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For Further Consideration
Here is a link to a site for educators that discusses consequences over punishments.
The Bible has so much to say about this topic of consequences – and the association of consequences and behavior. So that’s what we’re going to discuss today. Let’s start in Proverbs 14:7.
Proverbs 14:7 – Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge. If you spend your times with foolish people, you’re not going to be wise. That’s the fleas.
So, we can’t learn wisdom by hanging out with fools. And why is that? Well, the obvious answer is that a person who is a fool is not wise and then can’t pass on wisdom that he or she does not have. But I think it’s more insidious than that. Have you ever seen, say, Fox News – I’m mentioning that one because that’s the last one I saw – where they play a series of clips of other newscasters and politicians in rapid sequence, using the exact same language to discuss an issue? It’s as though they’ve all gotten together and made up a plan, and they’re just parroting the language that the group uses to describe the issue. I’m not sure that it’s that simple in some cases, because there’s a very real phenomenon called group think. Someone comes up with an idea that sounds good, and others adopt it without critically thinking about it – either because they’re incapable of critical thought or too lazy to think that way – it takes effort – but pretty soon the group sounds like a flock of parrots.
I like to listen to a number of ministers. I’m sure most of you would know some of them, if I mentioned them. But I have to limit myself in that, because when I speak for LifeResource Ministries, I need to speak from my own experience – my own relationship with God and my own study of the Bible – and to say it in my own words, if I am to offer anything unique. So, I try not to be a parrot, except for Christ. It can be good if we associate with the wise, but with fools, then, we can be led astray.
Years ago, in my first pastorate, I invited some young guys over to our house for dinner after church – really likeable group. About sundown, one of them disappeared for a few minutes. Not long after, I went into the half-bath, which was in that part of the house, and found some water on the floor and the hand towel completely soaked. I enquired, and the one who had disappeared had washed himself in water before sundown so as not to be unclean, like it says in the law of Moses. I asked the other young guys there if they did the same thing, and they said they were thinking about it. So, the leader of this movement had been taking it up with his friends. They weren’t quite a committed as he was yet, but they were probably on the way. So, I got my Bible and showed them out of the New Testament that we were to follow the example of Jesus now. He kept the Sabbath, and taught its observance. And we know that He taught tithing. But Paul shows us in Hebrews that the washings and the sacrifices related to temple worship were all pointing to Christ, and once He came, they had been set aside temporarily. We know they’re going to all be kept again when Christ returns. But for now, not necessary. Then I said, “If you want to continue washing yourselves, far be it from me to stop you, but I don’t want to see this group getting any bigger. If you teach it, you will be going contrary to our church, and that is forbidden in scripture. God is for unity, not division. That’s why there are different groups. Birds of a feather can flock together. And, if you teach it, you’re going to be going contrary to what we believe. And that’s forbidden in scripture among any group that professes to worship God.”
So, this group think thing can go so far as to become a mental illness. Did you realize that? People have what’s called shared delusions and even shared hallucinations – real recorded cases of induced delusional disorders and shared psychotic disorders. It seems to me that, as our nation becomes more divided, we’re moving more toward that kind of extreme situation, where we have so deceived ourselves with lies about the other side that we share an untrue view – which is what a delusion is – about the people on the other side.
We’re also told in the Bible to watch – to keep up with what’s going around us – like the news. But when we watch the news, or read the news on the Web or in a newspaper, we are taking in things that are presented with one overarching goal in mind – money! All news that is broadcast in any format is entertainment. Think about – on one channel – The View and on another, The Five – both panels of people whose jobs rely on their ability to gain ratings. Conflict and sensationalism increase ratings more than logic or truth. So guess which is going to get short-shifted on that. So, am I saying, “Don’t watch the news?’ No. I’m saying, “Understand it for what it is – it’s entertainment – and then think critically about what they are saying. One thing that will help us think critically is to listen to what the other side is saying at the same time. If you do, you see that they both use the same corrupt tactics.” God does not divide nations into liberals and conservatives. Those are labels. And they are, in part, the result of weak-minded group-think. God divides us into a much more practical and relevant division. And that is rich and poor. Then, after that, wicked and righteous. That said, we can follow the money and know more truth.
Did you know that all of the House and Senate have special rules that allow them to make money from the stock market? How do you suppose those rules got put there? How did those rules get there? Well, members of both parties voted for them. Both sides are involved in that. Do you ever him them talk about term limits? Does any politician you’ve ever seen run on a platform of getting rid of long terms in the Senate? No! How is it that our politicians – as their careers continue – grow richer and richer? Well, it’s not from the salaries they get. So, we need to wake up and stop hanging out on the TV with fools and use our heads and read our Bibles.
So, which side of the second amendment are you on, as another example? Are you going to go full boar for more guns? Or, full boar for no guns? That’s a pun, right? The White House Press Secretary recently said that the President was not interested in hardening schools to protect children, but instead on tightening gun laws. So, the other sides wants to increase mental health services and harden the schools. That means make it difficult for criminals – armed people – to get into them. But neither of these approaches really gets down to problem. We’re still going to have the problem, whichever one of these solutions we pick. So, what does God say about the issue? Well, He says that if we obey God as a nation, it will go well for us as a nation. And if we do not follow God, we will continue to suffer all sorts of woes, including the insanity of mass shootings – guns or no guns, hardened schools or no hardened schools, mental health services or no health services.
Another area to think about – to avoid being foolish – is the issue of nationalism or globalism. Globalists – that’s people that believe in having a one-world government – point to Germany and Japan as examples of what happens in the world when nations become overly nationalistic. They try to produce one-world government with them at the head. And nationalists point to George Orwell’s book, 1984, to show what can happen when there’s just one overarching government. So, which side should a Christian take? Do you think democracy is the way to go? When Christ returns, won’t there be just one world government? But if, then, you think globalism is the way to go, what about the beast and the false prophet, who ruin the world trying to rule it? They’re globalists. Maybe we should be reminded of Genghis Khan – maybe one of the greatest world rulers that ever lived – who said he was going to gather all Mongols together, even if he had to kill half of them to do it.
So, human government is a tricky issue. It would seem right now – to me, at least – that democracy started out as the way to go, given that Jesus isn’t here with us yet, but the longer a democratic government grows, the weaker it gets. Why? Well, globalists resist it and the poor try to vote themselves money out of the public trust, until the government collapses. And, if you think that’s an extreme statement, that’s already happened many times. The most recent one that I know of is Greece – just a few years ago. The politicians doled out so much money that the government was just staggering under the weight of it all. And the people that lived there were making themselves beholden to the state, and they lost freedom. So far, that seems to be the history of democracy.
Globalism – that is, those who want to rule the world – has been around for a lot longer, and that approach doesn’t work either, because people don’t want to be told what to do. That’s why, in Europe, with all the kings and queens they had – monarchies – they were gradually exchanged for democratically-run governments, until they are almost all that way now. People were sick and tired of working to support the rich and being controlled cradle to the grave by them. More recently, that happened in the Soviet Union. Twice they had a czar, who was like a king, and people got sick and tired of that, so they had the Bolshevik Revolution and the communists took over. And they were even worse! You see all these big high-rises made out of concrete in the Ukraine and in Soviet cities. That’s where all the people were housed, where, in the cheapest possible way to house, large numbers of people. Then the rest of the money went to the poor who were ruling the country.
In China today, with a billion people or more, they say there are about a thousand people that really run the country. There’s all kinds of things that make us think China is the big boogey man – and it may well be – but the Chinese have their own problems internally.
So, the entire history of man – with God going hands-off as He has – shows us that neither globalism, nor nationalism, nor human kings, nor democracies work in the long run. If we get too embroiled in all this, we lose sight of the fact that Jesus is the only solution. Everything else is futility. So, that’s one dog we don’t want to lie down with – or, maybe I should say, two – lest we get up with the fleas of corruption and ineffective government.
There’s another – besides just the foolish – there’s another category to think about – three, actually, in Psalms 1 – probably some of the best writing ever. It says:
Psalms 1: 1-6 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. So, there are three categories. There’s the wicked, sinners and scoffers. But the wise man – the man of God – it says: He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season – it can go without rain, but if a tree is right by a stream, the roots are going to go over, underneath the stream, and there it will have a lasting source of water. …yields its fruit in its season, and it leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
So, I guess we could call these three sub-groups – the wicked, the sinners and the scoffers – all foolish, because all three of these approaches to life lead to trouble, and eventually, do not lead to God’s Kingdom. So, it’s like in all three of those categories, the people have targets on their backs and don’t know it.
I probably don’t have time to cover all of them in detail, but, for my part, the most interesting one is the first one – the wicked. In the Bible there are two terms – the wicked and the evil – to cover wrong doing. Now, it’s interesting, because in English, the word evil means something more than wicked. When we say someone is evil, it means they’re completely bad or thoroughly outside the bounds of normal wrong in the way they do it. But, what the Bible calls evil – meaning mean, or immoral, or without good values – that’s different from wicked, which is much, much worse. So, wicked, in the Bible, means to covet power and control, no matter what the cost, even in human lives – like Genghis Khan going to kill half his people, if he had to. We would call Hitler evil also – killing off Jews, and gypsies, and the disabled, and political adversaries en masse. The Bible would call him, however, not evil, but wicked. So, wicked in the Bible would be the beast and the false prophets, the kings of Assyria who worshipped war and had no qualms about torturing captives to death, the Roman Empire who crucified people and took people’s children as slaves to pay tax debts. I mean, you think we’ve got it bad?
Now, Putin is an interesting case. Before the war with Ukraine, people thought of him as a sneaky, nasty little man, who was a political creature at his core. And all that is probably true. They knew he rigged elections with the money that he stole from the Russian people. He had grown rich while in office. Some years ago, one our neighbors, who had gone on one of these river cruises in Russia, told us that the people they met in Russia seemed to really like Putin. And they have been re-electing him for years. But now that he has attacked the Ukraine and deliberately killed thousands of civilians in the process, and his army has committed war crimes, people outside of Russia are starting to call him an evil man. Now, about all this, the Ukrainian president, Zelensky, when asked who was responsible for the war – and I’m sure they were expecting him to either say, “Putin,” or “the West,” because we’ve been promoting NATO, and NATO is a threat to Russia – he didn’t say Putin or the West. He said the Russian people were responsible for it. They were the ones who backed his taking back the Crimea a few years ago and they were the ones who kept re-electing him. So, Putin’s the dog, and they’re the ones with fleas. Their economy is presently tanking. Their popularity in the world is falling. Their ability to travel is diminishing. Their nation has an even worse reputation than before. After Crimea, but before the invasion of the Ukraine, there was a documentary put out about a student-led protest against the Ukrainian president, who was pro-Russian. And they were interviewing this young woman, who was in the protest, and she said, “We don’t want to be with the Russians. We want to be associated with Western Europe and with NATO. We want to be aligned with the civil world. Now, I’m sure the people in the Ukraine thought that a long time before Putin ever came along, because the Russians have always been so brutal down through history when they fought. But Putin certainly hasn’t made it any better.
The same thing might be said of us. We keep electing the same kind of corrupt politicians, because we know they’ll keep doling out the money for us, and because we’re too lazy to do the work necessary to educate ourselves about which people might be honest, or else we’re too foolish to see what they’re doing. The problem is, these dogs have fleas, and the fleas are starting to bite us in the backside. It’s all our fault as a nation. We are the ones who have tolerated the corruption. We, for as long as we have been a nation, have had a terrible reputation because of the meddling our politicians have done in other countries.
In ancient times, in Egypt, when Israel was there, God took them to freedom by delivering ten plagues on to the Egyptians to weaken their country. The biblical stand is to trust God for safety and leave the other nations alone, setting a good example for them in our behavior as a nation. And the Israelites had to endure the first three of those plagues that God sent on the Egyptians. They had lain down with dogs and they were going to get up with some fleas.
So, that proves that sometimes, it doesn’t matter if we choose to lie with the dogs, or if we’re made to. Dogs are still dogs and they have fleas. And if we lie down with them, whether we want to or not, we’re going to suffer the problems that come along with that.
So, we’re starting to hear about imminent food shortages in Western nations and inflation caused by too much money. That is going to start taxing the poor above other groups. We’re all going to be afflicted by these issues, whether we agreed with the way the government was run or not. We should understand: God is not mocked! When a person, or a family, or a nation throws off His ways, His values and His morals, fleas will soon result.
So, what should we do? We shouldn’t sleep with dogs, if we can avoid it. Failing that – and this can all be applied, by the way, in either the micro or the macro…. We can talk about our own personal values or we can talk about our nation. I focused today on the macro, but it’s just a universal principle that applies not only to the nations, but also to individuals. When we choose friends, or mates, or congregations, we all need to make sure that they are compatible with us. In our case, that would mean Christian values and Christian groups. So, that’s a good lesson for young people, isn’t it?
Jesus has something interesting that seems to fit in here about the macro. It’s in Matthew 10:16 – starting there.
Matthew 10:16 – Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. And then continuing down in verse 26, He says:
V-26-33 – So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. The dogs are going to be revealed. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. So, that’s God. He says: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. He knows everything! But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. If you’re being made to lie down with dogs and you don’t have any choice in it, God still knows who you are, and He did suffer Israel to go through all ten plagues – just the first three, which were of lesser severity. And then He says in verse 32: So, everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. So, it’s not only good that we know who the dogs are and what fleas look like, but that we be able to identify them around us in the present.
We might live in a country, but we are now citizens of another Kingdom. And that Kingdom is the one that will supersede every government of man. Because where we fit in in God’s country.