Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: prophets

Who is on the LORD’S side?

Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. Exodus 32:26

Only a few weeks after being miraculously delivered from oppression in Egypt, the Israelites build themselves a golden bull, say it is a representation of the God who delivered them and begin a riotous celebration.

When Moses came down the mountain and saw what was happening he stood apart from the camp and called for those untainted with this heathenish abomination to come out to him. It appears that only the Levites had fully abstained from participation. He tells them “Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour” (verse 27).

It is not specified in the text, but it is to be assumed that the Levites had observed those who were the principal movers of this imitation of pagan worship. Three thousand people were slain.

This was a brutal lesson, but the only means of preventing this idolatry from taking hold of the whole people. We must remember that this was the very beginning of God calling out a people to be His representatives in a world where idolatrous abominations were the norm.

It wasn’t until the New Testament era that the Holy Spirit was given to all believers. During the whole era of the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was given to only a few. It was still possible for all the people to be led of the Spirit, providing they were obedient to the teachings of those prophets, priests and kings who were Spirit-led.

Believers of the New Testament era have a tremendous advantage, yet we are equally tempted to stray from the narrow way out of a misguided love for family, popularity, position or pleasure. Jesus still calls us to come apart from all these and consecrate ourselves fully to Him and to His cause. Sometimes He uses strong language, telling us we need to hate members of our own family, meaning that we must hate any pull from loved ones that would draw us away from Him.

He goes beyond even that and tells us to hate our own flesh. This is not to be interpreted as a life of severe asceticism; in another place He tells us to love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves. That is, inasmuch as we are concerned to provide for our own physical and spiritual needs, we should have the same measure of concern for those needs in those about us.

Who is on the LORD’s side? When we become followers of Jesus, we are enlisting in the service of the Eternal Creator, Lord and Saviour. It is a great and noble calling. Let us consecrate ourselves to His cause, laying aside all that would render our cause obscure and confusing to those around us and could eventually hinder us from reaching our heavenly home.

Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand – conclusion

True prophets of God have always told people the things they needed to hear, not what they wanted and expected to hear.  John the Baptist taught that being a natural descendant of Abraham did not qualify one to belong to the kingdom of God, only repentance that brought forth good fruit would do.  The Pharisees were held in high regard among the people for the sanctity of their lives.  They taught that a meticulous observation of every tenet of the law was necessary for salvation.  They believed they were producing good fruit in abundance and had no need of repentance.  John, in calling them vipers, implied that there was a deadly poison in their teaching.

However, many in the crowd of common people who heard John’s message asked anxiously: “What shall we do then?”.  What kind of fruit will be evidence of true repentance?  In brief, John’s response to them was to be charitable and merciful, to be mindful of the needs of others.

The publicans (tax collectors) asked the same question.  Their position afforded many opportunities to enrich themselves at the expense of others.  Yet taxes, and therefore tax collectors, are necessary for the orderly functioning of society.  John did not tell the Publicans that they were in the wrong line of work, he instructed them to be scrupulously honest.

Even some soldiers asked: “And what shall we do?”  John’s answers apply to working people everywhere.  Do not seek to intimidate others (this is the meaning of the word translated “do violence”), don’t gossip or spread false stories about others, be content with what you are paid.

John told people they needed to be baptized.  He meant something more than water baptism, for he said: “I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16).  It is this Holy Ghost baptism that produces “fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8).

Jesus attested to the validity of John’s baptism by requesting to be baptized by him, “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).  John’s baptism was a forerunner of Christian baptism, as it looked forward to the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The baptism instituted on the day of Pentecost, and  practised by the Church of God since then, goes a step further.  It is a witness that the person baptized has already repented and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and it is the way of entrance into the fellowship of true believers in the church.

John taught that self-righteousness was not what God was looking for.  His answers to the people, the publicans and the soldiers teach that repentance will bridge the barrier between God and men and between people from all levels of society.

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