Nailing Down Their Idol

Isaiah 41:7 The craftsman encourages the goldsmith, and he who smooths with the hammer spurs on him who strikes the anvil. He says of the welding, “It is good.” He nails down the idol so it will not topple.

Do you see the irony in this verse? They are encouraging each other saying “it is good,” essentially playing God (remember Him proclaiming “It is good”?), and all the while they can see with their eyes that it’s not that good. I mean, it has to be nailed down otherwise it will topple over.

How often is this scenario played out today? Not long ago I came across someone recommending a blog article about the earthquake in Port-Au-Prince. The author of the article said that we could know God wasn’t behind the earthquake because God is love and because we know not everything that happens is His will since sin happens.

A round of encouragement went up. “It is good,” said the peanut gallery.

What idol were they nailing down? Their fake God who loves everyone so much He would never do anything that would hurt or kill someone. This is the same God who loves people too much to send them to hell. A God who loves couldn’t send someone to hell to suffer!

What is the obvious flaw in the idol that they ignore, like the nail holding down the golden image? The God of the Bible often killed people. You can’t get very far into the Bible before God wipes out the entire population save 8 people. It’s extremely plain that God was behind the flood. Of course, they would say that’s just poetry, not to be taken literally. What about the death and destruction God tells us is still to come in the book in the Revelation? Not literal? So…how about the earth swallowing Korah whole along with all his family and possessions (Num. 16)? Again,  it was clear that it was God doing it. It was a punishment for sin. Speaking of which, the Bible says that death is the result of sin. “For the wages of sin is death.”

God is completely just in taking the life of any sinner. It’s His grace that puts up with us long enough to seek Him and come to Him. It’s His love that displays itself in His mercy towards us in that He offers forgiveness so that we can repent and be filled with the Holy Spirit and be freed from sin and death.

Let’s stop repeating platitudes and start quoting Scripture. Read the Bible for yourself and if something goes against what you’ve been taught, perk up! Don’t dismiss it. Ask God to show you the truth. Believe the word of God. Believe what the Bible says. And show it by acting on it, by obeying it.

Faith and Obedience, Fear and Disbelief

I have written recently about faith that ends in rest in God’s promises. And I have written recently about obeying the word of the Lord. Here’s a story from Jeremiah where the remnant of Israel doesn’t have faith but are fearful. Their fear leads to disbelief when Jeremiah tells them the word of the Lord. Because of their fear, they don’t believe the word, and the evidence of their disbelief is their disobedience to the word.


Jeremiah 42:11-16

Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the LORD, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands.  I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.’

“However, if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ and so disobey the LORD your God, and if you say, ‘No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the trumpet or be hungry for bread,’ then hear the word of the LORD, O remnant of Judah. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go to settle there, then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die.


They didn’t believe the word of the Lord coming from Jeremiah. His words that the Lord will deliver them agrees with the Scriptures.  But they didn’t believe the word. They didn’t want to believe the word because they didn’t want to obey it.

This is a frequently used method for justifying disobedience, sin. If we say the command isn’t true, then we feel we don’t have to obey it. But, of course, it’s not up to us to decide what’s true and what’s not. God’s word is always true. If you want to believe what the Bible says about salvation, then you have to take the whole of Scriptures.

In the story in Jeremiah 42 they didn’t want to believe and obey because they were afraid. They didn’t trust in the Lord to deliver them. They wanted to trust their flesh, what they could see with their eyes. It seemed safer to disobey.

And God’s response was to send on them all the things they were afraid of. I can actually think of three instances of missionaries who went back to America or went to another field because they perceived it to be safer. There was fear of the place where God had called them to minister. In each case someone died shortly after moving to the “safe” place.

The only safe place is abiding in Christ. If we walk by the Spirit, obeying the Spirit and not the flesh, then we have nothing to fear. The fear of the Lord is the only fear that should grip us and direct our steps.

I’m not saying there will be no hardships. We are promised persecutions if we live in righteousness, but we are also promised deliverance.

God tells us:

The Lord says, “I will save the one who loves me. I will keep him safe, because he trusts in me.” Psalm 91:14

And who is the one who loves God:

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me…” John 14:21

Remembering the Poor

But Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard left behind in the land of Judah some of the poor people, who owned nothing; and at that time he gave them vineyards and fields. Jeremiah 39:10

Here Judah is being overthrown by the Chaldeans, people are being killed or hauled off into captivity, but the poorest are not only left alone, they are given land, something they never had before. I love this example of God remembering the poor.

In the Levitical law we read one way of how God remembered the poor. The Jews were commanded, “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 23:22

Although we are warned not to show partiality toward the poor (Lev. 19:15), we are also told not to discriminate against them (James 2:2-4). Here are some other things we are told.

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21

“Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.” Acts 10:31

All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. Galations 2:10

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,” Luke 4:18

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14

To be a Christian is to remember the poor. To be like Jesus we must bring the gospel to the poor. He literally proclaimed the recovery of sight to the blind and he literally preached to the poor. We are told to give to the poor and to invite them in.

Jesus also tells us we will always have the poor with us and can do good any time we wish. It is wonderful to give your money to the poor, especially to bless those of the household of faith. And it’s wonderful to participate in sharing the gospel with the poor. But consider when the last time was you invited the poor in? Did you have a homeless person at your dinner table when you feasted on Thanksgiving or Christmas?

One way to to prepare for the worsening economy is to give to the poor. Treat them as you want to be treated. We are told that in giving to the poor we will be “providing purses” for ourselves that won’t ever be empty (Luke 12:33). But there are more ways to give to the poor. We can give them our time, our energy, our love–the love of Christ–the kind of love that’s not afraid to reach out and touch.

The Prophet and the Word of the Lord

Our family has been reading through the Bible, about a chapter a day. My husband reads it aloud after breakfast to our squirmy crew. We’ve recently finished 1 Kings and have had the fun of trying to explain some of the seemingly crazy prophet stories in there to our children.

I was thinking about these again tonight as I read about the sons of Jonadab in Jeremiah 35. God tells his prophet, Jeremiah, to go to the sons of Jonadab and give them wine. He does and he tells them to drink it. They refuse because their father had commanded them to never drink wine. They disobeyed the prophet, but obeyed their father (and God’s command to honor your father). They were commended by the Lord and blessed because of their obedience.

This reminded me of the story from 1 Kings 13 where the Lord commands a prophet to not eat or drink water in the place where he was sent. He obeys, at first. But then another prophet comes and tells him that “an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.'” (vs. 18)  So the prophet listens to him and eats and drinks water. Because he had disobeyed the Lord’s command to him, he was killed by a lion on his way home.

One obeyed the prophet of the Lord but disobeyed God’s command and was killed. One obeyed God’s command but disobeyed the prophet and was blessed.

There is no substitute for knowing the Lord’s voice and obeying it. It doesn’t matter what any teacher says or any other person who claims to be God’s spokesperson. It doesn’t matter how right they make it sound. It only matters what God says–his clear commands in Scriptures and the things you know He has personally taught you and convicted you about by His Spirit. These are the things you need to follow and cling to as truth.

Remember, in these two examples the prophets were truly prophets of God. They had been confirmed as God’s prophets. The word of the Lord had been known to come to them. But it didn’t matter. Only God’s word mattered.

God’s prophets have a tremendous job in the church. I’m not saying we should ignore prophets or muzzle them. I’m just showing the importance of knowing God’s word for ourselves and obeying it. We can’t follow others. We need to follow Christ alone.

Christ, Himself, Will Be Our Shepherd

Before the church heads into the tribulation, the Lord will prepare it. In fact the Lord will reestablish Himself as the head of the Church. The church today is a business, an organization with a top-down structure. But the problem is Jesus isn’t at the head of it. In Ezekiel 34 we read of God’s pronouncement of judgment against leaders who are not caring for God’s people but were only truly caring for themselves, then also of God’s promise to place his shepherd over his people.

7 ” ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD : 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9 therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD : 10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them…22 I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. 23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd.

This uniting of the one, true Church, with Christ as the head is something I long for. And it will come because Christ will lead His Church through the tribulation. We will not go scattered and alone. He will lead His people safely through. That doesn’t mean there will be no martyrdom. It means our lives cannot be taken from us, but God could call us to give up our lives as Christ and the apostles did. Read this vision of what is to take place as the church/Church heads toward the tribulation.

-Bryan Hupperts.

I dreamed I was aboard a luxury liner, the good ship Christendom,
converted curiously enough from a battleship, cruising blissfully
through a lazy blue ocean. The cruise ads had promised clear
skies, a great time, fun entertainment with some of the greatest
speakers and singers of our time, and feast upon feast of a vast
array of culinary delicacies from around the globe.

For some odd reason I had the impression this was supposed to
be a family cruise but the wealthiest were atop in the luxury suites,
quite isolated and protected from the rest of us who were secured
in various levels of the ship each according to our rank of importance
and wealth. Somehow, it didn’t feel right.

Aside from a growing uneasiness that something wasn’t quite right
on this vast cruise ship, I was enjoying myself listening to great
teachers and wonderful singers all the while surrounded by a few
close friends.

One night, as I climbed into my bunk, I felt the ship begin to rock.
It was a gentle rocking but soon the ship was tossing and heaving
like a fish needing air. People were being thrown out of their bunks
and began scrambling to get to the decks. Were we sinking?

I staggered like a drunken man up the stairs to see a sight
unthinkable. The deck was rocking violently and everything that
could be shaken was being shaken. Baggage and luxuries were
being thrown overboard by the cresting of the waves and it seemed
the ship would split into timbers. And through the swirling fog I
saw what looked like another ship: a pirate ship?

We were being boarded and overtaken. It happened so fast there
was almost no resistance. Some from the upper decks were
shouting, “You cannot do this. We are the lords of this voyage.”
And a shrouded figure I took for the Captain of the attacking vessel
stepped out of the shadows and replied simply; “It is not to be so
among you for there is only one Lord.”

Within a few minutes many of the passengers and crew were in
chains for not having “lawfully boarded,” while the rest of us were
ordered to different decks. The whole ship was in ordered turmoil
as everyone aboard was assigned a new place. A man named
Mr. Prophet, who had been in irons for most of the voyage for
“Speaking Mutiny” against the now deposed former Captain who
ironically wore his same chains, was summarily released and
placed into the watchtower to be the eyes of the ship.

A woman named Mrs. Intercessor who was serving in the galley
as a lowly cook was sent to the deepest hole in the ship. I
wondered about her punishment and asked one of the shining
soldiers why this was so. He smiled and said, “She is close to
the Captain’s heart and needs the silence to be alone with him to
hear his heart clearly. She has cried out to be released into this
‘punishment’ for many years. It is a station of great honor.”

Others tried to use their former rank to demand an audience with
the Captain but he ignored their swagger and boasts seeming
instead drawn to the meek and lowly of heart, giving no regard to
a person’s rank or status.

The ship’s powerful self-propelling engines were unbolted and
dropped like useless, dead weights into the forgetfulness of the
ocean! A mast went up and in a moment, she was transformed
from running under her own power back into a sailing ship. Her
ancient armory that had been locked tight was opened anew and
her weapons were remounted transforming her into both a sailing
ship and a warship. Many of the singers quit entertaining and
began to offer up worship on the warship. An order was given to
the speakers, “Quit merely speaking and teach by example. To
your labor stations!”

Some who had beaten their fellow passengers during the voyage
were publicly humiliated as a quick trial took place. Those who
had abused their fellow passengers were allowed to remain on
the ship and surprisingly were treated as guests of the Captain,
but even what they had was taken away from them. There was a
fast redistribution of wealth and duty as everyone was released
into a place that somehow suddenly felt “right.” We were no more
divided into passengers and crew, but all simply crewmembers,
fellow shipmates united under one Captain.

The Captain assembled the whole ship’s company and, while
holding a bottle of new wine in his hand, spoke quickly. “I come
to liberate, not enslave! I have come to reclaim what is mine by
birthright. I have retaken this ship that the pirates stole from me.
She is no more christened The Christendom, but her true name,
the good ship Salvation!”

He broke the bottle of new wine over her bow. “All who will may
board her freely for the price to sail has been paid in full. We set
sail for my Father’s kingdom. Rebels and mutineers, beware! Your
day of retribution draws swiftly near. Behold, I come quickly!”

A cheer went up from the crew as the sails were hoisted and a
sudden wind from the deepest Heaven began to blow, propelling
her towards an unseen land. My last sight was seeing her proper
Captain at the wheel with his joyous face yet set like flint for the
voyage to come. I sensed troubled waters of tribulation brewing
and knew that only with the true Captain at the helm would we
safely reach our destination.

Bryan Hupperts
© 2004 SheepTrax Media

A Ministry of Tribulation

“And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.  But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’  Acts 26:15-18

At the time of Paul’s conversion Jesus tells him what his job is going to be…he’s to be a minister who opens eyes to the truth and turns them from darkness to the light and he’s going to do it by being a witness to how God had appeared to him and of how God has rescued him. Jesus is telling him that he’s going to see some trouble, but he’ll be rescued from it and God will use it to bring forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among his people.

When Ananias was leery of receiving Paul, persecutor of the Christians, God told him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)

Paul was chosen to suffer, not for the sake of suffering, but for the ministry of being a witness to God’s consistent, faithful deliverance.
Paul lists his many troubles for us: in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Chronicles 11:23-27)
Any of these was probably enough to kill the man. But he didn’t die. That wasn’t what he was appointed to. He was to be a witness to how God rescued him. And rescue him, God did. Later Paul does become a witness to the very fact and says of the many things he suffered, “Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.” (2 Timothy 3:11b)

We are told often in the New Testament of troubles. We are encouraged that our trials will result in our further sanctification. But maybe our troubles are for another purpose too, to give us the opportunity to be a witness of how God rescues his children.
So the next time you feel you are sinking under all your troubles, take your eyes off your problems and look to Jesus. Be still in your heart and watch for his mighty hand to reach down and rescue you. Then testify of our God who saves.