The last Bible reference of Money according to the ESV version of the Bible comes from Hebrews 13:5. It reads this way: Keep your life from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
What a glorious promise comes at the end of that verse: I will never leave you nor forsake you!
The presence of God is the best blessing we can have! The Bible often talks about the blessings that the presence of God brings.
It brings into our life a joy which the world cannot give. David writes in the Psalms: “In your presence is fullness of joy” (Psa. 16:11). Lasting joy does not come from presents we receive – that gadget, that device – but from His presence!
The Presence of God in our lives distinguishes us from other people. That was Moses’ point. He said, “For how then can it be known that your people and I have found favor in your sight unless you go with us? How else will we be distinguished from all other people on the face of the earth!” (Ex. 33:15-16). You may be working in a company with thousands of employees. But the presence of Jesus in your life distinguishes you, sets you apart from others!
We are talking about the blessings of having God’s presence in our lives. King David penned a moving Psalm after he sinned with Bathsheba – Psalm 51. In that Psalm he refers to the Presence of God often. He writes, “Do not cast me from your Presence or take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psa. 51:11). Stubborn sin would take away God’s sweet joy-giving presence from His life, David knew. So, the loss of the sense of the presence of God when we indulge in stiff-necked sinful behavior motivates us to live Holy.
Another Psalm by David leads us to yet another angle to the blessing of God’s presence. David writes, “You hide them in the protection of your presence. Your presence can conceal them in a shelter from the schemes of men from quarrelsome tongues” (Psa. 31:20). In David’s life, the presence of God protected him from the repeated assassination attempts which King Saul launched onto him under the influence of an evil spirit (I Sam. 18:10; 19:9). The presence of God in our lives serves as a shield against the evil schemes of cunning co-workers in our offices.
The book of Jonah revealed to me something about the presence of God, something which I had not noticed before. God’s presence is already there in the location that God wants us to be present preaching and living the Gospel in the one life we have. Why do I say that? I say that because Jonah 1:3 says Jonah fled from the presence of God as he disobeyed God to go to Tarshish. That means God’s presence was already in Nineveh waiting for Jonah to do his missionary work! God’s presence waits to empower us to do what he has called us to do in the one life we have. I have witnessed that when I have executed his calling upon my life – grabbing the Google Generation from going to Gehenna (the word Jesus used for hell).
So, the promise of Hebrews 13:5 is the promise of God’s presence which brings in a bag full of blessings as the above paragraphs show!
But as it is true with every promise in the Bible, there is a condition for this promise as well. What is the condition? Let me copy paste the same verse under discussion here again: Keep your life from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
The first condition for this promise is COOPERATION. This verse reads this way, “Keep yourself…” It is talking about your cooperation with God’s already available power! The Bible is full of things that God does for us. I call these things as our privileges! But don’t forget that the same Bible is also full of things that we must do in response, having received those wow privileges from God! I call these our responsibilities! The Scripture is full of both God’s Charis and God’s Commands.
The New Testament is dotted with “keep yourself” commands. Here is a sample: keep yourself in God’s Love…. (Jude 21); keep yourself pure (recorded twice – I Tim. 5:22 and 2 Tim. 2:21); keep yourself from ‘such things’ and one such thing is sexual immorality (Acts 15:29). Keep yourself united in Spirit (Eph. 4:3). Let us cooperate with the Holy Spirit and life that is pleasing to the Lord. Then, the promise of his presence is ours!
The second condition for this glorious, ‘I will be with you’ promise comes from this phrase found in Hebrews 13:5: ‘and be content with what you have….’ CONTENTMENT is the second condition found in Hebrew 13:5 for the Hebrews 13:5 promise of “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.
There is a reason why contentment is the focus of the book of Hebrews. It was written at a time when Jewish believers were backsliding from their newfound Christian faith and wanting to become Jews again. It was easier to be a Jew than being a Christian during that time because the Roman government recognized the Jews but not the Christians. This government of that time started persecuting the Christians. The properties of Christians were being “plundered” after Government orders (Heb. 10:34). It was quite possible that Christians lost out on a job promotion and increase in salary because of their faith during those times when persecution against them was slowly but surely increasing. So, Christians had to learn to live contented lives managing with what they had.
Such times are already upon us. If they have not yet come, they are bound to come, sooner than later, no matter which nation you live! We could be persecuted for our Christian faith by the State Government as well as the Central Government. This is quite possible. This persecution could lead to loss of income. But we need to learn to live with contentment. And when we do that, we have this glorious promise from Hebrews 13:5: I will never leave you, nor forsake you! What else matters?
Mulk Raj Anand, senior journalist wrote, ‘We buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like!’ How true! Let’s inculcate contentment in our lives. If we have to buy an iPhone because that does the job well for us, let us see if we can be content with a smaller size screen edition of the same and a lesser memory edition of the same! If we need a compact SUV car we could choose to be content with the frills-free model of the same!
Let us not forget these two ‘C’s: Cooperate and be Content! Then, the glorious promise of Hebrews 13:5 – I will never leave you nor forsake you – will be ours!
(This article was published by Aim Magazine published by Evangelical Fellowship of India in its March 2022 edition. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is an itinerant preacher and writer. His book, Straight Talk, covers 50 taboo topics including porn, sexual temptation, masturbation, homosexuality, boy-girl physical intimacy boundaries, wise life-partner choice, sex inside marriage, and much more. You can get this book by WhatsApping 91-8886040605 following which you will get a payment link. Duke preaches ‘promise’ messages from the Bible that are balanced during the Month-End Midnight Prayer which starts at 11:45 PM of the last day of each month. WhatsApp +91-8886040605 to receive the link to join this meeting where people from different parts of India and the world – a small group – join together to enter the new month in God’s presence.)
ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION: “WILL GOD FORGIVE THE SIN I AM PLANNING TO COMMIT – THAT GOSSIP SESSION I PLAN TO HAVE, THAT FOUL-MOUTHED RANT I AM ABOUT TO EXPLODE WITH, THAT ADULTEROUS AFFAIR I AM ABOUT TO ENGAGE IN, THAT HOUR OF SECRET PORN SURFING THAT I AM ABOUT TO LAUNCH INTO, ETC?”
The book of Revelation makes wonderful reading. The lessons already taught in the first 65 books of the Bible are pictorially confirmed by it’s book no. 66 – the book of Revelation. “There is nothing new in Revelation which is not taught elsewhere clearly in the Bible!” – this I believe.
We are ‘given a white robe’, we read there (Rev 6:11). That’s a symbolic way of expressing POSITIONAL SANCTIFICATION. I call it ‘GIFTED SANCTIFICATION’. We come to Christ in repentance and faith just as we are, he makes us ‘white’ – holy and pure. But that’s just the start. Positional sanctification would and should translate into practical sanctification, if our repentance was genuine. By practical sanctification I mean a living a life of victory over sin in our day to day lives. John talks about practical sanctification this way: “No one who lives in Him makes a practice of sin” (I John 3:6).
The same book of Revelation talks about those ‘clothed in white’ in the very next chapter (7:13). The folks who wore white, deliberately chose to wear that color. We must make a choice to wear white clothes (spiritually speaking), that is, be pure, say ‘no’ to sin day in and day out, with God helping and we actively cooperating with him (quoting God’s Word, running away from temptation, praying to receive power at the hour of temptation, being accountable to a believer pal, etc). If we want only the privileges of positional sanctification without the responsibility of PRACTICAL SANCTIFICATION (‘GAURDED SANCTIFICATION’) we are like the man who walked into the wedding feast without wearing the ‘wedding garment’ already gifted to him before the wedding (Math 22:11). He had no excuse for not wearing the wedding garment (Math 22:12). We will have no excuse for living a practical holy life on the final day because God has given us everything we need to live that life – His Word, The Fellowship of the Church and opportunity to be accountable, The Holy Spirit, etc, etc (Eph 1:3). And the end of those who just want the privileges of ‘positional sanctification’ without the responsibilities of ‘practical sanctification’ will be same as that of that wedding guest whom Jesus talked about – being bound and bounced into eternal hell (Math 22:13). “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth (this part of the this verse is talking about PRIVILEGES); therefore I will punish you for all your sins (this part of this verse is talking about punishment sent by God for not combining the RESPONSIBILITY of living holy with God-given power with God-given PRIVILEGES!) – Amos 3:2.
So, my friend, let not anyone deceive saying, “Jesus has already forgiven the sin you are planning to commit.” The Bible declares that God will not forgive sin that we refuse to acknowledge, repent from, and ask Jesus forgiveness for. The Bible teaches that we only store up God’s wrath (we are on the road to hell, in other words) by refusing to repent (Rom 2:5). Another 2:5 – Revelation 2:5 I mean – warns of judgement of God which will come upon those CHURCH BELIEVERS who refuse to repent!
“Will Jesus forgive the sin I am planning to commit?” He will – provided you come to him in true repentance and ask him for forgiveness. But there is no guarantee that you will ever do that. Judas did not. He was saved. His name was written in heaven (Luke 10:20). But he also lived in sin even as he lived with Jesus. He used to, now and then, help himself with the moneybag of Jesus. He allowed greed to grip him, slowly but surely (John 12:6). The greed became a monstrous ball, and, before he knew it, Judas agreed to help the religious leaders of his day to arrest Jesus for the money he would pocket by doing so. He may have thought, “I will come back to Jesus after I am done and dusted with this sin!” (like we say, “I will ask Jesus forgiveness after I am done with this hour of porn-surfing!” or “I will ask Jesus forgiveness after I am done with this session of gossip with my close buddies!”). But he did not. Yes, Judas did not get back to Jesus after he committed wanton sin. He ended his life. He headed to hell (John 17:12). But Peter… Peter came back to Jesus after he committed sin. He repented genuinely. He took a U-turn. When he wept bitterly, Jesus did not ever say to him, “Don’t weep Peter. Don’t repent of your sin. I have already taken care of it!” (Math 26:75). Instead, Jesus allowed Peter to weep for his sin. Because doing so is good. It is better and wiser to weep over our sins now, in this period of grace when there is time, than to weep upon seeing Jesus return the second time to judge it when there will be no time given to repent (Rev 1:7). Jesus taught we must weep ourselves and our children (Luke 23:28). So, when we sin, we must feel for that sin and come back to Jesus in repentance (Luke 13:1-5).
We must consciously avoid deliberate sin. For when we keep committing deliberate sin without even repenting of it, there will come a point in our life, like it happened in the life of Judas, that we will, perhaps, commit a deliberate sin and never feel like coming back to Jesus in repentance. It’s then we come to a point in our life when ‘there will be no sacrifice for sins would be left but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of the raging fire that will consume the enemies of God’ as the Bible teaches (Heb 10:26,27).
So, let’s say with Paul, “I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave (‘wage war with sin with the power of God,’ in other words) so that after I have preached to others (‘after I have been a believer all my life and preached God’s Word too,’ in other words), I myself will not be disqualified for the prize!” (I Cor 9:27).
Also we must remember that there are consequences when God’s children commit wanton sin. Let’s look at the case of believers committing sexual sin deliberately.
From the Bible we read about the following lethal results when people have lapped up sexual sin: Firstly, the LORD will leave you and you won’t know it. Like it happened for Samson as he lay on Delilah’s lap (Jud 16 20). Secondly, you can never be a leader who will influence people for good. Joseph, one who was famous among a set of 12 brothers for beating sexual temptation was told under Divine Inspiration that he would be “prince among his brothers” while the one who slept with his father’s wife, Reuben, was told “you will be first no longer” (Gen. 49:4,26). David, the great leader of Israel who had an adulterous affair, had to go silent when his son raped his daughter (2 Sam13: 2l,22). Thirdly, violence could become commonplace in your family. David learnt this bitter truth when the lives of three of his Sons – Amnon, Absalom and Adonijah were cut short violently at the prime of their youth. Fourthly, you would have given birth to spiritual enemies who will battle against you for the rest of your life. The sons born to Lot’s daughters out of his incestuous relationship with them became ancestors for the Moabites and Ammonites – two of Israel’s most bitter enemies in their later years. Fifthly, the advantages you may have gotten through sexual sins will melt away. Remember, David’s love-child born as a result of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba eventually died notwithstanding his plea that God would spare Him (2 Sam 12:14).Sixthly, God’s name will be blasphemed. “You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you!'” wrote Paul (Rom 2: 22,24). Finally, when you persist stubbornly in sexual sin you’ll go to hell. The Bible doesn’t mince words when it says “the sexually immoral – their place will be the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Rev 21:8). L-U-S-T is a four letter sin that will take you to a four-lettered place – H-E-L-L. Do these fatal figures concerning those who indulged in sexual sin make you shudder? It is meant to do just that. Reason? Shuddering can also be biblical way to beat sexual temptation! After proclaiming the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel (including the command, “You shall not commit adultery”) Moses told them, “The fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning!” (Ex 20:14,20). The next time when you think of yielding to sexual temptations, take time to count the cost of yielding to them and you will find that thought not so pleasurable.
The effects of yielding to sexual temptation or any temptation are deadly – even the secular world stories reveal this. It is said that Bill Clinton lost the privilege of his face being carved with the other great American Presidents at Mount Rushmore and a noble Prize because of his incredibly foolish sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky (Source of information – Asian Age, Bangalore edition, 21 September 1998). It is a fact that the great Australian leg-spinner, Shane Warne, lost the honour of leading the Australian Cricket Team because of the phone sex scandals that surrounded him. Tiger Woods lost his sponsorship deals with MNCs because of his sexual sins. This list is endless. Your name does not have to be in this list. Let’s live a victorious Christian life and win over the habit of committing deliberate, callous, sin, with God helping us and we actively cooperating with him.
(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is a fulltime preacher n writer who lives in Hyderabad. Duke founded the Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission in 2006. This is a reader supported Indian ministry. Watch Duke’s message videos at http://www.youtube.com/c/VisitDuke. WhatsApp Duke via +91-8886040605).
Dr. Duke Jeyaraj put the biblical ingredients of discipleship in an acronym D-I-S-C-I-P-E
Who is a disciple of Jesus? What the Bible teaches on this can be put in acronym, D-I-S-C-I-P-L-E.
Jesus’ words in Luke 14:26—“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” is THE requirement for Discipleship. We love our phones and even perhaps our ministry more than Jesus! Sad! No one or nothing should take the position of Jesus in their lives. He should be the one who is truly the dearest in their lives.
I for “Instruction-follower”
Someone wrote, Used thirty times in the Book of Acts, the word “disciple” speaks of one who is “learner, seeker or student” is “learner” learns the Words of Christ. This “seeker” seeks knowledge about Christ. He obeys instructions without asking questions. He says, “We must obey God rather than man!” (Acts 5:29).
S for “Stay-in-Jesus-Presence”
Mark records the purpose why Jesus chose disciples: “And he (Jesus) appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him…. (Mark 3:14).” Suzanne Watts Henderson writes, “he (Jesus) establishes (here) the Twelve (disciples) for the primary purpose of continuing in his presence.” To do much for God, we must be must with God (as they say).
C for Carrying the Cross
This brings us to another call that Jesus issued to those who desired to be his disciples: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27).” But hasn’t Jesus carried our Cross and thundered “it is finished”? John Stott’s explanation here is helpful: “In this way, one might say, every Christian is both a Simon of Cyrene and a Barnabas. Like Barnabas we escape the cross, for Christ died in our place. Like Simon of Cyrene we carry the cross, for he calls us to take it up and follow him.”
I for Invite via Evangelism Efforts
The disciples were called by Jesus to invite others to the Kingdom of God (Mark 3:14). He further writes, “…the character of discipleship as a community organized to support missionaries reaching out to others with evangelistic urgency and to maintain a witness by the very quality of a community life was there from the beginning.”
P for People-Lover
Certain Bible characters who were addressed as “disciples” have excelled in serving people they met in practical ways. Herbert Lockyer writes these lines about little-known Bible character Mnason: “This early disciple from Cyprus accompanied Paul on his last journey, and Paul lodged at his hospitable home (Acts 21:16).”
L for “Led”- Being Led by the Lord and the Spirit
Luke records that the “disciple” Ananias was led by the Lord through a vision to be of spiritual help to a new convert of the Christian faith, Saul (Acts 9:10-17). Disciple Ananias clearly told Saul it was the Lord Jesus who sent him to be of help to him (Acts 9:17).
E for Endurance
Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand on the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 14:62). A true disciple of Jesus must be willing to endure till the end, come what may. Rose Dowsett put it this way: “Jesus’ call to his disciples is a call to embark on a journey, a pilgrimage, lasting all the rest of our lives.”
Let us be faithful-unto-death disciples of Jesus in the One life we have!
Are you a Jesus Disciple?
(Dr. Duke Jeyaraj, who lives in Hyderabad, India, is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org.)
80 medical doctors and 21 nurses died while taking care of Corona infected patients in Italy having contracted the virus themselves. I learnt this when I watched news from this App on my Smart TV – HayStack (on 6 April 2020). I am sure some of these medical professionals were believers. I believe, on the final day, the Lord will reward and honor them, with gusto, in the same way, he honors ‘fulltime’ missionary martyrs like Jim Elliot, John Allen Chau and others. There is no secular work – sacred work divide in the Bible. The work God has given us – be it ‘secular’ or ‘sacred’ – we need to be faithful unto death in it. “WHATEVER your hand finds to do, do it with all your might….” (Eccl. 9:10, OLD TESTAMENT). “WHATEVER you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23, NEW TESTAMENT).
Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj on the ‘CR’s from the Bible We Need To Recall When Life Plays Football With Us!
I was in Allahabad, North India, studying a college course (B. Tech., Agricultural Engineering) when I heard first about this beautiful actress from Nepal in Mumbai. Her name? Manisha Koirala. She won a tough battle against cancer recently. She said, “I think cancer helps to transform a person. It affected me so much that it enabled me to grow!” (I read this in Outlook mag). She is not a believer to the best of my knowledge. But I was amazed that she was able to see something positive in suffering. Though the Corona pandemic has caused many inconveniences to Corporates, churches, individuals, etc., can anything good come out of this? What are the blessings that come out of this pandemic?
Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese professional footballer, popularly known as CR. Using the acronym CR, I have outlined my message which captures the biblical CRs we need to keep in when life plays football with us. These CRs will keep us playing the game of life with a positive attitude despite setback such as the Corona Pandemic. When life plays football with us – that is when we suffer – we will do well to remember these biblical CRs!
CHARACTER REFINEMENT (CR NO. 1 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
Job is one of the earliest books of the Bible and it has a lesson on suffering. Job experienced untold suffering – loss of his children, loss of his wealth, his wife encouraging him to curse God and die, acting as Satan’s agent (She repeated Satan’s words to God about Job that he would curse God when his worldly blessing are removed). Job 23:10 says “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” God does not contradict himself. From the Old Testament to the New Testament God says the same thing in a progressive way. I Peter 5:10 says “after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” The suffering which is only for a while confirms us, strengthen , and establish us. Our character gets refined in a mysterious way. It does not matter who caused it but blessings will come out of this pandemic.
COPYBOOK (BIBLE) REFLECTION (CR NO. 2 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
If a shotput hits your head during game time in school, you might lose your memory. You might say crazy things. But no shotput ball hit the author of Psalm 119. He was in-fact directed by the Holy Spirit when he wrote Psalm 119:71.
Psalm 119:71 says “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”
Generally our tendency is to waste our time and be addicted to the screen. We like to go down the easy path and are like water that flows wherever there is a way. Usually we are always in a hurry but this lock down time has given us unhurried time to study the word of God.
Suffering should not just turn our attention to Scripture. But also make us obey Scripture. I say this because I have read Psalm 119:67 – “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your Word!”
CROWNING OF OUR ROCK (CR NO. 3 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
By the phrase, ‘Crowning of our Rock’ I mean the ‘the glory of God our Rock’. John 9:1,2 speaks of a blind man from birth. “What is the cause of his blindness?” asked the disciples of Jesus. Was it his sin or the sin of his parents? He was born blind in order to display glory to God; raise the glory of the Lord in a mysterious way, the Scripture says in John 9:1-2. How does a black buffalo eat green grass and produce white milk? I don’t understand. But I drink milk and give my kids milk to drink! How can the corona virus situation bring glory to God? I don’t understand. But I do not doubt the goodness of God even in this situation! We are living in times of inexplicable suffering and inconveniences/lock down. During, the times of suffering we must keep praising for our creator. The Lord’s name must be glorified even during the time of suffering because suffering brings glory to his name according to John 9:1-2.
CHRIST ‘REPROGRAPHICS’ [COPYING] (CR NO. 4 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
We become more like Jesus during suffering. When we suffer with a positive attitude we copy Christ. Apostle Paul writes, “that I may know the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). We become like Him in death. Suffering with a positive attitude helps us to imitate Jesus. We become more like Him. That is God’s ultimate purpose for us (Rom. 8:29). We look for different models to imitate. Teens tend to imitate famous movie stars. The only model completely worthy of imitating is Jesus. Job 5:7 says “man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” If we are human, suffering is unavoidable according to the Old and New Testaments. Acts 14:22 says that we must go through many hardships in our day to day life till we enter heaven by our death or after the return of Jesus.
We get our salvation through the suffering of Jesus but He is also a model when it comes to suffering. We must copy the attitude of Jesus when we suffer. How did Jesus suffer?
Jesus saw suffering as something allowed by God enroute to the Cross. Jesus prayed this model prayer at Gethsemane: “Take this cup of suffering from me but yet not my will, but your will.”
We too must understand that times of suffering are allowed by God.
When Jesus suffered, He forgave those who made him suffer. That’s why he prayed while hanging on the Cross this: “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do!”
In the Old Testament when someone cursed David, David felt God gave him permission to do that (2 Sam. 16:11). The Son of David, Jesus, also said in similar vein: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
There may be financial difficulty coming, terrible health issues, and untold trouble during this pandemic. There is a gripping Malayalam movie “Virus” about the Nipha virus outbreak which broke out in the Indian state of Kerala in 2018, but the Corono virus is more deadly and global. God has allowed it to happen (though we aren’t sure who is the cause for this)
And when we exhibit a Christ-like attitude during this time of suffering – saluting the Will of the Father, forgiving whoever may be involved – God will be pleased! And we will become Christ-like!
COSMOS REDEMPTION(CR No. 5 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
The most relatable example of how God can use our suffering as a channel of blessing for others (the cosmos) concerns the Old Testament hero, Joseph. Genesis 50:20 says “ye thought evil against me but God meant it unto good.” Those are Joseph’s words to his brothers who were super-mean to him when he met them after he became the Prime Minister of Egypt. Joseph undergoes sufferings on multiple occasions. I preached a message on the sufferings of Joseph when I was invited to preach in a Baptist Church earlier this year (2019). That message on the ‘arrows’ launched against Joseph is found on YouTube. But despite these arrows, Joseph’s bow remained steady. He believed God had a plan in allowing his brothers to be envious of him. The envy of Joseph’s brothers was caused by Satan, of course. But Joseph saw that as God-allowed for the greater blessing of his family, the nation of Israel. Read Genesis 45:5-8. Count the times Joseph says there, “God sent me….”. He says it three times! Joseph did not feel that his brother’s envy sent him to Egypt but he came to Epypt because of the God’s good purposes! Joseph was not bitter when he suffered (via his brothers, Mrs. Potiphar, Mr. Potiphar, the forgetful cupbearer, etc.) but he thought differently. Great people think differently. He saw God’s hand in allowing these folk to make him suffer so that a grander plan can be executed for the blessing of many people.
Government restrictions for travel keep us home. Our international travel may have cancelled. The World’s finances may be in disarray. But Believe that God allowed this virus to go beserk for a good purpose.
By saying this I am not justifying envy or any sinful thing. If the Corona virus was manufactured in a lab as a weapon for bio-terrorism, whoever responsible for that must be punished. God will judge that person either on this side of eternity or the other side of it (if the concerned does not repent). Was that act wrong? Absolutely.
Joseph was in a position to bless so many people even though he was the second youngest sibling in his family as he grew up. He became an Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ! What a blessing!
Graham Staines was an ordinary missionary in the interior parts of Orissa. He was burnt alive along with his 2 sons when he stayed in his jeep following a meeting in a village (January of 1999). But this has inspired many to take up medical mission, to respect humanity, and pursue truth. Jim Eliot, worked among the Aucas in Ecuador, South America and was killed in 1956 at the age of 29, amidst remote tribals. His life inspired many people to labour for Christ and go to other countries to share the love of Jesus. In mysterious ways all this resulted in cosmos redemption.
CONTRAST AND REVERSE-APPRECIATION (CR No. 7 TO RECALL WHEN LIFE PLAYS FOOTBALL WITH US)
Read I Peter 1:6,7 (we already read it earlier in this message). Twenty-one day lock down may seem long. When you compare our time of suffering here and now with eternity, is such a short time. When we understand the fleeting nature of our suffering here and now, then only we will be able to appreciate the reverse – the time of everlasting joy in heaven. For example, a tiny kidney stone can cause much excruciating pain, even though temporary. I have experienced hours of kidney stone pain twice in my life (a pain that is said to be close to the labor pains a woman experiences). When I go through a pain-free day, I praise God even more with delirious joy because I recall those two terrible bouts of pain. Eugene Peterson, an American Presbyterian Minister, says hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us (in his contemporary English translation of II Corinthians 4:17,18). We have light and momentary troubles (to use another version’s rendering of the same set of verses).
Sometimes we feel our suffering is so gigantic but when compared to the suffering that Jesus underwent, it is very light. God has a grand, glorious plan when he allows anything. God had foreknowledge of this pandemic and this is not a surprise for God. He already knew about it.
Read Acts 2:22,23; Acts 4:27,28. Different people became united. The religious leaders of the time and common people, Jews and gentiles schemed together, came against Jesus who is the only one who did not deserve any suffering (as he never sinned and yes, suffering first came into the world because of sin – check out John 5:14; ofcourse not all suffering is because of sin – John 9:1-2 teaches that). We may not understand the intricacies but something good will come out of this corona virus pandemic. The teaching that we will not have to suffer here and now on this earth because Jesus suffered for us on the Cross is a false teaching. We suffer because Adam chose to disobey and we also commit sin and disobey. Hebrews 13:12,13 is clear that even though Jesus suffered on the cross, we have to suffer as well – especially when we take a stand for Jesus in this pluralistic World and in this prosperity-false-doctrine embracing backslidden church.
This world is not our home. We are just passing through looking for a new heaven and earth.
Let me reproduce a story from my article that provides a practical summary of the book of Job titled “Why me?”
MARTIN AND GRACIA BURNHAM STORY VIA A NAT GEO TV PROGRAM
My wife and I tucked our kids to bed and settled to watch the National Geographic channel program called, “Locked up Abroad!” in September 2008. It featured the story of a missionary couple by the name of Martin and Gracia Burnham.
They were American Missionaries who served God in the country of Phiippines. They had met and married each other with a singular purpose of serving God together in the mission field he would send them to. God had blessed them with three children all of whom were born in the mission field.
On their eighteenth wedding anniversary, they had gone to a beachside island resort in the same country to romance each other afresh and to celebrate their wedding anniversary minus the children.
That’s when a terrorist group led by Abu Sayyaf linked with Osama bin Laden kidnapped them and took them away in a speedboat along with 18 others. In this group of 18, there was only one more American, apart from the Burnhams. This missionary couple was chained to two terrorists. They kept moving in the dense forests as the Philippine Army tried to track them down.
They starved for most part of their 377-day captivity. While they fainted physically, spiritually they did not. They kept believing God and kept serving him by sharing the gospel with their captors. When they did eat something, dysentery was the result. Though the food came out of their bodies like water, their faith during this time was rock solid. Their bodies were cut. Blood oozed out. But their faith in Jesus did not fizzle out. Their captors demanded $1 million for their release. $330,000 was given to them, yet they did not release them. 3 men in that group of 18 were beheaded. Even after these horrific incidents, this missionary couple in captivity did not want to kick their Christian Faith from their hearts and heads. The terrorists married four women in the group against their wishes and sexually violated them. Even this incident did not force this determined duo to divorce their faith from their life during the time of extreme trail. On June 7, 2002, during a cross-fire between the Phippine Army and the terrorists, a bullet pierced the chest of Martin the soldier of the Cross, and he died. Yet, the faith of his wife, Gracia, did not die. She continued to serve God with a steely resolve. Injured on her leg in the same cross-fire, she was finally free from her captors – nearly 400 days in horrific captivity.
Max Lucado writing about this incident memorably asks a series of questions you may have wanted to ask as well as you read this true story: “Why didn’t God block the bullets? Why did he let her get shot? And why God let him die?…She was a widow, and we are left to wonder why. Is this how God honors his chosen? How do we explain this tragedy? And as you’re thinking of theirs, how do you explain yours? The tension at home. The demands at work. The bills on your desk or the tumor on your body. You’re taken hostage, but aren’t you occasionally taken aback by God’s silence? He knows what you are facing. How do we explain this?”
Gracia Martin, the dead missionary’s widow, answers this “why” question in an interview she gave: “During the 10th week of my captivity, this Bible truth I had taught others all-along strongly came to me: life’s not all about me getting my way; it’s about Him getting His way. I decided that I was going to believe God was good, no matter what…. It seemed like God would answer every prayer but to get us out of there. I think we realized that He wanted us in there for a reason. Our prayers really changed at that point – we just wanted God to be teaching us.”
Today, Gracia Martin, is stronger in her faith after having gone through such a harrowing experience. She leads a ministry that uses aviation for mission work that involves getting the Gospel to those living in closed Islamic countries. The terrifying trails she underwent being a captive to a dreaded terrorist group for close to 400 days helped in mysterious ways to demonstrate the glory and power of God in her life!
This Corona Virus Pandemic and consequent lock down time will also be for our ultimate good! I am sure of that!
There was a time when Apostle Paul was chained to a roman soldier. He considered that as an opportunity to share the Gospel. The chains that bound Apostle Paul caused him inconvenience. But he say that as an occasion to advance the Gospel (Phil. 1:12). This is one obvious reason and purpose. In their discussion with God, Satan tried to tell God that Job loved Him because of all the gifts He gave Job. God said that Job loved Him because of genuine love and had no ulterior motives. The reason that Job had for loving God was love for God and nothing else. As a popular secular romantic song goes, “Love me for a reason. Let the reason be love!” We must love God for no other reason, but love! And if we do, this pandemic time will become a purposeful time for us!
Prayer: Thank you Lord for helping us understand from the Bible why there can be a mysterious blessing even via this Corona pandemic. Bless our time of lockdown and suffering so that we will continue to learn your word, raise Your praise, share your Gospel , and grow in character. In Jesus name. Amen.
[Transcribed by Mrs. Malini Prabakar voluntarily from a devotional that Duke Jeyaraj shared via video on 29 March 2020. Duke Jeyaraj, the author of this piece, is the fouder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, a listener supported Indian Ministry. Find out more at www.dukev.org. You may choose to subscribe to www.youtube.com/visitduke and like www.facebook.com/dukebook. You can reach Duke via WhatsApp at +91-8886040605. If you send a message via this number we can send you the PDF of the magazine that Duke publishes called, The Days of Your Youth, with the article, ‘Why Me?’ (summary of the main lessons of Job put in outline j-o-b o-f u-z)]
Why did God flood Job with so many questions (77 by one count in Job 38-39) at the end of the book of Job (perhaps the first Bible book in terms of date)? I believe this was the reason. He wanted to tell Job, “When you could trust and serve me (Job 13:15) without knowing answers for so many questions, what is the big problem you have when it comes serving me when you do not know the answer for ONE MORE QUESTION: ‘Why am I suffering?’ “ Job who did not know the answer for the question of God to him, ‘Do you know when the MOUNTAIN goats give birth?’(Job 39:1) must walk with God with unshakable trust even when he grabbles with the question: ‘ Why this MOUNTAIN of problems for me?’ That was God’s point at the end of this book. We do not the exact reason for this destructive Carona pandemic. But just as God expected Job to do, we have a job to do: trust and serve Jesus in the one life we have till our death or His return whichever comes earlier!!!!
(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj, the author of this piece is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. This is a listener-supported Indian ministry to presentday people. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Follow Duke’s videos at http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).
Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj – 22 nd March, 2020 (A Video Message Shared Online Via Facebook and Youtube)
We thank you Lord for this day, March 22,2020 when we are home, worshipping you in accordance with your sovereign plan; also for the privilege and freedom to broadcast on social media (You Tube and Facebook).Thank you for the opportunity to teach and share your Living Word that touches and transforms the lives of people watching globally .
May hearts be warmed by the Holy Spirit’s leading, bringing illumination, revelation, and life transformation. Amen.
The recent Economist Magazine reports that governments are trying to get a grip on this deadly pandemic – COVID -19. On March 16, reliable medical research published by epidemiologists (Imperial College, London) predicted that the virus would affect 80% of British population within 3 to 4 months if not arrested by the government or population.2.2 million Americans and 500,000 people in U.K. would be affected. No one really knows what will happen in nations like India.
I want to use the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to teach what the Bible, God’s own Word, has to say about plagues and pestilences.
C – CREATOR CAUSED PLAGUES
The Bible repeatedly attributes the origin of plagues and pestilences to God. If the Devil causes a plague (In Luke 13:16 Satan causes a disease which could have been a result of a viral attack on the human body – See also Mark 9:17; 9:25 and Acts 10:38) he needs to get God’s permission. God can permit the devil to operate. God’s sovereignty is a major doctrine of the Bible and no one can question him with a WHY (Dan. 4:35)?
The first reference to the plague is found in Genesis 12:17 when the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house in Egypt because of Abram’s wife Sarai. (Genesis 12:10 – 20)
The next reference is Exodus 8:2 where the Lord plagues Egypt with frogs because Pharaoh would not release the Israelites from their bondage. (Moses was their leader and he wrote the first 5 books of the Bible.)
In Exodus 9:3, it is the plague on livestock caused by the hand of God. In verse 14, we read that God sends all plagues on the Egyptian people to proclaim that “there is none like me(God) in all the earth.” In all, there were 10 plagues that affected the Egyptians.
Exodus 32:35 states that God sent a plague because Aaron made a golden calf which the people of God, Israelites, worshipped. They worshipped the CREATION rather than the CREATOR.
Numbers 11:33 tells us that even before the Israelites had consumed the flesh of the quail, God sent a plague because their perpetual complaints and ingratitude triggered God’s anger.
(One theory regarding the origin of Corona virus is that it came from a wet market which sold exotic meats, including the meat of winged bats, the likely original host of the Corona Virus, in Wuhan, China).
In Numbers 16:46, Moses tells Aaron to carry a censer, take fire from the altar and use incense as an atonement for the congregation since God’s wrath had caused a plague. The Bible is a library of 66 books and as we comb through it, we come to Numbers 25 where we read of the religious prostitution with Moabite women in the temple of Baal and Baal worship of the Israelites.
Balaam, in Numbers 31:16 counselled the Israelites to worship the idol Baal-Peor in-effect (by dancing with the women of Moab) using his seemingly prophetic powers and the consequence was a plague that killed 24,000.
Deuteronomy 28:59 records the farewell speech of Moses to Israelites before their entry to the Promised Land where he repeats the law and warns them of the fearful plagues that will affect their children and will last long and afflict them with sore sicknesses. In Deuteronomy 32:24 God warns the disobedient people that he will send hunger, heat, beasts, and poisonous serpents as agents of destruction. At the beginning of creation, the serpent is Satan’s slave and speaks to Eve. However, in Matthew 10:16, God says “be ye therefore as wise as serpents.”
Joshua 22:17 is a reminder of the plague on the congregation by sexual immorality. Joshua 24:5 states, “I plagued Egypt.” I Samuel 4:8 tells us how even the pagans realized God’s protection over the Israelites when it came to plagues.
Psalm 78:50 speaks of a pestilence that God delivered his people to. In Zechariah 14:12, the plague will affect those who war against Jerusalem; verse 18 of the same chapter speaks of the Lord smiting the heathen with a plague that do not observe the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths.
The Feast of Booths/Tabernacles is a Jewish Festival which is symbolic of the Israelite journey through the wilderness in temporary shelters. It is a call to repentance. It is also a symbol of our spiritual journey through this world as aliens, strangers, travellers, and as Peter says “sojourners “ (I Peter 2:11). The world offers prosperity, sinful pleasures, immortality on earth before Second Coming and we can choose to be worldly! But we should remember that we are passing through, to reach a city with no plagues. As Jim Reeves sang, “this world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.”
In the New Testament, Revelation 18:8 speaks of God’s judgement on establishments that are anti-God. Babylon is symbolic of this. The plagues will come in a single day – death, fire, famine. Revelation 22:18 warns with clarity that in response to people’s rebellion, God can choose to send plagues.
With the help of the above references, we understand that the plague is CREATOR CAUSED. Yes, Satan can be given permission by God to cause plagues/diseases. But even then, the buck for causing a plague, for reasons known to him, stops with God as he chose to give permission without which no plague could have occurred – including the Corona Virus Pandemic – in the first place!
We are using the outline C-O-R-O-N-A to understand what the Bible has to teach about plagues. C for Creator-Caused Plagues. O is the next letter under consideration!
O-OBLITERATED BY THE CROSS ON WHICH JESUS DIED? IS THAT TRUE ABOUT PLAGUES?
Obliterated means cancelled. Does the Bible teach that none of the believers will be attacked/affected by the virus? Is there such a theology in the Bible? This is the question. Exodus 12:13 speaks of the blood as an anti-dote for the plague. In Exodus 30:12, the Lord asks Moses to take census and number the Israelites when there is non-existence of plague among them. Revelation 18:4 refers to Babylon, which is symbolic of the system of evil and sin. We should say bye-bye to satan , come under the blood of Jesus, and join the spiritual church. Should we as believers never experience a plague? Plagues are not for God’s children says Numbers 8:19. Can Numbers 8:19 be applied to believers of today?
Psalm 91:10 is assuring – “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. Revelation 18:4 says this: “be ye not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” So, the question is this: will a believer who lives a holy life be spared from the Corona Virus infection as Revelation 18:4 seems to suggest?
Accelerated, passionate, cultic preaching, originally from South Africa, also echoed in Sri Lanka, India, propagated immortality which said that if you believe on Jesus, you will not die. Is this teaching correct?
There are 4 things that the believer which the human race deals with: defilement, disease, death, and demonic attack.
DEFILEMENT: By His first coming, Jesus gave us power over defilement. Being away from defilement does not allow us to use angry/ abusive words. We gain complete victory over every kind sinful habit (I John 3:5-6).
The Bible reiterates 300 times that Jesus is coming again. II Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus has already made us righteous. But I John1 :8 states we are not righteous. James 3:2 says that we (believers) stumble in many ways. It is a paradox. We are “already” holy, but “not yet” holy! This is what is called the ‘already but not yet’ theology – a theology that we must understand!
Grace is not a credit card to sin. We are not perfect and we do sin, but must come back to Jesus in genuine repentance and confession (Romans 2:4-5; I John 1:8-9). Only after the Second Coming (which takes place in Revelation 19:11) and in the New Heavens and Earth will there be complete absence of sin (Rev. 21:27).
So till the Second Coming we must put to death the acts of the flesh empowered by the Spirit (Romans 8:13). So, in a sense, we are already holy but not yet holy!
DISEASE: The ‘already but not yet’ theology is also seen in the area of diseases.
Even though God has worked out the solution on the Cross, the provision for our healing, some do not get healed for mysterious reasons. Isaiah 53:5 – With His stripes we are healed. I Peter 2:24 – By whose stripes ye were healed. Yes, after the first coming Jesus made provision for our healing at the Cross. However for some mysterious higher reason not all of us are healed here and now II Timothy 4:20 – Paul left his fellow labourer Trophimus at Miletus sick, even though he had healed sick and possessed people, with handkerchiefs/aprons.
Matthew 8 :16,17 records that Jesus healed all that were sick in a particular area fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53:5. This is in line with Exodus 23:25 which says, “I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.”
Let us hit rewind button on the characters of Elijah and Elisha.Elijah had performed 8 miracles – shut up heavens, caused drought, multiplied oil and flour to the widow, raised her son, defeated prophets of Baal with fire, brought rain to end drought, destroyed 51 with fire, destroyed another group of 51 with fire, parted the waters at River Jordan and he was taken in a whirlwind to heaven. Miracle after miracle and healing after healing but one day, he was taken in a whirlwind to heaven.
Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and he performed 16 miracles – parted waters of Jordan, purified waters of Jericho, Caused a flood, made Israelites to foil the Moabiltes, gave a flow of oil to the widow, gave fertility to the woman of Shunem, raised her son from death, purified the poisonous stew, multiplied barley loaves, healed Naaman of leprosy, healed Gehazi his servant, floated the head of the iron axe, struck Arameans blind, prophesied end of Aramean siege, prophesied death of Benhadad and rise of Hazael and prophesied Israel would defeat King of Aram.
Yet, Elisha, the mighty miracle-worker died of sickness – II Kings 13:14. This is the story of many of our loved ones.
We know of the apologist Dr.Nabeel Quereshi who was working with RZIM Ministries died of an illness at the age of 33. God released healing in the Old and New Testaments but here and now there is sickness, suffering, and pain. Plagues and pestilences fall in that category of suffering. They keep us humble. We are not in-charge of the earth. The Sovereign God is in control.
Paul , the author of many New Testament books, had a thorn in his flesh – some kind of ailment causing pain. He pleaded three times with God. II Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for thee.” I Peter 2:24 reiterates that we are healed by His stripes. Infirmities humble us.
If I can do everything, then I will be God but I am human. I depend on God and others and this ushers in a beautiful, mutual dependence, and a spirit of team work. The area in which I am weak may be the strength of another person.
While I Peter 2:24 teaches that Jesus has ‘already’ made provision for our healing, passages such as Romans 8:23 (which says that we await redemption of our bodies) teach that we are ‘not yet’ healed. After the Second Coming of Jesus (recorded in Revelation 19), there will be a time when there will be no more pain – no more disease (Rev. 21:4).
We have talked about Defilement in terms of the already but not yet paradigm. We have talked about Disease in terms of the already but not yet paradigm. Now to the next topic – Death.
DEATH- There are 2 stages in the coming of Christ – the first coming. If Jesus had planned to finish all his work with regard to us (like defeating death) in the First Coming itself, he would not have told that us that he is coming again. But he told us that he is coming again! First coming helps us overcome the ‘fear of dying’ (Heb. 2:15). Second coming helps us to overcome death itself (Rev. 19, Second Coming becomes a reality; Rev. 21:4 no more death in New Heaven and Earth). The fear of death is released. The first coming of Christ deals with one dimension of death but the second coming deals with death in all dimensions. Only post his Second Coming we will receive a glorified, death-free, immortal body (I Cor. 15:23). The reward for giving up all and loving Jesus supremely is “Eternal” life (a deathless life) and this blessing is only available in the “life to come” (Luke 18:30) – not before that! We have “already” overcome fear of death (Heb 2:15) and but “not yet” experienced a total win over death as death is the last enemy which Christ will defeat “at his coming” (I Cor. 15:23,26).
Some cult false teachers quote John 11:25,26 to teach immortality on earth. When Jesus said that those who believe in me will not die, we must check the context to understand the meaning of the word ‘death’. If we say ‘Sunny’ – it could mean the weather, or it could mean the Indian Cricket Opener (Sunil Gavaskar), it could mean the Nissan Car model, or it could me a porn star! The context will determine what “Sunny” means! In the same way the context of the word ‘death’ as Jesus used in John 11:25-26 indicates that he was talking about spiritual death. In Luke 9:20 Jesus says, “Let the dead bury the dead!” He was referring to the spiritually dead people who will refuse to follow Jesus because they await the actual physical death of their parents! In Luke 15:24, 25, Jesus referred to the alive-physically post repentance but once upon a time, dead-spiritually prodigal son. So, John 11:25-26 cannot be talking about immortality on earth (if you look at the context of these passages and map those the rest of the Bible, you cannot believe in immortality on earth here and now). It is talking about overcoming spiritual death and ultimately escaping second death which is hell punishment (Rev. 21:8). Romans 8:1 – There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. There is no danger of second death when you believe and abide in Christ Jesus!
We are talking about the ‘already’ but ‘not yet’ theology of the Bible with regard to Defilement, Disease, Death and finally, Demons!
DEMONS: Matthew 12 :28 – Devils are cast out by the spirit of God. When this happened in Jesus’ ministry the Kingdom of God has been established and Satan has been defeated. When Jesus died on the Cross the Devil was “already” defeated and shamed on the Cross. Read Col 2:13,14,15. Jesus defeated the devil on the Cross. But the final defeat of the Devil is still in the ‘not yet’ category. It is pending. The devil is still active deceiving people and nations (I Peter 5:8). “Already but not yet theology” tells us that the work of God is inaugurated in His First Coming but completed in the Second Coming. Matthew 25:1 – Kingdom of heaven is likened to 10 virgins with their lamps. Matthew 25:31-34 speaks about the separation of people and nations just as a shepherd divides the sheep and goats (judges both believers and non-believers) as a King on the throne. God will complete the establishment of the kingdom of God after the Second Coming. So, His kingdom is still coming, in one sense. Luke 23:42,43 is a reference to the dying thief who says “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom” and Jesus responds “You will be with me in Paradise today.” The Dying thief rightly say the ‘already but not yet’ theology in Jesus’ teachings and made the right request.
Satan is still active and can cause us harm if we are not alert and will only be sent to hell after the Second Coming of Jesus [Rev. 19:11 (Second Coming), 20(hell for the miracle-working False Prophet and AntiChrist and Rev. 20:10 – hell for the Devil)]. Note that we must not get carried away false teachers who say, “Look at my miracles!” because the ultimate False Prophet, one who is part of the False Trinity will also work miracles!
There is a group working with missionary zeal on social media that circulates teaching that we have victory over disease (so you can’t have diseases), death (so you can’t die now), and demons (and Satan poses no danger to you now). In the light of the above paragraphs, what they teach is hellish false teaching. I wonder why this group does not say, “Jesus died for our sins on the Cross, so we must not sin anymore!” But they say, “Jesus died for us on the Cross and we must not die anymore!” Their shallow, double-standards-embracing arguments tells the larger story of how they love “Balaam’s wages” and so will only preach a message that will “tickle” people’s ear! [Of course, the right teaching is this: Jesus died for our sins on the Cross and we can have power over sin (I John 3:5-6), though only Jesus is sinlessly perfect (I John 1:8)!]
Balance Psalm 91:10 (no plague shall come near thy dwelling) with Hosea 13:14 where the prophet, alive before the first coming of Jesus, foretells the future time after Second Coming where-in a Psalm 91:10 protection will be a reality! In the absolute sense, Psalm 91:10 (no plague shall come near thy dwelling), will be true only in the New Heaven and Earth (Rev. 21:4) post the Second Coming of Jesus (Rev. 19:11) and not before that.
We are using the outline C-O-R-O-N-A to learn what the Bible teaches about Plagues.
C-reator-Caused plagues; O-bliterated by the Cross plagues here and now (absolutely not!); now for the third letter in this acronym, R….
R – REDEMPTION FROM THE PLAGUES
What can be humanly done to stop a plague (knowing ultimately it is God’s prerogative to do so)?
Sacrificial entry into God’s presence:
In II Samuel 24, we read about David’s pride and arrogance when he wanted to count the troops instead of counting on God. God sends a pestilence and 70,000 men died. A sacrifice had to be made in a particular piece of land for the plague sent by God to stop. That piece of land was available for free for King David. But he wanted to pay for it. “I will not offer to the Lord, burnt offerings that cost me nothing!” – he said (2 Sam. 24:24). Then finally the altar was built. The sacrifice was offered. The Lord answered the prayer and then the plague stopped.
We have to increase our prayer time and kneel instead of watching different screens all day and night (I am talking about the phone, pad and the TV). Spend time with family around His word, in prayer. We can fast and pray and say “NO” to the things we love with a sacrificial David-like spirit; we can give sacrificially and support missionary organizations. Then, God may chose to stop the plague!
Numbers 16:21 onwards speaks of the grumbling against Moses, the rumbling, and the humbling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. The earth swallowed them up and their houses. A fire consumed 250 men that offered incense.14,700 died from the plague. Moses begged for mercy. Aaron offers incense as an atonement which is symbolic of the prayers and intercessions of saints. Revelation 5:8 speaks of golden vials full of odours which are the prayers of saints.
[We have a monthly fasting and prayer time with intercession named “Fountain of tears against Mountain of fears” when we pray for nations (for Corona-hit Italy/Iran), our nation (India), the google generation (which goes porn-again!) and for the tensions of those who come (for a job, for a baby, for peace in marriage, etc)].
Separation from the world:
Revelation 18:4 warns us not to partake in sins and be subject to plagues. When we live a life of holiness and separation, then God may choose to stop the plague!
Others use foul language, we too use foul language. Others watch soft porn via Netflix, we too do the same! This CAN’T be! For the plague to end, we must choose holiness and separation from the Bible. Then God may choose to end the plague!
Proclamation of the standards of God’s Holiness:
We should preach the truth about God’s holy standards from His Word taking the cue from Phinehas. In Numbers 25, we read of Phinehas and how he removed evil and stopped the plague which killed 24,000. He killed people involved in sexual immorality. We should turn away from filthy thinking and adultery. God’s word is the sword which divides holy and sinful people. Psalm 106:29 speaks of the outbreak of the plague. “They provoked him to anger with their inventions.” Phinehas literally sent a spear into a couple that was into sinful Baal worship through sexual intimacy inside the privacy of a tent (Numbers 25:6-8). As New Testament believers we will not kill people physically that way. Instead, we will use the sharp sword of the Word of God (Heb. 4:12) and preach it to people so that their hearts are “cut” (Acts 2:37). My book, Straight Talk, brings such frank Bible teaching on sex, love, marriage, petting outside marriage, homosexuality, porn, etc. We are now working on edition 3 as I write with vols 1 and 2 sold out.
We are using the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to outline the message of the Bible on the topic of plagues. And the next letter to consider is O…..
O – ORDERLY QUARANTINE HAS TO BE MAINTAINED DURING THE PLAGUE:
The laws of quarantine set by the local government have to be followed. Leviticus 13:36 speaks of social distancing and isolation. As long as they have the disease, they have to separate themselves from others and stay outside the camp. We must obey in order to stop the spread of the disease. Read Leviticus 5. Cleanliness can be marred by having an issue, leprosy or touching the dead – Numbers 5:2
Leviticus 15:6,17,18,32; Deuteronomy 23:10,11; II Kings 7:3; 15:5. Read these Scriptures that vote for orderly quarantine during times of plague or contagious disease long before medical science was as advanced as it is during our time!
In II Samuel 24, we read about David’s pride and self-sufficiency. God sends a pestilence and 70,000 men died. In II Kings 15:5, the king becomes a leper until his death and lives in a separate house. II Chronicles 26:21, Uzziah the king was a leper till his death and lived in a separate house. Read Leviticus 22:14.
Romans 13:1 teaches that we must obey the Government when it comes laws passed by it that does not contradict the written Word of God. The 21-day quarantine period and consequent ‘stay-at-home’ order by the Government needs to be obeyed for the larger good of the people.
We are using the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to outline the message of the Bible on the topic of plagues. And the next letter to consider is O…..
N – NEARNESS TO THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS:
“And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven” – Luke 21:11
Many signs of Jesus’ second coming are seen. From 1981, 35 million lives were lost due to the HIV pandemic; 1.4 billion were infected globally by the Swine Flu in 2009. 11,325 died and 28,600 cases reported in the West African Ebola in 2014; in 2015 the Zeke virus caused by mosquitoes affected South and Central America and in 2020 we have the Corona Virus globally. Many lives have been lost in China, Italy, U.S.A., Iran. In Deut 23:10,11, we read about an unclean man who has to cleanse himself.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness. God can help us to be clean! Clean husbands will please wives and vice-versa!
The Lord’s coming will be like a thief at night (I Thessalonians 5:2) and we must be ready for it any-second.
We are using the acronym C-O-R-O-N-A to outline the message of the Bible on the topic of plagues. And the next letter to consider is O…..
A – ALIVE DURING THE TIME OF PLAGUE AND SO WE MUST….
Amos 4:10, Luke 13:1-5 instruct us to repent or perish; repent from pride and prayerlessness. Pilate had mingled the blood of some Galileans with sacrifices.18 people died because the tower of Siloam fell. These people did not die because they were worse sinners than the others. We are all living with the virus of sin and this plague situation is a call to REPENTANCE. Hebrews 11:25 warns us of the passing pleasures of sin. May be prayerlessness and porn watching? If we are alive today, then we should eagerly expect and wait the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior who died for us. Without repentance, we will perish. We need to repent.
Jesus tells us about the ten lepers in Luke 17:12. They were healed. Jesus comes close to us and heals us though we are affected by the virus.
The question He asks is if we will allow His touch. He came in search for us. He wants to come close, touch, and perform a miracle in our lives. Those affected by leprosy had to stay outside the city and could not touch anyone. Corona is causing social distancing but sin is a greater virus than this. We live in a living hell and go to a literal hell because of sin. Intercede for the lost and affected. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. God can help us to be clean and ready for His coming and not left behind. He will lead you and give you a purpose.
Prayer of repentance.
Dear Lord Jesus, I am sorry for my sins. I have a virus deadlier than CORONA, the virus of sin. Wash me with your blood that you shed on the cross. Cleanse me right now from this. Thank you for dying for me. Thank you for rising again. Thank you for being willing to be my friend, a friend closer than my brother.From this day onwards, I want to relate to you, love you, and follow you.
Thank you for cleansing me, washing me. Thank you that I am born again. In your name I pray.
Amen. We ask for God’s healing by His nail-pierced hand and experience miracles, testimonies, and healing and pray for closed doors to open. Let us continue to lead balanced lives and pray for the hurting world. When times return to normalcy, we should not forget God. God consciousness should remain. Let us plunder hell and populate heaven. God does more than we ask for or imagine and we have to follow Him and hold on to His Word.
(The Author of this piece is Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj. He is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more at www.dukev.org or at www.dukewords.com. This particular article was transcribed from a message that Duke Jeyaraj preached via Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f25tnCjBJ3s) or Facebook on 22 March 2020 by Mrs. Malini Prabakar).
The owner came to the garden with expectations. High hopes. “Surely fruits will dangle down the fig tree I planted! It has been three years! I just can’t wait to taste the fruits!” He was smacking his lips in anticipation. What did he get to see? Fruits? Hardly. Instead the tree gave him the boot – it was barren. Now he was biting his lips with frustration. The owner became furious. “Chop this fruitless fig tree down,” he ordered the gardener. “Why waste fertilizer and water on it for ANOTHER YEAR?” The gardener would not give up on the tree he had tended tenacious for over three years. He pleaded, “Just give it one more year, Master – just one more year! That is all. I will tend it. Take good care it. And I am sure it will give us fruit in this year of extension! You bet!”
The above-narrated story is a contemporary form of a parable of Jesus (Luke 13:6-9). A story our Master narrated. A yarn our Master spinned to shake us from our yawning! He told this story to drive home a crucial lesson? This lesson: we have got a New Year to live just because of sheer grace. He has marked out a New Year for us just because of his massive mercy. Nothing more. Nothing less. It is true that when he spoke of that fig tree he was speaking of the nation Israel. The prophets of the old often compared Israel to a fig tree-didn’t they (See Hosea 9:10 for an example)? But it also true we, followers of Christ, are the nation that God hoped would bear fruit. That is the reason, we read that he took the Kingdom of God from national Israel and gave it to a “new” Israel (that is actually us, believers, called as a ‘holy nation’ by Peter in 1 Peter 2:9) (Math. 21:13). But we – the new Israel – haven’t done any better than national Israel. We have been neglectful about our duty to give fruit as national Israel! The “Gentile” Israel – us – has been as giving God the boot (instead of the fruit) like the Geographical Israel so often did!
Israel, the fig tree, was blessed have plenty of water and fertilizer year after year. The Law of Moses they received through Moses in generous doses was the “water” the fig tree of Israel was flooded with (Rom. 9:4). The pack of prophets who faithfully proclaimed this law in a practical and powerful way to the people of Israel year after year – well, they were the “fertilizers” so to speak (2 Kings 17:13ff). But they would not simply grow up and bear fruit. They became “ fat”, oh yes! But “faithful” Nah! Look over your shoulder. At the previous years of your existence. Surely you were watered. Certainly you were fertilized. Think of the Bible Studies you sat in. Think of many sermons you heard. Think of the church services you attended. Think of the camps and conferences you took part in. You too became “fat”. But were you “fruitful”? Well that is another story, correct? !
Listen, Jesus (the Gardener in this parable) did not narrate this story to paint his Father in a poor picture. Hear this good: The Father (the Owner in this story) is not an ultra-strict principal out to hound you and dismiss you from his school for the first failure you had without any mercy. He is not like a class teacher who gives you a “you-will-never-make-it-in-life” lecture after your examination flops. His Father is as loving and as gracious as He is. When we interpret a parable we should just look for one lesson from it-that’s the thumb rule of interpreting parables. The Father God gave a similar extension in the life of King Hezekiah, remember ? (Isa 38:1-5). “Through the Lord’s mercies (the Father’s mercies) we are not consumed,” Jeremiah wrote-don’t forget (Lam 3:22). You see, the Father is as understanding as the Son is. The Son – all of us very well know – lives “forever to intercede” for us we read up (Heb 7:25).
The year you and I have to get to exist in, is a year of grace. Sure we are living in the Space age. But it also true we are living in the grace age – an age graciously given us so that we will for a change give our Maker good fruit instead of giving him the boot!
If this one-year extension given us so that we bear “fruit” what sort of fruit should we bear? The fruit of PENITENCE. That is what John the Baptist preached to the Jewish Religions’ big shots (Luke 3:8). They could not hide behind the fact that Abraham was their ancestor without bearing fruit, he warned. In other words what John was getting at was this: “You can’t swap your religious heritage for personal change!” In the New Year that we have entered, we called to produce “fruits of repentance”. That would mean all the tantrum throwing of the past years should be trashed. That would mean all the porn-watching of the past years should be pushed aside. That would mean all the foul-languages that filled your mouth should be flushed away. And when we do that believe me, slowly but surely the “fruit” of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control-will show up in your Christian walk when you carry an attitude of penitence the whole year out!
Why would the Lord mark “plus 1” for us who live in the OnePlus6 (that talked about ‘flagship’-killer Smartphone released in 2018)? To bear fruit. The fruit of PONDERING. Pondering on his word. Meditating on the Bible, God’s Word in human words. I first picked up this new version of the Bible in the year 2014. I enjoy reading this version. It is called The Voice. Let me quote from Psalm 1:1-3 from that version for you: God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn: when you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes, when you avoid sin’s highway, when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse. For you, the Eternal’s Word is your happiness. It is your focus—from dusk to dawn. You are like a tree, planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry. Your fruit ripens in its time; your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun. No matter what you do, you prosper.” There you have it: when you spend time making God’s Word your focus, dusk to dawn, you are like the tree the fruits of which ripens in its time! The Bible has approximately 1200 chapters. If you read 10 chapters of the Bible every day, you would read the Bible in full in 120 days flat (four months). That is simple math! If that is tough, try reading five chapters a day and you can wrap up reading all the Bible in 8 months. If you read four chapters a day, and five during weekends, you will comfortably complete reading all the Bible in a year. Why not try it out this new year? I found the following challenging lines at satisfactionthroughchrist.com: “Up for a challenge? The Horner system is sort of an osmosis system, the idea being inundation rather than meditation. With it, you’ll read ten chapters per day from ten different books. Over the course of a year, you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the Old Testament wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the Old Testament History and Prophetic books about 1 1⁄2 times.”
An extension year for what ? To bear fruit. “Fruit – what do you mean?” Ask the writer of Hebrews. “Therefore by him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name” (Heb.13:15). You have guessed it correct – the fruit of PRAISE. Would you to thank God for at least five blessings you have received from Him each day of the New Year? For the safe ride you had back home. For the food on your table. For the friends and folks you dote over you. If you did that you are bearing “fruit”. And God’s disappointment with you will dry. God’s frustration with you will fizzle out!
Annexure year for what? To produce “fruit”. “What do you mean?” Ask Jesus himself. He told his disciples once remember , ‘Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest?’ Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for the harvest! And he who receives wages, and gathers FRUIT for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:35:36). The point of Christ was making was this: “One look around you will get to see the likes of the Samaritan Woman-seeking, searching! Truckloads of disappointed and dejected people desperately looking for the Living Water. They will drink from Me-believe Me –if only you go and tell them about Me!” The fruit of PROCLAMATION is what I eagerly expected of us in our gracious-given extra year! That’s the reason God chose us: so that we bear “fruit” (win souls) and that our “fruit” remains (and the souls we win make it all the way to Heaven!) (John 15:16). In this supplementary year God’s grace has supplied to you why not become a serious soul winner? Why not gather with a few of your High School/College Christ-following pals to pray and study his word for a few minutes during your lunch break or after class? Why not stand in the most happening youth hangout in town and pass out contemporary gospel tracts? Why not proclaim Christ through life and lip using every opportunity?
Jesus signs off from this parable with a telling warning: “And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down!” (Luke 13:9). Can you really be “cut” down this year if you give Jesus the boot this year instead of fruit? There is a real possibility, buddy. There is an actual chance for that, my friend. What if you die – be cut down – suddenly this year would you be found giving fruit for the Savior or giving him the boot? If you say, “Well, that will not happen to me – ever,” then you must listen to the story of Ahab. Ahab, year after year, was giving Yahweh the finger. Giving His God the boot. Five prophets at least – the famous Elijah, prophet Obadiah, prophet Micaiah and two unnamed prophets – tried to correct him and coax him on to the way of God. But he stayed stubborn. He was solidly stiff-necked. And you know what – his life was cut off crudely when he least expected it or wanted it. He had boasted to prophet Micaiah that he would return safely from a battle God did not want him to fight. He was cocksure of that because he went to a battle in a disguise and He thought he was well protected by an armor. But a randomly shot arrow hit in the joints between the joints of his armor and he shortly died (1 Kings 22:27, 34, 35). Till his sudden death, mind you, he was giving his Maker the boot.
That is what false prophet Hananiah did too. Wanting to impress the people of Judah he prophesied: “Jeremiah is telling you that this captivity in Babylon will last for 70 long years. Forget it! It is gonna last just for two years. That is all! Take it easy, folks! Deep down in his gut, Prophet Hananiah knew he was just conning the people. He knew he had not heard from God on this subject but was simply bluffing in an attempt to become the favorite prophet of the people at the expense of Jeremiah. He was giving the God who called him to be a prophet the boot – not fruit! This was the New Year promise he received from the Lord: “Your life will end THIS VERY YEAR because you have rebelled against the Lord” (Jer. 27:16)! Two months later, he died – still giving God the finger (v 17). A sad end. A sorry finish. Do you know that for any of us this New Year promise may come true: “Your life will end this VERY YEAR!” (Jer. 27:19). The reason? Our life is unpredictable. Biblically speaking it can end at any time – including this very minute or this year – did any one care to tell you? I care. Our life is comparable to a fleeting fog or a fading flower, the Bible tells us (Job 14:1/ Jas. 4:14). It can be short. It can be cut short! If you told me, “Duke, don’t give some Old Testament mumbo-jumbo!” I will show you the sad lives of post-Cross, in-the-New-Testament narrative, Ananias-Sapphira (Acts 5) and King Herod (Acts 12). The lives of these folks were also cut short when they failed to make the “extra year” added to their lives count – it can be seen that way!
I pray that will not be sad story of any of us this extra year God has gracious given us! Instead, let us wisely use this year to bear fruit – instead of giving Christ the boot – in graciously added New Year!
(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, a ministry that reaches out to presentday people via writings, pulpit preaching and counselling. Find out more at www.dukev.org or by WhatsApp to +91-8886040605. He is a fulltime itinerant preacher and writer-in-residence with this ministry).
This morning (22 July 2019) when I went to get the newspaper in a shop in Diamond Point, Secunderabad, I witnessed a march by school students in memory of the Kargil Martyrs. They walked shouting slogans of respect for the Kargil Martyrs.
The Bible is clear when it calls believers to die for Christ if there is a need to do so. None of us will enjoy dying. But none of us should be scarred of dying for Christ’s sake.
Jesus’ call for martyrdom comes from John 12:24 – Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:23 records that these were the words of Jesus.
Apostle Paul, the person who kept saying we must follow Christ as he followed Christ using various phrases atleast five different times in the New Testament as he was inspired by the Spirit to do so was willing to die for Christ. We read these his brave words in Acts 21:13 – “Then Paul answered (a group of five prophets who prophesied that he should not go to Jerusalem and preach about Jesus because that would land him in great danger), “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
The writer to the Hebrews in the Bible was complaining that there weren’t enough brave people in the church he wrote to who chose Martyrdom when he wrote, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb. 12:4).
My favorite Christian Martyr is Polycarp. His martyrdom was the first prominent one after the completion of the New Testament. I recommend that you watch the 2015 Movie Polycarp – you, your family, your church. I watched it with my family and a small group I taught God’s Word to. I stopped at strategic points in his life to draw spiritual lessons during that movie.
Here is the gripping report of the martyrdom of Polycarp by Christianity Today website:
‘Polycarp had been a Christian since he was a child, but the Romans didn’t get around to killing him until he was in his eighties. Whatever the reason for the delay, it is still the first recorded martyrdom in post-New Testament church history. Such traits are especially evident in the account of his martyrdom, which was written within a year of his death. It is not clear exactly why he was suddenly, at age 86, subject to arrest, but when he heard Roman officials were intent on arresting him, he decided to wait for them at home. Panic-stricken friends pleaded with him to flee, so to calm them, he finally agreed to withdraw to a small estate outside of town. But while in prayer there, he received some sort of vision. Whatever he saw or heard, we don’t know. He simply reported to his friends that he now understood, “I must be burned alive.” Roman soldiers eventually discovered Polycarp’s whereabouts and came to his door. When his friends urged him to run, Polycarp replied, “God’s will be done,” and he let the soldiers in.’
‘He was escorted to the local proconsul, Statius Quadratus, who interrogated him in front of a crowd of curious onlookers. Polycarp seemed unfazed by the interrogation; he carried on a witty dialogue with Quadratus until Quadratus lost his temper and threatened Polycarp: he’d be thrown to wild beasts, he’d be burned at the stake, and so on. Polycarp just told Quadratus that while the proconsul’s fire lasts but a little while, the fires of judgment (“reserved for the ungodly,” he slyly added) cannot be quenched. Polycarp concluded, “But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.”’
‘Soldiers then grabbed him to nail him to a stake, but Polycarp stopped them: “Leave me as I am. For he who grants me to endure the fire will enable me also to remain on the pyre unmoved, without the security you desire from nails.” He prayed aloud, the fire was lit, and his flesh was consumed. The chronicler of this martyrdom said it was “not as burning flesh but as bread baking or as gold and silver refined in a furnace.”’
‘The account concluded by saying that Polycarp’s death was remembered by “everyone”—”he is even spoken of by the heathen in every place.”’
Should there be a rule in our land that we should not worship Christ or follow him or share his love, what would you do?
Would we respond like Peter and the apostles did in a similar situation: “Wemustobey Godratherthanmen” (Acts 5:29) – would we boldly say that to those who persecute us?
“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus” – that’s what the persecuted apostles did (Acts 5:41-42). And would we make Acts 5:41-42 a reality in our lives in case there is persecution in our world?
One small way we as a ministry show that we are not afraid of persecution is by distributing tracts. We still choose a spot and give tracts in that spot once a month. My joy knows no bounds whenever a new team member would say: “This is the first time I giving a gospel tract!” I tell myself, “Even if I were to die and be with Jesus, this wave of fearless witnessing will continue till the return of Christ!”
Mobile companies are preparing the world to be 5G super-fast internet speed-ready world where your 5G enabled phones can be folded! They are preparing mobile handsets that will be 5G ready. Huawei Mate X – a phone that can be folded – is one such phone. As believers, I write this article with a passion to see martyrdom-ready believers.
(Duke Jeyaraj is a trained Agricultural Engineer [B. Tech from SHIATS, Allahabad], who did not pursue a career in the line of his education but nevertheless enjoys growing cacti in the balcony of his flat, during his spare time! He could have been a cricket commentator but prefers to wrap Bible Truth around cricket magic moments and other interesting-to-Google Genners contemporary events, instead. God’s call upon him made him utterly restless and he obeyed that call by founding the Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission to finally find serenity after having served formerly as a pastor with a large denomination/missionary with a large organisation/employee of HSBC Global Resourcing. G4 Mission is not a church but an inter-denominational ministry to present-day people, a ministry which Duke works fulltime for, as an itinerant presenter/preacher/author since 2008 putting to use the formal theological training he received from a reputed Bible College in Bangalore [M. Div & Doctor of Ministry from CGLD-SABC]. Duke is called ‘dad’ by Dale (15) and Datasha (11) and ‘hubby’ by Evangelin and calls Hyderabad his adopted home – a town from where Duke has travelled by invitation to over 15 Indian States and to a few countries to preach God’s Word. In case your curiosity is triggered by reading all this, you may checkout http://www.dukewords.com [if you are the reading plain text type], http://www.soundcloud.com/shoutaloud [if you are part of the audio-listening tribe] and http://www.youtube.com/visitduke [if you group yourself with the video-steaming generation]. G4 Mission is a listener/reader/viewer supported Indian ministry.)