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Difficult Verses 10: Matthew 19.23-24

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can you see the camel through the eye of the needle! | Flickr

It has been a long time since I have done a Difficult Verses post (actually five years since the last one, which can be found here), but I have resurrected this series due to an excellent question I have been asked on Matthew 19.23-24:

23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

As we have been focusing on prosperity this week, these verses by Jesus do seem to cut across the idea that God wants us to prosper (3 John 2), that God delights in our prosperity (Psalm 35.27), that God has given us the power to obtain wealth (Deut. 8.18), that Jesus became poor so that we can become rich (2 Cor. 8.9).  So within that, when there seems to be a contradiction in Bible truths we need to look deeper.

Let’s start by putting these two verses into context and look at what happened before and after Jesus said this to his disciples.  Before, Matthew 19.16-22:

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

This man asked the wrong question.  His mentality was that he could earn his way into heaven   He thought there was something he could do to get eternal life.  So, this man had a wrong point of view.  Mark 10.21 gives us a little piece of information about this man that Matthew and Luke do not – it tells us that when Jesus looked at him, he loved him.  So, that is the foundation of this account – Jesus loves rich people.  He loves rich people, poor people, sick people, healthy people, cursed people, blessed people.  Jesus loved the rich young ruler while he was rich and young and a ruler.  So, having money does not put you in a place where Jesus stops loving you.  It also means that everything that Jesus does and says next is out of love!

17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Jesus now wants to correct his wrong thinking, and help him see that you cannot get into the kingdom of Heaven by being a good man.  This man was propserous, a ruler, confident in his goodness, but he had no idea he needed a Saviour.  So Jesus here is rightfully using the law, as a standard we cannot possibly meet, to help someone realize they need a Saviour.

18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

So Jesus throws some laws out there to give the man a standard to help him realize he needs a Saviour.

20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

The man responds with a strong self-righteousness, I have kept those laws, I do that, I am a good person, just tell me what to do and I will do it and get the kingdom.  That attitude is obnoxious to heaven, it is pride and arrogance, and sometimes riches cause people to be more self reliant and more self righteous.  Their ability to make money makes them justify themselves and their morality.

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

So Jesus then gave this man an instruction.  Now, let’s get this out of the way before anything else – this instruction is not for everyone.  Not all of us have to go and sell all we have to be perfect.  I can prove this through the life of a very short man, called Zaccheus.

Read Luke 19.8 and 9:

And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

Zaccheus gave away half of his goods, that is 50% not 100%.  And yet Jesus said salvation came to his house.  Not once in the book of Acts is giving away all your goods to the poor is used as a sign of salvation.  But this man did not come cut to the heart, he came wanting to do something to get the kingdom.  He came self-reliant, so Jesus gave him an impossible instruction.  Jesus got to the heart of this mans’ problems, his emptiness, his reason for coming to speak to Jesus – he had an idol and it was called material things.  That was his god and he could not turn his back on it.  At this point he should have fallen on his knees and cried out to Jesus for salvation by grace, but he couldn’t.

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

This man is the only person in the Bible to walk away sad from Jesus.  That is so sad, but it was not because of the possessions he had, it was because his possessions had him.  He couldn’t bring himself to call on the name of Jesus, and walked away from the Lord.

Now remember that the Lord loved this man, he looked at him and felt nothing but love for him.  In addition, do not forget the divine principles that Jesus has taught the disciples over and over – sow and you shall reap (Mark 4), give and it shall be given to you (Luke 6.38).  Jesus wasn’t trying to make a rich man a pauper, He was trying to get a rich man to stop using the world’s system of making money and start using the God system, and this would have in time made him even richer, and meant he would have had salvation and peace with God at the same time.  Now that is a heart of love.

We cannot forget that our blood covenant with the Lord includes prosperity, the Old Covenant also includes prosperity, and Jesus is the one who prospers us.  If that young ruler thought about the Word rather than his wealth, he might have remembered his Bible say “he that gives to the poor lends to the Lord, and the Lord will surely pay him back again” (Proverbs 19.17).  Jesus was offering this man the business deal of a lifetime but the man was too carnal and money-obsessed to see it!  He assumed what a lot of us assume, Jesus wants us poor and weak.

In addition, look at those words “follow me”.  Those words are only used by Jesus when he is calling the apostles.  Maybe Jesus was aware he would need a new apostle soon, maybe he was aware that he needed a new apostle who had the ability to handle money.  Just speculation, but it is interesting.  He would have been pretty well suited for the job – honest, never lied, never stole (isn’t that one up on Judas), and knew how to prosper?

So, as the man walks away sad, Jesus uses this whole event to teach his disciples a key principles about the kingdom:

23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Now despite all the nonsense I have heard about really tiny camels (some people say it is the Greek word for rope – it’s not) or really really big needles (some people say there is a gate in Jerusalem called the eye of the needle, there isn’t), the truth is Jesus is saying that it is impossible to enter God’s kingdom if you have money.  He is not saying a rich man cannot get saved – think about this, if you die, you go to Abraham’s bosom, and Abraham was exceptionally rich.  Every Jew listening knew that rich people could be saved – they know about David, Solomon, Mordecai, Esther, Daniel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and so on and so forth.  But Jesus was saying they struggle to “enter the kingdom of heaven”.  In other words, this man struggled to give and receive, he struggled to handle money the God-ordained way.

A few years ago I was in America and had no money, there were four of us there, and we had no money to pay for hotels and food.  On Sunday morning in church, someone gave me $100.  That is not enough to make me rich, that is not enough to pay my bills or pay my travel and so on.  So I gave it in the offering.  The next morning another minister gave me over $2000 as an offering.  That was my harvest.  That is God-given principles to increase.  I knew I was poor, so I gave my way out of poverty.  The options were pretty clear to me.  But the problem is rich people rely on their money and do not like to give it away like that, because they have never learned to make money in a godly way.

Now want I want you to see as well is what comes after this, because it is illuminating:

25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Notice first of all that the disciples were stunned.  We have this false assumption that Jesus and his disciples were broke.  That is not true, Jesus was wealthy and so were most of his disciples.  Peter was a professional fisherman, he owned more than one boat, and had servants.  He was a business man doing very well for himself.  When Jesus said it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom, they wer stunned.  Now, stop being religious for a few minutes and think about this – Peter wouldn’t be caring about Jesus saying this if he was broke.  He was concerned for himself when he heard Jesus, and he points out that he has left everything to follow Jesus.  Which is true, Peter walked away from his business and his nets and left it all behind to follow Jesus. so Jesus tells him that he will be taken care of by God.

Jesus warning about rich men has nothing to do with the money we make as we prosper in the kingdom, it is referring to people so embedded into the world’s system of prosperity they cannot give, they cannot invest in the kingdom, they cannot follow Jesus.  Let’s look at Mark’s account of this:

28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.

29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

Read that very carefully, we get hundred times what we give up now in this time – not in heaven when we die, but right now.  That is a lot – you see every person, whether poor or rich – has to make a decision, you need to take some of your income and start giving generously.  The more blessed you are the more you should give.  There are so many reasons for giving to the kingdom of God, but one important reason is that it reminds you that God is the source of your increase, God is the one who provides for you, God looks after you.

We have to be a channel for giving, Jesus did not just know that, He did it, and He wanted to see this young man who he loved get in the same flow and obtain the same blessings and grace.  Jesus was such a big giver that when Judas went to betray him, everyone assumed he was going to do more giving!

Do you want a hundredfold return on your money?  Then give it to God and let God multiply it.  No business venture or bank will offer this kind of return, so praise Jesus for offering this kind of return to His family.

 

 

 

 

Natural Disasters and the Will of God 10: The Lord Loves Egyptians

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Moses addresses Pharaoh. image - Christians of Moddb | Yul brynner ...

In our last post on Natural Disasters and the Will of God, we found out God did not actually actively send the plagues of Egypt, and we reinforced the fact that the Hebrew permissive sense shows that all God did was withdraw and let the Egyptians reap what they had sown.

I wanted to move on and discuss a few more events in the Old Testament, but I felt it was important to ensure that this whole concept is grounded in the most important revelation of God in all of Scripture, that God is love (1 John 4.16), and that God loves people.  God loved and loves Egypt and loves Egyptians.

We can see from the Scripture that God’s purpose in sending the plagues was to: … show you My power and that My name may be declared throughout the whole earth (Exodus 9.16, AMP).  God’s plan was to show the Egyptians that He loved them and reveal His name and goodness to them.  He wanted Egypt to know that He was the one true God and that He was full of mercy and kindness.

God is not and has never been at war with people, God loves people.  What God is at war with is bad ideas, faulty thought processes, fear, doubt, unbelief – and the demons that often are behind these ideas.  In fact, God also says that the Passover is a judgment against the gods of Egypt (Exodus 12.12).

We have to realize that the world is in the hands of satan (1 John 5.18-19), he is the false god of this world (2 Cor. 4.4) and his function is to blind people to the truth about Jesus Christ and the goodness of God (also 2 Cor. 4.4).  And without people speaking the truth, people stay trapped in the lies.  The plagues were the natural consequence of serving satan!

So many people read the Bible and what they see is through this framework that says that God controls everything and God is sovereign.  Like a game of chess where one person plays against themselves, God sets up Pharoah to knock Him down later to show His great power!  That’s how so many people actually understand the Bible.  That’s so far from what the Bible actually teaches.  God is not raising up people just to show how strong He is by knocking them down.  God is not using the plagues because He is fed up with the Egyptians.  If God was sovereign the way some people teach, He would not have needed ten plagues, He could have done it in a split second.  But the plagues were happening slowly, progressively, because God wanted Egypt to change, to repent, to come to Him for help, to realize His grace and kindness.  God was going to set Israel free from slavery, but He also wanted to set Egypt free as well.  God does not try and win by force, He tries to reveal His love and kindness.  Even while being pushed out of Egypt by their idolatry, and their violence towards Israel, God is still trying to persuade them through Moses and Aaron to know His love and grace.  That is how God operates, not smashing things until people come to serve Him through fear.

The truth is that God is more powerful than satan not just because He is the creator and satan is a mere angel, but because God is love, and God does not destroy, and God does not attack, and God does not kill.  God is good and kind and gracious.  If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father.

God will never and has never redeemed or rescued anyone by forcing them to be redeemed.  He is full of power, but the only forcing God ever does is forcing satan to let His people go!  God wasn’t trying to force Pharoah, He was trying to win Pharoah from satan!  God always attempts to win our hearts.  These plagues were God stepping back from Egypt and letting the people see the true consequences of serving idols and devils without His grace protecting and nourishing them.

For centuries the Egyptians were serving the creation and not the Creator, and now God just let them have the consequences of their idolatry.  What is tragic is that Israel in different times actually also served the false gods of Egypt.  God actually told Joshua when taking the people into the promised land to put away the gods of Egypt (Joshua 24.14).  Entering the promised land is the time to stop worshipping demons pretending to be gods.  You are supposed to be devoted to the Lord and not have false gods!  Worshipping idols will destroy your life, not because God will get you for doing it but because the idols are empowered by demonic forces which will stop at nothing to destroy you.

God’s rescue plan was not just to rescue Israel from the Egyptians but rescue them from the Egyptian deities as well (2 Sam. 7.23) – and if Egypt were willing, to rescue them from their deities too.  And every single of the individual plagues showed that God was the rescuer.

The Egyptians have one god called Hapi, he was the god over the Nile river.  When God allowed the waters to turn to blood, Hapi’s followers could duplicate that evil with magic, but they could not turn the waters back into water again.  Only God, the redeemer, could turn the waters back and rescue Egypt from the destruction!

The Egyptians worshipped the god of the frogs, Heqet.  Because they had a frog god, the Egyptians could not kill frogs, so they just mulitplied like crazy.  The Egyptians no doubt prayed to the frog god to take the frogs away, but the demons cannot bring life in abundance, they can only steal, kill and destroy.  All of Egypt should now be realizing that the evil gods they served could only make things worse, not better.  They were no match for God, not just in terms of power, but because God is the redeemer, God can bring salvation, God can help us!

Seb, the god of lice, could not stop the lice.  Uatchit, the god of flies, could not stop the flies, Serapia could not stop the locusts and Ra, the god of the sun could not stop the darkness.  There were a range of cow gods, none of them could help the cows, and none of the healing gods could heal the boils and plagues.  Again, God was not causing these plagues, but just releasing Egypt to reap what they had sown, stepping back graciously as the Egyptian nation pushed Him away.

One of the things I want all of you to see with the ten plagues is that God is so much more powerful than satan, and that God can stop any plague – and protect His people in the midst of plagues.

When the flies came, we see a noticeable different for the Egyptians and the people of God:

Then the Lord told Moses, “Get up early in the morning and stand in Pharaoh’s way as he goes down to the river. Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so they can worship me. 21 If you refuse, then I will send swarms of flies on you, your officials, your people, and all the houses. The Egyptian homes will be filled with flies, and the ground will be covered with them. 22 But this time I will spare the region of Goshen, where my people live. No flies will be found there. Then you will know that I am the Lord and that I am present even in the heart of your land. 23 I will make a clear distinction between my people and your people. This miraculous sign will happen tomorrow.” (Exodus 8.20-23, NLT)

Now, we have already discussed that “I will send” simply means that God will allow this to happen.  It is sin that brings death, not God.  But, the great news is that God spared His people.  The Hebrew word here translated “spared” is separated (in the KJV, severed).  God can protect His people in the middle of disasters, whereas devils cannot protect their people, even if they cared to.

This happened over and over with God showing that He can protect His people, most dramatically in the death of the firstborn (Exodus 11.4-7), where again God separated His people from the Egyptians.  No matter what kind of plagues hit our world due to the sin, foolishness, idolatry, and selfishness of the people on this planet, God can protect His people, and there is a difference between us and the Egyptians (Exodus 11.7).

Death of the Firstborn

In the case of the firstborn deaths, we see so clearly that satan does not love even people who worship him, and God loves everyone!  And God has the power to protect anyone who comes to Him for help and freedom.

Exodus 12.23 tells us that “The Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians, and when he seeth the blood on the lintel and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not suffer the destroyer to come into your house to smite you”.  While God, again, using the Hebrew idiomatic language we have discussed previously, He actually tells us the destroyer was the one smiting people.

In Psalm 78, we are told that God “gave them over to the pestilence and smote all the first-born in Egypt”.  This is how God’s wrath manifests, He lets people go their own way.  God allowed satan to do what he wanted to do to the firstborns in Egypt, and God had shown mercy after mercy to Egypt before that happened!

Egypt now reaps from the seeds it had sown when it repeatedly over and over killed the sons of Israel by drowning them (Exodus 1.22).  God was appealing to Pharaoh over and over so they Pharaoh did not have to face this!  God was doing everything He could to stop this happening.  God’s smiting was not personally murdering every firstborn son in Egypt – it was giving them over to the evil angels, that they served and worshipped.  It was letting them face the reality of their choices.  God wants every person in the world to choose life, but He gives everyone the ability to choose.  The Egyptians chose satan, and chose death.

Moses understood this about God when he wrote Psalm 91, that no plague would come near our dwelling.  Jesus, who was fully God, cured many from their infirmities and plagues and evil spirits.  Satan is the cause of sickness, God is the cause of healing.  In these plagues, God only gave permission to the devil to attack, His real passion was to save all of Egypt from satan’s power.  However, because the people had constantly rejected God, He had to allow them to reap what they had sown.

Satan Kills His Own, Not God

It amazes me every time I realize it that the Egyptians were all serving and worshipping satan, and he starts killing his own.  Why?  That is who he is – his nature is to steal, kill and destroy.  Never ever think for a second satan will look after his own, satan is the exact opposite of God, and God loves His own, and God loves satan’s children, and satan hates God’s children and satan hates his own children.  Satan will use people, destroy people – the only thing he loves is himself.  The only person satan looks after is satan.  When satan found out that he could not kill the Israelites, his bloodlust meant he was happy to kill the Egyptians.  Satan doesn’t care, he knows people will still worship him.

But God loves you and me, and God would never do anything to hurt you or me.  God is the deliverer, the one who brings life in abundance.  God is good!  Rest in that today!

Next post, let’s look at Korah, the rebel and see what happened to him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christ Has Redeemed Us From the (Generational) Curse!

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The Power of An Empty Tomb —

(This morning I have been asked by several people for my teaching on generational curses so I thought I would bring everything together in a new blog post for you!)

What is a Generational Curse?

Most charismatics define a generational curse as a curse on someone’s life caused by their families’ sins, maybe parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.  So, basically what they would teach is that granny sinned fifty years ago and was then cursed for that sin, and that curse went onto mummy and then onto you, and the reason your life is not successful or you are sinning or sick or broke is because of granny’s sin.  Therefore you need to go back up the family line, find out granny’s sin and repent of it and break that curse in the name of Jesus so you can receiving your blessing, healing, freedom, and abundance.

It is taught so frequently, but as with everything we do and say and teach must be backed up with Scripture, and we must remember that we live in the New Covenant, are new creations, and must view the Scripture through the lens of the New Covenant.

Genealogies Matter in the Old, Not The New

In the Old Testament, blessings and curses were indeed passed down the family line.  If dad was a priest, you could be a priest.  If not, you could not be.  When Achan stole from Jericho, he and his lineage were all put to death.  What family you were in mattered.  1 Chronicles 1 to 9 is all genealogies.  Even Jesus, who was born in the Old Covenant, has two genealogies in the Bible, Matthew takes it through Joseph, Luke through Mary, so we can see his legal and physical lineage back to David and to Abraham, and with Luke, all the way back to Adam.  Lineage matters in the Old Testament, and people were warned not to sin as it would affect their children.  This is the origin of generational curse teachings today, and everyone who teaches in generational curses today has to dig deep in the Old Testament to teach their sermons.

However, we live in the New Covenant, and one of the greatest and central truths of the New Covenant is the new birth.  Jesus told Nicodemus that we must be born again, and this new birth is in the spirit not the flesh.  Later on, Paul lets us know that:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5.17-21, NIV)

We are now new creations!  You and I as Christians are born of God and the old has gone.  So, now our geneaology can be summed up in three words: born of God.  You are born of God.  One of the joys of the new birth is that lineage doesn’t matter any more.  We know Jesus’s heritage back to Adam, but we do not even know Paul’s mum’s name!  This is because lineage is made completely irrelevant by the new birth:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3.28, NIV)

The moment you are in Christ, it is irrelevant whether you are from Jewish or Gentile background, whether your parents were slaves or free, none of that matters – you are all in the new family in Christ.  Your DNA is now from God, your lineage is from God, and you are now blessed with every single spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1.3).

You Are Redeemed from the Curse

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (Galatians 3.13)

Part of our redemption as Christians is that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us.  All curses find their origin and their source in the law of Moses, even generational curses.  It is the law of Moses  that insists that the children have to pay for the iniquity of their parents and grandparents (e.g. Exodus 34.7, Deut. 5.9).  However, as born-again Christians we are no longer under the curse of the law, God has set us free from the curse of the law by putting all of that curse on Jesus Christ.  Yes, your parents sinned, your grandparents sinned, your great-grandparents sinned – but all of that sin and the resulting curse was laid on Christ and killed him.  Now Christ has defeated all the curse of the law once and for all – you are no longer under a curse.  Christ has nailed the law to the cross (Col. 2.14), so the generational curses are laid on Jesus, once and for all on the cross.  Every single curse was once and for all paid for on the cross.  The moment you are born again, your curses are all gone, you are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come, your lineage has changed, your Father has changed, your family has changed, and you are now blessed with every single blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1.3).

You do not need to go chasing up your lineage and find out granny’s sins.  You need to turn your eyes onto Jesus, the author and finished of our faith and consider Him!

Practical Issues with this Teaching

  1. It takes our eyes off Jesus.  As Christians we should be looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, not looking to granma’s sins.  That gets our focus on what could be some murky thoughts.  We are supposed to honour our father and mother, not dig into their lifestyle and investigate and expose their nakedness.
  2. It causes us to believe the cross is insufficient for our redemption.  It is not believing the cross and you finding out the sins of your family.  It is just believing in the cross.  We just need to believing in what Jesus did, it does not need to be added to by you finding out nana’s behaviour at age 7, 17 or 77.  The work of the cross is and always be complete.
  3. It mixes the Covenants.  One of the single greatest reasons for the church to live in defeat is that they are mixing the Old and New Covenant, and not realizing that the beginning of the new covenant is the ending of the old.  The New Covenant calls the old covenant obsolete, and though we can absolutely learn from it and be admonished by it, we are not under it, and should not look to the law as our authority, anymore.  To teach generational curses you have to drag up the Old Covenant that we have been delivered from, and bring us back under it, and the sad story is this: if we live under law, we will be under the dominion of sin (Romans 6.14), and never walk in victory.
  4. It never leads to good fruit.  I have found that if I preach about freedom from the curse I see so many healings in my ministry, because this teaching holds people in defeat, they are always looking at their parent’s family tree, and never looking at Christ.
  5. You are never going to know all your families’ sins – the task required under a generational curse way of seeing the world is impossible.  What if granny doesn’t want to tell you what she got up to as a wayward teen?  What if you have never met your own biological father?  What if granddad lies to you?  It’s a futile task and if completing it is essential for your walk of victory, then you are in trouble.
  6. It takes away from the power and completeness of the new birth.  Colossians 2.10 says that we are complete in Christ, and anything that detracts from that, is going to detract from you believing the Word and walking in victory.   We cannot allow this!
  7. It Causes Conflict in Families.  As a pastor, I want families to walk in peace, and as long as people are digging dirt on each other, they are disrespecting each other.  It’s not a healthy doctrine for building healthy families.

The Revelation of Completeness

My passion as a pastor is to present people to Christ aware of their completeness, aware that the work of Christ on the cross has made them complete.  Aware that every curse, every sickness, every negative aspect from the fall, was laid on Him and now He gives us freely His righteousness, His blessing, His grace, His goodness.  We are redeemed from every single curse, even the ones from our family tree, as the moment we are in Christ we are born again, we are new creations, the old has gone and the new has come.

Why is this teaching so ubiquitous in charismatic churches?  The reason is this – a lot of people live in a blame culture, they want to blame others for their lack of victory.  They are looking for reasons why they are failing in personal discipline and holiness, why they are not walking in victory, health and abundance.  The truth is that they need to start walking by faith and digging into the Word and looking to Jesus seem too simplistic to them, they have never seen the true glory of the cross and the glory of the new covenant.  And then some preacher comes along and says the reason you are not living in victory is because that your family is dysfunctional and your grandparents sinned.  And you think – hey my family is dysfunctional and my grandparents did sin – because everybody’s family has some level of dysfunction and everyone’s grandparents sinned.  But that is not the cause of your trouble, your trouble is caused, your destruction is caused by your lack of knowledge (Hos. 4.6) of the complete work of Christ and your new creation status.  I pray for all of you reading this that you would have a fresh revelation of your new identity in the new covenant.

In fact, for free of charge, I have three hours of teaching on the new covenant that will really help you – the link is here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLq_f-YVwDLC1jqXv6uj6skmJ9mT3YPbL7

Love you all, please feel free to post comments and questions below.

 

The Coronavirus is not my Cross to Bear!

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In the last two months, I have had two false prophetic words given to me.  I know they are both false because neither of them lined up with the Word of God!  One of them was given by a lady who I did not want to promote to a leadership position in the church, and the word was essentially that God would take me out for standing in the way of their destiny.  The other word was that I was going to do through a painful pruning to get me where I want to be.  Neither of those words reflect our Father, neither of those words reflect Jesus – they are coming from sincere hearts, and genuine people, but the people giving those words have not yet discerned the difference between the Old and New Testament, not fully, and if we do not rightly divide the Word of God, it colours our soul and infects when God wants to use us to speak to others.

Now I kindly (but firmly) insisted that I have judged these words and I will not be receiving them, and if either of those people are Biblical they will obey the Scripture to “let the others judge” when they prophesy, and leave it at that.  One of the people while discussing that God is not going to prune us asked about the fact that Jesus said we are suppoed to take up our crosses.  And the idea behind carrying our cross often is that we have to carry heavy burdens as Christians, that being a Christian is tough and painful and God will crush us to remake us, and of course prune us painfully.  It’s a hotch-potch of ideas that just do not line up with Scripture, so let us examine what the Bible says:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16.24, NIV)

Now Jesus definitely said that, but did He mean that He wants us to carry heavy burdens around, have a tough life, be painfully pruned in this verse?  The way to understand this verse is to go back in time and understand what it means to the people who were there in Jesus’ day.   Not one of them viewed a cross as a heavy burden to carry around day after day, no – they knew the truth – the cross is an instrument of death.  It only had one purpose: to make you dead.  You didn’t carry your cross day after day, you carried it and you were nailed to it and you died.  Someone carrying a cross was a dead man walking.

This verse is not saying at all that to be a Christian you would have to live a life that is burdensome, carrying a heavy thing around all the time.  The Christian is not called to a life of sickness, poverty, struggle and pain.  Now, do not get me wrong – if you shine for Christ, the world will hate you and reject you and sometimes even throw things at you, and that isn’t nice.  And actually if you start living the full Christian life, enjoying the presence of God, walking in the promises of God, being the head and not the tail, a whole bunch of Christians who do not understand what Jesus came to do will hate you and reject you too.  But the truth is that although there is a cost to follow Jesus,, the reward is always always always more than the cost.  I am glad I am following Jesus, I love it.  I wouldn’t swap it for anything, far from being burdensome, the truth is that His burden is light.

I have heard people say their difficult circumstances are their cross to bear, their sickness is their cross to bear, I have even heard people do foolish, sinful, selfish things and then call the consequencs their cross to bear!   They claim they are living a hard life because of Christ, but it is their own selfishness and foolishness that gave them the hard life!  This coronavirus is not your cross to bear – it doesn’t even come from God.

No, there is no heavy burden in the Christian life and this verse does not mean this.  So what does it mean?  Take up your cross to everyone in the ancient world, Jewish, Roman, Barbarian – it only meant one thing: die.

Now, let’s start with a foundation we are all aware with: everyone reading this post has been born at least once – the flesh birth.  You were a flesh baby born to a flesh mother.  That is the first birth.  But you need a second birth, you need to be born again (John 3.3-5), two births.  The first is flesh, the second is spiritual.

But you have to realize that the new birth is also the new death.  Romans 6 says that when we believe in Christ, we die with Him.  We died to sin, we died to self, we died to sickness, we died to poverty, we died to the curse, and we were born again – born to life, to abundance, to righteousness, to kindness, to love, to peace, to joy.

Paul sums it up like this: “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2.20).  Now Romans 6.3 says we died with Christ, Paul says he has been crucified.  It is not an ongoing thing, it is death.  Matthew 16.24 says if you want to follow Christ you have to die with Him.  You have to be on the cross with Him, you have to die with Him and be crucified with Him.  This is just the other side of saying you must be born again.  You die to the old, the old has gone, the new has come and all things are made new.  This is about being saved, not carrying a burden.

And you can only be crucified once.  Paul does not say “I am always being crucified with Christ”, he says “I have been crucified with Christ”.  He tells us you died with Christ, not you are always carrying a giant burden around with you with Christ.  Matthew 16.24 does not teach that we must carry the cross around with us every day.  We get on it, we die to self, get born again and live the new life.

The problem is not that we need to keep dying all the time, or keep carrying a burden all the time, the problem is bad teaching that teaches us that the Christian life is a burden and hard, and that we need to be “painfully pruned” – and it all fails to see how good God is as our Father, and that we are born again.  We do not need to die painfully to grow in Christ, we need to know that we are dead in Christ and alive to Christ:

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6.6-11)

You need to read these verses carefully and realize what they are saying, and you need to accept the Bible as truth, not our religious opinions:

  • We are crucified with Christ.  The work of the cross in our spirit is absolutely complete.  We do not need a daily crucifixion.  We have been crucified.
  • We are dead.  We are “he that is dead”.  We are free from sin because the new birth is also a death to sin.
  • If we are dead (which we are), we live with Christ.  You cannot live with Christ unless you get born again and get dead to the old you.  You must be born again, you must die in Christ, you must take up your cross.
  • When Christ died He died once, but He lives every day for God.  In Christ, we died once and for all when we got born again, but we can live for Christ every single day.
  • We now do not need to die, we need to reckon ourselves dead the same way Christ died once – we died once, but every day we are alive to God.  Today is not a day for dying to this or that, you are dead to it, today we live for God.

Some people think the Christian life is mountains and valleys, and they climb the mountain and then go into the valley, and it’s up and down.  It’s not how the Christian life should be lived, that is not Biblical, it is people labelling their inconsistency and immaturity.  The Christian life is just a path of righteousness getting brighter every single day.

What we need to do is reckon that we are dead.  We need to remember what happened at the cross, we need to remember what happened when we got born again.  We need to remember.  The problem is that a lot of Christians have the cross obscured from them by religion, and are trying to obtain what Christ has obtained for them.  We need to know Christ died for us, but we equally need to know we died with Him, and we need to recognize that truth, and reckon it.  That word reckon is an accounting term, you need to put it in the account of your life that you are not dying daily, you are not lugging your cross around, you are dead.  You are already dead to sin, you are already pruned, and you are right now as righteous as you are ever going to be.  Isn’t that good news?

Now when I teach like this, people will mention that Luke 9.23 where Jesus says exactly what is said in Matthew 16, but it – in some Bibles – says “daily”.  Well, the truth is that the most reliable sources do not say daily in Luke 9.23, and most commentaries will tell us that the original copy of Luke should not have “daily” in.  Now, if you don’t accept that, and you think the daily should be there, either you think Luke is saying we should die daily, and means we need to pick up our cross and have a burden every day, cutting across the rest of the New Testament.  Or if that word is there, it means that every day you should remember and reckon you are dead in Christ.  Every morning you get up you remind yourself: I am dead to the past, I died in Christ, I have been crucified with Christ and I live today to God, and it will be awesome.

We do not die daily any more than we get born again daily.  Do not trust in your ability, your works, your ability to die every day, but trust in the fact that in Christ you died once and for all – and live for God, live in righteousness, live in victory.

The cross is not your heavy burden, it is the instrument of death for you.  You die in Christ and you are born again, and you are now righteous and full of life.  The cross is the way to life, not the burden of your life.

Natural Disasters and the Will of God 09: The Ten Plagues of Egypt

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And the Lord said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.  For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.  For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence and thou shall be cut off from the earth (Exodus 9.13-15)

God tells Egypt that He will send His plagues to them.  So therefore at face value, people will say God sent the ten plagues, God smote Egypt with pestilence and disease, God causes natural disasters, God causes diseases.  However, as we have said previously over and over, God is not the destroyer, God is not the originator of evil, God looks just like Jesus.  Jesus never once sent a plague of flies to the Roman empire, Jesus never cursed a tax collector with boils, He never took the firstborn of the Pharisees.  Jesus is love and if you have seen Him you have seen the Father.  So, how do we deal with apparent contradiction in Scripture?

Some people say God did the plagues in the Old Covenant, but in the New Covenant He does not any more.  Others will say God did it but it was a curse, and God cursed them, and we are free from the curse so at least God will not do it for us.  I am sympathetic to those ideas, and at least they preserve us from accepting that God could smite anyone with anything at anytime, but in my opinion they do not tell the full story.

I believe the Bible is always true, and when Exodus 9 says “I will smite thee” that this is what it says.  I am not denying the Scripture, but we have to be aware the Scriptures were not originally written in English but Hebrew.  In Hebrew, using causative language like this does not mean I directly caused something, but that I permitted it to happen.  If I lent my car to someone and gave them the keys, then they got in the car and crashed it into a wall, in English you would be wrong to say “I crashed the car”, but in Hebrew that would be perfectly fine language to use because the car was yours and you gave the keys.  When God gave the Egyptians the land of Egypt – all nations are gifts from God – and they then crashed it into a wall of death through their incredible amount of wickedness, God, in Hebrew can say “I did the plagues” without anyone needing to assume He was behind the wheel driving it into the wall Himself.

We have learned in previous blog posts over and over that God does not actively destroy because God is not the destroyer.  What God does is remove His personal protection, and letting people walk into the sin and death that they have chosen.  God always lets people to choose life or choose death.  If they choose death and choose to reject God, God will always allow people to live in the light of their choices.  We also have learned that sin actually makes the land sick.  I think we have now idea how much and how often God’s angels and God’s grace protect us from the consequences of our sin.

In Exodus 9.14 where God is said to “send” the plagues, the Hebrew word is shalach.  Shalach is defined as relax, loosen, let go, stop detaining, and give over to something.  God did not send the plague in that He invented the plague, decided it would really hurt people and cause them trouble, and then posted the plagues to Egypt.  No – He simply loosed the consequences of their sin on them.  He simply stepped back from protecting them.  The New American Standard Bible actually translates this verse as “I will unleash”, rather than “I will send”, a far more accurate rendering of the Hebrew.

Now if you believe that God can send plagues on Egypt and you interpret shalach as actively send in Exodus 9.14, you have to deal with Amos 9.10 in which God tells the Israelites “I sent a plague on you like the one I sent on Egypt” (Good New Bible).  This is the same word shalach, and leaves you having to argue that God is actively sending plagues on His covenant people, or you realize that God has never sent a plague on anyone in His entire eternal existence.  God is not the one behind plagues.

God was restraining the wages of sin from the Egyptians, but as they continued to sin, continued to hate His people and keep them slaves, as the land continued to get more and more defiled, as the Egyptians continually turned to false gods and idols, God had to turn them over to the consequences of their own choices.

If we do not realize that shalach is best understood as “unleashed” we will be very confused as we read through the Hebrew Scriptures.  There is an example in Numbers, that I preach from a great deal, that it says God “sent” (shalach) fiery serpents among the people (Numbers 21.5).  But if you read the New Covenant, written in Greek, it is clear that God did not send these serpents, but satan did (1 Cor. 10.8-10, cf. Hebrews 2.14-15).  In Hebrew it is acceptable to say God “sent” the serpents, in Greek it has to be made clear that God did not actively send them at all, satan sent them.  God just allowed it to happen because the people pushed Him away and chose death, and God let them have what they chose, because God is love and God will not override our choices and become a monster, even when those choices are for snakes!

God is said to have “sent” the serpents in Hebrew because He removed His protection from the Israelites, His constant protection from snakes and other creatures, which the Israelites never saw, never appreciated, never thanked God for.  But the people who then complained and then rejected God, and then the snakes came.  God did not sit in heaven and think, well asps will kill them in a day, and it will be a painful, horrific death, especially for the elderly and the infants, so I will send snakes.  Jesus never took a snake and threw them at people who grumbled and complained, He never hid poisonous snakes in Judas’s bed to get him to repent.  That is not the nature of God, that is not the nature of the Father.  One Hebrew scholar from the 18th century, Edward Bird said it like this:

God is said in the Hebrew Scripture to send what he can but doth not hinder from being sent.

In Deut. 28, we have the blessings and the curses of the law of Moses.  And it says “The Lord shall send (shalach) upon thee cursing, vexation and rebuke in all you set your hand to do… because thou hast forsaken me.” (Deut. 28.20).

Again here shalach does not mean to actively send.  It means the people have forsaken God, walked away from God, not chosen life and chosen death, and therefore end up walking in to the middle of curses and death.  If you forsake God, you forsake His protective grace and presence, and that is not God actively sending curses and being satan for a day, it is God stepping back out of love and respect for the choices that humans make.  There is no reason Biblically to insult God and make Him the author of plagues of flies and locusts and the murderer of young children.  God does not send the diseases of Egypt to people, God does not bring plagues on people.  Things come as consequences to disobedience, things come when you forsake God.  When you sin, sin comes with its own death.

So when we read in the ten plagues that God smites, or sends death or disease or disaster, it is from the perspective of God allowing it to happen, not God actively causing it.  God releases His protection of people who run away from Him, and the resulting death can be devastating and even supernatural.

John Dowie, the healing evangelist and planter of Zion City, tells us that:

The will of God, you see, was for the Egyptians to not suffer at all.  He sent His servant Moses to demand that His people be set free.  Pharaoh hardened His heart, and all God did was simply withdraw His protective hand that the Egyptians should simply reap what they sow: plague after plague.  The one who has the power of death is the devil.  God simply allowed the devil to have his way by allowing him to bring plague after plague on the land.  God simply permitted the devil to do certain things.  The question of permission is always a difficult question, it is clear in God’s work that God never is the cause of evil.  He however may permit man to reap the consequences of sin.

There is no doubt that the plagues that Egypt encountered are the consequences of slavery, of mistreating people, of constantly murdering Jewish babies.  God would not be unjust to bring them, but it seems far more accurate to the character of God and the nature of God that God’s actions were the removal of His protection and holding back of the death, He did not send the plagues.

It is so important for faith that we realize that God does not send sickness to people.  God does not inflict people with sickness, He is not the source of sickness, He is the healer.  Now, the truth is that in ancient history, Egypt was a very sick nation, and was seen as a centre of disease.  There was disease in ancient Egypt, and there was a proverb in the ancient world “the diseases of Egypt” – and it is used that way in the Bible.  Why was it so full of disease – because it was a wicked, idolatrous, slave-keeping, baby-murdering nation!  Seeing that Egypt was already full of disease, it becomes a lot easier to realize God was holding back some things and His release of the plagues was entirely passive and not active.

God is the Healer, that is His name.  He tells the Israelites: “I will put none of the diseases upon you, which I have put upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15.26).  If you do not understand how to interpret Scriptures, then this verse will look like a total contradiction to you – God puts sickness on some people, and God then is the Healer?  Which is it?  It is similar to Job 42.11, where the Lord “comforted him over all the evil the Lord had brought on Him”.  We know from the book of Job that the Lord never once brought evil on Job, but it was satan, but here in Job 42.11, it says in the Hebrew God brought it, because that is how the Hebrew language works.

Understanding this simple difference between Hebrew (actually most Middle Eastern languages) and English will help you realize God is not the doer of what the Scriptures in English appear to say He is doing.   In Job 42.11, we see clearly that the Hebrew can say God did something that He merely permitted to happen by standing back.  That is the nature of the Hebrew language.  I believe that Exodus 15.26 is exactly the same, God did not actively make the Egyptians sick, did not actively send the plagues, He just let them happen.  God is not the direct cause of sickness and disease.

In the Dake’s Reference Bible, Dake commentating on Exodus 15.26 says this:

God is only responsible for disease in the sense that He created a world where you reap what you sow, that sin has penalties built into it, and permitting evil agencies the power to curse humans.  If people stopped sinning there would be no curse.  When Christ reigns on earth, there is no sickness.  When God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, there is no curse and no sickness.

God built a world where sin causes a harvest.  God does not bring sickness, He brings health. God is the health-bringer.  There is disease all over this planet, through the work of sin and satan without us blaming God for supernaturally making sicknesses and plagues to inflict us to curse us.  Not now, and not then.

Next post: we will look at individual plagues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Disasters and God’s Will 08: Sodom and Gomorrah

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This is part 8 of a series which will help you more if you begin at the beginning.  Otherwise enjoy!

And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well-watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thous comest unto Zoar (Genesis 13.10)

Surely Sodom and Gomorrah is an incident is a clear example of God causing a natural disaster? Well, let’s look at this in the light of everything we have learned so far, without doing anything other than seeking to take the Bible literally and as God’s Word.

The wonderful thing about the Word of God is that it often gives us clues on interpretation, at times it explicitly interprets itself.  So, when we see God seemingly in a destructive mood and raining fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, we have to hold this up in the light of everything we have said previously about God is not the destroyer.  He is not behind destruction.

But people will say look at Genesis 13.10, it clearly says God did this.  Genesis 19.24 tells us that Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed by “fire from the Lord” and that God destroyed the cities by raining fire from heaven.

So we need to look deeper at this.  Let us start by looking at what was the reason for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah:

Behold, this as the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters… they were haughty and committed abomination before me, therefore I took them away as I saw good (Ezekiel 16.49-50)

Among other things, we find out that Sodom committed abomination before the Lord, and the main abomination – or at least the most famous of them in the case of Sodom – was homosexuality.  Read what the New Testament has to say about Sodom:

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 7, NIV)

The sin of homosexuality was so strong in Sodom, they were ready to actually rape two angels (Genesis 19.1-12), and we know from previous blog posts on this subject that abominations cause the entire land to react and get sick (Leviticus 20.13) and that when the land gets sick, it actually starts to vomit out the inhabitants of the land (Leviticus 22.22, Leviticus 18.24-25).  It is not God judging the land or destroying the land – He is not the destroyer.  What is happening is that the sin of the land is causing the land to react negatively.  The earth was on the most basic level just not created to endure that kind of sin.  When the land becomes sick, it becomes violent, and natural disasters occur.

The geography of Sodom is also an interesting factor in this account.   Sodom as a city was surrounded by pits full of slime (Genesis 14.10).  This fact I believe is recorded for a specific purpose – to let you know that these slime pits were there.  Slime pits are essentially full of bitumen, and therefore full of the gases that come from petroleum products.   This was the same bitumen that Noah’s ark was covered in, and later on Moses’ ark too.  It is very similar to crude oil, and therefore all the petroleum gases would have been there.  These pits were one spark away from exploding at any time, and I believe that it was God protecting the cities from those explosions (see Revelation 7.1-3).  God is a good God, and He protects people, He is not the destroyer.  All He does is bring life and life in abundance.

The whole area of the Dead Sea, where Sodom and Gomorrah were, is still an oil district today and still full of oil and gas, and it is all flammable.   Remember the land will vomit out its inhabitants if their sin is too great – and this is what appears to have happened.

The fire from the beavens that fell on Sodom and Gomorrah was referred to as fire and brimstone, it was burning debris from bitumen.  Bitumen is mainly oil but it also contains a high concentration of sulphur.  Burning bitumen creates fire and brimstone.  If a fault line developed that could force the bitumen into the air and ignite it, it would be an explosion that resulted in the “rain” of fire and brimstone.

So, we can see that God did not create fire and brimstone in heaven and then fire it deliberately at Sodom and Gomorrah.  We can see that when the Hebrew says “God did it”, that this is actually in the Hebrew passive language.  God allowed it to happen because the people rejected Him, but the truth is that the land vomited, made sick by the repetitive sin and abominations of Sodom and Gomorrah.

You have to realize that sin takes us to a place where we are no longer until the protection of God.  God is upholding all things by the power of His Word (Hebrews 1.3) so God was holding the slime and the bitumen and the explosive gases together, and lovingly protecting the people.  But as the people continued to reject God and reject life and turn their back on God and sin in more and more wicked ways, eventually the land had reached its capacity and started to vomit the inhabitants out.  The land literally started to vomit out the petroleum gases in the pits, similar to a volcano going off, and the explosion reached so high, the fire and brimstone fell on Sodom and Gomorrah and wiped them out forever.  Because God stopped holding this explosion back, and stopped holding everything together, in Hebrew it is legitimate and appropriate to say “God did this”, but in the English sense of that phrase, God definitely did not do this.  God does not and has never destroyed a city.  God loves people and wants them to live, thrive and survive!

God removed His protection as He was forced out of Sodom, and through the natural consequences of defiling the land, the people were destroyed by the land, actually by their own sin.  The wages of sin is, and will always be, death.  The death of Sodom and Gomorrah, the destruction of these two cities is not supernatural, but that it took so long was!  God was protecting them.  Hosea uses this kind of language to discuss God destroying cities:

How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?  How shall I deliver thee, Israel?  How shall I make thee as Admah and set thee as Zeboin… I will not return to destroy Ephraim for I am God and not man (Hosea 11.8-9, KJV)

God didn’t destroy Admah and Zeboin (these are towns between Sodom and Gommorah connected both geographically and with the same sins, Genesis 10.19, 14.2, 14.8, Deut 29.23).  He delivered them.  He let go off them, they pushed Him out of their lives and their communities and their cities and He just let them do it because of His great love for them.  God was not actively destroying them – He is not the destroyer.  God’s heart is to protect and love – and He tells Ephraim He is not going to destroy them because He is God – He is love, He is light, He is not satan, He is not the destroyer.

God has removed His hand of protection and let the city face the consequences of their sin and receive the wages of sin from sin.  Sodom and Gomorrah faced the consequences of consistent rebellion.  They pushed God away, and then were destroyed by the land they had defiled.  In Deut. 29.23-25 Moses tells us that Sodom was destroyed because they turned their back on the covenant they had made with God, they turned their back on God.  2 Chr. 15.2 says if you turn your back on God, He will turn His back on you – not out of hatred or rage, but because He will give you what you want because He honours and protects your power to choose.

Now we have established that God is not the destroyer, but within this account of Sodom’s destruction we find out that angels are involved, which brings about the very important question of whether angels are destroyers, and did angels have any role in the destruction of Sodom?

Now in Revelation, verses we looked at in a previous post, we find out that there are angels in the future holding the four winds of the earth so the wind should not blow on the earth and cause destruction (Rev. 7.1-3), so we can see that angels do not cause destruction, they prevent it.  If they are hurting the earth, it is not because of their great might and power being used for destruction, it is because they – like God – stop holding the wind back.  I see the destruction of Sodom the same way, that somehow the angels were holding back the explosive gases in the surrounding areas, and protecting the city from destruction.

In Daniel 4, Daniel is informing the King Nebuchadnezzar that an angel is watching him and the angel tells the other angels guarding the king “let his heart be changed… and let a beast’s heart be given to him and let it pass over him seven times” (Daniel 4.16).  This is language of permission not causation.  The harvest of the king’s rebellion was coming, and the angels were told – let it come.  Angels are not destroyers they are protectors and servants and allies.   The angels might have let their protective holding back stop and the gaseous build up turned into an explosion that destroyed the cities.

The truth is that Sodom and Gomorrah reaped what they sowed.  That is just how the universe works – it is not you sin, God hates you for sinning, God comes and smashes you in and destroys your city, breaks your washing machine, floods your planet and gives you the coronavirus, you suffer.  That is not the cycle.  The cycle is you sin – you push God out of your life, you sow death when you sin and you eventually reap that death, the wages of that sin.  It has nothing to do with God – He is not the destroyer, He is the God of love, the redeemer, the rescuer, the helper.

Isa. 3.9 says that Sodom rewarded evil to themselves.  The destruction of Sodom was caused by Sodom!  Sodom was destroyed by sowing and reaping, cause and effect.  Sin destroys the land, and the land then vomits the people out.  Yes, the Hebrew says God destroyed Sodom, but that is how the Hebrew language works.

Look at when Israel murmured and complained in the wilderness.  It says the anger of the Lord was kindled and the fire of the Lord burned them (this is in Numbers 11.1), now if you take that at face value in English, you would assume God is not like Jesus, He is not the healer, but rather a vicious destroyer of His own covenant people.  But the Hebrew simply means He allowed the people to push Him out of their lives and the fire is actually the death of sin.  But, if you read the same account in 1 Corinthians, written in Greek, we find out “some of them also murmured and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10.10).  God did not destroy His people – the destroyer, satan, did.

We can affirm from this that God can remove His hand of protection if we push it away hard enough, and satan loves those sorts of situations.  When the Old Testament Scriptures talk about God destroying things, that is not Him actively using His god-like powers to wipe out cities and cause plagues.  God does not do that, what God does is to stop protecting people who push Him away.  When Sodom did not repent and change, God had no choice but to release His protection because He will not violate the choices of people, even those who choose death.

If people, a community, a city pushes God right out of the door, we cannot and must not blame God for the trouble that they then experience!

Next post will address the ten plagues of Egypt.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Disasters and God’s Will 07: Has God Ever Flooded the Earth?

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This is part 7 of a series, and will best be understood by reading the previous parts first here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.  I recommend starting at part 1.

In this post we will examine the idea of whether God flooded the earth in the times of Noah.  It is the culmination of the past six posts, so please read them all to get here.

And behold I, even I, do bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life from under heaven, and everything that is in the earth shall die (Genesis 6.17)

If you start reading through the Bible, you will start with Genesis.  It starts off with a gracious and kind God creating a paradise for His children, and when they sin, He clothes them and blesses them and provides a sacrifice for their sin, and promises a total redemption for them.  When their son murders his brother, God marks him and protects him from lynch mobs.  Despite sin obviously having consequences, we see a God of great grace and mercy and love and kindness.

Then we get to Genesis 6 and it seems at face value that God has suddenly become the destroyer!  That God is out to get people.  Now, we have examined in posts 1 and 2 of this series that God is not the destroyer, and looked the life of Jesus and the Hebrew language and found out that God will allow destruction to take place, but it is our sin that causes destruction.  Now, is this the same for Noah’s flood, or is this a somehow divine exception where God decides He has to judge the planet?  Is it true that God never engages in acts of destruction except when it comes to Noah’s flood?

Now, look at the Scripture above, at face value it seems very clear: God is going to bring a flood.  But remember what said about God bringing something – we have to interpret Scripture with Scripture!  When God says “I will bring” we find over and over that what God is doing is delivering people over to something, forsaking the people who reject Him and push Him away, and not actively destroying them.

This fundamental truth: that when we read of God destroying people, what happens is that God abandons them to their sin and the consequences of it, is still true when it comes to the flood.

In Job 42.11 we are told that the Lord brought evil against Job, same Hebrew word “bring”, but we know that satan did it, and not the Lord, but the Lord stepped back because through fear Job pushed Him out of his life, and in that sense, the Lord “brought” it.  It is the same here: what happened to Job is satanic in nature, and has nothing to do with the good God that Jesus came to reveal.

The flood is the earth responding to the worst sins ever committed on the planet, and God is not to blame.

So we know from Scripture that man had dominion over the earth, and we know from our last blog post that the earth hates sin (see here). And in Genesis 6, we know that the violent sin of humanity was directly affecting the planet:

11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6.11-13, KJV)

Before God says in v. 17 “I will bring a flood”, He tells us clearly that the whole earth is corrupt due to the violence of humans.  The wickedness of people before the flood had corrupted the world so much, and because the people were all over the planet, the entire planet was corrupted and sick.  The earth responded to that much sin with a flood.

The flood was not the Father getting so fed up with His children He decided to wipe them out.  God did everything to save people, He called Noah to build an ark, He held back the flood water as long as He could.

The flood was the earth’s way of cleansing itself from the sickness it had because of the sinfulness of humanity.  It had been corrupted more than it could ever have been predicted and it reached a critical mass and the earth shook and the results of that was a flood that was global.  It was not the Father fed up with His people, it was the earth.

Inside most modern buildings is a sprinkler system and if the temperature in a room gets too hot, the sprinkler goes on.  The earth is the same, if the sin of humanity gets too hot, the sprinklers come on.  In this case, the fire of vile, violent sin had infected the whole planet causing a global “sprinkler” activation.  The accumulation of sin makes the earth sick and if it gets too sick, it just vomits.  It is an earth failsafe, that is supposed to protect us and bless us.  But sin as always distorts and destroys everything.

So Genesis 6.12 says “all flesh has corrupted the earth” – the word corrupt means to bring to decay and disaster.  The disaster of the global flood was not caused by God, but by flesh.  It is the same word “corrupt” in the next verse where God says “I will destroy them with the earth”.  Man is destroying and corrupting the planet, but God is letting them – this is the passive tense.  God is allowing it to happen because every human, apart from Noah, has pushed God out of the planet, and God will not invade the planet and not break His integrity to take lordship of the planet from us.  If we want to destroy the world through constant and continue violent sin, God will allow us.  And sin made the earth sicker than it has ever been made throughout history.

Violent sin causes natural disasters.  The earth has a moral compass just like the law of gravity.  When you jump off a building, you fall down, not up.  When you sin, the earth cannot cope with it.  And mankind was destroying itself, mankind’s sin was bringing about the flood.

The truth is that God was clearly holding back the flood as long as possible.  Did you know that God upholds everything by the word of His power (Hebrews 1.3)?  God is not the destroyer, He is the upholder, He is the one upholding and sustaining things, He uses His power to bring life and order, not death and destruction.

God had to let the flood happen because the humans in charge of the earth made it happen and rejected God and would not turn to God or listen to God.  Only one man listened and God used that as an opportunity to provide a way out from the global natural disaster.

God brings the ground out from the waters in creation, He does not then submerge the land into the ground by destruction.  The flood of Noah was God stopping holding back the waters and letting the destruction caused my man’s sin continue and happen.  God did not flood the earth, God did not cause the flood, God did not make the flood happen, God did not drown millions and millions of children.  Sin did.  Vile, evil, violent, continual sin.

It is interesting that in many cultures there are stories of gods fed up with humans and then deciding to destroy them all with floods, but those stories are paganism and they are not reflective of the true God of the Bible, who is trying to stop humanity from destroying the earth through their sin.  In 1 Peter 3.20 God says He was patient with humanity until the ark was prepared.  God gave people chance after change to come right, but they rejected Him and chose death, and God – because of His integrity – had to allow the people to have the death they chose.  A death God did not create, did not do, and was not responsible for.

Nineveh was spared because the people repented, and the same could easily have happened if before the flood the people repented and came to God, and God through His wisdom would have shown them how to live in a way that stopped the flood.  The people could have spoken and rebuked the flood the same way Jesus has rebuked and stilled storms.  But they did not turn to God, they did not turn from their wicked ways.  Noah preached to them for one hundred years, but no one listened.  They in fact told God to leave them alone (Job 21.15-18).   God is a gentle, loving Spirit and when He is told to leave people alone, He does.  Reluctantly, and with grief, but He always will.

When you push God out of your life, your community, your business, your church, your planet there will always be consequences.  The flood was not caused by God, God simply backed away and the earth sick with sin vomited the flood up (Genesis 7.10-11).

God had made a dome of water in the sky (Genesis 1.7) to protect people from radiation and heat from space, and it was destroyed and all that water started to fall from the sky, at the same time, the earth was shaking so badly that all the water under the earth started to erupt up.   What a day that would have been.  God was striving with people to not let it get this bad, to not let this happen, but when pushed out of the planet, God had no choice but to remove Himself, and the flood them happened.

God did not start the flood, it happened due to the sin of men.  God knew it was coming, He could see it was coming, and He tried to stop it.  He did not flood the earth.

One translation of Genesis 6.17 says God is going to unleash the flood.  That language is close – God had leashed the flood and was restraining it, but when God was pushed out of earth by the violent sins of people and the people had infected the earth, God had to let go of the leash, and the flood just happened because of sin!

In order for you to realize the truth that God is not an angry destroyer of worlds, we must realize that some of the Old Testament language that looks causative is permissive.  God merely removed His protection, and a flood that He was holding back, then happened.  Even in the Greek, in 2 Peter 2.5, rather than best be translated God brought the flood, it is best translated God let loose the water.

I think most people are aware that Methuselah is the oldest man who ever lived.  What most people do not know is that his name means “When he dies, it will come”, and he died the flood year.  The man who was a living calendar to the flood, as named by his father, the prophet Enoch, lived longer than any other man, as God was holding it back as long as possible.

God- far from being the vindictive destroyer of the world – was the one holding back the flood as long as possible, stopping it from happening despite the sin of men hurting the earth so badly.

Humans destroyed the earth so badly that it vomited up a global flood.  The pre-flood civilisation hated God and demanded He leave them alone, and He was the only one protecting them from their own rebellion.  Look at Isaiah 54 in the New Living Translation:

“Just as I swore in the time of Noah
that I would never again let a flood cover the earth,
so now I swear
that I will never again be angry and punish you.
10 For the mountains may move
and the hills disappear,
but even then my faithful love for you will remain.
My covenant of blessing will never be broken,”
says the Lord, who has mercy on you. (Isaiah 54.9-10, NLT)

God did not cause the flood, He let it happen.  He had to because humanity booted Him off the planet that they owned, that He gave them, that He promised was theirs, that He gave them dominion and ownership over.

Now some of you might accuse me of splitting hairs here, and ask “does it really matter if God made it happen or allowed it”, but it makes a huge difference because what is at stake here, and why I am writing these posts, and why I am so passionate about these things is that the entire character and nature of God rests in the answers to these questions. Is God the vengeful destroyer of worlds, or is God Christ-like, the loving kind Father who would do anything to bless, to help, to promote, to prosper His children.  Does the Father steal, kill and destroy or is that satan?

Is God using His power to destroy anyone who sins, or is God doing everything to protect sinners and rebels and haters, until they push Him away and eventually, reluctantly, He has to leave them to the consequences of their choices?

When we study the Word properly, we find out that all natural disasters are satanic, are stealing from us, killing us, and destroying us, they are caused by sin, not a good, good Father.  We know satan will cause a flood to kill people (Rev. 12.12-16) and we know God is like Jesus.

We can therefore conclude with confidence that God is not the one who sends floods.  He is the One who protects us from the floods, and keeps them from washing us away.  By staying in the Word, resting in the love of God, we can overcome every flood and storm caused by sin and satan.  But you have to know God does not send natural disasters and does not cause floods, global or local.

Our next post will be on Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Disasters and God’s Will 06: The Earth Hates Sin

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This is part 6 of a series examining the will of God and natural disasters.  If you want to read the previous parts you can access them here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.  I recommend reading from part 1.

International evangelist Winkie Pratney says the following:

Look at the nations of the world that suffer from the greatest poverty, sickness, drought and sickness, where ecological disaster seems to be a constant curse.  Then ask: what is the dominant religious mindset in this place?  In what ways do they mirror the true and living God and think and live how He says to think and live?

Many people do not understand the authority mankind has over the earth, so they do not understand the power our actuons have over the environment to make it better or worse.  Therefore, when natural disasters happen we naturally – and religiously – blame God when it is our sins that actually make the earth sick.

In Leviticus 18, we find out that if people defile themselves by sinning, then they defile the land, and eventually the land will, in King James English, “vomiteth out her inhabitants” (Lev. 18.25, KJV).  If the people living in an area keep sinning, that actually makes the land sick, and it reacts to our sins.  Tornados, hurricanes and other natural disasters are not God judging the land, they are the land becoming our enemy as a natural response to sin.

Some people get disturbed when they read about the holy wars in the Old Testament, when the people of God engage in war, but one of the issues is that their sinful behavour was destroying the land that they lived in.  God had to remove them before the land was destroyed completely, and started impacting the whole planet.

When people turn their backs on God, society has no foundation, but you also have to realize that these evil societies affect creation too.  In Leviticus 18, God actually lists the sins that the heathen nations are committing that will defile the land.  The list includes incest, bestiality, homosexuality, adultery, murder and child sacrifice.  A society that is engaged in these sins will defile their land and the land will get sick and eventually vomit.

God told the Israelites that if they disobeyed Him and defiled the land, then the land would also vomit them out.  The land knows no favourites, it is not choosing, it just reacts to sin.  Sadly, our nations in the West are now involved in these sorts of sins, and the weather is changing.  The problem is not global warming, it is global sinning.  It is not God judging the people, it is just that our rebellion defiles the land and makes it sick.  The fault is ours, and the only thing that can heal the lands and stop those natural disasters, is if people change!  That’s the only solution.

In Leviticus 20, this concept of the land getting sick and vomitting out the people is mentioned again, specifically in reference to homosexuality, incest and bestiality:

13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

14 And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.

15 And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.

16 And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

17 And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.

18 And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.

19 And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister, nor of thy father’s sister: for he uncovereth his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity.

20 And if a man shall lie with his uncle’s wife, he hath uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.

21 And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.

22 Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out. (Lev. 20.13-22, KJV)

We must understand that these sins defile the land, especially in the light that even churches are now accepting some of these things and saying they are acceptable and not sins.  We have to be Biblically correct, not politcally correct.  As we move forward in time, the Bible will contrast more and more with society about what is right and wrong, but sin is sin, and the sin will affect the land.  One of the reasons our nations are in turmoil is sexual immorality of various forms.

God loves you.  No matter what you do, have done, will do.  God never gives us a command that is not for our own good, He is not just trying to prove He is the boss and make us do what He wants.  Satan will tell you that, satan will tell you God is a control freak who just wants to boss us around, and that God is holding back from us, but it simply is not true.   Satan does not want us to realize that sin has consequences, that God is trying to get us to choose life, but choosing sin is always choosing death (Romans 6.23).  God is anti-satan because God actually loves us, and if we fail to co-operate with God’s laws, then as individuals and as society, we will face sicknesses and natural disasaters and you cannot blame God for you just reaping the harvest of the seeds you sowed.

Psalm 106 tells us that the people sacrificed their sons and daughters to devils, and that this polluted the land with their blood (Psalm 106.37-38).  One modern issue that is happening in the UK is abortion.  A foetus is a human being, and children are a reward from the Lord.  I do not care what some scientist or doctor says, the Word of God is our authority, and if we kill the fruit of the womb while still in the womb we are committing a murder.  Now there is grace and love and forgiveness for doing that, but let us not use grace as a way of saying a sin is not a sin.

Abortion has no difference from the child sacrifices of the ancient Israelites to false gods, and it is done as a sacrifice to the Western idols of an easy life and sexual immorality.  These are just as much idols as the wooden and stone idols the Israelites would sacrifice their children too.  And this pollutes our land with blood.  The only way to cleanse a land from blood is through blood (Numbers 35.33).  This is one of the reasons that God introduces capital punishment after the flood of Noah so the build-up of pollution never gets so bad, the entire earth shakes so much and is so sick that it brings about a world-wide flood.  By enforcing the death penalty, the land is cleansed from the blood that the murderer has spilled.  Now, the good news is that in the New Testament, whatever your sin you can find cleansing and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus and when you do that, the blood of Jesus does not just forgive your sin but it actually starts to cleanse the land.

God loves unborn babies, He also loves women who have had abortions, He also loves abortion doctors.  He loves the callous, hard-hearted man who pushes a woman to get an abortion to save money and their lifestyle, He loves them all.  God does not want you to have an abortion because it destroys so much on every level.

But the point I am making in this post is that God is not sending those natural disasters as punishment.  It is the land reacting to being polluted.  God actually led Israel through a wilderness and protected them and loved them as they were on their way to the promised land.  The land would have destroyed them, but God protected them.  But even in the promised land, the sins of the Israelites defiled the land.  In Jer. 3, we find out that the people corrupted the land with reckless behaviour, and then says “that is why the rains have failed”.  Their sin stopped the rain, and their sin made the earth sick.  God was not judging them, it is just that sin has consequences.  In fact, in Jeremiah 3, we find out that God actually divorces Israel because of its prostitution.  Now, without God there, the land is defiled and God is not protecting and providing, so the land leads to drought.  God was not beating the people with drought to get them to submit, that is not the kind of husband He is, but when Israel threw Him out of their house, that house reacted badly to their sin and their selfishness.

God is not to blame when this happens, it is the sins of the people that cause it to happen (Jer. 5.23-25).  People are just reaping what they have sown, God is not involved in that judgment or disaster.

The earth hates sin.

Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.  (Hosea 4.1-3, KJV)

 

10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

11 They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart. (Jeremiah 12.10-11)

Our sinful acts can hurt the planet we live on – bringing drought, desolation and disaster.  Plant life, animal life, the weather, can all be affected by our sinful actions.  The problem with planet earth is sin.  It started with Adam and we have all made it worse.  We have rejected God and kicked Him out of our house, and we pushed away His grace, His provision and His protection.

And right now, the earth is yearning for redemption, it is yearning to be made new (Romans 8.18-22), it wants to be free from the death and decay we have imposed on it.  You see anything that is separated from God just decays, it is not God cursing it, it just does not have access to His life-giving life anymore.  When Adam sinned, the earth under his feet had no more access to God’s life and started to decay.

So – do not blame God for natural disasters.  It is our sin that has been causing them.  The fault and blame is on us, and we need to rather than blame God thank Him for such a great plan to redeem this planet when the sons of God manifest their fullness.  But God does not require us to wait until the end of time to start to bring healing to our land, just like God heals our bodies when we turn to Him in faith, He can start to heal our cities, our nations and our land too.  God is not the destroyer, bringing natural disasters, and in fact if we work with Him He will work with us and help us overcome satan and sin and make the whole world a better place.

Natural Disasters and God’s Will 05: Sin Affects the World

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The Bible is very clear that sin brings death (Romans 6.23).  Not God.  Sin.  You see you have to realize that sin is more than just breaking the law.  It is not that you sin, and because you sin, God works out you broke a law and then God starts to destroy you because He is so angry and offended that you sinned.  That is not how it happens!  Sin contains its own death and destruction.  Death is the wages of sin, not the wages for sin.  Sin pays its own wages and brings its own death.

God does not hate sin because God hates pleasure and fun and God wants to take away all the joy from life!  God love you and wants your best and wants nothing but abundance and good for you – and God is aware that sin itself brings death and that is why God wants to keep us away from sin.

Much of what has traditionally been understood as God personally bringing wrath and destruction on a person is not God at all.  It is the sin itselfs that pays the wage of destruction and death.  The Bible talks about the law of sin and death, and it works the same as the law of gravity.  If you walk off the top of a building, you will fall down.  It’s not God punishing you, it is just the way things work.  If you sin, that sin brings death into your life.  It’s not God punishing you, it’s the way things work.

God is not sitting in Heaven waiting for you to finally sin so He can smite you and destroy you.  He is doing all He can to protect you from sinning so that sin does not destroy you.  Jesus died to save us from the destructive power of sin.

Proverbs 1 tells us that the prosperity of fools shall destroy them, but if you listen to the Lord you shall live in safety.  Being foolish will destroy you, but listening to the Lord shall protect you from destruction.  The Lord is not the destroyer!

But when God is reaching out to us so we listen to Him so we can live safely, and if we ignore Him he keeps reaching out to us in love, but He will not break our free will.  He has no choice but to leave us to that sin, but at the same time He is leaving us to the consequences of that sin too.  He is not the destroyer, sin is.

Sin is what kills the sinner, not God.  It is not God destroying us.  It is the seeds of sin that we sowed that have produced a harvest of destruction.  We need to stop blaming God for what is our fault.  Proverbs 19.3 in the GNB says “Some people ruin themselves by their own stupid actions, and then blame the Lord”.

In terms of natural disasters, it is very clear that sin affects the whole world that we have dominion over.  Before Adam sinned, this planet was paradise.  Sin wrecks the planet!  God told Adam that when the fall happened that “the ground will be under a curse” (Genesis 3.17).  Before the fall there was no problem in getting fruit, but after the fall you had to work for it.

Now did God curse the ground to punish Adam for his sin?  Most Christians would agree with that, but it was not God who cursed the land, it was Adam’s actions that brought the curse.  God did not make the ground difficult, but Adam had dominion over the ground, and then when Adam sinned His dominion meant the whole earth was impacted by his behaviour.

When Adam was given authority over the earth, we was made the lord of the earth.  The Hebrew word for dominion means both lord and owner.  So therefore what humanity does affects the word.  If Adam walked in righteousness before God then the earth would have remained Edenic.  But because God gave dominion to man, because God is love and God is kind, God was not in charge of the planet anymore.   And because God does not lie or break His words, just because Adam rebelled against Him was not reason to suddenly take the earth back.

God could potentially take the earth back and stop all natural disasters right now, but He will not because that would break His integrity, that would violate His Word.  God has the power to have His way, but He does not have the duplicity to take the Word back.

This is why God is always looking for a man to co-operate with on the planet.  so He can change the earth working with us and using the original dominion to exert His kingdom over the planet.  God so respects the authority that He has given man that even our unbelief will stop Jesus from working miracles (Mark 6.5-6).  Our actions affect the whole planet.

If we read Romans 5.12 it tells us that by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin. Death was not here because of God, but because of sin.  When Adam sinned, death entered not just Adam’s spirit, soul and body, but death entered the world.  Just five verses later, Paul tells us that “death reigned by one”.  Because Adam sinned, death became the king of the world!  When Adam disobeyed God, the whole world became under the reign of sin and satan.  God was not putting death on Adam or the world – the death was the wages – the consequences – of sin.  The law of sin and death works like the law of gravity – God can not be blamed for an earthquake any more than if someone jumps off a building.  It is just the violation of the laws of the universe.

God told Adam when he sinned “Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse” (Genesis 3.17, GNB).  By following satan, and rejecting God, Adam caused the whole earth to be cursed.  Adam, not God, messed up the world.  Humans cannot sin with out the earth being affected.

Because people do not understand this, they think – and sadly teach others – that God supernaturally curse the ground out of wrath because of Adam’s sin and rebellion.  That is not what happened.  Man brought the curse to the land.  By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin.  The curse came to the world because of sin, not because of God.

Adam brough the death and the curse into the world by misusing his dominion, God did not curse the earth.  Sin does not just affect you as a person, it actually affects the entire environment.  Isaiah tells us the people on the earth have defiled it, and therefore the curse devours the planet (Isa. 24.4-5).  In other words, the curse is brought into the world by human sin, not God’s wrath.  This is why we have storms and earthquakes and volcanoes.  Every natural disaster is the world being defiled by our sin, not an act of God. Sin brought the curse on the world, and God cannot sin, so therefore natural disasters do not come from God.

If you look at what the curse looks like in Deut. 28, you can see clearly that it affects the entire environment., with droughts, floods, locusts coming as part of the curse.  Again, the language of Deut. 28 at face value makes it appear that God is bringing the curse, but a closer look at the Hebrew will see that God just allowed it – if people will not listen to God He will let them walk where they want, and have to deal with the consequences of their actions, not the consequences of His wrath.  The curses are caused by the lack of God acting, due to rejecting Him, not due to the active wrath and destruction of God.  God is not the destroyer.

God never made a planet that kills people.  God never created a planet with tornadoes and hurricanes and bush fires and corona viruses.  That is the result of the fall of man, and the kings of the earth, humanity, rejecting God and pushing Him out of the planet He has made.  When humanity serves themselves, their rebellion brings death to the whole planet we have dominion over.

The weather is not random, it is not at the will of a capricious God, it is the result of the actions of humanity.   We are living in a great generation of faith, where Christians are starting to realize their actions and words affect their prosperity and their health, and now it is time to realize that we are connected to the earth, and we will realize our actions and words can actually impact the environment.  Let’s stop blaming God for natural disaster and start opening our hearts to Him and work with Him in His great love for us to make a difference in the world.

Natural Disasters and God’s Will 04: Take Responsibility

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If you have not read parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series yet, you should start at part 1.

The idea that God causes natural disasters and is the destroyer is what I sometimes call a convenient theology.  In other words it is an image of God, an idea about God, that is very convenient.  Someone who is sick, well God loves you so much He has made you sick because you are His special angel.  Everything that happens, happens for a higher purpose.  It comforts our flesh and makes us feel better.

But the truth is that we need to take responsibility for ourselves and this planet as human beings.  The idea that God controls everything cuts the legs of our responsiblity as humans.  Why pray, why repent, why walk in faith, if God is just going to do what He wants anyway!  The truth is far different from this:

“And so I tell all of you: what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited by heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted by heaven. (Matt. 18.18)

God has given humanity far more power than anyone has ever realized.  Due to God giving the earth to man, and due to God promising us dominion, God cannot intervene on this planet unless someone on earth prohibits or permits it.  That is a staggering statement, and it cuts through so much religion.  This is why God has to look to find someone to allow Him to release His power on the earth.

There is a lot of responsibilty on your shoulders as a human.  God will only allow on earth what you allow.  He will plead with you to make the right choices, but He will never ever force you to do or think anything, ever.  What happens on the earth is on us, not God.

Andrew Murray tells us that God told us to subdue the earth and have dominion over it, and that man is the ruler of the earth.  The only conclusion says Murray, that we can draw from this, is that man is the ruler of the earth.

In the beginning God created man with dominion, but man sadly gave that dominion over to satan and plunged the world into chaos.  Until that event there had never been a natural disaster on the planet.  Sadly, this authority of man – and the resulting responsibility – is not taught enough – and so God keeps getting the blame for humanity’s sin and selfishness!

Every time you sin there are consequences to that sin, and everything you permit on earth and do not resist in faith and boldness, you have to live with.  When God gives people up and permit them to endure the consequences of their own rebellion, that is not God destroying people, that is God permitting what you permit.  Let’s grow up, take responsibility, learn how to release our faith, learn how to move mountains with our words, and let us stop blaming God for what humanity is allowing and permitting through our actions and inactions!

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