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God’s Plumbline

 There are many characteristics that shed light upon God. If you ask someone “Which of God’s characteristics define Him the best?” most will probably respond by saying His love or maybe His holiness. But according to the Bible that would be the wrong answer. As this writer has mentioned often, the beautiful biblical attributes that define who God is are His forever life (Psa. 90: 2), His sovereignty (His absolute control of everything in time and space (Dan. 4:34-35), His love (1 Jn. 4:8), His righteousness and justice (Psa. 89:14), and the fact that He is all-powerful (Gen. 18:14), all-knowing (Isa. 40:28), and everywhere present (Psa. 139:7-17), and finally the truth that He never changes (Mal. 3:6). And His love is a biggie. As the reader well knows, God is love. He is the very essence of love. The only reason that we know anything at all about love is because we have His image stamped on us (Gen. 1:26). This writer has memorized and meditated on the meaning of these characteristics for many years. I recognize that these are just some of God’s attributes making up His Godness, His holiness, His “set apartness.”

However, two of God’s attributes stand out from the rest and are almost always found together. These two characteristics hold the rest of His attributes together in a powerful unbreakable bond. The first is His righteousness, or His rightness. “I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (Isa. 45:18). When the Bible says that God is righteous, it does not mean that God is good, or even really good, or even really, really good. It does not mean that God is much better than any other being. The God of the Bible is the very essence of perfection. He is perfectly perfect. He is righteously right. He is the One who invented “good.” He is right in every thought that He has thought, every decision that He has ever made or will ever make, every action that He has ever done, and every word that He has ever spoken. The prophet Habakkuk says that His eyes are too holy to even look upon sin (Hab. 1:13).

He is the God of infinite integrity. The apostle John said that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 Jn. 1:5). Not bad for an uneducated fisherman! God is pure unadulterated light that contains not one tiny speck of darkness. Not one! The psalmist tells us that God’s work is honorable and glorious, and His righteousness endures forever (Psa. 111:3).

The second of God’s characteristics that rises to the top is a counterbalance to His righteousness – His justice! “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He” (Deut. 32:4, NASB). Carefully note that “all His ways are just.” That is powerfully plain-spoken. The truth of God’s justice is so important that Moses – probably because God revealed to him that God’s justice would be tested, resisted, and restricted time and again throughout history – said it two ways: positively he says that all God’s ways are just; and negatively, Moses says that “God is without injustice.”

He is making the fact of God’s justice as clear as possible. To this writer, the word “counterbalance” describing God’s righteousness and justice fits perfectly. They are like a sacred scale. I am thinking of a meat scale at a food market. God’s righteousness and justice must always remain perfectly balanced – always. God must maintain both and preserve them perfectly. Isaiah 28:17 says, “I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the level.” Measuring line is the Hebrew word mishpot – a unit of capacity, a measuring cup, and righteousness is tsedeqah – a leveling device. The reader who has spent time in the kitchen knows what a measuring cup is, and a carpenter knows what a leveling device is. Everyone knows that a plumbline keeps workers’ projects straight. Oh, the times that recipes have failed because the measuring cup was not used correctly, and the times a building project has failed because the plumb line was not used correctly. All that God is, what God does, and what God says must always be measured against his measuring cup and His leveling device – so they could very well be called His plumbline.

The fact that God’s righteousness and justice are His plumbline is exceedingly heavy truth! A negative way of saying this is there can never be an imbalance between God’s righteousness and His justice – never! What His righteousness rejects, His justice must condemn. God’s works – God’s decisions must always be realigned with His plumbline of perfection. Point! All of God’s works must always be in line with His characteristics of righteousness and justice. What God does – the decisions that He makes can never be out of balance with His character. God must remain right, and He must always remain just. Always! Every word that God speaks must be measured for truth against His plumbline. God can never say anything that is not true and believers can never sin against God and get away with it.

God’s discipline of a sinning Christian (His justice) must restore His righteousness (His plumbline) in the Christian’s life. Since Christians will never be sinless while in this fallen body then Christians must always endure God’s chastening. “My son do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him. For whom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom the Father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they (human fathers) indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He (God) for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness” (Heb. 12:5-10).

“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness [dikaiosune]” (Heb. 12:11). Remember this Greek word dikaiosune. This chastening gets extremely complicated when we take in both our thought life and our open sins. At the time the Holy Spirit convicts us of a rouge thought or a wrong act, agree with Him quickly and turn from it (John 8:11).

That is known as walking in the Spirit and not fulfilling the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17), and when we sin we are to confess it to God. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”(1 John 1:9). The word “confess” is the Greek word homologeo, and it means to “say the same” or, you guessed it, to agree. The Christian can do this in a matter of seconds and in the process “keep walking in the light (1 John 1:7). By the way, the words “one another” in this passage as in “we have fellowship one with the other” in context, is speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ – not fellow believers. We are to walk in fellowship with Christ moment by moment. It speaks of a vertical relationship, not horizontal. This spiritual exercise is to be an ongoing huge part of the Christians life. Therefore, God tells us to endure the chastening. If we respond correctly “we live.” Did the reader catch that little phrase? Desire a long life? Keep short sin accounts with God. Remember, its often the little words that make the greatest impact (Heb.12:9). Now……. Just how righteous and just is God?

David said this about God’s righteousness and justice, and he said it twice. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; Mercy and truth go before His face” (Psa. 89:14). “Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne” (Psa. 97:2). The foundation is the part of the building that holds the structure’s entire weight. If a building is to stand, a solid foundation must be laid strong enough to hold it up, to support it. “Foundation” is the Hebrew word makon. It means a fixed nonmovable established place. The foundation of righteousness (being right) and justice (being fair and just) is the firmly fixed makon upon which all the rest of God’s God-ness rests. He must always think right! He must always do right! He must always be right! He must always be just or fair. And He must always keep these two characteristics in perfect balance. He must always align Himself with His plumbline. He cannot alter His character one tiny bit. He cannot change (Malachi 3:6). He will not change! His deity depends upon it. Someone wrote long ago that God’s righteousness is the righteousness that God’s righteousness requires Him to require. That’s heavy language meaning that God must remain right in every sense of the word. His very being depends upon it.

God’s righteousness is mentioned in the Bible well over two hundred times, and always within close proximity to His justice (1 Kings 10:9; 2 Chronicles 9:8; Job 29:14; Psa. 72:2, 99:4, 119:121; Proverbs 2:9, Isaiah 1:27, Jeremiah 4:2, Ezekiel 45:9; Hosea 2:19; Amos 5:7, and Micah 7:9). I mention these few passages just to make the point! God’s righteousness and justice are mentioned together so often that they are called, “the way of the Lord” (Genesis 18:19). Proverbs says that to do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3). God is said not only to be righteous and just, but He is said to love righteousness and justice (Psalm 33:5).

These two characteristics, thought of as one (as we will see), are well worth memorizing and meditating on. Think of all the forementioned characteristics: sovereignty, love, eternal life, all knowingness, all-powerfulness, everywhere presentness and unchangeableness and even His holiness, must all be subject to God’s righteousness and His justice. That’s heavy!

Places where the Bible is silent make the biggest impressions. For instance, the Bible does not imply that God’s sovereignty is His plumbline, nor His love, nor His power, nor His eternal presence, nor even His holiness. Nor does God say that all these attributes are the foundation upon which His throne is built, nor does He call any one of them His way. This place in God’s holy character is reserved only for His righteousness and justice ……alone. God does not say that He loves any of the forementioned characteristics other than His righteousness and His justice.

One may think that God’s overwhelming characteristic is His love, but the Bible does not say that God loves His love. God is love (1 John 4:8). The only reason we know anything about love at all is because God’s image is stamped upon us. He is all the characteristics mentioned above, and more. But again, Scripture affirms that God loves righteousness and justice. The Bible does not even say that God loves His holiness – as important as that is. Wow! The importance of God’s plumbline keeps rising until it towers high above all.

So, God’s righteousness and justice – His plumbline – the Rock that never moves is established (Deut. 32:4). But this writer feels the necessity to be cautiously repetitious. The “why” will soon be discovered. God’s rightness and fairness are the same yesterday, today, and forever. His nature of righteousness and justice never wavers in the slightest degree. God’s plumbline must always remain fixed – always. His judgments are all forever righteous. His work is always perfect. He never makes missteps or mistakes. There is never a character flaw with God – not one. This truth magnificently glorifies the work of the cross. God made Him (the Lord Jesus) who knew no sin (God’s sinless Son) to become sin for us. Through the death of Christ, God forever balanced the scales of His righteousness and justice. God did this in order that we might be made the righteousness (dikaiosune, plumbline) of God in Him (1 Cor. 5:21). God can now be just (fair with Himself) and the justifier (declaring just) those who place their faith in Christ (Rom. 3:26).

The powerful prominent Old Testament Hebrew words tsedekah (righteous) and mishpot (justice) sing together in perfect harmony in the New Testament in the single word dikaiosune – translated simply, righteousness. This word is made by combining two Greek words, dikaios (righteous) and krino (just), resulting in dikaiosune(righteousness).  Dikaiosune (righteousness) became God’s New Testament word defining His plumbline.

The reader now knows why it is good to keep this word in mind. The word reveals that God forever realigned His plumbline of perfect righteousness and justice that was distorted by the sin and death of Adam. Through one man’s offense, death reigned, and judgment came upon all. Even so through one Man’s righteous act, the free gift of righteousness (dikaiosune) came to all, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous (Rom. 5:19). God credits the precious benefits gained by this cross work of His Son (of which there are many) to those who trust in Christ by faith alone. God made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to become sin for us (believers) that we might be made the righteousness (dikaiosune) of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Upon hearing the gospel and responding positively to it, at the exact moment that our faith is placed in Christ, God miraculously places us in Christ where He credits His plumbline of righteousness and justice to us – His dikaiosune. This is what it means to be “justified” (Rom. 3:24). God then sees the believer sheltered in Christ and being as righteous (dikaiosune) as Himself. God has forever settled His demand for righteousness and justice in Christ. Halleluiah! How can we even begin to reach the depths of this? This is grace! The question is do we really believe this? Do we really believe that God’s righteousness and judgment is always in play absolutely and perfectly even when it does not appear this way to our sin-fogged minds?

Let’s test it! It does not take long for new believers to realize that God did not choose to eradicate our sinful natures the moment we were saved. By faith in Christ, we have become new creations having new natures – and are given God the Holy Spirit to teach us and to guide us (John 16:13-14). Yet we still sin (1 John 1:8), and we live shoulder to shoulder with millions of other sinner/slaves – all trapped in a slave market of sin and death. As one of my mentors used to repeat, our sin natures are so powerful that they touch and affect every thought that we think, every word that we say, every choice that we make, and everything that we do. He said evil touches even the good things that we do. We live in fallen limited bodies that are growing more so every day – in a fallen world, with Satan at the helm. Therefore, God’s disciplining hand always remains present and active in us, always continuously reestablishing His dikaiosune. Let’s truck through a small portion of the chastening passage in Hebrews one more time and focus attention on the word “righteousness” (dikaiosune) – God’s plumbline.

“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness [dikaiosune] – God’s plumbline – to those who have been trained [gumnadzo, strengthened] by it” (Heb. 12:11). God’s chastening of His spiritual children is continuous and continuously strengthens and reestablishes His plumbline in them, and for Him, for life. God is a good heavenly Father, and a good heavenly Father always keeps His righteousness and justice in perfect balance with all His children. He never lets any part of this realignment slip by one time – ever.

Even the best human parents are not perfect parents. There are just commands given to a child, but the justice slips by. Not once, but many times. It is said to the child, “If you do such and such again, I will do such and such,” but our part of such and such never comes. We are busy – too busy to follow through – or we are in a place where such a parental act would cause embarrassment. There are many such reasons. The writer of Hebrews says that we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. This correction lasted “for a few days,” and “as seemed best to them” (Heb. 12:9-10). But God’s chastening is maintained throughout life, and it is always done according to God’s character – it is perfect.

With this info in our mind a very big question is raised. Are sinners – even the best – ever in the position to judge how an infinite God carries out His righteousness and justice based on what is thought to be just and fair. One may think that a work that God does is good, fair, and just because it agrees with their fallen standards of goodness and fairness, and that is the reason that God wills it. Or said another way, one may think well of what God wills to happen because it is thought to be the right thing to do. The psalmist wrote, “These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you and set them in order before your eyes” (Psa. 50:21). God does not think like us, nor does He act like us (Isa. 55:8).

Humans must bow to the fact that whatever the living God wills to happen is just, good, and fair, because He wills it. That should settle the issue. God is in control, and He never loses control not one moment. If we are seeking true “right,” we must establish what is right from God’s Word. If we are seeking true justice, again we must go to God’s Word. God’s Word contains the unchangeable Rock of our salvation (2 Sam. 22:47). Blessed be our Rock! “Let God be true, exalted, and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). We must all give thanks to the Lord, “for He is good. His mercy endures forever” (1 Chron. 16:34). If all the above is true, then all should gladly worship and honor Him. He is truly a God worthy of our love and our worship, even when we fail to understand why He has determined to do what He does. “Let everything that has breath praise this LORD. Praise the LORD” (Psa.150:6).

But even with His eternal nature – His holiness – in mind, many will never choose to worship Him because there are places in God’s Word that do not square with human sense of fairness. The reason is clear. Adam’s fallen image continues to affect our human wills. I have often wondered why God left Adam’s nature in us, even after our new birth. It may be to continuously remind us of who we are and from where we have come. To this writer, this is the reason that people want a god that meets their own human standards – a god like them. They desire to worship a God who would never choose to do anything that they themselves would not do. Or a god who can be reasoned with and changed. This begs the question, “Do we really believe that God’s righteousness and justice always remains in perfectly balance – always?”

 

God is Not Like Us

Consider Solomon’s familiar words found in Ecclesiastes 3:  “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace” (v. 1-8). I want to hum, “turn, turn, turn.” Old fashioned, I am! I am impressed by the way Solomon finishes his point.  

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?” (v. 9). A professor of mine often said that many spend their entire lives climbing the ladder of success only to discover at the end that their ladders have been propped against the wrong wall. To quote my grandson, “What a bummer!”

Solomon continued, “I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (v. 10-11).

Solomon was saying that no one can climb high enough, even to the farthest expanse of the universe, and discover what God is really doing from beginning to end. But King Nebuchadnezzar discovered that God does according to His will – His choosing, and He does it in the invisible realm of innumerable angels and in the historic generations of human beings. And no one can stop Him from doing His will or even begin figure Him out (Daniel 4: 34-35).   

It is because God is not like us. Repeat! The Source of all things is NOT LIKE US! God said, “You thought that I was altogether like you, but I will rebuke you” (Psalm 50:21).  We would be wrong to even think like this. Very wrong!  God does not think like us nor does He act like us (Isaiah 55:8). This is why the pagans, earth lovers and worshippers, do what they do.  They fashion gods of their own liking. They worship earthly things. They fall deeply and passionately in love with the things of this world.

We would never consider the seemingly innocent things in which we are passionately involved as being “idols,” would we? God does! Anything and everything that robs God of His time with us and our worship of Him is idolatry – anything.Life is all about His glory, not ours. The apostle John says simply, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15). Ouch! That is very clear, very broad, and exceedingly understandable.

Isaiah pondered the question, “Who would form a god or mold an image that profits him nothing?”  Yet the blacksmith fashions a god with the strength of his arms, but he goes hungry and thirsty from lack of food and water. The craftsman fashions an idol of wood. He plants and nourishes the tree, then cuts it down and makes a fire to warm himself and bake bread. With the rest, he makes a god to worship and falls down before it. God has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.

This is absurd, yes! It does no good to mention a laundry list of all the ways that we today worship stuff or activities rather than God. The voice of the Holy Spirit is sufficient and shouts!

Isaiah concluded, “And no one considers in his heart, nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire. Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; and shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside; and he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:6-20).

The idols have mouths, but they cannot speak. They have eyes, but they cannot see! They have ears, but they cannot hear (Psalm 115:5). The human race is like these idols. It is spiritually blind, living in darkness. But the living God both sees and hears to an infinite degree. God does not think like us. His thoughts are not like our thoughts, and His ways are not like ours. How far are His thoughts and actions from ours? They are as far as the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55: 9). That is an immense distance which is boundless and unfathomable. A distance that totally separates us from God – separates us that is, unless He deems otherwise. Blessings!

 

 

 

Pondering Teaching

 

I began my walk with Jesus Christ by studying the apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians. My very first mentor was a former Presbyterian minister from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, named Donald Barnhouse. Through this study the Holy Spirit placed in me an unquenchable thirst to know more and more of God’s word but also to discover Dr. Barnhouse’s method of studying it.   

 

As it turned out, Paul’s letter to the Galatians was a great place for me to start. Paul’s desire was to clarify to young Galatian Christians, who were being confused by a crowd of religious zealots, what the gospel is. I spent my first few years in that book studying the truth of the gospel and the meaning of God’s grace.

 

My greatest desire has been and continues to be to lean heavily upon the Holy Spirit to teach me the Scripture. After all, Jesus Christ said that is precisely what the Spirit is sent here to do. “When He is come (the Holy Spirit) He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-14). The word “glorify” means to shed light upon. I liken it to using a flashlight to make visible things in the darkness.

 

In this case the Holy Spirit will teach God’s word and through it make Jesus Christ and His work more and more visible and understandable to the student. The Holy Spirit teaches the believer’s living human spirit God’s mysterious hidden wisdom. He does so by taking the spiritual meaning of the words of the Bible in context and turning them into spiritual thoughts or truths that feed our living human spirits. He feeds our souls the very thoughts and truth of the living God. Wow! (1 Cor. 2:7-16). That is heavy thinking! It is through this “feeding” that we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Son of God (2 Pet. 3:18). Blessings!    

Sodom and Gomorrah

by Richard J. Hill

Abram’s and Lot’s flocks had become large and their help began to clash with one another. God told Abram and Lot to separate from one another (Gen. 13:11). Abram gave Lot his choice of the land, and Lot and his wife looked and chose the valley of the green fields. Abram left the decision concerning his choice up to God. It is always far better to do that.  Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom – probably dreaming of the crops he could plant, and the number of sheep and goats he could raise, not to mention the beauty of the place. The people appeared at first to be decent, friendly, honest people and would make good friends and neighbors. It is clear from the Bible that Lot was a believer in the living God (2 Pet. 2:7-9). He was referred to as “righteous Lot.” Lot soon learned that things are not always what they appear to be.

 

Though his neighbors became generous, close friends, Lot realized that they were unprincipled people oppressed by serious sensual conduct. The Sodomites had a dark side that produced much anxiety within Lot’s soul. The land, true to promise, became very generous and produced much food for Lot’s family and his flocks.  He probably built a nice home and a beautiful lush garden. His wife and family grew to love their home and many of their neighbors soon became close friends. Lot took a leading position among the government officials of the settlement. He probably met often with other leaders in the town square to talk politics and discuss ways to help their community.  

 

Lot soon became painfully aware that his neighbors’ private lifestyle was far less than honorable. In fact, it was horrible, and in direct conflict with the character of his God. They were Sodomites actively involved in sensual, religious practices and private, illicit sexual activity. It became hard for Lot to live the good life among people who were very vile in their personal lives. But because of his family and their fondness for their friends and neighbors, and his daughters’ engagement to two men, Lot was trying constantly to negotiate. He was persistently trying to “straighten out” the Sodomites. He was attempting to legislate morality for the immoral. Impossible!

 

Believers who desire the best of both worlds – the knowledge of being a child of God and at the same time having an unquenchable thirst for all the temporal possessions of this life (position, influence, wealth, and power) become believers who seldom mature spiritually. They never really become productive for God, and they end up losing it all anyway.

 

There is always the haunting knowledge that God will discipline believers in this life for living contrary to His plan “Forwhom the Lord loves He chastens and scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). As long as God left Lot alone,he would continue to profess faith, while at the same time living among the Sodomites, quietly condoning their sexual immorality. Ultimately, he could not have both.

 

Sodom would have destroyed Lot if the Lord had not destroyed Sodom. One day two angels entered the gate of Sodom. The day of reckoning had come.  They had come to administer God’s justice on the Sodomites, who had constantly impugned God’s righteousness and His justice. The came to balance the scales (Deut. 32: 4) and to deliver Lot and his family out of harm’s way – to remove them from God’s judgment.  This is a vivid illustration of God’s act of mercy toward those who believe. God knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations (2 Pet. 2:9).  

 

Weak believers have the wrong emphasis in life. They busy themselves trying to clean up the devil’s world. They become actively involved in social actions to make this world a better place. On the surface that sounds commendable. God never tells believers to busy themselves straightening out this world. As one mentor once said, Christians are never told to clean up the fishpond; we are told to fish in it. God never tells believers to legislate morality for the unsaved – we are to share the gospel of grace with them and live a life that complements our words. A mature believer is to make a positive, moral impact on society because of who they are. We are to be God’s ambassadors to this fallen world.  We are told to be salt, making people thirsty for the living God, and light, showing people the way to life.  The unsaved are blessed by associating with Christians and their godly influence. Christians make the best salesmen, lawyers, doctors, bankers, etc.  And unbelievers are to recognize our integrity and have a desire for its source.

 

Lot’s urgency for the men to stay in the safe confines of his house indicated that he was well aware of the vile inhospitable treatment they would receive from the Sodomites if they chose to stay in the open square. Lot’s desire to protect them illustrated that there was spiritual life in him. Lot made it very plain that they really needed to stay in the safe confines of his home. He proved to be right! Every man of the city, both young and old, came to the house to involve themselves in homosexual rape of angels – angels!  The men said that they desired to “know them carnally.” This is a Hebrew phrase that would imply homosexual rape. There have been books written zeroing in on these words with the attempt to show that homosexuality is not considered a sin or an abomination to the Lord in the Old Testament.  However, this cannot be done. In the light of the context and the meaning of this word, homosexuality was and is a sin before God.

 

We are today living in a society filled with increasing emphasis on homosexual life. An article written in Time Magazinemany years ago was entitled “How gay is gay?” At that time, it was estimated, that ten percent of society was influenced by some form of homosexuality. Some of our leading citizens had announced that they were homosexual. Today it is much more so.

 

Today, much of our music, our dress, our hairstyles, (both long and short) are established by homosexuals. Our society today is filled with homosexual influence. The apostle Paul, in one of the most pointed sections of his writing, spoke loud and clear concerning this very subject in Romans one. The theme of his writing is a people that have fallen into sin and turned their backs on God and so God in turn gave them up. God gave them up to do that which was in the lust of their minds to do. Paul said that although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things (Rom. 1:21-23).

 

Therefore! This “therefore” in verse 24 is heavy with meaning. Here is God’s response to a homosexual filled society. Since they had given up God, God gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. God just gave them the freedom to do what they wanted to do.  

 

“For this reason [leaving the living God], God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Rom. 1:24-25).

 

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Rom. 1:26-32).

 

The apostle regards prevalent homosexual activity as God’s judgment upon a society that has rejected Him. It is not something that God was going to do, it is something that He has done.  Rampant homosexuality is not a symbol that God’s judgment “is coming” but that God’s judgment “has come.” According to Paul, this is not a society that is moving toward God’s judgment, but we are already under God’s judgment, and moving toward a final cataclysmic judgment like Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

Again, Lot’s begging his neighbors to cease from this activity is proof that he still had sensitivity to God and the wickedness of the people around him. It then appears that Lot then just completely fell off the wagon. He offered his two daughters to this Sodomite crowd instead of the angels (Gen. 19:8). In my thinking, Lot had become sodomized in his thinking, but not in his personal life. On the one hand, he appeared very moral, for he resisted homosexuality. He knew evil when he saw it. But ironically, he was willing to sacrifice his own daughters’ purity to fend off the vice of Sodomite men. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” becomes one of the heaviest burdens believers can bear. Believers who marry unbelievers are going to have problems.

 

This weak believer had anemic spiritual convictions concerning family responsibility. Here is Lot’s spiritual mentality. He was so immersed and disoriented in immorality that he viewed the giving of his daughters versus the sexual abuse of the men as the lessor of two evils.  And the Sodomites said to Lot, “Stand back!” They said that Lot had come to stay with them but that he was always acting like a judge. They turned on Lot completely. They said, “Now we will deal worse with you than with them” (the angels) (Gen. 19:9).  

 

Lot’s feeble attempt to stem the evil bent of his neighbors produced nothing. They did not respect him nor even like him. Believers who attempt to change unbelievers’ lifestyle by blending in with them, living with them attempting to influence them in the right way, will seldom succeed. The Sodomites pressed hard against Lot and came near to break down the door. Repeat! The weak compromising believer has no testimony with the unbeliever. Immature Christians think that they can change people’s view of Christianity by compromising their own lifestyle and just blending in. 

 

They think that they can join into their activity to show the freedom that God has given us through grace. Usually, the outcome is like this with Lot. In the end, unbelievers will turn on believers and attempt to destroy them. More than one believer attempting this maneuver has been consumed by the very crowd they were trying to spiritually placate.  God snatched Lot out of harm’s way. The angels pulled Lot into the house with them and slammed the door shut. And the angels struck the Sodomites who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door. Notice that it is angelic work to defend and deliver God’s elect. Speaking of angels, Hebrews says; Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14).

 

The Sodomites were struck with a supernatural blindness which is found in only one other place in the Bible in 2 Kings 6:18. It refers to a confusion of the brain by a confusion of the eyes. They thought they were seeing but they were seeing wrongly. 

 

The angels asked Lot if there were any other family members in his house or in the city. God remembered His promise to Abraham. If they could find just ten, He would forego the destruction. Lot’s prospective sons-in-law who were to marry his daughters (verse 14), thought he was joking.

 

When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, telling him to get up and take his wife and his two daughters away lest he be consumed in the punishment of the city.  But Lot hesitated! Repetition! He had lived among the Sodomites so long he had become a part of the sodomite culture. He had friends among them. His home was there. He was probably hit with the prospect of losing all his property, the acquisition of many years of hard work. Or it may have been his benevolent heart paralyzed by thoughts of the awful crisis?  This is the charitable way of accounting for a delay that would have been fatal but for the urgency of the angel.

 

The angels took Lot by the hand and dragged him and his wife and his family to safety against their wills constantly telling them to escape for their very lives (Gen. 19:16). The angels forcefully delivered them. It was as difficult to get Lot out of Sodom as it was to get Sodom out of Lot’s family. Lot complained that he may have been too old and weak to make it through to the mountains. And there were dangers in those mountains. Lot never seemed to get it. He begged the angels to let him run to a small city close by (Zoar) and for them to spare that city for his sake. He said it would save his life. God granted Lot this request (Gen. 19:22).

 

Lot’s wife had been warned but she just could not let go of her home and her friends. She looked back and was destroyed for her unbelief. The sun was rising when Lot entered Zoar. God rained down brimstone and fire totally destroying Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19: 28).  God possibly ignited the bitumen (oil) residue that was there. We do not know how! But we know that God’s wrath was poured out on the morally bankrupt Canaanite cities of the Jordan Valley.  This action provides seed truth for the fact that God is now storing up His wrath for every morally bankrupt city of this earth, upon everyone that falls short of His righteousness. “The Lord has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He has ordained concerning whom He has given assurance to all men that He raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). A prophetic glimpse of this coming judgment of God is found in 2 Peter. “But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7).

 

Lot and his two daughters dwelt in a cave evidently near Zoar. The daughters had become overcome with a sodomized world view. They had probably witnessed incest many times. They schemed a way to carry out Lot’s genealogical line. They rationalized their actions by thinking of the disgrace to be barren according to the customs of the earth – their worldview. They had become so much a part of the Sodomite culture that they saw no shame in what they were about to do. It was just a product of who they had become. They made Lot drunk and both lay with him to produce children. Even though the text is careful not to insinuate that Lot did not know what he was doing, there was no evidence of any shame on Lot’s part even for his drunkenness. He had to sober up and realize that that was not the right thing to do. The product of sinful acts never bodes well. The first daughter had a son and named him Moab. He became the the Arab group known as the Moabites.  The second daughter’s son was named Ben-Ammi. His family became known as the Ammonites. Both the Moabites and the Ammonites have historically been and continue to be a thorn in the side of Israel to this very day.  The rest of Lot’s life is unrecorded. No one knows what happened to him.  No one knows how he lived or where he died. This epitaph could be etched on his gravestone: For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap a harvest that will last forever. Blessings!

 

 

The Picture on the Box

When I was young, I was given some old hand me down puzzles for Christmas.  These were definitely not children’s puzzles because they contained hundreds of various sized pieces, mostly small, and in all kinds of shapes and colors. The boxes were tattered, revealing that others had used them. I simply had no clue where to begin putting the pieces together. After the decision to try, I dumped all the pieces into the lower part of the box and set up the picture on the box in front of me. I knew that the finished product was to match the picture. I would begin by looking intently at the picture. I would look at it over and over again trying to etch that picture in my mind. The more familiar it became, the more I zeroed in on the location of various color shades and the shapes of the pieces, some with straight sides, some with square corners, some with rounded corners, etc., all the time keeping the picture on the box in mind. Then piece-by-piece, starting with the straight edges and matching the lines and the colors, I began.  The outside usually went quicker. Through much trial and error, I began to locate the proper position of the pieces. When I finished all around the outside, I gradually began to make a little progress and headed toward the inside.  I did not work long at one sitting, but I was constantly drawn back. One piece here, another there. The hours turned into days and days into weeks, but little by little the picture began to take shape. It did not take much progress to encourage and motivate me to go back and work on it a little more. Then, though agonizingly slow, the picture began to come into view and the progress quickened. At last the final few pieces were inserted and ultimately the last piece was put in. And finally, there it was! When the last piece was put in place, the hundreds of pieces were beautifully transformed into the picture on the box. Piece by piece, I had put it together. It was time to celebrate! 

It is very much the same when attempting to understand the big picture behind the Bible. I discovered that there are 178,137 words in the Old King James Bible. No, I did not count them, I just Googled it. There are a lot of small two-letter words and some very big words. God’s Word is a book, and it is to be read and understood as a book, and each word matters. Every word is a piece of the big picture.  Where to begin! It seemed overwhelming, but I really wanted to know what the Bible said. As with the puzzle, I decided to start with the picture on the box. Not a picture that I saw but a picture that the apostle John saw and a message that he heard. John wrote at the end of His final book:

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’” (Rev. 21:1-5)

This became my big picture. I began to put the puzzle together piece-by-piece, or as I call it, glimpse-by-glimpse, from the thousands of words of the Bible. 

I launched out with the understanding that God had created me for His purpose. God alone made the decision to give me life. I did not ask to be born, nor did I choose who my parents would be or where my birth would occur. He determined when my life would occur. He decided what nationality I would be, that I would be male or female, that I would have blue eyes or brown, black hair, red, or blond, and these decisions were made long before I was here. I was given no choice in any of this.  David said that God saw my substance even before I was in my mother’s womb and all my days were written in His book before I was here, and he called this information, “precious” (Psa. 139:17).

I would like to refer to the word “mucilage” mentioned from my last series? Mucilage is a glue-like substance in plants that plays a role in the storage of water and food, seed germination, and thickening membranes. It makes beneficial elements stick to seed to help it germinate and produce. Repetition is Bible mucilage. It makes the amazing living seed of Bible truth stick in minds and become productive. I am a fan of repetition.

The Word of God came directly from God by means of His Holy Spirit and then through the fallen minds and pens of human beings that were set apart for this purpose. Its truth is then made clear to all who are given eyes to see and ears to hear its invisible, inaudible truth. God opens to the eyes of blinded minds that they might understand (1 Cor. 2:7-10; 2 Cor. 4:16-18).  The apostle Paul said that in this life we will have only partial knowledge. There will come a time, however, when limited knowledge will give way to full knowledge. Paul taught that when he was a child, he spoke as a child, and understood as a child. But when he became a man, he put away childish things. He then made this point. “For at this present time we see in a glass dimly, but then face to face. Now we know in part, but then we shall know just as I also am known” (1 Cor. 13:12). When believers – those who have the Spirit of God living inside – begin to unpack the truths of the Bible, it is as though they are looking down through a dimly lit corridor. We catch but glimpses of God’s amazing truth here and there. But there is coming a time when God will draw back the curtain and allow us to see – to really see, His wisdom and genius.  Our dim, foggy glass will become crystal clear and bright. Full knowledge will eventually prevail. Not full in the sense that we will ever know everything about God. That could never be true, or He would not be God. This is where Deuteronomy 29:29 comes into play. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” God gave us His word in writing through special men that he called “holy men.” His truth came together in one book – the Bible.

Our one textbook is to be the Bible alone and our one Teacher is the Holy Spirit alone (John 16:13-14).  At the end of the day, it comes down to what the Holy Spirit teaches us from God’s word, nothing more and nothing less. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth.  I assume He means all the truth that we would ever need. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would glorify Jesus Christ – only. He is the member of the holy Trinity that God will shed light on. The Father will take that which sheds light upon Christ and reveal that to us. 

Blessings!