Posts Tagged ‘restoration’

I became a police officer in 1981. I came to faith in 1984. Young, stupid, and un-discipled, I eventually fell back into my old, sinful ways. I did not yet understand the spiritual principle regarding holiness — the notion of being set apart for God and endeavoring to make it known, perpetually.
I attempted to share my faith, but rapidly succumb to the ridicule of both criminal and coworker. I blame neither for my downward spiral – – the fault was my own. I was like the seed that sprang up quickly and the one that fell among the thorns: shallow roots growing amongst weeds. In other words: I was not growing in my faith and I was not practicing holiness (set-apartness).
It reminds me of Lot.
Consider one of the most disturbing portions of Scripture:
“Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing.” (Genesis 19:8)
For centuries scholars have debated why a man would make such a despicable offer. Some have even attempted to defend Lot’s action. The truth be told, the deed is indefensible. We can however surmise that Lot got to this horrendous condition through a lack of spiritual growth and a lack of holiness.
Sodom was a vile place, replete with depravity, perversion, and sexual sin. Why Lot chose to live in such a place we may never know, but we can speculate that on day one, week one, or even year one of living in Sodom, Lot would not have offered his daughters up to be raped. However, after 25 years of living there, he was worn down by the continual vice, brutality, and materialism. Two and a half decades of compromise, turning a blind-eye, cowering in fear, and concealing his faith brought Lot to this place. It did not happen overnight. Shallow roots among thorns have little chance.
On the other hand, consider Abraham. While not a perfect man, he was a faith-filled man, a man who grew in his knowledge of the Lord and exercised holiness, opting to remain untethered to the world as a nomadic tent dweller. Sodom essentially lay at his doorstep, but he was not of Sodom. He was free to engage with the world on his terms and not on theirs. As a result, he was used mightily by God.
As with Lot, God did not abandon me, He rescued me. Like Lot, my salvation was secure because by faith I believed. But in those days, I was not of much use to God. Thankfully our Lord is both gracious and merciful, and remains faithful when we are not. He restores what the locust devours, that is if we allow Him to.
Study the word, be in prayer, and be ye holy.

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And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart, and said to her, “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” Judges 16:16-17

Vexed to Death

Make no mistake about it, we all have a sin problem, but unlike the penitent Christian, Sampson was actively pursuing his immoral indulgences and in due season, his perverse activity caught up to him. The fact of the matter is that Sampson had numerous opportunities to nip his Delilah-problem in the bud, but because he took pleasure in the mocking, the lying, and the adulterous lifestyle, it grew like a tick on a lazy dog.

A continual dripping on a very rainy day And a contentious woman are alike; Whoever restrains her restrains the wind, And grasps oil with his right hand. Proverbs 27:15-16

Nag, Nag, Nag

First things first—Sampson understood exactly what he was doing. There had already been three previous attempts on Sampson’s life and he was fully aware that Delilah’s latest scheme wasn’t going to vary all that much from the others. Nobody (gulp) is that stupid. Sampson knew that what he had revealed would ultimately lead to a haircut.

No Power in the Hair

I submit to you that Sampson knew there was no power in his hair. What I believe is that he had the mistaken notion that God was turning a blind eye to his sin. Why would he suppose such a thing? Because there were three components of a Nazirite vow: no grapes, no touching of dead things, and no razor upon the head. Sampson had already violated the first two when he entered a vineyard and [later] touched the lion’s carcass. At this juncture Sampson had to be thinking, “God didn’t seem to care about those indiscretions, so he likely will not care about this one either.”

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

Isn’t that the mistake we so often make as well? We falsely assume that because God is patient and long suffering, because He is gracious and merciful, that somehow the sin we have been getting away with is okay, or worse yet, not a sin at all. There are many people today participating in sin because they falsely believe it is not a sin. I believe this was Sampson’s error. We must never make the mistake that seasonal liberality is in some way permission to transgress. God never winks at sin.

However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven. Judges 16:22

Well we know what happened to Sampson; they shaved his head, poked out his eyes, tied him up, and put him to work at the grind stone. The obvious application for us is that sin is the grind that blinds and binds. But something began to happen to Sampson as he treaded out the grain, something way beyond is hair growing back—he began to grow inwardly—Sampson was becoming spiritually mature. Sampson would die a blind man as depravity always has it’s consequences, but in his repentance God would bring restoration.

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten… Joel 2:25a

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The second lot came out for Simeon, for the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families. And their inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah…Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites came near to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the children of Israel. And they spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, “The Lord commanded through Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with their common-lands for our livestock.” Joshua 19:1 ~and~ Joshua 21:1-2

A Wonderful Illustration

Joshua had led the nation of Israel across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. For believers today, the Promised Land is a depiction of the Spirit-filled life in Jesus Christ in addition to the historical event that it was. The battles had been fought and the victory contained, and all that remained were the mopping-up activities; skirmishes that continue to this very day. It was now time to divvy up the inheritance according to the guidelines the Lord established through Jacob back in Genesis.

Simeon and Levi were two of the twelve tribes of Israel and above we read about their portions. Simeon’s share of the inheritance was, as the passage cites, was within that of Judah’s and in time, Simeon was surrounded and swallowed up by the tribe of Judah. While there are most certainly descendants of the tribe of Simeon around today, for the most part they have been absorbed into Judah and we do not hear a lot about them from this point forward—a very sad indictment on that tribe.

The Levites on the other hand made out very well. While it is absolutely true they received no inheritance, they ultimately were given forty-eight cities in which to perpetually reside—unlike Simeon they were blessed on a very large scale. So what was the difference between these two tribes? We first need to go back to Genesis.

“Simeon and Levi are brothers; Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their assembly; For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob And scatter them in Israel.” Genesis 49:5-7

Simeon and Levi were in effect cursed because of their behavior in the Dinah incident. We would recall that their sister (Dinah) was raped by a guy named Shechem (who lived in Shechem). In retaliation, they duped the Shechemites into being circumcised and when they were recovering they went through that city and killed them all. This enraged Jacob and later on, as he handed out the blessing to his sons, he opts to lay a curse on Simeon and Levi.

The Levites are Redeemed

Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side–come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ” So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Exodus 32:25-28

The sons of Levi answered Moses’ call-to-arms; all the tribes were asked and only Levi responded. For this reason Levi was given a much larger and more generous portion of forty-eight cities. They still received no inheritance, but they were rewarded in their repentance—they took the correct stand when the godly call was put forth. Simeon could have responded similarly, but history records they remained silent. As a result Simeon’s portion was absorbed by Judah.

The Application for Us

As far as Simeon and Levi go, we’re in the same boat. Their disobedient act is merely a representation of the types of things we did before coming to Christ. What they did afterwards is where we get an application we can use: Levi got back on the horse and Simeon did not. Simeon lived in a curse and Levi lived in their blessings. From a practical stand point, both were saved, but one wasted away in someone else’s brilliance and the other rose above the hand they dealt themselves. Yes, there were still consequences for Levi, but the Lord in His grace and mercy made away to bless them in a different way.

As a Christian, we have the same choices. If we want, in our saved-state, we can elect to do nothing. Oh, we’re still going to Heaven, but what a waste of a Christian we are on earth. Great is the reward in Heaven for those who willingly and cheerfully serve while stationed on earth.

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So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. “I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beast of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land. Exodus 23:25-30

“When is my life going to get better?” a new-believer asked me recently.“What if it doesn’t…Is Heaven enough?” was my reply.

There is an expectation on the part of God for us to ask questions of this type. This is reckonable because, as we read our Bibles, we see that He has blessed us with the answers to our questions before we have asked them. The key to spiritual comprehension; i.e. receiving the correct answer to our specific inquiry, is to examine what the Lord has to say on the matter as a whole—contextually, otherwise there will likely be misunderstandings.

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

The truth of the matter is that God will bless us when we commit ourselves to serving Him and for some, those blessings may only be made manifest once they cross over form this life to the next. God is very clear that although our sins have been washed cleaned by the blood of Christ, there are still earthly consequences for iniquity. This must be so because our God is a God of order. Could you imagine if the two billion people who call themselves Christian were suddenly released from their punitive responsibilities? There would be worldwide anarchy contrary to what God has established

“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7

There is a godly process to restoration. The doctrine being established in Exodus 34 maintains that our behavior (good or bad) will have an affect on generations to come. If a father is an alcoholic (for example) and repents towards Jesus after his children have grown, there is still going to be an inevitable residue left upon his family. God is not saying those kids are cursed, but affected—there is a difference. The ‘reaping and sowing doctrine’ does not disappear merely because we have given our hearts to Jesus. In actuality it is the ‘reaping and sowing doctrine’ that declares (by God’s grace) we can sow anew and reap afresh.

Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land. Exodus 23:30

An Explanation

God does not always offer explanations for His actions, so when He does we need to pay very close attention. Exodus 23:30 outlines a process by which we might grow spiritually and faithfully; a process that requires His perfect timing. Any attempt to circumvent His timing can only result in a deficiency in the blessing or perhaps even demolish the opportunity all together. The bottom line is that God is not making us to wait as retribution for behavior past, but so we ‘increase’ as a result of His perfect work in us. If God’s provision in this regard were instantaneous, the transformation in us would likely never come to pass. And do not be fooled into thinking this is just about patience…

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

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