News Letter 5848-036
24th day of the 8th month?5848 years after the creation of Adam
The 8th Month in the Third year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences
This is also the end of the Thirty-Second week of this the Third Tithe Year for the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow?Deuteronomy 26:12?
We are now just 4 years & 4 months from the Sabbatical year in 2016
November 10, 2012
Shabbat Shalom Brethren,
This year in Israel we had the pleasure of on young lady from New Jersey joining us on tour. Three weeks after returning home from Israel, Hurricane Sandy struck her home and those all around her. This week I will not post any comments from those who were with us in Israel. Instead I am going to post what Darlene Inman Hart has shared with me about the events that have shaken her life this past couple of weeks.
And yes I still have a rebuke for some of you that I warned you of last week. So get ready. But first read Darlene’s report.
On Wednesday October 25 Frank and I were sitting in the breakfast lounge at the Hampton Inn, in North Carolina watching the report that Hurricane Sandy was headed on a path to Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Hmmm, time to go back home. So on Friday October 26 we were on our way North, with Sandy at our heels. When we arrived home we had a message on our phone that they were making it mandatory evacuation of our community of Beach Haven West on October 28th by 12:00 P.M. Happy Birthday to me because we would be scrambling to get the house prepared and search for a hotel to go to. We called a few hotels in the area but they were booked. So I called my Mom and asked to stay with her and she said sure. So on October 28th at 12:00P.M. We closed the front door headed to Mom’s house. As we were on our way we passed a motor lodge that had a vacancy on the sign. I thought to myself, Wow I am surprised to see that. We arrived at Mom’s in time for her and her husband Ken getting ready to go out the door headed to his Sons house. They too were being evacuated. So we kissed Mom and told them to be safe and headed out the door going as fast as we could back to the motor lodge with the vacancy. With a thankful sigh we arrived at the motor lodge to be the ones to rent the last room they had! And I give praise to Yahovah that he put everything in place for us to get the last room. With me being safely tucked away Frank decided he would leave for work so that he would not get caught in any flooded roads. He works at a natural gas company in Newark N.J. as a supervisor and he had to be there to monitor the gas lines. So after we ate dinner off he went to the city.
On October 29th I sat in the room at the motor lodge watching the trees swaying back and forth by the powerful gusts Sandy was making as she made land fall. Again I was blessed to only lose power at the motor lodge for a few hours during the night, but the cable for the T.V. was out of the question. So I had to resort to the internet for information to what was happening. On October 30th I headed out to go to my house only to be blocked d from getting into the community of Beach Haven West. Nothing I could do so I headed towards Dad’s to see how he made out from the storm. He being an old sea dog to the area chose to stay at his house through the storm with his siblings objections. I arrived to the road he lived on only to be blocked by a police car and behind it about fifty feet away the water that had not receded back to the bay. I parked my car and went and asked the officials about the man at and gave my Father’s address. He said that he had just been there checking on him, that he looked ok, and that he still refused to go. That’s Dad for yah!! He lives in a house that sits on eight feet pilings and he did get water in his house. His boat was flipped over from the surge of the water. His pump house was ripped off from the platform it sits on in back of his house and the old travel camper he uses for storage was torn in half and is sitting in the front yard. I thank Yahovah that he did not wind up dead. On the 31st I tried again to get to my home and again was blocked. Frank returned back to the motor lodge that evening much to my relief. After eating out again we went online in search to see if there was any information of getting into our area. The township posted at 12:00pm they would start allowing by shuttle bus provided by them to be transport back running only on the main roads dropping people off as they go. With knowing that we went to bed with the thought, ok we get in there tomorrow.
On November 1st Frank and I arrived at the designated place where the shuttle was picking people up at 12:00pm. As I suspected there were many people waiting to catch the shuttle bus. We decided to walk, so off we went on our 2 mile trek to the house. As we walked passing house after house horrified at what we were seeing. People’s homes half washed away and walls missing. Furniture that was everywhere that had been washed away from the homes that was broken apart. Washers, dryers, refrigerators scattered everywhere. Docks that had broken away, left lying in front yards. Same for the boats and wave runners they were scattered all over. As we drew ever closer to our road a pickup truck pulled up and offered us a ride. As strange as that seemed because no vehicles were not supposed to be driving in the area, but I wasn’t going to stress the point. I was grateful for the ride. We hopped on the back and were driven to the end of our street. We jumped down off the back of the truck and Frank handed the man some money. The last few steps we walked had us assessing what we might be up against. As we came up to our house we noticed our boat was not in the front yard. Where we had it dry docked for the winter. The house was standing with all four walls. That was good, but there is a water mark about a foot above the door frame. That’s not good. We opened the door and the smell of bay mud hit our noses. We walked through carefully, so not to slip on the slimy floor. Our couch, beds, tables, dressers, appliances, they are all wet. We open the sliding door that leads to the back yard. The deck lifted, the footings pulled right out of the ground. Somebodies 25 foot Grady White boat sitting up to the garage door. Looking around I thought, it could have been worse! After examining our home and taking pictures, we packed what dry clothes we could find and a few nonperishables items and headed out. Walking back to the car was a somber experience. With our two suite cases and cooler in tow, I could not swallow down the lump I had in my throat, nor could I stop the tears that swelled in my eyes. So sad to see what I was witnessing, let alone be a part of it. As I walked I took a deep breath and said to myself this I will not let it overtake me! With Yahovah’s help, we will get through it. That night we looked again to see what the township was allowing for the next day. They posted tomorrow we would be allowed to drive in starting at 12:00pm. With knowing that, we went to bed.
On the following day we headed out early to do some errands. As we drove around Frank and I discussed about renting a place until we could get back in our home. I told him I saw a for rent sign in front of some town houses, so we decided to go check them out. Not exactly up to par if know what I mean. We told them we would let them know. When we got in the car, l said to Frank, “Let’s go to realtor and see what else we can get. “ That didn’t work out; they were so over whelmed with so many looking. So Frank and I decided we would go back later and rent one of the town homes. We drove to our house and started the throw out process. The rugs went to the curb. As we were doing that the insurance agent called told us to stop. They have to come out and look over the damage. That ended the start of our clean up. So we went back to the town homes, as we pulled up I told Frank we should look at the third one they have for rent. We got the superintendent to us let look around. With a sigh of relief at what we saw, compared to the other two this one was heaven. We agreed to that one and were headed off to the bank for the first month’s rent and deposit. With a signed lease in our hand, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief. After Friday our lives will have a little normalcy back in it! That evening we stopped over our Friends house Lisa and Frank. They were blessed to have had only the electric go out but now are back on. Lisa’s parents were also there. They were staying with them because of being evacuated from Long Beach Island, NJ. Her parents waiting anxiously to get over to the island to see what damage they have to their home. Lisa offered us a bowl of homemade chicken soup. This bowl of soup was finer than any fine restaurant could ever make. The best part about it was I was sitting in a home eating it. Going out to eat has its appeal but every night starts to wear on you. Thank you Lisa if you only knew how much this warmed our bones, our heart and bellies too!! Lisa’s cousin Nicole was there with us as well. Nicole showed us a text message that she received from her friend Lesley. She said that she was trying to turn off an exit on the street that was blocked by cars that were lined up at a station waiting to get gas. One of the few that was open because the electric was on. The police officer was directing traffic told her to pull up next to the line while he cleared the way for her to get through. When she did, people jumped out their car and started to mob around her, they thought she was trying to cut in line. She rolled down her window to explain she had a full tank and was trying to get to the exit, also doing what the police officer said to do. As she was explaining a man reached in side her car and started to choke her. Thank Yahovah a police officer was there to pull him off of her. After that she said she drove all the way home in tears. Because of incidents like this and shortages of gas they had mandated odd/even of License plates to get gas now. Just as you think things are improving something makes it worse.
Now that the shock of what has happened it seems like everybody is in full gear to get their homes fixed. The streets are now littered with mounds of everything imaginable piled high to be pick up. I can see where pestilence could be an issue. Work crews ripping and tearing things apart. Trucks are rolling everywhere. The main high way backed is up from people trying to get to their homes. It has just been crazy around here. I suspect it will be a while before things will be remotely normal again. So we push on in hopes of getting there some time soon.
You Have Murdered Your Brother Because you did nothing to help Him.
I could have titled this; “A false witness that speaks lies, and He that sows discord among brethren”. Or I could have said “You will know them by their fruit or the lack of it”. Or “You and Satan the Accuser of your brethren!” I just could not decide because all of them apply.
I have been stewing on this now for three weeks. I am ticked at some of you. The things you are so free to say and share.
All of you who read this claim to love Yehovah. But do you not recall that Yehovah calls some of you liars. Read this verse. And if any man say, “I love Yehovah,” and hates his brother, he’s a liar; for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love Yehovah whom he has not seen?
Yes you will and can plainly see those who love Yehovah and those claim to be His but are not; because they are liars….. You will know them by their fruits. Yet some of you sit beside rotten fruit each week or maybe you’re the one rotting. But not all of you for some did write me very concerned about what was going on.
Psalms 101: 5 Whoso privately slanders his neighbor, him will I cut off; and he that has a high look and a proud heart, will I not suffer
This week I have been asked a number of times and warned also about being associated with Nehemiah Gordon. The story, which I have traced back to its source, says that Nehemiah is converting people to Judaism and people are now denying Yehshua because of Nehemiah.
The people promoting this lie then list three people who have now converted to or are about to convert to Judaism. And this is their proof.
I just so happen to know one of the people involved who converted to Judaism. I also happen to know that his family converted to Calvinism during the World War II to save their lives and he just found out and is now exploring his Jewish roots having just learned this truth.
As to the other two I do not know them or their back ground.
I have known Nehemiah for the past 5 years. I have had Passover at his parent’s house and met his Dad before his passing. I have had a great relationship with Nehemiah Gordon during this entire time visiting in Jerusalem on a number of occasions. Never once has he tried to convert me to Judaism. In fact he tells us not to.
So why do these rumors persist?
This year again as in other years, I was given papers in Israel by one of those who is converting to Judaism. They are followers of one certain Rabbi who did try to convert me a few years back. It led to a huge feud, which still brews. This anti Missionary Rabbi has succeeded in converting many Christians to the Jewish faith. Yet not one person has objected to his methods.
In fact I wrote last year or had someone write about the attempted conversion of those we were sending to Israel and this stopped that for now. Each year I learn of many who want to go back to the land of Israel and in order to do it they must convert to Judaism. So they stop believing in Yehshua as the Messiah and they begin the process of conversion. These same people hate Nehemiah and want nothing to do with the sighted moon or the barley to begin the year. Yet no one says anything about them or the Rabbis who assist them in converting to Judaism.
There are also those Christians who openly admit that they have to convert all the Jews to Christianity and people think nothing of this. Yet they consider it the worst of the worst sins, when a Jew no matter who it is converts some one to Judaism. It is a mortal sin they think.
But here in the Messianic Hebrew Roots groups this lie that Nehemiah Gordon is converting people to Judaism, which he is not; is receiving comments and spreading.
It is not about those who convert to Judaism!! No this recent rumor spreading that is coming back to me about my Friend Nehemiah Gordon is coming from the same people who have bad mouthed me and many other Leaders in the Messianic movement. They are the same ones who drove many of the Messianic leaders out from GLC last year.
The people promoting this lie are doing all they can to discredit Nehemiah Gordon and to get you to stop observing the sighted moon; To stop observing the barley to begin the year and most of all to stop pronouncing the name of God as Yehovah. If Nehemiah did not do any of these things these people would not care about him. But because Nehemiah has been promoting this and doing it successfully, he has now come under attack by those who want you to come under the authority of the rabbinic order they belong to. In other words they want you to go from the Priest and Pastor that you used to listen to and did what ever they said to now come under their Self Appointed Rabbinic authority. None of you are currently under any authority except Yehovahs. Not mine not Nehemiah, not any man but Yehovah only.
These men doing this want you to come under their authority and do what they say. Just obey them and do not bother to prove anything anymore.
I can well understand the frustration of Moses and of Yehovah with the people of Israel back then. It has not changed now.
Instead of any of you standing up against these lies, you have instead passed them around and even to me. Evil thrives when good people do nothing. And this is another perfect example of those who are suppose to be good not doing anything about the spreading of lies and stopping them dead in their tracks. But instead have passed them on and began another rumor mill.
I am going to once again have you read and hopefully let it sink in to the that thick skull of yours about what Torah says about Lashon Ha-Ra. Even Yehovah says you are a stiff necked and rebellious people many times in the scriptures. DO not think you are any better than those written about there. We have written about the evil tongue at least two or three times now. But many of you still do not get it. Stop pointing the finger at others and point it at yourself. Worry about you. You are the one in danger here; both for not defending your brother and for spreading lies about your brother.
I have felt I was teaching and helping mature brethren in the faith to grow in their understanding of Torah. But it seems the same people who follow every thing that the wind blows at them are still not mature enough. The same ones who hide from the supposedly deadly chem trail lies, who are the same people who think the government is going to try and kill them and they are the same people who think this or that government is spying on them or some other ludicrous lie they have also believed. These people do not go back and check the source of the information given to them. Instead they just believe it and pass it on. True or not it gets forwarded. These same types of people are so quick to accuse their political leaders and to call each of the past and present and soon the future presidents Satan. Scriptures tell us not to do this and yet these people do not follow scriptures. To them the bible is a tool to control people., not to be obeyed. You can see them by the very fruits that come out of their mouths week after week. Why you keep following them baffles me, yet you do and then all these other problems come up. Proverbs tells you that fire without wood goes out. So will these people and their lies if you stop supporting them and listening to them.
The source of these rumors and lies I am talking about this week want to promote a book by a certain author. Go to their web sites and see what they say about others. You are told that you will know the true Brethren by their fruits. Just check these people out and know that the fruit they are producing is poisonous and once you have done this you will not want to have anything to do with them. But again you are welcome to poison your mind by reading their rat poison.
You are all big people now. You should be able to discern between those who are lying to you and those who have taught you the truth. I have no one following me. I know Nehemiah has no one following him. We both teach you to follow Yehovah and Him Alone. Yehshua said the same thing. Pray to the Father.
So go and follow your rabbi. Go and be under some mans authority. Go and adulterate yourself once again and walk away from the truth of Yehovah. You are free to do what you want. But those who are submitted to the rabbis also submit to the Talmud and all it says. They want you to obey it and them, but they do not obey it. Read now what it says about Lashon Ha-Ra.
As Nehemiah so eloquently showed you in his book the Greek Jesus or the Hebrew Yehshua; Yehshua said “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.
It is no different now brethren with those who are spreading these lies. They want you to come into their fold. They want you to call them Rabbi. They want you to support them. They want you to follow them.
Again you have no need to follow any man, but if you want to follow these liars then go ahead. It is nothing to me. But know they are doing this for the publicity it brings them. I have not mentioned their names and I will not, nor the things they are promoting. But they are doing this and keep storing this up in order to promote their book and movie and the group they belong to.
With so much Lashon Ha Rah coming from these Leaders I would think that people would see the evil tongue at work and leave. But this is not the case. It is breeding more evil tongues and more lies and just like the telephone game it grows bigger. Do not be a part of it. Do not be a part of Murdering your brother. I say this again based on last weeks News Letter about Murder and the meaning of Lashon Ha Ra. You must now decide if you are a apart of this murder campaign, either by complicity or by doing nothing. In either case you are a murder according to both Torah and Talmudic teachings.
When non-observant people talk about how difficult it is to observe Jewish law, they usually mention the difficulty of observing Shabbat or keeping kosher or other similarly detailed rituals. Yet the laws that are most difficult to keep, that are most commonly violated even by observant Jews, are the laws regarding improper speech. This is a very important area of Jewish law; entire books have been written on the subject.
The Power of Speech
Judaism is intensely aware of the power of speech and of the harm that can be done through speech. The rabbis note that the universe itself was created through speech. Of the 43 sins enumerated in the Al Cheit confession recited on Yom Kippur, 11 are sins committed through speech. The Talmud tells that the tongue is an instrument so dangerous that it must be kept hidden from view, behind two protective walls (the mouth and teeth) to prevent its misuse.
The harm done by speech is even worse than the harm done by stealing or by cheating someone financially: money lost can be repaid, but the harm done by speech can never be repaired. For this reason, some sources indicate that there is no forgiveness for lashon ha-ra (disparaging speech). This is probably hyperbole, but it illustrates the seriousness of improper speech. A Chasidic tale vividly illustrates the danger of improper speech: A man went about the community telling malicious lies about the rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and begged his forgiveness, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, “Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds.” The man thought this was a strange request, but it was a simple enough task, and he did it gladly. When he returned to tell the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, “Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers.”
Speech has been compared to an arrow: once the words are released, like an arrow, they cannot be recalled, the harm they do cannot be stopped, and the harm they do cannot always be predicted, for words like arrows often go astray.
There are two mitzvot in the Torah that specifically address improper speech: Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people (Lev. 19:16), and ye shall not wrong one another (Lev. 25:17, which according to tradition refers to wronging a person with speech).
Tale-bearing is, essentially, any gossip. The Hebrew word for tale-bearer is “rakhil” (Reish-Kaf-Yod-Lamed), which is related to a word meaning trader or merchant. The idea is that a tale-bearer is like a merchant, but he deals in information instead of goods. In our modern “Information Age,” the idea of information as a product has become more clear than ever before, yet it is present even here in the Torah.
It is a violation of this mitzvah to say anything about another person, even it is true, even if it is not negative, even if it is not secret, even if it hurts no one, even if the person himself would tell the same thing if asked! It is said that the telling of gossip leads to bloodshed, which is why the next words in the Torah are “you shall not stand aside while your fellow’s blood is shed.” The story of Do’eig the Edomite (I Samuel Chs. 21-22) is often used to illustrate the harm that can be done by tale-bearing. Do’eig saw Achimelekh the Kohein give David bread and a sword, a completely innocent act intended to aid a leading member of Saul’s court. Do’eig reported this to Saul. Do’eig’s story was completely true, not negative, not secret, and Achimelekh would have told Saul exactly the same thing if asked (in fact, he did so later). Yet Saul misinterpreted this tale as proof that Achimelekh was supporting David in a rebellion, and proceeded to slaughter all but one of the kohanim at Nob.
The person who listens to gossip is even worse than the person who tells it, because no harm could be done by gossip if no one listened to it. It has been said that lashon ha-ra (disparaging speech) kills three: the person who speaks it, the person who hears it, and the person about whom it is told. (Talmud Arachin 15b).
In Jewish law, all things are considered to be secret unless a person specifically says otherwise. For this reason, you will note that in the Torah, G-d constantly says to Moses, “Speak to the Children of Israel, saying:” or “Speak to the Children of Israel and tell them:” If G-d did not specifically say this to Moses, Moses would be forbidden to repeat his words! Nor is there any time-limit on secrets. The Talmud tells the story of a student who revealed a secret that he had heard 22 years earlier, and he was immediately banished from the house of study! (Talmud Sanhedrin 31a)
The gravest of these sins of tale-bearing is lashon ha-ra (literally, “the evil tongue”), which involves discrediting a person or saying negative things about a person, even if those negative things are true. Indeed, true statements are even more damaging than false ones, because you can’t defend yourself by disproving the negative statement if it’s true! Some sources indicate that lashon ha-ra is equal in seriousness to murder, idol worship, and incest/adultery (the only three sins that you may not violate even to save a life).
It is forbidden to even imply or suggest negative things about a person. It is forbidden to say negative things about a person, even in jest. It is likewise considered a “shade of lashon ha-ra” to say positive things about a person in the presence of his enemies, because this will encourage his enemies to say negative things to contradict you!
One who tells disparaging things that are false is referred to as a motzi sheim ra, that is, one who spreads a bad report. This is considered the lowest of the low.
It is generally not a sin to repeat things that have been told “in the presence of three persons.” The idea is that if it is told in the presence of three persons, it is already public knowledge, and no harm can come of retelling it. However, even in this case, you should not repeat it if you know you will be spreading the gossip further.
When Tale-Bearing is Allowed
There are a few exceptional circumstances when tale-bearing is allowed, or even required. Most notably, tale-bearing is required in a Jewish court of law, because it is a mitzvah to give testimony and that mitzvah overrides the general prohibition against tale-bearing. Thus, a person is required to reveal information, even if it is something that was explicitly told in confidence, even if it will harm a person, in a Jewish court of law.
A person is also required to reveal information to protect a person from immediate, serious harm. For example, if a person hears that others are plotting to kill someone, he is required to reveal this information. That is another reason why the commandment not to go about as a tale-bearer is juxtaposed with “you shall not stand aside while your fellow’s blood is shed.”
In limited circumstances, one is also permitted to reveal information if someone is entering into a relationship that he would not enter if he knew certain information. For example, it may be permissible to tell a person that his prospective business partner is untrustworthy, or that a prospective spouse has a disease. This exception is subject to significant and complex limitations; however, if those limitations are satisfied, the person with the information is required to reveal it.
In all of these exceptions, a person is not permitted to reveal information if the same objective could be fulfilled without revealing information. For example, if you could talk a person out of marrying for reasons other than the disease, you may not reveal the disease.
Wronging a Person through Speech
Leviticus 25:17 says, “You shall not wrong one another.” This has traditionally been interpreted as wronging a person with speech. It includes any statement that will embarrass, insult or deceive a person, or cause a person emotional pain or distress.
Here are some commonly-used examples of behavior that is forbidden by this mitzvah:
• You may not call a person by a derogatory nickname, or by any other embarrassing name, even if he is used to it.
• You may not ask an uneducated person for an opinion on a scholarly matter (that would draw attention to his lack of knowledge or education).
• You may not ask a merchant how much he would sell something for if you have no intention of buying.
• You may not refer someone to another person for assistance when you know the other person cannot help (in other words, it’s a violation of Jewish law to give someone the run-around!).
• You may not deceive a person, even if no harm is done by the deception; for example, you may not sell non-kosher meat to a non-Jew telling him that it is kosher, even though no harm is done to the non-Jew by this deception.
• You may not sell a person damaged goods without identifying the damage, even if the price you give is fair for the goods in their damaged condition.
• You may not offer a person a gift or invite a person to dinner if you know that the person will not accept.
You may not compliment a person if you do not mean it.
He That Sows Discord Among Brethren
Presented By Ken Martin on December 9, 2006
Sowing discord among brethren often involves back-biting and gossip, all of which God hates. Are you doing the devils work for him?
This afternoon I’d like to address a topic that I hope you’ll find helpful, especially as the biblical admonition is to all of us, that we must be extremely careful in the world in which we live, because we’re living in dangerous times, to say the least. It’s called the “End Times”, and there’s much commentary right now about the end times and the events that are happening on the world scene. Most of us in this working world of coming and going, day in and day out, we face a lot of different things, and I would like to address something today that we all face and have to do combat with in our spiritual warfare of overcoming, and it’s something that really touches close to a nerve in God’s makeup, and He wants us to understand how serious this is.
It has to do with a subject that we will encounter, whether we are in the work place, whether we’re in school, in High School, Grade School – just in generally in dealing with people. And unfortunately sometimes it even invades the Church of God. History has shown it has done so, and we need to be alert to it. Hopefully that’s not a problem for any of us at this time, but nevertheless, the Bible does address it and it’s something we need to be mindful of so that we are not caught flat-footed when this ugly monster raises its head.
What we’re going to talk about today is the subject of gossip and back-biting – gossip and back-biting. It actually ties in, and the actual title for the sermon that I have for you is entitled in the following area: “He That Sows Discord Among Brethren” – that’s the title of the sermon – He That Sows Discord Among Brethren. Well, let’s see a little bit about that as we get to the Scriptures that deal with this particular topic. But it’s a very important one, because you and I are affected by it whether we realize it or not.
We live in a world where we’re told in Revelation, twelfth chapter, that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and he’s accusing us day and night before God’s throne. Because as human beings we’re frail, we – (that our spirit is willing, but we all stumble) – we all falter from time to time, and there’s not a one of us that may not have fallen prey to this problem of gossiping and what have you, and back-biting, either as a victim yourself, or maybe you experienced it as an observer, or maybe unfortunately you were a participant in this particular element, and hopefully that is not the case.
Well, this is a subject, that again, needs to be looked at from a biblical prospective and so I wanted to give you some biblical advise today on this subject, because we’re told in Matthew 12 and Verse 34 that we are to be very, very much aware of what we say, because we are going to be evaluated, it says, by every idle word that is spoken. Now, actually that’s where gossip and this thing of back-biting come in, and that’s why we need to take a look at it, because you deal with it in this world – if you live in this world, you’re going to face it. Either you have had people who have said things about you behind your back, or people who have gossiped and given lies and misrepresentation. But consider, if you will, the world that we live in – half of the publications that you see in the various stores when you go to the shopping centers, you’ve got all these little “slurry journals”, I call them, and what are the designed to do? They’re designed to say, “Oh, so-and-so did such and such”, and then they end up getting sued because they didn’t really say that. You know, they’re just marketing evil to sell products. And it happens in this day and age more than we care to admit maybe sometimes, and you and I are told to come out of her my people and be aware of what’s going on around you, so that you don’t get caught up into it and just find yourself falling prey to it, because you can get involved in it if you’re not careful. And the Bible puts some strong, strong junctions against those who get caught up in it.
So I thought it might be a good topic for us to review as members of the Church of God, because obviously, on the up-front side, none of us want to do this. But, we could be exposed to it, we could unfortunately be sucked into it, maybe as a participating participant, and that’s something we certainly don’t want to do. So we‘re going to look at this subject a little bit more in depth.
The subject of gossip, for example. That word is not in the Bible – you can’t find gossip per se, but the principles of gossiping are there. Gossip is malicious or idle talk, you know. That’s where that thing “every idle word”, – because people get involved in it.
If you remember the old TV show years ago about — called “Hee Haw”? They used to have the old fence there, and so forth, and they’re going to gossip and talk and get the latest juicy little “tidbit”- well this is the type of thing people can get sucked into. We’ve all seen it, and we can laugh at it, and so forth, but it’s not a laughing matter when you’re on the receiving end, as you’re going to see from the scriptural point of view. It really cuts deep, and it has some very, very strong reprimands from God’s point of view.
But, it’s usually about the affairs of other people – that’s usually what gossip involves. And when we can’t find something better to do with our time, that’s when most people get caught up, saying things, talking about other people, and that’s when they get in trouble. It’s usually degrading and belittling, putting a person down, and this is something Jesus Christ forbids us to do. We are not to belittle or put anyone down, but to view all in the context of God’s merciful word, and He tells us that we that are without sin, then you can cast the first stone. And if you are like all the rest of us, in that state of sin, (all have sinned and come short of the glory of God), well then we have to bow to the deference of God’s word, because He’s the final word on this matter.
Now, the subject of back-biting is a little different. It’s gossip that goes a little bit deeper, a little bit more poisonous in its relationship. It makes a verbal attack on someone, or some individual, behind their backs when they’re not there to defend themselves – that’s what makes it bad, because usually then a person could straighten it out right then and there. But sometimes people don’t even know it’s going on – don’t even know that that’s happening. Generally speaking, it’s more malicious and it has more of an evil intent for those who participate in back-biting. It indicates a vendetta that a person has regarding individuals who they’re doing this to, or it could represent a private warfare, or a feud that’s going on, or it could be directed toward a person, or persons.
So, anyway, the bottom line is this: Jesus taught us that our mouths merely reflect what’s in our hearts – out of the abundance of the heart, the mouths speak. So, when we run into people who start this process of either gossiping or back-biting, we know immediately this is a no-no from God’s point of view – this is something we want to stay clear of like the plague, because it will destroy you. You’ll see in a moment here why God is so upset about this very thing, because these attitudes of erupting in this end-time pictures something that is found in II Timothy, Chapter 3 beginning in Verses one through three (II Timothy 3, Verses one through three) if you’ll turn there with me. And here we have the following admonition. It says:
II Timothy 3:1 But realize this , (take note of this and realize this) that in the last days difficult times will come: (and boy, nothing could be more true than that statement right there)
Verse 2:For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, (you know, people want to be involved, they’ll do anything). All these TV shows right now – well, they’ll do this for a million dollars, they’ll do it for six million dollars, whatever it is – they’ll beat a person down, belittle them, cut the rug out from underneath them just so they can get that particular monetary reward. They will be boastful, they will be arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
Verse 3: unloving, irreconcilable, and malicious gossips – (in other words, they will be instruments in Satan’s hands to feed the very thing that he likes to do, to accuse other individuals), and without self-control, brutal, and haters of good.
Now, it’s important to understand that what these statements refer to is that the conditions you and I will be exposed to in the latter days – it’s what you and I will have to deal with. So you go to school, you go to the work place, you go to your neighbors, etc. and you run smack-dab in the middle of this stuff, and how do you deal with it? Well, God tells us how to deal with it and He gives us specific instructions how to avoid the pitfall that we don’t end up in this condition. We can expect these things because, again, it’s the world we live in now. The good news is that a better world is coming in which this type of thing will not be allowed. People will be taught the right way and they’ll learn how to esteem others better than themselves, instead of always putting the other person down. They’ll learn what Jesus was always trying to teach in His day, is that you raise people up, you don’t put them down.
We’re all in that same boat as human beings, made in the image of God. God has a purpose for each and everyone of us to be a part of His family, and He doesn’t want to see any of us out of that family. If anyone chooses to abort, it will be their choice, not God. He’s not willing any should perish. But He will give us the free choice that He has promised, to choose either life, or choose death. He’s not going to force it down our throats, but He’ll give up the opportunity to make the choice.
How He reveals this marvelous revelation of Scripture is through His law. His law is the actual law that deals with relationships – our relationship with God, our relationship with our fellow human beings. And, also our relationship with the ministry that serves the flock of God. That becomes a very important part also in this whole picture and equation.
So, let’s take a look at some of this and take note of the very fact that Proverbs, Chapter 6 gives us an important clue as to how God is viewing things when He looks at human beings, their behavior patterns, and He tells us through Solomon’s wisdom, as written and recorded in the Proverbs, and it is a dynamic book to review. I mentioned this to you before, if you just want to learn and glean wisdom from the Scriptures, just take one day at a time: just like, say it’s the first, go to Chapter 1; tomorrow’s the second, read Chapter 2. You’ve got 31 chapters; for most months you’ve got 31 days. So you get a chapter a day of the wisdom of God, burned into your psyche toward the spirit of God. And it’s marvelous what it brings to your forefront – it just helps you to remember things, and it’s just a matter of “Oh wow!”, this or that – and you might be tempted to — but it says in the Proverbs, “Don’t do that”. So, you learn, you begin to understand how the mind of God works.
Well, notice what Solomon said here in this particular area, Chapter 6 and beginning in Verse 16. Here he states the following:
These six things does the Lord (that’s Lord capital, meaning the Self-existent One, the Almighty, the Everlasting, the I Am that I Am) – He says, these six things does the Lord hate,
Notice, now God is a God of love, but when it comes to these things, He says, “I hate these things, and I don’t want these things in my sons and daughters to be”. And so He goes on to say, “I hate these things and yes, seven, (whatever that seventh one is) – is an abomination unto Him: (Meaning detestable – it’s not only things are bad, but it’s detestable when we get to that seventh point, as we’re going to see.
And he goes and defines in:
Verse 17: A proud look, a lying tongue, a hand that sheds innocent blood,
Verse 18: A heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that are swift to running to mischief, (Well, we’ve got all these things here today, alive and well on planet earth, do we not?)
Verse 19: A false witness that speaks lies, and number seven is: He that sows discord among brethren.
That’s the one we more specifically want to take a look at, because these are the areas that God says, “I don’t want you messing with” – And obviously, humanly, our spirit says, “I don’t want to mess with these either”. But in case we should fall into the trap by not being mindful of what God is saying, then we need to review just what is it about this sowing discord that God takes exception to?
Well, as I mentioned, God’s laws deal with relationships; and relationships, the first portion of the commandments tell us what? – How to love God. The second portion tell us, how to love our fellow-man. And the final conclusion of the matter is this: Jesus magnified in the New Testament, (remember He came to magnifythe law), and He emphasized not the commandments in the context of first, second, third etc., but He emphasized it in the context of love – that the spiritual fulfillment of the law of God is when that love is made manifest. How is it made manifest? Well, according to the Scriptures, we’re told in Romans 5:5 that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts – it is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. So this is what the spirit of God is doing in our lives as men and women. It’s producing the love of God that helps us to see what we humanly could not see of and by ourselves. And what it said according to Jesus, was that everything hinges on the whole commandments of God – hinge on this love toward God and love toward your fellow human being.
Now there’s another aspect of this also, is that Jesus considers Himself one of the brethren when He says in Hebrews 2 and Verse 11 that He didn’t consider it something that He was to be ashamed of, to call us His brethren. So Jesus is the Captain of our salvation – He sets the pace; He’s the one who guides us. And He also gave us ministry. And we’re told that in Ephesians, Chapter 5, Verses 11 through 13, that the ministry plays a vital part, by God’s grace, to help feed the flock, to help them over the hurdles of life, to point out where the danger zones are – to guide them through the spirit of God away from that which is unacceptable in God’s eyes, and to the area where they can be blessed of God, which is His desire.
And so we find also in Psalm 133, Verse 1. Why does God take exception to those that sow discord, and why must we stay away from that, for all that we’re worth? Simply because He says, “How beautiful it is for brethren to dwell in unity”. He loves to see His sons and daughters together in harmony and in a spirit of unity. He does not enjoy seeing them working behind the scenes and saying things they shouldn’t say.
I was visiting a church many years ago, and – I think many of you realize, “years ago” means years ago, in a different organization and a time frame, not necessarily with the United Church of God – but I was visiting this Church congregation and lo and behold the lady who was there introduced herself to me, (my wife and I were there) – and she came up and she says, “Oh Pastor Martin, nice to meet you, and I’m ‘so and so’ – I’m the local Church gossip”! And I was kind of taken back at first – I said “What?” And she says, “Oh, everybody calls me the local gossip”. And I said, “Well Ma’am, I don’t think you’d be wanting to wear that kind of sign over your head”. And that’s not a kind of thing that is pleasing – she may have been joking, I don’t know what – maybe she talks a lot, (who knows) but it could be misinterpreted by people. And people do not like gossip; they do not like people who break confidence and things of this nature. And so the Scriptures are clear on this. But, that’s why God is very upset – He wants peace; He wants harmony among His people. He does not want this stabbing and back-biting and whispering, and things of this nature, because that’s what goes on in this world.
So the laws of God then do what? They reflect our relationship with God. He doesn’t want anything that interferes, that sows discord with our relationship with Him, and He doesn’t want anything that sows discord in our relationship with one another. And He doesn’t want anything to sow discord between the relationship of the flock and the servants of God. That’s very important, because again, we all are in this team effort together; this is part of it. So, moving along very quickly, let’s take a look at some of these other Scriptures that deal with this subject, because it’s a very important subject indeed.
Let’s go to Proverbs, Chapter 18, if you will join me there. Proverbs Chapter 18 and in Verse 8. Here it tells us (this is in the authorized version) that:
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost part of the belly.
Well, you know, I think all of us can agree with that. Have you ever heard that old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me”? If you’ve ever been called a name, did it hurt? Sure did! I think we’d rather been hit with sticks and stones – but we don’t know why it is, but just when somebody said something like that, umm, all emotions go south in a hurry, and you just feel terrible. That’s why when somebody hits you with stuff like that and then they say, “Oh I was just joking” – then, “why am I bleeding? Why am I bleeding – why am I hurting, if you were joking?” Now, when you joke, you have to be sure who you’re joking with; you’ve got to be sure you’re on the same page with that person, or otherwise they can read you wrong. And joking – not everybody laughs at the same thing, but everybody knows how to cry, right? Everybody knows what hurt me, no matter what language you speak. There’s an old saying, “Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone”. Well, not necessarily – people all – they may cry alone, but they know everybody else has that hurting feeling down deep down inside. Well, God doesn’t want that in His sons and daughters. So, here we’re just reminded that it does hurt to the innermost part of the body.
Notice II Corinthians, Chapter 10. Now this was a Church, (remember that the Apostle Paul had many problems), where they were the people of God; they were a new Testament Church, but they had a lot of problems. Paul even said that on one occasion. He said, “You know” he said, “there is so much more I would like to tell you, but I can’t because you are yet carnal”. He says, “You’re thinking like kids; you’re thinking like children, you’re acting like children – I have to feed you with the milk of the word”, he says, “when I want to give you so much more, and I can give you that if you’ll just let me”. But, he had to fight his way through all kinds of difficulties and oppositions. In fact, one time he would refuse to even take tithes from the people because they would accuse him of, “Well, you want it for the money”, you know. Well, do we hear that today from people, “Oh, minister’s in it for the money?” I think of a lot of other opportunities in businesses you can get into that they pay a lot more that ministers – they just really do. Unless you happen to be one of those Tela-Evangelists that know how to “milk the masses”, and fill the stadiums with all that do-good religion – now they’re making the money! Sorry, we can’t go there- we’re responsible for the truth of God – we can’t teach that kind of stuff. We have to stay with the little flock, where God has trained us to serve those who are faithful to Him – and you are precious in the eyes of God. And we who serve in the ministry can’t thank you enough for that wonderful faithfulness to God, because we’re with you. This is what we’re all about. If this isn’t it, I’m sorry, I don’t know where it’s at, because I’ve looked high and low, and this is what I’ve seen is the best thing on the market that God has given us so that we can worship Him in spirit and truth.
But in II Corinthians, Chapter 10, beginning in Verse 10, notice – these were some of the critical comments that were coming in Paul’s day – poor Paul had to deal with these things. It says:
II Corinthians 10:10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech is contemptible.” So they didn’t like – you know – he didn’t speak, I guess, just the way they thought he should speak. Well, there was even Jesus, you know, at one time – and they said, “if you don’t like the way I look, just believe for the miracles sake.” But people always can find something to pick at in this world, and all of us have suffered from that. The biggest thing that God wants is that we don’t pick at one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Everyone of us have foibles, everyone of us have idiosyncrasies that are uniquely our own – that’s what makes us who we are. The important thing is that we just don’t carry it and start using it against our brothers and sisters, because again, we’re all in the same boat! Only Satan is the accuser – he’s the one that would always like to hammer home, and when he does, it’s for a purpose, as we’ll see later on.
But in II Corinthians 10 now, it says in:
Verse 11: Let such a one think this, that such as we are in word by letters, he says, when we are absent, he says, such we will be also in deed when we are present. In other words, what he is saying in essence, is that: “you’re saying, ‘boy he’s strong in his letters, but when he’s actually there, it doesn’t really connect.'”
But he goes on in Verse 12, and shows what the problem really is. He says:
Verse 12 : For we dare not make ourselves of the number, – (we are the elite) – those are the ones, you know, who have all the ducks in a row – everybody else is out of sync with us. He says, we’re not to compare ourselves, and commend ourselves. But they that measuring themselves by themselves, comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. It’s not a way to make your assessment; our comparison is to be with Jesus Christ, not one another, because all of us are on different levels of conversion. All of us have little elements of different understanding – we don’t a hundred percent see everything. That’s why it says we’re maturing, till we all come to the maturity and the unity in Christ. And thank God that He doesn’t just throw us to the wind, just because we don’t understand a little something at a certain time – He’s a very loving and a merciful and kind God, and He’s provided that way of escape for us through His Son.
All right – then we move along in this verse down here, it says – let’s go on to verse 15 – it says:
Verse 15: not boasting of things without our measure, that other men labors, he says, but having hope when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly. In other words, being a servant to the people, that they would come to see and understand what Paul was really trying to accomplish.
Verse 16 : And to preach the gospel in regions beyond you, and not to boast at another man’s line of things, made ready into our hand.
Verse 18: He finalizes – he says, For not he that commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.
And that’s what we all want to strive for – we want God’s blessing, that God commends His blessing upon us – that we don’t get a higher idea of ourselves than we actually should.
Now moving along very quickly, in Proverbs 26 (Proverbs 26) – we’re going to go through some Scriptures here very quickly. Proverbs 26, Verses 20 through 22 we’re reminded of something: that tale bearing is a cause of strife among brethren. (This is Proverbs, Chapter 26 and beginning in Verse 20):
It says, Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; (well, that’s common sense) – it says – So where there is no tale bearer, the strife ceases.
When people stop doing that, or that individual is asked, you know, “if you’re not going to cease and desist, then you’re just going to have to leave the fellowship – there’s no reason for you to be around if you’re so unhappy and all you do is pick away at people all the time.” If you can’t learn to love one another – as Jesus said – we’re practicing and learning now, then what do we have to look forward to? The whole kingdom of God is a time of great love and rejoicing, and you can’t even contemplate eternity out of the context of peace and love, as Jesus outlined. And so he goes on to say:
Verse 21: As coals are to burning coals , he says, and wood to fire, so is the contentious man to kindle strife.
God does not want to see any type of strife brought to bear in that area.
I Peter, Chapter 4 and Verse 15 (I Peter 4, Verse 15) – notice the connotation in which this is placed, (or the context, better put, not the connotation) – but the context:
I Peter 4:15 Now it says: But let none of you suffer as a murderer, (we don’t want that), nor as a thief, (now we don’t want that either), or as an evildoer, (and that’s understood), or a busy-body in other men’s matters. In other words, sticking our nose into people’s lives; let people live their life, and don’t try to micro-manage other people, or think they have to do a thing the way you do it, because they’ll not always do it. There’s that old saying: “You can skin a cat many different ways”, and that’s exactly what God is doing -He’s watching how we skin the cats of life – in this particular case, to see how we’re going to handle it. And He doesn’t want us to be involved in other people’s lives, sticking our nose in, in an unrighteous way. We want to be concerned about our brothers and sisters in Christ, but not to become busy-body, or nosy into things that really don’t apply to us and don’t help, one way or the other.
Let’s take a look now at Proverbs, Chapter 11 (going back to the Book of Proverbs again). And in Proverbs, Chapter 11 we have the following admonition:
Verse 13: One who carries on as a talebearer ,it says,reveals secrets. In other words, they don’t know how to hold confidence in the right way – but he that is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter.
In other words, there’s no reason to pass things on – if somebody has asked you a private thing, it’s kept private. That’s why we have confidentiality of the ministry. When things are brought to the Administrator’s attention, that’s just between us and the individual. Now, when a person sometimes goes out from that confidentiality, (and sometimes people will do this) – they’ll say, “Well, you talk to the Pastor? Well, what did the Pastor have to say?” And then – (blurt, blurt, blurt, blurt, blurt) – people sometimes blurt it out – “uh-oh, I’m sorry, don’t ask me now to be bound by confidentiality – anybody ask me what happened, I can tell now, too, cause you just broke confidentiality.” It’s a two-way street – you tell me, alright I’ll keep your confidence – but now, if you just go blab it out to everybody else what we discussed – and a lot of times people are curious – “Well, what kind of advise did you get?” “Well, if you want to know, go ask the minister”. That’s what you find out, but you don’t break confidentiality – that’s a sacred trust.
When we bear that responsibility we have to really watch that one carefully, because again, trust is a very important commodity, and we all know what it’s like when trust is broken – it does something to you, and you want to make sure you maintain the values that God has outlined.
He that goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore, meddle not with him that flatters with his lips.
And we’ve all run into people like that in the course of time, and hopefully we just don’t have that in the Church of God, but again, should it ever surface you will know from God’s point of view what course of action to take.
He that covers a transgression seeks love, but he that repeats a matter separates very friends.
Friendships can be broken and really damaged if an individual does not take into consideration that you must not repeat certain things – there’s no advantage to saying it again to somebody else. What’s the purpose of it? Well, again, the Bible just tells us what course of action to take.
Even many times when there’s nothing wrong, people sometimes just like to tear people down – it makes them feel better, you know. “Hey! ‘I’m up here and you’re down here.'” Well God’s says, (according to the last time I read the Book), it says: All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We’re all in the same boat – it’s full of holes, and unless God plugs that hole for us, or saves us from that sinking boat, (by His grace we’re saved through faith), we haven’t got a chance. We’re just there – lost, without hope in this world. But, we have the greatest hope going; we have the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as our one who is spearing our ship of life, and guiding us to the kingdom of God.
Now, in Proverbs 16, we see something – Proverbs 16, Verse 27.
Verse 27 : An ungodly man digs up evil,
Well, you’ve heard – (some of you may be familiar, I forget the artist), – but there was a song years ago, in the country field, called: Digging Up Bones – remember that one, any of you? “Digging Up Bones?” Well, what are they digging up? They’re digging up the past – they’re looking for something, you know, to make an issue over something, and so they’re digging up bones!
Well, it says that’s an evil person who goes around digging up bones, and we don’t want to be involved with any kind of a relationship with a person like that. It says:
And in his lips there is a burning fire – that there’s just something there that has a very burning effect, and it’s not a good one. That’s why, again, it is put in this context.
Talking behind another person’s back is revealed in Scripture in the Book of Psalms, Chapter 41, as something that stems from hatred.
It says: All that hate me whisper together against me; against me do they devise my hurt.
And you know, there’s so much of that that goes on in the world today – they’re just wise to do evil – people out there hurting other people – again, some of these TV shows that we reference from time to time – I don’t know how you (if you’ve had a chance to ever look at some of those) find it. It’s a good experience – just turn them on once – get a quick shot at it, see what’s going on in the world, and you just see people are willing to hurt one another, and do things to each other at the drop of a hat. Especially if it’s got monetary value they’re willing to do that. But aah, that’s not how you and I are called to live our life.
I John, Chapter 4 (I John, Chapter 4) These are important Scriptures, that if you haven’t actually taken time to go through them from time to time and remind yourself, then you might not even realize some of these are there as a warning.
I John 4:19
It says: We love Him because He first loved us.
Verse 20: And if any man say, “I love God,” and hates his brother, (speaks evil about them – back-bites, spreads gossip) – he says: he’s a liar; for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
And that is so true. That’s just a pious hypocrisy, saying “I love God”, and then we turn around and just hate somebody else, and spit out things that are not right, and yet there are people who have done that. And we know that for a fact because many of us have lived through that in our own personal conversion process, dealing with people.
Alright – Let’s take a look at Romans 1, Verse 29 (Romans, Chapter 1, Verse 29). This is, again, showing what is happening in our society today, how culture is beginning to disintegrate, and how they slowly go down hill, till finally they just collapse and implode. Now we’re seeing today some of these very signs in our own beloved country, and it’s a sad thing to witness. Now, if you’ll take note of verse 29 – notice what it says:
Verse 29: These are individuals who are being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity and whisperers: “Did you know, did you hear about this?” You notice when somebody whispers, everybody moves up closer to hear. That’s when we want to back away from the whisperers.
Now, this is a very interesting thing, because we live in a day and age today where that’s the theme of movies, and what people see on television; all the different programs, all deal with these things. So, it’s all around us – I mean, we see people treating each other with deceit, murders, and hateful – and we don’t see the principles that Jesus taught. And you and I truly are lights in the world, when we see how little light is out there. Maybe we can talk about that at another time and another message. But right now, we’re told that there is going to be a time when God is going to cut off the slanderers – Psalm 101 (Psalm 101). See, what most people have failed to take into consideration, is that they think they’re free moral agents, that they can run around and do anything. And as I’ve mentioned to you before, they’re only free to choose: either choose the right way or the wrong way. God is the Sovereign Lord – that ‘s why He is able to know the beginning to the end. He knows how this is all going to turn out, because this is His plan. People are not free to operate outside that plan; we’re all in it. And He is working out His great plan and purpose in the lives of human beings, and we have chosen to align ourselves with God. There are others out there who have chosen to align themselves in a different direction. And so, as we look at this subject, notice what it says in Psalm 101, Verse 5.
Psalms 101: 5 Whoso privately slanders his neighbor, him will I cut off; and he that has a high look and a proud heart, will I not suffer – Notice, “I won’t put up with it.” God is not going to put up with the arrogance and the high-mindedness of man today. People think that they can just kind of do anything they want – and God can’t do anything about it? Wait till God arises mightily and starts to shake the earth – Oh my, oh my! Will people get an eyeful at that time!
We’re living in a day and age that you and I are told that we have got to be sure that we stop such talk in our own personal lives, if we have ever fallen prey to it; and we all have at one time or another, I’m sure. None of us are clean in any of these things; we all (maybe not deliberately) – but again, as we said, either as an observer, or as a victim, or a participant – one way or the other we’ve been exposed, because we’re living in Satan’s world, and we want to come out of it; we don’t want to be a participant.
So, how do we operate? According to Jesus, let’s take a look at Ephesians, Chapter 4 – Ephesians, Chapter 4, Verse 31. Here we have some positive instruction from the writings of Paul on this matter, and he says in Verse 31:
Verse 31: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, clamor, and evil speaking – you see that you can speak in an uplifting way, or you can speak in a bad way, to really put people down. Well that’s called evil speaking, and we’re told to put it away from you, with all malice. And how should we conduct ourselves? We should be just here, in Verse 32:
Verse 32 : And be you kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s own sake, has forgiven you.
Because we all need forgiveness, and who are we to cast stones at anyone else, because we ourselves are just as guilty. Jesus said it to those that were wanting to kill the young lady in adultery (caught in adultery): He said, you without sin, cast the first stone. They couldn’t do it. Well, Jesus knew why, because again, all mankind is under the curse of sin, and unless God delivers us through His Son, there is no way of escape. Only those who receive that wonderful way of escape through Jesus Christ will find the answers to their personal problems.
I Peter, Chapter 2, Verse 1 (I Peter 2, Verse 1). Here again, a reminder – it says:
I Peter 2:1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking – Because why? Well Verse 2 says:
Verse 2: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.
Leave that stuff behind that has contaminated your life – throw it out, and ask God to guide and help you with His spirit, so that you can master the flesh with the power of God’s spirit. And that is the battle of overcoming.
Let’s take a look at Titus, Chapter 3 (Titus, Chapter 3) – I’m giving you a lot of Scriptures, one right after the other, but they’re very important, and they show you again – there’s more here than meets the eye, than you would think of. Who would sit down and just normally go through all these Scriptures, but there they are, and it’s designed to help the God-fearing man and woman be able to stand their ground. And in this particular case (Titus, Chapter 3) we have verses 1, 2, and 3 as follows:
But put them in mind to be subject to all principalities, and powers, and obey magistrates and be ready to every good work,
Verse 2: And to speak evil of no man – Now, you’re going to hear at election time some of the most wicked verbalizing against other fellow human beings – they’re going to speak evil like you have never heard evil spoken of. And of course we’ve referenced the book by Kupelian, on “The Marketing of Evil”, that’s going on right now. It’s speaking evil of people, and we’re going to hear a lot of it, and we don’t want to be a part of it: to be no brawlers, but to be gentle, showing meekness unto all men. Why? Because Verse 3 reminds us:
Verse 3: For we ourselves were also sometimes foolish, disobedient, and deceiving, serving diverse lusts, and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
That was our state of affairs until conversion came forth.
Verse 4: But after the kindness and the love of God, our Savior – what happened? – He appeared. Jesus came and showed us a better way.
Now the most important, effective thing that I can tell you in conclusion here, as we wrap this message up – and I wanted to make this short and sweet and to the point today, because again, it’s something that again, hopefully nobody is practicing or involved in. But it is going on, and you will bump into it from time to time. God wants you to understand what that state of affairs is and how to avoid it, so that you don’t end up getting hurt.
If somebody is plotting against you, out of jealousy, trying to do you harm, gossiping, back-biting, telling lies about you as an individual, what do you do? The answer is, be careful how you respond – be careful how you respond. The temptation is to fly right back in the same direction and to attack – that’s our human weakness in the flesh, and Satan knows it. But now we are told in the Scripture, that we have examples like Daniel – Daniel who was attacked by all his peers back in his day. They were jealous of him, and so they began to concoct all kinds of stories about him, and saying he wasn’t this, he wasn’t that – but they couldn’t find anything – they couldn’t nail him down, that he had done anything wrong. And so why? Because it says: he served His God, and he served the king. He did what his job was supposed to be, but he served God; he didn’t compromise in those areas.
So it’s very important that when he learned about the plan, and the plot to overthrow him, the first thing he did, he ran to God – he went to God in prayer. And that’s what you do.
When you discover this kind of stuff going on, or you should become involved in it in some way, shape, or form, (may you God be blessed you never have it happen), – but if it should happen, go to God and bring God down on them; call God down on them, and say: “God, look what they’re doing – look what they’re seeking to do to me, and you are the one who is to fight my battles for me; please, deliver me from this – let their own ways come upon them.” And God will fight that battle for you. He will deliver you from your enemies; He’s promised to do that. And that is for the purpose of what? Praying and asking God for His wisdom, and His understanding, and His patience to deal with these problems, and also to remember that you never operate out of vengeance; God says, Vengeance is mine, I will repay – no matter how hurtful it is, I will take care of it – I see what they’re doing to you, and I know what’s going down – they may not think I do, but I do, and I keep accurate records, and I know what to do when the time is right.
That’s why He’s called the Sovereign Lord! He doesn’t miss a trick! It’s we human beings who fall through the cracks, but not God. And now, He also gives us a very encouraging admonition, that as we pray, we must always pray that in serving our God and asking for His help, that He may be glorified out of the whole mess – not you, not me – that He who fights our battles; He who will defend us against all enemies; He must be glorified and receive the honor. And He will do it, because He says: no flesh will glory in His presence.
So, that is something that God wants us to remember, is our plan of attack when we are attacked by the adversary, and to avoid falling prey to gossip. Three little filters might help, to filter through your mind: Ask yourself, Is what I’m hearing true? Is what I’m hearing good? Is it useful? Those three things: Is it true, good, useful? If not, don’t pass it on to others, because if it is true, or good, or useful, you know, you have no problem – that’s not gossiping behind someone’s back. But if it’s not true, not good, not useful, don’t pass it on – don’t be a participant.
It’s very important to understand that it’s a serious matter when a brother in God, (or the Lord, as the Scripture says), speaks evil of another. Let’s take a look (final Scripture) in James 4, Verse 11. It says:
Speak not evil one to another, brethren – notice He’s talking now to Church people; people who understand the plan and purpose of God, and the calling. Obviously, there’s an application in dealing with people as a whole, but the people of God must really understand this more than ever. Don’t speak evil of your brethren. He that speaks evil of his brother judges his brother, (or sister), and speaks evil of the law, and judges the law. But if you judge the law, are you not a doer of the law, but a judge?
And then it reminds us:
Verse 12: There is one Lawgiver, who is judge, (namely God, Himself).
We don’t want to put ourselves in a position of judging others in a wrong and improper way. There’s a right kind of judgment necessary in all of our lives: it’s called judge righteous judgment.
Now what is righteousness? It’s defined by the commandments of God. That helps us to understand what evil is: sin is the transgression of the law. So somebody who goes out and does wrong – just say: Well, that’s wrong, they shouldn’t have done that. And they’ll say, Oh, but you’re judging; yes, and I judge righteously, that is wrong! But, people don’t want to hear that today; people don’t want to hear anything – don’t tell me – who are you putting yourself up on a high-horse and telling me that I’m wrong? It’s the way they look at you today, because they don’t know what right and wrong is anymore. They have done, unfortunately, one terrible thing: they have forsaken the law of their God, and God says, because of that, I have forsaken your children; you’re left to yourself, and your house is ruined, because the leaders that are leading you destroy your path, O Israel.
And so the Church of God plays a very important part in this end-time. Now, we must be careful not to allow anything to happen that would impact on our spiritual lives as brothers and sisters in Christ. And one of the areas that Satan will use, he will try to use gossip, back-biting; but more important, the thing that God hates most of all, He does not want to see us ever guilty of sowing discord among our brethren.
With that, may God help us all to stay alert, to stay on top of things, and keep Satan far, far away.
Triennial Torah Cycle
We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah Reading
Num 27 Obadiah Eccl 1-4 1 Cor. 7
Inheritance Law; Joshua to Succeed Moses (Numbers 27)
Zelophehad died in the wilderness, not having disqualified himself in the great sins of Korah, or the Moabites, or any such thing, without any sons to receive an inheritance. So his daughters make the unusual appeal recorded in this chapter. And though it is contrary to the social mores of the day for women to inherit land, their case makes sense, prompting Moses to take the matter before God. God’s response is that Zelophehad’s daughters are right—and He gives Moses an additional judgment, adding to the previous law. Thus, the daughters are to receive an inheritance. We will see more on this matter in chapter 36.
God then reaffirms to Moses that he will not be allowed to enter the Promised Land because he rebelled at God’s command when he struck the rock to bring forth water (verse 14; compare 20:12). Moses, as so often before, thinks only of the people rather than himself. He says, “They are going to need a leader” (compare verse 17). So God commands Moses to ordain Joshua, a man with God’s Spirit in him (verse 18). Though Joshua is to be “over the congregation” (verse 16) to lead them as a shepherd (verse 17), he is not to be a supreme one-man ruler with unlimited authority. He will not even have the degree of authority Moses has. Each time Joshua needs to know the will of God, he is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will seek God’s answer “by the judgment of the Urim” (verse 21). Indeed, it should be noted that no other human figure of the Old Testament will be given the degree of authority Moses is invested with. As God’s special prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15; Numbers 12:6-8), Israel’s chief human “judge” (Acts 7:35; Exodus 18:13-26), and the mediator of the Old Covenant (compare Galatians 3:19-20), no one would truly fill his shoes until Jesus Christ Himself arrived (compare Deuteronomy 34:10; 18:15-19).
Introduction to Obadiah; The Identity of Edom (Obadiah)
Nothing is known of the prophet Obadiah beyond the words of his prophecy. His name, meaning “Servant of the Eternal,” may have been a name or it may have simply been used as a title. As to when he lived and preached, while most modern scholars date his book to the time immediately following the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., “some scholars date the book very early, in the mid-ninth century b.c., following raids by the Philistines and Arabian tribes during the period of King Jehoram of Judah (see 2 Chr. 21:16, 17). This date would make the Book of Obadiah the earliest of the prophetic books” (Nelson Study Bible, introductory notes on Obadiah). Under inspiration, the prophet Jeremiah later utilizes some of Obadiah’s prophecy in his own prophecy against Edom (see Jeremiah 49:7-22).
As mentioned, Edom or Esau rebelled in the days of King Jehoram against Judah, and they would continue to be in revolt (see 2 Kings 8:20-22). The book of Obadiah describes in more detail the future of Edom. Indeed, the prophecy of Obadiah is clearly for the end time, as the reference to the “day of the Lord” shows (verse 15; compare Joel 2:1-2)—as well as the references to the return of all Israel, the ultimate defeat of Edom and the establishment of the Kingdom of God (verses 17-21).
Yet who is Edom today? As discussed earlier, Edom is another name for Esau (Genesis 25:30). Esau and his descendants originally lived in the region of Mount Seir (Genesis 36:8-9), southeast of Judea, in what is now southern Jordan, around the city of Petra. The Greeks and Romans called this area Idumea (i.e., Idum = Edom). Because the Bible refers to end-time Jordan as “Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon” (Daniel 11:41), it is evident that many Edomites must still live there. It should also be noted that Idumea extended into southern Judah: “The Edomites were gradually pushed into the southern half of Judea, including the region around Hebron, an area which the Greeks later called Idumaea” (“Idumaea,” Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 1966). (The biblical king Herod the Great was an Idumean—an Edomite). One of Esau’s grandsons (and a tribal chief) was Amalek (Genesis 36:10-16), who became father of the Amalekites. Some rabbinical schools in Israel teach that the Palestinian Arabs—the most fervent adversaries of the modern Israeli state—are Amalekites. In light of the prophecy in Exodus 17:16 of conflict between the Amalekites and Israelites from generation to generation, there may be considerable validity to this identification (see also Obadiah 10). Jordan’s population is heavily Palestinian, and many of the Palestinians in Jordan and Israel are evidently Edomite by descent.
This identification of the Palestinians becomes clearer from a careful reading of Obadiah 19.
It is speaking of territories—that those who control particular territories in the Holy Land will come to possess additional territories there. In context, we can see that Israelites in this verse are retaking areas that the Edomites have stolen. Fascinatingly, the areas listed as doing the taking here are areas that are today populated by Jews. The areas being taken back are now populated by Palestinians—thus apparently identifying the Palestinians as Edomites, at least in large measure. Notice: “The South [the Negev, now held by the Israelis] shall possess the mountains of Esau [southern Jordan and perhaps the area of Hebron, the southern West Bank now populated by Palestinians], and the Lowland [the Shephelah, or lower hills between the central hill country to the east and the coastal plain to the west, now populated by Jews] shall possess Philistia [most of which is now the Gaza Strip, territory now held by Palestinians]. They [the Jewish Shephelah inhabitants] shall possess the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria [the northern West Bank, now occupied by Palestinians]. Benjamin [the area around Jerusalem, presently held by the Israelis] shall possess Gilead [northern Jordan].”
But Edom’s descendants may be found elsewhere as well. Besides their sedentary life in the Mount Seir region, some of them appear to have become nomadic, ranging over vast territories as early as patriarchal times. A text from the ancient city of Ugarit, on the northern Syrian coast, mentions “the well-watered land of Edom,” which was evidently in some proximity. Later, in the sixth century B.C., Nebuchadnezzar carried many Edomites of the Mount Seir region away captive to Babylon and other Babylonian territories. Perhaps that is why we find the city of Basra in Iraq—possibly a slight variation of the biblical Edomite city of Bozrah (Genesis 36:33; 1 Chronicles 1:44; Isaiah 34:6; 63:1).
It is thus likely that there are still Edomites in Iraq and scattered throughout the Middle East. During the laxity of Persian rule, Edomite wandering appears to have resumed. The chief tribe of Edom was Teman (see Obadiah 9), named after Esau’s eldest grandson (Genesis 36:10-15). And the rocky plateaus of Persia and Turkestan eventually became known as the land of Temani. In Turkestan in Central Asia was a city named Amalik, seemingly after Amalek. The name of Teman appears to have come down to us in the form of the name Ottoman—that is, the Ottoman Turks (only the vowels in spelling being changed over the centuries). While the Turks appear to be a somewhat mixed people, it does seem that a large number of them are Edomites. The historical Hor Turks may be named after the Horites, who were closely associated with the Edomites in Genesis 36.
Perhaps most surprising is to find that elements of Edom may be found in Europe. The Jewish Talmud says that Edomites settled very early on in southern Italy. It is believed by many Jews that the people of Edom became dominant among the early Romans, establishing themselves as the ruling elite among them and later among the Germans. There may be some truth in this, as Isaiah 34 and 63 describe the ultimate destruction of end-time Babylon (a power bloc led by a final resurrection of the Roman Empire) as the destruction of Edom and the Edomite capital of Bozrah. However, Edomites in Europe would seem to make up a rather small percentage of the population there. (More research on the modern identity of Edom can be found at www.british-israel.ca/Turkey.htm and at www.britam.org/now72.html—with the caution that the citing of outside sources for further study is not an endorsement of everything in those sources).
The Fate of Edom (Obadiah)
Despite their self-imagined greatness and pride, God says he will make the Edomites small and despised among the nations (Obadiah 2). Their dwelling in the “clefts of the rock” (Obadiah 2; Jeremiah 49:16) may refer to the rock-hewn city of Petra mentioned earlier (the word for “rock” being the Hebrew Sela, equivalent to the Greek Petra), and perhaps other rock fortresses. High above Petra and on other mountains of Edom were high places for worship, lookouts and refuge. “Some of the mountain peaks of Edom reach over six thousand feet; Jerusalem [by comparison] is about 2,300 feet above sea level” (Nelson Study Bible, note on Obadiah 3). Yet the Edomites would be brought down—not just physically, but figuratively from their exalted prideful arrogance (Obadiah 4; Jeremiah 49:16).
In Obadiah 5 God says that grape gatherers or even thieves would take merely their fill—not everything. But God will go way beyond this. Edom will be utterly laid bare, completely plundered of everything and everyone (Obadiah 6; see Jeremiah 49:9-10).
In verse 7 of Obadiah we see Edom in a “confederacy”—an alliance—perhaps the same one prophesied in Psalm 83:1-8. In any case, we see that the Edomites’ allies will turn on them. Yet the Edomites won’t be able to see it. Their “wisdom” or cunning (as the Hebrew could also be rendered) and understanding will not reveal it—as God will confound and destroy them (Obadiah 8-9; Jeremiah 49:7).
Proverbs 24:17 says, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.” A comparison of that principle with Obadiah 12-14 shows one of the major reasons God is and will be angry with Edom. In the past invasions of Israel and Judah, Edom has often cheered it on and even participated, as will again be noted in the Bible Reading Program comments on Amos 1:11-12 (another prophecy of Edom). Apparently, the Edomites of the end time will continue in the same pattern, cutting off the escape of Israelites, contributing to their devastation and turning them over to the enemy (Obadiah 10-11, 13-14).
Yet Edom will pay dearly—as will all nations that have dealt maliciously with God’s people (verses 15-16). But it will be particularly bad for Edom. At the time of Christ’s return, Obadiah tells us, the land of Edom will be destroyed, and it appears from verse 18 that, at that time, none of the physical descendants of Esau will survive. (We will examine this matter further when we later read the prophecy of Edom in Jeremiah 49:7-22.)
This does not mean, however, that none of the Edomites will ever be in the Kingdom of God. They will be raised in the second resurrection, which will take place after the Millennium of Christ’s reign (Revelation 20:5), and which is commonly referred to in the Church of God as the “Great White Throne Judgment” (see verses 11-12). At that time, everyone who has not been called by God in this age prior to Christ’s return will be given an opportunity to accept God’s way of life and enter into His Kingdom. And those of the first resurrection at Christ’s return—the comparatively few called and faithful people of this age—will be there to help guide and teach those who will be raised in that second resurrection.
As we’ve seen, Obadiah evidently concerns the Israelites retaking Palestinian territories at the return of Christ. Verse 20 then concerns the redistribution of the land to all of Israel and Judah returning from captivity. The “land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath” is perhaps the entire Holy Land, stretching up into former Phoenician territory in modern Lebanon—though it could be that only northern Israel is here denoted as the land for the returning house of Israel. Then notice the “captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad.” The last word here may come from sephar, “which in the Aramaic vernacular would denote furthermost limit or seacoast” (Seth Ward, “On the History of the Term ‘Sepharad,'” Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture, www.sephardicstudies.org/ward2.html). By early medieval times, the Jewish people of Spain were referring to themselves as Sephardic Jews, evidently from this term. Perhaps it refers to the Jews who have been scattered since the Diaspora. They return to possess the cities of the Negev.
Finally, observe again this very encouraging promise at the end of the book of Obadiah: “Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s” (verse 21). Who are these “saviors,” or deliverers, who judge? Describing the time of Jesus Christ’s return, Daniel 7:22 says, “Judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (KJV). Yes, God’s saints, glorified as divine kings and priests, will be given the privilege of playing a part in saving Israel and the rest of mankind. What an awesome future!
Regarding the closing words of the prophecy, “the kingdom shall be the Lord’s” (Obadiah 21), The Nelson Study Bible says this in its note on the verse: “These were Obadiah’s last words against all human arrogance, pride, and rebellion. Edom had thought itself indestructible; but the Lord humbled that nation and restored the fallen Judah [and will do so in a far greater way for all Israel in the future]. Many people are tempted to consider themselves beyond the reach of God. But God will bring them low, just as He will lift those who humble themselves before Him. And one great day, He will establish His just rule over all.”
Ecclesiastes 1-4 From Matthew Henry
Introduction. The name of this book signifies “The Preacher.” The wisdom of God here preaches to us, speaking by Solomon, who it is evident was the author. At the close of his life, being made sensible of his sin and folly, he recorded here his experience for the benefit of others, as the book of his repentance; and he pronounced all earthly good to be “vanity and vexation of spirit.” It convinces us of the vanity of the world, and that it cannot make us happy; of the vileness of sin, and its certain tendency to make us miserable. It shows that no created good can satisfy the soul, and that happiness is to be found in God alone; and this doctrine must, under the blessed Spirit’s teaching, lead the heart to Christ Jesus.
Chapter 1. Solomon shows that all human things are vain. (1-3) Man’s toil and want of satisfaction. (4-8) There is nothing new. (9-11) The vexation in pursuit of knowledge. (12-18).
Much is to be learned by comparing one part of Scripture with another. We here behold Solomon returning from the broken and empty cisterns of the world, to the Fountain of living water; recording his own folly and shame, the bitterness of his disappointment, and the lessons he had learned. Those that have taken warning to turn and live, should warn others not to go on and die. He does not merely say all things are vain, but that they are vanity. VANITY OF VANITIES, ALL IS VANITY. This is the text of the preacher’s sermon, of which in this book he never loses sight. If this world, in its present state, were all, it would not be worth living for; and the wealth and pleasure of this world, if we had ever so much, are not enough to make us happy. What profit has a man of all his labour? All he gets by it will not supply the wants of the soul, nor satisfy its desires; will not atone for the sins of the soul, nor hinder the loss of it: what profit will the wealth of the world be to the soul in death, in judgment, or in the everlasting state?
All things change, and never rest. Man, after all his labour, is no nearer finding rest than the sun, the wind, or the current of the river. His soul will find no rest, if he has it not from God. The senses are soon tired, yet still craving what is untried. Men’s hearts and their corruptions are the same now as in former times; their desires, and pursuits, and complaints, still the same. This should take us from expecting happiness in the creature, and quicken us to seek eternal blessings. How many things and persons in Solomon’s day were thought very great, yet there is no remembrance of them now! Solomon tried all things, and found them vanity. He found his searches after knowledge weariness, not only to the flesh, but to the mind. The more he saw of the works done under the sun, the more he saw their vanity; and the sight often vexed his spirit. He could neither gain that satisfaction to himself, nor do that good to others, which he expected. Even the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom discovered man’s wickedness and misery; so that the more he knew, the more he saw cause to lament and mourn. Let us learn to hate and fear sin, the cause of all this vanity and misery; to value Christ; to seek rest in the knowledge, love, and service of the Saviour.
Chapter 2. The vanity and vexation of mirth, sensual pleasure, riches, and pomp. (1-11) Human wisdom insufficient. (12-17) This world to be used according to the will of God. (18-26).
Solomon soon found mirth and pleasure to be vanity. What does noisy, flashy mirth towards making a man happy? The manifold devices of men’s hearts, to get satisfaction from the world, and their changing from one thing to another, are like the restlessness of a man in a fever. Perceiving it was folly to give himself to wine, he next tried the costly amusements of princes. The poor, when they read such a description, are ready to feel discontent. But the remedy against all such feelings is in the estimate of it all by the owner himself. All was vanity and vexation of spirit: and the same things would yield the same result to us, as to Solomon. Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content. His wisdom remained with him; a strong understanding, with great human knowledge. But every earthly pleasure, when unconnected with better blessings, leaves the mind as eager and unsatisfied as before. Happiness arises not from the situation in which we are placed. It is only through Jesus Christ that final blessedness can be attained.
Solomon found that knowledge and prudence were preferable to ignorance and folly, though human wisdom and knowledge will not make a man happy. The most learned of men, who dies a stranger to Christ Jesus, will perish equally with the most ignorant; and what good can commendations on earth do to the body in the grave, or the soul in hell? And the spirits of just men made perfect cannot want them. So that if this were all, we might be led to hate our life, as it is all vanity and vexation of spirit.
Our hearts are very loth to quit their expectations of great things from the creature; but Solomon came to this at length. The world is a vale of tears, even to those that have much of it. See what fools they are, who make themselves drudges to the world, which affords a man nothing better than subsistence for the body. And the utmost he can attain in this respect is to allow himself a sober, cheerful use thereof, according to his rank and condition. But we must enjoy good in our labour; we must use those things to make us diligent and cheerful in worldly business. And this is the gift of God. Riches are a blessing or a curse to a man, according as he has, or has not, a heart to make a good use of them. To those that are accepted of the Lord, he gives joy and satisfaction in the knowledge and love of him. But to the sinner he allots labour, sorrow, vanity, and vexation, in seeking a worldly portion, which yet afterwards comes into better hands. Let the sinner seriously consider his latter end. To seek a lasting portion in the love of Christ and the blessings it bestows, is the only way to true and satisfying enjoyment even of this present world.
Chapter 3. The changes of human affairs. (1-10) The Divine counsels unchangeable. (11-15) The vanity of worldly power. (16-22).
To expect unchanging happiness in a changing world, must end in disappointment. To bring ourselves to our state in life, is our duty and wisdom in this world. God’s whole plan for the government of the world will be found altogether wise, just, and good. Then let us seize the favourable opportunity for every good purpose and work. The time to die is fast approaching. Thus labour and sorrow fill the world. This is given us, that we may always have something to do; none were sent into the world to be idle.
Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts, are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them. The world has not only gained possession of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God’s works. We mistake if we think we were born for ourselves; no, it is our business to do good in this life, which is short and uncertain; we have but little time to be doing good, therefore we should redeem time. Satisfaction with Divine Providence, is having faith that all things work together for good to them that love him. God doeth all, that men should fear before him. The world, as it has been, is, and will be. There has no change befallen us, nor has any temptation by it taken us, but such as is common to men.
Without the fear of the Lord, man is but vanity; set that aside, and judges will not use their power well. And there is another Judge that stands before the door. With God there is a time for the redressing of grievances, though as yet we see it not. Solomon seems to express his wish that men might perceive, that by choosing this world as their portion, they brought themselves to a level with the beasts, without being free, as they are, from present vexations and a future account. Both return to the dust from whence they were taken. What little reason have we to be proud of our bodies, or bodily accomplishments! But as none can fully comprehend, so few consider properly, the difference between the rational soul of man, and the spirit or life of the beast. The spirit of man goes upward, to be judged, and is then fixed in an unchangeable state of happiness or misery. It is as certain that the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth; it perishes at death. Surely their case is lamentable, the height of whose hopes and wishes is, that they may die like beasts. Let our inquiry be, how an eternity of existence may be to us an eternity of enjoyment? To answer this, is the grand design of revelation. Jesus is revealed as the Son of God, and the Hope of sinners.
Chapter 4. Miseries from oppression. (1-3) troubles from envy. (4-6) The folly of covetousness. (7,8) The advantages of mutual assistance. (9-12) the changes of royalty. (13-16).
It grieved Solomon to see might prevail against right. Wherever we turn, we see melancholy proofs of the wickedness and misery of mankind, who try to create trouble to themselves and to each other. Being thus hardly used, men are tempted to hate and despise life. But a good man, though badly off while in this world, cannot have cause to wish he had never been born, since he is glorifying the Lord, even in the fires, and will be happy at last, for ever happy. Ungodly men have most cause to wish the continuance of life with all its vexations, as a far more miserable condition awaits them if they die in their sins. If human and worldly things were our chief good, not to exist would be preferable to life, considering the various oppressions here below.
Solomon notices the sources of trouble peculiar to well-doers, and includes all who labour with diligence, and whose efforts are crowned with success. They often become great and prosperous, but this excites envy and opposition. Others, seeing the vexations of an active course, foolishly expect more satisfaction in sloth and idleness. But idleness is a sin that is its own punishment. Let us by honest industry lay hold on the handful, that we may not want necessaries, but not grasp at both hands full, which would only create vexation of spirit. Moderate pains and gains do best.
Frequently, the more men have, the more they would have; and on this they are so intent, that they get no enjoyment from what they have. Selfishness is the cause of this evil. A selfish man cares for nobody; there is none to take care of but himself, yet he will scarcely allow necessary rest to himself, and the people he employs. He never thinks he has enough. He has enough for his calling, for his family, but he has not enough for his eyes. Many are so set upon the world, that in pursuit of it they bereave themselves, not only of the favour of God and eternal life, but of the pleasures of this life. The distant relations or strangers who inherit such a man’s wealth, never thank him. Covetousness gathers strength by time and habit; men tottering on the brink of the grave, grow more grasping and griping. Alas, and how often do we see men professing to be followers of Him, who, “though he was rich, for our sakes became poor,” anxiously scraping money together and holding it fast, excusing themselves by common-place talking about the necessity of care, and the danger of extravagance!
Surely he has more satisfaction in life, who labours hard to maintain those he loves, than the miser has in his toil. In all things union tends to success and safety, but above all, the union of Christians. They assist each other by encouragement, or friendly reproof. They warm each other’s hearts while they converse together of the love of Christ, or join in singing his praises. Then let us improve our opportunities of Christian fellowship. In these things all is not vanity, though there will be some alloy as long as we are under the sun. Where two are closely joined in holy love and fellowship, Christ will by his Spirit come to them; then there is a threefold cord.
People are never long easy and satisfied; they are fond of changes. This is no new thing. Princes see themselves slighted by those they have studied to oblige; this is vanity and vexation of spirit. But the willing servants of the Lord Jesus, our King, rejoice in him alone, and they will love Him more and more to all eternity.
1 Corinthians 7
Paul’s opening statement in chapter 7 somewhat sets the tone for what question he is answering with this chapter. The topic appears to be questions on men and women and their relationships and boundaries. Judgments happening in the assembly upon one another on certain conditions of society and the rules and regulations thereof. He literally tells them, “it is good for a man not to touch a woman.” He is attempting to help the Corinthians, who were well known for their sexual promiscuity, to understand a life as a believer in sexual purity. Because of the natural desires given by God to men and women, in the faith of Messiah it is good to marry, one man, one woman. Then each of them belong “in body” to the other and are to give themselves physically to one another, and one another only. But he is also trying to show them, that a life “unmarried” is acceptable and even preferable, because that person is married to Messiah and is free. This person should not be judged in a negative light by society or pressured to become married for marriage sake.
For the married: Whenever there is a time of worship, fasting, prayer, or for any reason… decide together, as a couple on abstaining from sexual unity only for a time. Be careful not to deprive one another to the point that one or the other begins being tempted because of sexual desires to go outside the marriage covenant for pleasures.
These are not commands of Paul, but he says if you are not married and also do not suffer from sexual temptations, don’t marry. In this way, a life may be more fully given to the service of Elohim. However, if you are given to sexual temptations and have that deep, burning passion within you that is too hard to control without being a slave to that sin of fornication and/or promiscuity… then it is better for you to marry. This is only common sense and thearapeutic. There is no command on this and each person has to do what is right for themselves depending upon their own circumstance.
If we do marry, this is in fact a command to men: Stay married, especially for the sake of women. In marriage a woman has a covering and some sort of protection. Let a husband not send away a wife (v 11). Paul goes on to advise once again and stresses that the following is not a command, but if a couple is happy and satisfied together even though one is not a believer… do not make a big deal of this and allow them to remain together in peace. In these cases, the believing partner allows the unbelieving partner to be set apart. The children then also are set apart instead of being unclean.
If the unbeliever in a relationship desires to leave… let them leave and do not put up a big problem, for keeping them against their will is akin to slavery, and there will be no peace. Just because a couple stays together does not mean the believer will be able to save the unbeliever. Elohim Himself gives each of us our walk and that is the walk that will be lived out… whether a marriage is preserved or not.
With verse 18 Paul takes a slight topic change and begins to address the weightier matters, that being guarding the commands of Elohim. He said “let” meaning “leave each other alone” in some matters. “Let” each one remain in the same calling in which he was called, meaning physically and socially. These matters are of no bearing upon salvation. Let us not start making demands upon people when they come into the faith. For example telling them they have to do this, and have to do that with they “physical” appearance. We cannot spiritually regulate all righteous people should be married, or that the righteous must divorce the unsaved, or a slave must be set free, or a free person must now become a slave. No!! All service to Elohim happens on the level and place where each person is. It is diverse, just as different members of a body are diverse.
Paul does however, advise the Corinthians in his letter of his personal advice based upon his understanding of many matters. That being: if possible, remain unmarried. Why? Because of the cares of this world, husbands, wives, children, households, entertainment, rearing children, obtaining shelter, feeding the family. If married, all of these matters take servants away from Elohim and to the world.
An unmarried person is concerned with matter of Elohim and not matters of the world. Paul states this condition is preferable… unless there is a desire to marry and have a relationship.
A couple of situations are spoken of in particular, again, based upon Paul’s wisdom: A man and a woman who desire to be in sexual unity and married, even though the woman is past child bearing years… it is fine and not sinful for them to do this. They should marry for companionship. If a virgin, whether she is a daughter or simply a charge of another man, and that man has full control of his body, not falling into temptation, and secure in his self control – it is fine not to marry her. Simply protect and care for her and allow her to be dedicated to Elohim in her life. This man does well, and does not sin.
If this man who is caring for a virgin, whether she be his daughter or a person of his charge… does well to marry her off – it is fine. However, because of the chastity and freedom to serve Elohim for her, he does even better to not give her in marriage and commit to care for her.
A wife, is bound by Torah (the law) as long as her husband lives. (Israel and Yehovah). If her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she desire (renewed covenant with resurrected Messiah now possible). It is better, in Paul’s opinion, for the woman to stay just as she is in the Master (not married).