Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Mother of Idolatry

Because of sin,  primarily idolatry and rebellion, God caused the ten northern tribes of Israel to be conquered and scattered throughout the world by the Assyrian Empire in 721 BC. 

About a hundred years later, the world power Babylon, led by King Nebuchadnezzar, conquered the two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin and  carried them down to Babylon where they were slaves for seventy years from 606-536 BC.  The prophet Jeremiah prophesied this enslavement in Jeremiah 25:1-14.

Babylon, as a nation,  was the mother of idolatry. The Jews were cured of that sin through that experience and have never been guilty of it since.

Though some started to return to their homeland in 1948, most are still scatterted throughout the world to this day.

Jump ahead to Revelation 17 and there you will read of the final fall of Mystery Babylon, the idolatrous, ecumenical church headquartered in Rome.  Then read Revelation 18 and read of the destruction of the global economic system of the Anti-Christ. We are already starting to see the disintegration  of this system world-wide as America, as well as other nations,  sink into obscene debt and  as inflation heats up and we see the value of the dollar plummeting.

While Judah was in Babylonian captivity the Prophet Jeremiah wrote to the captives in Jeremiah 29:1-19 to encourage them to settle down there, build homes and get married and have children for they would be there for seventy years, regardless of what the false prophets told them,  and then they would return to their homeland.

 Psalm 137 describes the mental and spiritual state of the Jews while they were in captivity. They were depressed and had no desire to sing their songs of Zion and glorify God.  That’s the spiritual state of every Christian who is far from God.

CYRUS OF PERSIA CONQUERS BELSHAZZAR OF BABYLON

Under Cyrus of Persia,  Judah had freedom that they had not experienced under Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  Cyrus challenged  and encouraged them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild it.   His philosophy of ruling was to allow those he conquered to go back to their homes, which were now  part of the Persian Empire.  This philosophy made for more contented citizens. The prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 51 had prophesied 50 to 70 years earlier  that Cyrus would free his captives to go back to their home. 

Most amazing, Isaiah in Isaiah 44:23-28  and 45:1-13 had called Cyrus by name and prophesied what he would do concerning Judah 200 years before he was born.  No wonder Cyrus was so congenial with his captives from Judah. He knew God’s hand was  upon him.  He knew his purpose in life.

Not only did Cyrus free and challenge Judah to return to their homeland; but he even helped finance the rebuilding of their temple which Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had destroyed seventy years earlier.  Furthermore he took the temple’s treasured vessels of gold and silver which Nebuchadnezzar had plundered and put in his storehouse and he returned them to the Children of Judah to replace in their temple.

 EIGHT TEMPLES

Did it ever occur to you that there were EIGHT TEMPLES?  The thought occured to me as I was preparing to preach this message.   Let me list them for you.

 1. The Tabernacle which Moses set up in the wilderness as Israel traveled from Egypt to Canaan, was a prototype of the temples that would be built.

The Tabernacle had the same rooms,  Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. And it had the same temple furnishings, including the altar of burnt offerings and the Ark of the Covenant..

 2. Solomon built the first temple as a permanent building in  957 BC

 3. Ezra built the next temple in 538 BC.  This is  the temple  we will be considering in our study of Ezra. 

 4. Later King Herod refurbished Ezra’s temple in 20 BC and it was known as Herod’s Temple.  This is the one in which Jesus cleansed during His ministry. This temple was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans, leaving not one stone upon another. Luke 21:6

 5. The fifth temple is the body of the believer during this Church Age. Paul reminds us as Christians in I Corinthians 6:19-20 that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit;  and as such,  we are to keep them holy, not allowing sin to continue unconfessed. Our local churches themselves are not temples.   They are just buildings in which Christ’s Temple dwells whenever Christians are gathered together in His name.

 6. Near the end of the Church Age and just before, or perhaps immediately after the rapture of Christians, a temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem.  This is the temple which the Anti-christ will defile during the midst of the Tribulation.  Following this Abomination, God will pour out His wrath on this earth and its inhabitants to the degree no one has ever experienced.  That will take place during the last 3 ½ years of The Tribulation.  This is referred to in  Daniel 12:7-13,  Matthew 24:15,  Revelation 13:1-9 and II Thessalonians 2:1-4.

The fact that the Jews are even now making plans for this newly rebuilt temple shows us that the end may be much closer than we can imagine.  That temple must be there for the Anti-christ to defile.

 7. The seventh Temple is the Millennial temple.  It is prophesied and described in Ezekiel  chapters 40-48.  It is the temple to which the nations of the earth will come during the Kingdom Age on this earth to worship and learn of Christ, the Messiah.

 8 The eighth and final temple will be Christ Himself in eternity.  In Revelation 21:22 we learn that in Heaven there will be no need of  temples to point us to Jesus.  Christ Himself will be that  temple.

 GOD ORCHESTRATES

And so returning to our original thought,  God in His providence,  totally orchestrated the deliverance of His people back to Jerusalem and Judah in two stages.

Stage one was led by Zerubbabel, also known as Sheshbazzar. This is described in Ezra 1-6.

Stage two was led by Ezra, the scribe and it is described in Ezra 7-10.  As the deliverance of Judah was totally the work of God, so our salvation is totally the work of God,    Surely the king’s heart is in the hand of God, as Proverbs 21:1 states.  God miraculously moved in the heart of King Cyrus to   give the Jews permission and his blessing to return to their homeland. All of this was in preparation for Jesus to be born and live and die in Judah just 400 years later.

Not only did God move in the heart of King Cyrus to give this freedom to the Jews to rebuild their land, but  God also put it in the hearts of the people to do the rebuilding.

 

LESSONS FOR US AS CHRISTIANS IN ALL OF THIS

 

1. Ezra did not force the people to rebuild the temple. He asked for volunteers. God has a purpose and plan for each of us as Christians.  Only the surrendered and yielded to God will ever discover this plan and the blessings that accompany it. God’s army is a volunteer army; not a drafted army.

 2. Here’s a warning for us! Ezra was a scribe who knew and wrote and preached God’s Word.  The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus day just 400 years later had become so  cold spiritually, that even though they knew the Word, they had become enemies of God and were instrumental in the crucifixion of Jesus.   God help us as we continue our study of Ezra that we allow His Word to sink into our hearts and change us and give us a love for Christ.  Otherwise, we will just become cold, heartless legalists adding burdens to the lives of others.  

 So it is in this spirit of love for Christ and His Word that we approach our study of Ezra.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | EZRA | Comments Off on Mother of Idolatry

Pragmatism

We Christians have no reason to be ashamed of the Gospel nor doubt its power by the Holy Spirit to regenerate and change the lives of those  who receive it.

I’ve been reading an updated version of Dr. John MacArthur’s book, ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL, published in 2010.         It has helped me to grasp a better perspective of what is going on in Christendom today.

In his book we are warned of “the danger of adopting the world’s philosophy of pragmatism: the belief that whatever works, whatever brings in the crowds to our churches, whatever seems successful is the standard of what is right and good for us.”  

MacArthur points out that “pragmatism has its root in Darwinism and secular humanism. It is inherently relativistic, rejecting the notion of absolute right and wrong. Pragmatism ultimately  defines truth as that which is useful and meaningful.  Ideas that don’t seem workable are rejected as false.” 

So what’s wrong with Pragmatism?

 

Common sense involves a measure of pragmatism.  If a car is sputtering, you know it needs a tune up.  If you break out into a rash every time you eat something made with wheat, you could assume that you are allergic to wheat.  That’s what I thought for about a year as I put up with a fiery itching until my wife tried something different.  She started buying organic wheat and grinding it into flour and baking bread with it. Almost immediately my itching subsided and has almost totally disappeared.  So now I avoid anything made with processed flour and only use the home ground organic flour; and that, sparingly and cautiously.  That was a good use of pragmatism.

For over forty-five years we’ve followed the  advice of doctors and health practitioners who pragmatically  encourage natural remedies over medical remedies in determining how to deal with our health needs. Most times we find ourselves swimming upstream  against the majority opinion; but we continue to learn and have had success through trial and error.

But as MacArthur writes, “When pragmatism is used  to make judgments about right and wrong; when it becomes a  guiding philosophy  of life, theology or ministry; it inevitably clashes with Scripture.  Biblical truth is not determined by testing what works and what doesn’t work.”  He continues, “We know, for example that the Gospel often does not produce a positive response. ( I Cor. 1:22-23;  2:14). On the other hand, Satanic lies and deception can be quite effective. (Matt. 24:23-24;  II Cor. 4:3-4). Majority reaction  is no test of validity( Matt. 7:13-140, and prosperity is not a measure  of truthfulness ( Job 12:6).  Pragmatism as a test of truth is nothing short of satanic.” 

Nevertheless, pragmatism dictates that preaching must be replaced with entertaining methods and messages that draw crowds. Whatever attracts the most people is accepted, regardless of Scriptural standards. That’s the pragmatic principle today. Rock music, entertaining-centered worship with preaching which deals inoffensively with the doctrine of sin and salvation through Christ’s blood sacrifice or even avoids such preaching. That’s pragmatism.

Church must be up-to-date with the latest rock worship music, which amazingly is not new anymore.  Can you believe, rock music is now over sixty years old, and yet it continues to be popular and in style with those sixty and younger?

MacArthur explains that the church pragmatist are following down the same road the Modernists traveled a century ago.  Modernism began as a methodology and evolved into a unique theology.  Pragmatism is doing the same thing today.  I urge you to get hold of MacArthur’s most recent edition of his book ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL. Read it and share it with your pastor.

October 16, 2010 Posted by | Pragmatism | Comments Off on Pragmatism

Liberalism

 

 

The great divide in America is not red states vs blue states.  It is not between Democrats and Republicans. Basically it is a conflict between liberal philosophy and conservative philosophy

 

The conflict between Liberals and Conservatives is more of a spiritual issue than a political issue, although it certainly has political repercussions.  Liberals and Conservatives are found in both major political parties. The word  liberal is a good word.  The word means generous and broadminded.  Proverbs 11:25 states, “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered himself.”  However, the name liberal has been applied in the religious arena to those who deny the  inspiration and infallibility of the Bible and  the doctrine of Christ. A more accurate name for such would be heretic.

 

Liberals Worship Their Minds

 

Liberals consider themselves intellectually superior to Conservatives and they look down on those who believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible Word  of God  as ignorant, simplistic and inferior. Instead of allowing God’s Word to judge their minds,  they judge the Bible by their own minds.  They determine their own moral standards which are directly opposite from the moral standards of the Bible.   That’s why when it comes to moral issues,  Liberals and Conservatives are diametrically opposed to one another. 

 

 What Do Liberals Believe?

 

Liberals believe  that the Old Testament writers had a warped  understanding of God. They believe these ancient writers saw God as a capricious, vengeful, cruel despot.  Liberals  deny that the writers of both the Old and New Testaments were inspired of God.  They believe that the erroneous thinking of the writers flawed their documents which became part of the Bible.

 

 

Liberals reject the deity of Christ,  but they see Jesus as  a good man who had a more enlightened view of God then the Old Testament writers.  Liberals declare  that because of His teachings, Jesus  was rightfully  called the Son of God.   They deny that Jesus is  the virgin born Son of God who lived a sinless life in a human body, then shed His blood on the cross as the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. Instead, they affirm that Jesus died as a martyr for the things He believed and taught.

 

The Liberal sees God as being so kind and loving that He  overlooks sin.  Liberals reject that God would ever consign anyone to eternal hell.  They teach that everyone is a child of God  and that eventually everyone will be in Heaven.   They say  that it does not matter what you believe;  all roads lead to Heaven.

 

The religious Liberal picks and chooses what he wants to accept in the Bible.  If something speaks to him it becomes the Word of God to him.  If it seems contrary to human reasoning and science, then he rejects it as myth.  Most Liberals would reject a  universal flood in Noah’s day.  They would reject the miracles of the Bible, including the virgin birth of Christ and His bodily resurrection; concluding that His corpse lies as dust in some tomb.

 

When Liberals speak of believing in the resurrection of Christ they mean only that Jesus’ spirit rose in the lives of His followers. It’s true that every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit of Christ. The Bible teaches that the slain body of Jesus literally rose again from the dead three days later in a glorified state and is in Heaven today. Jesus is returning in that body to raise us from the dead, to judge His enemies and  bring in His  everlasting Kingdom of righteousness and peace.  All of this is rejected by Liberals.

 

Liberals reject the creation of man and choose to accept  the evolutionary theory.  They see man as an animal that has evolved to a higher level.  As an animal, they reject the idea of a  human being having a conscience that enables him  to recognize God’s moral standards and know when he has done right or wrong. 

 

Because  Liberals declare there are no absolute moral standards,  but every man has freedom to do whatever he desires;  they welcome the theory of evolution as reason to ignore Almighty God, The Creator;  and reject the moral standards of the Bible.  They reject the fact that all of Adam’s race is born with a sinful nature. They teach that if we just fan the spark  of divine goodness in every man and woman, mankind will continue to evolve and become God-like.  Because of this false premise, it colors their thinking about everything in life.

 

Whereas the Christian’s view of tolerance is to accept others without agreeing with or sharing their beliefs or lifestyle choices; the liberal’s view of tolerance is to accept the beliefs, values, lifestyles and the truth claims of all as of equal value.

 

Whereas the Christian’ source of truth, Christ and His Word, the Bible,  are accepted as absolute and final; the liberal’s view of truth is relative. They tell us that truth is “whatever is right for you.”

 

Whereas the  Christian’s understanding of  right and wrong are determined by the Bible;  the liberal claims that no one has the right to judge another’s views or behaviour as being right or wrong.  Many Christians today have swallowed the liberal’s philosophy that Christians who so judge others are “judgmental”.

 

C.S. Lewis has this to say about such rubbish,  “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a good moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

 

How Their Liberal Beliefs Affect Their Positions

 

Because  Liberals consider the Old Testament  too harsh,  they are generally opposed to the death penalty for capital  offenses.  They are also basically in favor of showing leniency for those who commit crimes.  They are  for lighter sentences.   They argue that the criminal is not at fault alone.  Rather, they blame society for the criminal’s behavior. To Liberals, criminals are not the problem; guns are the problem. They declare that if we remove guns from the people, that crime will decrease.

 

Because  Liberals are convinced  that man is basically good,  they see no need for a strong military defense.  Instead, they conclude man can bring about world peace through diplomacy alone.

 

Though most Conservatives care about the environment,  Liberals are more incensed by environmental pollution than by  moral pollution.  Interestingly, the same Liberal who is opposed to the death penalty for murderers is usually for killing unwanted babies by abortion.

 

How do Liberals Operate?

 

The Liberal Intelligentsia  promote class warfare. They try to convince the poor and middle class that they are victims of the rich. They see their calling in life to be Robin Hoods; stealing from the rich through excessive taxation to provide government programs for the poor. Instead of solving economic problems, they create  more dependence on government. Many dependants  see themselves as victims of societies inequities and gladly choose those political saviours who offer them the most money and the most security, even it if means less freedom.

 

Liberals  promote their agenda and increase their power by teaching their religion of humanism and socialism in the public schools and secular universities where they are welcomed with open arms. Through their so called “progressive education” they have brought about the dumbing down of America in the past fifty years. Liberals desperately need  to operate among naive, dependant people who will look to them as saviours. 

 

Basically the difference in strategy between  Conservatives and  Liberals is that  Conservatives use facts and appeal to the intellect, while Liberals appeal to emotions to make their points.

 

The Fairness Doctrine

 

The extreme Liberals are Socialists at heart, they are rabid in their desire and efforts to silence all opposition to their views.  When popular conservative talk shows spring up, they are enraged  and attack them furiously with what they call a “Fairness Doctrine”  which is actually an attempt to stifle and control free speech.

 

By this so-called “Fairness Doctrine” for every hour of Conservative talk on the radio and television, they want equal time to let Liberals give their side.   The foolishness about this is that they already have the freedom and opportunity to use the media as much as they wish.  Who is stopping them from presenting their own side?  Their problem is that few Americans want to listen to their drivel and few businesses want to support them. 

 

Whose talking about fairness?  The Liberals already have control of the public educational system from PreSchool through college. They already control the major new media.  What more can they want but the silencing of Conservatism?  

 

How did they gain that power and control? Through the spiritual blindness of Christians who allowed theological liberalism to take control of  their churches over the past two centuries.  Again, I assert that theological liberalism leads to political liberalism.

 

What is the Answer to Liberalism?

 

The only answer to the malaise of Liberalism is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When one finds salvation in Christ, and starts growing in his Christian faith, he is filled with hope and self-confidence as he learns to put his confidence in God.   He no longer sees himself a victim, but as a victor over his circumstances. He develops a work ethic. He loves the Bible and  rejoices in God’s holy standards and in his freedom in Christ.  Because he has found new life and God’s solution to his problems,  he desires to share the Good News with others.

 

If anyone ever had reason to be a liberal, I did.  I was born into a poor missionary family.  My father died when I was four.  My mother could have taught me how poor we were and how dependent we were on others.   If there had been government relief when I was a child, my mother could have opted for that relief.  Instead of thinking myself a victim and looking for relief from others,  I was taught the value of work and free-enterprise from childhood.

 

Come to think of it, I never even knew I was poor as a child.  I knew nothing of scholarships or government grants. I worked my way through a Christian high school and Christian college, earning my tuition, room and board.  I say all of this; not to boast, but to encourage you who have had it difficult in life.  By the grace of God,  I came to know Jesus from  early childhood. He has given me the confidence and the enthusiasm to tackle the difficulties of life. 

 

I thank God that Jesus is my Saviour,  my Shepherd, my Provider,  my Lord and my God.  I thank God for the Bible, God’s Word  that shows me how to live.  I thank God for the high privilege of being an American citizen and for the freedom I  have enjoyed all my life.  I thank God for our police officers,  fire fighters, and servicemen and women who are defending and protecting  America with their lives. May God bless and protect them.  May God continue to bless America with the freedom that comes from Him alone  and may we Christians in America see our responsibility to take the Gospel of Christ to those around us and to those in other lands who are bound by  Satan and his lies.

 

 

October 10, 2010 Posted by | Liberalism | Comments Off on Liberalism