A Voice in the
Wilderness

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Re: Out of the World? or Like it?  (Deuteronomy 4:5-6,15-20)

"Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as Jehovah my 
God has commanded me, for you to do them in the midst of the land which 
you are going in to possess.  Keep and do them; for this is your wisdom 
and your understanding in the eyes of the peoples who will hear all 
these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and 
understanding people." (Deut4:5-6)

"Take diligent heed to your souls... that you not act corruptly and make 
for yourselves a carved image in the form of any statue... that you not 
be driven to bow down to them and serve them...  But Jehovah has taken 
you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His 
people, an inheritance, as you are this day." (~vs15-20)

These verses present a couple of concepts for us to observe this time...

Where I went to Bible school years ago they used to have a theme song 
that the choir would sing at each concert as it would tour around to 
churches. For all that is wrong with the school, this song, at least, 
had some good words... "We're ambassadors for Christ... we are in the 
world, but not of the world... our citizenship is in Heav'n above, we're 
ambassadors for the King above..."

God was placing Israel in the midst of the earth to display His Law to 
the world, and at the same time reminding them that He had taken them 
"out of" -Egypt-. We won't look up the references now...but "Egypt", 
while being a historical reality for Israel, is also a continual O.T. 
expressional -type- of the 'world'.

Notice that while Israel was "-in- the world" they were not to be "of" 
it; because God's redemption of them at Passover brought them -out- of 
Egypt's bondage. God's design was that, if Israel would faithfully keep 
His commandments, the world would observe their witness, and would 
conclude that God is "wise", and that God's people are gifted with 
"understanding" because of God's Law which they faithfully observed. 
(As the queen of Sheba observed about Solomon's wisdom. -1Ki ch10)

Just as in the same way, if the Church would keep God's Word from the 
heart, proclaiming it with understanding, not lusting after emotional 
pagan experiences, that the unsaved, observing Christian worship and 
hearing God's Word clearly preached, it would result in... "and so, 
falling down on his face, he will do homage to God and proclaim that God 
is truly among you." (1Cor14:24-25)  The world would observe that God's 
people are distinct from the world; having been "redeemed..to God by 
[Christ's] blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation 
(the world)(Rev5:9); and that this distinction is 'better' than the 
world. Something to be desired. It is the "glorious church not having 
spot or wrinkle...[being] holy and without blemish."  (Eph5:27)

As God was setting Israel up as a nation Moses also said: "Jehovah will 
establish you as a holy people unto Himself, as He has sworn unto you, 
if you keep the commandments of Jehovah your God and have walked in His 
ways. And all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the 
name of Jehovah, and they shall be afraid of you." (Deut28:9-10) Again: 
of the early Church that was living faithfully for God it says, 
"Moreover none of the rest dared join them, but the people magnified 
them." (Acts5:13)  And notice the result of this 'separateness' and 
'uniqueness' (being 'distinct' from the world) in following Christ... 

"And more believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and 
women.." (vs14)

But what did Israel do? As they were traversing through the wilderness 
on the way to the land of promise they were continually grumbling, 
lusting after Egypt. Lusting after the "leeks and garlics" "...We 
remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the 
melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.." (Num11:5)  At one point 
God gave them flesh to eat, and before they finished chewing it, God 
struck them with a plague. (Num11:33)  

Kinda like that time around 14 years ago... Having grown up in Japan, 
there are some foods and tastes that I miss. Chinese restaurants 
proliferate widely in this country, but not Japanese, at prices I can 
afford. Speaking of Egypt's leeks and garlics...there are certain 
pickles and things that are unique to Japan. One day while shopping we 
happened upon a packaged pickled "daikon", a unique giant radish which 
the Japanese pickle in a special way. It has a unique taste, for which 
there is nothing else like it. So we bought it. Got it home, opened it 
up, cut off a slice and ate... Aaah, natsukashii neeeh! It was soooo 
yummy! Oishiikute! Flooded my taste pallet with all sorts of 
remembrances of my childhood. Cut off another slice; ate it. Another. 
And another. By the time I had gone to bed, about half the radish had 
been eaten. Ooooh, so yummy!! My mouth was just prickly with delight!  
About the middle of the night I awoke with a stomach cramp the likes of 
which I'd never experienced before in my life. I thought I would DIE!!! 
While I hadn't been lusting after daikon, when I happened upon it, I ate 
a 'lot' of it all at one time, as if I had been lusting for it. And 
suffered the consequences.

God gave Israel meat to eat in response to their whining lusts...and 
thousands died in the wilderness. They went lusting after idols and 
perverse sex...and thousands died. Once they were in the land and 
settled...they continually lusted after the baals and other gods...and 
thousands died.

What did Israel want? To follow God? To be a "holy" nation? (Ex19:6)

Notice...
"Nevertheless the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and 
they said, No, but there shall be a king over us,  that we also may be 
like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before 
us and fight our battles." (1Sam8:19-20)

"...that we may be LIKE ALL THE NATIONS..."

Up until that point Israel had prophets and judges. But as Samuel is 
getting old (and his sons were corrupt), rather than seeking after God, 
Israel asks for a king. It breaks Samuel's heart. But God says to him, 
"..they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, for Me to not 
reign over them." (1Sam8:7)  Just like the 'church' which Jesus said 
would be against His followers, "..because they do not know the Father 
nor Me.." (Jn16:3)

God had "..undertaken to make [Israel] a people for Himself." 
(1Sam12:22)  But Israel said, No...we want a king...just like the rest 
of the world.

Is this not a spittin' image of today's 'church'?  Paul proclaims to 
"come from among them and be separate...touch not the unclean thing, and 
I will receive you...you shall be My sons and daughters." (2Cor6:17-18) 
But the [c]hurch says, No...we want to do things the world's way. We 
want the world's entertainment, their music, their spirituality.

It may seem like I keep harping on this theme. Well, if I do, it is 
because this theme repeats over and over throughout the Scriptures...and 
for all the prophets God sent to Israel "rising early to send them" 
(2Ch36:15) their final retort was "..But we will prepare and do whatever 
goes forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the Queen of Heaven, 
and to pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we, and our 
fathers, our kings, and our rulers, in the cities of Judah, and in the 
streets of Jerusalem." (Jer44:17)

Sadly for today's [c]hurch, that is their retort also. 

Yes, we also have various 'studies', both of verse-by-verse book 
studies, as well as various doctrinal themes. But those details are not 
the urgency. The urgency in these days is the "heart". When the heart is 
right with God, doctrine is "easy". Through Moses God said to Israel, 
"For this commandment which I am commanding you today is not too 
difficult for you to understand, nor is it far off."  You don't have to 
stretch to the heavens to find it, nor dive into the depths of the ocean 
to plummet it. "But the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your 
heart, that you may do it. Behold, I have set before you today life and 
good, death and evil..." (Deut30:11,14-15) 

Dear Believer: Remember... our citizenship is in Heaven. (Php3:20) We 
are in this world as "witnesses" (Lk24:48) Like that old Bible school 
theme song, "we are ambassadors for Christ" (2Cor5:20) We are 'in' the 
world, but -NOT- 'of' it! We are to be the "-fragrance- of Christ" 
(2Cor2:15)  As Israel was intended to display God's knowledge to the 
world, we are to show forth the "excellence of the knowledge of Christ 
Jesus our Lord" (Php3:8)

Let's see if we can look at this from another angle...

In rural areas, no matter how much a farmer may clean up, when a group 
meets together, you can always -smell- the cattle on the farmers when 
they come through the door. There are also some women who for some 
reason think they need to drench themselves with all sorts of smelly 
stuff to where when they walk by, they about make you gag. (Quite 
frankly, if I have a choice, I'll take the 'farm' smell any day! At 
least with farm animals there is no pretense of being something they are 
not!) 

But, for the sake of our illustration here where perfume is supposedly a 
'nice' thing... suppose you take a farmer who has just come into the 
house for supper, after spending the day out in the barn, cleaning out 
the manure. If you take a little drop of perfume and dab it around his 
ears or anywhere on him, what will you smell? The -barn-!  But... he's 
been "anointed" with the perfume! you say. Well...that may be true...but 
all we're whiffing right now is the 'barn'. It's high quality 'Liz 
Taylor' perfume, you say. Well...that may be...but all that expensive 
quality is being lost in the manure smell. All anybody in the house can 
smell is 'barn'.

That's where today's [c]hurch is. They claim to represent the perfume 
[M]anufacturer; but not only have they been out in the barn wrestling 
around with the cows and pigs...they've brought the pigs into the house, 
and have been rolling around together in the aisles...and that expensive 
perfume of God's Holiness? Nobody is able to sniff it because of the 
stench!

God set Israel in the world to show forth His praises. The Church is in 
the world to shine as lights. But when the barnyard dust is being kicked 
up all over, that light gets blocked out.

When the Church faithfully keeps the swine -out-, and keeps itself out 
of the barnyard, the world is easily able to see God's true Wisdom. 
Instead of the world scoffing, "christian rock...hmph! YaRight! There's 
an oxymoron", if Christians are being true to Christ, the world will see 
God's glory. They will see God's law "written in the heart". They will 
prostrate themselves before the Most High and proclaim that 'God is 
truly among you!' They will -smell- the "aroma" of God's fragrance. 
(2Cor2:14)

If you are a True Believer, these words are actually redundant, aren't 
they. While this is addressed to the "church", it is really addressed to 
the -pretend- "[c]hurch". You are calling yourself a "christian", but if 
you are in the barnyard...you are a 'fake'! You call yourself 
'spirit-filled', but if you have brought all the pigs into the house, 
stinking it up, the spirits you are 'filled' with are demons. If you 
-insist- on doing things the world's way, even though you know God's 
commands to the contrary but your intellect has helped you to twist 
God's Word around to suit your lusts, your allegiance betrays your true 
heart. You can serve only -one- master, either God or satan. (Mt6:24) 
You may claim to be using the world's ways in order to (you claim) "win" 
the world. But you lie! You love the world...which is why you cannot let 
go of it. The reason you do all those things of the world IN CHURCH is 
because you love the world, and (in truth) you hate God. You are a fake, 
a pretender, a charlatan, a liar, a hypocrite, a ??? 
...fill-in-the-blank... you know what you are....

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the 
world, the love of the Father is not in him.   For all that is in the 
world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of 
life; is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is 
passing away, and its lust; but he who does the will of God abides 
forever." (1Jn2:15-17)

Amen!