Prayers for Brothers and Sisters: Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines

Our thoughts, gifts, and prayers go out to our whole Bible brothers and sisters at whatever location Typhoon Haiyan affected them and in whatever way it touched them. Many are friends of this ministry, and we asked (and are asking) the Father for protection, restoration, and blessing through this frightening and trying time in their lives. Material help is on the way, and I pray it is distributed as needed and not gobbled up by the wicked.

Something I cling to in times of difficulty is that God is always working, even though bad things happen to us. It sounds trite but it is still true, that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose. Appearances can be deceiving, and cause us to lose hope. So some of the words I speak are intended to bolster your hope in Him.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18, ESV)

I’ve been praying and asking God for the right words to say here because I want them to be from Him and not just from me. I am not there; I can only imagine the difficulties you are experiencing. In my prayer and search for words for you I kept coming back to Psalm 10. The affliction mentioned there comes from wicked people, but it still applies because many times so-called “natural” disasters are responses from God to wicked men.

Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”? But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none. The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:12–18, ESV)

You have many idolaters around you; many people who are going their own ways unmindful of God and His ways. I cannot say for certain that the typhoon is a direct result, but it seems to me that it is still part of God’s warnings of His coming wrath. Sometimes we must suffer along with the wicked so that not only will we learn from it but that we may also help those who are being commanded to turn back to Him. Repentance is the main goal of events such as this, and hopefully many will see and exchange their wickedness for His righteousness.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3–5, ESV)

Words of encouragement in such a situation can be unintentionally hurtful. But in this format I bring your plight to mind for others. The voices of many lifted to our God, Father and Friend will help push back against any evil intent this disaster might have for you. I pray you have been and will be protected through the trials, and that His blessing will be upon you.

For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! (Psalm 22:24–26, ESV)

Shalom

Judging with Righteous Judgment Pt. 2 – Canaanite Marriage

Judging with righteous judgment in the area of marriage can be tough. Especially in modern times when the only requirement is that you “love” the other person. Modern love however is lacking in righteous judgment almost completely. The main consideration is strong sentiment or romance only, which we get from the Greeks. Some are even so stupid as to think they should be “sexually compatible” so they jump in the sack before marriage. I don’t think you can get much dumber than that, because of course we are all “sexually compatible.” God made it that way.

 

But what God wants is almost never a consideration. Then later people want you to “pray” for their marriage. Really? Ignore God and do what you want, then pray for God to get your ass out of a sling of your own making? Sorry, baby. You poured the wine, you drink the cup.

 

In several places in the Law believers are instructed to avoid marriage with Canaanites. This law seems to have been in place long before Sinai. Isaac was directed not to marry a Canaanite (Genesis 24:3), and Isaac in turn charged Jacob with the same prohibition (Genesis 28:1). Some of Jacob’s sons didn’t pay attention, so Judah had trouble with sons from a Canaanite woman (Genesis 38).

 

God formally charged His people not to intermarry with Canaanites (Deuteronomy 7 for instance) because they would turn the hearts of Israel away from God. Solomon proved this (and many others did too) with his 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11).

 

Okay, so what’s a Canaanite? We don’t know for sure today who is and isn’t one, because there is no country or tribe called Canaan anymore. Some think that a Canaanite has dark skin. This is wrong, because the Bible doesn’t mention skin color in connection with it. Besides, the Canaanites had the same father as everyone else – Noah. Skin color was never an issue. According to creation ministries such as Answers in Genesis and Creation Today Adam and Eve very likely were dark brown, and not just from running around naked in the Garden either. Jesus was probably dark brown. Recently there was a story in the news about a black couple in England who had a white baby (and it has happened before too) and there are white couples who had black babies from what I understand. There is only one race – human. Skin color is a consideration, not because it is wrong but because the prejudice of other people will make things more difficult. But God never said not to intermarry with people of different skin colors.

 

God’s concern was intermarriage with people who followed their own hearts. Pagans. Idolaters. Unclean. One of the hallmarks of Canaanites, besides idolatry, was sexual immorality. The father of Canaan was Ham son of Noah, who was the one that “saw the nakedness of his father” while he was drunk (Genesis 9). This gives us a clearer picture of the identity of modern Canaanites, even if there is no tribal or geographic area attached to them. They are the ones who don’t follow God. They have no heart for Him at all. They’re everywhere. They might even be in the church. Ezra says they are impure with their practice of abominations that have filled the land end to end with uncleanness (Ezra 9). Paul tells us not to be “unequally yoked” in a partnership between righteousness and lawlessness (2 Corinthians 6:14). He doesn’t mention skin color, though some want to twist the meaning of light and darkness into merely skin color. He references the temple of God and idols instead.

 

So the application of the Law about intermarriage is to make sure the possible partner has a heart after God’s. This is a much greater consideration than idiotic romantic love. I’ve always told my kids that almost any two people can make a good marriage if they are committed to God and to each other. There are other considerations too, but this is the most important. If your prospective mate does not have the same faith as the one approved by God, it is more likely they will pull your heart down to the pit rather than helping lift you up to heaven. And no amount of prayer will change that.

I’ll Pray for You

What does it mean to pray for someone?

 

What are they really asking? If an unbeliever asks me to pray for healing for them, will God listen? Does God answer prayer even if we are out of whack with Him? Does someone who claims to be a believer, but ignores God’s righteous decrees, automatically get healing just because they ask? Or is persistent sickness or tragedy a sign of unconfessed sin? Should the believer concentrate on asking for healing, or asking for forgiveness? And is asking forgiveness just to get well, or restore a right relationship with God?

 

The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29, ESV)

 

Can a divorced believer ask for God to bless their divorce, or the results of divorce (like someone needing a job or day care or something like that)? Or will God only bless something in divorce for one of the people who isn’t at fault? And how do we determine fault?

 

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16, ESV)

 

Can a homosexual ask God to heal them of AIDS though they persist in the behavior? Can he ask for any kind of blessings or reprieve from judgment? Will God hear him if he needs a job? Or rain for his crops?

 

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12, ESV)

 

Moving on a little from obvious stuff like sexual immorality, how much evil can we get away with before God doesn’t answer, or stops answering, prayer? Is a little disobedience okay? Will the cosmic eraser of Jesus that the church preaches cover any iniquity, so let us sin that grace may abound? How much of His Law (or Word) can we ignore and still expect Him to answer our prayers?

 

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:27–32, ESV)

 

What if He put things in His Law that have spiritual effects, such that we can’t see the connections but they are nonetheless connected? If we eat piles of bacon, for instance, is there a connection to illness? Maybe His Word and the physical and spiritual are more interconnected than we think? We know we can get sick from improperly prepared seafood, but just because there is no immediate affect from properly prepared seafood does that mean it doesn’t harm us?

 

You shall therefore separate the clean beast from the unclean, and the unclean bird from the clean. You shall not make yourselves detestable by beast or by bird or by anything with which the ground crawls, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. (Leviticus 20:25–26, ESV)

 

What are the spiritual effects of following His Laws? Is there a spiritual aspect to being sick? Does righteousness make us well? Is harm really random, or is it related to sin? Or is sin like mold on our souls, and the physical reaction is illness? Maybe it’s not just our own sin, either. Is there a spiritual corruption that emanates from other people’s sin and contaminates people around them too, such as is taught in God’s Laws of clean and unclean?

 

But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. (Leviticus 18:26–28, ESV)

 

Do we look to doctors first, or do we look to God first? Do we consult the database of His Word in every area of life, before we get sick? Are we taking preventative measures that are recommended by our Heavenly Physician before we consult and believe human doctors who don’t have a place in their worldview for God’s Word? Are we sick because we have a chemical imbalance, or because we have disobeyed?

 

It is possible to be afflicted by God for other reasons than our sin. The book of Job shows us that. Sometimes God afflicts to test us, and sometimes to build trust and obedience. But it is clear from His Word that sin is a big part of health (or lack of it) in many instances. And our heart is the one place where we have control. At the very least we should be aware of the possibility of sin and seek God’s cleansing by confessing and the washing of His Word before we pray for Him to remove the possible by-product of disobedience. It would behoove us to kneel on solid, clean ground every day in constant communion. It might go a long way toward not getting sick in the first place.