Repentance is turning from worldliness and sin and turning to God. Sin is simply lawlessness, living without or outside of Godâ€™s law. So, to repent is to turn away from sin and living without God, and turn to God. It is both a process and a product. The process begins when we recognize that we have not been living as God would have us to live, and the product is finalized when we put those things behind us.
We’re neither in danger from having some things repeated too often, nor from learning too much, and so we’ll read this one again just as it appears in Acts 3.
“For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.'”
Won’t you take a moment to look at precisely what was said?
The Prophet that was to be heard would be like Moses, yet this future prophet’s word would be mightier than the word of Moses. That meant this prophet’s word would be of greater consequence than the Law of Moses.
Therefore this prophet would not only be a lawgiver, one who was to walk with God, and one who without hesitation would do the bidding of God, but his word would supercede the Law of Moses. Only God could do that, as God had personally delivered the Law to Moses. It is then noted (as if it was not stated plainly enough) that this prophet should be listened to and obeyed in ALL things whatsoever he would say.
At the risk of repeating myself — once again I will ask, exactly how many things is ALL THINGS?
Do you have any doubt that this prophet was Jesus, himself the Son of God and the giver of the New Law (that is what the word covenant means, isn’t it)?
To continue, Jesus said, “He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority; but the Father who sent me gave me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.” (John 12:48)
With this noted – have you ever considered the alignment between what is stated in one place in the Bible with what is stated in another place? Have you ever thought of the complementary aspects of the word of God and the association between these two particular commands that we just read?
In both places first Moses, and then much later in time the apostles, stated that if we do not hear the words of Christ that we will be utterly destroyed from among the people, and then we will be judged by his very words, the words of the Christ, the Son of the Living God, which are in fact also the words of God Almighty. Those judging words would of course include everything sanctioned by Christ and by the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever thought about the consequences of being found on the outside, of not paying attention to the words of that prophet? Dare I ask, what happened to Israel when they were found contrary to the word of God?
Yet, you know there are many people who think that you do not need to pay attention to details, that every thing will be okay one fine day. It seems that preachers have preached us all right up into heaven; and if not yet, then surely by the sermon given at our funeral it will be accomplished.
You should know that Jesus never taught such things. Rather the only way anything will turn out to be okay is if we seek out, understand, and then DO what God has commanded us to do. What an odd thought — we have to follow the instructions.
Jesus was tested at every turn by the enemies of truth in his time here, those whose delight was in his destruction, whether wittingly or otherwise. Those who, in their work against the Son of God, made the way to dusty death a superhighway whereby souls might be cast without a thought into the gaping wide mouth of Hell. They didn’t care about truth – only about position, power, and maintaining their ancient traditions.
They were removed by two thousand years from the workings of God that had taken place before the eyes of their forebear’s, and they had fallen off into a slumber of death. They ignored the words of prophesy and looked to their own form of fulfillment. Their worship became vain and empty. Instead of seeking to please God, they expended every effort to defeat the prophet of God, the Messiah, and his opening up a way of salvation to all. Jesus said they had made their own followers “two times more the children of Hell” than they themselves already were.
They then murdered the Son of God and hurried his body away into another man’s tomb, as out of sight means out of mind. They sought out the apostles too. Though they had tried they were not successful in ending things then though certainly they were successful in sending untold thousands into eternity’s night with not so much as a thread of hope before God Almighty.
In spite of the inherent warning in these things, many are going down the same path and the ends are not any different today. We too have been removed from these very events by yet another two thousand years. And we too are under constant assault by those who would gleefully cast millions of careless souls into Hell as many have set their paths straight for the great gates there, as misery so loves company.
They will not be deterred by the written word; they find it arcane. It does not amuse them. It is in some way just not good enough; it does not keep their interest or entertain them.
They too have fallen off into a slumber of death, neither caring for nor adhering to the prescribed word of God. So they too have also rejected the prophet and do not hear his words. Therefore, they will be cut off from among the people, just as the Holy Spirit has said, and just like those who had come before them. What has happened to the previous generations will happen to all who reject the counsel of God unless heed is given and the call is heard.
I believe in the Bible as the inerrant word of God, as I know that most of you readers do. And I believe what Moses said. “For Moses truly said to the fathers, (and we will post it once again without fearing that we will have overindulged) ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’”
This statement is of the utmost importance. If there was nothing else contained in the scriptures, and the whole of the Bible remained blank page after page except for this, I would be forced to get the idea from this single statement that if I will not hear Jesus that I will be utterly destroyed. How do you read it friends? I hope that registers with everybody here.
There is not a single syllable, word, or phrase in the scriptures that does not have attached to it the greatest meaning and consequence. There are no idle expressions or empty precepts and commands in God’s book. And upon our understanding of these things and in accepting or by rejecting them hangs all of eternity. So in these thoughts I hope to present some things to you that might help each of us to see the seriousness and simplicity of God’s plan.
Let’s commence with the book of Matthew in the nineteenth chapter where our Lord was tried by the Pharisees concerning the interpretation they held in that day concerning divorce.
In the first 12 verses of Mathew 19 the text reads this way:
“Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.'”
They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.’
His disciples said to Him, ‘If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.’ But He said to them, ‘All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.'”
This is admittedly a disturbing and difficult text and some people — teachers included, avoid it like the plague. But I would suggest to you that none of that changes a thing either about what had been said or of what had been taught here. And I would also suggest that you should recall what we previously posted three times about the words of this prophet, this Jesus, the Christ and Son of God, who we were told, is to be obeyed in all things that he has said, or if not so obeyed that we will be destroyed from among his people (that is after all, what is meant).
They had asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
Notice how Jesus framed his response.
Jesus answered them with a pertinent question, moving the force of the argument back on those who had asked the question. “Have you not read, that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
He asked them “have you not read the word of God?” Then to enforce his delivery he quoted the pertinent points to them. To what then did he appeal?
First, he appealed to what they claimed to hold to in the written law, the Law of Moses, which was the Law of God as it had been given to the Hebrew people. He took it immediately to them on their own terms and put the answer to them based on what they knew had been stated in the writings of Moses as the word of God. Do you suppose they had never read these things or were unfamiliar with this text?
Second, he asked them to quote it or to notice how it was stated. Note that he did not ask for their interpretation of what was said, but rather asked them what the scriptures stated. He said, “How do you read it?”
By their response they indicated that the plain word of God wasn’t of any real consequence to them. They had already rejected what it stated and were instead choosing to ignore it.
While the word BUT does not appear in this text, it might as well, as it is certainly implied. You should know that the word BUT negates everything before it, and their intent with the next statement showed that they meant to do just that.
They said to Him, “(BUT) why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
Well, it does seem on a cursory inspection that the Pharisees may have had a legitimate position. After all Moses wrote of this exclusion in the Law.
That is the same as if they had said, “BUT if what you said is true Jesus (and though we know the text states it just like you quoted it — because we know you quoted it right), how is it that over in another place we find something we think is different — where we have decided is a confusion and a contrary point in the Law of Moses. You see Jesus; we have found our escape clause and chose to ignore the plain command of God.”
Answer us this — supposing ‘IF’ what you read is accurate, why did Moses give them, that is, our fathers, the children of Israel, the right to put away their wives? You see Jesus, we have decided that this little private interpretation from our theologians is our caveat and that it works for us in trumping the earlier word of God. And so it makes it okay for us to ignore the clear precept that had been given long before there even was an Israel, a Moses, or the Law.”
Do you see that friends? If you do not, you need to read these passages again and study what is being undertaken here. Nothing mysterious or heavily clouded is happening here.
These folks were not going to be restrained, if they had anything to say about it. They searched for loopholes and felt sure they had one here. They were going to worship at the church of their choice, not at the assembly that God sanctioned, and they were not living and were not going to live in the manner which God had prescribed for them. They were going to seek to justify what they had already decided to do and what they had for a long time already been doing. That is my understanding of what was going on here.
Jesus then takes their exclusionary clause and turns it against them and against their own theory. He states that this was not as it had been intended or as it was given from the beginning of time on this world. And he said that Moses had allowed them to put away wives, because of “the hardness of your hearts.” Jesus did not say, the hardness of their hearts – but the hardness of your hearts, inidcating that not much had changed and that the same things going on then were continuing.
What, I wonder, does that mean?
If your heart is hardened towards God and his word that means you are off somewhere else all on your own. You cannot be reached; you are impenetrable. Neither word nor example holds anything for you. You are not in the light, and there is only darkness where you reside. Israel and the Pharisees in particular are told here by the Son of God that their hearts are hardened against God.
Then we could state that Israel had been hardened for a very long time. And due of this hardening, as it had started in those days, God chose to allow divorce when he never had allowed any such thing. Better yet Moses wrote in agreement to it, in the same fashion as when the prophet Micaiah told Ahab to go to Ramoth-Gilead and that he would be successful in battle, even though he had already been told that he would surely die when he did so. “Go and prosper, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the King.” Needless to say, Ahab did not prosper that day.
God does not have to repeat himself, he only does so when he wishes to emphasize something or to offer mercy to the slow of heart. How then had Israel prospered?
Let’s see — Israel was already off the reservation and not doing God’s will and he chose to “ignore” the sin and “gave in” to them and their willful ways and granted them a “temporary” sin permit. Let’s explore that some more.
But I have just one more question. If you have become hardened in your heart against God how is it that you suppose he will have any mercy for you?
Did he have any mercy on Pharaoh when he had hardened his heart?
Did he have any mercy on the Israelites when they had hardened their hearts in this or in any other breach of his word?
I don’t think it is wise to be fooled by the false argument and lulled into sin because God had allowed them to continue down a certain path without further difficulty, immediate incident or correction, that thereby they were somehow justified in running against God and his explicit law. Did he allow things to continue because he had granted tacit approval to what they had decided to do, or did he allow them to continue on until he met his goals for the future through them, and then set in motion the events that brought that stubborn and willful nation to its ignominious end?
What do you suppose will be the end of all who harden their hearts to God and to his word and law?
Why dear readers do we struggle so with such things?
The fact is that they were compounding things against God’s judgment in this and in many other ways where they put off the word of God desiring their own law, substituting their own will, their own traditions, and their own teachings.
To say that a heart is hardened before God is like saying it has become petrified. It has turned to stone. How, friends, can a heart of stone be penetrated by anything but its own notions and will? How then can it be penetrated by the word of God?
How can that possibly be a good thing? And how can anything that follows the hardening of a heart be good for you or help you in God’s sight?
You are just shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic while the band plays. That is what these Jewish tricksters were doing and that is what anyone else that tries the same sort of things is doing.
Whether you know it or not, you are essentially being told that you have been written off the books, and are being allowed to go off all on you own — you are literally and completely alone — and the way you are choosing to go is without any sanction by God. It is the way of death. That God allows you to continue, or even prosper here is certainly not an endorsement of any kind for whatever path it is you have chosen and for whatever it is that you have entertained.
How is it that they neither understood that this was the death sentence Christ held over them that day and why is it that we cannot see that even today?
“Repent or you shall all likewise perish.”