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
Who is a rich man?
“And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:13-21 (KJV)
A man came to Jesus asking Him to intervene in a wealth-sharing dispute between him and his brother who did not want to share their father’s wealth with him. Jesus answered, telling him He wasn’t made a judge over them. His answer has a two-way application. He wasn’t a judge officially over such matters, but indirectly, He told him that the material life was not the reason or purpose of His coming.
This inspired the teaching against covetousness and the parable of the “rich Fool”, a man society called “rich”; Jesus also acknowledged he was rich, and that means he was rich! Yet, heaven called him a fool. Why?
1) He thought the security of life depended on the earthly acquisition: an abundance of wealth, education, connection, location, etc. Sadly, many hold this view today, even in Church, that the more wealth a man has, the more secure he is. This lie looks so golden, whereas it is deception in its highest form, and the creator of the end time god – mammon.
Jesus warned against the deceitfulness of riches and taught that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.
2) He believed the things he got were results of his labour and hard work. Again, this is another sad thing in Christendom. There is a general belief that the harder a person works, the richer he would be. Over the years, the “prosperity message” has hoodwinked many a believer into a frenzy of going to work very early in the morning and coming back late at night “only to eat the bread of sorrow”, forgetting that “the race is not to the swift …”
3) He made plans as though he had power over his life. We often times forget that our lives belong to God and are in His hand, and He can make a demand of the life at any time. Job reminds us that no man has the power to retain the spirit (life) in him. When God calls, we respond. But hear this “rich man” speak as though he had power over tomorrow and can resist the call of God. People think some are being “over righteous” when they add “by the grace of God” to their statement.
4) He built his life on and around things that have no eternal value. Everything changes: nothing in this world is stable or durable. Building one’s hope on a shifting thing is like building without a foundation! How secure are those things after the death of the man? Who will inherit those things?
The frenzy with which man run after these things that the Bible clearly and unequivocally teaches to be “deceitful” is so alarming that it has become a standard of judging who is, and who is not a true believer, forgetting that love of things in the world is enmity with God.
Jesus said anyone who thinks and plans like this way, is regarded by heaven as a fool. (Luke 12:21) Why?
God’s ways differ from ours! The way we see things is not the way heaven see things! (Isaiah 55) What Man calls treasure, heaven calls nonsense! We do not value the things God values!
Solomon realized this and said on his return to God, “all is vanity” (Ecc. 1:2). Vanity means the quality of being without value; futile, useless, nonsense! That is where Man’s heart is, and God is clearly disappointed in this.
“O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.” – Psalm 4:2 (KJV)
Man’s heart is clogged up with the “weeds” of this world – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. All these dull the heart, choke the word of God and makes one unfruitful in godliness.
What are we expected to do?
This is a heart situation, because where the treasure of a man is there will his heart be also, and since man cannot fix himself, only God, Who can farm or cultivate the heart can. But He will not; until we willingly come to Him.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)
We need to come to Him; to present ourselves to Him to weed off “the cares of this world” from our hearts. For this, He calls us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 (KJV)
“Come”, He says. Many have not “come”, though they have come to church. However, this is not a Church issue! Many are in church but have not “come” to the Lord. Nevertheless, He knows those that are His. Neither is it a ministry issue. It is not what work you do for Him because on that day He will say to some, “depart from me ye that work iniquity, I know you not”. It’s like saying, “I don’t know you, I don’t remember seeing you; you never came to me!”
The proof of your coming to Him is in how much value you place on what He values! Jesus asked Peter in John 21, if he loved Him more than the fish, representing all we wake early to pursue and come in late to acquire.
What does God place value on? His Word!
“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving kindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” – Psalm 138:2 (KJV)
How much of His word do we treasure? How have we been handling His word, because this is what shall be used to clean us!
“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” – John 15:3 (KJV) Emphasis mine.
It is the Holy Spirit that empowers us to live in agreement with the Father, loving what He loves and hating what He hates; and He will not live or dwell in a dirty, polluted heart. Using the instrument of the Word, the disciples were cleaned and made ready to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Without the Word spoken to them, they would not have been able to receive the Holy Spirit!
Again, the Bible repeats it.
“That he might sanctify and cleanse it (the Church) with the washing of water by the word.” – Ephesians 5:26 (KJV) Emphasis mine.
In 2 Kings 5, we see the Syrian captain Naaman, instructed by the prophet Elisha to go dip himself seven times in the Jordan River for him to be clean. The number seven, here, represents the mind of God; completeness, nothing to be added or subtracted. The water represents the Word of God. Like Naaman, we should dip ourselves in it to be made whole and clean.
But again, in the Church of today, how much of the Word do we value?
“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.