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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bad Company


…Bad Company…


Hebrews 4:15 (Wordstudy KJV)
15
For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.[1]

“…A little girl dressed in dungarees walked into a pet shop and asked whether they had a puppy with a lame leg. She had a dollar with which she wanted to buy it. The salesperson of the pet shop was surprised that the little girl wanted to buy a lame puppy. She asked, “Why, don’t you want to buy a puppy that can run around and play?” “No, I want a lame one.” Finally, she pulled up one leg of her dungarees and showed her brace, saying, “I don’t walk so good either.” The little girl with a lame leg identified herself with a lame puppy. The Lord Jesus became a man, taking upon Himself a human body with its frailties in order to identify Himself with us in our bodily weaknesses (Heb. 4:15)…” [2]

To understand another, there has to be common ground, a point of reference in which two people, or groups can coalesce around, a common denominator if you will, that serves as that place where all concerned can meet, and share.  Maybe it’s a place like this house of God where people come together to work on the change that is needed in their life, maybe it’s the bond formed by a common adversity, or as in a sport venue, a shared affection for the home town team. The point is, we tend to want to have, for lack of a better analogy, a “herd mentality”, of the desire to group together with others that share our interests, with those that we can identify with. Sometimes, it is for the good, sometimes not. Let’s face it, one’s playground and playmates are going to go a long way to determining what direction he or she will take. Case in point: let’s take a look at Korach, first cousin to Moshe [Moses].  

The story of the rebellion of Korach is found in Numbers 16:1-40. The short version is that Korach was dissatisfied with the lot that had fallen upon him and his tribe, that of being the ones who bore the Tabernacle of Yahoveh from place to place. Korach wanted to be priest, to be pre-eminent in the camp. Camped on the south side of the Tabernacle, Korach moaned and complained to all who would hear, including the sons of Reuben, Jacob’s first born. It wasn’t a surprise that he found willing ears, as the sons of Reuben were also jealous as it was the tribe of younger brother Judah that got the post of honor in the camp, that is east of the Tabernacle. For in due time, Korach had convinced not only the sons of Reuben but 250 of the “princes” of the assembly, men of renown and famous in the congregation to stand up against God’s chosen leaders, Moshe and Aaron. Here on the south side, was rebellion born, born of complainers and murmurers.

In Proverbs 9:6 (Wordstudy KJV) the word tells us “…6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding…”[3] and in Proverbs 13:20 “…20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed…”[4] Korach and the 250 princes were told by Moshe to appear before the Holy One with censers of incense, for the Lord would choose who His holy one would be.  Now, the inscense that burned before God in the Holy Place was special; In Exodus Yahoveh told Moshe “… (NASB95) 34 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of each. 35 “With it you shall make incense, a perfume, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. 36 “You shall beat some of it very fine, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; it shall be most holy to you. 37 “The incense which you shall make, you shall not make in the same proportions for yourselves; it shall be holy to you for the Lord. 38 “Whoever shall make any like it, to use as perfume, shall be cut off from his people.” [5] Also the incense was to be lit from fire from the altar, and only “…(T)the Aaronic priests, and only the priests, were authorized to burn incense; this they did on the altar of incense. Nadab and Abihu lost their lives when they burnt some of this incense in the Holy of Holies using strange or common fire. Korah and his fellow mutineers died when they dared to burn this incense before God when that was not their office. When King Uzziah of the Kingdom of Judah attempted to burn incense in the Temple of Jerusalem, he was stricken with leprosy and served the remainder of his reign in quarantine…”[6]

Korach and the sons of Reuben (though not all of them) and the 250 princes died before the Tabernacle of God for doing things their own way. They brought counterfeit incense and strange fire before Yahoveh. Destruction came about because of bad company. How so it is for us today.

Paul writes:

1 Corinthians 15:33 (Wordstudy KJV)
33
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. [7]

Ephesians 5:6 (Wordstudy KJV)
6
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. [8]

And:

Galatians 6:7 (NKJV)
7
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. [9]

In the economy of God, it is always measure for measure, what a man sows, so shall he reap. In Hebrew, the concept is called middah kenegad middah, and this then ties back into our first scripture, Hebrews 4:15. 

From the Complete Jewish Bible, stating at verse 12 we read:

“..12  See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart.  13  Before God, nothing created is hidden, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. 14  Therefore, since we have a great cohen gadol [High Priest] who has passed through to the highest heaven, Yeshua, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we acknowledge as true. 15  For we do not have a cohen gadol unable to empathize with our weaknesses; since in every respect he was tempted just as we are, the only difference being that he did not sin. 16  Therefore, let us confidently approach the throne from which God gives grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need…”[10]

Here is the example for us of good company; one who became like us, so that He would know us, so He could identify with us and we with Him. Korach and his number were buried alive and burned alive because of their relationship to one another and because they thought they had a right to make fire for the Lord in their own way; middah kenegad middah, measure for measure.

But measure for measure works for those who believe also. For by the measure of our Savior, sin and death were done away with by His suffering. This concept wasn’t new, the Jews have believed in this concept since before Isaiah’s time, but the book of Isaiah brought the concept out and equated it with the Messiah. Though the interpretation of the “suffering servant” of Isa. 53 has changed for the Jews (the concept was altered by the Rabbi’s before 1300ad for various reasons, not withstanding the persecution of Jews by the church), sages up to the 14th century held that Isa. 53 spoke of the Messiah. Thus, this was why the apostles were able to bring about the idea of measure for measure in Yeshua’s atoning death. The concept was Jewish long before it was Christian; as the Preacher said in Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun..”

Do you identify with Him today? Like the little girl with the lame leg, are you willing to be identified with the Son of Glory who became a man, who was tempted and tried, and who choose death so that He could secure for us life? In my old way of thinking, I corrupted myself with the company I kept; I was a thief and a liar, so I sought those whom I could blend in with; didn’t make them bad, just lost like I was. But the behavior and actions I displayed and lived did make things bad; like Korach, I was in rebellion against the Most High God, and measure for measure, my just punishment would come. But, someone intervened; Someone greater, who didn’t measure me, but who had pity, and reached down and saved me.  Before any of us now lies the path to life and death; to identify with the One that give life, or to identify with those who seek their own way, their own fire. It is so easy to murmur and complain, so easy to seek a path that requires little or no hard choices, so easy to wander from light to dark, from good company to bad.  It is all a choice, one that must be made every day, to adopt an attitude of humility and grace, or to rise up and light our own fire. Measure for measure, what you sow, you reap. Today, I’ll choose the lame puppy, for my walk ain’t always so good either; the Master can straighten that out though, for today, I’m in good company, the company of saints… May Yahoveh richly bless you this day, Amein…


[1]  Zodhiates, S., & Baker, W. (2000, c1991, c1994). The complete word study Bible : King James Version (electronic ed.). Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.
[2]AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.
[3]  Zodhiates, S., & Baker, W. (2000, c1991, c1994). The complete word study Bible : King James Version (electronic ed.). Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

[4]  Zodhiates, S., & Baker, W. (2000, c1991, c1994). The complete word study Bible : King James Version (electronic ed.). Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.
[5]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[6] Article titled “Incense” from http://www.conservapedia.com/Incense#Biblical.
[7]  Zodhiates, S., & Baker, W. (2000, c1991, c1994). The complete word study Bible : King James Version (electronic ed.). Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.
[8]  Zodhiates, S., & Baker, W. (2000, c1991, c1994). The complete word study Bible : King James Version (electronic ed.). Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.
[9]  The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[10] The Complete Jewish Bible, by David H. Stern, ©1998 by David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc; electronic edition, e-Sword® ver. 9.9.1 ©2000-2011 by Rick Meyers