Sunday, March 14, 2010

Horoscope, Right or Wrong?

Is Reading Your Horoscope Wrong?

Q. My granddaughter has a friend who is reading his horoscope daily and sees nothing wrong with it. She needs specific verses of scripture to show him that will convince him it is demonic. I am familiar with the verses in Deuteronomy 18, and in several places in Daniel, but they are not as specific as I would like. Can you help?

The phrase “observer of times” in Deut. 18:10 and other places is commonly regarded to mean astrology and is described as being detestable to God. The study of astrology was forbidden in the Old Testament.

You didn’t mention whether the friend is a believer or not, but if he is then knowing something is detestable to God should be sufficient motivation to stop doing it, whether he believes it’s demonic or not.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Importance Of Judging Through God's Eyes

The Right Spirit For Judgment

From Pilgrims Journal

We may find ourselves in a position (as a parent, supervisor, pastor, etc.) to punish or discipline, but with what spirit do we correct? If we want to work with God and God to work with us, we must operate in the same Spirit. Judges chapters 20-21 illustrates how Israel came into the same Spirit so that God could use them for punishment and restoration. There are invaluable lessons in these passages for us who are called to rule and reign with Christ.

A horrible offence had taken place in Gibeah, within the tribe of Benjamin, and the wicked needed to be punished. The punishment for raping a married or betrothed woman was death (Deut 22:25). When the whole tribe of Benjamin defended the wicked men of Gibeah, they put themselves in line to receive the same punishment (Compare with Deut 13:12-15).

“Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the Lord in Mizpeh. So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man. And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, ‘What wickedness is this that is done among you? Now therefore deliver us the men, the children of Belial, which are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel.’ But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel: but the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel” (Judg 20:1, 11-14).

The men of Israel quickly rose to the occasion to “stand for righteousness.”

“And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, ‘Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin?’ And the Lord said, ‘Judah shall go up first’” (Judg 20:18).

When the men of Israel sought God about this grave matter, the only question was, “Who shall go up first?” It seems that everyone was ready to be first (if told) to smite the Benjamites. So maybe, God was called upon to be an arbitrator only. Nevertheless, it was God’s will to punish Benjamin, therefore He answered their question.

The number of men taking part in this battle is important. There were 26,700 men of Benjamin and 400,000 men of Israel.

“And the children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the Israelites that day twenty and two thousand men” (Judg 20:21).

What a surprise! The Benjamites were outnumbered 15 to 1, yet they killed 22,000 Israelites! Weren’t the Benjamites the bad guys and the Israelites the good guys? Didn’t God tell the Israelites to fight? Yes, but God was working something into the Israelites.

“And the children of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until even, and asked counsel of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother?’ And the Lord said, ‘Go up against him’” (Judg 20:23).

Now we can see what God was doing. This time the Israelites wept when they sought the Lord. There were no tears the first time. Also, this time they were asking if they should go up to battle against Benjamin. When you ask, you know the answer could be “yes” or “no.” Now, the Israelites were not eager to punish; their selfish motives were removed by their loss on the battlefield.

The first time their attitude was, “Who should go up first against these no-good Benjamites, children of the devil?” This time, they asked, “Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother?” Now there is some sympathy in their hearts for the Benjamites. The men of Israel had tasted some of the punishment God told them to afflict upon Benjamin. Now, in empathy, they refer to Benjamin as “my brother.” Again, God says, “Go up against him.”

“And the children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day. And Benjamin went forth against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand men; all these drew the sword” (Judg 20:24-25).

Another setback! Not as bad as the first day, but still a great disaster! Yet we can see that God is still working.

“Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the Lord, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And the children of Israel inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease?’ And the Lord said, ‘Go up; for tomorrow I will deliver them into thine hand’” (Judg 20:26-28).

In two days of fighting, the Israelites lost 40,000 men. That’s more men than the entire tribe of Benjamin! This God-ordained punishment was hurting the Israelites more than the Benjamites! This is an illustration of the love of God. If God has to punish His people, it hurts Him too.

After the second day of loss, the Israelites again sought the Lord with weeping, but this time humbling themselves with fasting too. They also offered burnt offerings and peace offerings after the second day. This time they asked if they should again go out against their brother Benjamin, or if they should cease. This question (“should I cease?”) shows that they did not want to punish their brother. They only wanted to do what God wanted, no more and no less. This is what the whole burnt offering represented: doing only what the Lord desires for our lives. Now, they were no longer motivated by pride, anger, hatred, despising, etc. They were at peace with God and their brother. This is what the peace offering represented—peace with God and man. Now they are in the Spirit of Christ and God can use them for punishment; they won’t inflict any more than what God ordains.

In the Book of Revelation, only Jesus Christ the Lamb of God was found worthy to open the book, loose the seals thereof and send great tribulation upon the earth. He has suffered to take away the sins of the world, proving His love for all mankind. He alone could be trusted by the Father to inflict no more punishment than required.

“And the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and put themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times” (Judg 20:30).

“So that all which fell that day of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword; all these were men of valour. But six hundred men turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months. And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to” (Judg 20:46-48).

“And the people came to the house of God, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore; and said, ‘O Lord God of Israel, why is this come to pass in Israel, that there should be today one tribe lacking in Israel?’ And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings… and the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, ‘There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day. How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing we have sworn by the Lord that we will not give them of our daughters to wives?’” (Judg 21:2-7).

“Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up” (Hos 6:1). God had used the Israelites to smite Benjamin, but now they want to be used to heal them. The Israelites are now weeping, but it’s not for themselves; they are weeping for their brother Benjamin, the “enemy.” Their entire focus is to lawfully restore the remnant that escaped.

“But them that are without, God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1Cor 5:13). We don’t see any repentance at all by Benjamin anywhere in these chapters. Even if we have to reject a backslider who is actively sinning, and cast him out of the church, God doesn’t want to see anything in us except love for that soul.

If Israel had not been humbled, they may have laid siege to the remnant at the rock Rimmon and killed all of Benjamin. Thank God they didn’t. The Apostle Paul came from Benjamin.

“And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the Lord had made a breach in the tribes of Israel” (Judg 21:15).

Even though Benjamin didn’t repent, God worked a change, (a repentance) in Israel.

“And they said, ‘There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel’” (Judg 21:17).

How beautiful: “There must be an inheritance for them that escaped.” This is the hope and faith that Israel had for Benjamin. “Faith which worketh by love” (Gal 5:6).

Chapter 21:6-7 states that the men of Israel “repented” and asked, ”How shall we do for wives for them that remain?” Then the men of Israel discovered a way to get wives for 400 of the 600 Benjamites that escaped. In verses 15-16, the Israelites again “repented,” and asked, “How shall we do for wives for them that remain?” Then they discovered a way to get wives for the remaining 200 men. Thus, the tribe of Benjamin was torn, but also healed by the men of Israel.

In our lives, let us learn to judge as God judges, with love and compassion, knowing that his purposes for our lives are redemptive in nature, to bring us closer to Him.

No chastening, correction, or rebuke is easy to take, but if we realize that it is coming from a heart of love, from our heavenly Father, we can take it in the right spirit and bring forth the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Heb 12:11). Let us also remember, as we are in positions of responsibility over others (be it parents, teachers, pastors, or in the work place) we must learn to see everything through the eyes of the Lord who has good thoughts towards us to bring us to an expected end (Jer 29:11). “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:1-2 NIV). ❏

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Does the birth pangs of our times serve God's dual purpose?

Birth Pangs And Judgments

Q. In your article “2012…End of the World?” you stated, “Earth’s land mass has been pushed apart to form the current continents and islands, the Earth’s orbit has been extended by 5 ¼ days, and its axis tilted by 23.44 degrees. All this and more will have to be fixed in order for Earth to once again be the paradise it was created to be.” A journalist on a secular news video stated today that the earthquake in Chile, “moved so much mass on the planet that government scientists estimate it moved the earth off it’s axis by about three inches; shortened the day by a few millionths of a second; and raised the ground level of one island by six feet.”

I understand that earthquakes like these are part of the “birth pangs”, but do you also see this as God restoring the planet to its original form? Or do you see this happening more during Daniel’s 70th week and the Great Tribulation judgments?

A. I can’t prove this from the Bible, but it’s my belief that the End Times judgments, beginning in a small way with the so-called birth pangs, will serve a dual purpose. In addition to being the means of punishment for the unbelieving world they will also be preparing Earth for its restoration to the way it was when Adam was created. I believe that’s why the return of the Lord is sometimes called the renewal (regeneration, restoration, restitution)) of all things, as in Matt. 19:28 and Acts 3:21.