Beware of Dogs!
“Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, today if ye will hear his voice. Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, they do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest.” – Hebrews 3:7-11 (KJV)
Entering the Rest of God takes more than going to church or being born again. It clarifies what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, that a man, though born again cannot enter into the Kingdom as that is an exclusive reserve for those born of water and the Spirit.
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John 3:5-6 (KJV)
In our text, the Apostle Paul sounds a note of warning about how thin a line there is between entering and missing the rest of God. He started by reminding us how God swore (a serious thing when God swears!) that all that came out of Egypt will not enter His rest, save Caleb and Joshua. And this was because “they have not known my ways.” – Hebrews 3:10 (KJV), they hardened their hearts to the ways of God, which Isaiah tells us is higher than the ways of Man. (Isaiah 55)
Paul admonishes, and very strongly too, that we should not be like the wilderness church; that if we hear His voice, we should not harden our hearts. There is a thin line here, and this is because we love God and no one knowingly wants to harden his heart against God! Like Paul who loves to do the will of God according to the inner man, but found himself doing what he did not want to do. (Rom 7), something else other than us is at work to prevent us from entering God’s rest!
This thing may allow us “hear the word” but not the “Voice”, “the letter” and not “the Spirit.” We are not only to hear the word – the letter, but the Voice – the Spirit; for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. In Acts 13:27, the Bible tells how the children of God read the Law, the Scripture every Sabbath day, yet could not hear the “voice” of the prophets, the actual message they passed across!
“For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” – Acts 13:27 (KJV)
That was exactly what happened to the wilderness church; that made them “err in their hearts” and not know the ways of the Lord. Unfortunately, it is happening to the Church of today!
Why did they miss it? The dogs!
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” – Philippians 3:2-3 (KJV)
… to be continued.
I was at a programme recently where a “prophet” stood and led a series of prayers of which “Terah must die!” was one. The supposed reason Terah had to die was that he had been sitting on Abraham’s progress; so until he dies, Abraham may not progress or succeed in life and Ministry. The air was super-charged with the energy of prayer – Kai! Nigerians can pray! And you could hear the reverberation of thunderous “amens” at the end of it. Most Christians are so gullible, accepting just about anything and everything they hear; whether as message or prayer points.
I believe this stems from the fact that many do not study the Bible on their own to see if what they have heard or received is so written in the holy book. Or is it something peculiar to Africans? The African man is known to hardly read, and that is why someone said if you want to hide a thing from the African, put it in a book!
One example is the last two verses of Genesis 11 and the first few verses of Genesis 12.
“And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.” – Genesis 11:31-32 (KJV)
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.” – Genesis 12:1-4 (KJV)
Going by these two scriptures, it would seem that Abraham only progressed in life after the death of his father Terah, and would indeed call for a “Terah must die!” prayer. But no it is not so! A careful study of these would disprove that thought and show that Terah gave every possible encouragement to ensuring Abraham’s success, making unscriptural and baseless, such a prayer.
Why should we look at this?
Let me point out here that this is not a swipe at anyone or Assembly but of the “practice”, of the message that is damaging, with the hope that it would be corrected for the common good of believers.
There is a spirit behind every word. Consequently, the spirit that dwells or resides in such prayers is the spirit of lie and deception; sown in the hearts of men weakens, and if not checked, would completely destroy their Faith, and draw them further from God and His will.
When the foundation, the knowledge of these people is destroyed (Psalm 11:3), there is nothing the Righteous God would do in their lives. God desires us to come to the knowledge of the Truth and to be rooted in it.
“Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” – Colossians 2:7 (KJV)
Every unscriptural message or prayer does more damage than good; rather than build up, it breaks their faith, without which they can’t please God!
(1) Terah had Abraham when he was 70years.
“And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.” – Genesis 11:26 (KJV)
(2) Abraham left Terah when he was 75years.
“So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.” – Genesis 12:4 (KJV)
At this time Terah was 145years old. (70years when he gave birth to Abraham + 75years of Abraham.)
(3) At 100 years (25years later) Abraham had Isaac.
“And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.” – Genesis 21:5 (KJV)
Add 25years to Terah’s 145 years, and you’ll have 170years! At this time Abraham had
(a) entered Canaan, (b) prospered and become wealthy and(3) had Isaac (if you do not want to add Ishmael), and Terah was still alive and never “delayed” Abraham in any way!
(3) Terah died 35years later at the age of 205!
“And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.” – Genesis 11:32 (KJV)
Abraham was a fulfilled man before Terah died! I still can’t fathom where the prayer point “Terah must die before Abraham would succeed” came from!
God used Terah to help Abraham.
According to Scripture, “God HAD said to Abraham.”
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” – Genesis 12:1 (KJV)
But he did not move! Was it fear, doubt, uncertainty? The answer is best known to Abraham. God had to move Terah toward Canaan, but not to take him there; hence his decision to settle in Haran, just like God sent a whale to move Jonah to the shores of Nineveh but not enter it. God wanted Abraham alone to enter the place he would afterwards inherit; not with his father or siblings, and informs the reason God did not show him the place till Lot had departed from him.
This move to Harran stirred the mind of and greatly encouraged Abraham to move to Canaan.
Terah trusted Abraham.
It is not often that we see a father whose son had died easily let go of the grandchild as they keep the grandchildren in loving memory of their dead. Terah’s son Haran was the father of lot, whom Terah not only cherished, but took with him to Haran. While still alive, and letting go of Abraham, he allowed him to take Lot with him. This must have cost him emotionally, yet he let go because of trust! He believed in Abraham.
Let us be careful how we interpret and receive the Scripture, one misinterpretation can send multitudes away from God and His will
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me. Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” – Matthew 18:21-35 (KJV)
Forgiveness knows no limit. It means to have a heart of mercy and compassion; a heart that refrains from inflicting pain on offenders. In the teaching of Jesus in Luke 6:36-38, we see the same principle of “boomerang”, whatever a person gives out comes back to him; “pressed down shaking together and running over.”
Forgiveness is not for God but for us, for our own good. When you forgive, you will be forgiven; if you do not forgive don’t expect forgiveness.
An unforgiving heart is one that exalts situations and circumstances (that brought the offence) above human life. We should be like our Father! Learn to forgive.
One more thing! Forgiveness does not secure freedom from the consequences of our sins!
“For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.” – Jeremiah 30:11 (KJV)
God forgives the sin but the consequences are still ours to bear! Every sin committed before accepting Christ is forgiven and the consequence is carried by the crucified Saviour; however, every sin committed after that is also forgiven but the individual bears the consequence!
Forgiving others secures for us the richness of God’s mercy in our everyday dealings with people. This is earned!
“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:15 (KJV)
If you do not forgive, you can’t receive forgiveness! The cost of being forgiven is paid when you forgive others. “If you don’t …you will not…”
God’s initial forgiveness is not earned but given, as a result of repentance, confession and forsaken, of that which was done.
Beloved, it is only a dog that goes back to its vomit. Let’s not go back to the life we have left behind; the life of wickedness and unforgivingness. Let us learn to forgive; knowing it is the currency to secure our forgiveness.
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” – John 6:63 (KJV)
Life is in knowing the Word of God. However, knowledge is not life itself. Life can only be accessed through the revelation of knowledge. If you like acquire all the knowledge, if there is no revelation of that knowledge, you do not have the life in the knowledge.
Getting the life in the Word of God takes study.
“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” – Matthew 13:13-15 (KJV)
Jesus quotes Isaiah, showing the divide between natural life and spiritual life. Each life has its set of senses. The major features of life (spiritual and natural), are the senses. Here Jesus was not talking to dead people, but to people who are alive. However, they operate and live only by the natural senses.
“And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” – 1 Kings 17:1 (KJV)
The two sets of senses are at play here. Elijah spoke from the consciousness of standing in the presence of God, he operated the spiritual senses. Ahab, on the other hand, operating the natural sense, could have looked around hoping to see God.
“But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 3:14 (KJV)
What the natural life has, the spiritual have also. However, many mind the natural life; they dwell on the natural life, either because of ignorance or unbelief. Jacob, while running from his brother came to a place where he saw a ladder reaching heaven; with angels ascending and descending, and said: “God is here and I knew it not.” The activities of his life then was centred on the natural senses.
“And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.” – Genesis 8:21 (KJV)
God declares that man’s thoughts and imagination (where the treasure of a man is….) dwell on the natural (evil). We are not to live or dwell in the natural. Our minds should be more on and revolve around the things of the Spirit, the things of God.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
God is not happy with the direction of man’s mind, hence Paul calls it death.
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” – Romans 8:6 (KJV)
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” – Colossians 3:1-2 (KJV)
…to be continued.
There is no good in man; this “treasure” is not of us, it is spirit and cannot mix with our nature just as iron cannot mix with clay. Man is like the “piggy-bank” made of clay but holds metal coins. Christ is the treasure we are the clay. Note that the treasure and the clay are not of the same property. The “treasure” has the nature of God and can fellowship with Him, but not the clay. How can they be separated?
Through the refining furnace.
This process has been so well described by Linda Kruschke in: anotherfearlessyear.net/2010/02/24/refining-and-gold.
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” – Isaiah 48:10 (KJV)
God chose us from the fire (heat, pain, distressing, discomforting and life-threatening) of affliction (situations and circumstances of our everyday life – our cross.) Our enduring of these situations is His reason for choosing us; meaning, we displease Him and are rejected if we do not endure!
“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” – Hebrews 10:38 (KJV)
It is in His plan for us to go through the furnace, which could be in our marriages, jobs, businesses, finances, health, etc and for He can use anybody, even our husbands, wives, children, relations and friends. So, stick to that marriage, that job or business, “for all things worketh together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
While in God’s fire, the “dross”, the flesh, is broken and separated from the “gold”, Jesus, Who comes to the fore, making the person a new and different person.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
The child of God, having gone through His fire, becomes a new creature; his attitude and character changes even his thought and manner of speaking reflect Christ. Moses, an orator (Acts7:22) emerging from God’s refinery, became a stammerer. No one will remain the same after passing through the Refiners Fire. It’s in the fire that the heart is circumcised and the person comes out “another man.”
…to be continued.