This post will examine the restoration promises God had made through the prophets; first looking at the time periods the prophesies were made, when they were fulfilled, and how important to their fulfillment was due-diligence on the part of His people.
It will also discuss the necessity for the faithful servants of God not to give up or to give out before completing the work He has set before us by examining the events that happened when the Israelite captives had been freed by King Cyrus in 537 B.C.E and they and the exiles had returned to their then desolate homeland.
Finally, we will look at the experience of one key person, High Priest Joshua, and how the devil resisted him with allegations of unworthiness in order to discourage him.
The Restoration Promises
Important in understanding the restoration prophesies found in the Old Testament is dating when they were written and the circumstances that existed when they were written. There are many who teach and believe that the prophecies concerning restoration that are written in the Old Testament are yet to be fulfilled as God promised. But, is this true?
Below is a list of Bible Books that contain restoration promises God made:
The Book Of Deuteronomy written between 15th and 7th centuries B.C.E.
The Book of Psalms written between the 10th and 9th centuries B.C.E.
The Book of Isaiah written 740-701 B.C.E.
The Book of Lamentations written 587-575 B.C.E.
The Book of Ezekiel written 593-573 B.C.E.
The Book of Jeremiah written 630-580 B.C.E.
The book of Amos written 788-743 B.C.E.
Please note the time periods in which these Books were written. The date are very important in understanding the fulfillment of the restoration promises.
The prophetic writings in these Books detail two things. God promises that He would both free the Israelites from captive bondage and that He would restore the land.
These two events are the basis for the restoration promises mentioned in all of the Bible Books listed above.
The Israelites were taken into bondage by the gentile King Nebuchadnezzar. The bondage officially began when faithful king Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz was dethroned and taken into captivity around 606 B.C.E. This began the 70 year long captivity God promised due to the nations transgressions.
As stated earlier, the captivity ended precisely 70 years after in 537 B.C.E when the Persian king Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian Empire in a daring night raid.
The foretold 70 years of desolation began later at the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E.
The desolation was then set to end approximately in the year 517 B.C.E. However something happened after the people returned to their homeland that put the restoration of the land in jeopardy.
Upon returning home, the returning Israelites were very quick to rebuild their individual home while neglecting to rebuild the Temple, the House of God.
This was an important development since the rebuilding of the Temple was prerequisite to God ending the period of desolation and restoring the land.
In fact, King Cyrus had made a decree to the effect that the freed captives were to return home and immediately begin to rebuild the Temple of God:
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.”
However, once the people had rebuilt their private homes, they felt self-satisfied and begged off from rebuilding the Temple as commanded. It would be over 14 years later before construction began or about 521 B.C.E. God became vex toward them for their failure.
Begging Off Before Completing the Lord’s Work
According to the Book of Haggai, God confronted them by sending His prophet to then governor Zerubbabel to say:
1 In the second year of Darayavush the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai, the prophet, to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,
2 “This is what the LORD of hosts says: These people say, ‘The time hasn’t yet come, the time for the LORD’s house to be built.’”
3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai, the prophet, saying,
4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies waste?
But they seemed to be oblivious to the fact that although they had rebuilt their homes, they were still in want because the land was still unproductive. Note what He says through the prophet:
Haggai 1:5, 6
5 Now therefore this is what the LORD of hosts says: Consider your ways.
6 You have sown much, and bring in little. You eat, but you do not have enough. You drink, but you aren’t filled with drink. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm, and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes in it.”
He goes on to tell Zerubbabel what is necessary to remedy their plight:
Haggai 1:7, 8
7 This is what the LORD of hosts says: “Consider your ways.
8 Go up to the mountain, bring wood, and build the house. I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified,” says the LORD.
It wasn’t that they were not trying to sustain themselves; that was their problem. It was God that was thwarting any effort they attempted to make.
9 “You looked for much, and, look, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the LORD of hosts, “Because of my house that lies waste, while each of you is busy with his own house.
10 Therefore for your sake the heavens withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit.
11 I called for a drought on the land, and on the mountains, and on the grain, and on the new wine, on the oil, and on all what the ground produces, and on men, and on livestock, and on all the labor of the hands.”
When Zerubbabel heard this, he repented. He repented, as well as the High Priest, and all of the remnant who returned became obedient to the word of Jehovah.
12 Then Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD, their God, and the words of Haggai, the prophet, as the LORD, their God, had sent him; and the people feared the LORD.
13 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, spoke the LORD’s message to the people, saying, “I am with you,” says the LORD.
14 The LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,
15 in the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darayavush the king.
“Do Not Call Anything Impure That God Has Made Clean”
The quote above can be found in the Book of Acts chapter 10 verse 15. But these same words applied in the case of Joshua the High Priest mentioned in verse 12.
In what is recorded in Haggai chapter two tell us that God place His hand of anointment on both Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest due to their faithfulness.
1 In the seventh month, in the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,
2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying,
3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Isn’t it in your eyes as nothing?
4 Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD. ‘Be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ‘and work, for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts.
5 This is the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, and my Spirit lived among you. ‘Do not be afraid.’
He continues by telling them that he will bless them and their obedience would bring blessings for the people and the land.
Haggai 2:6-9, 23
6 For this is what the LORD of hosts says: ‘Yet once more, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth a and the sea and the dry land;
7 and I will shake all nations, and they will come with the treasures of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.
8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,’ says the LORD of hosts.
9 ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts; ‘and in this place will I give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
23 In that day, says the LORD of hosts, will I take you, Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the LORD, ‘and will make you as a signet, for I have chosen you,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
High Priest Joshua would come attack by Satan himself because of his repentance from disobedience to God. Satan would challenge Joshua’s worthiness in a vision played out in Heaven before the throne of God. Let’s turn our attention to the Book of Zechariah Chapter 3.
The prophet Zechariah had an most usual vision of a scene acted out in Heaven. This is what he saw:
Zechariah 3:1, 2
1 He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary.
2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan. Yes, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you. Isn’t this a burning stick plucked out of the fire?”
The prophet sees God anointed High Priest and he see the devil standing beside him as his adversary. The bible tells us that Satan is the false accuser of our brothers. (Revelation 12:10)
Well, this is what he is poised to do in regard to Joshua by declaring Joshua is unclean given his past sin and therefore, he unworthy of the service God has entrusted him with.
In verse two, God has already rebuked Satan. Then Jehovah God poses a question to the devil. He ask Satan, ” Isn’t this a burning stick plucked out of the fire?’
In the vision, Joshua is described as being in unclean clothes:
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the angel.
But God has obviously forgiven Joshua as the next verses reveal:
4 He answered and spoke to those who stood before him, saying, “Take the filthy garments off of him.” To him he said, “Look, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with rich clothing.”
5 I said, “Let them set a clean turban on his head.” So they set a clean turban on his head, and clothed him; and the angel of the LORD was standing by.
Satan was calling impure what God had made clean. Many today will not accept those God has anointed bringing up prior sins that God has forgiven them for. While they are unforgiving, God is not to those who truly repent as High Priest Joshua did. Such people put their judgments above God’s. But it is God’s judgment that matters.
Jesus said this:
“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
The righteous angel of God who was also present, reminds Joshua that he must continue to be faithful and to walk in righteousness in order to be worthy to continue in God’s service and keep his garments clean.
6 The angel of the LORD protested to Joshua, saying,
7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘If you will walk in my ways, and if you will follow my instructions, then you also shall judge my house, and shall also keep my courts, and I will give you a place of access among these who stand by.
8 Hear now, Joshua the high priest, you and your fellows who sit before you; for they are men who are a sign: for, look, I will bring forth my servant, the Branch.
9 For, look, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes: look, I will engrave its engraving,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10 In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘you will invite every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.’”
Satan became upset when he couldn’t stop God’s temple from being rebuilt. Faithfulness to God irritates the devil. He had done everything he could to stop the Temple from being reconstructed. Everything from creating a spirit of self-satisfaction among the returned remnant to using organized groups to undermine attempts to rebuild.
The Restoration Promises
God fulfilled the promises he made to restore the nation of Israel when he brought the Israelites out of Babylonian bondage in 537 B.C.E. and when He restored the land to productivity in 517 B.C.E. There is no commitment to a future restoration of a physical Jewish nation despite the teaching by many that the Bible promises one. All the Old Testament restoration prophecies were written prior to the 537 B.C.E. release from captivity and well before the restoration of the desolate land in 517 B.C.E.
The restoration promises mentioned in New Testament scriptures have to do with all humankind.
New Testament restoration promises
21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 13:9-11
9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored.
10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.
21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
These Scriptures have to do with the release from captivity from Satan’s power and his system of things. They have to do with release from captivity to sin and death. Again these promises are the prospect for all repentant humans and not just for one national group as it was in the past.
These promises are about the restoration of the Earth back to its original perfection before Adam’s fall and God place a curse on the ground. They are not about the restoration of one region of the Earth.
Do Not Beg Off From Completing The Lord’s Work
We cannot expect full blessings from Jehovah God if we do not fully meet His requirements. If we become self-satisfied like those who returned from Babylonian captivity originally did, then Jesus words found at Revelation 3:2 will apply:
Revelation 3:1, 2
1 This is the message from the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know what you are doing; I know that you have the reputation of being alive, even though you are dead!
2 So wake up, and strengthen what you still have before it dies completely. For I find that what you have done is not yet perfect in the sight of my God.”
While we may experience some measure of benefit, we cannot expect to receive God’s full blessings.
“Do Not Call Anything Impure That God Has Made Clean”
It is God who declares who is righteous and who is unrighteous. While other human beings may put themselves in judgment they are not in the judgment seat of God. God has given that authority to the eternal High Priest Jesus Christ. The devil remains the false accuser of God’s children and attacks them trying to stop them from finishing the work that God has set before them to accomplish.
Do not allow the devil, his angels, nor his wicked human seed to judge you or impede you from fully accomplishing the will of God.
“Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.”
“If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house”.
It is sin to repay evil for evil ( Thess 5:15). But it is even worse to repay evil for good, for that shows a mean-spirited and a wicked, devilish heart.
Soberly consider all those that have treated you well in your life. How have you treated them in return?
Now consider those that have despised the good deeds you have done for them. How have you reacted?
Do not seek your own justice by returning evil for evil. That will just make you an evildoer as well.
God will avenge in your behalf and Almighty God avenges best.
Deuteronomy 6:15 (ESV)
“For the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth”.
God is jealous in two senses.
First, He is jealous concerning His worship. He does not tolerate rivals.
Second, God has a protective jealousy concerning those that He loves…those he has called His children.
He will not indefinitely sit idle when His beloved ones are mistreated.
So He says: “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste”. Deuteronomy 32:35 (KJV)
The one who returns evil for good shall surely fall by the hand of God.
7 Won’t God avenge his chosen ones, who are crying out to him day and night, and yet he exercises patience with them?
8 I tell you that he will avenge them quickly. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
These are the words of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s question should cause a professed disciple of his to wonder why he would ask such a question.
Jesus’ statement does not imply that he himself felt that true faith would be abundant among humankind when he returned. In fact, he questioned whether there would be any at all.
Yet, according to the Pew Research Center, in 2015, there were 2.3 billion Christians of all ages living in the world. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, reported that the number of Christians in the world edged past 2.5 billion in 2019. This represents almost one third of the Earth’s population.
Given Jesus’ question, something doesn’t add up does it?
Note also what he is quoted as saying found in the gospel of Matthew:
13 “Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it.
14 How narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way that leads to life. Few are those who find it.
Here he says that “few” are those who truly find and who truly travel the pathway of righteousness.
Paul spoke prophetically about this phenomenon in his first letter to Timothy:
1 But the Spirit says expressly that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons,
2 through the hypocrisy of liars, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron;
He is saying that many in the last days would succumb to teachings that do not equate with true Christian discipleship and that their conduct would not demonstrate true faith.
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul specifically described one of two contributing factors that would result in a scarcity of true faith.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate healthy doctrine, but with itching ears will surround themselves with teachers who cater to their people’s own desires.
4 They will refuse to listen to the truth and will turn to myths.
The second main contributor is the infiltration of false teachers into the church brotherhood.
The apostle Peter warned about them:
2 Peter 2:1-2, 12, 17-19
1 Now there were false prophets among the people, just as there also will be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves.
2 Many people will follow their immoral ways, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned.
12 These people, like irrational animals, are mere creatures of instinct that are born to be caught and killed. They insult what they don’t understand, and like animals they, too, will be destroyed,
17 These men are dried-up springs, mere clouds driven by a storm. Gloomy darkness is reserved for them.
18 By talking high-sounding nonsense and using sinful cravings of the flesh, they entice people who have just escaped from those who live in error.
19 Promising them freedom, they themselves are slaves to depravity, for a person is a slave to whatever conquers him.
These false teachers have a confusing and a divisive effect that stumbles many seeking true faith.
3 If anyone teaches false doctrine and refuses to agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, and godly teaching,
4 he is a conceited person and does not understand anything. He has an unhealthy craving for arguments and debates. This produces jealousy, rivalry, slander, evil suspicions,
5 and incessant conflict between people who are depraved in mind and deprived of truth. They think that godliness is a way to make a profit.
Even though many profess to be Christ’ disciples, the reality is that few truly are. They have not heeded the apostle Peter’s warning found in 2 Peter 2:1.
The apostle Peter pointed out that it is the one who earnestly seeks God that is manifesting true faith. Hebrews 11:6:
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Jesus’ question regarding the presence of true faith when he returns, emphasized how scarce it would be and how hard it would be to maintain it.
Will you fight to be one of the few?
What Is Godly Fear?
What does it mean to fear God?
Does the Bible contradict itself on this matter?
Ecclesiastes 12:13 exhorts:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. KJVlite
Over and over in the Bible we are exhorted to fear God, to have the fear of the Lord, to live in godly fear.
So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today.
And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul
How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!
The Lord favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness.
The fear of the LORD leads to life, then contentment; he rests and will not be touched by trouble.
But why should we fear God? Isn’t God love?
1 John 4:18 clearly tells us that: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
Is this a contradiction?
Godly fear isn’t the same as fear of a tyrant, or a dictator. We don’t need to fear His anger, unless we fear punishment due to a bad conscience and an unrepentant heart because of sin. (Romans 2:5-9)
To fear God is absolute reverence and awe for Almighty God, the Creator of all things, including we ourselves individually.
This causes us to fear to sin against Him, because we want nothing else in this world than to be pleasing to Him, and to bring honor to His name. We fear to cause Him sorrow or grief, knowing how incredibly wicked willful sin is, how much God hates it, and how much it hurts Him when we sin.
Please re-read the passage above from Deuteronomy 10:12.
Proverbs 8:13 states very succinctly what the fear of God means:
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil. I hate pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverse mouth.
Some attempt to pit Ecclesiastes 10:12 and 1 John 4:18 against each other and claim the Bible contradicts itself. There is no contradiction.
1 John 4:18 is stated to a specific group who obediently accept Jesus as Messiah. Refer to verse two of the same chapter:
1 John 4:2
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
These words are specifically spoken to those truly in union with Christ by accepting him. It is not a general statement to all humankind.
These words are directed toward those who love God and keep His commandment out of love for Him. They have no reason to fear.
That cannot be said of all people. There are those who should properly be in fear because they do not obey him out of love.
For them, Paul's words found in Romans 2:5-9 apply:
5 But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6 who “will pay back to everyone according to their works:”
7 to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality -- everlasting life.
8 But to those who are self-seeking, and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness -- wrath and anger,
9 affliction and distress, on every human being who does evil, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
The Bible does not contradict itself on this matter nor any other matter.
Are You Grateful?
Are You An Ingrate? Are you dealing with an ingrate or with ingrates? Are you truly grateful to God?
It was an angel whom God blessed and elevated to the high station of serving directly before Him who became the first 'ingrate'. He did not appreciate what God had given him....he did not appreciate his Maker.
Almighty God prophesied against that angel when speaking to His prophet Ezekiel. Through the prophet, He laid out His case against this angel who would become known as Satan, the devil:
13 You lived in Eden, the garden of God, and wore gems of every kind: rubies and diamonds; topaz, beryl, carnelian, and jasper; sapphires, emeralds, and garnets. You had ornaments of gold. They were made for you on the day you were created.
14 I put a terrifying angel there to guard you. You lived on my holy mountain and walked among sparkling gems.
15 Your conduct was perfect from the day you were created until you began to do evil.
16 You were busy buying and selling, and this led you to violence and sin. So I forced you to leave my holy mountain, and the angel who guarded you drove you away from the sparkling gems.
17 You were proud of being handsome, and your fame made you act like a fool. Because of this I hurled you to the ground and left you as a warning to other kings.
18 You did such evil in buying and selling that your places of worship were corrupted. So I set fire to the city and burned it to the ground. All who look at you now see you reduced to ashes.
19 You are gone, gone forever, and all the nations that had come to know you are terrified, afraid that they will share your fate.”
Do you take for granted the things you receive from others and the people who provide them to you? If the answer is yes...then you are indeed a ingrate and you are following the example that the devil set in his fall.
The following is an article on the subject of ingratitude. This article delves into ingratitude in all aspects of daily living and speaks to the ungrateful spirit in the would-be servants of God from the devil's fall to those who claim to be disciples of Christ. It is most worthy of your careful consideration.
The Sin of Ingratitude
Ingratitude is an integral part of society. If you ask most people if they are ungrateful, they will probably reply, “Of course not!”
However, this attitude is so ingrained in their lives, they cannot openly admit—or even realize—that they are ungrateful.
But how can you tell if you are ungrateful? Are there things that identify ingratitude? And if so, what can you do about it?
Webster’s Dictionary defines “Ingratitude” as: “Forgetfulness of, or poor return for, kindness received.” It can also be defined as not appreciating or valuing what you have, or have been given. Unexpressed gratitude is also ingratitude!
In today’s fast-paced world, most people seem to not have time for thankfulness. Work, traffic, family, soccer practice, doctor appointments, and countless other things are their main priorities. They seem to have no time to thank others.
But consider the following. Have you ever given someone a gift and not received thanks for it?
Have you ever been in a grocery store or restaurant and were not thanked for your business? Have you ever felt unappreciated by family or friends or at your workplace? If so, how did it make you feel? Probably not very good.
Have you ever thought about where this mindset of ingratitude comes from? This is vital to understand before one can overcome this problem.
Past to Present: One Nation—Ungrateful
If you live in America or any other nation descended from ancient Israel, you live in one of the most abundantly blessed lands in the world. This country enjoys plentiful food, shelter, electricity, running water, wealth, air conditioning, heating, transportation, sanitation, and many other blessings. If you live in one of these countries, take a moment to look around and fully take in all of the many blessings.
However, these lands are filled with chronic grumblers and complainers. Although there are countless blessings, there seem to always be countless things to gripe about—be it traffic, the economy, food prices, problems at work, difficulties with family, desire for additional material possessions, ill health, etc. Never before in the history of man has the world shown this horrible characteristic as it does today!
The Bible records the experiences of another nation—the ancient nation of Israel—who also constantly complained and murmured. No matter what God did for them, it was never enough.
After 430 years of slavery to the Egyptians, the Israelites, through God’s miraculous intervention, were released from bondage. As they left Egypt, God allowed them to collect riches, cattle, food, gold, jewels and supplies. God performed many miracles as they traveled through the wilderness. He selected them as His people, promising to take them to a land “filled with milk and honey.”
Notice God’s plain words to the Israelites: “And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 3:8).
But this was not enough for them!
Upon approaching the Promised Land, the Israelites were instructed by God to send spies to survey the land. It was located between other nations that were enemies of Israel.
After forty days of spying the land, they returned. And presented to Moses, Aaron and the congregation of Israel the fruit from the land, saying, “We came unto the land whether you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey…Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great” (Num. 13:27).
Caleb, one of the spies, asked Moses for permission to take the land. But the other spies—except for Joshua—lied to the people, claiming that it was infested with strong, powerful giants.
Notice the reaction of the crowd:
“And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt!…
“And wherefore has the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? Were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt” (Num. 14:2-4).
Israel was so blatantly ungrateful that they wanted to go back to Egypt—where they had undergone many hundreds of years of brutal slavery. They did not appreciate the astounding blessings that God provided or the many powerful miracles He performed for them.
Notice God’s response to their attitude: “And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people PROVOKE Me? And how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have showed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them…” (Num. 14:11-12).
However, Moses reasoned with God, prompting Him to change His mind.
Numbers 14 continues, “And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to your word…Because all those men which have seen My glory, and My miracles…have not hearkened to My voice; surely they shall not see the land which I swore unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked Me see it…
“How long shall I bear with this EVIL CONGREGATION, which murmur against Me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against Me.
“Say unto them, As truly as I live, says the LORD, as you have spoken in Mine ears, so will I do to you: your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness…you shall not come into the land, concerning which I swore to make you dwell therein…But your little ones, which you said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised…and the people mourned greatly…saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD has promised: for we have sinned” (Num. 14:20, 22-23, 27, 29, 31, 39-40).
God called the Israelites an “evil congregation” for their sinful ingratitude. To God, an ungrateful attitude is sin—evil—which provokes Him to anger!
Although God did not strike Israel with pestilence at that time or disinherit them, He did cause them to wander in the wilderness for 40 additional years, until those that demonstrated this attitude died!
Their murmurings and unthankful attitude condemned them from ever seeing the Promised Land!
Most are familiar with the phrase, “Those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This applies to the modern-day descendants of Israel—the United States, Britain, Australia and other democratic, primarily English-speaking people scattered throughout the world. These nations are foretold to relive history—and experience many soon-coming horrific events for much the same reasons as ancient Israel!
Deuteronomy 28 has been called the “Blessings and Curses” chapter. It records a sobering warning to those who will heed it. This prophecy, given almost 3,500 years ago, recounts what is foretold to happen to proud, arrogant and ungrateful nations!
The first 14 verses describe the many wonderful blessings that are to be poured upon the nations that obey and worship God. The remaining part of the chapter lists the countless curses that are reaped for disobeying God:
“Because you serve not the LORD your God with joyfulness, and with GLADNESS OF HEART, for the abundance of all things; therefore shall you serve your enemies which the LORD shall send against you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon your neck, until he have destroyed you.
“The LORD shall bring a nation against you from far, a nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young: and he shall eat the fruit of your cattle, and the fruit of your land, until you be destroyed…
“And he shall besiege you in all your gates, until your high and fenced walls come down, wherein you trusted, throughout all your land: and he shall besiege you in all your gates throughout all your land, which the LORD your God has given you” (Deut. 28:47-52).
Ingratitude is just one of many sins that the people of this country have committed—and will be led into captivity for! This is the warning from the pages of your Bible! Under captivity, all the grumbling, murmuring and complaining that consume people’s lives will be of no importance.
Ingratitude is a DEADLY SIN! The consequence for this sin is grave—and not to be taken lightly!
Ingratitude in Christ’s Day
Most are familiar with the many Bible accounts of Christ’s miracles. He walked on water, turned water into wine, fed thousands of people from a small amount of food, cast out demons and healed many people. But, although He healed many, how many do you think actually came back to thank Him? You will be surprised.
Luke’s gospel records one such miraculous healing. In this account, Christ healed ten lepers. Verse 12 records, “And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
“And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And He said unto him, Arise, go your way: your faith has made you whole” (Luke 17:12-19).
Of the ten lepers, only one returned to thank Christ. Think of that statement. Only one of the ten thanked God for healing them of an awful disease!
Notice Christ’s rhetorical question. Understanding the characteristics of human nature, He perfectly understood why the others had not returned to thank Him.
But why is mankind so intrinsically ungrateful?
The Most Common Sin
From television commercials, programs, movies, shopping malls and homes, a widespread attitude of SELFISHNESS is sweeping the nations of this world. Adults, children and teens are becoming more ungrateful each day.
A main accelerator of this ingratitude is commercialism. Society has been caught up in the “you-work-hard-so-you-deserve-a-new-car-and-a-vacation-in-Barbados” mentality.
This, in turn, has caused many to believe the ideology that, if they do not acquire these extravagant luxuries, life is somehow treating them unfairly.
Before calling for a national day of fasting, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln stated, “We have been the recipients of the choicest blessings of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation ever has grown; BUT WE HAVE FORGOTTEN GOD! We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
This is a tremendously powerful statement! Since the time President Lincoln gave this speech, the wealth, prosperity and peace experienced by the United States is far greater—along with the attitude of pride, selfishness and ingratitude.
But if this same speech were given today, there would be quite an uproar!
The apostle Paul wrote, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, UNTHANKFUL, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (II Tim. 3:1-4).
These attitudes are becoming increasingly evident in these “last days.” (By these verses, even an atheist can recognize that we are living in these days by simply turning on the television!)
In contrast to Lincoln’s day, or even to fifty years ago, today’s ungrateful attitude is worse by far. If that generation forgot God, and the many blessings He provided for America, then this de-generation doesn’t even know God exists!
In this world of being obsessed with what’s “in”—from the newest fashions, to the latest songs and to absurd political correctness—GRATITUDE HAS BEEN ALL BUT DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL!
To find the source of this attitude, one must look in the pages of the Bible to find the most selfish, proud, arrogant, self-centered and ungrateful being that ever existed—Satan the devil.
Before his rebellion against God, Satan (first named Lucifer) was a perfectly created archangel. The prophet Isaiah records, “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14:12-14).
Lucifer’s heart was lifted up with arrogance—vanity. He was ungrateful to God for giving him life. Neither was he grateful to God for creating him so perfectly. Instead, he rebelled against God, choosing to believe that he was better than his Creator—that his way was greater than God’s Way.
As the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), he broadcasts this same attitude into us.
How to Be Grateful
It has been said that ingratitude is the most common sin.
Although it is a part of our nature, there are ways that you can avoid being one of the many that commit the sin of ingratitude.
Below are just a few simple ways to show your gratitude toward God and fellowman:
Thank God daily: God commands us to go to Him in prayer with praise and thanksgiving. Do you thank Him daily?
The Bible is filled with examples of God’s servants showing their gratitude towards Him.
I Chronicles 29 records King David being deeply moved at the people’s generosity in preparing God’s Temple. David was inspired and expressed his earnest and sincere gratitude in honor of the great God. He exclaimed: “Blessed be You, LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come of You, and You reign over all; and in Your hand is power and might; and in Your hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come of You, and of Your own have we given You” (vs. 10-14).
Paul writes, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks” (I Thess. 5:16-18).
Psalm 92 records a special Sabbath psalm used to praise God: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto Your name, O most High: to show forth Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night…For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work: I will triumph in the works of Your hands. O LORD, how great are Your works! And Your thoughts are very deep…You, LORD, are most High forevermore. For, lo, Your enemies, O LORD, for, lo, Your enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered” (vs. 1-2, 4-5, 8-9).
You should never run out of things to thank God for! Go to Him in prayer and continually thank Him for all the blessings He has provided you!
The Bible records God’s faithful servants continuously doing so. We also find that the Bible commands us to always give thanks and praise to God.
Why? Why does God command that we praise Him with thanksgiving? Does He require this because He needs our praises? NO!
This command is repeated throughout the Bible because WE need it! In order for us, as Christians, to be more like God—the most thankful Being in the universe—WE need to learn to be thankful and give praises every day!
Another vital way to demonstrate gratitude towards the great God is through tithes and offerings. The prophet Malachi records God’s words: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:8-10).
Although God provides absolutely everything that we have, He promises to provide more—through pouring out blessings from heaven—if we merely do our part by paying tithes and offerings! Through our heartfelt dedication in supporting His end-time Work, He promises us much more than we can possibly desire!
Say “Thank you” often: Many people fear thanking others. They often fall into the mentality that, by thanking, they are somehow in debt or owe something to that person. But the truth is far from this!
Throughout history, great men have been known for specifically thanking others. It is not a sign of weakness—it is a sign of MEEKNESS!
Think of the things that people do for you—from opening a door for you, to giving you a ride to the store, or providing a kind and reassuring word. We live in an age when common courtesy and politeness are all but extinct!
Say “thank you” and “please” often. You should never run out of people to thank. You would be surprised how happy those little words can make others feel!
Count your blessings, not your worries: Look around you. When was the last time you lost a loved one to starvation or rampant disease? When was the last time you gave up eating to make sure your children had food? When was the last time you had to sell your children because you did not have the money to survive or even provide for them? Chances are you have never experienced these things. Unfortunately, these are grim realities that many around the world face each day. Thank God each day for all the terrible things that you have not had to endure!
It is common to fall into the routine of constant “grumbling” and complaining about problems and worries. When you find yourself complaining about finances, traffic, problems at work, family issues, car troubles, or whatever other difficulty or trial you may be experiencing, remember that everything God does and allows is for a reason. Although difficult, it is for a greater good—if you overcome them!
Consider the following analogy:
Each ingredient used in making a cake is not always sweet or good to the taste. By themselves, their tastes can range from bitter, to salty, to sweet, to chalky. But the end result—the cake—is delicious and sweet!
King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, recorded, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccl. 3:1).
Although it is difficult to do, when you are experiencing trials, look for the good that God wants you to learn from them.
For example, if you are having car problems, and will need an expensive repair, perhaps you are mishandling, or wasting money on other things, and God wants you to re-examine your budget. Many of the difficulties that you encounter can help you realize whether or not you are living properly. You can learn from these experiences!
When people grumble, they are complaining about a situation that God has allowed—and sometimes even caused—them to be in!
Paul admonishes us to “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14-15).
Finally, consider Paul’s example of dealing with trials and afflictions: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
Notwithstanding you have well done, that you did communicate with my affliction” (4:11-14). We must learn from experiences—both good and bad!
Things to Be Grateful For
The following lists just a few things which we should show gratitude for. Upon reading them, picture how your life would be without them:
Loving family and friends: After creating man, God declared, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him” (Gen. 2:18).
God created humans with the need for family. If you are married, appreciate your husband or wife. If you have children, appreciate all the fond memories that you are building together. Problems and arguments will occur from time to time, but at those moments, imagine your life without your loved ones. Realize how different it would be.
Employment: Without employment, how would you earn a living? How would you eat or feed your family? How would your rent or mortgage be paid?
Every day, it seems headlines report some type of corporation “laying off” hundreds, even thousands of employees. Be thankful to God for the job He has provided for you. Although you may experience hardships with co-workers or employers, acknowledge that without your job, you would not have a means to support your family or yourself.
Food, clothing, shelter: Although man has systematically pillaged, destroyed and raped the land that provides the materials needed for food, clothing and shelter, the United States and the other modern-day descendants of Israel have an abundance of these great blessings. Other nations, however, do not.
Appreciate these things!
God understands that, as physical humans, we need physical substances for survival.
Notice: “And why take you thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, o you of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?…For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things” (Matt. 6:28-32).
If God cares for and clothes even the flowers, how much more will He provide for those that obey Him? This is what His Word declares.
Are you grateful for this promise? Or do you take it for granted?
God’s truth: How much do you appreciate God’s Word—the Holy Bible? God has provided a way for us to know and understand His laws through this great Book of Instruction. Notice President Lincoln’s statement concerning it:
“I believe the Bible is the best gift that God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated through this Book. I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”
The apostle Peter stated to Christ, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Do you feel the same way?
Dealing With Ingratitude
One of the most awkward and difficult situations for a person is dealing with an ungrateful person. Someone once said, “The quickest way to earn someone’s contempt is to do too much for them.”
An example of this was when some who had received food stamps for years, then had their benefits revoked by the government. This caused quite a commotion—many claimed to be victims of injustice. When in reality, they had long received something they did not earn.
Many times, people find themselves in a position of having done things for others for such a long time, that the other party begins to feel that they deserve it. While there are many principles that can be applied in such situations, there are two basic rules that can be applied to better handle this problem.
“The Golden Rule”: Many millions of professing Christians claim to follow the Bible.
But why don’t they follow the laws and principles from it? And why, if so many do enjoy being appreciated or treated with gratitude, are there so many ungrateful people?
Matthew records, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (7:12, NKJV). Most know this as “the Golden Rule”—to treat others how you wish to be treated.
Many quote this verse, but rarely practice it. Yet this principle is vital in combating the pulls and lusts of “the flesh” This includes ingratitude.
When someone does something for you, think to yourself, “If I did this for someone, wouldn’t I like to receive a ‘thank you’?”
Chances are, you would. You must fight against your human nature and show gratitude.
Paul records, “For what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I” (Rom. 7:15).
Paul, who was an apostle and had personal encounters with the glorified Christ, wrote that even he had difficulties combating the inner self. This evidences that it is DIFFICULT to wage a war against the wicked, evil and sinful self! But with humility towards God, and asking for His help, it is possible!
The Principle of Cause and Effect:
The principle of cause and effect is all around us. If the floor is wet, someone may slip and fall. If a car runs over a nail, the tire will become flat. This is common sense.
This principle can be described another way: Every action has a reaction. In examining today’s society, many do not recognize that this principle applies in their lives—through more ways than just the physical.
After Lucifer’s rebellion, he became the “prince of the power of the air,” and the “god of this world.” Since then, Satan’s way of life—the GET way—has pummeled humanity with his selfish, proud, rebellious and ungrateful attitudes. This is the CAUSE!
The EFFECT is the attitude present in society at large. Tuned into “the prince of the power of the air,” humanity has had a materialistic, selfish, “me-first” existence. They are following their god.
This is CAUSE and EFFECT!
People always notice when others are rude to them—a purely selfish action. They often think, “Look at how rude people are towards me…I am not being appreciated…I did not receive a ‘thank you’ for kindness that I performed.”
This cycle has always been in effect throughout mankind’s history. After 6,000 years of injustice, misrule and destruction, ingratitude is merely one of the many “effects” mankind has brought upon itself!
The Choice is Yours
Always remember that ingratitude is a deadly sin. God directly calls it evil! An ungrateful attitude is something that most are unaware that they have, but everyone else sees! It is a deep character flaw. Although few will tell you about it, ingratitude sticks out like a sore thumb.
Often, it goes unchanged and untreated, because of people’s ignorance of it. It is something that, after many years of “perfecting,” needs to be completely removed!
Remember Israel’s example. They grumbled, complained and showed ingratitude because they were afraid of being unable to overcome the “giants” that might have kept them from the Promised Land. But in reality, the only “giant” that held them back from enjoying this great blessing from God was their ingratitude! An entire generation—except for two men—died without seeing this land!
Learn from this example. An ungrateful attitude exists in our human nature. But simple steps can be taken to overcome it. By honestly analyzing yourself, and applying biblical rules and principles of etiquette, you can ENSURE that you are not committing this most common—and DEADLY—sin.
Remember Paul’s three commands for true Christians:
(1) “Rejoice evermore.”
(2) “Pray without ceasing.”
(3) “In everything give thanks.”
Do not let this sin keep you from God’s many promises! Do not let it steal your happiness. The choice is yours!
Watch Your Footsteps Carefully
Watch Your Footsteps Carefully…Watch How You Walk
The word “Christian” does not simply mean “admirer of Christ,” nor “recipient of Christ’s blessings,” nor even “one who believes in Christ.” It means much more than that.
“Christian” means “follower of Christ.” Jesus came as a man and left us an example to follow.
1 Peter 2:21
“For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps”.
Before disciples of Christ became known as ‘Christians’, the course of disciples of Christ was known as “the Way”:
14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,
The term ‘Way’ is very revealing as it shows they understood their discipleship under Christ to be a course to follow.
Sin has a hold on all people, and we have all fallen short of God’s will in our lives.
Even the those of us who attempt to lead a godly life, if we are honest with ourselves, have to admit that we are imperfect sinners and must therefore pay constant attention to our thoughts and our behaviors.
Consider our thoughts: Are they always so pure and noble, loving and forgiving as we make ourselves out to be? If we are honest, we have to say “no”.
Consider our words: Are all our words a blessing? If we are honest, we have to say “no”.
Consider our conduct: Are all our deeds always unselfish? If we are honest, we have to say “no”.
Living as footstep followers of Christ is an ongoing, constant struggle because of the sin that resides within us.
Are we really following in Jesus’ footsteps?
Because of the perversion of real Christianity, you may never have heard of this kind of Christianity, but it is the only kind that God’s Word speaks of.
Pick up your Bible today, and rather than reading what Jesus did in your place, read how you can follow in Jesus’ footsteps to become like Him!
Ask yourself, “Am I really a Christian, according to the Bible?” If this is the life you want, then pray to God in the presence of Christ that God give you His Spirit and then start following in Jesus’ footsteps.
We have this Scriptural admonition as a reminder and as a warning:
12 Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God.
13 But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.
14 For we have become companions of the Messiah if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start.
The Holy Scriptures long ago counseled worshipers of the living and only true God to watch their steps in order to maintain pure worship and in order to remain in good standing before Him:
“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong”.
What does Ecclesiastes 5:1 mean?
That it is an evil act to make mindless offerings to God and it displeases Him.
When this was written, the Temple built by Solomon was the house of the Lord; it was the place of divine worship, where the word of God was preached, and his ordinances were administered. When they approached the Temple to worship or to offer sacrifices, they were to approach in proper/suitable condition. Many did not; seeing such as just some formalistic ritual they were required to go through.
This is why God made this comment about them:
13 The Lord said: “Because these people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service—yet their hearts are far from Me, and their worship consists of man-made rules”
Likewise, the worship of many self-professed disciples of Christ is nothing more than lip-service.
The Book of Proverbs offers much good counsel on how to live and maintain a Godly lifestyle.
26 Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.
27 Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered; when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction; don’t let go. Guard it, for it is your life.
14 Don’t set foot on the path of the wicked; don’t proceed in the way of evil ones.
15 Avoid it; don’t travel on it. Turn away from it, and pass it by.
16 For they can’t sleep unless they have done what is evil; they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
Paul also offered similar counsel to the 1st century Christian congregation:
15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—
16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil.
17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:
Everyone is following something or someone. Even if it is themselves and their individual will.
Some people follow in the footsteps of their family and carry on family traditions.
Others follow their own intuition drawing from a variety of man-made philosophical viewpoints. Or from the counsel of family members, associates, or religions. They do whatever they feel is right in their gut.
However, a true disciple of Christ (Christian), by Biblical definition, do not follow any of these paths.
How can we tell if we really are followers of Jesus Christ?
We can tell if we’re Jesus’ followers if we live out His truth and walk in the light as He is in the light.
This means that we cannot think and behave like those alienated from God and still be pleasing to Him. There is no fellowship between “light” and “darkness”. There is no fellowship between Christ and the devil.
2 Corinthians 6:14
“Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness”?
If we continue to have fellowship with those alienated from God and Christ, we will remain in spiritual darkness and cannot be true footstep followers of Christ.
Passing on the knowledge he personally received from Jesus, Paul wrote this:
1 John 1:5-7
5 Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.
6 If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
So, to be true to that calling mentioned by Peter that can be found at 1 Peter 2:21, we must not just worship with our lips. But we must adhere to the Word of God and follow the example set by our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ Parable Of The Sower And The Seed
3 Then he began to tell them many things in parables. He said, “Listen! A farmer went out to sow.
4 As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, and birds came and ate them up.
5 Other seeds fell on stony ground, where they did not have a lot of soil. They sprouted at once because the soil wasn’t deep.
6 But when the sun came up, they were scorched. Since they did not have any roots, they dried up.
7 Other seeds fell among thorn bushes, and the thorn bushes grew higher and choked them out.
Jesus here speaks of people who had accept the message, became disciples, and who for different reasons failed to take root and grow.
I was associated with the Watchtower Society for about 50 years. My parents, siblings, as well as my own children were also associated with “Jehovah’s Witnesses”.
Looking back, most of those members I encountered never grew beyond spoon-fed spiritual babes although most believe they are highly enlightened.
They never actually rooted in order to become what from a biblical standpoint could be considered spiritually mature.
We would frequently sing a song that contained the refrain, “Make the truth your own”. But many never did. They made their organization equivalent to ‘truth’.
As a result, many put their trust into what others told them was the accurate interpretation of the Bible.
While some simply wouldn’t study the Bible themselves, others didn’t because they were told they couldn’t get the right interpretation studying the Scriptures independently.
In effect the weed-like teachings, or as Jesus elsewhere calls them “demon inspired expressions” of their false prophets and elders choked off any chance to develop and grow.
The Psalmist counseled this:
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Psalm 1:1, 2
In duplicity JW org beckons in members by ads like this:
“Receive Full Benefit From Reading the Bible” — (Watchtower ONLINE quote:)
But what does it mean then to read the Bible “in an undertone”? And ” must not depart from your mouth” and “you must in an undertone read in it day and night”.? NWT
After they have hooked people in, they then tell them they can’t grow by such independent study.
When the Watchtower Society headquarters were located in Brooklyn, New York, it displayed a huge sign which read, “Read The Bible Daily”.
But if you can’t get an accurate understanding by doing so, what would be the point? Their behavior is classic bait and switch modus operandi.
Charles Russell wrote to this effect and they have had a history of breaking up any small group who would get together just to consider the Bible absent WT literature.
They, the elders were the “thorns” that choked the life out of earnest people seeking to become disciples of Christ in order to make them disciples of men.
These elders were the “birds” Jesus speaks about in Matthew 13:4 who swooped down and ate the seed before it could take root and grow to spiritual maturity.
Their actions prove that they do not believe in Christ although they say they do. They do not believe in his word. Otherwise they would have heeded his advance warning:
6 “If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.
7 How terrible for the world that there are things that make people lose their faith! Such things will always happen—but how terrible for the one who causes them!
I am certain that there are many who have had this same experience with other so-called religious denominations throughout the world. However, I can only give direct testimony in regard to my own experience. The same warning applies.
These men will be accountable to Christ in the Judgment.
Make Wise Use Of The Remaining Time
"Redeeming The Time"
Paul wrote a warning to the Ephesian church that they should "watch carefully how they walked" and that they should be "redeeming" time.
The following is his statement in context:
1 Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children.
2 And walk in love, even as Christ also loved us, a and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance.
3 But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints;
4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate; but rather giving of thanks.
5 Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.
7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of light,
9 for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth,
10 proving what is well pleasing to the Lord.
11 Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them.
12 For the things which are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of.
13 But all things, when they are reproved, are revealed by the light, for everything that reveals is light.
14 Therefore he says, “Awake, you who sleep, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise;
16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
18 Do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your heart to the Lord;
20 giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father; (NHEB)
The Greek word 'exagorazo' is used in the actual translation where the engish word "redeem" now appears in Ephesians 5:16.
Exagorzo literally means to "buy out of the market place." The picture is of a merchant who diligently seeks to buy up the best bargains in the market place, taking care not to miss out on fleeting opportunities.
At Ephesians 5:16, 'redeem' is used in the present tense which calls for us to make it our lifestyle, our daily, moment by moment practice, to buy up for ourselves (to our eternal advantage) the strategic opportunities which God providentially places in our path.
If we are walking wisely (Eph 5:15-note), filled with God's Spirit (Eph 5:18-note), we will be spiritually alert to those divine opportunities in the "marketplace", and will begin to view people and circumstances not just as encounters (or irritations) in time but as opportunities to impact our eternity.
Paul also gave the same admonition to the church at Colossae:
"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time".
To redeem something means to buy it back, to regain possession of it. The immoral way of life and the immoral conduct that surrounds us will rob us from using our time in pursuit of righteousness.
This is particularly important now because the execution of Divine Judgment is very near.
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest".
"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed".
Are you making the most wise use of the remaining time?
“And They Took No Note…”
37 “As the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the box-shaped vessel,
39 and they did not know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one will be left;
41 two women grinding at the mill, one will be taken and one will be left.
42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord comes.
43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
44 Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
Jesus harkened back to the days of Noah, the days before the Great deluge swept away an entire world of humankind. God destroyed a world rift with ungodly thinking and behavior.
Christ prophesied again about the refusal to repent of a wicked world in these last days in the prophecy he gave to the apostle John recorded in the Book of
Revelation Chapter 9:
20 The rest of the human race, all those who had not been killed by these plagues, did not turn away from what they themselves had made. They did not stop worshiping demons, nor the idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which cannot see, hear, or walk.
21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic, their sexual immorality, or their stealing.
Today’s wicked God defying world has already been subjected to great plagues of punishment due to ungodly thinking , behavior, and demonic practices.
Yet as in the days of Noah, the world has been preoccupied with the mundane concerns of life and have taken no notice of the moral decay that has swept the Earth.
It is as if they have been sleep-walking.
Can you discern the times?
Prophecy—-The Ripple Effect
Prophecy has a Ripple Effect
Prophecy's effects can be compared to a stone dropped into the center of a pond. Visualize the concentric circles that form from the epicenter and spread out across the pond. Over time these rings cover the entire pond.
Each ring is an identical harmonic reproduction of the initial ring. So that no matter where you are positioned spatially in the pond, you see the same thing.
You can see prophecy's fulfillment everywhere. But there is a critical 'epicenter' to it. These epicenters are circumstances involving 'special' judgements in addition to those common to all mankind.
Following are a few renderings of 2 Thessalonians 2:8 which reveals how the man of lawlessness is brought to an end.
2 Thessalonians 2:8
BBE And then will come the revelation of that evil one, whom the Lord Jesus will put to death with the breath of his mouth, and give to destruction by the revelation of his coming;
EasyEnglish Then people will see the man who completely refuses to obey God. But when the Lord Jesus will come, he will kill that man. Jesus will kill him with the words that Jesus speaks. Jesus will kill him with the very bright, powerful light that shines from Jesus himself.
ISV Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy with the breath of his mouth, rendering him powerless by the manifestation of his coming.
NHEB Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth, and destroy by the manifestation of his coming;
The Easy English gives the fullest interpretation as it points out how the Lord brings this "man of lawlessness" to his end. That is by revelation of the truth.
"Jesus will kill him with the words that Jesus speaks. Jesus will kill him with the very bright, powerful light that shines from Jesus himself."
"Words" will kill the man of lawlessness. Words that the Lord will provide. We certainly don't have an expectation that we will hear His voice from Heaven doing any speaking. Or at least, not prior to His arrival.
He speaks through his servants he has assigned to do so at the appointed time. As now we live near the close of this period of time, and also knowing that the "hour of test" must also occur before the end of this period, time has to be extremely short. And before this, the man of lawlessness is to be killed.
Since Christ will judge angels and flesh, and both the living and all who have died, the application of Biblical prophecy has to be more far reaching than the activities of a small modern day group as Jehovah's Witnesses.
Be On Guard For False Brothers
3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4 Jesus answered them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray.
5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will lead many astray.
6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled, for this must happen, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines and plagues and earthquakes in various places.
8 But all these things are the beginning of birth pains.
Christ foretold of great tribulation that would occur before His return in kingly power. His sign included plagues or pestilence on a global scale.
He also spoke of nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom and of famines and food shortages on a global scale.
As you look at what is happening in the world today, it cannot be denied that these things are occurring just as He said they would.
Couple Jesus' prophecy with what the apostle Paul said concerning the attitudes and behaviors that would be prevalent in the "last days":
2 Timothy 3:1-5
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
These things occurring were given as a warning sign of the times we are living in.
For certain, most of the world will deny the sign because most of this world lives in a state of denial.
But if you reexamine what is written at Matthew 24:3, Jesus wasn't speaking to the world in general but to His disciples "privately". Nor was Paul who shared his prophetic warning as it was written in a private letter to the disciple Timothy.
A true disciple will listen to these warnings and will not deny that they are occurirng now.
Following the Example Set By The Apostle Paul
“And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another”.
1 Corinthians 4
1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.
9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.
15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.
19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.
20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
Resist those who want you to follow them instead of helping you become a better follower of Christ.
Whom Is Your ‘Mother’?
Whom Is Your Mother?
Old Covenant Slave Mother vs New Covenant Free Woman
21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar.
25 For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
Comparatively, the son of Abraham by the free woman (Isaac) is likened to those seeking to be justified by faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as the promised Messiah, without becoming Jewish first or seeking a Zionist national identity.
When reading Paul's words, the son of Abraham by the slave woman (his son Ishmael) was likened to those seeking to be justified by human means, by the works of the Law, by circumcision, by legal Jewish identity.
Paul confronted those who wanted to enforce the Jewish Law covenant upon the newly formed Christian congregation. The Christian congregation and the covenant it was formed upon was comprised of not just natural Jews, but of people of other nations who were not bound to obey the Law of Moses.
Yet there was a constant insistence then and also now by natural Jews to enforce an old terminated covenant centered on one physical nation, Israel. They sought to be right with God by continuing the things of the past while ignoring His will in the matter.
Paul explains that he is referring to two opposing covenants, illustrated using (unnamed) Sarah, and (named) Hagar.
Paul's words emphasize a competition between two covenants. One is legitimate and the other is not.
Paul also wanted his readers to understand that to expect right standing with God according to the flesh, according to Jewish social status, and a physical national identity is to be identified with a covenant of slavery, the covenant with Hagar and her offspring.
Zionist and so-called Christian-Zionist possess this slave mentality by insisted on creating an earthly nation with Jerusalem as it capital. This is exactly what Paul is warning against.
The original old covenant with a single nation is the covenant with Hagar and her offspring. It relates to the Torah of Moses because that is where practicers of Judaisms in Paul’s day looked for the origins of the Nation of Isra'el as a people, because with the Law, God covenantally “married” as it were, his bride Isra'el.
At the time Paul wrote this letter, earthly Jerusalem certainly was not free. The Roman government had a choke-hold on the complete region. It could not have been the Jerusalem above Paul refers to.
What he does say specifically is that the Jerusalem that is above is free (in opposition to the slave-city earthly Jerusalem), and that this heavenly Jerusalem is our mother.
One Should understand these verses as proof positive that the Old Covenant stemming from Mount Sinai represents slavery and must be replaced by the New Covenant stemming from the Heavenly Jerusalem that offers freedom, and this would be true only if we interpret the terms "old covenant" as "old nature" and "new covenant" as "new nature."
The present Zionist movement are the efforts of those attempting to defy God and continue under a yoke of slavery.
Paul mentions that Ishmael was born when Abraham succumbed to his flesh. Or in other words, in the normal way ordinary human beings produce and bear children.
On the other hand, the son of the free woman Sarah (Isaac) was born, not according to human effort, but by the Divine power of God and after Abraham and Sarah were in reality too old to physically copulate for the sake of producing children.
Galatians 4:26 King James Version (KJV)
"But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all".
“Letters Of Recommendation”
2 Corinthians 3:2
“Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?”
In this chapter, Paul begins by pointing out that he, the apostle that Christ used to begin the Corinthian church, did not need a “letter of recommendation” from anybody.
What commended him was evident by the power of the Holy Spirit manifested by the works he performed.
Paul then explains that God is the real source of power behind his ministerial work:
2 Corinthians 3:3
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
Some today believe a “letter of recommendation” is necessary to be considered a bonafide ‘minister’ of Christ.
They would have you believe that to be considered a ‘real’ minister, you will have had to have attended some School of Divinity or some Seminary and gotten from them a letter of recommendation (degree). Paul says correctly that that is not so.
Nor is it a case of we recommending ourselves. Reading verses 5 and 6, he continues:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
Paul is writing the Corinthians because a problem has arisen among the brothers there because they were getting themselves wrapped up in ideological arguments that were drawing them away from Christ…. and away from living a life guided by the Holy Spirit.
They had lost sight of what is important. They were arguing about ‘credentials’ and superficial things.
The same problem exist today.
Some act like the men Paul refers to as the “super apostles” in 2 Corinthians 11:5,
“I do not think I’m inferior in any way to those “super-apostles.”
These “super-apostles” were actually false teachers who appeared to be superior to Paul in their manner and authority. Paul calls them “super” in a facetious manner. They obviously presented themselves to the congregation as men with credentials that Paul didn’t possess.
2 Corinthians 11:6,
“Even though I may be untrained as an orator, I am not so in the field of knowledge. We have made this clear to all of you in every possible way.”
Divinity Schools and Seminaries can give that polished appearance of a “professional preacher’ that the indiscerning person will confuse with real spirituality.
This is not to imply that going to such a school will make a man a false teacher.
What it means is that it is a false assumption that going to such a school and receiving a letter of recommendation, is proof of confirmation by God’s Spirit and that it makes a man a bonafide minister of Christ.
Only the Holy Spirit in operation is proof of that.
The mouse is not an intelligent creature as you are and doesn't have the advantage you have by being forewarned.
If the mouse had known that there were controllers outside controlling it's mind, behaviors, and destiny; I imagine that if it could not escape, he would at least resisted their efforts with all it's might
Beware Of Those Who Peddle The Word Of God
2 Corinthians 2:17
BBE "For we are not like the great number who make use of the word of God for profit: but our words are true, as from God, being said as before God in Christ".
EasyEnglish "But we are not like so many other people, who sell God’s message for money. No, God himself has sent us. And God sees what we are doing. So, we speak honestly because we really want people to know God’s message. We speak as those who are united with Christ".
ISV "At least we are not commercializing God’s word like so many others. Instead, we speak with sincerity in the Messiah’s name, like people who are sent from God and are accountable to God".
KJVLite "For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ".
NET "For we are not like so many others, hucksters who peddle the word of God for profit, but we are speaking in Christ before God as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God".
NHEB "For we are not, like so many, peddling the word of God. But as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ".
Luke 14:28 (GNT)
"If one of you is planning to build a tower, you sit down first and figure out what it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job".
Do you get messages from strangers who solicit me for money on Facebook?
After friending and exchanging salutations, they immediately beg for money for some project they have embarked upon.
Some claim they are Christians and are operating orphanages and need financial aid.
Others claim to be Christian ministers who are constructing buildings for their group to meet in.
The words above are the words of Jesus Christ. It is sound admonition.
Why would one embark upon doing something and not first sit down and calculate if they are in a position to accomplish the task?
Facebook offers a contribution button that a person can display on their own page. This enables anyone who wishes to voluntarily make a contribution to do so.
If one cannot afford the cost of such ventures, it would be much better to volunteer their services to an already established, financed orphanage or to work and build up sufficient enough funds to start and finish your building project.
What are the distinguishing differences between a “sheep-like” disciple and the “goat-like” disciple?
Are You Sheep-like or a Goat in Personality?
Matthew 25:31-33: “the Son of Man … will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left,”
In several prophecies written in the Old Testament, the coming Messiah is referred to as a ‘Shepherd’ (Genesis 49:24, Isaiah 40:11, Ezekiel 34:23, Ezekiel 37:24).
Jesus identified himself as the foretold of “shepherd” that would guide God’s obedient children to salvation.
11 I am the good shepherd. a The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me
A drove of sheep is led by its shepherd; whereas a goatherd is led by a lead goat.
A flock of sheep look towards the guidance of its shepherd to lead them and to protect them from dangerous predators and dangerous environments, whereas goats lead a goatherd wherever THEY wish to go and destroy the environment around them along the way.
The male goat represents strong-mindedness, singleness of purpose, and leadership rather than following. Interestingly, Scripture does not view the goat in nearly as good a light as a sheep.
Perhaps this is so because people who exercise these characteristics are frequently offensive to their brethren and tend to go off in their own direction in their drive to achieve their goals. Unfortunately, a great deal of ego often accompanies leadership and initiative.
The reaction of the goat is unlike that of the obedient disciple.
They have little sympathy for God’s way and remain indifferent, Laodicean, to their brethren. In so doing, they reject their Messiah, their King, since He lived in the people whom they would not serve.
When reading the context of Jesus’ statements found at Matthew chapter 25, the “goats” are condemned because of their sins of omission.
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels!
42 I was hungry but you would not feed me, thirsty but you would not give me a drink;
43 I was a stranger but you would not welcome me in your homes, naked but you would not clothe me; I was sick and in prison but you would not take care of me.’
44 Then they will answer him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and we would not help you?’
45 The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me.’
46 These, then, will be sent off to eternal punishment, but the righteous will go to eternal life.”
There are sins of commission which are things we do: and there are sins of omission….sins of failing to act and do what is right in God’s eyes.
Why did Jesus label such people as goats? What is it about goats that caused Jesus to use them in such a negative light?
Goats are capricious. They are impulsive and unpredictable, devious and contrary. If they are not poking their heads through fences, they may be standing on their hind legs, stretching for those tender leaves just out of reach. Goats are never content with what they have.
They are experts in opening gates and squeezing through small gaps because they hate to be confined. Fences that will handle sheep, cattle, and horses will not hold goats. They will work tirelessly to spring themselves from any situation they deem inhibiting.
Consequently, goats are not very good followers. “Gregarious behavior” is a term that refers to the flocking or herding instinct which is found strongly in sheep, cattle, and horses. Again, this quality is rather weak in goats; they prefer leading or going off on their own.
Goats have many admirable qualities. They are intelligent, sensitive, playful, quick to respond to individual attention and affection. Sounds good, right?
But wait, there is much more! Goats are capricious. They are impulsive and unpredictable, devious and contrary. When they are grazing, it is not unusual to see several with their heads through a fence, straining to reach the grass that is always greener on the other side!
They are experts in opening gates and squeezing through small gaps because they hate to be confined. Fences that will handle sheep, cattle, and horses will not hold goats. They will work tirelessly to spring themselves from any situation they deem inhibiting.
Consequently, goats are not very good followers. “Gregarious behavior” is a term that refers to the flocking or herding instinct which is found strongly in sheep, cattle, and horses. Again, this quality is rather weak in goats; they prefer leading or going off on their own.
Goats also possess a stubborn streak. A friend once tried to move a goat in a certain direction. He grabbed it by the horns and pushed and pulled and tugged. No matter how or in what direction he tried to move the goat, it resisted. He could not budge it one inch.
Then, when he let go, it just trotted off—in the direction the goat wanted to go in!
Goats are intelligent and playful but impulsive, unpredictable, and devious.
Goats are not very good followers; nor are many ‘professed’ Christian disciples of Christ.
What would we call a Christian who is unpredictable? A goat! Or one who thinks he is above it all? A goat! Or one who independently does his own thing? A goat! What would we call a Christian who wants to take over, has trouble functioning in a group, and does not want to be led? A goat!