At one point Jesus reminded the people of Israel that there were many lepers in Israel, but the general of the army of their enemies was the man who was cured. There were many widows starving in Israel, but Elijah went to the widow of another country and food was miraculously provided for her and for himself. God chooses whom he will cure in this life: the fact that you and I may have illnesses that we continue to have to deal with does not mean that there are no miracles.
It does mean that we need something in our lives, as Paul did, to teach us humility. All things are there for good, and all scripture is profitable to those who are God. I was taught as a child that it was the child slave who bore witness there was a prophet of God in Israel. You never know why you are where you are or when you said something significant until well after that time.
5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
I think the King of Israel was wiser than we are now. He knew he could not cure or heal or mend. He knew his limitations. The post modern elite instead have a delusion that they can manage anything and everything away, if not in this time, then by revolution.
15 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. 3 The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them.
5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”
6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
12 The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
16 “‘After this I will return
and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
Its ruins I will rebuild,
and I will restore it,
17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
says the Lord, who does these things’—
18 things known from long ago.
19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
There were those who were trying to put barriers in the way of the Church growing by requiring people to obey the Mosaic law. They believed in Jesus, absolutley. They were also raised as Pharisees, still considered themselves Jews, and still lived within the cultural traditions of being Jews. This is not compatible with moving throughout many nations, because all nations have different traditions -- and on matters where there is moral neutrality (cheese or herring, for instance) this diversity is good. I want things to be different in different nations. I don't want everything beige. A missionary learns to eat herring, if needs must. But there have always been those who want to twist things.
We had a sermon based on Nehemiah today. There were stages of opposition to the word and work of God and to the house of God mentioned.
- Mockery: either of the project or the people who are being asked to do tbe project. We will be called unqualified, ill equipped, foolish.
- Distraction: we will be asked to meet with, be involved in, or deal with things that are not our mission.
- Intimidation. I think the preacher got this one wrong. The will make up stuff and appeal to authority to close you down. This is the standard move of the Karens, the Kens, and their useful minions, the social justice warriors. When this does not work...
- Fear. Again, better described as threats. You will be told you will lose status: that they know where you live. In Nehemiah's case, they threatned his life and conspired to kill him. In modern times, consider the loss of charpitable status (whcih has happened to Christain groups in New Zealand) and tax audit: consider being sued, consider the current situation where mobs protest, often damaging, peoples houses. Violence is a tool those aligned with evil are unafraid to use, for they don't consider there are any negative consequences.
- Poverty. The enemy appoints people who take the resources form what we should be doing and put them elsewhere. The task of the church is broken because there is no resources. The preacher said, correctly, that it is a noble thing to give and resource the work of the church, and it is
But he missed the sixth way the work of the church and Christ is subverted. Our role, our commission, was given by Christ. To make disciples of all nations.
The way he subverts is by introducing people into the organization -- often appointed by politicians or businessmen, who work not for the will of Christ but for the will of men. These are the people who bend with the political fashions of the day and preach anything but Christ crucified. The see diversity in sin and skin colour, but require complete convergence with the spirit of this age.
And they were always there. It took three apostles: Paul, Peter and James to correct them at the council of Jerusalem. We should not be shocked to see them try to gut the church and wear its vestments as a skin suit
For our enemy knows that Christ will build his church adn it will break the very gates of hell. The more he can delay, divert, destroy or cause degeneration in the church the longer he has.
And he knows, more than us mortals, that his time is short. No not be aligned with the spirit of this age, for it is aligned with him.