Month: February 2013

1 Kings

Solomon, son of David, was chosen by David to succeed him as king.  Solomon became king and was blessed greatly by the Lord. 

Now God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore.  Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.  For he was wiser than all men, than Ethan the Ezrahite, Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was known in all the surrounding nations.  1 Kings 4: 29 – 31

So the fame of Solomon extended beyond the borders of Israel, resulting one day in a visit by a dignitary from a foreign land.

Now when the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to test him with difficult questions.  So she came to Jerusalem with a very large retinue, with camels carrying spices and very much gold and precious stones.  When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart.  Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was hidden from the king which he did not explain to her.  When the queen of Sheba perceived all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his waiters and their attire, his cupbearers, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, there was no more spirit in her.  Then she said to the king, “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.  Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it.  And behold, the half was not told me.  You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard.  How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom.  Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the LORD loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.  1 Kings 10: 1 – 9

The wisdom of Solomon and his prosperity impressed the queen, and she attributed such things to the blessings of God.  This account of Solomon and the queen of Sheba is the context for a rebuke that Jesus gave to the scribes and Pharisees.

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”  But He answered and said to them… “The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”  Matthew 12: 38 – 39, 42

It was quite the claim for Jesus to call Himself greater than Solomon, at that particular time to that particular audience.  The Pharisees thought Jesus was a false prophet and a blasphemer, not a king and not the Son of David.  But Jesus performed great miracles and demonstrated tremendous wisdom; for like Solomon, Jesus was able to respond to any question or argument brought His way. 

So in wisdom and wonders, Jesus should have been considered equal to Solomon, if not greater, by the scribes and Pharisees.  But their hearts were hardened and they could not see.

To us now, with the Scriptures and the benefit of hindsight, we should be able to clearly see how Christ exceeds Solomon’s glory.  But, there is one aspect to focus on, more than Christ’s wisdom and more than Christ’s wonders.  When comparing the humanity of Jesus to the humanity of Solomon, the thing that truly makes Him greater is His fidelity to the God of Israel.  Solomon became corrupt; his wisdom and power led to hubris which led to him turning from God and turning to false gods and foreign women.  But we cannot say such things about Jesus.  All the miracles, all the wisdom, all the power, and He remained undefiled.  He never sinned, He never denied God, He never bowed to Satan.  He did not do as Solomon did, and therefore He was, and is, greater.

The sinless Christ is a very important doctrine.  For when Jesus was put to death by the Jews for the sin of blasphemy, He was vindicated by God in that He was raised from the dead.  For if the wages of sin is death, how could He remain dead who never sinned?  And if He truly blasphemed the Holy One of Israel, then how could God let Jesus be resurrected?  And if Jesus had sinned, like Solomon sinned, what good is it to say His righteousness is imparted to us?

But He who never sinned and raised Himself from the dead declares that He is greater than Solomon.  Who could possibly argue with His logic?

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Creational Monotheism = Polytheism = Henotheism

John Mark Comer, of Solid Rock church in Portland (some 7,000 attendees), is teaching a doctrine that he has labeled “creational monotheism”.  This doctrine declares that there is only one “creator God”, but that there are many gods.  He claims this is the teaching of Scripture.  He claims that there is a distinct class of created beings called “gods”, but that they all derive from the creative power of the creator God.  These gods are distinct from demons, for he made a point in one of his sermons to teach that the demons serve “the gods”.

If you take the words monotheism and polytheism by their plain meaning, as provided by dictionary.com:

       Monotheism = the doctrine or belief that there is only one God

       Polytheism = the doctrine or belief in more than one god or in many gods

then you should quickly realize that the pastor’s attempt to call his doctrine monotheistic is greatly lacking in logic.  For if you teach there is more than one god, you are by definition polytheistic.  It does not matter whether you teach that only one of the gods, out of the many, is worthy of worship.  The recipient of worship has nothing to do with the definition of monotheism or polytheism.

So, in summary, there is a church which, if you were to peruse their website, seems to fall within the class of an evangelical church with social justice leanings.  But they are teaching polytheism. 

Yet, because he is teaching that we ought to worship Yahweh above other gods, his brand of polytheism can be more precisely labeled.  He is a henotheist.  The dictionary tells us that henotheism is

“The worship of a particular god, as by a family or tribe, without disbelieving in the existence of others.”

Henotheism is neither considered apostolic doctrine nor the teaching of Scripture.  The Scripture refers to false gods and idols, but we are never to take such things literally, as if there are actually a distinct class of beings known as “gods”.  The false gods of Scripture are always demonic or derived from the art and thought of man.  Henotheism is not a viable doctrine in orthodox Christianity.  The Scriptures teach monotheism.

To teach that Yahweh rules over the council of gods is to teach something very similar to Greek mythology, where Zeus was the “Father of Gods and men” and ruled the council of the Olympians.  It is a horrible leap in logic to think that if you teach only one god should be worshipped, that you are monotheistic. 

The prophet Isaiah gives us words from the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the only true God.

“You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.  Before Me there was no God was formed, and there will be none after Me.  I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me.”  Isaiah 43: 10 – 11

If this pastor can’t understand the simple definitions of monotheism and polytheism, should we even entertain the idea he understands the Scriptures accurately regarding “the gods”?

2 Samuel

There is a subtle prophecy regarding God’s provision, uttered by Abraham and confirmed by Moses, which really begins to take shape in the last chapter of 2 Samuel.  Moses writes that Abraham, after almost killing his own son Isaac, received a ram in his place as an offering.

Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.  Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”  Genesis 22: 13 – 14

God’s provision being prophesied would occur on the “mount of the LORD”; this mount became a Jewish idiom for the temple, as the temple was built on Mount Moriah.  And how did the temple come to be built on Mount Moriah?  By the purchase of land detailed in the last chapter of 2 Samuel.

So Gad came to David that day and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”  David went up according to the word of Gad, just as the LORD had commanded.  Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants crossing over toward him; and Araunah went out and bowed his face to the ground before the king.  Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”  And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be held back from the people.”  2 Samuel 24: 18 – 21

We know that this threshing floor was the temple location based on 2 Chronicles 3:1:

Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

The temple played a significant role in the Old Covenant, but the building of the temple was not the ultimate fulfillment of Abraham’s prophecy.  The temple was not God’s ultimate provision for His people.

Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, is the ultimate provision for God’s people.  On the day when Jesus died, the Scripture records an earthquake and another wonder:

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.  And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.  Matthew 27: 50 – 51

This temple veil was the veil separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, which could only be entered once a year (Day of Atonement) by the High Priest following a strict procedure.  Yet the New Covenant of Christ, established by His blood, atoned for sin perfectly and forever, made the temple obsolete, and truly fulfilled the prophecy of Abraham.  For on the mount of the LORD, on the day Jesus died for our sins, reconciliation with God was provided, and the temple veil on that mount was torn in two.

Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.  For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place.  Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.  Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.  The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time.  Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.  But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?…For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.   Hebrews 9: 1 – 14, 24

The False Gospel of Ray Lewis

Did you watch the Ray Lewis interview that was aired prior to the Super Bowl?  Ray, never one to hesitate speaking about a “god” somewhat related to the Bible, demonstrated his fundamental lack of knowledge about the Biblical gospel.  When asked about his role in a double murder over ten years ago he offered this quote:

“If you really knew how God works, he don’t use people who commit anything like that for his glory.”

Has Ray Lewis never read about the Apostle Paul, and how he once persecuted Christians until being redeemed by Christ?  Ray laid all his cards on the table with that quote.  He has no conception of the Biblical gospel of Jesus Christ dying for sinners, including murderers, but instead is caught up in some false religious form of American Christianity which contains dangerous strands of moralism and a prosperity heresy.

His lack of understanding was further demonstrated during the post-game celebration, where he said something to the effect of “If God is for you, who can be against you,” as if he had firsthand knowledge that it was God Himself who had planned and purposed for the Ravens to win the Super Bowl during Ray Lewis’ last season.

For those who may be inclined to think God was with the Ravens because of the religion of Ray Lewis, I offer the following warning from Moses, for it surely seems applicable to someone who has done great and amazing things on the football field, but who is praising a god that, every time I have heard that god spoken about, has no direct connection to Jesus Christ and His gospel, but only a loose affiliation with hand-picked Bible verses.

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 13: 1 – 3

1 Samuel

The LORD gave Israel the law through Moses; He gave them prophets who spoke His word; He gave them judges to deliver them; but He did not give them a king. 

It was God’s desire that Israel would look to Him rather than a man, as ruler and king.  But the hearts of the people were wicked, and their desire to have a man rule them was prophesied by Moses even before the people ever officially asked for a king.

When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.  Deuteronomy 17: 14 – 15

These are condemning words from Moses, for it was not a good thing that Israel desired to be like “all the nations…” rather than be like God’s chosen nation.  This prophecy of Moses was fulfilled a few hundred years later, in the days of Samuel.

And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel.  Now the name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in Beersheba.  His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.  Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways.  Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.”  But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.”  And Samuel prayed to the LORD.  The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.  Like all the deeds they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day – in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods – so they are doing to you also.”  1 Samuel 8: 1 – 8

Perhaps understanding Israel’s wicked desire for a king in the days of Samuel makes the incarnation of King Jesus that much more profound.  For by the Son taking on human flesh, God fulfills both His desire to be thought of as king by His people and the desire of His people to be ruled by a man.  For Jesus Christ will reign over His kingdom forever and He will do so in human flesh. 

Paul preached a message once relating the days of Samuel and the appointing of kings to the eventual coming of Christ.

Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem.  But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.  After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.”  Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He led them out from it.  For a period of about forty years He put up with them in the wilderness.  When He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land as an inheritance – all of which took about four hundred and fifty years.  After these things He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.  Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.  After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.’  From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, after John had proclaimed before His coming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel…And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You.’  As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give You the holy and sure blessings of David.’  Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.’  For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; but He whom God raised did not undergo decay.  Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.  Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you:  ‘Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; for I am accomplishing a work in your days, a work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.’  Acts 13: 13 – 24, 32 – 40

And what is this work of King Jesus that the scoffers scoff at?  God in human flesh.  Crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection.  Forgiveness of sin, not by works, but by believing in the King.