Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Boundary of the Blood

1 Samuel 17:1
"Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim."

The Boundary of the Blood

The primary places mentioned in this scripture are:

The meanings of these names are as follows:

Shochoh: comes from a root word meaning to entwine or fence in.
Azekah: comes from a root word meaning to grub over or fence about.
Ephes-dammin: this compound word comes from the word ‘ephec’ meaning to cease or end, and the word ‘dam’ which means blood or drops of blood.
Ephec’ means more than just the cessation of a thing. It means to 'go no further'. This is where the ‘boundary’ comes in. It is the edge of the property. It is the ‘line in the sand’. This is similar to a property line.

Here in Mt Sterling, Kentucky, we have a festival called ‘Court Days.” It goes back to the early 1800’s. Thousands of visitors invade our small town (pop 5600.) There are vendors scattered and packed into an approximate area consisting of nine blocks. My home is at the edge of the festival area. People do all manner of things in the festival area. They can behave however it pleases them over there, but when they step across this boundary, things are different. This is the line where my authority starts. The rules are different over here. Over here, you will not throw your trash where ever it pleases you. Over here, you will not be drinking and carrying on. I am the authority across this boundary.

As you may or may not be aware, there are many types and shadows in the Old Testament. Many of the stories and events that happened were situated to show significance to future events and teachings. They portrayed truths. They strengthened lessons taught and learned.

The Philistines came to make war with the Children of Israel. This was one of many times these two forces met in battle.

This time the Philistines came between two fences and arrived at the boundary of the blood. This is where I want to look.

The Philistines had a champion that went into the valley. Goliath issued a challenge to the men of Israel. He asked them to send out a man to face him. He stated that he would fight this man and the army of the loser would serve the army of the winner.

In a previous Bible Study, I talked about how this was a tactic of the devil. He wants to fool you into thinking that he sets the conditions for the battle. He does not. God has set the conditions for the battle. On the day when the Sons of Men presented themselves before God, Satan appeared there as well. God asked him from when he came. “Going to and fro in the land seeking whom I may devour,” was his response.

As a teacher in the public school system (I taught electricity at a high school technical school) I often encountered one of my pet peeves. It bothers me when people misuse the words ‘can’ and ‘may’ in a question. The most asked question in the school system is. “Can I go to the restroom?” What is wrong with this, you ask. ‘Can’ implies having the ability. ‘May’ on the other hand implies having permission. I think my students came to know the ‘look’ when this was a problem. They would correct themselves.

Satan said he was going about seeking whom he had permission to devour.

God said to him, “Have you considered my servant Job?” Then, in the ensuing exchange, God gave Satan permission to touch Job’s possession, but not to touch Job himself. Do you see who is setting the conditions here? Later, in another exchange, God give Satan permission to touch Job, but not to take his life. Still, god is setting the conditions.

Now, back to the Boundary of the blood:

In Exodus, God has been dealing with Pharaoh through Moses, to bring about the release of the Children of Israel. He has sent plague after plague upon the land of Egypt. Still Pharaoh’s heart is hardened. Through the plagues of (1) blood, (2) the frogs, (3) the lice, (4) the flies, (5) the murrain, (6) the boils, (7) the hail, (8) the locust, and (9) the darkness, Pharaoh did not relent and release the Children of Israel.

God told Moses of the tenth and final plague, the death of the first born throughout the land.

Exodus 11:5 “And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.”

There was a remedy for the nation of Israel. They families were to take a lamb on the tenth day of the month from the flock. It was to be a pure and spotless lamb in its first year. On the fourteenth day of the same month, they were to kill it. Then, they were to take a hyssop branch and strike the blood on the two side posts and the upper post of the doorway in the house where it was to be eaten.

Exodus 12:7-11
7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD's passover.

That night, the angel of death was going to pass through the land. As this angel moved through the land, he was going to enter every house and take the life of the first born. As he does his job, he would be stopped by only one thing: the boundary of the blood. There was no pedigree check. There was no family name check. There was no political status check. There was no wealth check. There was only one boundary that was going to stop the angel of death. That was the boundary of the blood.

Exodus 12:23 “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.”

I am convinced in my heart, knowing human nature; there were Israelites that suffered that night because they did not follow the commandments. They wrongly assumed that their pedigree or family name was going to be enough. For whatever reason, they felt strict adherence to the commandments was not necessary.

The angel of death was only looking for one thing that night; the properly applied boundary of blood.

On one side of the boundary was death and sorrow. There was weeping and mourning. There was a cry of anguish. On the other side of the boundary was victory. On that side was rejoicing.

One the one side was the sleeping. On the other side were a people with their lions girt and their shoes on their feet, and their staff in their hands, ready to take a journey. Oh, what a difference the boundary makes.

Exodus 12:13 “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt”

The word used in this scripture for token is ‘owth’. It means: a signal, such as a flag, a beacon, or a monument. God told his people, “I am going to give you a monument. This monument will signify the boundary.”

There will be times in your lives when the enemy presses hard against you. You need to know that there is a boundary of blood if the blood has been applied to your life. Isaiah 59.19 says there will be times when the enemy comes in like a flood, but God will raise up a standard against him. That standard is the boundary of blood.

Satan cannot cross the boundary of the blood.

Now, let’s recall the statement we made earlier. It is about the difference between ‘can’ and ‘may.’

Have you ever said, or heard someone say, after a blessing filled service, “The devil will be on my trail tomorrow.” It is as if they are inviting Satan to come against them. Now, I will admit that he will come with or without your permission. This does not mean we need to ‘give him permission.” We have a weapon system. The launching mechanism is our lips. When we say, “The devil is going to get me,” we are launching that weapon.

We need to speak faith.
We need to speak deliverance.
We need to speak belief.
We need to speak healing.
We need to speak protection.
We need to speak joy.

We are fighting from a protected place. We are on the right side of the boundary of blood. On the hill of the skull, Golgatha, Jesus shed his sinless blood, to create for us, an impenetrable boundary of blood. Our past is covered by the blood. Our sins are covered by the blood. Our mistakes are covered by the blood. If someone is going to try to bring up our past, they have to reach through the boundary of blood.

You need the blood.

Hebrews tells us that almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Forgiveness .. it is in the blood.
Remission .. it is in the blood.
Salvation .. it is in the blood.
Redemption .. it is in the blood.
Protection .. it is in the blood.

Satan cannot cross the boundary of the blood.

Satan has no joy of his own. He has no real victory (in the end he will suffer ultimate defeat.) There is no redemptive remitting power within him. He does not save, but rather destroys. Therefore he seeks to take your joy and victory. He desires to rob you of the reconciliation. However, there is a boundary that he cannot breach. He cannot cross the blood of Christ to take your victory.

Colossians 1:14 “In whom we have redemption through his blood , even the forgiveness of sins:”

Redemption is through the blood. Satan cannot reach through the blood to take it away from us. We have been redeemed by the blood of a near kinsman. What we lost in Adam, we regained in Christ. The selfish act of Adam is covered by the selfless act of Christ. That which was lost has been redeemed.

Forgiveness is in the blood. You cannot be forgiven without the blood. You cannot forgive without the blood. That is the power of the blood and Satan cannot cross the blood.

There are those that would be pleased to hold your past against you. They would use this to keep you down. They would laud the events and sins of your past as a press to oppress you and to stop your efforts to serve the Lord. There are several things to say to that:
· When we repent and are baptized, we are covered by the blood of forgiveness. To bring my past back, one must cross the blood to retrieve them. To hold my former sins against me, you must deny the redemptive power of the blood.
· The Word tells us the old things are passed away and all things are new. We are new creatures in Christ. We are something that never existed before. The sins attached to our life but the original sin of Adam has been washed away. They and us are now in different places.
· With God, forgiveness is forgetting. There is a song that says, “when he sees me, he sees the blood of the lamb.” On the side posts and the door posts, on the night of the first Passover, was the blood of a lamb. There was no litany of past wrongdoings. There was no list of mistakes. There was no catalog of errors. The death angel passing over the land that night was looking for only one thing: the blood. The household was spared the death of the first born by the covering of blood.
· We are forgiven and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the Earth. Anyone bringing up my past must reach through the blood of Jesus to find them.

Colossians 1:20 “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

We have peace through the blood. We have a peace not born of financial security. We have a peace not born of our own strength or military might. We have a peace that cannot be removed without going through the blood which provides it.

Hebrews 10:19 “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,”

By his blood, we can enter into the holiest of places. We can go to the place where we talk to God face to face. That is not by birthright. That is not through worthiness. That is not by earning it. It is solely by the blood of Christ. Adam’s sin brought shame into his life for the first time. He was afraid and ashamed to stand before the presence of God. By his own admission, ‘he hid himself.’ In our sinful state, fear and shame will try to keep us from entering into the holiest places. But, the blood, the precious blood of Jesus ushers us into that place.

Satan cannot cross the boundary of the blood.

You need the blood.

On the other side of the blood, Satan roars like a lion, seeking whom he may devour. Outside the boundary, you are easy prey. You are tossed about by every wind of doctrine. You are constantly barraged by the wiles of the devil. Your path is broad and wide and leads to destruction. Your only strength is in the flesh. Your trust is in man.

Oh, but on the other side of that blood boundary, it is a different story. On this side, the Lion is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. On this side, the Word of God keeps you and establishes you. On this side, you have protection. Your path is strait and narrow and leads to life everlasting. Your strength is in the tower of the name of the Lord. Your trust is in God.

You need the blood.

A man was walking one day when he came upon a young boy with a rusty old cage. Inside the cage were two small birds. The man asked the boy what he had. “Just two barn swallows,” was his reply. “What are you going to do with them?” the man asked. “I am going to play with them, and pull their feathers off, and then when my fun is over, I am going to kill them.” The man thought for a moment, and said to the lad, “you don’t want to do that. Let me buy them from you.” “You don’t want these birds, mister. They are just common barn swallows. They aren’t worth anything.” “No,” the man insisted, “I really want to buy them. How much will you take for both of them?” “Two dollars?” came the boys reply, more of a question than an answer. The man took out two dollars and paid the boy. He then opened the door to the cage and set the birds free.

One day Jesus was out walking. He came upon Satan with an old rusty cage. Jesus asked Satan what he had in the cage. “Just humanity,” was his reply. “What are you going to do with them?” Jesus asks. “I am going to play with them, tease them, torture them, make them make war with one another, lie to them, promise them everything, take everything away, and when I am done with them, I will destroy them.” “You don’t want to do that,” Jesus replied, “Let me buy them from you.” “You don’t want to buy these, Jesus. They will just mock you, lie to you, ignore your commandments, spit on you, and in the end, they will crucify you.” Satan replied. “No,” Jesus said, “I really want to buy them. How much will you take for them?” “Well, Jesus,” Satan responded, “They will cost you all of your sweat, all of your tears, and all of your blood.” And Jesus paid the price. He then opened the door to the cage, and set us free.

You need the blood.

Those things in your life that are most important, put them under the blood. Give them to God. Put your life under the blood. Stand at the foot of Calvary.

There is a song I sing at times. It says, “It started at Calvary, on an old rugged tree, but it was a river by the time it found me. Ever since that day, I ain’t been the same. Red river roll on, washing sins away.”

You need the blood.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The improbability of the floating iron and the inevitableness of freedom.

2 Kings 6.5-7
“ But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.
And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.
Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.”

The sons of the prophets spoke to Elisha and stated that the place they were was too crowded. (Greek: tsar tsar.. tsar tsawr) It is written in this scripture as ‘strait.’ The Greek word is interpreted in other passages to mean: narrow, close, distresses, small, and other meanings. We are closed in, they were saying. We are too close. We are troubled by this narrowness. The word has connotations to an adversarial relationship. It is much akin to what we call ‘cabin fever.’ We bite the head off of those around us for the slightest irritation. The sons said, “It is too close here and we need to stretch out.”

It was decided that they would go to Jordan. Every man would fell a tree and take a beam. They would build a place with the wood collected by the sons. As they went and began felling trees, one began to cry out. Let’s look at some pertinent facts presented by this passage of scripture:
· The axe head was no longer on the handle
· The axe head was in the water
· It could be seen
· It could not be reached
· It was borrowed
· The stick was cut down from a live tree
· It was cast into the water
· By an act of the prophet it was brought into reach

The head of the axe was useful as long as it was attached to the handle. It could have uses being not connected. It could be a paperweight. It could do very limited work. However, for the axe head to do the work for which it was intended, it was necessary for it to be connected to the handle. The handle gave it support, direction, power, force, and helped it fulfill its designed purpose.

How like the Child of God that is. We can live an entire life working and doing work, but until we are connected to God, we will never reach our divine purpose, nor will we fulfill our designed intent. Ecclesiastes 12.13 tells us, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Man was created to fear (yare) God and keep (shamar) his commandment.
Yare: to fear, revere, respect
Shamar: to keep, to hedge, to guard, to protect, to attend to
We were created to make the choice to revere God and to protect his commandments. That is the duty of man. Now, I am not talking about just keeping the Ten Commandments. I am not talking about keeping the 613 laws in the Law of Moses. Of the 613 laws, 365 of “do not’ laws and 248 were “do” laws. Jesus, when asked which of the commandments was most important, responded thusly:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

When we are connected to the power, we can do all these things, and more. It is when we ‘fly off the handle’ that we get into trouble. It is when we become disconnected from the source that we falter and fail.

When we get loose, we get lost.

While that is good stuff, it is not the analogy upon which I want to focus.

I want to look at that axe head. I want to talk about salvation.

I was 17 and a freshman at the University of Kentucky. I was getting ready to leave the house one morning for class, when a car pulled into the drive. I was sitting on the steps putting on my shoes. Two ladies got out of the car and began to walk toward the house. Mom came out on the porch. Before they even got to the porch they were talking. “What religion are you?” one of them asked mom. Without batting an eye, mom responded, “I don’t claim religion, I claim salvation.” Before that day, I never considered the difference between religion and salvation. It seemed to me they were synonymous. One was just the same as the other. Boy, was I wrong.

Religion (and I am not teaching against having it) is a set of guidelines that define an individual based on a predetermined set of rules and boundaries. Religion is the lumping together of individuals into groups to make them easier to identify. One will say, “I am Methodist.” Another will say, “I am Lutheran.” While others believers will claim to be Baptists, Mormons, Pentecostals, Apostolics, or Catholics. Religion is the constraints. Salvation is the freedom. Christ did not come to bring us religion. When He came, the world was full of religion. He came to bring us salvation.

He fulfilled the law. He set at liberty the captives. He broke the yoke of religion. He came to give us freedom. Some will use freedom as an excuse to sin. Some will use that freedom as an occasion to do the wrong thing. These acts do not diminish that freedom. Those that commit atrocities in the name of religion and call it salvation will never drown the cry of freedom in the blood of those that seek it.

Let’s look at salvation and this axe head.

· Borrowed
The son of the prophet borrowed an axe. He did not have one of his own. He did not buy one. One could surmise from this that it was beyond his ability to purchase. If he could buy one, he would have. If he had not, when the borrowed one was lost, he could replace it. Instead, he cried out. The axe was beyond his ability to acquire.

If one could purchase salvation, what would be the price? How many of us could pay it when Jesus told a rich young ruler that he had to sell all he had to obtain it. If there was a price tag on salvation, most of us would never come close to buying it.

· Out of reach
It was beyond his reach. If he could reach it, there would be no need to alert the prophet or to cry out.

Salvation (the hope of mankind) was beyond our reach. God said that our ‘righteousness’ was as filthy rags. No matter how high we would jump, it was still out of our reach. Innocence was not enough. It failed. Conscience was not enough. It failed. Human Government was not enough. It failed. Judges were not enough. They failed. The Law was not enough. It failed. While each dispensation had its moment of triumph, each eventually fell into apostasy and judgment. The wherewithal to bring man into the right fellowship with God was out of the reach of man.

· The Branch
The Prophet cut a stick (branch) from a tree. Isaiah called Jesus a branch. Jesus was a branch from the tree of humanity.

Isaiah tells us: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:” Several of the most underused parts of scriptures are what many call the ‘begats’. In 1 Chronicles, and then again in the first chapter of Matthew, are genealogies. They trace the lineage of families. Matthew 1.17 says, “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.” Matthew goes on to say, “Now, the birth of Jesus was on this wise..”

While we may get lost in the ‘begats’, it is imperative that the lineage be substantiated. Every person following after the birth of Abraham are called the sons of Abraham. Those in that lineage following after the branch of the birth of David are called the sons of David. Jesus’ lineage can be traced back through to David, and farther back to Abraham. His pedigree is right. He is the branch from the root of Jesse.

Isaiah 53.1-3
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

· Cast into the stream
Jesus was cut down and cast into the stream. He came to his own and his own received his not. He came to give His life on Calvary. Every action in his life was a stepping stone to bring him to that place. Never before nor since has any one life had such singularity of purpose. He was the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the earth. From time with neither beginning nor end, He had this purpose.

Of the Passover, a lamb of the flock was taken on the tenth day and killed on the fourteenth day. The lamb had to be out of the flock. It was not a stranger to the flock. It was not a stray. It was a purposeful lamb. It was to be a male without blemish. It was to be killed and its blood swabbed on the upper doorpost and the side posts. The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel was to kill the lamb in the same evening.

In Matthew, chapter 27, verse 25, “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” The chief priests persuaded the mob, the congregation of Israel, to ask for the death of that precious spotless lamb. We esteemed him not. Jesus came, lived, and died as foretold. He was the branch cut from the tree thrown into the waters of the stream.

· The Miracle
The axe head floated to the surface. It came into reach. The son of the prophet reached forth his hand and took the axe head from the waters.

With His sacrifice, the veil in the temple was rent in two. No longer did the priest have to intervene in the sins of the individual. Freedom had come to the world. Every man can now reach Salvation. Eleven times in the New Testament, the phrase, “Whosoever will” begins a statement about serving or following Christ. These two words have great meaning. One is the great uniter and the other is the great divider.

WHOSOEVER: That is you. That is me. That is every person living in this world since the day of Pentecost. It unites us all into one great congregation. It includes the believer, the agnostic, and the atheist. It includes every sectionalized group of every religion. We, humanity, are whosoever. It is everyone to whom salvation is available.

WILL: This is the great divider. While salvation is available and free to everyone, everyone will not avail themselves of this gift. The reasons are as vast as the number that will turn away. “I have bought a piece of land and must go see it.” “I have bought a team of oxen and must go prove it.” I have married a wife and therefore cannot come.

Still …
That which was previously unobtainable became obtainable. That which was previously unreachable came within reach.

It was improbable. There was no cause to believe that the iron would float. Yet, a cry and a sacrifice, and that thing which was lost forever, was found.

It is inevitable. As you struggle in this life, it will pass by you. Whether you are at the top of your game or living at the bottom of the barrel, it will come to you. Freedom will pass by you. It will be improbable. It will be like that floating iron. However, it will be inevitable. It is something that will come to every man. Everyone will, at some time in their life, come to the place, where freedom will be within their grasp. They will make a decision that will change the course of their lives. Choose freedom. Choose salvation.

You may say, “I am a free man or woman.” While, I live in a free country, I can be in bondage. The Word tells us that ‘all have sinned.’

John 8:30-34
As he spake these words, many believed on him.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

The reminder about ‘eth’ applies here. The suffix ‘eth’ in the Bible represents a continual action. Where the Word tells us, ‘he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved’; it is telling us those that believe continually, will be saved. Conversely, John here tells us that the person that continues to sin remains the servant (in bondage) to sin.

The call to freedom may not come in the form of a man preaching a sermon. It may come in a still small voice. It may come in the counsel of a friend. It may come in the words of a stranger. There is no predetermined fashion in which you will arrive at your moment of decision. Do not be so deluded that you miss the calling by looking for the call in only one fashion. For all it may or not be, one thing is definite; it will be from God and you will know it when it comes.

I cannot tell you the day or the hour that God may call on you. It could be in your youth. It could be in your teens. It could be in you early adulthood. It might be in your midlife. It may even come when you are old. What is inevitable is that at some point in your life, you will come to that point. Jesus said, I stand at the door and knock. You will come to that door one day. Many of us are given multiple opportunities to answer that call.

Freedom, however improbable, will inevitably come to your door.

How will you answer?

How will you respond?

Will you reach out and take it or will you turn away?

If it hasn’t already, freedom is coming.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Samson Generation

Judges 13.20-25
20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.
21 But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.
22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
23 But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.
24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.
25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

There was an experiment recorded with rats in a cage, where there were two buttons. When the rats touched one button, it produced food for them to eat. When the rats touched the other button, it produced a pleasurable sensation through a neuro-probe attached to each rat. The rats continually touched the pleasure button even as they starved to death. Human nature is much the same. When given a choice between that which is good for us and that which makes us feel good, we will choose that which is pleasurable.

This study is not for you if you are not serious about going to Heaven, if you are happy playing church, or if you are content with a Spiritless life. However, if you are not content with a Spiritless life; if you will not be happy playing church; or if you are serious about going to Heaven, I have somewhat to say to you.

The life of Samson:
· Separated as a Nazerite, yet tampered with evil associations
· Spiritual at times, yet under the power of carnal influences
· Mighty in physical strength, yet weak in resisting temptations
Samson was a mingler. He sought to mesh the things of God with the things of the world.

In Matthew 12.30, Jesus tells us, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

Saul, when he was commanded to destroy the Amelekites and all of their flocks and herds, brought back the king and flocks and herds. When the prophet, Samuel, confronted him about this, he blamed the people. His response was, “But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.” We only keep the best to offer to God. The best the world has to offer is still death.

Gold is a precious metal. Its value is in its purity. The purer the gold, the more it is worth. When you add anything to pure gold, regardless of how pure the additive, it makes the gold worth less. The same is true of the things of God. When we seek to inter-mingle the things of the world with the things of God, we render the things of God worthless. In Romans 1:16, we read, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” The word ‘gospel’ is ‘euaggelion’ (yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on); meaning a good message. The good news of Jesus Christ is the power of God to save to the uttermost. (Hebrews 7:25 “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”) It is the power of the pure and unadulterated words of God that saves the world. It is not a co-mingled document. It is not the words of God and the opinions of man that save. When we seek to add to His word, we make it worthless in its power to save. If it cannot save us, it has no value to us. The best the world has to offer is still death.

We want to discuss two men whose lives are closely related: Samson and Lot

· Judge over Israel
· Nazarite vow
· Devotion and consecration
· Nephew of Abraham
· Believer
· Child of God
For all of their differences, Lot and Samson’s lives come into a remarkable parallel, which should serve as a warning to us from God.

Genesis 13:10-11
10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

As there is no sin in having rightly gained wealth, or elegant homes, or fair gardens, or fine art to look upon, neither is there any evil in desiring fertile fields instead of barren rocks to cultivate. Christianity invites men and women to enjoy the good things which have been freely given by God. It is the will of the Creator that we, his children, enjoy the creative work. He intends us to breathe freely the air He has provided. He intends us to enjoy the benefits of our labor.

There was no sin in Lot’s choice of the well watered plains of the Jordan Circle, but there is a lesson to be learned in the results of that decision. I would assume that it was not Lot’s intention to move into the city of Sodom, but he pitched his tent in that direction. The word ‘toward’ means ‘as far as,’ in the original text. Lot chose the plains that bordered on the boundary of the city of Sodom.

There are things in the world which, in and of themselves, are not sin, but will lean you in the direction of, or take you to the border of sin. I do not want to imply, in any way, that there are to be no pleasures in serving God. It is an austere life, but it is filled with pleasure. God will never ask anything of you without offering a greater return. You will never lose a friend without gaining a brother. While this is a walk of sacrifice, it is also a walk of abundance. Christians are the happiest people.

If we are not careful, we may find ourselves stumbling into Sodom.

There are those that are walking so close to the line that they only need to stumble in the wrong direction to end up in the world. They do not fall away from God. They merely stumble into Sodom. I will not attempt to define the border for you. That border varies with each Child of God. What may be tempting to one may not be tempting to another. As a non drinker it does not tempt me to walk past a tavern or night club. However, a recovering alcoholic may experience a different set of feeling in walking past the same places. You know from what He has delivered you.

Samson looked into the land of the Philistines before he married a Philistine woman, went in unto a harlot, or fell in love with Delilah.

If we would spend less time peering into the world, we would be less likely to fall in love with the things of the world.

2 Timothy 3:1-7
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We must maintain a spirit of repentance. We must embrace this spirit of turning away.

David was a warrior king. He was generally in the midst of the fray. You would find him in the heat of the battle. There are numerous accounts of David and his victories. It speaks all the more that one of his greatest defeats happened when he was not in the battle. Oh yes, Israel was in a battle.

2 Samuel 11:1 “And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.”

However, this time, David was not on the battlefield. He was in the palace looking from the roof at Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, as she bathed. Here was David, in the place he didn’t need to be, seeing the thing he didn’t need to see, and doing the thing he didn’t need to do.

He took Bathsheba and lay with her. She became pregnant. Then, David conceived a plan to cover his actions. He brought Uriah home under the pretext of inquiring about the battle, thinking he would lay with his wife and thereby assume the child she was carrying was his. But, Uriah would not go home and sleep in his bed, while his brothers, and the ark, were abiding in tents.

Then David conceived the most heinous act. He told his general to place Uriah at the forefront of the battle, and then to withdraw, so Uriah would be killed.

This, because he did not embrace the spirit of turning away from temptation.

Back to Samson:

Judges 14.3
Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

It is pleasing or right in my eyes.

In order for Samson to marry a Philistine woman or Lot to move into Sodom, there first had to come a relaxing of their moral senses. There must be a distinct downward step from the platform of self consecration to the service of God. He, whose choice is guided only by his eyes and governed by his fancy, will find himself living in a strange land or with a Philistine in his arms.

We must learn the difference between selfish choices and God centered or Spirit led choices. Selfish choices are many times preceded with the words; “I am” or “We are”. The selfish suffer from a narrow vision of the world. The things which matter are those things which are centered on their wants and needs. One of the philosophies of Neitzsche was ‘that which helps me is good and that which hurts me is bad.” This was his take on morality.

Mingling with and marrying into the families of the ungodly ruined the pre-flood world.

The chief injury done to the church arises from throwing down the wall of separation between it and the world. Separation from and nonconformity to the world and much more, the wicked portion of it, is the duty of every believer. (Romans 12:2 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.)

Lot was a good man, but his piety would not prevent the gradual deterioration of his nature through the evil influence of his neighbors.

There are those that will claim that we need to be part of the world in order to be a witness to them. This is not true. Lot lived in the city of Sodom. He lived among the citizenry. He interacted with them in that he was known of them. Lot’s witness, if it were prevalent, yielded no results. There were less than ten righteous in the city. When God told Abraham that He was going to destroy the city, Abraham asked Him if he would spare the city for the sake of fifty righteous souls. God agreed. Abraham intervened and worked that number down to ten souls. If in the whole city, there could be found ten souls that were righteous, God would spare the city. In spite of the influence of Lot, there were not ten righteous souls inside the city of Sodom.

I know we cannot be isolated from the world, but we must be insulated from the world. It is okay for the house to be in the cold, but the cold must not be in the house. It is alright for the ship to be in the water, but it is a different story altogether when the water is in the ship. We must live in this sinful world, but we must not allow the sinfulness of the world to live within us.

Paul said, “I keep under my body and bring it into submission, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself become a castaway.” The phrase interpreted ‘bring it into subjection’ is from a compound word, ‘doulagogeo’, of which, ‘ago’ means to ‘drive by force’, and ‘doulos’ means ‘a slave’. There are times that serving will come easy, and then, there will be times that we must drive our bodies to do the right.

Samson had brushes with greatness in God, but he lacked the drive to maintain any measure of spirituality.

There are people today that have confused the grace of God for the approval of God. “I touched it and I did not die, it must be alright.” This is not the case. While, in the Old Testament, God moved quickly with His divine retribution, He now allows us a period of grace, to come to the knowledge of our sinfulness and His love.

Samson’s strength was tied to the outward sign of his Navarite vow. He tampered with his vow, and placed it at the mercy of a heathen harlot, and never woke from his delusion and presumption, until he found himself delivered into the hands of his enemies.

Samson felt the power was his and could not be taken away. “I will go out and shake myself as other times before.” The Scripture says, “He wist not that the Lord was departed from him.”

His strength was gone. He shared the fate of other men.

There was a time when the king of Sodom was involved in t war with several other kings and the city was taken. All the inhabitants were taken and their goods. Lot was taken as well, living in Sodom.

He was like all others in the city. He shared the fate of other men.

We will share the fate of the world if we mingle with the world.

God is very patient and longsuffering. He “is not slack concerning His promises, as men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” He handles our offences with gentle rebukes and gives significant warnings of the dangers. However, if the warnings go unheeded, the state of presumptiveness will grow until there is no remedy.

The altar was designed as a place of sacrifice and repentance. The Jews had so drifted from this place that they didn’t recognize its significance when Jesus came to Earth. It had become the place of their rituals. The rituals were meaningless except to those performing them. Their apostasy was a stench in the nostrils of God. They had so mingled their beliefs that the altar was merely a place of ritual.

The Church that mingles is in this place. The child of God that mingles is in this place. Their service is merely a ritual. Their prayers are merely rituals. They are laden with arrogance and expectation. There is no repentance in their prayers. There is no service in their prayers. They are going out as before and shaking themselves not knowing that God has departed.

In this state, men rush into temptation, as if without harm. They neglect service as if it is not necessary. They neglect the Word as if they no longer need it. They wander away from true prayer. They lose the marks of a gracious soul and are not frightened at its absence. Their souls languish and grow weak. Their gifts wither. Their fruit begins to die. Everything goes cross, but they do not see the cause. They are not aware that God has departed from them, nor do they care to reconcile themselves to him.

Then comes the fall, which to others seems sudden, but which has been advancing in successive stages of presumption and self confidence. They need God less and less, or so it appears to them.

Samson did not realize he was alone.

Leprosy is often used to illustrate sin and its nature and affect. Leprosy causes the loss of circulation to the extremities.

Leprosy is a slowly progressing bacterial infection that affects the skin, peripheral nerves in the hands and feet, and mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and eyes. Destruction of the nerve endings causes the affected areas to lose sensation. Occasionally, because of the loss of feeling, the fingers and toes become mutilated and fall off, causing the deformities that are typically associated with the disease.

Sin has the similar effect. When we begin to mingle with sin, it will slowly progress in our lives. It will cause the loss of sensation in the extremities. It begins as a dulling of the feeling. We begin to see the deadness spreading through the farthermost regions of our Christianity. Because of the affect on the nerve endings, we don’t even feel the pain. Lepers lose the feeling before they lose the member.

Samson had moved into a state of spiritual indifference. Samson forsook God long before God forsook Samson.

This is the nature of sin.

The Eskimos use an odd technique to hunt the Arctic Wolf. They use a double edge bladed knife. They put blood on the blade and stick it in the ice, handle down and blade up. The wolf will come, attracted to the blood and begin to lick the blade. This licking will cut the tongue of the wolf. He will not be able to distinguish between the blood and his own blood. He will continue to lick and lap the blood until he bleeds to death.

This is the nature of sin.

The Samson Generation

Our new found strength is based on His mercy and our dedication.

Have you ever considered a hot air balloon?

The balloon lies on the ground. Heaters and fans blow heated air into the balloon. The balloon fills and slowly rises into the air, tethered by cords to hold the basket to the ground. When the balloon is sufficiently filled and the air adequately heated, the passengers enter the basket and the tether is removed. The hot air balloon slowly, graciously, magnificently rises into the air.

Once it has been aloft for a while, the air inside the balloon is cooled by the temperature surrounding the canopy. The heater is re-employed. The air is reheated. The balloon remains in the air. The same thing that it took to get the balloon off the ground is what it takes to keep it in the air.

Walking with God is like that. It took prayer, tears, and sacrifice to get you out of the world. It will take prayer, tears, and sacrifice to keep you aloft. When the things of the world begin to mingle with the things of God in your life, your balloon is going down.

Joel 2.13 tells us, “rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God...”

In Bible days, certain groups made a great show of their grief by tearing their garment as an outward sign of their emotional distress. Joel uses the word, lebab, in this reference. It signifies the center of being. It refers to the heart, the soul, the intellect, and the will. It represents a true repenting and not just a surface scratching. Some have become satisfied with an easy touch of the Spirit of God and have abandoned the much deeper spirit of repentance.

Repentance and salvation do not come through the works of flesh but will produce works in the flesh. You are not initially saved by the keeping of the rules and regulations of the Word of God. The operating Spirit of God will, however, cause you to keep the commandments of God. While I feel the outward appearance is of equal importance to inward purity, it cannot be the sole basis of our perception of one’s position with God. We are much too quick to judge a person as saved if they dress and behave according to our person dictates and to judge them as lost if they do not.

We must reach beyond the surface and touch the innermost being. Salvation must touch us deeper, affect us more profoundly, and change us more radically than anything else we encounter in this life.

Samson’s strength returned to him gradually as his hair began to grow again.

We are received immediately back into God’s favor when we return in faith with a penitent heart, but we conquer evil consequences and regain spiritual powers and positions by degrees.

The return of Samson's strength was realized by prayer. In his own soul he was weak. Our strength must come from God.

We must move away from the line.

We must leave the bad influences.

We must rend our heart.

If we are serious about going to Heaven;

If we are not satisfied playing church;

If we are not content with a Spiritless life;

We must rend our hearts.

Which button will you push?