Sermon: Leadership and the Covenants (Part Twenty-One)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 19-Aug-17; 66 minutes
We will open up in Genesis 6:5:
Genesis 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
This briefly describes living conditions in the times that we are headed toward, the reported news events we are living through and within the western world are gradually building in intensity. At the same time, and this is key for this sermon, we must understand that they are deliberately being moved in that direction. My emphasis at this point is on the word deliberately. They are not just randomly happening; they are being pushed into that direction.
I believe that these events need to be understood within a much larger expansive time to get a sharper and clearer picture. We are living through something that is truly monumental in historical importance. The world is not just drifting along on its merry way; it is being driven in a very definite direction.
I believe that what we are experiencing is somewhat parallel to the chaotic violence that existed in that period as shown in Genesis 6. It existed when Noah was building the Ark, just before the flood. The violence did not just suddenly ignite at that time, nor did God take it away to give Noah peace and calm while he was building the Ark. Instead it got worse.
We seemingly have a natural tendency to accept the concept that recent news events also began or were motivated only recently. We tend to think this way because by nature the reality of the existence of an active spirit world is not normally part of our thinking regarding history.
I am thinking of God, angels, and the seemingly ever living demons influencing what is going on in the world. Spirit beings are invisible and silent in their operations, so they do not attract very much human attention. The Bible reveals that they are shaping peoples thinking, activity, and events to some degree, to achieve their agenda. I am sure this thought would be considered fantastic and far out to many of the humanist in our western world, but it is nonetheless a reality.
It is a reality because God is true. I will provide you with three examples that show what I am talking about here. One of these you are quite familiar with, the other two you may not be so quite familiar with, but all three of them say basically the same thing that I have just told you.
Job 1:6-12 Now there was a day when the sons of God [not human beings] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them, And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the works of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. “But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not lay a hand on his person.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
This arrangement clearly took place in heaven, the heaven of God’s throne, totally out of the sight of human beings. But the principles in this scene were just about to become involved in a major way, in a number of people’s lives, in a very serious event that has affected many other lives even to this day. Demons did this…with the permission of God; they entered into human events, one family at first, but we will see others, in which they were more involved.
II Chronicles 18:18-23 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right hand and on His left. And the Lord said, “Who will persuade Ahab king of Israel to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead? [That is be killed. He was arranging an execution of one of the most wicked kings of Israel.] And one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner, Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, “I will persuade him.” The Lord said to him, “In what way?” “So he said, I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” And the Lord said, “You shall persuade him and also prevail; go out and do so” “Now, therefore, look! [Micaiah is still talking here.] The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you [Ahab].” Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near and struck Micaiah on the cheek, and said, “Which way did the spirit of the Lord go from me to speak to you?”
Micaiah was a prophet of God. God gave him a vision of a proposal being considered and set for an intervention in human affairs that would clearly determine the outcome of a national event occurring in Israel. God wanted to make sure it went in the direction that He wanted it to go, for His purposes, and so He intervened.
You can see that the conversation that He held was with demons, and demons carried out His will in the affairs of men. Let us look at another one.
II Kings 6:15-17 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.” And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.
Those three events, I think, are enough for us to see that spirits do act in human affairs. God is overseeing what is going on in His creation, and He wants it to move, deliberately in a certain direction. He allows a certain amount of freedom from men and demons, all of which are really, except for a few, arrayed against the way that God wants things to go. So in one sense He and angelic beings, including demons, are mixing it with men from time to time. I should say often times, they are around and about us, and we are not aware that they are the ones pushing the buttons. In many cases we get carried along, and always we are ultimately carried along in the direction that God wants things to go. After all it is His creation and He can do with it as He pleases.
Consider this reality, beginning with this thought: spirits and humans do co-exist on this planet; humans exist only because the spirit world, in the person of God, created us and gave us life for His purposes. That purpose continues on impacting on our lives, sometimes threatening to destroy very much.
The Bible clearly reveals that those spirit beings chose to become demons, to strengthen their agenda to stop God’s purpose from being fully developing, and the all mighty creator God permitted this formation into adversaries of both Himself and man to occur.
You ought to be able to see that there is an awful lot of activity going on around us by people who are antagonistic beings, that are antagonist against us. Who do you think is informing all of these people who are reporting the news? Most of it is bad news, and most of it is against us and of course God.
Considering these things…a true conclusion is that all life has its beginnings in the creator God. Added to that, much of that life possesses free moral agency, and thus within the perimeter that God permits, the operations of this world developed into what we experience in our times. More specifically, in our time the Godless humanists have seized control of virtually every function vital to civil life. This is serious for us, because the humanists led government schools no longer teach God’s existence, let alone His sovereignty over the affairs of planet earth.
There is a person (a religious personality, sound minded individual) that publishes articles about children, and he tells parents, commands them firmly, to get their children out of the government schools. Government schools are the major teaching influence, outside of the family of the people of God, filling the minds of the children of this nation.
The result of this is that on the surface, God no longer appears sharply in the mind’s eye as the source for understanding life in America. God has permitted this, too, and we must deal with it. It is part of the world that He has formed for you and me, to live in at this time.
There was a time when history was taught with God and His operations being at least a clear part of the American school curriculum, but over the past one hundred years in America, God has permitted Himself to be gradually excised from the historical view point of what is taught. We have been fed history with a solid humanistic view-point and God is not in their agendas. This is being permitted because it helps God achieve the conditions He desires for this period, just before Christ returns.
My previous sermon series before this one, was also a summary, giving you seven reasons why America was not founded as a Christian nation and never became one during its entire two hundred and forty some year history. Here is my specific purpose, even as I felt we needed a summary (an oversight of that issue), we also need the overview I am going to give you today summarizing the essential points of the series I gave prior to the America series. This summary begins with this very real sense of what is happening in this world.
Deuteronomy 32:7-9 [Moses was speaking, the last month of his life] “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you; When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel, For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance.
Please take serious what Moses says here in this vital principle. Events as vitally important to the quality of the life of the Israelites, what they were involved in at that time, just does not happen in a vacuum. Add to that, reality is a theme that Solomon teaches in the book of Ecclesiastes. Though he never actually uses this term, that I will give you in Ecclesiastes. But by way of an overview of his collection of thoughts within that book, Solomon teaches in Ecclesiastes that everything matters. It impacts on life in some way shape or form.
There are times that the actual causes, the very roots of seemingly recent modern events are ancient in origin, and very likely not commonly in one’s mind. That is why Moses said what he said here, he was telling these people this was planned for you to go into the promise land hundreds and hundreds of years ago. God was preparing for what is happening right now.
That is the approach that I am taking here, and that is the approach that I took in that series that I gave before the America series, that the end time was being planned by God, and now we are in it. It took over a thousand years for it to unravel and be put into what we see now and hear about in our news.
One of the causes motivating what the Israelites were involved in when Moses gave this principle accrued hundreds of years before that specific occasion in which Moses was speaking. Moses was reminding the Israelites that it was the invisible spiritual Creator that placed them into the position to be in those circumstances there on the shores of the river Jordan (about to enter and possess the promise land).
I will give you something that may appear as a digression, but it is leading to something that is causing trouble in our time. It happened a long, long time ago, and you will know from the scripture that it happened a long time ago.
Genesis 16:1-6 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children, And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid, perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai, Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes. Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.” So Abram said to Sarai, “Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.” And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.
How many people in this humanist driven western world pays no attention to the Bible? They never stop to consider that at the roots of the middle eastern hatred, the Muslims stirring trouble against the western world, the Israelitish people, had some of its beginnings in an angry, jealous, rivalry between Sarah and Hagar.
That rivalry was never resolved; it was later carried by Ishmael and his descendants against Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants, and these hatreds are kept alive by demons. They do not forget. The rivalry still exists between the Muslims (Ishmael world) against the Israelitish people. This was the root: an inner family fight that should have never occurred.
We are dealing with a reality during our lifetimes that has been evolving and in progress in the western world to bring circumstances to these social, political, and religious states that we are living in. These things have ancient roots.
We are going to turn to Isaiah 14. This particular event is really wreaking havoc on the western world.
Isaiah 14:12-15 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the round, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart; I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High Yet you shall be brought down to sheol, to the lowest depths of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you and consider you, saying, Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms.
I John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
Before I go any further, I feel it necessary to note something I did not go into during that sermon series (America series). I believe that this event, described in Isaiah 14, and the effect of that event, Satan’s attack against God with his hordes of demons… The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. There is an absence of an historical witness, made by the true church, during the middle ages. This is the time period that we are going to be examining. Where was the true church? And what was it doing? Why did it not leave a record of what was going on during that period of time?
When I was going to elementary and high school, in the '30s and '40s, this period of time (that we have looked into) was literally called the dark ages by historians. They called the dark ages what we now call the middle ages. Do you know why? Part of the reason is because those historians who did write those history books actually recognized that to some degree the light of truth went out. Where was the true church? Why did it not leave a record? It did, but to a tiny degree.
Those carnal historians believe that the lights began burning again when the renaissance began. The renaissance was in reality the beginning of humanism, where the focus was on the accomplishments of man, and God was left out of the picture. The lights coming on to them was the developments of the human mind. But the reason that it was dark is because God was not activating the church that had the truth much more than keeping it alive.
Jesus established the church two thousand years ago and dogmatically stated that the gates of the grave will not prevail against it, So it continued right on through the middle ages, or dark ages; therefore, in the time of history we are looking into, it existed, but it was apparently so ineffective that there was almost no mention of it in historical records.
Therefore, no strong witness of God’s truth was being made at that time, which I believe is because God was deliberately allowing living conditions to gradually worsen, as He did before the flood. It helps to deal with the present reality to know that God has everything under control. Do we have faith in this? Our spiritual lives are going to depend upon this: having faith in the Creator God despite the darkness that is out there.
An overview on how what we are living through developed through the centuries…what western world citizens are going through now has its roots centuries ago. That is why that principle is important. We have to look way back to pick up the roots of what is going on now. Follow the cycle that I will give to you as the steps were carried out through time.
Point #1, Call to mind that leadership training for those who guide nations takes place within the educational system—the primary location for formal training is in a nations Universities.
Point#2, This point is critical to our understanding so that we can better evaluate why we are facing these circumstances in our time. Call to mind, the series of sermons I gave tracing the changes that took place through the centuries, and the gradually shifting focus on university level education, especially, in the subject of philosophy. To illustrate this, in my sermons, I featured a string of short overviews regarding the conduct of the personal lives and essence of the philosophical teachings of a series of prominent philosophers through the centuries. Philosophers are influential because of their teaching positions within universities.
Those brief snippits that I gave included this listing, but not necessary in this order. These were important men in their times, influencers of public opinion. John Lock, Rene Descartes, John Dewey, Voltaire, Carl Marx, Henry David Thorough, John Jacques Ruse, Fredrick Niche, Jeremy Bentham, David Hume, Jean- Paul Sartre, John Stewart Mill, and Charles Darwin. These people shaped the foundation of our modern world. Almost every one of them was an Israelite; they shaped the western world.
These men and others impacted spiritual, governmental, moral, and social thinking greatly from within their teaching positions in the universities. No even one of those men, though undoubtedly intelligent, was a person of faith in the Creator. Every one of them was actively anti-God and humanistic in their teachings. They all taught against God as the source of truth and thus against His standards of spirituality and morality. They urged people to depart from Him as a guide of their behavior. For the most part these philosophers did not shout from the roof tops, “I hate God!” They simply emphasized humanism or secularism (as it is called today), The Bible calls their teaching on the way to live life: carnality.
Point #3 Recall that the highest instruction level in university teaching in Europe, into which Israelitish people were immigrating, was clearly beginning by the eleventh and twelve century in nations such as France, England, Germany, and Italy. God allowed a lot of time for development of the end time world—it began almost a thousand years ago. On the surface, the origins of social, political, and religious conditions today appears recent, but, the reality is that regardless of the nation, each has a way of life with ancient roots because of the reality of the spirit world.
Point #4, The anti-God teachings of the philosophers were like a leavening, in that within the universities, the philosophers’ teachings were taught to a broad spectrum of students concentrating on many disciplines other than merely religion or philosophy. Those students regardless of the discipline each was focusing on, in turn became leaders in political, scientific, spiritual, and economic areas of their cultures, thus spreading the philosophers’ humanist deceptions into every area of life. They left the Universities and took the humanist concepts home to their families and their business area.
Point #5 The Protestant reformation began in force, in the late 1400s, and continued for about three hundred years during that period. Because of the interest generated within, by the reformation’s spiritual force, the intensity of these spiritual discussions helped greatly to implement humanism’s acceptance. There was not a true religion in the bunch except for what God kept in His back pocket.
Point #6 Recall also that the changes moved away from biblically centered instruction to a more human science centered instruction. This began in the Catholic Church supported Universities and their teaching staffs which consisted overwhelming of priests. This accelerated distribution of immoral teachings can, ironically, and to a major degree, be attributed to the Catholic Church, a so-called Christian institution. It was near the forefront of the movement away from God, from God centered education. This was effective partly because the false teaching came through a highly trusted institution.
The first changes in Universities like Oxford and Cambridge in England was a mere trickle. However, as the time toward Christ’s return drew closer, the trickle became a flood. Thus, God, the Bible, and spiritual truth gradually became more openly disparaged and disregarded by the time we reached the 1900’s. Meanwhile in America, Harvard, Yale, and other Ivy league Universities as examples, began as church supported Universities established purposely with an emphasis on preparing young men for service in the ministry of the churches.
It is a historical truth now that within two generations the religious elements had been pushed into secondary positions and the educational thrust of the Universities (like Harvard and Yale) was virtually completely in the hands of humanist leaning staff and administrators.
Be reminded again of the outrageous demand that was made by Satan to God—that he was going to go to war against Him. Of course he lost. What it should help us to understand is this: it teaches us a little bit about a measure of the extent of Satan’s arrogance and huge mountain of pride that is dwelling within these spiritual enemies’ minds.
The incident there in Isiah 14 reveals a major component of what drives him. Thus, the conclusion to this is, I hope you will be impressed to understand, that the roots of what we are living through has long tentacles. It has been planned and stealthy carried out with a purpose of the erasure of God’s truth and of God’s sovereignty from men’s minds.
Turn to Deuteronomy 30. First I want you to note that the entire book of Deuteronomy is written in the general form of a covenant; this is not easily discerned, so you will have to take my word for it at this time.
A covenant is a document that the Israelites were to agree and commit themselves to in obedience. In addition to its organizational form, Deuteronomy also recounts in summary form, an overview of the history of Israel’s relationship with God. I want you to understand that Moses did not just rush the Israelites into excepting something they were unfamiliar with; this was done before entering the Old Covenant again, within the promise land.
What we see in Deuteronomy happened outside the promise land. They got into the promise land and before they were settled again, they went through it again, only this time with Joshua. Do you understand what God through these men, Moses and Joshua, was doing? We call it, in the New Testament ministry, counting the cost. Before we baptize somebody, we go through some of the requirements that are required of us, as a Christian under Jesus Christ. So we count the cost with the person, so that they are aware that just because their sins are going to be forgiven, salvation is not free, it is the most costly agreement we ever enter into in our life.
That is what the book of Deuteronomy does; it goes through counting the cost, so that when the Israelites go into the promised land, they were very well informed as to what was required of them.
Deuteronomy 28:1-2 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all the commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God.
This portion of the chapter lists the blessings that will be given Israel if Israel chooses to obey and follow through. Israelites were getting a wonderful bargain from God.
Deuteronomy 28:15 “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you; Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country
This portion in the chapter lists the curses that will come, just as surely if they choose to disobey. All of this is abundantly clear, the choices are their responsibility even as our choices are ours. Israel failed miserably, time and time again, even though the deal that they were receiving just could not be beaten. They could not get anything better than what was offered to them, but they could not hold it in them long enough to really see it work, except during the time of David and Solomon.
We do not want to go the same way the Israelites did. I have just gone through, in an overview, over a thousand years of history of the western world, in order to help you count the cost, to live through the period of time that we are being called to live through, right now. Are we going to fail Like the Israelites did?
Deuteronomy 29:1-6 These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb. Now Moses called all the Israelites and said to them; “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land. The great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day. And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet; you have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or similar drink; that you may know that I am the Lord your God.
In these brief six verses, Moses commanded them to renew the Sinai covenant, in Moab, before entering the promise land. What we are looking at here is a finial refresher. Take special note of verses 4-6. These three verses specifically include us. God clearly admits that He did not give the Israelites at that time, the spiritual help that He could have. It shows that they did not succeed because God really did not give them the grace that they needed in order to succeed.
Here is why I specifically read this…because after what happened here, we come all the way down to the time of Jesus Christ. The church began and God gave to those church members, to those converted people who had the faith to carry things forward, the gifts that the Israelites never received.
Because we are in the church, we have received those gifts, which include the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit to help carry us forward. We have contact with God to the degree that the Israelites never had; we can go directly to God at His throne; we can call upon Jesus Christ at any time and make use of His Spirit. Do you understand what I am saying? We have no excuse! That puts the ball right in our court, right during the time in which the trouble is building up in the world, trouble that is very similar to what occurred in that period before the flood when Noah was building the ark. We are not building an ark, but we are building a place, as it were, in the family of God. Noah succeeded because God gave him the grace. Are we going to succeed?
Much preparation by God and Satan have been made to produce the world that we live in. We must deal with it with our lives. God permitted the world in which we live, or it would not be this way. Can you accept this? God is absolute ruler. The world is the way it is because He approves of the way it is for this time, as His purpose is being worked out.
There are thoughtful and purposeful spiritual reasons why the social and governing standards that we are living in now have been evolving toward liberalization for at least a thousand years. For God’s purposes, He allowed the shaping of the pre-flood world by leaving His hands off. This may be a broad generality, but my conclusion is that the reason conditions are now the way they are is because God knows full well what preparations must be made for our well-being so that we can live eternally in His kingdom. We need the experiences first hand, the pains of the pressures that are continuing to intensify, clearly revealing how evil the carnality still resident with in us is. Can we accept that?
God is preparing us now for what is coming, and we have to remember that God did not remove the experience of literally enduring Jesus Christ crucifixion, did He? If the captain of our salvation had to go through that, we certainly must have to go through something though not equal to what He went through, at least there is somewhat of a similarity between what our Leader, our King, and our Savior went through in preparation for the Kingdom.
In the America sermon series, we covered an overview of a great deal of general historical information showing the basic spiritual truths from the beginning of the history of this nation. What I showed you is that despite the enthusiastic claims made today, the colonists never lived a Christian life’s. The Christianity they lived despite their enthusiasm was a counterfeit.
Martin added a great deal more detail in his sermons about a month ago, regarding the counterfeiting that went on during that period of a couple thousand years. I did my series and this overview because I want us in a settled and focused condition regarding our spiritual state within this politically and socially seething nation. We are touching on the same subject, what is happening right now. We better be ready. We have the equipment to overcome what we are having to live through since God gave us the gifts, the mind, to be able to see and understand. That is why I read Deuteronomy 29:4. He did not give it to the Israelites, but He did give it to us because we part of His family. The expectations for us are much, much higher.
My concern for us is that the reactions of the Evangelicals that are going on in this nation can be a major distraction to our responsibility to God because many of the things that they would bring up and campaign for in their positions, we would tend to also strongly relate to because we want religious freedoms as well. But as we heard in the things that Richard said, we are not part of the same group, we are not marching to the beat of their drummer. We have to march, as it were, alone with our faith in God.
I am thinking about a sermon that I might give, either the next one, or maybe on the Day of Trumpets, as to what I think God accomplished when He blew the Worldwide Church of God apart. I will give you a summary of what He accomplished. He severed virtually everybody away from a group, so that our faith has to be in the Father and the Son and not a group of nice people.
Somebody asked me that question. My answer to the person, is, “what did God accomplish? I will tell you what He accomplished. He blew the Church of God right back into the first century again. When everybody had to virtually stand alone.” We are not completely alone, but He blew the church back to when there were hardly any congregations at all. The congregations that did exist probably the one outside of Jerusalem were mighty small little groups.
Are we going to be able to stand up to what we are having to live through now that props of the church have been knocked out from under us? He did not leave us completely alone, but He really took away the things that we leaned upon for strength, as it were, and what we leaned upon was other people, the group.