When the whole world is running towards a cliff,
A traditional way to imagine God is to locate Him in heaven far above us, He is not overly concerned about us down here but occupies His time with the affairs of heaven. True, He is a holy God and must come down from time to time to make sure we are behaving properly. He did this, for instance, at the Tower of Babel and at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
1. Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. And the Lord said, ‘Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth." (Genesis 11:1-9)
2. "Then the Lord said, ‘How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down an d see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.’ (Genesis 18:20-21)
A closer look at history, and a closer reading of Scripture shows that moral collapse is from within. God judges us in what we see as great "natural" disasters--earthquakes, droughts, floods, famine.
An amazing different picture comes to mind in a phrase found in Leviticus 18: The land is said to "vomit out its inhabitants." Chapter 18 is mostly about sex. In the New Testament nothing is changed!A huge discontinuity in history, which is coming soon, is described in the book of the Revelation beginning at Chapter 4. The cosmos will come unglued culminating in a great world wide earthquake:
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.’
So the first angel went and poured his bowl on the earth, and a foul and painful sore came on those who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped its image.
The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing in the sea died.
The third angel poured his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say,
‘You are just, O Holy One, who are and were,
for you have judged these things;
because they shed the blood of saints and prophets,
you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!’
And I heard the altar respond,
‘Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty,
your judgments are true and just!’
The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire; they were scorched by the fierce heat, but they cursed the name of God, who had authority over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory.
The fifth angel poured his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness; people gnawed their tongues in agony, and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and they did not repent of their deeds.
The sixth angel poured his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw three foul spirits like frogs coming from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet. These are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (‘See, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and is clothed, not going about naked and exposed to shame.’) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.
The seventh angel poured his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a violent earthquake, such as had not occurred since people were upon the earth, so violent was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. God remembered great Babylon and gave her the wine-cup of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found; and huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, dropped from heaven on people, until they cursed God for the plague of the hail, so fearful was that plague." (Revelation 16)
One clear sign of impeding judgment from God is today's widely accepted standards for sexual behavior and abortion. Younger people under 40 have no idea how times have changed in the last half century! If you want to know all about this please visit: Sexuality and Wholeness Papers. Yes, we ought not to be surprised is the land vomits us out one day soon.
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)
The bonding which occurs between man and wife in a good marriage deepens as the years go by. It is wonderful to see the love and unity in a marriage of 30 or 40 or 50 years. Such marriages should be considered national treasures.
Every sexual liaison,
whether within marriage or not, carries with it that mysterious deep bonding
process of becoming "one flesh" with the other person. Divorce is
terribly painful partly because of the violent ripping apart of this "one
flesh" bond-- a tearing apart which goes to the core of one's being.
The Biblical concept of "one fleshness" comes up again in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians Paul writes,
"Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh."
But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 5:13-20)
In any kind of sexual activity,
pleasure-producing hormones are released in our brains. The memory of a sexual
experience is stored in the brain in a kind of extra vivid, multidimensional
format. Another chemical is also released during sex--oxytocin. In animals
and in people this amazing hormone is responsible for trust between partners, and pair bonding. The catch is that Oxytocin is associated with any
and every form of sexual
behavior--whether within marriage or elsewhere. Masturbation produces
Oxytocin--increasing narcissism perhaps. Sex with oneself violates the purpose God intended--and turns a person inward.
"Invert" is an older term for masturbation. Internet pornography "bonds" the participant to his favorite images on the screen. Many younger men and woman are now seeking freedom from porn addiction. The way out, by the way, is by surrendering one's life to Jesus! See Stages of Manhood.
Homosexuals who have sex "bond" because of Oxytocin and also become "one flesh," though in an inverted sort of way. Oxytocin will motivate gays to go on to further homosexual actions, though other factors operate to cause most gays to become promiscuous rather than monogamous. Worse still, other studies have shown that for males, any form of sex apart from marriage decreases a man's ability to bond well with a wife after marriage, and even decreases his desire to marry in the first place. A non-abstinent male may come to prefer "pagan sex" to the long term commitment and hard work which marriage requires.
Not only is marriage considered of little or no importance to
many young people today, but sexual hook-ups--which have nothing lasting to do
with any real relationship between persons--are now as common as eating and
sleeping among many Americans. A whole related subject is that marriage does
not seem like a very attractive option to many young people today for a variety
In the past half-century, the entire
social order has not only been turned upside down, but also inside out.
God's purpose for sex, clear from the beginning of our race as described in Genesis, is a long-gone concept in our culture. That is, sexual expression should always be a part of a heterosexual marriage--but sexual activity should be unknown, unheard of, in any other setting! The New Testament's several warnings about this are all equally strong--these are matters of life and death as far as Christians are concerned:
We have no inherent "rights" to sex! Though abstinence can be very difficult to attain after a life of promiscuity, limiting sex to marriage is not an option for the followers of Christ. However, God never asks us to live a certain life-style without providing the means for us to do so! The long-term rewards for obedience to His standards are evident to all who pay attention to walking with Jesus. Millions of our young people are currently self-destructing before our eyes with no one showing them that there is any other way to live. The failure of professing Christians to live up to minimal standards for godliness is surely a big factor in the current breakdown of our social order. Societies are built around stable family structures--it's how God designed things. When young people lack role models for manhood and womanhood and marriage, how can they be expected to build a stable next-generation? Probably they can't--barring a radical wake up move by the slumbering church of our day.
"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, must not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light." See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:1-17)
To quote from Ray Stedman, "Marriage can not survive in a society which tolerates sexual immorality." In summary, all sexual experiences have consequences (not just STDs and unwanted babies). Accompanying sex are complex changes in the way we bond to a real partner--or how we bond even to virtual images in the mind. Sex was designed for marriage. God honors no other expression of our sexuality.
"Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (Hebrews 13:4)
The idea that two people could be soul-brothers--"one in soul" is also found in the Bible. King David had a poor family upbringing--which he never overcame, as one sees in the sad accounts of his 10+ marriages and his many failures to relate well with his sons in Second Samuel. Had his short-lived friendship with Saul's son Jonathan lasted longer, David's family life might have gone much better. Jonathan--perhaps 20 years older than David--was a perfect mentor for young David and their love was perfectly godly. Sadly their friendship was short-lived because of circumstances beyond their control.
So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, "Let the LORD require it at the hand of David's enemies." Now Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he loved him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul." (1 Samuel 1:16-17)When Jonathan was killed in battle along with his father, David wept openly,
Then David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son, and he told them to teach the children of Judah the Song of the Bow; indeed it is written in the Book of Jasher: "The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! Tell it not in Gath, Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon-- Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. "O mountains of Gilboa, Let there be no dew nor rain upon you, Nor fields of offerings. For the shield of the mighty is cast away there! The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil. From the blood of the slain, From the fat of the mighty, The bow of Jonathan did not turn back, And the sword of Saul did not return empty. "Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, And in their death they were not divided; They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions. "O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, Who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury; Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. "How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan was slain in your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me; Your love to me was wonderful, Surpassing the love of women. "How the mighty have fallen, And the weapons of war perished!" (2 Samuel 2:17-27)Healthy, normal, affectionate, relationships between men have all but disappeared in our culture--largely because the counterfeits of real love such as "gay marriages" get all the media attention. Jesus predicted the lonely, loveless character of our culture at the end of the age, "Because wickedness is multiplied, the love of most men will grow cold."
Just as the terms "one flesh" and "one soul" appear in the Bible, so also does the term "one spirit." It is found in the same passage from First Corinthians quoted above,
"But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him."
In Corinthians, the context is a discussion about our bodies being the temples of a holy God, sanctuaries of intimate fellowship and communion. When the Bible talks about love, it begins with our personal relationship with God and then extends to loving our family, friends and neighbors. starting place for real love is in the sanctuary of the human spirit--not the body--not the soul. When we consent to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in and over our life, our spirit and God's spirit are joined together in an inner union not unlike a marriage. This happens when we submit all that we are to Jesus as Lord--and then go on to make life-style changes that bring us into harmony with God's revealed will and character. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and all your might" -- is, after all the First and Great commandment. The Second Commandment, as everyone knows, is to love one's neighbor as oneself. One can not reverse the order of these two great commandments. The breakdown of any culture as vividly described in Romans Chapter One begins in the heart of man--with a subtle loss of worship of the one true God and then the gradual intrusion of other "loves" (idols) into one's affections crowding God into second or third place. This is why Solomon warned,
"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of the heart spring the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23)
A key verse in Luke's gospel--Jesus speaking about Himself--says "The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost." Jesus did not come to merely save those who were lost, but that which was lost. What has been lost to mankind is the secret of our humanity! The work of Jesus in the world is to give back and restore to very lost and confused people our manhood, our womanhood, our personhood. Intimacy Jesus is invited to be the Third Party--the Mediator, the Lover--in all Christian relationships.
Radical obedience to Jesus is
nowadays an imperative for all true followers of Jesus lest we find our selves
dragged over the precipice of the fast approaching destruction of our society.
Obviously the kind of behavior God expects of mankind can only be attained when
people choose to follow Jesus. As the world grows more decadent and corrupt,
the followers of Jesus, though few in number, should be gaining in purity, in
godlikeness, and in holiness.
By the lifestyle Jesus lived when He was here among us on earth, Jesus showed us that "normal humanity" was designed to depend totally on the indwelling life of Another. Jesus did not come primarily to show us what God is like (though that happened as well). Jesus came to show us by the way He lived that we must die to self and grant Him permission to live His wondrous life in and through us every day we live. In a similar manner, Jesus did everything in dependence on the father who lived in Him, never acting on His divine authority, never taking matters into His own hands, during His time among us on earth. "
These days it is very hard to tell Christians from non-Christians. Divorce rates are the same in both groups. and unfortunately sexual immorality and pagan life-styles are also about the same among many "Christians" as among outsiders to the Christian family. Mere church attendance doesn't hack it either for most of us. Accountability and small groups along with radical life style changes requiring tough and sacrificial separation from the pagan culture around us as minimum requirements.
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself." (2 Timothy 2:1-13)
And the LORD said to Moses, "Say to the people of Israel, I am the LORD your God. [That is, you can trust me.] You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. [All the nations have gone astray.] You shall do my ordinances and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the LORD your God. [That is, trust me! ] You shall therefore keep my statutes and my ordinances, by doing which a man shall live: I am the LORD." (Leviticus 18:1-5 RSV)You can see how God underscores the purpose of these instructions. They are to make you live, not die -- not be restricted, not narrowed and hemmed in and prohibited from expressing yourself. No, quite the contrary! They are in order that you might live, might enjoy life to the fullest degree, might find it whole and rich.
So God instructs us, now, in this area of sex and here we learn truth about sex that you will never learn by reading the book All You Have Ever Wanted to Know About Sex *but Have Been Afraid to Ask. There is a lot here that is not in that book. I have read the book and found it very shallow. The author doesn't know very much about sex. He documents a few obscure sexual practices I hadn't heard about previously, but he gives very little information about what sex is and what it is for. Like every other worldly book about sex, this one doesn't tell you very much. It is very distorted.
But here in Scripture you get the truth about sex. All through the Scriptures we are taught that sex is to be a total union of a man and his wife, expressing physical, emotional, and spiritual oneness. That is what sex is all about. It is a total union. Therefore marriage is its only possible expression -- anything else immediately becomes abortive and hurtful because the union cannot be total outside of marriage. No way!
So, you see, sex with the wrong person is always harmful. And the most harmful of all, according to this passage, is sex with those who are near of kin. That is what God goes on to warn his people about, beginning with Verse 6:
"None of you shall approach anyone near of kin to him to uncover nakedness. I am the LORD. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife; it is your father's nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father or the daughter of your mother, whether born at home or born abroad. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your son's daughter or of your daughter's daughter, for their nakedness is your own nakedness." (Leviticus 18:6-10 RSV)The section goes right on, covering the cases of all the relatives and in-laws. The phrase which is used repeatedly here, "uncover nakedness," is a Biblical euphemism which designates the total act of sex, especially including sexual arousal, preliminary fore-play. Even that is prohibited because it is harmful. There is to be no sexual arousal practiced with anyone who falls into these categories.
By reading this section carefully and comparing it with other passages which deal with sex we can perceive two basic reasons for this prohibition:
First, genetically, as we well know, sex with relatives which results in procreation inevitably intensifies weaknesses in the family strain. The royal families of Europe are not very healthy because they have been intermarrying within their near of kin relationships for centuries and are now so closely intermarried that there is much physical weakness among them. And laws everywhere forbid incest. There is a recognition on the part of governments that society is injured by sexual relationships resulting in children between those of close kin.
And, second, psychologically, to have sex or even to arouse passion in one who is near of kin is to have a form of sex with oneself. As the passage indicates, nearness of kin is closeness to self. The "nakedness" of relatives is related to our own "nakedness." And sex with oneself, in any form, apparently violates a kind of protective shield which is intended by God to keep the race from demonic invasion. We don't understand much about human life. We are really very, very ignorant about what happens in human relationships, and that is where these words can be of great help to us. You need only read the scriptural passages that deal with sex to realize that there is a tie between illicit sexual practices and openness to demonic influence. This is why God warns again and again throughout the Scriptures that nations or individuals who give themselves over to widespread sexual laxity are opening themselves to the most destructive, pernicious, demonic activity.
When a proper regard for the sexual limitations prescribed by God is broken down, the barrier which protects mankind from the unseen forces of darkness which surround us is vitiated and demonic invasion can then occur very easily. This is what destroys a race. A nation begins to fall apart at that point. Society comes apart at the seams. You only need to read the first chapter of Romans to see how inevitable is the decay and the decline. And it moves rapidly into other forms of violations and perversions, as this passage goes on to specify: Verses 19-23:
"You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness. [That is an inordinate sexual demand, even within the marriage relationship.] And you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor's wife, and defile yourself with her. [That is adultery.] You shall not give any of your children to devote them by fire to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. [That was an offering of infants to the fiery iron god, Molech. They actually laid children in the heated arms of the image of the god so that the children were cremated alive. This was demon worship and evidently it was regarded as some form of sexual act.] You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. [That is homosexuality.] And you shall not lie with any beast and defile yourself with it, neither shall any woman give herself to a beast to lie with it: it is perversion." [That is, bestiality.] (Leviticus 18:19-23 RSV)All these practices, the Bible suggests, provide open doors to the destruction of the race, and of the individuals involved, because they open people's lives to demonic influence. The spirits of darkness which are waiting to move into humanity to possess it, individually and corporately, are given purchase, are given foothold by loose sexual practice. Thus satanic influence grows, and oppression and mental illness and all the other accompaniment of demonic activity creeps into the race.
The end result of this process is given in Verses 24-30:
"Do not defile yourselves by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am casting out before you defiled themselves; and the land became defiled, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you shall keep my statutes and my ordinances and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (for all of these abominations the men of the land did, who were before you, so that the land became defiled); lest the land vomit you out, when you defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. For whoever shall do any of these abominations, the persons that do them shall be cut off from among their people. So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs which were practiced before you, and never to defile yourselves by them: I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 18:24-30 RSV)How tenderly God deals with his people! How graciously and faithfully he warns them that by violating his statutes they will only destroy themselves and that the ultimate effect of sexual looseness is ecological disaster.
Now that is an amazing revelation! And it shows how little we understand life. We are so ignorant of our own humanity and of the way we are tied together and affect each other by what we do -- whether other people know about what we do or not. Especially have we been ignorant of the way in which all humanity relates ultimately to the land -- God never forgets that. Man does.
I wonder if there aren't young people here with us this morning who really have never had occasion to stop to think whether milk actually comes in cardboard cartons. It doesn't, of course. It comes from a cow, who eats grass. And bread doesn't come in loaves wrapped in waxed paper. It comes from grain grown on the land. Cities have a way of removing us from the land and we forget that we are a people totally dependent upon the soil. All human life stems directly from the land and is intimately related to the natural world.
And God says that there is a tie between wrongful sexual practices and ecological disaster. When sexual practices are wrong, demonic influence twists the thinking of men and they do things to the land which turns it against its inhabitants. The expressive figure that God uses is that the land is defiled and it "vomits out" the people -- it can't stand them anymore. It rejects them.
If you think that the ecological crisis we are undergoing today -- the widespread pollution and the destruction of our natural resources -- is due to the population explosion, you are very, very wrong, because there have been ecological disasters for millennia before now in human history. Here in this passage is the record of one. The inhabitants of the land of Canaan were cast out beforehand by the land itself because of the sexual looseness of the people. And there are many records of similar ecological disasters in human history -- long before there was a worldwide population boom. It isn't population explosion that creates the disaster. No, the reason for it is that man in his ignorance of life does not understand the things that unite us to the land and to nature.
We would never think that our harmful sexual practices have something to do with our ecological crisis. But God, in his infinite knowledge of human affairs, knows that there is a tie and he tells us faithfully and honestly, "If you go on in the way you are going, sexually, the land will become repulsed by you. You will violate it and destroy it, despite your best intentions, and it will reject you. You will no longer be able to sustain yourself upon it."
So, the impending ecological and economic disaster our nation is facing is directly traceable to the sexual permissiveness that we have indulged in, and to our creation of wrongful attitudes toward sex. It never occurs to us that there is a tie between Playboy and pollution, but it is there. God sees it and he is faithful to tell us these things.
We wouldn't understand all this if he didn't reveal it to us. And we cannot find our way out by ourselves. Nature reflects only the ravaged and ruined condition of the spirit of man. And as society falls apart in direct disobedience to what God has said -- ignoring the gracious provision of a Redeemer, of a Savior, who offers a whole way of life that is entirely different, and a different power to live by -- our nation becomes infiltrated with demonic thought, twisted satanic lies, delusions and illusions, and the land becomes increasingly defiled and sick. Ultimately, unless we have a national change of heart, it will vomit out its inhabitants.
God's word, of course, is always the same: Repent, think it over, think again -- especially the people of God -- and believe! Remember, God alone can handle life. God alone can master our sexual desires. And he is ready and graciously waiting to provide what we need, so that we might live a whole, full, abundant life. --Ray Stedman Leviticus 18
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But fornication (porneia) and impurity (akathartsia) of any kind, or covetousness (pleonexia) must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly;but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 5:1-20)
First Kings is the gripping story of how to lose a kingdom. As we read these Old Testament books, the key to making them live and be vital in our lives is to see that they are visual aids by which God is showing us what is going on in our own lives. We can see ourselves in every one of these Old Testament stories and when we do, the words take on eyes and look at us. We discover that the words are aimed exactly and directly at us. The view that the Bible gives of man is that every one of us is intended to be a king over a kingdom. The whole purpose of the Lord Jesus coming into our lives, which is the theme of the book of Romans, is that we might learn how to reign over the kingdom of our lives in God -- given authority and victory. It is this that makes human life full and complete and fascinating when we learn to walk in God's power. One of the overworked phrases constantly bandied about in Christian circles is "the victorious Christian life." Unfortunately that has been abused, distorted, twisted, and perverted so many times that it has lost much of its meaning for us. But if you take it in the freshness of its original intention, that is exactly what God has in mind for you -- to learn how to walk in victory as a king over the kingdom of your life and thus find its intended fulfillment. That is exactly what these books of the Old Testament illustrate for us, especially the books dealing with the monarchy in Israel.
God called aside the nation Israel; he marked it out as his own people. He made, in a sense, a stage of the little land of Israel. He bid the whole world to look upon that nation. What went on in that land is a portrayal of what is going on throughout the whole course of human history, and individually going on in each of our lives. If we see these books like this, they take on a tremendously intense meaning and purpose in our lives.
The book of 1 Kings holds the secret of success in reigning over the kingdom of your life. It is the secret of learning to be submissive to the authority and dominion of God in your own life. In other words, man can never exercise dominion over his life unless he first subjects himself to the dominion of God. If you yield to God's dominion, you are given reign over the areas in your own life. On the other hand, if you refuse the dominion of God in your own life, you cannot under any circumstances or by any means fulfill your desire to be in authority over your life. It is impossible! This is what these books teach us. That is why all through this book you will find that the spotlight is on the throne. It is the king that is the important one -- for as the king goes, so goes the nation. In your life your will is king. What your will allows to enter in to control your life, determines how the kingdom of your life goes. King Solomon, the successor to David, is upon the throne. David is still king when the book opens, but immediately he is confronted by the rebellion of another one of his sons, Adonijah. Adonijah attempts to gain control of the throne even before his father David dies. David, learning of this, acts to put Solomon on the throne. Solomon is anointed king while his father still lives and in effect assumes the throne while David is still alive. This indicates the first mark of what a real reigning authority in our lives should be. Authority must come by the gift and hand of God. We cannot reign except as we are established by God. When we give ourselves to the authority of God, it becomes his responsibility to bring every circumstance and every enemy and every rebellion that would otherwise threaten our reign, under control. This is what he did in the case of Adonijah.
As we read on in the second and third chapters you see Solomon coming to the throne. He rules in power and might and glory. Solomon's reign marks the greatest extension of the kingdom of Israel and was particularly characterized by a display of outward majesty and power. But in chapter three, you also have the seeds of defeat. These are very, very important to notice. In verses one and two we read:
Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt; he took Pharaoh's daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem. The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been build for the name of the Lord. (1 Kings 3:1-2 RSV)
Then the all-important third verse:
Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father; only, he sacrificed and burnt incense at the high places. (1 Kings 3:3 RSV)
Now here is a man who loves God. He loves him with all his heart. Solomon begins his reign with a wonderful expression of yieldedness and a desire for God's rule and authority in his life. He follows in the footsteps of his father, David. Nevertheless, he does two little things -- which seem to be very small, trivial matters -- that ultimately overthrow his kingdom. He makes an alliance with the daughter of Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, (which always pictures the world) and brings her into the central life of the nation of Israel. Here an alliance is made with the world. Then he also worships at the high places. In the pagan religions of that day all the worship and rites were conducted up on the mountain tops. The pagan tribes had erected altars, many of which were the center of very idolatrous and licentious worship. Frequently, the altar was the place where the fertility of sex gods was worshiped in a sexual display. But the altars were also taken over by the people of Israel and used for the sacrifices to Jehovah. The ark of God was now in the city of Jerusalem in the tabernacle, where David placed it. But Solomon did not present his offerings at the altar in the tabernacle; instead he was offering in these high places. He was offering sacrifices to God, but on pagan altars. Outwardly there was much that was beautiful and admirable in this young man's rule, and in general his heart was set in the right direction. Nevertheless, there was an area that was not fully committed to God. There was a weakness in his fellowship. There was a lack of understanding that the secret of God's love lay in that inner yieldedness to his will, represented by a worship before the ark of the covenant. In many, many a life, here is often much outward yieldedness and commitment to the will of God, but in the private inner life there is a lack of warmth and a hunger after God. It was here that the strength of David so vividly lay. Even though David fell into the black sins of murder and adultery, nevertheless, in the inner sanctum of his heart there was a deep and abiding commitment to the will of God and a hungering after the person of God. You see it breaking through in all the psalms of David. But this is lacking in Solomon, and this is the first indication that something is wrong in his life.
This story takes us into a description of the beauty and the display of the greatness of Solomon's kingdom. The second mark of a God-given power and reign is given to us in chapter three in the account of Solomon's dream, in which God appeared and told him to ask for whatever he wanted. Solomon, in a marvelous passage, asks not for riches or for honor, but for wisdom:
"Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this thy great people?" (1 Kings 3:9 RSV)
In beginning his reign like this, Solomon indicated that he had grasped to a great extent what was a primary need in exercising authority within the kingdom that God had given him -- wisdom. When you come to the New Testament, you find that this is true. In the book of Hebrews the writer takes the people that he is writing to — to task because he says, "When you ought to be teachers, when you have been Christians long enough that by now you ought to be able to teach others, you have need of somebody to take you back to kindergarten and instruct you all over again in the ABC's of the Christian life." (Hebrews 5:12) He says the sign of those who are mature in Christ and have learned to really walk in Him, is that they are able to discern between good and evil. That is the problem today, isn't it? Good looks bad, and bad looks good. Anybody can tell good from evil when good looks good and evil looks evil. The great problem is to identify evil when it comes smiling at you, dripping with solicitude, and seems to offer you everything you have been looking for. Christian maturity comes when we learn to exercise the spirit of wisdom to distinguish between good and evil. That which seems to minister to the spirit may actually be a clever trap of Satan to plant a seed of distrust in the heart and will eventually produce terrible fruit a few years later in life.
This wisdom is what Solomon asked for. God granted him his request. But there was one slight weakness in his request. He asked for wisdom that he might govern the people. We can only wish as we read, that this fine young man had asked for wisdom to govern his own life first. That is where he began to fail. It is evident from this that God knows exactly what is in a person. He granted Solomon this wisdom but he also gave with it the circumstances that put wisdom to the test. God does this with all of us. God knows exactly what is in us. He gives us essentially what is our basic, urgent, clamant cry to him. If we want something from God badly enough, he will give it to us. But he also puts us in circumstances that will bring out what is in us. Along with the wisdom, he gave to Solomon riches and honor. It was the riches and honor that overthrew Solomon. As Solomon gloried and exulted in the magnificence of his kingdom, pride began to enter his heart. His downfall came as a result of this. The first mark of rulership then, in order to establish your rule in the kingdom of your own life, is dependence upon God. The second is wisdom -- insight and understanding of yourself -- if you are to walk in the Spirit. We have this demonstrated to us in Solomon's wise judgment between the two mothers who brought a baby to him. They had both had a baby, but one baby had died. Both women claimed the living baby. Solomon was asked to decide whose baby it was. In a display of his wisdom to analyze other people's problems he said, "Bring a sword." Then laying the baby down before these two women, he said, "Now divide the baby in half. Give one half to one woman and the other half to the other." The real mother immediately said, "Oh, no; don't do that! Let the other woman have the baby." But the other woman said, "No, that is fine. That is perfectly fair. Divide the child and we will each take half." Solomon knew at once who the real mother was. Thus his wisdom was demonstrated. Chapter four, verse 29, begins a commentary on how much wisdom Solomon was given:
God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and largeness of mind like the sand of the seashore, so though Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east [including all the so-called wisdom of the orient -- the Chinese and Indian] and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Herman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol [these were the newspaper commentators of that day!]; and his fame was in all the nations round about. He also uttered three thousand proverbs [we have them recorded in the book of Proverbs]; and his songs were a thousand and five [of those we have only one: "The Song of Solomon" or "The Song of Songs"]. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall; he spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom. (1 Kings 4:29-34 RSV)
What a picture this is of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians, "We have the mind of Christ," and "the spiritual man judges all things." (1 Corinthians 2:15,16) He does not need anyone to teach him, since he already discerns all things. He is able to analyze and understand all things.
In chapter four you have the third mark of what it means to reign -- orderliness. A kingdom is orderly. God is not the author of confusion for he does things decently and in order. Also in chapter four, verse 20, is the fourth mark of authority:
Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea; they ate and drank and were happy. Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life. (1 Kings 4:20 RSV)
That is total control over all that God intended him to have. Have you learned to reign like that in your life? This is what God wants you to have.
In chapters five through eight we find the account of the glorious temple that Solomon built. How marvelous was this beautiful building. The interior was even more glorious than the outside. The inside was entirely covered with gold. To have entered that sanctuary must have been a most amazing experience. Everything one touched was covered with gold. But the central glory of it was the Shekinah glory of God which came down and dwelt in the holy place when Solomon dedicated the temple. In a marvelous prayer, Solomon gives thanks to the grace of God and recognizes again the one great principle by which a kingdom must be maintained -- the king's obedience to the throne of God.
Then we have the story, wonderful in its detail, of the visits of the Queen of Sheba and the King of Tyre to Solomon, and the recognition by the nations of the glory of Solomon's kingdom. Then suddenly, at the beginning of chapter 11, the whole story takes a quick turn in the other direction. We read of the results of the seeds of evil that were sown earlier in Solomon's life:
Now King Solomon loved many foreign women: the daughter of Pharaoh, and Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, (1 Kings 11:1 RSV)
These are pagan tribes.
...from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, "You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods;" Solomon clung to these in love. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and [in the greatest understatement in the Bible] his wives turned away his heart. (1 Kings 11:3 RSV)
This is the same man who in the book of Proverbs wrote "He who finds a wife finds a good thing." (Proverbs 19:22) This is the greatest example I know of, of a good thing carried to an extreme. One thousand wives! Somebody has said that he was amply punished by having one thousand mothers-in-law! But this also marks the weakness and the failure of Solomon as his heart was turned away from God. Now notice where it first began. This man enjoyed all the magnificence of his rule, with the greatest glory of the kingdom committed to him. The outward magnificence here was evidence of God's blessing upon his life. But his downfall began when his heart became captured by something that God had prohibited. This is exactly in line with the warning that Jesus gives in the Sermon on the Mount when he says "Watch out where your heart goes, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Luke 12:34) The first step in moral decline always begins with your emotions. What do you allow your emotions to center upon? What captures the central place of emotion in your life? That is where the decline begins. Then we read it is followed by idolatry:
For Solomon went after Ashtoreth [the sex goddess] the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab," (1 Kings 11:5-7a RSV)
Chemosh was the hideous image in which a fire was built and at the height of the religious festival children were thrown into the fire. It was Solomon who built this place where the rites centered on the worship of this grinning god.
...and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites [another fertility god], on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away... (1 Kings 11:7b-9a RSV)
Three times in rapid succession in the rest of this chapter "the Lord raised up an adversary against Solomon." First Hadad, the Edomite the man of the flesh. Then in verse 23:
God also raised up an adversary to him, Rezon, the son of Eliada, who had fled from his master Hadadezer king of Zobah. (1 Kings 11:23 RSV)
Then in verse 26:
Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite of Zeredah, (1 Kings 11:26 RSV) [who later split the kingdom].
So these adversaries came in to overthrow Solomon and to accomplish his defeat. The chapter closes with Solomon "sleeping with his fathers" and being buried in the city of David -- a sudden collapse to the glory and majesty of his kingdom.
I heard recently of a man who had exercised great pulpit power and a tremendous ministry in many ways for God and whose whole ministry suddenly collapsed. He was brought before his session on moral charges. It was discovered that there had been an unjudged affection in his heart that had been going on behind the scenes, year after year. Despite the outward display of power and authority that he exercised in his ministry, there was eating away at his heart and emotions that seed which was to utterly overthrow his kingdom. This story is repeated again and again in lives everywhere.
Chapter 12 begins the second movement in this book -- the degradation and breakup of the kingdom. Jeroboam split the kingdom, taking the ten tribes of Israel in the north to begin the Northern Kingdom. He reintroduced in Israel the awful worship of golden calves. Long before, while Moses was up on the mountain communing with God, the people came to Aaron and said, "We want to have a God that we can worship like the nations." Do you remember what Aaron told Moses after he got down off the mountain? He said, "I told them to bring all their gold all their earrings and all their jewelry and I took all this gold and threw it into the fire. Lo and behold, a calf came walking out. We fell down and worshiped it, calling it Jehovah." (Exodus. 32:23, 24) It was not that they intended to be idolatrous. They simply wanted some visible evidence on which to center their worship. Now we come to the sin of Jeroboam. He is forever afterwards known in Israel as "Jeroboam the son of Nebat who caused Israel to sin." Here it is not one calf, but two calves. It is the same sin multiplied, doubled in its intensity and power that is introduced into the life of the nation by Jeroboam.
Chapter 14 presents to us the story of the invasion and defeat of Israel by Egypt, the very Egypt out of which God had led this people. Egypt is again a picture of the world and its ways -- its wickedness its folly, its futility, and its foolishness. We read in chapter 14 verses 25 and 26:
In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord... (1 Kings 14:25-26a RSV)
He assaulted the place of worship first of all.
...and the treasures of the king's house; he took away everything. He also took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. (1 Kings 14: 26b RSV)
Do you get the picture? Solomon who knew God and sought to walk with him did not fully judge the emotions and attachments of his heart. He was finally undermined and went back into the ways of the world with all its foolish manifestation, and so lost that inner glory and sense of worship where God was exalted in the inner temple of his own life. After this the account tells of the various kings that come to the throne of Israel. Nadab is followed by Baasha and Zimri. Finally comes Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel.
The final part of the book, beginning in chapter 17, introduces the prophetic ministry beginning with Elijah. There are other prophets who came before Elijah but they did not do miracles. Elijah begins the ministry of miracles in the Bible. The prophets who ministered to Judah, the Southern Kingdom, did no miracles because there God's testimony was still the central life of the nation. But in Israel, the Northern Kingdom, God's presence was rejected and in his place the golden calves were worshiped. The ministry of miracles here is a testimony to the people that God is still in their midst. God sought to shake them up to be aware of the fact that they have drifted away from him. Elijah's ministry is a tremendous revelation of God's dealings with the wayward human heart. First of all, in his ministry, he shut the heavens so that it did not rain upon the land for three years. Then he called down fire from heaven upon the sheriffs and others who were sent to arrest him and bring him before the king. As these miracles caught the attention of the people. there came a degree of repentance. They understood that God was using a harsh hand, as God sometimes has to do with us. in chastisement and judgment to wake us up and make us aware of how we are drifting away from central worship of him in the innermost part of our being.
When this happened there came at last the judgment of Baal, when the two philosophies in Israel came to a headlong clash up on Mt. Carmel. God vindicated his honor by sending fire from heaven to destroy all of Elijah's offering, including all the water that was poured upon the offering and the stone altar, and God reigned in mighty power. When that judgment was exercised, the heavens were opened again and rain poured down upon the land. That is all a picture of us, of what happens in our lives when we resist the right of God to rule in our hearts. God brings us under chastening, and, at last, our stubbornness is broken. The willful rebellion is ended and we are humbled at last before God. Then the rain of grace begins again and pours down upon our hearts to bring fruit and blessing once more.
Following this is the unusual account of Elijah's fear of Jezebel. I am always amused by this. Here is this fearless prophet, this rugged man of God who has faced four hundred priests alone on top of the mountain, now running in terror from one angry woman. He cries as he hides under the juniper bush, "Lord, I have had enough. It was bad enough facing four hundred priests of Baal but when this one woman gets after me, that is too much." She was threatening his life. This is amusing because he says, "Lord, I have had enough -- take my life," but of course he doesn't really mean that. All he would have to do is walk out and find Jezebel and she would accommodate him in his wish. Instead he hides under the juniper bush. God deals with him in wondrous grace. The first thing that he does is to put him to bed and give him a good night's rest. Then God gives him a good square meal. Finally God teaches him the greatest secret that Elijah ever learned -- that God does not always move through earthquake, fire, and thunder -- but many times through the still, small voice of a changed conscience.
The book closes with the story of King Ahab, and his failure, his folly, and his self-centered desire for the vineyard of Naboth, bringing down the judgment of God. In chapter 22 we learn how God works through what seem to be accidental circumstances. The two kings of Israel and Judah go out to battle. Ahab, king of Israel, in his Satanic cleverness tries to put the king of Judah out in the forefront of battle. Ahab dresses the king of Judah in his own armor in order that he might be mistaken for the king of Israel and shot at. But as King Ahab is complimenting himself on how he has tricked the king of Judah into being exposed to danger, we read that an arrow shot into the air (just by chance) by a warrior on the opposite side, finds its way to him and pierces through a crack in the armor into his heart. God's judgment is accomplished! God is the God of circumstances. God is the God of accidents. God is behind all the movements of our lives. This is the revelation of this account.
As I close this book of 1 Kings, the verse that comes most prominently to my mind and thrusts itself upon my heart, is this:
Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs. 4:23)
Outward circumstances will never dethrone you from reigning in your life. Nothing you run up against in terms of outward pressures and outward circumstances will ever succeed in dethroning you. Your dethronement, your moving back into the slavery and bondage of the flesh and the devil, will come only as you permit some rival worship to enter into your heart and dethrone God. When your emotions become attached to some place that is a rival to the worship of God, then the kingdom's days are numbered. -- Ray Stedman, How to Lose a Kingdom
What is the Human Condition?
Is God Angry?
The Wasted Years
The Excluded Ones
Accidents and Disasters: Does God Care?
The Coming Cosmic Shakedown
Earthquakes and the Bible
The Approaching Time of the End
Behold, the LORD will lay waste the earth and make it desolate,
and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
And it shall be, as with the people,
so with the priest; as with the slave, so with his master;
as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller;
as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor.
The earth shall be utterly laid waste and utterly despoiled; for the LORD has spoken this word.
The earth mourns and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth.
The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left.
The wine mourns, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted sigh.
The mirth of the timbrels is stilled, the noise of the jubilant has ceased, the mirth of the lyre is stilled.
No more do they drink wine with singing; strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.
The city of chaos is broken down, every house is shut up so that none can enter.
There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine;
all joy has reached its eventide; the gladness of the earth is banished.
Desolation is left in the city, the gates are battered into ruins.
For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth among the nations,
as when an olive tree is beaten, as at the gleaning when the vintage is done.
They lift up their voices, they sing for joy;
over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west.
Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD;
in the coastlands of the sea, to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One.
But I say, "I pine away, I pine away. Woe is me!
For the treacherous deal treacherously, the treacherous deal very treacherously."
Terror, and the pit, and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth!
He who flees at the sound of the terror shall fall into the pit;
and he who climbs out of the pit shall be caught in the snare.
For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble.
The earth is utterly broken, the earth is rent asunder, the earth is violently shaken.
The earth staggers like a drunken man, it sways like a hut;
its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again.
On that day the LORD will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished.
Then the moon will be confounded, and the sun ashamed;
for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before his elders he will manifest his glory. (Isaiah 24)
This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you;
in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets,
and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour spoken through your apostles.
First of all you must understand this,
that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?
For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!’
They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, |
through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished.
But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the godless.
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.
The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise,
and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way,
what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness,
waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,
because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire?
But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. (2 Peter 3:1-13)
Notes by Lambert Dolphin
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December 21, 2021