Is This The Finger of God? – I

Exodus 8:17-19 (English Standard Version)

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

The LORD instructed Moses and Aaron to go into the royal presence of Pharaoh with this demand, “The LORD God of the Hebrews has sent me to you, saying, ‘Let My people go that they may serve Me in the wilderness….” (Exodus 7:16). “Let My people go…,for they had been in slavery to the Egyptians for hundreds of years! Now God was going to free them, delivering them from Egypt and leading the Israelites to the Promised Land! But Pharaoh’s heart became more and more hard, resulting in ten plagues sent by God to crush the rebellious king of Egypt and his people! Our featured Scripture is Exodus 8:17 through 19 (English Standard Version), describing the third plague – gnats upon man and beast!

     ...Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff 
     and struck the dust of the earth, and there were 
     gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth 
     became gnats in all the land of Egypt.  The magi-
     cians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, 
     but they could not. So there were gnats on man 
     and beast.  Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, 
     “This is the finger of God.”  But Pharaoh's heart 
     was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as 
     the LORD had said.

The first two plagues, water turned to blood, and frogs overrunning the land, were amazing, but pharaoh’s magicians could duplicate them by their incantations. Starting with this plague, they no longer could! They had to admit, This is the finger of God…!

What I am about to share in the next two Gems is from a booklet entitled The Finger of God, written by Stan Key, president of the Francis Asbury Society, and used with the author’s permission. (See

I grew up in South Georgia and know something about the torment caused by gnats. Oh, my! It’s terrible when those nasty little vermin get in your ears, eyes,
mouth, hair, food and bed. They keep buzzing and you keep swatting — but it’s
useless. There is no escape, no place to hide from their annoying presence.

The book of Exodus tells us that the third plague that the Lord God sent on Egypt was an invasion of Gnats. Not just thousands of them, as in Georgia, but gazillions! Thick as pea soup and scattered all across the land, it must have been horrific. The Spanish Inquisition could not have devised a more terrible form of torture. Day and night, indoors and outdoors, walking and sleeping, the gnats were everywhere. The pagan magicians in Pharaoh’s palace realized that this calamity was evidence of a deity that was bigger and more powerful than any spiritual presence they had yet encountered. “This is the finger of God,” they concluded.

The gnats bore witness to what His “finger” could do. Imagine what would happen if He used His whole hand! Or His entire arm! These unbelievers had never even noticed when God displayed His presence through the beauties of creation or the blessings of life. But when He sent the gnats; well, it certainly got their attention.

A plague of gnats is perhaps not the best analogy for trying to understand what God may be up to in the current global pandemic. However, it is a good way to be reminded of the spiritual opportunity contained in the international crisis our world is facing. Like the Egyptians three millennia ago, we find ourselves confronted by a situation that is not only painful but inexplicable. Never in my lifetime have more people been asking more profoundly spiritual questions: How did this happen? What is the meaning of all this? When will it end? Where is God? And perhaps most importantly: Who is behind this? Who is responsible? Who is to blame? Ironically, the pagan magicians in Pharaoh’s palace had no doubt at all about how to answer these questions: This is the finger of God!

I’m weary of hearing pastors and church leaders go to great lengths to offer theological explanations why the coronavirus plague is not caused by God. Their point, of course, is to reassure people that the God of the Christians is not hateful and vindictive, but rather good and loving. I can appreciate that. But often as I listen, it sounds like they are trying to protect God’s reputation, almost as if they are apologizing for the way He is running the world. They give the impression that the God we worship is not really in charge of things on Planet Earth, as if this whole pandemic caught Him by surprise and He too is trying to figure out how to respond to the crisis. They create an image in my mind of the throne-room of heaven, where God is wringing His hands lamenting, “Dear me! What are we going to do?

I, for one, am holding God fully responsible for what is happening in our world today. But please hear me: I’m not blaming Him; I’m holding Him responsible. The distinction is important. The God of the Bible is not the author of evil, but He is sovereign. Nothing happens on this planet without first passing through the filters of His permissive will. He is not the cause of evil, but He does permit its presence in our world.

Before Satan could torment Job with affliction, pain, and loss, he had to first get God’s permission (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6). Satan was the cause of the evil things that happened to Job, but the Lord God is the One who consented that it would be so. Satan was to blame; God was responsible.

I know that in a culture where political correctness tends to dominate the conver-sation, this kind of talk makes people nervous. We feel the need to protect God’s reputation and say only those things that preserve His identity as a doting parent whose only concern is that we have a nice day. It is time for us to get over our neurotic obsession of trying to make God appear more palatable and get back to the vocabulary of the Bible:

  • Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? ” (Amos 3:6).
  • Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? ” (Lamentations 3:38).
  • Come, behold the works of the Lord, how He has brought desolations on the earth.” (Psalm 46:8).
  • I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7).

God is the ultimate cause of the evil and suffering that is in the world. He is sovereign over all, and nothing happens without His permission. But He is not the direct cause. Evil is the work of Satan and his minions.

Perhaps an illustration will help. Suppose I told you that I have a new theory about who is responsible for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. Suppose I told you that Osama Ben Laden and the group of terrorists who flew those planes are not the real culprits. Rather, the ones truly responsible are Orville and Wilbur Wright! Yes, just think about it. If the Wright Brothers hadn’t invented the airplane and thus created the possibility of flight, the tragedy of 9/11 never would have happened. I like this illustration because we can easily see that the Wright Brothers are, in one sense, responsible, but none of us would blame them for the deed.

When it comes to dealing with the crisis provoked by COVID-19, we need to think clearly. We must be very careful how we use language in describing a tragic event lest we create confusion in the minds of our listeners. The stakes are too high for us to be fuzzy in our thinking or unclear in our vocabulary. When it comes to the current crisis, I simply want to join the Egyptian magicians in affirming the obvious: This is the finger of God. I am not blaming Him for the suffering; but I am holding Him squarely responsible!

…to be continued in the next Gem.

Should We Forget Our Past? Philippians 3:13, 14

Pamplin Media Group - George Washington among toppled, removed ...
George Washington statute vandalized and toppled in Portland, Oregon

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

Should we forget our past? Today there are some in our society that think we should erase anything that might remind us of our nation’s sins and failings.

  • Statues are being toppled, vandalized, or taken down by officials! As of June 24th I counted 47 statues removed across the country, of Confederate leaders, founding fathers, famous explorers, US presidents, and others. Many more are planned to be peacefully removed. One famous stature called the Emancipation Statue depicting Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves is just 9/10 of a mile from the capitol building. Protesters have made the bold threat that they will forcibly remove the stature tonight (Thursday, June 25th) at 7 PM. A week ago protesters in Portland, Oregon vandalized a statue of George Washington, lighting a fire on its head before toppling it to the ground.
  • Under consideration are the renaming of military bases named after Confederate military leaders.
  • Schools and colleges, as well as streets, parks, and other places are also targeted for name changes.

But all these memorials, buildings, parks, and places are named after those who have risen to prominence in our United States history! Should we be reminded of our common past, even if it represents a dark time the country has experienced? We need some wisdom on this issue!

Does the Bible say anything on this subject? I am reminded of what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13 and 14:

     ...but one thing I do, forgetting those things which 
     are behind and reaching forward to those things which 
     are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of 
     the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

At first glance, it seems Paul is saying he is erasing from his memory all the wicked things he ever did! But elsewhere he calls attention to his terrible deeds before the Lord Jesus stopped him on the Damascus Road (see Acts 9:1-9).

  • In Galatians 1:13 he wrote, “For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.
  • In Acts 22 the apostle gave his defense in Jerusalem to the Jewish crowd after his arrest for supposedly desecrating the temple. In verse 4 he stated, “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women….
  • In Acts 26 Paul, held under arrest in Antipatris under the charge previously stated, again defended himself, this time before Governor Festus and King Agrippa. In verses 9 through 11 he refers to his Pharisaic persecutions of the church:
         Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things 
         contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This 
         I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints 
         I shut up in prison, having received authority 
         from the chief priests; and when they were put 
         to death, I cast my vote against them.  And I 
         punished them often in every synagogue and com-
         pelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly 
         enraged against them, I persecuted them even to 
         foreign cities.

The point is this: Paul did not forget his past! When it served his purpose, he would relate his sinful life in all itsgory,to shed light by contrast on his apostleship and labor for the Lord since his Damascus Road conversion! Also, it seemed to help him appreciate his life in Christ by calling to mind his former life with all its sins. I think that is why God also allows us to remember, even be reminded by things we encounter in everyday life, our past sinful life – so we can better appreciate where we are now as we more and more conform to our Lord Jesus!

There is One who forgets! In Hebrews 8:12 it is written, “…I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (See Hebrews 10:17 – see also the Gem Forgiven and Free – V from April 12, 2013). However, God has not given us that divine ability to forget. But when I think of my past life, my failures, sins, wrong choices, etc., I turn to Him and thank Him anew for delivering me from my past iniquities!

Now, would not these memorial statues, buildings, roads, parks, and places serve the same purpose?

  • No, it was not a pretty time when slavery was rampant.
  • Yes, there were slave owners even among our founding fathers.
  • Yes, the southern states rebelled and seceded from the union, and men and women served at the front. Courageous men fought for what they believed in. Confederate officers led their troops to preserve a terrible institution.

There was no perfect human being in our country’s history! And many terrible events happened – on individual as well as grand scales! But it is our history! And we can be reminded of that history and vow to do better now and in the future! But if we are not reminded…

…it is as Edmond Burke said:

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

The Problem Is Sin, Not Skin! Numbers 12:1

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

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.” (Numbers 12:1). The Hebrew word translated here as Ethiopian is כּוּשÑית (pronounced koo-sheeth’ ), is translated Cushite in several Bible versions. The land of Cush lay south of Egypyt. The inhabitants of Cush (Ethiopia), in Isaiah 18:2, are described in the International Standard Version as “…a tall, smooth-skinned nation…” Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change the color of his skin or the leopard its spots? ” The point of these two Scriptures (obviously as well as the natives of Ethiopia today) is that people from Ethiopia are of very dark skin!

Why did Miriam and Aaron complain against Moses’ Ethiopian wife? Was it because she was a black woman? (By the way, this was probably Moses’ second wife; his first wife of more than 40 years, Zipporah – see Exodus 2:21— most likely had passed away.) The complaint of Moses’ two siblings turned out to be more than just the nationality of this unnamed Ethiopian woman, for in the next verse of Numbers 12 Miriam and Aaron’s main complaint is revealed: “And they said, ‘Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?’But they did complain that Moses had married an Ethiopian!

I bring this incident to our attention because of the racial problems that have come to the fore in recent weeks! The headline names of African-Americans who have died by police gunfire or in police custody in first five and a half months of 2020 include Breonna Taylor (Louisville, KY), George Floyd (Minneapolis, MN), and Rayshard Brooks (Atlanta, GA). These incidents should not have happened – especially grievous was George Floyd’s death when police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while three other officers stood by and Mr. Floyd protested over and over, “I can’t breath!Demonstrations in numerous cities followed! Riots and looting too often followed the demonstrations, destroying public and private property valued in hundreds of millions of dollars! Such destruction did nothing to lift up the names of the dead or of those responsible for their deaths. Instead, the riots and especially the looting were just opportunities for those of criminal minds to advance their own cache of costly goods!

Let’s consider the main issue: The problem is sin, not skin!

  • We are all born with a sin nature that matures in varying degrees as rebellion against God! Saint Paul writes in Romans 3:10 through 12:
         There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none 
         who understands; there is none who seeks after God. 
         They have all turned aside; they have together be-
         come unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, 
         not one.     

Thankfully there are family, social, and legal restraints in place to help keep sin under control and in general give the populace a decent place to live and flourish.

  • But underneath the veneer of restraints there resides the manifestations of the sin nature! Paul graphically describes these manifestations (called the works of the flesh) in Galatians 5:19 through 21:
         Now the works of the flesh are evident, which 
         are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewd-
         ness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, 
         jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambi-
         tions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders,
         drunkenness, revelries, and the like....

These (and other) manifestations are ready to pop up into action at any moment the restraints mentioned above are relaxed.

What, then is the answer? It is placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, having repented of his or her sins, and accepting the payment of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our rebellion against God!

  • God, by His Holy Spirit, then births in us a new Godly nature that is holy and does not sin (see I John 3:9; 5:18). In II Corinthians 5:17 it is written, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.
  • It would be wonderful if we only had that new nature that could not sin. But we still have the old sinful nature also! And Paul warns us in Galatians 5:17 (God’s Word to the Nations):
         What your corrupt nature wants is contrary to 
         what your spiritual nature wants, and what your 
         spiritual nature wants is contrary to what your 
         corrupt nature wants. They are opposed to each 
         other. As a result, you don't always do what 
         you intend to do.

So what does this have to do with solving racial prejudice? The Bible speaks to this issue in several passages:

  • Genesis 1:26, 27 – “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.Every human being, male and female, of every race, is created in God’s image, and should be treated as such!
  • John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world [the whole world – everyone in the world] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
  • Romans 12:9 (Contemporary English Version) – “Be sincere in your love for others [all others]. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good.
  • Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek [non-Jew], there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
  • Revelation 7:9, 10 – “…behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’ ” If this is a picture of God’s heaven, should it not be so on His earth?

These passages apply to those who claim to be Christian. But we Christians ought to set the example and spread the good news of God’s redemp-tion! We are to love one another, even those who may appear to be different from us!

Consequences Of Disobedience! II Kings 24:2-4

A life of Sin Has Fatal Consequences: Destroys A Nation Or ...

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

In the last Gem we saw that the wicked King Manasseh of Judah was pronounced righteous before God, and is in heaven – even though disobedience and flagrant sin marked most of his 55 year reign. Why? Because through God’s punishment Manasseh realized his wicked ways, turned from them, and put his faith in the LORD GOD of Israel!

Even the most flagrant sinner can be forgiven!

  • Saint Paul said of himself in I Timothy 1:15 (Contemporary English Version), “I was the worst sinner of all!Yet God saved him and he became the greatest of saints, greatly used by the Lord!
  • The thief on the cross was most likely also a murderer. Yet he put his faith in the coming King Jesus and was told,Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.

However, there are Consequences of Disobedience!

  • The thief on the cross still died for his sins!
  • For a long time it seems Paul struggled with his pre-Christian nature! (Read Romans chapter 7).
  • Pregnancy and the resultant change of the future does not go away for the teenager acting upon loose morals!
  • Prison time is not erased from being given to a fit of violent anger resulting in injury to another, or even murder!

What were the consequences of Manasseh’s disobedience? Some of them are listed in II Kings 24:2 through 4:

     ...the LORD sent against [Manasseh]...raiding bands 
     of Chaldeans, bands of Syrians, bands of Moabites, 
     and bands of the people of Ammon; He sent them against 
     Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD 
     which He had spoken by His servants the prophets. Sure-
     ly at the commandment of the LORD this came upon Judah, 
     to remove them from His sight because of the sins of 
     Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also 
     because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he 
     had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the 
     LORD would not pardon.
     ...the LORD sent...raiding bands of Chaldeans... 
          Syrians...Moabites, and...Ammon...against Judah to 
          destroy it...”  In the May 12, 2020 Gem, War No 
          More!, the featured Scripture is Proverbs 16:7:

When a man’s ways please the LORD, He 
               makes even his enemies to be at peace 
               with him.” As I said in that Gem, “This 
               proverb is given as applied to an indi-
               vidual.  But it can also be applicable 
               to a national setting!”  And so...

     When a nation’s ways please the LORD, 
               He makes even that nation’s enemies to 
               be at peace with it!Manasseh, being a very wicked king who rebelled against 
     the LORD GOD and His ways, had no peace in his reign!  
     Since he led the people of Judah into great sin also, 
     God allowed the kingdom to experience war from the 
     surrounding nations!

     Surely at the commandment of the LORD this 
          came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight 
          because of the sins of Manasseh, according to 
          all that he had done, and also because of the 
          innocent blood that he had shed; for he had 
          filled Jerusalem with innocent blood.... Yes, the king and nation experienced 
               the hardship of war’s defeat in their 
               homeland – economic and social collapse, 
               famine, disease, death, and destruction!  

          ▸    But also the LORD removed them from His 
               sight! He sent them as captives to Baby-
               lon, a thousand miles away by caravan, 
               in exile for 70 years!

     ...the sins...which the LORD would not pardon.”  
          The Gem posted this past Saturday concerned Ma-
          nasseh’s sincere repentance and the fact that God
          forgave him!  

 So this last phrase of our featured 
               Scripture does not apply to Manasseh’s 
               personal acquittal before the Father!  
               It is as Jesus said centuries later in 
               John 6:37, “...the one who comes to Me 
               I will by no means cast out.    ▸    But it does apply to Judah’s population!  
               These Jews willingly followed the wick-
               edness modeled by their king.  It was 
               King Manasseh who set the standard...and 
               the people readily followed!  And the 
               five decades of blatant royal and nation-
               al disobedience had disastrous results 
               for the whole kingdom!

So remember, while God in His mercy can heal and restore (see Joel 2:25), there are Consequences Of Disobedience that remain! I know! In my teenage years especially I was rebellious against those who set the rules. While not going into detail, I have physical, mental, and emotional scars from my opposition to authority! They will not be totally healed this side of eternity! I am forgiven and set free from bearing my sins, but some of those Consequences Of Disobedience do not totally go away!

Be careful to follow hard after the LORD, taking good care of the life He has given you!

Is Evil King Manasseh In Hell? II Kings 21:1, 2, 6, 16

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

Why is Manasseh called the most evil king? Judge for yourself by the following Scripture, II Kings 21:1, 2, 6, 16:

     Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and 
     he reigned fifty five years in Jerusalem....And he did 
     evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abomin-
     ations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before 
     the children of Israel.  For he rebuilt the high places 
     which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up 
     altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king 
     of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of 
     heaven and served them.  He also built altars in the 
     house of the LORD....Also he made his son pass through 
     the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and 
     consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in 
     the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger....More-
     over Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he 
     had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides 
     his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in 
     the sight of the LORD.   

Yes, it is a long passage. But it includes Manasseh’s record of evil which is quite extensive! Here are several things that can be highlighted:

  • First notice his age when he began to reign. He was twelve. Why is this significant? Because, according to II Kings 20:1, Manasseh’s father King Hezekiah was sick, and God told him through the prophet Isaiah that he was going to die! But Hezekiah pleaded with God amid many tears (see II Kings 20:2). So God sent Isaiah back to tell him, “Thus says the LORD…‘I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you….And I will add to your days fifteen years.’ It was within those fifteen years that Hezekiah’s son Manasseh was born! Would not it have been better for him to accept God’s first will and so spare the kingdom of Judah about five decades of overwhelming evil?
  • …according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.” In Genesis 15:16 God told Abraham, “…the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
     Amorites is a representative term for the several
          Canaanite nations inhabiting the land at that time.  

     God promised He would give the whole land of Canaan 
          to Abraham’s descendants (see Genesis 15:18-20).

     ✞    But God, according to Genesis 15:13, was giving the 
          Amorite’ nations 400 more years to repent of their 
          abominable ways!  II Peter 3:9 sheds light on why 
          God gave them four more centuries:  “The 
          not willing that any should perish but that all 
          should come to repentance.
  • According to our featured Scripture, the abominations that Manasseh reinstituted after his father Hezekiah’s righteous reforms included…
     ...he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his 
          father had destroyed...The high places were where 
          the Israelites worshiped pagan gods!

     ...he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden 
          image [of Baal]...”  According to The Encyclopedia 
          Brittanica, “...especially among the Canaanites...
          [Baal was] designated the universal god of fertility, 
          and in that capacity his title was Prince, Lord of 
          the Earth.Compare this with Abraham’s declaration 
          concerning the true Almighty God in Genesis 14:22:  
          “I have lifted up my hand to the LORD, God Most High, 
          the Possessor of heaven and earth.” God brooks no 
          rivals! (See Isaiah 48:11).

     ...he worshiped all the host of heaven and served 
          them.”  According to one count, 13 Canaanite gods 
          are mentioned in the Old Testament.  But there were 
          many more!  Also, thirteen generations before, King 
          Solomon had married many foreign wives who brought 
          the worship of their gods into Israel! (See I Kings 

     He also built altars in the house of the LORD....The house of the LORD is the place ...of which the 
          LORD had said, ‘In Jerusalem I will put my name.’” 
          (II Chronicles 21:4).  It is further recorded in 
          II Chronicles 21:5 and 7, “...he built altars for 
          all the host of heaven in the two courts of the 
          house of the LORD.... even...a carved image of 
          Asherah that he had made....Asherah, a fertil-
          ity goddess, was considered the wife of Baal, and 
          the mother of the pantheon of Canaanite gods. Some 
          scholars have suggested that the Hebrews even wor-
          shiped her as the consort of their national supreme 
          God Yahwey!

     Also he made his son pass through the fire...This horrible practice was dedicated to Molech, the 
          fertility god of womb and field.  Worship of Molech 
          is known to involve child sacrifice!  A large metal 
          stature of the god, with a head of a bull, was heat-
          ed red hot by a fire within its hollow core.  A baby 
          or young child was placed in its extended arms and 
          consumed by the flames!  God said such worship was 
          punishable by death! (See Leviticus 20:2).  Of this 
          practice He also said in Jeremiah 22:35 (Easy-to-
          Read Version): 

             In the Valley of Ben Hinnom, they built high 
             places to the false god that they 
             could burn their sons and daughters as sacri-
             fices. I never commanded them...I never even 
             thought the people of Judah would do such a 
             terrible thing.

     ...he...practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and 
          consulted spiritists and mediums.These practices 
          are forbidden by God in Deuteronomy 18:10 through 12. 
          In Exodus 22:18 the LORD commanded, “You shall not 
          permit a sorceress to live.Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had 
          filled Jerusalem from one end to another.” This refers 
          not only to child sacrifice, but it was also a fatal 
          mistake to get on the wrong side of Manessah!

From the evidence, it sure seems like King Manasseh’s fate was sealed – eternity in the fires of Hell!

But there is more to the story…

…in II Chronicles 33:10 through 13, 15 and 16:

     And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they 
     would not listen. Therefore the LORD brought upon them 
     the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took 
     Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and 
     carried him off to Babylon. Now when he was in affliction,  
     he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly 
     before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He 
     received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought 
     him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew 
     that the LORD was God....He took away the foreign gods and 
     the idol from the house of the LORD, and all the altars 
     that he had built in...the house of the LORD and in Jerusa-
     lem; and he cast them out of the city.  He also repaired 
     the altar of the LORD, sacrificed peace offerings and thank 
     offerings on it, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God 
     of Israel. 

Another long passage, but it shows that Manasseh truly repented, changed his wicked ways, and sought forgiveness through faith in the LORD GOD !

In the previous Gem I called attention to Ezekiel 18. Let’s consider what verse 27 of that chapter says concerning Manasseh:

      ...when a wicked man turns from the wickedness which 
      he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he 
      preserves himself alive.  Because he considers and 
      turns away from all the transgressions which he com-
      mitted, he shall live; he shall not die.

The Bible record tells us, Manasseh is forgiven of his many sins! And…

…he is in heaven!

What an encouragement for us! No matter how wicked and sinful a person has been, when he truly turns to Jesus Christ, repents of his sins, and askes the LORD into his heart and life, as said of King Manasseh above, he shall live! This confirms what God spoke in Ezekiel 33:11:

     Say to them:  “as I live,” says the LORD GOD, “I have no 
     pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked 
     turn from his ways and live. Turn, turn from your evil 
     ways!  For why should you die...?

Turn, turn to Jesus the Savior and LORD now!…the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37).

A WARNING! Manasseh was forgiven! But sin has consequences! We will look at the consequences in the next Gem.

Is Good King Jehoash In Heaven? II Kings 11:21; 12:1, 2

Speak the Truth in Love: Why Talk About Heaven And Hell?

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

In Old Testament times, before Jesus walked the earth (BC), people were saved into eternal life the same way as after (AD) – by faith in the promises of God!

  • AD (anno Domini, Latin meaning “in the year of the Lord”) – After the death and resurrection of Christ, salvation is as explained in Romans 3:25 (Easy-to-Read Version): “God gave Jesus as a way to forgive people’s sins through their faith in Him. God can forgive them because the blood sacrifice of Jesus pays for their sins.
  • BC (meaning “before Christ”) – people were saved by faith in God’s promises concerning the coming Messiah. For instance, Adam and Eve both believed and were saved!

In Genesis 3:15 God prophesied to the snake the proto evangelium (Latin for the first mention of the gospel): “…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.Satan would severely wound the Messiah, even to death! But when He rose from the grace, Christ would utterly crush the devil’s head!

How do we know Adam and Ever were saved?

In Genesis 3:15 God prophesied to the snake the proto evangelium (Latin for the first mention of the gospel): “…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.Satan would severely wound the Messiah, even to death! But when He rose from the grace, Christ would utterly crush the devil’s head!

     From what Eve exclaimed...

      ...when Cain was born, “I have gotten a man 
                from the LORD...” (Genesis 4:1).  She must  
               have thought this was the One who would de- 
               feat the devil and restore humankind to 
               paradise! But Cain killed Able, Adam and 
               Eve’s second son (see Genesis 4:8), so nei- 
               ther Cain nor Abel could be the Messiah! 

...when Seth was born, “...God has appointed 
               another seed for me instead of Abel, whom 
               Cain slew.” (Genesis 4:25). It is as if Eve 
               exclaimed, “Maybe this child is the promised 
               One! From what Adam named his wife.  “And Adam called 
          his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother 
          of all living.” (Genesis 3:20).  In the midst of 
          God’s curse; in the midst of the loss of paradise; 
          in the midst of the introduction of sickness and 
          death in creation.......He named her, “…Eve…the  
          mother of all living…!

Let’s get to our featured Scripture, II Kings 11:21 through 12:2:

     Jehoash was seven years old when he became king...and 
     he reigned forty years in Jerusalem....Jehoash did what 
     was right in the sight of the Lord all the days in which 
     Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

And there is more positive evidence, from II Kings 12:4 and 5:

     And Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the 
     dedicated gifts that are brought into the house of the 
     Lord...each man's census money, each man's assessment 
     money...and all the money that a man purposes in his 
     heart to bring into the house of the Lord, let the 
     priests take it themselves, each from his constituency; 
     and let them repair the damages of the temple, wherever 
     any dilapidation is found.” 

Well, that all sounds pretty good, because “Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the Lord….” And he was instrumental in repairing God’s temple. So he must be in heaven!

…or is he?

There is more information concerning King Jehoash in II Chronicles, chapters 22 through 24 (he is called Joash in II Chronicles). Queen Athaliah (the only reigning queen over the Jew’s southern or northern kingdoms) was the grandmother of Jehoash and a very wicked woman who ruled in Judah for six years! She had killed all royal heirs to the throne of Judah after her son King Jehoram died in Samaria (see II Chronicles 22:5-9), so she would have no competitor to rule.

  • II Chronicles 22:10-12 – But “…Jehoshabeath, the daughter of King Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest…hid [young Jehoash]…from Athaliah…for six years…so that she did not kill him.
  • II Chronicles 23:1-3 – “In the seventh year Jehoiada…made a covenant with the captains of hundreds…and…the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the chief fathers of Israel….Then all the congregation made a covenant with the king….And he [Jehoiada] said to them, ‘Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the Lord has said of the sons of David.’
  • II Chronicles 24:2 – “Joash [Jehoash] did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.

But then we read…

  • II Chronicles 24:15 – “…Jehoiada grew old and was full of days…one hundred and thirty years…and he died.
  • II Chonicles 24:17-19 – “Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and… the king listened to them. Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass. Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen.
  • II Chronicles 24:20-22 – “Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest…and said to…the people…, ‘Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you.’ So…at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord. Thus…the king did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada…had done to him, but killed his son; and as he died, he said, ‘The Lord look on it, and repay!’
  • II Chronicles 24:23-25 – “…in the spring of the year…the army of Syria came…with a small company of men…to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the leaders of the people…and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus…the Lord delivered [Judah’s] very great army into…[Syria’s] hand, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers. So they executed judgment against Joash….when they had withdrawn…they left him severely wounded…, [and] his own servants conspired against him because of the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and killed him on his bed. So he died.
  • II Chronicles 25:25 – “And they buried him in the city of David, but…not…in the tombs of the kings.” This indicates that the people of Judah had lost total confidence in Jehoash the king, because of his exceeding wickedness!

There are two later Scriptures that apply to Jehoash’s case, Ezekiel 18:4 through 28 and Ezekiel 33:12 through 19. Verse 26 of Ezekiel 18 is a good summation of Jehoash’s example: “When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done.The fact that he dies in it does not just refer to physical death! Revelation 21:8 tells us:

     But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers,  
     sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars 
     shall have their part in the lake which burns with  
     fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Murderer and idolater apply to King Jehoash at the very least! So from what the Scriptures say…

…he is in hell!

In the next Gem we will look at Manasseh, the most wicked king ever to reign in Judah!

Is Jesus Really Almighty God? Exodus 3:13-15; John 8:24

The Alpha and Omega (With images) | Pictures of jesus christ ...

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

Moses, having been raised in Pharaoh’s palace, fled Egypt after he killed an Egyptian who was mistreating a fellow Hebrew (see Exodus 2:10-15). Now, after 40 years had passed, and he was 80 years old, Moses had a life-changing experience in the Sinai desert! God met him through a burning bush that was not consumed, and directed him to go back to Egypt and lead the Israelites out of slavery and into the Promised Land! (See Exodus 3:1-12).

     Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the 
     children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your 
     fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, 
     ‘What is His name?'’ what shall I say to them?” And 
     God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”  And He said, 
     “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I 
     AM has sent me to you.’”  Moreover God said to Mos-
     es, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 
     ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, 
     the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me 
     to you. This is My name forever, and this is My me-
     morial to all generations.’” (Exodus 3:13-15).

I AM….This is My name forever…! So holy is this name to Orthodox Jews, they refuse to write it or even pronounce it! Instead, most use the term ‘HaShem’, which simply means ‘the Name.But Jesus used it! And He applied it to Himself ten times in the Gospel of John! Yes, ten! Many say there are seven “I AM” statements in the fourth gospel, but there are three more than seven! Let’s look at them from the Jubilee Bible (the only version I have available that properly translates these passages by capitalizing I AM):

  • John 6:35 – “I AM the bread of life; he that comes to Me shall never hunger, and he that believes in Me shall never thirst.
  • John 8:12 – “I AM the light of the world; he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.
  • John 10:9 – “I AM the door; whosoever enters in by Me shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.
  • John 10:11 – “I AM the good shepherd; the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
  • John 11:25, 26 – “I AM the resurrection and the life; he that believes in Me, though he is dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
  • John 14:6 – “I AM the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes unto the Father, but by Me.
  • John 15:1 – “I AM the true vine, and My Father is the husband-man.
  • John 15:5 – “I AM the vine, ye are the branches: he that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing.

The last three, listed out of numerical order, and all from John chapter 8, are perhaps the most profound!

  • John 8:24 – “…ye shall die in your sins, for if ye do not believe that I AM, ye shall die in your sins.
  • John 8:28 – “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then ye shall know that I AM and that I do nothing of myself, but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things.
  • John 8:58 – “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.

There is much to say about the meaning of each I AM statement, but the purpose of these ten is to highlight the fact that Jesus was equating Himself with the Very God of the Old Testament! The Jews recognized this immediately after the Lord declared Himself to be the eternal God in John 8:58: “Before Abraham was, I AM.” For in verse 59 it says, “Then they took up stones to throw at Him….” Another time, shortly after His I AM statement concerning being the good shepherd, the Jews took up stones to kill Him! Jesus had told the Jews in John 10:30: “I and My Father are one.” Here are the next verses, 31 through 33 (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible):

     Then again the Jews took up stones, that they might 
     stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many 
     good works from My Father. For which work of them do 
     you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “We do 
     not stone You concerning a good work, but concerning 
     blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Your-
     self God.”

This is also why the Jews, in John 8:59, “…took up stones to throw at Him…! Jesus was declaring Himself to be God! Blasphemy! …to the Jewish leaders (the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the priests, and the scribes). Even the common Jew would be offended! For they were all taught, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). This Scripture begins their great statement of faith called the Shema,’ the most holy prayer which begins their morning and evening prayer services. So if Jesus was also God, how could God be one? Since God isone,’ this man has just spoken blasphemy! He is to be stoned!

Christians also recognize there is only one God….in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! And in these ten I AM statements, Jesus is showing Himself to be God, the Very God of the Old Testament, the One who introduced Himself to Moses at the burning bush telling him, I AM WHO I AM….This is My name forever…!

The two I AM statements, John 8:24 and 28, are a solemn warning to anyone who is rejecting Christ as their Savior!

  • John 8:28 states Jesus’ proof of His deity: “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then ye shall know that I AM….” He was lifted up to die on the cross. But He was lifted up again from the grave when He was resurrected, to live forever! Only God could do that!
  • John 8:24 states the actual warning: …if ye do not believe that I AM, ye shall die in your sins.

It is important what you believe!

       Jesus never sinned (see I Peter 2:22), something 
         every other person who ever lived could never do!

     He laid down His life on the cross voluntarily 
         (see John 10:17, 18), bearing the sins of the 
         world, including my sins (see I Peter 2:24),  
         and fully paid the debt we all owe God! (See 
         Romans 6:23; I John 2:2). 

     ✞   He rose again from the grave three days later, 
         conquering sin, death, the devil, and hell! 
         (See Isaiah 25:8; Romans 6:9, 10). 

     ✞   He lives forever (see Hebrews 7:25), seated at 
         the right hand of the Father in heaven (see He-
         brews 12:2), ready and willing to receive all who 
         come to Him by faith believing! (See John 6:37). 

…but only God could do this! And Jesus Christ the Lord is God!

Walking Around The Kingdom! Genesis 13:14-17

Walk As A Kingdom Minded Warrior

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

I wonder how much land modern day Jews would occupy in Israel if 4,200 years ago Abraham had not obeyed what God told him in Genesis 13:14 through 17:

     And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated 
     from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place 
     where you are — northward, southward, eastward, and 
     westward; for all the land which you see I give to 
     you and your descendants forever.  And I will make 
     your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that 
     if a man could number the dust of the earth, then 
     your descendants also could be numbered.  Arise, 
     walk in the land through its length and its width, 
     for I give it to you.” 

The Contemporary English Version translates verse 17 this way: “Now walk back and forth across the land, because I am giving it to you.” And this promise is repeated in a more exact way in two other places:

  • While they were camped east of the Jordan River in the land of the Moabites, Moses told the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 11:24:
         Every place on which the sole of your foot treads 
         shall be yours, from the wilderness and Lebanon, 
         from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the 
         Western Sea shall be your territory.
  • When Joshua took the leadership position over Israel after Moses death, God spoke to him in Joshua 1:2 through 4:
         ...arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this 
         people, to the land I am giving to them — the 
         children of Israel.  Every place that the sole 
         of your foot will tread upon I have given you, 
         as I said to Moses.  From the wilderness of this 
         Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Eu-
         phrates, all the land of the Hittites, and o the 
         Great [Mediterranean] Sea toward the going down 
         of the sun, shall be your territory.

Every time this promise was reiterated, it carried the same requirement: You have to actually walk and explore the extent of what I, the LORD, am giving you.Only once was the kingdom of Israel approaching the borders of the territory promised! And that was under Solomon’s reign, circa 970 to 931 BC. The Jews fell short of the promised boundaries because they failed to walk with God and claim the land, as well as receive many of the blessings the LORD wanted to give them!

So it is with many Christians today! God has amazing promises for those who enter into His kingdom through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 10:9 and 10 He said,

     I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he shall be 
     saved, and will go in and out and find pasture....I 
     have come that they may have life, and that they may 
     have it more abundantly. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught in Matthew 7:13 and 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 gate 
     and difficult is the way which leads to life, and 
     there are few who find it.

In the latter, Jesus is the narrow gate. In the former, the door. But there is more, so much more, than just entering into the kingdom by the door, the gate! There is…

  • …the pasture to find and in which to freely feed!
  • …the way to walk, though it be difficult !

I met an affable young man yesterday. As we talked, I asked him if he was a Christian. He said yes, without hesitation. But as we conversed further, I asked if he was married. “No,” he replied, “I haven’t found the right person. I have gone through a couple of bad relationships.” I told him that maybe God has someone special for him. He might find her in church. “Yeah,” He said, “I guess I should start going.” I asked him if he read the Bible. He answered, “I really need to start reading my Bible again.He had gone through the door, the gate, into the kingdom, but he was still standing just inside the entrance!

I have met so many believers who claim to have entered the kingdom through faith in Jesus! From what they say, they are saved! They are born again! (See John 3:3-5; I Peter 1:23). But there is so much more to learn and to do, to explore!…….and they are just standing there – just inside the gate!

What must one do to begin Walking Around The Kingdom? There are several basic things:

  • First and foremost – Get in the Word! Read it! Study it! Meditate on the passages that the Holy Spirit brings to your attention. Memorize the verses that jump off the page because they apply to you. If I could identify the one most important thing a Christian should do, it would be get in the Bible! (See Colossians 3:16; Isaiah 34:16; II Timothy 2:15; Psalm 119:11; Joshua 1:8). There is so much more the Word of God can do in the believer’s life! Check out What the Word Will Do, published on April 24th.
  • Obedience to the Lord is of utmost importance for the Christian as he or she explores the kingdom! Jesus posed this question to the religious Jews in Luke 6:46: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? He could ask the same of many who identify themselves as Christians today!
        He plainly told His disciples, “...the first 
            of all the commandments is ‘ 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).  

        Jesus further stated in John 14:15, “If you 
            love Me, keep My commandments.”  Or, “If you 
            love Me, OBEY Me!”  So we can substitute the 
            word ‘obey’ for ‘love’ in the Great Command-
            ment:  “...OBEY the LORD your God with all 
            your heart, with all your soul, with all your 
            mind, and with all your strength.’

And where do we find what He wants us to do? In the Bible!

  • Prayer is a vital part of walking around God’s kingdom! There are so many promises concerning prayer in the Bible. Check out the three Gems of May 22nd, 25th, and 30th; Does Jesus Understand? These three expound one of the greatest prayer promises in the Bible, Hebrews 4:14 through 16. So important is prayer in a Christian’s life that Paul rates it as one of the two offensive weapons of the armor of God! (See Ephesians 6:18). No wonder the apostle tells us in I Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.
  • It is written in Hebrews 10:24 and 25:
         And let us consider one another in order to stir up 
         love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of 
         ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but 
         exhorting one another, and so much the more as you 
         see the Day [of the Lord’s return] approaching. 

This is referring to the Church, the body of believers regularly gathering together for worship, fellowship, teaching, encouragement, and more. Too many who identify as Christians tell me, “I don’t go to church. I worship the Lord in my own way.” But do you realize Christ established the Church, paying for it with the exorbitant price of His own precious blood? How dare we neglect this aspect of exploring His kingdom! (See I Peter 2:4-8 – Read also the warning in Hebrews 6:4 through 6.)

  • Let the redeemed of the LORD say so…,” wrote the psalmist in Psalm 107:2. Sharing your faith with others is part of walking around the kingdom! What Jesus told His disciples in Acts 1:8, just before He ascended into heaven applies to all believers today: “…you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.Start where you are, and reach out further from there! (See also Matthew 28:18-20; I Peter 3:15). Someone had to share the gospel with you, in order for you to believe!
  • Giving is a vital part of the kingdom! And it goes far beyond opening your wallet or purse! Paul wrote in II Corinthians 8:1 through 4 concerning the stewardship of the Macedonian Christians. He wrote this to stir up the generosity of the believers in southern Greece:
         Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the 
         grace of God bestowed on the churches of Mace-
         donia:  that in a great trial of affliction the 
         abundance of their joy and their deep poverty 
         abounded in the riches of their liberality.  For 
         I bear witness that according to their ability, 
         yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely 
         willing, imploring us with much urgency that we 
         would receive the gift and this fellowship of 
         the ministering to the saints [in Jerusalem].  
         And this they did, not as we had hoped, but first 
         gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by 
         the will of God.

This is the order of all giving:

     ✞   First give yourself to the Lord!  Not just in-
         itially, but daily (moment by moment) following 
         and obeying Him! (See Mark 8:34-38; I Corinthians 
         15:31; Galatians 2:20).

     ✞   Then, as He leads by His Holy Spirit, obey His 
         leading, and give...of your time, your prayers, 
         your actions, your possessions, your money! 

God always richly repays! It may not be in this life, but the Christian has all eternity to enjoy the Lord’s riches!

There is so much more to the kingdom of which we are a part as soon as we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. Paul exclaimed in awe of all this when he wrote in Romans 11:33: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! ” And so he prays for the believers in Ephesians 1:17 through 23,

     ...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father 
     of glory...give to you the spirit of wisdom and reve-
     lation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your un-
     derstanding being enlightened; that you may know what 
     is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of 
     the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what 
     is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who 
     believe, according to the working of His mighty power 
     which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the 
     dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly 
     places, far above all principality and power and might 
     and dominion, and every name that is named, not only 
     in this age but also in that which is to come. And He 
     put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head 
     over all things to the church, which is His body, the 
     fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Now get up! Start Walking Around The Kingdom! Explore what God, through Jesus Christ the Lord, has given you!

Sound Heart, Good Bones! – II Proverbs 14:30

Undivided Food Co.

Note: Over a month ago, I wrote two Gems – Sound Heart, Good Bones – I and II. But somehow I forgot to publish the second one! So here it is, the second installment of Sound Heart, Good Bones!

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

So what does a sound heart have to do with good bones? First, let’s examine the structure of Hebrew poetry: One of the main features is parallelism, where the first line of the poem is expressed in some way in the second or more lines.

  • Synonymous – the lines express the same thought in different words.
  • Antithetical – the lines express opposite thoughts by means of contrast or stating the positive and the negative.
  • Synthetic – the next two or three lines develop the thought.

Proverbs 14:30 is definitely antithetical: A sound heart is the life of the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” As discussed in the last Gem, having a sound heart is to have correct thinking that results in proper actions before God and toward others! will bring you to the Mayo Clinic website. Click on Patient Care and Health Info, then Stress Management, then Show More Related Content, then Positive Thinking. Here is something that caught my eye in the article:

     Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive 
     thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that 
     positive thinking may provide include:

         Increased life span

         Lower rates of depression

 Lower levels of distress

 Greater resistance to the common cold

       Better psychological and physical well-being

    Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk 
             of death from cardiovascular disease

       Better coping skills during hardships and times 
             of stress

This is what a sound heart can do for your bones (your whole physical self)!

The opposite of sound heart thinking is dwelling on negative things, like envy. But there is a lot more negativity on which to dwell than envy! They are commonly known as The Seven Deadly Sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride! Why pick on envy? King Solomon wrote this proverb, and Solomon’s 40 year reign over Israel was the most prosperous time in the nation’s history. It is written in II Chronicles 1:15, “…the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones….” But even in such prosperity, there were still people who were poor and sick, and such poverty and ill health might have been caused by their sinful heart outlook on life! They could very well have been envious of those who enjoyed prosperity and good health! So envy was chosen as the antithesis for a sound heart.

But any pronounced sinful thinking can be substituted for envy in this proverb – any one of the Seven Deadly Sins mentioned before, and a lot more sinful focuses! And if this is true, then pronounced sinful thinking will result in:

Shortened life span

Increased rates of depression

Raised levels of distress

Less resistance to the common cold

Worse psychological and physical well-being

 Poorer cardiovascular health and increased risk of 
        death from cardiovascular disease

  Decreased coping skills during hardships and times 
        of stress [such as the Corona virus pandemic]

This type of sinful negative thinking produces…rottenness to the bones…!

Is it any wonder that Saint Paul would stress to the Philippi Christians in Philippians 4:8:

     Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever 
     things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever 
     things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever 
     things are of good report, if there is any virtue and 
     if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these

…and nothing else!

And, by the way, the best thing upon which to meditate, the best thing to give you a sound heart and good bones…….is God’s Word! Fill your life with Scripture, and you will go a long way to have healthy unrotten bones!