Monthly Archives: November 2013

Jannes and Jambres and Other False Teachers: Just Plain Stupid — Post by Mary C. Findley

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2 Timothy 3:6-9 ISV

For some of these men go into homes and deceive foolish women who are burdened with sins and swayed by all kinds of desires. These women are always studying but are never able to arrive at a full knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men oppose the truth. They are depraved in mind and their faith is a counterfeit. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those two men, their stupidity will be plain to everyone.

I always wondered something about those magicians of Pharaoh’s back in the time of Moses. Why would it be a good thing that they could duplicate God’s plagues the first few times? Then I remembered that, in the scientific world, the first step to getting rid of a problem, such as a disease, is to duplicate it. Knowing the nature of the problem is at least helpful in discovering its solution.

Perhaps, then, the magicians were really scientists. So maybe Pharaoh was cheering them on those first few plagues, saying, “Yes! You’ve duplicated the problem. Now get to work on the solution!”

However, there came a time when, not only could the magicians no longer “do likewise with their enchantments”, God even allowed the Hebrews to be spared some of the plagues while they continued to decimate the Egyptians. I can imagine Pharaoh, and that point, changing his tune. “You idiots! All you ever did was make more frogs and bugs! Now you can’t even make bugs! What good are you?” If Jannes and Jambres were not beheaded or impaled, I guess they were at the very least looking for new jobs.

2 Timothy 3 is talking about religious con men. They keep deceiving women who claim to be trying to learn truth but never manage to do anything but fall for every quasi-religious self-help scheme that comes along. Jannes and Jambres were solid with Pharaoh, I bet, before Moses and the ten plagues came along. Note that many scholars say the plagues were each a different frontal attack on the gods and pagan religious practices of Egypt. God attacked and undermined their pet sins, since their entire society’s structure was based on a false religion. He intended to show them His truth by destroying their foundation of lies.

So Paul takes the example of Jannes and Jambres, who had similarities to the false teachers of his day, and explains how the women of his time could stop being deceived by them. If you just get rid of your sins, ladies, these false teachers will be exposed to you for the liars they are, and the truth will start making sense to you.

This problem is still common today. What will it take for silly women nowadays, laden with sins to stop listening to the latest spiritual scam artist? I want to say that they need to get rid of those sins they are carrying around with them. The Bible clearly says, in many places and ways, that we have to purify ourselves or a. The Lord will not hear us, and b. we will not hear Him.

It’s not that there aren’t any good religious self-help books. But let’s study the Scriptures, not the latest religious best seller, to learn how to stop being silly and burdened down by sins Christ died to forgive and cleanse and make disappear. Then we’ll know how stupid some of these self-help wizards are.

Images from Kozzi.com and 1Photos.com

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I, the Lord, Am Your Healer

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And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer.”

Exodus 15:26

Most believers in Christ fall into two camps — People who believe in faith healers and people who believe that the gift of healing, along with others, like speaking in tongues, ceased at the end of the New Testament period. Just as God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, God does not want or desire diseases for His children. Yet, both sin and disease exist. C.S. Lewis wrote about the Problem of Pain. How could a God of love allow pain? How could a God of love allow disease?

The purpose of disease is clearly laid out in God’s Word. Since all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment. Sin and disease are part of this material existence. We are sinners both by birth and by choice. We have inherited the sin nature of Adam and we choose to sin. Disease can come simply through our sin nature because of choices other people made or because of choices we make.  When a culture is obedient to the Word of God, that culture is freer from disease than that culture would be if it were disobedient.

It is not an issue of individuals but the principles by which the culture as a whole lives. They are not pushing people into poverty by government theft, they do not have sexual license but uphold marriage. Both poverty and sexual license result in more disease. People care about the conditions under which animals and food sources exist. They are not consumed by greed to the point of polluting food sources. Violating the principles of God’s Word has consequences, and one of these consequences is disease.

The purpose of divine healing by God in this generation is as a sign gift. It is to bring people to Himself. They must understand that even people who are healed are still going to die, and may still get other diseases. When Jesus healed people, it was a very small percentage of those who were sick, and he had a specific purpose in each one. In the days of King Ahab, a famine ravaged all of the people, but one woman was chosen to shelter Elijah and receive food. Many lepers lived in the days of Elisha, but only Namaan was healed. We must understand that our life is like a vapor. We certainly wish to be healed physically in this brief lifetime. All diseases can be a means to bring people to accept the Lord as Messiah. This is looking at the larger picture to see disease as a tool to bring people to repent of their sins. We must realize that life is brief and everything should be seen as a means to glorify God.

So God says if we obey Him that He wants us to be healed. What cause explains why  disease and death still exist? Disease is a judgment on sin. Gehazi received the leprosy of Naaman as a judgment on his sin. All sins that we commit affect other people.

The ultimate result of sin will be the destruction of the heavens and the earth, after which we will see a new heaven and a new earth, free of disease. God will wipe away all tears from our eyes.

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Shammah

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Lentils like Shammah the son Agee, a Hararite defended

Now after him was Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into a troop where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory. (2 Samuel 23:11,12 NASB)

Eleazar fought until he was exhausted and he was unable to release his grip from his sword. Shammah, by contrast, defended something we would probably consider to be almost worthless, a plot of ground full of lentils.

The term, plot of ground, is a general term and it is very difficult to know how much land or what kind of land was intended. It was fertile enough to grow lentils. Lentils, barley, and sycamore figs are all mentioned in the Old Testament as food of the very poor. The food was ready to harvest, but the Philistines wanted to destroy what little they had.

The people of Israel fled or retreated. They were overwhelmed by the organized attack of a superior fighting force. They concluded that this particular small plot of ground was not worth dying for. Shammah stood alone against an organized military unit and saved the plot of ground.

The ISV translates David’s mighty men as “David’s special forces”. That is not a word for word translation, but it is the meaning. They were trained and they were willing to do the dirty work. Shammah wrested the plot of ground from the Philistines. But the Lord, not Shammah is credited with the victory. and the Lord brought about a great victory.

When we use the Word of God as the Sword of the Lord, do we regard some battles as just not worth the effort? The rewards are too small? We are too tired? Other believers will just call us picky, petty and unwilling to get along with other people?

The first point is that we need to be trained special forces with the way we use the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. We must allow the Spirit of God to guide us. We must also be well trained and well equipped in our use of God’s Word. This does not mean that we should not say anything until we have mastered both Hebrew and Greek, but we should be constantly studying and improving our skills. We should be extremely careful with not only what we say, but the way we say it.

The second point is that we need to understand what God’s standards are. God clearly says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8,9 ISV) So we must be careful not to place a different value on concepts and ideas from what God in His Word tells us. In combat with evil, we must not waste our time majoring on the minors, dealing with every little issue as if that issue was the most important issue in the word. At the same time God places great value on issues the world views as trivial and unimportant.

The third and most important point is to effectively defend truth, no matter how unimportant the world views this truth, to …continue your vigorous defense of the faith that was passed down to the saints once and for all. Jude 3 Jesus described how important the minor details are. I tell you with certainty that until heaven and earth disappear, not one letter or one stroke of a letter will disappear from the Law until everything has been accomplished. (Matthew 5:18 ISV)

While we must “let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6 ISV), at the same time, we need to be both trained and equipped in the proper use of the Word of God to be one God’s special forces.

Are we willing to take our stand, alone, in a plot of lentils?

Image by Photographer User: Justinc Wikimedia Commons

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Snippet from My NaNoWriMo project — The Assembly

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Friday, Principal Bradley arranged a special assembly to have Remmy and Sophia talk about their archaeological finds and some of their experiences abroad. Remmy walked all around the auditorium, alternately terrifying kids and getting them spluttering with laughter. He had so many stories and so many weird artifacts. He showed them  a full five scroll cases hidden in a very ordinary, though very long and deadly-looking lance, which became the scariest part of the whole assembly when he hauled off and threw it over dozens of heads and stuck it in the far wall, where it hung quivering.

“Who’s going to search a soldier for copies of the forbidden Scriptures when he’s got that thing in his hand?” Remmy thundered. “Nobody. Many, many Roman soldiers accepted Christ. Whole legions. Many helped preserve the Word and spread it during horrifying persecutions. Many were martyred for their faith.”

“But isn’t it bad to lie to people?” a young student asked. “You said they hid the Bible in that – spear thing. Wasn’t that lying?”

“My child, come here,” Remmy invited, sitting down on the steps to the platform. The boy didn’t move at first, wide-eyed, probably wondering if the huge, hairy man had more violence in him. After a moment Keith got up and walked over to the boy.

“Doctor Remaliah spent the whole night at my house last night, Den,” Keith said, holding out a hand to the boy. “He won’t hurt you. C’mon.”

Den looked up at Keith. He could swear he saw, ‘Well, yeah, because you’re big,’ written all over the boy’s face, but at last he put his small hand in Keith’s and allowed him to lead him to the steps. Remmy laid his hand on the boy’s head.

“Do you have a sister, my little man?” he asked.

“I have five sisters,” Den said, and heaved a huge sigh.

“Oh, well, then, perhaps this is not a good question to ask you. I may need to find someone else.”

Suddenly Den seemed to find he wasn’t so afraid of the big man who could stick a spear in the gym wall. “You’re not going to find anybody who has more sisters than me,” he protested.

“I am certain that is true!” Remmy laughed. “Well, then, suppose a bad man came to your house and said, ‘Where are your sisters? I want to kill them’. Would you tell him where they are?”

“No. I would tell them to run and hide.” Den puffed out his little chest and clenched his fists.

“Oh, so you would lie to this man? But you just told me lying is bad.”

“Well … well … but he’s bad.”

“Oh, I see. But what if he didn’t seem like such a very bad man? What if he said, ‘You have too many sisters. Give me four of them. I will only kill them, and let the other one alone’?”

Den shook his head violently.

“Then how many of your sisters would you give up? You have so many.”

“He can’t kill any of my sisters,” Den insisted. “I take karate. I would fight him.”

“Why is that, my brave little karate student?”

“I love them,” Den replied.

Remmy walked over to the spear, yanked it out of the wall, and carried it back over to where Keith and Den stood by the steps. He twisted the spear and drew out the papers rolled up inside. “These are my sisters,” he said fervently. “They are my brothers. They are my mother and my father. I love them. The bad men cannot have them. I will lie to them, and I will fight them, and I will die, to save what I love. Do you understand now?”

Den stared at him with huge, solemn eyes. “But it’s just papers,” he said in a little voice.

“Not just papers,” Remmy said. “It is the Word of God. It is truth, love, peace, power – it is the Voice of One who made all things, loved us, died for us, and calls out to us to come to Him.”

Oh,” the little boy breathed. “I didn’t know they were such important papers.”

Remmy tousled the boy’s hair, and Keith took him back to his seat.

As Keith approached the highschoolers, he saw students begin to rise out of their seats, ten, twenty – forty-five strong, the entire Bible as Literature class stood up and started to clap. Then they were cheering, jumping, screaming.

“Yeah! It’s the Word!” They started to chant, something Talia had been repeating in class to teach them the attributes believers were supposed to have to emulate God’s Word.

“Not everybody’s gonna read the Word themselves,” she had exclaimed. “You have to be the Word, so they can see how much they need it. You have to be truth, power, purity, love! Truth, power, purity, love!”

Every voice repeated those words, three times, loud and proud, Keith thought with a grin. Fist pumps and chest bumps broke out around the section. “God’s Word rocks!” they screamed, and quickly sat down.

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Eleazar

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Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite

These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite, chief of the captains, he was called Adino the Eznite, because of eight hundred slain by him at one time; and after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there to battle and the men of Israel had withdrawn. He arose and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword, and the Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to strip the slain. 2 Samuel 23:8-10 NASB

God commanded the military of the nation of Israel to kill certain people. Today, liberals find this military action distasteful. God praised these men for being obedient.
They were not only skillful in their use of the their swords, they used their swords. The armies of Israel had retreated and abandoned David and his men. The folksy International Standard Version translates Eleazar’s stand this way.

When the Philistines had assembled in battle array, the Israeli army retreated, but Eleazar remained standing right where he was and fought so hard against the Philistines that he became exhausted—he couldn’t even let go of his sword! The LORD magnificently delivered them that day. After Eleazar had won the battle, the other soldiers returned, but only to strip the weapons and armor from the dead. 2 Samuel 23:9,10

When the United States of America was mostly a country of hard, physical labor most Americans knew exactly what this verse referred to; so exhausted that he couldn’t even let go of his sword! While most people in what Americans look down on as 2nd or 3rd world countries still understand this level of exhaustion, few industrialized citizens can put themselves into Eleazar’s sandals. The Scriptures exalt Eleazar for working to exhaustion killing people made themselves the Lord’s enemies.

Our command is to
Go, make disciples of all nations
baptize themselves
teach them to obey.
Our weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

The question is, do we have any Eleazars today, willing to skillfully wield the Sword of the Spirit until we are exhausted defending the truth God commands us to defend?

We are commanded to handle the Word of God with precision. That first requires knowing and understanding the Word of God. That also requires using it.

We seem to be surrounded with Christians who either claim to know and understand the Word of God but seldom use it or babes in Christ who have a zeal but not according to knowledge.

We must combine line upon line, precept upon precept, constantly learning, studying to demonstrate God’s approval. Yes, we must obey the whole council of God. But the enemy is coming in like a flood.

Are you willing to be an Eleazar with the Word of God?

Image: James J. Tissot, ‘David’s Valiant Men’ (1896-1902) gouache on board, Jewish Museum, New York. http://www.jesuswalk.com

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The Sword of the Lord

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On all the barren heights in the desert destroyers will come. Indeed, a sword of the LORD will devour from one end of the land to the other. There will be no peace for any person (Jeremiah 12:12, ISV).

Whenever the sword of Lord is mentioned in the Old Testament, it is a literal sword. Even when the use might be metaphorical, the sword means death and destruction. The method might be a plague or some other form of death. The people of Israel understood that the sword of the LORD was an instrument of death.

The Apostle Paul dramatically changed that imagery for New Testament believers. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6:17).

The book of Hebrews uses the same imagery. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12, ISV).

This imagery is continued by John in the last book of the New Testament, the Revelation, written about 95 AD. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun when it shines with full force (Revelation 1:16).

The power of the tongue was not a new concept, but it is somewhat difficult for us to understand. Solomon said, “The positive words that a man speaks fill his stomach; he will be satisfied with what his lips produce.” (Proverbs 18:20, ISV). In our culture, which emphasizes the positive, this is not too unusual.

But the very next verse says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and whoever loves it shall eat its fruit.” (Keil and Delitzsch commentary translation) Even metaphorically, we do not think of a tongue as an instrument of death.

Jesus said, “Again, you have heard that it was told those who lived long ago, ‘You must not swear an oath falsely,’ but ‘You must fulfill your oaths to the Lord.’ But I tell you not to swear at all, neither by heaven, because it is God’s throne, nor by the earth, because it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the Great King. Nor should you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. Instead, let your message be ‘Yes’ for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ for ‘No.’ Anything more than that comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33-37).

We understand that we are to be truthful, kind, and honest with our words; words that we write as well as speak. But we have difficulty equating the Sword of the Lord with life and death. David understood this very clearly. David asked the young man who related the story, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” The young man who had been relating the story answered, “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa and there was Saul, leaning on his spear! Meanwhile, the chariots and horsemen were rapidly drawing near. Saul glanced behind him, saw me, and called out to me, so I replied, ‘Here I am!’ He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ So I answered him, ‘I’m an Amalekite!’ He begged me, ‘Please—come stand here next to me and kill me, because I’m still alive.’ So I stood next to him and killed him, because I knew that he wouldn’t live after he had fallen. I took the crown that had been on his head, along with the bracelet that had been on his arm, and I have brought them to your majesty.” On hearing this, David grabbed his clothes and tore them, as did all the men who were attending to him. They mourned and wept, and then decided to fast until dusk for Saul, for his son Jonathan, for the army of the LORD, and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen in battle. Meanwhile, David asked the young man who had told him the story, “Where are you from?” He answered, “I’m an Amalekite, the son of a foreign man.” At this David asked him, “How is it that you weren’t afraid to raise your hand to strike the LORD’s anointed?” Then David called out to one of his young men and ordered him, “Go up to him and cut him down!” So he attacked him and killed him. David told him, “Your blood is on your own head, because your own words testified against you! After all, you said, ‘I myself have killed the LORD’s anointed!'” (2 Samuel 1:5-16).

Each of us has the same responsibility. I saw the dead, both unimportant and important, standing in front of the throne, and books were open. Another book was opened—the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to their actions, as recorded in the books (Revelation 20:12). One of our actions (works, KJV) are the words we speak. Just like the internet, our words are never deleted. And they will be presented in judgment if they are not covered by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Why Do Americans Believe That Jesus Is A Commodity?

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A commodity has several definitions. The most useful is an interchangeable item that satisfies a want or need in the marketplace. For example, a pound of pure (99.9%) metal has a value. It does not matter where it came from or who made it. The same types of coffee beans, grains, or even computer chips, are interchangeable with each other. It doesn’t matter which computer chip you use as long as it is the same model. They have value because of what they are, not because the individual has value as an individual.

Americans are viewing Jesus as a commodity, something that “fits” and meets their needs, and not as the thrice holy God who created the universe along with everyone and everything in it. The relationship is backwards. Instead of submitting to God, they want God to submit to them, to be useful, to go into the “slot” they need Him to fill.
On the lowest and worst level, some people view Jesus as nothing more than an eternal fire insurance policy. These people want Jesus to keep them out of hell, as long as Jesus does not interfere with their existing lifestyle. Any thinking person condemns this attitude. However, many who condemn the “life insurance” attitude in others unknowingly have that same attitude in their own hearts, just in a different form.

A second attitude is found in people who accept Jesus because He makes them feel good. These people really are somewhat better. These people might actually love Him for what He gives them. The prosperity gospel is among the ideas that fit into this category. Sadly, this attitude causes the person to become blind to the true weaknesses of his condition. And at the same time, he is among the first to condemn others.

The next category is made up of people who simply want some kind of god to fill a traditional role. These people are often very involved in politics, schools, lodges, sports, or any other group of people. They are “people-oriented.” God is necessary, as long as God is generic enough to be acceptable to everyone in the group. Their God is not as important as their place in society and their acceptance by other people.

The answer is for man to think of himself as the commodity. He must fit into God’s plan and purpose, to function as part of the body of true believers. To do that, he must apply this Scripture: Let a man examine himself to see if he is in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5) This examination process should allow the Holy Spirit, using the Word of God and other believers, to test both our faith and our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our relationship with Jesus the Messiah should mirror a marriage. It is not a 50/50 relationship. We should love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind. The God of Glory is not just another commodity we add to our lives.

Image Credit: 500 gram silver bar produced by Johnson Matthey released into the public domain by en:User:Kallemax. Wikimedia Commons.

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