, and sin no more."  In the original Greek text, Jesus literally said, "Go, and stop sinning."  He was demanding a change of heart and attitude toward sin.  He did not simply dismiss her actions and give license for her to continue on in her old ways.  True conversion demands, yea, fosters a changed life (II Co. 5:17).  We are not told that this woman was redeemed, but she certainly had a grand opportunity.

Every one of us is an adulterer and an adulteress.  We have all had a spiritual affair with someone or something other than God.  God does not want us to be as these self-righteous religious hypocrites who sought to oppose the righteousness of Christ.  None of us can stand on our own righteousness.  He wants us to acknowledge our wickedness and turn to Him in faith.  If we do so, we will find the love of God to be full and free.  This love offers forgiveness and a changed life that will no longer allow room for self and its wicked desires.  Let us flee to the Holy One of Israel for forgiveness and cleansing, then let us go on and sin no more.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Adulteress

"And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou? This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him."  John 8:3-5

This event occurred during the Feast of Tabernacles.  According to some who have made study of the matter, many booths would have been erected all around the city of Jerusalem in accordance with the Biblical mandate given to Israel.  In this type of environment, such an act of adultery would be easy to imagine.  It is also not difficult to understand how the offenders could have been easily caught.

The scribes and Pharisees were not interested in true justice, nor were they intent upon the vindication of God's holiness.  They had one goal in mind, to condemn the Son of God.  At this point in history, the Jews were not a free nation.  They were under Roman law.  According to John 18:31, it was not lawful for the Jews to condemn people to death.  This could be done only be the Roman governor.  On the other hand, God commanded Israel that an adulterer and an adulteress should both be stoned (Le. 20:10).  With these facts in view, the Jews apparently believed that they could trap Christ into going against either the Roman law or the law of the Old Testament.

"But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not."  John 8:6

These enemies of Christ were intent upon trapping Him and forcing Him to break either Roman law or God's Law.  The only problem was they had already broken God's Law themselves.  Isaiah 66:2 says "...but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word."  God is nigh to the one who humbles himself before his Maker.  These men were full of arrogance and contempt for the things of God.  In them lie the chiefest of sins, Pride.  They were guilty themselves of spiritual adultery against the things of God.  Idols of self-righteousness, cruelty, and covetousness ruled in their hearts; thus they soon would find that they themselves were condemned.

Notice the lack of concern that God shows toward such hypocrisy.  God is not taken back by the lame attempts of man to muddy the holy character of God.  He is no man's debtor.  He knows the hearts of all.  Christ shows great poise and sobriety by simply ignoring their fleshly trickery.  He does not answer them according to the expectations of their folly but simply writes on the ground in contempt of all their vile plans.