Revelation 3:14-19, Laodicea: The Church of the Good Self Image, part 2.

“And to the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish that you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, having become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked  – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may be not revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.  Be zealous, therefore, and repent.  (NKJV) 

In our last post, we looked at the city of Laodicea and how our Lord used the situation of the city to instruct His church.  We saw how the Lord presented Himself to the church as the True and Faithful Witness, as the One who shows the credibility of God’s Word (the “Amen”), and as the One through whom everything had been created, even the very environment in which Laodicea found itself.  He had quite a lot to say to the church there, this church which was so very pleased with itself.

How they saw themselves, v. 17,  ‘I am rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing.’

In short, they had arrived.

How the Lord saw them“you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,” v. 16. “You are wretched, poor, blind, miserable and naked,” v. 17.

In short, they hadn’t even started.

What about this thing of “cold and hot and lukewarm”?  Mostly, it’s thought that “cold” is either lost folks or Christians whose names are on a church role, but they’re not at all active in the church.  “Hot” speaks of feverent service to the Lord.  “Lukewarm” is kind of the Christian who comes to church once in a while, puts a little money in the plate, “believes” the Bible, but has no real enthusiasm for the things of God.  One maybe who serves “God and mammon”.

The Laodiceans would likely have understood it differently.  They were dependent for their water supply on aqueducts bringing water from two different springs some distance away from the city.  The thing is, one of these springs was hot and the other was cold.  By the time the water from either of these springs reached the city through these aqueducts, it had become lukewarm.  These waters were also heavily contaminated with minerals, so that lukewarm water would be undrinkable, hence the reference to “vomit,” or as the KJV has it:  “spue” (the old spelling of “spew”).  Have you ever taken a drink of something that was repulsive?  You don’t swallow it; you immediate spit it out, you “spew” it out.  You get rid of it right away.

When the Lord said that He wished they were either “cold” or “hot,” He wasn’t saying He wished they were either lost or saved, or fervent.  Cold water and hot water both have their uses.  Jesus was saying He wanted them to be useful to Him.

How different is their view of themselves and the Lord’s view of them!  There is so much that could be said about this!  They judged themselves by what they saw in the mirror, so to speak.  Perhaps they looked down on some of the other churches as not being quite up to their standard.  This is contrary to Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 10:12, For they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.  You see, we can always find someone “worse” than we are.  The trouble is, “they” aren’t the standard.  The Lord Jesus is.  Only a fool thinks he or she measures up to that standard!

What He counseled them, vs. 18, 19.

“To buy”.  This reminds me of Isaiah 55:1, 2, Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat.  Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? 

This doesn’t mean that the things the Lord offers and requires are for sale.  There is no amount of money or wealth which can “buy” a single blessing.  At the same time, there is a “cost” to obtaining these things.  We have to let go of the world if we want to take hold of the blessing.  We cannot serve this world and the Lord.  Cf. our Lord’s teaching in Luke 14:25-33.  This doesn’t mean that we don’t have responsibilities in this world; it means that we can’t let them come between us and serving the Lord.

– “gold refined in the fire.”  This refers to “faith.”  Cf. 1 Peter 1:5, which speak of faith as being more precious than gold that perishes.  

“that you may be rich.”  James 2:5 refers to the poor of this world rich in faith (KJV).  The poorest believer has more wealth than the richest billionaire can even begin to imagine, Matthew 16:26.

But pay attention to the fact that the Lord says, “Buy from Me.”  It isn’t enough to have the faith of your parents or your spouse or your church.  They may have true faith, but they can’t give it to you.  They might be able to show you the way, but you have to get it from the Lord yourself – and that’s done through reading and studying the Bible, the Word of God:  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, Romans 10:17.  You can hear it through faithful preachers and teachers or from others, but faith must become yours and not just theirs.

– “white garments that you may be clothed.”  This speaks of righteousness, and since it must come from Christ, it refers to the righteousness of Christ imputed to believers.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says, For He [God] made Him who knew no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

It’s just a couple of weeks until Christmas.  But that little “babe in a manger” didn’t stay there, though the world leaves Him there.  He grew up to die on a Cross, not as an accident, not as a criminal, but as a substitute.  That little, helpless infant was to be God’s substitute for believers.  He would grow up to live that life we could never live, be that person we could never be, and die that death we could never die.  His life satisfied God’s law by obeying its every provision.  His death satisfied God’s law by paying the price for every broken provision.   He paid the price for the sins of believers.  God looked at Him on the cross as He looks at us in our sins.  He looks at us, if we’re believers, and sees us as righteous and perfect as His Son was, and is..  Mind you, we’re neither righteous nor perfect in ourselves, but we’re accepted in the beloved, Ephesians 1:6.  It will only be because of Him that we make it to heaven, forgiven of our sins and considered to be righteous.

“that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed.”  I admit that I don’t understand all that’s involved here, or any of it, really.  The idea seems to be prevalent that everyone will make it into heaven and all will be sweetness and light.  That doesn’t seem to be the picture here.  The Lord is talking to one of His churches!  About their shame….  And 1 John 2:28 speaks of being ashamed before Him at His coming.   Clearly, there is something here to think, and to pray, about.

As for those who are not His –

Revelation 20:11-15 paints a scene with which we really have no comparison, and which many reject or try to water down:  this idea of final, eternal judgment.  To many, hell is only a swear word, but Scripture says it’s an awful reality.  Apart from faith in the Lord Jesus, that’s what every man and woman faces.

“anoint your eyes with eye salve.”  As we mentioned earlier, Laodicea was famous for three things:  commerce, fashion, and medicine.  This last is what our Lord refers to here.  Laodicea was especially noted for an eye salve, or a poultice, to be placed on the eyes.  Jesus uses that word here.  He wants them to be able truly to see what they really are: “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”  To see that He and He alone has what they need: true riches, a covering for their sin, and understanding of spiritual truth.  And that they might see that they do need these things.

Some people might think all this isn’t very “loving.”  We seem to have the idea that “love” means tolerance, that we just accept anything and everything.  We seem to have lost the idea that anything can actually be “wrong.”

It’s because the Lord did love this church that He told them to repent, to change their attitude and their activity.  If He didn’t love them, He would just have let them go their way.

You see, unlike modern, unbelieving child psychology, our Lord believes in raising His children, not letting them raise themselves.  And that sometimes requires discipline.  A godless world equates the idea of discipline, which in Biblical terms includes corporal punishment, with child abuse.  But the Lord at His most foolish, as the world thinks of it, is wiser than all the people who oppose Him.  We see the results of Dr. Spock and his disciples in the chaos that has enveloped our young people and our culture the last two or three generations.  That’s the real child abuse.  To let youngsters run wild, to grow up as rebellious and miserable adults, with no thought or understanding that actions have consequences.  To wonder what went wrong when their world falls apart, or to blame everyone else for what they themselves have brought upon themselves.

I didn’t really mean this to be about raising children, but this is what the Lord does for us.  This is what the Lord was doing to the church at Laodicea.  They were so satisfied with themselves.  He wanted them to be satisfied with Him.

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Hebrews 12:3-11, Consider…

[3]For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.  [4]You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.  [5]And you  have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as sons:  ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; [6]for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.’
[7]If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  [8]But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.  [9]Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect.  Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live.  [10]For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  [11]Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  (NKJV)

In turning their attention away from those who had gone before, and our attention as well, and turning that attention toward the Lord Jesus, the writer repeats and amplifies what he said in v. 2, “Consider Him….”  Not just “look,” as in v. 2, but “consider.”  Not just a casual glance, a passing interest, but spend some time looking at Him, thinking about Him, who He was and what He did.

In the verses before us, what He did was to endure the hostility of the leaders of His culture.  Or, as the KJV has it, the “contradiction of sinners against Himself.”  The word translated “hostilities” is “antilogia,” literally, “to speak against.”  I think “contradiction” sums it up nicely.  And it’s the first word in the sentence, emphasizing this action of sinners against the Lord Jesus.

This focus was to be for them an encouragement and strengthening, as it took them away from what they themselves were suffering.  They were to look to that One who had suffered with and for them, who had made it possible to look ahead to a day when suffering would be a thing of the past.  Where their suffering in this life would bring them great reward in the next.  They were to do this to prevent themselves from becoming “weary and discouraged.”  If we have any understanding at all of human nature, that’s always the problem when we spend too much time looking at ourselves.

Our Lord warned His disciples along this line while He was with them.  In John 15:18-20, He said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”

But there was something else the writer wanted them to remember:  a reason, at least, for their suffering, vs. 5-8.  It’s a form of discipline.  God understands what happens when we get too comfortable.  We tend to forget our need of Him.  He also understands that this world is in opposition to Him and if we get to following it, then we’re not following Him.  So trouble comes to us in various forms to remind us of important things.  And this trouble may have nothing to do with “persecution.”  It may be sickness or financial difficulty.  Whatever it is, actions, whether ours or someone else’s, have consequences, and it’s sometimes the innocent who pay the price.  So it’s true, we may not “deserve” a lot of what happens to us, but sometimes it’s also true that a lot of the trouble that comes our way is simply the result of our own doings.  David found this out the hard way after his “affair” with Bathsheba.  His life was never the same after that.  Whatever the source, trouble comes our way to remind us not to get too comfortable in what someone called “these tenements of clay.”

The writer uses the example of earthly fathers in his teaching, v. 9.  In our day and time, this probably doesn’t mean as much, because “father” is almost a curse word, and it’s up to Mom to raise the kids – single moms and all that.  “Dad” skates by either as a non-entity or a simpleton.  And the idea of discipline that the writer uses is most certainly frowned on in our society:  For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives, emphasis added.  Any real idea of discipline, or making a child “mind,” is frowned on.

Let me tell you a story.  I don’t think I’ve ever posted it on the blog.  My grandmother was a teacher.  When she was just starting out, she applied for a job at a particular school.  This school had been through three teachers very quickly because of a certain student in the school.  He simply drove them out by his actions.  Now, the school board was honest with her and told her of the problem and asked if she were still interested.  She asked if they would back her up.  They would.  So she took the school.  Remember, this wasn’t a monstrous structure like what passes for “school” in our day, where kids are herded together like cattle.  Sure enough, this kid began to make trouble.  I don’t remember exactly how she told the story now, but she grabbed him by the arm and took a yardstick to him.  When the student got home, and his parents found out what happened, they wore him out, too.

Fast forward about 25 years.  Grandma and Grandpa are on a vacation trip through New Mexico to visit Carlsbad Caverns.  This was in 1946 or ’47.  Out in the middle of nowhere – no interstate highways, no “rest areas” – the car began to overheat, so Grandpa pulled into a little service station to get some water for their ’39 Studebaker.  He walked around to the back of the building – and fell over, dead.  As it turned out, the assistant district attorney in this little town – out in the middle of nowhere – was this same fellow.  He thanked Grandma for straightening him all those years before, because if she hadn’t, no telling where he would have wound up – certainly not on the right side of the law.

Now…

you can imagine what would happen if Grandma were a present-day teacher and tried that with a “troubled youth” in her class…!

We’ve gone so far away from any idea of raising kids to be respectful and obedient that we’ve brought about the mess we see them in today.  Not all of them are troublesome, to be sure, there are still some who are raised right, but the majority of them, to varying degrees, live lives that wouldn’t have been tolerated in my youth, let alone in Grandma’s!  She had 10 or 11 brothers and sisters and when folks came to visit her parents, all the kids were required to sit quietly on the sofa until the visitors were gone.  “Children should be seen and not heard” is a dictum that’s gone the way of the dinosaur.  They certainly weren’t allowed to scream and carry on in the restaurant or grocery story like we see two- and three-year-olds doing so today!  These little monsters run the family, and their parents have no idea about what to do, and indeed, are powerless to do anything about it.  I see these little ones around today and wonder what their parents are going to do when their kids get old enough to really do damage.

We see what’s going to happen with the rampages and shootings done by young people that are so in the news today.  Liberals, who’ve rejected Scripture in every area of life and who are responsible for the chaos in our society, believe that “gun control” is the answer – the only answer.  While this post is not a defense of the Second Amendment of our Constitution, it might serve as a rebuttal to this simplistic non-solution.

Let me tell you another story – one I may have used on the blog before.  When I was a teenager – and not a model one by any means – the high school I went to in a large city out West was in a “tough” neighborhood.  Years later, one of my friends characterized it as a “ghetto” (although I suppose that’s too harsh an assessment in this day of political correctness).  Most of the times I walked to school, about a 45 minute trip (and no, it wasn’t uphill both ways).  If it was bad weather, my Mom, who had to be at work at 7:00 AM, would take me to school, and I would be the very first one there – even before the lunchroom staff.  In the basement of this “tough” school was a rifle range – with rifles and live ammo (locked up, of course).  I qualified as a marksman on that range.  But there was never – ever – any idea of trouble because of the presence of those guns.  It just wasn’t thought of.  You could buy rifles at the local dime store.  I don’t remember ever hearing of a “drive-by shooting” or of a rampage like we hear so often about today, even when we lived in an area of town which now suffers those.

The trouble today isn’t the presence of guns, in spite of the rantings of liberals, but the abandonment of our youth to their own devices and the rejection of Scriptural principles for life and living.  Perish the thought that we damage their “self-esteem”!  But the problem is that they’ve got too much self-esteem.

God told Israel something about this.  In Hosea 4:6, He told a rebellious and wicked Israel, “Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

We don’t like this idea of God.  We want a God who is all loving and soft, a kindly grandfather-type who smiles at the foibles and follies of His children.  The God of the Old Testament is characterized by unbelievers as a monstrous bully, but even Hebrews, a few verses from where we are, describes Him to those who thumb their noses at Him: For our God is a consuming fire, Hebrews 12:29.

Israel had been given clear and strict instruction about the raising of their children.  These kids were to be grounded in the Scripture Israel had, which had a great deal to do with how God had delivered her from Egyptian slavery and how she was to live in light of that.  She was warned about forgetting God.  In Deuteronomy 8:11, Moses warned Israel about this, “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you this day…, emphasis added.  Israel hadn’t “forgotten” God in the sense that He had slipped their minds; they were very aware of His existence, they just didn’t pay any attention to what He said.  As a consequence, they didn’t raise their children right, and their children went further astray even than they did – with all the consequences of that.

In the same sense, we have forgotten God in our day, and we see the consequences all around us.

But, the writer tells us, there is an “afterward.”  By the grace of God, my wife and I raised four children to mature and productive adulthood.  It wasn’t easy for my wife, though.  She was able to be a stay-at-home mom for fourteen years, until the kids got a little older.  I worked long hours and even when I was home, I’m sorry to say, I wasn’t a very attentive father.  I still had some growing-up to do, too.  But now, we’re able to rejoice in grandchildren and have watched four of them grow to the stage where they are getting ready to leave the nest, so to speak.  It’s been a joy to watch them grow from infancy to where the boys are taller than we are.  I kid our daughter that in a few years, she might be a grandmother herself and she tells me that she isn’t ready for that!

The point is, the troubles of life may be hard to go through.  Compared to what our Lord suffered, though, they are nothing.  One of the Reformers said that his sufferings were but chips and slivers compared to his Lord’s cross.  And if I understand Scripture what we see today is nothing compared to what lies ahead, though it’s very difficult to see that sometimes.

The writer makes an interesting and challenging statement in the middle of his thought.  After saying that chastening is simply God disciplining His children, he says, But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons, v.8.

“Illegitimate.”

That doesn’t mean anything today, but it was a big deal back then.  And, spiritually speaking, it doesn’t seem to mean very much today, either.  According to some, we’re all children of God, so there aren’t any illegitimate children.  Others seem to have a very broad definition of the term, “children of God.”  Our writer has his own definition: enduring chastening, or discipline.  This seems counter-intuitive to our time, in which many think that trouble should be the farthest thing away from the Christian life.  Health, wealth and all things good – these are the Christian life, not trouble.

It’s true in this country that we’ve enjoyed a long time of freedom in spiritual matters.  This country was founded with respect for the Bible and Christian principles, regardless of what the revisionists tell us.  Though it’s always been around in some form or another, it’s only within the last decade or so that opposition to the Bible and Christianity has really become public policy.

I don’t know what the future holds in the short term.  I do know there’s coming a time when, in the words of Daniel 12:2, many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to shame and everlasting contempt.  Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament.

Until then, consider Him who endured such hostility of sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged….

 

Who Makes the Rules?

A picture has appeared recently, and widely, in the social media, a picture of a man wearing a purple tee shirt, on the back of which are a list of statements about dating his 20-year-old daughter.  Perhaps you’ve seen it.

The list is titled, “Rules for dating my daughter.”  There are four such “rules”.

1.  I don’t make the rules.
2.  You don’t make the rules.
3.  She makes the rules.
4.  Her body, her rules.

It’s signed, “Feminist Father”.

There is an element of truth in this list.  And, with two daughters of my own, I understand the concern of the father for his daughter.

Understand that this list assumes that sex will be an integral part of the “date.”  And in our society, that does seem to have become the norm.  And I agree that a man has no right to force a woman to be intimate with him.

At the same time, the list doesn’t go far enough.

What do I mean?

God often directs our thoughts to something we will need in the future.  And not just thoughts.  When I was making deliveries for a living, sometimes I would say of a street, “Let’s see where this goes.”  I can’t tell you how many times later on that I needed to know where that street went.

So it is with this post.  I read the article about the shirt last week some time.  On Sunday, at church, the speaker quoted something from Psalm 147, which is a psalm of praise to God for His dealings with the nation of Israel, v. 19.  V. 20 continues the thought:  He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules (ESV).

You see, you and I don’t make the rules.  But when it comes right down to it, neither does she.  The rules have already been made.

That was the gist of the argument Satan advanced in the Garden of Eden:  Adam and Eve could make their own rules.  They didn’t need God for that.  And we see the mess they made of it.

Modern society has fully bought into that same argument.  And look at the mess we’ve made of it.

We’ve dealt with this in other posts, but it bears repeating.  Sex was never intended to be an end in itself.  It was intended to be enjoyed in the context of what it might produce:  children.  And it was intended to be enjoyed [only] by a man and a woman who had come together as husband and wife.  I grant that the marriages were usually arranged by the parents; but still, it was to a married couple that children were to be born and to become a family.  And those marriages were certainly no worse than the revolving door marriage has become in our day.  Or no “door” at all, with couples living together wanting the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities.

Children were never considered a “burden” in the Bible.  They were always a blessing – and the more, the merrier.  We’ve certainly gotten away from that!

The robins I wrote about last spring have long gone and they didn’t return this spring.  No other robins took their place.  The nest finally became loose on top of the porch light and it’s also long gone.

The thing is, their young hatched, grew and were gone in a matter of weeks.  Children take years before they’re ready to leave the nest.  It may be true that we learn most of what we learn in the first three or four years, but, as I’ve written elsewhere, no five-year old is ready for his or her own apartment.

It’s in the family that we’re supposed to learn the main lessons of life:  sharing, obedience, getting along with others.  Unfortunately, that no longer seems to be important.  And look at the mess we’ve made of it.

We decided that we make the rules.

 

The Empty Nest

Parents with grown children who have left home know this “syndrome” as a result of the “quiet” which has come into their lives as a result of their children being gone.  I don’t know why the psycho-babblers think of this normal experience as a “syndrome.”  It’s not a disease or a maladjustment; it’s just life.

My wife and I have experienced this twice now.  The first time was when our own children left home, although, to be perfectly honest, it was we who moved out from under our youngest, then in his 20s, when we left Colorado and came to Indiana to be near the grandchildren.  At the time, we had them only here.  I suppose it’s only poetic justice that he then got married and moved to Montana, where they are expecting their second.  We’ve met and loved the first and are looking forward to the trip to do that to the second child.

The second time?  This morning.  On the 6th, I posted about some baby robins nested on our front porch light.  So, for more than 3 weeks, I’ve watched the nest, watched Mama and Daddy Robin take care of their young.  Watched them keep a close eye on me as I disturbed them by opening the front door to do whatever outside.  Talked to Mama (?) to assure her that she had nothing to worry about from us.  Seen little beaks above the top of the nest.  Even got to the point where we’d leave the porch light off for when I came home so Mama wouldn’t be disturbed when I came home from work.  I could dimly see her sitting there, still watchful, but not flying away, even when I opened the door to come inside.  Would talk to her some more.  Did this just last night.

I was looking forward maybe to seeing the little robins on their nest or out in the yard.

After I got home last night, Sharon and I got to talking about the robins.  She mentioned that she had been startled by a bird she thought was too small to be one of the parents flying into the nest just as she came out of the door.  She asked if I had looked into the nest lately.  I hadn’t.

This morning, I took the mirror and looked into the nest.  It was empty.  Not a bird to be seen anywhere, not even in the crabapple tree.  I felt a distinct sense of loss at “the empty nest.”

Weird.

But then, I like “weird.”  Give me a TV program about “fafrotskies” (google?) or some other oddity in our world and I’m all eyes, although I don’t think wearing a tinfoil hat is going to keep the aliens from reading my mind. 🙂   I like “Fringe,” “Warehouse 13,” “Stargate, SG-1,” “The X-files,”  though I don’t care for the evolutionary underpinnings of these programs.

I have no problem with the idea of extra-terrestrial life.  After all, God, Who is life, created all the billions of stars we see in the night sky.  Why would He leave them all barren and lifeless?  Just sayin’….  I just don’t think, if there is “life” out there, they’d be all that interested in this backward dust mote.  Besides, this planet would probably be “under quarantine” because of our sinfulness. (This isn’t to discount or deny angelic beings, which the Bible clearly teaches.)

As I said, “weird.”

So, what does this have to do with robins and nests?

Just this.  Why do we name animals?  Why do we have “pets”?  At last count, my family has 10 dogs and two lizards.  Why do we name them?  Cats, dogs, even fish.  Names.

Minerva, Rags, Greybeard, Oscar.  (Actual names out of my youth.)  Why?

And why do we talk to them?  We’d be totally freaked out if they answered!

While I do not believe in “racial memory,” that is, that we have some dim recollection of the ancient past hidden in our brains, I still wonder if this isn’t some faint echo of the Garden of Eden.  [Some enthusiast for the benefits of blue-green algae in our diets was rhapsodizing about what it would be like if we could tap into the accumulated wisdom of millions of years of algae(!)]

The Garden of Eden, I believe in.  The “accumulated wisdom” of algae, not so much!

Anyway, Adam named all the animals.  This probably was nothing more than “horse,” “camel,” “cow,” “hippopotamus.”  Still, the precedent was there for “names.”

And there was “talk.”  Granted, the only such recorded conversation ended poorly for us, but still, Eve was not shocked or surprised by a talking animal.  Scripture says nothing about it, just leaves it to those of us who like “weird” to muse about it in lesser moments.

Further, it wasn’t until after the Flood that God told Noah, “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air,…, Genesis 9:2 (NKJV) – hence Mama Robin’s reactions to me.  And Scripture prophesies a time when that “fear” will apparently be gone, Isaiah 11:6-9.

So, who really knows what “relationship” man and beast may have had?  It’s not one of the things God apparently thought we needed to know.  And I’m not trying to make some startling revelation about what might have happened.  This is just a light-hearted post (no, not “light-headed”) about something I wonder about every so often.

As I said, “weird.”

But, why do we name pets and talk to them?

Not My Kid!!

I mentioned in an earlier post that there are things in the Old Testament which are contrary to our modern way of thinking.  The portion of Scripture for this post is perhaps at the top of the list.  It’s found in Deuteronomy 22:18-21:

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city.  And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’  Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.”

In Yahoo Answers, it’s usually referred to along the lines of “killing my kid”, implying a young child.  It can’t mean that, because then there would have been no next generation.

There is an idea that there weren’t any instructions after the Fall, that God left Adam and Eve to the leading of their conscience, an idea popularized by the Scofield Bible.  It is true that there is no record as such of any revelation from God between Adam and Moses, yet there are indications of it.  To name just one, cf. Genesis 26:5, where God talks about Abraham obeying “My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Moses wouldn’t be born for centuries.  So it’s clear that there was something to which men were responsible before the giving of the Law at Sinai.  We just don’t have any record of it.

We’re not told a great deal about the instructions God may have given Adam and Eve, but we are told enough.  He set some precedents.  There is, for example, marriage, Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  Our Lord referred to this in Matthew 19:4-6, “…He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’.  So then, they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together. let not man separate.”  

When God created Adam and Eve, He told them to “multiply,” that is, to have children.  This introduces “the family.”  The family is the basic unit of society.  Marriage is the glue that’s supposed to hold the family together.

God told the first couple to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth….”  Unlike most of the animal world, bringing human offspring into the world isn’t just a matter of preservation of the species.  It means much more than just bringing the next generation into the world.  It has more to do with the idea that the next generation is raised in such a way that it doesn’t destroy the species.  We see this all around us.  Where the Biblical idea of the so-called “traditional” family has been destroyed or distorted, the younger generation often grows up in such a way that if they don’t literally destroy, that is, kill, each other, then they engage in “destructive life-styles” which just take longer to accomplish the same thing.  The concept of family as it’s found in the Bible is the foundation of society; if the family goes, society goes.

Human children require far more care than any other offspring in the world.  Most animals are able to carry on by themselves after just a few days or weeks.  Not so, children.  Not only is there the protecting of them because they are helpless, there is the nurturing and teaching which takes several years.  While it may be true that in their first three or four years children learn most of what they will ever learn, no five year old is ready for his own apartment.  Even teenagers struggle with the change from child to adult.  Parents are to be there, indeed, “the family” is there, to be a support system.

In addition, it is here, in the family, that we first learn to interact with others: our parents, and perhaps brothers and sisters, and then, to the society and world in which we live.  As we grow, our circle expands until, as adults, we enter society on our own, away from home and family.

It’s in the family that we first learn about authority and sharing.  It’s a shame and tragedy when youngsters grow up without ever learning these lessons.  The first thing a baby demonstrates is that he or she is completely absorbed in himself or herself.  I grant that the baby has a very limited understanding of what is going on around him.  At the same time, all he knows is that he is wet, hungry, thirsty, tired, or in some other way uncomfortable.  He wants immediate gratification; it doesn’t matter what needs his mother,  usually, might have – his are more important.

The state license plate that says, “kids first”, sounds good, but the thought is too often misplaced.  I understand that children are important and in many instances they do come first.  With God’s blessing and help, my wife and I raised four children to mature and responsible adulthood.  What I’m concerned about is the idea that the kids run the family, and that parents have no real say.  What the kid wants, the kid gets.  Unfortunately, he grows up with this attitude and those around him are the ones who suffer for it.

The idea of learning authority in the home is that we might come to know that there is an ultimate authority:  God.  Parents are just the first link in the chain of command.  Too many people never get even to that point; for them, there is only one link in the chain: themselves.

It is these last thoughts that are emphasized in Deuteronomy 22:18-21.  The relationship of child and parent is very important in the Bible. One of the sins Israel later was judged for was they had “made light of father and mother,” Ezekiel 22:7.  In the New Testament, Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for depriving their parents of necessary support by saying that what they should have used for that was “dedicated to God,” so was unavailable to care for their parents.

So important is this relationship that God considered it worthy of death for a child to defy his parents.  Again, we must point out that this doesn’t mean a young child.  It refers to one old enough to know better, one who is a drunkard and glutton, probably an older teenage, although the concept of “teenager” is relatively new.  Even in the history of the U.S., the first Secretary of the Navy was given command of his first ship when he was twelve.  It’s only relatively recently that “teenagers” have been consigned to the wasteland of the Xbox or X-rated activities. thereby wasting the tremendous energy and enthusiasm they have, and setting them on the path of wasting a great deal of their time and talents.

In our time, things have been turned completely around.  You see this everywhere, little children in a restaurant or at the supermarket screaming their heads off because they’re not getting their way.  Parents are at a loss to deal with this because children have “rights,” or so we’re told.  You see older kids swaggering down the middle of the street, their pants down around their knees, arrogance spread across their faces.  “Juveniles” commit the worst of crimes because they know that their “juvenile” records will be sealed, and they basically can get away with it.  High schools have become hotbeds of violence and terror, with things happening almost daily which were beyond imagining in my high school days (where, by the way, we had a rifle range in the basement for ROTC, with rifles and ammunition, locked away, of course, but still there.  Never a hint of any trouble with them.  I qualified as a marksman on that range).  That high school was in what is now “the ghetto,” but we had less trouble than preschoolers get into now.

Then, of course, there’s the complete absence of any teaching about “God.”  If anything, education is against the idea of God, or of absolutes, or of morality, which has been replaced by “political correctness”.

I’m not advocating a return to Old Testament practices, but heading in that direction would certainly take care of a lot of the problems caused by the “troubled youth” in our time.