Lucia's Blog: March 2015
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

MAY MY STEPS BE WORSHIP


"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?"  
Micah 6:8



I was recently touched by a sacred song, "Father, God, Just For Today." As I consider the sentiments of this poem, I realize again how important it is to me, to be pleasing to my God, that I might hear Him say to me "Well done! Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master."


Father, God, Just For Today

Father God just for today
Help me walk the narrow way
Help me stand when I might fall
Lend me the strength to hear your call

Refrain
May my steps be worship,
May my thoughts be praise,
May my words bring honor to Your name,
May my steps be worship,
May my thoughts be praise,
May my words bring honor to Your name.

Here I am just for today
Live in me, have Your way
For my desire when this race is run
Is only to hear You say. "Well done!


I have been thinking and meditating a lot on this song lately.  And as I sing each stanza, I keep being reminded of a text in the Bible which is found in Ephesians, concerning our walk with the Lord; a walk that must be worthy of His calling. 

"Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell.... For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth), proving what is well-pleasing unto the Lord; and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them; for the things which are done by them in secret it is a shame even to speak of.  But all things when they are reproved are made manifest by the light: for everything that is made manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee. Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil."  Ephesians 5:1-17

So, I would like to take advantage of the words of this song and use them to talk about how our steps can be worship to Him.  Let us consider the worship part of our walk with Him:

My first question would be:  What is worship and what is its purpose?

Why don't we go to the Sacred Text to find out what worship to our God involves?

1.  Sacrifice and obedience:  Genesis 22:1-12
2.  Offering and service:  I Chronicles 16:29
3.  Bowing down and kneeling:  Psalm 95:6
4.  Fear and reverence:  Psalm 96:9
5.  Bowing down and prostrating:  Psalm 38:6
6.  Sacrifice and offering:  Isaiah 19:21
7.  Service:  Matthew 4:8-10
8.  Sacrifice:  Romans 12:1

In reading these texts about worship, we can evidently see that there are two crucial aspects:  

1.  Bowing down, kneeling, prostrating
2.  Sacrifice, service

The line "May my steps be worship," is expressing a genuine appeal to God to help us walk in a way that is reverent as a sacrifice and as our service to Him.  Those two aspects are crucial to our worship of God:  Bowing down, kneeling, prostrating, sacrifice and service.

With these in mind, let us consider the implications of bowing down as an act of worship.

I want to start by asking, what is the importance of bowing down, kneeling or prostrating oneself before the throne of God?  And what does this have to do with the act of worshipping God?  Why don't we go to the source of Truth and read what the Text has to say about this?

"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?"  Micah 6:8.  This is one of my all-time favorite texts of the Bible.
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you."  James 4:10
"Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you."'  I Peter 5:5-6

Sacrifice and Service as an act of worship:

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."  Romans 12:1

What does it mean to offer a sacrifice that is acceptable worship to God?  And what does it mean to be a living sacrifice?  And finally, what does that involve?

Consider the steps we must follow:

  1. Our song indicates those great and wise choices we must make, that we may walk His narrow Way.  It is important that we realize that every choice or decision that we make in life is going to carry us toward righteousness or failure.  Our steps or actions can indicate a life of praise, worship, service and honor to our Creator.
  2. Our steps must be worthy of our calling:  "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called."  Ephesians 4:1
  3. Every choice, decision, step or walk must shine our light before men.  Our steps show our good works and glorify God. "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."  Matthew 5:16
  4. Our steps must prove our transformation, the renewing of our mind:  what is good, acceptable and perfect will of God.  
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."  Romans 12:2

All of these steps are worship to our God.  Let us apply each one of them in our daily walk with our God.  Let us also show diligent service of worship to Him as living sacrifices.  I would leave you with this question: 

  • What steps of service and sacrifice are you willing to make to render worship to our Father in heaven?
  • Are you willing to die to self and allow His Way live in you?  
  • Whose child are you? Are you God’s child or Satan’s?
  • Do you want to run your race, exercising self-discipline so that you may end well? 
  • Do you want to win and be qualified to receive your prize, the crown of life?
  • Are you willing to be a faithful and a good slave bearing good fruit, that you may hear your Father in heaven say to you "well done! Enter into the joy of your Master?  
  • I don't know about you, but I want to hear my Master say those words to me on that final day.  Perish the thought, that He might say to me "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels."  Matthew 25:41.

May we walk the Narrow Way in a manner worthy of our calling.  May we humbly ask Him to give us strength whenever we should fall short, that we not forsake His Way of righteousness.  May each step we walk be a step of worship, praise, and honor to His name.


Luci

Sunday, March 15, 2015

THE ALTAR OF SELF

"Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor." 
Proverbs 18:12


We live in the "me" generation.  The pursuit of  "self-realization" has elevated selfishness to new heights of "vain glory."  "Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion." (Proverbs 11:22).  Few things are more grotesque than the god that is self.  That is beauty without discretion. I invite you to think with me for a few moments about the "altar of self."

Today's culture is loud and proud.  Social media absorb us (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Blogger, etc.).  We are slaves, always posting about what we see, hear, think and do as if we were trying to impress someone. We have lost our sense of privacy. Our opinions, our thoughts, feelings or emotions are all posted on social media. We sound off without a second thought. We serve only our selfish and fleshly "interests."

We seem to strive for worldly perfection and the approval and praise of men.  Our social media compel us to seek the flattery of others, with the sole purpose of serving our vanity. We play the "comparison game" to see who is better. We gauge our worth according to our popularity. Shameless bragging comes as natural as breathing. Without realizing it, we fall into the snare of building an altar to self.  We forget to live for God in heaven. Instead, we live for self, serving our own vanity, pride, and selfishness. We fall to all of Satan's snares, feeding and nurturing our vain little god, through all of these fleshly things.

Serving ourselves feels good. It feels easy, safe, quick and painless.  We buy easily into the world's biggest lie of what real happiness is.  We try to find it ourselves.  We become easy prey to our culture's propaganda of "self-love" and "discovering one's true self." We set off on our journey to "find ourselves."  And although we may find out a lot of useful things through these techniques of self-help and discover a talent here and there, we still find ourselves lost and something is still missing. Our hearts still yearn for that definition of who we are and whom we are serving.  Our heart still misses the restoration that can only come by turning away from self and the sins of self, moving on toward Christ.  The altar of self that we have created is vain, conceited and sinful.

We keep forgetting that Christ never focused on His own vanity but rather on serving and loving others.  The prudent Christian does not seek "self" but Christ.  He is content to be the invisible servant known only to his Savior and Lord and approved of Him. The Lord's servant does not seek for opportunities to serve at the altar of self, his flesh.  He turns away from conceit and vanity.  This is not his principal aim in life nor does he seek it out.
"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."  Galatians 5:13

The "altar of self" is loud, corrupt and uncontrolled.  The tongue cannot hold back because the "altar of self" will not allow it.  It expresses itself without control, doing what it wants and desires.  It does not care about the consequences to others.  The danger of the "altar of self" is that it does not encourage discretion.  The tongue leaves thoughtfulness behind.  Vain talk is valued over silence, wisdom.  Sadly, it renders us weak so that we do not restrain ourselves from our foolish thinking, so we make unwise choices.

Let us keep in mind that Christ was our best example of self-control.  He never made a fool of Himself.  He was wise and thoughtful with His words. He was tactful.  The Word of God places a high value on being thoughtful.  It values silence more highly than talk.  The prudent person uses discretion as his norm for living.  He knows what is appropriate to say or express without losing his temper or his self-control.  He is considered wise.  He knows when to be silent.

"Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent."  Proverbs 17:28
"A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back."  Proverbs 29:11
"When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise."  Proverbs 10:19

The primary goal of the "altar of self" is the perfect earthly life.  His only affection is the earthly life with little focus on the inner life, the heart, the inner man, the man that yearns to be like Christ.  He who builds the "altar of self," wastes his life chasing worldly perfection and satisfaction.  Contentment is ambiguous, difficult to find. Unfortunately, this is the American idea of success.

Let us not forget that Christ’s primary focus was to live for others, for us.  His primary focus was not on pursuing the praise and approval of men, material possessions, or living the good life.  His goal was to be faithful and lay down Himself and His life for us that we might live.  His affection was in heaven rather than on earth. We deceive ourselves when we think that living a "perfect life" means to chase after the altar of self, our selfish interests.  Christ is our best example of living and focusing on heavenly kingdom goals.  Christ focused on His heavenly kingdom and nothing else.  He focused on being at the right hand of His Father.  His goals were for the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Are we focusing mostly on ourselves or the kingdom of God, our Father?  We are in danger when we aim our goals at ourselves, the "altar of self," rather than at Christ and His kingdom, His rule.  It is in seeking the kingdom of God that we are going to find real joy and freedom.  Lest we forget, the self is a prison and Christ is our freedom.

"Then He said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.'"  Luke 12:15
"But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction."  I Timothy 6:9

The "altar of self" is mainly rooted in pride.  We run our lives masking and covering up our sins.  We cannot see the need for repentance or godly sorrow nor do we seek salvation.  All this serves only one purpose, and that is to fuel our pride, our temporary fleshly feelings of satisfaction and achievement. That pride leads us to believe that we are "good enough on our own" and that we are "good people."  Sadly, the need for surrender to the will of God and to follow God is never acknowledged.

Christ is our best example of humility.  There was no selfish pride in Him at all.  He was humble, lowly, meek and a servant.  He focused on God and His ministry.  His character is our example to follow.  He was focused on the love of others since there was no pride or selfishness in Him.  There was no "altar of self" in Him.  A true follower of Christ is not proud or selfish.  He knows that pride and selfishness cannot peacefully coexist with the self-denial of one who is a true follower of Christ.  If we do not pursue Christ and His righteousness, forsaking the altar of self, we cannot bear good fruit nor can we be saved.  It renders us weak and fruitless, making us lose our souls eternally.
"When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom."  Proverbs 11:2
"Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."  Proverbs 27:2
"But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."'  James 4:6

May all of our goals be more Christ-like and less of the world.  May our primary focus be on God alone and His kingdom of righteousness.  May we enjoy the fruits of our labor and all of God's blessings. May they never take our primary focus from Christ and His kingdom.  May we never make idols out of them.  May we always focus on and store up our treasures in heaven and not on earthly ones, since they will eventually pass away.  May we always let God lead us, leaving behind the "altar of self." May we be more humble and obedient to God so that we may be wiser and at peace with Him and one day be in heaven with Him forever.

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world."  I John 2:16  

Luci

On Bended Knee

On bended knee I come,
With a humble heart I come
Bowing down before Your holy throne
Lifting holy hands to You,
As I pledge my love anew
I worship You in spirit,
I worship You in truth
Make my life a holy praise unto You.

On bended knee We come,
With a humble heart We come
Bowing down before Your holy throne
Lifting holy hands to You,
As We pledge our love anew
We worship You in spirit,
We worship You in truth
Make our lives a holy praise unto You.




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

THE KINGDOM DIVIDES, ELIJAH THE PROPHET

"Now the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord had commanded. So the Lord said to Solomon, 'Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen."'
I Kings 11:9-13


THE KINGDOM DIVIDES  (I KINGS 11-16)

Solomon turned away from the LORD in his later years, worshiping the gods that his many wives had brought with them into the kingdom.  The kingdom of Israel divided in 975 B.C. because Solomon began to serve idols toward the end of his reign.  Rehoboam, his son, likewise made many mistakes that provoked the division.  Considering how much God had blessed him, it is sad that Solomon failed to remain faithful to his beloved Jehovah.  God had made him famously wise and wealthy, yet he strayed from the One he once said he loved.  Because of his unfaithfulness, God was angry with him.  He promised Solomon that after his death, his kingdom was going to be divided, torn in two because of his disobedience.  God kept His promise!  Israel remained a split nation, split because of the king's apostasy.  Do you remember the warning that God gave Israel through the Prophet Samuel about having a king?  God said that an earthly king would bring hardship.  And indeed, this was happening.  Indeed, very few of Israel's later kings honored the LORD as David and Solomon had done in the early years of their reigns.  Because of this unfaithfulness and disobedience to God, Israel paid a terrible price: they lost God's protection and eventually lost their kingdom.


I.   I Kings 11:26-43

As God had promised, He raised up a subordinate against Solomon.  His name was Jeroboam, an Ephraimite, who was the son of Solomon's servant Nebat.  He was chosen to be the leader, and head of Solomon's northern tribes referred to as the Northern Kingdom because of their geographical location in the northern end of Israel.  Jeroboam was approached by a prophet named Ahijah the Shilonite, who told him that he would become king of the ten tribes of Israel since Solomon had sinned.  Moreover, he also learned that his kingdom would be equal to David's, giving all of Israel to him.  But there was one condition.  He was to obey God's commands, walking in His ways and doing what was right in His sight.  When Solomon heard this, he sought to put Jeroboam to death, but Jeroboam arose and fled to Egypt to Shishak king of Egypt for safety where he was welcomed.  He remained in Egypt until Solomon died.  Solomon reigned a total of forty years and was buried with his fathers.  His son Rehoboam then ascended the throne.  Soon Jeroboam returned to Israel to claim his place as king of the northern tribes.


II.   Egyptian King Shishak or Sheshong (935-914 BC)

Sheshong was a Lybian warrior who most likely was the pharaoh who befriended Jeroboam when he fled to Egypt for security.  Remember, Solomon wanted to kill him. Sheshong married one of the old pharaoh's daughters.  Then claimed the throne when the pharaoh died.  This was the beginning of Egypt's 22nd Dynasty.  Sheshong is well known for his military campaigns against the kingdoms of Judah and Israel.  He attacked Jerusalem stripping the Temple of its treasures.  He even took the beautiful golden shields that Solomon had made.  Later he went north attacking Jeroboam's forces at Megiddo.  There he built a stele with his name on it to commemorate his victory.


KINGS OF THE NORTHERN KINGDOM, ISRAEL 

The following dates were taken from A History of Israel by John Bright.  There are several possible sets of dates.  The dates will vary according to the scholars, but most of them mark the date of the divided kingdom as 931 BC.


KINGS OF ISRAEL

Jeroboam 
922-901 BC       
Bad
Chosen by God.  
Reigned for 22 years.  
I Kings 14:19-20
When Solomon died, the kingdom's support was divided between Rehoboam, Solomon's son and successor, and Jeroboam, whom the LORD had chosen as king.  Rehoboam increased the burdens of forced labor and high taxes, which had already grown heavy under Solomon's reign.  The northern tribes rebelled.  When they complained to Rehoboam seeking more lenient treatment, he took it as an insult to kingship.  Moreover, he threatened to impose twice the burden that his father had.  

They revolted.  The ten northern tribes left the kingdom and followed Jeroboam, forming a new nation with the same name as the old one, Israel.  Only two tribes remained faithful to the house of David:  Judah and Benjamin along with some Levites.  The southern kingdom became known as Judah.  They were all that was left to Rehoboam.  It is sad that the great kingdom that had taken David and Solomon 80 years to build was diminished in such a short time after Solomon's death.  Without a doubt, this division of the kingdom made it more vulnerable, making it easier for their foreign enemies to attack both kingdoms. 

Jeroboam made a disastrous mistake at the beginning of his reign.  In attempting to resolve a place to worship, Jeroboam created two places of worship since Israel did not include Jerusalem where the LORD'S Temple was located.  In these new places of worship, he put two golden calf idols:   one in Dan on the northern border and another one in Bethel on the southern border.  His second mistake was to appoint non-Levite priests.  Moreover, he also changed the holidays that God had ordained.  To make things worse, Jeroboam refused to receive the counsel of the prophet sent by God.  As a consequence of this, Jeroboam lost favor with God.  God cut off his line, his dynasty.  

When Jeroboam died, his son also did evil before God.  From then on, none of the kings of Israel obeyed or followed God, I Kings 12-14.
Nadab
901-900 BC
Bad
He reigned
For two years.
He was assassinated.  
I Kings 15:25
Nadab was the son of Jeroboam.  He did evil before the LORD.  Judah captured the Southernmost part of Israel’s region after he took the throne.  This left the kingdom weak allowing the Philistines to take advantage of Nadab’s weaknesses.  Baasha killed him and his entire family at Gibbethon, taking the throne.  I Kings 15:25-31
Baasha 
900-877 BC
Bad
Reigned for 24 years.  
I Kings 15:33
He did not follow the LORD and did evil in His sight.  He smote all the house of Jeroboam, fulfilling Ahijah’s prophecy, I Kings 5:29-30.  He surely had a brutal beginning.  Military losses marked his reign.  He fought with Asa, king of Judah.  
I Kings 15:29-16:5-6
Elah 
877-876 BC
Bad
Reigned seven years.
Assassinated.  
I Kings 16:8
One of his army officers named Zimri killed him when was drunk.  Zimri then proceeded to kill everyone in Elah’s line to claim the throne.  
I Kings 16:8-14
Zimri
876 BC
Bad.
Reigned seven days.
Assassinated.  
I Kings 6:15
His savage brutality did not help him at all.  He only reigned for seven days.  The Israelites refused to validate his kingship, and instead, they claimed Omri, the second commander of the army as king.  When Zimri realized that he had lost all support, he set fire to the palace and died in the same fire.  
I Kings 16:11-20
Omri
 876 – 869 BC
Very Bad.
Chosen by army.
He reigned 12 years.  
I Kings 16:23
He did not follow the LORD but did evil.  He was considered to be more evil than the other kings.  He obtained Samaria, this being one of his biggest accomplishments.  He also built its capital there.  
I Kings 16:23-28
Ahab 
869-850 BC
The Worst
Inherited throne.
He reigned in Samaria for 22 years.  
I Kings 16:29
He did evil.  He is considered the worst of all of Israel’s kings.  He married Jezebel, a Phoenician woman, to make an alliance with the king of Tyre.  Jezebel was a devoted Baal worshiper who brought with her hundreds of Baal prophets.  Ahab tolerated and worshiped them.  He also took part in their ceremonies.  

In the days of Ahab, Hiel built Jericho with the loss of his first born as well as his youngest son, fulfilling the prophecy of Joshua, Joshua 6:26. The LORD raised up a great prophet named Elijah, who confronted the king, Ahab. 
I Kings 16:29-17:24




GIANTS OF THE FAITH:  ELIJAH, THE FIERY PROPHET (I KINGS 17-22 & 
II KINGS 1)

The Bible is full of extraordinary people, and the prophet Elijah is certainly one of them.  He is called the "fiery prophet." He lived during the reigns of Ahab, Ahaziah, and Jehoram, kings of the Northern tribes of Israel.  Elijah (meaning "my God is Jehovah") is one of the Old Testament’s greatest prophets.  He performed many miracles from God such as:

  • He defeated the prophets of Baal. (Called fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice)
  • He raised a boy from the dead.
  • He predicted the fates of Ahab and Jezebel.
  • Finally, he ascended to heaven in a chariot when his time came. 

Because of Ahab’s sin, Elijah proclaimed under God’s instructions that it would not rain until Elijah said so.  When he announced this prophecy, Ahab and his wife Jezebel sought to kill him.  He fled for his life.  For three years, God took care of Elijah hiding him in the wilderness.  Elijah camped beside a brook where ravens fed him with bread and meat every day.  Notice that Elijah hid even in Jezebel’s former country, a Baal worshipping country.  Perhaps, God protected him there to demonstrate that He was LORD of Baal’s territory as well as Israel.  When the drought dried up the brook, God sent Elijah to the house of a widow in Sidon, a Phoenician city.  That widow sustained him.

Elijah’s first miracle:  When the Prophet met this poor widow she was down to her last portions of food.  She planned to feed herself and her son one last time and then wait to die.  When Elijah first met her, he asked her to share her last meal with him.  He even asked her to feed him first but reassured her that God was going to provide.  In return, trusting Elijah, God provided her with enough to make what they needed.  Isn't it amazing that our God has such power over the forces of nature?

Elijah’s second miracle:  The widow’s son suddenly became ill and died.  She cried out to Elijah believing that this was happening because of her past sins, Elijah took her son and cried to the LORD.  He stretched himself upon the child three times.  He asked the LORD each time to restore the life of the child.  Miraculously, the boy’s life returned to his body and Elijah carried him back to his mother.  After seeing this, the widow placed her faith in the God of Elijah.  Again, isn’t it something that God had power over life and death even in Baal’s territory?

Elijah’s third miracle:  After three years of drought, the LORD spoke to Elijah again telling him to return to Ahab.  When Elijah saw Ahab, he challenged him to a duel of deities.  Elijah proposed to Ahab that he bring all of the 450 prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel to represent their god.  Elijah, on the other hand, would represent the LORD all by himself.  Once there, Elijah told the prophets of Baal to lay out a bull as a sacrifice to their god.  He told them to call on their god to ignite the fire.  After their altar had been built, they began to call on the name of their false gods.  When nothing happened, they began to dance.  Elijah mocked them asking if perhaps Baal might be sleeping or traveling or perhaps too busy.   They began to cry out with a loud voice and cut themselves, offering their blood in an effort to attract Baal’s attention.  To their surprise, nothing happened.  By evening, it was evident that their altar would remain unlit.    When it was Elijah’s turn, he used twelve stones, one for each tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel and rebuilt the altar on Mt. Carmel that was torn down by their false prophets.  Although there were only ten tribes after the kingdom was divided, all twelve tribes were still God’s people.  Do you remember other times when God’s people built 12 stone altars or monuments?  How about Moses in Exodus 24 and Joshua in Joshua 4 There on Mt. Carmel, Elijah asked the people to drench the sacrifice three times with water and to fill a trench all the way around the altar with more water.  They did as he requested.  When it was the usual time for the evening sacrificial offering, Elijah prayed for God to make Himself known.  He prayed, and the LORD answered decisively:
"At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, 'O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.' Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.'"  I Kings 18:36-39.
Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel accentuates a beautiful contrast between false gods like Baal and the only True God.  Consider this contrast:

  • The only True God provides what His people need without the need for rituals such as dancing and bloodletting such as is done in many forms of idolatry and false religions.
  • The only True God does not demand that His people cut and hurt themselves that God might hear them.
  • The only True God does not sleep or need rest and is never far away.  God is always present, and He is never too busy for those who love Him, unlike the false gods who seem to be sleeping when their prophets call on them.
  • Unlike the false gods, the one True God is Master of all creation.  Everything is under His control.
  • The one True God cares graciously for His people providing what they need even when they fall short.   The false gods cannot do this.
  • Unlike false gods, God has all power to withhold the rain, as in this drought or to send the rain as He did when Elijah prayed on Mt. Carmel.  He does all this whenever He chooses to do so.

Elijah killed all of the prophets of Baal.  As Elijah ran back to Ahab’s capital, it began to rain.  The drought was over!  Elijah had proven once again that God alone has power over all the natural forces such as fire and rain.

When Ahab returned to his wife Jezebel and told her all that had happened, she immediately plotted to kill Elijah.  She sent a message to let him know that she was going to kill him.  Elijah fled for his life.  He was so disturbed by Jezebel’s evil plan that he pleaded with God to take his life.  The LORD, however, had other plans for him.  God sent an angel to nourish Elijah with a jar of water and cake, baked over hot coals.  He sent an angel twice to provide nourishment to prepare him for a 40-day journey to Mt. Horeb/Sinai, with no food at all.  Can you imagine that?   Nourished but deeply depressed, Elijah walked to Mt. Horeb.  He felt that he was completely alone and that no one else served God in all of Israel.

Notice Elijah’s encounter with God on Mt. Horeb after the events of Mt. Carmel:

Alone in his cave, he waited to hear from the LORD. And while he was waiting, a windy storm arose, but God was not in the storm.  An earthquake shook the cave, but God was not in the earthquake. A fire passed by, but God was not in the fire.  Finally, Elijah heard a still small voice, and he went out of the cave to hear God speak.  What is the lesson here?  That God is not Baal. That God is the Creator of all the earth along with the elements that are in it.  But He is not the elements themselves.  He is a personal God, who desires a relationship with His creation.  This still small voice comes with encouraging words and a reminder that He alone is Sovereign.

So important was Elijah as a prophet of God, that the Messianic prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6, invokes his name to foresee the work of John the Baptist.

"Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.  He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse."
Fascinating Facts:  Baal Worship

The Israelites learned Baal worship from the Canaanites as well as from the Phoenicians like Jezebel.  Baal worship focused mainly on fertility and the cycles of nature:  growing crops, raising livestock and having children.  Baal worshipers also believed that their storm god Baal caused life-giving rain since rain happened only during the rainy season, once a year.  The story developed that Baal had to struggle each year with Mot, the god of death, to break the drought and cause the rains to come. Moreover, the rituals performed by the Baal worshipers such as body cutting, frenzied dancing, human sacrifice and acts of prostitution in the temple encouraged fertility and gave Baal the energy he needed to defeat Mot.

The Israelites were continually drawn into Baal worship.  Their failure was that they wanted to serve two gods:  the God of their fathers who brought them out of slavery in Egypt and Baal who according to what they believed and assumed brought life to their crops and livestock.

Elisha’s Call (I Kings 19:19-21)

When Elijah left Mount Horeb, he found Elisha, who was plowing the fields with his oxen.  Elijah passed by and threw his cloak over him.  In this symbolic act, Elijah indicated that Elisha was chosen to take up Elijah’s ministry.  In an agrarian society, oxen are a crucial possession.  When Elisha took his pair of oxen and sacrificed them and gave it to the people to eat, it indicated a full break from his past.  Now Elisha was ready and willing to leave everything to follow Elijah and minister to him.

Naboth’s Vineyard (I Kings 21)

Ahab had fallen in love with Naboth’s vineyard that happened to be located next to his palace.  Ahab offered to buy that land from Naboth, but he refused.  When Jezebel heard of this and saw how gloomy her husband was and that he was not eating, she immediately began to plot against Naboth.  She wanted him dead!   When her wicked plan worked, she told her husband Ahab to take possession of the land he had coveted so badly.  Now it was time for Elijah to have one last encounter with Ahab and his wicked wife, Jezebel.   When Elijah confronted Ahab with this horrendous crime, he answered, "Have you found me, O my enemy?'  Elijah answered, 'I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel;  and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and because you have made Israel sin.  Of Jezebel also has the Lord spoken, saying, 'The dogs will eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.' The one belonging to Ahab, who dies in the city, the dogs will eat, and the one who dies in the field the birds of heaven will eat.'"

Indeed, Jezebel was a wicked woman.  Because of all this evil, God decreed that dogs would eat her body.  God was going to destroy his line.  And when Ahab heard these words of judgment, he tore his clothes, putting on sackcloth and fasted.  When the LORD saw that Ahab had humbled himself before Him, He decided to postpone the evil He promised until after Ahab’s death.  What a merciful God that He would be moved even by such a wicked man when he humbled himself before His mighty throne!

Ahab is Attacked by the Aramean King (I Kings 20 & 22)

Ben-Hadad, king of Aram (Damascus, in modern day Syria) got together his forces and left to attack Ahab in Samaria.  Ahab had defeated Ben-Hadad’s army twice with the LORD’S help.  Afterward, the two nations had made a treaty.   After three years, Ahab and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah joined forces to defeat Ben-Hadad's army.  Ahab, being a Baal worshiper sought counsel from his false prophets who all told him what he wanted to hear.  They predicted a victory.   Jehoshaphat insisted that they also seek the counsel of a prophet of the LORD.  When Micaiah arrived, he anticipated defeat for both Israel and Judah.   He also predicted the death of Ahab.  Ahab refused to believe this prophecy.

Now Ahab and Jehoshaphat waged war at Ramoth-Gilead, against the king of Syria.  Ahab worried about the prophecy, so he disguised himself before he went into battle.  Unfortunately, his disguise did not protect him.  He died in combat and was brought to Samaria where they buried him.  Ahaziah, his son, became king over Israel in his place.


Ahaziah 
850-849 BC
Bad
Inherited the throne.
He reigned two years
II Kings 1:17-18
Ahaziah worshiped Baal and did evil before the LORD.  He walked in the way of his father.  This angered the LORD.  When Ahaziah injured himself by falling through the lattice of an upstairs room, he sent messengers to the shrine of Baal to find out if he would live or die. Elijah intercepted the messengers and told them to tell Ahaziah that he would not leave his bed but would die. In anger, he sent fifty soldiers to capture Elijah. The prophet said to the captain of fifty, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.  A second group of soldiers met the same fate. When the third group arrived, the captain begged Elijah to spare their lives.

Then the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, "Go down with him; do not be afraid of him." So he arose and went down with him to the king. Then he said to him, "Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of His word?—therefore you shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but shall surely die.'" Ahaziah died as the LORD had prophesied.  Since he had no heir, Jehoram, his brother became king in his place.  II Kings 1
Jehoram
949-843 BC
Bad
Inherited the throne. He
Reigned 12 years.
Assassinated.  II Kings 3:2-3
Jehoram (Joram) did evil; however, he did put away Baal and discouraged its worship.  His reign coincided with the ministry of Elisha, the prophet. The two had many encounters.  Elisha warned him each time the king of Aram tried to move against Israel.  When Elisha provided water in the desert, he witnessed the miracle.  On one occasion, Elisha delivered the Arameans into Jehoram’s hands but did not allow him to kill them.  On another occasion, Elisha also predicted the day when the Aramean siege was going to be broken.  The Aramean soldiers fled because they thought they had heard the sound of mercenary chariots.

When Jehoram was in the midst of the battle against the Arameans, Elisha anointed his army commander Jehu king of Israel.  He gave Jehu the charge of eliminating Jehoram and his family since Jehoram came from the line of Ahab.  When Jehoram was wounded in battle, he returned to his palace.  Jehu then chased him in a chariot.  He killed him on the same property or land that Ahab coveted and stole from Naboth.  Notice that this is what Elijah had prophesied before.  Afterward, Jehu hunted down and killed everyone in Ahab’s line, all of his seventy children.  Jezebel’s eunuchs threw her down from an upper story window of her palace.  There she died, and her broken body was eaten by dogs as prophesied by Elijah.  Jehu also killed all of the prophets of Baal.   II Kings 2-3:3


CONCLUSION:  It has been a joy for me to learn more about the division of the kingdom and the great work of the prophet Elijah.  Our next study will acquaint us with the great work of the prophet Elisha and the Kings that he worked with.

Luci

Monday, March 2, 2015

IN THE GARDEN: SHE SHALL BE CALLED WOMAN, PART TWO

"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings... Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them."  
Genesis 3:7-21

THE ORIGIN OF SHAME AND EXCUSES




Feminism is a false doctrine that has crept into the hearts and lives of nearly everyone of us over the past 2 or 3 generations. Please, consider with me some of the basic Bible teachings concerning the God-given role of women.


I.    The Origin of Shame:
  • Adam and Eve's Eyes Were Open:  
They have now acquired the knowledge of good and evil.
"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.  They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?'  He said, 'I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.'"  Genesis 3:7-10
Now both Adam and Eve know, but wish they had never known.  As we mature and our conscience develops and as we come to the age of understanding right and wrong through the discernment of God's Word, our eyes become open to sin.  Today we call this the 'age of accountability’ or the age of understanding.  Notice what Nehemiah says:

"Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law."  Nehemiah 8:2-3

This can only come with growth and discernment.
    • For Adam and Eve Knowledge Came Immediately:
This knowledge came fully grown at once just as they were created fully grown in an instant.  Take note that they were the first ones to experience Satan's lies and their dreadful consequences.
  • Both Adam and Eve Found Themselves Ashamed Before God and Man:
"They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”  Genesis 3:8-10  
    •  Nakedness Must Be Covered: 
What is the first thing that Adam and Eve realized when God called them?  That they were naked.  Their conscience was telling them they were wrong to be going around like that, naked. In other words, their conscience was accusing them.   In Romans 2:15 we read,  "in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them."

Only those who have the knowledge of good and evil and whose conscience has not been entirely seared have a sense of shame.  Likewise, they also recognize that they must cover up.
    • They Covered Their Loins:
Both Adam and Eve were aware of those parts of their body that needed to be covered.  When they realized they had to be covered, they made some coverings out of what was already available in the garden, mainly the leaves of fruit trees.  Can you see the effect of sin?  Notice that Adam was to dress and keep the garden and now he found himself tearing at the trees to find something to cover himself with.  They covered their loins with leaves.  Adam and Eve knew something was wrong and that they had to do something.  They really did not know how to fix their problem.  They tried to do the best they could think of at that moment.  They, in fact, thought they had done enough.  But until God called them, they did not realize, that they had not really done enough.
    • Their Loins Were Covered Inadequately Before God:
Adam and Eve thought they had covered themselves enough.  Therefore, they stopped adding more coverings to their nakedness.  But when they heard God was approaching them in the garden, they hid.  This leads me to the next questions:  If Adam and Eve had covered their loins enough, why did they hide when God called them?  What did Adam say in answer to God?  "Because I was naked, I hid."  Adam's knowledge of good and evil was enough.  This is what we ALL should do today.  If you are naked, do not exhibit yourself in public!  It is evident that both Adam and Eve knew they were not presentable.  Moreover, they knew that what they were wearing (covered with) was in no way appropriate and acceptable to be in the presence of God.  They were still naked.  So why is it that many think nothing at all of presenting themselves before God and man in the worst fashions of undress or even in unblushing nudity today?  The knowledge of the evil of public nakedness has been lost in these people.
    • They Tried to Hide From God:
Have you noticed that the guilty always want to flee?  Even when no one is pursuing them.  In Proverbs 28:1 we read, "The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are Bold as a lion."

Although they tried to escape from God seeing and knowing their nakedness, God knew.
"How long is the land to mourn and the vegetation of the countryside to wither?  For the wickedness of those who dwell in it, animals and birds have been snatched away, because men have said, 'He will not see our latter ending."'  Jeremiah 12:4
"Am I a God who is near,' declares the Lord, 'And not a God far off?  'Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?' declares the Lord.  'Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?' declares the Lord.  'I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘'I had a dream, I had a dream!'"  Jeremiah 23:23-25
Today many behave in the same way as Adam or even worse and don't have any reservations about their nakedness.  They make no efforts to hide it.  They pretend that God can not see and does not know about their sins.
    • God Later Provided Them With Adequate and Lasting Cover:
"The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them."  Genesis 3:21
Although they knew that they had to wear something else that was more appropriate, they did not come up with the right answer.  So God gave them proper clothes.  God made them durable clothes to wear that were also modest.  It covered them properly.  And though they had covered their “loins,”  God made them garments called “tunics” or coats.  This was new to them.  It was proper clothing in both material and amount of body covering.  People in some parts of the world still wear this kind of robe as their typical clothing.
    • They Tried To Hide Their Sinful State:
Their nakedness was only part of what they were trying to hide.  They knew they were naked because they had disobeyed God.
"Have I covered my transgressions like Adam, By hiding my iniquity in my bosom."  Job 31:33
And although Adam tried to attribute his hiding to modesty, that was not all there was to it.  His biggest problem was guilt because he had sinned.  God knew they had sinned, yet they hid themselves, hoping He would not find out or notice them.  The truth of the matter is that God always knows.  He always has and always will.
"He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion."  Proverbs 28:13
Adam tried to blame his sin on someone else like so many after him have done when they get caught.


II.    The Origins of Excuses:

""And He said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?'  The man said, 'The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.'  Then the Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?'  And the woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate."'  Genesis 3:11-13

Although man is often caught in sin, he seldom wants to admit to it.  He makes up all kinds of sorry excuses like Adam did.

  • God Knew They Had Sinned:
God always does, and there is no way man can escape from Him. Not only does God know that we have all sinned, but He has directly told us so.
"as it is written, 'There is none righteous, not even one."'  Romans 3:10
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  Romans 3:23
It is dishonest to deny it.
"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us."  I John 1:8-10
"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."  I John 2:1
Like Adam, many today avoid the real question of why they sinned. They attempt to evade a serious problem by focusing on less serious problems. Isn't it true? They don't realize that this carnal tactic will definitely not work with God. In Adam's case, God confronted Adam with his sin. God cannot be fooled. Let us take heed!
"Then He said to me, 'The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with blood and the city is full of perversion; for they say, 'The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!'  But as for Me, My eye will have no pity nor will I spare, but I will bring their conduct upon their heads.'"  Ezekiel 9:9-10
  • Man (Adam) Tried to Blame Woman (Eve):
"The man said, 'The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.'"  Genesis 3:12
Even though Adam had received Eve, his wife, as a great gift from God, he after a short time, accused Eve, this gift of God. What Adam did not realize was that he was accusing God himself for the wrong that he had done. It is amazing!
"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”  Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.  The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.  The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.'  For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.'"  Genesis 2:18-24
Take note that when he accused Eve, Adam did not speak of her, as his "beloved wife." He called her "the woman." It is amazing to me how sin affects our relationships, even the dearest ones, by turning our hearts cold. This reminds me of those that because of their cold-heartedness denied our Lord Jesus even when He had been so gracious to them.

Adam ungraciously admitted to his sin, not from conscience but only because he was caught. Does this sound familiar?

  • After a Fashion, The Woman Blamed God Also:
"Then the Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' And the woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'"  Genesis 3:13
When God dealt with Eve, she also immediately blamed someone else. She said it was the serpent's fault. Notice that Eve did not mention tempting Adam and getting him to also eat. She also went ahead and said, "Yeah, but it is not all my fault." Isn't it something that man loves to blame others rather than himself? Today, many hide from their guilt by saying that their parents were bad and they had a difficult childhood. They find excuses for the sinful behavior instead of repenting. This perverse impulse is nothing new.
"Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, ‘The fathers eat the sour grapes, But the children’s teeth are set on edge’?  As I live,' declares the Lord God, 'you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore.  Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die."'  Ezekiel 18:1-4
God had told them to stop sinning. He is telling us the same thing today. As sorry as Adam and Eve's excuses were and how sorry they seemed to God, my excuses and your excuses for sinning are just as sorry. Take heed! And even worse still, all of our excuses are old and worn out. They don't even have the novelty of being original as theirs were.
  • Excuses Don't Excuse:
In spite of all of Adam and Eve's excuses to justify sin, they lost Eden, the Paradise Garden. Consider the example of King Saul when the prophet Samuel corrected his sin. Here's how he answered the prophet:
"Then Saul said to Samuel, 'I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.  But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.'"  I Samuel 15:20-21
In the New Testament, the lawyer who questioned Jesus tried to justify himself. What he did not know was that he was still guilty:
"And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'  And He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?'  And he answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.'  And He said to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.'  But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'"  Luke 10:25-29
What did the lawyer say to justify himself to Jesus?  He said, "And who is my neighbor?"

When we come face to face with our sins, it is not a confession when we say or imply, "So what?" A true confession implies genuine repentance. We must confess and forsake our transgressions to find mercy from God. Remember God searches the heart. He sees and knows the heart of man and cannot be fooled.

"He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion."  Proverbs 28:13

GOD'S ROLE FOR WOMEN:  CHARACTERISTICS WE SEE IN WOMEN OF THE BIBLE

The following is a list of negative characteristics or qualities we see in women in the Bible, according to Nave's Topical Bible:

1.  Women are more easily deceived, I Timothy 2:14
2.  Timid, Isaiah 19:16; Jeremiah 50:37
3.  Self-indulgent, Isaiah 32:9-11
4.  Subtle and deceitful, Proverbs 6:24-29, 32-35;7:6-27; Ecclesiastes 7:26
5.  Silly, easily led into error, 2 Timothy 3:6
6.  Loud and wayward, Proverbs 7:11
7.  Contentious, Proverbs 21:9; 21:19; 25:24; 27:15-17
8.  Prone to gossips and be busybodies, I Timothy 5:6

Here are the positive characteristics or qualities also found in women in the Bible:

1.    Affectionate, 2 Samuel 1:27
2.    Tender to our offspring, Isaiah 49:15; Lamentations 4:10
3.    Virtuous, Ruth 3:11; Proverbs 31:10-31

And of course Proverbs 31 tells us that women can be:

4.    Industrious
5.   Savvy in business
6.   Wise and well-spoken
7.   Trustworthy
8.   Influential
9.   Skillful and productive
10. Kind and compassionate
11. Strong and courageous.

Although a woman was the first to sin, we find in Scriptures many women who were with Jesus, being the last to leave the cross in which our Lord and Savior was crucified, Matt. 27:55-56; Mark 15:40The first to arrive at the sepulcher, Mark 15:46, 16:1; Luke 23:27And the first one to whom the risen Lord and Savior appeared, Mark 16:9; John 20:14.  Let us not forget the women of the early church who helped Paul and the apostles with their good works such as Dorcas, Acts 9:36-42; Lydia, Acts 16:14-15, 40; Phoebe, Romans 16:1-2; Priscilla, Romans 16:6; Lois and Eunice, 2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:15; Euodia and Syntyche, Paul's fellow laborers, Philippians 4:2-3.  And many more.

The list teaches us a lot about ourselves as women.  And although we can be easily deceived and prone to sin, especially when we want to be independent of God, we can be of great and valuable use in the Lord's work.  Of course, we must first obey the Gospel to become women of faith and devotion to our Lord.  We should find a lot of hope in this.  I will leave you with these questions:  As a Christian woman, where do your characteristics and qualities lie?  In what areas do you need to grow to be faithful to the Lord?


THE INFLUENCE OF WOMEN

Today many feminists protest that the Bible is all about men and that women are viewed as inferior, second class citizens.  The fact is that throughout the Bible, we see women in a variety of roles, equal in value to men.  We see them as equally essential to revealing the story of God's grace upon mankind.  It is true that the created order does place women as lower in rank to men, but this does not necessarily imply that she is in any way less important or influential.  In fact, we see the influence of women on history all through the Bible.  Consider the following:

  1. Eve's influence:  As a result of it, sin entered the world, Genesis 3
  2. Sarah's influence:  Upon Sarah's urging, Abraham had a son, Ishmael, with her slave Hagar.  By the way, Ishmael's descendants are the Arabs, who today are still at war with the Jews, the descendants of Isaac, Abraham's son with Sarah, Genesis 16.
  3. Rebekah's influence:  She induced her son Jacob into deceiving his father Isaac regarding the blessing, Genesis 27.
  4. Rahab's influence:  She is the one who received and helped the Israelite spies, casting her lot with the people of the Lord.  Her faith saved her family from destruction as well as the spies' lives.  She also became one of the ancestors of Christ, Joshua 2; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31.
  5. Delilah's influence:  She enticed Samson into his downfall, Judges 16.
  6. Abigail's influence:  She kept David from destroying and killing Nabal and all his household.  I Samuel 25.
  7. Solomon's wives' influence:  They turned Solomon, the wisest and richest man in the world away from the Lord.  Because of all his pagan wives, he worshiped false gods, with tragic and permanent consequences, I Kings 11.
  8. Jezebel's influence:  She incited Ahab to defy God's law with bold and shameless conduct, bringing increased judgment on Israel, I Kings 16-21.
  9. Esther's influence:  She interceded on behalf of her people, saving them from destruction.  
  10. Herodia's influence:  It cost John the Baptist his head, Mark 6.

It is undeniable that women influence their men, whether it is for good or for evil.  This is why Israel was forbidden over and over by God to marry strange women.  God knew well that they were going to turn their husbands' hearts away from the true God to worship other false gods.  I Kings 11; Deuteronomy 7:3

We, as women, have significant influence on our husbands, our children, our churches and our communities.  We have the power to build up our homes with our hands or tear them down with the same hands.  Let us take heed and use our influence for the good of others, especially our homes.


FEMINISM AND SATAN'S LIES

When I was a little girl, I had the blessing of a mother who stayed home with her children, which was common for mothers to do in that time and place.  Most mothers wore aprons like my mother.  They prepared three meals a day.  They cleaned the house and taught their children how to do such chores from an early age.  In a few words, they were good managers of their homes.  They were housewives in word and in deed.  Today, most prefer to call them "homemakers" or "stay-at-home moms."  Unfortunately, these things are changing for the worse.

Although I am going to be more focused on the effect of feminism on the last hundred years of American History, I would like to start with a few observations taken from written history:

3,000 BC - The Sumerians (Mesopotamia) kept all women excluded from politics.  These women practiced several roles outside the home and received some protection in owning property.
3,0000 BC - The Minoan people of Crete gave women equal political authority with men.
1,500BC -  The Hebrew Law placed women under the protection of men making provisions for the widow and the unmarried.
800's BC - Classical myths concerning the origin of man placed the female figure as a disruptive force or as a virgin.
500-300 BC - The Classical Greeks did not allow women to participate in politics.  Women were placed in the home with dignity and respect as managers of their homes.
600's AD - The Germanic tribes viewed women as property to be exchanged by men.
800's AD -  Women could inherit property.  Marriage was still lasting, protecting women.
1000's AD - The Catholic church and various monarchies limited women to the home where love was idealized.
During the Renaissance, women were to be kept in the home.  They were protected.  Any other roles outside the home were viewed as disruptive and dangerous.
The Reformation period underlined a woman's participation in her own salvation and marriage was glorified.
During the late 1600's, the Puritans in England promoted the idea that a woman's place and life should be centered in the home.
In the early history of our country, the American colonies were primarily governed by Biblical principles.  The women enjoyed a level of freedom and protection not known in any other place in the world.

Unfortunately, as believers became more liberal and democratic throughout the Western world, the typical model of womanhood began to change.  Then came the industrial revolution. The wage-labor force began to grow in which women became the major working part, receiving lower wages than men.  In the 1800's women cried out for social reform and improvement of their own state.  As birthrates and infant mortality declined, it left more and more women with fewer years of childbearing.  This produced more possible doors for self-expression, leaving women to pursue a variety of roles and more opportunities.

It is an undeniable fact that women have struggled throughout history to not feel inferior to men.  In recent history, women have tried to improve their rights as women; seeking solutions in a diversity of ways.

During World War I, the American nation frantically requested the women to leave their homes and go to work in the vacated factories.  After the war was over and the soldiers began to return, the nation encouraged the women to go home and give their jobs back to their husbands, most women decided to remain in the workforce.  Their participation in the labor force rose from 15% to 73%.

The women's liberation movement that many think of as originating in the 60's and 70's goes back much further.  But the movement became fully established in America right about the 60s and 70s, and it created a revolution in our country.  Everything from the workforce to the families was revolutionized.  Today the relationships between men, women, and children are all different than they were more than 50 years ago.  Whether we like it or not, we have somehow been brainwashed and have compromised with feminism without even realizing it.  We have all grown up with this whitewashed feminism.  Even those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ and try hard to resist it.  We all know as Christians that God created order for both men and women along with gender distinctions and roles.

The so-called "antiwar movement" of the 60's fed a new feminism by making most women more sensitive to injustice everywhere.  Women began protesting using small support groups to promote their liberalismTheir primary target was male supremacy as the root of all women's problems.  The tried an evil tactic to end traditional "masculine" and "feminine" stereotypes.  For these women having babies was the biggest problem.  They fiercely wanted their personal freedom and control over their own bodies.  This was supported by easier methods of controlling conception, such as the birth-control pill.  This has freed numerous women to choose not to be mothers while rejecting celibacy.  Then in short order, the courts legalized abortion, giving women a whole new set of choices.  

Today feminists claim that the Bible is a sexist book which gives us no rights and makes us inferior.  The truth is that the Bible is filled with guidelines and rules that actually protect and guard the rights of women.  Both in the Old and New Testaments, women did have rights and actually did better than other women under other religious systems.

I would like to examine four of the most popular and absurd claims the feminists make regarding what feminism has done for women.  Consider these claims:
  • Claim 1:  "Before feminism, women were not as valued and did not have as many rights."
Let us make clear that before feminism, the Bible declared men and women equal in standing and value before God.  In fact, this is taught more consistently in the Bible than in any other religious or secular system.  In the Bible, both men and women's work were equally well founded.  As we read, we find out that wifehood, motherhood, homemaking and femininity are not depreciated.  We also notice that women are not manipulated by shaming and guilt into living and acting like men.  Quite the contrary, a woman's distinction from man is often praised and honored.  Her unique role is held vital.  In the Bible, we also see that women were protected and cherished, "A gracious woman attains honor, and ruthless men attain riches."  Proverbs 11:16"Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates."  Proverbs 31:31

Notice that it was not until the so-called "women's liberation" that women were told, "your value as a woman is enough."  Likewise, it was not until feminism that our nation began to raise up a generation of thugs, foolish, childish and irresponsible men.  Such men, young and old, began to treat women as objects to be used and discarded.  Women were "devalued" in their eyes.

As for their so-called "new rights," where did these rights come from?  Let us not forget that all rights must be granted and honored by some Higher Source, which is God and not Susan Brownell Anthony, an American social reformer and feminist who played a pivotal role in the women's suffrage movement.   Lest we forget, God is the Author of our rights and not "feminism."  It was He who gave women all rights, such as:  property rights, marital rights, and divorce rights.  Let us never forget that the Bible was first (before the “Feminist Movement”) giving man strict laws that protected women from abuse, rape, incest, abandonment, injustice and much more.  Moreover, it also gave women something unique that our legal system cannot:  a whole system of provisions for women who wound up in hard circumstances. 

Christianity is the only social, spiritual and political force that gives women true value and rights.  In fact, it is the anti-Christian religions such as Marxism, Islam, and yes feminism that demean, undervalue and exploit women.  Throughout history, we see that it was the Christian societies that genuinely and truly valued women, protected women, and honored women.  Why?  Because those societies were faithful to the Bible's actual teachings.
  • Claim 2:  "Women are better educated today, thanks to feminism."
I am not going to deny that women have more educational opportunities today as do men also.  But this does not necessarily imply that women are making better use of such opportunities than they ever did.  Feminism did not help “Al Gore invent the internet.” The fact is that there have always been smart and wise women in some societies, and some produced fewer than others.  Historically, the chief barrier to a woman and her education is her own apathy and mental laziness.

Take for example Hannah Moore who was regarded by Britain's intelligence as one of the most scholarly and well-educated women of her time (1745-1833).  Notice what she chided, "She who regrets being doomed to a state of dark and gloomy ignorance, by the injustice or tyranny of the men, complains of an evil which does not exist."

What they do not take into account is that the Bible offers abundant praise for women who are intelligent, wise, capable, prudent, gifted, well-spoken, prolific and diplomatic and so it does men also.  It also sends out an intimidating vision of all that godly womanhood requires.  One more time, the Bible was there long before feminism telling women not to be ignorant of the will of God, not to be foolish, not to be lazy, not to be nearsighted or easily led:  Proverbs 9:13; Proverbs 31:27; Lamentations 1:9; 2 Timothy 3:6.

History is filled with many examples of Christian men who knew they needed to educate their daughters completely.  For example, there is a panoply of educated women such as Anne Bradstreet, Lady Jane Grays, Mercy Otis Warrens, Abigail Adams and others who were but did not come out of a vacuum.  These women were the products of Christian families that understood the importance of educated women to a Christian society.

In 1688, Francois Fenelon wrote an entire book to reject those who exclaimed, "why make them learned?  Curiosity renders them vain and conceited:  it is sufficient if they be one day able to govern their families and implicitly obey their husbands!"'  This was an excuse he attributed mainly to "maternal caprice."  His main theory was that high supply of intellect can and must be cultivated in daughters.  This will sustain them and equip them for the challenges of productive womanhood.  Those who complain about the depreciation of female intellect should consider that feminism's sons are barely known for valuing women's brains over their bodies.

Feminism has failed to correct the evil of obnoxious men and foolish women.  Likewise, it has failed to motivate many women to educate themselves.  In fact, what feminism has done mainly is to change the goal of a woman's education; for which we will refuse to thank it.
  • Claim 3:  "Thanks to feminism, women can now work and earn money."
Ever since feminism began creeping into the way of thinking of Americans, woman's work began also moving into a different field, but so has industry in general.  In some part, the reason why women are confused about their relation to work today is that economy, industry, and work have been redefined during the industrial revolution.  Sadly, the product of this industrial revolution moved Biblical domestic economy into workstations and factories.  And those women who were housewives or homemakers taking care of their children, family endeavors, and household chores were removed from the sphere of the home.  This was due to ample opportunities for gainful employment.  One of the chief goals of the women's movement was to help bury the family economy by equating "real" work with jobs outside the home.  This industrial sphere changed the family into a collection of individuals in potential and often real competition with each other.

What these feminists don't realize when they make their absurd claims is that prior their so-called social movements, women worked.  Their work was conducted mainly in the household workplace which included working the fields, vineyards, family storefronts or offices, workshops, etc.  This did not limit managing their homes.

Women were indeed productive members of society, producing goods of substantial value, bringing in money, and expanding the family holdings.  Just look at the excellent wife of  Proverbs 31 and in Christian societies in history where women's work included business transactions, production of goods, making investments, developing skills in a variety of fields, and earning money from their home.  One good example was Eliza Lucas Pinckney who not only accepted the work of maintaining her family's three plantations in her father's absence but used the fields to experiment with crops to strengthen the fledgling nation's economy.  Eliza focused on home and family.  She had a desire to stay in her "proper province," submitted to her father and husband.  It would take a feminist to contradict her actions.  It would also take a feminist to think that Eliza and her contemporaries needed liberation.
  • Claim 4:   "Feminism gives us power"
A woman's power is natural or instinctive (inborn).  We, women, are extremely influential and unfortunately have been for better or for worse.  It is indeed an actual fact that we have always had the ability or capacity to build up or to destroy.  Notice what Proverbs 14:1 has to say about this:  "The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands."  In today's culture, most of the power that we see women exercising today in their homes is to tear it down with their own hands.  This is sad because it deceives them into thinking this makes them much stronger when in fact they are abusing that power to destroy their homes.  Think of how much women have really influenced every society or culture.  When one looks at cultures which have marginalized women, we notice that women played a major part in that.  Don't get me wrong here!   I don't want to deny that there is plenty and real oppression and exploitation in this world and that there are many actual victims, but women often are the ones who support, honor and defend their own exploitation and oppression.  It takes two to tango!  It takes both to perpetuate pornography, immodesty, a sexually exploitive culture and a number of endless harms to women.  When male and female inter-connect and inter-depend on each other, this makes it possible for men to get away to a great extent even when women would not allow it. 

Feminism is a cunning movement.  It is dangerous and enticing.  Today, this movement pretends to be soft, enticing many Christians.  It is infiltrating in our churches.  They call it Christian feminism.  The absurd part of this is that I don't think it is possible for feminism to be labeled Christian.  It is whitewashed feminism and nothing else.  Why is it enticing?  Because it feeds on a woman's desire to be in control and gives her power.  It is cunning because it claims to be solely based on Christianity and in fact, it is not.  I am sorry to say, but many Christians hate patriarchy and patricentricity Why?  Because this means "father-rule." 

Up From Liberation

The good news in all this is that we have God-given strength through His Word that we may use it to rebuild and restore what feminism has taken away from us.  These feminists have suppressed and covered up the Truth from us.  It has cut us off from our heritage of strong and intelligent womanhood by defrauding even those of us who reject and want no part in this whitewashed feminism.  Somehow we all have been affected by this monster called feminism.  It is in our churches, our homes, our government and our school, everywhere.  I am sorry to say but we have been severely indoctrinated by an evil worldview that it is at war with our Creator, God.  The roles of men and women have been turned upside down as well as inside out.  The homosexual community threatens to do even more damage, cultivating and nurturing all sorts of perversion and misery.  And just like its predecessor, feminism is seeking to destroy us, especially the Biblical family.  Feminism is completely opposed to the Bible.  A whitewashed feminism is fighting against women by confusing and burdening Christian women to reject their role as wives and mothers.  This monster called feminism has infiltrated even the church and has given them license to sin against God.  They sin when they rebel against all male authority and independent power.  They sin when they pursue what God has not authorized them to do.  Feminism has not helped at all!  As a matter of fact, it has become a stumbling block for Christian women to repent and be restored back to God and His authority.  Feminism is one of Satan's big weapons to destroy the home.  He deceives women into thinking that they have been treated unfairly and that they deserve more and better.  2 Peter 2:18.  We must as women keep in mind that our true freedom comes from the freedom of sin.  What that means is that we must repent and not be servants of sin.  2 Peter 2:19-21.  We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by smooth speech or sugar coated words.  Let us dig in Scripture and be like the Bereans in order that we may do His will and be saved. We have to attack feminism with the Word of God!

All that feminism has given us is trouble and misery.  In exchange, it has given us the so-called "women's studies," which is nothing more a study on discontent.  Why?  Because it divorces women from their context, trying to study "women" as an individual entity.  As if women can only be understood apart from "human" and be extracted from her environment.  This is absurd!  These feminists want to deceive other women by focusing more on victims overcoming victimhood.  These so-called "women studies" consists mostly of building imaginary glass ceilings and planting territorial flags on discoveries that feminism never made.  They love to recruit spokeswomen from among their antithesis.  One good example is Nancy Pelosi.  A woman they called the "most powerful woman in American history."  And who has sparked national discussions on both the history of women in America and the nature of woman's power.  But behind all her power there is the presupposition:  "women find their power in holding the positions of men.  The traditional women's role has no power.  The power traditional women exercised in the past does not count."  Sadly, Americans are eager and ready to believe this lie because they have adopted and accepted a feminist worldview.

Thanks be to God, that the Bible is the ONLY source of true vision and inspiration.  The Bible, the inspired Word of God, is always there giving us good examples from ancient generations of godly women and men who did God's will even in dark times such as ours.  Yes, we must go back to the Bible in order to rebuild a culture of Biblical femininity from scratch.  And let us not restrict ourselves from copying the past.  A Biblical culture of femininity must be rebuilt on the right foundations.  Not on secular and worldly views, fantasy lore, not on feminist lies and of course not on  women such as Nancy Pelosi and others like her.  And let us not follow any of Satan's lies through feminism, in destroying our homes with our own hands.  Let us humble ourselves before God, turning away from sin, that He may honor us and not the world.  Let this be our hope.  Let us repent and be transformed no matter what challenges or obstacles we grew up with, whatever mistakes we have made, whatever our past track record, whatever wrong patterns of thinking or communicating we have acquired or developed.  Let us allow the Word of God to change us from glory to glory in order that we may save our own families, the church and our community and not have to be put to shame by Him.  His Word, His grace and strength are sufficient for solving all of life's problems, deceptions that affect our marriages, our families and our churches.

So my question to you is this:  Where are you in our society?  Are you allowing other carnal worldviews such as feminism to control your heart and mind?  Which teachings are you allowing to enter your heart, feminism or Biblical Truth?  Are the feminists deceiving and brainwashing you as a woman?  Do you find that our Bible claims are valid?  As Christian and godly women as well as godly men, are we fighting them with all of our breath?  I hope you choose to say yes.  Finally, what is your standard of measure?  God and His rule or all the lies of Satan concerning feminism?

Let us be women who can plant and build up and let us from all of our heart go to the ONLY source of Absolute Truth.  And let us not be proud but rather humble allowing the great Master to refine, mold and shape our hearts.  Let us replace those hearts of stubbornness and rebellion with hearts of obedience to our Master, sowing those seeds of Truth that will bear good fruit in our lives.

In my next study, I will be discussing "Submission."


Luci