Leviticus 5.17 – Sin and preordination.
Posted: 17 October 2011 in Leviticus

And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.

The thrust of the above verse is that the objective fact of a transgression against God’ revealed will renders us guilty. The state of our conscience is irrelevant to that guilt, and so are the circumstances surrounding the transgression.

It is tempting for us to try and excuse ourselves from our sin, on the grounds that all things are preordained by God, according to the good pleasure of his own will, and that must necessarily include our sinful acts. But the fact of preordination is of no consequence, because, as the verse from Leviticus makes clear, it is the objective fact of our sinful acts which render us guilty before God, who cannot allow his holiness to be impugned by our sin. The God who judges us is righteous in all his ways.

The temptation nevertheless remains to protest that God is “unfair” in punishing those he does not freely choose to save. If we would avoid the sin of presumption, wherein the creature exalts itself against its Creator, we are obliged to accept that it is God who determines what is just and fair, and not us. Proverbs 21.30 has the following warning:

There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.

And so there isn’t. The only wisdom lies in the worship and fear of the Lord.

No comments

Matthew 19.16-26 and John 4.31-34 – The service of God and the service of mammon.
Posted: 26 August 2011 in John, Matthew

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments….. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you….. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

The challenge the passage from John throws down before us is to answer, honestly, whether the doing of God’s will is sufficient for our spiritual sustenance, or whether, like the rich young man in Matthew, our priorities lie more with our material welfare. The disciples seem to have realised what the answer to that question is when, in response to Jesus’ remark, and on behalf of all mankind, they asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Ever since the fall of man we have been incapable of putting the service of God before all else, and of not sinning against him. Our only hope lies in the gift of a renewed heart, if God is pleased so to endow us. Otherwise we face his just judgment. And yet, as Jesus said to his disciples, “With God all things are possible.”

1 Comment

1 Chronicles 17.1-12 – The Glory of God and our nothingness.
Posted: 25 August 2011 in 1 Chronicles

Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD remaineth under curtains. Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee. And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not build me an house to dwell in: For I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day; but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another. Wheresoever I have walked with all Israel, spake I a word to any of the judges of Israel….. And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.

God, of course, has a purpose in making his promise to David, and David’s response, futher on in the chapter, includes an acknowledgement that whatever God decrees will surely come to pass – including the establishment of the Davidic monarchy. God’s promise then comes to its final realisation with the birth of Christ.

Although David is commended for his desire in wanting to build a temple to glorify God, he is reminded that only God can do justice to his own infinite glory in glorifying himself. Even a biblical hero like David failed to grasp the simple fact that the only way we creatures can glorify God is through humility, and through submission to both his will and revealed Word (revealed in both the person of Christ and the Bible). No man can add to God’s glory, and no man can take away from it except on pain of eternal destruction. (The final verses of Revelation.)

No comments

Exodus 15.1-7 – God’s Victory over his Enemies.
Posted: 23 August 2011 in Exodus

“Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble…..”

The Song of Moses lasts for 20 verses, so not all of it can be quoted above. The passage is alluded to in Revelation, and both there and here it is the the defeat of God’s enemies which is being celebrated. Paul said that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” Even more to the point, however, is that all things work together for the glory of the God who redeems them. God is glorified in the redemption of those he has chosen, and also in his victory over those who would rebel against his rule. Nevertheless, even those he has chosen for salvation are not much better than those who actively oppose themselves to God – as the following two verses (from the same chapter in Exodus) make clear:

“And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?”

Moses, be it remembered, had been called by God to effectively act as his mouthpiece. Those two verses are testimony to the fact that people are not saved through their own righteousness, because that is not something even his chosen ones possess, but purely through the grace of God and the righteousness of Christ.

No comments

Ezekiel 37.1-6 – God’s judgment and man’s response
Posted: 22 August 2011 in Ezekiel

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

The theme of the above passage is clearly that, after experiencing the destruction of Jerusalem and exile in Babylon, at the hands of their God, the subsequent deliverance will finally bring to the a knowledge of God as the Lord of all history. But one wonders whether it would have that effect today. If there was a collapse of the world’s financial system (and it would appear that such a thing is still a possibility) would men know that God was “the LORD” after something eventually emerged from the wreckage, or would they put it down to their own cleverness – conveniently ignoring the fact that it was their “cleverness” which precipitated the crisis in the first place?

There is probably no limit to the arrogance and pride of human beings.

No comments