Posts Tagged ‘judgments’

God has given us some wonderful laws that tell us what makes life work and what doesn’t. They are full of great wisdom and if practiced in our society today there would be much more peace, happiness and prosperity. Now these laws are often described in the Bible by three divisions.

Deuteronomy 7:11  describes these three divisions.  “Therefore you shall keep the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them.” This three-fold division of the laws of God is mentioned at least 10 times in the Bible.

So what’s the difference between the commandments, the statutes and the judgments? First of all, what are the commandments? Well, that’s an easy one for most of us. When Jesus told the rich young ruler to keep the commandments the young man asked Him which ones? Jesus quoted some of the Ten Commandments that God gave us in Exodus 20.

The Ten Commandments give the broad principles of how to obey God and show love to Him and to our neighbors. The statutes are secondary laws that go further and expand upon the commandments. Life is complex and so God, in His love and infinite wisdom, gave Israel further details and specifics as to how to show love for Him and others through the statutes.

Having said that, what’s the difference between statutes and judgments? Now, statutes are secondary laws that are made by lawmakers. Judgments, on the other hand, refer to judicial decisions made by a judge based upon the principles behind those laws to come up with a decision as to how best to apply those laws.

So how do we go about determining whether a law in the Old Testament is a statute or a judgment? Well, first of all, we need to understand why the particular law was made.

For our first example let’s look at a judgment from Deuteronomy 22:8 where we read, “When you build a new house, then you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring guilt of bloodshed on your household if anyone falls from it.” Why was this law given? Well, in ancient times people had flat roofs and people used to spend a fair bit of time on the top of their roofs for various reasons and so there was the danger of people falling off a roof. So a parapet was used as guard rails and to prevent people from falling off the roof. This was a basic safety law like so many of the safety laws that governments pass today.

The next question we have to ask is whether that law can be applied for all cultures for all time. Well, today very few people have flat roofs and putting a parapet on some of our steep roofs might pose more of a problem than not having one. And since the principle here is to preserve the health and safety of those who might venture onto the roof the principle cannot be applied to all roofs.

 
Let’s look at the laws that cover the sacrifices and offerings. In Jeremiah 7:22 God says “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.” We see that God didn’t originally give Israel these laws when they came out of Egypt. They’re not found in the book of Exodus but in the latter books written AFTER the time when they sinned by worshipping the golden calf.

The sacrifices and offerings were but types of the greater sacrifice of Christ to come. They taught Israel of the need for Christ’s sacrifice to come later on and, are no longer required because of Christ’s sacrifice. They were judgments made by God, because of their sins at Mount Sinai, to help impress on a carnal, rebellious people the need for a greater sacrifice to come.

We’ve looked at judgments. Now let’s look at a couple of statutes. A good example of a statute is the Holy Days. While many think that Christ’s sacrifice did away with the need to keep these “Jewish Holy Days” they are ignorant of the fact that the Holy Days teach us a lot about the great plan of God to harvest all souls and save all mankind. And by keeping the Holy Days we learn so much about God’s plan.

This principle behind these Holy Day laws can be applied for all people, for all time and are thus statutes. We read of Egypt having to keep the Feast of Tabernacles in the New Kingdom on earth in Zechariah 14. Leviticus 23:31 makes it clear that the Holy Days are statutes. About the Day of Atonement it says, “You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”

The dietary laws can also be applied for all people, for all time. Most of the animals that are unclean in Leviticus 11 were designed by God to be scavengers and are not fit for human consumption. Christ’s sacrifice does nothing to change that basic fact of God’s creation. Thus, the dietary laws are statutes, as opposed to judgments.

The judges of Israel also made judgments on issues not specifically mentioned by God in the law. This is spoken of in Deuteronomy 17. In Deuteronomy 17:8-10 we read, “If a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge…you shall come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge there in those days, and inquire of them; they shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment. You shall do according to the sentence which they pronounce upon you in that place which the LORD chooses. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they order you.”

They didn’t have to go to the judges if they felt that they could work out their problem. But if they felt the problem was too hard to work out they had the option to bring it to the judges and they would make a judgment based upon determining why the laws were made and applying those principles to the matter brought before them. As long as the judgments don’t directly violate the laws and the word of God, the Church has the power of judgment in ecclesiastical matters. In 1 Corinthians chapter 6 Paul chastised the Corinthians for going to unconverted judges of the world instead of the Church to decide upon matters between brethren.

Members don’t have to go to the ministry to sort out their problems with their brethren but if it is too hard to sort out Paul admonishes us to take it to the Church and abide by the decision rather than go to court against our brother. The obvious exceptions to this are over criminal matters and for civil matters that the church has no authority over, for example, finalizing a divorce.

One good example of a church judgment was when some churches made a judgment that drinking alcohol is a sin based upon 1 Corinthians 6:20 which says we are to glorify God in our body. They interpreted that every drink of alcohol (no matter how small) does us harm and that the body was not designed for taking in the dangerous chemicals that are in alcohol.

What does the Bible say about alcohol or wine? Is it a sin to drink? Jesus made some very interesting comments about the criticism leveled at him and John the Baptist related to their behavior and drinking habits. “For John came neither eating nor drinking (alcohol), and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ “(Matthew 11:16 – 19)

John’s Nazarite vow prevented him from having not only wine or alcohol but also grape juice. In fact, he couldn’t even eat any grapes! The primary location in the Scriptures that discusses the Nazarite vow and drinking is in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 6.

Jesus drank wine, but he did not sin; therefore, it is not wrong or bad if we do a little bit of drinking ourselves. In fact, Jesus’ own mother, Mary, asked her son to make more of it at the marriage feast in Cana. (see John chapter 2) He obeyed His mother even though his time to perform miracles had not yet arrived. He made more wine (And much better wine) than they could drink! Imbibing the ‘fruit of the vine’ is not a sin in the eyes of God. In fact, drinking wine is used as a representation that Christ died for our sins. ( See I Corinthians 11:23-26)

Some teach that “oinos” (Strong’s Concordance G3631) means non-alcoholic grape juice in the Bible; and that’s what Jesus and his disciples were drinking on Passover. This simply could not be the case, because what they were drinking represented his blood. The Greek word, ‘oinos’ is derived from the Hebrew word, ‘yayin’. (H3196) They are both described as fermented grape juice that could lead to intoxication. Wine is fermented grape juice which is active or “living” just as our blood. (See Lev. 17:11) The Apostle Paul did not think drinking alcoholic beverages was wrong. He tells Timothy, who was having stomach trouble, that he should drink some of it for his stomach’s sake. (See 1Timothy 5:23) The latest scientific findings show that taking a moderate amount of wine may be helpful for our heart and lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Of course, the Bible does condemn drunkenness. Paul’s letter to Titus states that a minister of God should not be given to drinking too much wine or be an alcoholic (Titus 1:7). Drunkenness is clearly not acceptable in God’s word. (1Timothy 3:8) Paul warns us a second time that we should not be taking in intoxicating drinks until we are drunk. (Ephesians 5:18) As long as we drink wine or alcohol in moderation the Bible states that it is good for us. But drunkenness is definitely a sin and should not to be a part of a Christian’s life.

The same questions about drinking wine could be asked about drinking beer or smoking cigarettes. The fact remains that moderation in all things is a Godly attribute. Smoking is obviously not healthy and the believer should try to quit, but what is there in this world that isn’t good for you? I love to go to fast food restaurants but don’t go very often because I know the menu carries high fat volumes in their foods. The fact is, there are no perfect Christians. The Apostle Paul said, “I have the right to do anything, you say—but not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anything—but not everything is constructive.” (1Cor. 10:23)

Jesus is more concerned with what comes out of our mouths than what goes into it saying in Matthew 15:11, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” It is what comes out of our mouth (our words) that defiles believers, because it is by our words that our heart is revealed.

Now the Church is not perfect and so we have seen Christians hold different positions on the very same issues at different times. A couple of examples of this are church judgments on makeup and interracial marriage. Prohibitions that were made on these two issues were not based upon a specific statute in the Bible that forbid them but were judgments based upon principles which a certain church interpreted and then made a decision upon.

Orthodox Jews have another judgment that teaches not to eat dairy products and meat at the same time. This rabbinic rule came about through a misinterpretation of Exodus 23:19. “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God. Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” (The same verse being repeated in Ex. 34:26 and Deut. 14:21) The proper understanding of this verse deals with the ancient Egyptian and Canaanite idolatrous fertility rite. The liquid milk was sprinkled over the fields by the pagans, after the fall harvest to ensure a bountiful harvest from their god or goddess, for next year.

Exodus 23:19 has nothing to do with eating meat and dairy products together. The Lord was declaring to His people that after the harvest season was over and when the pagan people around them would practice idolatry and witchcraft to insure a good harvest for themselves for the next year that they were not to imitate the pagans. Israel was instead to trust God for next year’s bountiful harvest.

We cannot find one Scripture where God commands that we abstain from eating dairy and meat together. Not one. The Rabbis have perverted the Scriptures when they declare that it is a sin to eat meat and dairy together. Biblically  there is no problem with eating meat and dairy together. We see that Abraham and the angels did it: “And he (Abraham) took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them (The angels) and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.” (Genesis 18:8)

The Bible gives us the proper definition of sin. It does not come from human beings or human opinions. Because human opinions can deviate from the Word of God; therefore a biblical definition of sin is accurate since it is a definition from God Himself.

In First John 3:4, the apostle gives us the proper definition of sin, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” This means that every human being has sinned and continues to sin. So we are all in big trouble since we all will continue to sin in this life. Jesus is the only human who never sinned. This is why Jesus made the perfect sacrifice because he was without blemish and the only perfect human that ever lived. His death reconciled humans to God. But only those who believe on him are the ones reconciled to God. (Acts16:30-31; Rom 5:10; 2Co 5:18)

For our final scripture let’s look at Ezekiel 36:16-27. He tells Ezekiel that after the end of this age He will restore all Israelites that He dispersed among the nations and says, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep my judgments and do them.”

If we are to be the ones who will walk in these laws in God’s kingdom, then it behooves all of us to be good students and learn all we can about them now.

“And God has appointed these in the Church: First apostles, second prophets, third teachers, and after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” (1Corinthians 12:7-11, 28-31)

Note that the above Scripture specifies that such Spiritual gifts, if genuine, are appointed by God. In spite of the growing number of false teachers and false prophets in the church today, doesn’t this scripture passage imply that these spiritual gifts are real? Let’s look at what scripture teaches about true and false prophets:

“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’  When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-18)

In 1 Thessalonians 5:21 Paul says we should test all things. So we can discern the difference between true and false prophets by testing what they say with scripture.

So are there true prophets of God today? In Acts 2:17-18, the Apostle Peter quoting Joel 2:28-29 states, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:  And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”

Now there is a big difference between someone who prophecies and a true prophet of God. It’s been my experience that 99% of all so called ‘prophetic ministries’ are in fact, managed and controlled by false prophets. These ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing that the Lord warned us about are the ones who have made it difficult for God’s true prophets. Prophetic words are to be judged and should never be used to rule your life. We are held responsible to test all things. I have seen numerous people led astray by so called prophetic ministries. Many people have followed them from meeting to meeting much like worldly people follow fortune tellers.

I believe that true prophets of God exist today.

Leonard Ravenhill, Keith Green, and David Wilkerson are men that I would consider to be true prophets of God. Leonard Ravenhill was labeled a radical and considered to be legalistic by some. Keith Green was criticized by some in the Christian Music Industry for his stand on not selling his music for the sake of the gospel. David Wilkerson was mocked by the media and scorned by some Christian circles. It was only after their deaths that some began to acknowledge their godly work.

But how many of us listened to their messages? How many today would pat them on the back and tell them how much they were admired but would think to themselves, “Just don’t expect me to do what you ask!”

Leonard Ravenhill was a British Christian evangelist and author who focused on the subjects of prayer and revival. He is best known for challenging the modern church through his books and sermons. His most notable book is ‘Why Revival Tarries’ which has sold over a million copies worldwide. In the 1980s, Ravenhill moved from England to a home near Lindale, Texas, a short distance from Last Days Ministries Ranch. He regularly taught classes at LDM and was a mentor to Keith Green. David Wilkerson, Ray Comfort, Tommy Tenney, Charles Stanley, Paul Washer and many others were also influenced by him.

Leonard Ravenhill was a man sent from God and like Elijah, was sent to battle the priests of Baal on their own mountain top and to shame the careless priests at the altar! He fearlessly stood against sin in the church and pastors who watered down the gospel of Christ. And he warned people who were being led astray by them. He was not an easy companion to the complacent. He insisted on being a Christian all the time and everywhere he went. He was sick inside when he saw the children of God acting like the sons of the devil. That marked him as being hard headed and at times, legalistic. Where have men of such fiery zeal as Ravenhill gone? Click here: Leonard Ravenhill

Keith Green was also recognized as a prophetic voice, crying out to us like John the Baptist, and cutting like a two-edged sword. On one hand, his words offered hope and joy — the Lord is coming! On the other hand, they required us to change our lives. Because of his love for Jesus and for the Word of God, Keith’s zeal drew thousands to his message during his few short years of public ministry before his untimely death. His sole desire was to see men, women and young people become free from spiritual darkness, confusion, and lukewarm Christianity. Keith’s boldness unsettled the more complacent Christians, as he pressed into the life of a true disciple, sometimes risking a successful career, his reputation, and personal finances — all to discover how to overcome worldliness and sin, and the surest road to God’s heart. Because Keith spoke for God and Him alone, his was one of the clearest, truest voices of our time. Click here: Keith Green Story

David Wilkerson was probably one of our greatest prophets of the 20th century. He served as a pastor in small churches in Pennsylvania, until he saw a photograph in Life Magazine in 1958 of seven New York City teenagers charged with murder. He later wrote that as he felt the Holy Spirit move him with compassion, he was drawn to go to New York in February 1958. It was then that he began a street ministry to young drug addicts and gang members, which he continued into the 1960s. He also founded Teen Challenge, an evangelical Christian addiction recovery program, with a network of Christian social and evangelizing work centers.

He gained national recognition after he co-authored the book ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’ in 1963 with John and Elizabeth Sherrill about his street ministry. In the book, he tells of the conversion of gang member Nicky Cruz, who later became an evangelist himself and wrote the autobiographical ‘Run Baby Run’. In 1967, David Wilkerson began Youth Crusades, an evangelistic ministry aimed at middle-class youth who were restless and bored. His goal was to prevent them from becoming heavily involved with drugs, alcohol, or violence.

In 1986, while walking down 42nd Street in New York City at midnight, David Wilkerson felt God calling him to start a ministry in Times Square. There he founded and became the pastor of Times Square Church, which opened its doors in October 1987. The church first occupied rented auditoriums in Times Square and later moved to the historic Mark Hellinger Theatre, which the ministry purchased in 1989 and in which it has operated ever since.

On April 27, 2011, while driving east on US Route 175 in Texas, David collided head-on with a tractor trailer and was pronounced dead on the scene. His last blog post stated, “To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, I am with you. I cannot tell you why right now, but one day it will all make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan. It was no accident.”  Click here: A Call to Anguish – David Wilkerson

Ezekiel was one of God’s greatest prophets recorded in the Old Testament. He brought God’s message of impending judgment to the Israelite people held captive in Babylon. God told Ezekiel that the people would not listen to him because of their unrepentant hearts. The message of the Old Testament prophets is the same message as the prophets today. The message of repentance!

That is what Israel failed to recognize about their God. They could not bring themselves to recognize their own sin. In failing to recognize their sin, they failed to recognize the holy God that they were called to serve. And as they continued to sin, they assumed that God’s blessings would always be upon them no matter what they did because they were God’s people and  they were in the covenant of promise. Because God had blessed them in the past, they felt that they were secure, that they couldn’t be moved from the firm foundation of Zion. That false assurance was further cemented in their mind by the false prophets who came along and preached: ‘Peace, peace’, when there was no peace. And when they could no longer ignore God’s prophet they humiliated and ridiculed him. This true prophet of God called them to repent but they refused to listen and ended up paying the price.

It is no different today. For decades God has been sending his prophets to warn us of His impending judgment, but we refuse to listen to them and continue to sin and instead listen to the false prophets who preach, “Peace, peace!” when there is no peace.

In 1973 David Wilkerson received a vision regarding the future of the United States and subsequently published a book called ‘The Vision’.  Below are some excerpts from this book. Keep in mind that he received this vision in 1973!

Economic Crash Coming

“There is worldwide economic confusion just ahead. In my vision this is the clearest thing I have seen… Not only is the American dollar headed for deep trouble, but so are all other world currencies. I see total economic confusion striking Europe first and then affecting Japan, the United States, Canada and all other nations shortly thereafter.” (P13:p1-2)

Everyone Will Be Affected

“…A recession of such magnitude that it will affect the lifestyle of nearly every wage earner in America and around the world. Countries that now control huge amounts of Western currency are going to be in very deep trouble also. Arab countries will be especially hurt.” (P13: p3)

Economists Confused

“The world’s greatest economists will be at a loss to explain the confusion and an international crisis of fear will develop. *(The economics profession has been unprepared and helpless to deal with the calamity has recently come upon the world.)

False Boom

“A false economic boom will precede the recession – but it will be short lived.” (P13-14: p4)

Uncontrolled Credit Debt

“Credit debt will become nearly uncontrollable. I see, very clearly, just a few years of tremendous affluence and continued economic prosperity. Inflation, costs and wages will spiral higher and higher. ” (P14: p1-3)

Bankruptcies of Major Corporations

“I believe we are going to witness the bankruptcies of some of this nation’s major and most popular corporations. I see tremendous difficulty arising for credit corporations. There are going to be many people unable to pay off their heavy obligations to major credit card companies, causing near chaos. Thousands of small businesses will also be forced into bankruptcies.”

Government Panic

“The United States government is going to “overreact” to the confused economic developments…. I see a flurry of near-panic decisions being made by various government agencies – but these hasty efforts to shore up the economy will backfire.

Building Industry Setbacks

“The building industry is going to face many setbacks. Housing starts will level off. There is a terrible squeeze coming to the building industry.”

Social Aid Programs Will Be Cut

“Social aid programs are going to be cut back and curtailed and minority groups are going to be affected the most. These cutbacks, along with the curtailment of many government projects, will cause widespread unemployment among these groups.”

DRASTIC WEATHER & EARTHQUAKES

“The world is about to witness the beginnings of great sorrows brought about by history’s most drastic weather changes, earthquakes, floods terrible calamities – far surpassing anything ever yet witnessed.”

Outbreaks of Epidemics

“In the aftermath of famine, floods and earthquakes, mankind faces the threat of new epidemics. There will a major cholera epidemic sweeping through various underdeveloped countries. “

FLOOD OF FILTH: MORAL DECLINE

“Be warned – in the not too distant future X-rated porno movies will be show on select cable networks after midnight…  Also available will be the same triple x rated video tapes for private home use. These videotapes can be played on any TV set with an electronic attachment.”  *(Remember; this was written in 1973. This was before cable TV and VCRs became popular!)

Teenage alcoholism

“Teenage alcoholism will increase. We are going to face a critical drinking problem with teenagers between thirteen and sixteen years of age.”

For decades God has sent his prophets to warn us to repent! But we refuse. Even when we have proof that a prophet was among us, we still refuse to repent. But desiring to have our ears tickled we follow the false prophets who preach, ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace.  To those of you who do not believe that God brings judgment but only wants to bless, remember what Isaiah 45:7 says: “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity. I am the Lord who does all these things.”

The hour is late! And God’s judgment on an unrepentant church is eminent! “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17 NIV) It is time for the church to repent of its worldliness and wickedness; fall on our face before God in tears and anguish, and allow Him to fill us with His fire so that we can become a light in a darkened world.

Click here: Keith Green – Asleep In The Light (live)