God had shown His blessings to Israel unlike any other nation at that time. He had called them out of bondage from Egypt. God had parted the Red Sea, led them across dry land, and destroyed the Egyptian army behind them. God then led them through the wilderness for forty years providing their every need as they went. At the end of the forty years God once again parted the waters, this time of the Jordan River, and led them into Canaan land. God gave them the land and drove their enemies from them as they went through the land to possess it.
While God had blessed them time and time again they had not remained faithful to God. While traveling through the wilderness they had murmured against God numerous times. They had turned from God and refused to put their trust in Him at times. Because of that, an entire generation of Israelites was forced to die in the wilderness due to the judgment of God. After God gave them the land of Canaan the children of Israel time and time again would turn from serving and worshiping God to serve and worship idols and false gods. In doing so they had despised the Word of the Lord and made themselves an abomination in the sight of God. They had traded the living waters of God for the broken cisterns of the world.
This is something which is still going on with Christians today. God has blessed us beyond measure. While we, in our sins, deserve to spend an eternity in Hell; God chose, in His great love, to provide a way of salvation for us. God did not leave us to find our own way to Him but He has given us His written Word. God has blessed us in so many ways that we could not pen all the things He has done for us.
While God has blessed His people today more ways than we can count there are still those who stray from God. There are Christians out of church and some in church who refuse to trust God, who refuse to remain faithful to Him, who refuse to follow the Word of God and the will of God. Many of these started out right, they started out on fire for God; yet, something happened along the way to cause them to stumble and stray from God. They have traded the living water of God for the broken cisterns of the world and as a result they are inviting the judgment of God upon their lives.
1. Traded the living waters of the King James Bible for the broken cisterns of modern versions.
How sad it is that people within our Independent Baptist churches are turning from the King James Bible. Many of them have sat under good preaching at some time which exposed the dangers of the modern version of the Bible. At one time they themselves stood unashamedly on the King James Bible but somewhere along the way they have let their guard down and now they embrace the modern versions and the liberal theology which accompanies it. No longer do they embrace the infallible, inerrant, preserved Word of God; but, rather, they have fallen for the same lie which the devil gave Eve in Genesis 3:1, “…Yea, hath God said.” The devil has been casting doubt on the true Word of God since the Garden of Eden. All of the modern versions (RSV, ESV, NIV, The Message, and everything else in-between) are just a continuation of the attack of the devil on God’s inspired Word. All of the modern versions are translated from corrupt manuscripts and no Christian, especially those in Independent Fundamental Baptist churches, have any business reading these false bibles.
Many times those who turn from the King James Bible to follow other version of the Bible do so because they have been listening to those who teach out of these false bibles. They have let down their guard and allowed these hirelings and false teachers to corrupt their way of thinking. They have given the devil an in-road into their life and allowed him to influence their theology. No Christian is strong enough to listen to false teaching from a false bible continually and it not affect them. These so-called preachers may preach some truth and they may have some catchy quotes but we should not be going to the dumpster just to get a couple of bites to chew on. Not when there are plenty of good preachers out there who preach from the King James Bible and are straight down the line in all their theology.
Let us get back to the living waters of the King James Bible and away from the broken cisterns of the modern versions.
2. Traded living waters of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for the broken cisterns of contemporary Christian music.
Some people seem to think that music is neutral or a matter of preference. However, those who study music will tell you that it is not neutral. Even in the Bible we can see that music was not considered neutral. Certain types of music and certain sounds meant and represented certain things. People knew what the music meant by the notes and sounds they heard regardless of the words being said. You can take Biblical words and ideas and put them into song all you want but if you are using the devil’s beat, rhythm, and music with those words then all it does it take something holy and make it unholy. Many of these contemporary Christian musicians are so yoked up with the world that one has to wonder whether they have truly been born again. Many of them have stated publicly that the inspiration for their music comes from wicked, ungodly rock groups (Third Day, Delirious, Casting Crowns, Jars of Clay, MercyMe, P.O.D., Sanctus Real, et. al.). The Bible teaches that you cannot take something as vile and wicked as rock music, throw some watered down Christian lyrics in with it, and expect it to be glorifying to God.
When people begin to lower the standard of God’s Word, then they will also lower the standard of their music. When they begin to lower the standard of music, then their standard of dress will also be lowered. Eventually, you will reach a point where there are no real standards and everyone is simply doing that which is right in their own eyes. We have seen it happen in the world with the introduction of rock music in the 1950’s and 60’s and we’re seeing it happen more and more in our churches today with the contemporary music that is becoming so prevalent. Music should drive us to become more holy, to become more like Christ; not more and more like the world. It should cause us to become sensitive to the Spirit and not sensualized in our flesh. Sadly, many Christians would rather fulfill the lusts of their flesh then to walk in the Spirit.
We need to get back to the living waters of Christ-honoring music and away from the broken cisterns of contemporary Christian music.
Paul warned Timothy that in the last days there would be a growing apostasy and falling away from the faith. We are seeing this happen every day before our very eyes. Christians and even entire churches are trading the living waters of God for the broken cisterns of the world. They are trading the King James Bible and good, Christian music for modern versions and contemporary music. As they turn from God to the world they are throwing standards and personal holiness out the window as well. We need a group of Christians who will stay true to God and will not forsake Him. We need some Christians who will refuse to compromise in their personal walk with God and we definitely need some preachers who will refuse to compromise in their preaching and their stand for the Word of God.
We recently ended a year and began a new one. No doubt, many people spent the last week or two of 2011 reflecting on what had transpired over the past year. Many people may have experienced things in their life in 2011 which brought about great change in their life. It may have been the loss of a jOB or the start of a new one. Some families lost loved ones while other families welcomed new additions to their household. As we looked back on 2011 we also had the opportunity to look ahead to 2012 in anticipation of what the new year might have in store for us. People many times choose the new year as a time to get a fresh start in their lives. It is a time where we can hit the reset button, so to speak, and get our bearings to begin anew in certain areas of our life. Nearly everyone I know had some form of New Year's Resolutions, (whether they called it by that term or not) which they thought out or maybe even wrote down, of areas in their lives where they wish to improve in 2012.
Let us also take a spiritual inventory of our lives as we get into 2012. We should look back at where we stood in our relationship with God in 2011 and work on getting closer to God going into the new year. Never should we become satisfied with where we are at in our walk with God. Every one of us could draw closer to Him. When Hezekiah became king he started off his rule with drawing himself and the children of Judah closer to God. Let us learn from his example on how we can get this new year started off right.
1. He Took Care of First Things First
The very first thing which Hezekiah did upon becoming king was to open up the house of the Lord. He did not worry about the material well-being of his kingdom until it was taken care of spiritually. The kingdom was not only in a mess spiritually but also economically. God had judged the land because of Hezekiah's father, Ahaz's, wickedness. They had been invaded by the Syrians, the northern ten tribes of Israel, the Edomites, the Philistines, and the Assyrians. With all of the prOBlems the land had Hezekiah knew that the things of God had to be taken care of before anything else. If we would learn to put God first in our lives then everything else would be taken care of. Too many times we look to our physical needs and make sure they are provided for, but we fail to do anything about our spiritual needs. If we make the spiritual needs of our life our main priority then God will bless us because of it. Hezekiah was putting Matthew 6:33 into practice long before Jesus ever uttered the words here on this earth.
2. There was a Cleansing
Hezekiah had commanded the Levites to cleanse and sanctify themselves so that they could then cleanse the temple. The priests went into the temple and brought out all the uncleanness into the courtyard so the Levites could then take it out of the city and dispose of it. The temple had accumulated dirt and dust from sitting idle and the vessels of God had been replaced by idolatrous altars. Ahaz had taken the vessels of God and had profaned them during his reign using them in his false worship. Those vessels the priests now took and restored to the House of God. They were so minded to do the work of God and to get back to worshiping God properly that they completed the temple cleansing on only 16 days. In our own lives many times we allow things to come in and dirty us up spiritually. Sometimes our lives become unclean because we do not exercise the spiritual enough. Our Bible reading, prayer life, and church attendance can all gather dust and cOBwebs when we fail to spend time with God as we should. If we are not careful then we may even allow idols to take up residence in our lives. Anything which comes between us and God is an idol in our life. We need to take the time to clean up our lives spiritually and we should have a mind to do it the way these priests did. Instead of dragging it out over the entire year, let us get busy about drawing closer to God so that we can worship Him properly sooner rather than later.
3. They humbled themselves before God and Worshiped Him
The very next day after the temple was cleansed; Hezekiah went up and offered sacrifices to God. The first offering which Hezekiah gave was a sin offering to make atonement for the sins of the people. They had repented of their sin but the Law required that blood had to be shed for the remission of their sins. I'm glad that some 2000 years ago Blood was shed on an old, rugged cross to make atonement for my sin. Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice offered up once and for all so that all who come through Him might have forgiveness of their sins. There is no other way that we can stand before God then to come by the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else has the power to wash away our sin.
The people also offered up burnt offerings to give glory to God. These offerings were burnt up entirely upon the altar as a sacrifice solely to God. The Bible tells us that we ought to present our own bodies a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). We ought to live our lives in such a way that God gets all the glory, honor, and praise. The children of Judah had such a heart to worship that the priests could not keep up with the offerings. In 2012, we need to have a heart to worship God, to give Him the glory, and to lay ourselves down as a living sacrifice for Him.
May we all draw closer to God in 2012.
Preached at Piedmont Baptist Church on December 28, 2011
II Kings 6:33
'And while he yet talked with them, behold, the messenger came down unto him: and he said, Behold, this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?'
<P style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px" dir=ltr> In our Scripture we have the story of the Syrians besieging of Samaria, the capital of the northern tribes of Israel. Because of this siege, Samaria was experiencing a great famine. It was so great that Scripture tells us an ass's head was being sold for eighty pieces of silver. This was considered an unclean animal and would have very little meat upon it yet it cost a small fortune. They were also selling small portions of dove's dung for five pieces of silver. This is what King Jehoram and his people had been reduced to. They had no food and absolutely no sign of deliverance was anywhere in sight. As the king walked upon the walls one day we have the record of a woman crying out to him for justice to be done. She had made an agreement with another that they would eat her son one day and eat the others son the following day. This shows just how bad it had truly become. Parts of the city had been reduced to cannibalism in order to simply survive. Truly this was a very grievous time for the people.
The king upon hearing what the women had done became very grieved and rent his clothes putting sackcloth upon himself. Instead of turning to God, however, the king proceeded to blame the man of God, Elisha, for the predicament they found themselves in. He commanded that Elisha be killed that very day and sent a messenger to accomplish that very fact. Elisha was in his house with the elders whom he commanded to hold the door shut and not to let the messenger into the house. He knew that the king was following after the messenger to come and speak with Elisha himself. The king upon coming to Elisha stated that this evil was of the Lord and should he bother waiting on God any longer. He and the people had reached the point of desperation. They had waited for God to act and it seemed as though God would just as soon let them starve to death and give the victory to the Syrians. Elisha told him, however, that by that same time tomorrow the siege would be over and Samaria would have more than enough provisions for all the people.
Waiting on God to act many times can be a distressing thing. People, in general, are not known for being very patient. We live in a society that wants things and we want them now. This mentality is what has given rise to fast food, microwaveable dinners, and all sorts of “instant” commodities. Unfortunately, this has translated over into our spiritual lives as well. We pray and expect God to answer before we say, “Amen.” We expect Him to be there immediately whenever we need Him. We have failed to remember that God does not always operate on our timetable but rather He operates in a time and place of His own choosing. We see this all throughout Scripture and have no reason to believe that He has changed how He deals with mankind in this instance.
Many times in Scripture we are advised, or commanded, to wait on the Lord. Too many times we want to jump into a situation without given God a chance to act on our behalf. This inevitably leads to trouble and sometimes failure in our lives because we do not let God work things out as He wills. In our Scripture Jehoram was ready to surrender to the Syrians. They had lost all hope of seeing God save them from this trouble, but Elisha told the king to wait and God would perform a miracle. How many times do we miss seeing the Lord perform a miracle in our own lives because we simply will not wait on Him.
1. Fret not thyself because of evildoers.
'Rest in the Lord, and wait patie
ly for him:'
As we look at the world around us it seems as though the wicked are abounding more and more. And the Bible even teaches that as time goes on men will wax worse and worse (II Timothy 3:13). We see sin becoming more common place. Indeed, many times, those who are living wickedly are held up while those who would live righteous are pushed to the side. If we are not careful then we can become discouraged and come to the point that we wonder what good it is to serve God. Throughout Psalm 37 David is encouraging the righteous to trust in God and not to fret about the wicked. One day God is going to balance the scales of the righteous and the wicked. In this Psalm we see that the righteous shall inherit the earth (v. 9, 22, 29) while the wicked shall be cut off (v. 22, 28, 34, 38). Those who do wickedly may prosper for a while here on this earth, but those of us who are saved will one day receive our inheritance as the children of God while the wicked burn for an eternity in Hell.
2. Wait upon God for He is our Defense.
'Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence.'
In our text Jehoram was powerless against his enemies. There was nothing he could do to save himself or his people. They were trapped in the walls of Samaria with no chance of relief to bring them supplies or to help them in the fight. He had been put in a place where the only defense he had was to wait on God and to let Him fight the battle. At times in our lives the enemy will attack us relentlessly. He will come at us with everything he had in an attempt to get us defeated, discouraged, and even destroyed. At those times when we have reached the end of the line and are left with no options is when we need to wait on God. We need to turn to Him as our defense and trust in Him to deliver us from our enemies. Instead of trying to defeat our enemies under own power we need to turn to God and His limitless power.
3. 'They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;' - Isaiah 40:31
Because we refuse to wait on God in our lives then we end up attempting to do things under our own strength and ability. We go through life serving Him under our own power instead of leaning upon the Lord. This is why many of our pulpits, homes, and personal lives do not have the power of God upon them. We can not serve God or live for Him under the power of our own strength or on the basis of our own ability. We will fall short every time when we attempt to do so. Oh, we may last for a time doing it under our own strength but eventually we will get burned out and may wind up falling by the wayside. Instead, we should learn to lean on God and trust in Him to provide us the strength and power we need to serve Him faithfully. When we wait on Him to act in our lives then He will renew our strength whenever it gets low. When we learn to wait on Him then He will give us the power we need to serve Him and He will supply us the ability to perform His will for our lives.
If we are going to be effective in our lives for Christ then we must learn to wait on Him.
'And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
'And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
'And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
'But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
'And went to hi, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
'And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the hose, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come gain, I will repay thee.'
Here we have Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan. Certainly one of our Lord’s more well-known parables which are recorded in the Gospels. Jesus had been asked by a certain lawyer What he had to do to inherit eternal life. The lawyer did this not because he sought the Lord, but rather the Bible tells us he did so tempting our Lord. No doubt, he was looking for some way in which he could trap the Lord Jesus Christ in His words as the Pharisees were wont to do. Christ responded to the lawyer’s question with a question of His own asking what the law said he should do. The lawyer responded with what our Lord called the two great commandments (Matt. 22:36-40): 1) Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and 2) Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Christ told him that he answered rightly, but the lawyer was looking for some way to justify himself and so asked who his neighbor was.
The Jews while they lived in and among Gentiles did not consider them neighbors worthy of anything under the law. To the Jew only another Jew could qualify as a neighbor concerning this commandment. No doubt, this lawyer had been very neighborly to those of his faith whom lived around him. He wanted Jesus to confirm that this was the case by declaring who exactly his neighbor was. It is then that Jesus relates to him the parable of the Good Samaritan. At the end of the story Jesus has the lawyer declare who was the neighbor in the story. Instead of justifying himself with the Lord’s answer he rather condemned himself because he had not been one to show mercy upon all men regardless of their status in life.
1. A certain man
Here we see a certain man passing from Jerusalem down to Jericho. Notice that he is leaving the city of God and going down to a city which had a curse pronounced upon it (Joshua 6:26). We are not given the reason for his going down nor is it necessary for the purpose of the Lord’s parable. We see, however, that as he travels down the road he falls among thieves. This road was well-known for this during Christ’s time on this earth. It was a treacherous road that wound its way downhill and held many places for which a thief could hide in wait for some lone traveler to come along. These thieves stripped the man of his raiment no doubt taking any valuables which he possessed at the time. They did not stop there however, but proceeded to wound the man leaving him half-dead there on the side of this lonely trail. They showed no mercy in their dealings with this poor traveler. Indeed, they prOBably thought that he would die from their beatings before someone would come along to find him. By all rights they had not only rOBbed this man of his clothes, but in their mind had committed murder as well by leaving him there to die.
We can see a parallel to this elsewhere in Scripture. In Genesis 2 we see Adam and Eve dwelling in the Garden of Eden. We can see them having sweet fellowship with the Lord as they walked and talked with Him. In Genesis 3 we see their descent from where God had put them down to a cursed place. Just as that certain man traveled down from Jerusalem, the city of God, to Jericho, a cursed place, so we see Adam and Eve. God had given them only one commandment in the Garden - not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They had untold numbers of other trees from which they could take their fill, but they chose instead to disOBey and go after the one thing they could not have. While traveling down this road we see that they were attacked by a thief and a murderer. That old serpent attacked us on that road. He stripped us of our raiment, that righteousness which we were clothed with before sin, and then left us for dead. After the Fall, mankind was as good as dead. We were alive in the flesh, but dead in the spirit. He left us there mortally wounded believing that we would die in our sins before someone would come along to save us.
2. A certain priest
Jesus tells in the parable that by chance a certain priest passed that way. This was not an intentional act, but rather it was happenstance. The priest was also traveling down to Jericho as the verse reads. Jericho during the time of Christ was where many of the priests lived. This made it convenient for them to travel to Jerusalem when it came time for them to perform their duties in the temple. Christ tells us that this priest saw the wounded traveler but passed by on the other side apparently without even bothering to stop. Perhaps the priest feared for his own safety and well-being or else he thought the man already dead and beyond saving. How sad it is that the one whom should have had compassion on him held none at all.
Here we can see a picture of religion. The Jews of Christ’s time were known for being religious. They held to their traditions and teachings going through the motions of their religion, but they lacked a true heart-felt desire to follow after God. Religion today has not changed much since then. Religion still places an emphasis on the traditions of what has been done and continuing to do those things. Religion can not help a person fallen in sin. Religion is only looking for those who can contribute to its cause. It wants those who can pay for the services rendered to them. Religion will not save us out of our sins.
3. A certain Levite
Here we see the next character in Christ’s parable - that of a Levite. These were the ones who were responsible for working in the temple. They kept up the temple and assisted the priests in performing their duties. The Lord tells us that this Levite when he came to where the man had fallen did not simply pass by on the other side. Instead, we see him actually stopping to look upon the man before passing by. Perhaps he felt some miniscule amount of compassion upon seeing the man so badly beaten and stripped of his raiment. Maybe he thought to help the man but had no idea of how to go about doing so. In any case the result of this Levite coming across the man was the same as when the priest had come by. The man was still left in a fallen state, wounded to the point of death, indeed he was dying.
Here we can see a picture of the Law and good works. The Levites were known for their works which they did in service to the temple and the priests. But we see that good works and the Law could not help this man. All the good works in the world can not save a man fallen in his sin. It has been said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. People all across the world are attempting to save themselves based on their good works which they perform, but it will all be for naught. Just as religion could do nothing for this man and indeed left him in the exact same state it found him in so do good works. Performing good works may soothe our conscience and may make us feel good about ourselves but it can do nothing for the wounds caused by sin. It can do nothing to heal us of the death blow which was given there in the Garden when man fell.
4. A certain Samaritan
Now we get to see the star of Jesus’ parable - the Good Samaritan. We see that he did not just happen by this way, but we see that he was actually journeying along this path. We also see that he did not just pass by the traveler. He did not look upon him and then continue on his way. Rather, Christ says that he had compassion on him. He felt for this poor traveler’s plight and wanted to do something to help. The Samaritan went to this poor traveler and bound up his wounds. He spent of his own substance in caring for the man. First we see that he poured oil and wine into the man’s wounds to help in healing them. He then placed the man onto his own beast to ride while the Samaritan walked leading the animal along the path. He took the wounded traveler to an inn where the Samaritan remained overnight in order to take care of him. The next morning he departed leaving with the innkeeper money to cover the expenses the traveler might accrue while recuperating from his wounds. This Samaritan showed compassion upon someone whom he did not know, who very likely would have left him to die had their roles been reversed, who could do nothing to save himself, nor to even pay back the Samaritan for his kindness.
Praise God that one day as I was traveling down a road of destruction, wounded by sin, unable to save myself that THE Good Samaritan, the Lord Jesus Christ, stopped to save my life. The Lord Jesus Christ did for me what I could not do for myself. He came traveling down that road not by chance, not by luck, not by mistake; but, rather, He journeyed along that path. When He came to this earth it was for a purpose and that purpose was the Cross. He came with the intention of doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. He chose to leave the comforts of Heaven and come to this earth so that He could go to the Cross to save us from that path of destruction.
Christ found us there on that path of destruction wounded by sin to the point of death. Before we were saved when Christ first found us we were lost in our sins. We were dead in our trespasses unable to save ourselves. When Christ found us, though, He did not leave us the way we were. He bound up our wounds of sin and healed them. He brought us back from death and gave us a new life in Him. He took us in and cared for us at His own expense. He has never and will never ask for payment for what He has done. Indeed, we could not pay if asked to. Christ came to this earth and died on the Cross paying our sin debt that we could not pay ourselves. The devil had left us destitute, beaten down in sin, with no way to pay the debt; but Christ in His loving compassion paid that debt for us.
Praise God for that wonderful Saviour who came to us and saved us from our sins. He took care of us when we could not take care of ourselves. He saved us when we could not save ourselves. He paid our debts when we had no way to pay. He died on Calvary for us so that we might have life in Him. Should we not live our lives in service to Him pleasing Him with our lives.