INTERESTING FACTS : "IT IS CLEAR THAT THERE MUST BE DIFFICULTIES FOR US IN A REVELATION SUCH AS THE BIBLE. IF SOMEONE WERE TO HAND ME A BOOK THAT WAS AS SIMPLE TO ME AS THE MULTIPLICATION TABLE, AND SAY, 'THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD. IN IT HE HAS REVEALED HIS WHOLE WILL AND WISDOM,' I WOULD SHAKE MY HEAD AND SAY, 'I CANNOT BELIEVE IT; THAT IS TOO EASY TO BE A PERFECT REVELATION OF INFINITE WISDOM.' THERE MUST BE, IN ANY COMPLETE REVELATION OF GOD'S MIND AND WILL AND CHARACTER AND BEING, THINGS HARD FOR THE BEGINNER TO UNDERSTAND; AND THE WISEST AND BEST OF US ARE BUT BEGINNERS. "--R.A. TORREY
DAILY READING : DEUT. 11 - 13
TEXT : Deu 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, Deu 13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Deu 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye lov e the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Deu 13:4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. Deu 13:5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
THEME : THE WORD OF GOD
We continue to read instructions given to Israel concerni ng the commandments of the Lord along with exhortations to never forget Him and His ways under the Mosaic Law. In particular, we read of Moses telling Israel not to learn the ways of the nations they are about to destroy. The wickedness of the nations of Canaan was so great they even burned their children in the fire to their false gods. On this subject the 18th century Bible scholar Adam Clarke comments -
"Almost all the nations in the world agreed in offering human victims to their gods on extraordinary occasions, by which it is evident that none of those nations had any right notion of the Divine nature. How necessary, then, was the volume of revelation, to teach men what that religion is with which God can be well pleased! The Hindus to this day offer human victims to their goddess Cali, and at the temple of Juggernaut; and yet, notwithstanding this, there are found certain persons who, while they profess Christianity, are absolutely unwilling to send the Hindus the Gospel of Christ, because they think it would not be politically wise! But the wisdom of this world has ever been foolishness with God; and in spite of all this infidel policy, the word of the Lord shall have free course and be glorified."
Although Clarke wrote his commentary in the late seventeen and early eighteen hundreds, it holds true today. There is a rise in human sacrifices worldwide primarily associated with certain religions such as Hinduism and some African religions. How interesting that in our society and around the world, many people are preparing for the end of the world on December 21, 2012 due to Mayan prophecy. It is no secret that the Mayan culture practiced the offering of humans to their gods. This is precisely what Israel was told to avoid.
In an article entitled - "Human Sacrifice Among the Maya" by N.S. Gill we learn -
"The common method for human sacrifice seems to have been for the "ah nacom" (a function ary) to extract the heart quickly, while 4 people associated with Chac, the rain/lightning god, held the struggling victim's limbs. Human sacrifices seem to have been made, as well, with arrows, by flaying, decapitation, hurling from a precipice, and throwing the victim into a limestone sinkhole."[1
When we compare the religions of the world with what is written in God's Word, we find a great disparity between the Bible and the religions of the world. This is why God says through Moses -
"Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God." Deu 12:28 The ways of the One True God found exclusively in the Bible are always right, holy, just, and good. This due to the fact that God wrote the Bible, not man.
Therefore, Israel is strongly urged and pressed to abide in the Lord. This is the doctrine of sanctification, found in both Testaments -Old and New. For instance, we find in Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians these words -
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." [1 Thess. 5:23]
The word sanctify is defined as - "to make holy, that is, (ceremonially) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate: - hallow, be holy, sanctify [Strong's Concordance]; and "to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow 2) to separate from profane things and dedicate to God 2a) consecrate things to God 2b) dedicate people to God [Thayer's Dictionary].
Both Israel of old and the Church today is made holy and separated from the world around her by the truth of the One True God found in His Word the Bible. Jesus said -
"I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. [John 17: 14 - 18]
Matthew Henry comments on John 17:17.
"Christ does not pray that they might be rich and great in the world, but that they might be kept from sin, strengthened for their duty, and brought safe to heaven. The prosperity of the soul is the best prosperity. He pleaded with his holy Father, that he would keep them by his power and for his glory, that they might be united in affection and labours, even according to the union of the Father and the Son. He did not pray that his disciples should be removed out of the world, that they might escape the rage of men, for they had a great work to do for the glory of God, and the benefit of mankind. But he prayed that the Father would keep them from the evil, from being corrupted by the world, the remains of sin in their hearts, and from the power and craft of Satan. So that they might pass through the world as through an enemy's country, as he had done. They are not left here to pursue the same objects as the men around them, but to glorify God, and to serve their generation. The Spirit of God in true Christians is opposed to the spirit of the world."
TRUTH FOR TODAY : THE BIBLE IS A SURE WORD OF PROPHECY!
Matthew Henry's insight on John 17:17 is an apropos segue to our text from Deuteronomy thirteen that shares with us the identification and purpose of false prophets. Chiefly, false teachers are permitted in the Church as they were in Israel so true teachers of the Word of God may be more clearly identified. They are allowed to prophecy to the ex tent that even a sign or wonder may occur, but their theology is [patently] false. This is permitted by God to test His people. As Matthew Henry shares, Christ's concern was not "that they might be rich and great in the world;" but "that they might be kept from sin, strengthened for their duty, and brought safe to heaven." This is the Gospel of our Lord. It always has been, and always will be. The Apostle Paul wrote -
1Co 11:18 "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 1Co 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you."
In other words, the false teachings [heresies] serve to accent the truth by comparison when it is brought forth from the pulpit, etc. et al. False prophets most always have money, power, fame, comfort, and self-aggrandizement as the motive for their false teaching. False teachers a nd their teachings are at all times, a departure from the truth, and from the orthodoxy clearly stated in the [written] Word of God. Thus, the Bible is our "more sure word of prophecy" as the Apostle Peter wrote.
2Pe 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2Pe 1:17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 2Pe 1:18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 2Pe 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Even the Apostle Peter does not put his own personal experience with James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration above the written Word of God as we have it in the Bible. In Peter's writing, we have an excellent instruction that the Scriptures are not of "private interpretation." Adam Clarke writes -
"Considering this as a first principle, that no prophecy of the Scripture, whether that referred to above, or any other, is of any private interpretation - proceeds from the prophet's own knowledge or invention, or was the offspring of calculation or conjecture. The word επιλυσις signifies also impetus, impulse; and probably this is the best sense here; not by the mere private impulse of his own mind."
Today, we have no end of false teachers and teachings, even as our Lord warned us they would arrive prior to His Seco nd Coming. "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many." [Matt 24:11] Notice the word "many." Many will come, many will be deceived. Surely, you do not want to be one of the "many."
Peter again writes -
2Pe 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2Pe 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 2Pe 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
Notice here a few truths in 2 nd Peter.
First, the Church would have [and certainly does have] false teachers in the midst of Her, posing as true ministers of the Gospel. Second, their heresies would bring upon them destruction. Third, the Christian Gospel would suffer ill repute from outsiders [who many times show more discernment than professing Christians]. Fourth, their ways are pernicious [harmful in a subtle or gradual way]. They will use "feigned" words [an interesting word in Greek - "plastos," from which we get our English word "plastic." It means "made up," "contrived"]. Fifth, they would make God's people "merchandise," simply a means to make money. Last, the foundation for their teachings would be covetousness [greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice - Thayer's] "which is generally a prevailing vice among false teachers, they having no other end in view than themselves; either to gain popular applause and vain glory, which they are always covetous of; or to amass riches to themselves, after which they have an insatiable desire" [John Gill 18th century Bible scholar].
Knowing what God has said to Israel and to the Church let us seek for the old paths [Jer. 6:16] and cling to the established Word of God! It is our "more sure word of prophecy!"