GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life for week ending 01/11/04.
Scar tissue of the soul is a spiritual disorder, including the believer's involvement in the cosmic system, resulting in total loss of spiritual momentum and incurring the most intense discipline from God. Scar tissue of the soul can also be found in unbelievers, as in ROM 9:17, "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.'"
Pharaoh represented all the power, authority, and might of human rulership, but God demonstrated that all this did not even compare to His own power. Pharaoh set the mark for the worst hardness of the heart the world had ever seen, and he revealed it in the plagues of Egypt. In the first five plagues, Pharaoh continually hardened his own heart. God then permitted him to live for the next five plagues, and Pharaoh had many opportunities to change his mind, as stated in EXO 7:22; EXO 8:15,32, 9:34-35. God used the hardness of Pharaoh's heart to evangelize the world, and this divine plan was threefold:
1. Liberation of the Jews from slavery, to form a client nation to God.
2. Evangelization of Egypt, EXO 7:3-5.
3. Evangelization of the world, EXO 9:16.
Paul compares the Jews of the First Advent and Church-age with Pharaoh, to demonstrate that their negative volition and hardness of heart in Rom 9-11. In JOH 1:11, "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him."
Just like God used the hardness of Pharaoh's heart to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world, God also used the hardness of the heart of His very own people to reveal the truth to others, as taught in detail by the Apostle Paul inRomans 11:7-32">ROM 11:7-32. He writes in ROM 11:30, "For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience."
ROM 9:17 gives us some insight into the subject of holocausts and why God allows tragedy to come upon His people. Here we see a reference to Pharaoh Thutmose III, who was Anti-Israel and evil to the core, yet the Lord said in effect, "I have caused you to continue in history." This should remind us that when we find ourselves in jeopardy, whether personal, national, or international, these things are permitted to continue in history so that the power of God may be demonstrated and that the grace and mercy of God may be manifested. From that manifestation of divine power comes two results:
1. The evangelism of the unbeliever.
2. The spiritual growth of the believer, and a wake-up call if necessary.
Throughout history God has demonstrated His power in an evil ruler or evil people, even believers who are negative toward doctrine, Psa 76:10, "For the wrath of man shall praise Thee." Through the hardness of Pharaoh's heart, God will demonstrate His power on such a scale that it will have a profound effect on two entire generations around the entire world. Paul continues in Rom 9:18, "So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires."
The doctrine of heathenism teaches that if anyone in any part of the world, no matter how geographically isolated, at the point of God consciousness expresses in his soul a desire to know God, and a desire to have a relationship with God, then God will provide a way for that person to hear the truth. Pharaoh, in the 18th dynasty, controlled the Middle East and therefore a huge population. The hardness of his heart would be used by God to evangelize this entire geographical region. God can work in any situation, and nothing can stand in the way of His plan. Unfortunately, our human limitations constantly restrict our ability to know and understand God.
God can use any kind of people to accomplish His purpose, Pro 16:4, "The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil." The Lord will allow a wicked person in your life to treat you spitefully for the purpose of making you stronger spiritually. The Lord will even use the wickedness of people and angels to bring His plan and purpose to pass, JOB 21:30, "For the wicked is reserved for the day of calamity; they will be led forth at the day of fury."
God used the self-righteousness of the Pharisees (JOH 8:1-11) and the evil and jealousy of Joseph's brothers (GEN 50:20). The Lord will be glorified even when men perform their greatest possible evil, 2Co 13:8, "For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth."
God used the most powerful man in the world to evangelize the entire inhabited world, ROM 9:22, "What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath as He did with the Egyptians and to make His power known [the plagues and the Red Sea incident], endured with much patience [giving Pharaoh opportunity after opportunity] vessels of wrath prepared for His glory." Many times we see tragedy and death, and do not see things that God sees. In reality, a crisis or a disaster could become the greatest blessing. The fact that the human race has continued to function for thousands of years is a remarkable testament to God's faithfulness in protecting His creatures from their own self-destructive tendencies.
When Moses went to Egypt in order to secure the deliverance of the Exodus Jews from slavery, he had to perform 10 miracles. After leaving Egypt, the Israelites faced 10 tests, the tenth taking place at Kadesh-Barnea, where they gave in to their fear of the giants in the Promised Land, and were never able to enter it. Under the doctrine of numerology, the number 10 in the Word of God represents the perfection of the divine order. One of the interesting features of Hebrew and Greek is that in both written languages there are no numeric characters. In each language, the letters are also used as numbers, and each word has a numeric equivalent.
· 2 is the number of division. The Son has two natures, human and divine. There are two Testaments, the Old and New. There are two ages, this age and the age to come, MAT 12:32; MAT 13:39-40,49; MAR 10:30.
· 3 is the number of divine perfection. The Trinity consists of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are three qualities of the universe-time, space, and matter. Time is three-fold-past, present, and future, as is space-height, width, and depth. Matter is one, yet three-solid, liquid, and gas. Man is trichotomous-body, soul, and spirit. The Lord Jesus Christ is three Shepherds-the Good Shepherd, JOH 10:14-15 (in His death), the Great Shepherd, HEB 13:20 (in His resurrection), and the Chief Shepherd, 1PE 5:4 (in His glory).
· 4 is the number of creation-four seasons and four geographical directions. The materials of the tabernacle were four, as were the coverings and the ornamentations.
· 6 is the number of man. Man was created on the sixth day and labors six days. The sixth commandment is "Thou shalt not murder [kill another man]." The number of the Antichrist is 666.
· 7 is the number of spiritual perfection. There are seven days in a week, and there are seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven parables in Matthew, and seven promises to the churches. There are seven "eternals" in Hebrews-a priest forever (1:6), eternal salvation (1:9), eternal judgment (6:2), eternal redemption (9:12), an eternal spirit (9:14), an eternal inheritance (9:15), and an everlasting covenant (13:20). There are the seven utterances of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross.
· 9 is the number of judgment. There are nine Greek words derived from the root word for judgment.
· 10 represents the perfection of the divine order-the 10 commandments, the Tithe, the 10 plagues, the parable of the 10 virgins, the 10 "I am's" of Christ, the 10 plagues in Egypt, the 10 miracles in the desert, and the 10 rebellions of the congregation of Israel, in which we see the full extent of God's grace and mercy extended to them. God will go to the "tenth power" of His grace, in order to give every human being a chance, but in this case, the Jews blew their chance.
The 10 plagues were representative of the complete circle of God's judgments on Egypt (which is a type of the world). He gave the Jews 10 tests, and if they had passed any of them, they would have entered the Promised Land. This was followed by the 10 rebellions of Israel in the wilderness, which represented the completed series of Israel's perversities, and they will be wiped out at Kadesh-Barnea. The Lord gave them chance after chance to pass the tests until finally they reached the number of completion, where they totally rejected Him. When they reached the tenth and final test, they did not have the spiritual strength to go through a difficult situation. They had 10 chances, just as Pharaoh did.
Historical degeneracy persecutes the Jews' religious degeneracy in every generation of the Jewish age and Church-age. This is a historical trend of the Church-age and is a part of God's plan to preserve the nation of Israel so that they will not self-destruct. This principle is taught in Rev 17, especially verses 16-17. God uses evil to destroy evil, arrogance to destroy arrogance and degeneracy to destroy degeneracy. Evil is always a function of self-determination.
A great holocaust occurs in the last half of the Tribulation, when the beast (political and historical degeneracy) destroys the prostitute (religious degeneracy). The political degeneracy of the revived Roman Empire persecutes and destroys the religious degeneracy of Israel (the prostitute). In this holocaust, no human volition is violated and this dramatizes the fact that mankind is simply the product of his own volition. This is the first and most common cause of human suffering. Every human being must take the responsibility for his own decisions and actions. You can never solve your problems when you blame others for your unhappiness and suffering. You must take full responsibility yourself for your own wrong decisions related to your associations, activities, motives, and functions in life. We sin and get involved with evil because we want to and we choose to. Volition is the cause for sin, even in insanity, neurosis, psychosis, and sociopathic behavior.
All sins were judged at the Cross, yet all our sins have natural consequences in life, for which the individual must take full responsibility. We must associate consequences with our bad decisions, rather than blaming others. Most of our suffering is self-induced misery. GAL 6:7 states the law of volitional responsibility: "Be not deceived; God cannot be mocked. Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap."
The book of Proverbs is a composition contrasting good and bad thoughts, motives, decisions, and actions. Proverbs teaches the believer how to live without learning the hard way. Most wrong decisions reflect indifference or negative volition toward Bible doctrine. Good decisions result from metabolized doctrine, called chakmah or "wisdom" (the equivalent of the Greek epignosis).
Bad decisions that cause self-induced misery are related to sins, and the seven worst sins are stated in PRO 6:16-19,"There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are abominable to Him. Arrogant eyes [the system of thinking], a lying tongue [sins of the tongue], and hands that shed innocent blood [murder], a heart that devises thoughts [systems, plans] of evil [inordinate ambition and lust] and feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers [a troublemaker]." PRO 13:20 says, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm."
The Jews suffered so much because of scar tissue in their soul and the hardness of their heart, HEB 3:7-13,"Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, 'Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they [the Jews] provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, And saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; and they did not know My ways'; as I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.' Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,' lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."Here the word sin is hamartia, and it means failing to hit the mark, whether it occurs by omission or commission, in thought, speech, or action. It means a violation of the divine law in thought or action. It means lightly esteeming the things of God.
Why the holocaust? Most of the Jews became very arrogant because of the blessing of God being upon them, and so they entered into passive arrogance. Passive arrogance unfortunately appears, usually after three or four generations of freedom and prosperity. Freedom and prosperity originates from a pivot of positive believers and the laws of divine establishment. Passive arrogance necessitates the action of active arrogance against it. God has ordained certain laws for the survival and freedom of the human race during the course of human history, to prevent human arrogance from getting completely out of control.
The laws of divine establishment are designed for and directed toward both believer and unbeliever.
1. Volition. Human volition must have freedom and privacy for proper function. Divine establishment provides freedom and privacy for those who do not violate criminal law. Criminals should have no freedom or privacy because they have forfeited that right.
2. Marriage. Monogamy, a permanent relationship between one man and one woman, is ordained of God, GEN 1:26-27; GEN 2:18-25; GEN 5:1-2; 1Co 7:2-4. Marriage is the most basic and fundamental organization in the human race. Even the unbeliever, whose life is ultimately a complete failure, can have great temporal happiness by marrying the right woman, ECC 9:9.
3. Family. God has provided certain divine laws, such as the authority of parents, to protect, care, nourish, provide, train, and discipline children to prepare them for life. Parental authority is the means of preparing children for a normal life, EPH 6:1-4. Recognition of authority is essential to true prosperity and happiness. The highest expression of parental love is to inculcate principle through discipline. Children must be trained to respect the privacy, property, and rights of others, to not abuse freedom, and to respect authority.
4. Nationalism. If the entire human race ever came under one ruler prior to the Millennium, it would self-destruct. Internationalism is outlawed as evil by the Word of God. To perpetuate the human race and bring history to its ultimate conclusion, God has designed the nation to protect the freedom and rights of people on this earth. We call this nationalism. God promises a blessing upon the nations and people who honor these divine laws. Unfortunately, many become consumed with the blessings rather than the Blessor, and this is the basis for the development of passive arrogance.
Passive arrogance accepts freedom and prosperity apart from human virtue and any sense of responsibility. Its victims are spoiled and take everything for granted. Passive arrogance assumes one has a right to all the blessings without any responsibility and respect for divine establishment.
Passive arrogance on the part of the Jews of the dispersion (when they were scatted from their homeland) resulted in active arrogance on the part of their persecutors. However, because Jesus Christ controls history, no nation or race ever experiences a holocaust without the historical demand for it. Therefore, negative volition, apostasy, and passive arrogance or indifference create the vacuum that attracts the persecution of active arrogance, and therefore holocaust and historical disaster.
In the book of Revelation, Satan in his active arrogance, frustrated by his fall from heaven, is the instrument of punishment of the Jews in the second half of the Tribulation. Through cosmic involvement these Jews have entered into a state of passive arrogance, which always attracts the attack of active arrogance. The groups who practice anti-Semitism are characterized by active arrogance and evil, e.g., nation and states of Islam and Communism. This does not justify anti-Semitism, but explains its existence in terms of historical trends. The Jews who will be the victims of Satan in the middle of the Tribulation are apostates who have developed passive arrogance through their residence and function in the cosmic system.
Evil demands evil, and cruelty demands cruelty, and therefore passive arrogance demands the function of active arrogance against it. Active arrogance punishes passive arrogance until those involved in active arrogance also becomes passive. A nation can be the instrument of punishment through active arrogance today, and tomorrow become the victim of holocaust after enjoying prosperity and falling into passive arrogance. This has always been the pattern of history and therefore part of the historical trend, which explains the Jewish holocausts and the rise and fall of nations and empires.