The Apple Of God's Eye

October 3, 2009

The World's Deadliest Weapon!

1What is the world’s most devastating weapon? Most people would probably say the H-bomb. Some might say the cobalt bomb. Others may point to a rumored laser bomb, a doomsday device, or even chemical and biological weapons. But none of these is right!

There is another weapon that every man carries around with him daily. It is with him when he gets up in the morning and shaves. It is with him when he goes to sleep at night. This weapon is not just some theoretical device which has never been used. In the history of mankind, it has been responsible — directly or indirectly — for the deaths of multiple millions!
But men have no monopoly on this weapon. Women also use it quite consistently — often to devastating effect.

The Worst Weapon in the World

What is this horrible weapon? It is the human tongue! Men have misused the tongue. They have turned it into a “world of iniquity.” Notice what God’s Word says:

“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell [gehenna — or the lake of fire]. “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (James 3 :5-10).

The tongue, as these verses show, does not have to be a deadly weapon. When used correctly, it can be a wonderful tool for great good! But unfortunately, too few people have learned how to properly control it! Most often the tongue is used as an unguided missile which explodes upon the object of its aim with deadly effect.

How This Weapon Is Used

There are many wrong uses of the tongue. But perhaps the most dangerous and harmful of all is gossip. Gossip can do more damage and create more division than nearly any other activity.

In a study by Theodore Isaac Rubin, M.D., entitled, “What Gossiping Reveals About You,” some interesting answers are brought to light. Doctor Rubin found that women have no priority on gossip! Men gossip just as much. “In fact, nearly everyone gossips to some extent, but some people carry it too far. To them, gossip becomes a chronic way of life that cannot be altered without psychiatric help.”

Some men and women are “chronic mouthmovers.” They must either eat or talk. And many times they gossip just to keep their mouths moving — spouting a steady stream of words.

Boredom and apathy also breed gossip. Idle talk becomes a filler to compensate for empty hours. Lonely people whose lives have become dull and devoid of interests use gossip as a form of reaching out or relating.

God’s Word shows idleness to be indeed one of the major causes leading to gossip. Speaking of younger widows, Paul says, “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they aught not” (I Tim. 5:13).

Malicious Gossip

“Repressed anger is perhaps the most common cause of malicious gossip,” says Dr. Rubin. He goes on to explain that many people cannot admit their anger toward someone else. So they disguise it. They release their venom in the form of deadly gossip — hatred and murder (I John 3:15) in the form of words! They seek to destroy through the spoken word!

God’s Word bears this out: “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool” (Prov. 10:18). Also God says, “He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him” (Prov. 26:24). And again, in verse 28 of the same chapter, “A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.”

Jealousy and envy are also common motives for gossip. Says Dr. Rubin, “The object of gossip is to put down that person so as to remove the craving for what that person owns.” When we put down another person, we think we are raising ourselves. This is sheer vanity!

Have you ever envied another person? Have you been jealous of the things someone else possessed or the prestige of his position? We would all have to admit that at some time we have. When we did, we found ourselves tempted to speak evil of others. We wanted to impute motives and make insinuating remarks. We tried to excuse our stations in life in comparison with theirs by implying evil — gossiping. Subconsciously we wanted to “put them down” verbally — thus exalting our own self-image.

Tales CAN Hurt!

The Bible plainly tells us that words can — and often do — cause damage. Notice: “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth” (Prov. 26:20). In verse 22 God says further, “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”

Yes, words can hurt — they can hurt one’s reputation; they can hurt a person’s health; they can hurt friends; and they can hurt the one who misuses them himself! God certainly minces no words here. He tells us plainly how destructive the use of the tongue can be. Its use in spitting out thoughtless or mischievous words may cause irreparable damage to someone’s entire life!

The misuse of the tongue can cause serious offense. Notice what Solomon wrote: “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city…” (Prov. 18:19). How often have you “let fly” with your mouth and offended somebody else?

An Incredible Paradox

How can men praise God — stand in Church and sing praises to God, and lead in prayers over their family table and in Church — and at the same time speak evil from motives of repressed anger or envy of their brothers in the Church? Blessing and cursing comes from the same mouth. God says these things ought not to be! (James 3:10.)

“He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge” (James 4:11).

How many are using their tongues for a wrong purpose while claiming to belong to the body of Christ to help proclaim God’s Word to the world? Again, God commands, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings… grow …” (I Peter 2:1-2).

This is the way to preserve your life. God explains, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile (I Peter 3:10).

We must not tolerate gossip and the tearing down of others through malicious, evil words. “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26).

What Not to Say

Some will say that they do not gossip — they merely tell “the truth.” Thus, they feel that in telling “the truth” they are justified! But they fail to realize that the Bible defines a gossiper as one who not only speaks lies, but also repeats evil — even if it is “the truth” — when and where it is none of his business, or the business of the listener! You don’t always have to tell something just because you know it! Many things are far better left unsaid, even though they are true.

There are many things which are better forgotten. Says the Apostle Paul: “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Eph. 5:12).

Whenever you repeat any information about an evil deed to someone who should not be involved and has no business knowing, then you are gossiping. When you talk about anyone’s faults to someone who can do nothing about them, you are gossiping. Even when you repeat the truth — whether that truth is about an evil deed or sin — to a person who is merely a bystander, you are gossiping.

Gossip, naturally, also takes the form of misinformation. To imply motives, or to insinuate untruths, is gossip and lying. This kind of gossip is absolutely forbidden in the Bible because of its devastating effects. “He that covers a transgression seeks love; but he that repeats a matter separates friends” (Prov. 17:9).

How to Conquer Gossip

What can you do about gossip? How can you overcome this abominable habit in yourself? There is something you can do personally. You can begin an active campaign against gossip by stopping it at its source!

Here’s how. First, learn to recognize gossip in your own conversation. There will be many limes when you will be so absorbed in conversation that you will not realize you are actually gossiping. However, after the talk is over, you can look back and see where you gossiped. Once you apply your mind to analyzing your own words, you can catch yourself while talking. Then, as you are conscious of your words — which we certainly should be, since we are going to be judged by them — you will finally begin to think BEFORE you speak! (Prov. 15:28.)

Second, REPENT of gossip. Don’t take it lightly. You will never overcome gossip until you are deeply convinced of its evil. Most people, after they’ve gossiped, just shrug their shoulders saying, “Well, I guess I really should not have said those things, but. …”

Go to God on your knees. Realize the seriousness of gossiping. Ask God to forgive you for your attitude of heart which may have been the spirit of murder, or at least the spirit of carelessness and unconcern. Realize that Christ had to die to pay the penalty of THAT sin, too!

Third, don’t REPEAT gossip. If you’ve been gossiping — CHANGE! Put an END to gossip in your life!
You know how empty you feel after an unprofitable conversation centered around gossip. So decide not to do it again! Determine in your mind not to tear down yourself and others by your words. Instead, be positive — use words profitably to uplift and build up others as well as yourself.

Once you recognize gossip and repent of it, and henceforth stop repeating the pattern of conversations that lead to it, you will not be a gossip. But remember. Don’t lend your ear to gossip, for this encourages others to gossip. And it is just as wrong.

A gossiper needs an ear. He must have someone to listen to his talebearing. But if he finds no one to listen, then he can’t gossip. So simply don’t listen to gossip! God’s Word condemns the listener just as much as the gossiper. Yet many of us actually encourage others to gossip. We egg the gossiper on, delighting in the tidbits of poison he pours forth. We want to mind other people’s business. We want to get the juicy evils that come from gossip.

Have you ever noticed that people tend not to be as excited to hear good news as to hear bad news? Have you ever noticed how slowly good news spreads and how quickly bad news gets around? Why?

Because of human nature! By nature we want to listen to gossip and spread it. But you can stop it! Just DON’T listen! And don’t gossip yourself.

Judged by Our Words

There is a Judgment coming. And God’s Word plainly tells us that we will be judged by how we use our tongues. God says, “A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul” (Prov. 18:6-7).

Jesus put it right on the line when He said: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that man shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:34-37).

Can anything be plainer? Jesus tells us we will have to give account for our words. We will be judged by what we have said! Words are not empty. Words are much more powerful than we might imagine. We all feel — humanly, that is — that after words are spoken, they’re forgotten. But words are not forgotten. And although the sounds of words fade and the vibrations stop — those words can linger on and face you in the future.

What are the fruits of your words? Have your words separated friends? Have they hurt the reputation of another? Have your words caused strife? If so, you will have to give account.

Let’s practice — the instruction of Psalm 15:1.: “Lord who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in they holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.”

Determine now that you will not listen to gossip and not spread it. Determine in your own heart and mind to spread news of good events!

Source: The Good News, January-April 1971

September 28, 2009

The Day of Atonement and Your Future

Scene one: A young woman walks through a semitropical garden filled with beautiful trees loaded with luscious fruit. Everything looks so good — so right.  But is it?

Suddenly she is confronted by a talking serpent who asks about God’s commands. Subtly, the serpent reasons with her until she decides to eat the fruit forbidden her by her Creator. Her husband then follows her example of disobedience.

From that time forward, mankind continues to be subject to Satan’s influence. Consequently, all humans sin and fall short of God’s glory.

Scene two: A young man, once strong and virile, is nailed to a stake. Blood oozes from deep, gaping lacerations in His body, wounds inflicted by a savage beating. Tormentors surround Him, arrogantly jeering, “He can save others, but not Himself!”

But the man’s mind is not on revenge; it is on the ultimate purpose of His suffering, which is to provide the sacrifice necessary for mankind’s salvation.

Finally, after many hours of suffering, death comes suddenly. Three days later He is resurrected. He rejoins His Father, where He serves as High Priest and soon-coming King for all humanity.

Scene three: The earth has been devastated. Plant and aquatic life are almost nonexistent. The human population has been reduced to a small fraction of its former size by the terrifying events of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.

Everywhere there is destruction, but there is also hope. Jesus Christ has intervened in world affairs. One obstacle remains — the presence of Satan the devil, mankind’s enemy for 6,000 years.

To eliminate this threat to global peace, an angel is sent to bind Satan. Satan is taken to a place of restraint where he is prohibited from influencing mankind for a thousand years.

Is there a relationship between these scenes? The answer is yes. There is a profound relationship that can be understood by studying the meaning of one of God’s annual festivals — the Day of Atonement.

This Day is commanded

Most professing Christians don’t even know that this Festival of God exists. Many who have heard of it think that it is no longer to be kept. But what does God say?

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God…. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings’ ” (Lev. 23:26-28, 31).

This year the Day of Atonement falls on September 28. Some will reason that this command ceased to be in force after Christ’s crucifixion. Such reasoning is false! Jesus Christ did not come to nail God’s annual Holy Days to the cross (Matt. 5:17-18) .

The fact is that God’s festivals have only begun to be fulfilled. These days picture aspects of God’s plan of salvation (Col. 2:16-17), and must be observed by true Christians.

But what about the ritualistic laws that the Old Testament commanded with festival observance? Are they to be kept, or have they been fulfilled?

The purpose of the physical rituals God gave to ancient Israel was to remind the people of the need for the payment of their sins. The various sacrifices pointed ahead to the sacrifice of One who would come later in history as Savior of all mankind.

So the ritualistic laws were fulfilled by the events leading to and including Christ’s own sacrificial death. Therefore they need not be kept today, nor can they be, as there is no Aaronic priesthood to perform these physical duties (Heb. 9:8-10, 10:1-4, 9-12).

The ritualistic laws are no longer performed, but their various aspects still have symbolic meaning. For each festival, we seek to understand all the festival’s meanings, as revealed in the Bible, and as they relate to salvation.

The Tabernacle and the priesthood

Before we proceed with a study of these rituals and symbols, it is necessary for us to understand some things about the Tabernacle and the priesthood.

After making the covenant agreement with Israel, God told the nation to build a Tabernacle, which is a physical type of God’s habitation in heaven (Ex. 25-27, 30, Heb. 9:23-24). The Tabernacle consisted of an enclosed courtyard, containing an altar for animal sacrifices and a tent.

The tent was divided into two sections by a veil. The section behind the veil was called the “Most Holy” place or “Holiest of All.” The other section was the “holy place” (Ex. 26:33, Heb. 9:3). The most holy place represented God’s throne. Located here was the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments and other items (Deut. 10:2, 31:26, Ex. 16:33-34, Num. 17:1-10). The lid of the Ark was called the mercy seat; this was where God manifested Himself (Ex. 25:22).

The job of high priest was given to Aaron; his sons served as priests. As time passed, other of his descendants held these positions. As priests, they performed various animal sacrifices and ceremonies on behalf of Israel.

Rituals for Aaron

On the Day of Atonement, special animal sacrifices and ceremonies were conducted. These are explained in Leviticus 16.

This was the only day when Aaron was allowed to enter the most holy place. Before doing this, he had to bathe and dress himself in his priestly garments (Lev. 16:4). Then he had to offer on the altar a bullock as a sin offering for himself.

Once this was completed, he took a censer, a vessel that held burning coals, from the altar and entered the most holy place. He then took incense, an aromatic compound, and placed it on the burning coals. Next he sprinkled blood from the bullock on the mercy seat, which represented God’s throne (verses 11-14).

Why did Aaron do these things? What did they picture? Aaron had to first make atonement for himself as a sinning human before God. The word atonement means “to make at one with.”

Washing himself pictured having his conscience changed to accept God’s standard of righteousness (Heb. 10:22). His linen coat symbolized living a righteous life (Rev. 19:8). The incense pictured prayers ascending to God (Ps. 141:2, Rev. 5:8). The blood represented the way sins are forgiven (Heb. 9:13-14, Rom. 3:25).

Aaron, the high priest, was a type of Jesus Christ, who is now our High Priest (Heb. 3:1). By living a sinless life, Jesus qualified to offer Himself as a sin sacrifice for all humanity through His crucifixion.

After Jesus’ death, the veil in the Temple (the Temple had replaced the Tabernacle) was torn in two from top to bottom (Matt. 27:50-51). The torn veil represented the fact that we are now allowed direct contact with God the Father through prayer (Heb. 10:19-22, John 16:23).

This contact is something that those living before Christ’s resurrection did not have; their access was limited to the Word of God, the God of the Old Testament who became Jesus Christ.

The two goats

Now that Aaron had completed sacrifices for himself, what happened next?

“The two goats he must place in front of the Eternal at the entrance to the Trysting tent [Tabernacle]; Aaron shall cast lots over the goats, one lot for the Eternal and the other for Azazel the demon; the goat that falls by lot to the Eternal shall be brought forward and offered as a sin-offering, but the goat that falls by lot to Azazel shall be set free in presence of the Eternal, that Aaron may perform expiatory rites over it and send it away for Azazel into the desert” (Lev. 16:7-10, Moffatt).

Whom did this slain goat, whose blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat and the altar for the sins of the people (Lev. 16:15-19), represent? The answer is Christ, who was slain and whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins (Heb. 9:12, 22-26).

But Christ’s death has not completed the job of making atonement for the sins of humanity. Why? Because Satan, the god of this world, has blinded the minds of most people. Consequently, mankind rejects the true Gospel, which includes accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and living a righteous life (II Cor. 4:3-4, Rev. 12:9).

So how will the job of atonement be completed? How will mankind be made at one with God?

The answer is revealed through the symbolism of the live goat — the azazel, in Hebrew.

Says The Comprehensive Commentary: “[According to] the oldest opinions of the Hebrews and Christians … Azazel is the name of the Devil … the word signified the goat which went away.” The Azazel was the goat that was sent into the wilderness.

This Azazel is sometimes referred to as the “escape goat” or “scapegoat.” But these terms make the meaning unclear. Scapegoat has come to mean “one who bears blame or guilt for others.” This is not the case with Satan. He is guilty of influencing mankind into disobeying God (Eph. 2:2). And he will be punished for it — Satan will bear his own guilt! He will not be allowed to escape.

Symbolism,

The live goat was brought before Aaron, who, as we have seen, is a type of Jesus Christ, our High Priest. Aaron laid hands on this goat, confessing upon it the people’s sins. Then it was led by another individual into the wilderness where it was released (Lev. 16:20-22).

How is this symbolism going to be fulfilled? Jesus is coming to this earth again, this time to rule. He will order Satan bound and taken to a place of restraint for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3).

The world will then become free of Satan’s influence and responsive to God’s way of life; man’s sins will be laid to Satan’s charge. The change will be remarkable. Humanity as a whole will accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and live according to God’s law (Isa. 11:9). Finally, there will be universal peace, joy and happiness (Jer. 31:12-14).

What about fasting?

In addition to the symbolism of the sacrifices, there is another aspect of this Festival that we must consider. Notice Leviticus 16:29:

“This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who sojourns among you.”

What does it mean “afflict your soul”? The word afflict (Hebrew anah) is translated “humble” in Psalm 35:13, where David said, “I humbled myself with fasting.” So afflicting oneself means to fast.

Biblical examples show that fasting means to go without food and water (Deut. 9:9, 18, Esther 4:16, Acts 9:8-9). This is the only day when we are commanded to fast. It is so important that in the New Testament we see this Festival referred to as “the Fast” (Acts 27:9).

The purpose of fasting is to humble ourselves, to see our insignificance and realize our need for and utter dependence on God (Jas. 4:9-10). God does not hold us guiltless for the sins that Satan influences us to commit. We bear a responsibility for yielding to Satan’s temptations.

God wants you to examine yourself so you will recognize your shortcomings and overcome them. These are the conditions of a proper fast that will cause God to intervene on your behalf.

Keep this Festival

The Day of Atonement, then, is a solemn, serious occasion, and yet, because of what it pictures, this Festival is a tremendously positive and encouraging day.

Besides revealing vital understanding about God’s plan of salvation, the Day of Atonement can bring you much closer to God, if you obey God’s command to observe this day.

Don’t deny yourself this relationship with God. Decide now to keep the Day of Atonement!

Source: The Good News, August 1983

July 27, 2009

Is The Wearing Of Rings Anti-Biblical?

Filed under: Marriage,Pagan Customs — melchia @ 12:32 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

The wedding ring, that most famous and instantly recognizable symbol of the joining of a man and a woman as husband and wife in the institution of marriage, has a long history. Some state that this history is pagan, though the Bible does not support this theory.

Exodus 35 records that rings were included with the offering the Israelites gave for the building of the Tabernacle. There is not the slightest indication that God was displeased with their wearing rings.

The Bible records that God was with Joseph when he was sold into slavery in Egypt. Joseph served God, and God caused him to find favor in the eyes of the Pharaoh. In Genesis 41:41-42, we find that Joseph accepted a ring from the Pharaoh. It is plain from the context that the ring was a symbol of the very high office which had been bestowed upon him. God was not displeased with this, and the next few chapters show that God continued to bless and guide Joseph.

In principle, the ring given to Joseph served much the same purpose as that of a wedding ring. A wedding ring is merely a symbol of the marriage vows that have been made.

One further example is the famous story of the prodigal son. Jesus used this parable to illustrate God the Father’s love toward a repentant sinner. The father, who pictured God, ordered a ring to be put on the son’s hand (Luke 15:22). This act would not have been canonized if it was anti-biblical.

All of the evidence is positive. The Bible nowhere criticizes the wearing of rings in general or wedding rings in particular.

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