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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday message-grace you can't see

I'm reading in First and Second Kings right now- and those of you versed in the Bible might say, "Agh, the boring historical stuff."  Of course, me being a historian by nature, that's not a thing for me.  I'm sure the lawyers among you probably are thrilled to study Leviticus, too.  Anyway, it struck me as I was reading that the reason why non-believers might not buy the concept of Grace is that it comes at times upon everyone- sinner and faithful alike- and thus, "must be mere coincidence."  But it really isn't, and here are some examples to think about.


I started my reading with the first Jereboam of Israel, the "son of Nebat."  Now in Grace he received the kingship of Israel, because God was to punish the later infidelities of David by tearing his throne in two.  So God was using His will through Jereboam, and Jereboam received a measure of God's grace to complete that will.  But did he merit any of that grace?  Heck, no!  Jereboam was so thoroughly evil that the curse on him was that all of his male heirs- save a baby that mercifully died while an infant- would die without benefit of graves.


And to do this?  God used Baasha, who overthrew Jereboam's heirs and extinguished the line.  Again, though, it was a total skunk that received God's grace, and his line would meet a similar fate.  So why is God even messing with these people?


We get the reason when Rehoboam's (this is the king in Judah, the other half of David's old kingdom) grandson, Asa, becomes king- "So that David might have a lamp burning in Israel."  What does that mean?  Because David, who had sinned against God just the once, was faithful, God allowed the grace He showed to David to continue protecting His people.  Asa was faithful, and did the best he knew how to remove the sin of Israel.  And this leads us to a sort of side point here.


One of the curious things is, if God was going to use Jereboam and Baasha, why then destroy them afterwards?  And to get at that answer, I had to look at another nebulous verse- actually two verses.  One is I Kings 14:24; the other in the next chapter, 15:12.  They involve a group of people in Israel and Judah my Bible labeled "perverted";  other translations use the terms "cult prostitutes", "whoremongers", "effeminites", and "sodomites." 


Uh-oh, here we go with another rag on homosexuals, right?  Not if you read it correctly.


See, the original word used actually translated as "sacred".  What the word was getting at was, these were like priests and priestesses, but were perverting worship by using altars and temples dedicated to God for quasi-religious orgies to honor Astaroth/Astarte, the fertility goddess throughout Mesopotamia.  The point being, they were their, selling sex to the "faithful" so that they could "honor" their goddess.  How the translators of the various Bibles attached sodomite to this, when to us, a sodomite is synonomous with a homosexual?  Well, if you go back to Genesis, you'll see that the sins of Sodom (from which the term comes from) included BUT WERE NOT LIMITED TO homosexuality.  So in this case, a sodomite is someone committing any perverted sexual sin- and in this case, in a religious frame.  Or to put it another way, their religion was their lust.  Put like that, you probably know a few "sodomites" yourself.


So how does this chunk all tie together?  Because the kings that were removed, the "sodomites" who were removed by Asa, were all in the business of perverting the people.  These received a much worse fate than the people they corrupted.


But Asa endured through his faithfulness- but the people themselves continued to sin.  They continued to receive God's grace.  Why?  For this, we move to 2 Kings and the second king named Jereboam.  Even though he was just as evil as the first Jereboam, God allowed him to retake much of Israel that had been lost to the Syrians.  God allowed him His grace to accomplish this, despite his evil.  Why?


2Ki 13:23 But the Lord was kind to them and had pity on them, caring for them, because of his agreement with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; he would not put them to destruction or send them away from before his face till now.
You see?  God allows His grace to fall on the evil and the good so that the good may benefit.  Like in Jesus' parable about the wheat and the tares, the rain and the fertilizer has to fall upon the wheat AND the weeds; in the final harvest, they will be separated.  Thus we have atheists and Christians, pro-life and pro-choice, gay and straight, innocents and scum, all enjoying the benefits of living, say, in a great nation like the United States- so that the faithful might be blessed by God's great plan, unbelievers get blessed too.


Oh, that's a cop out, the unbeliever says, and we're right back where we started.  Or is it?  As the numbers of faithful flag, we see new crises- ISIS, global warming, ebola. AIDS.  One day, those saved by Grace will be removed from the board, and unbelievers will face a world without grace.  The faithful know what that will be like, we have read the Book of Revelation.  And it tells us the unbeliever will still unbelieve even as the world falls apart around them.




Rev 9:20 And the rest of the people, who were not put to death by these evils, were not turned from the works of their hands, but went on giving worship to evil spirits, and images of gold and silver and brass and stone and wood which have no power of seeing or hearing or walking:
Rev 9:21 And they had no regret for putting men to death, or for their use of secret arts, or for the evil desires of the flesh, or for taking the property of others.
So I know I won't turn those set in their ways by my words, or by God's Word.  But to you who believe, here is a comfort.  God allows the evil to triumph at times because His plan is to save YOU.  Not to pull you up by the roots in removing the evildoer.  But rest assured, the time is coming.  Will you trust in the Grace the rest of the world cannot see?

10 comments:

  1. Nice post. I find that I have to remind myself that so long as I follow the Lord everything will end well, and not just for me. I have one man that I've been in touch with recently and who I know is not a Christian offer to pray for me.

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    1. I think the part about it all ending well gets so clouded by the every day, the intervening things. Hopefully that man will pray for himself as well.

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  2. It really is hard to remind yourself about that when you see all of the evil going on around us. I struggled with that working with the Department of Child Services, how innocent children could be subjected to such evil, often that evil taking another's life. But God does have a plan. It takes a great deal of faith to really trust in that, not just saying you do but actually trusting in it. Excellent post

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    1. I know you did, and likely without a bit of thanks for holding it all together. Sometimes you have to just look past it to get through it. And deal when you are strong enough to. I salute you for doing a great job as long as you did.

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  3. A bloody great post, there is a lot of evil in the world but also a lot of good as well

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  4. Hey CW. I'm actually reading 1Kings right now as well. Thank you for posting, it helped shine a light on a few areas for me. We all know how super busy I get and how hard it is for me to stay caught up with my readings. I'm going through a few things with my faith as well and struggling to keep myself on the right path. Do you ever wonder why people or things are placed in your path? Not knowing what you are suppose to do or should be doing with that placement? At times I can't help but worry it's the devil and his temptations. Maybe one of these days I will figure it out, praying it's the right path. Whichever I choose :) Thanks again!!

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    1. First off, I am in the same boat as you in keeping my reading schedule- though I have to admit busy-ness isn't the problem. Second, I think many times God puts these things in our path just to see how we apply what we learn. Of course, sometimes there are other reasons. For example, the twice monthly nurse was in at work last week and I decided to ask her about my back. She found, unrelated, that my BP is way too high, and strongly suggested I see my GP about medicine. Which I am going to do here in a couple hours. So I might not have realized one without the other- but God COULD take the sore back away now! Third, just pray for discernment. You are in His hands, just seek His guidance (and listen to it!) when in doubt.

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  5. I am so blessed by God's grace and forever grateful.

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