Monday, January 7, 2019

A STUDY IN FEAR AND WISDOM, REBELLION AND DESTRUCTION

Here is some guidance from God's Word:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom . . . --Psalm 111:10

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom . . . --Proverbs 9:10

The word "fear" (Strong's H3374) has several meanings, two of which are "respect" and "reverence."

The word "wisdom" (Strong's H2451) has several meanings also, including "shrewdness," "wisely," "prudence," and "skillfully."

Davis Dictionary of the Bible has this entry on wisdom:

One of the three departments of knowledge among the Hebrews, the other two being the law and prophecy. The law presents the commandments and claims of Jehovah to man; prophecy passes judgment on conduct in the light of God's revealed will and explains the object of God's dealings with men; wisdom seeks by observation, experience, and reflection to know things in their essence and reality as they stand related to man and God. Wisdom proceeds from man, and is the product of his own experience and observation. But while it is a human effort, it recognizes that a good understanding is the gift of God, and it postulates the fear of God, and obedience to his commands as its first principle (Ps 111:10, Prov. 9:10, Ecc 12:13)(1)

Here is a warning from God's Word:

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. --1 Samuel 15:23

This rebuke was from the prophet Samuel to King Saul, and is recorded for our admonition (2).

1 Samuel 15 records that the Lord commanded King Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites and why. But Saul did not obey; he only partially completed what he was sent to do. The Lord turned from Saul, and the prophet Samuel spoke the words of the Lord to Saul that he was rejected from being Israel's king.

The Lord lifted His Spirit from King Saul, and shortly thereafter (16:14) an evil spirit came into Saul's life and troubled him until his death. His servants noticed the change in Saul immediately (16:15). Saul became filled with a kind of anger that turned into rage and then hate with malice that led to an intent to do harm, so that he not only tried to murder the future King David (18:11, 19:10), but also his own son Jonathan (20:33).

By rebelling against God, Saul opened himself up not only to demonic harassment, but to demonic attachment.

With the Lord's Spirit gone from Saul, he was no longer able to effectively defend Israel. The Philistines challenged Israel in the Valley of Elah by sending Goliath to taunt Israel. 1 Samuel 17:11 records that when Saul heard Goliath's taunts he was 'greatly afraid.'

Saul was powerless. And the Philistines would continue to harass Saul until the end of his life, and, indeed, were the cause of his death.

On the eve of his (unbeknownst to him) last confrontation with the Philistines, Saul, bereft of the Spirit of God, chose to consult a witch (28:7).

The fascinating account is found in 1 Samuel 28.

Saul, in disguise, consulted the witch at Endor. He asked her to 'bring up' Samuel from the grave so that he might speak to the prophet. The witch, fearing a trap, was reluctant, but with his insistence, did so.

However, when Samuel appeared, the witch screamed in terror!

Why? Wasn't she expecting this since she was calling for him?

No! She was not. She was expecting to see a demon impersonating the dead prophet, hence her alarm when the real prophet appeared. She knew right then and there that only the Holy God of Israel, Jehovah, could have done this.

She witnessed the terrifying conversation between Saul and Samuel. Because Saul had dared to consult a witch regarding the outcome of the battle between the Philistines and Israel, Saul would die in the battle that he had no choice but to face. And not only Saul, but also his sons, so that no heir would be left to claim the throne as Saul's replacement. This would include David's beloved friend and son of Saul, Jonathan.

Saul had fallen so far from the Lord in his rebellion that he had consulted what God had forbidden - a witch - to find what might be the outcome of Israel's future.

Let there be an understanding here -- the presence of witches and witchcraft is a sign of utter rebellion and distance from God.

E.W. Bullinger, in his study of numbers in the Bible, wrote this about the number 13 and its association with rebellion:

". . . every occurrence of the number thirteen, and likewise of every multiple of it, stamps that with which it stands in connection with rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption, disintegration, revolution, or some kindred idea."

King Saul's life is recorded in Scripture as an example: for embracing rebellion against God, he lost the presence of God in his life, he lost his dream (to remain king), his rebellion opened the door to a murderous evil spirit, he tried to kill his own son. and all because he traded obedience to God for rebellion against God.

The fear of the Lord is a person willing to be obedient to God and accept His teachings and His Word, and such a humbleness to submit to God's Will and God's Way will produce a conduct and conversation of wisdom. Such a life of wisdom does not open oneself up to demonic influences (or worse, attachments), for only God is capable, because of His omnipotence, to help those who choose to follow Him navigate the minefields the enemy of our soul, Satan, places in this world.

Though the Bible does have its 'thou shalt' and 'thou shalt nots,' which serve as guides and a kind of map, there is more.

Jesus said in John 14:9, ". . . he that hath seen me hath seen the Father."

"Life is a Journey" -- we see that saying all the time. For a born-again believer, there is the opportunity to know the mapmaker, and to be in a relationship with the Savior and guardian of our souls, Jesus.

The only way to be in a relationship with Jesus is to accept Him and submit to doing things His way.

If ye love me, keep my commandments. --John 14:15

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. --John 14:21

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. --John 14:23

Submission is the opposite of rebellion. Submission to Jesus, thus God, is to show love. Rebellion is refusing to submit, and thus refusing to love.

Much of America's moral doctrine today is a refusal to submit. In fact, such an admonition, encouragement to submit to the teachings of Jesus, is often met with anger and 'how dare you!'

Rejection of submission to Jesus creates a vacuum and something must fill it; therefore, it is only logical that rejection of Jesus creates a vacuum that pulls in Satan and the forces associated with his dark kingdom.

Each person must have principles, and our conduct reflects what those principles are, even if we are unable (or unwilling) to actually articulate precisely what those principles encompass.

Our conduct reflects what we value.

Will we value life? If the answer is 'no,' the person that does not value life will manifest cursing, abuse, rape, and murder.

Cain did not value his brother Abel's life, and was willing to murder him.

A woman who wants an abortion does not value a beginning life, thus she is willing to terminate that unborn child.

When someone rejects life as a value for himself, he will reject it as an important value for others as well.

And though this is difficult for many to accept, the Bible recognizes that once a person rejects the value of life of another and commits murder, that person forfeits the right to live any further. Genesis 9:6 indicates that the death penalty is appropriate for a person who murders.

Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Will we value chasteness? If the answer is 'no," the person who does not value chasteness will manifest debauchery, acceptance of pornography, molestation and rape.

Will we value blessing others, or cursing? To curse another is to wish or call for harm upon someone. But to carry out an evil deed, one must call upon evil, and that is where demons can come in. If a person begins to hate another person, (like Saul hated David), it can lead to wishing for death to come to that person (like Saul wanted David dead). Saul hated David and wanted David dead, so Saul actually put David in direct confrontation with the Philistines, hoping the Philistines would get the best of David and kill him. But when that didn't work, Saul became obsessed with the idea of hunting David down and killing David himself. In fact, Saul had a number of men killed for the 'crime' of helping David when David was on the run from Saul.

As Saul's story shows, when wanting evil to befall another (cursing), demonic entities can come into the situation, but not necessarily into the object of the curse, but rather into the curser who can become obsessed with the idea of fulfilling the curse himself. When Saul's plot with the Philistines failed, he sought ways to do the deed himself. But the malevolence now upon him did not stop with David -- it expanded to his own son Jonathan. Saul tried to kill Jonathan because he came to believe that whosoever was not with him in his mission to kill David must be against him, and was now an enemy, too.

Saul's life shows us that three possible outcomes of rebellion is demonic attachment, madness, and obsession to murder.

So what are the qualities of a life in submission to God?

" . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5: 22, 23)

How do we obtain the fruit of the Spirit?

By being filled with the Holy Spirit.

How do we get filled with the Holy Spirit?

By accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, and then he sends the Comforter.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. --John 14:26

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: --John 15:26

A person decides either to accept Jesus, or reject Jesus. And for those who reject Jesus, SOMETHING will be the downfall of that man.

But Jesus gives more than just 'minefield avoidance.' He gives peace, even in the midst of the storm. His calming the waves on the sea of Galilee was an object lesson.

And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! --Matthew 8:23-27

A life of fear (respect, reverence) for the Lord leads to submission to the Lord, which means instead of defying and denying the Lord, we defy and deny ourselves of what we would want to do in a situation if it is contrary to the Word of God.

This decision to submit and obey is rewarded with a life that has speech and conduct that reflects wisdom.

In the common vernacular, that person has their act together!

A life that doesn't want to submit to God, which is rebellion, will lead to destruction, and the Bible shows that that destruction is often not limited to ourselves -- it can utterly destroy those around us, those that we love.

Sadly, this is also the story of any nation that rejects God. Israel rejected God, and that rejection led to rebellion, and that rebellion eventually led to the open worship of Baal and witchcraft when Ahab and Jezebel came to power in Israel.

And what we are seeing here now in America isn't really all that dissimilar.

Michael Snyder has written at his blog about the rapid increase of Satan worship here in America, and USA Today reported recently that there are now more witches than Presbyterians in America.

Woe!!

When a man rebels against God, he remakes God into his own image, to make Him more inclusive to the values that fallen man (or woman) want. Then the only path through the crucified and risen Savior is dismissed, and suddenly there are multiple "inclusive" paths to God.

This is a lie!

It is Satan's oldest lie, first whispered to Eve in the Garden of Eden when he told her that eating fruit from the forbidden tree was a path to becoming a god, and mean, grumpy God just didn't want her to take it.

The Apostle John said of Satan, ". . . He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44)

So the truth is that there aren't multiple paths to God the Father, there is only one -- through Jesus; but there are multiple paths to Hell.

And A LOT of people are headed that way.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat --Matthew 7:13

Only each person knows within himself if he has truly accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Some are really good fakers. They've got the talk and the appearance of a pretty good walk down pat. But the day will come when they will be outed as frauds.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. --Matthew 7:22, 23

It will be too late to repent of those lies then!

Wisdom is the result of a person who fears the lord, but ruin is the end of those in rebellion, even if it is only to that person. We won't know the specifics along the way, but the Bible does tell us the ultimate fate of the only two choices we have.

We can either chose fear of the Lord and have wisdom and thus life, and life more abundantly (John 10:10), or we can choose rebellion, and have a life of ruin as we enter into eternal destruction (Revelation 20, 21:8, 22:15).

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. --1 John 5:20

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1) A Dictionary of the Bible by John D. Davis, Baker Book House, 1955, pg 821
2) Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. --I Corinthians 10:11