Their Vanities #4

Thursday, August 17, 2017

“They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” (Deuteronomy 32:21 KJV).

What are these “vanities?”

Recall the two sets of parallel phrases: “that which is not God” with “their vanities,” and “those which are not a people” with “a foolish nation.” Now, we are particularly interested in the latter set. Who are these “not a people,” this “foolish nation?”

Deuteronomy chapter 32 (today’s Scripture and its context) is “the Song of Moses.” Some of Moses’ parting words to the nation, it covers Israel’s history and future (prophecy, events beyond our day). Today’s Scripture points to the future by first pointing to the past. Remember, Israel was to be God’s nation of priests. Every Jew was to have a spiritual relationship with JEHOVAH God, that every Israelite, in a coming earthly kingdom, would share the message of his God with the Gentiles/nations (see Genesis 12:1-3, Isaiah 60:1-3, Isaiah 61:6, Zechariah 8:20-23, Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:47-48, Acts 1:8, et cetera).

Jeremiah 2:11, almost 1,000 years after Moses spoke today’s Scripture, says that Israel worshipped idols and abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” God actually gave Moses the insight to see Israel’s apostasy that Jeremiah witnessed centuries later. Today’s Scripture takes it a step further though. God will still get a Jewish people for His name. He will reach within the nation Israel and pull out a believing remnant. That believing remnant will become “new Israel,” His kingdom of priests.

Notice what the Lord Jesus said in Luke chapter 12: “[31] But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. [32] Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” In contrast to the idolatrous Jews, His followers would be that “foolish nation,” heirs of that earthly kingdom. Just as unbelieving Jews had given Him up for idols, He will give them up for believing Jews….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘joined hard’ mean in Acts 18:7?

 

Their Vanities #3

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

“They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” (Deuteronomy 32:21 KJV).

What are these “vanities?”

Again, “vanity” means “emptiness.” Earlier, we saw that “vanities” in Scripture actually refers to idols (“that which is not God”—see today’s Scripture). Why are they “empty?”

Psalm 115 is a believing Jew speaking: “[1] Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. [2] Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? [3] But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. [4] Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. [5] They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: [6] They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: [7] They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. [8] They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them” (cf. Psalm 135:15-18).

Idols have mouths but do not speak. They have eyes but do not see. They have ears but do not hear. They have noses but do not smell. They have hands but do not handle. They have feet but do not walk. They have throats but do not speak through them. To wit, idols are totally useless, worthless, profitless. “They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” This is certainly harsh. It means, “Idol makers and idolaters are as incompetent/useless as their idols are to them!”

The God that created the nation Israel is “the living God” and He is starkly different from “vanities” (Acts 14:15). Yet, throughout the “Old Testament,” most of Israel forgot the one true God (JEHOVAH God). They embraced that which was totally void of anything worthwhile. Today’s Scripture says that, unlike the idols, the “living God” can and will react to such disrespect….

Their Vanities #2

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

“They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” (Deuteronomy 32:21 KJV).

What are these “vanities?”

Looking closely at today’s Scripture, notice two sets of parallel clauses. “That which is not God” is equivalent to “their vanities”“those which are not a people” is the same as “a foolish nation.”

Jeremiah 8:19 again: “Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?” Notice the “graven images” (carved idols) and “strange vanities” (“strange” as in “foreign”). Jeremiah 14:22 again: “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.” So, “vanities” are “strange” (foreign) or “of the Gentiles.”

Acts chapter 14: “[11] And when the people saw what Paul had done [healing the lame man], they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. [12] And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. [13] Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. [14] Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, [15] And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: [16] Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.”

Clearly, Israel’s “vanities” are the Gentiles’ pagan idols….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ?

Their Vanities #1

Monday, August 14, 2017

“They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” (Deuteronomy 32:21 KJV).

What are these “vanities?”

Using context clues, we surmise that they are bad. Notice how Israel’s “vanities” have made JEHOVAH God jealous. The Jews should be paying attention to Him, but they ignore Him because these “vanities” have preoccupied them. Thus, He is angry with them, and will not overlook their association with “vanities.”

First Kings 16:13 says: “For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.” And verse 26: “For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities.”

We read in Jeremiah 8:19: “Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?” Jeremiah 10:8 says: “But they are altogether brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.” Jeremiah 14:22 provides even more information: “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.”

Finally, Acts 14:15: “And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:….” Our English word “vanity” means “the quality of being worthless or futile.” It comes from the Latin vanitas, from vanus “empty.” That perfectly describes the “vanities” in today’s Scripture….

Daniel’s Culpability

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Then the king Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshipped Daniel, and commanded that they should offer an oblation and sweet odours unto him. The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret. Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king (Daniel 2:46-49 KJV).

Scripture always tells the truth about its characters, even faults. What was Daniel’s sin?

When a heathen worshipped the Apostle Peter, Acts chapter 10 says: “[25] And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. [26] But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.The Apostle John worshipped an angel in Revelation chapter 22: “[8] And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. [9] Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.”

When pagans worshipped Apostles Barnabas and Paul, they objected in Acts chapter 14: “[13] Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. [14] Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, [15] And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God….”

After pagan Nebuchadnezzar had his mysterious dream, Daniel, by the power of the one true God, recovered and interpreted it. Nebuchadnezzar worshipped Daniel. Scripture never says Daniel protested!

Reactions in Athens

Saturday, May 6, 2017

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them (Acts 17:32-34 KJV).

How true even today!

Verse 16 says: “Now while Paul waited for [Silas and Timotheus, verse 15] at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.” Idols are everywhere in the city. Paul is excited. What an opportunity to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all these lost and dying heathen! He discourses with the synagogue Jews and other religious persons; also, in the marketplaces, where large crowds exchanged ideas and products, Paul speaks with individuals (verse 17).

Philosophers of the Stoicks and Epicureans hear him, and wanting to learn more, they bring him to Mars’ Hill, a place where religious ideas were offered and debated (verse 18-21). Paul preaches to these idolaters from verse 22 to 31. Notice his final remarks: “[29] Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. [30] And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: [31] Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man [Jesus Christ] whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”

Then comes today’s Scripture. Some mock Paul’s “resurrection” comments—Greek religion denied it, and so do they. Others want to discuss it more at some later time, but they too are more interested in learning more of the “new thing” (verses 18-21) than believing God’s Word. Paul left them, not bothering to waste time. Still, a few men and women trusted Christ as Saviour and thus joined Paul. We see such scenarios even today. Some want to hear; others do not. Some believe; others laugh. We should not be surprised or discouraged! 🙂

The Awareness of a Temporary Earth

 Saturday, April 22, 2017

“And, Thou, O Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Hebrews 1:10-12 KJV).

On this Earth Day, let us not confuse the creation with the Creator!

Today, people worldwide celebrate “environmental awareness.” According to the secular, naturalistic worldview, our planet and its sun could last many more billions of years. They claim that we have done so much damage to our planet—climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, pollution, et cetera—that we must change our attitude toward “mother earth” and change our lifestyles before we destroy her and civilization as we know it! You can sense the zeal in their message, can you not? While these people are sincere, they are wasting all of their time, energy, and resources on a temporary planet.

Let us be very clear that the Lord Jesus Christ placed man on the earth, especially the Garden of Eden, to “dress it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to take care of the Earth: he was God’s representative, God’s king, who had a divine commission to rule this planet for God’s glory (Genesis 1:26-28).

It was not long, however, before Satan distracted mankind from understanding God’s purpose for him. Adam began to focus on himself: like Satan, he began to “worship and serve the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). Thus began man’s continual downward spiral into spiritual ignorance. He would continually worship himself, as we well know today.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that, because of sin, this creation will pass away. The Lord Jesus Christ, however, will live forever. Why worship that which is temporary? It makes no sense! The Lord Jesus Christ gave you life, not the pagan goddess “mother earth.” Environmental awareness? Indeed, be aware that our world is temporary, as God will one day create “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).