Tear Down This Wall!

Ephesians 2:11-15

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan delivered a speech in front of Berlin’s, Brandenburg Gate. In that speech, the president uttered this famous line: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! Withthis wallCommunism had separated the people of East and West Berlin since August 13th, 1961! On November 9, 1989, 29 months after Reagan’s Brandenburg Gate speech, the Berlin Wall came down! On the History.com website, from the article on the “Berlin Wall ”:

     Starting at midnight that day...East and West Berliners... 
     flooded through the checkpoints....People used hammers and 
     picks to knock away chunks of the wall–they became known as 
     “mauerspechte,” or “wall woodpeckers” — while cranes and 
     bulldozers pulled down section after section. Soon the wall 
     was gone and Berlin was united for the first time since 1945.

In the photo above, a young man peers through one of the holespeckedthrough the wall!

There is another “Tear Down This Wall” that is desperately needed today, and it has already been accomplished! Here is what Saint Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:11 through 15:

     Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who 
     are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision 
     made in the flesh by hands — that at that time you were with-
     out Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and 
     strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and 
     without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once 
     were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 
     For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has 
     broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished 
     in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments con-
     tained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man 
     from the two, thus making peace....

There was a problem in the New Testament Church:

  • On Pentecost Sunday, the Church was born in Jerusalem when three thousand Jews responded to Peter’s sermon and were saved! (see Acts chapter 2).
  • Just a day or two later, either two thousand or five thousand more Jews (depending on how you interpret Acts 4:4) became believers in the Lord Jesus Christ!
  • According to Acts 2:47, “…the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

These early believers were all Jews! It wasn’t until perhaps months later that the gospel spread first to the Samaritans (see Acts 8:5-8, 25); then to the Romans (see Acts chapter 10). Under Paul’s missionary ministry, salvation was preached in Crete, Asia Minor, Greece, perhaps Spain, and Rome! All this followed Jesus’ prophesy given in Acts 1:8, just before He ascended into heaven:

     But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come 
     upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, 
     and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. 

But the Jews thought they were special – the only people chosen by God two thousand years before when the LORD called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees! In the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), God gave Israel many laws concerning living holy lives before Him. In Leviticus 20:26 He gave this reason: “And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine. The Jews were a special and chosen people…….special and chosen to show the world who God was, and what it was to look like living under His Lordship! They failed miserably! For when …the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world…to the Jews first…” (I John 4:14; Romans 1:16) – They rejected the Savior and crucified Him!

But that ‘specialness’ was so ingrained in the Jewish mind, they just had a hard time believing God would also call to Himself the “…Gentiles…who are [derogatorily] called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision [Jews]….” (Ephesians 2:11). Rabbinical teaching layered many manmade rules upon God’s laws, even superceding what the LORD had declared! (see Matthew 23:15-24). This is evident in what Peter told the Roman Centurion Cornelius in Acts 10:28:

     You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company 
     with or go to one of another nation.  But God has shown me 
     that I should not call any man common or unclean.

There is no such strict law given by the LORD anywhere in the Old Testament! This was a rabbinical addition to God’s laws which directed the Israelites not to form contractual alliances, intermarry with, or enter into idolatry with the surrounding pagan nations. The Jews were to be a holy people, separated unto God! But…it is…unlawful…for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation…?! Apparently God had work to do to change the Jewish prejudicial mind set!

That’s why the Apostle Paul taught that Jesus had torn down the dividing walls!

  • Read again the featured Scripture of Ephesians 2:11 through 15.
  • Continue on with Ephesians 2:16 through 22:
     ...and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body 
     through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And 
     He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to 
     those who were near. For through Him we both have access by 
     one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer 
     strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints 
     and members of the household of God, having been built on the 
     foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself 
     being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, be-
     ing joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in 
     whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place 
     of God in the Spirit.
  • Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Why have I bothered to research and present all this from God’s Word? Because there is such division in the world today, and it seems to be ever widening!

  • Racial tensions – We are being indoctrinated in the teachings of systemic racism! If someone is of the Caucasian race, they are too often made to feel ashamed that they are inherently racist!
  • Political tensions – Many conservatives (and, yes, I am a conservative!) are hesitant to say where they stand on issues lest they be condemned (or worse)!
  • Educational tensions – Our children are being educated against the greatness of America! The country’s history (we can learn from both the good and the bad) is being cast down and/or rewritten, and our democracy is being more and more undermined by Socialism!
  • Financial tensions – There is an effort to reduce the gap between the haves and have nots by involuntary redistribution of wealth! Capitalism, which has so added to the greatness of America, is under increasing attack!
  • Identity tensions – Especially among our youth, God’s view of man and woman, husband and wife, family structure, social order, and the definition of life is being ripped apart (since Roe vs. Wade, over 63 million babies have been torn from their mothers’ wombs)!
  • Religious tensions – Secularism and humanism is drastically on the rise, and the Lord’s right to order our lives according to His mind is more and more belittled!

We could go on and on! But in Jesus Christ the walls come down! At the foot of the cross we are all the same…

Sinners in need of the Savior!

And once we belong to the Savior, we are all the same…

God’s children, saved by His grace
through faith in Jesus Christ!

We are one in Him!

A short delay…

Due to surgery on my human body, and surgery on my computer to remove malware, I have been delayed in posting new Gems for the last week and a half. I now have a new computer, and I am having fun trying to figure out all the computer stuff! So bear with me, and I will soon be back to posting new Gems.

Beginning, Middle, End – III Romans 8:28-31

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Once more, here is Romans 8:28 through 31:

     And we know that all things work together for good to those 
     who love God, to those who are the called according to His 
     purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be 
     conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the 
     firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestin-
     ed, these He also called; whom He called, these He also 
     justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 
     What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, 
     who can be against us?

In the last two Gems we have discussed the beginning and the middle of the Christian life shown in these four verses. What is the end of it all? The end is found in verse 29, describing the purpose to which every Christian is called!For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Conformed to the image of Jesus! Wow! For me to act like Jesus, talk like Jesus, think like Jesus, love like Jesus, be like Jesus………..God has got a long way to go! He’s got His work cut out for Him! How will He accomplish this end?

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to
those who are the called according to His purpose.

  • First, let’s define what the good is toward which all things work together. Because a lot of thosethingsdon’t seem all that good when we are in the midst of them! But God’s idea of good is that we …be conformed to the image of His Son….There is no higher good than this!

Here are other Scriptures that support being “…conformed to the image of His Son…:

      Genesis 1:26 – “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in 
           Our image, according to Our likeness....”  This was 
           God’s original purpose for man, to perfectly reflect 
           who the LORD is.  However, sin so marred that like-
           ness into something that was almost unrecognizable!  
           Jesus Christ came to restore that image!

     Psalm 17:15 – “As for me, I will see Your face in 
           righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in 
           Your likeness.Matthew 10:25 – “It is enough for a disciple to be 
           like his teacher....John 13:34, 35 – “By this all will know that you are My 
           disciples...[when] you love one another as I have loved 
           you.I Corinthians 11:1 – Paul challenges us, “Imitate me, 
           just as I also imitate Christ. Ephesians 5:1, 2 (Bible in Basic English) – “Let it be 
           your desire to be like God, as well-loved children; and 
           be living in love, even as Christ had love for you.... Philippians 2:5 – “Let this mind be in you which was also 
           in Christ Jesus....I John 2:6 – “He who says he abides in Him [Jesus] ought 
           himself also to walk just as He walked.

However, the problem with being conformed to His image is that because of sin, so much of that image has been lost! So God has a lot of work to do in the likes of me and you to fulfill His purpose of making us like Jesus!

  • In the Gem, Beginning, Middle, End – II, I focused on II Corinthians 3:18: “…we…are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” That phrase “…from glory to glory…” shows a process, sometimes a very slow process! Paul could have added some glories:from glory to glory to glory to glory to glory….! For the process isstep by step by step by step by step by step, becoming more and more like Jesus!
  • There is another passage in James 1:2 through 4 that speaks of this process to fulfill the purpose of God:
     My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various 
     trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces 
     patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that 
     you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.
 First I want you to know that James is using a book-
           keeping term when he says, “...count it all joy....”  
           He does not mean that when trials come into your 
           life you are to jump up and down shouting, “Oh goody!  
           Another trial!”  The idea is that you have a ledger 
           with two pages, the left hand page for ‘joy’, and the 
           right hand page for “Oh #&@%*, another trial!The 
           trial probably doesn’t feel good, but we are to mark 
           it down on the joy page!  

     ✞    Why?  Because God is producing faith > patience > that 
           you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing!  And 
           the only One I know who is perfect and complete lack-
           ing nothing is Jesus!  Trials may not feel good, but 
           they are making us more and more like God’s Son!
  • Back on March 8, 2013, I wrote a Gem called, What’s God’s Purpose for Me? In it I gave an illustration of what it might feel like for this purpose of God to be worked out in our lives:
     It is a lot like what I experienced while working in an 
     electrical contact manufacturing plant many years ago. We 
     made large commercial contact components out of metal. The 
     process involved die-stamping them out by a drop-board forge 
     and then finishing them to specs by further processes such 
     as grinding off the rough edges. I would stand before the 
     grinding wheel for hours smoothing off the roughness of 
     these contacts. If those pieces of metal had voice, I would 
     imagine them screaming out as I ground away, “Ow! That hurts! 
     Stop! Don’t! That’s painful!But if the rough edges were 
     not ground off, the contacts would not fit the order specs, 
     and they would be virtually useless for their intended pur-
     pose. I guess the contacts did have some worth in their 
     rough state: They could always be sold for scrap metal!!!

     It may hurt to have our un-Christ-like edges ground down 
     so we can be made to conform to the specs God has for us – 
     to look, to be like Jesus! But if God does not orchestrate 
     the process, and/or if I fight tooth and nail against the 
     pain of His working in my life, I will not become like 
     Jesus, and I will not be of full use to God! I would rath-
     er bear the pain of His manufacturing process and come out 
     looking like Jesus – useful unto Him – than be sold for 
     scrap!
  • And this work of being conformed to the image of His Son is life-long – all our mortal life-long!

This is the middlework of the Christian life!

What about the end? The end of the process is described in…

  • Romans 8:29 – when we are fully…conformed to the image of His Son…!
  • Romans 8:30 – when we, in heaven with our Lord, are…glorified…as He is!
  • I Corinthians 15:49 through 54 – “…as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man [Jesus]. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on im-mortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’
  • Philippians 3:20, 21 – “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
  • I John 3:2 – “Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He [Jesus] is revealed , we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (see Revelation 19:11-16).

What Adam lost for all mankind through sin,
God will restore for us in Jesus!
This is the glorious ‘end’ for every Christian!

What is this knowledge ofthe endsupposed to do for us now? Is it just a happy ending to a sometimes rough earthly story? It is much more than that! For we are told in I John 3:3, “And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He [Jesus] is pure.This doctrine of being made perfect and holy like Jesus in the end should encourage us in our growth in holiness now, in the middle!

Beginning, Middle, End – II Romans 8:28-31

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Romans 8:28 through 31 shows the Christian life – the beginning, the middle, and the end:

     And we know that all things work together for good to those 
     who love God, to those who are the called according to His 
     purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be con-
     formed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-
     born among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these 
     He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and 
     whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall 
     we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against 
     us?

The Beginning is shown in verses 28 and 30:

  • Romans 8:28 – “…those who love God…those who are the called according to His purpose.

When I became a Christian, I was 19 years old and in the Air Force, stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi Mississippi. I knew very little of Christianity and the Bible, for my family was not Christian. My friend Jerry had converted to Catholicism from a fundamental Protestant religion, and I wanted to know why. We talked about his decision, and since I had no religious background to speak of, I decided I would become a Catholic.

Soon after I had made my Catholic decision, I experienced something that changed my life. I knew little of the Christian faith, but I became sure about three things concerning Jesus Christ:

1. I knew that He was real!

2. I knew that He was alive!

3. I knew that He loved me!

…and I fell ‘head over heels’ in love with Him!

I loved God! I was called according to His purpose! That was the beginning!

  • The beginning of the Christian life is also reflected in Romans 8:30, “…whom He called….I did not find God! He found me! He called me to Himself, and I began my Christian life at age 19!

The Middle: I said in the last Gem, the middle is where the hard work begins! And that work is reflected in Romans 8:29: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Predestination is a hard concept to wrap our minds around. But in verse 29, the concept of predestination is made simple: God predestines every Christian to become more and more like Jesus! Yes, it is simply said, but it can be very hard to be conformed, (to grow up into) the image of His Son, Jesus!

How is this conformation to be accomplished? Basically, in two ways:

  • God Himself takes up premanent residence in our bodies!
     In Him [Jesus Christ] you also trusted, after you 
           heard the word of truth, the gospel of your sal-
           vation; in whom also, having believed, you were 
           sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is 
           the guarantee of our inheritance until the re-
           demption of the purchased possession, to the 
           praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:13, 14).

     ...do you not know that your body is the temple of 
           the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from 
           God, and you are not your own? For you were bought 
           at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and 
           in your spirit, which are God's. (I Corinthians 6:
           19, 20).
  • The Holy Spirit’s job is outlined in Philippians 2:13: “…it is God [by His Holy Spirit] who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.He gives us not only the do it, but also thewant to do it! This is important because much of what the Lord calls us to do is very often not what we want to do!

With the Spirit’s help, we are called to practice what Jesus showed us in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before He was crucified: “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42). “…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.The Holy Spirit within us will help us seek God’s will more and more, as we grow to be more and more like Jesus!

It is a process, this work of themiddle!

  • II Corinthians 3:18 – “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
      After he came down from Mount Sinai, having received the 
           Law, including the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:1-17), 
           Moses’ face glowed with God’s glory, after having been in 
           the LORD’s presence for forty days. The Israelites were 
           frightened to even approach Moses! So he put a veil over 
           his face so the glow of the glory would not frighten peo-
           ple away. (see Exodus 34:29-35).

     ✞    The veil has been removed in every Christian’s case! We 
           have the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ! So we 
           must keep our unveiled eyes upon Him! We are told in 
           Hebrews 12:1 and 2, as we run this race of life, we must 
           always be...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher 
           of our faith....But it says in II Corinthians 3:18 that we are seeing 
           Jesus...as in a mirror....”

          ➔    Back in New Testament times, glass was hard to 
                come by, and glass mirrors were extremely rare! It is believed that mirrors made of metal-backed 
                glass were first produced in Lebanon in the first 
                century A.D....” (https://aleteia.org/2019/03/28/
                mirrors-and-the-bible-reflecting-on-the-human-
                experience/).

          Mirrors were made of polished metal, and they could get 
          scratched and marred, making the reflection a bit hazy.  
          This is the kind of mirror Paul is using as an example 
          in II Corinthians 3:18.

          ➔    We behold Jesus by faith, not by sight! (see II 
                Corinthians 5:7).  And faith often is like that 
                first century mirror – it presents a rather hazy 
                picture!  I have never seen Jesus in person, and 
                you probably have not either.  (There are credible 
                cases of seeing the Savior in visions, especially 
                in Muslim countries).  

          ➔    We are told in Romans 10:17, “...faith comes by...
                the word of God.Reading and studying your Bible 
                builds up your faith!  And that same Bible is like 
                a mirror that presents Jesus!  That’s how we get 
                to see Him and know Him!  The more we are into our 
                Bible, the stronger our faith becomes, and clearer 
                is the image of our Lord!
  • And the more we see Him and know Him,…we…are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Corinthians 3:18). That phrase “…from glory to glory…” shows a process, sometimes a very slow process! Paul could have added some glories:from glory to glory to glory to glory to glory….! It is step by step by step by step by step by step, becoming more and more like Jesus!

No, it is not easy, this Christian growth to become more and more like Jesus!

  • We have to die to ourselves to live for God!
     Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever desires to come 
           after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, 
           and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life 
           will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake 
           and the gospel's will save it. For what will it profit 
           a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own 
           soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” 
           (Mark 8:34-37).

      ...reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive 
           to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let 
           sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it 
           in its lusts. And do not present your members as instru-
           ments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves 
           to God as being alive from the dead, and your members 
           as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall 
           not have dominion over you.... (Romans 6:11-14).
  • But we have been given all we need to accomplish this Christian task!
     His divine power has given to us all things that per-
           tain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of 
           Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have 
           been given to us exceedingly great and precious prom-
           ises, that through these you may be partakers of the 
           divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is 
           in the world through lust. (II Peter 1:3, 4).

The middleis not easy! It is a life-long committment to walk with the Lord, becoming more and more like Him! But it is the only way that at the end we will hear Jesus’ words…

Well done, good and faithful servant.

(Matthew 25:23)

Beginning, Middle, End – I Romans 8:28-31

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

There is a beginning, a middle, and an end to just about anything! So it is with the Christian life. And these three stages, the beginning, middle, and end are shown in the featured Scripture of Romans 8:28 through 31:

     And we know that all things work together for good to those 
     who love God, to those who are the called according to His 
     purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be con-
     formed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-
     born among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these 
     He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and 
     whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall 
     we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against 
     us?

I said ‘just about anythinghad a beginning, a middle, and an end because something (or someOne) is excluded from this! For when it comes to God…

  • …He has no beginning!
         Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God....” In this 
           simple but profound opening phrase of the Bible, 
           when creation began, God was already there!

        Colossians 1:16 and 17 – Speaking of Jesus Christ, 
           God the Son: “All things were created through Him 
           and for Him. And He is before all things, and in 
           Him all things consist.Jesus was already there 
           before anything else existed!
  • …He has no end!
       Psalm 102:27 – Speaking of the LORD: “...You are 
           the same, and Your years will have no end.  Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13 – Three times in Rev-
           elation, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, 
           the Beginning and the End.” (Alpha and Omega are 
           the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet).
  • …He has no middle! (God does not change between the beginning and the end).
         Malachi 3:6 – The Father states to the Jews, “...I 
           am the LORD, I do not change....  Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, 
           today, and forever.

But, when it comes to the Christian life we humans are called to live, we have a beginning, a middle and an end!

Our beginning:

  • As we are born into this physical life, so we must be born into the Spiritual life!
        John 1:13 – “[We]...were born, not of blood, nor 
           of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, 
           but of God.The Wycliffe Bible Commentary gives 
           this explanation of verse 13:

             Believers...are born of...God. This is not a 
             natural process such as brings people into the 
             world — not of blood (litterally bloods), sug-
             gesting the mingling of paternal and maternal 
             strains in procreation. The will of the flesh 
             suggests the natural human desire for children, 
             as the will of man (the word for husband) sug-
             gests the special desire for progeny to carry 
             on a family name. So the new birth, somethiing 
             supernatural, is carefully guarded from confu-
             sion with natural birth.

        John 3:3, 5, 6 – “Jesus...said to [Nicodemus]..., 
           ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born 
           again, he cannot see the kingdom of God....he can-
           not enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of 
           the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the 
           Spirit is spirit.’

How does one get born again?

       John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him [the Lord 
           Jesus Christ], to them He [the Father] gave to right 
           to become children of God, to those who believe in 
           His [Christ’s] name. Acts 16:31 – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and 
           you will be saved.... Romans 10:9, 13 – “...if you confess with your mouth 
           the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has 
           raised Him from the dead, you will be saved....For who-
           ever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.

This is the beginning of the Christian life! But some people go no further than this beginning! It is like they step into the kingdom of God, having come through the gate, and there they stand, beholding the initial wonders of eternal life, but going no further to explore their inheritance!

  • The gate (or the door) is Jesus Himself!
     Matthew 7:13, 14 – “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is 
           the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, 
           and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is 
           the way which leads to life, and there are few who find 
           it.” (see Proverbs 14:12; 16:25 – King James Version).

       John 10:9 – Jesus said, “I am the door.  If anyone enters 
           by Me, he will be saved....
  • Abraham was told by God in Genesis 13:17 to explore the Promised Land of Canaan that the LORD would give to his descendants: “Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.
  • We are told to explore the kingdom (the new life of the Spirit), and to grow and mature in Jesus Christ! (see Ephesians 4:15; I Peter 2:2; II Peter 3:18).

When I was the pastor of my first church almost 50 years ago, I got to know the town mayor. One day he told me of his daughter Melanie. She was in her 20’s but had never matured. I asked if I could see her and, after some hesitation, he said yes. Melanie was no bigger than a child of four or five. She lay in a crib, not being able to speak or interact with anyone. Although she was loved and well cared for, she was totallty dependant on her caregivers. I asked her father if I could offer a prayer for his daughter and her family. With his permission I prayed for Melanie and for those who loved her.

This visit left a life-long impression on me! When someone is born into this world, the family and friends are excited for that one to grow, mature, and fully explore what life has to offer them. It is a tragedy if that one never matures out of the infant stage of life.

Far too many Christians are like Melanie! They are born into God’s kingdom but they remain spiritual infants!

  • Paul wrote concerning such immature believers in…
     I Corinthians 3:1 and 2 – “...I...could not speak to you 
           as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in 
           Christ.  I fed you with milk and not with solid food; 
           for until now you were not able to receive it, and even 
           now you are still not able.... Hebrews 5:12, 13 – “...though by this time you ought to 
           be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the 
           first principles of...God; and you have come to need 
           milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes 
           only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, 
           for he is a babe.
  • No wonder the apostle writes in Ephesians 4:15, “…speaking the truth in love, may [we] grow up into all things into Him who is the head — Christ….

So how is the beginning of the Christian life shown in Romans 8:28 through 31?

  • Romans 8:28 – Paul wrote of “…those who are the called according to His purpose.” Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him….Through the Holy Spirit, the Father draws sinners to His Son so they can make a decision to accept Him as their Savior!
  • Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son….God is omniscient, which means He knows everything, past present and future! So God knows from eternity past who will accept the sacrifice of the Son of God to save them from hell and into eternal life. Such acceptance is the beginning of the Christian life! And so knowing, He predestined those who would be saved to become more and more like Jesus! But this is getting into the middle and the end of the Christian life, which is the subject of two future Gems.
  • Romans 8:29 – “…that He [Jesus] might be the firstborn among many brethren.” That term, the firstborn refers not to His physical birth, but to His resurrection! For it was by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead that the Father put His stamp of approval upon His Son’s sacrifice on the cross, taking our sins upon Himself and paying for them fully! (see II Corinthians 5:21). But “…the firstborn…also hints at the spiritual rebirth we must all experience to be saved from sin, death, and hell! See above where Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3 through 5, “…you must be born again….

But this is just the beginning!
There is still a middle and an end!
And it is the middle where the hard work begins!

How To Get Your Prayers Answered! – III

Psalm 37:1-7

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

We have examined verses 1 through 3 and 5 through 7 of Psalm 37. Why did I skip verse 4? Because it summerizes the other verses. And this one verse shows clearly the secret of how to get your prayers answered! But it comes with a warning: it is not a quick and easy answer! Once more, here is Psalm 37:1 through 7:

     Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the 
     workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like 
     the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, 
     and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithful-
     ness.  Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give 
     you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, 
     trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  He shall 
     bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your jus-
     tice as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently 
     for Him....

Now let’s concentrate on verse 4 – “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

  • Delight yourself also in the LORD….How am I to delight myself in the LORD?
         Delight in Hebrew is ענג, pronounced aw-nag’.  The mean-
           ing is a bit difficult to discern! Here is what it says 
           in Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary:  “...to be soft or pli-
           able, that is, (figuratively) effeminate or luxurious: 
           [translated in KJV as] delicate (-ness), (have) delight 
           (self), sport self....”

Here are how other translations and paraphrases deal with the word Delight:

       Easy-to-Read Version – “Enjoy serving the LORD....   Good News Bible – “Seek your happiness in the 
               LORD....    God’s Word (to the Nations) – “Be happy with the 
               LORD....   Lexham English Bible – “Take pleasure in Yahweh 
               as well....   Revised Standard Version – “Commit your way to 
               the LORD.... New World Translation (Disclaimer! I do not recom-
               mend the NWT translation.  The Watchtower Bible and 
               Track Society [Jehovhah’s Witness] does not present 
               a scholarly interpretation, and the theology of 
               Jehovah’s Witness is heretical. However, in this 
               case of Psalm 37:4, I believe they have it right) – 
               “Also take exquisite delight in Jehovah.... So the idea of delighting yourself in the Lord means... 

    ...to be tender and soft, thoroughly open to God – 
               all that He is and all that He wants to do in your 
               life!  

             ...to be pliable under His transforming touch! 

             ...to be gentle in that you will not fight Him or 
               struggle against what He is doing or wants to do 
               in and through you!

        ...to be sincerely saying in all things,...
               nevertheless not my will, but Yours, be done.” 
               (Luke 22:42).

So the idea is to totally align your will to God’s (and His will to yours). And to do it with delight, enthusiasm, and dedication – nothing held back!

         It means to take exquisite delight in the first and 
           greatest commandment: Hear...the Lord our God, the 
           Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God 
           with all your heart, with all your soul, with all 
           your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:
           29, 30).

        And, since Jesus tells us in John 14:15 (The Living 
           Bible), “If you love Me, obey Me...,” we can substi-
           tute ‘obey’ for the word ‘love’ in the first and 
           greatest commandment:Hear...the Lord our God, the 
           Lord is one. And you shall obey the Lord your God 
           with all your heart, with all your soul, with all 
           your mind, and with all your strength.

And we are to do this all the time!

  • …and He shall give you the desires of your heart.When you so align your heart, soul, mind, and strength with God’s, then…
       ...what He wants will be exactly what you want!

         ...you will be praying according to His will!  For 
           it is written in I John 5:14 and 15:

              Now this is the confidence that we have in 
              Him, that if we ask anything according to 
              His will, He hears us.  And if we know that 
              He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that 
              we have the petitions that we have asked of 
              Him.

         ...you will get your prayers answered!

Earlier, in both How To Get Your Prayers Answered! – II, and at the beginning of this Gem, I warned you, this will not be a quick and easy answer! As a matter of fact, it is a very difficult answer! But the more you “Delight yourself also in the LORD…[the more] He shall give you the desires of your heart.

How To Get Your Prayers Answered! – II

Psalm 37:1-7

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Here are verses 1 through 7 of Psalm 37. It is within these verses I have found the secret of how to get your prayers answered! But I warn you, it is not a quick and easy answer!

     Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the 
     workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like 
     the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, 
     and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithful-
     ness.  Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give 
     you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, 
     trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  He shall 
     bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your jus-
     tice as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently 
     for Him....  

In the last Gem we covered the first three verses of Psalm 37. You would think logically that we’d study verse 4 next. But no! I believe verse 4 is the summary of how to get your prayers answered! So let’s go on to verses 5 through 7, and then we’ll bring it all together with verse 4.

Verse 5 – “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

  • Commit your way to the LORD….” The Hebrew word for Commit is גּלל, pronouced gaw-lal’, and meaning “to roll” (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary). The word is used in:
        Genesis 29:2 and 3 (would roll) – When Jacob first arrived 
           in Padan Aram, his mother Rebekah’s home town (about 400 
           miles northeast of Beersheba where Isaac and family were 
           staying), he “...saw a well in the field; and...there were 
           three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well 
           they watered the flocks. A large stone was on the well's 
           mouth. Now all the flocks would be gathered there; and 
           they would roll the stone from the well's mouth, [and] 
           water the sheep....   Joshua 5:9 (rolled away) – Circumcision was the covenant 
           sign carried by the Hebrew male that the people of Israel 
           belonged to God. But during the forty years of wandering 
           in the wilderness, no one was circumcised. Now Israel had 
           just arrived in the Promised Land of Canaan. So God com-
           manded Joshua to circumcise all the males, which was done 
           at Gilgal. “Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘This day I have 
           rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’  Amos 5:24 (run down) – Amos prophesied to the northern 
           kingdom of Israel around 750 BC. He was concerned about 
           the sinfulness of the people in light of God’s holiness. 
           Through His prophet God told the sinful Israelites, “But 
           let justice run down like water, And righteousness like 
           a mighty stream.

Applied to believers, the following convey what it means to Commit!

      Roll the heavy burden of your way away, and roll His way 
           into every area of your life!

      Allow everything that does not please the LORD to be cut 
           away!  And your reproach will be rolled away!
  As water, unimpeded, runs down as a mighty stream, cleans-
           ing and carrying the dirt away, so committing to let God’s 
           way flow in your life will result in a mighty stream of 
           justice and righteousness!
  • …trust also in Him….” In Hebrew, ‘trust’ is בָּטַח, pronounced baw-takh’. According to Strongs Hebrew Dictionary, it means what you are to do, do it quickly! In Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions it means, “to trust, be confident in, be bold, be secure.” There are 107 instances in the Old Testament that translate baw-takh’ as ‘trust’. I have chosen two:
       Ruth 2:12 (Modern King James Version) (trust) – Ruth, a 
           Moabite widow accompanied her mother-in-law Naomi from 
           Moab back to Israel. To provide food, Ruth gleaned 
           barley in the field owned by Boaz, a wealthy relative 
           of Naomi. He told her he had heard about Ruth leaving 
           her home county to be with her mother-in-law in Israel. 
           He said, “May Jehovah repay your work, and may a full 
           reward be given you from Jehovah, the God of Israel, 
           under whose wings you have come to trust. Psalm 2:12 (trust) – A psalm written as a warning to the 
           Gentile nations: “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And 
           you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a 
           little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

As Ruth traveled to Israel trusting Israel’s God to take care of her; as the leaders (and their peoples) of the nations of the world are admonished to make peace with God – to be blessed as they put their trust in Him; so are believers to continually…trust also in Him….

  • …and He shall bring it to pass.
       What will God bring to pass? The way your life is going!
           The plans and decisions you are making as you go!

     ✡    But...it is based on the first two parts of the verse:Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him...Commit your way totally to God!  Trust also in Him 
           totally! Then...He shall bring it to pass.!

Verse 6 – “He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” These clear manifestations of your righteousness and justice are the result of your total commitment to God and your total trust in Him.

  • He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light….
      Paul tells us in Romans 3:10 (referencing Psalm 14:1-3; 
           53:1-3; and Ecclesiates 20), “There is none righteous, 
           no, not one. Isaiah explains it this way in Isaiah 64:6, “But we are 
           all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses 
           are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our 
           iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

We have no righteousness in our selves before God! So how do we get it?

      There is no verse that explains it better than II Corin-
           thians 5:21:  “For He [God, the Father] made Him [Jesus, 
           the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might 
           become the righteousness of God in Him.

It is like changing clothes. Jesus removed our filthy rags of sin, and clothed us with His own robe of righteousness! (see Zechariah 3:1-5). That is the only righteousness that holds any value before God! And it is given only when we accept Jesus as our Savior!

  • …and your justice as the noonday.Justice is the outworking of righteousness within! When you are given in total to the Lord Jesus Christ, what you do will be a reflection of who you are! Maybe we should say, …Whose you are!

Verse 7 – “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him….

  • Rest in the LORD….
Jesus gives this invitation in Matthew 11:28 through 30:  

             Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, 
             and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and 
             learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, 
             and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke 
             is easy and My burden is light.  

We all need rest – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And we need to rest regularly!

      That’s why God set the ‘1 in 7' standard.  In Exodus 
           23:12 He summarized this standard  (see the full com-
           mandment, the fourth of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 
           20:8-11):

               Six days you shall do your work, and on the 
               seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and 
               your donkey may rest, and the son of your 
               female servant and the stranger may be re-
               freshed.
  • ….and wait patiently for Him….
     As Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations 3:26, “It is good that 
          one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the 
          LORD.And this was in the middle of seeing the complete 
          destruction of Jerusalem and the holy temple at the hands 
          of the Babylonians!

     God’s timing is not ours! Sometimes we just have to wait 
          for His perfect will to be manifest.  But the LORD gives 
          the gift of patience, as one of the gifts of the Spirit! 
          (see Galatians 5:22, 23 – Some translations use long-suf-
          fering for patience).

In the next Gem we will look closely at Psalm 37:4, what I consider to be the key verse for How To Get Your Prayers Answered!

How To Get Your Prayers Answered! – I

Psalm 37:1-7

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Over the fifty years of being a pastor, one of the chief complaints I have heard from Christians is, “I have prayed and prayed, but God doesn’t seem to hear me. He just doesn’t answer my prayers.” Often such a complaint is followed by, “What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?I have found the answer in Psalm 37! And within this Psalm is given the way to have the Lord answer ALL our prayers! Here are verses 1 through 7:

     Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the 
     workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like 
     the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, 
     and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithful-
     ness.  Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall 
     give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to 
     the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  
     He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and 
     your justice as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD, and wait 
     patiently for Him....  

While the whole Psalm is profitable to read and heed, I want to especially focus on verse 4, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” The last part of this verse sounds great, “…and He shall give you the desires of your heart.That’s what people want when they pray!God, this is what I desire, what I want. Please give it to me.” But the condition to God giving us “…the desires of …our heart…,” is that we must Delight …ourself also in the LORD…! I think the other verses of our featured Scripture give us a hint of what it means to do such delighting!

Verse 1 – “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.

  • Do not fret because of evildoers….” There are those who take advantage of a tragic situation such as the death of George Floyd on May 25th last year in Minneapolis, or the recent shooting of Daunte Wright on April 11th in Brooklyn Center – both in Minnesota. These two incidents, and others like them, have caused demonstrations that have tuned into riots, property damage, looting, businesses burned, injury of people, and even deaths! In Portland, Oregon, after the George Floyd tragedy, there were over 100 days of riots in 2020! More riots, destruction, and looting have ocurred in this new year!

There are a lot of people angry, frustrated, and ‘fretting’ over the lawless activity of so many in cities across the country. They are asking, “What can we do? What can anyone do? What is happening to our country?” And the same questions apply to politics, illegal immigration, big business overreach…many things going on over which we can fret!

But we are told Do not fret…!

  • We are also told “…nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
     ➔   Someone manipulates the tax laws and comes away with a 
          large, but undeserved refund!

     ➔   Hackers get into personal information via computers, 
          smart phones, and other ways of snooping.  Then they 
          have withdrawn bank accounts, opened charge accounts, 
          even taken out mortgages on an unsuspecting person’s 
          house!  

     ➔   A man leaves his wife and children and runs off with 
          his new ‘honey’, leaving his family in dire straits!  

     ➔   A shady saleman sells a product that does not live up 
          to the ‘hype’ so convincingly told!  

     ➔   Someone gets ‘inside information’ on a stock or commod-
          ity, and makes an illegal killing!  

There are all sorts of workers of iniquityaround us! And we may be tempted to wonder, “Why can he get away with this, and if I tried it, I would be caught!

But we are told, Do not…be envious…!

Verse 2 – “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

  • When?…the workers of iniquity…” may soon be caught by law enforcement. Or their chosen lifestyle catches up with them, and shortens their time on earth. Or, even if they seem to make it all through a long earthly life, they still have to stand before God! As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:13 and 14 (Lexham English Bible):
     Now that all has been heard, here is the final conclusion:  
     Fear God and obey His commandments, for this is the whole 
     duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, 
     including every secret thing, whether good or evil.
  • Such evildoers “…shall soon…cut down like the grass…!Soon, you may say? “That could be a long time from now, maybe 50 or 60 years!” Yes, but remember, the Lord’ssooncan be very different from ours!For with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (II Peter 3:8). But know this: God’s judgement is sure!
  • I suggest you read all of Psalm 73, concentrating on verses 16 and 17! It helped me to understand God’s ways relating to Psalm 37.

Verse 3 – “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

  • Trust in the LORD….
         Proverbs 3:5 and 6 expand this idea of trust:  “Trust 
          in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your 
          own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, 
          and He shall direct your paths.   Why should we not “...lean...on... our own understand-
          ing...”?   Because “The heart is deceitful above all 
          things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” 
          (Jeremiah 17:9) 

         We are all tainted by sin, and we cannot trust our own 
          judgment apart from God’s leading! (See Romans 3:10, 21).
  • …and do good….” In Galatians 6:10 we are told, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Yes, do good, even to the extent of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:43 through 45:
     You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your 
     neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love 
     your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to 
     those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully 
     use you and persecute you,  that you may be sons of 
     your Father in heaven....  
  • …dwell in the land….” Originally, this was directed to Jews to dwell in the Promised Land of Canaan. Applied to Christians today…
         John 17:16 – Jesus prayed, “They are not of the world, 
          just as I am not of the world. I John 2:16, 17 – “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.... Philippians 3:20 (Jubilee Bible) – “...our citizenship 
          is in heaven, from where we also look for the Saviour, 
          the Lord Jesus Christ.... Hebrews 11:10 – We are to be like Abraham, who,...
          waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder 
          and maker is God.  Hebrews 13:14 (God’s Word) – “For here we have no con-
          tinuing city, but we seek the one to come.

Because of all this, we are to follow what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1 through 4:

     If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things 
     which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right 
     hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on 
     things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is 
     hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life 
     appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 

Heaven is the land in which we are to dwell – even as we live upon this earth! And we are to explore the land in which is our citizenship!

  • …and feed on His faithfulness.
     ✞    God is faithful to fulfill all He has promised to us!

         Get to know what He has promised!  It is all in the 
          Bible!

       We are challenged in Colossians 3:16, “Let the Word 
          of Christ dwell in you richly....

This all applies to How To Get Your Prayers Answered! We will continue in the next Gem.

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XIX Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Samuel is the last named person in the Hall of Heroes of Hebrews 11; and the last named of six heroes in verse 32: “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.” So we will close our series Heroes With Feet of Clay with Samuel, the last of the judges and the first of the prophets of the kingdom of Israel.

He had an interesting beginning. His mother Hannah was barren. So she cried out to God, “O LORD of hosts, if You will…give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life….” (I Samuel 1:11). God answered her prayer, and Samuel was born! When the boy was about 3 to 5 years old, she took her son to the tabernacle at Shiloh, and said to Eli the High Priest:

     “...my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to 
     the LORD.  For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted 
     me my petition....Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; 
     as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” (I Samuel 
     1:26 through 28).

So Samuel stayed at the tabernacle and served God and Eli the priest.

  • Now the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were rogue priests who misused and abused the sacrifices people brought to be offered to the LORD! (see I Samuel 2:11-17, 22-25). But Eli basically did nothing to correct his sons! (see I Samuel 2:29).
  • I Samuel 3:6 and 9 – “…while Samuel was lying down to sleep…the LORD called…‘Samuel!’ So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ This happened three times before Eli realized it was God calling! So he told Samuel,Go, lie down, and…if He calls you…say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’
  • I Samuel 3:13 – When God called a fourth time, He told Samuel that he would destroy the house (family) of Eli, “…because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.
  • I Samuel 4:11 and 18 – All this was fulfilled soon after when the Philistines went to war against Israel. Hophni and Phinehas were both killed, and the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the enemy!
  • When the news reached Eli, he “…fell off the seat backward…and his neck was broken and he died, for he was [98 years] old and heavy.
  • Seven months later, after God plagued the Philistines, they sent the Ark back to Israel ! (see I Samuel 5:1-6:18).

So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him….And all Israel…knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD.” (I Samuel 3:19, 20). He had quite a career over about the next 60 years!

  • Samuel led a revival in which the Israelites turned from the foreign gods they were worshiping, back to the true God! So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.” (I Samuel 7:4).
  • I Samuel 7:12 and 10 – “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.’ ” The reason for this dedicatory monument was to memorialize God’s help in overcoming the Philistines as they attacked! …the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel.
  • I Samuel 8:1 through 3 and 5 – “…when Samuel was old…he made his sons…Joel, and… Abijah…judges over Israel….But his sons…turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.” So the elders of Israel rejected the judgeship of God, and came to him, saying, “…make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

God let the will of the people prevail! The king that God led Samuel to was Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin.

  • I Samuel 10:1 – “Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on…[Saul’s] head, and kissed him and said: ‘…the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance [Israel]….’

Samuel advised Saul over the next years, but the king turned out to be fearful, rebellious, and disobedient, much to Samuel’s disappointment.

  • I Samuel 13:5, 8, 9 – “…the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel….[Saul] waited seven days….But Samuel did not come….So Saul said, ‘Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings….’ And he offered the burnt offering.

Saul, being from the tribe of Benjamin, could not be a priest! For priests which were chosen only from the tribe of Levi were allowed to offer to God the prescribed offerings! (see Deuteronomy 21:5). So Samuel, when he arrived shortly after Saul had finished the offerings, told him, “You have done foolishly….now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart…to be commander over His people….” (I Samuel 7:13 and 14).

  • I Samuel 15:1 through 3 – “…Samuel said to Saul, ‘The LORD…says…“I will punish Amalek for what they did to Israel, how he laid wait for them…when they came up from Egypt….kill both man…woman…infant…nursing child…ox…sheep, camel and donkey.”’ ” (see Exodus 17:8-14).

But Saul didn’t obey! He spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and the best of the animals, supposedly for later sacrifice to the LORD! (see I Samuel 15:15). But his real reason he spared the best of the Amalekite animals is revealed when he confessed a bit later to Samuel in verse 24: “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the command-ment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.

Samuel set King Saul straight on this matter in I Samuel 15:22 and 23:

     “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and 
     sacrifices, as in obedience...?  Behold, to obey is 
     better than sacrifices, and to heed than the fat of 
     rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and 
     stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because you 
     have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has reject-
     ed you from being king.” 
  • I Samuel 16:13 – So God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a son of Jesse to be the next king of Israel.Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him…and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.

Only once more do we hear of Samuel before his death (see I Samuel 19:18-24). When Saul began his chase of David to kill him, David ran to Samuel’s house in Ramah.

The last mention of Saul is in I Samuel 25:1: “Then Samuel died; and all the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah.

The last mention of Samuel ? No, there is another important one! In I Samuel 28, the Philistines again attacked, and Saul needed divine guidance! But God would not answer Saul,…by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets….” (I Samuel 28:6). So the king found out there was a spiritist medium in En Dor. Maybe she could bring up Samuel to tell Saul what to do! This was a great sin in itself! (see Deuteronomy 18:9-14). So Saul disguised himself and went to the medium in En Dor (see I Samuel 28:3-6).

A question comes to my mind: How do you disguise yourself when you are…taller than any of the people from the shoulders upward.”? (I Samuel 10:23).

The medium brought up Samuel from the dead! (see I Samuel 28:11-19). I believe this was a special act of God, for I have discovered that ‘the deadwhom mediums supposedly bring up are really demons posing as the dead! How do I know? I was in the occult for three years, studying to be a trance medium! Besides, Jesus said the only way someone can come back from the dead is by resurrection! (see Luke 16:31). But back to the story: Samuel’s appearance even scared the medium! (see I Samuel 28:12). I guess she was not expecting the real Samuel to appear!

     ...Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bring-
     ing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for 
     the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed 
     from me and does not answer me anymore....Therefore I have 
     called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.” 
     Then Samuel said: “Why then do you ask me, seeing the Lord 
     has departed from you and has become your enemy? ...Because 
     you did not obey the voice of the Lord nor execute His fierce 
     wrath upon Amalek...the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your 
     hand and given it to your neighbor, David....Moreover the Lord 
     will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philis-
     tines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.” 
     (I Samuel 28:15 through 19).

So Saul and his three sons all died by the hands of the Philistines the next day on Mount Gilboa! (see I Samuel 31:1-6).

But this series is called Heroes With Feet of Clay! It doesn’t sound like Samuel had any indication of clay feet! He even challenged the people of Israel in I Samuel 12:2 asking if he had stolen anything from them or defrauded them in any way. And they answered in II Samuel 12:4, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us, not have you taken anything from any man’s hand.

But in I Samuel 8:1 through 3 (quoted above), we are told, “…when Samuel was old…he made his sons…Joel, and… Abijah…judges over Israel….But his sons…turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.” Apparently, Samuel’s clay feet were his failure as a dad! His two sons did not turn out to be well-parented boys! But God still honored him as a hero!

So, Christian, even if you are not the perfect parent, even if you think you have failed in your efforts to raise godly offspring…

…God can still use you!
He greatly used imperfect Samuel !

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XVIII Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Above is a painting by Guy Rowe, from the book, In Our Image, Oxford Press, 1949. Depicted are Nathan the prophet and David, when he confronted the king concerning David’s affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah to cover up his sin!

David is listed as a Hero of Faith in Hebrews 11:32 –“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.Does this man deserve to be listed as a Hero?

I taught a seminary course a few years ago on David, and it took me three semesters to cover the life of this man! The Bible devotes 43 chapters in I and II Samuel and I Kings to David’s life and the events surrounding that life! So how do I distill it down to a single Gem? There are two outstanding happenings concerning David that give us a good idea of who he is:

  • At the beginning of his Scripture record, David’s great faith in Jehovah God is the focus!
  • Later on, when he was king over all Israel, David’s feet of clay became very apparent!

The first part of David’s story is his confrontation with the Philistine giant Goliath! We don’t know how old David was at the time, nor do we know how long Goliath had been a soldier in the Philistine army. But in I Samuel 17:33, King Saul told David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; you are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” Most Bible scholars think David was just a teenager – maybe as young as 15, and no more than 19! And Goliath had been a trained soldier for probably ten to 15 years! According to Numbers 1:45, an Israelite would not be considered of age for military service until he was 20 years old. And Saul calling David “…but a youth…,” plus the fact that only three of the eldest sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite were in Israel’s army, suggests David was too young to be considered a soldier!

But this young man surely had faith!

  • I Samuel 17:26 – “Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, ‘What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?’
  • I Samuel 17:32 – “Then David said to Saul, ‘Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.’
  • I Samuel 17:36 and 37 – “Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God….The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.
  • I Samuel 17:40 – “Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.
  • I Samuel 17:45 through 47 – “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of…the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.’

What powerful words of faith this young David spoke! But, they say, “Actions speak louder than words!

  • I Samuel 17:48 and 49 – “…the Philistine…drew near to meet David….David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David…slung…a stone…and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.
  • I Samuel 17:51 – “David ran and stood over the Philistine, took [Goliath’s] sword…and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

His actions backed up his words of faith! David won a contest that no one thought he could win………except David and God! Yes,, he deserves a place in the Hall of Heroes of Hebrews 11, as one of the heroes of faith!

…except his feet of clay became clearly visible!

It happened one afternoon when David was lounging around in the palace. He got up from a nap and glanced down from his high vantage point (his palace was built on a high point of the city), and, low and behold, there was a beautiful naked young woman bathing on the flat roof of her nearby home!

Someone once said, “It’s the third look that gets you!

  • The first look is a quick look, not expecting to see anything unusual.
  • The second look is… “Did I just see what I think I saw?
  • The third look is… Oh, wow! Look at that!

…and the third look is what gets you into trouble! It got David into trouble!

But let’s back up a bit. What was David doing lounging at the Jerusalem palace anyway? It says in II Samuel 11:1:

     It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when 
     kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his ser-
     vants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the 
     people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained 
     at Jerusalem. 

A king was supposed to lead his troops into battle! He was not just to send his general to lead the army and fight the war!

Back to that ‘third look’ moment: “So David sent and enquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ ” (II Samuel 11:3). This report should have been a big red flag to David!

  • Uriah the Hittite was one of the king’s faithful prize soldiers! In II Samuel 23 is listed 37 outstanding warriors in the Israeli army of tens of thousands! Uriah the Hittite is listed as one of the 37! (see II Samuel 23:39; I Chronicles 11:41).
  • Eliam was also one of the 37 prize soldiers! He was the father of Bathsheba, and according to his listing in II Samuel 23:34, he was the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite. And in II Samuel 15:12 we are told, Ahithophel the Gilonite was one of David’s trusted counselors! So, in having an affair with Bathsheba, David was also sinning against her father Uriah, his mighty soldier, and her grandfather Ahithophel, his faithful counselor! Well, Ahithophel was faithful…until the king dallied with his granddaughter! When David’s son Absalom later rebelled and tried to kill his father and take over the kingdom (see II Samuel 14:25-18:33), Ahithophel sided with Absalom, and against David ! (see II Samuel 15:31; 17:1-3).

A few weeks after their tryst, Bathsheba sent word to David that she was pregnant! So the king set a plan in motion to cover up his indiscretion!

  • II Samuel 11:6 through 8 – “Then David sent to Joab…‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ …When Uriah had come…David asked…how the war prospered. And David said…‘Go down to your house and wash your feet.” It was understood that the king was giving Uriah the opportunity to sleep with his wife – which would cover David having sex with Bathsheba!
  • II Samuel 11:9 and 11 – But Uriah didn’t go down to his house! He “…slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord….His reasoning?The ark and Israel and Judah are…encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife?
  • II Samuel 11:12 and 13 – So David tried again! He said, “‘Wait here today and tomorrow….’ Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk…but he did not go down to his house.

Well, that didn’t work! So the king came up with a more malevolent plan:

  • II Samuel 11:14 and 15 – “…David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by…Uriah…saying, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.’
  • II Samuel 11:16 and 17 – “So it happened…Joab…assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men….And some of the people of…David fell, and Uriah the Hittite died also.

Victory!David thought. Now no one would discover that it was David who impregnated Bathsheba! And no one would know that the king had Uriah murdered by the hand of the Ammonites! No one would know………except God!

After a period of respectable mourning for her husband, David sent for Bathsheba, and he married her! Eventually she had her baby, and presented the king with a son!

After about a year, the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to confront David: Why a year’s wait? I don’t know, but I do know God’s timing is always perfect! (see Galatians 4:4, 5).

  • II Samuel 12:1 through 4 – Nathan told the king a story of a rich man who stole the pet lamb of a poor man to prepare a dinner for a visitor.
  • II Samuel 12:5 and 6 – David was furious! He shouted,As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb….
  • II Samuel 12:7 – Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (This is the moment represented by Guy Rowe’s painting).
  • II Samuel 12:7 through 12 – Nathan continued:
     Thus says the LORD God of Israel; ‘I anointed you as king over 
     Israel, and I delivered you from...Saul.  I gave you...[his] 
     house and...wives...and gave you...Israel and Judah.  And if 
     that had been too little, I would have given you much more! 
     ...You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have 
     taken his wife to be your wife....Now therefore the sword shall 
     never depart from your house, because you have despised Me....
     Behold, I will raise up adversity...from your own house; and I 
     will take your wives...and give them to your neighbor....For 
     you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel
     ....’” 
  • II Samuel 12:13 – “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’

II Samuel 12;13 and 14 – “And Nathan said…‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child…who is born to you shall surely die.’

The child did die! (see II Samuel 12:15-23); and David thereafter had continual trouble within his own family! (see II Samuel 13:1-I Kings 2:12).

I have sinned against the LORD.” It really doesn’t sound like much of a confession for so great offenses that David committed. But if we also consider the Penitent Psalms, such as Psalm 51, written shortly after Nathan’s confrontation; and Psalm 32, as David later reflected back on this sinful time; we can see the heart of this man – David was a great sinner, but he was also a great repenter! As it says in Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

And so it is written in Acts 13:22, that God said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.

So, like the other heroes listed in Hebrews 11, David also is a hero with feet of clay! And if David can be so totally cleansed from such heinous crimes and then be used greatly of God…

…there is hope for you and me!