Saturday, March 26, 2016

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN: TRUE LOVE - JOHN 3:14-16

The following is a series of short exhortations, brief commentary and writings to convey thoughtful meditation on God's Word. I have chosen the Gospel of John as the subject. These articles will not run contiguously on this blog but peppered throughout and in the midst of other articles (though some might be posted consecutively). I pray that these will be a blessing and an edification for the saints.

JOHN 3:14-16
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

It was at the fall of man that Adam and Eve were told by God Himself, that the "seed" of the woman would crush the serpent's head, and that the serpent would bruise the heel of this One who was to come (GEN 3:15). This declaration was no doubt heralded to all generations that was to come. So much so, that in the fallen state, people began to pervert the message and conceive of their own 'savior' which in turn spawned all sorts of Messiah-wanna be's among the religions of the world (typically, anti-Christ figures and vulgar replacements).

Yet if not for the LORD's own declaration, the religions of the world would never have come up with such a thought of God becoming man so that He could then save us from our sins. Religions of antiquity as well as religious thought as found in Liberalism have no need of a savior, as man is good enough on his own, that on his own merit he can 'save himself'.




The Gospel of Jesus Christ takes away any and all forms of pride and claims for self-achievement and self-glorification. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is based solely on the work accomplished by the LAMB of GOD and His achievement on the cross, so that all we must do is believe the Gospel to be saved. The proud will never bow before the Cross of Christ to seek salvation! I recall a bumper sticker that said, "I was born right the first time around!" - obviously dismissing the need to be "born again" JOHN 3:3; 1 PET 1:23.

Now we come to a central point: "believing" the Gospel. What does this entail? Mere intellectual assent? Adherence to a body of dogma, rituals, traditions? Living a life of doing good? We should look at that this word is in the Greek, and how it's used in the New Testament . . . 

In the Greek the word is pisteuo, which means not merely to believe intellectually, but to "express confidence in someone or something, to entrust oneself to another". This is the sort of belief that surrenders one's very heart and life to, to dedicate one's being to. It separates those who say that they have faith, from those who prove it by their actions (JAMES 2:17-19).

For those who genuinely believe and express true faith, it is the express will of the Father that they produce the fruit of repentance, of righteousness as attained by salvation, of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (ACTS 26:20; EPH 5:9; JOHN 15:7-8).

GOD LOVES US SO MUCH, HE IS WILLING TO PARDON ALL OF OUR SINS THROUGH HIS SON, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST; NOT ONLY SO, BUT TO INSTILL AND GROW IN OUR LIVES THE BEAUTIFUL AND GLORIOUS CHARACTERISTICS OF CHRIST AS SEEN BY THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT!

GALATIANS 5:22-25
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

HE LOVES US ENOUGH AS A FALLEN RACE TO WARN US OF THE PERIL OF PERISHING! That word "perish" means to utterly ruin something to the point that it is destroyed without remedy; not in annihilation, but in loss of any value in it's entirety. This refers to the reality of hell.

There are those who claim that it's 'unloving' to preach and warn lost souls about "hell fire and brimstone" however I emphatically disagree. NOTHING is more loving than to warn those who are unaware of their peril and to seek their reclamation from ruin! 

What would people think of a person if they had foreknowledge of the sinking of the Titanic and failed to try and warn the Captain of that doomed ship? Or even the authorities of terrorists who on SEPT 11, 2001 would send airliners into the World Trade Center in NYC?
Scripture records more warnings about hell - that is, gehenna or the lake of fire and "the second death" (REV 20:6) than it does about the wonders and glory of heaven! That is to a point: GOD's compassion for the lost due to His love for them! His love for all the world!

How does one measure the power of GOD? Just look at His creation!
How does one measure the knowledge of GOD? Look at the detail of a single living cell in its dizzying depths of complexity!

How does one measure the love of GOD? 
Look at the Cross of Christ and Who hung there: the HOLY and ONLY Begotten (the ONE and ONLY) SON of GOD! Taking upon Himself our sins, and shedding His Holy and Precious Blood and accepting GOD's wrath in judgment against our sin at Calvary. Consider the power of GOD in raising Christ from the dead, with the motive of bringing everlasting life to those who will receive JESUS!

Tomorrow is RESURRECTION SUNDAY, and I have the opportunity to deliver this message, PARTS ONE and TWO (in abbreviated form), and it is my prayer that souls will come to know the LORD and receive GOD's TRUE LOVE!

NEXT TIME, we will look at JOHN 3:17-18 with a devotional entitled SAVING A CONDEMNED WORLD.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The SAMSON SYNDROME aka The DELILAH DILEMMA

HEBREWS 11 is often called 'the Hall of Faith', where all of the heroes of the faith, who themselves expressed strong faith in the LORD are mentioned. From Abel to Enoch to Noah, and Abraham ('the father of the faithful'), Isaac and Jacob, as well as Joseph, Moses and Joshua - and so many others. 

We might think it strange therefore that in the midst of these, we have someone like Samnson - whose very name strikes a chord with us as someone who was an abject failure - and yet there he is, listed in HEB 11:32, just two names before King David (who certainly took that mis-step into The SIX LETHAL LEVELS of SIN with Bathsheeba, but whose character is otherwise mentioned by God Himself as "a man after my own heart" ACTS 13:22).

Samson was a Nazarite, as well as a Judge of Israel. What is a Nazarite? From GOT QUESTIONS we have the following:

"The Nazirites [were] individuals who voluntarily dedicated themselves to God . . . on the part of people whose desire is to yield themselves to God completely. By definition, the Hebrew word nazir, simply means “to be separated or consecrated.” The Nazirite vow, appears in NUM 6:1-21

". . . [the vow is] voluntarily . . . (NUM 6:2). This shows that it is individuals who take the initiative to consecrate themselves to the Lord. There is no divine command involved . . .  two individuals in the Old Testament, and one in the New Testament, were presented to God by their parents. Samuel and Samson in the Old Testament, (1 SAM 2:8-28; JUDGES 13:1-5), and John the Baptist in the New Testament received the Nazirite vow from birth (LUKE 1:13-17). 

". . .  The Nazirite vow was . . . purely for personal reasons, such as thanksgiving for recovery from illness or for the birth of a child . . ."

". . . the vow had a specific time frame, a beginning and an end [point] . . . (NUM 6:8, 13). So, the Nazirite vow usually had both a beginning and an end. 

". . . there were [three] specific guidelines and restrictions involved with the Nazirite vow. NUM 6:3-7 (1) abstain from wine or any fermented drink, nor was the Nazirite to drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins . . . (2) the Nazirite was not to cut his hair for the length of the vow. (3) he was not to go near a dead body, because that would make him ceremonially unclean . . ."

"NUM 6:13-20 shows the procedure to follow to complete the vow. A sacrifice was made (vv.13-17), the candidate’s hair was cut and put on the altar, and the priest did the final task of completing the sacrificial process, which ended the vow (v. 20). This section concludes with the statement, “This is the law of the Nazirite who vows his offering to the LORD in accordance with his separation, in addition to whatever else he can afford. He must fulfill the vow he has made, according to the law of the Nazirite”(NUM 6:21).

". . . there is a New Testament parallel to the Nazirite vow. In ROM 12:1-2 . . . For Christians, the ancient Nazirite vow symbolizes the need to be separate from this world, a holy people consecrated to God (2 TIM 1:9; 1 PET 1:15)."

For the complete article, go here.

So Samson was a Nazarite, but as stated previously, he was also a Judge of Israel. There were fifteen judges in Israel's history, including Gideon and Samuel. What exactly did it mean to be a 'Judge of Israel'? An article from Bible Study Tools provides us with the following:

" . . . a magistrate or ruler, rather than one who judges in the sense of trying a cause. This is the name given to those rulers who presided over the affairs of the Israelites during the interval between the death of Joshua and the accession of Saul (JUDGES 2:18), a period of general anarchy and confusion. 
'The office of judges or regents was held during life, but it was not hereditary, neither could they appoint their successors. Their authority was limited by the law alone, and in doubtful cases they were directed to consult the divine King through the priest by Urim and Thummim (NUM 27:21)'. 
Their authority extended only over those tribes by whom they had been elected or acknowledged. There was no income attached to their office, and they bore no external marks of dignity. The only cases of direct divine appointment are those of Gideon and Samson . . ."

You may read about the Judges of Israel in this complete article.

Up until this point of time in Israel's history, the nation had very strong leadership in both Moses and in Joshua; Moses was the meekest man in all the Earth (NUM 12:3) and Joshua was the most courageous of all Israel's righteous warriors, as may be seen in his mighty exploits.

His last words to his people before he died were:

JOSH 24:14-33 
Note especially what he said in vs. 14-15; and the people's responsive actions in 29-31

14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.
31 And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.

Joshua feared that the prophecy of Moses would come true, that the people of Israel would forsake the LORD, worship false gods, and rebel against Him, and thus incur judgment by His Holy Hand, and cast out of the land (DEUT 29).

Yet it was a matter of only three generations after this time that the people of Israel 'knew not the LORD"! The children were not taught the ways of the LORD by their parents (see any similarities to America here in our day?) A time when every one did that which was right in their own eyes - a day when 'relative truth' reigned (nothing new under the sun, eh? See JUDGES 17:6; 21:25)! Israel made treaties with pagan nations, and allowed their pagan altars to remain in the land (JUDGES 2:1-5). Because of these terrible compromises, the nation was "greatly distressed" by these foreign people who were thorns in Israel's side - and they began to worship Baal and Ashtoreth as they forsook the LORD their God! (JUDGES 2:10-15).

And yet in the midst of God's chastening of His people, He bestows His mercy:

JUDGES 2:16
16 Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.

Even so, the people wouldn't listen to the pleadings of these judges and continued to worship the false gods of the pagan nations!! Or, if they did take the judge's warnings to heart and return to the LORD, it was short lived - they returned to their idolatry when the judge died.

It eventually deteriorated so badly, that the Philistines ended up oppressing Israel and subjugating them under their rule, as is seen in JUDGES 13.

Now let's focus on this tragic hero that we have all heard so much about; this man who had a destiny and great purpose from God to defend and lead Israel, but rather he (as was stated before by another) "coulda, shoulda . . . but didn't".

JUDGES 13:1-5
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.
3 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:
5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

Here we see the distinction between a typical Nazarite vow (which as we read previously was only a temporary one) to that of Samson's - which was from his birth, with no indication of a termination date given by the angel of the LORD! It's an interesting fact that the name 'Samson' means "sun, sunlight, sun rise, brilliant" - in the dark spiritual night of rebellion and evil in Israel, this man was to be a brilliant sun rise, a dawn of a new day, to turn the people of Israel back to the LORD, and defeat her enemies.

The Spirit of the LORD moved Samson as he grew in the grace and blessing of God, between cities of his own people, however in JUDGES 14 we see that he goes down to "Timnath" which means "sacred territory of the sun" - a place of idolatry, where the sun was worshiped; idolatry is always a hindrance to what God would seek to do in our lives: the revelation of Himself Who alone is worthy of our worship. This is the very purpose of our enemy Satan, to restrain us from God's will and re-direct us into deceptions and destruction.

He goes to one of the daughters of the Philistines, and becomes "unequally yoked together with [an] unbeliever" (2 COR 6:14) and such a relationship plants the seeds of Samson's downfall. Any such fellowship, partnership, friendship with the unbelievers of this world brings us in enmity against God (JAMES 4:4). 

As Christians, it may look innocent enough; it may even start out with the best of intentions to "share the Gospel" but if such a relationship brings baneful influences that deteriorate our own relationship with the LORD then such must be terminated.

IF Samson had not preferred fellowship with unbelievers over believers of his own nation, it would have prevented him from stumbling from a faithful walk. He valued his own pleasure over obedience to God out of a heart of love and pleasing the LORD - a condition that is growing today, even in the church (2 TIM 3:1-5)!

It was in Timnath that Samson committed his first violation of his Nazarite vow - for in Timnath, there were vineyards of grapes, and as a Nazarite he was forbidden to come in contact with these:

JUDGES 14:5
5 Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.

One might wonder why such a strict regulation would be imposed on Nazarites - but as the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" - by such a restriction, one could be sure to never be enticed to become drunk on wine. It would provide a mind set that would completely negate the very notion of such sin (EPH 5:18).

Note that a young lion comes to meet him there - Satan as a roaring lion will lure us into the arena of our carnal desires, and once we are vulnerable in this state, he will pounce, and ensnare us in sin! Had Samson not gone where he had no business being, he would have never encountered the lion. If we likewise as saints venture not where we ought not to be, we would more than likely not encounter the one who goes about as a roaring lion, seeking to devour (1 PET 5:8).

Where we go and what we do is very important in our walk with the LORD. If our conduct is inappropriate, our enemy will be there to attack, tempt and try to stumble us (1 JN 2:15-17)

Nevertheless, we witness the grace and forbearance of God upon Samson. . . 

JUDGES 14:6
6 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

Why did the LORD grant victory to Samson? Was his transgression 'ok' with God. We might think our sin is ok with God because He blesses us still and nothing bad happens. However, sin is NEVER ok with God (HEB 3:10-13).

Samson is a picture of a believer who abuses the grace of God, but God's grace still abounds to this Judge of Israel. In His goodness, He seeks to draw this man back to Himself (ROM 2:3-6). Note that Samson didn't tell his parents what he had done. Sin requires secret keeping, hiding in the dark, not coming into the light of God's presence by the Spirit. In so doing, our heart becomes hardened against the LORD.

JUDGES 14:7-8
7 And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.
8 And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.

In his association with unbelievers, he found his desires and view point to become like theirs; the man that God wanted to use for His purpose and glory, has found that his own purpose and glory took priority: "she pleased him well" and "he returned to take her" (contrast this with Moses behavior in HEB 11:24-25). . . and on the way, he found the carcase of the lion and too note that bees had built a hive in it, and there was honey to be had there!

JUDGES 14:9
9 And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.

Now he has violated another aspect of the Nazarite vow: he touched a dead thing. Sin brings death, and yet we still touch it, and experience the 'sweetness' of sin - but it's candy coated poison that will, in time, bring ruinous death (ROM 6:23a). And all too often as we imbibe of the nectar of sin, any twinge of guilt is assuaged when we entice others to partake - and he brought the honey to his parents, but did not tell them where he got it from (again, with the secrecy!). 
Had he never gone into the vineyard, he would never have encountered the lion, and it would not have died, allowing bees to built their hive and produce honey to entire Samson.

GAL 6:8 and GAL 5:16 speak of bearing fruit of the Spirit or of the flesh; the one to life and the other to death. The admonition is to those who are born of God's Spirit - that if we continue thus walking, and not pause to consider the flesh, we will not need concern ourselves with fulfilling deadly lusts and desires. One cannot walk both in the Spirit and the flesh at the same time any more than you can use your physical body to walk in two different directions at the same time.

JUDGES 14:10-15:8 tells about how Samson prepares a feast to celebrate his new life with his wife, the Philistine woman (vs.10-11). He plays a game of riddles with the Philistines (vs 12-14). The Philistines conspire with this woman, Samson's bride, to gain the answer to the riddle for them, and when they tell Samson the answer, he realizes that his wife snitched on him (vs.15-18). The Spirit of the LORD comes upon Samson, and he slays the Philistines who attended the party (vs.19). Why would the LORD do such a thing as this?

Samson was to be a Deliverer for his people Israel and destroy the pagans and their ways, who themselves were defiant of the LORD - regardless of the fact that the reason behind Samson's attack was a petty, self-interested motive, nevertheless God was still with him!
GRACE INDEED!


Samson's wife was given to another man by her father - apparently he didn't appreciate Samson's party and the subsequent slaughter of his countrymen (JUDGES 14:20 - 15:2). In turn, Samson seeks revenge upon the Philistines for taking his (pagan!) wife from him (vs.3-5). NOTE: He did this by his own efforts; the Spirit of the LORD had not come upon him for this deed.

As retribution for this, the Philistines burn Samson's wife - and her father! (vs.6). This escalates worse and worse: now Samson returns and slays thousands of Philistines (vs.7-8) and this causes Judah to capture Samson and deliver him personally to the pagans (vs.9-14). Yet the Spirit of the LORD comes upon this Judge and Nazarite, and with nothing more than a donkey's jaw bone slays them all, warriors armed no doubt with swords and spears (vs.14-17)!

To think this all started because of Samson's personal grievances and offense against the Philistines.
IF he was more concerned with God's call on his life, rather than with his personal interests, he would have been a prosperous deliverer for Israel, won great victories in the Name of the LORD - like Joshua did - and been blessed!

Yet God still bestows His grace - He answers Samson's prayer for water when he was parched and thirsty (vs. 18).


So we come to JUDGES 16 - a new chapter, and what do we find? New beginnings? A change of heart? No! Samson never seems to learn his lessons!

JUDGES 16:1-2
1 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.
2 And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.

Sin shall await us; once enticed, and then paraking of sin - it will kill and steal and destroy, just as our enemy Satan does (JOHN 10:10). However, once again, God's grace is evident:

JUDGES 16:3
3 And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.

In ancient days, enormous walls were built around cities to keep citizens safe from any attacks by their enemies. The gates likewise would have to be huge, solidly built and reinforced in order to prove resilient against those who would want to break them down to gain access to their would be victims.

These were the gates of the city, and Samson tore them away from the wall, placed them on his shoulders and walked up hill all the way to Hebron - that's a distance of more than 37 miles!! 

There are some who think Samson may have been a man of normal proportions and not having a physique like a typical body builder sort - and that very well may be the case, because it wasn't his own strength, but the power of the Spirit of God that gave him such. But I tell you what, even if he did have a powerful physique, no one could credit ay body builder as having the ability to carry such a burden (weighing somewhere between 2 to 4 tons) such as those gates for so long a distance! 
This would have to be by the power of God!

JUDGES 16:4-6
4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.
6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.

The name Delilah can mean "to slacken, the be feelble, be oppressed, brought low, dried up, impoverished. The name of this valley, Sorek means "grape vine". Enough said. 
This seducer is offered rich (13,000 pieces of silver!)reward if she will discover Samson's secret of strength. The enemy will offer all sorts of pleasures and attractions - read those as 'lures' - in order to hook you, reel you in, and you then find yourself being fried in the skillet!

Samson must have seen through this ruse, for no one would willingly offer an answer whereby they would find themselves bound and tortured. He plays with the situation like some sort of game. Unfortunately too often, people treat serious matters involving spiritual life and death like a game; they disparage the Gospel, they make light of the Word of God, they pretend that the truth is relative . . . 

JUDGES 16:7-11
7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.
10 And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.
11 And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.

Delilah is persistent and Samson once again offers false leads to his enslavement. He has witnessed the enemy barging in, and seeking to catch him - he knows now that this is all a not-so-elaborate plan to capture and slay him. Yet this Judge is confident that he is able to thwart every attempt, and still have his fun with Delilah.

What the Philistines didn't realize is that Samson's strenth was not in avoiding grapes, vineyards and wine; it was not in avoiding dead carcases; it was not even in the cutting of his hair - these wer emblems or symbols of faithfulness in keeping his Nazarite vow to the LORD.

The fact that one by one, he disregarded these emblems, showed that his heart was not in keeping them faithfully or his vow. The secret of his strength was the Holy Spirit:

ZECH 4:6 
6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

He broke his vow by walking through vineyards and by touching the carcase of the dead lion - - and now he is flirting with breaking the last part of his vow - not cutting his hair . . .  note that while he realizes Delilah's intentional betrayal, he still stays with her: like a lamb to the slaughter so are foolish souls that play with the fires of sin, thinking that they "can handle it":

PROV 6:27 
Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?

PROV 7:7-9
7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:
10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (read the entire chapter, it is most revealing!)

Again and again he tells Delilah lies; next time he tells her that his hair must be woven into seven locks and tied down - now he is flirting dangerously with the truth; that his vow of not letting his hair be cut is the final emblem of devotion of the Nazarite that has yet to be broken.

She is relentless - once she discovers that she was deceived once again, she persists and 'nags' Samson to the point where he thought he was going to die. She lived up to her name by bringing Samson low, oppressing him. And then he finally breaks and tells her that his hair had never been shaven off, and that if it is, his strength would be gone. There must have been something about his demeanor that she realized, this time he is telling the truth!

The world will do this as well by wearing you down until you find that your resistance to 'not go that far' is broken, and you find yourself doing shameful things, that you never thought you would do! All of this, because Samson preferred the company of the pagans over his own people. This is, in part, why it's so important that we as saints fellowship with one another, exhort one another - 

HEB 3:12-13
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Then it happens - Samson, while asleep has his hair cut off - the breaking of his Nazarite vow is complete. 

JUDGES 16:18-20
18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.
19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.

How utterly tragic that this man didn't even realize that the LORD had departed from him; that he thought himself invincible, no matter what. Samson was shaved, and then enslaved.
He had an eye for 'the ladies' but then his eyes were put out:

JUDGES 16:21
21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.

He who was destined to be a Judge of Israel, a defender of his people, a victorious warrior against the enemies of the state - was indeed "brought low" and "oppressed" by Delilah - the representation of 'the world' with all of its seductions and passions, but inwardly is a rotting corpse of spiritual death (again, refer to PROV 7 in it's entirety). Now Samson is no better than a beast of burden, grinding grain. Caught and enslaved by the very people he sought to accompany in pleasure (ROM 6:16).

We who are born of God's Spirit are His children, and blessed, called of God as sons of the King, joint-heirs with Christ (ROM 8:17); priests of the LORD (1 PET 2:9) and pure of heart (MATT 5:8) - yet Satan delights in oppressing us, bringing us low and shaming us by degradation into sin, stealing our peace and joy. All the while our Abba Father looks on with a broken heart.

And yet, in the fulness of time, Samson's hair began to grow back (vs 22) . . . 

JUDGES 16:23-26, 29-30
23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.
24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.
25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.
26 And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.


29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.
30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

In his last act, he called upon the LORD - this is the only time we read about Samson praying . . . and in this one deed, he was inducted into "the hall of faith" in HEB 11

In contrast with Samson's character and conduct, we have someone like Josiah and even more so, the LORD Jesus Christ Himself, whose appetites were restrained and under His command (LUKE 4:1-14) and Whose obedience to God was supreme (JOHN 4:32-34); Whose service and ministry was undivided (LUKE 4:8). 

Let us who are born and live of the Spirit of God, likewise walk in the Spirit (GAL 5:24-25) - following after our LORD Jesus, being wary of the Delilahs of this world and the entrapments of evil, set seductively by Satan our supreme enemy. 

GALATIANS 6:7-8
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

ROMANS 12:1-2
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

JESUS DIED FOR US SO THAT WE MAY LIVE; LET US ALSO DIE TO SELF, SO THAT CHRIST MAY LIVE HIS LIFE THROUGH US, BRINGING GLORY TO GOD THE FATHER! Amen.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

JEWELS From The GOSPEL Of JOHN: BRAZEN UPRISING - JOHN 3:13-14

The following is a series of short exhortations, brief commentary and writings to convey thoughtful meditation on God's Word. I have chosen the Gospel of John as the subject. These articles will not run contiguously on this blog but peppered throughout and in the midst of other articles (though some might be posted consecutively). I pray that these will be a blessing and an edification for the saints.

JOHN 3:13-14
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

From Adam, Seth and Methuselah, and such saints that passed on afterwards like Abraham, Moses, Elijah and Samuel and David . . . all the way up to the days of the Messiah, the righteous, who expressed saving faith in GOD's Word in anticipation of the LAMB of God, were, after they died, all gathered together in what's been called "the paradise section of Sheol" or as the Bible puts it: "Abraham's Bosom" (LUKE 16:22).

Up until the time of the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, not one human soul ever visted heaven's hallowed halls! Ofcourse after the Resurrection, the LORD led these saints from Abraham's bosom to the glories of heaven, for at that time, the LAMB paid the full price for their salvation (EPH 4:8-10; 1 PET 3:18-20).
There is One Who became man, and came to this world to testify of the truth; One Whose witness of the things of heaven cannot be questioned as He is the very LORD of heaven (GEN 24:7) - none other than the LORD Jesus Christ.

As Sovereign King of that domain - as well as the realms of Earth and every regency inbetween, He is the authority to which all saints may resort for knowledge, wisdom and insight.
This is why we may rest assured that if Jesus says, we must be born again in order to see, and enter into the kingdom of God (JOHN 3:3,5), then that is what we must be: spiritually resurrected from the deathly fatality of sin via the Eternal Spirit of God Who alone is the Author of Life. Those who have Jesus have Life Eternal!

JOHN 3:36 
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

JOHN 5:26 
For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

JOHN 6:27 
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Ecumenism would have us believe that any religion is just as good as any other, provided that you are sincere, and that you acknowledge no exclusive claims for your own religious beliefs, dogmas, doctrines and church affiliation.
However, we who are born of God's Spirit understand the futility of all religion - that such can hardly change a lost soul under the curse of sin and death into a Life-imbued saint made holy, any more than dressing a pig up as a dog will turn them into a canine.

Regardless of the pressure of Ecumenism to drive any one belief into a homogenized whole and disclaim exclusivity for its adherents, the Bible is exclusive in it's claims just as is its Author (JOHN 10:7-9; 14:6; ACTS 4:10-12)

Simply put, just as JOHN 3:36 states, if you have Jesus, you have everlasting life. If not, you do not possess everlasting life but rather a sin-stained soul that, unless repentance and reception of Jesus Christ and His atoning blood, expressing faith in His Gospel is evident, the wrath of God abides on that soul. Period. The Author of Life and the Sovereign King of Heaven said so!

During the Wilderness wanderings of the people of Israel, having been delivered miraculously by the very power of God from Egypt, the people were constantly doubting, complaining, questioning and challenging the LORD's representative: Moses - and by virtue of that, the LORD God Himself. It got so bad that eventually the LORD brought chastening to the people and not just once or twice!

At one point, after murmering endlessly, the LORD had had enough and decided to send "fiery serpents" - that is, poisonous snakes. The people were plagued by them and bitten, and were all near death.

The people came to Moses, and acknowledged their sin. The chastening of the LORD may seem severe, but it is not overly so: our LORD knows how to administer the proper proportion of chastening, enough to do the job, and no more. And so it was here in this case.

But the LORD spoke to Moses and instructed him to fashion a rod made of bronze, and a serpent twined about it, also made of bronze. Further, He told Moses that whoever would look upon the serpent would be healed of their affliction (NUM 21:4-9).

What a strange method of healing; how could looking upon any object at all, let alone a brass serpent on a pole, bring healing from the poison of snakes? Yet this was the Word of the LORD to Moses; Moses by faith obeyed. The people hearkened to the instruction of Moses, and those who simply looked upon the brazen serpent were, by faith in doing so, made whole.

Such an idea would prove foolish to others who have no faith; but the children of Israel had seen miracles of dynamic proportions before! They knew what God was capable of: the impossible!

The LORD Jesus Christ correlates the brazen serpent with "the Son of man" - that is, Himself. That just as Moses raised up the brazen serpent, so too would He be lifted up. These fiery serpents that plagued Israel were symbolic of sin, which is far more poisonous than any venom, even from the deadliest of snakes! It took a work of God to remedy the situation in Moses day; it took no one less than God to remedy the situation of sin, plaguing the entire human race.

The preaching of the Cross is foolishness to sinful man (1 COR 1:18) but for those of faith, it is the power of God. Looking to the brazen serpent in faith of the Word of the LORD worked the miraculous. That serpent on the pole was made of brass, and the figure on that pole was indeed a serpent, fashioned like the serpents that stung the children of Israel. Both brass and the figure on that pole were representative of judgment and sin respectively.

The LORD Jesus being raised up - on the Cross, became sin for us, He Who in Himself knew no sin whatsoever (2 COR 5:20-21). Being made sin for us, He was condemned by God the Father who poured His Judgment against sin upon His own Son (ROM 8:3).
How could a Jew, who lived two thousand years ago, and was nailed to a cross in Judea by Roman authority and the severe demand of the Jewish religious establishment, work for humanity the cure for sin?? 

Jesus isn't called the Redeemer for nothing! By His blood, atoning for the sins of all mankind, He is an able Savior, who can and WILL save those who come to Him by faith. This might seem foolish to those who do not understand (or are unwilling to do so), but this is the very power of the Gospel to us who believe!

In a world of empty sinful mirages, amidst the barren bleak deserts of parched souls, there is an O.A.S.I.S.: Only the Almighty Savior Immanuel Satisfies!

JOHN 12:31-33
31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

The next time, we shall look at JOHN 3:15-16, in the devotional called, "TRUE LOVE". Until then, let us keep ourselves in the love of God (JUDE 1:21).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

BIBLICAL BELIEF In The BIBLE - WHAT IS IT And Why It's Needed More Than Ever

It's still the number one best seller of all time. People are buying Bibles and there are actually some who bother to read it - even church members (if you can believe it)! 

Yet what do we believe about the Bible, which makes the bold claim (and proves it) to be the very Word of God? Does the Bible provide a 'How To' guide to believing and living our lives in the light thereof?

It does indeed - and we shall examine this in today's article. 

I've been getting deep into some theological studies with these books on something called hermeneutics; we will get to the definition of this term, as well as exegesis and eisegesis presently. One of the books I've been reading is by Henry Virkler; another book is by J. Edwin Hartill. Here they are . . . 

Put simply, exegesis is the method by which we extract information from the Scriptures; we do this by asking key questions with words such as "who, what, where, when, why and how". 
By way of example, when reading GENESIS 1, one could ask "who is speaking in verse one? Who is being addressed" or "what is being stated here? what is being done?" or "where does this event take place?", etc. These words of inquiry help to draw out everything we can discover in any passage of Scripture. Exegesis is objective in basis, it leaves nothing to the individual's preferences or ideas; it deals strictly with, as Joe Friday of Dragnet would say, "just the facts ma'am, just the facts". This will enable us to discover good and truthful doctrine and leads to proper understanding.
"What is the Bible saying?" is the primary question involving in exegesis.

The other side of this is called eisegesis, which is not drawing information out of the passage, but inserting information - that is, rather than seeking information so that we may understand the meaning of such Scripture, we overlap our own understanding and, or ideas on to the text. This is something that must be actively avoided because it produces false doctrine and leads to wrong understanding of the Bible.
"To me, this verse of Scripture means . . ." is the erroneous question involving eisegesis.
The former is Bible-centered, the latter is self-centered.

Hermeneutics is the science and philosophy of how we interpret the Bible. The manner and methods employed in using the information extracted from Scripture by means of proper exegesis to bring about accurate understanding. 

Think of it this way: suppose you are given a gift, all colorfully wrapped with a bow. Until you unwrap it and open the box, you won't know what the gift is. By unwrapping the gift and opening the box, you will find out what's inside. We 'unwrap' the Scriptures by exegesis to find out 'what's inside'.

Once you discover that the gift is a chain saw, you can then determine how best to use the machine. How you use it is in a sense, the hermeneutics - you could take the machine out back and look for a tree to cut down, and begin manually sawing at it with the chain saw without ever turning it on - but you will get very tired, very quickly! You are not using the machine properly. 
However, with a little bit of fuel and a yank on the cord, the machine will roar to life and you will be able to cut down trees with tremendous ease and satisfaction! You will have done a great job, having used the machine properly. 
So proper hermeneutics is essential - and what is proper hermeneutics? THAT will be the essential subject of this article!

For those of you who want to get into the 'nitty-gritty' of this, here is a site that will be helpful to you: Defining Exegesis and Hermeneutics By BIBLE STUDY GURU.

The three aspects of good Bible study are exegesis, interpretation and application. During the exegetical part of Bible study, we want to find out what the text says. In the interpretational part of Bible study, we want to find out what the text means (and here is where our hermeneutics comes into play). In the applicational part of Bible study, we want to find out how to apply what we have learned to our lives. 

All three are vital, but with the objective of application: it does us no good simply to learn and know what the Bible says, and not incorporate such biblical truth into our lives. In fact, there is severe warning from our LORD Jesus Christ regarding this matter:

MATTHEW 7:24-27
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

To "hear" in this case involves more than just our ears, it includes the use of our mind in understanding. If we hear/understand only - we are founded upon the sand. If we "hear and obey" our LORD - it is then that we are founded upon the Rock: the LORD Jesus Christ Himself. 

Only by being on the Rock are we spiritually safe and secure: please understand me though, this is not to incite unwarranted fear regarding salvation (that salvation is dependent on rules and works, which it is not; salvation is dependent on faith and obedience to the Gospel), for if one is truly saved, I believe God's work of grace in us will work in and through us a heart of obedience, motivated by His love. It is less a matter of (self) effort than it is a matter of (Holy Spirit) efficacy.

PHIL 2:12-14
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Note that we are to "work out" that which God "works in" - "to will and to do of His good pleasure". The working out is simply that work of sanctification which enables us to "walk in the Spirit" as born again believers in Christ Jesus.

While application is most important, we cannot properly apply biblical truth if we have not accurately exegeted the text and gained proper interpretational understanding of it. Thus, from what we have learned so far: 

1) We must be objective in our exegesis and find out what the Scripture really says (and not what we think, or what the pastor thinks, or what our favorite teacher thinks it says - though if they are biblical, I bet they have rightly exegeted the Word!).

2) Then we must interpret what we have learned what the Scripture says. 

3) We then must apply what we have learned to our lives, by the power of the Spirit of God according to His grace.

Interpretation has to do with our bias (view point) concerning the Bible. Some have a conservative bias, others a traditional/orthodox bias, still others have a liberal bias. How we view Scripture will profoundly influence our interpretation/hermeneutics.

Yet if we would properly understand the Bible, we can do no better than to learn how those recorded in Scripture understood the word of the LORD, based on how they interpreted (hermeneutics) the Word given.

To begin with, let's go to the very beginning of the Word of God, to the book of Genesis and one of the very first words of God given to mankind:

Here we see the Word of God given to Adam:

GENESIS 2:15-17
15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.


We may safely assume that Adam understood God correctly, for had he not, surely for such a profoundly important directive, there would be a verse indicating that God clarified the issue for the man. 
In the Garden of Eden, there were actual trees - for God created all of them on the Second Day of creation (GEN. 1:11). The LORD gave complete liberty to Adam to eat of any tree he liked . . . with one exception. 

Now according to liberal bias, this "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" is allegorical, a representation of something other than a literal tree. The temptation towards and partaking of its fruit is likewise allegorical, representative of evil, to the liberal mind-set.

Yet God compared all of the good trees with the one forbidden; it's an unwarranted assumption to think that the former were literal and the latter merely allegorical. 
In fact, according to liberal bias, this entire scene, as well as the first several chapters of the Bible are not to be taken literally. By this way of thinking, these are nothing more than Hebrew poetry!

The hermeneutics of the conservative bias concludes that the events that transpired in the first 11 chapters of Genesis are just as literal as the days when the LORD Jesus walked the shores of Galilee; and we have no one less than the Son of God Himself Who declares these events and the people involved as real (MATT 19:4).
We have in juxtaposition these two opposing views; where the liberal bias bows to the allegorical view of Scripture, in favor of the more 'scientifically accurate' view of evolution*; the conservative view upholds the literal interpretation of the creation account, subscribing to the LORD Jesus' view.

For a great site that proves evolution as a false science, consider this on-line hyper-linked resource!

Then we come to Eve - when the talking serpent* had a dialogue with her concerning "every tree in the garden" - we learn that Eve's understanding of the forbidden tree was skewed; she had not properly interpreted what she was taught (presumably by Adam, who himself may have misconstrued what God taught him on this vital matter). Consider the method of Satan's attack here: he questions the Word of God, casting doubt into Eve's mind - this "dialogue with the devil" - this "cataclysmic conversation" was definitely detrimental and ultimately damning simply because Eve failed to stand on God's Word by faith and instead believed "the lie" of Satan.

* The idea of a talking serpent is often ridiculed by liberal-biased Christians as well as atheists, agnostics and skeptics. How is it that this reptilian creature could actually communicate with Eve? GOT QUESTIONS has a very good answer for us.

GEN 3:1-3
 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.


Where did God ever say that the First Couple should not touch the fruit of this tree? They could have used them to juggle with, or used them as decorations around the house, with no harm done - though providing a temptation by such proximity could pose a problem, I grant you. 
She wrongly assumed that there was something about physical contact with the fruit that was detrimental. And was their something inherently evil about the fruit itself? By comparison was the fruit of all the other trees holy in essence?

Or was it the very act of rebelling against the command of God that made partaking of the fruit evil?
We must be very careful in our exegesis of any verse of Scripture; failure to do so is what led to misunderstanding on the part of Eve, which in turn led to her deception. Had Adam and Eve taken God at His Word, and simply obeyed by refraining from the forbidden fruit, all would have been well! 'Paradise Retained' in fact!

Let's go visit Noah now . . . 

GENESIS 6:5-8
5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

Here we have the proclamation of the LORD God, that because of the wickedness of mankind and his failure to rightly relate with their Maker, He would destroy them - but not all: "Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD"!

The LORD lays out His plan to Noah; we all know the story. An ark is built which will store and preserve all of the necessary "kinds" of animals (note: not every species and breed, but kinds - which would provide the necessary animals to propagate the derivative species and breeds that we see today). For an excellent video on NOAH and the ark, watch Ray Comfort's short film (30 mins).

GENESIS 6:12-18
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.
14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.
16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.
17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.

Note the specifics of God's instructions to Noah - the ark is to be made of gopher wood, from a tree native to that region of the world; it would then be coated inside and out with pitch (tar), an petroleum based material that is also native - in abundance - to that region of the world (in fact, it was John D. Rockefeller, who reading this passage of Scripture, suspected that there could be oil in the Middle East, and after sending out preliminary investigators, discovered the truth; thus the enormous wealth to the Rockefeller empire was secured! See note #4, h, iii on the following site).

The dimensions were specific as well: 300 cubits x 50 cubits x 30 cubits - which translates to roughly the size of the Titanic (except the ark didn't sink!).

Noah proceeded to follow God's instructions and built the ark according to these materials and dimensions. It's an interesting point of fact that these dimensions have proven to be precisely accurate for sea-going vessels, affording the best buoyancy so that it wouldn't capsize in rough waters. Apparently Noah understood and followed through with the command of the LORD, and built the ark, expressing faith that He would open up the heavens and allow rain (something that up to this time, had never happened; irrigation of the world at that time occurred by a heavy mist that would rise up from the soil; see GEN 2:6) as well as the fountains of the Earth to flood the world (GEN 7:10-12). WIth tongue-in-cheek one could say that Noah was a literalist in God's Word!

As with Adam and Eve, the LORD Jesus Christ also acknowledged the existence of Noah, the ark and the flood (LUKE 17:26-27). So, as one eloquently stated, "if you believe in Jesus Christ then you have no problem understanding that Noah was a real man who built a real ark to safeguard humanity in a real flood - - and if you don't believe in Jesus Christ then you have much BIGGER problems than whether or not Noah was a real man"!

And finally let's go spend a bit of time with Abraham . . . 

After waiting for several decades, the LORD finally made good on His promise to the 'father of the faith', Abraham, in granting him a son - not through Hagar the handmaid of Sarah, but through Sarah herself.
It was through his son, Isaac that the blessing of the LORD would be manifest for Abraham, his lineage and ultimately for all the world! Astounding!

I could hardly imagine the shock that Abraham felt on the day when the LORD gave him this command:

GENESIS 22:1-2
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Did Abraham think that this was merely some allegorical process that God was presenting to him? Why would the LORD give such a gift, along with promises attributed to Isaac, only then to command that Abraham offer up his son as a burnt offering??

We have some keen insight into the mind of Abraham from the book of Hebrews, note especially vs. 19:

HEBREWS 11:17-19
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Of course we understand that the LORD didn't allow Abraham to go through with this heart-rending deed, but that didn't stop Abraham from bringing his son, along with some wood for a fire to the place that the LORD showed him. He bound his son with literal cords, and took up a literal knife, to literally slay his son. He understood God's command, rightly interpreted its meaning, and followed through with obedience.

We also understand that while the LORD did not allow Abraham to sacrifice his son, He did allow His own Son to be sacrificed for the sins of the world (JOHN 3:15-17). Thus, the entire procedure of Abraham was a model or representation of God the Father, presenting His Son as an offering for the salvation of souls.

Everywhere in the Scriptures, when ever the Word of the LORD came to an individual, that saint responded to said command as something literal and not allegorical or metaphorical. We see this capsulized in the "Hall of Faith" chapter in HEBREWS 11. For a 'homework assignment' make a devotional of this chapter sometime soon and consider how each person recorded responded to the Word of the LORD.

Look at vs 6 here:

HEB 11:6 
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

An acronym that I am fond of is: F.A.IT.H. or "Forsaking All I Trust Him" - and so it is, that we must forsake any and all of man's interpretations that would seek to undermine the Word of God for what it is, and what it intends. We reject any philosophy, bias, hermeneutic and ideas that would portray the Word of God as mere allegory (this is not to say that there aren't passages that are allegorical in nature (such as GAL 4:24); the Bible employs literally hundreds of figures of speech, including metaphors, allegories, analogies - - even puns!).

In today's post-modern world, the idea that we can know anything with a significant degree of certainty is disdained; that nothing is "knowable" including the Word of God. These sort that populate the Emergent Church movement* love to ask questions that lend towards uncertainty where the Word of God is concerned, but they don't like or want any definitive answers of truth.

* For a series of articles that examines the fallacies and falsehoods of the Emergent Church movement, consider reading these, from The TRUTH Under FIRE, beginning with Part One.

One such 'questioner'  of God's Word (isn't that was the serpent did back in GEN 3 which we looked at earlier?) is Rob Bell* who wants to undermine a literal bias of Scripture and replace faith in the plain Word of God with a pseudo-faith complete with a liberal bias according to Emergent philosophy.

* For another article on Rob Bell's book LOVE WINS, visit The RED PILL Consortium and read this article entitled LOST LOVE

We as Christians must express belief in the Holy Word of God, the Bible with faith in the absolute and literal truth portrayed in its pages. We have examples replete throughout this Book of saints who heard, understood, and responded to the Word of the LORD by faith.

We must reject any philosophy of a liberal bias which would seek to cast doubt on the Holy Scriptures of Truth as given by God:

2 TIMOTHY 3:15-16
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

May the LORD bless and keep us in His grace, as we walk with Him in accordance with biblical faith in His Most Holy Word! AMEN!