A Single Mother’s Dilemma

 

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Genesis 21: 15- 21

And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, “Let me not see the death of the boy.” So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.

And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

Motherhood is a blessed thing, just as it is a challenging thing. It is a joyous thing, but at other times it is a painful experience. It can be a sad experience. It can be a heart-breaking thing to be a mother. There are times when a mother weeps. Have you ever heard the cry of a weeping mother? Worse still, if she is a single mother. Our society is filled with single mothers. In south Africa the ‘typical’ child is raised by a mother in a single-parent household. The child has absent but living father. There are also children with absent mothers. A mother who is supposed to teach the boy child how to treat women with respect and honour; a mother to teach the girl child how to act around boys; to teach her worth, value and dignity as a woman. To teach her that sex is not love and you can’t make a man to love you by sleeping with them.

This lack of a stable family life contributes to some of the social problems: problems such as youth unemployment, violent crime, teenage pregnancy and alcohol and drug abuse. Majority of single parents are young unemployed females.

When we speak of single mothers, we are speaking about those mothers who rear their children single-handedly. They are responsible for their children physical, educational and emotional needs, exclusively. They have to bear the burden of the joys of raising children alone. Perhaps they receive assistance from somewhere, but the whole responsibility of the child’s welfare falls on them and them alone. They train their children in the way without a partner in the process, without a co-trainer, without a mate who is willing to shoulder the operation of preparation with them. They are Single Mothers.

Therefore, based on this definition of single motherhood, you can be married and still be a single mother. Some married mothers know what I am describing. Every morsel of bread the child eats, they prepare. Every stitch of clothing the child wears, they bought. They tuck the child in at every night and wake them up every morning. They teaching them the Lord’s Prayer and their ABC’s. They are the homework checkers and the carpool drivers. They coach the little league baseball team and bake brownies for PTA’s. Everything the child needs, this mother provides single-handedly. Daddy may be sitting right there, but he does not lift a finger to help.

Hagar was an Egyptian slave living in the home of Abraham. Her name means “uncertainty”- the entire story of her life is indeed based and shaped by trouble and circumstaces, it was not an easy life; it was full of worry in as much as it was full of bewilderment, confusion and distrust. She later became Abraham’s concubine. Now a concubine is someone with whom you engage in ongoing sexual relationship yet cannot be married to them. Having sexual intimacy with another woman’s wife, and yet you can never marry him. What is worse when you know the ‘other’ woman, and they also know you- when that woman happens to be your mistress? But she was more than Abraham’s concubine, she was in fact, Abrams second wife. Genesis 16:3 says Abraham took her to be his wife.

Hagar (Keturah) was offered, by her mistress, to Abram to be as a second wife. Sarai presented this offering to her husband because she had been barren for so long and sought a way to fulfil God’s promise, especially since they were getting older; she later regretted that choice- be careful of making long term decisions and choices based on a temporary situation. Be careful of always making choices to cater for the now; to do things just because of the pressing demand of the moment. Now Sarai wanted to remove the shame and ridicule she was getting for having not produced an heir for Abram.

Sarah realised God was too slow in keeping his promises, and so she tried to take it upon herself and fulfil God’s promise. She was too hasty and lacked trust in God. Abram instead of showing more faith in God, and standing up as the head in his house, does not reprove his wife. When Sarah suggests the he sleep with Hagar, he does not protest, but does as suggested by his wife. This lets us into a deeper understanding of the type of man Abram was- he was not a leader in his house, and he was in most cases pulled by the nose by his wife. His lack of faith in God, has immense repercussions on future generations. Isn’t it interesting that the choices and decisions parents make later on affect their children negatively? That sometime we think we are only taking decisions for ourselves to fulfil our immediate need, but sometimes the consequences of our decisions are multi-generational.

Abraham was a man of God, and yet the bible records many mistakes that he made. It is interesting that the Bible presents human persons just as they are- imperfect, ‘sinners’ who are but just striving to be better people. But this end is never realised. Although Abram slept his maid, his name is not scraped from the list of faith heroes.

The problem is we live in an idealised world, and not a real one. Some Christian folks like to act as if they are holy all the time and do no wrong. They are quick to condemn and criticise those that fall, failing to realise that they themselves are imperfect. It’s easy for me to comment and criticize another’s sin failing to realise that I have my own shortcomings that might not be so widely publicized or might only be known to myself.

We expect a perfect life, a perfect career, a perfect marriage, a perfect man wearing a knight and shining armour caring a rose in his teeth, who will sweep you off your feet, and take you into his golden chariot and ride you to his kingly palace where you’ll make love the whole night. We expect a perfect preacher- we’ll I have bad news for you: he is not coming! Only one came, and unfortunately he left; his name was Jesus Christ, and he will come back. But in the mean time you are left with a bunch of imperfect preachers, who are saved but still sinners. They will preach holiness to you as if they themselves are holy. But thank God nowhere the Bible mentions you have to be perfect to preach about Jesus Christ- for if any of us were to wait, we would wait forever!

I have lived with a number of preachers. Knowing someone from a distance you are prone to make the mistake of interpreting them as you see them in the public discourse. Getting to know someone personally and on a more intimate basis is a different case, however. I have known preachers who could preach beautiful sermons on marriage, and yet whilst sitting and having lunch with their wives, I would question the way they treat their wives.   I have met preachers who could preach eloquent sermons, and yet they had anger management issues. I have given up on the quest to meet a normal human being. I have come to the conclusion that no one is perfect and the more you get to know someone, sooner or later you will begin to see their blindness, their disability, their abnormality.

Hagar lived with the man of faith. You never really know somebody until you’ve lived with them. The home really, that’s where your perceived Christianity is tested. Who you are at home is the greatest indicator of the Christian you claim to be. You can smile at church, be nice and tidy and professional around people that you don’t know, but the people at home can testify as to the extent of your Christian conviction. The thing is, we are kind to people that we don’t know. But when I want to know who a person really is I watch how they treat people whom they think they don’t need. If you are rude and unfriendly to the waiter and then the next minute you want to smile to me and act as if you are the most courteous person- you have just revealed who you truly are. People can be friendly and nice to you if they do not know you. Just as we are nice to visitors- we give them attention, we serve them on the best plates and glasses, and we cook excellent food for them. But after a few visits the special treatment drastically change. You see, the special treatment was just a deception, it’s not who we really are. We were just giving them a good image of us, which is not necessarily true. If they were to live with us, they would realise we are on the contrary cold people, moody people, unwelcoming people, nagging people, poor people, lazy people, angry people etc.

When Hagar realized that she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Sarai sensed her slave’s attitude which caused her to suffer greatly. Sarai then consulted her husband about the matter who gave her permission to do with Hagar as she saw fit. Sarai dealt with her harshly, which resulted in Hagar fleeing from Abram’s settlement.

The first time, Hagar fled into the desert on her way to Shur. En route, an angel of Yahweh appeared to Hagar at the well of a spring. He instructed her to return to Sarai her mistress, so that she may bear a child. Afterward, Hagar referred to God as “El Roi”, meaning “the God that sees me”. She then did as she was instructed by returning to Abram in order to have her child. When Abram was eighty-six years of age, Hagar gave birth to his firstborn son named Ishmael.

When Isaac was born to Sarah (Sarai), the relationship between Hagar and her mistress had come to a climax. At a celebration after Isaac was weaned, Sarah found the teenage Ishmael mocking her son. Ishmael was either joking with the young lad or more likely mocking him. Sibling rivalries seem to be the rule and not the exception in human society. We also know that older children have trouble adjusting to not being the only child any longer. They tend to feel neglected as more attention has to be focused upon a totally dependent child. All of this would ring true enough for Ishmael, but there was even a deeper rift felt by the boy. He was the son of a slave woman. Even though he was the older son, Isaac was the one who had higher legal status in the family.

The son of a slave woman was still a slave, no matter who his father was. Ishmael may have felt this deeply. The prophecy given to Hagar was that the boy was going to struggle with everyone. His hand would be against them and theirs against his. There could be another way to look at this in that Ishmael may only have been playing with Isaac. In that case, it was a problem with Sarah and not Ishmael. The NET Bible text indicates the possibility that Sarah took the slave boy’s playing with Isaac as making Ishmael a child of equal or even superior status which threatened her son inheriting fully the estate and the promise She was so upset by it that she demanded from her husband, who was now referred to as Abraham, to send Hagar and her son away.

Sarah was a woman of temper. She declared that Ishmael would not share in Isaac’s inheritance. She did not care how precarious it made their situation in society. Where would they go and how they might make a living was irrelevant. The only thing that mattered is that all rivals to her son’s inheritance be removed.  Abraham was greatly distressed. What a tough household to live in! Having to live with two women! Such a dysfunctional home. A house full of mistrust, a house full of jealousy, a house full of hatred and disrespect, a home filled with abuse. Tradition has it that, Sarah used to treat her harshly, imposed heavy work upon her, and even beat her.

Some will try to justify their behaviour, put all the blame on the Hagar. Making the situation her fault. She must have done something or her child did something that caused them to treat her this way. Maybe if she were a little more humble, a little more submissive, and a little more respectful then this situation would have never occurred. However, I have learned in life that you cannot do enough to please jealous, mean, despiteful people. When she smiled, Sarah felt like she was laughing at her. Abraham was no better, he treated her like a thing to be used rather than a person to be respected, a means to an end. Genesis 16:3 says Abraham took her to be his wife, so we are talking about a husband-second wife relationship. Because of this, Abraham’s behaviour is unjustifiable. But, before we condemn Abraham and vote to take his name off the roll of faith, let us be mindful that works does not save us lest any man should boast

So Abraham released Hagar and her son from being slaves of their household. Hagar would now be a free woman, and Ishmael a free man as a teenager. Abraham gave Hagar bread and water for a journey into the wilderness of Beersheba. She and her son wandered aimlessly until the bottle of water was completely consumed. In a moment of despair, she burst in tears. Her son then called to God (who taught Ishmael how to pray?) in the chaos of Abraham’s house, in the uncertainty of their life and livelihood, the weeping mother never neglected her child’s spiritual development. She had taught her that there is a God that see, and when she had forgotten to pray herself, the child remembered the teaching.  And upon hearing him, an angel of Yahweh confirmed to Hagar that her son would become a great nation. God came through for her again in the desert of her situation.

Both Hagar and his lad were now outside the Abramic covenant, and thus warranted no blessings from God. But because the lad cried, God could still hear. And when God hears, he answers. Sometimes it is necessary to cry out to God. Even though he can see our dilemma, sometimes it is necessary to also cry out to him. God is a God who hears! And he said “Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand.” Literally, bind fast ray hand to him, i.e. give him thy support now, and take care of him till he reaches manhood. Although it is tough, although it is difficult, I will provide until he is a man.

But now seeing that Hagar came from a believing family, and has had personal encounters with the God, why isn’t she praying in the midst of her situation? Why isn’t she calling to God, we wonder? She had lived with a man of God, a hero of faith, and she was used, abused and kicked out. She had seen first-hand the behaviour of Abraham and Sarah. She had seen their religion. She was an eyewitness to just how religious they were and look how they have mistreated her. The same God had asked her to go back to the house of Abram, all for what? For more abuse, insult, hard labour, and rape? How can she now pray to the same God that did not protect her from being a surrogate mother, did not protect her from being divorced and cast out in the wilderness? There are times when the weeping woman is disappointed in God. There are times she is discouraged from praying, when she does not feel like praying.

Hitherto Hagar and her baby had been banished from home. The household of Abraham had been to Hagar and her boy such a pleasant and doubtless much-prized abode; henceforth their connection with the patriarch’s encampment was to be completely severed. This is all she knew, this is all she had. She had lived all her life in the house of Abraham- she knew no other family, she knew no other friends.

And now she finds herself in the desert- cut out of resources, no help and no hope. She is a single mother in a hostile world. She had not asked for any of this- she had not asked to sleep with Abram, she had not asked to be pregnant with Ishmael, she did not ask to be a mother, and again without her will she was banished into the wilderness. The bottle of water and loaf of bread Abraham had given them has run out. Bread and Water. Isn’t that food for prisoners? That represents the least you can give a human being. Abraham could have given them more, if for no other reason, Hagar’s son was his son. He did not have to provide for her so much, but as a father, he should have provided more for this son, his first born son. Bread and Water. The weeping woman has been cut out of relationships and out of resources.

If that wasn’t enough, Genenis 21:14 (KJV) says Abraham sent her away. The Hebrew word “Shalach” is in the Piel tense expressing an “intensive” or “intentional” action. The word expresses Abraham’s action as casting them off or expelling them. This word is used in Genesis 3:23 (KJV) Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden. This is what happened to Adam and Eve after their sin. Part of their punishment was that God sent them away. What was Hagar’s great sin for which she is being sent away? She had been used and abused and now being sent away. Abraham did not say, “See you later,” nor did he say, “Farewell”. He said Good bye and good riddance don’t you come around here anymore. This word represents divorce, total separation; final and complete detachment with no hope of reconciliation.

 And now the weeping woman finds herself in the wilderness. She has lost it all. One day she had a home, then suddenly she was homeless. One day she had a job, then suddenly she was unemployed. One day she had it all, then suddenly she had nothing. One day she was laughing with her son, then suddenly they both were crying. We find her wandering in the wilderness of Beersheba. She had lost her direction, she had lost her way and her future.

The wilderness of Beersheba was a place for thieves, robbers, riff-raff and bandits. This single mother and her son are in this alien place and her meagre means are running out. The weeping single mom is isolated and alone – living her adolescent years shouldering adult parenting Responsibilities. There is no-one to help her. She has to be both father and mother, provider and caretaker for the child she is barely equipped to handle.

And the water was spent in (literally, from) the bottle- they were exhausted, hungry and fainting. The water that Abram had provided had run out. When human implements had run out, when Abrahams water had vanished, God provided for her a well of living water! This well is Jesus Christ himself.

After casting the child under a shrub- meaning that she was caring her teenage son, who had by now fainted, and so because she also could not go on anymore, her energy gave in, and she cast him off. And she went and sat down not wanting to see him dying. She had given up, she was tired, and she couldn’t do it anymore. She could not raise this lad on her own, she could not be mother and father, she could not provide bread for him anymore, and she had given up!

And God opened her eyes. Not necessarily by miraculous operation; perhaps simply by providentially guiding her search for water. It might not take a miracle but God will provide. He led her to the well of living water. He opened up her eyes, whereas they were previously closed and she could not see, but now she can see. She can say, I was once blind, but now I see. I was once lost but now ii am found. He changed her vision, he changed her mind, her ideology. When people had failed her, God led her to the well, when humans had disappointed her, Jesus found her. and when she found the well of living water, she fed the lad as well.

God has always proved to come through to them that cry to him. In the midst of their desert situation, he is able to keep you and lead you to the well of living water! Others can fail you, but God will never fail you.

Chris Mhlongo

 

Are You Making A PROFIT?

Image HEBREWS 4: 2

 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people who were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord; the Lord swore to them that he would not let them see the land that the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. So it was their children, whom he raised up in their place that Joshua circumcised. For they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way (Joshua 5: 5-7).

The children of Israel were on their journey out of Egypt. They had come out of the land in which they were comfortable. Although they were slaves in Egypt at least it was a known territory, a known world and familiar situation. Isn’t it amazing how people can become comfortable even in the most uncomfortable situations? They get used to it, they legitimize it and thus convince themselves that it must be normality. And now they had been walking with God, and it hasn’t been easy, that’s why they were murmuring. Walking with God is not an easy thing to do. It is like a baby trying to walk with his father- his footsteps are so large and long and no matter how much he tries to keep up, the father is just too fast for the baby. I can’t keep up his pace. He moves up so rapidly than I ever do. Keeping up with the move of the Lord, because God is on the move. That is why it is dangerous to be a monument, because God is not interested in building monuments, God is in the process of a movement. And if you’ve got to be with God you always have to have your suitcase in your hand. Don’t unpack- one of the problems in the church is that we have unpacked and become comfortable while God is still moving.

The problem with Israel, up under Moses regime, is that the word was not mixed with faith, in them that heard it and it did not profit them. What Paul is actually saying is that if the word is mixed with faith it  provides what we call profit. 

Word + Faith= Profit

Within every Church, there are two types of people; in every workplace, every home, and every community. You can take two students who are from the same classroom with the same teacher and one can pass while the other fail. You can take two siblings from the same house with the same parents under the same rules and they go in totally opposite directions in life. In every group, some go up while some go down, some go forward in life while some go backward, some do well while others do poorly. Some do, some don’t, some will, some won’t! What’s the difference? You can have two people in the same congregation, under the same preacher, hearing the same preaching and only one of them profit from the word being preached. There are some that apply it and some that don’t. There are some that heed God’s commands and some that don’t. There are the profitable and the unproductive. Within every company, there are productive, fruitful employees, and then there are also impotent, unskilled, unfruitful employees.

When you ask a business man, they will tell you that Profit- after the transaction is over, and the expenses are paid, the money that you have left is profit. It is the positive gain from an investment or transaction after subtracting for all expenses. It is the opposite of loss. So if you are not making a profit, you are making a loss. Profit is also the difference between the purchase price and the costs of bringing to market. If God purchased us with the life and blood of his son, but we are yielding no returns, he is running at a loss- There is no profit. The difference between the value of the end attained and that of the means applied for its attainment is profit if it is positive and loss if it is negative.

 Now business person measures the value created by the company through profit. Are we supposed to bring any value to God? Does God expect any profit from us consideration the extent of his investment?

 The entrepreneur who simply increases the production of an article by adding to the existing production facilities a new outfit without any change in the technological method of production is no less an entrepreneur than the man who inaugurates a new way of producing. Profit is not increasing the production. Profit is not dependent on the size of the production or how long it has been in business. Increasing on church programs, preaching better sermons, teaching more bible studies is only increasing the production but without profit. We are producing, at a loss. We are preaching, but at a loss; we are worshipping, but at a loss; we are baptising, but at a loss; we are coming to church, but at a loss. We are inviting, but at a loss. We are not making any profit!

Now the main function of profit is to be utilised by the entrepreneur to benefit the public through the creation of more goods and services. Now therefore, profitability creates reproduction. A profitable Christian is a Christian that reproduces themselves in others, in their friends, in their children, in their acquaintances. A profitable church plants other churches. A profitable leader or teacher, produces other leaders.

The more profitable the company becomes, the more its reputation is spread, the more it creates good to the community, the more it is known and its reach grows. Others will naturally reciprocate towards it, and it becomes a leading, trusted and reputable brand. The more profitable Christian has a good reputation. The more profitable we become, the more influential we will be, the more we will be salt and light in the community. The more we will be good examples, leaders, and role models to emulate.

Now the more profits a man earns, the greater his wealth consequently becomes. The more profit you accumulate, the wealthier you become in spiritual endowment and the fruits of the spirit begins to show more. By being profitable, we store up our treasures in heaven, where moth does not destroy and where thieves cannot steal.

No matter how much you put it if you have nothing left when it’s over you did not make a profit. And the bible tells us that when God had gone through into relating with them they had nothing left, the word did not profit them because it was not mixed with faith in them that heard it. So faith is what causes you to have profit when the event is over.

When every test, circumstance and situation is over, you got to have something left to shake around in your pocket and say I know God gave it. Profit is what you have left when you’ve come through the wilderness and come out of the trouble, profit is what you have left.

Now if you don’t have anything left when it’s left you are doing business but you are not making a profit. You can’t get profit by coming to church Sunday morning, you can’t make profit by attending the bible study- You make profit as you do business in the spirit world with God, and you’ve got a dividend left, you’ve got investments left. Is there profit here this morning? Has anybody gone through something and you’ve got something left?

And they did not make a profit- not because God did not move, but because they did not believe the God that moved. And the word did not profit them.

What a frightening thought in the age in which we have spectacular preachers and speakers, when we have bibles in every corner of our homes, even in our cell phones, we live in a time of great knowledge and information. It is frightening that we can be exposed to more word than any other generation, and yet it not profit us, if we don’t believe the word that we have. To fail to believe God, is the epidimy of insult. To doubt him is to suggest that it is possible that he is a liar. To blemish the integrity of the sanctity of his name. It is to suggest that god would not do what he said he would do. To worry about what god promised he would fix is an insult against God. To think that you can deal with something that God told you not to worry about is to suggest that you have more power and intellect than God. It is idolatry, and it’s got to stop! And because they did not believe he let them die in the wilderness. Because they failed to make a profit with God. God help us to make a profit. Don’t let us keep going to church and coming home, going to church and coming home, going to church and coming home. God help us to make a profit out of this mess. For god never continues to do business where there is no profit. And they died in the wilderness. Graveyards all over in the wilderness. What would happen if everybody in this room who has had transaction and no profit dropped dead. How many funerals would we have? Would we be shocked at who might drop? Because God does not measure success the way we measure success. You can be great in the eyes of men, and be absolutely nothing in the eyes of God.

Any business that is not making a profit, runs the risk of closing down. Any franchise that brings in no real value, will soon collapse. Profit means progress, it means life, it means productivity, it means fruits. Profit is the means by which the worth of the Christian individual is measured ascertained. Every relationship ought to have some profit, or else it soon dies. Are you making a profit with God?

Chris Mhlongo 

Whiteness- Guilty But Free!

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Smiling at black people

When I’m walking down the street I like to smile at black people don’t you? That warm cuddly puppies and babies smile. To let them know I’m friendly. Guilty. Sorry. It’s all been a really bad joke huh? I’m nervous. I’m angry. Not at you but me but you remind me that I hurt you and now I hurt too and that you will never be sorry for me.
-Kim Irwin
Draft © 2005 K.

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.”
(Luke 19: 8-10)

Zacchaeus’s memorable speech was addressed to his divine guest, emphasizing the guilt of his ill gained wealth, and an open willingness to repent, felt he needed to give back anything he had gained maliciously. It was only after he said, “I’ll give back” that Christ said salvation had come into his house. Restoration only began to take form after restitution and reparation. Redress, restitution, repentance- these are verbs not nouns. Equally true of whites in post-apartheid South Africa; how can there be reconciliation and redress without this recompensement?

White South Africa has been found guilty of engineering apartheid, creating tension and hatred among all races, building the perpetual system of poverty and inequalities all around the country, and designing all existing anatomies of townships, squatter camps, and shark dwellings. Whites are historically and presently guilty of architecting, building, and sustaining this totality of oppression and depravation. Now that they have been found guilty, have they been charged? What was the penalty? How can there be reconciliation without restitution? How can there be forgiveness without rectification and owning up to ones wrongs? Have white South Africans asked for forgiveness? Do they even warrant forgiveness, seeing that they haven’t asked?

To inaugurate this rhubarb, one cannot simply look at the country and the state it is in today and not see ‘whiteness’. One cannot look at the poverty and immense inequalities pervasive in our society today and not see the results of ‘whiteness’. One cannot look at Khayelitsha or Langa in Cape Town and not see the excrescence of ‘whiteness’. One cannot look at the substandard education handed down to students in some public schools housed in most townships and not see what ‘whiteness’ has done to our country. To do so, that is to refuse to acknowledge that whiteness exists and has shaped our society to the contingency it is in, is to reprobate historical fact, and that the present is not a direct manifestation of everything that took place in the past.

What is this ‘whiteness’ that at the subject of our discourse? What does it mean to be white? Part of being white is not acknowledging what it means to be white. What does it really mean to be white? What does it mean to be racist? Can I benefit from ‘whiteness’ and still hold that I am not racist?

Being White means being a member of a dominant racial group in a society that extols white supremacy. It means being white in a white supremacist society. It also means to be able to have the luxury to be oblivious to the injustices happening in our country; to be oblivious to racial privileges; in fact it means to be oblivious to one’s own identity. So to be White in a sense is to be invisible to one’s own self. It means to deny the reality of racism.

What is it like to be white? Whiteness means a conjecture. It means an entrenchment of a pervasive ideology of being expectant- expectant of certain benefits, treatment, and opportunities. When you are white in South Africa, you expect certain treatment, certain privileges, and certain options. You expect that you going to go to good school, get a nice job and good opportunities no matter what. You can slack off at jobs and still get the promotion, when you enter a real estate shop, they immediately assume that you would want to buy or rent a nice place in a nice location and that you have a lot of money. The assumption is that you are better. When a white person walks into a bank, into a building, into a store, they are seen as acceptable. It means ease of getting a bank loan, not being stopped by the police, expecting people to take you seriously, having a sense of entitlement and rights- safety, health, police, response, etc. a feeling of importance, respect with no exceptions.

What about prejudice and racism? There seems to be a predisposed difference between the two concepts. It can be argued that all of us are prejudiced against one thing or another. We all have our preferences, our varying options, and our individual likes. Racism is another machinery. To be racist, one needs to be well indoctrinated. It means acting on the basis of race; having the power of race; seeing the racial. It means acting in a racial manner or giving people treatment on the basis of their race.

If you refuse to acknowledge the existence of whiteness, if you refuse to accept what it truly means to be white, if you refuse to engage in any altercations that involve the question of whiteness, if you don’t want to engage and challenge whiteness- you thus perpetuate the status quo. If you are going along with the status quo and are not doing anything to make the change you are part of the problem.

Three projects to “rescue whiteness” were launched with varying levels of intensity in South Africa recently. One of which was the call by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for a 1% wealth tax on white privilege. But it’s evident the holy bishop did not give much thought to this arrangement. His adjustment is a profound insult to the black race. Why the blacks should be satisfied with the left over from those who completely disenfranchised them? How can there be reconciliation without refund? How can there be justice and peace without repentance? And how can it be said that the Whites have repented when they are still living in the wealth they have stolen through this hell born system of apartheid? There can never be true reconciliation unless and until we are all equal! And if the whites feel guilty for what they have done to Black South Africa, they should divide their exorbitant wealth that has been ill gained through unjust past laws and actively help to equalise this society.

This is the only way whites can ethically own up to their racist actions. Many whites are still phenomenally benefitting from the effects of apartheid. It is in fact true what Samantha Vice (who is herself white) believes. Vice argues that the poverty that blacks experience in South Africa after 21 years of democracy is in fact implicated in that one word ‘White’. She believes whites should feel shame and regret, and make amends for being unjust beneficiaries of whiteness.

Vice defines “whiteness” as the continued benefiting of white people from their white skin. The entire system of apartheid used whiteness to benefit all whites, and thus whiteness is the problem our country finds itself in.

Many whites argue that they did not choose to be white. Some whites even say they love black people, and have many black friends. But having black friends does not immunise one from the shame and guilt when one is doing nothing to change the system themselves. One should be ashamed of benefiting unjustly. Feeling shame as a white person is a way of acknowledging that you have been living in a world filled with an injustice rooted in your whiteness. Your whiteness is what keeps this unjust system, in which approximately 98 percent cent blacks are poor and 50 percent young blacks are unemployed, going.

Whiteness is a historical fact that many whites continues to benefit from. Many whites indeed don’t want to acknowledge this fact, and continue to use this system to amass for themselves massive social and economic capital. White South Africans need to with all humility repent, and denounce their unearned privileges and engage with all South Africans on redress. One cannot acknowledge whiteness and still do nothing about it. There needs to be metered efforts to destroy white supremacy, to render whiteness irrelevant, so that we may all live in peace. The burden of the resolution to whiteness conclusively predicate on both blacks and whites willing to engage each other on whiteness. Blacks need to denounce whiteness and refuse to give different treatment to whites because of the colour of their skin, only then will this country move to a peaceful existence one not over determined by whiteness.

God Knows!

 Chris

Jeremiah 29: 11

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

For I know the plans I have for you-  though seventy years must pass over you in exile, yet do not apprehend that I have forgotten you, for I know full well what my purpose is towards you—a purpose of restoring to you “peace” and prosperity. An expected end; rather, a future and a hope; i.e. a hopeful future. God has a plan! A plan is a method or way of doing something that is decided on beforehand. God has a plan already, he’s not thinking it through as we go long. The plan has already been done. Making a plan requires a lot of thought, especially when you’re making it for someone else for their benefit and their welfare. That means God has thought long and hard, about multiple ways, to provide you with a hope and a future. But Gods word doesn’t say plan, it says plans

God’s thoughts towards us

God thinks- God is a person and he thinks. He is not an object, he is not a powerful force, he is not a collection laws, he is not a philosophical abstraction. But He is a thinking being.

He thinks about us- As far as he is revealed to us in the Bible and in Christ, he is directly concerned with his children. His thoughts are not to be imagined as only consisting of vast abstractions, infinite ideals. He is constantly thinking about us, his family. It is a great comfort for us that God thinks about us. This lets us know that he cares about us, he is concerned about us, he sees us, he paying attention to us, he is watchful over us, he is thoughtful about us.

What God thinks of us is of immeasurable importance to us- God thinks what is true and wise and good. What people think of us is blinded by prejudice, coloured by passion, limited by ignorance, broken, fragmentary, and perverted. God’s thoughts about are perfect, I am tired of listening to what people think of me. I want to know for myself what God thinks of me!

And now his thoughts are the prelude to his actions. If I know what he thinks about me I know how he intends to act. The means to understanding how God acts towards my life is predicated on my knowledge of how he thinks of me.

God plans to prosper us- whether you believe it or not, God has plans to prosper you. Whether you accept it or not, he wants to prosper you. Whether you understand them or not, does not matter because these are plans he has in his mind for you. He has plans to prosper me and give me a hope and a future-  now what God promises, he fulfils. What he ordains, he maintains.  God’s thoughts are not memories, but hopes, promises, intentions, and they will surely be realized.

But sometime we delay; interrupt the realization of his promises and intentions for our lives. Sometimes we take things into our own hands; we find it too wearisome to wait on the Lord. We are a microwave generation that desires for everything to be done here and now.

For I know- the children of Israel are in exile, yet God says he knows. They have lost national identity, yet God says I know. In the midst of their suffering and tribulation, God. The year is 597 BC. The Babylonians have attacked Jerusalem. They’ve taken 3000 prisoners back to Babylon. Including the king, the court officials, and the craftsmen, yet in the midst of that calamity, God says, I know! Doesn’t it just console you to know that God knows?  That he is fully aware of my present dilemma, my past experiences and my future hope. I might have wandered  and got lost but he says he knows. I cry myself to sleep at night, and he says I know. Whatever it is I might be going through, or might have went through, God says I know! Even when I don’t know what’s happening, God says I know!

God is Going to Get the Glory out of This!

John 9: 1-7

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.  As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

Here lying in the view of the master physician is a hopeless case. Hopelessness and hope has collapsed in the highway of life. This man was ostracized from the community in which he lived, alienated from society because they had been unable to resolve the issues of his life. He was viewed as an object of speculative curiosity.  Suggesting a problem not easily solved, and a difficulty which they wish to be removed. These types of birth defects are caused by virus known as the rubella virus, also known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). The man had lived all his life in darkness, perhaps he had asked himself, “Lord, why did I have to born under these skimpy conditions while others weren’t? God if you really love me, why didn’t you give me sight like everyone else? Why do I have to be the one to suffer?” In the light of popular Jewish teaching and also in that of heathen teaching the difficulty stared them. Of one thing they were certain, that his blindness was a retributive punishment for sin—the sin of his parents or that of his own. But which? That it should be on account of the sins of his parents they could easily understand; but if on account of his own, how could this be when he was born blind?

Here is a man who was looked at as a notorious object of retributive justice. The blind man was probably well known to them, and they had often before discussed this aspect of his blindness, with various results; but now here is an opportunity of a final solution of the difficulty. They have full confidence in Jesus’ ability and readiness to clear the matter forever, and they lost no time, but asked, “Master, which did sin,” to them someone must have definitely sinned. The disciples connected suffering with sin. They had obviously forgotten about the story of Job, a blameless man who suffered the loss of his children, his health, his wife, his livelihood, and even lost friends. Job did nothing wrong to suffer the way he did. Yet not without knowledge and prior approval by God.

Here is a child of sin, he excited no practical sympathy; a monument of retributive justice, a subject for curious speculation; and, as far as they were concerned, they were satisfied they were not like him; and yet in the midst of his despair he encounters the enableness of God. God’s medicine cabinet wrapped in flesh, Jesus Christ the embodiment of God’s promises; God’s meal on wheels; God’s answer to the society in which this man was upon.

The Bible records Jesus saw this man who had been blind from birth. What a beautiful thing it is to be seen by Jesus. How many passed by without seeing him at all, and how many saw him with indifference. Many people must have seen him daily, and yet they couldn’t redeem him from his situation. Such an important fact to note that even in the midst of his suffering, in the midst of his poverty, in the midst of his disability, in the midst of the speculative judgements that were allied at him- Jesus saw him! When others passed him by, Jesus saw him; when others rejected him, Jesus saw him; when others judged him, Jesus saw him; when others walked away, Jesus saw him. When family members and friends had forsaken him, Jesus saw him; when others had forgotten about him, Jesus saw him; when others ridiculed him, Jesus saw him! I am blind, a nobody, rejected by my parents, rejected by society, but Jesus sees me!

I needed to know that Jesus can see me. That in the midst of my hurt and pain Jesus sees me; even when I cry myself to sleep at night, Jesus sees me; even though I have to go through the pain of losing loved ones, Jesus sees me. They might condemn me, they might criticise me, they might isolate me, they might gossip me, but Jesus sees me.   Things are not easy at home, I have been retrenched, but Jesus sees me! He sees the difficulty I am under, he sees the pain that even my wife can’t see, he sees my hardships, he sees how unjustly I am treated, and he sees my circumstance and dilemma.

And when the man’s gross condition was seen by the apostles it triggered a question in their hearts. And so they asked the answer a question and they said, “Who has sinned this man’s mother or father that he should be in the dilemma that he is blind and uncapable to manoeuvre in his society?” And Jesus answered them specifically that neither the father nor the mother sinned.

There are some questions that are reserved for God. I have come to a point in my life where I have given up asking humans for answers. I’m tired of their excuses, their explanations and their trivial theories on life. I am tired of their psychology, their sociology, and their religious studies. And when there is a real issue in my heart I go to the answer and ask the question.

Why is this man like he is? Whether we like it or not many of us had to at one point or another rest in our sleep, look into the stillness and the darkness of the night and ask God, “why are things the way they are?” if you can’t fix it would you please explain it to me. It would comfort me to know why it is like it is. My prayer is simple, my understanding is elementary. I am not asking you to get me out of my dilemma and my trauma, maybe I have to go through it but tell me why. Tell me why this is like it is.

And whenever we come upon an issue we always want to cast blame in another direction. Perhaps it is your mother, perhaps it is your father, perhaps it is your background, and perhaps it is your circumstance or situation. We blame our background, our past, our experience. But Jesus said none of this is the issue in this instance. This man is in a situation he has been in all his life he has never seen day light, he has never seen sunrise, he has never walked out in the evening and looked beyond the trees and seen the twinkling of the stars, he has never seen. He has been in this situation all of his life, and yet God is going to get the glory out of this man.

His answer was better than the question, for they asked why he is like he is and the answer was he is not going to stay like he is. They are concerned about his past, Christ is concerned about his future. How is their question going to help either the man or themselves? They were dwelling on the irrevocable past. “Who had sinned? Some folks are slaves to the past, that is why they never excel, never progress, never achieve is because they cannot think beyond what has happened in the past.

God is going to get the glory out of this- To Christ the man was not an object of retributive justice, but a specially befitting one or, whom to manifest Divine operations. God always see in us more than what others see. When the crowds could only see the child of sin yet to Christ it is a special opportunity to manifest the works of God.  God always give you more than you ask for. The man is living in darkness, he has lived all his life in the shadows and yet God isstill going to get the glory out of this. There are some things in our lives that are so depressing that are so painful and so terrible that you think God has forgotten about you, but sometimes you need someone to let you know that somehow God is going to get the glory out of this. God knows how to get the glory out of the most embarrassing of situations in your life, he knows. The man is in a condition and God says I am going to get him out of this. Somebody is in a situation and God says he’s going to get you out of it.

Trouble, suffering, and circumstances doesn’t come into my life because God is punishing me. They are there so God’s power can be made manifest in them. The man was not blind by accident, my suffering is not by accident- God knows about it, he sees it and he’s going to get the glory out of it. In other words, this young fellow was created and born with this purpose in mind. The many years of anguish that he and his parents had endure were not all for nothing. This man’s blindness is about God’s purpose: “…it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in this man” (9:3). God is too wise to make a mistake! He is going to get the glory out of it.

Everything you go through is never wasted; God is going to get the glory out of it. Your children might not be listening to you but God is going to get the glory out of it.  You might have been diagnosed with a cancer, but God is going to get the glory out of it. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God. God only uses our cancer but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. My partner and I might not be able to conceive but God is going to get the glory out of it. I am not in this situation by accident; God is going to get the glory out of it! I know I am retrenched, but God is going to get the glory out of it. I might be broke, gushed and gusted but God is going to get the glory out of it!

He spat on the ground- After telling the man who he was he did something unorthodox, something unprofessional. In the midst of the most profound theologically precise exposition of exegetical text, he spat on the ground. If you expect God to be limited to helping you solve your problems in the conventional manner; If you have limited God to your preconceived ideas about how he is going to solve your problem- I came to serve notice on you; you’ve got a God who will spit on the ground. God has ways of doing things you’ve never dreamed of. I believe our churches are too tight, too systematic, and too orderly and orthodox. But if we really want to bless people we going to have to break the rules get out of the box and do some unorthodox things. If you expect God to always follow the program, and church protocol, to fit into your conceptualisation of your preconceived ideologies, I came to serve notice on you you’ve got a God who would spit on the ground. You’ve got a God who would do something unprofessional. The church’s got to break boundaries and come out of the closet and do what God will have it do. He spat on the ground.

Aren’t you tired of regimented religion? Trying to do things like we did them 50 years ago. You see, religion is a human attempt to bring God to man’s level- God brought down to the standards, the protocols, and the expectations of men. Religion is more concerned with keeping rules than changing lives. A person’s life had just been transformed, a person’s life has just been saved yet the Pharisees could not think about the fact of this transformation, they were just concerned that it happened on the Sabbath.  You going to have to do something radical, break out of your shell, break some rules and do what God called us to do. He spat on the ground.

Some of us might have a problem with action of spitting on the ground. I’m sure Jesus could have just prayed a prayer, or laid his hands on the man and he would be healed but the text says he spat on the ground. When you want something and want it bad enough you don’t care what it takes to get it. The reason some of us want things but never get them is because we don’t want them bad enough! We don’t want them bad enough to break out of the familiar, to do the unconventional, to be radical and do the unexpected. We are too afraid of people’s opinions, judgements and critiques. We do our best to fit in with the system when are meant to stand out. We always want to be politically correct, etiquette relevant, culturally sensitive. But you’ve got a saviour who would spit on the ground.

So he spat on the ground and made a mud pie and put it on his eyes. But at the end of this degradation, the man still could not see. This man had met the lord, but still he could not see. He had received the ministry of the lord, but still he could not see. He was looking muddy, but didn’t let the mud discourage him. Now the Bible always uses symbolism to communicate a message to us. So he makes this man go and wash the mud off his eyes. What would that say to the man? What could that say to us?

You can’t see if you have dirt in your eyes!  This was not the dirt of sin. Jesus clearly stated this man was not blind because of sin. It wasn’t the dirtiness of sinful deeds that Jesus wanted this man to wash from his eyes. The mud on his eyes represents the mud in all of our eyes. It is the dirt of a wrong vision that makes us blind. If I truly want to see I’ve got to be willing to wash away the mud. Christ cannot do it for him. There are certain things the Divine Being leaves to our own power to accomplish. This we call the aspect of human involvement. Whenever God is about to perform something great in our lives, he always requires our personal involvement and initiative. It is the same case with the miracle of turning water into wine. He commanded the servants to fill the water pots with water. Christ can miraculously command water to grow out of the water pots, just as he is able to turn water into wine. But this teach us that where human power is sufficient, divine power is withdrawn. The same is true of the feeding of the five thousand. Christ used what they already have and multiplied it to feed the crowd. What do you have? What are you doing? Are you personally involved?

Christ knows the man cannot cure his own blindness, but he is able to walk to the pool and wash. We thank God that when he lost his eyes, he still have got hands and feet working for him. What do you have that is still working for you? Use what you have got still working to resuscitate that which is gone. Use what you’ve got instead of complaining about what you do not have.

What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. Everything happens for a reason! Nothing happens by chance or by accident. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness and sheer stupidity all occur not without God’s foresight and foreknowledge. Everything happens for a reason. The daily tragedies and misfortunes are all meaningful events, leading toward this one conclusion: God is going to get the glory out of it! With that in mind, there probably isn’t really any meaningless misfortune.

God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

God is a Man of War!!

 

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This chapter, the first of a series, consists of two prophecies united, though it is probable enough that the latter was intended to supplement the former, for Jeremiah 46:2-12 are clearly incomplete (from the point of view of this group of prophecies) without a distinct and unmistakable prediction of the conquest of Egypt. Babylon and Egypt are portrayed as the two great super powers. It’s like a battle between the United States and China! The destruction of Egypt connects well with the destruction of Jerusalem in Christian anticipation. In both cases God preannounced the approaching fall, and the prophecies were fulfilled in both contexts. Pharaohs kingdom has passed away. What God declares, he maintains.

Condensed Outline:

The defeat of the Egyptians: verse 1- 12

The complete overthrow of the kingdom: verse 13-26

The promise of restoration: verse 27, 28

Verses 3-6: Do we anyone that likes poetry tonight? In the first two the great event is described with poetical imagery; in the third, its cause is declared, and the irremediable completeness of its effects.  Jeremiah falls into a lyrically descriptive mood, and portrays the picture which unrolls itself before his imagination.

Concerning the nations: distinguishing it from Israel. Against Egypt, rather translates concerning Egypt. Pharaoh-necho was member of the twenty sixth Egyptian dynasty. But Egypt was a heathen country! The two prophecies about Egypt occur first in a series of predictions concerning the Gentile nations. God because judgment begins at house of God has given Judgment to Israel, and now it’s the turn of the Gentiles.  God is the God of the Gentile as well as the Jew, of the heathen as well as the Christian, of the godless as well as the godly. In him all men live and move and have their being; from him they receive every blessing of life; to him they will have to give account of their deeds. Therefore God notes the conduct of heathen nations, and chastises them when needful; so he does with individual men who renounce his authority over them or are brought up in ignorance of it. Egypt was also an ancient country.  Her history dates back long before the time of Abraham. It lets us know that although Gods judgment can be delayed, because he’s patient, it will surely come. The mere continuance of peaceful circumstances is not the slightest ground for crediting them with a special charm to ward off the sentence of Divine justice. It reminds of the song “further along” when it says, “Whilst there are others living about us never molested though in the wrong… Then do we wonder why others prosper,

Living so wicked year after year”. Egypt was a land of wealth and slendor. Egypt was also the home of science and philosophy.  There philosophy arose, and the knowledge of nature was first systematically pursued. There strange mystic religions had their birth. If knowledge could save a people, Egypt of all lands should be safe. There are many life questions that science and philosophy cannot answer. Although human beings are capable of creating idols and religion, those gods cannot save our souls. Again we remember Egypt was the ally of Israel. The alliance of the Church is no safeguard when the Church herself is erring. Companionship with a Christian does not get one into heaven. Even if my father might be devout follower of Christ, I shouldn’t think I will wade judgment because of his good reputation. In addition, Egypt made a brave resistance. The army was imposing. Yet was defeated. They looked strong, seemed strong but they were fearful and weak. Isn’t it interesting that some Christians look holy, they smell holy, they jump into their sanctified automobiles on a Sunday morning looking sanctified- they are like whitewashed tombs yet inside full of dead mens bones. These Christians they hate, they gossip, they cause divisions, they hold grudges, they don’t give but outwardly, if you really don’t know them, you’d think they are saints. Finally God said Egypt would be inhabited again.  God mingles mercy with judgment. He has pity on the heathen. He seeks the ultimate recovery of those whom he first punishes. In later years Egypt became the home and centre of the most brilliant Christian life and thought. Carehemish- this was like New York.  It was the great emporium of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine. It was first inhibited by the Hittites, then occupied by the Assyrians under whom it attained the highest commercial prosperity.

Why have I seen it? – The Egyptian army is well equipped but they are fleeing! The prophet is shocked at this. Why do I see (that) they (are) dismayed, turning back? Let not the swift flee away. A strong way of expressing that even the swiftest cannot expect to flee.

Who is this, etc.? Once more surprise at the [same] phenomenon recurs, and in a stronger form; a monstrous, devastating river appears to roll itself wildly along, overwhelming all countries: who is it? It is Egypt, which is now threatening to overrun the earth and to lay everything waste, whose various nationalities are advancing fully equipped.

Verse 8: Egypt riseth up- In this verse and in others we have the vain vaunting’s of Egypt- premature glorification. Pride has always went before a great fall! The city: The article is not expressed; and there can be no doubt that the word is used collectively of cities in general (comp. Jeremiah 47:2).

For this is the day:  The “day of Jehovah” is that crisis in the history of the world when Jehovah will interpose to rectify the evils of the present, bringing joy and glory to the humble believer, and misery and shame to the proud and disobedient …. This great crisis is called a day, in antithesis to the ages of the Divine long suffering. All the disobedience of years God brings them to end in one day.

In vain you have multiplied remedies; there is no cure for you: there are some diseases that cannot be humanly cured. Sin in one such an incurable disease. No man can root out his own evil nature. The wicked man, left to himself, will never grow into righteousness. Sin does not burn out; it continually finds fresh fuel and kindles a greater fire. God offers us the cure for sin: the new birth in Christ!

The sword: A comparison with Isaiah 34:6 suggests that it is “the sword of the Lord” which is meant—a symbolic phrase for the Divine vengeance, which meets us again in Jeremiah 12:12; Jeremiah 47:6.

If God can be spoken of as having an Arm, a Hand, and a Bow, why not also as having a sword? Both expressions represent the self-revealing side of the Divine nature, and are not merely poetical ornaments, but correspond to awful objective realities. Divine vengeance exists, and must exercise itself on all who oppose the Divine will.

In verses 14-19 the cities of Egypt are called upon to prepare to meet the foe. But it is in vain; Pharaoh’s time is over; and Egypt must go into captivity.

Verse 15: The real cause of the decline of empires. Because the Lord did drive them. What are not a country’s safeguards are often thought to be. Not commerce or Tyre would not have fallen. Not art or Greece would never have perished. Not strong political organization or Rome would have continued. Not religious profession, or Jerusalem and Catholic Rome would not have suffered the disasters that befell them. Not ancient renown or Egypt would have stood fast. All these things have been relied on, and especially vast armies, but they have one and all been tested and have proved ropes of sand, battlements taken away because they are not the Lord’s. Therefore note— what is a country’s safeguard? There is but one answer, and that is righteousness. It and it alone, exalts a nation. The form of government, whether monarchical or republican, matters not, whether political power is in the hands of the many or the few, but the character of the people— what therefore is true patriotism? Not alone adding to the material wealth or the intellectual force of the nation, not alone philanthropy or political energy,—none of these things are to be held in light esteem; but the truest patriotism, and it is one which all can exhibit, is the cultivation of godly character, that fear of God which lies at the basis of all moral excellence whatsoever. Yes, not for our own salvation’s sake alone, but for our country’s sake, even as for Christ’s sake, let us seek to resemble him, breathe his Spirit, manifest his character, copy his example, and spread abroad those true principles of national wellbeing which, by his life and death, he taught us. 

The Egyptians say that Pharaoh has passed the time appointed. There was a time within which repentance might have averted the judgment of God; but this “accepted time” has been foolishly let slip.

From Jeremiah 46:20-26 we have a figurative description of the dark future of Egypt.

Egypt is a very fair heifer, but a gadfly cometh. Worldly advantages are no safeguard against trouble. The heifer is very fair, yet the gadfly attacks her. Egypt, rich in her fertile Nile valley, the granary of the East; splendid with vast and gorgeous temples, whose ruins are now the wonder of the world; in the forefront of speculation and science; hoary with antiquity, and proud of her aeons of history even in Jeremiah’s age—twenty-five dynasties had already passed away;—this great Egypt is to suffer humiliation at the band of the upstart Babylon. Her very magnificence attracts the greedy invader. Wealth and rank may ward off some distresses, but they will invite others which never condescend to attack the poor and obscure.

Worldly advantages afford little consolation in trouble. If the heifer is very fair, her beauty is no antidote to the pain she feels when the probe of the gadfly is in her back. Egypt may have every advantage of wealth and science, and yet she finds no comfort in these things when her life blood is flowing beneath the sword of the rude invader. Mental distress, anxiety, and care are not to be bought off with money.

A small occasion may produce great trouble. The gadfly is but half an inch long. Yet it can so irritate the heifer that she will rush madly about, with head thrust forward and tail stuck out, in the vain hope of escaping from her tormentor. Many a man has just one cause of trouble, looking to others quite insignificant, yet which is to him the fly spoiling the most precious ointment. How much of the distress of life comes from the fret and worry of little things! It is a comfort that we are not only invited to cast our burden upon the Lord, but to cast all our “care upon him, for he cares for us”.

We may be unable unable to prevent the attack of the smallest occasion of trouble. The horns, which would be good weapons for attacking a large animal, are useless against the gadfly. Many troubles come like this fly. We cannot touch them; they are swift to attack, and once they are upon us no defense is possible. In our own strength we cannot throw off the smallest sin. Perhaps we are strong to resist great temptations, and fall victims to miserable little failings. The devil is not always a roaring lion; sometimes he is more like a gadfly. We can drive off the lion; we cannot resist the gadfly. Lying, theft, murder, etc; may be kept out, and yet our souls may lose all peace and Divine communion by yielding to hasty temper, discontent, cowardice, etc. But Christ comes as the Saviour from all evil and all sin, including those meaner sins which may ruin our spiritual life even when greater sins are avoided.

The voice thereof shall go like a serpent; rather, her voice is like (the sound of) a serpent gliding away. Egypt is imagined as a maiden (comp. Jeremiah 46:19) seated on the ground, and faintly sighing; and her feeble voice is likened to the rustling sound of a serpent in motion. Come against her with axes. A sudden change of figure. Egypt, or, more strictly, Egypt’s grandeur—its rich and complex national life, its splendid cities, its powerful army, all combined in one, is now compared to a forest (comp. Jeremiah 21:14; Jeremiah 22:6, Jeremiah 22:7)

Afterward it shall be inhabited: After all these gloomy vaticinations, God (as elsewhere in this group of prophecies; see Jeremiah 48:47; Jeremiah 49:6, Jeremiah 49:39) opens up a brighter prospect. “In the days of old,” patriarchal and unmilitary, the fertile valley of the Nile offered a peaceful and a happy home to its teeming inhabitants; those times shall yet come again. God is God of restoration. His intervention is to restore the former order which we tarnished. In Jeremiah 46:28, in Jeremiah 48:21, and in Jeremiah 49:6, Jeremiah 49:39, we have similar assurances that “afterwards,” when God’s judgments have done their work, the chastised and afflicted nations shall be restored. God’s punishement is not for destruction, but for purification and preservation. Such promise is here made to Egypt. In the very same sense, Christ comes to restore us into the garden of Eden, and bring us into right relationship with God again.

 

 

To BE or Not To BE that is the question!

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Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why do we sit here until we die?”If we say, `We will enter the city,’ then the famine is in the city and we will die there; and if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us go over to the camp of the Arameans. If they spare us, we will live; and if they kill us, we will but die.”

2 Kings 7: 4

To be or not to be! Have you ever had to choose between two options that all seem to end in loss? Do I stay in the burning ship or do I jump into the ocean? Do I stay in the frying pan or do  I jump into the fire?

In the text before us we are met with four lepers. They were excluded from the city, and on the point of perishing of hunger, felt that they could be no worse off, and might better their condition, if they deserted to the Syrians. They therefore drew off from the city at nightfall, and made for the Syrian camp. On arriving, they found it deserted. The entire host, seized with a sudden panic, had fled, about the time that they began their journey. The lepers’ first thought was to enrich themselves by plunder, but after a while it occurred to them that, unless they hastened to carry the good news to Samaria, inquiry would be made, their proceedings would be found out, and they would be severely punished. So they returned to the capital, and reported what they had discovered. Jehoram, on receiving the news, feared that the Syrians had prepared a trap for him, and declined to move. He consented, however, to send out scouts to reconnoiter. The scouts found evident proof that the entire army had actually fled and was gone, whereupon there was a general raid upon the camp and its stores, which were so abundant that Elisha’s prophecy was fulfilled before the day ended.

God often moves in mysterious way, His wonders to perform. No one knew how Elisha’s prediction was to be accomplished. But God used a series of events as simple as it was unlooked for. He used four poor lepers who existed outside the system. He did not use men from within, but used men from without. They were outside, and had hitherto subsisted by food handed out or thrown to them from within. But now the famine in the city made such assistance impossible, and the four men were dying of hunger. Poor, pitiable objects, the last persons to whom any one would have thought of looking for a glimpse of hope on the situation within the walls. Yet these despised lepers were to be, in a sense, the saviors of the city. We cannot but reflect on the humble and seemingly unlikely instruments God often chooses to accomplish his ends.

And there were four leprous men at the entering in of the gate; or, at the entrance to the gate-house. Lepers were forbidden by the Law to reside within cities (Le 13:46; Numbers 5:3). Of all the diseases which afflict mankind none is more painful, loathsome, and disastrous than leprosy. It was the scourge of the Hebrew race. They were thrust out when the disease developed itself, and forced to dwell without the walls. Society throws out anything we cannot fix. We are afraid of that which we cannot understand, that which we cannot apply our minds to and subdue. If you have a disease, or illness, or disability or weakness that doesn’t fit within the mainline list of disabilities or weakness known to society, then you are alienated, cast out of the system because you violate the normal accepted standards of normality.

Thus they had to linger about at the city gates and beg and food would be thrown to them as of dogs, because no one wanted to be close to them or even to associate with them; and hence they congregated about the city gates. The problem is we all have some abnormality. We all have some form of unknown, unpublicized disability that we feel a need to hide, not speak about it cause we fear that, “if people knew about me what I know about myself, perhaps they wouldn’t love me; if people knew that I had such a disability, I would be an outcast; if people knew that I struggle with this disability, this illness, this condition perhaps they wouldn’t want to be my friends anymore. If my wife knew, it would completely change our relationship. Who can I tell…? That I was raped as a little child…who can I tell that I cannot conceive…who can I tell that my manhood failed to develop… who can I tell that I just love looking at women’s breasts if I could I would sit and do it the whole day… who can I tell that I see, feel, and do things that other people can’t do. And so we hide our disabilities, we keep our abnormalities to ourselves, only known to us.

But their disability was a public condition for it was outside, known and seen by everyone. How would you feel if everyone knew your weakness, knew your disability? The problem is the minute people realize you are different, they isolate you, and they keep away from you. They make you an outcast. And thus all leper were isolated and lived together at the city gate because pain understands pain; abnormality understand abnormality; suffering understands suffering; loneliness understands loneliness; sadness understands sadness- that’s why we have support groups for people have been raped, people who are undergoing a divorce, and people who have lost a close loved one. Because when people haven’t been through what you’ve been through they tend to be insensitive. Their advice is corrupted by the inadequacy of their experience.

And they said one to another, why sit we here until we die? In the extreme scarcity, it is probable that no food was brought to them, the inmates of the city having barely enough wherewith to sustain themselves (2 Kings 6:25). Thus they were on the point of perishing.

If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. The lepers in their most wretched circumstance made a decision. Their dilemma did not make it impossible for them to make a resolution. They were not satisfied in their situation; they did not want to accept their situation. How often do you hear men say, “We can do nothing because of the circumstances in which we are placed”. The lepers were certainly not at liberty to enter the city when they pleased; but perhaps they might have managed, in one way or another, to return within the walls. They ask themselves, however, “Cut bone?” What will he the use of it? The famine is inside the town no less than outside. If they entered the city, by hook or by crook, it would only be to “die there” And if we sit still here, we die also; rather, if we remain here, or, if we dwell here. Lepers, excluded from a city, are in the habit of building themselves huts near the gateways. “The lepers of Jerusalem, at the present day, have their tents by the side of the Zion gate” (Keil, ad loc.). If the leprous men remained where they were, death stared them in the face equally. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians. Let us, i.e; fall away from our own side, desert them, and go over to the enemy. If they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall but die; i.e. we cannot be worse off than we are, even if they kill us; while it may be that they will be more merciful, and let us live. The lepers had nothing to lose. It has been said that the most dangerous person in the world is one who has nothing to lose. They were not willing to sit still and accept their situation. They resolved they will die but having tried. They resolved we rather die fighting. And thus they were willing to take risks to get what they want. Most people never get anywhere in life because of the inward fear of the unknown, they are paralyzed by their fear of taking risks. These men were willing to risk it all. And risk truly pays up when one is willing to lay their life on the line.

And they rose up in the twilight. Most certainly in the evening twilight, as soon as the sun was down (see 2 Kings 7:9). Had they set off in the daytime, the garrison would have shot at them from the walls. These four poor starving leprous men not only formed a resolution, but they worked it out. They were not the type that think things through but never carry them through. They were not talkers, theorists, conservationists- but they practical men. They were men of action. To go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part—i.e. the most advanced part, that which was nearest to Samaria—of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. The camp was empty, deserted. Not a soul was anywhere to be seen.

For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host. Now because they took action, their difficulties vanished. Before a strong resolution, apprehended difficulties frequently vanish into air. Where there’s a will there’s a way, even though it be over rugged mountains and surging floods. A man’s “I will” has a power in it mighty as the forces of nature, even mightier, for it can subordinate them. By what force were these Syrians scared away? Not the force of the rough elements of nature, or the force of armies, but the force of terrible ideas—ideas that made them hear the noise of the rattling chariots and the tramping steeds of war, that had no existence. But these ideas, albeit, were ideas from God. Voice, is used for noises of any kind (see Exodus 20:18; Psalms 42:7; Psalms 93:4; Jeremiah 47:3; Ezekiel 1:24; Ezekiel 3:13; Joel 2:5; Nahum 3:2), though generally for those in which the human voice preponderated. A noise like that of chariots and of horses and of a great host was borne in upon the ears of the Syrians about nightfall of the day on which Jehoram had determined to put Elisha to death; and, as they expected no reinforcements, they naturally concluded that succor had arrived to help their enemy. How the noise was produced it is impossible to say. Na-rural causes are insufficient; and the writer evidently regards the event as miraculous: “The Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise,” etc. There are certain things that the Lord will do that have no logical explanation attached to them. The Syrians thought they heard the actual arrival of a vast army. And they said one to another, Lo, the King of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites. This supposition has been thought “strange,” almost inexplicable. “No such nation as the Hittites any longer existed,” says Mr. Sumner. But the Assyrian records of the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. make it evident, not only that the Hittites still existed at that date, but that they were among the most powerful enemies of the Ninevite kings, being located in Northern Syria, about Carchemish (Jerabus) and the adjacent country. It is also apparent that they did not form a centralized monarchy, but were governed by a number of chiefs, or “kings,” twelve of whom are mentioned in one place. It was no very improbable supposition on the part of the Syrians that Jehoram had called in the aid of the Hittite confederacy, and that they had marched an army to his assistance. And the kings of the Egyptians. “The plural, kings of the Egyptians,” says Keil, “is not to be pressed. It is probably occasioned only by the parallel expression,’ kings of the Hittites.’” But Egyptian history shows us that about this date Egypt was becoming disintegrated, and that two or three distinct dynasties were sometimes ruling at the same time, in different parts of the country—one at Bubastis another at Thebes, a third at Tanis, occasionally a fourth at Memphis. The writer thus shows a knowledge of the internal condition of Egypt which we should not have expected. To come upon us; i.e. to fall upon us from the north and from the south at the same time. In their panic, the Syrians did not stop to weigh probabilities, or to think how unlikely it was that such a simultaneous attack could have been arranged between powers so remote one from the other.

Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight. At the very time when the lepers were drawing off from the gate of Samaria to fall away to them (see 2 Kings 7:5). And left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was. Partly, perhaps, in mere panic; partly to induce a belief on the part of the enemy that they had not quitted their camp. So Darius Hystaspis, when he began his retreat from Scythia (Herod; 4.135), left his camp standing, and the camp fires lighted, and the asses tethered (see 2 Kings 7:10), that the Scythians, seeing the tents and hearing the noise of the animals, might be fully persuaded that his troops were still in the same place. Asses were the chief baggage-animals in many ancient armies. And fled for their life. Thinking that, if they waited till dawn, the Israelite allies, Hittites and Egyptians, would exterminate them.

And when these lepers came to the uttermost part of the camp. The narrative, begun in 2 Kings 7:3, is here taken up from the point where it was broken off in 2 Kings 7:5, and the phrase there used is repeated, to mark the connection. They went into one tent, and did eat and drink. The first necessity was to satisfy the cravings of their appetite, as they were well-nigh starving. You see, people that have long lived without live on the survival instinct. They are focused on what is before them currently, they want to satisfy as quickly as possible the here and the now. They rarely invest, save, and think of anything beyond the present. They justify their desire to acquire quick satisfaction now because they have long lived without.

Then their covetousness was excited by the riches exposed to view in the tent. And carried thence silver, and gold, and raiment. Oriental armies carried with them vast quantities of the precious metals, in the shape of gold and silver vases, goblets, dishes, as well as in collars, chains, furniture, and trappings. This immediately tells us their economic situation was jerked up. They were now not only well- fed but wealthy men. Out of the unsearchable riches of God they had been blessed. The camp of the Syrians would scarcely have been so richly provided; but still it contained, no doubt, a large amount of very valuable plunder. And went and hid it. The lepers had no right to the pick of the spoil. It belonged to the nation, and it was probably the king’s right to apportion it. The lepers had to conceal what they appropriated, lest it should he taken from them. And came again, and entered into another tent, and carried thence also, and went and hid it. Plundering thus probably, not two tents only, but several. At last, either covetousness was satiated or conscience awoke

Then they said one to another, we do not well. It was a tardy recognition of what their duty required of them. Their fellow-countrymen in the city of Samaria were perishing of hunger, mothers eating their children, and the like, while they employed hour after hour in collecting and hiding away their booty. They ought, as soon as they had satisfied their hunger, to have hurried back to the city and spread the good news. The silver and the gold which they had discovered they had hidden away; and now, perhaps, conscience told them it was not right. It is not right for us to conceal the good we have discovered, or to appropriate it entirely to our own use; let us communicate it. The distribution of good is right. Every man should be “ready to communicate.” The monopoly of material good is a huge wrong, and the crying sin of the age. Legislation will have to deal with this social abomination sooner or later; it is crushing the millions to the dust. Monopolies must be broken up; the wants of society and the claims of eternal justice demand it. What is truly “glad tidings” to us we should proclaim to others. The rays of joy that fall over our own lives we should not retain, but reflect. This day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace; i.e. we keep silence, and do not proclaim them, as we ought. If we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us; rather, punishment will fall on us; we shall suffer for what we have done—a very reasonable supposition. Not to do the right thing must cause some “mischief”—mischief not only to the body, but to the soul as well, to the entire man. Now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household. The “king’s household” means the court, the medium through which the king was ordinarily approached. The lepers had tenderness and compassion towards the very same people that had thrown them pieces of bread like dogs. They thought of them, even though the people even if they would have found the treasures or food would not have called for them. What do you do when the Lord has blessed you with success, do you remember to go back and bless other just as you’ve been blessed? The tendency sometimes is, because I have toiled and suffered alone and risked it all to get where I am, that destroys all motivation to share tips and communicate guidance to others so they can be where I am. Many successful businesspersons would rather have one suffer to get where they are even if they have the knowledge and the resources to help them. Now that you have discovered the unsearchable riches of Christ, do you communicate the glad tidings to others so they might taste what you’ve also tasted?

So they came and called unto the porter of the city; i.e. to the guard of the gate nearest them. The word שֹׂעַד, “porter,” or “gate-man,” is used collectively. And they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were. The horses and asses within a camp were always “tied,” or tethered, as we see from the monumental representations of Egyptian camps, and also learn from historians (Herod; 4:135). It is somewhat surprising that the horses were left behind, as they would have expedited the flight had they been saddled and mounted. But this was, perhaps, overlooked in the panic.

And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field. Jehoram, knowing of no reason for the flight of the Syrians, suspected a not uncommon stratagem. He supposed that the enemy had merely gone a little way from their camp, and placed themselves in ambush, ready to take ad- vantage of any rash movement which the Israelites might make. So Cyrus is said to have entrapped and slaughtered Spargapises, the son of Tomyris, together with a large detachment, in his last war against the Massagetae (Herod; 1.211). His supposition was not unreasonable. Saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city. A double advantage might be expected to follow—those who quitted the town to plunder the camp would be surrounded and made prisoners, while the town itself, left without defenders, would be captured. Compare the capture of Ai by Joshua (Joshua 8:3-19), when the chief part of the garrison had been enticed out of it.

And one of his servants answered and said, Let some take, I pray thee, five of the horses that remain. One of Jehoram’s “servants,” i.e. of the officers attached to his person, suggested that a small body of horse (four or five) should be sent out to reconnoiter. The besieged had still some horses left, though apparently not many. Note the phrase, “five of the horses that remain.” The majority had died of want, or been killed to furnish food to the garrison. (Behold, they are as all the multitude of Israel that are left in it—i.e. in Samaria—behold, I say, they are even as all the multitude of the Israelites that are consumed); i.e. they will run no more risk than the other troops who remain in the city, for these, too, “are consumed,” i.e. are on the point of perishing. Supposing that they fall into the enemy’s hands, it will go no harder with them than with the “multitude” which is on the point of starvation. And let us send and see. We can do nothing until we know whether the siege is really raised, or whether the pretended withdrawal is a mere ruse. We must send and have this matter made clear.

To be or not to be that is the question. Will you stay there and die or will you throw yourself into the known, take risks, and attempt to change your situation? The lack of decisiveness and the absence of action is in itself a great death. We don’t sit and wait for things to change, but we’ll realize as we go on with courageous action all our fears dissipate and a new ways provided.

When All is Said and Done!

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For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing

The words of this chapter contain the last charge of Apostle Paul to Timothy.  Knowing that the time of his departure was at hand, when the great work of his life must cease as far as he was concerned, but he was intensely worried about that the work should go on after his death with uninterrupted course and with undiminished force. He was not so much concerned about his own labors, his life, his experiences as he was concerned about  the success of the gospel,  the growth of Christ’s kingdom, and the increase of Christ’s Church. Accordingly, in the words before us, he throws his whole soul into the task of urging Timothy to carry on the work of the ministry with vigor equal to his own. By the most solemn motives speaking as in the immediate presence of the great Judge of the quick and the dead, knowing his time is near, with all the glories of the heavenly kingdom spread out before his mind’s eye, he urges him to the work-  the work which is described in three words, “Preach the Word.” Preach the Word which tells of Jesus Christ, of death to sin by his death upon the cross, of life to God by his resurrection from the dead. Preach the Word of holy obedience, of charity, and purity, and patience, and gentleness, and peace; the Word of like mindedness with Christ, of conformity to the will of God; the Word of truth and righteousness; the unerring Word, which is like God, and cannot lie. Preach the Word as one who knows it’s worth and its power; as one who knows that the issues of life and death are bound up with it; as one who will brook no delay in preaching it. Preach it with special application to the varying needs of those who hear it. Reprove sin by its searching light. Rebuke offenders by its sharp two-edged blade. Exhort the weak and sluggish by its comforting and animating truths. Exemplify its excellence by the spirit in which you teach it. And be prepared for hardships and opposition and contradiction in your work. You may have to stand alone. You may see popular preachers all around you, leading astray silly souls by hundreds and thousands; tickling their ears with foolish fancies; ministering to their idle lusts; leading them away from the truth. But do thou “preach the Word.” Flinch not, shrink not, and wince not. Do the work of an evangelist, faithfully, steadfastly, boldly. Fill my place; take up my work; witness for Christ as I have witnessed; suffer for Christ as I have suffered; and then join me in the kingdom of glory. Such is the tenor of the last apostolic charge. The Lord grant to his Church an unfailing succession of men to carry out its directions, and to fulfill it in its spirit and in its letter.

 

He begins by saying, “I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the quick and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom.” The apostle wants to impart to Timothy a solemn sense of responsibility in the discharge of his ministry, in the discharge of his life. How would you live knowing that you are forever in the sight of the eternal God? That God is the witness of all our work and we will have to one day give account for all we did? The truth is God is already watching and witnessing every detail of our lives.

 

Preach the word- the charge is not to come to church every Sunday. The charge is not to help serve the Lord’s Supper. The charge is not to check if there is electricity in the church building. The charge is not to nurse egos and indulge in politics of the church.  

This is not a request but a command, “preach the word”. Don’t create another gospel, don’t change the word, don’t argue the word, “preach the word, in season and out of season”. The truth can never be out of season. We need it always—in all places, in all our duties, temptations, and trials.

 

Preach the truth because a time is coming when the brethren will apostatize. “They will no longer endure sound doctrine”- this means the was a time when they listened to the truth and lived by it, but they will wander away from Christ and the Gospel of the Lord. They will no longer “preach the word”. The apostle foresees the growth of evil in the Church, and therefore seeks to prepare Timothy to be on guard against it.

            Now this new type of Christians Paul says they will gather teachers around themselves who will teach them what their itchy ears want to hear. They will create a Christ after their own minds and desires. Please note, they will not totally apostatize, they will still be in the church- They will not discard the ministry absolutely, but will multiply their religious guides.

            The reason for the whole rabble of teachers that they gathered to themselves is to be found in their wish to have their fancies gratified—”after their own lusts.” They wanted indulgent guides, who would flatter the pride of human nature, and not lay too great a stress upon the importance of a holy life. The sound doctrine was necessarily allied to a pure morality.

            “And will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.” It is an equally solemn fact that, if the truth is repudiated, the heart will not therefore cease to exercise itself about religious concerns. The heart cannot long remain empty. Fables rush in to occupy the place which denies a footing to truth.

            Now because of the presence of these new Christians, Paul says, “Be thou sober in all things”. He encourages Timothy to have a wakeful attitude, a constant presence of mind with clearness, calmness, steadiness, and moderation in all things. Do not be changed by the changing circumstances but rather change the circumstance because you are sober.

            Our text was penned by a man who knew his days were numbered. These words come from the last chapter of the last book written by the Apostle Paul. This kind of confidence in the face of death doesn’t happen by accident. Paul looks death in the face and says, “I am ready.” Note the two illustrations he uses to describe his attitude toward what he is facing

            “For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” The force of the connection is that Timothy was to be faithful, because Paul was no longer to remain to carry on Christ’s work. Upon him the mantle of his master was to fall. The language in which Paul describes his end is Jewish, and sacrificial, in its coloring. The conclusion of the sacrifice was the libation, or pouring out of the drink offering of wine around the altar. His service of Christ had been all of the nature of sacrifice. He “counted not his life dear unto himself.” He was among those who, for Christ’s sake, were killed all the day long, who were accounted as sheep for the slaughter. There was now only the concluding libation, viz. the pouring out of his blood as a martyr around Christ’s altar. The concluding ceremony was already commenced, in what he was suffering in his dungeon. It had a painful significance, and a rich significance too; for it was as the pouring out of strong wine (Numbers 28:7). Second mode of conceiving of his end. “And the time of my departure is come.” The word translated “departure” has a common nautical application, viz. to the loosening of the cable that binds the vessel to land, that it may speed on to its destination or to the release of the lines when a ship leaves the dock. By his martyrdom the connection between Paul and earth was to be let loose, that he might speed, as with the quickness of lightning, to the haven where he was forever to rest. The time of the loosening was all but come; there on the pier was the man appointed to let slip the fastenings.

How would you feel knowing you were to die soon? What would you want to make right? What would you want to change in your life? Mark the calmness with which the apostle contemplates a violent death. There is no tremor, or hurry, or impatience in his last days. The language is singularly composed. He knew that Nero would soon put an end to his life, for that monster of cruelty and crime was even then striking out wildly against the Christians. Nothing but an assured hope and a living faith could maintain the spirit in such trying circumstances.

            The apostle is not too preoccupied with his own approaching sufferings to forget the cause for which he is now about to surrender his life. He is now more urgent than ever in his instructions to Timothy. The very same course that brought about his death, he now encourages Timothy to vigorously engage in this course. It is only because he knows that this course has lasting rewards. He is fully convinced that it is the right course.

             “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” In verse seven, Paul looks to the past. This explains his readiness for death. He says, “My life has not been easy, but it has been worth it.” have you ever gone through some stuff and at the end feel that even though it might not have been easy, it was all worth it?   Paul uses three word pictures from the world of the athletic world.

            I have fought the good fight. This was the description of a wrestling match. Isn’t that how life is? It can be tough. Sometimes we do hand-to-hand, down and dirty combat with the world, the flesh; it’s a struggle to survive. It’s a fight. Nobody said it would be easy. But you can finish well.

I have finished the race. Life, the Christian life especially, is marathon, not a sprint. Winning, in this case, means not giving up. Finishing is victory. It is not so much about how fast you go or how many you pass along the way, but do you finish well? It is refusing to quit no matter what. For winners are losers who refused to quit! You’ll win if you don’t quit! Every racer knows it’s not easy: Paul kept going no matter how steep the hills, how strong the wind against him, how much his body cried out from exhaustion, no matter how far away the finish line seemed to be.

 I have kept the faith. The idea here is probably similar to that of 1 Cor 9:24-27, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. …Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.“ Paul could say he played by the rules. He had finished and finished well.

The good fight ended. The race ended. The faith preserved. He never stopped fighting! He never stopped running! He never stopped believing!  When all had been said and done, his faith was still standing. After everything he had been through, his faith was still intact. When all is said and done, will your faith still be preserved? Keep on fighting. Keep on running. Keep on believing.

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            Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give to me at that day: and not only to me, but also to all them that have loved his appearing. The reward- The crown of righteousness. You cannot be rewarded with the crown of righteousness if you had been inflicting misery on others. You cannot be rewarded with a crown of righteousness if you had been robbing others. By its naming, its implied and applied that it belongs to the righteous- them that had lived and died “righteously”.  Its not a crown of ambition, although it’s a good thing to have great ambitions. It is not a crown of success, although it’s not bad to be successful. It’s not a crown of wealth, although it is not particularly wrong to be wealthy. But being righteous is much more important if we are at all to inherit this crown.

            Them that love the world to come, inherit this reward. Them that love the present world, forfeit this world. Demas becomes a good example. Paul says, “Demas hath forsaken me”. Paul was distressed at the losing of Demas. How do you feel when brethren lose the faith?

Human mortality is 100% given. Our lives are but a short while, we are born and therefore must at the appointed time depart. How will you be remembered by those you leave behind? After all has been said and done, which words will summarize your life journey? 

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I Don’t Mind Waiting!

John 11

The family of Lazarus lived in Bethany of Judea. They were not a typical family. They were siblings, 3 of them, 2 sisters and a brother: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Likely, their parents had passed away, and this was the family home they had inherited.

This family was very close to Jesus, who spent a lot of time in their home, just 2 miles from Jerusalem. It seems apparent that Jesus would use their home sometimes as a headquarters, staying there by night, and ministering by day. Jesus was dearly attached to this family.

If Jesus was to come to Cape Town, would he want to stay in your home? Would he be welcome into your household? It is interesting that Jesus operated within the home base. He was a home, family-oriented preacher. It lets us know that God cares about our families and he desires to be near and close to our families. He wants to be part of our household. He never dwelt in synagogues or temples, but sought to dwell within the home setting. This therefore means he is not someone we meet when we go to church on Sunday morning; but he is someone who wants to be in our homes.

It has been suggested and taught that the subject of our discourse is the delayment of Christ. That Christ was delayed. But can God be late? How can we say God was late when we don’t have the schedule? The reason we know lateness is because we have deadlines: the mortgage is due and there’s no money in your checking account; the doctor said you have six months to live and you’re at the half year point. We then tend to think and imagine that God lives within and limited to those deadlines. 

What we need to do is learn how to wait. We’ve got to wait upon the lord. God sometimes choose to ignore our human deadlines. YOU and I tend to think of time in terms of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. We wear wristwatches. We have clocks and calendars in our homes and offices. We live with the limitations of time and space. We are busy . . . rushing here and there. But God does not have a clock. So He is never late. .. And He is never early. He is always on time. His timing is always perfect. He clearly works from a different clock than all of us. He works on his time-of-purpose.

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I don’t mind waiting on the Lord. How much longer do I need to wait? You don’t need to wait a second longer than it takes for God to answer in his precise timing. He sees your need, but he also sees the exact time it needs to be filled.

The text begins with a problem. Lazarus was sick. At the introduction of the discourse we are met with suffering. There is suffering in the house of Mary. Now it is important to note that this was a devout family. They had served Christ in many ways and in many times, and yet there is a problem. It is interesting to note that one can be near and dear to the Lord and yet still has a problem. It lets us know that our dearness and nearness to the lord does not make us immune to suffering.  It is interesting to note that one can love the lord and still have problems. I needed to know that, you see most church folks act as if everything is wonderful all the time.

But there are days in my life when all hell breaks loose- when there is a problem in my house. Now the problem had come into the house of Mary. The author lets us know which mary it was. He says it was the Mary who broke into a room full of religious men came to the feet of Jesus cried before him, dried his feet with her hair- she was a worshipper but still had a problem in her house.

Most tend to think that if you really love the lord, if you really worship the lord, if you really serve the lord you won’t have problems, situations and circumstances

Mary really loved the lord but still there was a circumstance, a dilemma in her life. Although she worshiped intensely she still had sickness in the house. How can I love the lord and still have a cancer? I really love the lord but my parents are divorcing. Mary was a worshipper, but still had a problem.

If you are a worshipper, and you have a problem, don’t be discouraged by the problem. The problem is not an indictment against the intensity of your worship. Certain circumstances will rise to make you question your relationship with the lord. Having problems does not mean God is no longer with you. Becoming a Christian isn’t the end of problems… But now you have somebody to help you with your problems.

What do you do when you have a problem? There are certain circumstances you just know they don’t need Dr. Phil, not cousin Helen or anybody else you just know this is a job for Jesus. Call for Jesus. Jesus is coming. “I must tell Jesus, I cannot bear my burdens alone.”

Could Jesus have prevented Lazarus from becoming sick? Of course. But it was allowed for the glory of God. Let me suggest that there are certain circumstances that God will allow into our lives, so his power can be made manifest in our lives. It sometimes takes the problem to see the provision of God in our lives. It sometimes takes the storm to make us realize the presence of God in our lives. Lazarus was allowed to suffer and die, that Christ might have the opportunity to call him forth from the tomb.

Do you want God’s glory in your life? Then prepare yourself to suffer. The problem is most of us want the glory but we don’t want the prize, the means to glory. Paul was given a thorn in his flesh for the glory of God. Jesus suffered that he might be glorified by the father.

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it. Jesus says this sickness is not unto death but yet Lazarus died. Lazarus did die. Now, was Jesus lying (strategic mis- interpretation)? Jesus did not promise that Lazarus wouldn’t die. I believe what Jesus was saying was death would not be the final word. Death would not be the end of the matter. My death might be fatal but it is not final. My situation might be fatal but it not final.

What do you do when you have done everything right- you have served the Lord faithfully, you love the lord with all your mind, heart and soul. The house of Mary encountered a problem, and they did the right thing again by taking it to the Lord. But the Lord does not come. Mary calls, but there is no answer. If it was any other issue, it would have been okay; but this is an emergency.

“Where are you Jesus?” Day one passes and Jesus is nowhere to be seen. Mary tries to comfort Lazarus: “Hold on there my brother, hold on a little while longer, we have called for Christ… you know he will never disappoint. He is faithful especially in tough times. He is coming soon”. Where are you Jesus, my house is a mess? Where are you Jesus we are getting a divorce in a few months? Where are you Jesus my children are on drugs? Where are you Jesus, I was supposed to be married by now

 Day two passes, Lazarus’ condition is worsening; the sisters are becoming more and more desperate. “Where are you Jesus? Hold on my dear brother help is on the way… he said he’ll never leave us he said he’ll never forsake us…remember how much he loves you, he’s coming”.

Day three goes by, the sisters are losing hope, they are sorrowful, anxious, sad, losing hope- “Where are you Lord? Why can’t you at least answer? Why don’t you at least send one of your apostles, we know you have twelve men with you! Why don’t you at least say the word then my brother would be healed?” Day four passes, Lazarus cannot keep his breath anymore; his condition is only kept by the hope that he might enter the house any minute. Then Lazarus, died!

The sisters realize all hope has been lost. We have waited on him, and he never came. They start to prepare for the funeral. They send message to relatives and friends, and they come to offer condolences and comfort. Still where is Jesus? Can’t he at least make the funeral? We can just imagine the pain, the sadness, the disappointment the sisters were feeling at this moment. The burial day come, they lay Lazarus into the grave. Jesus is still nowhere to be found. Now it’s too late…it’s all over. Their sorrow has turned to disappointment and now to hopelessness. What excuse does Jesus have for not being there when they need him most? Where are you Jesus?

Jesus got the word that Lazarus was sick, and he just hang around. He just kicked back, and said “see you when I see you”. The text doesn’t tell us that Jesus was busy with something; he just chose to goof around. He did not make it to the house. He did not even make the funeral. He didn’t even make the grave side burial.

By the time Jesus comes Lazarus had been dead for four days and then here comes Jesus. The days of mourning were divided among the Jews into three periods of three days of weeping, seven days of lamentation, and twenty days of sorrow. Now Mary had a serious problem. He was ready for him when he got there. She said Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died. My brother has died because you didn’t appear. Your failure to appear resulted in my brother’s death. You killed him by not coming when we called for you. Lord if you had been here my marriage would have been saved. Lord if you had been here I thought I would have a job by now. Lord if you had been here my parents would not have separated.

Now when the invitation was sent “Lazarus the one whom you love” when he heard therefore, it doesn’t say he hurried to help him. When he heard it was the one whom he loved he tarried two days still in the same place. Jesus could have healed Lazarus before he died. The stating that Jesus loved all three members of the family is intended to show that it was not lack of love or concern that cause Him to act as He did. Christ’s delays are the delays of love. So when Mary asks her, why didn’t you come? It’s not my weak and faltering allegiance to Him that calls forth His attention but His perfect love for me that is my constant strength and hope. In essence Jesus answers by saying I loved you enough to be late. I didn’t come when you wanted me to come, when you expected me to be there. To give you what you wanted when you wanted it. John thus points out that Christ’s love was His reason for remaining.

You didn’t get it sooner, because he loved you. Loved delayed him. He didn’t do it for you when you asked him to because he loved you. He didn’t undertake for me when I asked him, because he loved me. That is why I don’t mind waiting.  

After a little dialogue, Jesus said, in verse 25… “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he was dead, yet shall he live”. Jesus does not say I have the resurrection power. He says I am the resurrection and the life. That means as long as he is on the scene, even that which is dead will come back to life. 

What has died in your life? Has the waiting killed something’s in your life? The good news is, his presence is with you. He is still in the scene. Whatever you might have lost because of the wait, it will come back to life. Martha was also disappointed but he said, “even now”, although it’s late, in spite of how bad it looks, even now you still have got the power. Do you believe God for that he can do it for you “even now”?

Although all might seem lost, although it now seems impossible to put back together, you might have lost hope and are disappointed, but our disappointments are sometimes his appointments. Our lows are sometimes his highs. Sometimes God waits until all hope seems lost, when it’s all complicated and there seems no way for revival, it is then that he comes into the scene. Abraham was a hundred years and his wife ninety, neighbors had laughed and ridiculed that Sarah would never have a child. But God has amassed a reputation for himself for coming when we least expected him.

God does not set his time by our watch. Even though it didn’t happen when we expected it would happen he is still able. When the children of Israel were fleeing Egypt and hit a dead end at the Red Sea.  Mountains were on both sides, the sea ahead, and Pharaoh and his armies were right behind them, and they had nowhere to go, their backs were against the wall.  They prepared to die, and then God did the impossible, out of no way, he provided another way.  Man’s extremities are God’s opportunities, and God can make a way when there seems to be no way.

Where have you laid him? Show me where you decided to give up? Show me where you lost all hope? Show me where you decided I could not do it. Show me where your faith gave up? Show me where you lost you patience and wait for me? Show me where you lost your passion for life? Show me where you decided to limit yourself? Show me where you decided to doubt and became discouraged? Show me!

Then Jesus said, “Take away the stone”. Jesus had them roll the stone.  Couldn’t He have done that, while He was working miracles anyway? This command suggests that where human power is sufficient, Divine power will not be put forth.  Jesus again wants human involvement, like He did back in chapter 2 with His first miracle, the water into wine.  He had them first fill the water pots. 

Remember, God rarely does what only He can do until we do first what we can do.  They could get water, but they couldn’t turn it into wine.  They could roll the stone, but they couldn’t raise Lazarus.  The same happened with the feeding of the five thousand.  Jesus had them fetch a little food.  Now, if He can create enough for the multitude, couldn’t He make the first portion too? The disciples can’t make something out of nothing, but they can fetch a little boys and his lunch.

Jesus breaks the bread and it multiplies into huge piles.  Then Jesus has the disciples deliver it to each one.  I got to tell you, it would have been all the more incredible of a miracle if Jesus had gone ‘poof’ and made each person’s plate suddenly appear in their laps…but it’s the principle of personal involvement!  Are you personally involved?  Are you doing that which is least w/ your finances, such as tithing, and being a good steward of the other 90% of God’s money?  God won’t do for you what only HE can do until He sees if you are willing to do what YOU can do.

We all want God to grow our church.  And we all know it has to be HIM who does it right?  But could He be waiting for us to do what we can do?  Can we expect Him to just ‘make it happen’ if we aren’t visiting, inviting, praying, and working … doing what we can do?  How exciting it would be if we would all take personal responsibility and initiative with what is in our power to do, and then we are allowed to sit back and enjoy watching God do what only He can do!

Some of us want the lord to do things for us, but we are not willing to take personal involvement. We don’t want to roll away the stone that is hindering God from functioning fully in us. God therefore says “Roll away the stone that lies as an obstacle in your own family to the salvation of your children.” You want your children to be saved yet you and your husband are always fighting next to the children calling each other names. Roll away the stone.

God is frequently late, but he is always on time. Therefore, wait on the Lord and you shall find strength.

In the words of a song about Lazarus:

When he’s four days late and all hope is gone,

Lord, we don’t understand why you’ve waited so long.

But his way is God’s way; it’s not yours or mine;

And isn’t it great, when he’s four days late,

He’s still on time.

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The Final Sermon

The Boom of the Bell of Doom!

Jeremiah 44

The chapter constitutes Jeremiah’s debate with the Jewish fugitives in Pathros. It is worth noting that it is also his last prophecy.

One of the key thoughts of our text is the idea of God being angry with the Jewish fugitives. Can God be angry? Can deity be offended? How can the perfect absolute God, be subject to human passions and emotions? Does God know distress, excitement, love, or anger? Philo, a Hellenistic Jew who lived at the same time as Christ, wrote: “Some . . . assume that the Existent feels wrath and anger, whereas He is not susceptible to any emotion at all. For anxiety is peculiar to human weakness.”[1]

We know that God is not human. So certainly any presence of human weakness or ill makes him less God than he actually is. Or what is there to be esteemed in being angry? Can anger result in any constructive act or does it usually conceive destruction? Why is it important for God to be angry? If God could not be offended by human actions, would that make him any less God than he is?

We read in Jeremiah that God has passion, delight and yearning- “Is not Ephraim-my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,’ declares the Lord” (Jer. 31:20).

If we accept that God can be angry it means that God has emotions. It is true that modern theology tends to emphasize God’s love than his wrath. It overemphasizes the fact that His love is unconditional (ignoring passages such as John 15:10-14: “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. . . . You are my friends if you do what I command”) and tends to depersonalize the concept of retribution. But is love an emotion?

It would seem from our text (Vs. 1-8) the intolerable circumstances of the Jewish refugees and even the destruction of Judah were self inflictory. Such expressions like “Why do you cut yourself off?”, “kindling God’s anger” and “against your souls” all imply that the Jews provoked God to anger. Similarly they suggest God does not cut himself from us but we cut ourselves from him. Does God act in anger and destroy us or is it the result of our actions (consequential) that destroy us?

In 1 Chronicles 10:14 we are told that because of Saul’s transgression, the Lord “slew him” (RSV), yet verse 4 says that Saul “took his own sword, and fell upon it” (RSV). The idea of retribution as a natural process might be further supported from those texts that speak of sowing and reaping (Prov. 22:8; Hosea 10:13; Gal. 6:7-9; Job 4:8). God’s retribution can however sometimes be active and direct (Deut. 32: 41-43; Ps. 94:1; Isa. 1:24; Eze. 7:8, 9; Micah 5:15; Nahum 1:2ff.).

It would seem from an examination of a few scriptures that God isboth extremely kind, loving, and forgiving, and extremely zealous in punishing and avenging (Ex. 20:5; 34:6, 7; Deut. 7:9, 10). God saves and destroys (James 4:12). We are told to consider both “the kindness and the severity of God” (Rom. 11:22, RSV). One of the most intense pictures of God’s vengeance is found in Revelation 19:11-21-and this is a portrayal of the Son!

Often times, human anger is fueled by wounded pride; we become petulant and vindictive; we lose control. It would seem God’s anger is different or from a different stimulus. God’s anger is not only legitimate but essential. Wrath is the emotion a just man feels when confronted with injustice. To love the good is to hate the evil that is antagonistic to it (Heb. 1:9). Scripture also teach that God can be jealous. “Jealous” might also be translated “zealous,” or even “impassioned.” In other words, God cares-fiercely.

God’s hatred of evil is just as strong as His love of good. God’s character can therefore be likened unto a fire- it may comfort if you treat it well with respect and carefulness or destroy if you mess with it. Some ask, “How can a merciful God destroy?” but just the opposite can also be asked: “How can a just God allow evil to go unchecked”.

Again, the scriptural testimony is not that God does not get angry, but that He is slow to anger, and does not stay angry (Ps. 30:5; Isa. 54:7, 8; Ps. 78:38;) Isa. 12:1; Hosea 11:9; 14:1; Micah 7:18).

•           The queen of heaven- see Jeremiah 7: 18

The sign that God promised in verse 30 consists in the capture of Hophra by his deadly enemies. Henceforth he will live in constant alarm, for he is in the hands of those “that seek his life.” All that we know of the fate of Hophra is derived from Herodotus (2:169), who states that Amssis “gave Apries over into the hands of his former subjects, to deal with as they chose. Then the Egyptians took him and strangled him” (see further on Jeremiah 46:13)

Homiletic

 INTRODUCTION

  • Jeremiah’s debate with the Jewish fugitives in Pathros; his last prophecy
  • Verses 1-14: Accusation brought against the idolatrous people

Verses 15- 19: the reply of the people

Verses 20-30: Jeremiah’s rejoinder (reply)/ God’s judgment

  • One of the key thoughts of our text is the idea of God being angry with the Jewish fugitives. Can God be angry?

APPLICATION

Warnings from the past- VERSE 1-10

  • Warnings from the sins of the past- Jeremiah calls upon the Jews in Egypt to reflect on the wicked conduct of their nation, tracing it back from the present through successive generations of iniquitous court and private life
  • Warnings from the divine voice in the past- God had instructed and urged his people to forsake their sins. He had not left them in the dark or unchecked.
  • Warnings from the punishments of the past- The object of punishment is twofold. First, it concerns the guilty; secondly, it has lessons for witnesses. It is chastisement to the offender, it is warning to others. No punishment would be just if it were simply given as a deterrent. But being deserved and needful on account of the conduct of the victim, it is then utilized in perfect justice for the general benefit of the community.

Open Rebellion- VERSE 16

  • God leaves us free to accept or reject his authority- God has given us free will so ourservice may remain free and willing.
  • All evil centers in the will- The idolatrous Jews will not hearken to the word of Jeremiah. Herein lies the sum and substance of their offence.
  • Willful rejection of truth is rebellion against God- Not to listen is to revolt. We must be careful to distinguish pure intellectual doubt and unbelief from this revolt of the will against truth.
  • Self-will is evil will- Self-will is an evil will for we are not our own masters. We are “under authority.”Self-will is too often directed to evil things. Those Jews who deliberately rejected the Divine message chose to perform acts of idolatry of their own will. Our will is corrupt. Left to itself it chooses much that is evil, To keep it pure we must lift it up to union with a higher will. When it breaks loose and defiantly chooses its own private course, its evil nature will incline it to a bad course
  • Companionship in sin becomes conspiracy in greater sin- The husbands support their wives in the evil practices of the women, and together they declare that for the future they will pursue these practices openly and deliberately

Punishment can be misinterpreted- VERSE 18

  • It is possible to mistake the cause and purpose of God’s intentions in punishment- Instead of accepting their calamities as punishments for their sins against Jehovah, the Jews in Upper Egypt argue from them to conclusions of unbelief in the power and goodness of the God of their fathers
  • It is possible to fall into religious error through misinterpreting Gods intentions in punishment-By a false inference drawn from the experience of trouble, the idolatrous Jews were led to fling off the last relic of their ancient faith, and to renew their allegiance to the heathen religion they had partially renounced in outward act, though not, as it appears, in the inclinations of their hearts.

God’s forbearance has a limit- VERSE 22

  • God’s forbearance is limited- There is no limit to his love. His mercy “endures forever.” There is no limit to his patience, but there is a limit to God’s forbearance.
  • It is possible to reach the limit of his forbearance- It was reached by the antediluvians, by the cities of the plain, by the Jews at the time of the Captivity, by the Jews when Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus, by many a nation and many a man since.
  • It must be unspeakable terrible to reach the limit of his forbearance- Then all the vials of wrath will be outpoured

Be careful of your vows- VERSE 25

  • God leaves us free to execute our evil intentions- The Jews in Upper Egypt were to be left to the performance of their vows to the queen of heaven. This implied no sanction; it was only the withholding of forcible restraints
  • The fruit of our wayward ways becomes the punishment in itself for us.

The remnant of the remnant- VERSE 28

Of the Jews who escaped the sword of Nebuchadnezzar in the invasion of their land, “a remnant “fled to Egypt; of this body of refugees “a remnant” was to survive the dangers that would destroy the greater part. Thus but a small number would return to Jerusalem in safety

  • Judgment is tempered with mercy
  • God’s judgment is discriminatory- Noah is picked out of the drowning world. Lot is remembered in Sodom. Elijah is provided for in the general drought.
  • Left to themselves no man can escape the doom of destruction-”All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” All would, therefore, receive the wages of sin. But God intervenes on behalf of the regenerative.
  • By the redemption of Christ all who have sinned may be saved- Christ saves still the remnant that seeks the grace of God.

[1]Quod Deus Sit Immutabailis 52.