Posts Tagged ‘Shadrach’


Making decisions in the dark can lead to some regrettable consequences. Back in the days before electricity, a tight-fisted old farmer was taking his hired man to task for carrying a lighted lantern when he went to call on his best girl. “Why,” he exclaimed, “when I went a-courtin’ I never carried one of them things. I always went in the dark.” “Yes,” the hired man said wryly,” and look what you got!”

Have you ever held your Bible in you hand and thought, there is no way I can understand this! There is simply too much in here. How can I even begin to understand it all? I must admit, it seems every week I am thinking exactly that. I keep bringing my thoughts back to this one thought: The Bible is not a history book, it is not an anthropology book, it is not even a religious guidebook. The Bible is the message of God seeking and redeeming men women and children who see His light and respond to His light and walk in His light. That is why so little of the history of the world is not mentioned in the Bible. That is why it is not organized into neat chronological stories. It isn’t about what we can figure out with our little brains. It is all about God and His light. The Bible is written to move us to seek His light.

For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. Psalms 18:27-28

Of course we can’t understand it all! But does that mean we give up reading it, loving it? I will never completely understand my wife. Does that mean I give up trying?

We seek after the light because we love the light! Do you sincerely want the light of God in your life?

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalms 36:9

This Christmas we are focusing on the “True Light” of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, God in flesh, Jesus Christ. He is the “True Light” of Christmas.

As our world becomes increasingly secular, there will be the danger of relegating Jesus to a display, a manger scene, when in reality HE desires no other recognition than to be Lord of your heart and life. He desires to be your light and life. He does not want to be trotted out every December. He does not want to be honored just on Christmas Eve. Jesus desires to light your life every day of your life. That will take a commitment on your part, a commitment which Satan will do everything in his power to obstruct.

The Scriptural foundation for our study this morning.

  • Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
  • As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. John 9:5
  • …whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness“. John 12:45-46
  • In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
  • That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Ephesians 1:17-19

John in Chapter one of his Gospel declared that Jesus is the True Light, and His light is the life of men, and darkness will not overcome it. However, that does not mean that the darkness does not try. In fact, a survey of history reveals how the darkness has tried to obliterate the true light.

At the very time, John wrote his gospel there was a falling away from Jesus Christ. People were questioning the deity of Jesus Christ in the flesh. They were saying that He only became God when the Spirit came upon Him at his baptism.

That is why He was inspired to write:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

After a beautiful gospel that presents Jesus Christ in His deity, John concludes with this assurance:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31

However, he questions continued and grew more intense. The doubts about the deity of Jesus spread. Many years later John wrote once more, offering his personal assurance:

In I John:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:1-7

He adds the weight of his own testimony, and bears witness to the life and light of God manifested to the disciples through the Son-Jesus Christ. John declares that the message that Jesus proclaimed to him was that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Our fellowship with God MUST be based on our walk in His light. If we walk in darkness, we have no fellowship with God. But praise God, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, so that we can walk with God in His light!

That is why John concludes His book with an even greater declaration than that which closed out his gospel. Not only can we have Life in Jesus Christ, but also John declares:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. … We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:13-21

  • Are you really desiring to be in God’s purpose;
  • Do you really seek to know what that purpose is, and to be found in it?
  • Everything depends upon whether you have such a concern. Your desire will determine whether you are simply here to increasing your knowledge about spiritual things or whether you are here because of your strong desire to be in God’s purpose, the eternal purpose of God.
  • Are you prepared to commit yourselves to the Lord and to living completely according to His purpose?

From the very beginning God has sought people to fellowship with Him, to walk with Him. However, because God is light, fellowship could only be in the light of His righteousness. For in Him is no darkness at all.

ADAM & EVE

God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening.

However, Adam and Eve loved darkness, and chose to rebel. Their fellowship was lost, their eyes were changed. Now instead of seeing only the light, they saw darkness. Their eyes were blinded by the darkness of sin.

God responds with Abel and the altar. The altar dealt with the darkness of sin and allowed the Light of God into their relationship.

Cain ignored the light and offered that which was cursed. His blindness then led him to murder his brother.

From their experience, we conclude this foundational truth of our relationship with God.

  1. Fellowship with God is only possible through the light
  2. Fellowship is only possible through the removal of the curse of sin.
  3. The removal of the curse requires a sacrifice.

These truth’s are confirmed as we trace the history of the conflict between darkness and God’s Light

From Abel to Noah

From Abel to Noah the darkness becomes more intense and deliberate. The earth – which is the Lord’s – is taken possession of by man for his own ends.

God says, “you like darkness?” How would you like 40 days and 40 nights of rain? Every living creature is destroyed except those saved by the ark.

Emerging from the judgment, Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifice, and in so doing declares, in intent and effect: “The earth” (the renewed earth) “is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1).

God has fellowship with man again. Light is returned to the world through the altar. Sin was judged by the death of the flood.

However, darkness returns all too soon. Even Noah is an agent when he gets drunk.

Babel

Babel is built by men desperate for a god of their own making, desperate to prevent a future judgment. Babel is cursed by God, and under that curse men are scattered to the four corners of the earth. Then, when, it would appear that the testimony of God has disappeared from the earth, God finds a man willing to obey Him, willing to follow the light.

Abraham

Abraham responds to God’s call. “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia” or (when he was in darkness) – (Acts 7:2).

The God of glory APPEARED, showed Himself. Abraham had his eyes opened to see the God of glory and all the great redemptive work of God went forward through Abraham on that basis.

Their fellowship was secured when Abraham is willing to sacrifice his own son to Jehovah. The altar is once again in view, and Abraham walks in the light of God, and a new nation of God followers begins.

Israel in Egypt

God remembers his people in bondage in Egypt. In the light of the burning bush, God calls Moses to deliver them and lead them to God’s Promised Land.

God once again sets forth the Altar. In the midnight darkness of Egyptian homes a wail is heard as the angel of death slays all the firstborn males. Yet in the Jewish homes, there is the light of God, for He has seen the blood and passed over them.

His people are redeemed and led across the Red Sea on dry ground.

God leads them with fire. He has fellowship with them in the Tent of Testimony.

The Conquest of Palestine

Next, we have His people led by Joshua who is following the Captain of the Hosts. Their very entrance into the Promised Land must be across the Jordan River, which symbolizes death in both the Old and New Testaments. Once they cross, an altar is made as a monument. It symbolizes the death of the Jews to their flesh and sin and their new life of fellowship with the light of God. Their very first victories reveal that this is to be God’s battle, in God’s strength, under God’s Laws. If they go their own way or rely on their own strength, they will suffer judgment and defeat!

Judges and Kings

From here commences the long and infamous history of Israel’s descent into darkness. What had been intended to be a Kingdom of God and God’s light became a nightmare of the darkness of sin. Repeatedly they departed and deviated from God’s light.

Even though sacrifices were made, the heart of the people was dark and far from God.

God stirred men to bring His people back, men such as Hezekiah and Josiah. However, the heart of the entire nation was never stirred back to the light of God’s word. When the leader died, the apostasy set in and deepened.

First the Northern and then the Southern Kingdoms were captured and led into captivity. The nation was obliterated, the Temple, the Altar were destroyed. The darkness appears to have overcome the light of God.

Yet God reveals His light through Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They are faithful to the light of God; they sacrifice their lives to him on the altar of fire and lions. After Daniels prayer, God moves in a handful of remnant, people who still look to the light of God.

We read about this remnant in Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah. It is a great time of revival and restoration, but the darkness creeps back.

Malachi

There is more apostasy, rebellion, until we get the terrible conditions recorded in Malachi, leading up to the awful announcement:

You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Malachi 3:9

How black and dark things were! Were they ever worse? Yet God is not defeated; the light is not obscured; for, in the midst of the blackness, there is that which represents the most blessed victory:

Then they that feared Jehovah spoke often one to another; and Jehovah observed [it], and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name. 17 And they shall be unto me a peculiar treasure, saith Jehovah of hosts, in the day that I prepare; and I will spare them as a man spared his own son that serves him. Malachi 3:16-17

Malachi closes, and for four hundred years, there is darkness and chaos. Surely now the testimony has ceased and faithfulness has disappeared? Surely now the Lord has lost everything? The darkness has conquered the light?

LUKE

Now we take up the book that Luke wrote to his friend Theophilus. Luke brings into our view a certain priest

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth

“And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. Luke 1:6

We also find Mary, to whom the angel Gabriel said:

“Thou that are endued with grace, the Lord is with thee”. Luke 1:28

There was also Simeon and Anna:

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2:25-32

And there was one Anna, a prophetess… she… spoke of him to ALL THEM THAT WERE LOOKING for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36, 38.

Even in the midst of great darkness, God has always had a faithful remnant who seeks HIS LIGHT! Listen to their Witness:

  • Zechariah:  “because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
  • Mary: “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. Luke 1:50
  • Simeon: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel”.Luke 2:31-32

Throughout history, no matter how deep the darkness, no matter the degree of blindness, there has been a remnant, a peculiar treasure, a group of jewels who have sought the light of God! Even when there has been no written revelation, they have seen that

1. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)

2. The Kingdom of God is the rule of Divine light.

In the New Jerusalem, the heaven in which we shall one day dwell, it is recorded:

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. Revelation 21:23-25

Birth of Jesus – FOCAL POINT OF CONFLICT

The Birth of Jesus was the revelation of God’s Light in human form. However, what made His light so intense, so beautiful, was that the manger they laid Jesus upon represented the altar that God requires for us to walk in His light.

For Jesus was not born to reign as a King, or Serve as a Priest, He was born to die. He was born to deal for once and for all the mighty deathblow to the prince of darkness.

While we sing of Peace and Silent Nights, the birth of Jesus was a focal point of intense conflict. For God has been set against the darkness from the very creation.

God has always attacked the Darkness

Genesis 1 opens with “Darkness upon the face of the deep”. God did not just look at that darkness and call out in a soft voice: ‘Let us have some light.’ I believe that God attacked the darkness by boldly declaring ‘Let there be light!’ Darkness is contrary to my nature.

In 2 Corinthians 4:4, listen to the stern tone of Paul’s voice as he cries out:

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4

This darkness is the work of the devil, and God is adamantly against it.

The Redemptive message of God’s Word is that the Light will overcome the darkness through the altar, through sacrifice, through removal of the curse!

Jesus declared this about Abraham to the Jews:

“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” John 8:56

The Jews were in darkness, their eyes blind to the truth of Jesus, and took up stones to kill Jesus. They refused the light of God, just as their fathers had before them, and their fathers before that.

Abraham saw the light of Jesus Christ!

Satan does not want our eyes open to see the True Light of Jesus Christ. He wants us to relegate him to a pretty story, a beautiful manger scene. However, God wants us to see the conflict that is raging between the darkness and the True Light.

This conflict is ever at our door, for by nature we love the darkness rather than the light. Look at God’s own people to see how easily they became blind to God!

Where do you stand? Where does your family stand? Are you with the faithful remnant? Are you ever looking to the True Light of God? Are you daily dying on the altar, the altar of death to the flesh, the altar of death to sin?

Are you daily looking to the True Light by looking to His Word, by seeking His light in prayer?

On the other hand, are you so rushed at Christmas time that Satan has stolen the True Light from your life. Are you so busy and stressed that you have no time for the True Light?

The supreme work of Satan is not to get good people to do bad things, not to drag good people into the cesspool of sin, nor does he drag young men and women into moral corruption, nor does he make infidels and atheists. These are only byproducts of Satan’s supreme work! His supreme work is to blind us!

Take away the blindness, open our eyes to the True Light, and all this will be dealt with. Satan wants to keep us in the dark as to the True Light! The True Light is the most fatal thing to the kingdom of Satan. Paul put it simply:

“LEST the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ should shine.”

Satan says:

‘If those people get the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, MY kingdom is gone. The battle is over for me. I am lost.’

Satan will do anything to keep us from having light.

This is why Paul prays in Ephesians that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened. The darkness is ever around us.

Paul mentioned those who are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” Ephesians 4:18

You may be thinking, ‘Well, we are not in the dark. We are saved people.’

  • That is exactly what the Jews were thinking. What happened to their Temple? What happened to their Holy City?
  • That is exactly what the seven churches were saying, yet every one of their candlesticks is removed today. Today Turkey is covered with the darkness of Satan.

If we want to keep walking in the True Light, we must realize it will only come with sacrifice and conflict. Satan is opposed to the light!

Divine light is POSITIVE.

You cannot have Divine light and be neutral. If God has shined into your heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,

Your life is a challenge to the kingdom of Satan, and his attitude to you will be: ‘We will get you out as soon as we can!’

You will find that Satan will stop at nothing to quench that light. You see, Jesus being the True Light of Christmas is not just a pretty story or Bible theory;

It is a menace to the kingdom of Satan.

Are you walking in the True Light of Jesus Christ? Then your very existence disturbs the kingdom of Satan.

Isaiah 60:1-2

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you and his glory will be seen upon you.

We love seeing the Nativity scene. We use it to decorate our homes. We even set them up in our front yard. But understand this. That was no simple manger that nestled the head of baby Jesus. That manger was the altar of sacrifice, the means of our fellowship with the Light of God. It was the means of the defeat of sin and Satan. That manger meant the death of God’s only begotten Son.

1. We must constantly be on guard against the darkness entering our life.

2. Realize that Satan’s number one goal is to bring dullness and/or darkness into your life, so that the Word of God has no effect.

3. Disobedience, disregard, doubt, distraction all work to dull our eyes to the light of God’s Word.

4. The Light of God only enters our life through the altar. We must die to our desires, we must lay aside our pride, we must humble ourselves to God’s sovereign will.

5. We must desire the Light of God’s Word more than Life itself.

6. We must daily seek the Light of God’s Word! We must ask for it! We must set our heart upon it!

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One upon a time three young men refused to follow societies expectations, and even refused to obey the King’s Law. They were following someone else, someone unseen, yet to them He gave meaning to their lives. These three young men faced a choice, to obey the King and deny the one they gave their lives to, or disobey the King and face a painful death by fire.

These three had a reason for living, and therefore had a reason for dying – faithfulness to the one they called Jehovah God. They gladly chose death, promising the King that “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning, fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Because their lives were centered upon this God, they willingly faced pressure that most men, especially young men, would avoid. And through the pressure of the fire, they were enlarged. When the king looked in, he saw FOUR men walking around, enjoying the fire.

When our nation sees young nine year olds afraid to face pressure, afraid to face the future to the point of taking their own life, we must sound the alarm, and blow the trumpet.

We have forgotten our God, the God who has the power to enlarge us through our pressures. The God who is relevant for our life and is why we should live and value life!

Woe to the nation who forgets God, for they will find themselves wandering in the wilderness, afraid of the future, afraid of the fires of life.
Nine-year old Montana Lance reveals what is wrong with America.

Life has no meaning unless God is our reason for living. This country became great because we had a purpose in living-following God. We viewed Him as Sovereign over our lives. We viewed our Nation as “Under God”.
Now “under God” is simply a motto rather than a way of life.

When pretense is revealed as reality, our children will lead us to see what we have become-a nation of people who have forgotten the truth, who have forgotten their God.

Sound the alarm!


slide1One problem has caused more people to stumble in their walk with God than any other situation I know. We encounter harsh and cruel authorities at various times in our lives. How should we react to cruel and harsh authorities when they mistreat us or abuse their authority? Most people ask the question this way: Why Should I honor an authority that I don’t respect and even dislike?

The attitude of dishonor runs deep within our American Society. We believe it is our right to speak out against those we do not like, think are wrong, or disagree with us. I was in the lunch line with my mentor student last Tuesday. The lunch ladies had the Presidential Inauguration playing on a radio. President Obama was giving his acceptance speech. I overheard a fifth grade girl say “I don’t like him”. The boy behind her said “I wish he wasn’t our President”. I immediately turned to them and said, but he is our President. We need to honor him and the office that he represents. The girl said, but he’s not a good man, my dad didn’t want him to be President. I said “that doesn’t matter, he is our President, and it is our duty to honor and pray for him” The kids kind of had a shocked look on their face and then changed the subject.

I challenge you to live this next week and not hear one instance of dishonor. I can guarantee that you will hear someone say something negative about a politician, a bank official, a boss, a spouse, a teacher, someone. Dishonor is rampant in America.

As I look at the question of Honoring Cruel and Evil authorities, I want to relate a true story, as told in 2 Kings 6. As I tell the story I will draw out few points which will form the foundation of the answer to our question.

The Sunken Axe Head

pick-the-axe-head-up2 Kings 6 opens with a group of young prophets coming to Elisha. They have been meeting with Elisha, but there are so many young prophets, they have outgrown the meeting place. So they suggest building a bigger place. Elisha being a man of few words says one word: “yalak” which means Go. But they want him to come and upon asking Elisha to come he says “yalak”. One way means you go, and another way means I go. So they go to the Jordan and start cutting down trees. All of a sudden one guy is chopping real hard when his axe head flies off and sinks to the bottom of the muddy Jordan River. He starts crying out: “What am I going to do? I borrowed that axe”. Elisha goes over and cuts off a branch and throws the stick in the river where the axe fell. All of a sudden the axe head floats to the surface and floats over to the guy who lost it. Elisha tells him to pick it up. He picks it up and goes about chopping the wood.

You say “That’s a cool story” but what does it have to say about cruel authorities?

1. This world is under a curse.

That curse is sin. That curse resulted from our disobedience to the one True Authority. God was good and kind and man still rebelled. We became cursed because of sin. We are condemned to sink under the weight of our sins. We are all hopelessly drowning, whether you are a boss, a King, a President, a father, a mother, whatever authority you may have, you are condemned to drown in your own sins, condemned to eternal separation from Holy God in a literal burning fire of Hell.

2. Jesus Came to Reverse the Curse

Elisha took a stick and put it in the water at the exact spot that the axe head had sunk. Jesus died at the precise time and place needed to satisfy God’s demands of payment for our sin. What Jesus did was exactly what was needed to REVERSE THE CURSE

Jesus Christ, God’s son, holy, without sin, came to this world to REVERSE THE CURSE. He died upon the cruel stick of the cross of crucifixion. When Elisha took that stick and through it into the River of Death (which the Jordan symbolizes) he was painting the picture that the Cross of Jesus reversed the curse. Our sins have been forgiven and we rise above the curse. We are free. God is actively at work in this world reversing the curse upon man. That curse affects our leaders, our authorities, our husbands, our wives. The only way to reverse that curse is by Jesus.

3. We’ve Got to Honor God’s Word

Elisha said “Pick it up”. The man had to honor the commands of Elisha to reverse the curse and get the axe head. Christ may have won the victory but you have to pick it up! When we honor God, when we honor God’s structure of authority, when we let the reality of the Cross live in our daily lives, our daily inter-reactions with those around us, we have amazing power to reverse the curse!

King of Syria Seeks Elisha

Look at the next happening: in Verse 8 we read about the King of Syria and how he was trying to capture and kill the King of Israel. He heard the King might be over at the Wal-Mart in Raymore and he sent his troops over there, but he had already left. Then they heard he was going to be at the Home Depot in Belton, but by the time they got there, he had already left. Then they knew he was going to go to the ground breaking ceremony of anew manufacturing company. So they waited along the route he would have to take, but lo and behold he took another out of the way route.

So the King of Syria gathered his top men and said “Which one of you is the traitor?” Who is telling the King of Israel about my plans? But a servant stepped forward and said; No one is my Lord, for there is a prophet Elisha who tells the King everything you are going to do. Why he even know what you say in your bedroom!”

The King is angry and says “Where is this Elisha?” They spy out the land and word comes back that he is living in a little shack down in Freeman. SO the King sends his vast army to go get this one man Elisha. This is no scouting party. We are talking about tanks, jets, armored personnel carriers, 2000 infantrymen. This King wanted Elisha, dead or alive! So they march and late that night get within a couple thousand yards or so and decide it’s best to wait until the daylight in the morning.

open-his-eyesThe next morning Elisha’s servant goes outside to get wood for a fire and he sees this vast Syrian army and it looks like their guns are all pointed at him. So he runs inside and says Elisha, get up, the whole Syrian Army camped outside and I think they are after you! What do we do? Elisha says “Don’t be afraid! There are more on our side than on theirs!” And before the servant can dishonor Elisha with a wisecrack, he prays, Lord, open His eyes and let him see! Sure enough, his eyes are opened up and he sees an army that you can’t even begin to imagine. The hills surrounding Freeman were filled with millions of army men, tanks and blazing fire power. They must have outnumbered the Syrians 100 to one.

elisha-leads-the-blind-armyAs the army and the tanks advanced on Elisha’s little shack, Elisha prayed. He prayed that not that the Lord’s army would intervene. He prayed that the Syrian army would be made blind. And they all get stricken with blindness. Elisha runs out to them and says yoo hoo, guys, you are in the wrong city. Follow me and I’ll take you to the man you are looking for. So all these soldiers start following Elisha. He leads them up Richards Gebaur where the King is meeting with Ike Skelton. Then Elisha prays God, open their eyes. Their eyes are open, and they find themselves surrounded by the marines, and the King of Israel is there. He cries out to Elisha, Father, what do I do, Do I kill them? “Of course not” Elisha cries. Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them on their way to their master. So the King of Israel prepared this huge feast, and after they had eaten and drank, he sent them home to their master.

OK, another cool story, but what does it mean?

lessons-from-army

1. Pray To See The Power Of God!

No matter how mean and cruel your authority may be-they are outnumbered by God!

2. God Is Greater Than Any Harsh Authority (Enemy) In Your Life.

God uses these encounters to show us His Power, if we let him open our eyes.

3. Honor Every Harsh Authority As A Prisoner Of War.

God told the King of Israel to honor his enemies. He did.

4. Enjoy a Feast With Harsh Authorities!

(Isn’t that what David wrote-Thou prepares a banquet table before me in the presence of my enemies)

5. Pray That Harsh Authorities Will See That Their Master Is The Devil!

Sometime the only way that someone will do right or turn to God will be when they realize just how mean low down and dirty the devil is. When they see how black and heartless their life has become.

  • The prodigal had to get eye level with those ugly pigs before he thought to return home.

If you treat evil authorities with evilness or dishonor you will never show them the love of God, you will never put them in a place where they can even see that they are following an evil master.

Whenever I talk to a wife who is living with an, insensitive, unloving, unspiritual husband, I tell her, why don’t you go to your husband the next time he does such and such and you want to ring his neck or such and such and instead of dishonoring him or rebelling, just say to him, honey, I love you, and I am praying about my attitude. God has led me to start praying for you that you would see yourself the same way God sees you. I want to draw closer to God and I have learned that God uses you to get me to see Him. So I will be praying that you will see God in a clearer way, so that I can see Him through you.

Now this is not the end of the story. The Bible says the Syrian army went home and didn’t bother Israel for a long while. I think they got reformed. They got a little bit of heaven scared into them. Elisha could have had God’s Army kill them, but no one would have learned anything. Jesus could have had the Roman Soldiers killed, Pilate Killed, Annas and Caiaphas killed, but in that little victory the whole world would have been lost.

You may rebel or do something to prove a point. You may even embarrass the authority or win a lawsuit, but at what price comes your victory? When you chose to dishonor even an ungodly authority you are closing your eyes to all that God wants to do. You are closing your eyes to God’s Power!

Our story doesn’t end there.

Ben-Hadad Besieges Samaria

A new King takes over. His name is Ben Hadad. He doesn’t know about what happened and so marches on Samaria and lays siege. His army camps out for months. Things get so bad that people are willing to pay 5000 for a donkey’s head to eat. One day the King is walking along the wall of the city, and a woman calls out to him from the streets below.

help-meShe says “Help me King!” He says, “If the Lord doesn’t help you, what can I do, I don’t have any food! But she says, that not what I want King. A few days ago my best friend Betty said, hey, things are so bad, let’s make a pact. If we eat your son today, then when all that food is gone, we can eat my boy Johnnie over there.” So I killed my little boy and we’ve been eating him for the last week or so, but he is all gone. So I look for Betty to remind her that it’s Johnnies turn, and now she is gone away and Johnnie is nowhere to be found.

The King of Israel got so upset that he started tearing his clothes. He yelled “God strike me dead if I don’t cut Elisha’s head off this very day” He took his despair and anger out on Elisha. Why hadn’t Elisha done something? Why was there all this suffering because of the evil Ben Hadad? Why didn’t Elisha call the Army of God or strike them blind? He had done it before?

Remember, we need to have our eyes open at all time to see God, to see what He is doing. God intervened the time before, because He wanted to show His glory in a certain way. But this time God was silent, Elisha was silent, there was suffering going on. Why” I don’t know, but God was clearly allowing it!

murderous-captainWe get a glimpse into why when we look at verse 32. We find that while the King is fuming, Elisha is sitting in his house with the elders of the city. He says, “Guys, by the way, the murderous King we have is sending his Captain to cut off my head”. Keep the door shut so he can’t come in. Sure enough, as Elisha was talking, there was a knock on the door. No one budged except to lock the door.

They hear someone yelling at the door: “This disastrous siege is because of God! How can we trust God anymore?”

  • (You may have been tempted to say just that when you endured a harsh authority)

Elisha yells back: “Hear ye the word of the Lord: About 3 o’clock tomorrow afternoon in the city of Samaria you will be able to buy a 12 ounce Filet Mignon for one dollar and a 15 piece bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken for fifty cents!

Listen what happens next: The Captain, the Kings right hand man yells out “Even if God could open the windows of Heaven, this would never happen” So Elisha yelled back: You will see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat any of it! The Captain made a terrible mistake. He dishonored the word of God! He dishonored God! He dishonored God’s messenger.

four-lepersThe rest of the story is that 4 lepers decided it was better to die by the Syrians than to starve to death, so they go into the enemy camp. No one is there, because God had let them see His great army and hear the sounds of His Army and they got scared and ran away. They left their filets and fried chicken out. It was a feast. The lepers went back and told the people and you would have thought it was Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Everybody started running to the enemy camp to get food. Sure enough, the Captain who dishonored God and Elisha was trampled to death before he could get one bite!captain-trampled-to-death

God allowed evil to happen to His people. He allowed an evil authority to cause things to get so bad that horrible horrible things were done. Why? I can’t tell you, but I can tell you that it was His plan. If anyone dishonors God’s plan, God’s authorities, they will get trampled.

If You Want to Feast, Honor God’s Word & Wait For His Power! (Always Give God One More Day)

feastGod has a feast prepared for us, but we must learn to Honor even evil authorities, because no authority is in place against God’s will.

Now with this foundation, we are able to answer the question before us:

Question: How could a Righteous God appoint cruel people to positions of authority?

God is the originator of the authority, but He is not the author of the cruelty. Man is responsible for his cruel actions, not God. All authority is of God, but not all authority is godly.

MAJOR QUESTION: Are we to submit to authority when those in authority mistreat us?

Last week we saw from David’s life that yes, we are to honor even evil authorities, even when they abuse and mistreat us.

Now let me just say this now: Our government has enacted laws that govern the treatment of minors and spouses. I believe they are fair and equitable laws. We need to submit to and honor those laws. So when you know of an adult who is abusing children, or a husband or wife abusing their spouse, you are duty bound to come to the aid of the one being abused and placing them under the proper authority. If this happens to your self, you should certainly seek the help of the proper authorities. They are there by God to punish evil and reward good. So do not misinterpret what I am teaching to mean you should put up with abuse. If your direct authority is not doing right, you are to utilize the chain of command. And you should always feel free to go directly to the top! (Boss tells you to steal, falsify documents etc)

But lets look at New Testament writings in 1 Peter 2:

Servants (employees, students, civilians, church members), be submissive to your masters (employers, bosses, teachers, church leaders, civil authorities) with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 1 Peter 2:18 (NKJV)

Peter says we should also submit to the harsh.

What does harsh mean? Mildly irritating? Difference of oppinion? No, it is worse than that. The Greek word is skolios which means:

skoliós; Crooked, bent or warped from dryness, such as wood. Has the picture of one who is crooked, perverse, wicked. A Master who is perverse and unjust. [Complete Word Study Dictionary, The]

Well, maybe that is just one interpretation of harsh. So I looked at Vines:

tyrannical or unjust masters—Vine’s

The New Living Translation says it this way, as if there was any doubt as to the meaning of harsh:

You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 1 Peter 2:18 (NLT)

The Living Bible says:

Servants, you must respect your masters and do whatever they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are tough and cruel. 1 Peter 2:18 (TLB)

  • But Jim, if spousal or child abuse is wrong, why would God allow His own born again children to be abused by harsh authorities?

God does not want His children to be abused. He does not even condone child abuse. He is the most loving father in the universe. God doesn’t just love, God is love. And in His Loving ways that are higher than my ways, God tells me to be submissive to harsh, cruel, crooked, perverse, tyrannical, unjust and dishonest leaders.

God’s Way vs. Man’s Way

Understand what God considers EVIL:

  • For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:13 (KJV)
  • Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. Jeremiah 7:24 (NKJV)
  • “For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, But to do good they have no knowledge.” Jeremiah 4:22

Being evil before God is not murdering, not stealing, not lying…Being evil involves two things:

  1. Forsaking God (Not obeying Him)
  2. Following Your Own Plans (following the counsels and dictates of your evil hearts)

God wants us to depend upon Him. Whatever happens in our life is to draw us into greater dependence upon Him. Even that which you consider evil is meant to draw us into God’s presence. When we rebel against authority, when we dishonor authority, we are closing our hearts to God and His Divine plan.

WHY SHOULD WE SUBMIT TO HARSH AUTHORITIES?

There are Three Personal Benefits of Submitting and Honoring Harsh Authority.

1. Submission to Harsh Authority places our case in the hands of God who judges justly

(For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 1 Peter 2:21-23

  • If we take matters in our own hands, God steps back and lets us be on our own.

Say we rebel and win, we divorce and find a better husband, we quit the cheer leading squad in a tiff, we hang the phone up and vow to never talk to them again, a wound or root is left in our spirit that is not Christ like, and eventually will bring trouble and even defilement. God Hits a Lot of Straight Licks With Crooked Sticks

2. We receive a blessing

Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)

When we walk after God, and not after the evil imaginings of our heart, we receive a blessing.

I did not want to get real personal with you, but God said I had too, because this is something God has been teaching me over the last thirty five years. My Brothers in August 1988 voted to fire me from Tompkins Industries, Inc, where I was President. Dad had retired in 1986 and gave us different responsibilities, but made us equal in ownership. But we didn’t get along. And Dad didn’t intervene.  So I found myself without a job, with no savings, and a wife and six children to provide for.   The next three years were incredibly hard. We struggled financially, my relationship with Mom and Dad and my brothers was non-existent, until my grandmother passed away. I had just been fired from an Asphalt Paving company that I had been hired to manage. My brothers asked me about starting my own paving company. I said yes, I could start one, and they agreed to loan me $80,000. I started Tompkins Pavingy on March 21, 1991, having had only 6 months prior paving experience. My office was back at Tompkins Industries, the place they fired me from in August of 1988.

I have kept a journal the last 35 years, and I wanted to share some journal entries with you that might help with this issue of submission and harsh authorities.

April 7, 1991: “When I think of all that was taken away from me at Tompkins, and how now monetarily the boys are doing so well, and I am struggling…, it is very hard not to be bitter. Especially now that I am officing with them. But Father-You did exactly what I needed, for you will work a far greater eternal glory. Please keep reminding me of that… I gladly accept your fire of suffering-knowing that my family, my children, my grandchildren are better for it! Teach me thy way O Lord and I will walk in your truth.”

The brothers started to get nervous about their money. Sales were slow at first. They were refusing to pay vendors until they got their money. They refused to let me have any say so with the check book. They had become a “Harsh” Authority to me very quickly. What I though had been a restoration of our relationship seemed to be a ploy to ruin me further. So one day, one very bad day I wrote:

July 21, 1991: “the thought that has come to me is that Job’s afflictions came all at once (or do it seems). He was strong in his resolve not to curse God and die. But what would have happened if your afflictions came slowly, over a period of several years. Slowly, methodically your will to live, your hope is chipped away. Finally something happens, and any hope left is finally dissolved. You are left with no way out, but to take your life. The thought to end my life has been on the top of my mind-it just seems there is no hope anymore-that I’ve boxed myself into a hopeless situation-one which will lead to ruin for my family. It’s been tough the last 4 or 5 years-the afflictions have slowly eaten away at my love for life, my love for others-my love for God. I’m to the point where I have no hope, no confidence in my own strength, or friends, or family-I don’t know what to do.”

February 19, 1994: “What a difference 2 years makes-(91-92) winter was very discouraging. 94 winter I am very thankful for the way God has given. It would take several pages to list all the ways.”

March 21, 1994: “How headstrong and self confident I am by nature. So confident of my intellect and abilities to make things happen. God had to take all that away-to show me His strength and ability to provide in the face of my inability to do what is right. Only as I give over to Him my confidence for success am I allowed to receive His great gifts.”

“When God desires to deal with a particular man, He does not leave Him until He has brought him through to a clear place. God does not leave us in darkness for long. He will reveal His will. He waits until He is finally free to speak, and our attention is focused on Him. Trials issue in triumph. Clearly it is not the number of trials which is important, but that we reach God’s goals through them.”

March 21, 1994: Insight from 2 Samuel 12:20: So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. This is the Mark of a Man after God’s own Heart: “When we realize God’s way with us without resentment or regret. “UPON SEEING GOD’S WAY, WE BOW AND WORSHIP THE WILL OF GOD.

I know first hand the blessings that you receive when you honor even harsh authorities.

3. In trusting God, Rather than vindicating ourselves, Godly Character is built within us.

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 1 Peter 4:1 (NKJV)

The suffering of Christ was mistreatment by authority. We are to arm ourselves with the same mind. WHY? We are called to honor authority even when it mistreats us. Peter says if you do this well you will cease from sin. This means we grow in our character. Paul writes:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)

The Bible instructs us to unconditionally submit to authorities, however, it does not tell us to unconditionally obey authorities.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Romans 13:1 (NKJV)

Submission deals with our attitude, obedience deals with our actions.

Isaiah 1:19: If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.

We must be willing AND obedient. The fear of the Lord resides in our heart, and honor is an outflow of Holy fear!

  • God wants to reward your Submission to His Ways and His heart…
  • It is not about obedience, it is about your attitude…

Obey (Peitho-Be Persuaded) those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give an account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:17)

We must have unconditional submission. But not unconditional obedience. Case in Point:

Nebuchadnezzar: Mighty Ruler, Brute Beast, Servant of God

submissive-honorShadrach Meshach & Abednego decided it was more important to fear God rather than worship Neb. They had honored Neb, and he had made them governors of Babylon. But when he commanded them to worship the golden statue, they politely refused. They confessed their obedience to God.

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 (NLT)

Shadrach Meshach & Abednego honored both God and the Kingthey-honored-the-king

  • They Honored God by refusing to sin.
  • They honored the King by submitting to his authority and speaking respectfully to him.
  • God gave them a Full Reward
  • The King promoted them

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 1 Peter 3:13-17 (NKJV)

pressure-enlarges-usWhen we submit to harsh authorities, we bring God into our situation. God uses that pressure to enlarge us! Look at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The three became four! God enlarged them as they honored Him and the harsh authority He had placed over them.

Bottom Line: In learning God’s Ways, we must learn to Honor the Authorities God has placed in our lives. Honoring requires that we submit-and that requires a heart attitude. Obedience without the right attitude produces no reward. God values your heart above all else.

1. We must LEARN the value of submission and honor

2. We must OBEY God first, but when faced with a harsh authority, we must have our eyes OPEN to see God’s Power.

3. We must correct our heart ATTITUDE.

4. We must APPEAL in the right spirit. (Esther)

5. We must COMMIT the matter to God if we suffer.

6. We must SEE the authority as a Prisoner of War, and treat them with dignity.

7. We must PRAY that the authority will see himself as God sees him, praying for their repentance and ultimate blessing from God.

Remember, Nebuchadnezzar came to see himself as he really was, a brute beast.brute-beast

Have you dealt with any Brute Beasts in your life?

Any Harsh Authorities?

Did you react you way, or God’s way?