Category Archives: Justice / Judgment

Fear YHWH and Keep His Commandments

Followers today too often discard the Biblical instruction to fear YHWH. The word can mean to awe, fear, reverence, etc. But let us not forget to have the right amount of fear of our loving Father, who will discipline those whom he loves. Let it, along with our love for him, help guide us to obey him, just like with an earthly Father.

In Ecclesiastes 12, the writer reminds us to remember our Creator in the days of our youth, when things are going well, before hard times come. We do well to build relationship with him early in life and in good times so that when the hard times come we already know him and are close to him.

At the end, as the writer closes the book of Ecclesiastes, we get the summation or conclusion of the whole book. He has lived a long life with many diverse experiences. He concludes with very solid advice in verse 13-14 that we all do well to heed.

Ecclesiastes 12

Remember God in Your Youth

      1Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”; 2before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; 3in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim; 4and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly. 5Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. 6Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; 7then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. 8“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!”

Purpose of the Preacher

      9In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs. 10The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.

      11The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. 12But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.

      13The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

There is nothing hidden from YHWH, not even our thoughts. We should fear the LORD and keep his commandments. We should embrace Yeshua as Messiah so that through his death we may be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to YHWH.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Obedience Leads to a Blessing; Disobedience to a Curse

The pattern in Judges is very plain to see. The Israelites turned from the LORD and did evil and he turned them over to the hand of others to rule over them as judgment. Through a period of pain being ruled by cruel neighbors who knew not the LORD, the people of YHWH repented and cried out for help. The suffering brought them back to YHWH. Once the repented and cried out for help, the LORD raised up leaders within Israel and led them to victory. Then the cycle repeats.

Try not to fall into this cycle personally, but rather continue to seek the LORD and submit even when things are good. However, if you do find yourself suffering and feeling distant from the LORD, take it as an invitation to return to him and repent from your own ways or the ways of culture around you. His is a forgiving Father, full of grace and mercy.

Judges 4

Deborah and Barak Deliver from Canaanites

      1Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died. 2And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. 3The sons of Israel cried to the LORD; for he had nine hundred iron chariots, and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years.

      4Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment. 6Now she sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali, and said to him, “Behold, the LORD, the God of Israel, has commanded, ‘Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun. 7‘I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his many troops to the river Kishon, and I will give him into your hand.’” 8Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” 9She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together to Kedesh, and ten thousand men went up with him; Deborah also went up with him.

      11Now Heber the Kenite had separated himself from the Kenites, from the sons of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh.

      12Then they told Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. 13Sisera called together all his chariots, nine hundred iron chariots, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. 14Deborah said to Barak, “Arise! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hands; behold, the LORD has gone out before you.” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. 15The LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. 16But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not even one was left.

      17Now Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. 18Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my master, turn aside to me! Do not be afraid.” And he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. 19He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a bottle of milk and gave him a drink; then she covered him. 20He said to her, “Stand in the doorway of the tent, and it shall be if anyone comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there anyone here?’ that you shall say, ‘No.’” 21But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died. 22And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with the tent peg in his temple.

      23So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the sons of Israel. 24The hand of the sons of Israel pressed heavier and heavier upon Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin the king of Canaan.

Let us not miss the opportunity to pray for and influence our nation to turn back to the LORD either, for this pattern certainly applies to nations and groups of people who claim to serve him, or used to claim to serve him. This applies to the USA. We were founded a Christian nation on Christian principles and beliefs. Now the people turn away from him and his ways and he will turn us over to the depravity of our own minds.

Romans 1:18-32

     18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

      24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

      26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

      28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

However, if we would humble ourselves and pray, and turn from our wicked ways, he may heal our land.

2 Chronicles 7:13-14

13“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Find Peace and Victory By Turning Back to the Father

We begin to see a pattern develop in Judges, one to which we should pay attention. The people turn from YHWH and mix and mingle their practices with those of the pagans. Then YHWH removes his hand of blessing and even raises up enemies against them to discipline them. The people suffer and ultimately cry out to YHWH and he raises up a leader to set them free and lead them to repent. It is only then that the people experience peace.

There is no reason to believe this pattern does not still apply in our relationship with YHWH and for our nations today. We need to humble ourselves and pray that he would have mercy on us and raise up righteous leaders and that his people would turn from sin and return to him and his ways.

Judges 3:9-30

The First Judge Delivers Israel

      9When the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. 10The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. 11Then the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

      12Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD. 13And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees. 14The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

Ehud Delivers from Moab

      15But when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. 16Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak. 17He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. 18It came about when he had finished presenting the tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. 19But he himself turned back from the idols which were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And he said, “Keep silence.” And all who attended him left him. 20Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat. 21Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly. 22The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out. 23Then Ehud went out into the vestibule and shut the doors of the roof chamber behind him, and locked them.

      24When he had gone out, his servants came and looked, and behold, the doors of the roof chamber were locked; and they said, “He is only relieving himself in the cool room.” 25They waited until they became anxious; but behold, he did not open the doors of the roof chamber. Therefore they took the key and opened them, and behold, their master had fallen to the floor dead.

      26Now Ehud escaped while they were delaying, and he passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27It came about when he had arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was in front of them. 28He said to them, “Pursue them, for the LORD has given your enemies the Moabites into your hands.” So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan opposite Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross. 29They struck down at that time about ten thousand Moabites, all robust and valiant men; and no one escaped. 30So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land was undisturbed for eighty years.

Shamgar Delivers from Philistines

      31After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Cities of Refuge

In our culture today, if a man kill someone, there is a significant difference in how he is judged if he did so intentionally and with forethought, or by accident. Most of us realize this concept makes sense and seems right. However, most of us likely don’t realize that God rather than man made this distinction important as defined in Joshua 20 and previously in the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible written by Moses). We are still very influenced by God’s principles, even as our society has turned away from God and many of his instructions.

Let us turn back to him and his righteousness, seeking forgiveness, and leaving behind our wicked ways. Instead, let us renew ourselves by studying the whole of God’s word and returning to it as a guide for our lives. Imagine what else we may find that we have lost over time in regards to how our Creator calls us to live.

Joshua 20

Six Cities of Refuge

     1Then the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying, 2“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘Designate the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, 3that the manslayer who kills any person unintentionally, without premeditation, may flee there, and they shall become your refuge from the avenger of blood. 4‘He shall flee to one of these cities, and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and state his case in the hearing of the elders of that city; and they shall take him into the city to them and give him a place, so that he may dwell among them. 5‘Now if the avenger of blood pursues him, then they shall not deliver the manslayer into his hand, because he struck his neighbor without premeditation and did not hate him beforehand. 6‘He shall dwell in that city until he stands before the congregation for judgment, until the death of the one who is high priest in those days. Then the manslayer shall return to his own city and to his own house, to the city from which he fled.’”

      7So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali and Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. 8Beyond the Jordan east of Jericho, they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plain from the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead from the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan from the tribe of Manasseh. 9These were the appointed cities for all the sons of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them, that whoever kills any person unintentionally may flee there, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood until he stands before the congregation.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Forgiveness and Mercy Contrasted With Strong Rebuke

In 1 Timothy chapter 1, Paul paints a stark contrast that may make many feel uncomfortable. Christians generally are quick to agree and feel comfortable with the first part of today’s scripture. Paul was a blasphemer, a violent aggressor and found grace and mercy in the Lord because he acted in unbelief… and because he has now repented and turned to the Lord.

The second part may be worthy of prayerful consideration and time of reflection. In the very same chapter, Paul now draws stark contrast to this backdrop by highlighting some that have had the faith and been “shipwrecked” in the faith. I take this to imply they have known Christ and now they have turned from the faith, not in ignorance, but in spite of their knowledge about it. He speaks here not about mercy but about handing them over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

This may be very uncomfortable for many, but consider it none the less. Those who sin and repent can expect mercy. Those who rebel against God can ultimately expect accountability and judgment before God. We can debate what exactly Paul means by handing them over to Satan, but it seems obvious that Paul means they should not continue to be treated as intimate members of our fellowship in the body of Christ. He clearly calls them out for wrong doctrine rather than making excuses to accept their wrong teaching.

1 Timothy 1:12-20

     12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

      18This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.

Do not dismiss uncomfortable scripture. Rather, take time to prayerfully reflect on this passage of scripture and its application to us today. Let scripture help to redefine us in God’s image rather than us skip or dismiss parts of scripture in an effort to redefine him in our image.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Let Scripture Define the Truth of Who God Is, Not the Teachings of Man

Let us allow scripture to inform us about the character of YHWH rather than our own assumptions and what we have learned from the teaching of man. We know that YHWH is love. For those that study the word, we also know that we do not define how to love his way. All of the law and the prophets are based on loving God and loving one another. These are not my words, but rather the words of Yeshua in Matthew 22.

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

This is very different than today’s common view where loving others is taken to mean accepting them as they are in whatever sin they embrace, no matter if they rebel against God or not. That is not the truth revealed in God’s word.

God loves people, but he hates sin and rebellion against him. He is not only love, but also holy and righteous. Sin will carry with it a price. For those of us who accept Christ as savior and repent of our sins to follow him, our price has been paid. For those who reject Christ, there is no other path. Living in a constant state of unforgiven and active rebellion is not pleasing to God. Don’t assume he is ok with it just  because he may be patient in bringing it to an end. He waited hundreds of years before bringing the Israelites into the promised land to punish those living their who rejected and rebelled against him. I would say that is far more patient than any of us. However, ultimately there was a time for judgment.

Joshua 11

Northern Palestine Taken

     1Then it came about, when Jabin king of Hazor heard of it, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon and to the king of Shimron and to the king of Achshaph, 2and to the kings who were of the north in the hill country, and in the Arabah—south of Chinneroth and in the lowland and on the heights of Dor on the west— 3to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Jebusite in the hill country, and the Hivite at the foot of Hermon in the land of Mizpeh. 4They came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5So all of these kings having agreed to meet, came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

      6Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” 7So Joshua and all the people of war with him came upon them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and attacked them. 8The LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, so that they defeated them, and pursued them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim and the valley of Mizpeh to the east; and they struck them until no survivor was left to them. 9Joshua did to them as the LORD had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

      10Then Joshua turned back at that time, and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor formerly was the head of all these kingdoms. 11They struck every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire. 12Joshua captured all the cities of these kings, and all their kings, and he struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed them; just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. 13However, Israel did not burn any cities that stood on their mounds, except Hazor alone, which Joshua burned. 14All the spoil of these cities and the cattle, the sons of Israel took as their plunder; but they struck every man with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them. They left no one who breathed. 15Just as the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.

      16Thus Joshua took all that land: the hill country and all the Negev, all that land of Goshen, the lowland, the Arabah, the hill country of Israel and its lowland 17from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, even as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon at the foot of Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings and struck them down and put them to death. 18Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings. 19There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. 20For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

      21Then Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab and from all the hill country of Judah and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. 22There were no Anakim left in the land of the sons of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod some remained. 23So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.

Perhaps the toughest verses for us to absorb are the following:

19There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. 20For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

The time for mercy had past. The Lord himself saw to it that he would make sure no other groups came in peace to Joshua, so they could be fully destroyed.

If this makes you uncomfortable, that is ok. But take care to start with an understanding that God is right and just and without error. Take care that he is also unchanging though time in his character.

Now ask him to show you how to process this truth about him in a way that increases your knowledge of his character rather than allowing yourself to just dismiss it and continue to think of him as nothing but a cuddly grandpa in the sky. Sin has serious consequences. If we don’t recognize that it is very offensive to him, we may make poor choices in how we live or encourage others to live. In the right context we must acknowledge that accepting people as they are in sin so as to avoid offending them is actually not loving them. For any of us whose lives have been transformed by Christ, we realize that it changes us in this life and brings more joy and fulfillment in addition to leading us to heaven.   Thus to encourage people to accept sin in their lives rather than repent is like encouraging people to stay in a burning building. True love and concern for them demands that we tell them the truth of God’s word, even if it offends them. Let us each seek to find an effective way to do so and pray for boldness and wisdom in how we approach it.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Grace, Faith, and Love Are Found In Messiah

In 1 Timothy 1, Paul openly admits that he was a sinner in need of salvation, that he needed to change. He submitted to Christ and by grace, faith, and love he was saved through Christ. Now he has been put into service to teach others. A few verses later, he speaks about handing someone over to Satan for blaspheming. On the surface this appears a contradiction to some. But please note that the key element in receiving the forgiveness of Christ is that we admit we are sinners and turn away from our sin and submit to our LORD and ask forgiveness through Christ. Those that are continuing in rebellion or refuse to submit to Christ will be held accountable for their continued rebellion.

1 Timothy 1:12-20

      12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

      18This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.

No matter what your sins are or have been, you can turn away from them and toward Christ. There may still be implications you have to deal with but you can find forgiveness in and through Yeshua. Turn to him now, if you have not done so fully already. He can help you to continue your journey to leave behind your sinful ways and draw nearer to him. Do not think you must wait until you have addressed all your sin to seek the LORD. But in him, continue to address and repent of all your sin.

Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do Not Re-Define YHWH In Your Own Image

Joshua 10 contains some dramatic historical records about Joshua’s conquest of the promised land. Many Christians today may struggle to understand or explain how or why YHWH instructed Joshua to wipe out all the inhabitants. What about grace? What about forgiveness? Why would God do wipe out whole people groups? 

First, let us be sure our mind is set on the right perspective. If this is what God said to do, then it was right. If we don’t understand or agree, that means we are wrong… and not God. Perhaps there is specific context which helps explain it or perhaps our view of God is wrong.

We must always take care not to redefine God in our image or the image of our modern culture. Instead, we should always be seeking to redefine ourselves in his image. While there is surely a place for grace and mercy, let us be clear that the Bible speaks volumes about YHWH also providing righteous judgment.

So if he said to wipe everyone out, then he is right to do so. If we struggle with that, then we should pray to ask him to show us more understanding and we should study more the scripture. We should not simply disregard it because it is confusing. It still tells us about YHWH even today. YHWH does not change.

We should not assume that everyone who breathes is in a relationship with YHWH. Clearly we see Biblical examples where he wipes out whole groups. This is different than when he disciplines his own people. These people did not know him. They lived ungodly lives, offensive to him in his holiness.

Joshua 10:29-43

Joshua’s Conquest of Southern Palestine

     29Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to Libnah, and fought against Libnah. 30The LORD gave it also with its king into the hands of Israel, and he struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor in it. Thus he did to its king just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

      31And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Libnah to Lachish, and they camped by it and fought against it. 32The LORD gave Lachish into the hands of Israel; and he captured it on the second day, and struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, according to all that he had done to Libnah.

      33Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish, and Joshua defeated him and his people until he had left him no survivor.

      34And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon, and they camped by it and fought against it. 35They captured it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; and he utterly destroyed that day every person who was in it, according to all that he had done to Lachish.

      36Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron, and they fought against it. 37They captured it and struck it and its king and all its cities and all the persons who were in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor, according to all that he had done to Eglon. And he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it.

      38Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to Debir, and they fought against it. 39He captured it and its king and all its cities, and they struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Just as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir and its king, as he had also done to Libnah and its king.

      40Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded. 41Joshua struck them from Kadesh-barnea even as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen even as far as Gibeon. 42Joshua captured all these kings and their lands at one time, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel. 43So Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp at Gilgal.

It is ok to question when we get to difficult scripture. But let us always start with the perspective that YHWH is right and it is our understanding that may need to change rather than starting with the assumption that YHWH was wrong and now he has changed somehow to fit our view of him.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Lord Delivers Victory Against His Enemies

Our Lord is merciful and gracious, but he is also holy and righteous. Those that come against him will face judgment. Those that are unrepentant and rebellious against him should not expect mercy. This makes a lot of Christians today a bit uncomfortable, as we have tended to water down the gospel to think of YHWH as a “marshmallow” God… a grandfather in the sky… who just loves and forgives everyone no matter what they do. We do well to study the scriptures and better understand our holy and righteous Father. The context of Joshua 10 clearly supports that YHWH was pleased with the actions of his people on this day and supported them in victory.

Joshua 10:16-28

Victory at Makkedah

     16Now these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in the cave at Makkedah. 17It was told Joshua, saying, “The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and assign men by it to guard them, 19but do not stay there yourselves; pursue your enemies and attack them in the rear. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand.” 20It came about when Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished slaying them with a very great slaughter, until they were destroyed, and the survivors who remained of them had entered the fortified cities, 21that all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace. No one uttered a word against any of the sons of Israel.

      22Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring these five kings out to me from the cave.” 23They did so, and brought these five kings out to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24When they brought these kings out to Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came near and put their feet on their necks. 25Joshua then said to them, “Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies with whom you fight.” 26So afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees; and they hung on the trees until evening. 27It came about at sunset that Joshua gave a command, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and put large stones over the mouth of the cave, to this very day.

      28Now Joshua captured Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Thus he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

There are real consequences for sin and rebellion, in this life and in eternity. Let us check ourselves and make sure we are humble before him as a servant should be before a master. He is not there to serve us, but we to serve him. Let us not live our lives as if he loves and accepts us without consequence regardless of open rebellion against him and regardless of lack of submission to him. If we are his enemies, he will hold us accountable. If we are his children, he will discipline us.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Message of the Cross – Salvation

God’s instruction to us is so complete and relevant that a scholar could spend a lifetime studying it, yet so simple that a child can understand it and come to a personal relationship with Christ.

The message of the cross, of Jesus Christ, is perhaps best summarized in the words of Jesus and Paul.

John 3

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[g] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[h]

Let us take care to understand properly in context the word “believe”. I believe that Greenland exists, but it has no impact on my life. Many believe that Jesus Christ was a true historical figure, but they do not live according to His instructions. Many even believe Jesus was Messiah, in an academic sense, but they do not submit to Him and live His way. If we truly believe that Jesus is Messiah, God, then we should submit to Him and the evidence should be demonstrated in our changed life through actions and attitudes that are increasingly more like Him and less like our old selves.

James 2:14-20

     14What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

      18But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

Some ask…”What is sin?” or “How can I know if I have sinned?” People are inherently sinful, not good. Sin separates us from God. The Bible tells us that “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23]

Have you ever broken one of God’s commandments [Exodus 20:1-17]? Jesus makes clear that God’s standard goes beyond committing the physical acts but even includes the heart and mind. To hold anger against someone is to commit murder. To have lustful thoughts is to commit adultery. [Matthew 5:21-48]

God is love, but He is also holy and just. A price must be paid for our sins. It can not be ignored. We are not able to pay the price ourselves because we are not worthy. Our sins are so ugly before God that the penalty of sin is death.

God so loved the world that He became man in the person of Jesus Christ, living a sinless life, and suffered and died for our sins. He was buried and rose again.  He has overcome death and gives us a path to eternal life through accepting Jesus as Lord.

The work of the cross has already been completed. The price has been paid for your sins and mine. We must each individually repent of our sins before God. This means we must turn away from them, not just feel bad about them and keep sinning. We accept Him as Lord, submitting our lives fully to Him. We cannot call Him Lord and then only submit to Him part way. If He is Lord we must submit to Him all the way. This is evidenced by a change in our thoughts and behaviors. We become different from the world. We do not rationalize and accept even some of our sin but rather reject it and seek to follow God.  It is not enough to call ourselves Christians and go to church. We must fully submit to God.

Romans 10

10 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the [a]end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is [b]based on law shall live [c]by that righteousness. But the righteousness [d]based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, [e]that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, [f]resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [g]resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be [h]disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who [i]bring good news of good things!”

16 However, they did not all heed the [j]good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word [k]of Christ.

18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;

Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the [l]world.”

19 But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation,
By a nation without understanding will I anger you.”

20 And Isaiah is very bold and says,

“I was found by those who did not seek Me,
I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”

21 But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

Many will reject the message, but we are called to preach it to all the world. We as believers must not be silent or no one will hear the true word of God. If they do not hear it, they can not accept it and be saved.

If you have never submitted to Jesus Christ as Lord, please pray with me the following, but pray genuinely with your heart because it is not about the specific words but the condition of the heart and submission to God.

Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ. I admit that I have done wrong and ask your forgiveness. I believe in my heart that Jesus died for my sin and that you raised Him from the dead. I ask Jesus into my heart as Lord over my life. Help me to change my attitude and behavior to turn away from my own ways  and the world’s ways and instead turn toward You and live the way You teach as revealed in Your word, the Bible. Help me to gladly and boldly proclaim Jesus publically in my life. Thank you God for saving me.

This is not all there is! This is but the beginning… the doorway. Once you pass through this doorway you submit your whole life to Christ. It requires a combination of Intellect (knowing God), Emotion (loving God and fearing God), and Will (choosing to do His will instead of our own). It is an ongoing decision in our lives that starts us on a journey to know God more intimately and to obey Him more completely. It requires study and prayer and action. It is a journey we never finish in this life, but it transforms us along the way to be more and more like Jesus Christ.

If you made this decision today, we encourage you to reach out to us so that we can welcome you into the body of Christ as well as pray for you and provide more information and encouragement for your life changing decision. You can reach us through our Contact Us page.

Tell others you know have already accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Tell them of your decision to follow Christ. Look to connect with a Christian mentor, local church or group of true Christian believers.

Why is it important to declare Jesus as Lord publically? Jesus said so.

Matthew 10:32-33 32“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

Also, connecting with other Christians and publicly declaring your decision to follow Christ can help provide important support from other believers to help you on your journey with Jesus Christ. Remember, many who reject Jesus will try to talk you out of submitting to Him and following Him. Pray God will guide you to and connect you with the fellowship of true brothers and sisters in Christ that will help you to continue your lifelong journey to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ!

We invite you to study the Bible with us daily through our devotions via email, FacebookGoogle Plus, or on our website Latest Devotions page. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has developed and shared the following wonderful tools to help new believers get started. (Steps to Peace God and Living In Christ)

If you have questions or want to know more, please Contact Us.

Understanding what the law means to us today can be confusing and requires careful study. In Romans 10:3-5, above, Paul is not saying Jesus came to change the law or abolish the law. Paul is specifically referring to the aspect of the law in which we are to be made right with God. Instead of being made right with God through perfect execution of the law, or through sacrifices and through the earthly priesthood, we are made right with God through Jesus Christ. John 3:16-18 confirms that Jesus came not to redefine sin or redefine God’s instruction by which we are to live (e.g. the law of God) but rather to address the judgment for our sin when we fall short of fully living up to God’s standard.  Jesus did not end the law, which shows us how to live according to God’s instruction, but rather to provide a way for us to be reconciled to God when we fall short of perfectly executing God’s law. For more, please read our message on Understanding The Law – What Does It Mean For Us Today?

May the grace and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, be with you.