No Contradictions

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

…I will hide My face from this city because of all its wickedness. Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it… (Jeremiah 33:5-6) 

God’s anger at Judah’s sin is blazing hot! And rightly so: Dr. Henry Halley points out, “Most of the 20 Davidic kings who reigned over Judah during the 400 years between David and the Babylonian exile were very bad. Only a few were worthy of the name of David.” So it is understandable that God would need to punish that sinful nation. 

Then comes that word “nevertheless.” In spite of the rampant sin, God’s promise of restoration is even greater than the pain of His punishment. 

God promises healing, restoration, complete cleansing from sin, and more descendants of David and Levi than can be counted. And He promises this to the exact same people that He promised to punish. 

I don’t know about you, but to me this almost seems like a contradiction. Does God want to punish them or does He want to bless them? 

The apparent contradiction is hard for our finite brains to comprehend. That’s why God makes an important statement to Jeremiah before He begins describing the punishment and the blessings: “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (v. 3). 

Aha! When we call on God to help us with unsearchable things, we find there are no contradictions in God nor in the Bible itself. 

If you feel stumped on a text of Scripture, I have previously shared how I handle the tough texts, but step number one is always calling on God to help. 

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem”—or any contradiction at all. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

Judging Like God

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

I may have heard more confusion, bad preaching, and even heresy based on Psalm 82 than almost any other passage! Most of the confusion comes from just verses 1 and 6, but if we read the entire psalm, I think confusions are quickly cleared up.

The biggest point of confusion is the use of the word “gods.” The Hebrew language doesn’t have capital and lowercase letters like we do. So the word God (with or without a capital “G”) is the same Hebrew word—el (singular) or elohiym (plural)—which means mighty One or mighty ones. Humans can be mighty ones, but only Yahweh is the Mighty One. 

Further adding to the confusion for some people is that Yahweh God is sometimes referred to in the plural in Hebrew: elohiym. This is understandable because we believe God is Three-in-One. Not three gods, but one God in three Persons. 

Bible translators have to use context clues to determine whether the biblical authors are referring to Yahweh or a pretend deity. Thankfully, English Bible translators have helped us out:

  • when the Hebrew word is Yahweh, most Bibles print it LORD 
  • when the Mighty One is implied in the text it’s God (with a capital “G”), and when it’s just a mighty person it’s typed god/gods (with lowercase a “g”). 
  • the NIV translators really helped us in Psalm 82 by designating the false deities in quotation marks (“gods”), almost as if they’re saying “the so-called gods.” 

When we were looking at the Selah in Psalm 81, I pointed out the importance of remembering that context is king. Clearly, from the context in Psalm 82, these are false gods (lowercase “g” and inside quotation marks).  

Asaph only speaks in the first and last verses of this psalm, but notice his commentary that “God presides…He gives judgment.” As in, God gets the final and decisive word. In fact, God does the most speaking in this psalm (in verses 2-7). God indicts wicked people for…

  • defending the unjust 
  • showing partiality to the wicked 
  • knowing nothing, understanding  nothing, walking around in darkness 
  • and notes “you will die like mere men” 

Now notice what the Selah pause connects. This is a pause for us to contrast two things: the righteous way and the wicked way. Or maybe we could say the contrast is between the way of the righteous Mighty One and His followers, and the way of wicked mighty ones. 

The Selah really begs an important question, “How long will your pride keep you doing these wicked things?” Notice what God calls on people to do in opposition to what the wicked are doing:

  • the wicked defend the unjust vs. the righteous are to defend the weak and fatherless 
  • the wicked show partiality to the wicked vs. the righteous maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed 
  • the wicked are concerned only about themselves vs. the righteous rescue the weak and needy from the hand of the wicked 

The Selah is intended to prompt us to ask ourselves: “Which are we? What am I doing or not doing?” 

The word for rendering a judgment is used four times in Psalm 82: 

  • God gives judgment on the activities of the “gods” 
  • the wicked defend the unjust, meaning that they condone their unjust activities 
  • the righteous defend the weak, meaning they speak up for those being oppressed by the “gods”
  • finally, Asaph declares in verse 8 that God renders the final and decisive judgement 

God wants us to exercise His righteous judgment on the earth. We have to Selah to examine ourselves first (see Matthew 7:1-5), but then we need to act boldly and righteously (see Micah 6:8; Leviticus 5:1; Proverbs 31:8-9). 

We can judge like we are “gods,” or we can judge, defend, and speak up like ambassadors of the Mighty One—the Ultimate Judge.

Wicked people are punished for judging like “gods.” Righteous people are rewarded for judging like God. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series exploring the Selahs in the Psalms, you can access the full list by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

Obvious Consequences

I think these correlations are pretty visible in the life of King Jehoshaphat. See if you can spot them too. 

Jehoshaphat “followed [God’s] commands” and “the Lord established the kingdom under his control.” 

Jehoshaphat sent Levites out to teach the people God’s law and “the fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the land surrounding Judah.” 

Jehoshaphat cried out to God while being pursued by enemies, “and the Lord helped him.” 

Jehoshaphat allied himself with Israel—marrying Ahab’s daughter and going to war with Israel—and he was told, “the wrath of the Lord is on you.” 

“Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord” when the enemy was poised to attack and God gave him assurance of victory. 

Jehoshaphat appointed worshipers to lead the army and “the Lord set ambushes” to defeat the enemy, causing His fear to once again fall on the surrounding nations. 

Jehoshaphat allied himself with Israel again and their joint sailing venture ended in shipwreck. 

[check out the biblical texts for all of the above examples by clicking here] 

It seems to me that the blessings of following God and doing things His way, and the consequences of ignoring His commands, are so plainly visible. There really is no excuse for my ignorance on this.

The question is: Will I do things God’s way and enjoy His blessings, or will I continue to try to do things my way and risk God’s wrath?

Thursdays With Spurgeon—God Will Not Acquit The Wicked

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

God Will Not Acquit The Wicked

     The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked [Nahum 1:3]. The Lord is slow to anger because He is great in power. ‘How say you so?’ says one. I answer: He who is great in power has power over himself. And he who can keep his own temper down and subdue himself is greater than he who rules the city, or can conquer nations. … When God’s power does restrain Himself, then it is power indeed—the power to curb power. The power that binds omnipotence is omnipotence surpassed. God is great in power, and therefore does He keep in His anger. … We bless God that the greatness of His power is just our protection! He is slow to anger because He is great in power. …  

     I have blotted out like a thick cloud your transgressions, and like a cloud your sins [Isaiah 44:22]. Not of one of all those sins that have been pardoned was pardoned without punishment. Do you ask me why and how such a thing as that can be the truth? I point you to yonder dreadful sight on Calvary. The punishment that fell not on the forgiven sinner fell there. … Sin is still punished, though the sinner is delivered. … 

     And now we trace this terrible attribute to its source. Why is this? We reply, God will not acquit the wicked, because He is good. What? Does goodness demand that sinners will be punished? It does. The judge must condemn the murderer because he loves his nation. …  

     Mercy, with her weeping eyes (for she has wept for sinners), when she finds they will not repent, looks more terribly stern in her loveliness than justice in all his majesty. She drops the white flag from her hand and says, “No. I called and they refused. I stretched out my hand and no man regarded. Let them die, let them die” and that terrible word from the lip of mercy’s self is harsher thunder then the very damnation of justice. Oh yes, the goodness of God demands that men should perish if they will sin. …  

     Can you by humble faith look to Jesus and say, “My substitute, my refuge, and my shield; You are my rock, my trust, in You I do confide”? Then, beloved, to you I have nothing to say except never be afraid when you see God’s power. For now that you are forgiven and accepted, now that by faith you have fled to Christ for refuge, the power of God need no more terrify you than the shield and sword of the warrior need terrify his wife or his child.

From Mercy, Omnipotence, And Justice

Have you looked in faith to the work Jesus did on Calvary so that your sins could be forgiven? If so, wonderful! You have nothing to fear from God’s justice. 

If not, I plead with you—look again. God’s mercy has been extended to you at least long enough for you to read this, but His justice must fall. Don’t procrastinate another moment: Allow the acquittal of your sins that Jesus purchased with His blood to be yours this very moment!

 

Consequences For Children

Dr. Kathy Koch has some great insights in her book Start With The Heart for anyone who works with children.

“Rather than using the words ‘rewards’ and ‘punishments,’ I recommend using the word ‘consequences.’ This small change helps children own their responsibility in changing negative behavior and maintaining positive behavior. Rewards and punishments are things we give children. Consequences are what children earn because of their choices.” —Dr. Kathy Koch

Check out my book review of Start With The Heart by clicking here. You can also read some other quotes from this book here and here.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—God Is Slow To Anger

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

God Is Slow To Anger

     God is “slow to anger” [Nahum 1:3]. When mercy comes into the world, she drives winged steeds. The axles of her chariot wheels are glowing hot with speed. But when wrath comes, she walks with tardy footsteps. She is not in haste to slay; she is not swift to condemn. God’s rod of mercy is ever in His hands outstretched. God’s sword of justice is in its scabbard, not rusted in it. It can be easily withdrawn, but is held there by that hand that presses it back into its sheath, crying, “Sleep, O sword, sleep. For I will have mercy upon sinners and will forgive their transgressions.” … 

     God will not at once slay the man whose character is the vilest until He has first hewn him by the prophets. He will not hew him by judgments. He will warn the sinner before He condemns him. He will send His prophets, “rising up early” and late (Jeremiah 7:13, 25; 26:5; 29:19; 32:33; 33:15), giving him ‘precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little’ (Isaiah 28:13). … 

     God does not in grace, as in nature, send lightning first and thunder afterward, but He sends the thunder of His law first and the lightning of His execution follows it. … But best of all, when God threatens, how slow He is to sentence the criminal! When He has told them that He will punish unless they repent, how long a space He gives them in which to turn to Himself! …

     Although God is slow to anger, He is sure in it.

From Mercy, Omnipotence, And Justice

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives…. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation… (2 Peter 3:8-11, 14-15).

The Doom Hanging Over Our Nation

“Since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, more than 50,000,000 babies have been murdered.

“How many missionaries were murdered in their mother’s wombs?

“How many astute business people gifted in creating wealth to give to missionary work among the unreached were slain before they drew a breath or donated a dollar?

“How many billions of hours of intercessory prayer have been lost because men and women who would have stormed heaven on their knees for the sake of those who have never heard were never heard themselves?

“How much damage, loss, and injury has been done to the spread of the gospel because we killed millions of God’s missionary hearted children in utero? … 

The doom of any nation that rebels against God is sure. The fact that God allows any good to come out of a nation that has brutally murdered 50,000,000 children can only be explained by His unfathomable mercy and the fact that there is a remnant that still lives for the glory of God among the nations. Missionary activity—that is Jesus-centered and gospel-preaching—is scorned and ridiculed by secular America today. Ironically, that activity may be the only reason God has not destroyed this land.” —Dick Brogden, in Missionary God, Missionary Bible

9 Quotes From Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography

Theodore Roosevelt never pulled his punches! And you could never misunderstand exactly what he was saying. Check out my review of his autobiography by clicking here, and then enjoy some of these straight-shooter quotes from TR. 

“With soul of flame and temper of steel we must act as our coolest judgment bids us. We must exercise the largest charity towards the wrong-doer that is compatible with relentless war against the wrong-doing. We must be just to others, generous to others, and yet we must realize that it is a shameful and a wicked thing not to withstand oppression with high heart and ready hand. With gentleness and tenderness there must go dauntless bravery and grim acceptance of labor and hardship and peril.” 

“The necessity of character as the chief factor in any man’s success—a teaching in which I now believe as sincerely as ever, for all the laws that the wit of man can devise will never make a man a worthy citizen unless he has within himself the right stuff, unless he has self-reliance, energy, courage, the power of insisting on his own rights and the sympathy that makes him regardful of the rights of others.” 

“I never won anything without hard labor and the exercise of my best judgment and careful planning and working long in advance.” 

“For I then held, and now hold, the belief that a man’s first duty is to pull his own weight and to take care of those dependent upon him; and I then believed, and now believe, that the greatest privilege and greatest duty for any man is to be happily married, and that no other form of success or service, for either man or woman, can be wisely accepted as a substitute or alternative.” 

“I did not then believe, and I do not now believe, that any man should ever attempt to make politics his only career. It is a dreadful misfortune for a man to grow to feel that his whole livelihood and whole happiness depend upon his staying in office. Such a feeling prevents him from being of real service to the people while in office, and always puts him under the heaviest strain of pressure to barter his convictions for the sake of holding office.” 

“No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character. … He must be clean of life, so that he can laugh when his public or his private record is searched; and yet being clean of life will not avail him if he is either foolish or timid. He must walk warily and fearlessly, and while he should never brawl if he can avoid it, he must be ready to hit hard if the need arises. Let him remember, by the way, that the unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.” 

“I am glad to see wrong-doers punished. The punishment is an absolute necessity from the standpoint of society; and I put the reformation of the criminal second to the welfare of society. But I do desire to see the man or woman who has paid the penalty and who wishes to reform given a helping hand—surely every one of us who knows his own heart must know that he too may stumble, and should be anxious to help his brother or sister who has stumbled. When the criminal has been punished, if he then shows a sincere desire to lead a decent and upright life, he should be given the chance, he should be helped and not hindered; and if he makes good, he should receive that respect from others which so often aids in creating self-respect—the most invaluable of all possessions.” 

“My duty was to stand with every one while he was right, and to stand against him when he went wrong.” 

“We must ever judge each individual on his own conduct and merits, and not on his membership in any class, whether that class be based on theological, social, or industrial considerations.” 

More quotes coming soon! You can subscribe to this blog to be notified when more quotes are published, and you can also check out the quotes I publish daily on Tumblr. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Sowing & Reaping (Proverbs 17)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame… (Proverbs 17:2).

There are inevitable outcomes for our attitudes and (in)actions. Or said another way: We always reap what we sow.

Not dealing with confrontation correctly → → Strife (v. 1)

Wise work ethic → → Leadership rewards (v. 2)

Allowing God to refine you → → A pure heart (v. 3)

Listening to lies and slander → → Punished by God (v. 4)

Mocking the less fortunate → → Punished by God (v. 5)

Living well → → Leaving a legacy for my children (v. 6)

Truthful, uplifting speech → → Being treated like a prince (v. 7)

Lies and loose lips → → Being treated like a fool (v. 7)

Giving gifts to others → → Favor with others (v. 8)

Forgiving and forgetting an offense → → Cementing a friendship (v. 9)

Telling others about an offense → → Losing a friendship (v. 9)

Rebuking a wise man → → Gaining wisdom (v. 10)

Rebuking a fool → → Getting rebuked myself (v. 10)

Rebellion → → Repaid with cruelty (v. 11)

Trade folly with a fool → → Get mauled (v. 12)

Repay good with evil → → Get stuck with evil (v. 13)

Keep picking a fight → → Open a world of hurt (v. 14)

Justify the wicked or condemn the just → → Displace God (vv. 15, 26)

Give wisdom to a fool → → Get burned (v. 16)

Love your friends → → Have help in difficult times (v. 17)

Make a bad deal → → Get stuck with it for a long time (v. 18)

Love sin and promoting yourself → → Watch it all crash down (v. 19)

Look for deceit → → Fall into evil (v. 20)

Don’t discipline your children → → No joy (vv. 21, 25)

Be happy → → Make others happy (v. 22)

Be sad → → Cause rotten feelings in others (v. 22)

Accept a bribe → → Pervert justice (v. 23) and displease God (v. 15)

Keep focused on the here-and-now → → Get wisdom for there-and-then (v. 24)

Use words sparingly → → Bring calm (v. 27)

Stay silent when you have nothing good to say → → Be thought of as wise (v. 28)

If you don’t like what you’re reaping in your life, check what you’re sowing. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Deliverance (and other blessings) (Proverbs 11)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…delivers… (Proverbs 11).

Following God’s wisdom delivers people from a world of hurt—even an eternity (literally!) of suffering. 

Those who follow God’s wisdom are delivered from:

  • the second death 
  • lust that derails 
  • troubles that usually send people tumbling
  • hypocrisy’s fallout
  • God’s punishment 

Other blessings that come when we follow God’s wisdom includes: 

  • guidance 
  • direction
  • blessing your city
  • safety from poor decisions 
  • security and freedom
  • honor
  • soul health
  • sure rewards
  • eternal life
  • God’s delighting in you
  • great return on investments
  • blessing others
  • blessing from others
  • favor
  • flourishing
  • leadership
  • soul winning
  • God’s ultimate rewards 

WOW—who wouldn’t want that list of blessings?!

%d bloggers like this: