Monday, July 7, 2014

"The destiny of those who worship false gods ... "

Day #192:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - July 8th

Scripture Reading:  II Kings 6 - 10 ...

Those who reject the one true God, the God of Israel, who has revealed Himself in His Word, the Bible, do not understand that their destiny is destruction.  In my area of the world (West Michigan) and in many other places, there is an "interfaith movement" that seeks to unite all people as one, without regard for differences in religious tradition or belief.  As you read through the Old Testament you read of what appears to be an excessive amount of needless bloodshed.  Most certainly, the sinful and murderous ways of mankind are revealed in all their gory detail.  Yet, in the midst of all the violence God issues a warning to you and me as we live in His world today:

"These things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.  Do not be idolaters, as some of them were:  as it is written:  'The people sat down to indulge in pagan revelry'" (I Corinthians 10:6-7).  "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come" (I Corinthians 10:11).  Idolatry is defined as "the worship of false gods."  The history of the people of Israel is littered with idol worship and God's dealing with it in the most direct way possible:  Death!

Today we are being told that mixing religions allows us to get a more "balanced" view of "God."  The "god" we arrive at however, holds no resemblance to the one true God who reveals Himself in His Word and in His Son Jesus Christ.  The first king of the northern tribes of Israel led them into idolatry because he did not want his subjects going to the temple in Jerusalem to worship the one true God.  Jeroboam was his name and the sins of the kings who came after him followed his example.  One of the worst was a king named, Ahab.

Ahab, and his wife Jezebel, worshiped Baal and had opposed the prophet, Elijah.  After Elijah killed all the prophets of Baal following the display of God's power on Mt. Carmel (I Kings 18), it was Jezebel who threatened to kill Elijah and it was Jezebel who had a man named, Naboth, killed simply because he wouldn't sell his vineyard to her husband.  They were evil people and they were idolaters, leading God's people into idolatry.  God didn't take their actions lightly.  In fact, He sent Elijah to Ahab to tell him, "I am going to bring disaster on you.  I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel - slave or free.  I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin" (I Kings 21:21).

Elijah had been taken to heaven and Elisha was now a prophet in Israel, speaking the word of the LORD.  As God had been with Elijah, so He was now with Elisha and God used him to defend and protect His people from their enemies (II Kings 6-7).  As you read some of the details of the battles and events surrounding them, it is recorded that "it happened as the man of God had said to the king" (7:18).  God knows the present and the future because all things lie in His hands.  If you want to know the future of mankind, of the nations and of planet earth, all you need to do is read the Bible.  If you read a book written by someone else and it does not match what the Bible says, you know it is not true. God speaks to us today through His Word and those who claim to speak for God can ONLY speak what God's Word says!

King Ahab's son, Joram, was now reigning in Israel and his mother, Jezebel, was still living.  At this time Jehoram, son of King Jehoshaphat of Judah, began to reign in Judah.  He married one of Ahab's daughters and introduced idolatry to Judah!  God spared Judah because of His promises to David (8:19), but Jehoram and his son, Ahaziah, would not reign for long.  I hope that as you read these chapters you do not miss who is in control of Israel, Judah and the surrounding nations.  God never forgets His promises to those who seek Him and who follow His ways, and He never forgets to carry out His judgment upon those who reject Him and turn to worship idols.

God now tells Elisha to anoint Jehu to be king of Israel (it is said in 9:2 that Jehu was the son of Jehoshaphat, but this is a different Jehoshaphat than the father of Jehoram (8:16) ... see I Kings 22:41 and compare to II Kings 9:2).  This is an important distinction because God had promised that a descendant of DAVID would rule in Judah until the Messiah, the Anointed One, came.  God anointed Jehu to be King of Israel for one reason:  to bring the promised judgment on the house of Ahab.  As Elisha anointed Jehu as King of Israel he said, "You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the LORD's servants shed by Jezebel.  The whole house of Ahab shall perish" (9:6-8).

When Jehu came to obey God's command to kill King Joram, son of Ahab, Joram asked him, "Have you come in peace, Jehu?" (9:22).  Jehu responded, "How can there be peace as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?" (9:22).  We should be asking that today!  People want to have "peace" among the religions of the world, but in God's Name how can there be peace when those who pursue the religions of the world worship idols and even those who claim to know the true God join in their idolatry.  Unlike the days of the prophets and Israel and Judah, God does not call His people to put His enemies to death.  We are to offer forgiveness and life through Jesus Christ to all people ... but we must at the same time declare the truth that those who reject GOD's offer of peace in Christ will face His just judgment in due time:  eternal death.

As Jehu carried out God's judgment he declared, "Know then, that not a word the LORD has spoken against the house of Ahab will fail.  The LORD has done what He promised through His servant Elijah" (10:10).  All the descendants of Ahab and all the prophets of Baal were once again put to death.  And we read, "In those days the LORD began to reduce the size of Israel" (10:32).  It would not be long before God would send the Assyrians to bring His judgment on the whole nation of Israel.  But the tiny nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem would endure ... in spite of their own sin and seventy years of exile in Babylon, God would keep His promises to David and the Messiah would come from the line of David.

As one who has been called by God to declare His Word today, I grieve over the deception of so many who are being drawn into the "Interfaith Movement," because according to God's own Word the consequences are clear:  judgment.  The destiny of those who worship false gods today is the same as it was in the days of the kings of Israel.  No one will escape who gives God's glory to another.  The only escape is faith in the Messiah, the descendant of David whom God promised, the Savior, who suffered and died for our sins on the cross, and who rose again for our justification, our forgiveness, in order to reconcile us to the one true God.  May you know Him and worship Him only in the name of Jesus and take refuge in the LORD, our God!  He ALONE is worthy of worship!!

"O LORD, my God, You alone are God and I worship YOU, 'Abba,' Father!  I praise You for Your constant love and faithfulness to those who seek You, for it is by Your Spirit that You have called me and others to Yourself through faith in Jesus.  Help us, O LORD, our God, to boldly declare Your offer of salvation in our day, that all whom You have chosen may hear Your Word, believe in Jesus, and escape Your coming judgment.  May we heed Your warning and find refuge at the foot of the cross.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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