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THE NUMBERS GAME

Abraham made a deal with God that if there were 10 righteous souls in Sodom, God would not destroy it.

As it were, God did destroy Sodom, so clearly there weren’t even 10 righteous souls there.

However, I’m wondering if someone had done a show-of-hands survey just prior to the destruction to see how many people in Sodom self-identified as righteous, I’m guessing a lot more than 10 people would have raised their hands.

By the same token, of the million or so souls who were of age (20 years and up) when they left Egypt in the exodus, only 2 (Caleb and Joshua) were considered by God to be sufficiently righteous to enter the Promised Land.

And of all those alive during the days of Noah, only Noah was considered sufficiently righteous to be spared the flood.

So let’s take a look at this – so far, the actual named righteous out of millions if not billions of souls who lived during those eras are 4 in total: Lot, Caleb, Joshua and Noah. (Their families were spared as chattel.)

We could also add Abraham, of course, but that only makes 5.

What about the 2 billion Christians today? How many of them do you think would raise their hands and self-identify as righteous? There were many children of Israel during the days of Jesus’ ministry who would have self-identified as righteous, too, and some of those Jesus told to their face they didn’t have a hope in Hades of getting to Heaven, not in the spiritual state they were in.

These low numbers should be very sobering to us.

Do you consider yourself to be as righteous as Lot? How about as righteous as Noah? Or maybe as righteous as Stephen, the first martyr of the church, who prayed for and forgave those who were stoning him to death while they were stoning him to death? We know that Moses made it to Heaven, too, and Elijah, because they came to visit Jesus during the so-called transfiguration on the mount. So now, along with the other named 5 souls, we’ve got a few more, but not many.

This speaks to me of how difficult it is to make it all the way Home. At the same time, it also speaks to me of how full of crap the mainstream Christian church must be to assure their adherents that Jesus did all the heavy lifting, so all they have to do is show up every Sunday and/or give money to the church, and off to Heaven they go. Or something like that.

I frankly do not consider myself righteous. I have a long way to go before I would make such a claim, if ever. And I think the point here is precisely that: We cannot judge our own righteousness or the righteousness of others. We cannot know definitively whether we’re righteous before God. Abraham thought it was a sure thing to negotiate God down to just 10 righteous souls in Sodom, thinking there must be at least 10, but he was wrong. There was only 1.

And then there was none.

*****

We read of visions of mass destruction throughout the book of Revelation and in Ezekiel 9. Mass destruction was also recorded as historical fact in the book of Jeremiah and in Genesis and elsewhere. In the visions and actual scenes of destruction, very few are spared. Jeremiah relays how mothers cooked and ate their own children during the famine when Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonians, in fulfillment of Moses’ prophecies in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.

It’s a nasty world out there, filled with nasty people doing nasty things. God knows that. None of what anyone does is a surprise to him. But don’t you be nasty. Don’t you eat your own children, no matter how hungry you get. Don’t you congregate around the door of your neighbour, demanding he bring out his guests so you can rape them. Don’t you strip yourself naked and dance drunk around a golden calf made from the very gold God gave you for his temple ornaments. Don’t you sell everything you have and give only half to the poor, hiding away the other half for a rainy day.

In other words, don’t be unrighteous. Be like the people of Nineveh, who repented when they were told they needed to repent. That’s how you overcome any unrighteousness you may not even know is in you.

Jesus’ message at the start of his ministry was to repent and believe the Gospel. That message doesn’t change at any point during the rest of our time on Earth. We are all in constant need of repentance and all in constant need of the Gospel, just as we’re all in constant need of being reminded how precious and elusive the reward of Heaven actually is.

It’s a numbers game. Jesus said that many are called but few are chosen; Jesus also said that the Way Home is narrow and few find it.

We need to take these words to heart and hope that in mentioning the few, Jesus was talking about us.

LIVING WITH NO FEAR

Throughout scripture, fear is the great divider that separates those who love God from those who don’t. The amount of fear you have (fear of death, fear of disease, fear of poverty, fear of going hungry, fear of going homeless, fear of being outcast or ridiculed or slandered, etc.) is a direct measure of your relationship with God: the more you fear, the farther away you are from God.

Fear is also the opposite of faith.

Of all God’s prophets, Jesus not only had the greatest faith and the greatest measure of God’s Spirit, but also the least amount of fear. I would even suggest (and I believe scripture backs me up) that Jesus had no fear of anyone or anything at all, other than a righteous and holy fear of God.

We born-again believers need to be like that.

I’m talking to you, preppers, and to all those who’ve stockpiled whatever you stockpile (food, money, property, ammunition, supplies, etc.) – the more you stockpile, the more you reveal your fear and the weakness of your faith.

I’m talking to you, mandate compliers, and to all those who call themselves followers of Jesus but who still cover their faces and go along to get along, afraid they won’t be able to provide for their family or get what they need or go where they want. The more you comply, the more you reveal your fear and the weakness of your faith.

I’m talking to you, lovers of the world more than lovers of God. I see you in the pews in the mainstream churches, faces covered and bowing down to the satanic rainbow, too afraid to speak up lest you be kicked out of spiritual Sodom. The more sin you tolerate in houses designated as God’s, the more you reveal your fear and the weakness of your faith.

Jesus never prepped or complied with mandates that conflicted with his beliefs or bowed down to the world’s idols. Like Jesus, you don’t need to do any of those things if you live in the Kingdom. God will provide for all your needs as you need them, as long as you keep him and his Commandments front and center in your life. You stray off the path, things will get rough for you (speaking from experience here, lol).

But if you keep God front and center, defer to him in all matters, and rely on and follow his advice rather than that of the world, he will provide. That is his promise to his children (LEVITICUS 26 and DEUTERONOMY 28), and if you’re genuinely born-again, you are his child. You are the spiritual progeny of the perfect Father who is also the greatest force in the universe. Do you think such a perfect force would abandon his children? I don’t think so. God always keeps his promises, whether to reward or to punish. Scripture provides ample evidence of that.

Fear is the hallmark of unbelievers and of those who are weak in faith. Look around you and see who is afraid and what they’re afraid of. Whatever their fears, you don’t need to share them. Jesus didn’t. He embraced the sick and diseased, embraced poverty, embraced being shunned, embraced being outcast, and in the end he even embraced being crucified. In none of those circumstances did he show any fear.

But, you say, he was Jesus. I’m just me.

Jesus came to show us how to follow him in the Way, that is, how to live without fear. The closer you follow his example, the less fear you have, the greater your faith, and the closer you grow to God.

This is not spiritual rocket science here; it’s the foundation and cornerstone of what it means to be a Christian.

Share in the world’s fears and get the world’s spiritual rewards, or cast off the world’s fears and get the rewards of the Kingdom.

The choice is yours.

The right one is obvious.

WE GET WHAT WE DESERVE

Just as I opened a new document to type this, thunder boomed from the Heavens, right on cue:

“Righteous thou art, O Lord… because thou has judged thus

For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets; and thou has given them blood to drink

Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgements.”

This quote is from the book of Revelation, in the chapter where the angels are pouring out the vials and stating that people get what they deserve. Their statement is made dispassionately and somewhat coldly, the same way that the narrator prophet in Ezekiel 9 states dispassionately and somewhat coldly that people get what they deserve even as he watches the slaughtering of untold numbers, including children.

God’s judgments are perfect.

When I was a newborn-again, I remember pausing at that part of Revelation where the angels pour out the vials and wondering how they could be so emotionally detached from the pain and suffering they were causing. I wonder no more. After 23 years as a believer, I’m fully on board with whatever God doles out for people to suffer, as they have it coming. God doesn’t inflict anything that people haven’t earned, and even then he softens the blow through his renowned mercy.

There’s only been one person in all of history who suffered what he didn’t have coming, and that was Jesus. EVERYONE ELSE SUFFERS WHAT THEY’VE EARNED. You cannot be a follower of Jesus and not accept and believe this 100%.

*****

I went to a Bible study last week. It was more a sermon than a study, as no-one but the pastor had any input into the interpretation of the chapter being studied, which was Leviticus 26.

Leviticus 26 is basically the same as Deuteronomy 28, which is Moses’ detailed laundry list of the blessings that come with obeying the Commandments and doing the right thing in God’s eyes, and the curses that come with disobeying the Commandments and doing the wrong thing in God’s eyes. Every Christian not only needs to be intimately familiar with this laundry list, but to refer to it on a regular basis, as Jesus tells us the Commandments still apply to us. Unfortunately, the pastor only interpreted Leviticus 26 as applying to the children of Israel 2000 or 3000 years ago, not to current-day Christendom. In so doing, he missed the whole point of the chapter, which was to deliver a very real and very present warning to God’s people, so that they would make their everyday life choices accordingly.

I despise cowardly pastors. I despise them the way Jesus despised them. It took every ounce of my self-restraint not to ask the pastor how this chapter could be applied to Christians and Christendom today. But most pastors churned out by Bible colleges won’t touch that application of Leviticus 26 or Deuteronomy 28 with a 10-foot pole, as it would upend their doctrine about “just believing” and “having faith” as being the only way to Heaven. If you accept that all you need to do is “believe in Jesus” and you’re on your way to paradise, then choosing to do what is right in God’s eyes is no longer a necessity, which then negates the teachings of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. This is precisely what mainstream Christianity now does – negate the teachings of scripture.

How you can call yourself a Christian pastor and then stop short of applying scripture to life today? This is entirely the opposite of how Jesus taught. Jesus always applied scripture to the here and now, as scripture is intended to be applied to the here and now. That’s why God inspired his prophets to write it and his preachers to teach it.

Note that I said “his preachers”, meaning those who are genuinely sent from God. There aren’t many of those around today, any more than there were a lot at any time in history. The true prophets and preachers have always been few and far between, but God provides at least one for his people, and makes sure that they can be heard by those who want to hear.

*****

People get back what they put out, mitigated by God’s mercy. Once the Age of Mercy is over for a given people at a given time and their Age of Judgement begins, there will be no more mitigation (softening) of the earned blows – people will get the full measure of what they’ve earned. This is the scenario that plays out in Revelation 16 and Ezekiel 9: Judgement without mercy. It also plays out in the passages on the flood and in the passages on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. I used to balk at the dispassionate coldness of those scriptural passages, but no more. People get what they deserve. Only Jesus suffered what he didn’t deserve, and he did so willingly and fully informed in advance.

God’s justice is perfect. So the next time you hear someone say “He didn’t deserve that” or “They didn’t deserve that” or “You didn’t deserve that”, correct the speaker. God’s justice is perfect.

We only get back what we put out.

We only suffer what we deserve, with Jesus the sole exception.

FOUNDATIONAL TUTORIAL: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS: Deuteronomy 28: The rewards of obedience and disobedience

Lesson One of the Foundational Tutorial (on coveting) will be posted shortly. However, I think what’s in order first is to remind ourselves of the very clearly stated consequences both for obeying and for disobeying God’s Commandments. God gives us equal capacity to obey and to disobey him, and he also lets us know in no uncertain terms the rewards for our obedience and disobedience. He lays all the cards on the table for us. He always does. It’s up to us how we choose to play them.

References to these rewards for obedience and disobedience appear throughout scripture, but Moses gave the most complete and detailed run-down of them in Deuteronomy 28. As you read through them, note how many of the blessings and curses came to pass already in Old Testament times, and how many of them are coming to pass today.

Below is the chapter in its entirety. The contents were originally included as a companion to the 10 Commandments, so that whenever the Commandments were read aloud to God’s people (which was at least once a year, at Passover), the blessings and curses were also read aloud. That tradition fell away over the centuries, with only occasional come-backs (depending on who was king), but the tradition has been completely lost in Christianity. It needs to come back. Even a cursory reading of Deuteronomy 28 helps to explain a lot of what’s happening in the world today, both on an individual and a collective level. In fact, Deuteronomy 28 pretty much explains everything that’s happening.

Take a read through the chapter and see how you measure up. It can be very sobering to see aspects of yourself, as a born-again believer, reflected in the list of curses.  But it’s better that you know now, than to find out too late on Judgement Day. If you are living the rewards of disobedience, you need to find out what you’re doing wrong, and you need to stop doing it. That’s the main reason for the Foundational Tutorial on the Commandments: To help you get right and stay right with God.

Deuteronomy 28 (King James Version)

28 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:

And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.

Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.

Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.

Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.

The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways.

10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.

11 And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee.

12 The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.

13 And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:

14 And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:

16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.

17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.

18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

20 The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.

21 The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.

22 The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.

23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.

24 The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

25 The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.

26 And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.

27 The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.

28 The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:

29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.

30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.

31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.

32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long; and there shall be no might in thine hand.

33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:

34 So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

35 The Lord shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.

36 The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.

37 And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.

38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.

39 Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.

40 Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.

41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.

42 All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.

43 The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.

44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.

45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:

46 And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.

47 Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;

48 Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

49 The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;

50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:

51 And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.

52 And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.

53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:

54 So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:

55 So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.

56 The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,

57 And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.

58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, The Lord Thy God;

59 Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.

60 Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.

61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

62 And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God.

63 And it shall come to pass, that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.

64 And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.

65 And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:

66 And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:

67 In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

68 And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.