|The Biblical Examiner
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand
1) Mashed Potato
2) FOR PASTORS ONLY - God's Call To the Pastor
3) FOR PASTORS ONLY - Anger and Judgment
|Mashed Potato Christians|
Moses presented Pharaoh God's word, which did not impress him in the least. Pharaoh's response was to increase Israel's burden, and the taskmasters beat the Israelite officers when Israel could not fulfill the added burden. The officers went before Pharaoh to plead their cause. Pharaoh heard them out, but rather than easing their burdens, Pharaoh, contrary to obvious facts, said that the people were lazy.
Evidently Moses and Aaron had accompained the officers to Pharaoh but waited outside the throne room. When the officers departed Pharaoh's presence, they looked at both Moses and Aaron and cursed them in the name of the Lord. The officers laid two charges at their feet: 1) rather than improving their lot before Pharaoh, Moses and Aaron had only made matters worse; in fact, they had made Israel to stink before Pharaoh and 2) Moses and Aaron had given Pharaoh an excuse to kill them. Moses and Aaron had promised Israel release from bondage, but rather than release, they had only increased their bondage.
Pharaoh's plan to destroy any leadership possibilities of Moses and Aaron by turning Israel against them worked: Israel cursed Moses and Aaron.
These few concluding verses of Moses and Aaron's first exchange with Pharaoh and Israel's response gives us several interesting points:
1) The Israelite officer's response to Moses, v. 21, shows us that people, especially God's people, want effortless, painless and instant results.
Please bear with me for an illustration:
Some time ago, I was contacted by a candidate from a neighboring county who was challenging, on an anti-county-wide zoning platform, an incumbent commissioner in their '92 primary. He called for advice because the Lord has given us some good victories in our county, so I pointed out that a group he was associated with had missed a good opportunity several years ago. They gathered many names on petitions to successfully stop zoning in their county, but unfortunately, they did not follow through with what they had started; they did not keep in touch with those who sided with them, forcing them to start all over again from scratch.
On the other hand, when we saw the danger of county-wide zoning in our area four or five years ago, not knowing what else to do, we did what we had seen their group do with petitions. We saturated a few of our county's RDs with information about, and petitions against, zoning. We attempted to get the "Christian community" involved by sending to our county's 55 churches excerpts about zoning fights from "The Briefcase" (David Gibbs' mailing), but only three responded with signed petitions. Other than these returned petitions, the Christian community ignored us.
Even though the Christian community as a whole would not get involved, a dozen or so unsaved people, with a sprinkling of Christians, did see and understand the issue. Not only did they return the petitions, but they were willing to invest their time and money in attending council meetings and helping meet postage expense for continued effort on our part. We were able to place sufficient pressure on the council with petitions and appearances at their meetings to stop their efforts at county-wide zoning.
Whereas the neighbouring county defeated zoning with petitions and appearences (they did no mailings) and let it drop after their sucuessful effort, we kept in touch with the 10 or so people who showed special interest in the issue. We then added to the basic group a few at a time. (There are only about 14,000 registered voters in our county; therefore, a small group can have an oversized influence.)
People used to ask of us, "Who are you?" when we would ask candidates something; now they contemptuously say, "You mean that group up in Linden?" A 14 year incumbent commissioner who was beaten in the 92 primary told the man who beat him, "I guess I should have joined that .... preacher's group over in Linden." The man who beat him was one of the original 10 who returned a petition. Furthermore, the successful challenger against the 20 year incumbent for the second commissioner's seat stood strongly against us at our first appearance against zoning 5 years ago, but before the '92 primary, he switched sides and stood firmly with us.
All of that says this: human nature (pride) dispises starting at the bottom with just a few; rather, it says that if you cannot do something in a big way, then there is no point in persuing it at all. [What the Lord is doing now with the Salvation booklets and this paper you are reading, The Biblical Examiner, started as just a few books or ideas in '85.]
So what is our point? Christians particularly seem to believe that if they cannot start at the top, then there is no need to proceed. It appears that most Christians are not interested in any promises of God which cannot be claimed immediately. Extremely few people are willing to pursue a course of action which, in their opinion, does not promise instant results. We could call this the "Instant Mashed Potato" or the "Microwave" mentality. On the other hand, the wicked gleefully start with only a few people and add long-range plans. The result is that they seem to have conquered the world for evil.
To the Mashed Potato Christians, omnipotence means that the Lord will move on their command. Yes, they believe in a Sovereign All-powerful God, but they see Him as One Who will fulfill all of His promises immediately at their request. When He does not move according to their timetable and in the manner which they feel He should, then many times they are ready to turn their backs upon Him. This quick departure is closely connected with the instant salivation associated with the "Pray this Prayer" mentality.
2) Notice how quickly the Israelite officers turned on the man of God. Many times it does not take much to turn God's people (particularly the Mashed Potato Christians) against God and His man.
Just a few days previously, they had hugged Moses' neck and told him how glad they were that the Lord had sent him to them with His word; they had praised God for sending their promised deliverance from bondage by Moses, 4:30. Now they were cursing Moses in the name of the Lord: the Lord look.. and judge.. "Things are not going as we expected and as we understood you to promise," they tell Moses, "You delivered a false message and gave us a false hope."
Observe: One of the saddest things in any pastor's ministry is the short memory of God's people. Although my former pastor used to tell me of this hidden evil (4:31 & 5:21) in the heart of God's people, I believed it not until I experienced it. Sadly, I am becoming very cautious of people who profess undying love for their pastor. Many of the very people who profess the most love will turn the farthest from the one they profess to love.
I have no doubt that if possible the people of Ex 5:21 would have found another church or another pastor for their church.
3) Their faith in, and worship of, the Lord was not only short lived, but it was conditioned upon God's message corresponding to their desires and upon the Lord fulfilling their expectations. The people believed that the Lord would release them from their bondage, so they worshipped God, 4:31. The promise of God was quickly and easily abandoned when things did not meet their expectations.
Their faith in God's promises was conditioned upon their circumstances; therefore, it was not real. True faith would have shared their concerns with Moses, but the major doubts and complaints about their distressed condition would have been to the Lord, Philippians chapter 4 (v.6).
Observe: We say that we fear God, and we expect the pagans to fear God. They do not have the same reverence for Him as we do, and we are greatly disappointed. Sad to say, we see here that God's people were very short on faith. Is it any wonder that Pharaoh had no faith?
Note that Israel appears to be only one step ahead of Pharaoh in their unbelief: Moses spoke once to Israel and they believed, 4:31. Moses spoke once to Pharaoh and he did not believe, 5:2. As soon as Pharaoh responded in unbelief, Israel turned from their belief. We could almost put these words in Israel's mouth, "Who is the Lord that we should believe you and Him," 5:21. Though they did not say this, they sure cursed Moses in the name of the Lord. Obviously, Israel feared God little more than did Pharaoh. Israel's faith was not an active faith, James 2:26.
4) Their corrupt faith not only demanded instant and easy deliverance, but also victory without humility. Typically, any trial of this generation's faith brought about rebellion against Moses and, consequently, against God. (Cf. 1 Sam 8:7; 1 Pet 1:7; 5:5,6; Ja 4:6- 10. Their rebellion cost them the promised rest, Heb 3 & 4:1- 3.)
In addition, Israel took out their disappointment with God upon God's man.
5) In their opinion, the promised deliverance was to be fulfilled in ease and luxury.
They expected an easy solution to a very difficult situation. They saw God's promised intervention as a promise of easy salvation from extremely oppressive bondage; they understood the word of God (4:30) to say that all their problems were over; they expected deliverance without effort, discipline or suffering on their part; they expected deliverance without God's judgment against sin, either Egypt or their's; and they expected a supernatural carrying away on flowery beds of ease from all the problems, difficulties and hard labor of life. Based upon their understanding of Moses' words, they did not expect Pharaoh's evil response. They heard Moses say what they wanted to hear and then tried to hold Moses accountable for what they heard.
Observe: Misinterpretation of God's word has led to false hopes in God's people throughout the ages. False hope says: A) God will intervene in a "painless, strainless" way against today's oppressive Pharaohs. B) God will provide Supernatural deliverance for His people from the oppressive powers of this present age without any judgment against sin in the congregation of the Lord or against the oppressive Pharaohs. C) God will supernaturally deliver with neither diligence for God on their part, personal distress, or worldly disgrace accompainied by departure from worldly pleasures. Fallen nature desires deliverance from difficulty (Egypt) and victory over the pagans with no self-effort or at least minimal effort; it desires an easy salvation with no judgment.
Israel, including Moses, misinterpreted the promise of God as saying that all Moses and Aaron had to do was present the word of God to Pharaoh who then, trembling and shaking, would gladly release them. When he did not respond according to their expectation, God's people turned against God's man and hence against God.
6) Vs. 22-23, Moses expected easy deliverance even though he knew better, 4:21. He: A) returned unto the Lord.., B) considered the response by Pharaoh evil treatment, C) expressed his doubts and questions his calling, and D) placed the blame upon the Lord for Pharaoh's evil response: neither hast thou...
A) Even though Moses felt the Lord had failed to keep His promise, he took his complaint to the Lord and not to man. Expressing our doubts about God's promises before people will gets us in trouble with the Lord; expressing our doubts before God will allow Him to increase our faith.
B) What men may feel is evil treatment by the Lord is actually God working His much higher purpose for our good and for His Kingdom's sake, Romans 8:28.
C) We would probably say in this situation: "Lord, I told you this would happen back at the bush, but You sent me anyway. Now what?" But the Lord, knowing man's frame and that he is but dust, encouraged Moses by giving him fresh assurance of His call and assuring Moses that He will accomplish His plan through him, 6:1. (How many times have we needed new fresh assurance, for without it we would surely perish, Lam 3:22-26.)
D) If this great man Moses had doubts, think of the problems we can expect. How many times have we thought the same thing: "Lord, this is not according to the promise that I feel you have given to me."? Obviously, we give up too easily. But if we read ahead to the next chapter, v. 1, we see that the Lord does not rebuke Moses for his shortness of faith; rather, the Lord says, "Now I can show Myself strong."
As Moses' responsibility increased, the Lord's revelation of Himself to Moses increased, Exodus 6:1-8. As needed in their service to God, the Lord increases the faith of His faithful servants by giving them increased revelation of Himself from His word, Romans 10:17. (Note that in 2 Pet 3:16-18, growth in the knowledge of, and obedience to, the word of God protects one from the error of the wicked.)
7) Finally, God delivers His people in spite of themselves. He did not deliver them for any good on their part (Moses later told them that they were rebels from the first day he met them). The Lord delivered them because of his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, 2:24. (Cf. De 7:7-11 ["If," says Moses, "He kept His word for good to deliver you, He will surely keep His word to judge your sin"]; 9:4ff.)
We see from this exchange between Moses and Israel's officers that deliverance will come for God's people; God's people will be delivered into God's promises to Abraham (cf. Gal 3:29). But before this happens, there will be difficult days of plagues ahead.
As the ungodly Pharaoh's of our day stand against the Lord and His Christ, thus against His people on earth, doing all they can to stamp out Christianity, we can rest assured that the Lord will show Himself strong. The more tyrannical the Pharaoh's of our day, the more glorious the triumph of God. Both the ungodly Pharaohs and faithless covenant-people will know that it was indeed the hand of the Lord that delivered His people.
My, how thankful I am for the grace and mercy of God. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust, Psalms 103:13, 14. He works with us where we are to bring us to where we ought to be, and, more often than not, in spite of ourselves, Romans 9:16.
|For Pastors Only|
Paul shows us the heart of a godly pastor/teacher in 1 Corinthians 4:14, my beloved sons I warn you. Furthermore, he tells us in Romans 8:36, As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter, indicating that there is no defence when persecuted for Christ's sake (ff. 1 Pet. 2:21-25).
Sheep are defenseless and must be defended by their shepherd (Ps 100:3). Scripture teaches that the primary source of danger and destruction to the sheep lies within the church from false teachers, not from without, eg. unjust authority; employers (masters), civil, family, &c. Therefore, God's primary call to the pastor/teacher is to defend His sheep against false teachers which have, in the name of Christ, crept into the church unawares. Rarely do we find Scriptural instances of godly religious leaders protecting the sheep from unjust authority from without the kingdom of God on earth, the church.
The devil is a wily adversary. Without the whole armor of God, especially the truth of God's law- word, the people of God will be carried away at the adversary's will, 1 Timothy 4:1; 2:26; Ephesians 6:11. If the devil can shift the attention of the church to a perceived danger from without, the attention is off his work through his servants WITHIN, 1 Corinthians 11:15. Therefore, the primary emphasis which will turn away the destruction of this nation must be on the corruption, misapplication and misuse of the law-word of God by the false teachers within the church. The only effective weapon against the devil is the development of the law-word of God within the church for the sheep, enabling them to take it outside for application in their lives in society (Ps 119).
It is interesting that God's people in Joshua 9:4, felt their enemy was enough removed to be harmless when he was right among them. This is precisely what is happening today: God's people see their primary enemy not on the inside of the church but outside in many forms. Certainly, the sheep must be trained to obey God rather than man when the laws of the two conflict (Ac 5:29), but the word of God clearly tells us that the destructive danger to His work is from within. In other words, the primary danger to the kingdom of God is not from unjust misused authority without; rather, the primary danger is from misuse, misapplicatin and ignorance of God's law within. Consequently, when the training of God's people centers around dealing with unjust authority without, they are left open for destruction from within. In fact, their destruction is assured, 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Our goal in this essay is to warn of the danger of misplaced emphasis on the unjust actions of those outside the Kingdom, rather than on false teachers within, who, intentionally or unintentionally, misinterpret and/or misapply the law-word of God. These teachers make the law of God of none effect in the life of the individual. Furthermore, we desire to identify a few of the basic false doctrines of which the sheep must be warned. We'll try to group these doctrines together in an orderly manner, but our main interest is their basic teaching. By no means is this a complete listing of all of the passages which deal with false teachers, prophets and ministers, but listed are many of the doctrines which the false teachers present to the sheep leading them astray.
As an introduction, let's consider the OT & NT use of the word warn, ie., shine, enlighten, instruct, &c. (Though the root word is the same, BDB [The New Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament] separates the word for shine in Daniel 12:3, from the word for warn in the rest of the OT. TWOT [Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament] also separates the two, but mentions that older editions of Gesenius takes the position that the second meaning, warn, is a secondary meaning related to the first, shine. We will use Gesenius' thinking on this because it fits the context of Scripture better. BDB does identify the second word, warn, with, give light, enlighten, instruct, admonish as possible meanings, but not certain.) The same word used for warn is also used as admonished in Ecclesiastes 4:13; 12:12. Thus, the law-word of God is the light in the darkness of sin; therefore, the light [that which produces light] of Matthew 5:14-16, is the applied law-word of God. This light is not just applied in the area of evangelism (the law of the substitutionary and redemptive work of Christ), but it is the total of the law applied into every area of life and thought.
Moreover, it is the word of God which warns, Ps. 19:12. According to the context of Ezekiel 3 and 33, the Lord is speaking of warning His people of their departure from His law. The purpose of the ruler in the nation of Israel was to warn or teach God's covenant people His ordinances and laws; he was to show them how theymust walk, and the work that they must do, Exodus 18:20. The prophet warned the king of the danger he was facing, 2 Kings 6:10. King Jehoshaphat, in order to prevent the Lord's wrath from coming upon the people, charged the Levities, priests, and chiefs of the fathers of Israel to warn them where they had trespassed against the law of the Lord, 2 Chronicles 19:10.
Now, let's follow this word warn into the NT. (To admonish, warn, exhort, caution, reprove, instruct.)
1) Acts 20, contains the first instance we will examine. Paul had been at Ephesus for about three years preaching repentance toward God, faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, the gospel of grace, the kingdom of God, and all the counsel of God (cf, Acts 28). His message had been so comprehensive that he was pure from the blood of all men. Although he said he knew not what would befall him as he obeyed the Holy Spirit and proceeded on to Jerusalem, he had a good idea because he talks like he would finish his course there with joy.
In v. 28, Paul points out that, though he had warned this church for the space of about three years, from among their own ranks and as soon as he is out of sight, grievous wolves would enter in not sparing the flock. Furthermore, their perverse message, contrary to the message delivered by Paul by the Spirit of God concerning repentance, grace and the kingdom of God, would draw away followers after themselves. As these apostates arise, Paul tells the elders to remember his own words and deeds, vs. 32-35. [It is interesting that Paul uses his lack of covetousness as an example by which to measure the soon to arise apostate teachers. Moreover, he reminds them that any extra funds which had come his way had been used to support the weak. Therefore, as the new teachers arose from among them, one measure of their message was their attitude toward money, ie. Would they keep it for their own personal gain, v. 29, or would they use it for the advancement of the kingdom of God as he had done, vs. 33-35?]
Observe: The obvious implication in Paul's final warning to these elders is that their destructive danger is from false teachers who will creep in under the name of Christianity, gain the confidence of godly people, and, over an extended period of time, turn their hearts from the law-word of God. Accordingly, the primary responsibility of godly leaders is to protect the sheep from those who seek to corrupt the gospel of grace and the gospel of the kingdom of God. The gospel of grace does not make the law of non-effect; rather, God's free grace provides redemption apart from any merit on the part of the individual and provides the power to obey God's will as revealed in His word, Philippians 2:13. Moreover, Paul warns against those who would corrupt the gospel of the kingdom of God (though not of this world, includes this world, Daniel 4:32; John 18:35-19:12).
2) Romans 15:14: the same word for warn is admonish indicating the purpose of admonishing one another is to help them be obedient to the faith by words and deeds, v. 18. The family of God is to watch over one another against being drawn away from the true faith. [Note Jude 3, the faith once delivered unto the saints. The NT faith is the same faith that was delivered to the OT saints. In addition, notice the Lord's words in Lk 24:44-47; the whole gospel was written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms.]
3) 1 Corinthians 4:14: after Paul departed Corinth, the people had entertained false teachers of the Gospel of Prosperity, v. 8. Paul not only writes back to warn and chastise this congregation for their acceptance of the false teachers, but he also sends Timothy to counter their evil influence, vs. 9-17. Thus, Paul's chief concern was the evil influence of the false teachers in this church.
4) Colossians 1:28: the purpose of Paul's warning was that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 3:16: admonish, urging one another to faithfulness to the word of Christ.
5) 1 Thessalonians 5:12: admonish. Paul urges this congregation to respect the ones who faithfully labor among them and who admonish them in the word of God. In v. 14, & 2 Thessalonians 3:15, he tells the people to warn others among them which are unruly (not living by Biblical law).
A) The danger to the sheep, the people of God, is from false teachers within their ranks who would seduce them away from the totality of God's word.
B) The overwhelming evidence is that a primary purpose of the spiritual leader is to protect the sheep from false teachers. This evidence makes the shepherd's indisputable primary responsibility the development of the law-word of God and its application in such a way that the sheep can feed upon it. This instruction is all the Spirit has to keep false teachers out of the church, Ephesians 4 (v. 14).
Observe that there is extremely little, if any, warning against unjust men outside of the Kingdom. Unjust men in places of authority are the natural result of the sheep straying from their place of safety, ie. God's law-word, 1 Samuel 8 (Jn 10). The sheepss danger is from false teachers within and under the name of Christ (cf. Jer 23). The area of false teachers within the church must be dealt with before there can be any effective relief from outside oppression.
Starting with the OT, let's look at some messages presented by false teachers. This is by no means a complete examination; rather, we are only presenting enough to establish some basic doctrines.
1) Deuteronomy 13:-5; Proverbs 19:27; Isaiah 5:20; 8:20; 9:16: they use any means, including smooth soothing words, to turn away the hearer from following the law of God.
2) Deuteronomy 29:29: they emphasis of the secret things of the Lord (we might add, over the obvious things which have been given in God's word, Ex. 20:5).
3) Isaiah 30:10; Jeremiah 5:30, 13, 14; 10:21: they give to the people what they want to hear.
4) Isaiah 56:10; Jeremiah 3:8: they will not warn of impending danger from whatever source. The primary warning from God's teachers must be a warning to the people about their departure from the law of life, Lamentations 2:14. False teachers will not warn the sheep because of what it might cost them; they are greedy dogs which cannot bark.
5) Jeremiah 14:13-16; 50:56; Hosea 4:6: they will not stress the importance of the law of God for the well-being of the people of God. In fact, they do violence to the law, Zephaniah 3:4; Malachi 2:8.
6) Ezekiel 13:1-23; 22:25-28; 34:1-31: they teach from their own heart and not from the total of God's word.
7) Hosea 8:4: they separate civil government (or any sphere of life) from Christianity and Biblical laws of life. [Not a Church-State, but a Christian State is required by God. The church must train Christians to live for God in every area of life, including the area of the state.]
Now let's look at some identifying marks and messages of false teachers from the NT.
1) Matthew 5:19: they teach men that it is alright to live contrary to the law of God. Or, we might say, they separate the law of God from every day activity; they do not understand the Mosaic law, 1 Timothy 1:3-7.
2) Matthew 15:7-9: they replace the law of God with the teachings of men. In addition, Colossians 2:8 warns against teachers who mix humanism with Christ.
3) Luke 11:42: they take the 'spirit' out of the law; the law was made for man, not man for the law.
4) Luke 11:38-52: they emphasize the outer religious activity while overlooking the inner relationship with God. Maybe this emphasis is not readily apparent in the preaching, but it is seen in the people and/or in the preacher's private life.
5) Acts 20:28-30: Paul warns of false teachers who will arise from among the best spiritual leaders of the church. They will draw away disciples after themselves and not after the doctrines of the total of God's word.
6) 1 Timothy 4:1: the end time will be marked by people departing from sound doctrine and following after doctrines of devils which appeal to the flesh. The devilish doctrine will include connecting gain with godliness, 1 Timothy 6:4, as well as using the doctrine of Christ for personal gain, Matthew 7:15; Jude 11. The false teachers will create divisions with their fair and excellent speech. Because of their prospect of gain, they will deceive the easily swayed, Romans 16:17, 18; 1 Corinthians 2:1-4. False teachers are everywhere today; the word of God commands His people to avoid them, Philippians 3:2; Colossians 2:4.
[Something to consider here: The doctrine of gain is godliness, though primarily connected with material gain such as the area of finances, would include all teachers, preachers and evangelists who are considered godly because they are able to get a good response to their message or a good offering. Note the danger: The teacher/preacher can get a good response even though his personal life is not as it should be; therefore, his "gain" identifies him as a powerful preacher with God's hand upon him. According to Scripture, if his personal life does not conform with Scriptural godliness as much as the Spirit of Grace will permit, the man is ungodly no matter how many respond to his preaching.
I was given a first-hand report of an evangelist who was found using cocaine in the last few days of a meeting for the boost which it gave him to continue. Multitudes of people responded to this man's preaching and then the host pastor bragged about how many decisions were made for Christ as a result of his preaching. Furthermore, this evangelist commands a larger "gift" for his services because of the apparent "success" of his preaching.
By their fruits you will know them, but where are we looking for fruit? The Lord looks at the heart and the personal life. All we can see is the personal life; therefore, if it is corrupt, the rest is corrupt. Evangelism is a gift given to the church, but the problem is the difficulty of checking on the man's personal life. And even though some may know the truth in the matter, they also believe that because of the good emotional response the preacher gets from his hearers when he preaches, he is a godly man.]
Back to our NT marks of a false teacher:
7) 1 Timothy 5:8, he places the ministry before his own house.
8) 2 Timothy 3:16: his teaching of righteousness, doctrine, reproof and correction is separated from the OT Scriptures. Furthermore, they have another definition of sin other than 1 John 3:4, and they turn the grace of God into lasciviousness permitting following the desires of the flesh, 2 Timothy 3:6-13; Jude 4.
9) 2 Timothy 2:14: Paul instructs the preacher to remind the people to avoid words of no profit which subvert the gospel of Christ Jesus and the kingdom of God.
10) Titus 1:14, warns us to flee Jewish fables and therefore the teachers of them. (Hastings [Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, 1903, pg. 935], identifies the idea of the kingdom of God as a political and national one, headed up by the Messiah, as one of the predominate fables. In his Dictionary of Religion [1924, pg. 517], Hastings says about "the prevalent expectation of the Messiah at the time of Jesus was born. There was no exact uniformity of belief or of expectation. Some enthusiasts looked for a war-like chieftain, gifted with an ability of leadership, to cast off the Roman yoke and restore the kingdom of Israel to some such splendor as it had in the days of Solomon." There were other thoughts, "but the more popular one was that of a temporal prince." Therefore, the predominate Jewish fable of the day was of a temporal prince who would cast of the yoke of oppression and restore national Israel to its former glory. A very interesting study along this point is concerning the Nationalist Party of Christ's day. See Josepus, Antiquities, XVIII, ii.6. Or Zealots, as Edersheim calls them, Book II, pg. 237.)
11) 1 Pet. 2:10; Jude 8: they despise governments and speak evil of dignities.
12) 2 Peter 2:1: they deny the Lordship of Christ (especially over Church) which results in swift destruction upon themselves and upon their followers. This denial is very prevalent today as the churches submit to the state as their head.
13) 2 Peter 3:16: they are unstable and wrest Scriptures from their context, especially passages which they find hard to understand.
14) 1 John 2:18-26: they misinterpret the antichrist and seduce others to follow them.
15) 2 John 1:7-10; Galatians 1:6-8: the present false teaching about the doctrine of Salvation. (Which is the Substitutionary death of Christ and faith in that payment.)
A conclusion here is that the individual, church and society is destroyed because they have turned from the gospel of the King and His Kingdom, the kingdom of God, and the total message of Salvation through the finished work of Christ. Therefore, the call for the modern day teacher of God's word is to study and develop the law-word of God, ferret out and develop where the false teachers under the name of Christ have departed from sound doctrine (removed scripture from its context, &c.), and reveal where the false teachers have turned away the people of God from God's word. Then he is to call the people back to the word and develop the law so they can turn back.
Obviously, there will be as much resistance to this action of the godly pastor as there was when Christ stood against the tradition of the elders. The man of God is to emphasize where God's people have turned away from God's word. The overwhelming call of the pastor is to protect his people from the false teaching of the day which are within the church operating under the name of Christ. When people return to God, then GOD WILL heal their land, 2 Chronicles 7:14. Man, even regenerate man, cannot heal his own land.
|For Pastors Only|
Matthew 5:21-26 (Ex 20:13)
Numbers 35:9-34 (Deu 19:1-13), records the giving of the possession in Canaan to the tribe of Levi. In fulfillment of the prophecy by Jacob, Levi is scattered throughout the nation of Israel enabling him to fulfill God's calling, Genesis 49:7. (Note the grace of God: the most wicked of the 12 boys, Levi, is given a place of honor: teaching the law of God to Israel.)
Levi is given a total of forty eight cities to dwell in with the surrounding land to supply his needs. He is not scattered by individual families in each city of Israel; rather, he is scattered by groups in separate cities. His families were congregated together in separate towns among different tribes, preventing the disadvantages of having to stand alone midst the corruption and apostasy into which the nation so easily fell. This establishment of godly Levitical communities throughout Israel would better enable Levi to fulfill his calling, including reminding Israel that they were to be a godly nation.
Out of Levi's forty eight cities, Moses specified six conveniently located "Cities of Refuge" to be set aside, three on each side of the Jordan. The purpose of these cities was to provide safety of the manslayer, one who unintentionally killed another, Exodus 21:12-14. God gave to the slain's next of kin permission and the responsibility to put to death the killer. The six cities of refuge were cities where the manslayer could flee for safety.
The congregation was responsible to keep the way to these cities clear and well marked, so the manslayer would not be hindered as he fled the avenger of blood whose heart would be hot with anger, Deuteronomy 19:3-6. If the manslayer made it to a city of refuge before the avenger of blood got to him, he was safe while the facts were investigated.
Notice three points:
First, the law does not prohibit anger; rather, it prohibits uncontrolled anger. The anger of the avenger must be controlled by the law. He could not pursue the manslayer into the city, and he had to abide by the ruling of the elders if the killer was found not guilty if murder.
Second, the law of God is basically family law. Even though the Lord gave the state the power of the sword (Gen 9:5, 6; Rom 13), God's law always protects the integrity of the family. In fact, this law shows that it is primarily the family's responsibility to protect itself. When this responsibility is relinquished to the state, the family is destroyed as the state replaces the family. Godly government must start with the godly family accepting its Biblical responsibilities of government in every area, including education and welfare.
Third, we are given another basic law of God: restitution. The elders of the city of refuge were to receive the killer and protect him from the avenger of blood. Then the elders of the slayer's home city, or the city where the slaying took place, were to send to the city of refuge where the man was and bring him back for trial, Deuteronomy 19:12; Numbers 35:24, 25. The trial included a diligent inquiry into the matter and included examining more than one witness, Deuteronomy 19:15-21.
If the witnesses were found to be false and seeking to harm the one charged, then the false witnesses were to have done to them what they sought to have done to the one they were witnessing against. (We have seen what happens when just one witness is allowed to bring charges against an accused, ie. Clarence Thomas.)
The point which we want to develop is this: What determined if the killer was guilty of murder requiring him to be delivered over to the avenger of blood for death? What determined if he was guilty of manslaughter and thus protected from death?
The basic inquiry into the matter was whether or not in the past the killer hated the one killed: "Did he have guile toward the dead person?" He was found innocent of murder if there was no evidence of past hatred toward the one killed.
God, the Law Maker, gives an example to clarify this law, Deuteronomy 19:4-6. Two men went alone into the woods to cut wood and only one returned because, perhaps, an ax head slipped off and killed the other. The inquiry into the matter seeks to find if there was hatred between the two before the accident. If two or more witnesses testify that there had been anger, bitterness, guile and hatred between the two in the past, the survivor is found guilty of murder.
Thus, no matter how loudly the survivor proclaimed his innocence, if he had exhibited hatred toward the one killed, he was found guilty of murder if there was no one to testify on his behalf. In other words, there was no refuge from death for the one harboring hatred, anger or bitterness no matter how loudly he proclaimed his innocence, Hebrews 12:14-17. Therefore, the law taught that if there was anger, bitterness and hatred between two, it needed to be settled quickly. Moreover, the closer the two had to work together, the more important it was to quickly settle any differences.
This is the legal background for our Lord's words when He quotes the sixth commandment, Matthew 5:21-26. (Note v. 21, shall be in danger of the judgment.. not necessarily assured judgment.)
V. 22, angry.. When diligent inquiry was made into the matter, what did the witnesses say? Did they say that there had been hard feelings between the two? How did the two speak to each other in the past? How did they act toward each other before they went off into the woods together? Did the congregation find the survivor guilty or innocent of hatred in the past? If he is found guilty of attitudes, actions and words which exhibited hatred, he is guilty of murder under the law. Hatred is the same as murder.
Vs. 23, 24, the Lord gives the answer to the danger of being guilty of murder: settle the angry dispute as quickly as possible. We are to agree with our adversary quickly while there is a chance to do so because if we do not, we are in danger of being found guilty before the judge. Jesus added nothing to the law of Moses; rather, He taught the law in its proper perspective.
Now, let's consider the law in Deuteronomy 19:4-6. Under the OT economy, close working associations were unavoidable; it was all for one and one for all. The application for us is that even though a conflict arises between ourselves and our neighbor, we must still work together; we must still help one another and bear one another's burdens. This close association cannot be avoided. Christ, in explaining this law, points out that we must make things right with any person as soon as a conflict arises and while we are still together or as soon as we know about it. The wording He used was whiles thou art in the way with him. Before we part company, it needs to be settled. If it isn't, there is danger of judgment.
If there is just cause for the anger, present the case before the congregation as soon as possible (Mt 18), get it settled and out of the way before it grows out of hand.
In a Biblical economy under Mosaic law, tomorrow, I may have to work alone together with the one I have a conflict with today. While we are working together, something completely beyond my control could happen, and the one I am with could be killed. If I am known to have been angry with him, those who know us would know about the conflict and think, "He saw his chance, and he did it." Under a Biblical economy, I parted company today with that one I had a conflict with in danger of the judgment by not settling the conflict when it happened. We parted company in anger and bitterness, and the witnesses knew it. Therefore, under Biblical law, I am held accountable as a murderer of the one whose life was lost when we were alone on the job, whether I did it or not.
Thus, even under Mosaic law, any conflict needed to be settled immediately while the two were still in the way with each other. If there was obvious evidence of anger and hatred that even two others could see before they went off to the job site alone, both were in danger of the death penalty. If there was an accidental killing, the charge would be murder against the survivor: life for a life.
On the other hand, if the survivor was determined not to be guilty of hatred (murder), he still had a price to pay. He had to move to a city of refuge where he stayed until the death of the high priest. The manslayer was now under the protection of the divine grace of God, but only as he remained within the city, Numbers 35:26, 27. Only after the death of the high priest could he return to his land of possession. Moreover, the movement of the manslayer from the home community where the slaying took place would remove him from among the family of the one killed.
This gives us four more points: 1) the manslayer was still under the death penalty, but he was under the protection of God's law. 2) he had to abide by the law if he expected the protection of the law; as long as he remained in the city, the law protected him. 3) if he presumed that since he was not guilty of murder he could go about his business as usual, and he departed from his protection, death could meet him at any time. 4) the death penalty was not removed until the death of the high priest. The death of the high priest paid the death penalty for him and he was free to go.
Now, some applications: The law of God offers protection but only as that law is followed. It is presumptuous for one to depart from the law which God has established and still expect God's protection. The avenger is waiting outside the walls of God's protection, and presumption will place one in the enemy's territory. But His law also makes provision through the death of our High Priest, enabling us to go out into the enemy's territory and claim our inheritance within the protection of His word.
Our city of refuge is Christ. He instructed us in one of the most important matters of protection from the revenger of blood: make the situation right as soon as it happens or as soon as we know about it. If we do not, we are in danger of the judgment.
Additional points in conclusion:
First, the guilty man could not buy his way out of the death sentence, nor could he make any deal with the family of the one killed so that he might return to his own land before the death of the high priest, Numbers 35:31, 32. There was no way around the fact that the debt had to be paid; restitution had to be made.
Second, if restitution was not made, the land was polluted with the blood of the innocent murder victim. The polluted land can only be cleansed by the blood of him that shed innocent blood, v. 33. The blood of the innocent cries out from the very ground for justice, Genesis 4:10.
AND SO IT DOES TODAY!