Redeem the Time to Do a Great Work

Saturday, October 22, 2011

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15,16 KJV).

From 606 B.C. to 536 B.C. Israel was exiled from Palestine, taken captive by the Babylonians (the 70-year judgment God warned Israel about in Jeremiah 25:11,12). Exiled Nehemiah desires to rebuild Jerusalem and its city walls, which had been destroyed 150 years before. Circa 445 B.C., Artaxerxes king of Persia grants Nehemiah permission to return to Jerusalem with a party of exiled Jews (Nehemiah 2:1-9).

Not surprisingly, Arabs dwelling near Jerusalem are opposed to the Jews’ construction, so they begin to distract the Jews from their task of rebuilding (Nehemiah 2:10; Nehemiah chapter 4). One of these wicked Arabs requests Nehemiah to stop his work and come meet with him. Nehemiah’s response was simple (6:3): “And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?”

Nehemiah understood that God’s work was important. He was not going to waste his energy and time on an asinine matter like arguing with a fool! Likewise, as today’s Scripture declares, we should not waste our time, money, and energy. We have been given a limited amount of resources and a limited amount of time on earth. There is no time for frivolous living or arguing with individuals who care not to hear God’s Word.

God is doing a great work. We participate in that work by faith. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6). We submit ourselves to God and allow Him to use us to reach everyone we can with the good news of Jesus Christ. When we allow God’s Holy Spirit to work within us as we believe His Word, we will focus more on publishing His Word, and less on silly distractions like watching TV all day or wasting our lives with drugs and alcohol.

The LORD Thy God is a Jealous God

Thursday, October 20, 2011

“They [Israel] provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee” (Deuteronomy 32:16-18 KJV).

Scripture uses the title “jealous God” six times for JEHOVAH (Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 5:9; Deuteronomy 6:15; Joshua 24:19). Jealousy (envy) is a sin when we commit it (Romans 1:29; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 3:3; Galatians 5:21; et al.). But, just as there is a godly anger (Matthew 5:22; Mark 3:5; Ephesians 4:26), there is a godly jealousy, God’s righteous jealousy.

In the Old Testament, God continually reminded Israel that He was “jealous” over her. Today’s Scripture, a portion of the “Song of Moses,” is one example. Prior to going into the Promised Land under Joshua, Moses warned Israel of her previous idolatrous ways. Once Israel went into that land, they were to destroy the pagan heathens and their idols (Exodus 34:11-17). Yet, even in God’s Promised Land, the Jews established pagan shrines to worthless idols (1 Kings 14:22-24; Psalm 78:58)! The LORD wanted Israel to Himself, and yet they ignored Him and adored vain, inanimate idols.

The Apostle Paul, filled with the Holy Ghost, warned members of the Body of Christ in Corinth about provoking the Lord to “jealousy” by fellowshipping with devils (1 Corinthians 10:20-22). Paul was “jealous” over the Body of Christ, instructing us to avoid satanic deception by holding to the doctrine in his epistles (2 Corinthians 11:1-4).

Throughout the Holy Scriptures, over a dozen references describe God as “jealous.” God wants His people all to Himself—He does not want us mingling with the world’s idols (crucifixes, statues, religious paintings, selfishness, materialism, et cetera). In His omnipotence and omniscience, God is justified in being jealous over us because He alone deserves our praise, worship, dedication, and honor. After all, He is our Creator and our Saviour (if we have trusted in Him for salvation!).

Adios to Being Atheos

Monday, October 17, 2011

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” (Ephesians 2:12 KJV).

The Greek word translated “without God” is “atheos,” from which we get “atheism.” God exists, so how can today’s Scripture teach that some individuals (the Gentiles of verse 11) were “without God?”

After the Great Flood of Noah’s day, Noah’s descendants did not scatter as God commanded (Genesis 9:1,7). In fact, they gathered for pagan worship at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-7)! God in righteous judgment scattered them, resulting in the world’s nations and languages (verses 8,9). In Genesis chapter 12, God selected one Syrian, Abram (Abraham), to create the nation Israel. Anyone not a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be a Gentile (non-Jew).

What happened to Gentiles after Genesis chapter 12? “God gave them up” (Romans 1:21-32). “[God] who in time past suffered [allowed] all nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16). “At the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent;” (Acts 17:30). The Gentiles were “without God” indeed.

God dealt almost exclusively with Israel in the Old Testament (Nineveh, Rahab, and Ruth were some Gentile exceptions). The covenants belonged to Israel’s patriarchs, not the Gentiles. “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:” (Romans 15:8). Whenever a Gentile woman approached Jesus in His earthly ministry, He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24). He also said, “Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22).

Thankfully, when we come to Paul’s ministry, God ministers to Gentiles apart from Israel. Today, Israel has temporarily lost her privileged position of Romans 9:4,5 (Romans 11:11,12). We Gentiles enjoy God’s salvation through the Gospel of Grace, which can save both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16). God commissioned Paul as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), so Ephesians 2:13 says we Gentiles can bid “adios” (farewell) to being “atheos!” 😉