While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the commands that God gave, the people became worried about whether or not he would return and they demanded that Aaron make gods to lead them.
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf.
And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it.
And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. (Exodus 32:1-6)
There are a lot of people who claim to be prophets who speak for God. The Bible warns us that many of them are not true prophets and we are not to listen to them. But how can you tell who really is a prophet and who isn’t? The Bible answers this question.
And if you say in your heart, “How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?”— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
God sent Jonah to prophesy to the people of Nineveh.
Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4)
This is how the Ninevites responded.
And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:5-10)
Jonah said Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days and it didn’t happen. Does this mean that Jonah was a false prophet? Read the rest of this entry
Jeremiah 39-43 describes Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem and the events that followed it. Most of the inhabitants of the land were taken to Babylon but some were left.
Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, left in the land of Judah some of the poor people who owned nothing, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time. (Jeremiah 39:10)
A man named Gedaliah was appointed governor. He was assassinated and, fearing reprisals by Nebuchadnezzar, the Jews planned to flee to Egypt. They first asked Jeremiah to find out what God wanted them to do.
And they went and stayed at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt because of the Chaldeans. For they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.
Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us—that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.”
Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your request, and whatever the Lord answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.”
Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 41:17 – 42:6)
We are commanded not to avenge ourselves but to leave all vengeance to God’s wrath.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
But just how do we leave vengeance to God? If what another person does to hurt us involves a violation of the law, there is a very easy way. Inform the police and press criminal charges against him. Here is what the Bible says about the role of government.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1-4)
Did you notice the last sentence? For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. When we ask the government to take action against someone who has hurt us we are not avenging ourselves but turning the matter over to God’s servant. Read the rest of this entry
Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles from Jerusalem who had been taken to Babylon, telling them how they were to live.
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.
For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. (Jeremiah 29:5-10)
Some people are rich and others are poor. That has always been true and always will be. Jesus himself said, “You always have the poor with you.” I wonder how many realize that even in Heaven there will be rich and poor.
Salvation is a free gift from God, not something we can earn by anything we do. But the goal of salvation isn’t just to get into Heaven.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
We are not saved by works but we are saved to do good works. Our salvation itself is a free gift but our works after salvation will be judged and rewarded. Read the rest of this entry
Psalm 115:5-7 describes some characteristics of idols, contrasting them with God.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
We all know that God sees and hears everything that happens and he has the ability to speak and act, but he has a sense of smell too. The first mention of it is found in Genesis 8:20-22. Read the rest of this entry
My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
2 You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you forever.
3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
in your splendor and majesty!
4 In your majesty ride out victoriously
for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
5 Your arrows are sharp
in the heart of the king’s enemies;
the peoples fall under you.
6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
10 Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
forget your people and your father’s house,
11 and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
12 The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
the richest of the people.
Have you ever experienced a time when your life was so messed up you wanted to ask God what was going on? Job did.
Today also my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, hat I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. (Job 23:2-4)
If you read Job 1-4 it is easy to see why he felt that way. He feared and obeyed God and God had blessed him with great wealth and with ten children. For a long time he had lived a prosperous and happy life, and then suddenly everything began to go wrong. Read the rest of this entry
In addition to the suffering he experienced, Job had to endure the belief by his friends that his suffering was the result of some sin he had committed. Eliphaz the Temanite asked these questions, “Who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off?” (Job 4:7) The implication was that the innocent and upright never suffered, so Job’s suffering was evidence of his guilt. Eliphaz clearly had no idea what the right answers to his questions were, but we do because of what God has revealed to us since then.
“Who that was innocent ever perished?” The only innocent person who ever lived was Jesus Christ. The rest of us are sinners who deserve death. Jesus didn’t deserve to die but chose to do so in our place so our sins could be forgiven.
“Where were the upright cut off?” At Calvary, where Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice to atone for our sins.
Paul had a very busy schedule, going from town to town preaching the gospel and establishing new churches. Yet he always took the time to pray for his converts and the churches he helped to establish.
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:15-21)
Crucifixion is one of the most painful methods of execution ever devised. Here is an article that describes Christ’s crucifixion and also the suffering he experienced before it.
He knew before his arrest what he would endure. Is it any wonder that he prayed that God would enable him to avoid it if that were possible?
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
He wanted to avoid the pain of being crucified but he wanted even more to do God’s will. His death was the only way human sin could be atoned for, so in the end he submitted to being put to death. Read the rest of this entry
When Jesus was being crucified his enemies added insults to the injuries he was suffering by challenging him to prove the claims he had made about himself by coming down from the cross. Even the two criminals who were being crucified with him joined in.
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,save yourself, and come down from the cross!”
So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.”
Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
A short time later one of the criminals experienced a change of heart.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Exodus 7:1-12:40 describes the ten plagues God had to send on the Egyptians before they would let the Israelites leave to go to the land God had promised them. Yet even after all of this suffering Pharaoh changed his mind about freeing the Israelites and tried to bring them back into slavery. Exodus 14:5-31 tells how God opened the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape and then allowed the sea to return to drown Pharaoh and his army. Israel was finally free to go to its own land and Egypt was in ruins with its ruler dead.
But God’s judgments had another result.
“Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.” Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field.
Not all of the Egyptians were as hard hearted as Pharaoh. Some of them feared God and took steps to protect themselves. When the Isrealites left Egypt they left behind a group of people who believed in the true God.
You have probably heard the phrase “Doubting Thomas.” It originated with this incident in the life of Thomas, one of the twelve apostles.
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
All most people know of Thomas is that he wouldn’t believe Jesus had risen from the dead until he saw him with his own eyes. There is an earlier mention of Thomas that sheds more light on what he was like. Read the rest of this entry
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8
These two statements show that both truth and love are part of God’s character. We need to express both of them when telling others about God.
Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.
We must always speak the truth and what we say must be motivated by love. But what will happen if we speak truth without love or try to practice love while ignoring truth? We can find out by looking at two organizations in Topeka, Kansas, that do these things. Read the rest of this entry