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Gentiles Included in Old Testament Israel

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 8, 2016

Introduction

This paper will show biblically that Old Testament Israel was a body of believers in the true God, a called out “congregation,” who were not all of one race. To remain in the Body of Israel required obedience to the covenant, and any “stranger” (Gentile) who did so, was considered as “native born” and granted full privileges, including marrying into Israelite families and receiving an inheritance.

 

The Promise to Abraham–All the Families of the Earth Shall Be Blessed

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:1-3)

Specific Gentiles in the Old Testament shown to be true worshipers of God and/or included in Israel:

Melchizedek was called “Priest of God Most High,” although he was the king of Salem, a Canaanite. (Gen. 14:18)

Abimelech, the king of Gerar, called God “Lord” and pleaded for his “righteous nation,” vouching for his own integrity in having taken Sarah, not knowing she was already married. God confirmed the man’s integrity and kept him from sinning. God gave further instructions to Abimelech, which he carried out obediently. (Gen. 20)

When Moses led the people out of Egypt, a mixed multitude went with them also (Exo. 12:38). Who was this mixed multitude?–Egyptians, and perhaps other nationalities who had been dwelling in Egypt, who now feared the Lord and joined themselves to Israel! As God-fearing people, they were included from that point on. They married into the family of Israel and their descendants were eventually given a portion of the Promised Land with everyone else.

Moses married Zipporah, the daughter of the priest of Midian, Jethro. Zipporah and her father were both Gentiles. Zipporah was resistant to the ordinance of circumcision at first, and for this reason, God almost killed Moses! But she did obey God, and He let Moses go (Exo. 4:24-26). Later her father Jethro confessed that Yahweh was greater than all other gods, and offered sacrifices to Him. He ate with the leaders of Israel “before God” in full fellowship with God’s people. (Exo. 18:7-12)

The Canaanite Rahab confessed the God of Israel was the Lord and gave aid to the spies (Josh. 2). She married into the family of Israel and was in the direct line of Jesus Himself (Matt. 1:5). (With such Gentile inclusion, the idea of a “pure race” of Israel after the flesh must be ruled out.)

Ruth the Moabite married an Israelite, and after his death, she joined herself to Israel and the Lord by declaring, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16) She then married another Israelite Boaz, and became the grandmother of Israel’s renowned king David, from whose line Jesus came. Were David and Jesus “pure” in race?

There were whole Gentile nations who were submitted to David while his own son Absalom was in full rebellion against him, including the Cherethites, Pelethites, and Gittites (2 Sam. 15:18). The Cherethites were Cretans who lived among the Philistines, and the Pelethites were most likely related to the Philistines. The Gittites–“men of Gath”–were Philistines. These are a picture of the Gentiles who in the future would submit to King Jesus (who now sits on David’s throne), while some of His own family would remain in rebellion.

Of David’s close band of mighty men, some were Gentiles. Ittai the Gittite was David’s commander of the Gittites, and called a “foreigner,” yet he determined to be with his king wherever he would go (Read 2 Sam. 15:19-21. Recall Rev. 14:4–“These…follow the Lamb wherever He goes.“) Uriah (the husband of Bathsheba) was a Hittite faithful to David, as was Ahimelech (I Sam. 26:6). Ithmah was a Moabite, and Zelek was an Ammonite (I Chron. 11:46, 49).

After Esther was used to save her people from the evil plot of Haman, Scripture records that “many of the people of the land became Jews.” (Esther 8:17)  Became Jews?!  But we are told Jewishness is a racial thing?  Not according to Scripture, and Paul later confirmed that anyone with a circumcised heart to the Lord is a Jew in God’s eyes (Rom. 2:28-29).

Peoples God Was Dealing with in the Old Testament:

When God prepared to take Israel out of Egypt, He told Pharoah that His purposes were these:

1. That Egypt might know there is no one like Him in all the earth (Exo. 9:14)
2. That God’s name might be declared in ALL the earth (Exo. 9:16)

God’s heart was to save not only Egypt, but all the earth! I could end this section here, since “all the earth” includes every nation. The prophets gave warnings to surrounding nations of Israel, not just Israel. God wanted to save them all!  This perfectly coincides with the promise given to Abraham in order that “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” As stated previously, a mixed multitude followed Israel out of Egypt. Gentiles have been “going up to Zion” to worship the true God since the beginning (Isa. 2:3).

The book of Jonah tells the story of God’s love for Nineveh, a Gentile nation. Israel was “chosen” for the good of all the world, just as any Christian today is “chosen” for the good of the world, not for the good of himself only. Therefore God sent the Israelite prophet to warn a Gentile city to repent. Thus Jonah is sometimes called “the first apostle to the Gentiles.” The city was spared from judgment for a time because its king and people repented. I think it safe to assume, or at least hope, that some people in Nineveh remained true to the Lord after that, although the city was destroyed in a future generation for returning to its wickedness.

The book of Daniel records the story of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, who, after being thoroughly humbled by God, magnified the Lord and His eternal Kingdom in Daniel 4:34-37. God was still trying to reach the Babylonians in Daniel 5, when He wrote a warning on the wall and slew Belshazzar for not turning to God although he knew better because of God’s previous dealings with Nebuchadnezzar.

Isaiah prophesied of a time when a portion of Egypt would “speak the language of Canaan and swear by the Lord of hosts,” and have an altar to the Lord in its midst. Assyria also would join with Egyptians in worshiping the Lord, and the Lord would say, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.” (Isa. 19:16-26)

There are many more portions of Scripture in the Old Testament that declare God’s heart for all people, and intent to gather people from all nations into His congregation (Israel), but these will suffice.

Laws and directives for “strangers” (Gentiles) who were part of Old Testament Israel:

Directly after the Exodus from Egypt, God gave laws to Israel concerning the Passover feast. And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and HE SHALL BE AS A NATIVE OF THE LAND. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. (Exodus 12:48) Notice that the stranger was to be counted as a native of the land, so long as he participated in the true worship of God. (See also Num. 9:14)

And if a stranger dwells with you, or whoever is among you throughout your generations, and would present an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord, just as you do, so shall he do. One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you,an ordinance forever throughout your generations; AS YOU ARE, SO SHALL THE STRANGER BE before the Lord. (Num. 15:14-15) Do you see that?–No difference between the stranger and the native born. (Paul later asked, “Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also.” Rom. 3:29)

And whatever man of the house of Israel, OR OF THE STRANGERS WHO DWELL AMONG YOU, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. (Lev. 17:10) If a stranger dwelling among the Israelites ate blood, he would be cut off from “his people”–Israel. The stranger (Gentile) was considered an Israelite with full rights and responsibilities unless he broke covenant with God.

In giving rules for the Feast of Weeks, the Lord commanded, “You shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the STRANGER and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.” (Deut. 16:11)

And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when ALL ISRAEL comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, AND THE STRANGER WHO IS WITHIN YOUR GATES, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess. (Deut. 31:10-13)   Notice that the stranger living within Israel’s gates is considered part of the ALL ISRAEL, and was to continue obeying the Law when he later possessed the land.

The next passage makes it clear that Gentiles were given land among the tribes of Israel, and were considered as “native-born.”–Thus you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel.  It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, AND FOR THE STRANGERS WHO DWELL AMONG YOU AND BEAR CHILDREN AMONG YOU. THEY SHALL BE TO YOU AS NATIVE-BORN AMONG THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL; THEY SHALL HAVE AN INHERITANCE WITH YOU AMONG THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL. And it shall be that in whatever tribe the stranger dwells, there you shall give him his inheritance,” says the Lord God. (Ezek. 47:21-23)

The prophet Jeremiah wrote about how Gentiles could be established “in the midst” of God’s people Israel–And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people. (Jer. 12:16)

Isaiah was equally clear–
Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord speak, saying,
“The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”; nor let the eunuch say,
“Here I am, a dry tree.” For thus says the Lord, “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, even to them I will give in My house, and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant—even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.” (Isa. 56:3-8)

Let’s unpack this powerful passage:

1. Any foreigner could join himself to the Lord, and was not to say he was separate from God’s people. So long as the foreigner served God and obeyed the covenant, he would be brought to God’s holy mountain (Heb. 12:22).

2. The man that loved God, but could not conceive children (eunuch), would be given an everlasting name that would never be cut off. This is significant because it shows that possession of the Promise was not based on producing heirs who could then claim land.

3. The house of prayer was for “all nations,” and God explicitly says He will gather people from other nations “to him”–to Israel. Israel would not be a “pure race,” but a people who served God from a pure heart.

 

Remain in Israel, or Be Cut Off

Any person living in Israel, whether native born or a stranger, could be cut off for disobedience. To be cut off was to be no longer an Israelite. This concept is all through the Old Testament and completely obliterates any notion that being in a certain bloodline was a guarantee of benefits (just look up “cut off” in any Bible search tool, and study how may ways an Israelite could be cut off). I have written previously about this here. Israel was always a congregation of people that worshiped the true God. To depart from true worship resulted in being cut off from Israel, from God’s perspective.

 

Conclusion

There were always “strangers” sojourning with Israel, and they were accepted as native born provided they worshiped the true God with obedient faith. Israel was not a “pure race” of people according to the flesh, even in the Old Testament. Some of the included Gentiles were purposely mentioned in the genealogies of King David and King Jesus, demonstrating God’s masterful sidestepping of man’s desire to mix racial supremacy with religion. God did choose one faithful man (Abraham) through whom to bless the world with the fulfillment of all promises–Jesus Christ. That family, which Gentiles could and did join, was the Old Testament family of God.

With the ratifying of the New Testament in Jesus’ blood, and the cancelling of the Old, that Old Testament family of God remained the foundation for the New Testament temple which is still being built. In Jesus, all the promises are yes and amen. All who are obedient to the terms of the New Covenant are grafted into the Israel of God. All people–whether Jew or Gentile–who disobey the terms of the New Covenant, are cut off from the Israel of God until such a time as they stop continuing in unbelief (Rom. 11:23).

God bless you as you seek the Truth!

Please see also:

The True Vine–Israel was a vine, Jesus claimed to be the true Vine (Israel that is true to God)

Out of Egypt I Called My Son–Jesus is the absolute fulfillment of Israel

Born in Zion–How can one be born in Zion?

Jesus, Door to the Promises— The promises are fulfilled in Christ

Named Israel, Named Sodom and Gomorrah–the significance of the name, and how God names us according to our works.

Who the Jews Are–How does God define a true Jew?

The Works of Abraham–Who are the children of Abraham, according to God?

The Unfolding Revelation of Salvation–There has only ever been 1 people of God

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Freedom, Slavery, and Peace

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 20, 2016

America, Land of the Free

It is well known all over the world that American culture exalts personal freedom. There is value in personal freedom if that freedom is used to do good. We are never to use liberty to indulge the flesh, but rather to serve one another (Gal. 5:13). If we are free in the flesh, our freedom is never to be a cloak for wickedness; we are to be servants of God (I Pet. 2:16). A people ruled by God are expected to use–and not abuse–freedom properly.

Unfortunately in America, “freedom” has indeed become a means to indulge the flesh, and a cloak for wickedness. Certainly I do not indict every person in America, but the nation in general. God causes every individual to reap what he has sown, and God also repays nations according to what they’ve sown collectively–the Old Testament prophets were very clear on this.

Contrary to what many whitewashed history books claim, a trail of wickedness can be followed back to the beginning of this nation.  All is open and naked before the eyes of God, even if patriots wearing rose-colored glasses refuse to see. Rebellion against the king, genocide and oppression of native Americans, and oppression/exploitation of Africans all laid the faulty foundation for a nation which would grow proud of its freedoms and wealth. While the sins of its youth were swept under the proverbial carpet for generations to come, America has never recovered, but has only gotten sicker and sicker as its rotten harvest materialized. Like all other earthly nations–and especially empires, it will be cast down from its lofty position in the delusional notions of man. The works of carnal man are all destined for the fire.

Carnal vs. Spiritual

The Bible teaches us to look beyond the carnal and the natural world, to see the Truth. Its truths, penned by the Holy Spirit of God, cannot be received by carnal man, but only by the spiritual man. It is only the spiritual man who can “judge all things” correctly (I Cor. 2:14-15). God has revealed in Scripture that many of man’s definitions and traditions are not rooted in truth, and this is why we must have our minds renewed (Rom. 12:2), so that we do not judge as the world does. For example, God redefined “family,” teaching that those who do God’s will are His family, not the people biologically related to Jesus (Matt. 12:50). He redefined the word “Jew,” teaching that a person whose heart is circumcised by the Spirit is counted as a Jew (Rom. 2:28-29). And He redefined the traditional perception for “Abraham’s seed,” showing that Jesus and His converted disciples are the true seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16,29).

In the same manner, His definitions for words like “freedom,” “slavery” and “peace” are quite different than the world’s definitions. It is very important that we also define these words Scripturally as we judge the things of this life.

Sin Brings Slavery

Scripture says everyone who sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34; Rom. 6:16). Regardless of what history books and patriotic songs say, and despite our feelings, here is the truth: This nation has become a nation of slaves who desire “freedom” to continue in sin. Even the churches are turning the grace of Jesus Christ into lasciviousness–or a “license to sin.” And so the “free” are enslaved by their sins, but they do not know it. And God has allowed their chosen slavery to bring forth a harvest of misery. Even the rights they once had as citizens are slipping away. They didn’t want a righteous King–Jesus–to rule over them. They wanted no king but Caesar, and God has given them what they desired–tyrannical kings who also reject righteousness for “freedom” to indulge their own lofty desires.

The movement by the “religious right” to “take America back” is blind. What is it people wish to return to? They want less oppression and control over them, less taxes, an easier life–and, generally, freedom to continue living as they please. They want freedom to escape the harvest that’s been sown over decades. There was little uproar while the seeds were being sown–seeds of materialism, hedonism, “free sex,” widespread nudity, baby-murder, etc. But now that the harvest is bringing death and oppression and taxes and laws we don’t agree with, they want change. Unfortunately most don’t seek the change of our hearts to submission to God, but only change in circumstances so that they can continue as before without consequences. Changing leaders and political parties cannot bring about true freedom to a people who’ve been enslaved by their own lust.

The unbelieving Jews of Jesus day were told that God was going to punish their nation because they would not gather to Jesus. Much like America, they loved their rebels (Barabbas) and they plotted to overthrow their oppressors. They played political games and they raised up new Messiahs for the people to believe in (as explained in the works of Josephus). But judgment was not averted by any of these. And our judgment will not be averted either, unless there is wide-scale repentance (which seems unlikely at this time.)

True Freedom

It is true that we are more oppressed here than ever before, and the laws are getting increasingly evil. Justice is being perverted in many ways.  God sees all, and those responsible for furthering wickedness will be judged.

But sinners are slaves, and they must remain slaves until they repent. It is an unalterable truth.

Spiritual truths have a way of showing up in the material world; God has ordained it so. Our sin which brings spiritual death also brings physical death. All creation labors and groans under a kind of slavery with man, waiting for redemption and the “glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19-22).

This is not a liberty that is bought with violence and treaties and political promises. This is a true liberty that belongs to God’s children by virtue of their adoption in Christ. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:36) “Free indeed” is not freedom as the world defines it. It is true freedom, seen and experienced only by the spiritual man. Are you seeking and preaching this true “freedom,” or the carnal freedom that leaves men dying in their sins? Even if a righteous man was elected in this nation, he could not give freedom to its citizens. Freedom is found in the Son of God.

Renew Your Mind

The following precious verses can get the church on the right track if only she will believe God, rather than believing the lies of the world.

For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. (1 Cor. 7:22)

Did you get that? We are not defined by the world. If we have earthly freedom, we are yet slaves to Christ. If we don’t have earthly freedom, we are still free in Christ. Certainly if earthly freedom is possible, we should use it to benefit the kingdom; but not having earthly freedom is no detriment to the gospel. Therefore it shouldn’t be an object of our devotion. Listen to Paul:

Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Tim. 2:8-10)

Are we enduring all things for the elect’s sake, knowing the Word of God is not chained? Paul saw with spiritual eyes that earthly freedom was not the issue. Yet I hear Christians today saying our freedom of religion is based on a man-made constitution, and we need to fight for this constitution. No, friends, our freedom to practice our Christianity was given by God’s command, and we are free to practice it until we die. We are to speak the Word of God openly and faithfully. And if we are locked up and denied our “freedom,” we don’t despair in the slightest because God’s Word is not chained. Everywhere it has been sown, a potential harvest can multiply, and all the devils in hell can’t prevail against it, chains or no chains.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

Many “Christian” Americans are focused on earthly freedom, just like the world. Here is why: Christ is not truly their life. Where our treasure is, there our heart is also. Where is your treasure? Is it above or below?

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matt. 10:28-31)

Americans have an insane fascination with guns and self-defense. I am not against guns; they can be used righteously. However the root of America’s fascination is FEAR and PRIDE–fear of death, and the pride of life. If you watch news headlines, you know that guns are not the security people wish them to be. Many accidental deaths occur, ironically, in families that bought guns to keep them safe. Totalitarian rule will also descend upon this people with the help of guns and other weapons. And there is no out-gunning such a government, as some foolishly think to do. True security is being in the Father’s will, and being ready at all times to pass from this life to the next.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Heb. 11:13-16)

Are you a stranger and pilgrim on this earth, still seeking a homeland? Or is this wretched, spiritually lost wilderness called America your homeland? God will give you “an opportunity to return” to being tied to this earth (earthly minded and dead) if you want that. But if you desire the better country–the heavenly country–then God won’t be ashamed to be called your God.

Peace

The world loosely defines peace as being not at war, and living in relative ease. America is supposedly a peaceful nation, but the truth is that it’s been at war 222 of the 239 years of its existence. Many don’t realize that, because they’ve never had to dive into a bomb shelter.

America has been chosen by the earthly powers-that-be to take control of other countries for the coming New World Order. Please do not be deceived by the “God has blessed us” rhetoric. Many a rich, wicked man counted himself blessed by God right up until the day God slew him. And every nation taking up arms to fight reassures itself that God is on its side. Why do those who rightly condemn the lies of prosperity preachers refuse to condemn the lies of nations which use the same logic–“See how God has blessed us?” We may feel a sense of security because the bombs are all dropping elsewhere, out of sight and out of mind. But knowing God will punish the wicked, we should know this is a false security and a false peace. The so-called war on terror is actually a war OF terror; we are foolish if we think we are the only nation not inundated by propaganda cleverly designed to deceive us into state-worship.

Look even deeper into life in America, and it is impossible not to see that Americans have no peace. Suicide, drug abuse (legal and illegal), lust for entertainment, phone/television/video game addiction, alcohol abuse, gender confusion, sexual perversion, child murder and molestation, porn-addiction…really, where is the peace? People are driven from one vice to another in their endless quest for the elusive peace that never comes.

Nations are just groups of people. They fight for their peace, but lasting peace never comes, because there is always some new wrong that has to be righted with violence, and the violence begets more violence.

There is only one nation at peace, and that is the Body of Christ–that holy nation abiding in the Prince of Peace. Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus from all nations, to help people transition from their perishing kingdoms to the everlasting kingdom. This is the best way to make peace.

Apostasy in the Church

The Church is supposed to be a light on a hill, but in many cases the light within churches is dark (Matt. 6:23). This apostate church is still defining words by the world’s dictionary, saying “Peace, peace” when there is no peace. Like Laodicea, she looks at her poor blind self, and declares that she is rich and full of godly insight. She leads other blind men into a ditch. Her pastors are destroyers, working for satan.  They are teaching greed, immorality, and the world’s way of obtaining peace and liberty. They stand the flag beside the pulpit, unwilling to die to the world, and unashamed of their idolatry. They assure others that they can, in fact, serve two masters after all.  They bless and pray for their military members, even as those members disobey the commands of Christ. They regurgitate the tired lie that “these men and women are fighting for our freedom,” and conveniently forget to mention that they are committing suicide in record numbers because they have no peace.

The faithful Church leads people to the peace that only Jesus gives–a peace not at all like the world gives.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Did you notice Jesus paired the absolute certainty of tribulation with the absolute certainty of peace in Him? Are you letting God define your peace, or are you seeking the peace the world gives? There is no peace for the wicked, but there is unlimited peace for the righteous despite their tribulations.

Conclusion

We need our minds renewed by the Word of God, so that we seek after the true freedom and peace that are in Christ, rather than the illusory freedom and peace (slavery) offered by the world. Politicians and party lines cannot not help us.

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. (Psa. 118:8)

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. (Psa. 146:3)

In fact, trusting in man is a departure from the Lord (apostasy)! Please note the contrast in these verses:

Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit. (Jer. 17:5-8)

We are most certainly in “a year of drought” spiritually speaking, yet we need not fear if we are trusting the Lord. He has appointed us to go and bear fruit, and has enabled us to do so under the worst earthly conditions–even loss of material things, imprisonment or threat of death. If we really trust in Him, He will see that we are well-watered and filled with peace, free indeed, and raised up with Christ over the limitations of the flesh.

God bless you!

Note: This post is written to American Christians, because I have a burden for this specific people, but it can be applied in other nations as well.

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Proceeding From Evil to Evil

Posted by israeliteindeed on November 2, 2014

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,” says the Lord. “Everyone take heed to his neighbor, and do not trust any brother; for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with slanderers. Everyone will deceive his neighbor, and will not speak the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves to commit iniquity. Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me,” says the Lord. (Jer. 9:3-6)

Here we see that at the root of corruption and the overspread of evil, there is a lack of God’s people being valiant for truth on the earth. When the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned again, and what use has it in preserving the earth?

Many in the church bemoan the state of our nation, and rightly so, but too often they are crying only about the rotten harvest, and not the many years of rotten sowing they themselves took part in before that.

Has the western church been valiant for the truth on the earth? With exception of a remnant–decried as legalists and ignored by the mainstream–the honest answer is no.

In fact, the mainstream is teaching that the Genesis account of creation cannot be true, God’s love won’t let anyone perish and go to hell, homosexuality won’t exclude one from the kingdom after all, and we don’t really have to be a holy people–that was just a standard God purposely set out of our reach. The command to be separate from the world is too stuffy for our modern times, and the cross where the Lord Jesus suffered to change rebellious hearts was just God’s way of showing us how insufferable His own laws are. There is a lie for every kind of twisted heart that continues insisting it still serves the Lord even as it despises Him.

Yes, we have taught our own tongues to speak lies about our God, and through deceit we refuse to know Him. And so we “proceed from evil to evil.” And this is how our nation got so far off course, so we can stop pointing our fingers at the world, and start examining ourselves in light of the piercing Word. How did we expect the nation to stay on course when the city set on a hill (the church) was so, so dimly lit; and the sounds she played on her trumpet were so rare and so uncertain?

How can we get back on course–We must forsake the lies we have embraced about God. We must once again separate from the lying world that is utterly lost and blind and on its way to everlasting destruction. This will include separating from many, perhaps most, of professing Christians. That sounds too harsh to the lukewarm ear, but most are wickedly walking the wide road, unable to see that they hold fast a lie in their right hand. They are deceiving their neighbors, encouraging them to sin along with them, and to forsake the Lord. And I’m not just talking about drinking and drugs and illicit sex. I am talking about the idolatries of patriotism, power, entertainment, the American dream, material things, carnal prosperity, traditions which nullify God’s Word, or even “having a ministry.” Many are telling each other dreams or prophecies in God’s name, which the Lord has not given, leading one another away from the Lord by their idolatrous and self-serving dreams/prophecies (Jer. 23:16-32). The western church has become a bastion for idolatry and a safe harbor for lies and liars.

We must separate from this idolatry and have nothing to do with it. If we are not wholeheartedly with Jesus, we will be scattered.

Apostasy is a strange thing. The Israelites did not make a golden calf and then say, “We want nothing to do with Yahweh anymore. From now on, we are pagans.” Instead they called the calf “Yahweh” and tried to offer the worship of the calf to Yahweh. They mixed Yahweh with things that have no breath in them, things that cannot spiritually profit, and continued to think they were in the faith. This is what we have done here in the western church. We have added to and subtracted from the Word of God in so many ways with our traditions. We have turned houses of prayer into dens of thieves. We have forgotten (even in some cases, trodden down) the poor and pursued wealth for ourselves. We have worshiped the idea of having a “favored nation” and embraced lies about God’s heart toward other nations or other races. We purposely turned a blind eye to our pleasure-seeking, self-centered culture, and even adopted many of its ways, until that evil grew so offensive and restrictive to our personal way of life, that now we point our fingers in horrified indignation. But we have refused to repent of the part we played when we offered our harlotries to Yahweh year after year, and called it the worship of Him.

We must repent, in spirit and truth, and return to the old paths, calling upon the Lord with those who have pure hearts. We may not be able to save this perverse generation, but I pray we can save ourselves and those who hear us (Acts 2:40; I Tim. 4:16). Of course I do not mean that we can save ourselves apart from Jesus. He does the saving by sending His Truth, but we must do the repenting which He commands. We must stop refusing to know the Lord through deceit, and become valiant for Truth on the earth.

Posted in Apostasy, Backslider, Church | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Most Moral Army in the World?

Posted by israeliteindeed on September 29, 2014

Let me just say that I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “moral army” when we are talking about carnal armies who are fighting for carnal ambitions. Yes, we have an Old Covenant precedent for there being one moral army at one time which answered directly to the King of the universe–He whose judgments concerning nations could not be wrong. But that nation proved itself sinful like all others and the Old Covenant is now obsolete. The New Covenant is in place forever. God’s people have come to Jesus and are seeking to obey all His teachings, including the Sermon on the Mount. Anyone who is not doing this is not truly moral. I venture to say that wherever there is a carnal army, you are going to find it rife with immorality of all kinds. Many ex-soldiers admit this.

This is not an attack against a particular nation (in this case, Israel.) But what is called “the most moral army in the world” is not moral. Christians–of all people–should be able to see through such wildly inaccurate nationalistic flattery because we have the more sure Word of God which condemns all men under sin until they have individually repented and obediently believed upon Jesus. The relative morality of nations is largely pure self-righteousness. Men judge themselves by other men and call themselves “more moral.” Americans do this too, and I assume that Muslim, Communist, Hindu or pagan nations also have their self-assurances that their causes are more just, their ways more moral than the ways of others. I have heard since I was a child how America is so good, and even now with obvious corruption rampant across this sinking nation, I keep hearing that we are better than any number of other nations. I’m sorry, but I can’t call a nation “good” or even “better” that murders innocent children out of pure convenience, seeks wealth and happiness at the expense of others, adopts deviant sexuality, promotes nudity and satanism and drug abuse and false religion and……..Honestly, need I go on?

As I watched this video, I wept for the corruption of these precious girls’ souls. Notice their consciences troubled them in the beginning. But they made choices day after day to just ignore the injustices, to hide the sin, to fit in with the crowd. Because after all, when you are in an army, you are sort of in a legal “gang”–and the gang is your family. If you let them down, you are now alone. That’s a hard place to be in, when it comes time to make moral choices. Notice how guilt plagues these women, how one says she can’t get the blood off her hands, how another says something evil inside her makes her afraid, and how another drinks to try to forget the memories of her own actions. These women desperately need Jesus! They don’t need someone assuring them that they were part of the most moral army on earth, and that they did a fine job. They really do have blood on their hands, and they really have committed evil deeds. They need someone to agree with them that what they did was against God and their neighbor, but lovingly point them to the only Savior who can give them clean hands and a pure heart after so much defilement. May they sorrow to repentance and find mercy in Jesus Christ!

If you’d like to hear more testimonies from ex IDF soldiers, please watch the videos at Breaking the Silence. There are also many textual testimonies to read there. See also the testimony of Israeli Eran Efrati here, and the testimony of Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son, here.

Posted in "Christian" Zionism, nationalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Jesus Divides and Brings Together

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 25, 2014

Jesus Divides

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matt. 10:34-39)

If you have ever felt the sting of rejection from your own family due to your allegiance to Jesus, then you already know the meaning of this passage. Family bonds are very special, but can be an idol in our hearts that tempts us to leave Christ. This is why Jesus was careful to say that we must be willing to “lose our life” for His sake. Any bond that we count more important than our relationship with Jesus will make us unworthy of Jesus. When Jesus (Truth) came, that Truth did not bind the nation of Israel together in perfect harmony; instead there was division among the people because of Him. (Jn. 7:40-43) Those people who accepted Him were given the right to become the sons of God, and those who rejected Him were condemned for hating the Light and loving darkness because their deeds were evil (Jn. 3:19). Then those who were born Jews according to the flesh persecuted those who were born Jews according to the Spirit (Rom. 2:28-29; Gal. 4:29). Then, as now, there was a division between darkness and light.

The apostle Paul said we should have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather expose them. (Eph. 5:11) We are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? (2 Cor. 6:14-16) As the temple and habitation of God’s Spirit, true believers cannot have fellowship with unbelievers, and especially with those who CLAIM to be God’s people yet walk in sin (I Cor. 5:9-13). This division God has put between light and darkness is very important, and it is something we must accept, lest we deny Christ in an effort to serve two masters. There are many today attempting to make alliances between the righteous and the wicked (for example: the Christian church and unbelieving Israelis), and thinking this honors God. It does not honor God. There is no fellowship between light and darkness, and any attempt to create fellowship where none should be only results in a leavening and weakening of the Church.

Jesus Brings Together

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Col. 1:21-23)

Through the body of Jesus, we are now reconciled to God, no longer divided from Him–that is, if we continue in the faith.

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (Eph. 2:11-18)

At one time the Gentiles were considered aliens of the Commonwealth of Israel, but in Christ they are brought near and made part of the Olive Tree, along with born again Jews. Jesus put to death enmity between Jews and Gentiles through His body and His cross. Those who repent and believe become one family and love one another, regardless of their ancestry. They are “One New Man” (the Body of Christ, who is One.) They are one holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:21).

He made known to me the mystery…which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel (Eph. 3:3-6).

Through the gospel itself, which is the power of God to every Jew or Gentile who believes, each person is made a fellow heir of the same body! And so, in Christ, all believers are brought together.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)

There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. (Col. 3:11)

Christ brings together races, sexes, rich and poor. In Him, they are simply family–children of the living God.

Summary

Jesus both divides and brings together. We need to have His mind, and seek His will about who we should join with, and who we should be separated from. The world divides itself up according to races, nations, sexes, economic status, popular fads, etc. But rather than being conformed to the world, we need to be transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we can prove God’s perfect will (Rom. 12:2).

When the world says the righteous and the wicked should join hands in fellowship, you must refuse! When the world says you should deny the words of Christ, you must not! When the world says sinners belong in God’s assembly/congregation/church, you must put away from yourselves the wicked person (I Cor. 5:13).

When the world says you should choose your family over Jesus, God’s Word says you must choose Jesus, even if it means being put to death (Mk. 13:12-13). When the world says you must choose your nation (or another nation) over another, God’s Word says your allegiance is to be to the kingdom of God first (Matt. 6:33), and your responsibility to all the nations is simply to make in them disciples of Jesus (Matt. 28:19). When the world says you should agree with the rich and the powerful, God’s Word says such favoritism is sin (James 2:1-7). When the world attempts to teach you to see men through prejudiced eyes, you must choose to see “every creature” as a possible recipient of God’s mercy (Mk. 16:15). When the world says you should call down judgment on those who reject you, Jesus says, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Lk. 9:55-56) When the world says it is righteous to hate your enemies, Jesus says, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matt. 5:43-44)

All the judgments of God are correct, both when He divides and when He brings together.

God bless you!

Posted in Christian Life, Family issues, persecution | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Religion of Morality

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 25, 2014

Before getting started, I want to make very clear that I believe the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ makes the most moral people on earth, and without holiness no man will see the Lord. Antinomianism (lawlessness) is the devil’s doctrine, and immoral people are not accepted in the family of God. We must be born again, and those who are born again will not live immoral lives.

The purpose of this paper is to expose a subtle deception satan offers to those who are willing to accept any particular moral code for their behavior. It is a religion of morality void of the born again experience, and void of a living relationship with the Living God. One of the signs that someone is walking in this false religion is that his morality is based on a system created by men, though it may include elements of true religion, and almost always cloaks hypocrisy of some sort.

Ask professing American Christians to define this false religion, and most likely they will refer to the Pharisees in the Bible, and say that Jesus was against them but loved to eat with sinners. There is some truth in this statement, yet not the whole truth, and therein lies the deception. I have written more about Phariseeism here: LINK

Unfortunately, many who profess Christ as Lord think that by refusing to judge between good and evil, they have sided with the sinner-loving Savior. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are commanded to judge between good and evil, and to choose the good and reject the evil.

However, the way of Christ is the way of the cross, and the cross requires a complete crucifixion of the self, not a mere moral tweaking of the old man. When Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born again, He was not speaking to a male prostitute but to a devoutly religious man whose morality was not enough. And while many pride themselves in being far, far from Pharisaical due to their refusal to judge between good and evil, they are in fact Pharisaical because they think their particular form of morality has made them right with God while they do not know God or follow Him from the heart.

Buddhism offers man a moral code that forbids killing people, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and intoxication. Hidden beneath that “moral” covering, however, is a heart that remains selfish because a man cannot be born again without the Spirit of God indwelling him when he repents of sin and turns to Jesus in obedient faith. The Buddhist may refrain from drinking alcohol, but he will meditate until he reaches a mental trance state that offers him the same “escape from reality” that alcohol or drugs would. Buddhism has also redefined “sexual misconduct” so that fornication is not classified as misconduct so long as there is “mutual love.” This is contrary to the commands of God, who has forever outlawed fornication. This is a good example of how men rewrite “morality” according to what they think is right. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. (Prov. 21:2)

Islam offers man another moral code by which to live. One site claims that “Islam…furnishes us with the means to determine good and evil conduct.” (LINK) Of course, this is a standard written by men and not God. So while condemning hypocrisy, for example, Islam forces people to convert against their own wills, perpetuating more hypocrisy. While strict dress codes at least appear more moral than the near nudity other societies accept, history is replete with examples of Islamic people who were not truly moral (including their revered prophet). Repetitive prayers give an appearance of godliness, but none of this gives the Muslim assurance that his sins are forgiven, and there are many testimonies of ex-Muslims on youtube that bear this out.

Even the Masons, satanic at core, practice a form of moralism. They deliberately draw into their lodges people who seem to be upstanding, morally responsible citizens. These highly visible to the public, low-level initiates are deliberately kept ignorant of what is going on at higher levels, where open Lucifer-worship is embraced without apology. Most people therefore see the Masons as a “do good” organization. Even satan will do good short-term, if it helps him perpetuate evil in the long term.

And now I must digress a little into less comfortable waters. The average professing American Christian has no problem picking out the problems in Buddhism or Islam. They might even concede that Masonry is suspect. They may agree that Catholicism or Mormonism or some other group is wrong. But rarely will the evangelical protestant look in the evangelical protestant camp and discern the difference between true religion and the religion of morality.

I attended a church for some time that had made up its own code of morality. This code wasn’t written out in their official doctrines; rather it was a sort of unspoken status-quo. Those who adhered to this status-quo were considered spiritual (and given awards!), and those who did not–for whatever reason–were seen as inferior Christians. This moral code included strict attendance to several services per week (where is that in Scripture?), being a cog in the machine of their “programs” no matter how unbiblical the programs were, and supporting the “building fund” monetarily (even though the present building was only sometimes at capacity by their bringing in as many unbelievers as possible, and it was not yet paid for. Adding on unnecessary debt and filling the church with tares are both unbiblical practices.)

In “Sunday School,” which people had to attend or be subjected to constant hounding, every person had to fill out a card designating “points” for reading the lesson, being on time, memorizing a verse, doing some sort of outreach that week, etc. Those who accumulated enough points got an award and their name called out in Church. Now, keep in mind that many people filling out their points cards were not even saved. They had been visited by someone from the church, pressured to come, subsequently pressured to attend Sunday School, and pressured to fill out the points card. Some of these people went on to be recognized in the church and to receive rewards before men, yet a quick look at their personal lives revealed a frank denial of true discipleship. Some real saints had jobs that required them to be away (not having perfect attendance), or sick children or spouses to tend to at home, and these saints were not recognized because they had not acquired enough points.

Now I ask you…is this not a religion of morality? Does this kind of churchianity really advance the Kingdom of God? Or does it fill a building with hypocrites who are learning to judge themselves by a false standard?

I recall one time a dear brother questioned the points system, and he was told that “at least we aren’t asking you if you are looking at pornography. We are just asking you if you did your lesson or got to church on time.” This brother responded by saying he WANTS to be asked, rather, if he is looking at pornography. How much does the leadership care about its people if it’s only concerned with externals?

You see, it is very easy to check some external boxes. Many churches that don’t utilize this blatant point system still have a series of boxes they expect their congregants to check, and once those are checked, the congregants are assumed holy. There is actually very little real accountability going on, sometimes because the congregants are not even saved, and sometimes because there isn’t time or energy–after jumping through all the moral boxes–to pursue a more intimate relationship with the Body of Christ. After “going to church” 3 times in a week and “doing the program” that doesn’t seem to be working, who wants to pursue more? The real believers are exhausted, and the unbelievers who–for whatever reason–submit to the church’s code are distracted from what they really need to do (be born again.) The gospel might be preached occasionally (usually a watered-down version), but these churched unbelievers instinctively realize that the church will accept them if they just fall in line with the man-made code.

This is happening all over America. The moral codes and levels of coercion vary, but the result is always the same. People have established for themselves ANOTHER JUDGE of their morality other than the Word of God. Add to this varying degrees of false doctrine, and apostasy is in full bloom. The pornography watcher no longer needs to fear that his sin will take him to hell, since he has perfect attendance and a doctrinal defense some of the “experts” agree with. And since he doesn’t look at pornography IN CHURCH (he knows that would be wrong), he is accepted by all. He may also have a habit of swearing when he gets angry, or cheating on his taxes, but his association with a supposed house of worship makes him feel supremely safe. No doubt he draws the line at certain sins (just like Buddhists, Muslims, etc. also do).

One specific way I see this false Christianity spreading is through the so-called “Religious Right.” Now no true Christian wants to see babies murdered by abortion or homosexuality being embraced. However, truly reforming society has never come by laws. True reformation begins at the grass-roots level where people embrace the gospel and are changed. Because they are changed (no longer wanting to kill babies or practice homosexuality), they stop asking for laws that permit them to do evil.

The Religious Right is made up of a conglomeration of people who are deceived into thinking that the “complete package morality” offered in the born again experience is of secondary importance to the forced specific morality imposed by laws–laws that are again subject to change at any time, according to the whims of the people. Millions of dollars are spent to fight laws that later give way to even worse laws. Let us be honest. How many babies have been saved by the Religious Right, with all of its money and unending rhetoric? How many homosexuals have been converted from the errors of their ways through this means? I am not saying a Christian should not abhor the gross wickedness of child-murder and perverted sexuality. I am saying we have been deceived into thinking God’s program for changing the world has changed. It hasn’t and it won’t.

What happens when Christian superstars rally people to fight on the hill of morality?

All of the efforts of Christians go to fighting those one or two moral evils. And it’s not too harsh to say that many of these Christians are hypocrites who defend other moral evils. But as long as they think they are “fighting evil,” they feel relieved of the responsibility to examine their own lives and see if they are really in the faith of Jesus Christ.

When did Jesus set up laws in the government by which to curb the evils of His day? When did His apostles take on this extraordinary work?–Never. It is not enough to chop the dead limbs of abortion and homosexuality off the tree of mankind; the axe must be laid to the root, and it can only be laid with the Gospel. The root is self-will. The root is not abortion, homosexuality, or the removal of prayer from schools. These are fruits that sprang from the root of self-will. The great commission is to teach people to obey Jesus rather than themselves. If the root is struck, a change in fruit will follow.

Yet today it is considered vogue for Christians to enter bitter political debates which they think somehow advances the cause of Christian morality on the earth. Dear Reader, do not be deceived. Though I hate child-murder with all of my being (and go to clinics to stand against it), outlawing child murder will not make us a Christian nation. The reason child murder is protected is because people have murder in their hearts. They need new hearts.

If a person decides not to murder, but never gives up the self-will to Jesus, how long will it be before murder is again on the table? It won’t be long. Sometimes a man who won’t murder his own child will go murder someone else’s child if only his “morally superior” country’s leaders tell him to.

Consider this: every nation on the earth, including America, has propagandized its own people to believe that its own ideals and interests are morally superior to those of other countries. Early in American history, the “religous right” (though not called that yet) justified the killing of Native Americans (and other crimes) in the name of “Manifest Destiny.” This was the belief that God had given an elite group of people the right and mandate to take the whole country from the east coast to the west coast, even if that goal could only be reached through violence. Oh, there were apologists even then who preached this message in the churches. And there were pew-warmers that were accepted because they checked their various boxes at the appropriate time. But none of this is the faith handed to us by Christ and His apostles and prophets. Yet this seriously bastardized version of Christianity is still being promoted by the notoriously war-hungry religious right. Many well-meaning Christians get caught up in their rhetoric, not understanding that this partisan group does not and cannot represent Christ, even if they do appear to give lip-service to a few of His morals.

Let us remember that when Puritans were putting to death “heretics” (who were sometimes real Christians) in Boston, they were at the same time enforcing a code of strict morality. But it wasn’t the faith of the Lord Jesus that drove them to murder their neighbors.

Early in Martin Luther’s ministry, he taught that Christians could not kill their enemies. Later his doctrine changed, and he began justifying killing in certain circumstances. What caused him to change his stance? Was it new illumination in the Scriptures?–No, his personal power base was threatened. And this is the same hypocrisy manifest in the Religious Right today. There are loud claims of moral superiority, but the reality is there is as much corruption on the right as there is on the left. Often, “conservatives” are more ready than “liberals” to kill complete strangers if there is something in it for them. I have recently done a great deal of research, and what I find in the government of this nation is sweeping corruption of the most vile kinds, including drug trafficking, people trafficking, prostitution, pornography production and promotion, and pedophilia. Do not be deceived into thinking that only the other party is participating.

And what is it that professing Christians are really after in America, I wonder, when they rail against how things are. Are they zealous for Jesus? If so, why aren’t they teaching people Jesus’ words rather than the words of Patrick Henry? Do they really care for their unborn neighbors?–Why aren’t they gathering outside abortion clinics to plead with mothers not to kill their children and offer help? Do they really want homosexuals to receive the new birth in Jesus Christ and be set free? How many are actively sharing the faith once delivered with such people? It can be so pleasing to the flesh to stand on a moral high ground and declare that all our trouble was caused by someone else. It’s alot less pleasing to the flesh to empty self, become a servant to all, and live Jesus’ words day by day among friends and enemies.

I believe that the average Joe Christian is not really that concerned with the spread of sin, except where it infringes on his own personal piece of the American Pie. We want the rewards of capitalism, and freedom to do what we want. Who doesn’t want these things? And these things aren’t inherently evil, but they become evil when we are willing to deny the teachings of Jesus to have them. And our hypocrisy is exposed when we “fight to get America back” to what it was before, and don’t acknowledge that what it was before was merely a more moral society that was still plunging headlong into hell, chasing the idols of materialism and freedom to do as one pleases.

Everywhere we hear the lament about the good old days. The good old days weren’t as good as we think. The unrighteousness had not fully bloomed and fruited yet, but it was surely being planted. Isn’t it telling that we cry when the harvest comes in, but we didn’t cry when we (as a nation) were having fun planting it?

My heart cries for there to be real repentance among those professing to be saved in this country. At some point we have to stop pointing out the other denominations and look at our own. We have to stop blaming one political party and excusing another. We must go beyond our propensity to view our country as superior to others, and realize we have all sinned grievously in myriad ways. We must look past our record of attendance at church, and look at how much we attend upon the Lord Jesus and obey His Words from the heart. We must stop sneering at the unchurched sinner while excusing the love of the world that has gripped most of our churched children (and adults!) The hypocrisy must stop. If there is to be any lasting moral change in this nation, it will begin with real born again believers who subject their lives to Jesus Christ and live according to His teachings in such a way that their holiness is indisputable.

But this–true religion–is not for the faint of heart. When you begin to chop at the root of things with a spiritual axe, and point out the hypocrisies of the various groups, you will burn bridges behind you. No longer will you fit in with them or find a semblance of rest in their numbers. If you don’t join their acceptable moral crusades, they will cast you out because you don’t further their agendas (and they do have agendas which are very different from God’s Kingdom agenda). Remember that any number of Jews would have been glad to have Jesus lead them physically against the Romans, and would have rallied behind Him. But who wants to follow someone who is leading His disciples to crucifixion and death and being the perpetual offscouring of the earth? (I Cor. 4:13) Who wants to, for the (future) joy set before him, endure the painful cross (right now)?

Yet this is the ONLY way to bring true moral change to mankind. All other religions are vain, and that includes nominal Christianity as it is known today in its compromised and impotent state. It may pick and choose a few moral hills to rally on, but it won’t deny the Self entirely and obey the Lord Jesus in all of His teaching. Such a morality can never save. It is just another road that leads to death.

Posted in apostasy, Christian Life, False Teachers, Preach the Gospel, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Arise and Depart, For This is Not Your Rest

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 3, 2014

Arise and depart, for this is not your rest; because it is defiled, it shall destroy, Yes, with utter destruction. (Micah 2:10)

This earth is not our rest. This country is not our rest. The church building down the street is not our rest. The homes we live in or fellowship in are not our rest. The bodies that now clothe and encumber our souls are not our rest.

“Arise and depart, for this is not your rest.”

We are in the world, but not of the world (John 17:14-16.) We are living in a country, but we dwell in it as in a foreign country, looking for that city whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:9-10). We know that God’s temple is in His sanctified people, not in buildings made with hands (Acts 7:48; I Cor. 3:16; 6:19). And yet even these flesh and blood bodies that, by some miracle of God, house the Holy Spirit, are being sown in corruption. We must one day be clothed with an imperishable body (I Cor. 15:50-54). None of these earthly things can ever be our true Rest.

Samson, resting so comfortably in the arms of the one who will betray you, arise out the lap of Delilah, for there is not your rest but your destruction. When God commissions a man to rise up against His enemies, and instead he cavorts with them, will not the Lord eventually depart from him? (Judg. 16:20) Much of the called “Church” is like Samson, resting in the arms of the betrayer–the world. Called to confront the sin of the world, the judges refuse to judge, and it displeases God (Isa. 59:15). They instead partake of carnal pleasures in Delilah’s lap, and lead the people of God into further captivity. Will not such a church become “worthless salt” fit only to be trodden under foot by man unless there is repentance?

Christian wanting to be the friend of the world, this world is not your rest. For anyone who wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God, and God will destroy His enemies, including and especially all hypocrites. What looks like rest now will turn out for your destruction. Be crucified unto this world, and let this world be crucified unto you through the cross of Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14), that your sufferings and labors for Jesus now may turn out for your deliverance later (Phil. 1:12-21). For whoever desires to save his life in this world will lose it, but whoever loses his life in this world for Jesus’ sake will find it (Matt. 16:25).

Doomsday prepper, what will you do when the food runs out? What will your silver and gold medallions buy? Will they deliver you from God’s wrath? They cannot deliver you from the wrath of God. (Ezek. 7:19) The only Savior is Jesus Christ, and the only way out of the death and corruption brought about by your sin is death with Christ–to sin and the world–by His cross. The sin of others (the government, Monsanto, etc.) is not your biggest problem. Your own sin is your biggest problem, and it must be dealt with at the cross. This alone leads to everlasting life. To walk this narrow path that leads to life, you must give up your obsession with this life, and this body. To remain carnally minded is death. Contrary to what some say, Jesus did not die to give you your best life now.

How many music/sport/movie idols have come and gone? They rise and fall, and finally succumb to the same weakness of all men, despite all their money and plastic surgery and opportunities. Their paid image consultants told them how to please men, but could not tell them how to please God. Finally they lie still, stripped of glory, unable to fight off the weakest worms that invade their graves. And people still worship them. Even people professing to love Christ follow every move of these lost servants of the devil. Is there no living, immortal God to worship?! Arise and depart! What agreement does the temple of God have with idols?…Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. (2 Cor. 6:16-17) Are there conditions to being received by God? There certainly are. You must arise and depart from what is evil.

Before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, setting them forth as an example of suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 7), He sent messengers to warn the righteous to get out.

Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city—take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking. (Gen. 19:12-14)

It seems to me that many today also think God’s messengers are joking. They find the doomed “city” restful enough and refuse to heed God’s warnings. They say things like, “I believe God is a loving God. He doesn’t mind that I participate in x, y, and z.” They willfully forget that He is a holy God and a God who will not at all aquit the wicked (Nahum 1:3).

But today, if you can hear His voice telling you to flee from the wrath to come, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion (Heb. 3:15.) Flee to Christ and obey Him as Lord. There is a rest for the people of God, and it is only in Christ. To whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey Him? (Heb. 3:18) So, let us be diligent to enter that rest lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience (Heb. 4:11). Can God see your sin? And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.(Heb. 4:13) Forsake your sin and seek the Lord’s mercy (Prov. 28:13).

This world is increasingly wicked. Scripture says the earth as we know it sways to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut. It’s transgression shall be heavy upon it. It will fall and not rise again. (Isa. 2:20)

Even in the sanctuaries that are supposed to be holy, there is all kinds of defilement. False teaching has so permeated what is called “the Church,” it’s hard to find someone teaching right things, much less a whole family of real believers with whom to fellowship. It seems the whole earth is coming under judgment. Most of the churches are just carnal institutions that have had their lampstands removed (Rev. 2:5). To whom can we go? Who has the words of life that bring rest to our souls?

But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself. (Gen. 8:9)

This Scripture is about Noah and his little dove during a time of world-wide judgment. We can see in it the beautiful picture of Christ, the real Ark of Salvation. There is no resting place here, but only utter destruction. We must go to Jesus–return into the Ark to Him. He will take us and draw us into the Ark of Salvation to Himself. He alone has the words of life, and He is the rest we seek.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt. 11:28-29)

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Laboring

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 23, 2014

Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him. (John 6:27)

Everyone is laboring. Most people are laboring for food that perishes. If I am honest with myself, too much of my own labor is spent on what perishes.

People are laboring to put their kids through college so they can get the best jobs and make the most money and “have it better than we had it.”

People are laboring to and from soccer fields after work so that their children and grandchildren can have the experience of playing a game and sometimes winning.

People are laboring in factories and fields and boiler rooms and office cubicles so that they can buy the things they want.

I know a group of men who stand outside in the cold holding up confederate flags to prove to the state of Virginia that the sentiments and bigotries of the past are still alive and flourishing in their hearts. They are laboring to make a point.

Then there are the Christian conservative labors.

Laboring to put up a new, bigger building so we can believe we are doing the great commission even though we don’t know how to share the gospel, and never do, and don’t care to learn.

Laboring to fill the pews with bodies who will labor to fill the offering plates that will pay all those overhead costs–and hopefully have enough crumbs left over to toss to the struggling families who are about to go under.

Laboring to make our voices heard in the government, laboring to change the laws, laboring to get prayer in the schools that undermine our children’s faith and relieve us of our parental duties for most of the day, laboring to mix Christianity with Americanism, laboring to make sure we never lose our rights, laboring to save our own lives in the zombie apocalypse.

And we are so tired, and so weary of what other (worse) people are doing, and wish our country could go back to the good old days when everyone was giving lipservice to our God and we weren’t always facing a pending economic crisis. So we complain to one another and speak of how we need a revival, and how other people are keeping revival from happening. And we keep doing our rituals and putting up buildings and inviting people to help us keep our pews warm and hoping it will all change, and encouraging one another that one day our labors will pay off.

But we don’t pray, we don’t weep for the lost, we don’t lay aside those labors that are going nowhere (or even recognize that they are going nowhere), and we don’t study to understand and speak forth the gospel in all of its powerful and life-changing clarity. That is the pastor’s job, the Sunday School teacher’s job, the school’s job; the best we can do is criticize how they are doing their job and go back to what we were doing. All the while telling ourselves we are the ones who are in the right, and we ourselves do not need to change.

The way we labor says alot about what we believe.

Apparently, we do not believe that the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone that believes. Or we do not believe people need to be saved. Or we do not believe the great commission is a command to us personally to teach others the gospel. Or we do not believe disobeying Christ’s great commission has any consequences to us or to our country.

Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Rev. 3:17-19)

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Early Church Writings on Christians & Violence

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 2, 2013

Scripture, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit, is the source of doctrine and practice for every Christian.  The “early church fathers” have left us a testimony of how they interpreted and followed the Scriptures. They were fallible men, and cannot be our final authority.  Yet I think it is worth examining what they taught, since these men preached in a time before the leaven had so thoroughly corrupted the whole loaf.

On the subject of Christians in military service, and Christians using violence for self-defense, much was written by these men. Their convictions on these matters are strikingly different than the prevailing convictions of Christians today, even though they lived in times and places where persecution was likely. Have we surpassed these men in understanding what God’s will is, or have we fallen into greater ignorance and unbelief? Each of us must prayerfully decide.

A person who has accepted the power of killing, or a soldier, may never be received [into the church] at all.
—Hippolytus (170-236 A.D)

Above all, Christians are not allowed to correct with violence.
—Clement of Alexandria

I do not wish to be a king; I am not anxious to be rich; I decline military command… Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it.
—Tatian’s Address to the Greeks

We who formerly used to murder one another now refrain from even making war upon our enemies.
—The First Apology of Justin Martyr

Whatever Christians would not wish others to do to them, they do not to others. And they comfort their oppressors and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies…. Through love towards their oppressors, they persuade them to become Christians.
—The Apology of Aristides

A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath. If he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected for baptism. A military commander or civic magistrate must resign or be rejected. If a believer seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected, for he has despised God.
—Hippolytus of Rome

There is nothing better than peace, in which all warfare of things in heaven and things on earth is abolished.
—Ignatius of Antioch to the Ephesians

The new covenant that brings back peace and the law that gives life have gone forth over the whole earth, as the prophets said: “For out of Zion will go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem; and he will instruct many people; and they will break down their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and they will no longer learn to make war.” These people formed their swords and war lances into plowshares,” that is, into instruments used for peaceful purposes. So now, they are unaccustomed to fighting, so when they are struck, they offer also the other cheek.
—Irenaeus

We would rather shed our own blood than stain our hands and our conscience with that of another. As a result, an ungrateful world is now enjoying–and for a long period has enjoyed–a benefit from Christ. For by his means, the rage of savage ferocity has been softened and has begun to withhold hostile hands from the blood of a fellow creature. In fact, if all men without exception…would lend an ear for a while to his salutary and peaceful rules,…the whole world would be living in the most peaceful tranquility. The world would have turned the use of steel into more peaceful uses and would unite together in blessed harmony.
—Arnobius

Wars are scattered all over the earth with the bloody horror of camps. The whole world is wet with mutual blood. And murder–which is admitted to be a crime in the case of an individual–is called a virtue when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the wicked deeds, not because they are guiltless, but because the cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale!
—Cyprian of Carthage

Those soldiers were filled with wonder and admiration at the grandeur of the man’s piety and generosity and were struck with amazement. They felt the force of this example of pity. As a result, many of them were added to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and threw off the belt of military service.
—Disputation of Archelaus and Manes

We have rejected such spectacles as the Coliseum. How then, when we do not even look on killing lest we should contract guilt and pollution, can we put people to death?
—Athenagoras of Athens, A Plea for the Christians

In that last section, decision may seem to have been given likewise concerning military service, which is between dignity and power. But now inquiry is made about this point, whether a believer may turn himself unto military service, whether the military may be admitted unto the faith, even the rank and file, or each inferior grade, to whom there is no necessity for taking part in sacrifices or capital punishments. There is no agreement between the divine and the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot be due to two masters–God and Caesar. And yet Moses carried a rod, and Aaron wore a buckle, and John is girt with leather, and Joshua the son of Nun leads a line of march; and the People warred: if it pleases you to sport with the subject. But how will a Christian man war, nay, how will he serve even in peace, without a sword, which the Lord has taken away? For albeit soldiers had come unto John, and had received the formula of their rule; albeit, likewise, a centurion had believed; still the Lord afterward, in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier. No dress is lawful among us, if assigned to any unlawful action.
–Tertullian, On Idolatry 19

‘Nation will not take up sword against nation, and they will no more learn to fight.’ Who else, therefore, does this prophecy apply to, other than us?
—Tertullian (c. 197, W) 3.154.

Oh emperor, it is the Christians that have sought and found the truth, for they acknowledge God. They do not keep for themselves the goods entrusted to them. They do not covet what belongs to others, but they show love to their neighbors. They do not do to another what they would not like done to themselves. They speak gently to those who oppress them, and in this way, they make their enemies their friends. It has become their passion to do good to their enemies. They live in the awareness of their own smallness. Everyone of them who has anything gives ungrudgingly to the one who has nothing. And if any of them sees a homeless stranger, they bring them into their own home, under their roof. If anyone of them becomes poor while the Christians have nothing to spare, then they fast two or three days until everyone can eat. In this way, they supply for the poor exactly what they need. This, oh emperor, is the rule of life for the Christians. This is how they live.
—Aristides 137 AD

[Origen, quoting Celsus] If everyone were to act the same as you Christians, the national government would soon be left utterly deserted an without any help, and affairs on earth would soon pass into the hands of the most savage and wretched barbarians.” [Origen:] Celsus exhorts us to help the Emperor and be his fellow soldiers. To this we reply, “You cannot demand military service of Christians any more than you can of priests.” We do not go forth as soldiers with the Emperor even if he demands this. [Origen goes on to say that if the Romans followed the teachings of Jesus there would be no barbarians.]
—Origen

We who formerly treasured money and possessions more than anything else now hand over everything we have to a treasury for all and share it with everyone who needs it. We who formerly hated and murdered one another now live together and share the same table. We pray for our enemies ad try to win those who hate us.
—Justin Martyr

I do not wish to be a ruler. I do not strive for wealth. I refuse offices connected with military command. I despise death.
—Tatian

The Lord, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.
—Tertullian’s On Idolatry

Christians could never slay their enemies. For the more that kings, rulers, and peoples have persecuted them everywhere, the more Christians have increased in number and grown in strength.
—Origen, Contra Celsius Book VII

Wherever arms have glittered, they must be banished and exterminated from thence.
—Lactantius, Divine Institutes IV

As simple and quiet sisters, peace and love require no arms. For it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained.
—Clement of Alexandria, Chapter 12 of Book 1

In their wars, therefore, the Etruscans use the trumpet, the Arcadians the pipe, the Sicilians the pectides, the Cretans the lyre, the Lacedaemonians the flute, the Thracians the horn, the Egyptians the drum, and the Arabians the cymbal. The one instrument of peace, the Word alone by which we honor God, is what we employ.
—Clement of Alexandria, Chapter 4 of Book 2

Do not avenge yourself on those who injure you… let us imitate the Lord, who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he was crucified, he answered not; when he suffered, he threatened not; but prayed for his enemies…Nothing is better than peace, by which all war of those in heaven and those on earth is abolished.
—Hippolytus (approx. A.D. 200)

I owe no duty to forum, campaign, or senate. I stay awake for no public function. I make no effort to occupy a platform. I am no office seeker. I have no desire to smell out political corruption. I shun the voter’s booth, the juryman’s bench. I break no laws and push no lawsuits; I will not serve as a magistrate or judge. I refuse to do military service. I desire to rule over no one – I have withdrawn from worldly politics! Now my only politics is spiritual – how that I might be anxious for nothing except to root out all worldly anxieties and care.

Inquiry is made whether a believer is able to turn himself into military service… But how will a Christian wage war, indeed how will he serve even in peace without a sword, which the Lord has taken away? …The Lord in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier.

What will be God’s if all things are Caesar’s?

All zeal in the pursuit of glory and honor is dead in us. So we have no pressing inducement to take part in your public meetings. Nor is there anything more entirely foreign to us than the affairs of state. We acknowledge one all-embracing commonwealth – the world. We renounce all your spectacles.

For what difference is there between provoker and provoked? The only difference is that the former was the first to do evil, but the latter did evil afterwards. Each one stands condemned in the eyes of the Lord for hurting a man. For God both prohibits and condemns every wickedness. In evil doing, there is no account taken of the order… the commandment is absolute: evil is not to be repaid with evil.

As for you, you are a foreigner in this world, a citizen of Jerusalem, the city above. Our citizenship, the apostle says, is in heaven.

Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law? Shall he who is not to avenge his own wrongs be instrumental in bringing others into chains, imprisonment, torment, death?

The Lord will save them in that day – even His people – like sheep… No one gives the name of ‘sheep’ to those who fall in battle with arms in hand, or those who are killed when repelling force with force. Rather, it is given only to those who are slain, yielding themselves up in their own place of duty and with patience – rather than fighting in self-defense.
–Tertullian

I am a Christian, and therefore I cannot fight.
—Origen (approx. A.D. 250)

What if the law of nature – that is, the law of God – commands what is opposed to the written law? Does not reason tell us to bid a long farewell to the written code… and to give ourselves up to the Legislator, God. This is so even if in doing so it may be necessary to encounter dangers, countless labors, and even death and dishonor…It is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a divine and more necessary service in the church of God for the salvation of men…How was it possible for the Gospel doctrine of peace, which doesn’t permit men to take vengeance even on their enemies, to prevail throughout the earth, unless at the coming of Jesus a milder spirit had been introduced into the order of things?…Our prayers defeat all demons who stir up war. Those demons also lead persons to violate their oaths and to disturb the peace. Accordingly, in this way, we are much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them. And we do take our part in public affairs when we join self-denying exercises to our righteous prayers and meditations, which teach us to despise pleasures and not to be led away from them. So none fight better for the king than we do. Indeed, we do not fight under him even if he demands it. Yet, we fight on his behalf, forming a special army – an army of godliness – by offering our prayers to God…We have come in accordance with the counsels of Jesus to cut down our warlike and arrogant swords of argument into ploughshares, and we convert into sickles the spears we formerly used in fighting. For we no longer take sword against nation, nor do we learn any more to make war, having become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader…If all the Romans were to be converted they will by praying overcome their enemies – or rather they will not make war at all, being guarded by the Divine power, which promised to save five whole cities for the sake of fifty righteous men.
—Athenagoras (approx. A.D. 180)

We have learned not only not to return blow for blow, nor to go to law with those who plunder and rob us, but to those who smite us on the one side of the face to offer the other side also, and to those who take away our coat to give likewise our cloak…We cannot endure even to see a man put to death, though justly. —Testament of Our Lord (approx. A.D. 220)

If a soldier or one in authority wishes to be baptized in the Lord, let them cease from military service or from the post of authority. And if not, let them not be received.
—Lactantius

It can never be lawful for a righteous man to go to war, whose warfare is in righteousness itself.”“When God prohibits killing, he not only forbids us to commit brigandage, which is not allowed even by the public laws, but he warns us not to do even those things which are legal among men. And so it will not be lawful for a just man to serve as a soldier – for justice itself is his military service – nor to accuse anyone of a capital offense, because it makes no difference whether thou kill with a sword or with a word, since killing itself is forbidden. And so, in this commandment of God, no exception at all ought to be made to the rule that it is always wrong to kill a man, whom God has wished to be regarded as a sacrosanct creature…When we suffer such ungodly things, we do not resist even in word. Rather, we leave vengeance to God…The Christian does injury to no one. He does not desire the property of others. In fact, he does not even defend his own property if it is taken from him by violence. For he knows how to patiently bear an injury inflicted upon him…When God forbids us to kill, he not only prohibits us from open violence…but he warns us against the commission of those things which are esteemed lawful among men. Thus it will be neither lawful for a just man to engage in warfare… Therefore, with regard to this precept of God, there ought to be no exception at all; but that it is always unlawful to put to death a man, whom God willed to be a sacred animal…We do not resist those who injure us, for we must yield to them…When men command us to act in opposition to the law of God, and in opposition to justice, we should not be deterred by any threats or punishments that come upon us. For we prefer the commandments of God to the commandments of man…Someone will say here: ‘What therefore, or where, or of what sort is piety?’ Assuredly it is among those who are ignorant of war, who keep concord with all, who are friends even to their enemies, who love all men as their brothers, who know how to restrain their anger, and to soothe all madness of mind by quiet control…God might have bestowed upon his people both riches and kingdoms, as he had given previously to the Jews, whose successors and posterity we are. However, he would have Christians live under the power and government of others, lest they should become corrupted by the happiness and prosperity, slide into luxury, and eventually despise the commandments of God. For this is what our ancestors did…Why should the just man wage war, and mix himself up in other people’s passions – he in whose mind dwells perpetual peace with men?
—Clement of Alexandria (approx. A.D. 195)

Christians are not allowed to use violence to correct the delinquencies of sins…Man is in reality a pacific instrument…The followers of peace use none of the implements of war…We have made use of only one instrument, the peaceful word, with which we do honor to God…We are being educated, not in war, but in peace…We are the race given over to peace…[Christians] are an army without weapons, without war, without bloodshed, without anger, without defilement.
—Tarachus (3rd century)

I have led a military life, and am a Roman; and because I am a Christian I have abandoned my profession of a soldier.
—Marcellus (approx. A.D. 298)

I threw down my arms for it was not seemly that a Christian man, who renders military service to the Lord Christ, should render it by earthly injuries.
—Marcellus (approx. A.D. 298)

It is not lawful for a Christian to bear arms for any earthly consideration.
—Marcellus (approx. A.D. 298)

Christians have changed their swords and their lances into instruments of peace, and they know not now how to fight.
—Justin Martyr (approx. A.D. 138)

The devil is the author of all war…We, who used to kill one another, do not make war on our enemies. We refuse to tell lies or deceive our inquisitors; we prefer to die acknowledging Christ…We who had been filled with war and mutual slaughter and every wickedness, have each one – all the world over – changed the instruments of war, the swords into ploughs and the spears into farming instruments, and we cultivate piety, righteousness, love for men, faith, and the hope which is from the Father Himself through the Crucified One…We who hated and slew one another, and because of differences in customs would not share a common hearth with those who were not of our tribe, now, after the appearance of Christ, have become sociable, and pray for our enemies, and try to persuade those who hate us unjustly, in order that they, living according to the good suggestions of Christ, may share our hope of obtaining the same reward from the God who is Master of all…As to loving all men, he has taught as follows: ‘If ye love only those who love you, what new thing do ye do? For even fornicators do this. But I say to you: Pray for your enemies and love those who hate you and bless those who curse you and pray for those who act spitefully towards you.’ … And as to putting up with evil and being serviceable to all and without anger, this is what he says: ‘to him that smiteth thy cheek, offer the other cheek as well, and do not stop the man that takes away thy tunic or thy cloak. But whoever is angry is liable to the fire. Every one who impresses thee to go a mile, follow for two. Let your good works shine before men, that seeing them they may worship your Father in heaven.’
—Justin Martyr (approx. A.D. 138)

Maximilian, a young Numidian, was brought before an African proconsul named Dion in A.D. 295 for induction into the army. Maximilian refused to join, stating: “I cannot serve as a soldier; I cannot do evil; I am a Christian.” Dion threatened Maximilian, stating: “Get into the service, or it will cost you your life.” With courage, Maximilian did not yield to the threat of death: “I shall not perish, but when I have forsaken this world, my soul shall live with Christ my Lord.” Later he refused the royal badge that had the sign of the emperor on it, saying, “I do not accept your mark, for I already have the sign of Christ, my God… I do not accept the mark of this age, and if you impose it on me, I shall break it, for it is worth nothing.” The outcome was that on March 12, 295, Maximilian was executed. Maximilian’s father returned home, “giving thanks to God that he had been able to bring such a present to the Lord.” Later, as a special honor, his body was brought to Carthage and buried near the tomb of Cyprian, a great leader in the church, who had also died as a martyr.
—The Martyrdom of Maximilian (A.D. 295)

Make thyself a peace-maker to all men.
—Commodianus

[Christians] are not allowed to kill, but they must be ready to be put to death themselves… it is not permitted the guiltless to put even the guilty to death…God wished iron to be used for the cultivation of the earth, and therefore it should not be used to take human life…The whole earth is drenched in adversaries’ blood, and if a murder is committed privately it is a crime, but if it happens with state authority, courage is the name for it. Impunity is claimed for the wicked deeds, not on the plea that they are guiltless, but because cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale…We should ever and a day reflect that we have renounced the world and are in the meantime living here as guests and strangers.
—Cyprian (approx. A.D. 250)

You know that you who are the servants of God dwell in a strange land. For your city is far away from this one. If, then, you know your city in which you are to dwell, why do you here provide lands, and make expensive preparations, and accumulate dwellings and useless buildings? He who makes such preparations for this city cannot return again to his own… Do you not understand that all these things belong to another, and are under the power of another? …Take note, therefore. As one living in a foreign land, make no further preparations for yourself except what is merely sufficient. And be ready to leave this city, when the master of this city comes to cast you out for disobeying his law.
—Hermas (approx. A.D. 150)

If all without exception . . . would lend an ear for a little to Christ’s salutary and peaceful rules… the whole world, having turned the use of steel into more peaceful occupations, would now be living in the most placid tranquility, and would unite in blessed harmony, maintaining inviolate the sanctity of treaties…Since we – so large a force of men – have received from Christ’s teachings and laws, that evil ought not to be repaid with evil, that it is better to endure a wrong than to inflict one, to shed one’s own blood rather than stain one’s hands and conscience with the blood of another, the ungrateful world has long been receiving a benefit from Christ, through whom the madness of savagery has been softened, and has begun to withhold its hostile hands from the blood of a kindred creature. But if absolutely all who understand that they are men by virtue, not of the form of their bodies, but of the power of their reason, were willing to lend an ear for a little while to his healthful and peaceful decrees, and would not, swollen with pride and arrogance, trust to their own senses rather than to his warnings, the whole world would long ago have turned the uses of iron to milder works and be living in the softest tranquility, and would have come together in healthy concord without breaking the sanctions of treaties…Did Christ, claiming royal power for himself, occupy the whole world with fierce legions, and, of nations at peace from the beginning, destroy and remove some, and compel others to put their necks beneath his yoke and obey him?
—Arnobius (approx. A.D. 310)

The soldiers of Christ require neither arms nor spears of iron…The servants of God do not rely for their protection on material defenses but on the divine Providence.
—Tatian (approx. A.D. 160)

Say to those that hate and curse you, you are our brothers!
—Theophilus of Antioch, approx. 412 A.D.

Christians have changed their swords and their lances into instruments of peace, and they know not now how to fight.
—Irenaeus

Take heed, then, often to come together to give thanks to God, and show forth His praise. For when ye assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith. Nothing is more precious than peace, by which all war, both in heaven and earth, is brought to an end.
—Ignatius of Antioch

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Give Us Barabbas

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 1, 2013

An interesting choice was presented to the people of Jerusalem around 30 AD. Do you want Jesus, or do you want Barabbas?

Jesus was accused of “perverting the nation,” claiming to be a king, and forbidding people to pay their taxes to Caesar (Luke 23:2). (How else could an apostate church use a secular government to put a good man to death, but to claim He was a national security threat?)  While Jesus had never encouraged tax evasion, He did readily admit to Pilate that He was a king. However He stated that His kingdom was not of this world, and this was why His servants were not fighting to protect Him (Lk. 20:20-25; 23:3;  Jn. 18:33-37). In an earthly kingdom, it is important to keep the king alive.

Barabbas was a Jewish “notable prisoner” of Rome (Matt. 27:16).  He was an insurrectionist and a rebel, who had both robbed and committed murder (Mark 15:7; Lk. 23:25; John 18:40).  When Pilate asked the Jewish people which of the two criminals–Jesus or Barabbas–they wanted released, they clamored for the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus.

There is historical evidence that Barabbas was actually called “Jesus Barabbas,” which means literally, “Jesus, son of the father.”  The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible includes the name “Jesus” with Barabbas in Matt. 27:16-17, and other ancient historical writings also attribute this name to him.  As an insurrectionist, he was almost certainly a patriot who had either led or participated in an attempt to thwart Roman occupation of his homeland. He was probably something of a hero in the minds of many Jews.

Jesus Christ was the “Son of the Father” also. He came to do the will of His Father, which included going to the cross to atone for the sins of mankind. He declared that He came into the world to “bear witness to the truth.” (Jn. 18:37). He said He was the way, the truth, and the life–the only possible way to the Father. And He declared that any who are not with Him are by default against Him (Matt. 12:30).

In Matthew 5-7, Jesus taught the principles by which the Kingdom of God is operated.  He warned that a man cannot be ruled by both God and money; he will serve only one, so we dare not focus on what we will eat and drink and wear. We must have our treasures in heaven rather than on earth. He taught that His disciples were to love their enemies and pray for them that mistreated them. He taught that it was the meek, the merciful, the peacemaker and the persecuted that would enter the kingdom of God.  He even commanded His followers not to resist an evil person. We are to let the one who slaps us, slap us again; and we are to let one who takes our tunic have our cloak also. He said we must seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness above all else, and warned that it was a narrow and difficult way that leads to life. He declared that only a few people would actually walk the difficult way to life, though many would give him the lipservice of addressing Him as “Lord, Lord.” And He ends this passage with the stark reality that only those who DO His words will be saved. Those who merely hear His words will end in destruction.

It is important to remember that these teachings were delivered to a people oppressed and heavily taxed by an occupying nation. The nation of Israel, though apostate from God, certainly saw Rome as pagan and wicked compared to themselves. Yet Jesus did not lead an insurrection against Rome, or murder or rob anyone.  He did not spew venomous rhetoric against the occupying forces; in fact He healed a Roman Centurion’s servant out of pure compassion. Why?–The weapons of His warfare were not carnal. While He acknowledged He was a King, He was careful to make a distinction between His kingdom and others. And when Peter spoke out rashly that this King should not suffer, Jesus gave him the harshest possible rebuke, attributing his words to satan, and exposing his motive for agreeing with the devil–he cared more about “the things of men” than the things of God. (Matt. 16:21-23)

I submit to you today that professing Christians in America live in days very similar to the times of the Jews under Roman occupation. We live in a nation that once enjoyed prosperity and relative peace, the deterioration of which is due to our own sin.  We see our freedoms being taken away and we nostalgically long for the days of old. Like the Jews who prided themselves in having “the law of God,” and oblivious to how much perversion had entered the picture through their own apostasy, we pride ourselves in being in a nation that still has some shreds of Biblical truth remaining. Our justice system still bears a resemblance to the guidelines that God gave to Israel. Almost everyone knows the “golden rule” even if they do not obey it, and “God bless America” is commonly heard on the lips of those whose daily deeds call down curses upon themselves rather than blessings. We have joined the righteous fight to keep God’s name in our antichrist schools, and on the money we love more than God.  We hate the direction our nation is headed in and desire to throw off the “occupation,” but we do not seem to have enough sense to get on our knees and acknowledge that we ourselves have stopped loving God, even in our churches!

To add insult to injury, we have become a nation that judges other nations by our own hypocritical “form of godliness,” rather than a nation that judges itself by God’s Word. We are, by and large, not Good Samaritans stooping to pour oil and wine into the wounds of other nations (Luke 10:29-37), but instead good Pharisees stooping to any level of wickedness to preserve our own positions of authority and wealth (John 11:48).  We send out democratic “missionaries” to recreate overseas what we have here in America, because we are sure our righteousness is better than their righteousness, and sure this righteousness can be advanced by force.  In the meantime, we ourselves are drunk on pornography, the love of money, blatant promiscuity, and violence; we are lovers of ourselves.  Instead of condemning our own actions and seeking God’s forgiveness, we export these evils to other nations in the name of “freedom.”  We promise them liberty while we ourselves are servants of corruption.  We have been doing these things for many years, but we justify ourselves by blaming our current state of subjugation on our current leader. The apostate church is no victim of these events, carried along against her will; she is leading in this hypocrisy. But we are “the people of God!” Surely we cannot be to blame!  Surely if we rise up in the flesh, we can save our nation (and our money and our position!)

Before the “people of God” is set a choice. Do we want Barabbas, or do we want Jesus Christ?

We can choose “Jesus, son of the father” or we can choose “Jesus, Son of the Father.”  Which Jesus do you want?–the patriot Jesus or the suffering servant Jesus?

The first did the will of the one who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44), and the second did the will of God, who desires all men to have life.  The first was a man who reacted in the flesh to secure a temporary carnal kingdom; the second was a Man who obeyed the Spirit of God to secure an eternal spiritual kingdom.  The first cared for the things of men;  the second for the things of God.  The first took the life of an enemy; the second gave His own life for His enemies.  The first was a national hero in spite of his evil;  the second was despised and rejected of men in spite of His good (Isa. 53:3).  The first took part in an insurrection that changed very little; the second took part in a resurrection that changed everything.

The Jews chose Barabbas.  Here was a man after their own hearts, for he loved their physical nation. They had hoped Jesus would help them to throw off the Romans, but He insisted on preaching this invisible “kingdom” into which only the meek could enter.  They had tried to crown Jesus king, but He had slipped away from them, content to rule only in the hearts of men who could hear His voice.  They cheered for Him when He rode into Jerusalem, but why did He go like a lamb to the slaughter rather than organizing an armed resistance?–How disappointing! His Sermon on the Mount was idealistic, but anyone with common sense knows these ideals don’t work in the real world! What is this we hear about Jesus telling Peter to put his sword away? Away with this useless man! Give us Barabbas!

How about you?

Which one do you want–Barabbas or Jesus Christ?

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