by David C. Grabbe
CGG Weekly, March 26, 2021
"Lying can never save us from another lie."
Parts One and Two examined the deception of the Gibeonites in securing their place in Israelite society. They also touched on some of the later effects of the Gibeonites' continued presence in Israel, including Saul's misguided massacre of them and David's ill-advised decision to hang some of Saul's descendants as recompense. As bad as those subsequent events were, the greater evil was that, though in a subservient position, the Gibeonites could still influence the people, and their gods became a snare to the Israelites. Through deception, Joshua's exception to God's command to drive out the Canaanites set a precedent that allowed other pagan peoples to co-exist within Israel, ultimately leading to her downfall.
In all these events, there is a tension between God's sovereignty and man's choice, between God's will and "free will." Within the Christian zeitgeist floats an idea that because God is sovereign, everything that takes place must be His will—that if He wanted something different, He would have caused that other course instead.
Indeed, God is sovereign over all, and He does guide events according to His purpose. However, not everything that happens is because God has willed it, especially where sin is involved. We must differentiate between what God allows—a great deal!—and what God truly intends, desires, and enjoys. He has allowed countless sins that He could have prevented, yet Scripture rarely shows Him preventing someone from sinning or acting foolishly. He clearly does not intend or take pleasure in sin, but He allows it. He says to choose life—that is His will—but allows us to choose death (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).
The events relating to the Gibeonites show that God allows matters that do not please Him at all to play out. Though they are not what He intends, He will still bring about His purpose despite them. We must be careful about ascribing human behavior—and especially human sin—to God, concluding that it must be God's will, or it would be different.
As we know, the ends do not justify the means. When it comes to doing God's will, the way we do things can be just as important as what we accomplish. Cain concluded that one offering was as good as another, but God rejected it. Nadab and Abihu thought that any fire would work for God's altar, and they died instant and shocking deaths. How we do things determines whether God accepts the result—whether it is truly what He desires and pleases Him or whether He forebears as He does with countless other acts. How we act affects what we produce.
Deception is so tricky and commonplace these days that we can lose sight of what it even looks like, so here are some things to consider:
- If we must disguise ourselves or our intentions, are we doing God's will? Jesus Christ never operated this way.
- If we must approach a matter from the side instead of the front gate or front door, are we doing God's will? Jesus calls someone who climbs in some other way a thief and a robber—someone who is out for what he can get, not what God wants (John 10:1).
- If we use or manipulate others to get something done, it indicates that something is rotten.
- If we do things for appearance's sake instead of reality, we should recognize that what we are doing is not of the holy God. At best, we are doing the will of a carnal person—ourselves. At worst, we are doing the will of someone even more unscrupulous. Jesus has good reason to name Satan the father of lies and liars (John 8:44).
Notice what John writes in Revelation 22:14-15:
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. (Emphasis ours.)
These verses serve as a final bookend and mirror of that fateful day in the Garden of Eden. Satan practiced his lies, and Adam and Eve loved them. They had the truth from God, but Adam knowingly chose to listen to someone else, loving what was false. As a result, God drove humanity from His presence, and they lost the right to the Tree of Life.
Thus, God decries both sides of this worthless coin of deception. On one side, He commands us not to bear false witness, which covers all forms of dishonesty. But on the flipside, He urgently warns us not to allow ourselves to be deceived, taken in, hoodwinked, or used by others in their schemes, machinations, or manipulations.
Jesus counsels us to "be wise as serpents but harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16). We likely tend to lean toward one or the other. Some have the "wise as serpents" part down but lack a dove's gentleness and harmlessness. Others are dovelike, but they turn a blind eye to the fact that evil is real and end up ensnared.
The right balance is to do what Joshua, Saul, and David all neglected to do about the Gibeonites: earnestly seek God. In this way, we can keep from planting the seeds that will bear bitter fruit for ourselves and others. Deception may work, but in time, it always proves the law of unintended consequences—both for the deceiver and the deceived.
Church News & Special Announcements
Greetings from the church office!
On March 27 (this coming Sabbath), we plan to add video to our Sabbath service streaming options. We have been testing our equipment for the past few weeks and have reached the point where we are ready to provide it for all our services that originate from our church office.
With this in mind, we would like to provide guidance to each of you who host services each week from your home or help to facilitate services from a hotel meeting room, to make sure you can seamlessly incorporate a video stream into your weekly routine if desired.
We will discuss some technical issues as well as the possible need for revising your current seating arrangements.
First and foremost, you will need a reliable computer with a robust internet connection, along with the understanding that video streams require more computer processing and internet bandwidth (or speed) than the simpler audio-only stream we have been providing for many years.
We recommend a minimum download speed of 5 Mbps, but the higher, the better. If you need to test your speed, you can utilize any of the many services—like Speedtest.net—to do so. If it is feasible, you may want to consider upgrading your internet service.
While wireless internet connections are common and convenient, they quickly get bogged down with too many users (especially in hotels), which may cause minor issues with audio-only streams, but larger issues with video streams. If your video freezes up at times, it is often due to a lack of bandwidth from your internet service provider.
If your internet service is at or just below the recommended minimum of 5Mbps, we strongly suggest using a hardwired connection—an ethernet cable that runs from the router to the computer—if possible. For those of you gathering in hotels, we understand that this may not be feasible. If you experience interruptions (freezing), it could be that you will need to revert to the audio-only stream, which will still be available on our website, or as mentioned earlier, you may desire to upgrade your internet service.
Most of you use a desktop computer, laptop, or notebook to stream our weekly audio broadcast to a pair of computer speakers. If your group is small (less than 5 or 6 persons) you will likely only need to reconsider your setup and seating arrangements to ensure that everyone has a seat close enough and in a good position to view the video if they desire. Obviously, the location of the computer and the screen size become factors in your planning.
Those of you with larger groups (and some technical prowess) may want to consider adding a television screen or large monitor and maybe even a soundbar.
Keep in mind that you will only be able to stream the video through one computer per room. Suppose you try to stream through multiple computers in the same location. In that case, you may suffer interruptions, and more importantly, the computers will not be synchronized with one another, which will cause much confusion for the viewers.
If you run into any issues while trying to set up the video stream and fear missing any part of the service, we strongly recommend that you quit the video stream, note your issues carefully on paper, and then use the audio-only stream. Then, on Monday, please call or email Joe Baity at 803-802-7075 or email@example.com to discuss the technical issues. God willing, he will be able to assist you in finding a solution.
Because of the potential complexity of any given video-related challenge, we ask that you refrain from calling or texting the AV crew during services for help with the video.
We plan to begin the video stream each week at about 15 minutes before services start. The video stream will be available on the same web page that you currently use to access our audio-only stream each Sabbath.
We hope that the addition of video will enhance your Sabbath service experience!
Your Audio Visual Crew
1218c: A Government to Fear (Part Seven)
Given by John W. Ritenbaugh on 14-Jun-14
1219c: Day of Deception
Given by Richard T. Ritenbaugh on 21-Jun-14
1425A: Deleavening the Home
Given by Richard T. Ritenbaugh on 31-Mar-18
1450: Facing Times of Stress: When God Is Silent (Part Two)
Given by Martin G. Collins on 08-Sep-18
1588A: Passover: An Extraordinary Peace Offering
Given by David C. Grabbe on 20-Mar-21
New prayer request updates have been posted for the following people:
From the Archives: Featured Sermon
The Ninth Commandment
by John W. Ritenbaugh
The breaking of God's Commandments has destroyed trust within the national and local communities of modern Israel. The guilelessness, attributed to Nathaniel, apparently was a rarity in Israel, while deceitfulness was something passed through the genes from father Jacob. Israel's national shame derives from its proclivity for deceit and hypocrisy. In stark contrast to Israel's faithlessness, our God is a God of truth, faithfulness and light. It is the responsibility of the preacher to safeguard the morals of the community. Our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, put truth into a visible concrete form, leaving us an example to follow. Unfortunately, most of modern Israel has rejected this example. Jesus desires that God the Father would sanctify the Israel of God into His truth or reality. In our preparation to become Kings and Priests, we must embody truth as had our Jesus Christ, absolutely refusing to bear false witness in our words, our behavior, and our cumulative reputation. We dare not resist the truth, succumbing to self-deception, or blaming others for our shortcomings, trying to cover up our inadequacies. When we lie, we are vainly attempting to control (or spin) something, producing an escalation of harmful falsehoods, digging a pit into which we will ultimately fall. The heart is deceitful, faithless, insincere, tricky, cunning, double-dealing, treacherous, incurable, and desperately wicked, hopelessly addicted to lying, tuned into the prince and power of the air. We must steadfastly choose to speak the truth, even if it will hurt us in the short run, realizing that truthfulness will enable us to enter into God's presence.
From the Archives: Featured Article
Let No One Deceive You
by Richard T. Ritenbaugh
We live in a day of increasing knowledge—to the point that we are increasingly overloaded with information. Richard Ritenbaugh argues that these and other modern factors lend themselves to deception, yet this is one of the primary end-time trends that Jesus warns us against!
Holy Day SchedulePlease note that all times are in the Eastern time zone.
|Holy Day||Date||Starting Time|
|Passover||March 26, 2021||8:00 PM|
|First Day of Unleavened Bread (AM)||March 28, 2021||10:30 AM|
|First Day of Unleavened Bread (PM)||March 28, 2021||2:30 PM|
|Last Day of Unleavened Bread (AM)||April 3, 2021||10:30 AM|
|Last Day of Unleavened Bread (PM)||April 3, 2021||2:30 PM|
|April 24, 2021||Richard T. Ritenbaugh||Mountville, Pennsylvania||Sermon, Bible Study|
Friday Night Bible Study
The next Bible Study will be The Commandments (Part One), given by John W. Ritenbaugh on Friday 26-Mar-21. The Bible Study will be continuously available from 6:00 pm Friday (EST) and all day Saturday.