May 27, 2012 Religious Practices

Religious Practices

The first five chapters of Isaiah sound the mournful cry of an angry God that is summarized in Isaiah 1.3: ‘The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s feed trough; but Israel does not know, My people do not understand.’  What a contrast!  Lowly animals know who owns and feeds them, but man, the epitome of God’s creation, has forgotten his Creator and forsaken His way, turning ‘away backward’ (verse 4; illustrated in 5.20-23).  How did this happen?  If we are following their example, what are we to do?  What is your ‘prophetic message’ to those God brings to you (Isaiah 55.5; John 1.22-23; Matthew 3.2, 4.17; John 3.16-21)?

Nehushtan

  • Nehushtan illustrates just how ‘Egyptian’ the Hebrew people had become and how ‘stiff-necked’ they were.  Numbers 21.4-9 tells their story of rebellion, its consequences, and God’s remedy of faith (Romans 1.16-17 and Habakkuk 2.4).  Six hundred years later, King Hezekiah destroyed what had become an idol to the people throughout the reigns of the judges and earlier kings (2 Kings 18.1-7a).  They called it ‘Nehushtan’, meaning bronze serpent.  ( How do we pay homage to this present-day symbol of the medical profession?)
  • King Saul was another example of Hebrew ‘stiff-necked’ rebellion.  1 Samuel 8.1-8 tells how the people wanted to be like the nations around them.  What a goal!  Notice how God frames their request, in verses 7 and 8.  Saul exemplified Hebrew rebellion in 1 Samuel 15.1-21.
  • How does 1 Samuel 15.22-23 include ‘Nehushtan’ and condemn having a ‘king’?  Notice the origin of animal sacrifices in Genesis 7.1-3 and 8.20 and consider how man perverted this worship practice with their idols.  What have we maligned in our times by diverting its use from worshipping God?  Could the various animal sacrifices have been instituted by God to redirect the Hebrews’ worship from Nehushtan (and other idols) and back to God, similar to what Apostle Paul addresses in Acts 17.22-31, especially 27Hebrews 10.1-10 gives what ultimate goal explaining ‘back to God’.  How does this explain ‘away backward’ in Isaiah 1.4?

What names do we give to our idols?

  • One of my favorite authors, A. W. Tozer, wrote, in The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship (Regal, 2009), that ‘idolatry is simply worship directed in any direction but God’s, which is the epitome of blasphemy’ (p. 55).  If guilty, raise your hand.
  • Pastor Timothy Keller wrote, in Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters (Dutton, 2009), that ‘an idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought’ (p. xvii-xviii).
  • Do you agree with his list of what could become idols: family and children, career and making money, achievement and critical acclaim, saving ‘face’ and social standing, a romantic relationship, peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty and/or brains, a great political or social cause, your morality and virtue, or even success in Christian ministry?  (Rory Noland quotes these in Worship on Earth as it is in Heaven: Exploring Worship as a Spiritual Discipline; Zondervan, 2011, p. 75.)
  • How do Jesus’ words in Matthew 22.21 advise you regarding these?

What did not Israel ‘know’ and ‘understand’?

  • They did not know who they were and what this meant.  In Genesis 17.7, God told Abraham who Israel was and what that meant.  Paul stated that Christians are included, in Galatians 3.1-18.  So, what does Genesis 17.7 mean to you?
  • They did not understand Who God is.  In Exodus 6.3, God introduced His name LORD to Moses and the people; an additional identity beyond God Almighty!  I believe that the name Jesus is further revelation of LORD, as the Son Jesus said in John 17.6, 11-12. Respond to God’s plea in Jeremiah 9.23-24; it is His heart!
  • They rebelled against God’s intended plan for them, which He discussed with Moses in Exodus 19.3-6.  They were to ‘occupy’ the nations around them (Luke 19.13, KJV), instead of becoming just like them!  What do Ephesians 3.10 and 1 Peter 2.9-10 say is God’s plan for Christians?  How will you show that you know and understand?

‘Be holy for I AM holy!’

Be Holy!

Praise God!!!

Copyright by Maurice Painter, 2012.  Other studies at www.sozoclass.com

May 6, 2012 What Trapped Solomon?

What trapped Solomon?

Is deception the contradiction of wisdom? Why or why not?  One who is wise should be able to recognize deception…provided the foundation of wisdom is truth.  The real question is, is the foundation stable and unmoving; is it absolute?  The history of Solomon’s reign and his writings show him as an illustration of this important point.  So, how did Solomon become deceived, and what can we learn from his experience?

Solomon’s devolution

  • King David had ruled Israel for 40 years and died around 971 B.C.; see 1 Chronicles 29.26-30Verses 23-25 state that Solomon succeeded David and was blessed by God.  Solomon was 20 to 30 years old and ruled for 40 years; see 1 Kings 11.42.
  • 1 Kings 3.4-14 describe Solomon as a humble man who knew his inadequacy for kingship; especially verse 7.  See, also, 2 Chronicles 16.9 and Isaiah 66.2 for God’s requirements.
  • Solomon wrote Psalm 72 and The Song of Solomon early in his reign and marriage.  And, because the first ten chapters of Proverbs instruct Solomon’s sons in the ways he was taught by David, the book was written during his early reign.  Seventeen years after becoming king, Solomon finished building the Temple.  His prayer of dedication, in 1 Kings 8.22-61, acknowledges the continuing supremacy of God in his thinking.
  • But in the final years of his 40-year reign, Solomon, then aged 60-69, penned his experiences from following many ‘spirit guides’ in the book called Ecclesiastes.  His ‘journey’ may have taken 20-30 years.  The ‘wisdom’ of this book contrasts what he learned from his father and taught his children.
  • How did his wisdom become deception? God apparently saw the slipping of Solomon’s loyalty and had a second discussion with him; see 1 Kings 9.6-9 and note the theme.  God would refer to these times in Hosea 8.7: ‘they sow the wind and reap the whirlwind’!  1 Kings 11.9-11: payday someday!

Solomon’s trap

  • What had Solomon inherited? Peace from war: 2 Samuel 7.1 tells that God made David victorious, and he delivered Israel at peace with the surrounding nations.  Proclivity for many wives: 2 Samuel 3.2-5 names David’s six wives and their sons, before Bathsheba.  2 Samuel 12.8 tells that David ‘inherited’ King Saul’s wives, too.  Wealth: 1 Chronicles 29.26 tells that David was rich and, apparently, left his wealth to his family, including Solomon.
  • If the nation was at peace, why did Solomon make a treaty with Egypt’s Pharaoh?  See 1 Kings 3.1.
  • Such treaties may have been Solomon’s excuse for not marrying Jewish women, as was the Law of God and example of David (Exodus 34.16).  1 Kings 11.1-8 names the countries and some gods of some of these women.  Verse 3 tells of the fulfillment of God’s warning about foreign wives.
  • Solomon added to David’s wealth, as is described in 1 Kings 10.14-29.
  • He could buy whatever he wanted.  He could have sex nightly with a different woman without repeating for over three years.  He could spend time exploring different philosophies without fear of attack; see Acts 17.21.  So, Jeremiah 13.10 was true before it was written.
  • But, we know better: Isaiah 40.8; John 8.31-32; Colossians 2.8-10; 1 Timothy 6.9-10; Matthew 6.33; Mark 10.6-9.

Ravi Zacharias said the following in his podcast, Let My People Think, on April 21, 2012: young people lost their innocence through music in the 1950s, their authority by questioning everything in the 1960s but having no replacing criteria, their love in the 1070s through divorcing sex from love and by focusing on ‘self’, their hope for a better future in the 1980s because of nuclear uncertainty, and their power to reason in the 1990s by using subjective, not objective criteria of reality.  In his April 28th podcast, he summarized: what apologetic do you use with a generation that listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings? His answer: walking the talk!

Many are drinking today from Solomon’s brew of deceptions from satan (2 Corinthians 4.3-4).

Psalm 119.11!!!  Copyright by Maurice L. Painter 2012.  More studies at www.sozoclass.com.