Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stars are stars, sand is sand

[Caveat: The views expressed here are solely those of the writer, and not necessarily represented those of the church(es) he attends or any fellowship(s) that he may be a part of.]

In the account of the battle at river Kishon, in Judges 5:20 (for the full Song of Deborah, see article – Judges series – Judges 5), it was mentioned, “From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.”

A thought came back to me concerning a supposedly revelation received by a very admirable missionary preacher from a certain island (I praised God for how He had used him do the most fantastic work done (of building schools and churches, and reaching out to the lost ones) on the island. What is amazing is that this man was already old when he was first called. He was and is an inspiration to me, ah! you know now I am not so young). He spoke of Genesis 22:17, about the words of God to Abraham concerning the latter’s descendants being as numerous as the stars of the sky and as countless as the sand of the seashore. According to him, the revelation was that the stars referred to the descendants through the line of Isaac (son of faith mothered by Sarah), and the sand, the descendants through the line of Ishmael (the other son of Abraham, mothered by Hagar).

So when I looked at Judges 5:20 (again), I thought maybe he, the missionary preacher, was right, “the Isaac line” fighting here. But because this is my writing, I must make sure that indeed he was right, before I could pen it down, that such could be interpreted of Genesis 22:17 and Judges 5:20 here. When I checked other references to this “famous” stars and sand verse, I found that it was also used in Jeremiah 33:22 and Hebrews 11:12. The latter was a re-quote of Genesis 22:17 while the former, Jeremiah 33:22, was not; descendants of David and Levites {who themselves were ALL descendants of Isaac} were used in place of Abraham, and it was also spoken by the Lord. As such, in my humble view, I believe the stars and the sand did not represented in specific terms, the descendants from the lines of Isaac and Ishmael respectively. And so, the stars here in Judges 5:20, are not specific to “line of Isaac” at war. It remains as far as I can tell - a poetic description of the war.

This brings on 2 important points:

Firstly, when we are stating something we believe we got from God through personal revelation by God or through Holy Spirit’s inspiration, we should expressively say so. Of course, even to know this, i.e. “the piece of stuff is a revelation”, is in itself, not easy; depending on how much you already know of the Scriptures and how much teachings/preaching you have heard. Nonetheless, if it “sounded” to you as revelation, and it could not be clearly backed up by the Scriptures, you should qualify it with the words, “I believe….”. That is what I endeavor to do, in my writings. The idea is to give the reader or listener a flag that what is said/written is of personal belief, may not be widely held, and perhaps not completely/fully backed by the Scriptures. This is especially so, when it comes to an important issue/matter. The greater the importance and ramifications/implications, the greater must be the caution, and the greater is the need to expressly said that it is a personal belief or revelation, perhaps not backed completely/fully by Scriptures. Something that is not, or perhaps not, completely/fully backed up by the Scriptures is different from something that contradicts the Scriptures. The latter cannot be revelation by God or the Holy Spirit.
{Added 15/10/2010 - There is a 3rd category which I called speculation, and it can be more damaging than the "contradiction" category, for it is not capable of being "proved". An example, which I came across recently, is the equating of the tree of good and evil to "tithe" by a "famous" mega-church grace preacher. This is PURE speculation. Pure speculation designed to justify perversion of truths of God, must be avoided; and the truths of God need only be stated plainly, and obviously, not through deception.}

Secondly, what happens when we are wrong!? Before I say anything more, let me say that it is not my intention to attack the missionary preacher which I already said was both admirable and an inspiration to me. Only perhaps, he could have researched a little more before he publicly said what he said was a revelation. Nevertheless, I must say that he was addressing a smallish group of older people who were assumed to be mature Christians who would be quick to understand what revelation implied (including it could be wrong! Not that a revelation from God can be wrong but that such has not come from God but thought to have come from God), although such assumptions {concerning the audience} are not always correct. The preacher’s details were intentionally withheld so that easy identification is not possible, as I have said, the intention is not to attack the preacher.

To tell you the truth, I do not really know the answer to that question – what happens when we are wrong? Most definitely, we have to be careful with what we say or write. In the world, you can be sued for slander or libel, and in my country, this is world-famous! But we are not talking about or referring to the world, what I am more talking about is the implications with regards to God and in the Kingdom of Heaven/God.

Obviously, at times, it is really difficult to interpret Scriptures, but that should not stop us from wanting to understand Scriptures; and so it is at the least, the reason for exposition, of the words by pastors, preachers, speakers and even informed believers (who qualifies, as one, in itself, is again of course, subjective). We do not just, not do a thing because it is difficult. Of course, it is not easy, but the honors (by God, not men) also commensurate with the difficulty; the Scriptures said teachers or preachers of the Word get double honors. But the responsibility is also heavy; if we stumble others we are answerable to God, and stumbling others is a sin.

One brother in fact suggested to me that I should not be commenting on the Word of God. The brother, I believe, is aware that I am not a staff of a church, and I am not a full-time minister, but am only a long time Christian. Yes, that is not much of a qualification. In fact, I also do not have any formal diploma or degree in theology as of now. I only know that I must try to know the Word much, and with my knowledge, help some others to understand the Word, and maybe even point out some incorrect expositions of the Word, especially if they pertained to important issues that have significant ramifications/implications. Except for the "for my own knowledge" bit, which is a must for my own walk with God, all the rest are really none of my business. But if you think more deeply, much of faith work, is of the kind that is none of our own business, they are God’s business. But why do I do this writing, I wonder? People are doing it because it has been their job – they are preachers, pastors, speakers, etc. Why am I in this risky business anyway? Don’t I have enough areas where I could sin and incur the wrath of God? With writing on this blog, I created another “mine field” which I need not have to. If I claim it is God’s work, no one can say anything, but if that is so, any wrong I made here, I profane the name of God. I suppose I have no answer here, I will continue to write as long as I still have the desire {hopefully that, that is a sanctified desire, and of Him} to write, but I must continue to exercise care because I am handling the Word of God, and I pray that He may guide me in my writings.

Coming back to the question of what happens when we are wrong, I can only hope that, on matters that are not that serious, God will forgive us, and we all will end up in heaven, seeing each other and saying to each other, “I thought we have had different views on such and such a matter. Ah! Both of us are here, in heaven; and thank God for his grace and mercy despite our errors.” What about the very serious wrong/false teachings?

In relation to an important matter, circumcision, the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 5:12, as for those agitators {false teachers}, I {Paul} wish they would go the whole way and emasculate {castrate} themselves!

The Apostle John, in 2 John (a one chapter short epistle, I believe it to be written by the Apostle John), warned us that we may lose our eternal rewards if we subscribed to false teachings (that epistle was more particularly addressing antichrist teachings). If those deceived may lose their eternal rewards, those who perpetuate the false teachings must be facing more severe penalty. It also said that those who preach those deviated teachings (deviated from the teaching of Christ), are wicked. The Book of Proverbs, in Proverbs 3:33, gives us an idea of God’s position on the wicked – “The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous."

So God help us!

Anthony Chia - "Now the Bereans were of more noble character... for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11 NIV)

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