Tolerating Jezebel

The congregation at Thyatira in Revelation 2:19 seems to be doing everything right according to Jesus.

“I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.” (Revelation 2:19, ESV)

There was apparently nothing to fault in their faith and service. However, the one glaring problem was that they tolerated a woman called Jezebel.

But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.(Revelation 2:20, ESV)

There might’ve been an actual woman whose actual name was Jezebel. More probably, it was a woman like Jezebel. Jesus was most likely calling her out by her actions, which were in keeping with the original Jezebel. Queen Jezebel was the wife of Ahab king of Israel, daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians. The Sidonians were one of the nations left by God to test Israel (Judges 3), but Israel failed time and again by marrying the daughters of these nations, following after their gods instead of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jezebel’s claim to fame was in using the usual tools of her Canaanite people to recruit followers for Baal notably sexual immorality (sex outside of marriage as God designed it, divorce, homosexuality, sex with animals, sex with close relatives, prostitution, and so on). Elijah had a famous battle with her priests and prophets (1 Kings 18) and wiped them out.

This woman in Thyatira was using similar methods to move people away from the worship of God alone. An interesting part of the charges by Jesus against Thyatira was that Jezebel allowed or encouraged “eating food offered to idols.” How could this be a bad thing when all the “ceremonial” laws were eliminated (according to the modern church)? The answer is obviously that all of the Laws were in fact still in effect.

So Thyatira was doing everything right, except they tolerated Jezebel’s teaching that sexual immorality was okay. Anybody see where we are doing the same thing today? The church wants to be “tolerant” of sexual immorality by “loving” homosexuals and transgenders and God knows what else. Love has been redefined to allow sexual immorality. The church is teaching that we should tolerate it. They allow unrepentant sexually immoral persons into their congregations. The more things change the more they remain the same.

The congregation at Thyatira is no longer with us. The followers of Jezebel were given time to repent, but apparently did not. Jezebel was thrown onto a sickbed, and those who committed adultery with her were thrown into great tribulation and were killed. It seems obvious to me that Jesus was not really talking to just that particular congregation at that particular time. He was talking to all of those who claim His name (“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the congregations” Revelation 2:7; 2:11; 2:29; 3:6; 3:13; 3:22). If we have ears, and hear, we will repent of the same things that others were told to abandon. We shouldn’t be embracing these unrepentant sexually immoral people. We shouldn’t be tolerating the woman Jezebel in our midst. Cast her out, disavow her teachings, cast her children out of our congregations and hold fast what we have until He comes. Otherwise we will suffer the fate Jesus warned would come upon all those who tolerate those same teachings. Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus.

Shalom
Bruce

Distractions, Part Four, Boring stuff

Boy there are a lot of distractions from the Word. I may run out of numbers eventually.

 

This distraction is kind of a reverse distraction. It is a distraction because it is not distracting. What I mean is, God’s message is simple. Easy to understand. Repetitive. And boring. It does not have bells and whistles, dramatic lighting, big screen TV’s, shocking YouTube videos, celebrity endorsements, titillating gossip, vampires, salacious tweets, soap opera story lines, or Oscar winning computer graphics. It’s pretty mundane on the surface. Right up until you try to do it.

 

I’m speaking of abiding in His Word. Doing what He says. That’s it. It’s just not enough for a Hollywood party.

 

Obey is the original four-letter word.

 

It doesn’t appear sexy, or exciting. Unless you actually try it on for size. Take His Word out for a spin and you’ll find out just how stimulating it really is. That is, if you truly intend to follow God with a whole heart of flesh.

 

Sabbath, for instance, is not as easy as it looks. Sounds great – just take Saturday off. No work. No chores. No sweat. But just try to do it out of love for God. You would not believe the stimulation in just resting. It goes against the world. It goes against commerce, because Saturday is a big “buying and selling” day for the unbelievers. It goes against our own natures. It looks tame, but fireworks really go off when we try to actually do what the Father says. We can feel His life flowing through us when we allow Him to write His Word on our heart with the Spirit, and actually do what Jesus did.

 

Or try to avoid pork and shellfish. Think it’s just another diet gimmick? Try it and you’ll think again. You will be amazed at the tremendous amount of this trash in a worldly meal you didn’t know was there. When love for God drives you to eat His body and drink His blood (His Word and will) instead, it charges up your walk with energy from the Spirit you didn’t know you had at your disposal. It’s like removing sticks from a dam across the flow of a stream. Soon the dam gives way and all that pent up power can move through your soul.

 

His feasts (Leviticus 23) are beautifully timed to regenerate your enthusiasm and bring biblical teachings right into your living room. The reality of His grace, mercy and justice is driven home with concrete practices right from His heart to yours. We remember the past, remind ourselves of His presence and promises while teaching our children about them, and reinforce hope for our future deliverance. What a blast. We are invited to regular parties by the King of Kings, and He really knows how to throw a bash. Get high on the Spirit with no hangover. And you remember every detail.

 

On the surface, viewed with a heart of stone, His Word can appear boring. The benefits are hidden to those who are so easily distracted by the ear-tickling shiny baubles of emotional detours. Try following every part of His living oracles as much as you can, however, and that’s when the excitement truly begins. If His Word appears boring, perhaps it’s not the Word that is the problem at all.

Shadows and a Soft Heart

Following the whole of the Word of God is not about rules and regulations. It’s about a soft heart. A real believer cannot sit in judgment on the Word, calling some parts of it “shadows” and some parts “small things” not worth doing, and still claim to be following the big things. I’m sure Adam and Eve had a similar attitude when they decided that the dietary command concerning the tree of knowledge was a shadow, a small thing, and not worth doing.

Eating Out Without Leaven

When you’re on the road, trying to find food without leaven is a little more difficult than at home. Though each meal took a little more planning on a trip we took recently, that was time to reflect on God’s ways and the reasons for following them. Each menu decision was flavored with love for God, and God’s love for us. We wanted to skip leaven as He instructed because He loves us so much. We get to love Him back a little by slight diet changes. He dies a tortured, painful bloody death on an execution stake and we return a tiny bit of that love by eating crackers. What a deal.

Of course, it’s far more difficult to remove the sin, symbolized by the leaven, than it is to find a restaurant that isn’t centered around leavened bread. It’s a little hard to eat a sandwich without the bread. But a week making decisions about bread translates to keeping the removal of sin in focus too. And it’s a great kick start to a habit of removing a particular sin.

Hypocrites and Passover

5273 ὑποκριτής [hupokrites /hoop·ok·ree·tace/] n m. From 5271; TDNT 8:559; TDNTA 1235; GK 5695; 20 occurrences; AV translates as “hypocrite” 20 times. 1 one who answers, an interpreter. 2 an actor, stage player. 3 a dissembler, pretender, hypocrite.
ESL

5273. ὑποκριτής hupokritēs; from 5271; one who answers, an actor, a hypocrite:—hypocrite(2), hypocrites(16).
NASB Dictionaries

), corresponding to the above, primarily denotes one who answers; then, a stage–actor; it was a custom for Greek and Roman actors to speak in large masks with mechanical devices for augmenting the force of the voice; hence the word became used metaphorically of a dissembler, a hypocrite. It is found only in the Synoptists, and always used by the Lord, fifteen times in Matthew; elsewhere, Mark 7:6; Luke 6:42; 11:44 (in some mss.); 12:56; 13:15. HYSSOP HUSSŌPOS (ὕσσωπος , (5301) VEDONTW

Also means men of falsehood 26:4, evil doer Is. 9:17, godless, deceitful men, pretenders, vain persons, and profane.

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Mark 7:6–7, ESV)

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:51–53, ESV)

Those who receive the Bible as the Word of God yet do not keep it? Eating ham with leavened baked goods ignoring Sabbaths on Easter Sunday directly opposite what God teaches? Honoring with lips but hearts are far away, perhaps?

I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks; who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels; who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all day long. (Isaiah 65:2–5, NRSV)

Passover 2013

The Passover meal is Monday March 25th. Tuesday the 26th and Monday April 1st are Sabbaths. From Monday night through Monday we will be eating unleavened bread with our meals. Before Passover we will remove all the food products with leaven in them from our home.

The Passover meal is a family time with a lamb barbecue. The lamb we roast with a marinade discovered by Susan and some allspice. We have walking sticks (staffs) and coats close by, and we don’t dally over the meal. We also eat some cheroseth (apples and cinnamon) and we use horseradish for the lamb (bitter herbs). There is some prayer and bread from His Word (Bible reading) to remember what Jesus did for us with His death and resurrection. He is the one who makes Passover and all it means possible. That’s why we burn up all our leftovers, and return a small part of His love by abiding in His commands.

If you’ve been celebrating the godless whitewashed pagan fertility feast of Easter, nowhere to be found in Scripture, consider abiding in His whole Word instead. Let the pagans have their day back, and worship with us in the God-anointed festival of Passover instead. Touch God and be touched through the new covenant of love from a heart of flesh for every Word from His mouth.

It’s All Good?

‘Whole Bible Christianity,’ chapter 6, ‘It’s All Good.’

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. (Genesis 9:3, ESV)

There is another argument for eating anything some make based on Genesis 9:3. A small problem, however. “Every moving thing that lives” doesn’t mean everything can be eaten. For instance, though people are included in “every moving thing that lives” obviously they are not to be eaten. All green plants cannot be eaten either. Some are poisonous. Others are distasteful, like moldy bread or rotten fruit. There are meats that are deadly poison too, or are deadly if they are not handled just so (like lobster). We even treat plain water with caution, boiling and filtering it to “clean” it. Meat was made available, but there is nothing in the text to suggest all meat is okay to eat. God nailed the issue down further at Sinai. Probably because there were a lot of people who ate anything without exercising the sense God gave them.