How Can We Have A Profitable Hope In Hard Times + Spookiest Bible Stories, Part 2! #309
Happy Saturday, dear friends. Our Bible readings today are 2nd Kings 13, Psalms 119-121-144, Hosea 5 and 6, and 2nd Timothy 3. Before we continue our discussion of the five spookiest Bible stories, I’d like to focus a moment on 2nd Timothy 3. In this passage, we see two very disheartening truths. #1 The last days/end times will be HARD. They will be partially hard because judgment will come on the earth, but Paul says here that they will be hard because people will be so full of sin. We should pause for a moment and consider the sins that will make things so hard, because many of them probably aren’t on our list of worst things to do. Pride, disobedient to parents, loving pleasure and money, demeaning to others, loving self, lacking self-control, reckless and ungrateful, religious, but powerless because they aren’t embracing Christ nor following Him. I can’t imagine a more accurate description of the dark side of our current social media age – it would seem that the advent of the internet, and social media in particular, has fanned the flames of so many of those sins in humanity. Paul also says that literally EVERYBODY who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Does that mean that every true Christian who pursues God will be burned at the stake? Probably not, but it does indeed mean that there will likely be a cost to pay in faithfully following God – a cost professionally, a cost in popularity, and a variety of other costs. Difficult times. Does this mean that every person who labels themselves a Christian will be persecuted? Again, the answer is no – only those who pursue living a Godly life in Christ Jesus. What does Paul tell Timothy to do in the midst of hard times like that? He points him to the Word of God:
13 Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2nd Timothy 3:13-17
When things are going bad and the world around is burning. When people are walking in pride, self-love and powerless religion, the people of God must continue in the truth and Word of God, remembering that the Word of God is inspired by God Himself, and that it is profitable and makes one COMPLETE and EQUIPPED. So – in hard times like we are facing today, flee to Christ for refuge and CONTINUE persevering in the Word of God so that you might have hope and be equipped to overcome in dark days and hard times. A short last challenging word on this subject from pastor Tim Keller:
Second Timothy 3:12 says, “… all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” It doesn’t mean every day. If you look at Jesus, you’ll see people loved him and were attracted to him. Look at the book of Acts. We see people were attracted to the church, and yet people persecuted the church. If you are always being persecuted, you’re probably not living right. You’re probably being obnoxious or something. If you’re never being persecuted, you’re probably being a coward. Do you hear that?
You have to be like Christ, who attracted people who were awed by him and who also repelled people who hated him. Nobody ever considered Christ merely pleasant. if you’re always being persecuted, there is something wrong with you; you’re not living like Christ. But if you’re never persecuted, you are chickening out somewhere.
Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).
And now, one more of the
Spookiest stories in the Bible, part 2:
A very, very strange thing happens in 1st Samuel 28. Saul is the first king of Israel, and he has made many, many mistakes. Fortunately for him and the rest of Israel, he has a great advisor in the prophet Samuel, a mighty man of God. Throughout Saul’s life, he has had Samuel as his adviser, a person to give him wisdom, to point him to the commands of God, and to help Saul when he sins or disobeys God, which happens frequently. Unfortunately, in our passage today, Samuel has died, and Saul is facing the biggest threat of his reign…and he has no trusted advisors to talk to. In desperation, Saul hatches a terrible plan. Even though the Word of God warns in multiple places NOT to do this, Saul decides to try and speak to his mentor Samuel from beyond the grave. So he goes to a medium, the witch of Endor. (Again…the Bible sternly and strongly forbids going to mediums, psychics, etc – run from these things!) Surprisingly…it works, and Samuel rises from the ground to speak to Saul.
8 Saul disguised himself by putting on different clothes and set out with two of his men. They came to the woman at night, and Saul said, “Consult a spirit for me. Bring up for me the one I tell you.”9 But the woman said to him, “You surely know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why are you setting a trap for me to get me killed?”10 Then Saul swore to her by the Lord: “As surely as the Lord lives, no punishment will come to you from this.”11 “Who is it that you want me to bring up for you?” the woman asked.“Bring up Samuel for me,” he answered.12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed, and then she asked Saul, “Why did you deceive me? You are Saul!”13 But the king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”“I see a spirit form coming up out of the earth,” the woman answered. 1st Samuel 28:8-13
How scary was this situation? The witch/medium, who presumably had tons of experience with this sort of dark thing – SCREAMED IN TERROR!! That’s pretty frightening – when the witches are scared, we know things are scary in the extreme. But more to the point, at least Saul got success, right? Even though he disobeyed the Word of God, he got what he was looking for – advice from his mentor and advisor. Except…
19 The Lord will also hand Israel over to the Philistines along with you. Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and the Lord will hand Israel’s army over to the Philistines.”20 Immediately, Saul fell flat on the ground. He was terrified by Samuel’s words and was also weak because he had not eaten anything all day and all night
1st Samuel 28:19-20
Oh dear…the advice that Saul was seeking didn’t end up being helpful, but horrible, and Saul was terrified, and indeed, was killed after a battle that very week. It would seem that disobeying God’s Word is even more terrifying than ghosts and witches! May we learn wisdom from Saul’s mistake!