Monday, July 25, 2011

Contest of Wills, Contest of Decisions


1 Kings 18:21 (NASB)
21 Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people did not answer him a word.[1]
The whole story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal can be found in1 Kings 18:20-40, but our focus today is on the verse lifted above. Along with verse 21, let us also consider the following verses, for they pertain as well:

Joshua 24:14-15 (KJV)
14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. [2]

If we were to continue to read in Joshua, we would find that he exhorts the people to make a decision of total commitment unto the God of Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya’akov. In this exhortation also lies a warning, found in verse 19: “…Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins…” [3]  if in the course of things they turned from serving Him with their whole hearts.

In the days of Joshua the people and nation flourished because they kept their vow that they made with the Almighty that day. It was said in verse 31”… Joshua 24:31 (NASB95)  Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, and had known all the deeds of the Lord [Yahoveh] which He had done for Israel…” [4]  It was in the subsequent years as the Isra’elites went forth to conquer the lands promised to them by Yahvey that the spiritual fidelity that they had promised to the God of Isra’el faltered.  They failed to do as He commanded by not completely driving out the Jebusites, the Canaanities, the Asherites and the Amorities. These failed conquests have had a far reaching effect even unto this day as the descendants of those ancient tribal factions plague the Isra’elites in the land today. This fact was foretold by Yahoveh in the TORAH in Deut. 28:15-68 and in Num. 33:55. He re-iterated this again in Judges 2:1-5.

Have you cast out the “..ites” in your life?  God demands and expects total obedience. The Promised Land is for us – not the “..ites” in our lives. This is the question today – the same as it was in Elijah’s days  (1 Kings 18:21). A better translation is “…How long will you jump over two thresholds [or “Till when are you jumping on the two branches..”[5]]. For those who have heard or read my teachings before, the theme of the Threshold Covenant is what I am referring to. To cross the threshold of a man’s house meant and means several things in the ancient Middle East; in fact it is still a vital aspect of life there today. To the host, or the one’s whose threshold you’ve crossed, it means he becomes responsible for your safety and well-being; for the guest or the one who crossed the threshold, it meant that you accepted his hospitality, you entered into covenant with the host which carries with your responsibility to honor and respect his house.  It also meant you would help “keep” [guard and protect] that which was his while under his roof and care. This covenant did not end when you left his door – no – this was a covenant of peace between guest and host, one that the host had expectations of the guest honoring all the days of his life. The idea is that the guest would never raise a hand against his host, for to do so would bring a curse upon himself. If invited inside, the guest accepted the terms of the covenant by the simple act of crossing the threshold. Though this is a general idea of the covenant of the threshold, there is much more too it, more than we can cover in this small epistle, but please observe some scriptures to back up the importance of this idea:

Zephaniah 1:7-9 (KJV)
7 Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. 8 And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel. 9 In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit. [6]

Zechariah 12:1-2 (NASB95)
1 The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel. Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him, 2 “Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. [7]

Though translated as cup a better definition is given here: “…5592. סַף sap̱: I. A masculine noun referring to a basin, a bowl. It was a bowl or a large hollow dish or cup used in rituals, cultic events (Ex. 12:22; 2 Sam. 17:28; 1 Kgs. 7:50). It was among the Temple furnishings and instruments (Jer. 52:19). It is used figuratively of a cup, Jerusalem, and its contents that will cause consternation to all the nations around her (Zech. 12:2).
II. A masculine noun meaning a threshold, a doorway. The opening, sill, or entrance into a house, a building, a temple, a palace (Judg. 19:27; 1 Kgs. 14:17). The doorkeeper, the keeper of the door was an important person (2 Kgs. 25:18; Esth. 2:21; Jer. 35:4)…[8]

We can see the evidence of this in the Master’s word:
John 10:7-10 (NASB95)
So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 “All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. [9]

This is the flip-side to the covenant: if you were not invited, if you came in without permission, then you could expect the wrath of the owner to be upon you.  It had to be a mutual agreement; you either were an honored guest – or a thief.

Now where does all this fit into our entry text of 1 Kings 18:21?

The people of Isra’el couldn’t make up their minds which god to serve – Yahoveh or Baal. Because of their double-mindedness, they “jumped” back and forth over the “branches”, over the “thresholds” of each – yet as we’ve already established, there was only one set of covenants you could legitimately keep; a decision had to be made.

So what was the decision, which did they choose? Look at Judges 2:1-2:

Judges 2:1-2 (DARBY)
1 And the Angel of Jehovah came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you to the land which I swore unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you; and as for you, 2 ye shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not hearkened unto my voice. Why have ye done this? [10]

While this was a bit later, the end result was the same. Here, we see God clearly states His view of things in verse 1, His fulfillment of His end of the threshold covenant where He says “… I will never break my covenant with you…”  In verse two He reminded them of their responsibility to “…make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars…”; in other words they were to remain loyal to God – yet sadly, this wasn’t the case.  In 1 Kings we see they wanted their cake and some pie also. The fact is though, with Yahoveh, with His Son Yeshua, this is something you just cannot do.

One foot in the world and one foot on or across the threshold of God is equal to a divided mind – and this equals judgment.  You cannot “leap” over two thresholds, it simply will not work.  You can’t straddle the fence so to speak, not without getting splinters in your rear anyway. I know that this seems to be a reoccurring theme, but one should prayerfully AND carefully read God’s word: He repeats this same theme over and over again. Do you get tired of hearing me say it? How then are you going to feel about what He says? Look for yourself at the following references:

Matt 6:24; Josh 24:15; Luke 16:13; Rom 6:16-22; 1 Cor 10:21-22; 2 Cor 6:14-16; Heb 2:3; Rev 3:15-16; and vs. 20; these are just but a few in the B’rit  Hadashah [New or renewed Covenant].

Here are some from the Tanakh [Torah, Prophets and Wisdom or Old original Covenant] :
Deut 4:35; Exo 5:1-2; 1 Sam 7:3; Ps 100:3; or some more from the B’rit  Hadashah: Matt 22:12, 34, 36; Rom 3:19; Rom 6:21….

Now, the caveat: look at these scriptures in context, but understand the theological concepts of what is being said – you can’t be divided. Why? Look at James 1:6-8:

James 1:6-8 (NABWRNT)
But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways. [11]        

Compare verse 8 with these verses:
James 4:8; 2 Kings 17:33 and 41; 1 Chron 12:33 [note: see context here for those of a “double heart”]; Psa. 12:2; Isa 29:13; Hos 7:8-11; Hos 10:2; Matt 6:22-24; 1 Tim 3:8; James 3:8; 2 Pet 2:14; 2 Pet 3:16.
Now this is a lot to chew on, but you have to understand what all these mean.  We’ve talked about measure for measure, that what a man sows he reaps.  We’ve talked about the cost of discipleship – about putting your hand to the plow and not looking back…

Contrast the double-mindedness with singleness of purpose:

Colossians 3:22 (NASB95)
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. [12]

Acts 2:46 (NKJV)
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart…[13]

Jeremiah 27:5 (KJV)
I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. [14]

For the one who is single minded:
1John 5:17-20(NASB95)
17 aAll unrighteousness is sin, and bthere is a sin not leading to death. 18 aWe know that bno one who is 1born of God sins; but He who was 1born of God ckeeps him, and dthe evil one does not etouch him. 19 aWe know that bwe are of God, and that cthe whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And awe know that bthe Son of God has come, and has cgiven us understanding so that we may know dHim who is true; and we eare in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. fThis is the true God and geternal life. [15]

If we aren’t single-minded, what happens?

13         You are the salt of the earth; but aif the salt has become tasteless, how 1can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. [16]
And again in verse 19:

19     “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches 1others to do the same, shall be called least ain the kingdom of heaven; but whoever 2keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [17]

Matt 24:21-28 (NASB95)
     21 “For then there will be a agreat tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 “Unless those days had been cut short, no 1life would have been saved; but for athe sake of the 2elect those days will be cut short. 23 aThen if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the 1Christ,’ or ‘2There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 “For false Christs and afalse prophets will arise and will 1show great 2bsigns and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even cthe 3elect. 25 “Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 “So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27 aFor just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the bcoming of the cSon of Man be. 28 aWherever the corpse is, there the 1vultures will gather. [18]

What happens is deception; a double-minded soul will be deceived, for it will want either the pleasures of this world and think it can stand in the presence of God at the same time, or it will desire the itching of its ears, to hear what it wants, and believe not the truth of the Word. The end result is the same; that double-minded soul won’t even know God has already left the house.

We find this theme again in Matt 24:46-51:

     46     “Blessed is that slave whom his 1master finds so doing when he comes. 47  “Truly I say to you that ahe will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48  “But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My 1master 2is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the 1master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and will 1cut him in pieces and 2assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be aweeping and gnashing of teeth. [19]

One is blessed, the single-minded one; the double-minded gets his portion with the hypocrites…

Why is all this important? For it, this understanding, sets the stage of what we must learn, of what and about that which we must decide. Remember that this is a contest of wills, God’s versus ours, and a contest of decisions.

Loving and serving God is not a matter of how you feel, or how “sincere” you are – it is a conscious set of decisions on your part. Let me say this again: loving god and serving (listening, obeying, and walking rightly with) has absolutely nothing to do with “how you feel about Him”. Feelings are liars, you cannot trust them. What has to take place is a decision – a battle of your will. Does self will win out – the result in which case you stand over the threshold, one foot in and one out – or does the will die, the knees bend, and you lay at the threshold, your hands on the sill in complete submission to God?

We make decisions all day long – go left, go right, keep straight; eat this, eat that, don’t even go near that!... but how many times a day do we decide to love God? How often do we pause, just stop what we are doing and love on Him, thanking Him for the trials or the joys, to just think on Him?  Think for a moment about your tithe – if you’re faithful and give your 10%, do you think you’ve done your duty, that it’s all you need to give?  What about the first fruits of your day? Your time? 10% of a twenty-four hour day is 2.4 hours; do you set aside 2.4 hours a day just for Him? I mean is this a voluntary decision – just for Him, not because you are required for one reason or another? Do you see what I mean? If we could change our minds to make right our time (which truly is what He desires most of all), if we make a decision based upon a single purpose, to spend time with our Creator – would we? Would we follow through and choose Him or would we make a “vow” and not keep it because after all, we are such busy people…

We have to battle our will for His sake constantly.  For the truth is we desire what we desire and self sacrifice is the hardest thing of all to desire. Yet, to do this is exactly what single-mindedness is, the desire and decision to lay down our will for His. A double-mind keeps its desires to the fore – it seeks to “balance” God and the world; but honestly? This is impossible, for one will always outweigh the other.  It is here our decision comes into play: do we decide to love and serve God or do we divide our loyalties so that we always have that which we want (self-will) the most still in focus…

This will bring us to the next topic – but that must wait till next time beloved – but ponder on this…
How do we get an undivided mind? I’ll give you a hint: 10 words. Till next time my beloved, Amein.

[1] NASB, 1995 Update, electronic edition, WORDsearch 9, build
[2]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[3]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[4]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[5] Concordant Literal New Testament and the Concordant Version of the OT, by A.E. Knoch ©THE CONCORDANT PUBLISHING CONCERN, electronic edition, ISA basic  2.1.3 Copyright © 2010 André de Mol. All rights reserved.
[6]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[7]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[8]Baker, W. (2003, c2002). The complete word study dictionary : Old Testament (785). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
[9]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[10]  Darby, J. N. (1996). The Holy Scriptures : A new translation from the original languages. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.
[11]  Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Board of Trustees, Catholic Church. National Conference of Catholic Bishops, & United States Catholic Conference. Administrative Board. (1996, c1986). The New American Bible : Translated from the original languages with critical use of all the ancient sources and the revised New Testament. Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.

[12]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[13]  The New King James Version. 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[14]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
a 1 John 3:4
b 1 John 2:1f; 5:16
a 1 John 5:15, 19, 20
b 1 John 3:9
1 Or begotten
c James 1:27; Jude 21
d 1 John 2:13
e John 14:30
a 1 John 5:15, 18, 20
b 1 John 4:6
c John 12:31; 17:15; Gal 1:4
a 1 John 5:15, 18, 19
b John 8:42; 1 John 5:5
c Luke 24:45
d John 17:3; Rev 3:7
e John 1:18; 14:9; 1 John 2:23; Rev 3:7
f 1 John 1:2
g 1 John 5:11
[15]New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (1 Jn 5:17-20). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
a Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34f
1 Lit will
[16]New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Mt 5:13). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
1  Gr anthropoi
a  Matt 11:11
2  Lit does
[17]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
a  Dan 12:1; Joel 2:2; Matt 24:29
1  Lit flesh
a  Matt 22:14; 24:24, 31; Luke 18:7
2  Or chosen ones
a  Luke 17:23f
1  I.e. Messiah
2  Lit here
a  Matt 7:15; 24:11
1  Lit give
2  Or attesting miracles
b  John 4:48; 2 Thess 2:9
c  Matt 22:14; 24:22, 31; Luke 18:7
3  Or chosen ones
a  Luke 17:24
b  Matt 24:3, 37, 39
c  Matt 8:20
a  Job 39:30; Ezek 39:17; Hab 1:8; Luke 17:37
1  Or eagles
[18]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

1  Or lord
a  Matt 25:21, 23
1  Or lord
2  Lit lingers
1  Or lord
1  Or severely scourge him
2  Lit appoint his portion
a  Matt 8:12
[19]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

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