At the heart of this covenant is God’s promise of redemption. God has not only promised to redeem all who put their trust in Christ, but has sealed and confirmed that promise with a most holy vow. We serve and worship a God who has pledged Himself to our full redemption.
The basic structure of the relationship God has established with His people is the covenant. A covenant is usually thought of as a contract. While there surely are some similarities between covenants and contracts, there are also important differences. Both are binding agreements. Contracts are made from somewhat equal bargaining positions, and both parties are free not to sign the contract. A covenant is likewise an agreement. However, covenants in the Bible are not usually between equals. Rather, they follow a pattern common to the ancient Near East suzerain-vassal treaties. Suzerain-vassal treaties (as seen among the Hittite kings) were made between a conquering king and the conquered. There was no negotiation between the parties.
The first element of these covenants is the preamble, which lists the respective parties. Exodus 20:2 begins with “I am the Lord your God.” God is the suzerain; the people of Israel are the vassals. The second element is the historical prologue. This section lists what the suzerain (or Lord) has done to deserve loyalty, such as bringing the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt. In theological terms, this is the section of grace. In the next section, the Lord lists what He will require of those He rules. In Exodus 20, these are the Ten Commandments. Each of the commandments were considered morally binding on the entire covenant community.
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By David Huffstutler — 1 month ago
In frequenting the houses of others to find food, this lazy person would avail himself to the affairs of others, be a busybody, and thus live anything but quietly. Visiting a neighbor is like eating candy—it’s something fun, but one can have too much of a good thing. Proverbs 25:16 warns us not to indulge with honey lest we eat too much and vomit. Similarly, Proverbs 25:17 (the very next verse) warns our feet not to be too frequent in our neighbor’s house lest his welcome turn to hatred.
Some people refuse to work and are intentionally lazy and idle. They know better but disobey the instruction of God and refuse to follow the example of hard-working Christians. They busy themselves in the lives of others, and burden others with their needs. What does Paul say to these people?
In 1 Thessalonians 4:9–12, Paul urges Christians to show love and, in doing so, live quietly, mind their own affairs, and work. These actions make for a good, Christian testimony to unbelievers and a life of independence, not unduly burdening others.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:6–15, Paul instructs believers what to do with someone who persistently refuses to work—avoid such a person while admonishing him to work. Such a person is disobedient to God, turns into a busybody, and is an unnecessary burden. In 2 Thessalonians 3:12, Paul directly addresses the lazy person—live quietly and eat your own bread (i.e., work to meet your own needs).
What might the Proverbs add to Paul’s command to live quietly and eat one’s own bread?
The command to eat one’s own bread implies that these lazy people were eating the bread of others.
By Mike Ratliff — 2 months ago
Satan is shrewd. He knows that his victories come mostly by wearing us down. It is at these times that the temptation in our minds will be so severe that unless God does provide the way of escape, and we take it, then we will have entered into temptation.
9 “Pray, then, in this way:‘Our Father who is in heaven,Hallowed be Your name.10 Your kingdom come.Your will be done,On earth as it is in heaven.11 Give us this day our daily bread.12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]Matthew 6:9-13 (LSB)
In this post we will look at the danger of “entering temptation.” There is no doubt that most believers walk in defeat in this battle much of the time. On top of the guilt and self-abhorrence that are natural products of Christians sinning, there is also the battle fatigue that comes upon them which results in more guilt simply for being “tempted” in the first place. Of course, much of this can be blamed on faulty theology and an extreme drought in the area of teaching the Biblical truth about sin and temptation from our pulpits and Bible studies. To understand the danger of “entering temptation” we must first understand what it is and what it is not.
First, to our great relief, it is not merely to be tempted. Temptation will be our lot as long as we live in this age. It is impossible that Christians can be insulated from it that they would never be tempted. Satan is the god of this age. Within his power, the world is consumed with lust. Therefore, as long as we live in these bodies in this age, we will be tempted. Even our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted in every way that we are while in His earthly body. This made Him one like us except without sin. As hard as it is to grasp at times, the temptation we go through in this life is designed to conform us unto Christ’s likeness. In Luke 22:28 our Saviour called His ministry a time of trials or temptation. The Word of God in no place gives us a promise of absolute freedom from temptation. The best we have is found in the Lord’s Prayer that I placed at the top of this post. He commanded that we should pray for God to, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Instead of praying not to be tempted we are commanded to pray that we not “enter into temptation.”
Entering into temptation is something more than the ordinary work of Satan combined with our own lusts. We deal with this every day of our lives. No, entering into temptation is something out of the ordinary that is not in our every day walks before the Lord. It is something that comes upon us characteristically of being seduced unto sin, on one account or other, by the way of allurement or fear. I suppose those few sentences caused your spiritual ears and eyes to go wide open for this is not what we usually hear about the nature of this battle is it?
Entering into temptation is more than merely being conquered by a temptation or to commit sin. We may “enter into temptation” and yet not fall under temptation. Our great God can make a way of escape for us, when we are in it. He can break the snare as he makes Satan flee. He can build up our hearts to be more than conquerors even though we have entered into temptation. Our Lord Jesus Christ entered temptation, but was not in the least defeated by it. So what is the “danger of entering temptation? The danger comes when we are in it and become entangled.
9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.1 Timothy 6:9 (LSB)
When we are “entering temptation” to the point of compromising our walk so as to get what we desire it as a man falling into a pit where there are traps and snares that entangle him. Think of an insect that is allured into a Pitcher Plant. The deeper it goes into the flower the more danger it is in. At some point it will reach a point of no return where the angle of the tube of the flower is too steep. It will then tumble into bottom of the plant where there is accumulated rain water where it will drown and be digested. It becomes entangled. In our case, when we fall into the pit full of traps and snares in trying to feed our desire we are not quickly killed or destroyed, but we will soon find that we are entangled and can no longer free. We will be clueless as to how to become free from what is holding us. We have become enslaved to our own flesh.
13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13 (LSB)
What a comfort this statement is! Even though we have become entangled and cannot find a way out in our own abilities, God knows how to deliver us. When we allow a temptation to enter us then we have entered into it. When it is alluring us we are still free from it. All temptations begin small. They may even appear benign, but are full of poison. When we partake of the allurement then the bargaining begins to go deeper. It may even continue small, just a small compromise, not a big deal…yet.
By Jim Fitzgerald — 1 year ago
The way that the US undermined Chiang during the Chinese Civil War 1946-1949, and the way it cast aside Taiwan at the United Nations in 1971, is reason enough for Taiwan to be extremely cautious in dealing with the US at present. Beyond rhetoric, and sending defensive arms, the US will likely not fight very hard in Taiwan’s defense going forward no matter what happens regarding Speaker Pelosi’s visit.
Taiwan should not be naïve about the purpose of House Speaker Pelosi’s visit. Not just because China has called the action a red line, and threatened retaliatory action, but because her visit will likely benefit China more than it benefits Taiwan. There is a historical precedent for believing this is true.
The first precedent has to do with the actions of the United States during the Chinese Civil War. Right at the time when it looked as if the US backed troops led by Chiang Kai-shek would defeat the communist leader Mao Zedong, President Harry Truman sent George C. Marshall to China to negotiate a cease fire, and form a coalition government. In short, Marshall’s plan failed miserably. Marshall gave up and went home, and US support began to dwindle little by little.
The 13 month cease fire engineered by Marshall gave Mao time to regroup, reengage Chiang’s Nationalist Army, and gain the upper hand in the conflict. Chiang was forced to retreat toward the East China Sea, and ultimately Chiang, his troops, and his government fled to an island known then as Formosa. Today, we know it as Taiwan.
Chiang subsequently built the tiny island nation into an economic powerhouse that was based on the virtues of Confucianism and the principles of biblical Christianity. It’s worth noting in passing, that Chiang and his wife Soong Mei-Ling, were both confessing Christians, and beloved by missionaries, Christians, and statesmen from all around the world. Yet, in the end Chiang was undermined by US foreign policy.
This brings us to the second historical precedent which should make Taiwan suspicious of Speaker Pelosi’s visit. From the late 1960’s to 1971 the US developed a policy of Rapprochement with Communist China at the direction of President Richard Nixon. Nixon was to visit China in 1972. However, in 1971 he dispatched Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to China to discuss normalizing diplomatic relations between the two countries.
At the same time, the US proposed to the United Nations that they seat delegations from both Communist China and Taiwan. Conversely, the UN responded with resolution 2758 which stated that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was the only legitimate government of China. The resolution also stipulated that Taiwan be replaced by the PRC as a permanent member of the Security Council. Taiwan, and the government of Chiang Kai-shek, were summarily expelled from the United Nations and all other organizations related to it.
Keep in mind, while the US proposed keeping both delegations at the UN, and voted “No” on Resolution 2758, it failed to put up much of a fight when the UN expelled Taiwan. Hence, the US has officially supported the “One China” policy ever since even while offering rhetoric to the contrary.
These two lessons from history should give the government in Taiwan pause as it prepares to receive Speaker Pelosi. The way that the US undermined Chiang during the Chinese Civil War 1946-1949, and the way it cast aside Taiwan at the United Nations in 1971, is reason enough for Taiwan to be extremely cautious in dealing with the US at present. Beyond rhetoric, and sending defensive arms, the US will likely not fight very hard in Taiwan’s defense going forward no matter what happens regarding Speaker Pelosi’s visit. Taiwan, like Ukraine, is caught in the middle of a struggle between two great power countries. It can only win by staying neutral.
There is another, howbeit, unrelated reason Taiwan should be distrustful of the Speaker Pelosi’s visit. In 2019 Taiwan earned the dubious distinction of being the first and only Asia-Pacific country to legalize same-sex marriage, and guarantee LGBTQ rights, including the right for individuals to decide their own gender. Taiwan boasts of the largest Pride parades in the region with over 200 thousand attending in 2021. The country has an extremely large LGBTQ lobby. It is certainly not beneath Speaker Pelosi to exploit this issue and encourage Taiwan to adopt even more of LGBTQ agenda. In Pelosi’s view, this is what it means to be a Western style democracy.
The Church at large should also question its support for these so-called democracies since the meaning of the word “democracy” has gradually been reduced to a single definition: the promotion of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights. From the point of view of the West, governments who openly advocate and legislate in favor of these special rights are seen as fully democratic while all others are not. This reductionistic change in meaning of the term has occurred with lightning speed in democracies all around the globe, but perhaps nowhere faster than it has in Taiwan. Keep in mind, Taiwan had its first democratic election in 1996.
To its credit, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan issued a pastoral letter renouncing the legalization of same-sex marriage and the LBGTQ agenda. Catholics did likewise and issued their own paper on the topic. Thankfully, the church in Taiwan thus far has shown remarkable solidarity on this subject. We should all pray that Taiwan will not be further swayed, either politically or morally, by Speaker Pelosi’s visit.
Jim Fitzgerald is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and a missionary serving in North Africa.