Beware of the spiritual Samaritan who has been, who is, and will continue to be until Christ returns. What is a spiritual Samaritan?
I'd like to discuss a topic that perhaps we have not looked at in the same way before. And that concerns the question. The question is what is a spiritual Samaritan? What is a spiritual Samaritan? We have been told to beware of the Samaritans. But, today I'd like to encourage you to beware of the spiritual Samaritan. Now, what is a spiritual Samaritan? Let's begin to evaluate and analyze it. I think you can begin to understand where I'm going to go by asking you to turn to 2 Kings 17 for just a moment. And let's look at the example of the physical Samaritans to draw the parallels that we'll be dealing with today in the sermon. Here in 2 Kings 17 we read about what happened when the King of Assyria moved the Israelites to Assyria and transplanted a people from outside the region into the Israelite land. Now, because they did not understand God's law, they did not understand God's principals, they did not understand God's way, God sent lions to slay them. And we read about this beginning in Verse 24 .
2 Kings 17:24 . "And The King of Assyria brought men from Babylon, from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharavaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof."
And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there that they feared not the Lord, therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them.
Verse 26, " Wherefore, they spoke to the King of Assyria, saying, the nations which you have removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, don't know the manner of the God of the land: therefore He has sent lions among them, and behold, they slay them because they know not the manner of the God of the land." So the King of Assyria in Verse 27 "…commanded that they bring hither one of the priests. And this individual was to go and teach the Samaritans there in the area, teach them the manner of the God of the land. And so they did so in Verse 28 .
And they taught them in Verse 28 that they should fear the Lord. And the problem was, in Verse 29 , "Every nation made gods of their own, and they put them in the houses of the high places, which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the city where they dwelt therein."
And in Verse 32 , "So they feared the Lord. And they made of themselves, the lowest of them, priests of the high places which sacrificed for them in the house of the high places. They feared the Lord, but they served their own gods after the manner of the nations of whom they carried away from thence."
So what you see then is the Israelites trying to teach the Samaritans a little bit about God's way of life in order to, perhaps, have some form of protection because this was God's land. These were God's people. They were removed and now the King of Assyria had sought someone from Israel to come and teach them God's laws. And according to Verse 41, it says, "These nations feared the Lord, but they served their graven images, both they and their children and their children's children, as did their fathers, so they do unto this day." And it hasn't changed until the days of Jesus Christ. It did not change even during that period of time that they continued to do so. These people developed what we describe as a mixture of truth and error. One of the most damaging things that you can have is a mixture of truth and error. A synchritic approach, a fusion of two or more beliefs. And so what you see was they were taught about the law of God but they also held fast to some of their ideas. When you try to blend them together you had an admixture. You had something that was not acceptable to God and it certainly wasn't going to be something that was going to bring about what should have been in the area of Samaria.
And so these Samaritans, as they were called, would say things like they came from the northern areas of Ephraim and Manasseh. They pretended when the times were right to be Jews. And other times they said they were Gentiles. Whatever would fit their means. Whatever was the most important thing. And they would flop back and forth according to whatever the needs were.
Now we see today that this particular approach that happened in 2 King 17 and the delusion and the removal of the ability to have all truth, continued to infiltrate the New Testament times. It infiltrated the true church, as a mixture of truth and error. It was said, in later chapters in the Book of Revelation , it says, "I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan." So here they begin to draw from the things that happened back in the days of the Samaritans, who came into the New Testament times, and they in their beliefs and way of life paralleled the children of God in the Church of God and they acted like -- they pretended like, they looked like -- they were a part of God's way of life because they had the laws of God, yet they had the teachings and the beliefs that they had with their Gentile practices of idolatry.
So, the Bible tells us later, in the Book of Revelation , he warns us simply about those who say they are Jews are not but are of the synagogue of Satan. The whole parallel of what happened with the physical Samaritans is something that is brought, again, into the New Testament. And whether it is the influence of the physical Samaritans in Israel, or whether it is the spiritual Samaritan, we're warned. We're warned simply that this is something that is not acceptable to God. And hence today we look at the question, what is a spiritual Samaritan. God has always shown us, from the beginning, and He continues to show us in the New Testament that Satan has always tried to hinder the true work of God wherever it was being done on this Earth.
God has done through his servants from time to time a great work. You'll see it occurring in a little while in the Old Testament examples over in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah . You see in the New Testament it was done by His servants. But always Satan has tried to hinder that work. He has always tried to hinder that work. First, by coming into the midst of God's work to divide and to conquer. This seems to be his most effective means, and then if he is thwarted he uses outside forces. And you will see as we go through the history of the true Church in places like the Book of Revelation, Chapter 12 , you will see that even physical Israel who was called The Church, and the spiritual body, both had to contend with the fact that this spirit being was always striving to hinder what was being done in the work of God. Whether it was back in the days of building the Temple of God in Israel, or whether it was the building of the spiritual temple of God in the New Testament.
And so, by permission of God, Satan has been allowed to do this. By permission of God Satan has been allowed to do this. Because Satan is not as strong as God. Never has been. Never will be. Because that which has been created is always inferior to its creator. And I think we must understand that God has intended for us to learn some lessons. And today I would like to evaluate by drawing a parallel between the physical Samaritans and the spiritual Samaritans that we need to be evaluating on a regular basis.
Now I Peter 4:17, you don't need to turn there. But just listen to the scripture. It says that "The judgment must begin at the House of God first. " The House of God being us. Judgment. God is sifting and sorting human beings. He wants to find out where we are in certain regards. So far as our character, so far as our beliefs, so far as our practices of His way of life. There is a certain problem that occurred back in the Old Testament. That same problem occurred in the New Testament. When you had the influence of this spirit being you had the watering down of a number of things that were important to God. And so we begin to realize that judgment is upon the House of God. We are being worked with. We are being dealt with. We are being sifted and sorted by God's hand to find out where we are as individuals and, of course, as a collective body as well.
Let's turn for one scripture over to Deuteronomy 8:1 . We see Moses writes this particular statement. He said, "All the commandments which I command you this day shall you observe to do, that you may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore unto your fathers."
Is this not the same thing that we as God's Church are striving to do? That we should live? That we should multiply by the very purpose of God according to
Matthew 28: 19-20? Of course! That we are to preach the gospel. We are to baptize those who believe. So we are to multiply. And we are to work together toward that common goal that common vision to go in and possess the land which the Lord swore unto our fathers. That you and I are members of that same family and that Jesus Christ has intended - because we are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promises. And whether the physical promises were given to Israel there is the spiritual promise that is given to us of grace through Christ and His salvation that is offered to you and to me.
Deuteronomy 8:2 -- And so he said, "You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these 40 years in the wilderness..."
To humble you. To prove you. To know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commandments." So nothing has changed. The basic foundation is simply the law of God upon which we stand, and the foundational doctrines, and beliefs and teachings of God stand on those things. But notice what He said.
Deuteronomy 8:3 -- "… He humbled you, and he suffered you to hunger and He fed you with manna which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord does man live."
So God's sifting. He continues to sift the hearts of men before His judgment seat. And he does it by reason of a number of principles and precepts that He has given to us. And I'd like to share a little bit of that with you today.
Let's go over to the book of II Thessalonians . I'd like to read a prophecy that was for the days of the Apostle Paul. It was for the days of the time of the end, just before Jesus Christ returns. But this prophecy is also a prophecy that contains principles that allow us to understand that not just for the days of the Apostle Paul, not jus for the days of the time of the end, but the principles that you see in II Thessalonians 2 have a great deal to do with what we should be doing in dealing with the spiritual Samaritan. Notice what II Thessalonians 2 begins to discuss. I'd like to draw a lesson for us from past history. I'd like to draw a lesson so that we can use it at the present time and to use it obviously for the future to understand a vital principle. What is the significance of this prophecy of II Thessalonians concerning the man of sin? Sitting in the temple of God, showing himself to be God. What importance does that have to do with you? You say, well I live at the time of the end. Okay. What about if you lived in the Middle Ages? What about if you lived in the time 100 years after the early New Testament Church was begun in 31 A.D.? What about the people that were wandering in the valleys? The Piedmont Valleys of France? What about those people? What application does it have to them? It has to have application to all of us because the Word of God is the foundation upon which we base our lives. But here's this man of sin sitting in the Temple of God saying that he is God. What message do we draw from these events? So that we can understand the principle of dealing with the, as we call it - the spiritual Samaritan. Well, let's go to II Thessalonians 2 and take a look at it.
We will see, as we begin to read in this particular section, that a force of evil was found in the world that was at work on an on-going basis. We found also that this force of evil was at work within the church, as we understand the history of the true Church from about 50 A.D. to about 100 A.D. And by 120 A.D. we begin to realize that this particular force of evil had done so much work infiltrating the true Church of God that ultimately by 120 A.D. the Church was a very different looking Church than it was back in the days of the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter.
So, this force of evil was at work in the world. It was at work, as well, within the Church. But we see God is still in control. As you read this particular scripture, we see God even though there is crashing chaos that occurred during the days of the Apostle Paul and it occurred through the 90s and 100 A.D. and also at the time of the end we still see that God is in control. We also see in this particular chapter the ultimate triumph of God is sure. Satan and his henchmen will not be allowed to go any further than God permits. But he will be used to try and to test; to find out as we said in Deuteronomy - where our heart is and whether we are going to live by every word of God. But we see God finding out. We see God finding out where we are by allowing some of this to occur. And to give us the time, sometimes of difficulty, as we have to stretch ourselves to seek the word of God as opposed to the will of man.
Do we understand what's going on here? And it's application? Well, let's begin. II Thessalonians 2, Verses 1 and 2. Let's read it. "Now we beseech you brethren, by the coming of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him that you be not soon shaken in mind or be troubled by spirit or by word or by letter from us, as that the Day of the Lord is at hand." Christ had not yet returned. The problem of the Thessalonians was that they expected Christ to return then. A lot of people stopped working. And individuals were living on other individual's monies. And so the Apostle Paul simply was saying this is a false alarm. This is not true. You're getting letters. And you're also having as it says here, "by spirit." So he recognized that in the world of the Apostle Paul that there were spirits at work that were bringing about confusion and difficulty for the people to understand.
Verse 3 . He said, point number one: "Let no man deceive you by any means. For that day shall not come except there come a falling away first."
And point number two, that the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. So we see in Verse 3 a falling away first. Then too, you will see that this man of sin then has the capacity then to move into the Temple of God. Now, you and I know when we look at the Temple of God here in this particular case we've always said it's a physical building in Jerusalem. But when you look at the fact that there was a physical building over in the period of the children of Judah when they came back from captivity does not, does not, remove the prophecies that occurred in the Book of Haggai and Zechariah that had to do with a spiritual temple also that was a parallel of that physical one that would be built.
Yet the Bible says here in this particular case that this particular man of sin was going to be revealed. And he was going to do something because he had the capacity to do so. And so we read that this particular period is a time of defection. This is a time of apostasy. From what? Notice Verse 10 for just a moment.
Verse 10. "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
It's the very same thing that was said in Deuteronomy 8: 3 , was it not? Which simply said that God was going to sift and sort the hearts of men to see whether or not they were going to keep God's word or not. And so the point is that an individual has to have in order to keep from being deceived, the love of the truth that they might be saved. Notice Verse 11 . "For this cause God shall send them the working of delusion." Or send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie. And so we recognize here, in this particular case, in Verse 11 that these individuals - again - were going to allow themselves to be deceived by certain things outwardly as if the individual was. Or the system was Godly. It just comes across as being a deception that they don't perceive. And it says in Verse 12 that they might all be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. So the time is going to come when there's going to be such a watering down of the truth of God that individuals are going to be allowed to believe the lie. Or to have strong delusion. The working of error.
Vine says in his particular book on this particular word about falling away. He says this word comes from the Greek apostasia . This word apostasia is used in a political sense. It has to do with a rebellion or an age of rebellion. So the setting would be, apparently, in an age of rebellion or a rebellion. There would be the fact that people would have the truth watered down and that they would simply fall away from the true teachings of God. And that they would begin to accept as the Samaritans brought in their form of doctrine a mixture. A mixture of good and evil. A mixture of part truth and part error. And this is the way you see it happening in the world that you and I live in the United States. When it comes to an attitude. When you see the churches of this world are coming to realize that they're not gaining anything. That they are simply gaining people who walk in the front door and walk out the back door because of the fact that they only want to be titillated, they only want to be made to feel good. They only want to be taught certain basic things that they want to receive. But when it comes to the truth of God they don't want someone telling them what to do, where to go and how to do it. And we live in an age that is like that.
Now, that same age, you and I brush up against every day. Whether it's by the Internet, by radio, by television, by the printing press of the newspaper or magazines. Whether it be by movies, it comes at you every day. And all kinds of things are coming at us on a regular basis. And the point is that it has an effect, a profound effect upon the mind of an individual. And we don't realize how much of an effect it has upon us. Now, going on to Verse 4 .
Verse 4. He said this individual "Opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped: so that he as God, sitting in the Temple of God, showing himself that he is God." So, apparently, at the time of the end, from what we gather there's going to be a tremendous struggle that's going to go on. And this particular struggle will be a man who is religious, from every indication, who will try to take over control of a certain area in Jerusalem. No question about it.
And the fact that he's going to have a struggle with two men called the two witnesses. And there's going to be a tremendous amount of crashing and bashing that is going to go on because these two men who are God's witnesses will have greater power than this individual who can do certain miracles and signs but not as great as the two men God has chosen. So the struggle is going to be very, very great.
But the point is that when you look at this you see that the very same struggle that we see at the time of the end is one that has gone on during the days of the Jews. It's gone on during the early New Testament days, and it is basically going on in the same time that we're living in. Nothing has changed because there is an important principle to be understood. And what is a spiritual Samaritan. Going on to Verse 5.
Verse 5. "Remember you not, that, when I was with you, I told you these things?" So Paul was a great bulwark. He was a great announcer. He was one who was warning the people of God on a regular basis. He wasn't just preaching to them a certain type of sermon without bite. He was telling them what needed to be understood. And he said in Verse 6 , and in this we begin to see as an interesting point.
Verse 6. "And now you know what withholds that He might be revealed in His time. For the mystery of iniquity is already at work." That is, it was working underneath. It was not seen in the same way of coming and erupting upward among the people until obviously the time when it was going to be allowed to come forward. And he said, "Only he who now lets will let until he be taken out of the way."
become the most important to us, as we understand the prophecy as we understand the prophecy of the past, the present and the future. Because this particular term over here, "He who withholds, … or as it says, "He who lets, will let until he be taken out of the way." The translation in the King James Version sometimes is a little difficult. The word here, "the individual who withholds" is one who hinders, or restrains. And then dropping down to Verse 7 , where it says, "He who now lets," … and again it's the same concept. Okay, it's one who hinders or restrains until he be taken out of the way. God has always placed His servants in positions of responsibility to warn and teach God's people. And it is most important to realize that this mystery of iniquity will not break out - and did not break out during Paul's day - until the one was removed that was allowing - the mystery of iniquity was not allowed to come forth in full until Paul and those whom God had chosen were removed. And so the indication as been that through the Holy Spirit of God, Paul and the servants of God were withholding. That is, they were not allowing these things to occur. And I believe that we see that this has been a continuous thing that has occurred in God's Church and has occurred in dealing with the world at large in warning them of what is going to happen.
But I want you to go over to II Timothy 3 for just a moment. And notice a scripture here in
II Timothy 3 . It's a scripture that we often refer to as the conditions in the world. As the conditions in the world. It's a time of the end prophecy. It shows people and the effect of the society upon them. We have always talked about the effect of society at the time of the end. And we've always used this scripture to talk about these particular problems that would be there. That would be extant. Notice what it says.
II Timothy 3:1-4. "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful and unholy. Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." And we say, yeah, that's what's happening. Notice the next verse.
Verses 5-6. " Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Of this sort are they which creep into houses and lead captive, silly women, laden with sins, led away with diverse lusts."
You're looking at something far more than a prophecy of the world. You're looking at the time of the end and the very fact that there are individuals who get into people's lives and they allow these -- themselves in this particular case -- to go down a road that is parallel to the society. It is parallel to the society because it says in Verse 7:
Verse 7. " Ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
So you see that Paul is talking about the difficulty of the society but he's saying the people of God are going to be facing this problem. And that's why you and I have to beware of the spiritual Samaritan because he's always there. He's always there to send us down the wrong road. He's always there in the form of this spirit being who bombards us with his particular attitude. He is always there in the form of human beings who can lead us astray. He's always there in the form of whatever problem is within the society. And you and I have to realize, brethren, as we look at these scriptures, that there must be someone and we have to be both that individual as well as a part of what Christ wants done. Somebody has to be there to withstand.
Now notice what it says in Verse 8 , because he's talking about withstanding. He said :
Verse 8 . "Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith."
So you see, the whole concept in the scripture is you've got to be careful. You have to be watchful. You can't just simply let go. You have to be on guard against this sort of thing occurring. Now Paul said, Verse 9 . "They shall proceed no further for their folly shall be manifest unto all as was theirs as well."
Then he began to talk about you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life, et cetera. So the warning that we see here, the time of the end shows people allowing iniquity to have an affect on their personal lives. Simply not fighting the influence of this society as it infiltrates their minds. Maybe. Maybe we face the question in the eras of the Church, of the 7 th one, which has to do with being lukewarm. Maybe we are facing that particular problem now. Maybe not. I'm not going to sit here and decide that. And make that statement. But I will say this, that we see a tremendous struggle that is going on between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness and we don't recognize sometimes how much of it has an effect upon us. How much has affected us over the last six, seven, eight, ten years. Whether it's by the society or whether it's by those who propounded to be servants of God who told us who they were supposedly.
And were not. Moses and Aaron had to withstand Jannes and Jambres just as the two witnesses will have to withstand the beast and the false prophet.
I want you to notice. Let's go to Revelation 11 . Let's take it all the way down to the time of the end. Here are two men who were given a specific job. Let's look at it for just a moment. I think it's profound to recognize that one of their jobs was to protect the Temple of God. You want to call it the physical temple. Fine. I can go with that. Because that's one part of what we see occurring in the prophecies of the Old Testament. But there's also the fact that you have a spiritual temple that is being built in Christ so that it can do a work at the time of the end. And it says here that these two individuals are given power. Notice:
Revelation 11:1-2. "And there was given unto me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood and said, "Rise and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and them that worship therein." Now that's interesting how it comes out. You want to talk about a physical temple? Fine. You want to talk about a spiritual temple? Fine. There's a parallel that we can draw from it. "But the court which is without ," that is outside of the temple, "leave it out and measure it not, for it is given to the Gentiles..." The concept being that these are unbelievers. These are individuals who would try to thwart the overall work of God and the plan of God.
Revelation 11:2 . "For it is not given to them, and the holy city shall they tread under foot, forty and two months." That's three and a half years.
Verse 3. "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophecy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sack cloth."
It's a type of Moses and Aaron who were withstanding Jannes and Jambres. And it's the same type of thing where two men are going to withstand those individuals who represent the system of government that's going to be extant at that time of the ten nations. And secondly, they will withstand the religious leader as well. And he said these are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. You can read in Zechariah 4:2-3 all about this. It's a parallel to what we see happening.
Revelation 11:5-6. "And if any man will hurt them fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemy: and if any man will hurt them he must in this manner be killed. They have power to shut the heavens that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over the waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will."
Here's an example of three and a half years, minus three and a half days according to what the prophecy says a little bit later. Where these two men are standing before God and performing greater miracles than the beast and the false prophet. They are performing such miracles that it makes the beast and the false prophet look bad. Because of the fact that these individuals are operating under the power of Elijah. The Bible says Elijah would come, according to Malachi 4, 5, and 6. How that's going to happen The Bible doesn't specifically say. I know that we see individuals coming in the spirit and the power of Elijah. But we also recognize these men were given the same power that Elijah was given. They stand for God. But notice what happens.
Verse 7. "And when they shall have finished their testimony," that is the warning, "the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of that great city which spiritually is called Sodom in Egypt, where our Lord was crucified." And the people all around the world, by worldwide television shall see. I'm interpreting now. "… shall see their dead bodies three days and a half and they shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in the grave. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts to one another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth."
And the answer is of course they did. Of course they did. Because these two individuals stood against the mystery of iniquity. They stood for something. Just like the Apostle Paul, they would hinder until they were taken out of the way. Before this mystery of iniquity could come to the full.
These two chosen witnesses carry out a spectacular work. They exercise the powers given to Elijah and Moses at the temple site in Jerusalem. The center of a great spiritual battle. They will hinder for three and a half years minus three and a half days. As God's work, as a final witness of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom to the world. And the beast and false prophet will try to take over the temple that has been measured out to the two witnesses.
Well, what in the world does this all have to do with the spiritual Samaritan? What does this have to do with it? Well, there's an important principle that we must come back to in understanding today the spiritual Samaritan. Genesis 3 . Let's all go back there to a prophecy for just a moment. Genesis 3:15 . We read about the struggle that was prophesied to occur. Sometimes we don't think too much about it. But it's here.
Genesis 3:15 . And it says, speaking of the problem between Adam and Eve and the serpent that breaks into the prophecy. It said, " I will put hostility between you and the woman." That is between the physical serpent and the women, apparently is what your first thought is. "And between your seed and her seed." And you begin to understand that there is a type and anti-type that is found here. There is the first physical thing and then there is the spiritual one. Between your seed, which is the seed of the serpent. And her seed. Now The Bible says very simply that you are of your father the devil and his works you will do. He was talking; in this case, Christ was to the Pharisees and some of those individuals who were standing contrary. "Your seed." Those human being who have come under the delusion and have come under the deception of the spirit being. And her seed, meaning the Church.
Now, if you would, later on you need to go back to Revelation 12 and read the whole chapter. Because it is a short history of the Church. First, from the days of physical Israel when God chose those 12 tribes and began to work through them to the end-time spiritual body where Christ ascended up to heaven to God's throne, where this spirit being was still trying to attack him until he did go back to God's throne. And then this spirit being turned his attention on the Church. He turns his attention on the Church. And for over 2,000 years we see the enmity between "… your seed and her seed. It shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel." Again, a prophecy about Christ and the serpent, obviously, being removed at some particular time, as pictured by the Day of Atonement.
The enmity and the war that has existed and gone on for thousands of years between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is a prophecy that said it will continue to go on today in our day right now. And why not? Why not? The struggle for good and righteousness against the unseen spirit of this world has been going on since the days the angels inhabited the Earth. When we look at the history of man we see the golden thread, do we not, of truth that has always had to endure through time and testing by permission of God. Is that not so? Of course it is. Is that not what we have to face? Is it not true that God, as I read in the early going, that He has sifted the hearts and minds of men before His judgment seat from day one? To find out where you are.
What you're going to do with His holy truths. God has always raised up someone to carry the banner and the torch of truth. He's always had someone to do that. And this example here in Genesis 3:15 simply points to a continuous struggle which would be carried on between the Kingdom of God and Satan. The Bible shows the holy war between the children of light and the children of darkness.
But there's one more scripture that you have to look at in all of this. And that's found in Matthew 13:24. Notice one more prophecy that tells us something that we must be cognizant of in this particular area.
Matthew 13:24 . "And another parable He put forth unto them saying, "The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. And while men slept his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. And when the blade was sprung up and brought forth fruit, then the appeared the tares also." That is they looked alike. "So the servant of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, did you not sow good seed in you field? From whence does it now have tares?" And he said unto them, "An enemy has done this." And the servant said unto him, "Will you that we go and gather them up?" And he said, "No, lest you gather up the tares you root up also the wheat with them."
Now, it is very difficult to distinguish sometimes between a tare and wheat. You have to let it grow until it comes to fruition; it begins to bear fruit. It takes time for those things to be done. Time has a way of telling you and it has a way of telling me where we are spiritually. It also has a way of telling us where people, other people are spiritually. You can't always know. It sometimes looks very good. But it isn't always as good as it seems. It may taste sweet in the mouth but when it gets down in the belly like it says in the Proverbs, it's bitter. And so God has intended for us to let them grow until we see the fruit being born. And then he said, "Gather first the tares and bind them in bundles to be burned," and the wheat you gather into his barn. This has gone on for thousands of years. The Bible is specifically showing us that there are people who appear as angels of light. They appear as servants of God, and they are a part of the deception. And we've been caught up in that just as much as anybody else in the days when we were before, and the days that we are now. We have to recognize that that's a part of something that we have to struggle with. And so this spirit being has a deep desire to divide and conquer. To stop the work through all ages is foremost in his mind. The objective -- to water down the truth. The objective -- to wear out the saints of the Most High. To create confusion. To create rebellion. To create hostility. To create anger. These are all primary in his thinking. To appear as he does, as an angel of light, as a true servant. To masquerade as a true servant of God and a true minister is a part of his deception.
Well, what are you trying to say, Richard? What are you trying to say? I'm trying to say, brethren that we need to always hold fast to the truth. Because in holding fast to the truth, what we will find is who's with the program and who's not. From day one of the Church in its early beginnings, all the way through until Christ returns. And if we don't do that then we're going to find that we're going to struggle as did many of these people, and they didn't discern who was with the program and who wasn't.
I want you to go back to the Old Testament with me for a moment. And I want to show you some scriptures in the time that I have left. I think they're profound.
Let's go to Ezra . I want to take Ezra and Nehemiah for a few minutes and bounce through them and show you a couple of interesting sections in here. In the book of Ezra 3. And we see here in Chapter 3 the story of how God has sent prophets to warn ancient Judah that their nation would be destroyed if they didn't repent. The people did not repent and they were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. God had also told them through the prophets that He would bring them out of captivity. The Meads and the Persians eventually overthrew the Babylonians and under Cyrus the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland. And here we begin to pick it up in Chapter 3:10. We see that Zerubbabel is sent by Cyrus along with the priests, Jeshua, or Joshua. The people who accompanied them were filled with excitement to do God's work. Yet some were saddened when they looked at the temple of Solomon compared to the temple that now was going to be rebuilt during their days. And they are attempting to build this particular temple. But realizing that it's never going to be like Solomon's temple, which they had seen. So we read in Chapter 3:10 these words:
Ezra 3:10-11. "And when the builders had laid the foundation of the Temple of the Lord, they sent priests in their apparel and trumpets, and the Levites the son of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord after the ordinance of David, the king of Israel. And they sang together, by chorus and praising and giving thanks unto the Lord, for He is good. For His mercy endures forever..." And then the last part of the verse. "And all the people shouted with a great shout, for they praised the Lord because the foundation of the Lord's house was laid."
And so we recognize, again, the importance of something that was begun again. We realize that the first temple under Solomon represented a type of God's church. The second temple was rebuilt from its foundations up. And then of course, the third temple was rebuilt as well. And we recognize that all of these are, in that sense of the word, like a new beginning. It's like the beginning of something that was not there before. And the principle that we see from the Old Testament times was simply that when you had a good king and you obeyed the good king, that you were blessed. And those things that were necessary for righteousness were done and the whole land was blessed.
When you had a bad king, but you found out that they went into idolatry, they went into transgression of God's law, and everything went bad. The same principle that you find in the Old Testament, between the kings and righteousness, and the people, and righteousness is found in the New Testament. Just as we had the building of a temple and its destruction and the rebuilding of a temple and its destruction. You have the same thing in the New Testament when Christ said, "I will build my Church." And you find that the Church began in 31 A.D. and it grew until a certain period. And by 100 - 120 A.D. we see the decimation of the beautiful things of God and the true Church of God had to go basically underground by 120-150 A.D. Then you see The Church over periods of time in its history rising up to large greatness and large numbers. You'll find there were times when there was 100,000, 200,000 people. You'll find there were times in our day when we had 165,000 people at a high period of The Church. But, again, you always found that when The Church reached a certain point there was something that set in and there was a decimation of all of those things. Why? Beware the spiritual Samaritan. Because it always occurred back in the days of Israel and Judah. And it occurred also in the New Testament time, as the spiritual Samaritan tried to get in to destroy or water down, or to remove from The Church it's lamp stand. Or it's candlestick.
But we read in Chapter 4:1 . "Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity built the temple unto the Lord God: they came unto Zerubbabel, and to the chief fathers and said unto them, Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do, and we sacrifice unto Him since the days of Esar-haddon, king of Assur, which brought us up hither. And Zerubbabel, and Joshua and the rest of the chiefs of the fathers of Israel said unto them , You have nothing to do with us to build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus of Persia has commanded us." What? You have nothing to do?
Well, we're coming to help you. We belong to the same God you do. Oh, no. They didn't. Oh, no, they didn't. These were the individuals, if you remember before, were the ones who had idolatrous approaches to God's law and they tried to bring together two systems of worship and it didn't work. It was an admixture. It was confusion. It was wrong. Here they are saying we want to be a part of you. They were coming in among the Jews saying yes, we want to be a part of this. And Zerubbabel had the discernment, and Joshua had the discernment, and the chiefs of Judah had the discernment to know they didn't belong! We've got to learn that, too. We've got to continue to learn that, too. It's a part of Christianity, brethren. Because notice what happened.
Verse 4. "And the people of the land weakened the hand of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building." Why? Because they tried to stop God's work. They tried to stop God's work. And The Bible says over in Verse 23 and 24 that :
Verse 23-24 "The work of the House of God, which was at Jerusalem, ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia." Sixteen years. Sixteen years the work was stopped. Why? Because of this particular group in verse 1. The adversaries of Judah and Benjamin. Do you know who they were? Check your critical and experimental commentary. It tells you. They were the Samaritans. They were the Samaritans. Shocking? No. Not at all. The parallel's been the same since the beginning when the seed of the serpent fought against the seed of the woman. So the people who lived in Palestine came to try to offer their help and it does seem strange to some people until you begin to understand that these individuals who supposedly were worshipping YHWH simply were not. And he had very good reason, Zerubbabel, for not allowing them to do so. You know the story when you go back to 2 Kings 17 and see that.
Now, let's go over to the Book of Ezra, Ezra 9. When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem he had discovered that the people who had been sent to rebuild God's temple had accepted the mixture of truth and error that was in the religion of the Samaritans.
Ezra 9:1-3 . "And when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, "The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites and the Hittites, and the Perusites, and the Jebusites, and the Ammonites." And all the other 'hites.' I just added that. "For they had taken of their daughters to themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed had mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hands of the princes and the rulers have been chief in this trespass." And when I heard this I rent my garment and my mantle and plucked the hair off my head."
Ouch. He was very upset about that particular fact. Ezra went about then teaching these individuals and reestablishing Judah to separate themselves from the religion around them. That they had mingled the worship of the true God with pagan customs. A friend of mine came up to me at the Philadelphia conference and he said to me, you know Richard; I stayed three years past the time you guys left. And he said I thought I was standing for truth and boy, he said, I felt like I was doing everything that I should have done. And he said, you know, after being in United for the last year or year and a half I came to realize how much error by osmosis I had taken in. How much error by osmosis I had taken in. What a priceless statement made by that man. Why? Because it's so easy. It comes at you so quietly and so surreptitiously that the spirit of this work has an ability to get to us in many ways that we don't understand. Notice
Verses 4-6. He said:
Verses 4-6 . " They were assembled unto me everyone that trembled at the word of the Lord of Israel because of the transgressions of those that had been carried away: and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice." And then he began to pray in Verse 5 and 6 about the sin that had been committed. He was overwhelmed by the acceptance of sin and the cavalier attitude toward the pagan customs simply stamped with the name of God. It was an awesome thing.
Let's go over to the book of Nehemiah now, just for a couple of minutes, in the sermon. In the book of Nehemiah 2: 9-10 he said:
Nehemiah 2:9-10. "I came to the governors beyond the river and gave them the king's letters. And the King sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard it they were grieved. And it grieved them exceedingly that there should come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel."
Now, if you go back again and read who these men were, the critical and experimental commentary tells you again, they were leaders. They were leaders of the Samaritans. So this particular man, Nehemiah, had to begin in Chapter 2 to survey the wall by night, so the people wouldn't see what he was doing. He had such adversarial situations occurring that he simply had to protect himself and so he surveyed the wall by night. And then down in Chapter 2:17 , notice what it says.
Nehemiah 2:17. "Then I said unto them, you see that distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire; come let us build up the wall of Jerusalem that we be no more a reproach. And I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me, and also the king's word that he had spoken unto me. And they said, "Let's rise up and build." And so they strengthened their hand for the good work."
And what happens? Immediately you see Sanballat and Tobiah laughing them to scorn in Verse 19. And then answered I to them, Verse 20, "Saying the God of Heaven, He will prosper us, therefore we His servants will arise and build. You have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem." Once again he perceived the attitude of these Samaritans.
Again, we saw in Chapter 4:1-2 that these individuals simply scorned the Jews as they tried to build. Verse 6 . "So we built the wall and all the wall was joined together and half therefore, for the people had a mind to do the work." And then, of course, you see the continuous hassle that they had between them and the Samaritans. But we begin to realize that there's something very interesting that occurs here, beginning in Verse 17 of Chapter 4.
Nehemiah 4:17. "They which built on the wall, and they that bore burdens with those that laden everyone with his hands, wrought into the work with the other hand he held a weapon. And the builders, everyone, had his sword gird by his side and so built and that was sounded by the trumpet and he that sounded the trumpet was by me." I don't think sometimes we recognize what had been occurring.
The people had a mind to do the work. They had to work and stand guard at the same time. As Verse 17 points out, it was very important that they had to help each other. They had to stand with each other in that sense of the word. That in one hand they held a weapon the other hand held the trowel, so to speak, in order to do the work of God. They had to stand and be cognizant of where their enemies were at all times and they had to be cognizant of what they had to be doing with the other hand. I'm surprised how well they did.
I'm encouraged because we begin to realize that the work was great and large and they were separated one from another and they needed to work together in unity in order to withstand the work of the Samaritans at that particular time.
Nehemiah 6 tells us that these three men also decided that they wanted to meet with Nehemiah, because they had planned, according to Verse 2, to do some mischief to him. And I like Verse 3 . I think it's a priceless statement.
Verse 3. "Then I sent messengers on to them saying, "I am going a great work, I can't come down." I thought that was priceless. I'm doing a great work and I can't come down. Then on top of that we had a false prophet who prophesized certain things and told Nehemiah that these things were going to occur to him, and in Verse 12 , notice what it says.
Verse 12. "And lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he had pronounced this prophecy against met. For Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him." So we see lies. We see false prophets. We see enemies. But, I want you to notice in the last part of Verse 16. Notice what it says.
Verse 16. "And it came to pass that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were round about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God." This is where these men withstood the physical Samaritans. This is where they had to withstand individuals that tried to come into their midst.
There are all kinds of other things that occur. Priests were doing favors for some of the faction. Nehemiah had to contend with the rulers. He had to contend with the nobles. He had to do general cleanup on Sabbath breakers. There was a priceless statement that he made. He told them the first time, if you come into Jerusalem; he said there's going to be a problem. He said there's no selling going on. The gates of Jerusalem are closed. And he said , That if they came again he was going to lay hands on them. I mean to tell you, you talk about what I call ministerial abuse. That was a good example of what he was going to do to somebody who was breaking God's Sabbath. And he was not willing to accept the fact that they were going to be there and try to conduct their own business on God's Sabbath.
So the point is a very simple one. We see the need to withstand and the fact that they did withstand. These individuals became a very, very important principle for us to learn from. In 2 Thessalonians 2:7 it says this. "That the mystery of iniquity does already work." It worked subtly underground until it leavened the visible Church in the days of Paul and Peter, and later the Apostle John. You know what I'm talking about.
Over in Jude 3-4. Let's turn there for just a moment. We read a statement that is made here. Sometimes not always understood by people, but the book of Judah points out what the Church had to face in the struggles that it went through. This is Jude 3-4 . This was written probably about 64-70 A.D., and the letter was widely scattered to be circulated for the Church. And he says in Verse 3 , he said:
Jude 3. "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write of you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints." Holding fast to the truth. Receiving the love of the truth. Remember we talked about it in II Thessalonians 2 . "For there are certain men crept in unawares who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men turning the grace of our God into license and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."
When you go back to 2 Peter , if you'd like to turn there for a moment. I'm not going to take the whole chapter. But I think 2 Peter 2:1-3 it tells us these words.
II Peter 2:1-2. " There were false prophets among the people, eve6n as there shall be false teachers among you, who secretly shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction. Many," not a few but many " shall follow their pernicious ways: by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."
II Peter 2:3. "And who, through covetousness," that is trying to get, "they shall with feigned words make merchandise of you."
They'll exploit you. I live in an interesting world in ministerial services. I found out there's an awful lot of people who are selling the truth for a profit. And I find that rather tragic. Because we were taught what the Word of God said. "Freely you have received. Freely give." The motto also of the United Church of God.
But I watch people making hundreds of thousands of dollars off the needs of people in God's Church. And I watch people who exploit, who make merchandise of God's people. And some of our people don't even recognize it. They don't even realize. These individuals are not out there to take care of an individual who goes to the hospital, or who needs to be anointed. They don't care of an individual who is crying out for need for counseling. They don't care of funerals. They simply take care of lining their pockets with the monies they receive for what they send out to people, and people pay good money for that.
But there is no ministry to the saints.
When United began we said number one purpose was to take care of the people of God. And if it was possible then to preach the gospel. We do hundreds of funerals and weddings for people who are not even a part of the organization called the United Church of God. But they do pay good money to somebody else for their tapes. For their literature. I ask you the question, what in the world is going on? What is going on? It makes you realize that this is not God's way. This has never been God's way. Yet, we see these individuals making merchandise of God's people. These are individuals according to Verses 10-13 who simply are in the middle of the love feast and yet they water down the work of God. You have to ask yourself the question; "What in the world is going on?" In Revelation 2 and 3 there are prophecies that are there -- probably five or six -- five of the seven churches in Asia Minor had the problem. I'm just going to read one of the examples for you in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 2, if you want to turn there with me for just a moment. I have it outlined, as I describe it, in pink. When the first Church in Ephesus was told that, " You cannot bear those which are evil, that say they are apostles and not, and you have found them to be liars." You find that the Church over in Smyrna was told as well in Revelation 2 , that, "… there are those that hold the doctrine of Balaam … and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. … And there are those who were in Ephesus who say that they are Jews, and are not, and are the synagogue of Satan."
You see, the Church had infiltrated into it during the early days of John, but also a type of what would happen at the time of the end. Those who would suffer these individuals to do these things to the Church. And Revelation Chapter 3:9 it simply says:
Revelation 3:9. "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews and are not, but do lie; I will make them to come before your feet and to worship because they need to know that I have loved you."
Five of the seven churches in Asia Minor had this problem. It was prophesied to happen in the history of the Church. The spirit speaks to the Churches. But those individuals, who have ears to hear, let them listen. This problem has never been something of our age alone. This has been of every age when there was this spirit who was hostile toward the woman. And the very fact that it will continue until the time of the end. You and I, you and I, are here to understand that Christ will bring this age-old struggle to an end by casting the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire, and removing the adversary of all mankind, Satan. But until that time, be warned. Until that time, be warned. Beware of the spiritual Samaritan who has been, who is, and will continue to be until Christ returns.