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Jesus and War in the Ukraine

To begin our discussion concerning the war raging in Ukraine, let us first look at the birth of our Lord Jesus who is the key to understanding what will follow. The circumstances associated with the birth of Jesus were unusual. Destined to be “The Prince of Peace” and the king of the whole earth, yet he was born in a stable. (Isa. 9:6,7) The world knew little or nothing of what was taking place. Nevertheless, the coming to earth of the Son of God was announced by an angel, who said to the shepherds on the hills of Judea, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Then the angel, together with a “multitude of the heavenly host,” praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”—Luke 2:10-14

There has hardly been a time since the birth of The Prince of Peace that the world, or some part of it, has not been plagued by war or the fear of war. Furthermore, the so-called advancement of civilization in recent centuries has not materially changed this picture. Mankind in general is not looking to God for help but is relying on its own methods for bringing peace to the world. Its methods have generally been unsuccessful. It is, as the prophet Jeremiah stated, “saying peace, peace when there is no peace.” (Jer. 6:14; 8:11) World conditions are rapidly deteriorating as the people that we have trusted in, and the things that we have come to know and enjoy are deteriorating. Many in the world today now live in a constant state of fear. (Luke 21:26) We see firsthand that world tensions are at an all-time high. Conflicts, wars, and acts of terrorism now fill our headlines and news reports as Jesus prophesied. (Matt. 24:6-13) Much of the world is caught up in a frenzy, which has led many to fear for their very existence. Even now, as the year 2022 draws to a close and many in the world commemorate the birth of Jesus, millions are wondering if, and when the angels’ announcement of peace and good will among mankind will ever come about.

Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine on February 24, 2022 sent shockwaves throughout the world. Tens of thousands of people have been killed or wounded and fourteen million people have been displaced because of the destruction of towns and cities. There continues to be much suffering, confusion, and fear. People and world leaders alike fear that Russia will expand its desire for conquest and expand its attacks into other neighboring countries. Then, there is the fear among more distant nations that they will somehow be drawn into the conflict on one side or the other. Considering the unpredictability of the Russian president, there is the ever-present possibility that he may choose to use nuclear weapons in a display of power and control. Certainly, the news coming out of this part of the world is far from being a message of peace and good will.

The foregoing description of the current Russia-Ukraine conflict is but one example of the world’s present situation in which “good tidings” are seldom part of the daily news. We should not conclude from this, however, that the purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth has failed, or that its accomplishment has in any way been delayed. The storm clouds of human passion hovering over the distraught and fear-filled world today are the result of human failure. This was foreknown by God and foretold in the Bible. He has permitted it so that the human race might come to realize that the only way out of its confusion and perplexity is to look to him.—Luke 21:25-28

Let us recall some of the promises by which God assures us that we have no need to fear. One is found in the prophecy of Isaiah, previously noted in part, pertaining to the birth of Jesus and to his future rulership as the world’s king. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:6,7

One day soon, God will use the returned Lord to fulfill the scripture, “He maketh wars to cease.” (Ps. 46:9) In Micah’s prophecy, we are assured that, “In the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain [kingdom] of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains [kingdoms], and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.”Mic. 4:1-4

We should trust that the Heavenly Father is working out everything according to his plans and purposes. He is looking especially at how we are living up to the teachings that were revealed to us by his dear son. “The fire [of that day] shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (I Cor. 3:13) The trouble or ‘fire’ will reveal what type of character we have developed during our lives. Our faith and character should be built upon the precious promises of God which, we are told, are pictured by gold, silver, and precious stones. (I Cor. 3:12) The Heavenly Father is allowing all nations to deceive themselves into thinking that they can solve all the world’s problems. However, we have seen the contrary. Man’s peace has never been long lasting and new conflicts arise suddenly. However, these events of violence and war are helping to prepare the world of mankind to accept Christ’s coming kingdom of everlasting peace. We see by the conditions in this present evil world that mankind is far removed from the spirit of Christ. (Rom. 8:9)

Nevertheless, God’s grace is that glorious attribute by which He will triumph over the greatest evil that can be, sin, and the author of sin, Satan. (I Pet. 5:8; Rev. 20:7-9) By His grace God provided His son, the Lord Jesus, to die for sin, as he willingly did on the cross. (John 1:29; I John 2:2; Heb. 2:9) Jesus rejected the concepts of violence and war. Instead, he taught love both by his example, and by the commandments “to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” and to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt. 22:37-39) This new attitude toward our enemies rejects the use of force and killing. This type of character is based upon the principles of love and peace making.—Matt. 5:9; Heb. 12:14

All the people of the earth will one day know of this promised, everlasting peace and have the opportunity to then live in a restored, perfect earth forever. (Isa. 35:8-10) This promise includes all who have ever lived since there is also promised a resurrection of those who sleep in death. Paul says that “there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” (Acts 24:15) Jesus added, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” (John 5:28,29)

As we consider the wonderful gift of our Lord Jesus, who suffered and died on the cross to take away the sins of the world, and then was raised to life again by the mighty power of God (Eph. 1:18-23; II Cor. 5:15) to bring salvation to mankind, we rejoice to have such a loving and merciful God. (I Thess. 4:14; I Cor. 15:4) This peace that we have been writing about will then become a reality through Christ’s earthly kingdom. Then, “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [kingdom], for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as waters cover the sea.”—Isa. 11:9

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A Disciplined Tongue

Daily, we see the effects of both the use and misuse of words spoken or posted on social media. Never has there been a time when more scrutiny was given to what people say.

The tongue is one of the most powerful members of the human body. While it is a most wonderful tool given by God, “the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8) This scripture is similar to Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

Nearly everyone will agree that the tongue is potent in its influence beyond any other member of the body, for both good and evil. Experience teaches us that with most people, it is easier to control any other part of our body than the tongue. The tongue is such a skillful servant that every ambition, passion and inclination of our fallen, human nature seeks to use it as a channel of expression. If we injure others with our tongues, we are deceiving ourselves if we think we are pleasing to God.

Therefore, it requires vigilance, wisdom, and care on the part of the Christian to control this powerful member of his body and bring it into subjection. Our desire should be to bring our tongue into harmony with the mind of Christ. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) We must strive to make our tongue a help and not a hindrance to ourselves or others.

Fallen man does not have the power to control his tongue. “For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect.” (James 3:2 New Living Translation) Since the tongue expresses the sentiments of the heart, it follows that to control the tongue, the heart must be converted. “For of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaketh.”—Luke 6:45

The importance of having the proper heart condition is stressed throughout the scriptures. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23) “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psa. 51:10) “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (I Tim. 1:5 New American Standard Bible)

The apostle James warned us, “Therewith bless we God … and therewith curse we men, … made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” (James 3:9.10) How careful we should be to speak only that which will be helpful and uplifting, and not destructive or harmful.

We must learn this great lesson and have our hearts gain control over our tongues with Christian love. We are admonished, “Take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.” (Psa. 39:1) Truly, our goal should be, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”—Psalm 19:14

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Malachi

Malachi was the last of the Hebrew prophets. His name means, “The Messenger of Jehovah.” His mission was to reinforce Judah’s belief and confidence in God and remind them of their responsibilities as members of a covenant community with God. The concept of the Covenant of Israel is fundamental to Malachi’s message. Malachi’s prophecy concluded the Old Testament canon and contained not only a divine rebuke for sin, but also, a divine promise of rescue.

Malachi spoke for and represented Jehovah to the Israelites. His prophecy is supposed to have been written during the time of the absence of Nehemiah, the governor, from Jerusalem. The period of his absence is thought to have been one of religious decline. This prophecy serves as a reproof for their wayward and evil course and a warning of the just retribution that must surely follow if they did not repent and turn to God.—Mal. 2:1; 3:6

Malachi’s prophecy, therefore, may have served a double purpose: first to reprove and stimulate the people of that time, and secondly, and more importantly, to give a general lesson applicable all the way down through the centuries since. His prophecy closes with exhortations and promises respecting the coming of Messiah, for whom the Jewish people had at that time waited for more than fifteen centuries. “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple.”—Mal. 3:1

Malachi was the last messenger to Israel prior to John the Baptist, who was the immediate forerunner of Christ. (Matt. 11:10,11) Christ was the coming, great messenger of Jehovah’s covenant and it would have been well for Israel had if they had heeded the warning and prepared their hearts to receive the Lord’s Anointed. While this prophecy primarily applied to Israel, as shown by the Lord and the apostles, it had a much wider application. In a fuller sense it was addressed to spiritual Israel (Rev. 2:10) and applies to the second advent of the great “Messenger of the Covenant,” Christ whose work will fully accomplish all of these predictions. —Gen. 22:18; John 14:3; 1 Thess. 4:16,17

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God’s Plan for Mankind

Today, there is much suffering in the world, but this is not new. Man has suffered ever since Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. But now, in addition to the usual afflictions associated with the reign of sin and death, the world is passing through a period described prophetically in the Scriptures as a “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” (Dan. 12:1) This distress is worldwide, and because of it, people wonder whether there is a God in heaven? If so, why does he not seem to be doing something about the suffering of his human creation. The answer to this question points out the difference between God’s plan for mankind and fallen man’s endeavors to alleviate suffering.

The Bible reveals that ever since man transgressed the divine law in the Garden of Eden, God has been working to extricate His human creation from death—the result of man’s transgression. God is not looking for man to tell Him what to do about human suffering. God has his own plan, formed before the foundation of the world, which from century to century has continued moving forward toward completion.

This plan will bring to an end all human suffering including destruction of “the last enemy … death.” (1 Cor. 15:26) The fulfillment of this plan applies to Adam and Eve, and to every human being who has lived since their time. God loves His human creation who lived before the Flood (Gen. 7,8) just as much as He loves the people of today and, indeed, every intervening generation. When Jesus said, “God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” he was describing God’s love for the entire human family.—John 3:16

The apostle Peter, added that this salvation would come via “times of restitution [Greek: restoration] of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-21) Christ’s earthly kingdom will bring this restoration. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”—Matt. 6:11

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The Peace of God

As we journey down the road of life, we will encounter stumbling stones that seem impossible to pass. Still, we are to rejoice and find comfort in the words of our loving Father in Heaven who grants us peace.—2 Cor. 13:11

Webster’s dictionary defines peace in several ways: Freedom from civil disturbance, a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom, and freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions. In these examples, the words freedom and security are used to give the feeling that things will be fine. When we combine the above examples with the words of Philippians 1:2 (New International Version), “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” and we let this peace into our hearts, there will be no room for fear or apprehension.

When Father Adam first dwelt in the Garden of Eden, he had no fear or concern of how things would be even after being commanded to avoid “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Gen. 1:26-29; 2:8-17) Both he and Eve had the peace of God in their hearts. If they obeyed the Father’s will, all their needs would be met. While the Bible does not mention it, we can imagine that their perfect minds never feared what would happen because with the peace of God in their hearts, disobedience was not something they considered.—Gen. 3

The same could be said for many beautiful examples in the Bible of those who feared God. In Daniel chapter 6, Daniel’s enemies made a law to entrap him through his faithfulness to God. Daniel continued to pray to God even after hearing the decree which forbade it. He was a faithful follower whose heart was full of the peace of God even as he was cast into the den of lions. After seeing Daniel’s example of peace and God’s deliverance of him from what would have been certain death, King Darius decreed, “That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever.”—Dan. 6:26

As we travel along life’s way, remember the experiences of Daniel and so many others who were comforted, and carried in our Lord’s hands through their experiences because they trusted God and had the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.—Phil. 4:7,8.

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God’s Saving Love in Christ

We now find ourselves nearly one-fourth of the way through 2021, and as we can look around, we see that not much has changed from the previous year. Many continue to be without work, children are in some cases do not have access to a meaningful education, and people are uncertain about what this year will hold for them. Will they find security and happiness? Will their lives go back to “normal”? We have a new administration who has promised to bring things into control. However, the US political parties continue to be at odds concerning what should be done to improve our economy, and daily way of life. Even the transition of power was marked with fear, violence, and a lack of respect for our fellowman.

The pandemic rages on! However, we are given hope that things will get better. Several    vaccines have been approved to combat COVID-19 which are proving to be effective, and increased efforts are being made to get the vaccine out to all who desire it. Patience for many of us has been at a breaking point. Fear, doubt, and discouragement permeates our society. It is so important during these exceedingly difficult times to go to the scriptures which are the word of God. Through his word, we can be provided with hope, comfort, and encouragement.

We may ask the question, how much should I be doing to live a life that that would be in accord with my Heavenly Father’s will for me? It would seem to be especially important for each of us to take an honest appraisal of ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5, NASB). This would lead us to conclude that as members of the fallen and sinful race of mankind, we have nothing of virtue or character by which we could be acceptable to God through our own righteousness. From God’s perspective, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) We read in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Therefore, our only hope of coming back into harmony with and acceptance by God is through His grace in providing the way by which He could be just and still be the Justifier of those who come to Him through Christ. (Romans 3:26) Salvation and all the divine blessings can be ours, because of the Heavenly Father’s love in giving His Son to be our Redeemer.—Ephesians 2:8

The value of God’s provided salvation is appreciated most by those who, grasping their own fallen condition, realize their great need for it. (Psalm 34:18) Those who come to Him through Jesus as their redeemer in simple faith and full devotion, do not only enjoy peace with God through His divine favor, but have access to the inner chambers of His grace, and there rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1,2) This “great salvation,” the apostle explains, began to be spoken by our Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him. (Hebrews 2:3) This wonderful gift of God’s love is demonstrated to us in the scripture: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16

What a wonderful expression of love personified. To realize that the grand architect of the universe desired to provide his son as a means to lift mankind out of the curse of sin and death because of his great love, is truly a blessed thing to contemplate. (Genesis 3:15) The type of love that prompted man’s redemption was not phileo or brotherly love, but it was a demonstration of agape, or charity, a benevolent type of love. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance) This brief description of why the Heavenly Father provided the blessing which John described, certainly shows God’s sympathetic love for humanity.

This expression, ‘his only begotten Son,’ refers to our Lord from the very beginning of his existence. He was the only begotten Son or direct creation of God. All other things were made by our Lord in his pre-human existence. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth.” (Colossians 1:16) Then, “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.” (Galatians 4:4 NASB) “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) At thirty years of age, he consecrated his life to God and was baptized by John the Baptist. “And straightway coming out of the water, he [John] saw the heavens opened, and the spirit like a dove descending upon him. And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:10, 11) Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit and following his death on the cross, he was resurrected to the spirit nature. During this entire time, he was the only begotten Son of God.

The entire message of God’s plan for man’s salvation is contained in God’s holy word, the Bible. In summary, it includes man’s need for redemption due to the curse of sin and death; God’s love is declared and then is proven by the gift of his Son; our Lord’s willing cooperation is evidenced; the lengths and breadths of his love and redemption are declared to include the whole world of mankind (Ephesians 3:18,19); and the blessings can only be obtained through an acceptance of Christ. Look at Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6; Colossians 1:15-20) From these verses we see that only through the “ransom,” imputing the merit of the blood of Jesus who died on the cross, to sinners, could they be made acceptable to the Father or be received back again into fellowship with him. (I Timothy 2:6) “All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (II Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 2:11-18) This refers to ‘atonement’ for sin, as is expressed to us in Romans 5:11, “And not so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”

In due time, recovering from the death penalty through faith in Christ and obedience to him, mankind will have the opportunity for ‘everlasting life’ on a restored perfect earth. There will be a promised awakening from death for those who have died. “The hour is coming, … when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God; and they that hear shall live.”—John 5:25; I Corinthians 15:12-25

His kingdom will be an everlasting one. There will be no more pandemics, sickness, sorrow, weeping, poverty, hunger, hatred, wars, or death. We have this promised to us by the sure word of God. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Isaiah 11:9 adds, “They shalt not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain (kingdom): for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” What a glorious prospect! “For in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”—II Peter 1:11

When Will All of Our Sorrows End?

We are two-thirds through what has been an uncertain and tumultuous 2020. The number of new COVID-19 cases and their associated deaths are growing every day in the United States, and throughout the world. The quick disappearance of this disease-causing pandemic has not come to fruition as some may have hoped. Instead of this pandemic uniting us in a common effort, it appears to be driving people further apart.

People’s lives have been turned upside down due to the uncertainty about taking care of their family, staying healthy both physically and financially, and seeing that their children receive a proper education. Confusion, fear, violence, and social injustice are running rampant. Medical personnel and facilities have been stretched to their capacity in many cases. Although there has been much speculation, no one knows when things will get better in the near future.

Due to these troubling circumstances, we may ask ourselves, what now? The trouble and sorrow that has borne down upon humanity has been bitter, and many in their distresses have wondered whether God has any pity, or if He even exists at all. We may wonder, what is my level of faith and trust in the Heavenly Father?

To answer these questions, we must look to the scriptures for the comfort and assurance that God provides so that our faith and trust in Him can grow and we will not be fearful. The psalmist David wrote, in the words from which our title is taken, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) This “night” of sin, sorrow, and death began with the disobedience of our first parents in Eden. Indeed, it has indeed been a night of weeping. (Genesis 2:17, 3:1-24)

Do not despair, however, for God promises there will be a morning of joy for the human race. That morning will usher in a new day of blessing for all mankind that will come from the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth with Jesus as its ruler. This government of righteousness has been foretold by all God’s “holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:20 21)

What a wonderful governmental arrangement this will be! It will establish universal and lasting peace between men and between men and God, which man in his selfishness has been unable to do. The divine head of this government, Christ, is described in prophecy as “The Prince of Peace,” and we are promised that “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6,7)

This kingdom will bring economic security to everyone. This is shown by the prophecy that every man will dwell under his own “vine” and “fig tree.” (Micah 4:4) Much of the suffering in the world throughout the ages has been due to lack of food, clothing, and shelter. Even today millions of the human race exist on insufficient supplies of food, have little clothing, and live with the most meager of shelter over their heads. This will be corrected through Christ’s earthly kingdom. All shall have the opportunity to live in peace and safety. (Isaiah 11:9) The prophet Isaiah adds: “They will build houses and inhabit them; They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  They will not build and another inhabit, They will not plant and another eat … And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands ” (Isaiah 65:21-22)

Peace and economic security will not be the only blessings guaranteed to the people under the rulership of  Christ’s kingdom. Isaiah wrote, “In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering [death] cast over all people, and the vail [ignorance] that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 25:6-8)

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Samson

Samson was the seventh judge of Israel. His birth and commission to be a Nazarite were foretold by an angel, an honor given to very few in scripture. He was endowed with miraculous strength which he used to fight the Philistines. At this point, the Philistines had ruled over Israel for forty years. (Compare Judges 13:1 and Judges 15:11)
Samson had a preoccupation with the women of Philistia which was overruled by God for the improvement of Israel’s national situation. (Judges 14:4) His romantic interests became a pretext for personal conflict with the Philistines.

At the celebration of his marriage to a woman of Timnah, Samson challenged his Philistine companions to solve a riddle. Unable to solve it, they threatened his bride and her family for the answer. In reponse Samson paid his debt with the garments of thirty Philistines he killed in a neighboring town.—Judges 14:10-19

In his absence, his bride was married to another. (Judges 14:20-15:2) This started his feud with the Philistines that defined his judgeship. This feud led to spoiling the Philistine economy by burning their crops at harvest (Judges 15:3-5), the killing of a thousand men with a jawbone (Judges 15:14-16), and the destruction of the gates of the city of Gaza.—Judges 16:3

Samson’s fall came from his relationship with Delilah who convinced him to share the secret of his strength—his relationship with God, as symbolized by his hair. With his hair cut, Samson lost his strength, was blinded, and imprisoned. In the moment of his greatest weakness, chained to two pillars in the temple of Dagon, Samson asked God for strength. Receiving it, he destroyed the temple, killing himself and 3,000 Philistines, including their leaders. Thus, he freed Israel from Philistine oppression for the next twenty years.—Judges 16:23-30

Samson’s story is an example that God can use imperfect people to accomplish his plans. It reminds us of the danger of giving in to our fallen human tendencies. It reveals that when we are at our weakest, God is still with us. If we ask for his strength to do his will, He is faithful to hear us.—Lam. 3:22,23

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Reflections at the Laver

The laver of the Tabernacle of Israel represents to Christians something of profound significance. (Exod. 30:18-21) The laver was made from polished copper and filled with water for the priests to wash and cleanse themselves before entering the Tabernacle and performing its services. “When they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, so that they will not die; or when they approach the altar to minister, by offering up in smoke a fire sacrifice to the Lord. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they will not die; ….”—vss. 20,21, NASB

We understand from scripture that this polished copper was made from the looking glasses, or mirrors, of the Israelites. Copper is a picture of human perfection, just as the copper snake that was lifted up in the wilderness to heal the snake-bitten Jews. This showed how Jesus took mankind’s place under sin’s penalty by giving his perfect human life as a ransom for Adam. (Num. 21:6-9; John 3:14; 1 Tim. 2:5,6) The water in the laver represented the water of Truth from God’s holy Word which the christian uses to cleanse himself.—Eph. 5:26

Antitypical priests, or spirit-begotten Christians, come to the laver of God’s Word to wash and thus, cleanse themselves from the defilements of sin in their fallen human nature. Like the Levitical priests, they strive to cleanse themselves in a process of sanctification, for the service to which they have been called.—1 Cor. 6:11; Heb. 10:22
When a spirit-begotten Christian bends forward to utilize the water of Truth for cleansing, they see the reflection of their imperfections from the water. However, because the laver itself was made from polished copper, they also see the reflection of Christ Jesus’ perfection and recognize how to better be conformed to his image. Through the process of continual cleansing, they hopefully will see a reflected image that looks more and more like Jesus, and less and less like the old creature they used to be. This is expressed in the words, “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” We are to humble ourselves and be obedient to the Word of God being “conformed to the image of his Son [Jesus].”—Phil. 2:5; Rom. 8:29 n

Brotherly Love

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Rom. 12:10, NIV) The Apostle Paul specifically mentions brotherly love as one of the characteristics of a Christian. In the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul states that we should not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renovation of our minds. (Rom. 12:2) If we transform our mind, one of the characteristics we should develop is brotherly love. The Apostle Peter also lists brotherly love as one of the key qualities of a Christian. (2 Pet. 1:5-7) These qualities are so important, Peter writes that “if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”—2 Pet 1:10,11, NIV

What is this characteristic of brotherly love that Paul and Peter identify? It is not just familial love but the love of our brethren in Christ—the love we should have for each other as fellow believers in Jesus. As believers we share the same hopes, interests, and promises. Thus, our aims are the same, and our struggle to overcome our imperfect flesh, the world, and the devil are the same as well. Through these shared hopes and goals, we develop sympathy, love, and care for one another as each strives to do his best to serve the Heavenly Father and our Lord Christ Jesus.

How do we show this brotherly love to each other? The Scriptures give us clear admonitions to follow. Jesus says, “Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12, NIV) This was the new commandment that Jesus gave his followers: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34, NIV) Jesus loved his disciples, cared for them, and watched out for their earthly and spiritual needs.

We are to do the same for our Christian brethren. Paul points out in Romans 12:10 to “honor one another above yourselves.” We should be putting our brethren’s preferences first. Paul used the Thessalonians as an example of this brotherly love. Their love was evident not only among each other but to all the brethren in Macedonia. (1 Thess. 4:9,10) Likewise, our love for our brethren should be easily visible to others.

Image 48507713 Copyright:    Volha Zaitsava  © 123RF.com

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