Category Archives: Wickedness / Evil

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.

Israel Turns From YHWH

We are always one generation away from potentially turning our backs on YHWH and going our own way. One generation away from mixing and mingling his ways with the ways of other gods or traditions of men. Who and how we teach and raise our children matters. Even if we have experienced the power of YHWH first hand, the next generation may go another way if not raised right. Of course, prayer on their behalf to follow YHWH’s ways and also for him to provide strong leaders that would guide the people is helpful.

We should seek to understand YHWH’s ways ever more clearly through study and prayer. We should not compromise in accepting things which we can identify are contrary to his teaching, but should address them.

We see in Joshua 2 that Joshua dies and he is acknowledged by all those who have experienced YHWH’s miracles in delivering the promised land, but then the next generation begins to mix and mingle with the people whom the Israelites failed to drive out of the land. If they would have obeyed in the first place, theses people would not even have been there to corrupt their children.

Joshua 2:6-23

Joshua Dies

      6When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land. 7The people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the LORD which He had done for Israel. 8Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten. 9And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.

Israel Serves Baals

      11Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, 12and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger. 13So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. 14The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. 15Wherever they went, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had spoken and as the LORD had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed.

      16Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. 17Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do as their fathers. 18When the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways. 20So the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers and has not listened to My voice, 21I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, 22in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk in it as their fathers did, or not.” 23So the LORD allowed those nations to remain, not driving them out quickly; and He did not give them into the hand of Joshua.

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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.

In The Hand Of God

We think we have control over our lives, but we do not. We have free will, and thus influence in our own lives, but we all remain in the hand of God.  For those that are sons of men, rather than of God, there is wickedness and ultimately when they die they will be separated from him in death as they are in life. For those who are sons of God, we know we will die, but we will be with our Father when we do and remain in his hand. So let us enjoy life as he has provided for us and seek to please him and draw near to him.

Ecclesiastes 9

Men Are in the Hand of God

     1For I have taken all this to my heart and explain it that righteous men, wise men, and their deeds are in the hand of God. Man does not know whether it will be love or hatred; anything awaits him.

      2It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean and for the unclean; for the man who offers a sacrifice and for the one who does not sacrifice. As the good man is, so is the sinner; as the swearer is, so is the one who is afraid to swear. 3This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men. Furthermore, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives. Afterwards they go to the dead. 4For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. 5For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. 6Indeed their love, their hate and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.

      7Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. 8Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head. 9Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.

Instructions To Titus on Elders

We should often remind ourselves as we read Paul’s letters, that they were not written to a broad audience in the same way that the gospels were written. These letters were written privately to specific audiences that were dealing with specific issues. We must take care to discern which elements were applicable to the specific situation and which are applicable still to us today.

Titus 1

Salutation

     1Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, 3but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,

      4To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Qualifications of Elders

     5For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

      10For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

As we see Paul’s salutation, we should take care not to overlook even that as providing insight. He identified himself as a bond-servant of YHWH. That mean he was dedicated to the work of YHWH and doing it according to YHWH’s ways rather than Paul’s ways. We would do well to take a similar attitude in our lives. He also reminds us that we get grace and peace from the Lord, not from our own efforts or accomplishments.

As YHWH’s people, especially the leaders, must be beyond reproach. Let that sink in. There are specific characteristics listed upon which we should focus, including the behavior and attitude of our children. We also see that seem to always be people coming to attach the body of Christ, often from within. They need to be rebuked appropriately.

It is good to close with the following verse, and prayerfully consider if we ourselves need to repent and change in some way.

15To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

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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.

There Are Times and People Who Will Not Accept Sound Doctrine

Paul has an important message for Timothy in 2 Timothy 4, and it is important for every believer. We must be ready to preach the word at all times, when we expect it and when we do not. We do not want to miss an opportunity. Further, we know there are times and people who will not accept sound doctrine. They prefer something which makes them feel good about themselves as they are or avoids conflict… Paul calls it “tickling their ears”.  People go and shop for teachers who tell them what they want to hear instead of teachers who tell them what YHWH desires of us.

Let us take the charge given to Timothy, and prepare ourselves to be ready and willing at all times to preach the gospel of Yeshua. Let us also challenge ourselves not to behave like those who change preachers and teachers rather than change their behavior to match what YHWH has said he desires. Let us challenge ourselves to seek to understand and live out YHWH’s word in the Bible, even when it calls for us to change and be set apart from other Christians. To truly live according to our Creator’s ways, we will be set apart even from most who call themselves Christians in some distinct ways. One example today is fairly obvious. Culture tells us we are to hold our faith private and not discuss it publicly. Many churches are more concerned with an agenda like a social club rather than instructing people in the ways of YHWH.  This is wrong. We are to reprove, rebuke, exhort and do so with patience and instruction. It will be hard and people will reject it. We must endure and pray for wisdom and patience.

2 Timothy 4:1-8

“Preach the Word”

     1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

      6For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Paul talks about hardship in your ministry. We must ask ourselves, “If we endure no hardship, are we really challenging ourselves and others to change for YHWH?”

None of us should be so arrogant as to assume we have a perfect and full understanding of our Lord. Thus, if we love him and are praying and searching and studying his word we should expect to learn and develop a better understanding over time. This means we should be changing ourselves. Our lives and our understanding with YHWH today should not look the same as it did 10 years ago or will 10 years from now. If we find ourselves anchored in the same comfortable understanding of our Lord and in the same comfortable patterns of behavior, we should ask ourselves, “Am I really growing in my relationship with the Lord, or am I stagnant and no longer growing close to him?” Then we should take action, which will include change in our lives.

Do not be attached to the ways of men (not even traditions of our parents and grandparents), nor to the ways that men declare of YHWH, but rather diligently seek the truth through scripture, study, and prayer and then make changes to live it out more fully even when others come against you because your change makes them uncomfortable. Pray for patience, wisdom, and discernment but also for courage.

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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.

It Will Be Well For Those Who Fear God

Even a wise man can not discover what will happen and when. Even a wise man can not understand all things in this world. What we can understand, and clearly, is that will go well for us who fear YHWH openly and live righteously according to his ways.  We may see the wicked seemingly “getting away” with their evil deeds, but even if they do, we know it will go well for us who fear and obey the Father.

Ecclesiastes 8

      1Who is like the wise man and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man’s wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to beam.

      2I say, “Keep the command of the king because of the oath before God. 3“Do not be in a hurry to leave him. Do not join in an evil matter, for he will do whatever he pleases.” 4Since the word of the king is authoritative, who will say to him, “What are you doing?”

      5He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure. 6For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man’s trouble is heavy upon him. 7If no one knows what will happen, who can tell him when it will happen? 8No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the time of war, and evil will not deliver those who practice it. 9All this I have seen and applied my mind to every deed that has been done under the sun wherein a man has exercised authority over another man to his hurt.

      10So then, I have seen the wicked buried, those who used to go in and out from the holy place, and they are soon forgotten in the city where they did thus. This too is futility. 11Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. 12Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly. 13But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.

      14There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility. 15So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.

      16When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night), 17and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover.

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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.

Difficult Times Will Come

The difficult times referred to by Paul in 2 Timothy 3 are very challenging indeed. There is a list of bad things that have become commonplace, ranging from loving self to disobeying parents to loving pleasure rather than YHWH. This describes many times and places throughout history and certainly applies to the United States today. In particular, one deceptive aspect which is not to be overlooked is that people hold to a form of godliness, but have denied its power. This is particularly dangerous as it misrepresents YHWH while claiming his name. We have instructions to stay away from people such as these… not to convert them or win the argument but to stay away.

Paul also included advice on what Timothy was to focus on when confronted with these difficult times and we can as well. We can expect persecution and hardship when we stand for Yeshua and YHWH. We are to endure it, not avoid it by hiding our faith or acting as if our faith is “private” and not to be shared. Faith, patience, love, and other such qualities are key for us during these difficult times.

Paul also ends the chapter with direction that Timothy should study and rely on all scripture, in particular the scripture he has been studying since he was a child. The New Testament was not yet written and compiled as scripture. Paul is clearly referring to the Old Testament. We should take care to hold fast to the whole Bible and not discard or downplay the Old Testament in pursuit of the New as is often taught or emphasized in churches today. The whole of scripture works together as one unit and does not contradict one another. Paul directed Timothy to study the Old Testament, and this was after the death and resurrection of Yeshua. We should do likewise.

2 Timothy 3

“Difficult Times Will Come”

     1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. 9But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

      10Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, 11persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

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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.

A Tale Of Two Responses To Christ

Passover and Unleavened Bread are important celebrations to Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) and His disciples. Yeshua participated in these holy celebrations and so did his disciples. We see further, that is was important from the fact that Mark includes this explicitly in the timeline of events leading up to Yeshua’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. This event was an important part of the timeline for us to understand.

We also get insight in Mark14 into two very different responses to Yeshua. The chief priests, who present themselves to the people as if they are holy and set apart for YHWH’s purposes, are plotting to kill Yeshua… God Himself walking among them. Meanwhile, a humble woman, a “sinner”, comes to anoint him and honor him with very expensive perfume and her own personal time and effort.

This provides a stark contrast that reminds us to use careful discernment in clearly identifying who is following YHWH and honoring him with their lives and who is just playing a part to look holy before the people. To be sure, we should start by looking in the mirror and making sure we have the right attitude toward our Creator.

Mark 14:1-11

Death Plot and Anointing

      1Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him; 2for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”

      3While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 4But some were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? 5“For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. 6But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7“For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8“She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9“Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

      10Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.

Discern carefully who truly follows after Yeshua and learns from him, changing their lives to be more like him, and who uses Yeshua and the scriptures only to manipulate the message to their own gain and the appearance of holiness. In some cases, they genuinely fool even themselves. Do not be so foolish as to assume anyone in “church” leadership is holy and a true disciple of Yeshua, or that others who are not in those positions are not true disciples.

We all have a choice in how we will respond to Yeshua. Will we reject him entirely, will we pretend to serve him but let wickedness and selfishness reign in us, or will we humbly and faithfully serve him even when others will mock us for it?

How will you choose to respond to his offer of love and personal relationship in your life?

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Reflections On What Matters In Life… by Solomon

Ecclesiastes can certainly come across as depressing and discouraging. It helps to keep in mind the ultimate conclusion that the book is leading up to. The context is an old Solomon, wise and rich in splendor as king over his lifetime. He is reflecting back on the meaning of life. He ultimately concludes the following:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

    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.

It is with this conclusion in mind that it helps to drive home the meaning of the whole book as we read it. Ultimately everything falls short of real significance except fearing God and keeping his commandments.

Ecclesiastes 4

The Evils of Oppression

     1Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. 2So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. 3But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

      4I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. 5The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. 6One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.

      7Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. 8There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.

      9Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

      13A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction. 14For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him. 16There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.

There are a collection of gems of wisdom in this chapter, all of which are worthy of reflection and prayerful consideration for application in our own lives today. Some that strike me…

  • Oppression is very bad.
  • Empty rivalry is worthless.
  • Two working together are better than one.
  • A poor wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer receives instruction

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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.