The importance of the Promised Land to the Old Testament Law

I chanced upon this piece on this blog and couldn’t help posting it here.

 

God’s covenant with the children of Israel was always tied to the land of promise. When God called Abraham, he was promised that his descendants would inherit a land that flowed with milk and honey. And as part of this promise God instructed that Abraham and all his descendants be circumcised. However, God did tell Abraham that his descendants were going to be in bondage of 400 years because the sins of the Amorites and co were not yet full.

At the appointed time, the children of Israel were set free from the land of Egypt and journeyed to the Promised Land. Whilst they journeyed God gave them the law as rules on how He expected them to live when they got to the land. Everyone living within the land was expected to observe these rules including the foreigners. Strictly obeying these rules would guarantee their continuance existence on the land and they faced being expelled like the previous occupants if they disobeyed these rules and followed the customs of the heathen nations around them.

God made them aware that the land was His and they were only tenants. They were not allowed to cultivate the land when they first arrived but were to first offer the firstfruits. They perpetually had to offer the firstfruits at every harvest of the land. There were even conditions on how they cultivated the land; they were not allowed to plant two types of crops on their farms, they were not allowed to harvest the fringes of their farm lands and they weren’t even allowed to pick harvested sheaves that fell as they transported the harvest. The land could only be cultivated for 6 years and left to rest in the 7th. No one was allowed to sell the land on a permanent basis and every land sold had to be returned to the owners at the year of Jubilee.

The land must never be sold on a permanent basis, for the land belongs to me. You are only foreigners and tenant farmers working for me. Leviticus 25: 23.

More importantly they were only to give a tithe from the produce of this land i.e. crops and livestock, nothing else was permitted to be tithed. This had nothing to do with the presence or absence of currency but was so that they continue to fear God. He gave the increase, He prospered the land and He owned the land.

One-tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy. Leviticus 27: 30.

All of the rules given to the children of Israel were intertwined, hence every single one had to be obeyed for it to count as obedience. Observing all but one was meaningless. You couldn’t observe the Passover without being circumcised, you couldn’t tithe without first offering your firstfruits, you had to observe the Sabbath. In short you wouldn’t be allowed to stay in the land if kept only some and not all of the law. The law was binding on anyone who lived on the land.

Further evidence of this seen when the children of Israel were exiled because of their continuous disobedience. They were taken captive to Assyria and the king of Assyria brought his subjects from other nations to live in the Promised Land. These nations had no knowledge of God’s law and their heathen custom was completely contrary to God’s law for the land that He sent lions to kill them.

24 The king of Assyria transported groups of people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and resettled them in the towns of Samaria, replacing the people of Israel. They took possession of Samaria and lived in its towns. 25 But since these foreign settlers did not worship the Lord when they first arrived, the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26 So a message was sent to the king of Assyria: “The people you have sent to live in the towns of Samaria do not know the religious customs of the God of the land. He has sent lions among them to destroy them because they have not worshiped him correctly.” 27 The king of Assyria then commanded, “Send one of the exiled priests back to Samaria. Let him live there and teach the new residents the religious customs of the God of the land.” 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria returned to Bethel and taught the new residents how to worship the Lord. 2 Kings 17.

The New Testament is established on the blood of Jesus Christ and God’s promise is no longer bound to a physical land but a spiritual one. Hence observing the law is no longer required in the new dispensation as the rules have changed. Observing circumcision is no longer required as an outward sign of God’s covenant, we are no longer required to observe the Sabbath, giving of the tithe and firstfruit is no longer required and the list goes on.

The New dispensation is faith based; we are saved by it through grace. And the worship of God is no longer tied to any particular geographic location but true believers are to worship God in Spirit and truth.

Debunking Christian myths – Who is Satan?

Our current view of the history of Satan is actually a result of the amalgamation of 2 different portions of scripture; Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28: 12 – 19. Even though those being referred to are clearly mentioned, it hasn’t stopped the misapplication of these verses.

According to the vision God gave Daniel, several kingdoms will arise and rule the whole world. The first was Babylon which was overthrown by Media and Persia, who in turn was overthrown by the Greek Kingdom. And the Greek Kingdom was finally overthrown by the Roman kingdom. As part of Israel’s punishment for disobeying God, Jerusalem was destroyed and the children of Israel where taken into exile in Babylon. Isaiah 14 was God’s promise of deliverance for them and punishment for Babylon. No portion of this scripture makes any reference to Satan.

Since this was a taunt against Babylon, a lot of figurative text was used. And this has resulted in a lot of literal translations which seems to build a case for this being Satan.

Ezekiel 28 is also quite similar. The Tyre kingdom was also another great kingdom. It was a vital trading route and this contributed to its wealth as lot of merchant ships passed through. A lot of figurative text was used to describe its tremendous wealth and the beauty of this great city. This unfortunately has been translated literarily and also gave rise to this being a reference to Satan.

Both portions of scripture definitely could not refer to Satan as the general consensus is that Satan’s rebellion took place before man was created. If this was so why then were references made to other people within these verses?

Everyone there will stare at you and ask, “Can this be the one who shook the earth and the kingdoms of the world? 17 Can this be the one who destroyed the world and made it into a shambles, who demolished its greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners?” Isaiah 12: 16

All who know you are appalled at your fate; you are an example of horror; you are destroyed forever Ezekiel 28: 19

One other verse of scripture thrown into the mix is Revelation 12, the reference to the dragon sweeping a third of the stars and being hurled to earth. This is used as further confirmation that this showed Satan’s demotion from glory. However, one crucial bit of information is usually omitted; God had already told John that this event as well as all other events described after chapter 4 would happen in the future. Another thing overlooked is fact that Satan was already described as a dragon at the start of the chapter.

So then who is Satan and how did he come about? The answer is actually in Genesis 3. The serpent here could not have been a physical snake as Eve would have fled from a talking snake. Whatever it was, it was clear there was no animosity between it and man as Eve appeared comfortable talking with it. God made them enemies because of the Serpent’s deceit and man’s disobedience and this resulted in both parties being punished. The Serpent would bruise the heel of man by constantly accusing him before God and redemption would come when the seed of a woman (not of a man) was born and He will crush the head of the serpent.

Jesus is that seed as He was born of the Spirit to an earthly mother making Him 100% God and a 100% man. Jesus’ death and resurrection was a blow to the Serpent’s head as he could no longer accuse us before God because we now had someone interceding on our behalf before God. We overcome all of Satan’s accusations by blood of the lamb that speaks better things than the blood of Abel and by our testimony that Jesus is Lord.

Irrespective of the Devil’s origins, we still have victory over him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of our testimony that Jesus is Lord!

Debunking Christian myths – is Satan Lucifer?

I have been wanting to write something about this for a very long time and have been unable to until now. I was taught very early on in Christianity that Satan was one of God’s angels whose beauty got into his head and made him lead a revolt against God. As a result he was thrown out of heaven along with the angels that took part in the rebellion and they’ve been tormenting mankind ever since.

I was quite puzzled when I couldn’t find this account anywhere in scripture and the confusion deepen when I couldn’t find Lucifer anywhere in the NIV bible I had as a young Christian. Before we go into the person of Satan let us first of all explore the name Lucifer.

The reference to Lucifer can be found in Isaiah 14: 12 and quite curiously not every version mentions the name Lucifer like I pointed out earlier. And this really sparked my curiosity! If the name Lucifer was associated with Satan and this verse of scripture was about his demise surely every version of scripture should mention it.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (KJV)

How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations! (ASV)

How have you fallen from heaven, O light-bringer and daystar, son of the morning! How you have been cut down to the ground, you who weakened and laid low the nations [O blasphemous, satanic king of Babylon!] (AMP)

You were like the morning star, but you have fallen from the sky. In the past, all the nations on earth bowed down before you, but now you have been cut down. (ERV)

I was able to gain a better understanding after digging deep into scripture.

The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic while the New Testament was written in Greek. The original Hebrew text from which Isaiah 14: 12 was translated never contained the word or name Lucifer; instead the original Hebrew word was ‘heylel’ a derivative of the Hebrew word ‘Halal’ which means to shine. It was used to refer to the ‘bright morning star’ an exceptional bright star whose appearance in the sky heralds dawn. Then where did the name Lucifer come from?

The first ever translation of the bible from the original Hebrew/Aramaic & Greek text was the ‘Latin Vulgate’. And Lucifer was actually a very popular Latin name before this time and it also meant ‘bright and morning star’.  So the Latin-Vulgate reads thus:

quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes

And the King James Version of the bible, about the only version with the name Lucifer, was translated from the Latin-Vulgate and compared with the original Hebrew-Greek text. The translators retained ‘Lucifer’ in its original Latin form instead of translating it into English along with the other text. This explains why most other versions of the bible do not have ‘Lucifer’ at all. Satan was definitely never called Lucifer at any point in time.

If Satan isn’t Lucifer then who is he?

Spiritual abuse in today’s church – Pt 2

Prophets too were raised by God and their words usually carried a lot of power. They were revered by the people as the very oracles of God and were in a different class to the rest of the children of Israel. Younger prophets always served older prophets; the Levites were servants to the priests while the rest of Israel was subject in a sense to the Levites, the priests and the prophets. All the Pentecostal churches I have been to adapt this model.

The head pastor and his wife were always in a different class to the rest of the church. They were followed by their assistants who were next in line and finally the rest of the congregation. Just as the Old Testament prophets had so much power amongst those of the Old Testament, so also these New Testament pastors believe that of themselves as well. Quite a lot of them believe they cannot be corrected when they are wrong. They believe they have so much authority that any pronouncements they make over people good or bad will definitely come to pass.

Just like the prophets did in the Old Testament, these pastors believe that anyone who wants to go out to start his own church has to first serve a pastor who had been in ministry longer than himself. The most popular scriptural example used to buttress this belief is the relationship between Elijah and Elisha and this has led to a lot of spiritual abuse. These pastors request unquestionable loyalty from their congregation as they believe God has bestowed upon them the highest authority ever known to man. ‘At their word’ things happen; the dead is raised, the blind see, those who have been blessed by them will truly be blessed while those who’ve been cursed by them will definitely be cursed.

This is undoubtedly very old wine in new wine skins and it will not hold for long!

The New Testament is definitely not like this. No one believer has authority over another believer and no man except Jesus is the go-between between man and God. His death and resurrection paved the way for us all to have unhindered access to God. The older and more mature believers are actually supposed to encourage the younger immature ones not lord over them. They are supposed to help the younger ones understand more about God and His word not take God’s place in their lives.

This gives rise to abuse of power and the prevalence of very faulty doctrines because of the mistaken belief that their authority should never be questioned. I once read how a pastor made members of his congregation eat grass and a lot of them fell ill afterwards. Another made his congregation drink petrol. Others have been known to take advantage of ladies within their congregation sexually and the list goes on. Some are not as extreme as this as their methods are a bit more subtle. It is abuse nonetheless. Anyone bold enough to raise any objections is usually silenced with the ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ gag order, another misapplication of scripture. That verse of scripture was never used in favour of a class division; it was used in a completely different context by David to describe the entire children of Israel in his Psalm of praise when the ark of covenant was being brought into Jerusalem

20 And when they (the children of Israel) went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people; 21 He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, 22 Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. 1 Chronicles 16 (The words in brackets are mine)

This is ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ in proper context.

Having gained this understanding, I no longer allow myself to be bullied into anything by any preacher who believes he is God’s representative. If I cannot find what he’s said in the bible, I completely disregard it. I am not in any way calling for disrespect or rebellion within our ranks but only pointing out how far some things that no longer belong in the New Testament have been taken.

90 day tithe challenge

A lot of churches seem to be jumping this tithe challenge bandwagon and to what end? Do you become a better Christian at the end? Does it help you know God better? Or is it simply to increase your material possessions?

Something about this stinks to the high heavens as it is clear that the motive behind these challenges is not pure. God appears to be treated like a minion that can be manipulate to get what one wants and that is certainly not Christianity but more like paganism.

It is quite possible to take aspects of Christianity and turn them into pagan rituals. And this usually happens when we take Christ out of the equation or appear to manipulate aspects of it to provide specific results we are after. This is no different to spiritualists and the like who have to chant specifics words to get a desired outcome.

These challenges are indeed quite ludicrous as it is clear that those who initiate it are not doing so as a result of a specific instruction from God. God is God regardless; His word never fails as it always accomplishes whatever He sends it to do. Unfortunately, in this case of the tithe challenge people are being encouraged to put God to ‘test’ or hold Him to ransom as it were and He’s being given 90 days to respond. What a pity!

The major thing lacking in all of this is a relationship! You wouldn’t want to do a thing like this if you truly had a relationship with God. God is not a tool you manipulate to get what you want and you do not call the shots, He does.

Malachi 3: 10 has been taken completely out of context and is being touted as the proof that God has asked that we put Him to test in the area of tithing. To get a proper understanding of this verse one has to look at the entire book as well as understand the historical fact behind it.

This event takes place during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah when the Jews returned to Jerusalem after their exile in Babylon. Aspects of the law were no longer being observed or were forgotten. The law gave specifics on how sacrifices were to be handled and chapter 1 tells us that the priests were actually slack in that regard. Instead of offering up animals without blemishes they were offering up diseased animals which was against the law of Moses.

The priests were not the only ones at fault; some of the Israelites had divorced their wives in favour of younger foreign ones and had also begun to withhold the tithes and offerings commanded under the law. So the call to test Him actually meant they should investigate so as to better understand Him. As clearly those who came out of Babylon had forgotten God and the law.

This so called tithe challenge has no scriptural basis and if it was aimed at improving your personal relationship with God or helping you know God better that wouldn’t have been so bad. But it seems this is aimed at getting some form of financial or material reward by manipulating God through tithing. It is not right.

Giving in the New Testament

The relationship between the Old Testament tithes and offerings and giving in the New Testament remains something that is very poorly taught in much of today’s church.

The potential for error starts with the way the tithes and offerings are viewed; they are both taken completely out of context in today’s church and given completely new meanings and purposes. I have looked at both the tithe and offerings in previous posts and have now decided to link both to giving in the New Testament.

There were numerous kinds of offerings required from those of the Old Testament. These offerings played a part in the redemption plans of God and were types and shadows of better things to come. The offerings were in no way inferior to the tithes and failure to bring both had consequences.

Looking at the offerings on their own and not as part of the law can lead to misleading conclusions as all aspects of the Old Testament law were intrinsically linked and had to be observed in their entirety. Hence Paul stressed that breaking one was akin to breaking all. One of the first offerings given by the Old Testament Jews was the offering of the first born while they were still in Egypt. No non-Jew was allowed to partake or observe this except they had been circumcised. Some offerings like atonement and the offering of the first born were compulsory whilst others were required based on circumstances; trespass offering, guilt offering are some examples.

The importance of both the tithe and offerings was stressed in Malachi 3: 8. God reprimanded the Jews for defrauding Him by not bringing their tithes and offerings. He did not in any way place the tithe over the offering. However, their position in the New Testament was highlighted in the book of Hebrews:

Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. Hebrews 10:11

The Old Testament offerings could not take away the sins of those who observed them and had to be done year in year out to be of any value. According to the book of Hebrews this unfortunately brought a constant reminder of sin and the people could not attain perfection.

The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. Hebrews 10: 1 & 2

And it clearly highlights that the offerings served redemptive purposes. Thankfully, the sacrifice of Jesus spelt an end to all of them and giving offerings unto God is ‘no’ longer required under the new dispensation.

For the New Testament believer our giving is not looked at in terms of tithes or offerings but is considered in terms of what we have and can afford to give.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

And giving to those in need is considered giving to God. Hence our giving in church should always be geared towards meeting the ‘needs’ of others and this Paul likened to the sweet smelling savour of an Old Testament offering.

‘Offering’ time in church should be relabelled ‘giving’ time and should be viewed as an opportunity to contribute towards meeting the needs of others and explained as such. Trying to explain it as the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament tithes and offerings paints an incorrect picture.

Alas! Here is something I really didn’t understand

I haven’t written anything in about 2 years now and had resolved not to write about the tithe again but a chance encounter made me go back on that.

I have come to realise that I did not have a full understanding of the tithe and my posts did not paint the full picture. Howbeit, I now have a much better understanding.

I had often heard it mentioned that there were 3 tithes required form the Old Testament Jew but I just couldn’t follow the trail in the bible. And I must admit the bible did seem to change the remit of the tithe whenever it was mentioned. But after a careful study, I now know that what I termed as different remits were actually different tithes which had different scopes.

There were 3 different tithes required from the children of Israel; the first, the second and the third tithes.

The first tithe was to be given to the Levites by the remaining 11 tribes after a heave offering had been offered. This was their means of sustenance because they were barred from doing any form of secular work. They in turn gave a tenth of what they received from the other 11 tribes to the priests. This appeared to be practised every year for 6 years within the seven year agricultural cycle (Numbers 18:21-30, Leviticus 27:30-33).

The Second tithe was collected on the first, second, fourth and fifth year of every 7 year agricultural cycle (Deuteronomy 12:11-18, 14:22-29, 26:12). This tithe was usually taken to be consumed at Jerusalem. Those who lived faraway and could not conveniently bring the agricultural produce where allowed to convert it into money. And the only caveat with this was they had to add 25% of its monetary value. They were encouraged to spend the money on anything they liked including wine and strong drink.

The third tithe or poor tithe was collected every 3 years. So in effect it was collected on the third and sixth year of every 7 year agricultural cycle (Deuteronomy 14:28, 26:12).

The seventh year was classed as the year of the Sabbath and no agricultural activity was allowed during this year. No tithes were paid either and people were free to eat everything that grew out of the ground by itself.

Ironically, those who preach and practise the tithe today do not do anything that closely resembles this. Which begs the question, ‘where did they get it from?’ They cannot claim they follow Abraham’s example because his was completely voluntary and was not required as part of God’s covenant with him. It couldn’t have made him wealthy because he was already wealthy. It wasn’t the reason God blessed him because we understand from scripture that God’s covenant with Abraham had nothing to do with him.

The book of Malachi speaks of tithe in the plural and this refers to the 3 different tithes required from the children of Israel. This clearly belonged to the law and is definitely not binding on the New Testament church.

The tithe was not solitary but was part and parcel of the Old Testament law. It had to be practised in conjunction with all the other laws for it to be accepted. Trying to impose tithing today revives the law and brings condemnation. And one then tends to repeat the same mistake of the Galatian church, starting off in the spirit and then trying to achieve perfection by observing part of the law.

My Christian experience – Pt 2

One thing I have discovered in all of this is people’s view on the tithe actually reflects their views on Christianity. Those who promote the tithe doctrine usually have a works approach to Christianity. They usually take a performance based approach to Christianity and often teach things like stewardship, “touch not the Lord’s anointed”, set-man, your pastor is your covering, God has put them over you, if you disagree with them you are disagreeing with God, seed faith, sow money and reap money and so on. I also discovered that their teachings lack depth as all they do is entertain the gullible. The best part of their messages is always “if you want to release your faith and take advantage of God’s word in your life, sow a seed” and people actually believe this and oblige. Well I did too though.

My heart bleeds anytime I encounter people who are currently where I used to be. They exhibit the same ignorance I once did. They argue blindly and are more willing to defend their pastor than God’s word. I feel even worse when I listen to preachers push their personal agenda and preach man-made doctrines instead of God’s word. When will believers wake up? Why do you attribute God-like attributes to your pastor? God alone is infallible and the best of men are still men at their best; no man is infallible.

I still struggle with the relics of my past teachings quite like an ex-junkie would at the sight and thought of drugs and it is really standing in my way of true worship to God. I know that there is no mediator between God and me besides Jesus and I know His sacrifice has paved the way for me to gain access to God’s throne; I still sometimes seek the intervention of a pastor. I know I can pray to God on my own and He’ll hear me, I still find myself seeking prayers from pastors sometimes.

I only share my experience because I wouldn’t want others to go through what I’ve been through and trust me it can be difficult. There are scores of Christians who’ve gone through similar experiences and have ended up agnostics; I struggled with that at a time.

The truth is quite scarce these days and one has to search real hard to find the undiluted word of God. I know it is out there because God will never leave Himself without a witness.

My Christian experience – Pt 1

The current state of today’s church leaves me truly saddened. And I almost regretted ever becoming part of it.

Looking back, I can actually attribute this to the constant diet of falsehood I was fed when I first became a Christian. And as the old saying goes “you are what you eat”, that does ring so true in my case; the falsehood I was taught has really taken root in me has helped shaped my mindset. This makes me so sad.

I become a Christian as a teenager at a time when my peers where into girls, parties and alcohol. And loved God and the things of God and believed everything I was taught from the pulpit. I got the impression that striving for accomplishments was a carnal pursuit and showed that one trusted in one’s own abilities and not in God. Maybe I misunderstood what I was taught but that has in no way lessened the damage it has done to me; I was so laidback and completely lacked any ambition because I believed I was trusting God and exhibiting faith. I ended up losing precious years I will never, ever get back!

Every parent knows that in order to for children to develop properly they need to have a proper foundation and this was what I lacked as a young Christian; the proper spiritual foundation. This unfortunately governed the way I read the bible and interacted with the rest of the world.

When I started writing this blog, I never envisaged I would write so much on tithing. This blog was simply an outlet to vent the growing resentment I was beginning to harbour towards today’s church. But the fact of the matter is this doctrine forms the bedrock of the belief system of many in Christianity. A vast majority of preachers usually tie everything in Christianity to tithing. They tell you of God’s promises then encourage you to tithe in order to receive it. They tell you of God’s provisions then encourage you tithe to in order to receive them. They tell you of heaven and encourage you to tithe in order to get there. For them, the tithe brings everything God together.

I was told from my early days in Christianity that tithing faithfully, giving sacrificially and sowing seeds were guaranteed to bring you financial prosperity. I listened regularly to messages from Kenneth Hagin, K. C. Price and their ilk and lapped up all their testimonies on how these things had worked for them. It never worked for me!

But here is what happened to me instead, I completely ignored common sense and kept on practising these so called teachings because I was told one had to persevere and to give up at the last minute showed fear instead of faith. I wasted my years on stupid doctrines and practises instead of spending time building myself. I should have invested more in my studies, I should have learnt how to invest money and time in “real” investments that would have yielded “real” money. In fact, these teachings made me lazy and I was taken advantage of by many preachers.

They harped on so much on being led by the spirit without even taking the time to teach us what it meant (the probably didn’t know themselves) and left us to interpret its meaning for ourselves. I would be faced with situations where common sense would have been adequate to tackle it; I would instead want to appear spiritual and decide to take a “spiritual” approach by waiting on the “Lord”. This sometimes led me into very difficult situations where I was saved by the grace of God alone.

My world fell apart when I learnt what went on behind closed doors. I couldn’t believe that preachers I held in high esteem where actually weaving deceitful tales in order to take advantage of simple folks like me. It was even worse when I chanced upon teachings by a brother who show me from scripture how most of what I had been taught was so at variance with what was in the bible.

I felt hurt, I felt betrayed, I was confused because this truth had completely shattered my world. Even though the signs were always there that most of what I was taught was false, I was kept in check by the spiritual gagging order “touch not the Lord’s anointed” even though he is wrong. I never received any blessings or financial windfall from tithing and sowing seeds. It was all a waste of money. Had I been more informed, I should have invested the money in something more realistic like real estate, gold, stocks, gas and oil etc. I agree that we are not of this world but while we are still in it we need to be fed, clothed, housed etc. money is required to make it all happen.

For the first time, I learnt to question everything I heard and to go back to check scriptures to see if it was so stated. And I promised myself never to be anyone’s b**ch (please excuse my French) ever again.

Treading a fine line!

9 Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. 11 And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ 12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’ Luke 4

It can be a bit of a challenge to distinguish between exercising faith and testing God. And quite commonplace to hear some mind-blowing testimonies of people who found themselves in situations where they had to exercise very strong faith in the face of severe adversity and came out victorious. But when does it stop being an act of faith and start becoming a test of our dear God?

When Jesus was tempted by the Devil to test God by proving He was the Son of God, His response was to quote Deuteronomy 6: 16. And the context of this verse was Exodus 17 where the children of Israel complained against God because they had no water. In this case, they had already seen the hand of God in their lives but wanted further proof that God was with them and this constituted testing God.

For many believers, there are times when it seems God is no longer with us and we tend to seek some sort of reassurance that we are still God’s. Jesus found Himself in a similar situation in the above verse as He had previously been called the Son of God but here He was suffering from hunger. This, the Devil tried to play to his advantage by asking “are you really sure you are God’s Son?” The temptation would have been present to reassure Himself that God was still with Him by trying to turn the stone to bread or by throwing Himself off the pinnacle. But He knew His relationship with God was not works related and had nothing to do with Him but everything to do with God. He was the only begotten of the Father and this made Him God’s son and God was extremely proud of Him.

We constantly put the Lord to test with many of our actions without actually knowing it. It is not uncommon to see some Christians refuse medication when they have been diagnosed with some kind of treatable illness because they believe taking medicine is denying the faith. They are simply trying to prove God when it is completely unnecessary. God requires no reassurance from us that He is God.

Others still, take some unnecessary risks in the mistaken belief that God is pleased with such recklessness. A good example is the popular word of faith doctrine of releasing your faith through sacrificial giving or tithing to prove God aka Malachi 3: 8.

It is only an unbeliever who requires proof of the existence of God and God is always upset with believers who try to prove His existence in their lives. Our salvation experience is proof enough of God’s abilities.  And the call to prove God through tithing in Malachi 3 was aimed at unbelieving Jews and it truly begins to border on stupidity giving money in the belief it will attract God’s attention. A child does not need to earn his needs from his father as a good father is always attentive to the needs of his son.

In conclusion, Hebrews 11: 6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God and no mention was made of works or attempts to prove God. And the word translated faith is gotten from the Greek word “Pistis” which means conviction of the truth of anything or conviction that God exists. This is purely a heart thing that does not require any so called acts of faith to bolster it.

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