Tag Archives: be separate

Jeremiah 35-41; Ishmael in Your Home

God tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. (2 Corinthians 6:14) Many believe that to apply to marriage, which it does. But Paul wasn’t even talking about marriage when he said it. You get his full message when you read on:

What do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Can light and darkness exist together? Do Christ and Satan live in harmony? Do believers have anything in common with non-believers? Does the Church agree with idolatry? (from 2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

In fact, God says: Come out from among them and be separate… (verse 17)

I thought of that when I read that Governor Gedaliah got chummy with Ishmael. Even the governor’s advisors saw past Ishmael’s fake smile, and warned Gedaliah that Ishmael was up to no good. But Gedaliah said, “No way! We’re BFF’s! What you are saying about Ishmael is not true.” (Jeremiah 40:16)

Do you find yourself with the same attitude? “Hanging out with non-believers won’t hurt me.” “Marrying an unbeliever won’t effect my walk with the Lord.” “Accepting half-truths, or tolerating outright lies about Scripture won’t weaken my commitment, or the Church.”

Allowing himself to get close enough to Ishmael that he trusted him more than his own advisors, wound up killing Gedaliah. Getting too close to ungodliness will destroy us, too.

Come out from among them!

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get to know non-Christians in order to share the Savior with them. We are all told to go and make disciples. Paul said he became all things to all people in order to win some of them.

But I believe God would have us examine who are the people closest to us. Who do we trust, confide in, fellowship with? Are they grounded in Scripture, walking with the Lord, holding us accountable? Or are they people who don’t believe like we do, and don’t have an interest in our relationship with God?

Are we trying to get light and darkness existing together? Are we trying to make Jesus and Satan get along?

Gedaliah got close to someone who only wanted him dead. Do you realize Satan wants the same thing of you? Gedaliah died because he blindly trusted an enemy of God. Do you understand that anyone who does not believe in Jesus is God’s enemy, too?

Being yoked in marriage, socially, politically, at the job, or at the gym, with unbelievers is like inviting Ishmael into your home. It’s the same fatal mistake Gedaliah made.

Choose your friends wisely, dear one. It could be a matter of life and death.

2 Kings 3-5; Taking A Knee

Got your attention, didn’t I? This whole protest drama against our flag, our National Anthem, and our country is on the news 24/7. And social media is having a hay day. We Americans just love living with a reality TV show mentality.

I, like everyone else in the world, have an opinion on the matter. But I’m not going to spout my opinion about that here. I’d much rather talk about Naaman and Elisha, and what Naaman had to say about taking a knee.

You know the story. Little Jewish servant girl tells her mistress how the master, Naaman, could be healed of leprosy if he’d ago see God’s prophet, Elisha. Naaman goes. Elisha refuses to meet with him but sends word to Naaman how he could be healed. Naaman is insulted, and turns to go away. One of his men talks sense into Naaman, who then goes to the Jordan River, dips under the water seven times, and is healed.

Now here is what I want us to consider today. Naaman, probably dripping wet, goes back to Elisha. The prophet seems to be waiting for him. Naaman tells Elisha, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (5:15) He promises to never again worship any other god but the Lord. Naaman is not only clean on the outside, he’s a new man from within.

Then Naaman says this:

But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also – when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this. (5:18)

Naaman worked for the king of Aram, a man who worshiped the false god Rimmon. The king sounds like he might have been feeble, because he leans on Naaman to get around. And that would include going into the temple of Rimmon, taking a knee so his master could bow in worship.

Now some of you will say Naaman should have just quit his job, maybe refused to go into that sinful place, or just stayed with Elisha where he wouldn’t have to take a stand at all.

“Judge not,” dear one.

I believe this is the true interpretation of the most misquoted verse in the Bible. Please read Matthew 7:1-5. There is much more to Jesus’ message than verse 1.

Naaman had taken care of the plank in his own eye, the sin in his own life. Then, according to what I read in 2 Kings, he is going back to minister to the king of Aram.

Paul, in I Corinthians 9:19-23 talks about becoming all things to all men. Why? So everyone would like him? So he could get ahead in life? No. He identified with everyone in order to introduce them to their Savior.

In a sense, Naaman is asking Elisha not to judge him if, in his association with the king, he goes into the pagan temple and actually takes a knee. In fact, Naaman is asking Elisha, and God, to forgive him for what will appear to be sin.

“I’m going to be doing my job, Lord, not worshiping that idol.”

And just maybe, the king will notice a change in Naaman and ask him to explain the hope he has, may ask him about Naaman’s God, and may even come to faith in God because of Naaman’s willingness to address the speck in the king’s eye, now that the plank is out of his own.

If God is leading Naaman back to the king of Aram, don’t judge Naaman for not doing what you think a believer should do.

HOWEVER… if you’re using I Corinthians 9 as an excuse to hang out at bars, or associate with dishonest people, or any number of sinful activities stop right there. Because Scripture also tells us to resist evil, live separate lives, not to be linked with unbelievers. It certainly doesn’t give us permission to sin, thinking that is a way to represent God to people who need Him.

Here’s where the “don’t judge” thing comes into play. The only ones who know your heart are you and God. If He hasn’t called you to serve Him by representing Him among the partiers, or the ungodly, or… whoever… then you need to go where He IS calling you. Really calling you.

Can a person associate with sinners and not sin? I believe Scripture is saying exactly that in the verses we’ve looked at today. But I also believe there is a dangerously thin line between associating with sinners for the right reasons, and participating in the sin. Just beware.

I won’t judge your heart. But I will call you out if you are sinning, if that speck in your eye needs addressing. And I want you to do the same for me.

Genesis 23 – I Can’t Accept That Gift

Abraham and his very large group of servants, plus livestock had settled in Canaan. But it sounds like he didn’t own any of the land he was living on. “I am an alien and a stranger among you,” he told the Hittites when he asked them if he could buy a plot of land to bury his wife.

He must have been a pretty good neighbor because several Hittites offered to give him a cave for Sarah’s tomb. Abraham refused the gift, and insisted on paying a fair price instead.

So after a few refusals of free land, Abraham finally paid Ephron the going rate, and bought Ephron’s field in Machpelah.

The Bible tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). If Abraham had accepted a gift of land, he would have been indebted to unbelievers. He had to buy a tomb, and pay a fair price in order to be free from obligation.

Sometimes we might be too quick to align ourselves with non-Christians. Not just in marriage, although that is certainly part of God’s instructions about tying ourselves to unbelievers. But I think God would have us consider who we hang out with, who we do business with, the places we frequent. Now I am not suggesting we not go into the world to share the Gospel. I’m not saying we shouldn’t become all things to all men in order to win some. I’m just wondering if we should take a page from Abraham’s life and consider who we are under obligation to.

Abraham lived in the land. He just remained separate from them. “Come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17).

I hope you have attached yourself to a Bible believing group of people who love the Lord and are reaching out to the lost. I hope that is where your loyalties and obligations lie. And I hope when people think about you, they recognize there is something different about you, for Jesus’ sake.