During the past month someone sent me an email of a Time Magazine article that asked this question: "Why do our children do what they do?" It seems that a university group did a study of children of middle-age school through high school, and Time Magazine picked up on the article. They wanted to know why children do unacceptable social things, why some young people are so rude. Some are outright bullies, even girls. Why do some consistently break promises, slug one another, fail to keep appointments, are very quick with put-downs, and in some cases violent, especially boys?
The answer they got was actually broad, simple, and yet it was far-reaching in what it revealed, and most importantly, it was a right answer because it agrees with a clear statement in the Bible. So why do children do what they do? Because they can. Why do children do what they do? Because, as a nation we are so tolerant and permissive hardly anybody (even parents) stops them from doing what they think to do.
Turn with me to Ecclesiastes 8, beginning with verse 11 to verse 13.
Ecclesiastes 8:11-13 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
Well, there it is. It is indeed a broad statement that is not directly addressed at a specific question or an action. What it means regarding human nature is that unless there is a fear that restrains it, human nature will go as far as it can get away with to that point it feels it is in its best interest at the moment.
Hardly any parent was taught that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, and that most who are aware of it do not believe it strongly enough to do anything about it. This is why Paul says in II Timothy 3:13 that "evil men will do worse and worse." It is not that human nature actually gets any worse, but it is permitted to do what it wants to do. As the general level of morality decreases, the intensity of sins committed increases, and this helps me understand something regarding the two general extremes of childrearing. Of the two—overly strict and permissiveness—permissiveness produces the most and worst bad fruit by far because that process literally removes the major barrier that will naturally restrain human nature. I am talking about the fear of a bad result.
Now strictness is not the same as meanness, even though parents of this sort are often perceived as demanding and mean. If parents are strict and fair at the same time, and even though not completely right in what they are doing, it still has the potential for building good, especially in terms of building discipline in the child.
By comparison, permissiveness has a strong tendency to allow human nature in the child to sink to the lowest common denominator permitted by the inconsistent, virtually goal-less parent. This is why crime and sin tend to increase in a tolerant environment.
Turn with me to Deuteronomy 6:4-12, which I believe is the single, most clear statement from God regarding our childrearing responsibility to God.
Deuteronomy 6:4-12 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. "So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full—then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
The implication of the setting for this instruction following the command that Jesus Himself identified in Matthew 22 as the most significant verse, the most significant command in all of the Bible, it is here in Deuteronomy 6:5, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul." This instruction as to how we should rear our children falls right immediately on the heels of that verse, and even though God does not directly say it, it follows where it does because He wants us to be impressed by the fact that we are to rear our children to worship this God. In order to do this, we have to go through what He says here—when your are walking, when you are talking, when you are working, when you are sitting down to eat, and whatever you are doing, you are setting those children an example that God would be welcome too.
So the context then describes in broad detail how we are to bring our children up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord. Recall that the term "nurture," suggests, "feeding"—that is, nourishing through training. This indicates the process, the system used to promote and produce to advance maturity in the child's character and personality.
Now admonition refers to what is said to the child. It indicates verbal instruction. One commentator said it corresponds to well-intentioned seriousness whose purpose is to influence the mind in things regarding judgment so the child makes good judgment. That is what admonition is for. Another said that it indicates putting into another's mind the sense of warning. Now at all costs, remember that these things are to be "in the Lord." I am drawing here on Ephesians 6 when I say that. All of these things are to be "in the Lord." This indicates the child is to be reared in a distinctively Christian way and environment. That is exactly what we see here in Deuteronomy 6:4-12. God is to be the parent's source of their example and attitudes, words, conduct, and methods used in child training.
We are going to leave here and go back to the front of the Bible to the "father of the faithful" in Genesis 18:16-19. As I read these verses I want you to be mindful of the environment, the context in which this takes place.
Genesis 18:16-18 Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way. And the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
Now listen to this verse in regard to childrearing.
Genesis 18:19 For I have known him, . . .
You remember that the word "known" indicates an intimate close relationship. It is a family relationship that can go all the way to the relationship between a husband and a wife, even to the closest means of intimacy. God did not have that intimacy part with Abraham, but He did have intimacy in terms of what we might call "God to man." He knew Abraham inside and out, and Abraham was coming to know God in the same way.
Genesis 18:19 For I have known him [Why? What was the purpose of this relationship?] in order that he may command his children.
Do you think God wanted godly families to come out of that union of Abraham and Sarah? He most certainly did. This is why God was having that relationship with him.
Genesis 18:19 In order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him."
There was a great deal hanging on this encounter between God and Abraham, so the counsel that is given here is timeless. Do not forget for a minute that this happened 3500 years ago. God was about to visit His wrath on Sodom and Gomorrah. Today He is about ready to visit His wrath on the entire world, and so in some ways the circumstance is somewhat similar to those of us living at this time.
Look at what He said to Abraham: " . . . in order that he may command his children." Notice it says God says to Abraham, "that Abraham may teach his children." This clearly indicates that this son of God—Abraham—had a choice. The word "may" indicates "permission to," "the opportunity to." Abraham had a choice regarding how to rear Isaac, and we have the same opportunity with the rearing of our children, and we must choose to rear them "in the Lord," and then follow through with this as consistently as we are able.
A question then: Do we love God, and then the children, enough to make the sacrifices required? Or will we neglect it and slough it off as a minor affair that we are too busy to take care of? We know that Abraham and Sarah chose to follow God's command, and brethren, I think the Bible shows they did a bang-up job. There is little said that is negative regarding Isaac's character, and even as Abraham was willing to trust God giving his son as a sacrifice, Isaac, too, willingly sacrificed himself. What trust Isaac had in his dad! I would judge that Abraham and Sarah got God's spiritual human family off to a bang-up start. It probably has gone downhill since then.
I mentioned earlier that childrearing can be understood as a war between parents and Satan for dominion over the child's training. Children give us signals that Satan is influencing them. Now what are these signals and how can they be recognized? Begin by thinking about Satan's name and his characteristics, because God names people and things what they are. Satan means "slanderer." He is an enemy. He is a destroyer. He is a liar. He is angry, and he has a temper. He is horrifically competitive. His ego is so great that he thinks he can defeat God. He is both stiff necked and aggressive.
One will see in the child gradually rising levels of a need for constant attention and admiration. Every action for criticism will be punctuated by outbursts of temper, even rage at times. There will be exaggerated humiliation, pouting, and expectation for special treatment. Children take advantage of others, especially their parents and siblings. They make and break appointments with ease. They are weak in remembering their responsibilities, always having to be reminded, and are sloppy in taking care of things. In other words, they are irrational and undependable.
I just described "foolishness."
Why do they do these things? Because Satan has succeeded in getting them to think only of themselves, and that they are not answerable to others unless the others move to stop them and put the fear of God in them. That does not have to be done harshly, it just has to be done right. But it has to be done.
I read to you Psalm 34, where David said, "Come children, listen to me, and I will teach you the fear of God." He did not say he was going to beat them over the head with a ball bat so that it was in them. He said, "I will teach you the fear of God." If childrearing is done as God says it is to be done by godly parents, you do not have to hit them over the head with a baseball bat. They will eventually come to love to submit to you because they will respect you, and they know that your word means something.
The sum of what I said in that statement about foolishness is that the children will think primarily of themselves and their desires, and this is exactly what Satan's number one goal is. The child will pick up these things from the spirit of this world, and we parents must believe God's instruction, understand it, and by faith use it. We should always remember that it is not the church's or the school's responsibility to rear the children. It is the parents' responsibility.
Satan will not do this by possessing the child. He will do it by influencing the child through the world. Certain environments and certain actions tend to either promote or even restrain the development of self-centeredness. Now God's word will reveal which circumstances do what.
I read an article in a woman's magazine that tended to reinforce what Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says. I did this a number of years ago, and I still remember what the article said, and it was facing generalities regarding the characteristics of children raised within specific environments. For instance—(and this is very general and it is generally true as well)—it was found that children reared in a religious environment generally turn out to be what we would call stable, and having good marriages. They never get their name on a police blotter. They keep themselves pretty much separate from those things, and they go on in life. They are the kind of people we would say are good citizens. That is great. That is good.
The article made the interesting assertion that, as a general rule, the wealthier a family is, the more likely the parents were to pay serious attention to the quality of their children's preparation for adulthood. This assertion actually flies in the face of the most commonly held view that the wealth of a parent relieves the parents of the time-consuming day-to-day paying of attention of the childrearing responsibility.
"On the contrary," said this article, saying that wealth was a major factor in stimulating increased attention. Now why? Because the wealthy parents are generally more concerned with the upholding of the family's reputation in the community. And perhaps above all, wealthy parents wanted their children prepared to not merely hold, but build the family's wealth. This is especially true of the very, very wealthy, and thus, as wealth increased, so also did concern regarding child-training responsibility.
The article did not say that the parents themselves actually did the training, but it did say that if need be, the wealthy would willingly spend the money to hire others to train the children; thus, there is a major difference with us as to the parents' motivation. Christians are to train their children out of the fear of God, and prepare their children for the Kingdom of God. The wealthy, according to this article, train their children for social reasons out of respect for their reputation and their wealth.
This principle of operation is especially true with the children of royalty. For example, Prince Charles, and now his children, were put through quite vigorous, long-lasting training in order to prepare them for a lifetime of service to the family in the nation. They are doing a right thing, but for the wrong reason.
But royalty is not alone in paying a great deal of attention to the preparation of their children for adulthood. It is, in fact, often done with a great determination and seriousness by the very rich—those especially who are known to be possessors of "old money." These are families in which wealth has been held and built for several generations. They are very concerned that the family continues to hold and to increase that wealth, and thus its influence in the community for generations to come.
It is the children of these families who are put under the watchful eyes of professional help almost from the time they are born. They have nannies. They go to the best schools. They receive tutoring in subjects that will best promote the family's reputation, its business, its financial, academic, and political interests. Their children do not move in the same circles as you and I did when we were children.
Did you ever run with the children of the Rockefellers, the Fords, the DuPonts, the Firestones, the Mellons, the Dukes, the Kennedys, the Roosevelt family? These are just to give you a little example. We are just scratching the surface of the elite of this nation, and my guess is that you never moved in any circle, whether social, business or academic, with any of the families of any prominence of prominence important to your part of the world, let alone a family of national importance. It is as though the two will never meet—the circle you moved in as compared to the circle of the Rockefellers.
This process is an aspect of the idiom that says "birds of a feather flock together." However, in this case I believe it is better understood as "birds of a feather are guided together"—often by fate. Now parents of this status move their children into circles that are smaller, tighter, and exclusive, and if you try to break into them you are liable to get a busted nose, a spoiled reputation, or whatever. Their children are generally prepared more purposely with specific parental goals in mind of what their children should become. They direct their children toward circles that the parents' interest coincide with, and we very simply are not part of those. We are merely parts of the milling mass of the general population, useful for working for them, but otherwise not part of them.
I am heading toward something here, because this sermon series began with a message at the Feast that I titled "The New World Order Is Upon Us." It has continued now with eight more messages I titled "The March Toward Globalism." What I suggested in these sermons is that Satan is not standing idly by, biding his time. He is actively working to undermine God's influence on mankind, and is doing this through the elements of mankind he trained for responsibility in his kingdom. He is vigorously preparing vessels fit for destruction to a huge deficit of spiritual truth, combined with programs that inspire self-centeredness.
Turn with me to Revelation 12:9 to a very familiar scripture, but I want to touch on it as we build toward something here.
Revelation 12:9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
He was not cast out and then just stopped. He has been actively working, and his work, as we approach the end, has been intensifying, almost by measurable degrees by whipping control of people through his very cunning silent means of doing so that seem so natural. But what he teaches flies in the face of God's way. He has completely turned childrearing methods upside down.
This has not been his major program. His major program is cunningly deceptive religious practices and beliefs, and this brethren, takes God and the fear of Him and loyalty to Him and God's purpose right out of the picture. People who do not have the fear of God are not going to submit to God, and tied directly to that is his very permissive childrearing program which focuses on pleasing the foolish children. I said he turned this thing upside down. The focus in childrearing should be on the parents working the foolishness out of the children to the best of their ability.
Driving foolishness out will not work toward Satan's goal, because he is aiming to accomplish the destruction of the family. In doing what he does, getting God, as it were, out of the picture, and then working on the children, he undermines the community religiously and socially at its most basic level right in the home.
His aim is adults who are aggressively competitive and focused on pleasing themselves in whatever avenue that attracts them, and that training begins in childhood right from the get-go so that when that child becomes an adult he is already (unknowingly of course by himself) a trained servant of Satan; but now he is an adult.
It was Adolph Hitler who said, "Give me a child until he is seven years old, and we will have a Nazi for life." He got that straight from Satan. Create in a child the kind of mind you want, and by the time he gets into the teen years he is gone, unless God miraculously converts the person.
Brethren, all of this is slick. Satan destroys the family through children trained to be self-centered so that when they get to be old they do not know really, nor do they understand what loyalty to another person is about, or is supposed to be like, because they are so self-centered.
I would have to rank his child-training methods right up with the destruction of the proper understanding of God, because, brethren, what was the first institution God created after the beginning of things? It was the family, and why He said to Abraham, "that he may command his children." If the purpose was ever to be carried out beyond the age of Abraham, it was going to be through the children Abraham trained, and Sarah with him.
We have got to understand it is such a simple principle. We do not feel like we are anything, but that responsibility we have is so important for the continuation of God's purpose. In a sense, He is depending upon us to carry it out what our responsibility is. He converts us, and then He expects us to do what Abraham and Sarah did in commanding their children, because if we do not, by the time they get to adulthood it will take a miraculous change from God to mercifully intervene in their lives. He mercifully does that on occasion. But Satan's aim is adults who are aggressively competitive and focused on pleasing themselves in whatever avenue attracts them, and that training begins in childhood and it destroys the family—the system that God Himself instituted.
Now Satan trains these people toward leadership positions to be influential, religious, political and academic figures. Regarding academics, he is especially concerned with those who teach in the social sciences, and these in turn thus affect social behavior throughout the whole community. He also focuses on those in science who undermine belief in God through evolution, as in biology, anthropology, geology and astronomy.
Turn with me now to Romans 9. I believe this is probably the fourth time I used this scripture, but as far as this series is concerned, it is critical to understand what is happening here.
Romans 9:22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath, and to make his power known....
Think back to Genesis 18. God was ready to show His wrath on the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Now God is getting ready to show His wrath on the entire world.
Romans 9:22-24 What if God, wanting to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy [That is you and me, brethren], which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Now what has Satan done? In a way he has followed God. God is preparing people for the end, to be part of His kingdom. Satan is doing the same thing. He is preparing people for the end, to be in His kingdom, and the characteristics of the two are almost exact opposites.
I repeated this verse because it is so very important that we understand that the religious, social, and educational programs and the results they produce did not just happen accidentally. They were made to happen as mankind is being prepared for the end-time. You know, in your own life, you can see it yourself: You were just going on in your life until God stepped in and began preparing you for His purpose. So what has Satan done? Well, he is a big copycat. He is doing the same thing as God, but with entirely different goals in mind in terms of the way and shape of the character of the people he is preparing. One group is to God's glory. The other is for Satan' glory. Satan is the author of death.
An interesting and important aspect of these two verses here in Romans 9 is that the word translated "prepared" in each verse, believe it or not, are different words. The one in verse 23 clearly indicates preparation by God. All you have to do is to see and understand that we are His creation in Christ Jesus, and He is the One who does the real work in our preparation for His kingdom.
But in verse 22, it indicates a much more voluntary involvement by the vessels of wrath. Now how do these vessels do this? By simply willingly yielding to God's enemy Satan, negligently going along with him and his ways rather than actively resisting and fighting him. I can help you see this, especially in nations like the United States of America and Britain, where knowledge of God is common. In one sense, because of our being Israelitish people and born in these nations, and because of God's blessing upon us, the Bible is everywhere.
There are churches practically on every corner in America calling themselves Christian. People are learning little things about Christianity, but the problem is they are not yielding to the truth of God. That is why that verse says that very thing. There is more active participation by carnal people yielding to Satan than there are people who actually, in a sense, have the real truth revealed to them. What this means in practical fact is that in order to get us converted, God really has to work with us. It is no wonder He said that He calls the weak of the world. Boy, does He have mercy! In general kindness, He persuades us to yield to Him. Once in a while He hits us over the head pretty hard, but we deserve a lot more of that. But He actively, patiently, works with us. Satan is actively working. He is not just standing around waiting for things to happen.
I want you to recall at this time, at the very beginning of the second or third sermon, or maybe in both of them, I gave you seven factors that I could find in the Bible that will permit work toward a Beast power arising from mankind, and of course seen formed by Satan. I now have cut it down to six, because one of them I felt was actually part of another one, and so six is better to number a man, and so we will go from there. Here are those six:
Number 1: Satan is absolutely necessary to imbue all in his program with the same general deceived, anti-God, self-centered purpose and motivation.
If you are going to put a group together that is going to be part of deceiving the whole world, those in this group have to have the same mind.
Number 2: Satan must create a need for human leadership to organize around and establish a goal with sufficient potential for personal gain to support motivation across generations of time.
If you look back in Genesis 10 and 11, you can see, just reading carefully, what the goal was. It was safety—"lest we be scattered." You will see a common theme today. These people say, "We are doing all this for safety's sake," but in the meantime they are taking our liberties away from us, one at a time. They are chipping into what used to be personal, individual responsibilities, and they are forming us into the group that they want to be thinking like.
Number 3: A nucleus of influential of human leadership must be formed to organize human efforts and provide direction. These will be the inner circle of power, and from this group Satan will train and possess the Beast.
This group that I am talking about is the real elite of this world. In the United States they are people like Bernanke, Brzezinski, Kissinger, the Bush family, the Rockefellers, the Mellons, the Heinz family, and many, many others.
Number 4: There must be a human spiritual leader—the False Prophet. He must arise to provide support to the political leader who will arise in the inner circle. I believe that this person will be part of the group that I have listed in the group in Number 3—the nucleus of influential human leadership.
Number 5: There must be a matrix—a high-ranking organization (not people, but organization) within government, economics, industry, religion, and academia. Remember, these people all think generally the same way.
Let me hasten to add something here. Do not expect these people to all agree with one another. Satan's kingdom is divided against itself, but they all have the same basic idea of what they want to accomplish. So there must be a matrix of high-ranking organization within government, economics, industry, religion, and academia from which can be drawn other workers of the same general mindset to replace those in the inner circle who die off.
I will give you some of them: In the United States is the Trilateral Commission, which I believe is the single most powerful organization in America. There is also the Council on Foreign Relations, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Bilderbergers, the National Council of Churches, and a number of others. If you read anything about these people, they all have the same general thought, and they are moving the United States of America in the direction they want it to go, and they have the power to do it. They have gotten so powerful they care almost nothing for the Constitution anymore.
Now Britain has its organizations too. There is the Order of the Garter, the Committee of 300. France and Germany share the Rothschild financial empire. Italy has the Club of Rome, and so forth.
These people all have the same general mindset, and they are moving to reshape the entire Western world with their self-serving vision. They have gotten to the place, brethren, they do not care about you and me. Their concern is power and wealth, and getting their vision done. Right now they are working hard to destroy the sovereignty of the United States of America, and when they do, the pride of our power will be completely devastated.
If you are doing any reading, brethren, you know that our dollar is going down. One of the major reasons that it is, is because the people we trade with no longer respect our power. In another year or so, it is very likely that it will be gone in terms of being of value to anybody except those of us who have a little bit of it to spend.
Number 6: There must be a broader, deeper matrix of people of the same general self-centered mindset, but who do not really grasp where this movement is headed, or understand the cost that is involved to them personally. They are not focused, and they are not resisting what is happening to their world. This is just the general world.
Let me again make sure that you understand this. Please understand that this is not just an American operation, guided and directed by Satan. Revelation 12 through 18 clearly shows that what Satan is doing through mankind involves the entire world. He is thinking big, brethren—"BABYLON THE GREAT"—worldwide—and each nation has its equivalent of what we see here in the United States of America.
Satan has put together a package of education in the United States in the past 70 to 80 years that has served him well in undermining belief in God, the fear of God, and thus behavior. The citizens have bought into this permissive system that promotes immorality, and that is why this nation is failing so rapidly.
Brethren, there are some people who see what is going on. There is one thing I want you to notice, and this is why it is doomed to failure. There is no central leadership. Their power is spread all over the place. They are angry, and they are upset. I can hardly blame them, because they see what is happening. There is no David. There is no Joshua. There is no Moses to guide them to say, "This is the direction we should go," so all the efforts are in a sense being almost wasted.
There are some who are picking up on what is going on, and they are beginning to realize those glorious liberties we have been given by God are almost gone. It was very easy now, because of the thinking of the government of the United States of America. Barack Obama can do almost anything he wants. He just ignores the Constitution, and they just press forward now.
What do we see in our time? We only see a small part of this confused and chaotic system inspired by Satan, and has driven this world—the cosmos which he has produced—a system produced by his deception that has led the citizens into neglecting the truth of God which we once had. Compared to what the general population is today, fifty years ago they could not have gotten away with this kind of stuff mostly because people had a respect for God's word. They believed the United States of America was "God's country"—the home of the free, but it is slipping away, little by little. Every decade, something goes.
By 1963 God had been kicked out of the public schools. I went to the public school in the 1940s. Every morning we had a Bible reading—ten verses or so that the teacher read. We all said the Lord's Prayer. We saluted the United States of America and its flag that was up there. Where is that kind of thing now where there was an open respect for God? It is like the frog in the boiling water. Little by little, law by law, it has been chipped away, and we are now poised to fall into the abyss. We have not fallen into it yet because God is keeping things going.
I have been reading into this stuff, I would say, for almost over 45 years now, and little by little I have seen it happen. In a way I am kind of ashamed of myself. I feel that maybe if I was not in the Church I might be out there preparing for warfare on the street. I do not know, but I am angry about what is happening. In a way I feel like there is nothing I can do, because the carnality in me wants to fight, but I know I cannot do that because it is not my nation anymore, but I still love it [this nation]. I think I love what it used to be.
I think we have seen enough evidence to help us understand, that other than our own personal responsibility, to submit to God and our relationship with Him, and that as parents, child-training God's way is a most important responsibility, especially to see the way God dealt with Abraham to set the pattern He wanted for His converted family on earth to be like. We have the opportunity to do that. For some of us it is now past, but at least we can learn and pass it onto our grandchildren as we have the opportunity to do so. It is the lack of the knowledge of God, followed by the negligent failure to properly rear this nation's children, that supplies the pool of people Satan works in and through to promote his immoral anti-God family way of life, and build his program through perversity.
Did you ever in your wildest dreams ever think men would be marrying men and women would be marrying women? And they are calling this righteous. Has Satan just about succeeded in destroying the family? And what is our leadership doing? They are promoting this kind of thing. They are wise enough to know what is happening, but they promote it.
Now what does Satan need to promote his program to the place where he can actually destroy a nation internally? We are going to look at Proverbs 1, because I believe that, given a bird's eye view, we receive a pretty clear answer there. We are going to begin with verse 8.
Proverbs 1:8-19 My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck. My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse"— My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird; but they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners.
The setting of the advice from Solomon I believe is important to consider. Remember that Proverbs is a book of wise counsel directed primarily at young people, but certainly it is not limited to them because this is also our Father in heaven's advice to His own children regardless of their age.
The first piece of advice is to listen seriously to your parents' counsel. Children, listen to what your parents say. Recall the Law of First Mention, that when God commands or gives a series of examples or commands, the first position is to be given extra consideration because it is probably the most important within the context. Now why? What is the first thing he says here? "Kids, listen to your father and your mother." So, why is heeding parents' instruction so important? Because, even though the parental counsel may not be given in what one might consider an easy and acceptable manner, it has two major advantages. First, the parents know your strengths and weaknesses far better than other counsel. Second, the counsel is therefore almost always given with your best interest in mind. Both of those advantages are exceedingly important when one considers Solomon's next piece of counsel.
We are going to look again at verse 10, and go through verse 9. The second piece of advice Solomon gives to young people is: "Choose your friends well." "Listen to your parents" and "Choose your friends well." Why? These friends are really going to have an influence on you, and he is saying to be very wary. The advice goes on. He says to be especially wary of entering into a lustful conspiracy with them. It is the conspiracy aspect that is my concern in this message, for human nature conspiring is as natural as breathing.
How many times have you read, "Well, I just went along with my friends." Bad! "I was just running with the crowd." Bad! Unless it was a big crowd.
What is conspiring? What is it? Conspiring is to plan with evil intent. Because human nature's source is Satan and his spirit, it is first nature to make plans that ignore God and His laws, or even worse, to even challenge God in order to have what one perceives to be of one's own advantage.
Do you think the leaders of this nation do not know about God? They do not know God in the way you know God, but they know enough about God to not try to offend people who do know a great deal more about God, and so they will use God and His word from time to time and still do evil things. It is not that they do not know about God, they will not yield to God. They just go on their own way, conspiring, and yet maybe even mention God in news conferences.
They will use God to their own advantage; not to God's advantage, but just to their own advantage, because this is what Satan has been doing continually. Thus, combined with Satan subtly deceiving humanity to accept his false religious concepts and childrearing system that focuses on producing self-centeredness, humanity is set up to entering conspiracies that truly promote advantages to the self.
The Bible is rife with conspiracies, and almost all conspiracies follow the same evil path. In the Bible they picture deluded people who believe they are better, stronger, and more deserving by uniting with others with the same thought and attitude, but take from those perceived as weaker and less deserving.
Are you aware that people in our government, in our media and so forth, are openly saying before others now, for the public, that they think the population of the world needs to be reduced by 90 percent? They are telling you they want it for themselves. Things have gotten so outrageous, it is incredible.
The words "conspire" and "conspiracy" are used at least 30 times in the Bible. Joseph was conspired against. Ahithophel conspired with Absalom against David. Zimri against Baasha's family. Amon's family was conspired against. Nehemiah was conspired against by the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites. They conspired against Jerusalem. In John 11:51-53 they plotted against Christ to take His life. The translators changed the word "conspired" to "plotted." Three more times that is mentioned right in the book of John and in Matthew. In Psalm 2 it tells us there that God laughs at those who conspire against Him.
It is going on. The evidence is there. Right at the center of it is Satan's angry self-centeredness, and he is driving it.
We are going to look at two more verses to help us understand a focus here, and we will leave this series with this. Turn to Jeremiah 50, verses 4 through 7. I think that you understand that Jeremiah was written by the prophet who was sent by God during that period of time that led up to the destruction of the Judean nation. But within those prophecies that are given there and the history that is given in Jeremiah, other things are entered into, and when we get to Jeremiah 50 he is talking about the end-time. That is very clear.
Jeremiah 50:4-7 In those days and in that time," says the LORD, "The children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together [This has not happened yet. It is before us. Israel and Judah have not been united as one nation since one generation right after Solomon when the scattering began.]; with continual weeping they shall come, and seek the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces toward it, saying, 'Come and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant [the New Covenant] that will not be forgotten.' My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray; they have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place. All who found them have devoured them; and their adversaries said, 'We have not offended, [They are saying they are innocent of what they did to these people.] because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, the LORD, the hope of their fathers.'
We are looking at an end-time prophecy here. Israel and Judah are coming together as one nation, and in this prophecy, Israel and Judah are not only coming together, they are weeping in repentance, and seeking God.
Now "sheep," which is used in this context, is the most common metaphor used to represent God's covenant people. In the New Testament it represents God's children, God's Church, and in the Old Testament it represents Israel, the nation.
Sheep must surely be the most dependent of all domesticated animals. They need guidance. Where should they get it? From their shepherd. Now "shepherd" is the metaphor used to represent those who are given the responsibility to lead the sheep, to guide them, provide food and water for them, and to protect them. In the community, in the nation, "shepherd" is a metaphor for governmental and religious leaders. Was does God say? "Their shepherds have led them astray." Their government and religious leaders have led them astray.
As you can see, in this context, God lays a major portion of the blame for Israel's circumstance on the men who were appointed to lead them into prosperity and to face well-being.
I want you to turn to Ezekiel 34, which must be one of the most devastating chapters in all of the Bible. We will not read the whole chapter, but I have in my notes verses 1 through 31.
Ezekiel 34:1-10 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! [With their self-centeredness, they are feeding themselves, not the sheep.] Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field [The unconverted, the people of the nation.] when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them." [There is no David, no Moses, no leadership of that quality.] 'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock—therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouths, that they may no longer be food for them."
Ezekiel 34:22-23 Therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep [because He knows that all the sheep are not innocent either]. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. [That of course is after the resurrection.]
This is especially pertinent because Ezekiel is clearly an end-time book really. There is history in it, but it is an end-time book. Even more importantly, the first three chapters show conclusively that it was written after Israel had already gone into captivity. Israel never heard the message of Ezekiel, and the book of Ezekiel was written for Israel.
Now the Jews share in it, for they are eventually going to come together, but it is primarily directed at Israel—the United States, Great Britain, and the nations of Northwestern Europe.
What does He say? "Your shepherds have led you astray." Is there a conspiracy going on? Someday I will give you a sermon to show you how it works. It is really slick, and all it requires is the willing cooperation of people who are deceived.
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