The footnote in the New International Version at 2 Kings 18:4 is most interesting. When Hezekiah found the children of Israel worshiping the brazen serpent made by Moses in the wilderness, he destroyed it. Hezekiah called the serpent “Nehushtan.” The footnote explains the meaning of the word as “a serpent made of brass.”
We wonder how such an idol could have existed for so long. It would seem that it would have been destroyed in one of the reformation movements of one of the judges or kings. In my opinion, it lasted so long because it apparently was not recognized as an idol. Perhaps the children of Israel justified the worship by not calling it an idol. Hezekiah, however, came and called it what it really was-a brass image of a snake.
How often we justify sin by either ignoring it or calling it a different name! Some call adultery “a meaningful relationship.” We excuse covetousness by calling it “prudence” or “economy.” A life of sensual pleasure is “living with gusto.”
In answer to a critic, Abraham Lincoln asked, “How many legs does a cow have?” “Four,” was the reply. “If you call her tail a leg, how many does she have?” “Five,” was the answer. “No,” Lincoln said, “just calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.”
Have we made a similar mistake? Do we think that sin is not sin just because we do not call it by the right name?
– From “2000+ Bible Illustrations.” Also read Nehushtan.
On this very day last year, July 26th 2016, I was discharged from the hospital after 18 days. I was quite weak and enervated, but the entire trip back, I could not sleep a wink. I was praising the Lord and singing songs, as I was very sure that all my troubles and trials were over, that the things that the Lord has promised me were going to be fulfilled right away. Now, it has been one year and only recently my health has improved; even then, the humiliating circumstances I had to endure along with intense pain for weeks, this had to be one of the toughest years I had faced in my life.
On the other hand, this year also taught me more about my shortcomings than all the years I had lived so far. Sometimes, it has made me feel so ashamed to stand in the presence of God; at other times, it made me realize how great is His grace for us.
Though there were forward movement in my spiritual life, there is no movement in my life in other realms. It had become an epitome of “Be still” as my life has come to a stand still.
So this morning, when I woke up, I had mixed feelings. I am very grateful that the Lord has saved my life and for the last one year, through so many downs, He has lifted me up, taught me some very valuable insight about myself (though not so pleasant), and above everything, He filled me with His love. But since nothing has happened to my career, I was quite confused. And then the Lord, in His great wisdom, gave me this meditation, which has cheered me up. And, I am hoping that this meditation be a blessing unto another soul who has the same questions like I had. May the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ alone be exalted; and praises to God our Father Who loves us more than we can ever understand. The meditation is given below:
“For we through the Spirit by faith, wait for the hope of righteousness”
– Galatians 5:5. (RV)
There are times when things look very dark to me, so dark that I have to wait even for hope. It is bad enough to wait in hope. A long-deferred fulfilment carries its own pain, but to wait for hope, to see no glimmer of a prospect and yet refuse to despair; to have nothing but night before the casement and yet to keep the casement open for possible stars; to have a vacant place in my heart and yet to allow that place to be filled by no inferior presence – that is the grandest patience in the universe. It is Job in the tempest; it is Abraham on the road to Moriah; it is Moses in the desert of Midian; it is the Son of Man in the Garden of Gethsemane.
There is no patience so hard as that which endures, “as seeing Him Who is invisible”; it is the waiting for hope.
Thou hast made waiting beautiful; Thou has made patience divine. Thou hast taught us that the Father’s will may be received just because it is His will. Thou hast revealed to us that a soul may see nothing but sorrow in the cup and yet may refuse to let it go, convinced that the eye of the Father sees further than its own.
Give me this Divine power of Thine, the power of Gethsemane. Give me the power to wait for hope itself, to look out from the casement where there are no stars. Give me the power, when the very joy that was set before me is gone, to stand unconquered amid the night, and say, “To the eye of my Father it is perhaps shining still.” I shall reach the climax of strength when I have learned to wait for hope. – George Matheson
Then believed they His words; they sang His praise. They soon forgot His works; they waited not for His counsel; but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul (Psalms 106:12-15).
We read of Moses, that “he endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible.” Exactly the opposite was true of the children of Israel in this record. They endured only when the circumstances were favourable; they were largely governed by the things that appealed to their senses, in place of resting in the invisible and eternal God.
In the present day there are those who live intermittent Christian lives because they have become occupied with the outward, and centre in circumstances, in place of centring in God. God wants us more and more to see Him in everything, and to call nothing small if it bears us His message.
Here we read of the children of Israel, “Then they believed his words.” They did not believe till after they saw– when they saw Him work, then they believed. They really doubted God when they came to the Red Sea; but when God opened the way and led them across and they saw Pharaoh and his host drowned—“then they believed.”
They led an up and down life because of this kind of faith; it was a faith that depended upon circumstances. This is not the kind of faith God wants us to have.
The world says “seeing is believing,” but God wants us to believe in order to see. The Psalmist said, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Do you believe God only when the circumstances are favourable, or do you believe no matter what the circumstances may be? — C. H. P.
“Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward” (Exodus 14:15).
Imagine, O child of God, if you can, that triumphal march! The excited children restrained from ejaculations of wonder by the perpetual hush of their parents; the most uncontrollable excitement of the women as they found themselves suddenly saved from a fate worse than death; while the men followed or accompanied them ashamed or confounded that they had ever mistrusted God or murmured against Moses; and as you see those mighty walls of water piled by the outstretched hand of the Eternal, in response to the faith of a single man, learn what God will do for His own.
Dread not any result of implicit obedience to His command; fear not the angry waters which, in their proud insolence, forbid your progress. Above the voices of many waters, the mighty breakers of the sea, “the Lord sitteth King for ever.”
A storm is only as the outskirts of His robe, the symptom of His advent, the environment of His presence.
Dare to trust Him; dare to follow Him! And discover that the very forces which barred your progress and threatened your life, at His bidding become the materials of which an avenue is made to liberty. — F. B. Meyer
Hero worship is, unfortunately, a common problem among Christians today. We have our favourite preachers, evangelists, ministers and servants of God, authors and pastors. We may even have certain political leaders as our heroes. And we end up worshipping these heroes, knowingly or unknowingly.
There were few times when I saw some theology posted online and had the temerity to point out certain Biblical verses which directly contradict the said theology. And then the wolves would come out – how dare you question our pastor/preacher/minister of God? Do you have his anointing? No one knows who you are, but our pastor/preacher/minister has so many followers on Facebook, Twitter, etc,.
But no one would say whether what I wrote is correct or not, based on the Bible. That’s never the problem. How dare you question our ….?
Especially in Pentecostal churches, the hero worship is so easily visible to human eyes, except those who are into it. The church attendance would drop if certain pastor is not preaching; the church will be full when a certain person leads the worship.
There are some Christians who believe that God our Father do not listen to our prayers, but if such a minister of God prays, then there will be an immediate answer to those prayers. So when they need prayers, they will write to those ministers of God or call them, so that they can get an instant answer from God through the “direct line”.
Is it wrong to have someone else pray for us? Of course not. Is it wrong that some men of God are asked to intercede on our behalf. No, it is not. But to depend on them, to follow them blindly, is wrong and it will lead to spiritual idolatry and spiritual adultery.
In Exodus chapter 32, we see the idolatry of Israelites. But what we don’t read between the lines is most revealing.
That morning, they collected manna – which was provided by our Lord God.
That day, they drank water that came from the roc – again the provision was from our God.
During the entire day, when they were busy preparing the idols, they were under the shadow of the pillar of cloud – provided by God.
During that night, when they were worshipping the idols and celebrating, they were received light by the pillar of fire – provided by God.
If all these were not enough to remind them of the presence of God among them, they were at the base of Mount Sinai and the peak was covered with clouds, symbolizing the glory and presence of the LORD God.
There were thunders and lightning that would have reminded them the awesome power of our God.
Imagine this. After eating the manna and drinking the water provided by the Lord our God, they proceeded to create and worship an idol under the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire that the Lord had given them in His mercy. HIS awesome power and magnificent glory were visible whenever they looked up. Yet they went ahead and created the idols. Why? Because they were worried about their hero, Moses.
Exodus 21:1 says: Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
Since they could not see their hero and did not know what happened to them, they decided to choose another leader… no, wait, no, they did not do that. That would have been the right thing to do. Instead, when they thought they lost Moses, they replaced him with idols. Hero worship had led them to idolatry. And there were so many things that would have reminded them of the presence of the Lord among them, the LORD God Who actually brought them out of the land of Egypt. But when people have heroes, true and living God cannot be seen – only idols can be seen.
So, who is your focus? Are you looking only Jesus, Him crucified or your preacher? Are you focussing your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, or some Christian author whose books have revived your faith? Let us focus our eyes only on Jesus and Jesus Christ alone. Amen.
To do everything in this world, there are ways to go about it. We can do it our way, or follow someone else and there is always a traditional way – the way things are done always. This is the voice of Bildad – the second friend of Job.
Whenever we want to follow the voice of the LORD, there will be always some distraction from the traditionalists. If you don’t believe me, try to do something different in your church and see how many are offended by your action. Been there, offended many, got hurt in return , much wiser now.
Always beware of the voice of Bildad. It explains how things are done always in the world and how it is good for us to do the same. And if we ever give in, it will lead to losses that we never could dream of.
Most of us know about the incidents of chapters 13 and 14 in the Book of Numbers in the Bible. The Israelites sent 12 spies to the Promised Land and they came back with the report about the Land they were meant to inherit. 10 of them gave bad reports about the Promised Land, but two of them, Caleb and Joshua, had different things to say about the same land as they saw the Promised Land through the eyes of faith.
The Israelites, disheartened by the bad report, murmured against the LORD and as a result, they had to spend the next 40 years in the wilderness, till the every single person who murmured had to die in the wilderness. During the 40 years, both Moses and Aaron died in the wilderness, forfeiting their calling. Why did these things happen? The answer is: the traditional way – the voice of Bildad.
In Numbers 13:1-2, we see the LORD giving permission to Moses to send the spies to the Promised Land. Note that the LORD did not COMMAND Moses to send the spies, He just gives PERMISSION to a petition that Moses submitted. So, why did Moses, the servant of God, who asked the LORD’s advice for every single thing, submitted a petition without asking the LORD first?
In the first chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses recounts what happened during that time. Under direction from the LORD, Moses gives this command to the Israelites in Deut. 1:21.
The command was given by the LORD through Moses to go and occupy the Promised Land. But instead of obeying the LORD’s command, the Israelites come to Moses with a suggestion.
Then you all came near to me and said, “Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.” The idea seemed good to me. – Deut. 1:22-23 (NIV)
God had given a command to them. Instead of obeying it, they had an idea. God was leading them in the way they should go, but they decide to send spies to find their own route. Why?
Because by tradition, before invading a land, they send spies ahead to find out the weakest link in the enemy’s fortresses. And, Moses, who grew up in courts of Pharaoh, would have known about this tradition better than anyone else there. So, that idea seemed good to him.
As a result, they spent the next 40 years in the wilderness and except Joshua and Caleb, everyone else lost his life in the wilderness.
Today, there is the LORD’s command to you regarding your future, your blessings, your family and your church. And there are people who suggest you to wait and approach the problem methodically – the proper way to deal in the traditional manner. Who are you going to listen to? To the LORD Almighty or to the tradition? Let us not forget the admonition of our LORD Jesus Christ.
|Psalm 112:5 “Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.”Brought to you by BibleGateway.com. Copyright (C) . All Rights Reserved.|
HE (Jesus) must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. – John 3:30 (NLT)
In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus Christ says that there is no one greater than John the Baptist, among those born of women. (Mat. 11:11) In the same Gospel, Jesus also proclaims that whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Mat. 23:12) If we consider these two verses together, we will realize that John the Baptist had humbled himself the most, because Jesus exalted him above everyone else. Yes, John the Baptist had only one goal in his mind: “HE (Jesus) must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30, NLT)
When the Bible first mentions Elijah, he starts right away with his mission.
Now, Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years unless I give the command.” (1 Kings. 17:1, NET)
It is clear from the later verses, that it was the LORD Himself who gave this power to Elijah. But in this verse, only once Elijah uses the Name of the LORD, but gives more prominence to himself – note the prominent “I” . Contrast this with how Moses approached Pharaoh.
Moses… went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says, “Let My people go, so that they may hold a festival in My honor in the wilderness.”” (Exodus 5:1, NLT)
The contrast is evident. Moses does not mention anything about how the LORD God has chosen him as the leader of His people. He does not talk about how the LORD has promised to do great things through Moses. All he talks about what the LORD wants. But Elijah was not talking about the LORD. He was talking about himself. He was talking about how powerful he is, but he did not mention who gave him that authority.
Why did pride come into a prophet like Elijah? Elijah was standing before Ahab, the worst king of Israel ever had. He and his wife were abominations in the eyes of the LORD and they were serving false gods. But Elijah was righteous by his deeds. He was not bowing before false gods. He was serving the true living God. See how he proclaims… “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, WHOM I SERVE…”
Oh dear child of God, when you see other Christians who are not as faithful as you are, do you get angry? Do you look down at people who do not share our faith? Remember it is not our deeds, it is the by the grace of the LORD and the blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are saved. We stand as righteous not because of our deeds, so there is no place for pride in a Christian.
But the LORD did not forsake Elijah. The LORD understands us. We may not understand why we are behaving in certain ways, but the LORD knows our inner workings. And He is gracious. So comes an isolation for Elijah. The LORD teaches him humility. Dear child of God, are you feeling lonely? Don’t fret. The LORD is with you, teaching things that you did not know before, preparing you for great things. Don’t be anxious; don’t be upset about your loneliness. But, listen carefully. In that loneliness, there is something more valuable than gold. And when you have learned humility, and when you humble yourself before the LORD, HE will exalt you as He exalted Elijah before everyone’s eyes.
After learning humility from the LORD, Elijah is a different man now. And it is evident in the way he supplicates before the LORD at Mt. Carmel.
The prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and have done all these things at Your command.” – 1 Kings. 18:36 (NIV).
What a turn around? From “it will not rain unless I give my command”, “LORD, I have done all these things at Your command.” What a transformation!!! Amen. Yes, dear child of God, the LORD wants to transform you like this, so that HE can use you for greater things that you cannot even fathom. But in all that remember one thing: