God: His Essence

God wants us to know Him.  He has revealed Himself through nature (Psalm 19:1; Acts 14:17; Romans 1:20).  He has revealed Himself through Jesus (John 1:18; 14:9; 1 Timothy 3:16 KJV/NKJV). He has revealed Himself through inspiration (John 16:13-15; 2 Timothy 3:16).

We should want to know Him.  Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).  Paul said that God created man, “So that they should seek the Lord, in hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:28).

This writing will consider the essence of God.  I mean by this: the nature of His being. 

1. God is eternal.

He is the uncaused one.  He had no beginning, and He will have no end.  He is “eternal God” (Deuteronomy 33:27; Also consider – Deuteronomy 32:40; Psalm 90:2; Psalm 102:24).  He is not infinitely existing in one direction (geometry illustration – think a ray).  He is infinitely existing in two directions (geometry illustration – think a line).

2.  God is Spirit.

This is stated in John 4:24.  The word “spirit” (pneuma) is used of things like – (a) wind (John 3:8); (b) breath (2 Thessalonians 3:8); (c) attitude or disposition (Matthew 5:3); (d) an existence without flesh and blood (Luke 24:39).  It refers to that which is immaterial, or invisible to human eyes.

We currently see God, only through the eyes of faith (Hebrews 11:1, 6).  The human eye cannot currently see God in His essence (Exodus 33:20; John 1:18;; 5:37; 6:46; 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 4:12).  However, one day the faithful will “see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

3.  God is omnific.

He is the source of all creation.  He “made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” (Exodus 20:11).  He created man (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 100:3).  He created even the angels (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2-5).  It is the Creator, and not creation, who should be worshipped and served (cf. Romans 1:25).

4.  God is omnipotent.

He is all-powerful.  He is the source of all physical energy and power in the universe.  He can do all things which are: (a) things that power can do (note: there are some things which power cannot logically do, e.g., create a four-sided triangle); and, (b) consistent with His nature and His will.  Job concluded, “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (Job 42:2).  Jeremiah agreed saying, “There is nothing to hard for You” (Jeremiah 32:17).

5. God is omnipresent.

He is aware of all things.  He is not limited by time or space.  It is impossible to flee from His presence (Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Hebrews 4:13).  “The eyes of the LORD are in every place.  Keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).

There is coming a day of judgment.  He knows every secret thing (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Romans 2:16; 1 Timothy 5:24-25).  He knows every idle word (Matthew 12:36).

Some question His omnipresence.  (a) They are troubled by passages such as Genesis 3:8; 4:16; and, Jonah 1:3.  John w. Haley explains, “The ‘presence of the Lord,’ from which Adam hid himself, and Cain and Jonah fled was the visible and special manifestation of God to them at the time; or else it denotes the place where the manifestation was made” (Haley, Alleged Discrepancies, p. 58).  (b) They are also troubled by Genesis 11:5, 7 and 18:20-21. James Burton Coffman explains “of course, God’s omniscience enables him to know all things instantly; but this language accommodates itself to the behavior and customs of men” (Coffman, Genesis, p. 243).

6.  God is omniscient.

He is perfect in knowledge.  He needs no counsel or instruction (Isaiah 40:13-14).  He knows all things.  A sparrow does not fall to the ground without His knowledge (Matthew 10:29).  He knows the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30).  He knows our thoughts (Psalm 139:2; Ezekiel 11:5).  He even knows the future (Isaiah 46:9-11).

Some question His full knowledge of the future (a) They turned to passages like Genesis 22:12.  Roy Lanier Sr. answers objectors saying, “This was accommodative language, such as a teacher of science uses when he says to his class, we will put two gases together in a certain proportion so we will know whether water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen.  He speaks as if he did not know, though he has performed that very experiment a hundred times” (Lanier, The Timeless Trinity, p. 146).  (b) They turn to Jeremiah 19:5.  Robert Taylor Jr. explains the passage, saying, “Relative to such God never commanded it; He never spoke of it; it never entered His mind, i.e. to authorize such heinous acts” (Taylor, Studies in Jeremiah, Vol. 1, p. 149).

7. God is immutable.

He is not like man who changes and perhaps matures over time.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  He declares, “I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6; See also – Numbers 23:19; 2 Timothy 2:11-13).

Some question this.  (a) They struggle with passages like Genesis 6:6.  However, John W. Haley explains, “If man changes, the very immutability of God’s character requires that His feelings should change toward God” (Haley, Alleged Discrepancies, p. 66).  (b) They struggle with Exodus 32:14. James Burton Coffman explains, “God never repents of anything in the usual meaning of the word; but when the actions of man justify a change in God’s purpose, he does not hesitate to change it; and that phenomenon is called ‘repentance’ of God in the scriptures. Concerning God’s purpose of overthrowing Nineveh, ‘When God saw that they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil which he said he would do unto them, and did it not’ (Jonah 3:10). In the repentance on God’s part mentioned here, it was not any change in Israel, but the pleading intercession of Moses that precipitated it” (Coffman, Exodus, p.444).

8.  God is self-sufficient.

God does not depend on man (Psalm 50:12; Acts 17:24-25).  Yes, He does receive joy and pleasure when man does right (Luke 15:7, 10, 11-32; Philippians 4:18, etc.);  however, He does not depend upon us for His existence.

It is man who is dependent on God (Acts 17:24-28).  Man would not exist with Him.  Man could not sustain Himself without Him.  How thankful we should be!

“There is a God, He is alive, in Him we live, and we survive; From dust our God created man, He is our God, the great I AM” (song: Our God, He Is Alive by A.W. Dicus).

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Matthew 12:1-8 – Situation Ethics?

At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath.  And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck the heads of grain and to eat.  And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!'” (Matthew 12:1-2).

Some misuse this context.  They start with the mistaken assumption that the Pharisees were technically  correct.  However, Jesus went on to defend His disciples.  Therefore, they conclude that in some situations one is justified in setting aside God’s law.

Let us point out that Jesus earlier experienced intense hunger, yet He refused to set aside God’s word in order to satisfy His hunger (cf. Matthew 4:1-4).  Who can believe that He approved of His disciples setting aside God’s law in order to satisfy their hunger?

The disciples had not violated the law by plucking grain.  This was not a violation of the Sabbath (cf. Exodus 12:16).  One writer summed up the situation saying, “If they had pulled out a sickle and begun harvesting the corn they would have been violating the Sabbath law. However, they were picking strictly for the purpose of eating immediately – in complete harmony with Mosaic law… Exodus 12:16” (Dave Miller, Piloting the Strait, p. 411).  Moreover, this was not theft, as some have thought (cf. Deuteronomy 23:24-25; Leviticus 19:9-10).

It was a violation of the Pharisees’ rules and perverted interpretation of the law.  It is true that most work was to cease on the Sabbath (Exodus. 20:8-11 cf. Exodus 34:21; 35:2-3; Numbers 15:32-36; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Jeremiah 17:21-22).  However, the Pharisees developed  a long list of things that could not be done on the Sabbath.  Here are some examples: one was not to look in a mirror on the Sabbath, because this might tempt one to pluck out a gray hair, and this would be reaping; one could not wear jewelry on the Sabbath, because this would be carrying a burden; one could not blow out lights on the Sabbath; one could eat an egg which was laid on the Sabbath, if the hen was killed for breaking the Sabbath (angelfire.com/nt/theology/lk06-01).

Point One

Have you not read what David did when he was hungry… how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat…” (Matthew 12:3-4).

The Jews highly esteemed David.  They did not condemn him for what He did in 1 Samuel 21:1-6 (cf. Exodus 29:33; Leviticus 24:5-9).  Where was the outrage?  Why the inconsistency?  Was this really about the law?  Or, was this about their hatred of Jesus?

Point Two

Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?” (Matthew 12:5).

Not all work stopped on the Sabbath.  Burnt offerings were made (Numbers 28:9-10).  The showbread was prepared (1 Chronicles 9:32 cf. Leviticus 24:5-9).  Circumcisions were performed (John 7:22-23).  These facts establish that God never intended for everything to cease on the Sabbath.

Point Three

…in this place is one greater than the temple” (Matthew 12:6).

They had no idea who stood before them.  “If He could instruct priests to carry on temple service on the Sabbath, He surely knew whether His disciples were authorized to eat on the Sabbath (in harmony with the law)” (Miller, p. 411).

Point Four

But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matthew 12:7).

Twice Jesus referred the Pharisees to Hosea 6:6 (cf. Matthew 9:13; 12:7).  God emphasized mercy over sacrifice.  Ritualistic sacrifice, without love for one’s fellow-man, did not impress God (cf. Proverbs 15:8; 21:3; 21:27; Isaiah 59:1-2; Malachi 2:11-14).  The Pharisees had a heart problem.  They typically had little compassion and love for others.

Consider this: While they allowed one to care for his animal on the Sabbath (cf. Luke 13:15; 14:5-6), they objected to the disciples plucking grain to eat on the Sabbath.  They cared more for their animals than they did for their fellow-man.

Let us make application to the church assembly.  Think of the man who missed because he was taking someone to the emergency room.  Think of the mother who stayed home to take care of an ill child.  Mercy has precedence over sacrifice. This is not setting aside God’s law. This is God’s law.

Point Five

The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

The point is not recorded in Matthew; however, we will include it in our study, one of the purposes of the Sabbath was to provide a day of rest (Deuteronomy 5:14).  It was not designed to be difficult on man.  “Since it was intended for his good, therefore, the law respecting it must not be interpreted so as to oppose his real welfare” (C.E.. Dorris, A Commentary on the Gospel According to Mark, p. 68).

Point Six

For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8).

Jesus has provided the proper understanding of the intent of the Sabbath law.  He was Lord of the Sabbath (cf. Hebrews 3:1-3).

May we each remember – that while there may be many different interpretations of a Bible passage or subject – there is only one which should ultimately concern us, His.  May we each be about the business of discerning His will.

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Jesus: King of His Kingdom

This is a Presidential election year.  America is a representative republic, or representative democracy.  There is a system in place for selecting the President, Congressional Representatives, and Senators.

What if Jesus was on the ballot?  Would you select Him as King of your life?  Is He truly King of your life? 


There is a sense in which we choose.  (1) If I recognize Jesus as King of my life, then I recognize His authority over me.  Jesus asked, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).  Moreover, He taught, “The Kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ for indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).  The Kingdom of God is also the Kingdom of Christ (Ephesians 5:5).  H. Leo Boles comments (on Luke 17:20-21), “This Kingdom is not of such a nature that they could, with the fleshly senses, locate it here or there.  This Kingdom is within you.’” (Boles, A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, p. 334).  Burt Groves comments, “No marching army would conquer Rome, and no earthly monarch would sit on a throne… In the Kingdom of God’s dear Son men voluntarily submit to His rule” (Groves, The Gospel According to Luke Commentary, p. 182).  Is Jesus King of your personal life?  “King of my life, I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be; Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow, Lead me to Calvary.  Lest I forget Gethsemane; Lest I forget Thine agony; Lest I forget Thy love for me, Lead me to Calvary” (Song: Lead Me to Calvary by Jennie Evelyn Hussey). 

(2) If we recognize Him as King over the church, then we do things by His authority (Colossians 3:17).  “Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23).  Wendell Winkler has written, “The church is not a ‘democracy,’ where the rule of the majority reigns… The Lord’s church is not an ‘oligarchy,’ the rule of the minority… the Lord’s church is not a ‘plutocracy,’ a rule of the rich… The Lord’s church is not an ‘aristocracy,’ a rule of the privileged class… The Lord’s church is not a ‘monarchy,’ a rule of one (unless that one is Christ B.H.)… The Lord’s church is a theocracy, the rule of God” (Winkler, The Church Everybody is Asking About, p. 18). 

No Choice

There is a sense in which we do not choose.  Jesus is in reality King, whether we currently recognize such or not.  He has all authority (Matthew 28:18).  He has authority over all flesh (John 17:2).  One day, all will appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).  He is ultimately the only Potentate (1 Timothy 6:15).

Jesus reign is not, and will not be, from earth.  Jesus is a fleshly descendant of Jeconiah (Matthew 1:11).  No descendant of (Je)coniah would prosper, after him, ruling in Judah (Jeremiah 22:28-30). 

One like the Son of Man was to receive His kingdom following His coming with clouds to the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13-14).  Jesus  was made like us (Hebrews 2:17; Philippians 2:7). He is referred to as “the Son of Man” (Matthew 16:13; Acts 7:56, etc.).  Jesus returned to heaven in clouds (Acts 1:9).  He returned to the Father (cf. John 16:28).  Jesus now reigns (1 Corinthians 15:24-25).  The Kingdom now exists (Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9).

The Kingdom is His reign in the hearts and minds of men.  It was to be present with power in the lifetime of some first century people (Mark 9:1).  Power would come through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).  The Holy Spirit came (Acts 2:1-ff).  The Kingdom now exists (Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9).  The Kingdom is entered by baptism (John 3:5).  The church is entered by baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13 cf. Ephesians 1:22-23).  The Kingdom is the church.

Jesus is overall.  He is head over the church (Ephesians 1:22-23).  He is also over the entire world (Matthew 13:36-43). 

The Kingdom, at times, also, refers to that heavenly reign (Acts 14:23; Ephesians 5:5; 2 Timothy 4:18).  I want to be a part of that heavenly Kingdom.  In order for me to be a part of that heavenly Kingdom, I must let Jesus reign now in my life (Hebrews 5:9). 

“All hail the pow’r of Jesus name!  Let angels prostrate fall!  Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown Him Lord of all/ Let ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe, on this terrestrial ball, To Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all” (Song: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name by Edward Perronet, et al.)

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Two Generations, Two Numberings, Two Recons

There are two major numberings of the children of Israel, which occur during their time in the wilderness.  The first occurs in Numbers chapter one.  The time is the first day of the second month in the second year (Numbers 1:1, 18).  The count totals 603,550 males, twenty years old and above, who are able to go to war.  The second occurs in Number chapter twenty-six.  The time is about thirty-nine years later (Numbers 1:1 cf. 33:38; Deuteronomy 1:3).  The count totals 601,730 males, twenty years old and above, who are able to go to war.

Lesson one: There is a lesson to be learned in individual responsibility and accountability.  The numberings are actually registrations for military service.  Moses later, asks two tribes, “Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here?” (Numbers 32:6).

All need to be available for the work.  Is it not the case that in far too many churches many are not available to do the work?

Lesson two: There is a lesson to be learned in faith.  Gleason Archer Jr. has written that the two censuses reveal “they were not kept out of Canaan by their insufficient numbers.  It was not the size of their army that mattered, but only the size of their faith.  Although no more numerous than their fathers, the younger generation was able to conquer the Canaanites because they were willing to trust God all the way and to obey His marching orders (in a way that their fathers failed to do at Kadesh-barnea)” (Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 252). They have 1,820 fewer men in the second numbering. However, this generation enters into the land.

There are two reconnaissance operations before the conquest of Canaan.  The first occurs in Numbers chapter thirteen (and is recounted in Deuteronomy chapter one).  The second occurs in Joshua chapter two, nearly forty years later (cf. Numbers 14:34).

Who is responsible for the first reconnaissance operation?  Numbers says, “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying ‘send men to spy out the land of Canaan…'” (Numbers 13:1-2). It also says that Moses sent them (Numbers 32:8). Deuteronomy says that the people came to Moses saying, “Let us send men before us, and let them search out the land for us, and bring back word to us of the way which we should go up, and of the cities into which we shall come”  (Deuteronomy 1:22).  It goes on to say that the plan pleased Moses (Deuteronomy 1:23).  John Haley provides a reasonable explanation, “The people suggested the matter to Moses, who laid it before the Lord, and received from him an injunction to comply with the people’s request” (Haley, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible, p. 350).  The spirit of unbelief had already been manifested (cf. Exodus 14:10-11; 15:23-24; 16:2-3; 17:3; Numbers 11:5-6), and may be present in this.

Regardless of the motives of the reconnaissance operation, ten of the twelve spies report that the children of Israel could not take the land.  The result is that the people initially refuse to enter (Numbers 14:1-10; Deuteronomy 1:22-23).  Moreover, They cannot enter. When they try, they meet defeat.  They could see the land, and even taste its fruits, but they could not possess it. God is no longer with this generation in this effort. (Numbers 14:26-45).

The second reconnaissance operation does not come out of the people’s wishes, but from Joshua (Joshua 2).  There is no hint of unbelief.  Joshua is a man of faith.  He was one of the two faithful spies of the first reconnaissance (Number 14:6-10).  This is truly military reconnaissance.  The men do not report to all the congregation, but to Joshua (Joshua 2:23).

The children of Israel go on to cross the Jordan (Joshua 3), and take Jericho (Joshua 6).  They had faith (Hebrews 11:30), while the earlier generation did not (Hebrews 3:19; 4:6; 4:11).  “Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who out-lived Joshua” (Joshua 24:31; Judges 2:7).

Lesson: Faith is needed.  Gleason Archer Jr. has written, “The spiritual lesson throughout the book (cf. Numbers B.H.) is that God’s people can move forward only so far as they trust His promises and lean upon His strength.  The tragedy of Kadesh-barnea was the unavoidable  consequences of unbelief; only true believers can enter into God’s rest.  Without faith they can only die uselessly in the wilderness (cf. Hebrews 3:7-19)” (Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 252).

“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11)

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Taking Time With Others

1.  John 4:27 – “And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman…

This was not how the disciples would have interacted with this woman.  Jewish men did not typically speak with women in public.  “The Rabbis had ruled, ‘Let no one talk with a woman on the street, no not his own wife'” (Guy N. Woods, A Commentary on the Gospel According to John, p. 84).  Furthermore, this woman is a Samaritan. She understood, “Jews have no dealing with Samaritans” (John 4:9).   Yet Jesus had time to speak with this woman of Samaria.

2.  Luke 18:15-16 – “Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them [put hands on them and pray (Matthew 19:13)]: but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.'”

Jesus and His disciples were headed to Jerusalem (Luke 17:11; 18:31; 19:11; 19:28).  They were going to establish a kingdom (cf. Luke 19:11).  The disciples reasoned that they had no time for children; they had more important things to do.  However, Jesus had time.  Children were important to Him.

3.  Luke 18:35-43 – “Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging… And he cried out saying, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him.  And when he had come near He asked him, saying, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’  He said ‘Lord, that I may receive my sight.’  Then Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has made you well’…” 

They were going to Jerusalem (Luke 18:31).  They were going to establish a kingdom (cf. Luke 19:11).  There was important work to be done.  Therefore, the disciples reasoned that there was no time for this blind beggar.  But, Jesus had time.

Have you ever noticed that Jesus had time for those, for whom no one else seemed to have time?  He accomplished more in 3 1 /2 years than anyone.  Yet, He had time for people.

We need to care about people.  Jesus wanted us to find time for others, especially for the weak and down-trodden (Luke 14:12-14).  Consider the lyrics of the Eagles song, Take it to the Limit: “You can spend all your time making money.  You can spend all your love making time.” How are we, as individuals, spending our time?  Do we care about people?  Do we care about even the weak and down-trodden? Do we, as a congregation, have time for those who do not live in nice houses, drive nice cars, and wear nice clean clothes? Do we have time for people who are hurting? Do we have compassion? We must, if we are to be like Him.

“Each do I’ll do a golden deed, By helping those who are in need; My life on earth is but a span, and so I’ll do the best I can.  Life’s evening sun is sinking low, A few more days and I must go, to meet the deeds that I have done, Where there will be no setting sun” (Song: A Beautiful Life by William M. Golden).

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A Quiver Full of Arrows

Behold, children are a heritage (gift NASB) from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3).

The reason that humans can reproduce is because God gave them this ability.  He could have made them without this ability. However, He chose to bless man with the gift of reproduction.

Children are to be valued.  They are a gift (heritage) and a benefit (reward) from the LORD.

He blesses us with children. However, they ultimately belong to Him (Ezekiel 18:4).  We are stewards of this beautiful gift. This point should not be missed.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  Happy is the man who has quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:4-5).

The idea is that children can be a great protection one in his old age.  Adam Clark comments, “Each child will, in the process of time, be a defense and a support to the family, as arrows in the quiver of a skillful and strong archer; the more he has, the more… redoubted he shall be” (Clark’s Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 644).  Matthew Henry comments, “The family that has a large stock of children is like a quiver full of arrows, of different sizes we may suppose, but all of us one time or another; children of different capacities and inclinations may be several ways, serviceable to the family” (Matthew Henry Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 602).

Children are to be of help to their parents (1 Timothy 5:4, 8, 16; Matthew 15:3-6).  Zondervan’s Pictorial Dictionary says of the city gate, “The gate was the place where people met to hear an important announcement (2 Chronicles 32:6; Jeremiah 7:2; 17:19-27) or the reading of the law (Nehemiah 8:1, 3).  Or where the elders transacted legal business (Deuteronomy 16:18; 21:18-20; Joshua 20:4; Ruth 4:1, 2, 11)” (p. 300).  The point is that children can protect their aged parents from being taken advantage of in business and legal transactions.

However, children like arrows must be properly aimed to be of use.  It is up to the parent to: “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6).  This should be done from childhood, so that they may be of use later in life.

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No Rejoicing

“It is good for Christians to rejoice.  We have much in which to rejoice.  Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again, I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

However, there are some things in which we should not rejoice.  We should not rejoice in things which are contrary to God’s will.  Our affections need to be brought into line with God’s word.  Thomas Warren has remarked, “The true view… involves the recognition that there is a place for the senses (the physical side of man), there is a place for feelings (the emotions, the volitional side of man), and there is a place for the rational side of man (the use of reason)… But all of these things must be used in connection with the supernatural revelation from God to man (the Bible)” (Warren, Logic and The Bible, p.39).  Let us notice some things in which we should not rejoice…

1.  We should not rejoice when our enemies fall. 

The proverb reads, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles” (Proverbs 24:17).  Rejoicing over the destruction of one’s personal enemy is not righteous behavior (Job 31:29).  We are to show kindness to our personal enemies (Proverbs 25:21 cf. Romans 12:19-21; Leviticus 19:7-8, cf. Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:14).

However, there are times when rejoicing is appropriate. (a) It is appropriate to rejoice when justice is done (Proverbs 11:10).  Hence, the rejoicing of Proverbs 24:17 is, it seems, rejoicing for events outside of justice.  (b) It is appropriate to rejoice in the justice of God (Exodus 15; Deuteronomy 32:43). (c) It may be appropriate to rejoice in the battlefield victory over national enemies (Psalm 58:10 cf. 68:22-23).  Tom Wacaster comments, “There is nothing in the verse that might suggest a personal vendetta on the part of the Psalmist.  God’s saints have, through the centuries, sought Divine judgment upon the wicked.  The fact that the ‘righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance’ is no indication the derived pleasure from punishment (or suffering B.H.) inflicted upon evil doers” (Wacaster, The Songs And Devotions of David, Vol. 3, p. 123).  This is about justice and not sadism.

Proverbs 24:17 is teaching that we should not be filled with hatred, so filled that –  we enjoy hearing about the misfortunes of a personal enemy.  For example: I should not be rejoicing to hear that my personal enemy is dying of cancer.

2.  We should not primarily rejoice in our deeds and accomplishments in the Lord.

Luke recorded, “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’  And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  Behold, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20).

Their deeds had value.  Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:17).  J.W. McGarvey comments, “In their successes Jesus saw Satan falling from lofty heights with the swiftness of lightning” (McGarvey, The Fourfold Gospel, p. 473).  Burt Groves comments, “As they commanded Satan’s unclean spirits Jesus saw Satan in defeat… surely as the gospel is preached today and sinners converts to Christ, Satan continues to suffer loss” (Groves, The Gospel According to Luke Commentary, p. 114).

However, there was something greater; and it’s in this that they were to rejoice.  J.W. McGarvey comments, “Your joy in visible and temporal success, and in the subjection to you of the powers of evil, is not to be compared to the joy that you have the prospect of heaven” (McGarvey, 474).  Burt Groves comments, “Personally they were to be blessed for more in heaven than in serving Jesus in that miraculous work on earth” (Groves, p. 114).

Another thought: It is possible that this is an implicit warning.  It is possible to do many great things, on this earth, for the Lord, and still be lost (see Matthew 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 13:1-3). Think about Judas. Maintaining a proper relationship with God is even more important, then the accomplishments in which we may be tempted to boast.

3.  We should not rejoice in iniquity. 

Love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth (1 Corinthians 13:6).  Moreover, those without Biblical love will, spiritually speaking, profit nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

Some people enjoy sin.  The are entertained by it.  They enjoy engaging in it, and hearing about it (Psalm 50:18; Proverbs 2:14; Romans 1:32; Ephesians 5:3-4).  Alas, sometimes Christians behave no differently, or with little difference, than the world in their morals.

However, God’s people are to be different. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  Peter said, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against your soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evil doers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12). May we dare to be different in bold colors and not in pale pastels.

4.  We should rejoice in our own work, and not in another’s.

Paul wrote, “But let one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.  For each one shall bear his own load” (Galatians 6:4-5).

The context concerns envious comparisons (Galatians 5:26 cf. 6:1-5).  J.W. McGarvey comments, “But let each prove his own work instead of criticizing and judging the work of others, and then shall he have glory in himself alone, and not because he seems superior to his neighbor by comparison of his work with that of his neighbor.  And it behooves us to be concerned about our own work, and to thus test it, for each one of us shall bear his own load of duty and accountability, for which alone he shall be called to answer in the judgment (McGarvey, – Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans, p. 285).  One does not become a saint by another’s sin, or shortcoming; neither, does one live the Christian life through another.  We each will be held responsible for self.

5.  We should not rejoice if we should mourn.

James wrote, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Lament and mourn and weep!  let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:8-10).

Notice how these people are described.  They are sinners.  They are sinners in behavior (hands = physical behavior).  They are sinners in their thoughts (double-minded = not fully devoted to God). They are not humble.

A change was needed.  Guy N. Woods comments, “Those whose hands are stained with sin, and whose lives are polluted by the corruption of the world, are in no position to laugh and experience joy.  Instead, they ought to mourn over their waywardness, and fall at the feet of Jesus for mercy” (Woods, A Commentary on the Epistle of James, p. 233). “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10).  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

How is your life before God?  Are you humbly serving Him?

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