Four Pillars Of Apostasy

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Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city! She has not obeyed His voice, she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the Lord, she has not drawn near to her God. (Zephaniah 3:1-2)

Four Pillars Of Apostasy

The nation of Israel reached a point in its history there would be no turning back from the wrath of God against the depravity of immorality that consumed the people. Manasseh had led the children of God to destruction and the Lord pronounced an irreversible sentence upon the holy nation of God. Men like Zephaniah and Habakkuk pleaded with the people to return to the Lord but to no avail. They were rebellious and polluted with idolatry. Zephaniah describes four things that contributed to the sad condition of the nation of Israel. God had warned in the Law of Moses that if Israel refused to obey His voice, they would be destroyed. The voice of the Lord was clear and demonstrative with the voice of the prophets and the written law. There would be no reason the people could not understand the will of the Lord but they chose not to hear the voice of God. The carnal mind turned its heart away from listening to the voice of righteousness and truth. Like a rebellious and stubborn child, nobody could tell Israel anything. The kings thought they knew what was best for the nation and the people adhered to the will of those who did what they wanted. Through the prophets, the word of God was plainly delivered but the people did not want to hear. They made their minds up to serve idols and nothing the prophets said would change their minds. Israel did not obey the voice of God.

During the time of Israel’s plunge into apostasy, the Lord sent plagues, wars, famines and pestilence to bring the heart of the people back to Him. In the Law of Moses, God had promised if Israel disobeyed Him He would bring great calamity upon them. The purpose of these judgments was to bring the hearts of the people back to the one true God. Israel did not receive the correction sent by the hand of God. It refused all the admonitions of the Lord against Israel as if it was nothing. In time the judgments became so common the people could not recognize the wrath of God from everyday occurrences. The prophets warned of impending doom but their message fell on deaf ears. Judah would receive the heavier judgment because she saw what happened to her northern sister Israel when the Assyrians came and destroyed them. While the kingdom lasts for a short time, in time Israel rebelled against the discipline of God and fell into apostasy. Israel did not receive correction.

The reason for Israel’s apostasy and fall into idolatry is their mistrust of God. Faith assures the heart to trust in the word of the Lord and to live with the hope of God’s promises. As the people became law to themselves they began to trust the Lord less and less and began to rely upon their own wisdom and the military might of other nations. The fundamental character of apostasy is found when the heart of man believes he is greater than God. Trust in the Lord is the basis of faith and without that trust, there can be no faith. Israel fell out of love with the grace of God and decided the only way they could save themselves was by their own power. Although the Lord had delivered them from Egypt, saved them from untold armies, cared for them in the wilderness wanderings, conquered the land of Canaan for them and blessed the nation of Israel above all nations on the earth; the people of God did not trust Him. They fell in love with themselves and relied on their own power to save them and failed miserably. Israel did not trust in the Lord.

Finally, the people of God had turned their backs on the Lord. A man will either draw closer to the world or draw closer to God. He cannot do both. If one seeks the way of the world he moves further away from God but when one seeks the Lord he will draw further away from the world. Israel worshiped in vain because their heart was far from the will of God. They did not trust the Lord, they had not listened to the voice of God and they refused to learn from the discipline of God. If they had heeded the words of the prophets and learned to trust in the Lord, He would have drawn closer to Him as they drew near Him. The relationship of God to man has always required a man to draw near the Divine. Without this close bond of love, a man will lose all hope. Zephaniah warned the people that without a close personal relationship with the Father they could not and wold not find peace. Israel had not drawn near to her God.

The four pillars of apostasy are the same for every generation. It begins with refusing to follow the will of the Father without recognizing the hand of the Lord in their lives. When a man fails to trust in the Lord and becomes his own god, doom awaits. Without drawing near to God there can be no peace and no joy. The path to righteousness is found when a man hears the voice of God, accepts the hand of the Lord in their life, trusts emphatically the power of God and seeks every day to draw closer to God. This man will be blessed in all he does.

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His Final Words

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He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

His Final Words

The Bible contains thousands of words that span eons of time from the oracles of Moses describing the beginning of the universe until the final revelation of God through the apostle John. Each part of the Bible is carefully crafted to unveil the eternal work of the Father to send His only begotten Son for the redemption of fallen man. Hope is threaded throughout the text to show that while man is often rebellious and contemptuous against his creator; the love of God continually shows mercy offering grace through obedience. In the beginning, Moses describes the creation of the world and tells the story of Israel and her birth as the apple of God’s eye. Writers moved by the Holy Spirit record the history of the people of God from the days of conquest under Joshua to the glory days of a united kingdom under Saul, David, and Solomon. The latter part of the Old Testament reveals the nature of sin and how Israel is destroyed as a harlot going after her lovers in the nations around her. A period of four hundred years settles upon the world before the revelation of the Son of God as the Christ takes on flesh. Four men describe in detail the life of Jesus before the church explodes upon the pages of holy writ in the book of Acts. The final section of the Bible contains letters and epistles from the early disciples showing the character of the saints of God. Every word of the Bible is essential to know the mind of God and His will. It is imperative to see the final words of Jesus as a key to understanding the whole message of the Bible.

Throughout the revelation of God’s word, the message of eternity fills every page. Man was created as an eternal creature bound in a fleshly tabernacle that is short-lived. The frivolity of human wisdom denied the nature of man yet the reality of life continually reminded him that life was short. In the Garden of Eden, the truth of judgment was immediately impressed on Adam and Eve in response to their disobedience. There will be a consequence of rejecting the word of God. The Bible is example after example of this same principle being impressed upon the heart of men that life is like a vapor that appears for a short time and disappears but after that a judgment of certainty. Even if a man lived to be the age of Adam (930 years) the summation of his life is found in the words, “and he died.” For those who lived in the days of Noah, judgment came in the force of a flood that destroyed every living creature that had the breath of life save the eight souls in the ark. Israel was a proud nation destroyed by the hand of the Lord because they did not believe in the coming judgment of God. Jesus taught His disciples to fear the dreadful day of the Lord and the early disciples of the church lived as if Jesus would return at any moment. The final word of Jesus in the book of Revelation is the nature of God’s revealed word: He was coming back and He was coming soon.

God gave man the Bible to help prepare him for the inevitable judgment of the Creator. Every man will stand before the Lord and every man will be judged by the words of His righteousness. Jesus says, “Yes, I am coming” and all humanity must understand and believe the words not only of the Revelation but the other books of God’s revealed word contained in the Bible. Jesus will come. The Savior will return and it will be sooner than anyone expects. It has become difficult for men to believe the final words of the Lord since these words were given two thousand years ago but they still ring true in the life of men. It is not a matter that God has not destroyed the world in two thousand years but that life is short and when a man dies, in a figure, the coming of the Lord has taken place. There will come a day when no man will die as the trumpet of God will sound and the world will come to an end. Death accomplishes the same thing. Too many souls have not prepared themselves for the return of Jesus and lived as if death will never happen. The final words of Jesus serve as notice that all men will die and those who remain until the coming of the Lord will face the same judgment. He will come and that is certain. His coming will be soon and that is certain. Being found alive at His coming will be a glorious moment for the saved that have lived each day with the knowledge that death could come quicker. Whether to live for the coming of the Lord or to live for the time of death is of no concern for those who believe in the promises of God. Jesus is coming. Lord come quickly.

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Adding Or Taking Away From God’s Revelation

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For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

Adding Or Taking Away From God’s Revelation

One of the attributes of God impressed upon the pages of scripture is when He calls Himself Jealous. Giving the law to Israel began with the declaration that they should have no other gods before them because God’s name was Jealous and He was a jealous God. If there was one thing Israel understood in both language and action by the Lord God was the nature of His jealousy for their allegiance, faithfulness, and obedience to His word. The history of Israel is revealed whether they accepted His will or chose to follow their own will. When the people accepted the word of God and obeyed, blessings came abundantly. However, more often than not, the people murmured and rebelled against the will of the Lord and suffered greatly because of it. The jealousy of God was very simple to explain. There was no other way but the way of the Lord. It was not acceptable to serve the gods of the nations around them. If Jehovah was not the first place in their lives, it was not acceptable. The only power that brought them out of bondage was the power of God and He demanded they serve no other gods or make any graven images to honor gods of men. God’s name was Jealous and anything less than that was unacceptable. Understanding the jealous nature of God will also help the religious world understand how God feels about His divine revelation, the Bible. If God is a jealous God regarding His nature then He is also a jealous God regarding His book.

The apostle John was privileged to receive a revelation of things that would shortly come to pass. As the aged disciple pens the revelation of Jesus Christ he unfolds the majesty of the Divine and the power of God among all men. The book of the revelation is an incredible book of imagery and descriptive stories unveiling the oversight of the Lord God among the nations of men, the carnal desires of man and the ultimate divine will planned before time began. As the Holy Spirit draws to a close the revelation and John finishes his book, the Lord God places His seal upon the message of the revelation when He declares that nothing should be added to the message and nothing should be taken away. What John has written is the divine will, the eternal message and the spiritual hope of humanity that came from the mouth of God. For all those who hear the message of the revelation, they are bound by the jealous decree of the Lord that nothing can be added to its content. This remains true if a man will attempt to remove anything from the words of the prophecy of the book. Adding or taking away from God’s message will bring about severe consequences from the author of the book and His name is Jealous. This is not a novel idea attached just to John’s book. Moses declared in the Law that Israel must listen to the statutes and judgments of God and they could not add to the word which God commanded them, nor take away from it. The stories of Nadab and Abihu affirm this message as well as the tragic story of Uzzah. God’s word is holy because He is jealous.

God’s name has not changed. He is still a jealous God who demands that men do not add or take away from His message. Today the revelation contains that which is perfect or entire as found in the Bible. What John said in Revelation is the same message of what can be found between the books of Genesis and Revelation. Do not add to what God has said. It is not permitted for anyone to take away what is found in His book. And yet that is the common practice of man-made churches today who say they are following the will of the Lord. It is incredulous to examine the teachings of the religious world and ask a simple yet profound question: where is what you teach in the Bible? If what a person believes or says cannot be found on the pages of the Bible, it is not the word of God! There is no other way to say how jealous God is about His will than to demand that if a man believes something it must be in the Bible and the Bible alone. Consider the name of the church you belong – is it found in the Bible? Can you find in the Bible everything you teach, believe and practice? This is the first hurdle to cross before determining the will of the Lord. Why is it so hard for the religious world to see that God is a jealous God and if it is not in the Bible then it is not His will? Adding to the word of God will have eternal consequences of damnation. Taking away from the word of God will have the same result. There are many who deny what is plainly written in scripture. The religious world must stop listening to men and start reading the word of God. If a man declares he will no longer preach on sin then he stands condemned before a jealous God for taking away what is clearly taught in scripture. To suggest that sexuality is a choice and marriage is no longer defined by the will of God will bring the wrath of the jealous God who condemns sexuality immorality and established marriage between one man and one woman. Refusing to teach the grace of salvation as taught in the Bible denies the authority of scripture. The final day of God’s wrath will be given to all men who refuse to recognize how jealous God is about His word. Adding to his word and/or taking away from His word will bring about eternal consequences.

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Sanctification By The Word

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Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes, I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. (John 17:17-22)

Sanctification By The Word

God’s will for the believer is to be separate, set apart, consecrated, and holy to His purpose. The challenge of sanctification has been the battle between the spirit and the flesh with the carnal man very difficult to subdue. Obedience to the will of God is not an easy task. It takes more than just an idea or notion of holiness to keep oneself from the temptations of the flesh and eye and pride that exalts the heart. Submission to the Lordship of Christ is more than an inward expression of faith. The character of discipleship comes from a separation of the soul by the word of truth gleaned from the mind of God. Jesus was well aware of the challenges the eleven apostles were going to face in the days following His death. In his final prayer for them, He implores His Father to bless the eleven with the strength of the Divine to carry out the work of preaching the gospel to the world that would come from the word of God. Preaching requires the word and salvation come from obedience to the word. Separating life from the trappings of the world is accomplished by the infusion of the word into the marrow of the spiritual man who seeks a holy walk with the Father. Jesus is asking His Father to help mold the eleven by His truth, teaching them His word so that they would not be like the world. The eleven apostles were going into the world to change the hearts of men to the message of a risen Christ. Jesus was willing to die to show His disciples the example of sacrifice so they could be made holy by the word of God. It takes sacrifice to be separate from the world. Holiness comes from the truth of God’s word.

W. E. Vine says, “This sanctification must be learned from God as He teaches it by His word and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly. This is the holy character of the disciple.” Christianity is a powerful feeling of joy, redemption, peace, comfort and love in the Holy Spirit. In the early church, there are many passages that speak to the joy of salvation in Christ. Paul penned a letter while in a Roman prison to the church in Philippi that was filled with the message of rejoicing and joy. The Ethiopian treasurer went on his way rejoicing after Philip helped him understand the scriptures more fully because the truth is where joy comes from. When a man is overwhelmed with sin and the depravity of the carnal man, there is no joy and no hope. Hearing the word of God and the wonderful grace of a merciful Father brings rejoicing to the downtrodden soul because the word convicts the heart and changes the heart from despair to hope. Sanctification comes from the truth of God’s word. Christianity is not a caught religion but a taught religion. Joy comes from the knowledge of the truth. Learning to stand apart from the world is developed when the mind centers itself upon the mind of God. Jesus prayed not only for the eleven but for all those who would believe in Him through the teachings of the eleven. This would establish the continual thread of the divine word bringing joy to the hearts of disciples for the next two thousand years and beyond.

Sanctification comes from the word of God. Inherent in the growth of the disciple of Christ is the need to read and understand the divine truth. Paul explains that faith comes from hearing and this pattern of hearing comes from the word of God. Obedience to the gospel begins with the word of truth. The Jews of Israel were sanctified by circumcision at the age of eight days but the children of God in Christ will know the truth before they are in covenant with God. Obedience to the word of God will separate a man through the waters of baptism but that separation must continue in the word of God. To be set apart in Christ requires a continual knowledge of the truth. Belief comes from the word of truth. To be one with God the soul must be one with the word of God. The sanctification spoken of by Jesus is the need of the child of God to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the word. God brings the Bible to men to show them His truth so that all men can know what they must do to be saved. Every child of God grows farther apart from the world and closer to God the more time he spends in the truth of God. Increasing the knowledge of truth widens the gap between the allurements of the world and the righteousness of the word of God. Where do joy and fulfillment come? The word of God.

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The Mistaken Power Of Men

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Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:8-11)

The Mistaken Power Of Men

Political rulers possess the misgiving notion they are all-powerful holding sway over the masses because of their position of authority. Kings rule from thrones of dominion over vast parcels of land with authoritative dominance declaring their wills upon the subjects of their tyranny. Political leaders strain their positions of the grandeur of self-worth seeking to secure their names on the pages of history with memorials, great feats and historical significance. The struggle of men to attain self-importance in the political world drives the fury of many who desire the mantel of power to rule over the land with might, authority and cruelty. Pontius Pilate was no exception to the many rulers of the Roman Empire who reveled in his political power to exercise control over the people. Pilate was the sixth Roman procurator of Judea and he slaughtered many of the Jews. He constantly was in trouble with the people of Judea with his brazen acts of suppression, insult and murder. His greatest challenge would come when the Jewish leaders brought him a man from Nazareth accused of sedition. At first, Pilate told the Jews to take Jesus away and judge Him according to their law. They insisted on the judgment of the Romans to put their fellow countryman to death. Pilate questions Jesus and finds no satisfactory answers. Believing that Jesus was innocent, Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him and sought to release his victim to the crowd. Hearing the accusation of the Jews that Jesus had made Himself the Son of God, Pilate became afraid and asked Jesus where He was from. Jesus refused to answer. Angered and frustrated, Pilate demanded Jesus to answer him. The Lord remained silent. Pilate declared that he alone had the authority to crucify Jesus or to release him and demanded Jesus to answer him. The Son of God weakened from the scourging, peered into the face of Pilate and uttered the words of eternal truth when He told the Roman ruler that he had no power but what was granted to Him by God.

Pilate had ruled over Judea with the might of his own power but he was unable to move the spirit of this one man who stood before him. Jesus was not defiant as a rebellious man but in His own way, spoke with such authority it terrified Pilate. From then on Pilate sought to release Jesus but the political sway of the crowd would lead Pilate to have Jesus crucified on a Roman cross. Jesus died in nobility as a man without sin and bringing peace to the world. Years later, Pilate would commit suicide and bring no joy to the world in his death and little remembrance. The powerful procurator of Judea ruled for a time but then he died in disgrace. All of the power he possessed went to another and after many more generations, the Roman Empire disappeared from the face of the earth. The kingdom of Pilate imploded in self-destruction forgotten in the years of history but the legacy of Jesus Christ endures unabated for two thousand years.

The irony of the picture of Jesus standing before Pilate with the Roman telling the Son of God that he had the power to crucify or to release Him will be duplicated in the Day of Judgment when the Roman ruler stands before the Judge of all men and hears the words, “Depart from me, you cursed.” It is then Pilate realizes the accusation of the Jews that Jesus was the Son of God were, in fact, true and now whatever power he possessed as a Roman will not save him from the wrath of the Father of the man he condemned to die. His power was an insignificant component in comparison to the wheel of eternal justice. Jesus had to die and the cowardice of Pilate fulfilled the will of God. The only reason Jesus was scourged and crucified is that it was the plan of God. Pilate had no power and no authority except what was given to him by God. This remains true in all nations that rule today. Kingdoms rise and fall at the will of God. Presidents are elected and removed in accordance with the wisdom of the Father. All kingdoms rule to the discretion of the will of the Creator. Pilate believed he had all power but what a sad irony to see that like all men, he stood before the great I AM and thought he was in charge. In the end, the Roman procurator of Judea was nothing more than a man in need of salvation like all other men.

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Remember The Least Brethren

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And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Remember The Least Brethren

All that is known about the event of final judgment comes from the teaching of Jesus. He describes the gathering of humanity before the throne of God as one separates sheep from goats. What is unique about the description of the day of reckoning in Matthew’s account is the basis for judgment. It does not suggest there are no other reasons that will accuse or excuse a soul on this day but the focus is on the relationship of man to man and as a result, a relationship between man and God. Often when the discussion of the judgment day is approached, the questions of grace, commandment-keeping, obedience, love and mercy are at the forefront. Jesus does not dismiss these elements of the final day but His teaching days before His own death focus on the relationship of men to one another. In turn, the benevolent spirit of man or lack thereof will be the basis of salvation. One group hears the words of eternal life when Jesus says, “Come, you blessed of My Father.” To another group, Jesus will say, “Depart from Me, you cursed.” What becomes the underlying factor in whether a man is lost or saved in this story? To the first group (the sheep) the Lord commends them for showing a hand of benevolence to those who were in need as if doing so to Jesus. The response of the righteous is confusion because they did not remember showing kindness to Jesus. What the righteous did not appreciate is that when they fed a hungry man they were feeding Christ. Giving a man a glass of water was more than quenching the thirst of a man; it was showing the Lord love. In each case of benevolence, the act was personified as an expression of love for Christ. The contrast is given to those in the second group (the goats) who failed to have compassion for their fellow man. By their neglect of others, the lost was condemned for not showing love for Jesus. The confusion of the cursed is when did they neglect to feed, clothe or give Jesus a drink? What they failed to understand in life that benevolence was an act toward God more than an act of kindness to men. By refusing to help their fellow man they denied the will of God and thereby condemned themselves. These would go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous into eternal life.

There is a deeper level to the message of Jesus when He commends the righteous for caring for the needy and also condemns the cursed for their negligence. Those who were helped or denied help included those who were considered the least among men. It would be easy to be kind to those who deserved it but to stoop to helping even the least among the brethren is a difficult challenge. Albert Barnes describes these people as the obscure, the least known, the poorest, the most despised and afflicted. Jesus is emphatic about kindness being shown for all men including those who are the least to be considered important. It is a sad commentary in the nature of men to look upon many of his brethren as non-important or non-essential. There are economic divides, social divisions and prejudices that separate men from caring for others. In the parable of the Samaritan, Jesus highlights the calamity of hatred for a fellow human being when the priest and the Levite abandon an unknown man to death. Of all people that should be viewed as benevolent and kind, those who served in the Temple of God should be examples of benevolence. It would take the story of a man considered by the Jews as a mongrel dog to teach the lesson of love to a world filled with hatred for the least among them. Only the Samaritan was willing to help the unknown man and save his life. The King will answer to the saved that eternal life is granted because when they showed love to the least of the brethren they expressed love for the Father.

The apostle Paul will illuminate this teaching when he reminds the brethren at Corinth that as the church of Christ is likened to a body, so the relationships of brethren to one another come from love to those that include the weak member. It is easy to focus on the important parts of the church and those who are spiritual giants but what about those who constantly struggle with their faith? Among the body of believers, there will always be those individuals who can’t seem to get their lives in order. They struggle in a mighty way to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ and yet they are a necessary part of the church. The lesson of Jesus bridges to the relationship of brethren with one another. One of the most important parts of life is the view that is held toward the “least of these My brethren.” Fundamentally, this must be viewed from the perspective of the cross. Jesus died for all men including the least among men. His blood does not cleanse the sins of the religious elite who have greater strength and faith than the poor soul who is least among brethren or the weak members in the body of Christ. The final Day of Judgment will be a defining moment for many who will be judged on many levels. Jesus emphasized in His sermon of the sheep and the goats that judgment would be based on the least among the brethren and the care is given to them by others. Inasmuch as we serve others – even the least among us – we do it to Jesus Christ.

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God Made Her Laugh

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And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.” She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:1-7)

God Made Her Laugh

There are many reactions to the way God works among men. Adam and Eve hid when they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden. Abram fell on his face when God talked with him. David was smitten with grief when Nathan revealed the adultery with Bathsheba. Isaiah implored the Lord to send him to preach. Jonah tried to run away from God. Mary marveled at the message of Gabriel that a child could be born of a virgin. Sarah had a son at the age of ninety-nine and laughed. And that was something to laugh about. Her laughter was from the complete joy of nursing a son and age did not matter in the mind of God. When the world was first populated with families, men and women lived for hundreds and hundreds of years bearing children. Abraham would live to be 175 years old; in the words of the Holy Spirit a ripe old age. It was not common for children to born at that age. In the process of time, the womb would become barren and Abraham would consider his body dead concerning procreation. Yet, through the power of God, a child of promise was born to a man 100 years old and his wife at the age of 90. This made her laugh to consider the incredible working of the Lord in her life. It must be admitted that even in the day of Abraham and Sarah seeing a 90-year-old woman pregnant with a child was an astonishing thing. From the story of their lives, Sarah was a very beautiful woman even in her older age. Having a child at any age was impossible for Sarah until the Lord blessed her in the time of life when her womb was dead to bear Isaac. When Mary asked Gabriel how she was to have a child when she had not known a man, the angel declared that with men this is impossible but with God nothing is impossible. Mary must have laughed to herself when she first realized her womb was growing and how that came about. Her faith was incredible to be a virgin betrothed to Joseph and yet with a child. What joy she felt when the child Jesus would move inside her womb and she could feel Him kicking. As she laid Jesus in the manger wrapped in swaddling clothes her eyes must have filled with tears to see the glory of God not only in the face of Jesus but also in the gift of life through her womb though she was a virgin. Sarah and Mary experienced the power of God in their lives in a manner few women have known in the history of mankind (including Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist).

Sarah laughed within herself not in a frivolous manner but in the astonishing way that God worked in her life to give her a son. No promise of a son had been given to her for 65 years. She lived with her husband Abram and they would have longed for children but her womb was barren. When the Lord came to Abram and promised him a son, Sarai could not see how that would be possible at her age. Eleven years later she would offer her handmaiden, Hagar, as a surrogate to bring the promise about. This was not the will of God as the promise of God to Abraham meant that Sarah would bear a son. It would be another 14 years before Sarah looked into the face of Isaac and knew the power of God’s promise. She laughed. Sarah had to think of the amazing gift of the grace of God to allow a woman of her age to enjoy the wonders of pregnancy, experience the pain of childbirth and that unforgettable moment when she looked into the face of her newborn son. Her heart was full and her joy was overwhelmed with praise. Whenever she saw Isaac she would be reminded of the power of God as the Hebrew means, “laughter.” Isaac would be 37 when his beloved mother died. Sarah found her joy in the power of God because of what the Lord had done in her life.

Christians should be filled with laughter. Not the kind of frivolous chatter that accompanies the mundane or useless spirits. Sarah laughed because she could not believe in the incredible power of God to allow her to bear a child at the age beyond child-bearing. The Lord worked a mighty deed in her life and she lived the rest of her life being reminded of how incredibly powerful the grace of her God was in her life. Those who bear the name of Christ have been washed in the blood of the Son of God, redeemed, sanctified, purified and made holy by the grace of God. The birth that is experienced by the child of God is a birth that is impossible for man to perform. When Jesus explained to Nicodemus the new birth, He told the Pharisee that greater joy would come from those who are born of the water and the spirit. The significance of this birth would not come clear until Peter stood before devout Jews on Pentecost and implored them to experience the new birth in Jesus Christ. As the disciples spread the gospel throughout the world, the message of Jesus was heralded in every city and throughout the world that all those who believed and were baptized would be saved. When Philip preached in Samaria there was great joy in that city. They were laughing like Sarah. Salvation had come to their city and they experienced a birth made possible by the power and grace of God. Who would not want to spend the rest of their lives ‘laughing’ at the knowledge that God would wash away their sins and grant them eternal life? It may be the reason that children of God are not rejoicing today is they do not fully understand what God has done for them. Let me ask a question: If you were 90 years old and gave birth to a healthy little boy or you were 100 years of age and held your newborn son in your arms – would you not laugh out loud in a joyful way? Why then can we not rejoice that we are saved? Sarah laughed at what God had done for her and it would be healthy for you and me to spend some quality time laughing in a holy manner for the love of God and what He has promised. Laugh. It will do you good.

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