Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Withering Away of the Natural

Wherever the Word of God is sown the Spirit of God rains and blows. To the Word this wind supplies fresh water of life but to the flesh this wind is a consuming fire. There are several other passages it is written that our God is a consuming fire. This fire from the Lord destroys that which of the flesh The result is that wherever the Word of God is at work there is first two great contradictions-the contradiction of the surrounding flesh to God's work and the contradiction of the fire of God's Spirit to the work of the flesh. God must oppose the believer while He is blowing fire on their flesh. Life will at first seem hopeless to the believer but it is a prelude to great things.
Isaiah 40:3-8 KJV  The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  (4)  Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:  (5)  And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.  (6)  The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:  (7)  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.  (8)  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.  

What specifically does God want to accomplish through withering the natural. There are five purposes for withering:

  1. Sometimes God subject His people to withering to change their perspective so that the may enter into faith.

  2. Other times he uses wither to change situation to guide God's people as sheep to where He wants them to be.

  3. Withering can also be used to prove God exist and is at work in the world.

  4. Then there are the disobedient children who must be put into time-out because the will not follow God's instruction.

  5. God also uses withering to the destriment and ultimate destruction of His enemies. 

Example of how God used withering to Change Human Perspectives.

Abraham was raised in a pagan-polytheistic household. One of the most important principles in paganism is that by participating in various fertility rites  that the "Queen of Heaven" will grant fertility to people's bodies, crops, and herds. Early in life Abraham participated in such rituals.

Abraham's life showed the futility of such rituals. He was immensely blessed in his flocks and herds. He was deprived, however of the most important fertility blessing. He was childless. He had all of this wealth and no one to pass it on to. What was the point? There was no point. It is certain that this created a crisis of faith. Abraham's experience in paganism led to absurdity. In other words Abraham was living The Futility Driven Life.

God shut up Sarah's womb and prevented Abraham from becoming a father to create a crisis in his pagan faith. He produced withering in Abraham's flesh so that Abraham would be open to faith in the Living God.

Examples of how God used withering to Manipulate Situations

Sometimes God uses withering to manipulate situation to he benefit of His people. Because God's people do not always listen attentively God must use increasingly forceful means to guide his people. Just as a shepherd uses his staff to guide the sheep because the aren't listening God uses situations to guide His people. This was the case with both Joseph and Moses in the early stages of their lives.

Joseph received some dreams from God. These dreams predicted that Joseph would be the head of he family. What did Joseph do with this knowledge. He bragged and bragged and bragged about God's big plans for him. His brothers became jealous-so jealous that the plotted to kill him in order to prevent the dreams from coming to pass. Joseph's pride set the stage for events leading to his suffering.

Although Joseph suffered for thirteen years God was with him and prospered him during that time. Joseph became the lead slave under Potiphar because God blessed the work he did. when Joseph was framed for sexuall assualting Potiphar's wife he went to prison. In prison God blessed him so that he was put in charge of the other prisoners.

It was in prison that the stage was set for Joseph's promotion to the position that today we would call Prime Minister. God had gifted him in the interpetation of dreams. Two officers fromm Pharoah house were imprisoned where Joseph was. The chief  baker and butler were imprisoned. The both had dreams that Joseph interpreted. Both of Joseph's interpretation came to pass. The baker was killed and the butler was restored.

Two after the butler was restored the Pharoah had a dream  that none of his councillors could interpret. the butler remembered what Joseph did and recounted hat to Pharoah. When Joseph was brought to Pharoah he was able to both interpret pharoah's dreamsand add some sound advice. Joseph impressed Pharoah so much that the Pharoah made him prime minister of all of Egypt.

Moses was drawn from the water during a time when all Hebrew boy babies were being murdered to weaken Israel. He grew up in Pharoah's house. As he became a man he became aware of the suffering of his family and decided to do somehing about it.

While the text gives us only one clue it is likely that Moses planned to be a fifth columnist within Pharoah's household. He would do whatever he could get away with until he became pharoah. Sounded like a good idea huh. Moses would secretly kill those who committed atrocities against his fellow Israelites. The young Moses would have made an excellent Revolutionary.

God would have none of that. What Moses thought was secret God published. Moses deed became known and God let him know it was known just in time for him to successfully flee for his life.

Moses  for forty years withered away in the wilderness. God used withering to make Mose a shepherd to prevent from  relying on the schemes of the flesh rather than trusting God's purposes. God used withering during Moses time in the wilderness as shepherd to prepare him to shepherd the Israelites for forty years in that same wilderness.

Example of How God used Withering to Prove Himself.

Elijah intentionally used withering to prove who was the God of Israel. He called the false prophets of Baal to a sacrifice. The prophets of Baal would sacrifice and then Elijah would sacrifice. The God who responded to his sacrifice by fire was the true God of Israel. The prophets of Baal had the first opportunity to have a sacrifice answered by fire. The were given all day to do this and failed to receive the answer by fire. The followers of Baal failed in spite of having both the advantage of the first strike and the advantage of abundant time allowance.

Elijah further stacked the deck against himself by having his sacrifice flooded with water, not inm the heat of the day where the heat of the  sun might dry it, but in the cool of the evening. Elijah was now in such a hopless state that the only way he could  get an answer by fire is if God gives the answer.

God did indeed answer and answered boldly. He sent down fire that consumed not only the sacrifice, but completely consumed the wood, the water, and the stones as well.

Positive Versus Negative Withering.

Not Everyone subjected to withering received a benefit. A benefit is promised only to those who love God and have been elected by God. God uses suffering to accomplish good purposes for his people.
Romans 8:28-32 KJV  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  (29)  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  (30)  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.  (31)  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?  (32)  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Those who are in the world who continue in rebellion also are subjected to suffering. Their lives are also purpose driven but it is not for their benefit, but to their loss. Subjecting these to futility and bringing them to nothing is God's purpose
Proverbs 16:3-4 KJV  Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.  (4)  The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
This is why it is essential that we respond to God's offer of grace that we may be cleansed from negative or vulgar purposes. We need to ask what God is doing in the midst of our trials. Is He working  to change our perspective, like He did with Abraham, or is He working to change the situation to accomplish His purposes? He used withering to open up opportunities for worldly power for Joseph. God did the opposite with Moses, taking him away from worldly pomp and circumstance. Elijah at God's command deliberately subjected himself to trial in order to prove who was the true God of Israel.

God's People in Timeout.
There are many instances in Scripture where God's people refused to heed any instruction. They were doing more harm than good and God's justice required that He put them in time out. An entire generation of Israelites had to perish in the wilderness due to refusal to believe. Israel eventually had to be booted from the promised land for over 1800 years.

This is not limited to the Old Testament but those even happened as a warning and as an example to us
1 Corinthians 10:1-11 KJV    Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;  (2)  And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;  (3)  And did all eat the same spiritual meat;  (4)  And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.  (5)  But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.  (6)  Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.  (7)  Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.  (8)  Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.  (9)  Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.  (10)  Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.  (11)  Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Hebrews 4:1-6 KJV  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.  (2)  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.  (3)  For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.  (4)  For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.  (5)  And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.  (6)  Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
We must believe and continue in faith in God's promises. If we refuse to heed God's promises or His instructions or commands we will be left behind. If we have been guilt of this we must REPENT. There is no sin that cannot be cleansed by the blood of Jesus

Example of how God used withering to waste away the world.

Scripture states that God could have instantly destroyed the Pharoah who enslaved the Israelites and opposed Moses but that God decided to slowly subject the Pharoah and Egypt to plagues so that God may be glorified. God works His judgments and His wrath with great patience so that when events work out exactly as God said the would people will see God's wisdom and power displayed.
Exodus 9:13-18 KJV  And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.  (14)  For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.  (15)  For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.  (16)  And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.  (17)  As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go?  (18)  Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.

Romans 9:17 KJV  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
The process of wasting the world will end when the world and it's desires pass away. Everything that is of the world will die
1 John 2:15-17 KJV  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  (16)  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  (17)  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Only the one who does the will of God will live forever. The beginning of doing the will of God is to believe. God accepts saving faith in lieu of works. This faith comes from God's Word. As we believe God's Word, which lasts forever, that Word starts to bear fruit that remains.