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: November 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

“Be ye not as your fathers”

Chapter One
“Be ye not as your fathers”

          Zechariah (B.C. 520) speaks to the remnant community of Jews that had returned to rebuild the Temple foundations in Jerusalem sixteen years earlier in B.C. 536 recorded by Ezra.  Ezra, a Zadokean priest and prophet, came to Jerusalem with the second group of exiles to restore the Law and sacrifices in B.C. 459.  Nehemiah came to be the governor of the returning remnant in B.C. 446 and to oversee the Temple reconstruction.  

These prophecies lay within the historical context of the battle against the constant barrage of worldliness engulfing and corrupting the children of Israel, even the faithful remnant.  God must continually raise up men to be His voice of revival and encouragement to the faithful remnant of each generation.  This is because each generation can grow apathetic and weary in well doing.  This drift is a historical constant that needs to constantly be addressed and corrected with every generation.  

The beginning of Zechariah’s prophecy is to the remnant that has essentially abandoned the rebuilding work for which purpose they returned.  Zechariah begins with a reminder of why they had been in captivity in the first place.  Then he gives a predominant message to this remnant.  Zechariah speaks as the voice of God (Zechariah 1:3-6).  This is a reminder to us of how easily we can slip into apathy and lethargy in the struggle for the things of God.  We can easily forget the importance of our own purity in sanctification and dedication to purpose. 

1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the {grand} son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers. 3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. 4 Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD. 5 Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? 6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold {overtake as in the sense of catching to capture} of your fathers? and they returned {turned back or away; i.e. repented} and said {public acknowledgement}, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us {they recognized and acknowledged that God was just in His dealings with them in the chastisement of their captivity}” (Zechariah 1:1-6). 

          “Be not as your fathers” (Zechariah 1:4) is a constant historical warning from God given to every new generation about the consistent failures of previous generations in the areas of doctrinal purity and practical sanctification.  Worldliness is really the constant erosion in the compromise of Biblical values and personal holiness to the place where the standard of Biblical normalcy is lost to a generation.  I Peter 4:7-19 to Church Age believers is a very similar message as Zechariah 1:1-6 is to the Jews as they come to the end of the Mosaic Covenant. 

When the standard of Biblical normalcy is lost to a generation, God must send a messenger to be His voice to restore that standard of Biblical normalcy to a remnant of people longing to hear from God.  These voices that speak “as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11) are often ignored, mocked, and usually greatly resisted by those who want to continue living in compromise.  Although there will be few voices to speak “as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11), there will be many voices for the ever-increasing compromising message of drift towards worldliness. 

7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 12 Beloved, think it not strange {unusual and unexpected} concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing {unusual and unexpected} happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian {which should be usual and expected}, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God {the redeemed}: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God {the Christ rejecting unredeemed}? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19 Wherefore let them that suffer {which should be usual and expected} according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (I Peter 4:7-19). 

          The statement, “But the end of all things is at hand” in I Peter 4:7 is the substance of most of the prophecies of the Bible.  These prophesies cannot be separated from God’s Abrahamic Covenant promises and establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven under the lineage of the Davidic throne of the promised Messiah Jesus.  Most of Daniel’s prophesies, Isaiah’s prophesies, Ezekiel’s prophecies, and Zechariah’s prophesies are about the restoration and salvation of the nation of Israel. 

          At the time of the writing of Peter’s first epistle, about twenty-seven years had passed since the beginning of the Church Age on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter two).  A new generation of Christians were coming into the ministries of the local churches around the world.  Most of the first generation of Christians had been martyred for their faithfulness to Christ.  Peter addresses what is essential in ministry if this next generation of Christians is going be faithful and produce another generation of faith Christians.  This is very similar to what is going on in the book of Zechariah.  I Peter 4:7-11 gives a spiritual recipe to avoid becoming a lukewarm local church.  In I Peter 4:7-11, we see several words that describe the overflow of the Spirit of God.  These words describe the manifestation of His indwelling power flowing through our lives.  There are seven ministry areas of the Christian life defined.  Each of these seven essentials is intimately and intricately connected to having a right working relationship with the Lord Jesus that are key to releasing His power through our lives in ministry to one another. 

1. Sobriety: from the word sophroneo (so-fron-eh’-o), meaning sound of mind or thinking.  Sound mindedness comes from thinking things through and taking into consideration all the Truths of God’s Word as they weigh upon any given subject or situation.  Sophroneo was a word that described a person who did not allow his mind to come under the influence of alcohol, which extends to any worldly influence.
2. Watch unto prayer: the word “watch” is from the word nepho (nay’-fo), meaning to abstain from wine drinking and connecting sobriety (right mindedness) with prayer (God-dependency) in power with God in all matters of life.  Contradistinctively, failure in nepho (abstaining from wine drinking or any similar worldly practice) would disconnect the believer from power with God.  Worldly desires manifest a weak mind (the opposite of a strong or sound mind).
3. Fervent charity: literally, unceasing sacrificial (parenting kind of) love for other true believers.  The idea is the willingness to make extreme sacrifices for one another, to help one another grow in grace, and to escape the shackles of our own selfishness.  The words “charity shall cover the multitude of sins” in I Peter 4:8 is a quote from Proverbs 10:12. “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”  The idea is that love is not constantly stirring up the dunghill of a fellow Christian’s past failures that have been confessed and forgiven.  Forgiveness supernaturally begins to give historical distance to human failures and sins of those forgiven. 
4. Use Hospitality: from the word philoxenos (fil-ox’-en-os), it simply means being fond of guests.  Christians ought to enjoy the company of other Christians and “use hospitality” to encourage one another.  Notice this comes with the qualifier, “one to another without grudging” (grumbling or complaining about having to do it).  Remember, “God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7).  Hospitality is expensive in both money and in time.  If love does not cost us something, we have not loved. 
5. Minister “the gift:” “gift” is from charisma and “minister” is from diakoneo (dee-ak-on-eh’-o).  In other words, God did not give us the supernatural gift of spiritual enablement (grace) to consume upon ourselves.  He has gifted us with the intent we will use that “gift” and spread it as a resource to the widest possible scale of our influence “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  Notice, there is a stewardship involved.  Stewardship means we will be held accountable for this “manifold grace of God.”  This accountability defines the Dispensation (stewardship) of Grace.  Salvation is a gift of grace, but with it comes overwhelming spiritual responsibilities for which we are accountable to God.  God expects “fruit.”
6. Speech: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11).  The word “the” is not in the Greek text in front of the word “oracles.”  It should read, “Speak as oracles of God.”  The idea is the “thus sayeth the LORD” proclamation of the Old Testament prophets.  The idea is that you are not communicating some philosophical idea or some great thought from your own mind.  There is no option for debate or dissension when the words out of our mouths come forth “as oracles of God”.  Truth is to come forth from the mouth of the prophet of God, as if God is speaking Himself. Therefore, when you are speaking forth the Word of God, you are to do so with the authority of its Author. 
7. Ministry to the glory of God: “if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:11b).  We often hear the word charismatic used to describe people who can attract large crowds.  They are like fly paper.  The fly was just looking for a place to land to get something to eat and then he found himself stuck.  This kind of farcical nonsense is not “ministry to the glory of God.”  If people are not part of a local church primarily because they love Truth, and because they are being taught the Truth, they are there for wrong reasons. 

The word “end” in I Peter 4:7 is from the Greek word telos (tel’-os).  This word refers to the point aimed at as a limit or the point of termination.  The Church Age Dispensation is the next to the last age of God’s longsuffering grace upon this fallen creation.  Then comes the “day of wrath” that Paul speaks of in Romans 2:5: “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God . . .” This is the future horizon of which all Church Age believers must be constantly reminded.  We must keep this prophecy as part of today’s possible realities. 

“Be not as your fathers” (Zechariah 1:4)

          Why does God care about the nation of Israel and the people known as Jews?  Scripture clearly states that God is not a “respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).  God cares about the nation of Israel because He made a promise to Abraham.  God must fulfil that promise or disgrace Himself before men.  The nation of Israel was unfaithful to God and refused to keep the covenant by which they agreed to live before God.  Numerous previous generations of Jews refused to keep the statutes and judgments of God.  

Every faithful Jew recognized and understood the failures of the Jewish “fathers.”  “Be not as your fathers” is a statement that presumes the faithful remnant understood and recognized the failures of their previous generations.  There is no debate going on with God about degrees of failure or definitions of failure.  God has spoken through chastisement and bringing Israel into captivity.  Therefore, the admonition and warning of the words “be not as your fathers” carries the potential for continued captivity and chastisement if this generation too lets things slip.  This is true of every generation of faithful believers. 

          Ezekiel, who begins to prophecy in B.C.595, seventy-five years before Zechariah, was taken into captivity shortly after of the deportation of Jews to Babylon.  Daniel was part of the first deportation.  Ezekiel 36:16-24 gives a detailed explanation of why Israel was taken in chastisement into captivity.  The text also explains why God will restore the nation of Israel even though they deserved what they received.  We must remember that there is extreme accountability to God when calling ourselves the children of God. 

16 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 17 Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman. 18 Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: 19 And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. 20 And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land. 21 But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. 22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. 23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. 24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land” (Ezekiel 36:16-24).

“Be not as your fathers” (Zechariah 1:4)

          These five words may form the saddest testimony in the Bible.  These five words are the testimony of God about the influence of generations of unfaithful men upon their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and on Ad Infinitum.  Generation after generation was infected with corruption and compromise by the spiritually impotent fathers.  These were men, if we dare give them the honor of calling them men, who lived for themselves and their own carnal desires.  They gave no concern to the fact they were giving their sons and daughters permission to live just like they lived.  Can we even imagine God having to step in to our family history and say to a generation, “Be not as your fathers”?  

          There have been too many sons to which it was necessary for me to utter these words, “Be not as your father.”  There have been times I would have liked to set down with the fathers of young men I have visited in prison or jail and just tell them off.  I would like to ask those fathers if they ever even thought of the model of manhood they were establishing for their sons.  I have done this on occasion.  However, I also know that selfish people seldom hear criticisms about their selfishness because they are basically cowards.  It takes courage to face failures and admit to the consequences those failures have caused.  These cowards live behind a mask of manhood.  They are despicable degenerates with no conscience of right and wrong.  They are so much in love with themselves they have no room for consideration of others; certainly not their wives or children.  They give lip service to love but live the life of selfishness.
          We have a whole generation of young girls growing up to live in a desperate search for love because they have never known the love of their fathers.  They will quickly drift into promiscuity confusing sex with affection and attention for love.  We have a whole generation of young men who are growing up without any model of what it means to take care of and support a family.  God says, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Timothy 5:8).  Being a father is not the same as my baby’s daddy.  You will teach your children how to live by the way you live.  Fathers who live in obeisance to their own selfishness will sacrifice the lives of their children to the idols of their heart.  

          What were the failures to which God calls a new faithful generation to remember in the words, “Be not as your fathers”?  Most of these failures can be found in the Book of Judges.  They failures continue today within Christ professing homes.  These continuing failures fall into three categories.

1. Compromise - Failure to possess the Land of Promise (Judges 1:1-2:5)
2. Conflagration of values- Failure to maintain a godly heritage (Judges 2:6-10)
3. Confusion of beliefs - Failure to maintain purity of worship (Judges 2:11-13 and 16-19)

COMPROMISE: Failure to possess the Land of Promise (Judges 1:21-2:5)

21 And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day. 22 And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the LORD was with them. 23 And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.) 24 And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy. 25 And when he shewed them the entrance into the city, they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family. 26 And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day. 27 Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land. 28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out. 29 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them. 30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries {they took them as slaves/servants seeing these people as a resource workforce}. 31 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob: 32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out. 33 Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath became tributaries unto them. 34 And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for they would not suffer them to come down to the valley: 35 But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed, so that they became tributaries. 36 And the coast of the Amorites was from the going up to Akrabbim, from the rock, and upward” (Judges 1:21-36; 8 out of 10 tribes are listed as failures).

          God sent “an angel of the Lord” to rebuke the children of Israel for their compromise and failure in complete obedience to His commands.  We notice in Judges 2:4 that the children of Israel felt bad about their failure and “wept” over God’s rebuke, but they did not repent.  They did not change.  They did not do what was right.  They refused complete obedience because they saw these people as a resource that could make their existence easier.  They justified something which God forbade.  They left the pagan idols still standing in their land to accommodate the heathen.  Understanding diversity of cultures does not justify condoning or placating the unscriptural practices of those cultures.  

1 And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land {the pagans within the Promised Land had one of two choices; stay and be annihilated or leave the country altogether}; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. 4 And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept {as a promise of repentance and revival, but it was a mere deflection in defection}. 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim {weeping}: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD” (Judges 2:1-5).

Conflagration of Values: Failure to maintain a godly heritage (Judges 2:6-10)
6 And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land. 7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel. 8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. 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” (Judges 2:6-10).

One generation after Joshua’s and the other elders of Joshua’s time period had died, remembrance of what God had done in the wilderness and His deliverance of the Promised Land into the hands of the children of Israel has been forgotten – ONE GENERATION!  God holds the fathers of that generation accountable for this overwhelming failure.  They did not teach their children.  “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3).  These fathers failed in their primary role as fathers in their responsibility of raising their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath {by being cruel and severe in dealing with children}: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition {nourish them with loving discipline and careful instruction} of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Confusion of Beliefs: Failure to maintain purity of worship (Judges 2:11-13 and 16-19)

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” (Judges 2:11-13).

We worship what we give value or worth.  The worship of Baal took the form of extreme sexual licentiousness.  This was a sex/fertility cult.  Baal worship is what is described in Numbers chapter twenty-five when Baalim instructed the pagan king Balak to send out Moabite women to seduce the men of Israel.  God says, “the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab” (Numbers 25:1).  This brought God’s judgment on those that went in unto those women.  God slew twenty-four thousand Israelite men with a plague.  The priest Phinehas, son of the High Priest, stayed God’s wrath by entering a tent and killing a Jewish man involved in fornication with a Midianite woman by thrusting them both through the abdomen with a javelin.  This fornication in pagan worship in this sex/fertility cult is what God means in Judges 2:11 and 13 by the words they “served Baal.” 

16 Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them {with corrupted false worship thereby plundering their blessings from God}. 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. 19 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 2:16-19).

          “Be not as your fathers” (Zechariah 1:4) is connected to some very specific failures.  God has been fighting against the corruption of marriage and human sexuality almost from the beginning of time.  We cannot separate this from God’s words in Zechariah 1:4 in the careful admonition to the returned faithful remnant after the captivity - “Be not as your fathers.”  

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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.