Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: June 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

Maintaining Our God Perspective

Maintaining Our God Perspective

As Habakkuk rehearses the past workings of God in history, he confronts his fear with faith.  His faith rises victorious over his fear.  Faith must rest in God’s power and abilities, not ours or it is not faith.  In these few verses of Habakkuk 3:6-8, we see that faith can also find rest in knowing God’s purpose and knowing what God does within His creation.

“6 He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. 7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. 8 Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation” (Habakkuk 3:6-8)?

Faith sees beyond the circumstances of life to see the broad involvement of God in an overall plan of redemption and the confrontation of evil in the world.  Although the redemption of humanity and the protection of humanity from satanic corruption and destruction is only a small part of what God does within His creation, it singularly carries the highest emphasis of Scripture.  If God would remove His protective custody over humanity for but a single moment, Satan would utterly corrupt and destroy humanity in that single moment.  This is to what Habakkuk speaks in Habakkuk 3:6-8 regarding God’s involvement to chastise Israel and correct the satanic corruptions of His children. 

Paul speaks of this as well in Colossians chapter one.  The verb tenses in Colossians 1:12-17 are critically important to understand what God has already done in our salvation and redemption.  Understanding the emphasis of the eternal aspects of our redemption should help maintain an eternal perspective of our short time “under the sun” of our temporal existence prior to our glorification.  The emphasis of both Habakkuk 3:6-8 and Colossians 1:12-17 is to bring our attention upon our eternal God and our eternal existence “in Christ.”  There is no greater test of our faith than the trials of the faithful within our temporal existence within the cursed creation.

“12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:12-17).

Paul writes with some very vivid Jewish imagery (Colossians 1:12).  There are certain words in the text that are key words to that imagery such as “inheritance” and “saints in light.”  The word “inheritance” refers to something assigned or allotted.  These words would immediately draw the attention of the twelve tribes of Israel to the Land of Promise.  These words meant a kingdom for them.

However, the kingdom to which Paul refers in this imagery is the kingdom “in light” - the realm of absolute truth (“saints in light,” vs. 12).  This kingdom is the realm of God’s sovereignty, glory, and grace.  It is the realm where truth reigns supreme and where the living Word of God is Lord.  The “born again” believer is already positionally in this kingdom of light.  We are commanded to “walk” in this kingdom of light (I John 1:7) as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).

This kingdom “of light” is the heavenly presence of God that fills the universe.  It extends to the uttermost parts of the universe in both the macro and micro sense of existence.  The kingdom “of light” is another dimension of existence that transcends time and space, yet our time and space are a part of this existence.  Although this other existence is beyond our human senses (I Corinthians 2:9), all believers are intended to live within this spiritual reality by grace through faith.  We practically live in this invisible existence as we yield to the Holy Spirit and are empowered to live in obedience to God’s revealed will (truth) in the Word of God.  This invisible existence is the kingdom where Jesus is Lord.

All believers have been qualified to live in this realm by the finished work of Christ.  They are enabled to succeed in this realm by the enabling grace of God through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in their life.  We must be careful to emphasize that this realm of “light” that Christ has qualified the believer to live in is a spiritual realm.  We can participate in it only when we are fully surrendered to the Spirit of God in us (Romans 6:11-13).  Only the Holy Spirit can live God’s truth through us.  We cannot succeed in this spiritual existence apart from the enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.  This is to what the words “made meet” in Colossians 1:12 refer.

When the Word of God uses the word “saints,” it refers to individuals “born again” of the Spirit of God.  The “saints” are those who have been set apart from this world and have become part of this heavenly existence.  “Saints” refers to beings fit to live in the presence of God.  Every Christian should understand that we live in this existence now.  It is not a pie in the sky thing.  This is our present reality.  This fact ought to change the way we think and live in this world.

These truths were a direct contradiction to the Gnosticism that was perverting early Christianity.  Gnostics taught that salvation came through a process of enlightenment in varying levels of spiritual knowledge (the stairway to heaven heresy).  In Gnostics’ corrupted view of salvation, God did not give a person salvation.  The Gnostics believed a person achieved salvation.  This stairway to heaven idea of salvation continues to be a major part of the corruption of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is still a major part of the terminology of many people.

According to Colossians 1:14 (“In whom we have redemption”), the Father’s work is already positionally complete.  The Father has once for all qualified, rescued, and transferred the believer into His “kingdom . . . of light.”  Delivery from the tyranny of darkness is a finished work of God and part of the believer’s present reality.  Nothing can be added, or needs to be added, to what the Father has done.  “In Christ,” we presently possess redemption “through His blood.”

In Colossians 1:15-19, we now move away from Christ’s accomplishment in His work of redemption to who He is.  In verse nineteen, “fullness” refers to all that God is or possesses now residing in Jesus Christ through His incarnation.  This refers especially to His sovereign authority in His Lordship.  These verses portray the sovereign position of Jesus over all other realities in all other existences.  The focal statement is in verse eighteen - “That in everything He might have pre-eminence.”

All worship of God must focus upon Jesus and His work.  It is not enough to intellectually recognize that Jesus excels and is sovereignly above all other humans.  We must personally give Him preeminence in our lives.  The purpose of this statement is to expand upon the person who is Jesus.  Jesus is not merely the Father’s angelic agent in the work of redemption as the Gnostics believed.  Jesus is God’s agent in the whole of God’s workings from creation to the consummation of history.

Because humanity is blinded to the eternal and spiritual dimension of our existence, we tend towards preoccupation with the empirical problems of our present temporal existence.  The corruptions and problems of life within the corruption of the fallen creation occupy most of our thought life and most of our prayer life.  The central purpose of Colossians 1:12-17 and Habakkuk’s statement in Habakkuk 3:6-8 is to bring our focus back to our eternal hope in our eternal God and the surety of our arriving at that eternal destination regardless of the difficult of our present temporal threats.

The universal struggle of evil against righteousness is to confirm the sovereignty of God over His creation.  Satan challenged that sovereignty and Adam bought into it, bringing the curse of God upon all of His creation.  God gave dominion of creation to Adam.

“26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28).

Adam gave the dominion God gave him away to Satan in the fall by willfully denying God’s sovereignty and disobeying God’s command.  Satan then became “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).  God has cursed and eternally condemned everything under Satan’s dominion.

“14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:14-19).

Faith trusts God with doing whatever is necessary to fulfill His purpose in the restoration of the dominion over the earth back into man’s hands.  We must understand that this demands God’s judgment.  This judgment will take place when Jesus Christ returns to the earth at Armageddon to establish His Kingdom on earth as the God/Man.  However, there are other incidental judgments interim leading to the great and final Judgment called the Great White Throne Judgment.  (STOP)
In Habakkuk 3:6-10, faith is presented as a person who begins to see God’s purpose transcending man’s difficulties and trials.  If we are ever going to be able to trust in God through various trials and difficulties, regardless of how world circumstances might affect us personally, we must understand and accept what God must do to re-establish His sovereignty over His creation.
In Habakkuk 3:6, faith sees God’s sovereign power active in the affairs of this world and His people.  When God led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, He divided the land between the twelve tribes like someone dividing a pie.   The strength and numbers of the pagan people already residing there were of absolutely no consequence as a factor to resist God’s sovereign choice of Israel as His people or His choice of the Promised Land for His people.  “He beheld, and drove asunder the nations.”

God moved before the nation of Israel and defeated their enemies in heart and mind before Israel ever got to them physically.

“1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel” (Joshua 5:1).

The “mountains and hills” of which Habakkuk speaks in Habakkuk 3:6 are symbols of grandeur, permanence, and security representing the strength and power of the nations that occupied the Promised land.  Yet, before God, they are as nothing.  They are scattered like a fox scatters chickens before God presence.  They bow in helpless surrender before the overwhelming power of God.  Although the forces of evil in this world present themselves as indestructible and impregnable, they are nothing before God and their destiny is already determined and sealed.  Only God and “His ways are everlasting” (Habakkuk 3:6).  These forces of evil do not deserve one moment of fear from us.
We cannot understand much of what is going on in the world, but we can know and trust in the One Who does know.  God has everything under control.  Every evil and wrong doing done “under the Sun” will be judged along with every lost soul that does that evil.  Maintaining our faith perspective of God’s righteousness understands that end of our lives is not the end of the story.  At the end of everyone’s life is just their beginning of eternity.  Eternity is another existence either in the presence of God or in eternal separation from God in the place of eternal torments.  This is the revelation of Satan’s judgment in Isaiah 14:12-27.  “Lucifer” in the text is embodied in the person of Belshazzar, typical of the antichrist.  Bel was the pagan god of Babylon.  We can understand Belshazzar to mean Bel’s king.

“12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou {Belshazzar} shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. 16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; 17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? 18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. 19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. 20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned. 21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities. 22 For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD. 23 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts. 24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: 25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. 26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. 27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back” (Isaiah 14:12-27)?

Faith in God’s Word sees God’s removal of the enemy (Habakkuk 3:7).

Cushan (Habakkuk 3:7) is Arabia.  The Cushans and Midianites were nomadic tent dwellers.  They occupied the area of the wilderness surrounding Mt. Sinai.  They represent all nations, or nationalities, that worship pagan gods, and reject and oppose the one true God.  When the Lord appeared on Mt. Sinai, these nomadic people abandoned the area out of fear.

From Habakkuk 3:7 through verse 16, we are exposed more to the purpose of God in doing what He did, rather than just what God did.  People who do not know God flee in fear from Him.  People who know God, flee in fear to Him.  If a man truly knows God, that man understands there is no place to go to escape God’s wrath or hide from Him?  The only place to escape God’s wrath is to flee to Him in His grace and mercy.

“There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves” (Job 34:22).

“16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand” (Revelation 6:16-17)?

Was the purpose of God in parting the Red Sea, or dividing the flood waters of the Jordan for Israel to enter their Promised Land, solely to show God’s power to the heathen nations (Habakkuk 3:8)?

God’s purpose went far beyond this.  His purpose was to fulfill His covenant promise to Abraham, to fulfill His promise of deliverance of the nation of Israel, and to preserve His people.  The point is that you can count on God’s eternal promises.

Although the waters of the Red Sea falling in judgment and wrath upon the armies of Pharaoh (Exodus 14:6-15:19) are a testimony to both God’s anger and wrath against evil, they exist more as a testimony to God preservation and protection of His people.  The God Who saves you is the God Who keeps you.  The love of God that brought you out of bondage is the love of God that will bring you into His glory.  These judgment waters actually testify to the believer’s security and preservation in the omnipotent hands of God.

“17 For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: 18 And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God” (Joshua 24:17-18).

“27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Fathers hand. 30 I and my Father are one” (John 10:27-29).

Faith can rest in God when the believer understands God’s purpose.  God saves people with the intent of keeping/preserving them.  It is His power that preserves the believer in Christ.

“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called” (Jude 1:1).

What power did the greatest military force in the world (Pharaoh’s Calvary and chariots) have compared to the omnipotence of a God Whose sovereignty commands the world’s seas?  God used something as insignificant as water to defeat the greatest military force in the world and to preserve and protect His people.  When believers are confronted with overwhelming odds, their faith must rest in knowing God’s purpose.  In and through faith, they must resign themselves to that purpose regardless of how the circumstance of life might affect their temporal existence “under the Sun.”

“17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:17-19).

It would be of little value to merely be Lord/Sovereign of a dead creation.  Jesus will judge that cursed and dead creation.  Of that you can be absolutely sure.  However, Jesus died so we could become part of His New Creation.  “All things” refers to both the spiritual and material universe including the “church.”  The words “might have pre-eminence” means Jesus is made firstborn, sovereign, and LORD.  This happens in this present worldly existence when individual believers chose Jesus as their Sovereign Lord.  This is what the word “might” means in Colossians 1:18.

Today, Jesus does not force his Lordship on a world that does not want Him or who refuse to yield to His will.  However, when all lost souls stand under the judgment of God, “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).  

If Jesus is practically the Lord of your universe today, then you have yielded to Him.  He is Lord!  However, if you want Jesus to qualify you to participate in His realm of light, you will have to practically bring your life under His Lordship.  Have you yielded to Him as the one and only Lord of your existence?

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Re-establishing the Sanctity of Israel

Re-establishing the Sanctity of Israel

In Psalm 12:1, David desperately cries out to God “Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”  Our world is filled with treachery, deceit, unholy alliances, and seemingly unlimited compromises.  Evil and its lies oppose righteousness oozing out from behind every dark corner disguising itself in noble, but deceptive terms.  Evil defiles everything it touches in a thousand different degrees of corruption. 

Godliness and faithfulness to the Word of God are humanity’s only hope of surviving the never ending onslaught of spiritual corruption that arrives at the doorsteps of our homes like the waves and tides of the sea.  The armies of evil are ever increasing by thousands each day as souls are corrupted through the false philosophies of this world.  Godly homes are being threatened at every side by the spreading fires of evil that threatened to consume Biblical civilization.  Every godly person has already been wounded with the innate desire for worldliness.  Our only hope for holiness is to cry out to God for help lest we utterly fail in our purpose for existence – BRINGING GLORY TO GOD!
Dispensationalism can be summarized as the history of the ever diminishing faithful remnant.  Every new dispensation is a new beginning with a small faithful remnant from the previous dispensation.  The constant and consistent factor remaining throughout all dispensations is the priesthood of the home with the husband/father spiritually leading his family to know the Creator God and His will for living life accountable to God’s will.  The Bible is a history of the successes and failures of fathers, who were kings, prophets, priests, and just everyday men in this common endeavor to know the Creator God and His will for living life accountable to God’s will.  Sadly, most of the historical record details the failures of men and the digression of their failures to raise their children in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).  

In many cases, the Bible records the exact moment when a man makes the one turning point decision that leads his generations into the oblivion of their own condemnation.  It might be said, these recorded turning points mark the very place in a man’s history where he sacrificed his own historical heritage of a godly seed to the idol of his heart.  The only historical success that is important to God is a father’s success in producing one more generation that will “love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5b-6).  This is no small task because one moment of weakness can destroy a lifetime of a father’s faithful work.  This moment of weakness takes place when a man allows the infected wound of his desire for worldliness to touch his family and infect his children also.  We see this historical fact repeatedly throughout Scripture. 

Our greatest weakness as humans is that we continually try to justify our double heartedness.  David said, “They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak” (Psalm 12:2).  David is describing the corruption of king Saul’s court that sought to capture him and turn him over to Saul simply because God had chosen David to be the king of Israel.  David posed no threat to Saul, but Saul saw David through his own corruptions.  Saul saw David from the perspective of what Saul would do if he were in David’s shoes.  The point is that David WOULD NOT do what Saul would do if Saul was in David’s situation, but Saul’s corruption could not see David’s innocence. 

We see the historical struggle to create genuine faith, resulting in faithfulness in the lives of people, from the very beginning of time.  Genuine faith is trusting God by obeying what He tells us to do and not do.  Somehow, somewhere, the meaning of the word faith has been corrupted to mean merely believing.   However, the Biblical use of the word faith is always connected to believing to the point of obeying and doing what God commands.  Although we are saved by faith alone and not by our works, real faith works (Ephesians 2:8-10).  James defines faith in this way. 

“14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him {in this context, James is using faith to refer to a mere intellectual assent to the fact of God’s existence}? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled {merely helpless words not accompanied by real help to those in need}; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 {now the comparison} Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works {genuine faith always coexists with good works, used here to define obedience to God’s Word}. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead {literally a corpse}” (James 2:14-20)?

James is addressing the very problem that was constantly repeated throughout the history of Israel.  This is the repetition of the four phase cycle of sin that is found throughout the history of the Bible.  In Judges 2:11-18, we see the four phase sin cycle of every succeeding generation of Israel after God’s miraculous delivery of the Promised Land into their custody under the leadership of Joshua.  We see Joshua rehearsing before Israel all of God’s longsuffering with them to bring them to this victorious place in history at the end of Joshua’s life in the first fifteen verses of the last chapter of the book of Joshua (chapter twenty-four).  However, Joshua’s history lesson is intent upon reminding the children of Israel of God’s faithfulness to His promises in the midst of the constantly repeated unfaithfulness to God of each of their generations. 

“1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. 2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. 3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. 4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. 5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. 6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea. 7 And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season. 8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you. 9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: 10 But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand. 11 And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand. 12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow. 13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat. 14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:1-15).

This wonderful rehearsal by Joshua of God’s faithfulness took place in B.C. 1427.  Yet, just one generation later, we read in Judges 2:10, “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.”
How could this transpire in just one generation (about twenty years)?  The hoary heads of Israel did not do what was necessary to create another generation of faithful children.  Or, the children of the faithful refused to learn of God and obey His commands.  Without resistance to the pagan corruptions that surrounded them, they were soon engulfed and captured by their own worldly, carnal desires.  This happens constantly in generation after generation according to what Hosea says about six-hundred and twenty years later.

“6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame” (Hosea 4:6-7).

Judges 2:11-18 records this constantly repeated four phase sin cycle within the generations of God’s people.  Within this text, we see the longsuffering patience of God with people that cannot even reproduce one generation of faithful people even from their own loins and homes. 

“11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim: 12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. 13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. 14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. 15 Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed. 16 Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so. 18 And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them” (Judges 2:11-18).

Phase One of the Sin Cycle: Judges 2:11-13

This phase begins with apathy and complacency toward the things of God and His expectations of holiness and purity ending with the intermixing of pagan worship and worldly practices with the things of God.  Eventually this progression would end with “forsaking” or abandoning the Lord (verse 12).  Then they accept total paganism and worldliness by degrees as each generation allowed a little more of God’s absolutes to slip through their fingers.

Phase Two of the Sin Cycle: Judges 2:14

Once they began to move away from purity and holiness (separation), God’s chastisement would come upon them to the degree necessary to turn them back to Him and His truths (repentance).  The chastisement often took the form of famine, which was a lesser degree of chastisement than a conquering and oppressive nation that would attack, steal, and destroy their possessions, ravage their wives and daughters, and enslave those left alive.  In this second phase, God’s hand of protection and blessing is withdrawn.  It was God’s intention to prove to His people that they could not survive without His help.  We cannot survive without God’s help!

Phase Three of the Sin Cycle: Judges 2:18

Once the people were under chastisement, oppressed, and put into slavery, they would begin to remember the God they professed to know and worship.  They would begin to cry out to Him in prayerful repentance.  God would hear their cries and groaning and have mercy on them.

Phase Four of the Sin Cycle: Judges 2:16

 In this phase, God would raise up Judges to deliver them out of bondage and lead them back to righteousness, holiness, and purity.  According to Judges 2:19, we find the repetition of this cycle throughout the book of Judges and throughout the Old Testament.  (The cycle has also proven true of New Testament believers and within New Testament local churches as well.)  Without the strong leadership of fathers and pastors, every generation is doomed to repeat the failures of the past. 

“And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way” (Judges 2:19).

However, notice the progressive increase in wickedness with each repeat of the sin cycle.  This tendency continues today.  This is why each succeeding generation needs to be taught the same historic truths of God’s Word and commit themselves to obey and keep those truths.  These affirmations are often needed daily and weekly through the constant charges to be faithful. 

The tendency is to invite the world and its corruptions into the home and into the church.  When that happens, the Christian (individually) and the Church (corporately) begin to lose their distinctiveness and their power with God (separation from the world is critical to power with God).  That is why there is a constant battle for each new generation in the Church.  When fathers and mothers begin to become soft on the things of God, they are sealing the fate of the destiny of their children to live under God’s chastisement.

“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Needless to say, this is where the digression into apostasy and paganism began in the nation of Israel.  Although David united the tribes of Israel during his reign, that unity was spiritually superficial.  His son Solomon would lead almost all of the twelve tribes into idolatry and paganism.  In B.C. 1004, Solomon dedicated the Temple built for God (I Kings chapter eight) after which God magnified Solomon before all the great world empires to the degree that the great kings would travel to Israel to see if what they had heard was true about Solomon and the God of Israel.  God was being glorified throughout the world because of what Solomon was doing to exalt Jehovah. 

Then, there is a turning point in Solomon’s worship.  It is recorded in I Kings 10:14-29.  Solomon began to worship Solomon and exalt himself before the people stealing the glory that belonged to Jehovah.  Solomon began to use the wealth he was gaining for his own purposes and exalts himself before the world by building an elaborate and exalting throne of pure ivory over laid with gold (I Kings 10:18-20).  There seem to be no restraint upon Solomon’s selfish us of wealth in opulence and extravagancy.  How easily is a man’s heart turned from God!

“18 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold. 19 The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays. 20 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom. 21 And all king Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon” (I Kings 10:18-21).

Of course, the birth of Solomon’s vanity would not be satisfied with avarice and opulence.  This is because trying to fulfill yourself with yourself is satanic by nature.  It would seem that every man from every generation has to learn this lesson by his own apparent foolishness.

Sometimes the most dangerous gift God can give a man is fame.  “23 So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom. 24 And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart” (I Kings 10:23-24).

As Solomon grows older, he begins to think of his legacy and heritage.  He wants to produce a large number of little Solomons He did this exactly according to the principle of reproduction found in Genesis 1:11 in the words “after his kind.”  Selfish, self-worshipping Solomon would produce thousands of children JUST LIKE HIM.  We are told in I Kings 11:3 that Solomon took “. . . seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.”  “Concubine” is another word for a sex slave intended for the sole purpose of making babies.  Israel is then lead into apostasy, paganism, and idolatry in every form of human wickedness imaginable during the next five-hundred years under the leadership of Solomon’s descendants.  Even though Solomon finally repents (the book of Ecclesiastes), his generations would not repent even after God sent the two great prophets Elijah and Elisha to warn them. 

Isaiah records God’s speaking to Israel for 62 years from B.C. 760 to B.C. 698.  The first thirty-nine chapters of Isaiah have the pending captivity in view.  Jeremiah covers the period from B.C. 629 and into the captivity by B.C. 588.  Ezekiel is in the captivity in his introduction in B.C. 595 going on until B.C. 574.  Daniel is in the captivity as well beginning with the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in B.C. 607 extending until B.C. 534.  Daniel is significant mainly because it was through his faithfulness to God, along with others of the faithful remnant of Israel, that God would touch the hearts of the kings of Babylon to restore Israel for the coming of the Messiah.  After seeing the mouths of lions shut by God and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego protected within the fiery furnace (Daniel chapter three), Nebuchadnezzar makes a life changing proclamation of His belief in the God of Israel. 

“29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon” (Daniel 3:29-30).

The Lord had informed Israel, through Jeremiah (25:11-12 and 29:10), that their captivity would end in seventy years.  These seventy years began at the first deportation of Jews to Babylon in B.C. 606.  Ezra begins exactly at B.C. 536 with the degree of king Cyrus to not only allow the Jews to return, but to outfit them with livestock, food, silver, and gold in abundance for both their survival and for rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra chapter one). 

Ezra chapter two might seems like a boring list of names and numbers, but it is much more significant than that.  The names and numbers are the faithful remnant whose numbers were insignificant compared to the millions that went into captivity.  God listed the names of these families for all posterity to read and admire.  The rest of the Jews had prospered in Babylon and did not want to leave the comforts of their prosperity to go back to Israel.  Of all of Israel, there were ONLY 49,697 people wanting to return to Israel to rebuild the Temple of God - EVEN THOUGH EVERY SINGLE PROVISION IMAGINABLE WAS GIVEN THEM!

Very little attention is given to the remarkable leader God raised up to lead the faithful children of Israel back to Israel and restore the Temple.  Ezra was a remarkable man of God who was a “ready {proficient or skillful} scribe in the Law of Moses” (Ezra 7:6).  This meant his knowledge of the Law went to the extent of knowing exactly where every word was to be placed on a page and the exact number of letters and lines on every page.  Needless to say, Ezra knew the Law by heart. 

Ezra also had quite a heritage with his ancestry traced back to Aaron.  He was also a descendant of Hilkiah, the high priest under Josiah, who “found the book of the law in the house of the Lord” (II Chronicles 34:14-15).  He was also a descendant of Zadok, the faithful high priest under king David from whom a line of faithful priests descended.  However, one remarkable comment about Ezra is recorded in Ezra 7:10.  Although Ezra was one of the most trustworthy and knowledgeable men in Israel, God records of him three remarkable commitments:

“9b. . . the good hand of his God upon him. 10 For {or because} Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD {understand what God wanted by studying what God said}, and to do it {to do what God commanded}, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments {to teach another generation what he knew and to do that}” (Ezra7:9b-10).

Making these three commitments are essential for every believing father and mother of every generation.  Ezra and Nehemiah would be used of God to establish a remnant of faithful believers again in Israel that would continue up through the time of the coming of Christ.  The majority of these people would be those saved on the Day of Pentecost and thereafter.  Their descendants would become the Church Age believers and our fathers in the faith. 

Every generation must have these kinds of people willing to risk everything in order to produce another generation of faithful believers committed to understanding the will of God, doing the will of God, and reaching another generation that will do the same

Your sole purpose for existence in this life is to produce another generation of faithful believers that will live their lives to make God known in all His glory!

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.