Monday, July 26, 2010
Leviticus 25:10; Isaiah 61:1; Romans 8:21; Galatians 5:1
The Year of Jubilee! What a wonderful subject and thought! Liberty to all captives! All debts canceled! Total joy and rest for one year! No oppression whatsoever! All original property restored! What more could anyone desire? What greater celebration could there be? All of this, and more, is found in our gracious God giving this "law" to ancient Israel.
Even though America seems bent on being anti-Bible and anti-God, it is amazing that on many of our treasured national landmarks we still have plain evidence of our nation's Christian past. For example, on the Liberty Bell are inscribed the words of Leviticus 25:10, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land." "Proclaim liberty" is the great theme of the gospel, both in prophecy (Isaiah 61:1), and in its fulfillment in Christ (Luke 4:18). However, the "liberty" that we "proclaim" on July 4 is definitely not the "liberty" referred to in these passages. We now only proclaim "freedom" from the England of the 1700s (England is now strangely America's ally). For sure, there was much oppression then, but even Americans today are guilty of some high-handed oppression, are we not? Not being slaves to sin (John 8:34), is what should concern us.
True "liberty" is not just being able to live and work in a capitalistic society, sing the songs we like, wave flags, watch parades, enjoy fireworks, or honor war veterans. True "liberty" is being released from sin, and this is what we "proclaim" as Christians who believe the gospel.We have been freed from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), and despite our fallen, sinful condition by nature(Ephesians 2:3), we have been made righteous before God through the work of our Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24). What a message worth proclaiming! In this sense, we are all preachers!
The context of Leviticus 25 is not at all about one country being "free" from another. The passage is about the Year of Jubilee (or Release) in Israel, "the fiftieth year," a year of grace, which began at the end of the great Day of Atonement, proclaimed throughout all the land with a solemn blast of a ram's horn. This was a year of rest for both land and laborers,when people were to return to their ancestral property, all debts were canceled, and all slaves were to be released and sent home. It was a time appointed by God to cause the people of Israel to realize equality in providing for themselves, and kept certain Israelites from amassing wealth at their brethren's expense. What a law this was! But it was all typical of the work of the Messiah who was to come.
Calvary's cross and the empty tomb are our great Year of Jubilee! This is what we celebrate! A literal rendering of Galatians 5:1 is, "For freedom Christ freed us." But the only ones "proclaiming" this are the children of God. This is no Fourth of July celebration. It is far greater! It is a year by year, day by day "celebration" of victory in Christ! It is totally foreign to all sinners, till regenerated by the Spirit of God. And Paul admonishes us, "Stand fast therefore in this liberty, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of slavery." "Stand fast" indeed! "It is finished." "Blow the loud trumpet." "Christ is not here, but is risen." And some sweet day, "at the last day," even the graves of God's people will burst open, at Christ's return, and glorification of all the saints will occur, and we shall then sing in eternal triumph, "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" (I Corinthians 15:54-55).
Hallelujah, the great Atonement has been made! "Blow ye the trumpet, blow. The Year of Jubilee is come. Return, ye ransomed sinners, home." Let us all rejoice! Let us sing and shout! What a celebration! "Free at last, free at last," yes, "Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21). This is our proclamation to the nations!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I was thinking of Twitter, the internet fad that is sweeping the world. On my Twitter account I have followers, and those that I follow. Often someone writes “Follow Me”, and you elect whether to do so or not. I follow some interesting, mostly Christian, sites. You can only put about 140 total characters on each post, but often have a link placed where you can go for more reading, by linking a web site or blog..
Our Lord has said several times in His word; “Follow Me.” He says this not because He is on Twitter, or with some Twitter-like purpose. His reason is far more important than a fun place to be, or an information site, a political site, or even a religious quest. He told His disciples “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
His high and holy purpose requires followers which He has called to Himself, and who are equipped by Him to reach other men and women. “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” Matthew 16:24). He implied here that there would be a cost, not a cost for salvation, He has paid that price for His elect. But there is a cross for each of us. That cross for us is bearing the reproach of Christ as far as this world is concerned, and sometimes suffering for the cause of Christ.
“But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end” (Matthew 26:58). Here Peter was frightened and uncertain as Jesus was led away to be crucified. Christ had told him that he would deny Him three times, and Peter did so. But, after Christ’s resurrection, the Lord showed Simon Peter how that he would die for Christ: “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me” (John 21:19).
On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit transformed Simon Peter and empowered him as a preacher of the gospel. Later, in his epistle, he was given these words for us in this age: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” ( 1Peter 2:21,22).
Those in that day were literally following Jesus Christ in His earthly body. It must have been wonderful to be day by day with Him as He went from place to place, many times preaching and teaching as He was walking.
Remember, most everywhere Jesus went, He walked. Exceptions were on a boat in the Sea of Galilee, and a donkey provided for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem a little before His crucifixion. Travel was so different in those days. He spent His entire earthly life in a country roughly the size of New Jersey. Not even the size of one of our largest states! Are you a follower of Jesus?
Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (John 10:27). “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers”(John 10:5). When we hear His voice, as His sheep, we make no mistake – we follow Him and not another because He knows us, and draws us.
There are other scriptures that teach us that should we stray away and follow another for a time, our Lord will come after us. "How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray (Matthew 18:12,13).
No, Christ did not save us to lose us. Do you think our omniscient God doesn't know the end from the beginning? If He has designed to save you; if you are one of His elect from the foundation of the world, He has eternal plans for you. Now you can stop following someone on Twitter. Your computer might crash and you can't get online anymore.You may follow a person in this present world, perhaps someone you believe you love. Such matters often "fizzle out" and you may stop following that person and go your way. Christ does not let one of His permanently and finally stop following Him. He will come after you. He may chastise you. Actually He will chastise you betimes if you are His "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons (Hebrews 12:6-8).
He goes on to say back in or text in Matthew 18:14 "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish". If the Spirit of God is speaking to you, set out to follow Him. He doesn't have any rejects, though He saves many of the world's rejects. May He save you, dear friend, as He did me. There is nobody better that you can follow. "Where He leads me, I will follow". Can you say that truthfully? "Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness" (Hebrews 3:7-8).
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
"For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him? Will he delight himself in the Almighty? Will he always call upon God?" Job 27:8-10
Many of God's people are at times exercised as to their hypocrisy, and sometimes they may think themselves the most consummate hypocrites that ever stood in a profession. But if you are exercised with these painful surmises, these doubts and fears, just see (and the Lord enable you to bring it to the light of his countenance) these two features of a spiritual character. Do not talk about your hope; it may be "a spider's web." Do not boast of your gifts; they may be altogether in the flesh. Do not bring forward the good opinion of men; they may be deceived in you. But just see if, with the Lord's blessing, you can feel these two tests in your soul, as written there by his own hand. If so, you are not a hypocrite; God himself, by his servant Job, has acquitted you of the charge. Did you, then, ever "delight yourself in the Almighty?" It is a solemn question. Did your heart and soul ever go out after the living God? Did affection, love, and gratitude ever flow out of your bosom into the bosom of the Lord? Did you ever feel as if you could clasp him in the arms of faith, and live and die in his embrace? Now if your soul has ever felt this, you are no hypocrite; and nothing can rise up out of your wretched heart, as an accusing devil, that can prove you to be one. Or if you cannot fully realise this, if you are one that always calls upon God, you are no hypocrite. I do not speak of your regular prayers, or any other of your regularities; for I believe that there is often more of God's Spirit, and more craving after God and delighting in him, in your irregularities, than in all the daily regularities which hypocrites delight in. But I mean, is there a sigh or cry by night, as well as by day; a pouring out of the heart into the bosom of God from time to time, as the Lord works it in you, in trouble, in perplexity, in sorrow, and in distress? This is a test and a mark which no hypocrite ever had or ever can have.
J.C. Philpot - 1802-1869