Chapter 3 Lessons from the Past
In the previous chapter we looked at why it is so important to study the Bible with God’s Spirit. That requires a high degree of communication with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Moses learned to increase that communication skill. But Moses was restricted by the group he had to serve. But how far can we get with our communication with God? We’ll never know until we try.
Most Christians know the stories about Israel crossing the wilderness was a lesson. All those people didn’t die for nothing. We have to learn to look back at a few of those lessons. Israel turned their backs on God. Israel rejected God. Israel second guessed God. They also decided to look at the promised land based on their own senses and ignore God’s command to walk right in and take it over. Israel could not get past their worldly, human senses. That is one lesson we have to learn before we can understand the judgment system.
There’s no doubt, God judged Israel and the outcome was not good for the people who decided to put Moses between themselves and God. All the people who chose to accept the eyewitness account of the promised land over God’s view lost their lives. They never made it to the promised land. Which of course is a symbol of reaching eternal life in the Promised Land. Here we will take a look at a few of the warnings God shared with Israel.
Deuteronomy 28:44-48 NLTse (44) They will lend money to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, and you will be the tail! (45) “If you refuse to listen to the LORD your God and to obey the commands and decrees he has given you, all these curses will pursue and overtake you until you are destroyed. (46) These horrors will serve as a sign and warning among you and your descendants forever. (47) If you do not serve the LORD your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, (48) you will serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The LORD will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until he has destroyed you.
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What does that have to do with God’s judgment process? We have to look at the lessons that were supposed to be handed down from one generation to the next. Whenever we place anyone between us and God, who are we serving? Are we serving God with joy and enthusiasm? Or are we looking for an easy way out? Are we serving God or the person we place between ourselves and God?
Do you know how to test what you are taught by human beings? Do you read the entire story they quote from? Do you compare what they tell you to other stories in the Bible? If you’re not, all you are doing is taking the easy way out. You are cheating yourself of time with God. And cheating Jesus who is patiently waiting for you to spend time with Him.
You will be left spiritually hungry, thirsty, and naked. Where will that leave you? When you hear something new, will you reject it? Or will you run to your teacher to have them test it for you? Neither one of those choices does nothing to get you closer to God. In a sense, you are serving an idol. Is that idol yourself or another person you put in place of Christ? Let’s take a look at another part of Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 29:17-21 NLTse (17) You have seen their detestable practices and their idols made of wood, stone, silver, and gold. (18) I am making this covenant with you so that no one among you–no man, woman, clan, or tribe–will turn away from the LORD our God to worship these gods of other nations, and so that no root among you bears bitter and poisonous fruit. (19) “Those who hear the warnings of this curse should not congratulate themselves, thinking, ‘I am safe, even though I am following the desires of my own stubborn heart.’ This would lead to utter ruin! (20) The LORD will never pardon such people. Instead his anger and jealousy will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will come down on them, and the LORD will erase their names from under heaven. (21) The LORD will separate them from all the tribes of Israel, to pour out on them all the curses of the covenant recorded in this Book of Instruction.
Here is a reference to God’s judgment. Taking your name out of the names under Heaven is a rather serious action. It points to a loss of eternal life. When we look at those lessons under the viewpoint of the judgment process, we can see a few spiritual lessons. Idols and false gods take on a whole new meaning. False gods can be anything. Money, items, people you idolize, sometime it can be beliefs or doctrines contrary to the Bible. Those can be muddy waters.
A stubborn heart can be an idol and false god. Those are the ones we have to learn to put away. Do you know everything about God’s judgment? Of course you don’t. If you did, you’d know exactly what Jesus is doing today. There are a lot of questions we don’t have the answer to. We have to learn to be patient. We have to learn to be open. We have to learn to know God’s voice and instructions. We don’t seem to hear God’s voice the way Israel did. But we have the New Testament with a much clearer view of God’s plan of salvation. We have all that information at our finger tips, but what are we doing with it?
The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37 RSVA).
Jesus built upon those lessons Moses recorded and explained those lessons in plain, easy to understand language. A good man does good. A evil man hands out evil. That includes all kinds of problems. In the end, your words will either justify you, or condemn you.
Do your words really justify you? That all depends on what your words are. If your words plead with Jesus to forgive you and claim His blood and sacrifice as your shield and protection, you will be forgiven. And on the other hand, of you depend on yourself, you think you have everything figured out, and try to appear like you know it all, you better watch out. Let’s take a look at the next story in Matthew chapter 12.
Matthew 12:40-45 KJV For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (41) The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (42) The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. (43) When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. (44) Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. (45) Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
We see the word judgment pop up in this story. It appears some of the last people we would expect to see in Heaven will he there judging other people. We can take a closer look at that process later. The point here is, the judgment process is noting like any of us imagine it to be. When it comes to God’s plans, there are always twists and turns we find difficult to wrap our human minds around.
Then Jesus told a story about a demon leaving a person and returning with seven other spirits. In other words, when you begin that transformation process, that preparation process to accept the scriptures, don’t turn back. The devil is patiently lying in the weeds ready to send out reinforcements.