Posts for November 2011
2 Posts found

Acts 9.1-6 – The righteous justice and mercy of God.
Posted: 30 November 2011 in Acts

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me. And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

The Bible contains many examples of people who, having tresspassed against God, attract his retribution. For example, in Acts 12.23 Herod Agrippa (the first of two people to bear that name) is struck down dead without so much as a by-your-leave. And yet are other enemies of God, of whom Paul was undoubtedly one, who, instead of attracting God’s wrath, receive his mercy instead – and perhaps even a very privileged vocation, as in Paul’s case.

Why this difference? I suppose part of the answer is, so that we can sit here pondering that very question. If mercy was always on display, and sin never punished, then clearly the idea would soon take hold that sin didn’t matter very much. And yet it is God’s will to have mercy upon those of his creatures he chooses (in his absolute sovereignty) to be recipients of his grace. Those who are not recipients of mercy will have no ground for complaint, because they will be receiving nothing more than justice from a just God. But other of his creatures, who do receive mercy, will worship the Lord in eternity for his righteous judgment, and also for his mercy: Both of which he will have shown forth as being attributes of his holiness, and therefore equally things he must be worshipped for.

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2 Chronicles 13 and Leviticus 10.1-2 – True and false worship of God
Posted: 28 November 2011 in 2 Chronicles, Leviticus

“And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men…. And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel; Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever….? And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with your golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods. Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods. But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the LORD, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business: And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him.”

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.”

Although the Bible contains much history, it never relates history for history’s own sake. Here the point being made is that any worship, not regulated by what God himself has commanded, will inevitably degenerate into idolatry. The reason for that is simply human sinfulness, and the way it comes to infect almost everything men (or women) touch. Although the worship of the northern kingdom was still formally that of Yahweh, it had clearly degenerated into idolatry, with images which had been expressly forbidden by God, and with a priesthood open to anyone – again in clear contravention of the divine ordinance explicitly reserving the priesthood to Aaron and his sons.

Worship which is presumptuous, and perhaps even idolatrous, is an offence to God’s majesty. He cannot allow it to go unpunished, and that which happened to Nadab and Abihu is an extreme example of what could follow. Both the Old and the New Testaments contain explicit injunctions to fear God, but in spite of that there is a lot of worship around today which is based upon a “Jesus is my buddy” type of spirituality. Jesus is our Lord and saviour, and perhaps (in a certain sense) our friend – if we do whatsoever he commands us (John 15.14). But he is not our buddy. The sovereign Lord of the universe can only rightly be approached in a spirit of fear and reverence, and, if it is not to be presumptuous, it must also be in ways which the New Testament authorises as being pleasing to God.

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