ISRAEL DOES NOT KNOW HER LORD

The Lord’s Children Have Rebelled

Isaiah 1:2–9

2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for Jehovah hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me (ASV, 1901).

Rehoboam from the Basel Town Hall, Artist Unknown

To listen to Isaiah the prophet is to listen to God, for the words, which come forth from him, have been received super-naturally and originate outside of the time and space domain. The Lord chose him and impressed upon him these matters to convey to the world. Now our Lord begins His great polemic toward His chosen people, the Nation Israel. He calls on the heavens saying to them to hear what He has to say. He then calls on the earth to give ear or “listen” to what He has to say. The Hebrew word for hear is shema,which is a straightforward word simply meaning hear. But the Hebrew word for listen is a Hiphil verb form. This particular form expresses an imperative meaning that God is saying with great emphasis to pay attention or be obedient. It is a command. The word is ha-azneen, which literally translated is “And In Your Ears.” God is saying to the Heavens to listen but to the earth He says get this message in to your ears or deep with you.  The strength of His orders are made clear to Israel.

His appeal to the heavens and the earth is not merely hyperbole. It would be if God had not created the whole Heaven and as well as that which is within it including the earth and its contents. This is recognition of the whole order of the Universe and the totally of life as well. 

What God’s people are doing is an offense against nature and the order he has ordained. Sin, pride, and oppression are contrary to creation as God envisioned it. The heavenly bodies all follow what God has ordained them to do. They move in their various circuits and ellipticals as He has commanded. The stars produce the exact light as He created and they all are suspended in the exact place wherein He has placed them. They do not move outside of the space and path He has provided. There is order to this Universe.  His request to the Heavens is to recognize what is happening on earth, that is, the Children of Israel’s sins. Within this Universe there is also moral order in addition to the physical order. This is what He is seeing His children, Israel breaking and therefore His much stronger admonition to the earth to LISTEN in your ears!

Moral order of mankind is subject to God’s absolute standards of conduct that do not change with circumstances, location or time. These standards are universal to all humanity despite culture or era, and they maintain their relevance whether or not an individual or a culture values them. God has placed in our hearts a standard of right and wrong that, if followed, would result in our being blessed (Romans 2:14–15). But our fallen nature and leading toward sinful behavior cloud our conscience. Therefore, the Bible admonishes us to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). Psalm 119:59 says,“I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies.”Consideration of human nature shows us our inability and our need for God: “If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction”(Psalm 119:92).

God has set in place certain standards, and it is sinful to break those standards. Psalm 24:1 testifies to God’s authority: “The earth is the LORD’s, and all it contains; the world, and those who dwell in it.” He set the absolutes of our morality expressed throughout His Word: “You shall therefore obey the LORD your God, and do His commandments and His statutes which I command you today”(Deuteronomy 27:10). The divine command of moral absolutism is what the Lord teaches us, and the Bible records. Jesus gave us the Golden Rule, which characterizes the universal morality we all realize which is to treat others as we want to be treated (Luke 6:31). Jesus also succinctly sums up the relationship to God and others.

Mark 12:30–31

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (KJV).

The Beasts Know Their Master

Isaiah 1:3–4

3The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that deal corruptly! they have forsaken Jehovah, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are estranged and gone backward (ASV, 1901).

Shoeing an Ox by Karel Dujardin, Cir 1622-78.

As the Lord continues to condemn Israel for her sins He brings an example to them of His creatures obeying Him through the instinct He has placed within them. But, His children Israel are a sinful nation. They are a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that deal corruptly!  He said the same thing to them through His prophet Hosea.

Hosea 11:1–4

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. 2The more the prophets called them, the more they went from them: they sacrificed unto the Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. 3Yet I taught Ephraim to walk; I took them on my arms; but they knew not that I healed them. 4I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love; and I was to them as they that lift up the yoke on their jaws; and I laid food before them (ASV, 1901).

Pharaoh army drowns in the Red Sea. Artist Unknown

At the beginning the Lord’s relationship with Israel was like a father to a son. The Lord displayed His love toward the nation by summoning her from Egypt. However, when God later called them to obedience through His prophets and the Mosaic Law, they rejected Him and turned instead to false gods (the Baalim). The more He called them through the prophets the more they rebelled against Him. Like a father patiently teaching a young child to walk, the Lord had established and sustained Israel. He also restored (healed) the nation’s strength after times of judgment. She subsequently failed to acknowledge His intervention.

Israel is compared to a work animal as in the Isaiah passage. God adds to His depiction of the unnatural character of sin by referencing animals. Neither the ox nor the ass is very intelligent. However, even these animals knew from whence they came and who cared for them. Israel could surely do better then them. But no, Israel does not know that much. The Lord is likening Himself to a master who gently in kindness and love leads his animal and releases its yoke so that it might eat with greater ease the food he kindly provides. The Lord treated Israel with compassion and love and they rejected Him as if they did not know Him. In fact they did not just sin and disobey, they regressed and distanced themselves in their relationship to Him as He said they are estranged and gone backward. Submission to God’s commands will bring a right understanding (Proverbs 1:7), and refusal to submit can only result in foolishness (Romans 1:18–32).

Their Whole Body is Sick

Satan by William Blake, Cir 1800

Isaiah 1:5–6

 5Why will ye be still stricken, that ye revolt more and more? the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and fresh stripes: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with oil (ASV, 1901).

This passage expresses the sense that suffering mustfollow sin. Then, if they continue to revolt, they must still be smitten for it. So then why, will they continue to do so? Do they not realize that it is their moral disobedience that is causing their suffering? God said the same thing though the prophet Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 18:31–32

31Cast away from you all your transgressions, wherein ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 32For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord Jehovah: wherefore turn yourselves, and live (ASV, 1901).

Again there is a moral order to this universe and God is saying get on My program and end the suffering you are causing yourselves to experience. I will not allow sin to go unpunished. Judgment for sin is my character. So stop your disobedience and experience my comfort. When God’s people turn their backs on God certain consequences necessarily follow. Isaiah recounted what was happening in order to help them understand that their difficult times had come because of their disobedience. When the Lord’s judgment falls upon His people is a matter of their choice. God has not decided, in some arbitrary way, to punish Israel. The political and social catastrophes they were experiencing were the natural results of living in ways contrary to those God designed for them.

The prophet in his personification of the nation Israel as a body, says that the whole head of the nation is diseased, its whole heart faint, or unable to get up off the ground and stand erect before God. The head and heart represent both the intellectual and moral attributes of the nation. The entire body is completely diseased. It is as if the entire body is one wound, or one festering sore. 

The Lord says they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with oil.Here He is referencing closing open wounds, and then treating them with oil, as was the practice in ancient times. The general sentiment of the entire passage is that there has been no medical treatment of the wounds of any kind; they have been left to themselves, to fester and spread corruption over the whole body. In other words there has been no attempt made to cure them. What He says is that the nation Israel does not want to stop their sin against God. This is difficult to understand even though it is apparent their disobedience to the Lord is the cause of them to increasingly suffer.

God’s Judgments Have Come to Israel

Jerusalem Burning by David Roberts Cir 1850

Isaiah 1:7–9

 7Your country is desolate; your cities are burned with fire; your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8And the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah (ASV, 1901).

God writes future prophecies in a completed sense. Which is to say He makes future prophecies expressed in what we call the past tense. That is in His mind they have already occurred. He lives outside of time and space so when He ordains a future event expressed in the past tense it is certain to happen. Here the text is probably referring to the Assyrian (722 B.C.), Babylonian (605; 597 & 586 B.C.), and Roman destructions of Jerusalem (AD 70). At the time of this writing none of these invasions had occurred. Jesus referenced the AD 70 destruction caused by their disobedience.

Matthew 23:37–39

37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (ASV, 1901).

God continues sayingand it is desolate. He speaks of the whole land; and they were carried away captive, and scattered among the nations, where they had been until the late 1800’s when they began returning in the Zionist movement. This ultimately led to the re-establishment of their sovereignty in 1948 (Ezekiel 20: 33–37). He says, your cities are, or shall be, burnt with fire;as Jerusalem has been, and your land, strangers devour it in your presence;before their eyes, and it would not be in their power to prevent it. This was the case with the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Romans. All were were strangers and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel: and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers;who ravage, plunder, and destroy all they meet with, and spare nothing, not intending to settle there. 

He continues with the daughter of Zionin which the city of Jerusalem is personified. Other instances of this type of personification are Isaiah 47:1, 5, where Babylon is called the “daughter of the Chaldeans;” and Lamentations 1:6; 2:1, 4, 8, 10, where Jeremiah uses this repeatedly to reference Jerusalem. Usually it designates the people living outside the city (Lamentations 2:13; 4:22; Micah 4:8, 10, 13; Zephaniah 3:14; Zechariah 2:10; 9:9). 

Vineyards needed to be watched for a few weeks as the fruit began to ripen; and the watchers, or keepers, built themselves, “booths” for their protection (Job 27:18). These were frail, temporary dwellings like tents. The imagery being conveyed is temporary dwellings, which are structurally very unsound and therefore helpless. Such was now the condition of Jerusalem in its sin awaiting God’s judgment, which was certain, and unwavering. Similarly, the text as a lodge in a garden of cucumbersis referencing another type of temporary lodging set up in a cucumber patch. 

In ancient Israel cucumber gardens required manual vigilance throughout the longer growing season, which extended from spring to fall.  Because of the longer growing period the watcher would need a somewhat more solid structure than a tent. So, such gardens had “lodges” in them, i.e. more permanent huts or sheds. They were usually built on an elevation of ground, with room for only one person, who all alone watched the ripening crop. “So did Jerusalem stand in the midst of desolation reaching far and wide—a sign, however, that the land was not entirely without any people”[1]This statement from The New Unger’s Bible dictionary is paralleling verse 1:9 Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

 This just simply references their description, which was one of extreme depravity as was the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The clear implication is that God could have made his people like Sodom and Gomorrah—extinct. But he has chosen not to do that.The Lord always leaves a remnant. He will never destroy Israel. 

Leviticus 26:43–45

43The land also shall be left by them, and shall enjoy its sabbaths, while it lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity; because, even because they rejected mine ordinances, and their soul abhorred my statutes. 44And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them; for I am Jehovah their God; 45but I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am Jehovah (ASV, 1901).

Jeremiah 31:35–37

35Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirreth up the sea, so that the waves thereof roar; Jehovah of hosts is his name: 36If these ordinances depart from before me, saith Jehovah, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. 37Thus saith Jehovah: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then will I also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith Jehovah (ASV, 1901).

Daniel E. Woodhead


[1]Unger, M. F., Harrison, R. K., Vos, H. F., Barber, C. J., & Unger, M. F. (1988). In The new Unger’s Bible dictionary(Rev. and updated ed.). Chicago: Moody Press.

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THE SHEPHERDS WHO WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS

Luke 2:1–20

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 

14Glory to God in the highest, 

         And on earth peace, 

         Good will towards men. 

Visiting angels by Bellucci Cir.1700.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them (KJV). 

Shepherds Abiding in The Field

In verse 8 we are told there were shepherds “abiding in the fields” near Bethlehem, which is was only eight miles from Jerusalem. These shepherds were probably tending the many sheep needed from flocks that were uniquely designated for sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem. The shepherds were educated in the specific quality of animal required for the sacrifices, and it was their job to make sure that none of the animals were hurt, damaged, or blemished. These lambs were apparently wrapped in “swaddling cloths” to protect them from injury, and were also used to wrap the Lord Jesus at His birth. The angels only told the shepherds that they would find the Babe wrapped in “swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  In verse 7 we learn Mary used what was available to wrap the baby Jesus in the “swaddling cloths”, just like baby lambs were swaddled.

The Adoration of the Shepherds by Caravaggio cir. 1609

These fields surrounding Bethlehem are more significant than verse 8 tells us, and more information is found in the Mishna. The Mishna isan authoritative collection of exegetical material embodying the oral tradition of Jewish law and forming the first part of the Talmud” (dictionary.com 2018).Regarding the surrounding “fields”, it states:

A. Cattle found between Jerusalem and Migdal Eder— and in an equivalent range   on all sides of the city—

B. [if] male, they are deemed to be burnt offerings;

C.  [if] female, they are deemed to be peace offerings.

D. [Rabbi] Judah says, “That which is suitable for Passover offerings are Passover offerings [if they are found] thirty days before that festival.” (Neusner, 1988, 263)

Furthermore, the Mishna(Baba K. vii. 7) expressly forbids the keeping of flocks throughout the land of Israel, except in the wilderness – and the only flocks otherwise kept, would be those for the

Temple services (Baba K. 80 a). Migdal Eder named in letter A above is a location referred to in the book of Micah as “the tower of the flock”located near Bethlehem: 

Micah 4:8

8And thou, O tower of the flock, the hill of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, yea, the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem (ASV, 1901). 

Migdal Eder or the “tower of the flock” has been viewed by the Rabbis as also describing Israel as “a flock of sheep” (Kimchi, 2009, 32). The same Jewish commentary puts forth the statement that this location would point to the Messiah of Israel (Kimchi, 2009, 32). It is in this town that the Messianic King of Israel initially revealed Himself. This “watch tower” from ancient times was used by the shepherds for protection from their enemies and wild beasts. It was also the place ewes were safely brought to give birth to the lambs. In this sheltered structure, or cave, the ewes who which were about to birth their lambs were gathered in order to protect them. When the angelic announcement came, the shepherds knew exactly where to go as Luke 2 indicates, for the sign of “a manger” in verse 12 could only mean their manger at “the tower of the flock” (Easton, 1897 found in Edersheim, 31).

The Lord again spoke through the prophet Micah to declare exactly where Jesus would be born: 

Micah 5:2-5a

2But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. 3Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she who travaileth hath brought forth: then the residue of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. 4And he shall stand, and shall feed his flock in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah his God: and they shall abide; for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. 5And this man shall be our peace (ASV, 1901).

So, shepherds tending their flocks destined for sacrificial services, experienced the angelic announcement where the Messiah was to enter the world. These shepherds were working in the city where King David was from, that is, Beth-lehem Ephrathah(I Samuel 17:12). The Messiah entered the world to be the lamb that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Jesus was born in the exact place were the sacrificial lambs were prepared for the Temple sacrifices to be our sacrifice for the sins of this world. These events are not simply coincidences, they were planned by Him before the foundation of the world!  

The lowly shepherds received the first announcement of His birth. It was not given to the princes and chief priests, King Herod or any other person of worldly status at Jerusalem. In keeping with the character of His ministry, He first went to weak, average, and illiterate men. God chose and called them, as He did His prophets to whom He revealed his secrets (Amos 3:7). He hides His secrets from the wise and prudent, and gives them to the humble and lowly in spirit (Isaiah 57:15). 

Jesus’ ministry would be characterized as going to the lowly of status to bring the good news of salvation. He was born in the midst of the sacrificial lambs because He would become one. He was from an uneducated, working-class family. He was trained as a tradesman, and started His ministry with twelve fishermen from the northern region of Israel, which was considered an “unsophisticated” area. He owned nothing, and never had a career or business. Yet He managed to provide the world with the only way for sinful mankind to connect with God, and enter paradise upon death. He, like those among whom He was born, became a shepherd of men.

The Good Shepherd

Jesus declared Himself to be the Good Shepherd:

Good Shepherd rescues His lost sheep – Artist unknown

John 10:11-15; 27

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is a hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (KJV):

It is not happenstance that Jesus declared Himself “the good shepherd”. The shepherd is a person who took complete care of a flock of sheep. He had to locate grass and water for the sheep, and protect them from predators (Amos 3:12). He had to search out those that strayed from the flock (Ezekiel 34:8; Matthew 18:12), lead the flock out of the sheepfold each day, and to return them safely at the end of the day (John 10:2–4).

The in both Testaments, the model of the shepherd and his sheep is seen as a metaphor of important leadership. The imagery of the shepherd and the flock is richly developed in Psalm 23, Ezekiel 34, and John 10. In the Old Testament, God is the Shepherd of Israel (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 23:1; 80:1; Is 40:11). God also has prophecied that His appointed servant, David the Prince, will be the lead shepherd in the Messianic Kingdom over the Jews (Ezekiel 34:11–16, 23–24).  In the New Testament, it is Jesus who is the Good Shepherd who willingly gives His life for the sheep (Matthew 18:10–14; Mark 6:34; John 10; Hebrews 13:20). 

The Good Shepherd by Bernhard Plockhorst cir. 1900

Those who keep sheep know that the flock is entirely dependent upon the managerial capabilities of the shepherd. If the shepherd is hired just to watchover the sheep, the likelihood of the sheep knowing him and following him is uncertain. If the master is true, caring and genuinely devoted to the sheep, they will know it and follow him. Jesus is the owner of our lives. He bought us with a high price (I Corinthians 6:20). This concept is epitomized just as David said in Psalm 23 “The Lord is my Shepherd — I shall not want.” King David, was a shepherd when he composed Psalm 23, and this Psalm looks at life from the standpoint of a sheep when he wrote, “He [the Good Shepherd]leadeth me beside the still waters.” In other words, He alone knows where the still, quiet, deep, clean, pure water is to be found that alone can satisfy His sheep, and keep them fit and strong. In our Jesus only can we find repose and joy as He leads us by “the still waters”, or peace.

We must totally surrender our lives over to Him. Why? Because He is the Shepherd to whom no trouble is too great as He cares for His flock.  He is available twenty-four hours a day to see that we are properly provided for in every detail. Above all, He is very jealous of His name, which He called Himself “The Good Shepherd.”

“Cast” is an old English shepherd’s term for a sheep that has turned over on its back, and cannot get up again by itself. A “cast” sheep is a very pathetic sight. Lying on its back, its feet in the air, it flays away frantically struggling to stand up without success. Sometimes it will bleat a little for help, but generally it lies there lashing about in frightened frustration. It just cannot right itself. The predators know that the “cast” sheep is easy prey. The sheep can die in a short time if they have wandered away from the flock. This is part of the drama depicted for us in the parable of the ninety and nine sheep with one astray in Luke 15:3-7. A stray sheep becomes the caring shepherd’s deep concern, as is his agonizing search, his longing to find the missing one, his delight in restoring it not, only by righting it to its feet, but also restoring it to himself and the flock as well.One of the great revelations of comfort we are given in the Bible is of Christ Himself as our Shepherd. He gives us the ability to restore our peace when we are “cast” sheep that are anxious and upset, and we must depend on Him:

Philippians 4:6–7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (ESV). 

Sheep are creatures of habit and will follow the same trails until they soil their own ground with waste, and corrupt it with disease and parasites. The best safeguard that a shepherd has in handling his flock is to keep them moving, and not leave them grazing on the same ground for too long. The shepherd must keep the sheep moving through the paths he has selected for them. This is what David had in mind when he spoke of being led in “paths of righteousness”. Following a precise plan of operation is the secret for healthy flocks and healthy lands. We need to keep moving through life, and not stay in the same ruts of discomfort too long. God has a plan for us, and wants us to grow in sanctification throughout our lives. We are not to stand still and not grow. He wants us to continually become more Christ like. Although situations change, and some not for the better, we must trust Him, respond through prayer, and let Him lead us into better pastures and paths.

The shepherd knows from past experience that predators like coyotes, bears, wolves or cougars can hide, and from their vantage point, prey on the flock. The ever-present predators are kept from the sheep by the shepherd. The land can also be threatening with rock slides, mud or snow avalanches, and a dozen other natural disasters that would destroy or injure his sheep. But in spite of these hazards, the shepherds also know that it is still best to guide his flock to the high country. He spares himself no pain, trouble, or time to keep an eye out for any danger that might develop. Our Shepherd Jesus knows all of this when He leads us through the valleys with Himself. He knows where we can find strength, sustenance, and gentle grazing despite every threat of disaster around us. He warns us of false teachers and other pitfalls (Matthew 7:15; 24:4–5). He lets us know what the future is in the long chronology of world events:

John 16:33

33These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (KJV).

The shepherd customarily only carries a “rod” and “staff”. The “rod” is an extension of the owner’s own right arm, and is an instrument of protection both for himself and his sheep when they are in danger It is used both as a defense and a deterrent against anything that would attack.It also stands as a symbol of his strength, his power, his authority. Interestingly, the word “rod” is also a slang term for hand-guns carried by cowboys, and other western range men, and this term is exactly how David used it in Psalm 23.His other tool, the “staff”, is of special comfort to the shepherd himself. During the long nightly watches over his sheep, he leans on it for support and strength. It becomes to him a great comfort and help in his responsibilities. The “staff “is also used for guiding sheep. 

The Good Shepherd (Asia Minor, c. 390; Cleveland Museum of Art)

When we find ourselves in a difficult situation God protects us. We pray to Him and He reveals the remedy of our situation to us. Many of our situations are brought on by our own stubborn, self-willed assertions that we think are unsolvable. However, by His tender care He draws near to us in prayer and supplication to relieve us of our pain, agony and discomfort. My Shepherd is alert to every approaching disaster that threatens His people. He has been through the storms of suffering before. He bore our sorrows, and is acquainted with our grief. And now no matter whatever are storms of life that we face, His very life and strength and vitality is given to us. He wants nothing but the genuine best for us, not what the world says is best, but what He knows is best for us.

If we allow God to control our lives and leave the management to Him “goodness and mercy shall follow us.” King David realized that only by doing what God wants us to do in our lives can we see the fruit of all that He has for us. It is His “goodness and mercy” which enables us to receive the most blessings He has for us when we admit that we cannot live without Him, or handle situations alone.

References

M.A. Easton, Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. 

Kimchi, David (Radak). (2009). Translation and commentary by Rabbi Yitzchok Stavshy. Trei Asar The Twelve Prophets(Vol II). Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 

Neusner, J. (1988). The Mishnah : A new translation.  New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

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Satan Corrupts Physical Humanity

 Satan’s Corruption of Humanity

       Daniel E. Woodhead

Introduction

The Bronze Dragon by Hawkwood

Our Lord Jesus told us that the conditions on this earth are going to be just as bad as they were before He destroyed the earth with a Flood many years ago:

Matthew 24: 37

37But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (KJV)

In the first instance, God destroyed the earth by a flood. When Christ returns, the destructive means will be a fire, with nuclear weapons contributing to it. In both instances, the sin on the earth had degraded to the point where violence was rampant, and all flesh was corrupted. The earth will continue to degenerate to the point that the Lord will rapture the true believers (the Elect) off the face of the earth to be with Him, leaving only the unsaved and a massively sinful population. The Great Tribulation will follow the event of the Rapture.

The Last sinful characteristics of humankind, which will precede the Great Tribulation are:

  • The Promulgation of abnormal depravity (Genesis 6: 5, 12) (Morris, 2009, 174-175).

Satan fell before the foundation of the world and he has been trying to corrupt the world ever since.

When he indwelt the serpent in the vegetable Garden of Eden he lured the woman into defying God’s Word and bringing sin into the world.

The Fall by Titan Cir 1565

Genesis 3: 15

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

This verse is called the Proto-Evangelium since it is the first appearance of the Gospel. Conversely it is also the first prophecy the Lord gave us of the Antichrist.

The supernatural origin of Antichrist will be by means of a counterfeit virgin conception. The supernatural origin is found in Genesis 3:15. There are two pairs listed here.

  1. Enmity between Satan and the woman
  2. The second pair is the seeds of the Woman and the seed of Satan.

The first satanic attack of women is shown in Genesis six where demons intermarry with human women attempting to stop the Messiah from coming. A worldwide flood stopped this attempt. It is important to note though that the second pair is the enmity between Satan’s seed and the woman’s seed. Women do not have the seed for procreation, men do. However, since Jesus was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) the expression “her seed” represents a miraculous conception.

The reference in this verse to Satan’s seed implies a supernatural, miraculous conception too. From this passage and Daniel 9: 26-27 then it can be deduced that Satan will someday impregnate a woman of Roman  lineage who will give birth to Satan’s seed. That person is going to be the Antichrist. The woman might not be a virgin because Scripture does not affirm this but he will be conceived through supernatural means. Consider II Thessalonians 2:8-9.

2 Thessalonians 2:8-9

And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming; [even he], whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders 

 

Art by David Bergan aka Hawkwood

The Greek word translated working is energeo, which means to energize. So then the coming of Antichrist will originate by the energizing that comes from Satan. The counterfeit Son of the unholy Trinity will be brought about by a counterfeit virgin conception. A time is coming when the events of Genesis six will be repeated but probably in a different manner.  The fallen anointed Cherub Hallal who became Satan (aka Lucifer) will impregnate a Roman woman to give birth to Satan’s son. The product of this conception will be a counterfeit god-man.

The second provision states that the provision will continue as the text states “between your seen and her seed.”The seed of the woman is The Messiah Himself, The Lord Jesus. In the Bible genealogies are traced through the males lines. It is not until Isaiah 7: 14 that the Bible explains this as the Messiah coming from the womb of a virgin. The seed of the woman also implies a supernatural conception. The Lord Jesus had no human father. Joseph was his stepfather.

The third provision promises a curse, which is: “he shall bruise your head.”The woman’s seed, Jesus, gives the bruising to Satan by His death and resurrection (Hebrews 2: 14-18). The word bruise is harmful but not fatal. Satan is still alive but has a terminal condition due to Christ’s finished work. He can only corrupt mankind. Because of Romans 16: 20 and Revelation 20: 10 we know that Satan’s final demise will be in the Lake of Fire. This will be a “crushing” of the head of the serpent. In which case his demise will be eternal.

The forth provision in Genesis 3: 15 is: “You shall bruise his heel.”Satan bruised the heel of the Woman’s Seed, which represents the crucifixion. The bruising of the heel while painful is not terminal. The bruising and crushing can be best understood with imagery regarding the Jew’s method of killing of poisonous snakes in Israel.

The corruption of Adam’s line (Genesis 6)

The apostle Paul, who recognized that demonic warfare was taking place in the spirit world, warned us that we were the objects of their wrath.

Ephesians 6: 12

 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (KJV).

After Satan’s success in the Garden of Eden, the next attack by Satan to prevent to coming of the Messiah was the series of events recorded in Genesis 6:1-5. Jewish scholars clearly understood this passage to be a union of angels and humans, which produced a corrupt line of humans known as the Nephilim. This was the cause of the Great Flood, to eliminate these monsters and restart the human line through which Jesus would come. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples that similar events would transpire when He was about to make His second coming to the earth and told them, and us, not to be deceived (Matthew 24: 4. 37).

Therefore, the purpose of the Flood was to destroy the product of the fallen angels with the human women.  The demonical combination of the seed line of Cain with their self centered, anti-God practices and the intermarriage of fallen angels with human women produced a civilization that were monsters which caused God to render His justice on the earth.

 

The Nephilim-Artist Unknown

Satan has attempted to stop the Messiah from arriving many times by corrupting the Messianic seed line. Obviously, he has not been able to do so and he continues to attempt to corrupt what he can’t destroy.

He continues to corrupt the human race and recently he has caused mankind to attempt to alter the design of the genes of human beings.  This is now Satan enters deeply into God’s design and like he did before the Flood he corrupted the human population with the Nephilim. Only now it appears that the means is direct corruption of the genes of humans through experimentation with the design blueprints of God for humans. This is dangerous territory, as God will only put up with it for so long before He again brings Divine correction to the earth. The last time was the Great Flood. This time it will be the Tribulation, which will usher in the Messianic Kingdom.

The Human Cell

The tiniest of cells are made up of 100 billion atoms and are far more complicated than any machine built by humans and have no parallel in design in the non-living world.  In other words, nothing compares to its design and complexity. The cell is unequalled in any factory on the earth. It is capable of replicating its entire system within a matter of a few hours. Self-reproduction is the most fundamental characteristic of all living organisms. Within this cell is the DNA or the blueprints of the design.

DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid within a cell is similar to two strands of fishing line 125 miles long stored within a volleyball. It is unzipped, copied, and restored on spools at a speed, which is three times that of an airplane propeller without tangling. This is all within a cell as it is giving the cell its instructions. This is the blueprint of God’s design for the human body. It is His design, not any other.

Microscopic view of DNA

Cloning

Dolly (5 July 1996 – 14 February 2003) was a female domestic sheep, and the first animal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell, using the process of nuclear transfer. Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell and colleagues at the Roslin Institute, part of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the biotechnology company PPL Therapeutics, based near Edinburgh, cloned her. After cloning was successfully demonstrated through the production of Dolly, many other large mammals were cloned, including pigs, deer, horses and bulls. Even though Dolly was not the first animal to be cloned, she gained this attention in the media because she was the first to be cloned from an adult cell.Though animal and reproductive cloning should be a concern for Christians, today the debate is mostly centered on the cloning of human embryonic stem cells, which are used for treatment and research of diseases. The Roman Catholic Church among others, has voiced strong opposition to cloning on moral grounds. Few if any see the greater issue of Satan entering into the design of God’s creation to corrupt it. This is near the last stage of demonic corruption of the human race. If animal cloning is a reality then human cloning is too. In fact, the book In His Image by David Rorvik (Published by Lippincott 1978) made the startling claim that the world’s first human clone, a male had already been born. He said it happened in 1973. The cloning technique he described was loosely based on a procedure that had been successfully used to clone a frog in the mid-1960s. However, within months Lippincott and Rorvik found themselves in court when they were sued for defamation by J. Derek Bromhall, a British scientist whose research had been cited in the book. The court asked Rorvik to provide concrete evidence of the existence of the cloned boy. When he failed to do so, the court ruled that Rorvik’s book was a “fraud and a hoax.” A year later, in 1982, Lippincott agreed to pay an unspecified amount of damages to Bromhall. Rorvik never said his story was false. Instead Rorvik continued to claim that his book is telling the truth. He would never reveal the identity of the people involved in this cloning. This is also the reason why human cloning is not getting out in the media now. There is still a stigma associated with it in Christianity. If the Christians could be silenced it could proceed at full efforts. As Christianity becomes more marginalized by society we will begin to see the discussion of the present cloning efforts in the media.

 

Genetic Experimentation Now

Genetic experimentations are unlocking the secrets of DNA. it is being done to alter our genetic makeup to augment desirable traits and block negative characteristics. Its proponents tout that such a move will bring longevity and eradicate diseases. Other possible outcomes include the production of designer babies in the womb, and even introducing DNA from other species into the human code; thus, building a ‘Human Plus’ equipped with advanced physical and cognitive traits. Such a trans-human/hybrid would be ‘transgenic’—literally a human GMO (Genetically Modified Organism).

Many are interested in a concept known as Transhumanism. This practice uses genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology (manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale.) to create a future race of humans of incredible superiority. This practice is very seductive to those in powerful military and governmental positions. Scientific reasoning has been thought to be a strong bearer of the truth than the revealed truth of the Bible for some time. This has been widely accepted since the 18thcentury Enlightenment when intellectual and scientific reason elevated the authority of scientists over those in the Church. Sooner or later this will completely win the battle for tinkering with God’s design producing desired alteration of the human species. Some believe that genetic manipulation would replace people. In other words some super human like the Nephilim would be back among us but through a different avenue.

Satan has convinced the world to experiment with God’s designing blueprints. Before the Flood the Nephilim were the product of co-mingling of Fallen Angels with promiscuous human women.  Every generation exercises power over its successors. In doing so, what one generation creates subsequent generations accept. Cloning has been accepted. Evolution as been accepted. Homosexuality is gradually being accepted. Now transexuality is being defended as a right and necessary in some cases. The next logical level of these design alterations of God’s creation is to use technology to enhance the human for some hyper activity or performance enhancement. This is way beyond an athlete taking anabolic steroids to perform at higher levels of physical strength and endurance. This is essentially engineering the cyborg (human merged with machine) soldier.

There are presently efforts to develop genetic clusters of enhanced superhumans who will dominate us if not enslave us too. This is all under the guise of improving mankind  to be disease free and provide enhancements such as senses of smell, sight and strength. The new species will view old normal humans as inferior which will only be fit for slaughter or slavery. The remaining normal people may be threatened by the cyborgs and initiate battles, which might end in genocide while making the post humans (cyborgs) into weapons of mass destruction.  If the military adopts this practice of gene redesign we can see a future with super soldiers unable to be beaten by any enemy. In describing the last world empire before the Lord Sets up Him Messianic Kingdom Daniel saw a strange mingling of elements.

Daniel 2:42-43

42And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43And whereas thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron doth not mingle with clay. (ASV, 1901). 

This could suggest that the mingling with the seeds of men are these generically, altered humans, which will control future world governance.

We know from Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.The reference in this verse to Satan’s seed implies a supernatural, miraculous conception too. From this passage and Daniel 9: 26-27 then it can be deduced that Satan will someday impregnate a woman of Roman lineage who will give birth to Satan’s seed. This man is going to be the Antichrist. He will probably seek to enlist the cyborgs in his efforts to dominate the world but the Lord Jesus will defeat him when He returns.

Daniel 2:44

44And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever (ASV, 1901).

We have only to look at the desires of the megalomaniac dictators to see what efforts they put forth to create super races. Consider Adolph Hitler who wanted to create the Aryan Supreme race. He had medical experiments conducted on captives in his death camps to seek a new race of super heroes and demigods as well as god-men. He also used select soldiers and women to breed a pure race of people who would be superior to any other on the earth.

Some Present Efforts to Breed Superior Mixes (AKA Chimera)

Rabbit Eggs with Human Cells

The first successful human-animal chimeras were reported in 2003. Chinese researchers at the Shanghai Second Medical University successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs. They were allowed to develop the eggs for several days in a petri dish before the embryos were harvested for their stem cells. Their hope was that this process could one day be used to grow cells or tissues for transplantation.

Pigs with Human Blood

A year after the successful Chinese chimera experiment, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota announced they had created pigs with human blood pumping through their veins. What was startling about the animal is not only did the pig blood cells flow with human cells, but some of the cells merged together, creating pig-human cell hybrids. Scientists said this experiment can give them a better understanding of how viral infections can pass from animals to humans such as HIV and various others.

Sheep with Human Livers

One of the efforts behind creating chimeras is to generate animal specimens that could grow human organs to be farmed for transplantation. In 2007, scientists at the University of Nevada-Reno announced they could grow livers made up of 20 percent human cells in sheep. Dr. Esmail Zanjani injected either human adult stem cells derived from bone marrow, or human embryonic stem cells, into growing sheep fetuses. Zanjani said he uses sheep because the circulation systems of sheep and humans are similar.

Cow Eggs with Human Cells

British researchers were given approval to conduct human-animal hybrid research in 2008, a decision that researchers touted would give them the ability to possibly find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Before, only human cells were allowed to be injected into human eggs, but the researchers argued that animal eggs are much more available. After given permission, researchers went to work using cow eggs. The nucleus of the cow egg — the source of most DNA– was removed, and replaced with the nucleus of a human cell such as a skin cell. Once the egg was allowed to develop and multiply it would become an early-stage cloned embryo called a blastocyst. Scientists could then extract the stem cells from this blastocyst to use in disease treatments.

Mouse-Human Brain

Irving Weissman, Stanford University professor and cofounder of the biotech company Stem Cells Inc., was granted permission by Stanford to create a mouse-human hybrid in 2005.Weissman and his team transplanted human-brain stem cells into the brains of mice with the intention to study neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In his initial experiment, the human cells only made up less than 1 percent of the mouse brain. In 2010, Stanford researchers announced they transformed mouse skin cells into fully functional neurons in a laboratory dish for the first time. They also announced in May that they successfully used mouse stem cells to develop sensory hair cells, which could combat human hearing loss.

Transhumanism Efforts and Predictions

The Transhumanism technology already appears to be growing at an exponential rate.  Transhumanists believe that our world will rapidly become transformed into a place that would be unrecognizable to us today.  Just a few decades from now, transhumanists believe that superhuman powers and extremely advanced life extension technologies will allow them to essentially become like gods. The key moment that most transhumanists are looking forward to is known as “the Singularity”.  That is the moment when artificial intelligence will actually surpass human intelligence and a massive technological chain reaction will be triggered.  At that time, most transhumanists believe that biological intelligence will merge with non-biological intelligence and humanity will become vastly more intelligent than it is today.  During this transition, society will be fundamentally transformed… Where have we heard this before?

After the Singularity occurs, it is predicted that vast changes will sweep through society; changes so drastic that they are nearly inconceivable at the present time. Experts in the movement say that after the Singularity, indefinite human life extension will rapidly become the norm. Many scientists working in this field are particularly interested in the concept of achieving immortality.

Transhumanist Mark Pesce is even more extreme.  He openly states that he believes that Transhumanism will allow us “to become as gods”…

“Men die, planets die, even stars die. We know all this. Because we know it, we seek something more—a transcendence of transience, translation to incorruptible form. An escape if you will, a stop to the wheel. We seek, therefore, to bless ourselves with perfect knowledge and perfect will;To become as gods, take the universe in hand, and transform it in our image—for our own delight. As it is on Earth, so it shall be in the heavens. The inevitable result of incredible improbability, the arrow of evolution is lipping us into the transhuman – an apotheosis to reason, salvation – attained by good works.” He further states: On ABC’s TV show (The New Inventors) the following; “Once the genome was transcribed, once we knew what had made us human, we had—in that moment—passed into the Transhuman. Knowing our codes, we can recreate and re-sequence ourselves into a new Being, de-bugging the natural state, translating ourselves into supernatural, incorruptible, eternal. There is no God but Man.

Transhumanism, attempts to be all inclusive, embracing Darwinism, Intelligent Design, spirituality, science, belief in ET etc. wrapped up in a self guided salvation message. In short:

“Transhumanism is the ultimate goal of Technocracy … a meta-movement: the idea that the works of Man’s hands can save Humanity—hence, technology and science forms the basis of a Technocratic society. Transhumanism takes this to its ultimate conclusion: The development of the post-human or neo-human.

“Based on the premise that evolution is true, Transhumanism looks to shape the human species through the direct application of science. In other words, by employing technology we can take hold of the evolutionary process and change it as we desire, thus becoming the masters of our future.

This all takes us back to the Garden of Eden and Satan’s lies to Eve.

Genesis 3: 1-5  

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of  it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil (ASV 1901).

 

The Fall of Man from the Sistine Chawed my Michelangelo cir 1508-12

Satan then began his first challenge to the woman. He starts with slightly misstating what God’s command had been to Adam. God said that he could eat of any tree in the Garden except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2: 16-17). Eve knew that and so did Satan. But because he wanted to impart doubt he said, “Did God say that yea shall not eat of any tree of the Garden?”God’s command was clear but Satan was making it unclear like liberal theologians who do not like being pinned down to the specificity of words in Scripture. This is where that liberal mindset comes from. It is always dangerous to alter God’s Word either by addition or deletion (Deuteronomy 4: 2; Proverbs 30: 5-6; Revelation 22: 18-19). God will always do exactly what He says He will do.          

Eve, knowing the command from God either through direct communication with God or Adam, restated God’s command quite clearly to the serpent. She knew the penalty for sinning against God for she added lest ye die (Genesis 3: 3b). One Jewish writing the Midrash Rabbah Bereshit 19:3 says that the serpent pushed Eve to touch the tree until she gave in and touched the tree. When she did, she did not die. He then said to her “Just as there is not death in touching neither is there any death in eating.” This is because she added to God’s command the possible prohibition of not touching the tree in addition to not eating of it.

Art by David Bergan aka Hawkwood

Now Satan goes from instituting doubt in Eve’s mind to outright attacking the penalty God imposed by denying it is true. This is the first lie in Scripture. Jesus called Satan the father of lies (John 8: 44). Satan then moved to a full denial of God’s authority by saying “for God does know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as God knowing good and evil.”Satan was trying to instill a lure into his sin of trying to be like God or usurp God’s authority (Isaiah 14: 12-14). According to Satan, because one has the knowledge of good and evil, one is like God. Since the fall many have thought they were God. They are not of course but they fell for the lie too. Satan is essentially accusing God of being shellfish and denying Eve the opportunity to experience Godlikeness. So Satan had a three-point strategy:

  1. He raises doubts of the efficacy and accuracy of God’s Word.
  2. He directly denies God’s Word by contradicted it.
  3. He claims that disobeying God’s Word would result in being like God.

For a video of this teaching click on the link below to be taken to Dr. Woodhead’s utube page.

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Godly Suffering

The Reasons for Suffering

Hebrews 12:5–6

 

5and ye have forgotten the exhortation which reasoneth with you as with sons, My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, Nor faint when thou art reproved of him; 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth (KJV).

 

It is inappropriate to assume that every injurious trauma that happens to us is godly correction. There are three sources of harm that can come to us in this life.

 

  1. Evil entered the world at the Fall and the corruption associated with it is a general cause for disease, weather disasters, war and the like. These are not our fault.
  2. Mistakes we make are also causes that harm us, such as accidents. These are not necessarily our fault either, but accidents happen, and some of them cause us harm.
  3. Willful sin that we knowingly commit against God will bring God’s correction if we are truly a child of His, that is a born-again believer.

 

This third reason for God’s correction for coming into our lives is the focus of this section of the letter to the Hebrews. The apostle explains correction as a normal experience of believers.

 

It is so important to realize this, and we must view it as a loving correction or refinement that is evidence of Divine love. Our Lord disciplines us as His children because, like a loving father, He wants us to stay away from practices that will bring harm to us that also stop us from moving to maturity. Sometimes He must bring trauma into our lives to alter our path if He views it as leading to destruction:

 

Proverbs 3:11–12

11 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; Neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the Lordloveth he correcteth; Even as a father the son in whom he delighteth (KJV).

 

Godly Chastening

 

Hebrews 12:7–9

 

7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live (KJV)?

 

The apostle applies the lesson from Proverbs to the readers of Hebrews. In the American Standard Version translation, it read “It is for chastening that you endure”. The effectiveness of the discipline God gives us depends upon how we receive it. This is moral training. The word “chasten” means “moral training,” or as Proverbs 22:6 says, “to train up a child”. “Chastening” is also punishment for the sake of correction, and is a corrective measure used by God. If you do not admit your sin when the punishment comes, you will not receive its benefit. Now Paul provides the principle behind this, which is “for what son is there whom his father chastens not?”

 

Having established this principle, he next presents a two-pronged argument.Verse 8 starts with the first step in the argument, which says if they are never disciplined, it will show them to be illegitimate and prove they are not true sons. However, since they have all become “partakers”of sonship because of this chastisement, they must receive this punishment. This is the bonafide evidence that they are sons. For this reason, the chastening should be accepted and incorporated in their day-to-day living. That means to realize its effects and alter their thoughts and behavior to accommodate God’s correction. But if chastening is absent, it shows they are illegitimate, and they are not God’s children. An illegitimate child does not have the rights of an heir to the father’s fortune, and deprives him of his father’s care. Under Jewish law, to be illegitimate meant three things: no right of inheritance, no right to marry into Jewish society, and no right to be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

 

Verse 9 presents the second aspect of the argument, and refers to a human father’s discipline. In spite of that discipline, we learn to give our human fathers reverence and respect. The application of the illustration is “and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”Since the believers were willing to subject themselves to human fathers, how much more should they be willing to subject themselves to their Heavenly Father and, therefore, exercise patient endurance by voluntary submission? Undisciplined children, or children who refuse it, will not enjoy a relationship with their human fathers or God the Father.

 

The object of their submission is “the Father of spirits”, which emphasizes Him as the Creator and also refers to the immaterial part of man. It is the immaterial part of man that continues to live after physical death. The result is that they shall “live”. One product of divine discipline is the abundant life now enjoyed in fellowship with God the Father while the believer is still on earth. When we live forever, we can look forward to eternity with our Heavenly Father knowing His will and love for us as corrected sons.

 

Earthly Fathers are Imperfect

Joseph Reveals His Dreams to His Brothers by Giulio Romano – 1449-1546

Hebrews 12:10

 

10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness (KJV).

 

Sometimes our earthly fathers administered the discipline inappropriately or not at all. Most did the best they could do for the time they had responsibility for our growth and development. Their efforts are contrasted with our Heavenly Father’s discipline. It is always right, perfect and designed to be good for us. We will also share in His holiness:

 

Romans 8:28–29

 

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren (KJV).

 

Discipline is not generally enjoyed, but if it is received with the proper attitude it brings great reward. “Partakers of his holiness”is a reference to our sanctification or growth in becoming more Christ-like. This leads to the spiritual maturity and completeness that God would have us attain. We then become more like Him, or in His image.

 

Enduring Chastening

The Maccabees by Wojciech Stattler 1844

Hebrews 12:11

 

11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (KJV).

 

In verse 11 we are told“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous,but grievous”. These words anticipate our objection to being corrected because of the grief and sorrow that comes with correction. The immediate question we ask ourselves is how could this be for profit and advantage? The apostle anticipates our reaction by affirming that no affliction “seemeth”to be joyous. No discipline seems pleasant at the time.  While corrections initially does not seem to be an occasion for joy, in the end they really are.  There is a delayed acceptance and later on however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. When we view correction by faith, we realize it as tokens of the love of God and Christ, and are evidence of our sonship to each of them.

 

This verse ends the apostle’s argument about sufferings and afflictions and how they should be borne. He also to the Corinthians states that the good derived from them is vastly better than their pain:

 

II Corinthians 4:17–18

 

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (KJV).

 

If we did not receive earthly correction as His sons we would suffer more than any of us can imagine in eternity. To be disassociated from God in eternity is perpetual pain and suffering which is far greater than the temporary pain associated with correction here. We must always have in mind our goal of eternal life and the Messianic Kingdom, not temporary discomfort here including God’s chastisement. All is temporary here, but eternity is permanent. We must endure here to receive the wonderful benefits of Heaven. This is what the apostle calls “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” in verse 11 above.

 

One might also refer to it as a “harvest of righteousness”. Another of God’s dealings here are likened to a farmer with his corn (Isaiah 28:23–29), or as a farmer pruning his vine so that it may bear fruit (John 15:2). This harvest produces two kinds of fruit. First, the removal of sin, by putting it to death. The second part of the harvest is increased righteousness and holiness for the “crop”, which is the believers.

 

Notice verse 11 says the harvest produced is the “fruitof righteousness,not righteousness itself. Neither our actions nor our suffering is the reason for our righteousness, but they promote it in us and increase its fruit and strength. Our righteousness is imputed at the point of justification (Romans 10:4; II Corinthians 5:21).  So, the apostle says that God would increase in them the harvest of righteousness “unto them which are exercised thereby”, orthose to whom God loves as sons to correct. The promised “peace” is one of both inward tranquility and contentment.

 

Do Not Give Up

 

Hebrews 12:12–13

 

 12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed (KJV).

 

In verse 12, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” is anexhortation directed toward parts of the body that are involved in coordinated activity like athletics. The hands, the knees, and the feet are named because it is through these body parts that we exert all our strength to prevail in an athletic competition. But first we must observe the defect they possess, then second, the remedy for this defect and finally what both of the defect and remedy mean spiritually.

 

Hands which hang down” is a reference to us becoming tired of what they we are doing and give up. “Feeble knees”a picture of fear and hopelessness. This imagery is used elsewhere in the Old testament by Nahum: “Hearts melt, knees give way” (Nahum 2:10), and in Psalms: “my knees give way from fasting”(Psalm 109:24). Both the descriptions of the hands and the knees depict one who is ready to give up and abandon all hope of achieving success. The same ailment is afflicting different parts of the body, so the apostle prescribes the same remedy for them both, which is to use all our spiritual strength in our Christian race to the end.

 

In verse 13, we are told to “make straight tracks for the feet.” This is a path that leaves a track that may be followed. Obeying God is called “walking with Him,” and these paths are the “paths of the righteous.” The apostle continues with his metaphor about running. Those who obey make level pathsfor their feet, but those who are defective here are called “lame”. This is not a ridicule of one who is lame, but a description of the effect of lameness that causes them to make slow progress, and in a race, they would be ready to stop altogether. So, lameness here is an mental ailment different from external hindrances, but points to an inner sickness of wanting to faint away from the race and let weariness stop us from striving. It is an attitude toward correction that needs to be healed.

 

Follow Peace

 

Ron DiCianni Simeon’s Moment

 

Hebrews 12:14–15

 

14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (KJV).

 

There is a radical difference in nature between the born-again on the narrow way to Heaven and those following the broad road to Hell. The character and conduct of the genuine believers make a stark contrast to non-believers. In fact, non-believers are incited to act with a self-pleasing disposition and in flesh-indulging ways to defy believers. The children of the Devil have no love for the children of God, and they delight in doing whatever they can to annoy and aggravate us. Nothing gives them more pleasure than to see success in their efforts to tempt us to compromise, or stir us up unto angry retaliation. Therefore, it is a code of conduct for allbelievers, in any age and in any country, to strive earnestly to live in peace with all men. That does not mean we will.  It means to try. We must avoid those who would antagonize us into anger at all cost. However, when confronted with anger and physical attack we must defend ourselves as we attempt to escape the situation.

 

Verse 14 starts out with Christians being told to“Follow peace with all men”.Its implication is clear: by nature, men are fractious, wrathful, revengeful creatures. It is because of this contentious, envious, revengeful, spirit which is in us living as the old man, that we need to be reminded to try and “Follow peace with all men”.Further, it is the duty of Christians to be at peace among ourselves, to be on their guard against all alienation of affection towards each other. Paul’s words here seem to be a reference to the world around them. They are to “follow peace with allmen.’”

 

We must carefully abstain from injuring anyone, and must do everything but sin in order to prevent a quarrel. Do not merely be easygoing when one irritates you, but go out of your way to be gracious unto those who oppose. Do not be so ready to “stand up for your rights,” but yieldeverything except truth and the requirements of holiness. We cannot successfully “pursue peace” if we are prideful, pridealways stirs up strife. We cannot “pursue peace” if we are filled with envy because we then see faults where they do not exist, and cause trouble.

 

Verse 15 tells us there must be constant spiritual oversight by each one over his life and his attitudes. There is a danger if we fail to keep on the lookout as to where we are spiritually. Falling short means “a moral separation.” It is more than a simple defect. It is the failure on the part of the children of God to apprehend or appropriate grace when something negative comes into their lives. Believers stumble in their spiritual lives because they fail to appropriate the grace that is available. The failure to appropriate grace is the first step downward for it means a failure to progress upward.

 

The second step downward is positive infidelity: “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled”. When the apostle refers to a “root of bitterness”, he deals both with the root and with the product, which is bitterness. The failure to appropriate grace during a time of suffering or trial leads to bitterness resulting from the suffering. Bitterness will eventually result in the defilement of many others. In a plant this is how the root manifests itself. Bitterness in the heart leads to murmuring with the tongue, and murmuring with the tongue means murmuring against other people. Others are defiled by the readers’ murmuring, and the murmuring is caused by the “root of bitterness”. This phrase is also found in Deuteronomy 29:18: “lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood”. It is used of Israelites pursuing idolatry and they have become a root that produces poison. People with a “root of bitterness”cause divisions and split churches. They defile others by talking against the leaders of the church. The first step affects only the individual, but the second step begins to affect others as well. They fail to have peace with all men.

 

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Maturing in Our Walk With Jesus

 Maturing in our Walk With Jesus

  Daniel E. Woodhead

Hebrew Bible Textl – Jewish Related Item

Hebrews 6:1–8

 

1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit. 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8 but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned (KJV).

Moving from Basic Belief to Perfection

This section of scripture makes obvious the need to fully realize the audience that this book was intended to address. Failure to do so will lead to inappropriate interpretations and cause confusion with other passages in the New Testament assuring that salvation is by grace through faith and cannot be lost once a believer truly believes the gospel. Paul in this section of Hebrews treats this group of people as genuinely believing although some may not have been. He addresses them as having genuinely affirmed their belief that Jesus of Nazareth died and rose from the dead. Frequently readers who are untrained in fundamental hermeneutics will divorce passages from their proper context. Lack of understanding regarding the author’s intended audience as well as a knowledge of the issues facing them leads to an improper understanding of many passages. This whole book to the Hebrews deals with Jewish believers who were seriously considering returning to the Levitical system to avoid the general persecution imposed by the Sanhedrin, Temple priests, and the Romans. These people thought they could return to the Levitical system and get saved at a later time when the persecution decreased. Thus, they would be Christian apostates which is a massive sin. But in doing so they thought that the new affirmation of faith when they returned to the Church would erase their sin of apostasy.

Additionally, they were demonstrating as seen in the last chapter a very immature view of Christianity. They had not grown in sanctification and were in a state of spiritual immaturity as many in Christianity are today. They had set themselves in a sense of a halfhearted Christian commitment. The hearers were called to move beyond teaching the need to repent of works which lead to death.Instead of involving themselves in dead works, they must respond in faith to God’s provisional growth in Christ. These people were not committed to the doctrines of the Christian faith and stayed in a life style of sin and disobedience. If they did not embrace the advanced doctrine of the Christian faith they could be locked into spiritual immaturity. This receives no blessings from God in this life or the Messianic Kingdom to follow.

Finally, the teaching of salvation and security is abundantly clear from many other passages in the Bible. The hermeneutical principal here is that Scripture does not contradict itself. Therefore, if the majority of passages teach eternal security one verse cannot negate that. The difficult passage which is thought to suggest it must be evaluated and interpreted from the light provided by the clear ones.

Hebrews 6:1

1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God (KJV).

This verse connects the previous chapter and brings out the necessity to leave the first principles of doctrine and move on to more weightier things of Scripture. If they were believers they were babies in these doctrines. They had a spiritual life but it was stuck at the elementary level and that would be harmful to them. He is admonishing them to take the elementary knowledge of Christ and press on to perfection. This is one fundamental purpose for the book of Hebrews to teach the need for believers to press on to spiritual maturity (perfection). There is great peril of relapse to the basic elements if they leave the faith and then return. This verse begins to list some basic doctrine of the faith which must be left behind and advanced from. One of those is not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God.

Repentance from dead works, which is, conversion, regeneration, and repentance from a spiritually dead state. In the case of the Jews is was the dead ended Levitical system. Christ fulfilled the Law and it was never meant to be a practice providing salvation. Paul is saying here “don’t return to sin again, for then you must have the foundation to lay again.” That will lead to a second conversion a repenting not only of, but from, dead works. Life in the Levitical system was temporary. It had already come to an end with the death of the Messiah. While the sacrificial system was still being practiced by unbelievers, it was no longer viewed by God as being effective to please Him or grow in the new Dispensation of the Church Age. The turning of their faith towards God meant that the positive factor in conversion meant the once-for-all time commitment to Jesus is what actually brought them into the salvation they experienced.

The repentance mentioned in verse one describes the very first realization one makes upon belief. When the Holy Spirit enters us at belief He illuminates us to our sinful condition and sets about to convict us whereby we repent of previous sins and our sinful state while on this earth. The apostle describes the process in his second letter to the Church at Corinth.

II Corinthians 7:9–11

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorrowful in a godly way, that you might not suffer loss in any way through us. 10 Godly sorrow produces repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, which you sorrowed in a godly way: What carefulness it produced in you, what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what intense desire, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In all things you have proven yourselves to be innocent in this matter (MEV).

The apostle is affirming that repentance from dead works is the most elementary affirmation of the beginnings of sanctification and a new life in Christ.

To Bury the Dead Sebastien Bourdon Cir 1616-1671

Hebrews 6:2–3

2 of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit (KJV).

Regarding baptism the use of the plural in the term baptisms is indicative of multiple immersions or washings. Because this audience was Jewish is meant ceremonial cleanings presently in uses such as in mikvahs. The Christian baptism which is done after belief would make public the newly converted Jew to Christianity and show others their final point of separation from Judaism and the Levitical Law. The event of being baptized by a minister of Christ with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is the outward sign or seal of the covenant of grace, making public the person being baptized affirming their final break with the old life. And the Spirit or inward baptism, of the Holy Spirit brings the justification, and the graces of the Spirit for sanctification. This ordinance of Spirit baptism is a foundation of the Christian faith and is not to be repeated. Even though some Christian groups believe it is to be repeated there is no Scriptural support for this.

Laying on of hands was an Old Testament means of identification either as appointment to an office or association with some sin. A priest was appointed to his office in this manner and it became the means in the New Testament of affirming the chosen men appointed the offices of elders and deacons. One example is the scape goat that was used as a means of transferring sin from the nation Israel to the goat.

Leviticus 16:20–22

20And when he hath made an end of atoning for the holy place, and the tent of meeting, and the altar, he shall present the live goat: 21and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a man that is in readiness into the wilderness: 22and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a solitary land: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness (ASV, 1901).

The last two fundamentals were the resurrection from the dead and eternal judgment from the Great White Throne and the Lake of fire were not to be repeated. They should be realized early and then the believer should press on to more mature doctrines.  Finally, it is God’s will that they move beyond these elementary aspects of Christianity and move on to spiritual maturity. God will not force any to maturity any more then He forces belief. However, one cannot move forward while desiring to stay in the milk stage of belief. It is God’s will for them and us to press on. The lack of pressing on, the lack of maturity, the failure to press on is not God’s fault. Failure to do so shows personal dullness is not yet irrevocable or irreversible. These believers can still choose to go on to maturity. They have not yet made the decision to go back to Judaism. However, it is still possible for them to move backward in sanctification so far that it will be impossible to make substantive progress toward maturity. They can regress so much that God will not allow them to renew their faith.

Hebrews 6:4–6

 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame (KJV).

 

This is the core section that is important to understand. Paul begins with an affirmation that something is impossible for these Jewish believers. It is a renewal of the basics of Christianity. The readers here experienced five spiritual privileges. What Paul is saying is that it is impossible to redo something that has already been accomplished. These are given in the Greek aorist tense which emphasizes a completed action. These people were regenerated, that is they were saved. They tasted the heavenly gift and truly embraced the Messiah and the salvation He provides. Tasted of the heavenly giftmeans they had a real, conscious experience of the blessings, of grasping this gift and its true nature. They had possession of real spiritual experience of being born again. Since the born-again experience only happens once and its effect complete, they could not go back and do it again. Several verses affirm this issue from the New Testament.

John 10:28-29

28 and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand (KJV).

 John 3:16.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (KJV).

Ephesians 1:13

12 that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ: 13 in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise (KJV).

 When we believed and fully trusted that Jesus of Nazareth is exactly who the Bible says He is we received the Holy Spirit. One way of expressing the certainty of the Christian hope is to say that the people of God have been “Sealed with the Spirit.” The term occurs three times in the Epistles; (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). In the Old Testament the literal meaning of sphragizois somewhat more common, but in the New Testament (at times also in the Old) the term is used only metaphorically, in the sense of “ratify”, “confirm”, “attest”. In the three texts in which Paul uses the term it refers to the marking of the believers as God’s property. The Holy Spirit is the mark of the child of God. But the sealing has a reference to the end of the age, for God will deliver all those who have his stamp on them (Revelation 7:4). However, sealing with the Spirit is an assurance of the hope of the believer and can be seen as the “earnest” (deposit) of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21.) for future redemption at the Rapture and Resurrection.

The audience of the Book of Hebrews are not people who only came near to seeing the Holy Spirit work. They were real participants in the Holy Spirit. They had experienced the Spirit baptism with the Holy Spirit. The seriousness and completeness could only come about from an indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwelled them.

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (KJV).

There almost universal agreement amongst conservative Bible teachers and commentators that this teaches salvation which is not of works, but of faith. However, some who actually believe this, will turn around and teach that, while good works cannot get us saved, bad ones can get us unsaved. This is one of the verses that those who teach that one can lose their salvation have a hard time justifying their illogic.

The Jewish believers had tasted the powers of the age to come. They once-and-for-all tasted of the power that they experienced in their realization of the Messianic Kingdom also known as the Millennium. The word powersis the same one used of miracles in 2:4. Tasting it means they experienced real Spiritual rebirth in their lives. They were able by way of their new knowledge, to experience the powers of the age to comein their lives. The age to comewas the common Jewish term for the Messianic Kingdom. The Jewish believers did not have the option giving up their salvation, going back into Judaism, and being saved again later because that requires Jesus’ re-crucifixion. Time moves forward not backward. Therefore, Jesus will not be coming back to be re-crucified. He has already completed the process. He has already saved us believers completely. Their first option was to go back into Judaism. That will not mean the loss of salvation. It could very well mean a loss of their physical lives in the judgment of A.D. 70 though the Romans killed over one million Jews and took down the Temple. The Jewish believers were warned by Jesus the route of escape (Matthew 24:16–20). It would be best though if they made a complete break from Judaism once and for all. For Jewish and Gentile believers, then and today, that comes by means of immersion of water baptism (public declaration of their faith). After that, they need to press on to maturity. The rest of chapter six is trying to encourage them to do just that—to press on to maturity.

The term “if they shall fall away” is not speaking of the termination of their salvation, but rather of their failure to continue toward maturity. Maturity will be demonstrated by faith in God in their present trying circumstances. A serious warning of the consequences of such a failure to walk by faith is given “It is impossible … to renew them to repentance.” Just as that generation from Egypt permanently lost the blessings provided by God to those who demonstrated their faith in Him by their obedience to His command to enter the land, so these (by a definitive decision to return to the outward forms of the Judaism that they had renounced at their baptism) would permanently lose the blessings and privileges promised to those who walk by faith.

The greatness of the sin of apostasy is crucifying the Son of God afresh, and putting him to open shame. This affirms that they approve of the Jews crucifying Christ, and that they would do the same thing again. They pour the greatest contempt upon the Son of God, and therefore upon God himself. They represent Christ and Christianity as a shameful thing and would have him to be a public shame and reproach. This is the nature of and great misery of apostates. It is impossible to renew a sanctifying faith again unto repentance. The sin here mentioned is plainly apostasy both from the truth and the ways of Christ. God can renew them to repentance, but he seldom does it; and with men themselves it is impossible. Even though they were saved and will be in Heaven there will be no growth in sanctification and its blessings, which include crowns here and position in the Messianic Kingdom.

Hebrews 6:7–8

7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8 but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned (KJV).

Even as the apostle says about our works receiving a payment in I Corinthians here those who do not perform in the exercise of the gifts we are given to build up the Church will be treated as wood, hay, and stubble. Here they are called thorns and briers. When the fire of judgment is applied then the loss of sanctification time spent in apostasy will yield the works being burned up, but we shall still be saved (I Corinthians 3:15).

 

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