February 22, 2015 No Idols Representing or Replacing God

No Idols Representing or Replacing God

We worship the eternal God Who saves us temporally (2 Peter 1.2-4; 1 John 3.8b; Acts 10.38; Luke 13.16) and eternally (John 3.16, 6.47, 14.6). We will take off this body of flesh enveloping our spirit-man (James 2.26), put on our new and incorruptible bodies (1 Corinthians 15.42-44, 49), and forever be with the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 4.16-17). But, not all mankind will be saved eternally because of the choices they have made not to accept Jesus as Savior and to make Him Lord of their lives (John 3.17-21; Romans 1.18-23; Revelation 21.8). They have chosen to worship idols of various forms, including themselves.

Fundamentally

‘Anything or any person (including myself) that claims our primary loyalty has become “another God.”’ Quote of Alistair Begg. (Jones, 2013, Kindle location 3207)

‘Addiction simply a newer euphemism for idolatry.”’ Quote of Michael Horton. (3225)

‘To make anything the object of one’s ultimate affection apart from God is to break the first commandment.’ (3228-3229)

‘The Lord declares, “I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols”’ (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11; Ezekiel 20:9; Proverbs 27.4, 20.2). (3239-3240)

‘Indeed, in the divine economy it is clear that how man worships is just as important as whom he worships.’ (3266-3267; my italics)

‘Idolatry, however, does not just entail the sin of devising a false god to worship; it also includes the attempt to fashion an image of the true God to worship.’ (3296, my underline for emphasis; John 4.24)

Jesus’ incarnation gave man the ‘person of God’. (Isaiah 7.14; John 1.18, 14.8-11; a desirable,physical manifestation like Moses asked and received; see Exodus 33.18-23)

Idols in the Bible

Aaron’s golden calf: Exodus 32.8

Nahushtan, the bronze serpent on the pole: Numbers 21:4–9; 2 Kings 18:4

Jeroboam’s golden calves at Bethel and Dan: 1 Kings 12:28–33

Children sacrificed to idols: Leviticus 20.1-8

Gideon’s ephod: Judges 8.26-27

Micah’s idol: Judges 18.1-31

City of Athens was full of idols: Acts 17.16

City of Ephesus was full of idols: Acts 19.23-41

Riches: Mark 10.17-27; Acts 5.1-11

Philosophies: Colossians 2.8-10

Notice God’s summation by illustration in Isaiah 44.9-20.

Idols in your mind

‘Surely John Calvin was correct in his observation that the human heart is “a perpetual factory of idols.”’ (3221)

Like sports, success, career ambition, ministry, intelligence, academic degrees , sex, family, spouses, children, tradition, reputation, hobbies, financial security, government, political ideologies, moral agendas, numerous everyday things, events, ideals , places, and people. (Jones) What about clubs and fraternal organizations?

‘“Freedom can become a false god, and so too can a concept like world peace. The cult of health and fitness, while good within certain boundaries, can become an idol. Philosophies which promote self-esteem, empowerment, and realization of our potential are also candidates for idols.”’ (Quote of Peter Barnes; 3213-3221)

In other words, does the second commandment prohibit all physical, religious images , such as depictions of the Lord in sculpture, illustration, and other forms of artwork?” (3312-3317)

The prohibition of images for worship did not ban artistic expression, nor prevent the production of elegant adornments used in the worship of the Lord such as the cherubim (Exodus 25:18-20). The Lord created people with artistic skills which He intended them to use in representing the beauty of the world He created (e.g., Bezalel, Exodus 31:1-11; 36:1-2).” (The Apologetics Study Bible 2014, Kindle location 70991-70993)

Ultimate Questions and Answers

The default always is the question: how do I know that I do not love this thought, word, deed, or object more than I love God? All default against the First Commandment. God is Supreme!

To elaborate, the first commandment emphasizes internal love for God, as it identifies the object of worship. The second commandment emphasizes external love for God, as it identifies the manner of worship. The third commandment emphasizes verbal love for God, as it identifies the language of worship. The fourth commandment emphasizes temporal love for God , as it identifies the time of worship.” (3148-3151; my italics)

Ultimately, the question has to be: why worship God?

Paul answered that question in Philippians 2.5-11. He wrote: Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (verse 7) Jesus illustrated that all in the image of mankind are servants of God. Like loyal servants, we lovingly worship our Master, God. Psalm 100.1-5!

Another reason is seen in Jesus’ prayer to Father God about us in John 17.24. Jesus wants us, you and me, to be with Him in Heaven! To not be afraid of death (Hebrews 2.14-15), but to anticipate stepping out of our ‘earth suits’ (James 2.26) and be at home in Heaven with Jesus and God (John 3.16).

Wrong answers to these questions have consequences, as mentioned above. Exodus 20.5states that people pass along their wrong answers to future generations, each individual being responsible for their own decisions and sins (Ezekiel 18.20) until someone arrives at the right answer (Acts 17.27)…God!

Consequently, have…No Image Replacing or Representing God!

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2015. www.sozoclass.com

Jones, David W. (2013-11-01). An Introduction to Biblical Ethics (B&H Studies in Christian Ethics). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Locations in parenthesis.

The Apologetics Study Bible (2014-10-02). (Kindle Locations 70991-70993). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Locations in parenthesis.

February 15, 2015 How Quickly We Forget

How Quickly We Forget

We live in a fallen world, suffering the effects of original sin by Adam and Eve. Only God could save us from the sin and its effects. This is true today and was true in the days when God called Israel to be a nation of priests. (Exodus 19.6) While they said ‘yes’ with their lips, they meant ‘maybe’ in their hearts. This continued throughout their history, and we continue following their example. What is the remedy? Only God, as He proclaimed in the first of Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20.3)

The Basic Problem Repeated

Genesis 3.1-7 tells the story of original sin and gives ‘sin’ its definition: rebellion against the instruction of God; in this case, regarding a piece of fruit. The fruit was only the serpent’s prop; it is many other things in our lives today.

This is the first illustration of a fundamental problem plaguing our world’s societies today, as God defined the problem in Jeremiah 13.10.

Eve’s issue was not lust but pride. (1 John 2.15-17) She had a ‘pride of life’ that rejected accountability and instruction. Her progeny continue in her steps! We don’t want to be accountable to anyone. [Ironically, Jesus said we subject ourselves to everyone. (John 5.44; Matthew 13.20-22)]

Like the serpent, satan of old, we want to be god of our’s and others’ lives. (Isaiah 14.12-15) Hence, governments ignore the ‘unalienable rights’ of mankind given by God and seek to dictate the rights to be enjoyed. Pushback from such subjugation should be expected, as Israel illustrated in Egypt.

The Solution Remains Absolute

‘You shall have no other gods before/besides Me.’ (Exodus 20.3) Absolute.

Only God is the Authority! Rightfully so, since He is the Creator. His ‘laminin’ even holds your cells together in your body. (Psalm 139.13; Jeremiah 1.5)

Joshua recognized the fickle nature of man’s relationship with God and stated such in his famous declaration, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’. (Joshua 24.15) Read what the other people were following in their day.

Elijah, too, had to remind the Israelites again and in a dramatic fashion. (1 Kings 18.20-40) Notice the image his words paint in verse 21: ‘how long will you go limping between two different opinions?’ (my italics) We ‘limp’ back for healing to the Great Physician after being abused by satan’s gods which we follow in the pride of our imaginations!

Fast forward to Apostle Paul’s letter to believers in Colossae who were ‘limping’. Note the ‘relativity’ of his stated alternatives to the ‘absoluteness’ of Jesus Christ, in Colossians 2.8-10.

And, remember Paul’s warning to learned people who were ‘groping’ for Jesus in their preferences for philosophies. (Acts 17.22-31) The God Who fixed the boundaries of the earth’s systems is the ‘absolute’ satisfaction to the thirst of our continual embracing and rejecting of philosophies, that are ‘relative’ until replaced by another imagination that has been deceived by satan. (Jeremiah 13.10) We want something that will make us god to attract others to ourselves!

There is no substitute for God! (Exodus 20.3)

A Daily Reminder

With the wisdom of God, Moses gave the remedy to the rebellious Israelites that remains the elixir for our ills.

Deuteronomy 6.4-9 was, and should be today, the reminder to love God alone and to obey Him completely. The Decalogue was to be useful as

1) a teaching for your children [‘diligently’ taught; i.e., with order and determination by parents who illustrate the teaching],

2) a conversation among the family members around the dinner table,

3) a protocol for operating in the contexts of our daily interactions,

4) the last words we speak before we sleep, and

5) the first words we utter as we awake.

Note the benefit of such a daily routine in verse 3.

Is that the description you want for your life? This protocol is the ‘if…then’ of the agreement God offers to us. You can read the expanded version of this in Deuteronomy 28.1-14 (blessings) and verses 15-68 (curses).

A Sober Warning

Judges2:10 reminds us that we are only one generation away from forgetting God. Imagine that reality! The future is up to us – you and me – teaching and living the words from God!

If you are still groping for the newness of ‘relativity’, you will not find the satisfaction that comes from resting in the ‘absoluteness’ of God alone! One of His promises is Isaiah 26.12: ‘I give you rest, for I have done your work for you.’ (my paraphrase)

What a picture!

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2015. www.sozoclass.com

February 8, 2015 Purpose of the Decalogue

Purpose of the Decalogue

What’s so special about Israel? God chose them, as Moses reminded them in Deuteronomy 7.6-8. That is why He revealed Himself as Jehovah, the warrior God, in addition to the name by which Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their families had known Him, God Almighty, the Nurturer! (Exodus 6.1-3) This study explains why God chose them.

The Beginnings of Ephesians 4.11-13.

That end began with God choosing Israel among all the nations; the smallest so He could show His great power!

Exodus 19.1-6 explains God’s choice: ‘you shall be to Me a nation of priests’!

God would be the Power through this small nation! They were only to go out in His name, YHWH or Jehovah!

They were to tell the worshippers of the gods of other nations that Jehovah is the only God and that only He is able to save. They were proof. [Sidebar: why did God have Israel to circle back to the front of Baal-zephon (Exodus 14.1-14) as the point for separating the Red Sea for Israel to cross? Baal-zephon was a center for the pilgrimage of worshippers of Egypt’s gods. Pharaoh probably was assured by this ‘mistake’ that he would defeat the God of the Israelites.]

Israel was God’s proof, and is today, that only He is God! He reminded them in Exodus 19.1-6 of His salvation and His ability to bring them to His mountain, Sinai.

Now, He would explain the message He wanted the worshippers of other gods to know and do: the Decalogue.

It could not save them eternally, however, as Paul explained in Galatians 3.21-22. The purpose of the Mosaic Law was to convict people of their need for God’s salvation, because they could not save themselves. John the Baptist was a final proclaimer of this before Immanuel came among the people. (Mark 1.3)

Jesus the Son of God was the capstone of God’s planned salvation of mankind! (John 3.16) God chose a young Jewish woman of blameless character to mother His Son; Luke 1.26-33. The Law was only to be the means for convicting mankind of their need!

These priests were to lead others to worship God. We do this today; 1 Peter 2.9-10!

God First and Only!

God, Himself, spoke The Ten Commandments to the people in Exodus 20.1-17. Later, He would write them in stone for Moses, twice.

Notice the detail about our relationship with God in the first four commandments, verses 1-11. Comprehensive teaching for mankind to understand and observe.

Commandment 1: no other gods; Commandment 2: no worship of things; Commandment 3: reverence His name; Commandment 4: remember God on the seventh day to be refreshed!

Simple words but with profound meaning.

Notice that God explained 2, 3, and 4 so there would be no misunderstanding.

It starts with God, alone; commandment number 1: no gods besides YHWH! The Israelites knew what other gods were, having been exposed to many such in Egypt. They had seen Him defeat them. And, they would be occupying a land of other gods that God had specifically chosen among those deceived by the serpent’s ‘seed’ (Genesis 3.15). God would defeat them, too!

Only God!

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2015. www.sozoclass.com

February 1, 2015 A Time for Transition from Nurturer to Savior

A Time for Transition from Nurturer to Savior

I have enjoyed the transitions of my relationship with my wife. We dated for three years before marrying. She became a different person as my wife, although the same woman. She became a new person, seemingly, when our son joined our family. Now, she is an, even, different person as a grandmother. The same woman but with abilities and perspectives latent until they were needed. In the same way, the Decalogue evidences a transition in mankind’s knowledge of God from Nurturer to Savior, as follows.

Experienced BEFORE as God Almighty (El-Shaddai)

In Exodus 6.3, God introduced Himself in the transitions of past and future experiences for Israel. God Almighty did not cease to exist; that expression was just no longer needed as much as it had been. Now, YHWH, or Jehovah, would be the expression experienced because of the Israelites’ need.

God had introduced Himself to Abram as God Almighty in Genesis 17.1. Note His encouragement to walk ‘before’ Him and be ‘blameless’. Abram was to live life in a fashion like Noah and Job, who preceded him and who were described as blameless in Genesis 6.9 and Job 1.1, respectively.

In Genesis 17.1-8, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham (verse 5), covenants to be God to him and his descendants in their generations (verse 7), and gives the land of Canaan to him as an ‘everlasting possession’ (verse 8).

God revealed Himself as El-Shaddai to Isaac (illustrated in Genesis 26.12) and to Jacob from ‘Bethel’ (Genesis 28.10-22) to ‘Goshen’ (Genesis 47.1-6). God nurtured Abraham’s descendants in fulfillment of His covenant, even during times of famine. God gave them the ‘best of the land’ of Egypt.

Over 400 years in Egypt (Genesis 15.13), the Israelites reproduced from 70 (Exodus 1.5) to 603,550 men at least ’20 years old’ and ‘able to go to war’ (Numbers 1.45-46). With the women and children, the Israelites might have totaled more than three million people that exited Egypt.

God Almighty (El-Shaddai) had nurtured His chosen people from one man to ‘number the stars’ (Genesis 15.5), millions!

Experienced AFTER as YHWH (Jehovah)

Apparently, from Exodus 1.9, the Israelites grew to outnumber the Egyptians, causing fear (verse 10) and enslavement (verse 11) and the first late-term abortions (verse 22).

But, God saved Moses (Exodus 2.1-10) and prepared him to deliver the Israelites (Exodus 2.11-22) and lead them to the ‘mountain of God’ (Exodus 3.1), where Moses had turned to see and stayed to hear God’s plan (Exodus 3.6-9).

Notice in Exodus 2.23-25 that the Israelites cried out in their subjugation and God heard. His ‘nurtured’ people were being abused needed saving!

God explained Pharaoh’s rejection of Moses’ demand to release the people in Exodus 6.1-3, having prophesied the death of Egyptian first-born children in Exodus 4.23.

And that is what happened, as God reviewed with Moses in Exodus 12.12. Importantly, God says that the death of the first born will culminate His judgment of all of the gods of Egypt.

The Israelites saw the power of God’s deliverance (Exodus 14.31) in fulfillment of His promise (Exodus 6.6).

The New Living Translation of Exodus 6.3 clarifies other translations’ ‘by my name Yahweh I was not known to them’ to ‘I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them’ (my italics).

In the exodus, God REVEALED His name as savior of the Israelites! He did this again through His Son for His disciples (John 1.18, 14.7-9) and continues now through His Holy Spirit (John 16.13-15) for us (Ephesians 1.13-14).

Just so, God declared to the Israelites, personally, that He had saved them, as recorded in Exodus 20.2 and Deuteronomy 5.4-6. Thus, He had earned the right to instruct them on how to live to please Him: Decalogue!

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2015. www.sozoclass.com