Jesus Christ Is Lord

That every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Posts Tagged ‘Abijah’

Abijah And The Doctrines Of Grace 1 Kings 14:1-18

Posted by Job on January 1, 2012

I have the opinion that the case of Abijah in 1 Kings 14:1-18 can be used as an example to explain the doctrines of grace. My example does not deal directly with the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Old Testament saints; yet the principles of the doctrines of grace are still present. The text from Biblegateway appears below.

At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. And Jeroboam said to his wife, Arise, I pray thee, and disguise thyself, that thou be not known to be the wife of Jeroboam; and get thee to Shiloh: behold, there is Ahijah the prophet, which told me that I should be king over this people. And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him: he shall tell thee what shall become of the child. And Jeroboam’s wife did so, and arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age. And the LORD said unto Ahijah, Behold, the wife of Jeroboam cometh to ask a thing of thee for her son; for he is sick: thus and thus shalt thou say unto her: for it shall be, when she cometh in, that she shall feign herself to be another woman. And it was so, when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said, Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings. Go, tell Jeroboam, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Forasmuch as I exalted thee from among the people, and made thee prince over my people Israel, And rent the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it thee: and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes; But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back: Therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone. Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the LORD hath spoken it. Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. Moreover the LORD shall raise him up a king over Israel, who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam that day: but what? even now. For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger. And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin. And Jeroboam’s wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died; And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by the hand of his servant Ahijah the prophet.

The TULIP acronymn is often used to simplify and summarize the presentation of the doctrines of grace, often referred to as Reformed theology or Calvinism. Consider this to be TULIP as it pertains to this Abijah.

Total Depravity: 1 Corinthians 15:22 tells us “in Adam all die”, a reference to original sin condition of all mankind that is the result of the disobedience of Adam, the originator and thus federal head of the entire human race. As Abijah is a descendant of Adam, he was considered a sinner, an enemy of God, separated from God, and dead to spiritual things. Romans 5:10-14 makes these facts, i.e. the state of our enmity with God, that this state and with it death was passed on to Adam’s descendants, clear. Note that it is because of this total depravity due to original sin that God can declare a death sentence on an entire family based on the actions of one person – as God did to the line of Jeroboam, father of Abijah, because of Jeroboam’s wicknedness and idolatry – and not be called unjust.

Unconditional election: God declared that of all the house of Jeroboam, only Abijah would receive an honorable burial. The reason for this was not because of the righteousness of Abijah, for Abijah was a child (so described by Hebrew word na’ar in verse 3 and yeled in verses 12 and 17). And God did not make a special case for Abijah because of his age, as God ordered the destruction of juveniles in many other cases, including the firstborn in Egypt. Instead, the reason why Abijah alone of the line of Jeroboam was given honor by God before all Israel was “because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel.” This good thing was grace; of God’s choosing Abijah and Abijah alone “in the house of Jeroboam”, the wicked king who turned Israel to idols. The election of the child Abijah was an act of a sovereign God alone, which Abijah having no ability to either consent to or reject the decree of El Shaddai.

Limited Atonement (though I prefer the Baptistic term particular atonement instead): in a dream the angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph concerning Jesus Christ that He would save His people from their sins (Mat 1:21). “His people” does not refer to national Israel, but the church, those called righteous and redeemed in both Old Testament and New Testament times. Jesus Christ stated that His death was not intended for all, but only for His friends in John 15:13-14. Note that Jesus Christ spoke those words not in public, but only to the apostles at the last supper, and moreover after Judas Iscariot, the son of perdition, had been dismissed from the room – and from the scope of Jesus Christ’s words as pertaining to whom Jesus Christ called His friends and for whom He was going to die – in John 13:27. God gave Abijah an honorable physical death because Abijah was considered by the calling and election of God – and God so chose Abijah and not Abijah God in accordance to the words of Jesus Christ in John 15:16 – and as such Abijah was God’s friend. Jeroboam and the rest of Abijah’s house, however, was not.

Irresistible grace:  Revelation 13:8 reveals that Abijah’s name was written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4 reveals that Abijah was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Abijah was called to God as a juvenile, and died as a juvenile. As such, Abijah had no opportunity to resist, defy or undo God’s plan to save him. As a result, the standing of Abijah before God declared in 1 Kings 14:13, “in him there is found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel”, was going to be retained; this decree of God was going to come to pass.

Perseverance of the saints: Abijah was a child in a household that was totally given over to idolatry. Jeroboam, his father, chose idolatry to retain his political power. Further, his mother was the daughter of the Egyptian pharaoh Shishak. Had Abijah lived to adulthood, he would have been reared and molded in this revolting spiritual environment. A study of the Kings and Chronicles books of the Bible reveals that pagan queens (of Judah and Israel) generally resulted in their sons’ being pagan kings. This Abijah should be considered an Old Testament “type” of the “once saved always saved” doctrine where Jesus Christ stated “no one will snatch them out of my hand” (concerning those given to God the Son by God the Father) in John 10:29.

So, the case of young Abijah, a child redeemed from the wickedness of the house of Jeroboam, was honored in death (though premature death was considered regrettable in Israel, the manner of his death was still preferable in that culture to that of the rest of his family) and had this honorable state and status before God preserved in the the Bible by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, can hence be used to understand the doctrines of grace. This is not some mere exercise, but rather our understanding of the doctrines of grace should give us ever more reason to worship, praise and glorify the God who grants this grace, for it is only by this grace that we are able to receive so great a salvation.

Have you experienced the grace of God? If you have not, I urge you to follow

The Three Step Salvation Plan

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Advertisements

Posted in Bible, Calvinism, Christianity, Jesus Christ, predestination, Reformed, religion, Theodicy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Question For Premillennial Dispensational Rapture Believers: Explain The Fifth Seal In Revelation!

Posted by Job on September 25, 2009

Revelation 6:9-11 reads

And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

The Word of God for the elect people of God. Glory be to God.

For my premillennial dispensational brethren who believe in a pretribulation (or prewrath) rapture that spares the church from the time of sorrow, please explain this text. Who are those slain for the Word of God? Are they Christians? And when will these Christians be slain for their testimony? Does it refer to those believers slain in times past, whether in the Old Testament or at the time that Revelation was written? Or does it refer to believers slain during the great tribulation? (If so, how can any Christian stand under persecution, even martyrdom, without being emboldened by the Holy Spirit, which according to premillennial dispensational doctrine has to be taken from the earth along with the church? Please recall the difference between Peter and the apostles before the Comforter – cowering and fearful and running from their lives – and afterwards – bold and brave witnesses even unto death. As a matter of fact Peter himself went from being the worst – the one who denied Christ three times – to being the boldest. And how can anyone even be saved during the great tribulation without the work of the Holy Spirit? Recall: the Holy Spirit was indeed present during the time of the Old Testament saints. Indeed, the Bible states that the earth’s very existence cannot so much as even be sustained without the Spirit of God.) Or does it refer to believers slain during all ages, from the first (Abel) until the last before the return of Jesus Christ?

To interpret this passage with scripture, let us go to another one in Revelation that touches the martyrdom of the saints, which is Revelation 18:24. Please recall that this chapter refers to the fall of Babylon,  which since the Tower of Babel incident and particularly since the destruction of the temple in 586 has been used to symbolize people and systems that rebel against and oppose God and persecute His elect covenant people, and that Revelation extends this symbolism with personification, describing all that opposes God as a harlot (prostitute), which in this verse is called “her”:  And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. Now as much as I love my King James Version, allow me to quibble with their translation of “kai” to “and” in the phrase “and of all that were slain upon the earth.” Many times, “kai” is just used for emphasis, as an amplifier of degree or a focus of attention. This text should probably read:

“And in her [Babylon] was found the blood of prophets and of saints, indeed all [prophets and saints] that were slain upon the earth.”

However, if you go with the King James Version, which granted carries much more weight and authority than my own, and all which follow its tradition on that text, then “and of all that were slain upon the earth” simply means that in Babylon was the blood of every person that has been murdered, all innocent blood that has been shed. This means that the prior clause “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints” means that “the prophets and saints” (a  New Testament idiom which refers to old covenant and new covenant believers) which means that the blood of Stephen and all other Christian martyrs ever since is contained in Babylon. So with reference to the elect the meaning is the same: the blood of everyone killed because of their faith in God is in Babylon.

So, if we interpret Revelation 6:9-11 with Revelation 18:24, when the fifth seal was opened the martyred souls viewed under the altar should very likely be interpreted to include every Christian martyr since Stephen. This would support the idea of a church that has always been under continuous tribulation. Such an interpretation would be consistent with, indeed fulfill the words of Jesus Christ in John 15:18-20.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

The Word of God for the people of God. Glory be to God.

Now one can hardly claim that those words were only aimed at the apostles. Those words are for all Christians for all time. So what basis is there for believing that there will be a rapture to save the church from a persecution that A) Jesus Christ said that we would face and B) Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to withstand? Now this is not an endorsement of the historicist, preterist or amillennial position that there will be no seven year literal great tribulation. Instead, it is to say that if there will be such a seven year literal great tribulation, the church will be present for it just as it has been present for all other tribulations, the “lesser” tribulations.

Now the prewrath (and mid-wrath) rapture adherent does have Revelation 3:10, which reads “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth”, in his favor. However, that could be fulfilled in a number of ways, including 1) a place of refuge (which ironically rapture believers commonly propose will exist for those who will saved during the great tribulation … again these people will have to be saved despite the absence of a church to preach the gospel or a Holy Spirit to perform regeneration) or 2) death. Do not let the “death” option astonish you, but instead study the scriptures, especially the Old Testament but also in the New Testament. It is a consistent theme that death is a way of being preserved, saved, spared from times of great evil … to be absent from the troubles of this world and present with God! Perhaps the best example of this is the death of Abijah, son of the wicked king Jeroboam, who died according to God’s will so that he would not be corrupted by Jeroboam and also not share in their judgment in 1 Kings 14. A New Testament example: at the time that he wrote Philippians 1:20-26, Paul viewed death as being removed from the extremely trying circumstances that he was living and exchanging it for a better fate. In that passage Paul stated “to die is gain”, but it appears that the rapture adherents have transformed it into “to be raptured is gain.”

So, the idea that there must be a rapture in order for Christians to be spared martyrdom seems to be inconsistent with Biblical revelation. It is also an idea that only makes sense for Christians living in the west. Practically everywhere else in the world, Christians face persecution: marginalization, poverty, disease, imprisonment, death. There are two doctrinal systems that have the effect of promoting the idea western Christians should have no part in what Christians in Indonesia, China, Iran, Palestine (and Israel!), India and Mexico (where Roman Catholic/pagan syncretists are persecuting Protestants) by simple right of geography of birth: pretribulation rapture and covenant theology. Pretribulation rapture teaches that Christians not currently under persecution now will never have to face it, because persecution will only come to “the good parts of the world” (i.e. “Christian nations” or “western nations” or “non-socialist nations” … you know, what Glenn Beck was referring to) when the anti-Christ (which 8% of New Jersey residents regard Obama to be) takes over it.

Now ask yourselves … why is it that Christians can be persecuted in some places (including Israel … and read this too!) now without the anti-Christ, but it requires the anti-Christ to happen in others (especially America)? Or that the saints in other places (and times, including in the west … remember the 30 Years War and the Anabaptists?) are not spared persecution, but only the modern American saints are? Only the idea that contemporary western (especially American and possibly British!) Christians are somehow better than Christians living in other times and places, and this fact would be due to America having some special status before God as a unique elect covenant nation, giving us special status within the Body of Christ. Of course, the Bible makes it clear in the Roman and Corinthian epistles that there is no special group or people with a special status, special favor, or special standing before God in the Body of Christ, but instead that we are one Body. Further, the Bible makes it clear that those who are accounted greater according to rank or authority (not standing or value) demonstrate this through being servant roles that cause us to A) serve those who are of lesser rank and authority and B) endure even greater persecution than those who are of lesser rank and authority. So, even if America did have some special standing before God, instead of our being wealthy decadent privileged Laodiceans, we would be poor, oppressed and serving everybody else! If you deny this, read the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ!

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Keep in mind, the version in Luke reads “Blessed are the POOR!”)
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

The Word of God for the people of God. Glory be to God.

Now earlier I mentioned the covenant theologians, from whom the modern concept of the “Christian nation” originated. Covenant theologians believe – or at least believed – that people in “Christian nations” would or should be spared persecution only because in a church-state Christians would control the government, economy, military, police, and religion in a theocracy after the manner of Old Testament Israel. That is why such extreme theonomists and reconstructionists as Gary North and Rousas John (R. J.) Rushdoony deny that the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount apply to Christians, instead stating that it only applied to Jews living in that time. (Curiously, hyperdispensationalists believe the same.) While I believe the covenant theology position to be in error, this statement is aimed primarily at premillennnial dispensationalists.

So if America were this special, Christian nation, it would be marked by our poverty and service, not by our decadent delusions of religious nobility which makes us believe that we are somehow exempt from the sufferings of Christians living in Belarus or Namibia, or for that matter the Christians of the early church. After all, when Paul wrote his statement insisting that those in the Body of Christ were equals, the statements were direct AGAINST two groups of people: the Jewish Christians in the Roman church and the wealthy Christians in the Corinthian church. The Jewish Christians regarded themselves to be superior to the Gentile Christians because of nationality, and the wealthy Corinthian Christians regarded themselves as superior to the poorer believers because of their riches. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to tell both groups that they were wrong. So, then, how can we justify believing that a rapture will come and rescue us from the type of persecutions and deaths at the hands of Muslims that are going on all over the Middle East, Asia and Africa right now, such as the two million Christians that were killed in Sudan, many of whom were tortured, raped, doused with gasoline and set on fire, had their limbs chopped off, or were sold as slaves because they refused to renounce Christianity?

Ironically, the world, including the media, the activists, and the government of our own “Christian nation”, did their level best to ignore this genocide, choosing instead to focus on Muslims murdering other Muslims in Darfur. And let us not forget that the term for which the word genocide was originally invented and applied to, that of the Armenians by the Turks, is still not recognized as such by the U.N. or by the government of our “Christian nation.” It is still more ironic when you consider that the Armenian genocide happened in the same general area that the letters in Revelation were sent, in the Turkey region. That persecution kicked off what was the bloodiest period of Christian persecution in history, the 20th century, that saw 45.5 million Christians killed!

So if there were any geographical or political entity within the Body of Christ that had special status, it would be those Christians because of their poverty and persecution who would come first, not us . It is those to whom the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ were addressed, and premillennial dispensationalism completely rejects that truth for the belief that the rapture will save Christians not yet under persecution from ever having to experience it because the saints who have it easier are the ones who fulfill Revelation 3:10! Never mind that the rich church that was not facing persecution was Laodicea, and the church that Revelation 3:10 was addressed to was Philadelphia. Why was the promise of Revelation 3:10 given to the Philadelphians? It is in Revelation 3:8, which reads “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” The Philadelphia Christians were being persecuted, and similar to the Sudanese Christians, they refused to yield to the persecution by denying Jesus Christ. In other words, they refused to do the same as the apostle Peter did THREE TIMES before he was empowered by the Holy Spirit, yet dispensationalism teaches that this Holy Spirit will be taken away, and those converted during the great tribulation will have to face the greatest time of sorrows ever without it, and will yet somehow stand? How? Why? Because of their free will? Or because of their inherently good human nature untainted by original sin? Followers of Reformed/Calvinist believers in the rapture like John MacArthur and Albert Pendarvis (the latter’s bookstore sells the Scofield Reference Bible) have to answer these questions! In any event, those who claim that Revelation 3:10 refers to Christians being raptured to escape persecution have to deal with the fact that the text was in reference to a Philadelphia church that was enduring it!

Make no mistake. I believe in a bodily literal return of Jesus Christ which I believe will occur after a literal great tribulation which will include a literal and personal anti-Christ. However, I also believe that the church will endure this tribulation, and that we need to be preparing ourselves and those who will follow us in the faith for it in a manner that is consistent with scripture as opposed to believing that we – or our WESTERN descendants – will have an experience of escaping it that will be unique to Christians living in other times and places. At the very least, someone must explain why western Christians alone should enjoy this pleasure!

The Three Step Salvation Plan

Posted in Christian Persecution, Christian persecution America, Christian Zionism, Christianity, Christians United For Israel, church hypocrisy, church state, church worldliness, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

On Achan, Canaan, Hardened Hearts And Salvation

Posted by Job on October 28, 2008

Decided to start reading the book of Joshua recently to revisit an Old Testament theophany, more specifically the appearance of the pre – incarnate Jesus Christ (Christophany) to Joshua before the battle of Jericho as mentioned in Joshua 5:13 – 6:5. Of course, the fascinating narrative of Joshua is hard to put down once you have begun it, and before long I was well into stories of battlefield conquest. Two things made no sense to me.

1. Achan. First off, this fellow tries to make off with 200 pieces of silver (ten times the amount that Joseph was sold for … further Judas Iscariot was paid 30 pieces of silver and the price of the land in Zechariah 11 was 30 pieces, so we are talking about a substantial sum of money) and enough gold to make 50 pieces (where silver is now trading at $15 per ounce, gold is now $750 per ounce, so his 50 pieces of gold was actually worth 250 pieces of silver)? As if Israel had some sort of underground black market economy or some way of laundering money so everyone wouldn’t have known where he got all that gold and silver from. And what was this fellow going to do with a BABYLONIAN suit? Like he would have been able to prance around ISRAEL wearing a suit from BABYLON as if he was Joseph wearing the coat of many colors made by Jacob? By the way, I am certain that the writers of Joshua did not include the fact that the clothing was Babylonian or that Achan called it “goodly” as mere detail. Instead, I believe the fact that Achan even wanted something from the place that represents not only sin and wickedness but creation’s brazen willful defiance against the authority and rule of God was recorded to demonstrate Achan’s spiritual condition, which was so bad that Achan not only saw and desired things that he was not to have (lust of the eyes), but committed a high handed sin against God by taking something that he had no practical way of benefitting from (unless he was going to prance around in his Babylonian clothes in his tent or spend maybe one or two gold and silver coins a year to keep from being found out). Achan reminds me of James 1:14-15 which reads “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” So again, I am certain that Achan saw and desired something from Babylon, the place where all men came together to build a tower as a symbol of human pride and power that rejects and sets itself against God, because that was where his sinful heart always was.

2. The issue of hearts brings us to the Canaanites. The Bible makes it clear that everyone had heard the path of genocidal destruction that Israel was making, and that they knew that the reason was not Israel’s military might (please recall God’s refusing allow Israel to own chariots, which should be a lesson to politically conservative Christians who all but worship the military industrial complex and would rather see tax revenue go to yet another aircraft carrier or nuclear submarine than to roads, bridges, levees etc.) but rather YHWH fighting on their behalf, making them unbeatable. So … why didn’t they petition the Israelites for peace as the Gibeonites did? Or better yet … WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST LEAVE? Being a war refugee beats being dead. Now maybe if you are a king, noble, or someone else of great power, wealth and esteem the perhaps you would prefer death to living as a landless powerless wanderer. (Then again, the elites could have taken their riches with them and used it to buy a life of relative comfort somewhere else maybe?) But what of the poor, who already had nothing and hence had nothing to lose? Why did they consent to certain death as being grist for Israel’s war machine?

Well the answer is given in Joshua 11:20 – “For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.” You might recognize that term as being applied to pharaoh in Exodus 7:2-4 “Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.” So it would seem that the problem of the Canaanites was the same as that of Achan the covetor of Babylonian clothes that he could never wear in public: a desperately wicked heart.

So it was God’s will that these people be destroyed. Why? Read Romans 1:18-32. They were wicked people who rejected the righteousness of God to instead practice idolatry and all the evil that goes with it. As a result, God’s judgment was against the people of Canaan. As Romans 1:18-32 states, the Canaanites had been given over to reprobate minds to do things that are not convenient. As a matter of fact, the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites were probably the very thing that caused the corruption of not only individual minds but entire cultures to the point where they were unable or unwilling to act out of regard for their own safety or that of their family. It is not unlike how in our modern world a man, knowing full well the scourge of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, will regularly indulge in homosexual acts and intravenous drug abuse in his one life and then take those life and health destroying viruses and pathogens to his wife and family in another. Indeed, there does exist a huge Achan subculture in the here and now.

Now there is a point of contact between Achan’s family and the Canaanites. It seems unusual, as where the Canaanites were idolators, Achan was not only a child of Israel that came out of the wilderness (meaning that all of the Israelis that had been conditioned by not only Egyptian slavery but their exposure to their system of false gods) but of the very same tribe of Judah that Jesus Christ was born of (yes both Mary and Joseph were of Judah, please note that Mary’s geneaology is given in Luke 3). This is not a coincidence but serves as a warning lesson to the church.

So just as Achan’s genetic, tribal, national, physical etc. membership in Israel did not prevent him from having a Babylonian heart, being raised in a Christian nation, culture, or family or even a member of a church does not make one born again in Christ Jesus and truly a member of Israel. Achan despite his heritage, upbringing, and affiliation was no better off than the Canaanites. The Canaanites, for their part, was no worse off than Achan despite their idolatry and being born outside of God’s covenant people. Achan and the Canaanites had the same issue – a hardened heart – and hence received the same reward.

Another point of contact: those who were to some degree innocent. Consider first Achan’s family … his wife, children, servants, etc. and stoned and burned them to death. Those people did not participate in Achan’s crime. They may not have even known of it! Yet they perished as well with the patriarch of their family. Why? The modern western mindset with its individualism and feminism hates this notion, but the man is the covenant representative of his household before his nation and his God just as a king is the covenant represenative between a nation and God. If the covenant representative does well before God (be it the father or the king), then those under the covenant (be they nations or households) are blessed. If the covenant representative does ill, then those under it are punished. The same with Achan was true of the Canaanites. You had many women and children, including newborn infants, that had no role in the decision to defy God by remaining in the land to face the armies of His covenant people. They were not the kings who chose not to beg for peace or the fathers who chose not to take their families and flee. So how is this fair?

Well let us consider what constitutes a “hardened” heart. From what the Bible teaches us, it is no great mystery. All of humanity save Adam, Eve, and Jesus Christ were born with them as a consequence of the fall. (Adam and Eve for their part received such hearts afterwards). Now it is true that the Canaanites and pharoah had a specific hardening that related to a course of action that they took or refused to take. That is why it is fair to say, in a manner of speaking, that God hardened their hearts as scripture does. But let it be known that all mankind is born with a hardened heart in ultimate terms with reference to our relationship with God. So just as the ultimate inevitable result of the unusually hardened hearts of pharoah and Canaan were death, the result of all other hardened hearts is the lake of fire.

The similarity between the unusual hardening and the normal hardening is again in the case of Achan. God did not harden the heart of this child of Judah for the purposes of judging Achan and his family. No, Achan instead acted out of the consequences of his own sinful heart and fallen nature. Also, consider Saul. God did not harden the heart of Saul to judge the man that He had raised over Israel, let alone Saul’s sons including righteous Jonathan. First, the sins that caused Saul to lose his kingdom were done before God allowed the evil spirit to trouble Saul. Second, the sins that caused the death of Saul and his remaining sons – his consulting the necromancer witch of Endor and his persecuting the Gibeonites who had entered into a treaty with Israel – were completely unrelated to the vexation of the evil spirit but instead were caused by Saul’s own desire for power and popularity.

Please recall that when God chose Saul’s replacement, David, He said of David that this David was a man after God’s own heart. It is very accurate to argue from silence that Saul was not, and Saul’s own works verify this matter. In short, Saul was Achan, and he received Achan’s reward, which was the same as the reward of the people whose hearts God DID NOT particularly harden. In other words, sinners have a hardened heart already, and it is God’s prerogative to harden their hearts more still in order to use such reprobates to accomplish His will. So why did God choose a man that was not after His own heart not only to rule Israel, but according to the words of Samuel would have established His kingdom through Saul’s line? Well, Israel asked God for a king, not a preacher. As a matter of fact, they rejected the religious leadership of Samuel and judges. So perhaps God was attempting to see if a secular ruler would be His servant in civil matters, a wise conscientious basically obedient covenant ruler. Please recall that even pagan kings like Egypt’s pharoah and Medo – Persia’s King Darius fit this description. There is evidence that even Nebuchadnezzar and Artaxerxes did so when they elevated Daniel and Mordecai to be their second in command as did Egypt with Joseph.

So God did not pick Saul to be king because of Saul’s righteousness. It may be that God picked Saul because He felt that the rebellious children of Israel would respect him because of his stature and physical prowess. Perhaps the way Saul looked, his coming the way they expected a king to and his winning victories on the battlefield, would have spurred Israel to obedience. (After all, Israel later rejected King Jesus Christ because He came poor and humble riding on a donkey and rejected conquest with the sword.) But that required Saul himself to be obedient, and Saul failed in this task even with God’s hand behind him and Samuel to be his human advisor. So God demonstrated that even with all of those advantages given to Saul, someone with a hardened heart would not do in terms of playing a major role in the redemption of His elect.

God’s righteousness required someone that lacked a hardened heart to accomplish His purposes, including to start the royal line that Jesus Christ would be born into. It appears that when God uses hardened hearts, it is without the hard hearted person having any idea of what he is doing. As a matter of fact, the hard hearted person often seems to consider himself to be trying to accomplish the very opposite of what God intends! Examples run from the pharoah who was unknowingly participating in the judgment of his own nation to the Jewish religious leaders who thought that they were being rid of Jesus Christ and His movement by delivering Him to the Romans. Of them Jesus Christ said “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do!” But in order to be a willing knowing servant and participant in God’s purposes and plans, a heart hardened with original sin will not do. Not an Achan heart. Not a Saul heart. Certainly not a pharoah or Canaanite heart. Instead, one’s heart of stone must be removed and be replaced with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19Ezekiel 36:26Ezekiel 44:72 Corinthians 3:3). Common grace will not do. Saving grace is absolutely required.

But how does a heart of stone become a heart of flesh? The answer: only if God changes it. God Himself must do it. Man cannot do it. Because of his sinful state, man is utterly unable to help his condition. Only God can change hardened hearts into flesh. Consider the case of Judas Iscariot. This Judas Iscariot was an apostle who personally knew and served with Jesus Christ. He was called by Jesus Christ and did many great works in His Name. Yet what was said about Judas Iscariot by Jesus Christ? It would have been better for him had he never been born! So God who foreknew us elected some of us and predestined some of us to salvation. In the case of this Judas Iscariot, the die was cast. Being an Israelite did not help him. Being not only a follower but an apostle of Jesus Christ did not save him. Even repenting of his sin of betraying Jesus Christ, declaring His innocence before the sinful Pharisees did not save him. This Judas Iscariot was simply not among the elect, so it was never in his fate for his heart to be transformed from one of stone to one of flesh, from an Achan heart to a Peter heart. Indeed, the Bible records that Satan himself entered Judas Iscariot when it was time for him to perform the most vile abomination. So yes, like pharoah and the Canaanites, Judas Iscariot was especially hardened. Judas Iscariot was chosen by God, yes. But as he was not among the truly elect, his calling was to do the greatest act of evil, to betray the Son of God, which God used to work the greatest good. God’s providence in using the placement of a specific sinner? Yes. Special saving grace? By all means no.

And further there was this Pontius Pilate. Pilate was able to fairly judge Jesus Christ and bear witness before His accusers and the world that Jesus Christ was innocent. In this matter, common grace by installing a leader willing and able to declare the innocence of Jesus Christ was sufficient to do God’s Will in the matter. A hardened heart sufficed. But to actually prevent Jesus Christ from going to the cross, an act of true righteousness in the dark spiritual climate that he was immersed in, to heed the warnings of his own wife? No, that would have taken a man with a heart of flesh given by special saving grace empowered by the Holy Spirit. But it was not God’s will that Jesus Christ be spared the cross, so a fellow with a sufficient measure of common grace was placed in civil magistrate authority over Jesus Christ to perform some righteousness but ultimately do evil, as Jesus Christ Himself stated “you would have no power over me were it not given to you from above.” Did Pilate regard “given to you from above” as meaning his being appointed by Caesar or raised up by God? 

Again, go back to Judas Iscariot. Jesus Christ said that this person’s fate would have been better had he never been born. So how then could such a person have had a free will decision to accept Jesus Christ as His Savior and Lord, as Simon Peter did even upon denying Jesus Christ three times? The hardened heart cannot save itself. No, the hardened heart needs God to intervene to save it. And once God intervenes to save the hardened heart, God cannot be mocked. He cannot be opposed. He cannot be turned down. After all, if the hardened heart that becomes softened rejects the gospel of Jesus Christ, was it ever softened? No! Only hardened hearts are able to reject the righteousness of God. Only softened hearts are able to accept the righteousness of God. A heart that God has not softened cannot accept His righteousness, a heart that God has softened cannot reject it. It is not so much that God compels the person whose heart has been softened to accept Him. Why? Because why would God have to? What possible reason that a person with a softened heart have for rejecting God? Claiming otherwise is the very same as claiming that a person with a hardened heart does not REALLY have one. If both a person with a hardened heart and a softened heart can choose to reject God, then what difference is there between a hardened one and a softened one? Claiming that a person with a softened heart can reject God rejects the doctrine of original sin. 

A heart that God has softened cannot behave after the same manner that a heart that God has not softened. Hearts hardened by sin and hearts softened by grace cannot react the same way towards God. Otherwise, the grace of God, which is the power of God, the will of God, the purpose of God etc. would have no effect. If man could overpower God by rejecting His grace with a mere decision, then it makes God no God at all; a God incapable of calling creation into being out of nothing (ex nihilo) with the spoken word, and certainly incapable of ruling and governing creation. And naturally, such a God would be unable to destroy, preserve, reward, punish, etc. His creation as He sees fit. 

This brings us back to the difficult issue mentioned earlier of infants. What about the little children, newborn babes, that God had Israel to put to the sword. Jebusite, Hivite, Hittite, Amorite, Edomite, Ammonite etc. babies that were ripped from their mother’s arm and made their last anguished cry after having their tiny hearts split in half by a sword or spear. You might say that only an evil God would command His elect people to do such a thing. Well that is looking at things at how they exist in the natural and not in the spiritual. You, looking at temporal physical things, see a human baby. God, for the purposes of eternity, only sees a spirit of man. God knows whether the spirit of man associated with the human baby has been elected and predestined to salvation or not. So whether the human life of this spirit of man ends at 100 hours or 100 years, its eternal fate has been predetermined by God, who knows whether this child has the heart of Judas Iscariot or the heart of Peter. The heart of Saul or the heart of David. The heart of Achan or the heart of Joshua. The heart of Cain or the heart of Abel. 

Again, we know this from scripture: Abijah the child of Jeroboam in 1 Kings 14. Verse 13: “And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.” (Despite the wickedness of Jeroboam, he did obviously love and care about his son. Again, common grace, not saving grace.) Abijah was given by God at a tender age a heart of flesh, and though he died at a tender age he was given the good reward of those chosen by God. Now if Abijah had a heart of stone, what profit would there have been in living 930 years as did Adam? As he possessed a heart of flesh, what did he lose by dying at a tender age when he will reign for an eternity with Jesus Christ? 

So the only issue is that whether you have a hardened heart, or whether God has chosen to give you a heart of flesh. If God calls the hard hearted person, his only duty, his inevitable duty, is to respond. I encourage the reader to respond right now if he has not already. Please follow The Three Step Salvation Plan.

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An Update On The Baby Born At 22 Weeks Who Survived

Posted by Job on March 27, 2007

See link here. It is an update of this story. The baby is now 5 1/2 pounds! Praise God! The sad part is that 7 other babies who shared her hospital room died, including one born at 32 weeks. Please pray for those grieving families, and always remember that no matter what happens, God is still on the throne, righteous, merciful, kind, and good. How can a good, loving, righteous God allow babies to die? Well, consider the story of Abijah and be comforted and strengthened in the faith!

Posted in abortion, Apologetics, Christianity, innocent blood, testimony, thou shalt not murder | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: