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Sin Ruins Everything!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10) get much attention from us because they are noted as doing something without God’s authority. I intend to write about this truth, but the first thing I want us to notice is that sin ruins everything it touches (Ecc. 9:18b)! Leviticus 10 teaches us this loud and clear!

             As we read Leviticus 8-10, we see these chapters recording events happening on the same day – the “inauguration day” of the Tabernacle and the worship of God. On the same day that we see God’s beautiful plan in action, we also see things ruined when Nadab and Abihu sinned and “offered strange (foreign) fire before the Lord” (Lev. 10:1). Their act resulted in God killing them for their disobedience. How ironic that on the day in which God sent down fire to light the altar (Lev. 9:24), He then sent down fire to stop men from violating His command (Lev. 10:2).

            Of course, this fire stopped them dead (Lev. 10:2)! Now, a father of four has had his children reduced by 50%! On the day intended to be dedicated to God and His worship, Aaron has to watch the bodies of his boys carried out of the camp (Lev. 10:4-5)! Yet, he can have no part in this, nor tell his boys goodbye (Lev. 10:6-7)! What a tragedy! What suffering! Yes, sin ruins everything!

            How these things could have been avoided if these men had acted in a way pleasing to God and not when God had been silent. Their sin left a “dark cloud” over the events of the day and certainly hurt a loving father who no doubt had planned on working with his sons at the Tabernacle for many years!

            It is no different today. When men yield to their lusts and sin, it will result in death every time (Jas. 1:14-15)! Sin does not build; it destroys. It destroyed man’s relationship with God in the Garden (Gen. 3:6). It destroyed man’s relationship with his family (Gen. 4:1-11). Sin destroyed people’s minds (Gen. 6:5). It then destroyed the lives of millions in Genesis 6-8! Friends note the destructive power of sin, just in the first few chapters of the Bible! This destruction continues throughout Bible history, and just as it destroyed the lives and unity of a family in Leviticus 10, so also sin destroys in the very same way today (Rom. 6:23)!

            Since this is true, what is your view of sin? Is there any wonder why God’s people from Old and New Testament days preached a message of repentance? Repent of your sins or perish (Lk. 13:3, 5). God has commanded all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Now we know why! Turning back to God and following in the footsteps of Christ is the only thing that will save us from destruction! If the sons of Aaron had listened to God, they would have been spared an instant death! Just think of what you will avoid if you will repent of your sins today and obey the Lord (Heb. 5:9). Don’t continue down the path that leads to destruction. Instead, repent and walk in the path that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14).

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Leaven"

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Throughout Scripture, God overwhelmingly equates leaven with something sinful and spiritually deadly. In my observation, leaven is considered as a “foreign” substance that was added to an otherwise pure offering or pure sacrifice. Thus, God said no less than 18 times in Scripture to stay away from it. There are only two exceptions to this rule in the Bible, to my knowledge. Only two passages speak positively of leaven. One passage is Leviticus 23:17, and the other is Matthew 13:33 (parallel passage: Lk. 13:20-21). When you read those passages in context, you can see why God made the exception in those cases.

            As we noted, leaven is condemned by God more often than not. In studying about leaven, we find God telling His people to make sure literal leaven was not in specific offerings (Ex. 12:15, 19, 13:7, 34:25; Lev. 2:11, 6:17, 10:12). In the New Testament, leaven was symbolic of false doctrine (Matt. 16:6-12; Mk. 8:15; Lk. 12:1) and sinful behavior (I Cor. 5:6-8). We are reminded on two occasions, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (I Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). This means that sin has no natural stopping place! If we allow a little sin to creep into our lives, or into the church, or into a nation for that matter (Prov. 14:34), it will not be long until this brings great ruin to that person, church, or nation. Remember, sin brings death every time (Jas. 1:15)!

            When we read Leviticus 2:11, we see God telling Moses that when the people offer their grain (meal, KJV) offering, they need to make sure there is no leaven in it. Why is God this exacting? Perhaps understanding the spiritual side of this subject helps us to understand why. God did not want anything in the offering that would permeate or influence its environment the way leavening agents do with grain or flour offerings, just as He did not want the “leavening” influences of pagan or idolatrous worship in the people’s practices!

            A little later, we will read about God forbidding the people to marry the Canaanite people (Deut. 7). Why say this? It was because He knew such an arrangement would cause those people “to turn away … from following me” (Deut. 7:4). Yes, “a little leaven” can do much damage! Is there any wonder why there are continued warnings about adding to or taking from God’s word in the Scripture (Deut. 4:2, 12:32; Josh. 1:7; Prov. 30:6; Matt. 15:8-9;  I Pet. 4:11; Rev. 22:18-19)? Even minor changes can do significant damage to God’s revelation! If you are not sure about this, just ask Eve about what happens when someone adds a “not” to God’s word (Gen. 3:4-6)!

            God was very exact in what He wanted in the offerings. This was an object lesson to the people to show He is also precise in His teachings and what He expects us to say to others! Let us then learn the lesson about leaven and make sure that the words we say are true words, and not mingled with anything that would corrupt God’s pure message (I Pet. 4:11)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Is There No Balm In Gilead?"

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

            One of the saddest verses, next to Jeremiah 8:20, is the three questions asked in Jeremiah 8:22. The Lord asks, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” I struggled with what was being asked until I came to understand that these were rhetorical questions. Interestingly, Jeremiah 8:22 is written entirely differently in the NET. There, we read, “There is still medicinal ointment available in Gilead! There is still a physician there! Why then have my dear people not been restored to health?” These translators chose to forego the ambiguity of the rhetorical questions and simply state the facts. Whether or not we agree with such actions is a discussion for another time. The point is that God was emphasizing to the people (yet again) that their transgressions could be healed if they would be willing to change. This was done by pointing out a physical truth to make a spiritual point.

            Using physical examples to make a spiritual point was how Jesus taught the majority of His time on earth (Matt. 13:34-35). His teachings are called “parables,” but in Jeremiah, this was not a parable but instead a rhetorical question to open the eyes of the people. Is there no balm in Gilead? “Balm” was used for medicinal purposes, and Gilead, and this region, was known for having an abundant supply. “Is there no physician there?” Again, in Gilead, there would be doctors in abundance ready to apply the balm to the hurting. Since a lack of balm and a lack of doctors is not the problem, then why are His people not recovered?

          The reason they had not been recovered is the same reason someone might not recover physically even if there is “balm in Gilead.” What is this reason? In order to be healed physically, those people needed to apply the balm to the affected area! If one refuses the medicine, do not be surprised if this person does not recover from the illness! In like manner, if Israel (and us by application) refuses to listen and apply God’s teaching, then they will never recover from the harm of sin and will die in that condition! Remember, they have already told Jeremiah “no” in 6:16, and it does not look like they will change anytime soon. Therefore, when Babylon comes to conquer, when multitudes die, when people are enslaved, and when the land is ravaged, it is not because the people did not have “balm.” It is not that they had no one to heal (physician), it is because they refused to accept God’s “medicine”!

           I hope that the application to Jeremiah 8:22 is apparent to us (Rom. 15:4). Though Babylon is not coming to destroy, we still face something greater than a physical threat, for we are facing a judgment day (Heb. 9:27; Acts 17:30-31; II Cor. 5:10; Ecc. 12:13-14). Sadly, there is a real possibility of people dying in their sins (Jn. 8:24; Jas. 1:14-15; II Thess. 1:6-9). If we die in our sins, who can we blame for this besides ourselves (Ezek. 18:20; Col. 3:25)? Is there no “balm,” the gospel, that tells us what to do to be saved from our sins (Rom. 1:16; II Tim. 3:6-17)? Is there not a physician, a “great Physician” who is ready to heal our spiritual ills (Matt. 9:12, 11:28-30)? Then why is there a world of people not yet saved? I think I know at least part of the reason is that those who are aware of the Physician’s prescription (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38) do not want to accept it! I say again, if we are sick and refuse to accept the medicine the doctor prescribes, then do not be surprised if you do not recover from the illness! While I know people can cite dozens of cases where people “wore out” their physical sickness with time and determination, there is no one who will “wear out” the spiritual sickness called “sin”! There is only one cure for it, and if you refuse the cure, nothing else will cure you!

            In the long ago, God, through Jeremiah, called out to his people to tell them that there is a way to be healed if they would accept, and they said “no”! These people are dead and gone and have died with their decisions. You and I are still alive, though! What will you do? What will be your response to the Lord and His plan for healing (saving) you from your spiritual ills? Choose wisely (Heb. 3:7-8; II Cor. 6:2)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“John the Baptist”

Saturday, December 12, 2020

                   John the Baptist (or John the Immerser) stands as a key figure in Bible history. It was he who was the forerunner for Christ. He “prepared the way” for Jesus by preaching repentance and telling folks the Messiah would soon be on earth (Mk. 1:2-5). In his humility, he was quick to tell people that he wasn’t the Messiah (Jn. 3:28). John thought he wasn’t worthy to untie the Messiah’s shoes (Mk. 1:7)! In our vernacular, he was like the best man at a wedding (Jn. 3:29). He would rejoice for the groom and get out of the way (Jn. 3:30)! Those who have studied about John say that the majority of his work took place over a matter of months. Not only this, but his work overlapped with Christ’s, though John was finishing up as Christ was starting!

                   Mark 6 records a day that would change the course of John’s life. We know John had preached about the need for repentance (Mk. 1:4; Matt. 3:2). Yet, there was a time in which John made things “personal.” He stood up to Herod and let him know it wasn’t lawful that he’d be married to his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias (Mk. 6:17-18). John stood for the truth, and though imprisoned for preaching the truth and ultimately losing his life, he didn’t back down, apologize, or compromise the truth.

                   Such an example ought to cause us to stand up and cheer. John takes his place with so many Old and New Testament worthies who chose death over compromise (Heb. 11:32-39; Acts 7:54-60; Rev. 2:13). His brave actions haunted wicked Herod afterward. We see that when Jesus began His preaching in earnest, Herod was convinced that Jesus was actually John that he had killed. Now, we know why the apostles told Jesus that some thought Him to be John (Matt. 16:14). It is because Herod insisted John had been raised from the dead and was preaching once more (Mk. 6:14-16).

                   Why might Herod have made any connection at all between Jesus and John? May I suggest it’s based upon the subject matter in His preaching? Jesus came preaching, “repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17), as did John (Matt. 3:2). Jesus didn’t compromise with those in error when preaching (Mk. 7:5-16), and neither did John (Mk. 6:18). Even in death, we see that just as the disciples laid John’s corpse in a tomb (Mk. 6:29), so did the disciples of Christ do this for His corpse (Matt. 27:57-60). Of course, the difference is that in three days, Jesus resurrected while John’s body remained in the grave (I Cor. 15:1-8).

                   Later, there were people who took note of the fact that the apostles had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Why did they say this? For many of the same reasons, Herod saw a similarity in the teaching of John and Christ. In light of these facts, I have a simple question to ask.

                   Who do people think of when they see you? Do your actions and words remind people of Christ or someone else? Christ left you an example that you might follow in His steps (I Pet. 2:21). Are you following Him? If not, why not? When people see you, do they see Christ in you (Gal. 2:20; Matt. 5:16)? If not, who do they see and why? Herod saw a connection between John and Jesus. Does the world see a connection between you and Christ?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“Awake Not My Love.”

Friday, October 16, 2020

            Three times in the book, the Shulammite warns to “stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). Other versions translate this phrase as:

  • “do not let love be moved till it is ready” (BBE).
  • “never to awaken love before it is ready.” (CEV).
  • “you will not awaken love or arouse love before its proper time” (GW).

            This thrice-repeated phrase emphasizes the fact that there is a need for patience when those feelings of romantic love are kindled. Our world pushes our children to engage in the physical aspects of love at earlier and earlier ages. Instead of being concerned about the purity of thought and motive in life (Job 31:1; Matt. 5:27-28, 15:18-20; Phil. 4:8-9; I Tim. 5:2), and with no training to understand the difference between lust and love, our world encourages such acts and says the most important thing is to be mentally “ready” and have “protection.” 

As I reflect on this passage, I am impressed with this woman. Though speaking of her love in such beautiful ways in this book (and he responds in kind), her attitude is not to look for the nearest bedroom or hotel room (Song of Sol. 4:12). Instead, she asks folks not to try to arouse something that is not ready to be awakened. In a society obsessed with sex, we need to be a people who respect God’s will on the subject and not arouse feelings until the proper time in life, and then express them in marriage to our spouses (Heb. 13:4).

            When reading these three passages, let those who respect God’s law on marriage beware as well! What I mean is that there are some who would not do anything to commit fornication, yet they will marry someone when they are not really in love. Some marry out of convenience, perhaps to better their finances, or perhaps to leave an abusive home, or boredom, or simply out of the sense of “duty” (“This is what comes next in life.”). Is this you, dear reader?

            Many are miserable because they married, not out of love, but convenience. Not love, but “duty.” Some were just desperate and thought the person who showed them any attention or admiration must be the “one.” If you respect God’s law for marriage (Matt. 5:31-32, 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3), then you recognize that this is the person you must live with for the rest of your days. Marrying for reasons other than love is not a Scriptural reason for divorce. Instead, you must figure out how to live with this person and hopefully learn to love him or her. Yet, this was not the best decision that could have been made! Single people, listen to the words of this smart lady in Solomon’s Song! Don’t arouse feelings when they are not mature yet! Don’t leave one problem for another! These feelings will blossom at the right time, and at that right time, there will be someone blossoming for you.

            Lastly, let us make sure we do not mistake lust for love! This is yet another reason not to arouse certain feelings until they are ready. There is a great difference between lust and love, but sadly, some do not recognize the difference until it is too late. Whether they have sinned against God and their bodies by committing fornication (I Cor. 6:18-20) or have committed to a loveless marriage, nothing good will come from this. God is love (I Jn. 4:8), and the best definition of love is found in I Corinthians 13:4-8. Single people, look for someone who will share this with you as a spouse. Married people, live these verses!

            Is there any doubt that this wonderful song belongs in the “wisdom literature” of the Old Testament? Much wisdom is revealed here. Let us hear and obey and be blessed (Rom. 15:4).

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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