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Horses to Those Who Can Ride Them
“I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to put riders on them!” Isaiah 36:8. This challenge was made by one of Sennacherib’s generals, Rabshakeh, during his speech demanding the surrender of Jerusalem.
A Message of Intimidation
The Assyrians had come down upon Judah, “like a wolf on the fold.” Rabshakeh presented a powerful piece of propaganda, laced with lies, half-truths, boasting and blasphemy. His speech was designed to demoralise and discourage God’s people and persuade them to give up all hope and surrender to the Assyrians. In his speech, he insulted and taunted the representatives of King Hezekiah. One of his memorable taunts was: How could they possible resist the overwhelming military might of Assyria. Even if he, Rabshakeh, were to give them two thousand horses, it could do them no good for they had no trained cavalry to ride them.
A Message of Inspiration
However, the Word of the Lord came through the prophet Isaiah: “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him and he shall hear a rumour and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.” Isaiah 37:6-7
The Hand of God
“Then the Angel of the Lord went out and killed in the camp of the Assyrians, 185,000; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses, all dead. So, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed and went away, returned home and remained at Nineveh. Now it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch, his god, that his sons… struck him down with a sword…” Isaiah 37:36-38
An Important Insight
However, amidst the remarkable propaganda speech by Rabshakeh, is a gem of wisdom and insight. Horses for those who are able to ride them.
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Throughout the Bible commandments and warnings against idolatry are the most repeated of all. There are more denunciations of idolatry than any other sin in the Bible.
"You shall not make for yourself a carved image... you shall not bow down to then nor serve them." Exodus 20:4-6
"Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves moulded gods; I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:4
"Thus says the Lord God: repent and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For everyone... which sets up his idols in his heart... I the Lord will answer him by Myself." Ezekiel 14:6-7
"The works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissention, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries and the like... those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19-21
The Apostle John beseeches us: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21
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Let My People Go!
“So Moses and Aaron came in to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me’.” Exodus 10:3
The nation of Israel grew out of secession from Egypt. In the Bible, a nation is an ethnolinguistic people group with a shared faith. The Scriptures make it clear that the Hebrews remained Hebrews, even after 480 years in Egypt. They never became Egyptians. We are not geographic accidents, but demographic descendants. The Scripture emphasises that all the families of the nations of the earth are to sing the praises of the Creator in every language and tongue. “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your Blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9
The Secession of the Ten Northern Tribes of Israel from Judah and Benjamin
In 1 Kings 12, we read of the secession of the ten Northern tribes from the United Kingdom of Israel. After the reigns of King Saul, King David and King Solomon, the United Kingdom was divided when Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, foolishly dismissed the wise counsel of the elders who had stood before his father, Solomon. Instead Rehoboam chose to rather listen to the irresponsible advice of the young men who had grown up with him. As a result, he arrogantly dismissed the petition of his subjects and threatened to tax them even heavier and to burden them with more oppressive laws than they had ever experienced before. “Now when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying: ‘What share have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Now, see to your own house, O David!’ So Israel departed to their tents.” 1 Kings 12:16
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21
Frustration and Dissatisfaction
Are you one of those many Christians in a spiritual drought?
Are you in a spiritual wilderness?
Are you frustrated and bewildered by the emptiness and a dissatisfaction with your life and with your faith?
Are you crying out for something more?
Something that will fill that empty feeling with deep peace of mind, heart and of a capacity for a genuine experience of God's love?
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“…Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.’” Mark 1:14-15
Jesus Preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
The word Church occurs only three times in the Gospels. Yet the terms Kingdom and Kingdom of God occur over 120 times in the Gospels. The overwhelming emphasis of the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ was a Kingdom message. We read that our Lord Jesus Christ preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, yet today it is generally the Gospel of Salvation which is preached.
The Therapeutic Gospel
The Gospel of Salvation, as preached in all too many churches and through much of the main stream Christian media is mostly about me and how I can be blessed, healed, prospered, enriched, improved, saved from all the negative consequences of my bad choices and ultimately end up in Heaven. The way the gospel is preached by all too many today, is something of a therapeutic self-help message where the emphasis is on me, with God playing a supporting role in how I can fulfill my dreams and attain my desires.
We need to listen critically and evaluate questions wisely.
A Dishonest Question
“Has God indeed said you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1. No, God permitted Adam and Eve to eat from every tree, except this one: The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.. Be alert to dishonest questions which distort the Word of God.
A Complaining Question
“And the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’” Exodus 15:24. Instead of asking God who had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, to please provide for their needs, they complained.
An Accusatory Question
“And the people thirsted there for water and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’” Exodus 17:3. The lack of gratitude for God's deliverance of them from slavery in Egypt, is embarrassingly obvious as they accuse Moses of only wanting them to die of thirst in the wilderness!
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“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
The Record of History
It is remarkable how much discussion, debate and media attention is given to the old slavery, that was exposed and opposed by Christians, such as member of parliament, William Wilberforce, over 200 years ago and how little attention is given to the much worse and greater numbers enslaved by the Muslim slave trade, as exposed and opposed by Dr. David Livingstone and others in the 19th century.
Outrageous Silence on Human Trafficking Today
It is scandalous how little attention or concern is given to the ongoing Islamic slave trade to this day. Even more outrageous is the virtual silence over the very worst slavery in history, which is prevalent and pervasive throughout the world today – to this day: Human trafficking and sexual slavery.
“And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:6
The Book of Malachi begins with a blessing and ends with this warning of a curse. Repentance and Faith in Christ will be seen in the restoration of family relationships. Certainly that was my experience.
Shamefully, I clashed with my Father frequently. I argued over many issues. However, my conversion to Christ brought conviction of sin. The first sin I repented of was lack of gratitude. The second, disrespect for my parents, particularly seen in my argumentative relationship to my Father. Regeneration led to a radical transformation of my relationship with my parents. In time this led to both my parents turning to Christ. Although, in my Father’s case, it took eight long years. By God's grace my Father experienced the life transformation that comes with repentance and Faith in Christ. God turned my heart to truly love, honour and respect my Father and God graciously turned my Father’s heart to me. Before he died on Christmas Eve, 1986, I heard my Father say, for the first time in my life: “Son, I am proud of you.”
Back to the Bible
Over six years ago, I embarked on a bold and ambitious Back to the Bible Reformation project – to read, study and preach through every Book of the Bible, with the goal of producing books surveying the Old Testament and New Testament. This was to coincide with the Reformation 500 anniversaries.
It was 31 October 1517, that Professor Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Church door of the Schlosskirche (the Castle Church) in Wittenberg, Germany. It was 1 January 1519, that Reformer Ulrich Zwingli dispensed with the Latin mass and began Expository Preaching, in their local language, starting with the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1, working through every verse in the New Testament. The Reformers called believers to return to the Bible as the sole standard of Faith and practice and to recognise the Lord Jesus Christ as the only True Head of the Church.
Scripture alone is our ultimate authority. Sola Scriptura! However, most Christians have never read through every Book of the Bible. Our Professor of Old Testament at Baptist Theological College, Dr. Frits Haus, regularly asked the students how many had actually read the Book of the Bible which we had been focussing on for the semester. Incredibly, only a minority of students could say that they had actually read the Book of the Bible we were studying in that semester! Dr. Fritz Haus asked the assembled college students of all years at a Chapel service: “How many of you have read the whole Bible?” Hands started being raised and then somebody asked, “You mean the New Testament?” “No”, Dr. Haus smiled, “I mean the whole Bible!” Hands came down all over the Chapel.
Freedom in Christ
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“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Is it possible for a Christian to be under spiritual bondage?
Can a Christian Sin?
Many Christians say that they do not think that it is possible for one in whom the Holy Spirit lives to be bound by an evil spirit. Yet, if we were to ask: Is it possible for a true Christian to sin? The answer would unfortunately have to be: Yes. Christians do sin. Of course, this grieves the Holy Spirit, it quenches the Holy Spirit, it resists the Holy Spirit, but the fact is that sin can be present in Holy Spirit indwelled Christians. Sin is worse than satan. It was sin that turned Lucifer, the archangel, into satan – the fallen angel, the enemy of God and all His people.
Some of the well-known Christian leaders who have taught that Christians may suffer from demonic bondage include: Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, Dr. Kurt Koch, Watchman Nee and A.W. Tozer.
The Forces of Darkness
The book of Ephesians is addressed to “The Saints… Faithful in Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 1:1. And these Christians are taught not to “give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:27. In fact the believers are commanded to “Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:11-12