Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode 623 · 3 months ago

The Book of Judges #15

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Judges 9:22-57

For God's illumination upon his word. Tonight, our father, we come to a section of your word tonight that it's not pleasant. There's much sadness, there's much grief. But, Lord, yet, as we will read the words in a moment, it reminds us of our own world, which is beset with so many things that grieve us and things that are happening around our world. And Lord, we are reminded that through all of this, you are the God over everything. And so, Lord, tonight I pray, as I seek to deliver to your people this word that you've given to me and that I have studied, I pray, God, that it would be encouraging even in the midst of the darkness of this passage. And Lord, I pray that through it all we may see your glorious providence and that, Lord, we may see how nothing happens outside out of you, that everything is ordained and has the hymn writer says, whatever my God ordains is right. And so, Lord, we trust in you, but we asked for you to enlighten your word to our eyes and God, to help us to greater understand it. We pray all these things in Christ names, Amen. I have an extended text tonight. If you need to sit, please feel free, but if you can stand stand, it is a longer text. Will be looking at chapter nine of judges. Will Begin with verse twenty two and then going through verse fifty seven. Here is God's word. ABIMELECH ruled over Israel three years and God sent an evil spirit between a BIMELECH and the leaders of Skim. The leaders of Skim dealt treacherously with the Bimelech, that the violence done to the seventies sons of Jerobaba might come and their blood be laid on a BIMELECH, their brother, who killed him, and on the men of Che Come, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. And the leaders of Sheken put men in ambush against him on the mountaintops and they robbed all who passed by them along the way. and was told to a BIMELECH and goal, the son of Ebad, moved into Shek Um with his relatives and the leaders of Sheke and put confidence in him, and they went out into the field and gathered the grape from their vineyards and trod them in held festival. They went into the house of their God and ate and drank and reviled a Bimelech, and goal, the son of Ebad, said, who is a Bimelech and who are we of Shek Um that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerobabo, and is not Zebo, his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shek Um? But why should we serve him? Would that this people were under my hand, and then I would remove a BIMELECH. I would say to a Bimelech, increase your army and come out. When Zebra, the ruler of the city, heard the words of gall the son of Ebad, his anger was kindled and he sent messengers to Abimelech, secretly saying the whole gall the son of Ebat and his relatives have come to Shek Um and they're stirring up the city against you. Now, therefore, go by night, you and the people who are with you, and set an ambush in the field. Then in the morning, as soon as the sun is uprise early and rush upon the city, and when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may do to them as your hand finds to do. So a BIMELECH and all the men who were with him rose up by night and set an ambush against Shek um in four companies. And Goll, the son of EBB, went out and stood in the entrance at the gate of the city, and the Bimelech and the people who were with him rose from the ambush. And when Gal's all the people, he said to zebral, look, people are coming down from the mountaintops, and Zebel said you mistake the shadow of the mountains for men. Gall spoke again and said look, people are coming down from the center of the land, and one company is coming from the direction of the diviner's Oak. Then Zebel said to him, where is your mouth now, you who said who is a Bimelech, that we...

...should serve him? Are Not these the people whom you despised? Go out now and fight with them. And goal went out at the head of the leaders of Skim and fought with the Bimelech, and a Bimelech chased him and he fled before him and many fell wounded up to the enemy of the gate. And the BIMELECH lived at Arama and Zebo drove out Gaul and his relatives. So that they could not dwell at check Um. And the following day the people went out into the field and a Bimelech was told he took us people and divided them into three companies and said an ambush in the fields, and he looked and saw the people coming out of the city. So he rose against them and killed him. A BIMELECH in the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city. Well, the two companies rushed upon all who were in the field and killed them, and the bimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed the people who were in it, and he raised the city and sewed it with salt. When all the leaders of the Tower of Shekem heard of it, they entered the stronghold of the House of Alberith. A BIMELECH was told that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechum were gathered together and the Bimelech went up to Mount Zalman he and all the people who were with him, and the Bimelech took an axe in his hand and cut down a bundle of brushwood and took it up and laid it on his shoulder and he said to the men who were with him, what you have seen me do, do hurry and do as I have done. So every one of the people cut down his bundle and, following the BIMELECH, put it against the stronghold and they set the stronghold on fire over them, so that all the people of the Tower of Shekum also died, about one thousand men and women. Then a Bimelech went to Thebez and encamped against Thebez and captured it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women and all the leaders of the city fled to it and shut themselves in and they went up to the roof of the tower. And the Bimelech came to the tower and fought against it and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire, and a certain woman threw an upper millstone on a bimelech his head and crushed his skull. Then he called quickly to the young man his armor bear and said to him, draw your sword and kill me lest they say of me. A woman killed him and his young man thrust him through and he died and when the minute of Israel saw a Bimelech was dead, everyone departed to his home. Thus God returned the evil of Abimelech which he committed against his father and killing his seventy brothers, and God also made all the evil of the men of Sheek and return on their heads, and upon them came the curse of Jotham, the son of JEROBAB. Thus I will end the reading of God's word. Please be seated. As I mentioned, a tough chapter. Not Much light in this chapter, not much grace, not much to rejoice in, not much to be happy about, and it's not easy reading at all. It starts terribly, the very beginning we saw last week, with Abimelech taking blood money from an idolatrous tempo and then going after the sons of Gideon, the other sons, and killing all of them on one stone, except for the youngest, who escaped. And then we had the parable. You might remember that Jotham told about the trees electing the king and we saw that. So this evening what I'd like to do is follow the same procedure that I did last time, which I think is easier to do in a passage like that. And this is basically I want to tell you the story. I know you just heard the story, but I want to tell it to you with some comments, who hopefully can follow it very easily, and then I'd really like to make some applications to that passage tonight. So first two tells us what I told you last time, that a bimles reign only lasted three years, and I told you it's very unusual and judges to tell the reign of a judge before his reign actually begins. This is unusual. Usually it's afterwards, but this is going to be three years and it's going to be a terrible three...

...years, primarily because of what we read in Verse Twenty Three. The God sends an Evil Spirit between a BIMELECH and the leaders of check them. Now, that phrase, an evil spirit could mean a couple of things. I suppose it could be interpreted as just saying there's a bad spirit between them, like we might say, well, there was bad blood between these two. People are saying like that and Um, and that could be part of it. But personally I'm inclined to believe that this is actually an evil being, a demonic spirit or a wicked spirit that God sends at that time. This is one of those rare occurrences. We have a few in the Bible, but where we are actually permitted in a little bit. This is maybe one of the lesser ones, but we're permitted a little bit to look into heaven and to see how God rules and deals in heaven, especially in regards to evil beings. The most prominent of those kind of examples, of course, would be the book of job, where we're told about job and we get a glimpse into Satan and what he is doing and how God interacts with Satan, and so we have that. But probably a similar thing to what we have here is a story that's found in First Kings, chapter twenty two, and if I could just read those verses, it says macaiah said, therefore hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne and all the hosts of Heaven standing beside him, on his right hand and his left, and the Lord said, who will entice Ahab that he may go and fall at Raymond Gilead? And one said one thing and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord saying I will entice him, and the Lord said to him by what means? And he said I will go out and will be a lining spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said you are to entice him and you shall succeed. Go Out and do so. Now, therefore, behold, the Lord has put a line spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets. The Lord has declared disaster for you. There's a glimpse again that is given to us in a prophetic form by the Prophet macayons. He tells us exactly what was going to happen, as those prophets had prophesied falsely to Ahab. And we also see at least twice in the life of King Saul that an evil spirit from the Lord comes upon Him and causes him to do evil things. And again we have an Evil Spirit here in first kings as well as in our text, where the evil spirit is enticing people to do evil things. First Twenty four says that the reason the Lord sends the Evil Spirit is that there may be justice done on Abimelech for the killing of his seventy brothers. Now, Joatham Jonathan had in a sense prophesied that this was going to happen. But it wasn't that Jotham had brought this about by his prophecy. He didn't do that, but God had shown him what was going to happen and how he was going to avenge the murder of his brothers. So Verse Twenty Five gives us the first result of sending the evil spirit the men of Shechem who had that earlier, Hey, we want you a Bimelech. Yeah, you're our guy, and now all of a sudden they start ambition the men of a Bimelech as they come by them in the mountain path. Some suggest that maybe they're doing this because they weren't really getting the prosperity that a Bimelech had promised them, and so therefore they decided to get their own by stealing from the men that would go by them. But now the men who had backed to Bimelech are no longer on his side. Indeed, they're rebelling against him. So in Verse Twenty Six, another contender for the throne comes into the area, man by the name of Gaul, whose name literally means loathing. Now we just found out this week we're going to have a new grandson, um we knew we were having a baby, but we didn't know what it was. But we found out it's going to be a grandson, and so all of the kids were kind of throwing in their name choices. You can probably guess that I'm lobbying for no a lot, but nobody probably...

...is going to do that, but I'm trying anyway. Um, but I can tell you, Um, that the name low thing is not high on the list for this baby. I don't see that. You know, I know, Um, I'm having a problem with with the name they just left me. I shouldn't go off my note, because then my my brain goes all crazy. And methuselah there comes, came to me can be interpreted as messenger of death, which would because a great name for a child, and the playground and said, hey, here comes a messenger of death, and you know, I'm sure he was very well received because of that. But nonetheless, the men of Sheck them begin to put their trust in him instead of Abimelecht. And so in verse seven we're told that gala arrives at the time of the grape harvest, and so they go out and they chat out the grapes and they have a festival to their God, and part of the time in the festival they spend reviling the BIMELECH. Barry Webb says, this festival would have been more like a drunken orgy than anything else. But in verse Twenty Eight, Gal gives another reason why the Menischek I should put their trust in him. He is apparently descendant of ham or, an old canaanite prince who had ruled and shake Um. So it seems like his claim is perhaps a greater claim than that of Abimelech. And in Verse Twenty Nine He makes a boast, he says, the people of Skum, if they were under his control, then he would remove a Bimelech from power. He would even taunt Abimelech, he says, and tell him to go ahead and increase his army and come out and fight. So he's making, perhaps under the influence of alcohol, some pretty great threats. But in verse thirty another party enters the fray, amen by the name of Zebo, who is the ruler of the city, and he hears the boast of Gal and he gets mad. And so in versus thirty one to thirty three, in retaliation and he sends messengers to Abimelech telling them what's happening, that the man Gal has come in and he's making threats against Abimelech, and he even suggests in verse thirty two a military strategy to a Bimelech that he says will be successful. And so in versus thirty four and thirty five, Abimelech basically does what Zebel instructed, but he also follows the strategy of Gideon and separates his army into four companies to ambush the men of shekeum. And so when Gal stands in the gate of the city, the men and the army of Abimelech began their ambush. And then we have this basically comical I guess it's one little point of laughter in the whole story here. We've got to have one light thing before we get into more darkness, and and it's really a very funny kind of verse where, you know, a Bimelech says I see the men coming down the mountain and and he's told no, no, that that's uh, that's just the shadow of the mountains. It's it's not men coming down. And so apparently gold believes at this time that Zebra is still on his side. But all of a sudden, this time he looks and he said no, indeed, people are coming down and they become more visible as they come down the mountain. And so this time he knows what's happening. And so zebral, knowing that he can't fool can't fool goal anymore, he says uh to him. Well, okay, now is the time. Put your money where your mouth is. You said what you do, you're gonna take care of these, these guys. You'RE gonna take care of Abimelex so we don't rule anymore. So this is the time. Go ahead, get out there and fight. And said, where is your mouth now? And and so, in goading him, he's trying to do actually he wants, he wants goal to do exactly what will play into Abimelech's hand, and he does that. So we have a very short account in versus, thirty nine to forty one, of the battle, for it seems like it's a very short battle. Indeed, in short order, of Bimelek disposes of gall and his forces and...

...assumes like as soon as Gal got there to fight, he turned around and ran with his men and there were many of his army that was wounded and in verse. But then drives gall and his clan out of Scheckum and they will never be heard from again. And the BIMLEAC himself, and kind of an odd move, doesn't even dwell and check them, but instead he goes to dwell at Arama, which is really a few miles away from Schek Um. Now we're not exactly sure why he chose to do that, but it does appear from what it's about to happen he still doesn't even trust the men of shake Um. And so he's got plans, apparently, and we are going to see in a terrible way those plans come to fruition as we look at the last part of the chapter versus forty two through fifty seven. And so we're told that the people of Skum go out into the field and we're not told how many people went out and we're not told why they did this. somethink it's perhaps was to fight other think it was perhaps to finish the grape hartist which appeared to be in process at that time and had been interrupted. Well, the First Maxim of conflict. Maybe never get involved in the land war in Asia, but a close second or third is never anger and arrogant man, and that is exactly what happens here. A BIMELECH has been shown to be a very arrogant man and now we are going to see the beginning of his anger. So in verses forty three through forty five, but BIMELECH sets an ambush for the people of Sheke Um and basically kills all the people. So we're talking about not just the men but the women and the children that he's killing, all of those that go out in the fields. We have a wholesale massacre that's going on, and it says not only does he kill and destroy the city but according to verse forty five, he he sows it with salt, which is a way to curse the city and to put it on the ground so that the ground is not able to produce crops. But he's not done yet. Versus forty to forty nine, there's not only apparently a city of Skum, but now we hear there's also a tower of Schek Um and there are leaders and people that have gathered together at the house of the God beareth. As Albert Barnes notes in his commentary, combining the advantages of a sanctuary and a fortress, but it will not turn out to be much of an advantage for them. And the BIMELECH instructs all the men with him to copy what he does, and he cuts down a bunch of brush and takes it with his ZAS and it tells him to follow him and they carry the brush. They put it all up against this house of the God beareth and they set it on fire, which causes the death, we are told, of thousand men and women and we can assume as well children. They would all die in a literal Holocaust. We're talking the other night and someone's house and talking about World War Two, movies and talking about some people at a hard time. I said I I have a hard time. I have a difficulty. Uh. Some people are saying, well, it was easier time, because it was true, but for me it's a harder time because it's true for whatever reason, but especially World War Two. I just I just have a real problem with that and and watching the things that do that, because it seems like such a horrible time. Of course it was, but this is the same kind of thing. This is the same kind of terrible stuff. That is that is happening here. And we see the fulfillment, though, of the prophecy of Jotham. That was earlier that I'll remind you of from Verse Fifteen, where he says, and the Bramble said to the trees, if in good faith you are anointing me king over, you come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the Bramble and devour the Cedars of Lebanon, meaning...

...the men of Shecheckum, and that is exactly what is happening here. Well, you think that was enough death and destruction for any one man, but in verse fifty, Abimelech continues on to the city of thebez. His Paranoia, which often attacks leaders of this caliber, has now reached new limits. He no longer can stop his thirst for blood and destruction, and so Barry Webb says, he's drunk with power now and he cannot stop. And here again we read about a tower where all the inhabitants of the city go and barricade themselves in the roof of the tower. The BIMELECH, having already found a strategy that works, decides that he will use the same strategy at this tower again. But even though it doesn't look like it, in God's Providence, Abimelech has gone one step too far. As he draws near to the tower, a woman above as a millstone. Now this would not be the giant millstones that you see often in pictures, that were uh, that were that were turned by animals and and ground out the weed at the mill houses. This would have been more personal grinder. But the stone would have been big enough that dropping it from the height to which it was dropped would indeed have the power to kill a man. And so this woman drops the millstone and crushes his skull. Earlier in the book of judges, we saw the General Sisterra, had been killed with a tent peg at the hands of the woman jail. But now judges, in a short time, has introduced three women who have been great leaders in the sense or those who have accomplished great things. We have had Deborrah, we have had Gil and we now have this woman who is not named for us. We don't know who she is, and in some way, I don't know how, if he looked up or how he knew it or somebody told him by it in some way, a bimelech found out that the person who dropped the millstone down on his head was a woman, and so he asked his armor bear if he wouldn't draw him through with his sword and kill him so that nobody would say that he had been killed by a woman. So the armor bear does that. So we have kind of a combined murder assisted suicide here. Peter Margaret Martyr Vermigley writes. What madness is this? He's at the point of death and he vainly thinks on glory. He thinks that a reproach to be killed of a woman, and there's nothing careful for the soul nor for the afterlife. He only cares for his name and fame. We certainly see no example of deathbed repentance here, do we? And really none of it does any good, doesn't? Because we read this account and what do we think? Oh, he was killed by a woman, right, we all think that. So I really didn't do any good anyway. But I don't want you to miss the irony here, because there is irony here and we're meant to see it. I believe it goes back to earlier in the beginning of the chapter remember we talked about this that, and a couple of people talk with me about this, that that Abimelech had killed the seventies sons of Gideon on one stone. And might wonder, well, why? Why does the Scripture say was killed on one stone? Well, now we see, don't we? Now the scripture makes it clear, because it will be one stone that will kill him. The entire chapter shows us again and again the principle that you reap what you sow. Again I want to quote Barry Webb, who says abimelech is going to shake Um to incite his leaders to conspire against Gideon Sons. is answered by Gal's arrival and shake Um to incite his leaders to conspire with him against a BIMELECH. The ambush the men of Schekum said against a bimelech in verse is answered by the ambush set by against Skum in verse Thirty Four.

And so we see this again. And, as I mentioned, this this single stone, so him seven fourteen through seventeen, has a striking application. It says, behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit digging it out and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head and on his own skull, his violence, the sins. Doesn't that kind of remind you of what happens here in the story? So everyone is being rewarded according to their deeds. The people of Shek Um have the bramble bring fire upon them, a Bimlak himself is killed and the curse of Jatham is fulfilled in a somewhat satisfying, in an awful conclusion. And then again, almost the strange ending to the chapter, when the Bebelech dies, everyone goes back home. It seems kind of strange, doesn't it? Now it's all over, every everything's done. They just give up the battle and all of that. There are no winners here except God, and thus ends perhaps one of the worst chapters, and judges there are other contenders as well well. That's the story. Now let me give you some application, and I mentioned that we wanted to talk about providence tonight, because the story isn't evidence and it is an example to us of the difficulties that we sometimes have with God's Providence. First we have the difficulty of why God allows terrible atrocities to happen in our world. The tragedy that is told in one verse in our text, Verse Five, seems horrible. Seventies sons of Gideon slain in one day, slain on one stone. But we've come across these things regularly in our life, don't we? Those of us were old enough to remember nine eleven can probably remember that day vividly. You probably remember very clearly. I mean even I can remember, even though I was just a young boy. I can remember what happened there, where I was when Kennedy the news came out about President Kennedy being shot. I'm sure those of you that were older and of adult age can remember exactly where you were when we heard that the plane had flown into the World Trade Center and we wondered what in the world did that mean. I remember asking someone had told me that. What was it? A little plane? Wasn't like, you know, cropduster or what? What? What was it that? We have no idea and people didn't know. Details were just coming out little by little and we had no idea. And then of course a second plane comes in and again you can probably remember that day, the emotional ups and downs as you heard about the people jumping from the buildings and the people in the staircase and the firefighters and all of the things that took place on that day. But yet on a regular basis we're informed someone who goes into a crowd and with a car or a truck or a gun kills a great number of people, and these things can bother us and upset us and make us wonder. We may also wonder at Verse Twenty Three, where it says God sends out an Evil Spirit between a Bimelech and the rulers of check them. And I told you, the question is there whether it's a just a bad spirit between them or it's an actual evil spirit that God actually sends but what we have here is a scriptural principle that God often punishes the sins of people by the sins of people. The...

...men of Skum are punished by the sins of Abimelech and the BIMELECH is punished by the sins of shake Um, which is what we refer to as God giving people up. God doesn't incite people to sin, but he simply lists the restraints which have hindered them from sinning up to that point, which again results in the truth of the scriptural saying you reap which your soul. The men of Shakeum consulted to the annihilation of the family of Gideon, so they're annihilated. Abimelech killed the family of Gideon, so he himself is destroyed. I love the way that the Presbyterian Puritan reformer, Arthur Jackson puts it. He says has the stink of the dunghill rises not from the sun, though the sun shining on it be the occasion of it. I think that's a good description. But we must remember and we must be clear as believers that it is essential to our faith that we believe that God rules all the affairs of men. We can't allow any event to happen outside the Providence and control of God. We might be troubled by the events of Providence, we must remember in that time we serve a perfectly holy and loving God and, like Abraham, we need to be able to say shall not the judge of all the Earth do right? The Puritan Richard Rogers puts it like this. Many, not ill minded, desire to know why God allows such abominations. I answer that God knows the cause rules justly, and there's a godly father speaks orders the evil appetites of the wicked. To fulfill this Providence, though it is not infuse them with evil, just as he wrought the salvation of his elect by the fall of Adam and the treachery of Judas. And yet we are not, neither ought to be altogether ignorant by God does this. We are not to prescribe to the Lord how to govern the world, nor by whom nor how he will be glorified. And he who may marvel that God is patient towards the bad, how can he think himself too good to suffer for his own defects? Be The instruments never so evil when our savior suffered for us without cause. But if any of us be without danger and hurt by such wicked persons, who are one of God's scourges to correct us, let us reckon it among the great blessings of God and use it accordingly. In chapter nine we're missing something that we've had up to this point, that every chapter of judges, we don't end it in chapter nine. What is it? The Covenant, Name of God, the name Yahweh the name in our bibles that is Lord in all capital letters, but in chapter nine his name is conspicuously absent. And again we have examples here of what Paul says three times in Romans one. But God gave them up, but God gave them up, but God gave them up. The terrible, horrible things of chapter nine, or what happens when God gives the people up. Tim Keller points out in his commentary. God may have been silent, but he was not absent. There comes a time when the restrainer no longer restrains. There come a time when it seems that God's spirit has been withdrawn. Instead, the evil spirits are let loose. This chapter is different than any other in judges, but it reminds us that the scriptures, when it speaks about God's...

...judgment and Isaiah, it says that judgment is God's strange work. Verry Webb says we cannot say that God has judgment in the same way that we say God is love, but God will judge. But let me particularly apply it this lesson to US tonight. As I close, it's interesting to me what I noted in reading the text was what happened when God sent an Evil Spirit and what is interesting to me as to what happens and what results from this is immediately it is division, it's rivalry. It's always been interesting, well, not always, but for several years been interesting to me when Paul lists seventeen works of the flesh in the book of the Tions, Chapter Five. Seven of the seventeen deal with division, strife, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and we could probably include even an eighth. The next one envy. When you think about it, it's really amazing to realize how much of the New Testament is given over to speak against division and also, on the other hand, the positive side, to exhort us to unity. I think I could go through every New Testament book, but I gave up. I didn't give up, but I stopped Um with about going through all of them. But let me just remind you of some of these, starting with the epistles, with Romans, in Roman seen pulses. I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles, contrary to the doctrine you have been taught. Avoid them. First, Corinthians one ten and you know I could quoted a lot of scriptures on the first Corinthians. I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and there be no divisions among you, but you be united in the same mind in the same judgment. The Second Epistle of Corinthians, Chapter Twelve, verse twenty. For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish and that you may find me not as you wish, that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, concede in disorder. I already mentioned Galatians. I could go further. Ephesians as much to say about unity. We could keep going on and you could find how true it is. But how much of the New Testament is given over to warness against divisions? I wonder why that is. It almost sounds like it's something we might be prone to, even as believers. But on the other side there are many scriptures that speak of the blessedness of unity. I think of that Wonderful Psalms on one thirty three. Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity. It's like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of air, and running down on the collar of his robes. It's like to do of Herman, which falls on the Mountains of Zion, for there the Lord has commanded the blessing life forevermore. I suppose we could have been told a lot of things that Jesus prayed in his high priestly prayed in John Seventeen, but in verse twenty one, he says and he prays that they may all be one, just as you, father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. And I say that because the...

...make it come home to us. There are Christians who would never think perhaps committing murder, committing adultery, committing homosexuality, but yet I would think nothing of dividing or causing division the brothers and sisters. It's a great evil. It's something we have to always be aware of in the church, and God has given us the means to avoid it. He said, what do you mean? I've seen in my life people that have gotten angry at someone in the church and as a result they've left the church. Never said anything just walked up and left the church. But you know, God has given us, through the lips of our Lord Jesus, a wonderful procedure in Matthew Chapter Eighteen, and in here I find personally the glory of the Presbyterian System of government, because it allows us to actually do this, and I think it is so great that we should go to our brother when he's done something against us and we perceive it, and then, if that doesn't work, we should take somebody else with us and then, if that doesn't work, we go to the Church and the Church seeks to work it out in the best way. Now, I'm not saying we can solve every division that way because unfortunately people are sinful, but God has given us away to do this and I pray. I love the unity of this body of people that I have perceived. Very thankful for it, and you should bless God for it constantly, that God has given you a unity like this and a love for each other, a love for your pastor and his family, love for your elders, love for your deacons, the love that you have together. That's a precious thing, folks. Not Every church has it, but again, to pray and say, God, keep us, don't allow that spirit to come in that might divide brother and against sister and sister against sister and brother against brother. But keep us, Lord. But we don't want that. We want the blessing of unity, the blessing of being able to come together, to love one another, the fellowship with one another, to serve one another. I know I'm probably preaching to the choir, but nevertheless, folks, don't underestimate our enemy. He's always seeking to bring division, he's always working to that. So we must be careful and we must watch our hearts, that God would not allow us to sin in this area, but instead may cover us with love and unity. Can We pray, Lord again, we thank you for your word. We think of your providence. We don't always understand it. Such things are too high for us. We don't know why particular things happen. But God, we do know that you are the judge of all the earth and what you do is right, and we rest in that, our God. We rest in it, that God, we can even glory in things that no one else can glory in, but we, as the children of God, can, because we say thus, it seem good to my father and so it seems good to me help us to rest in providence and keep this great body of believers that are here in love and unity to one another. I pray, Lord, that it would keep any enemies from coming in that would seek to destroy the unity, but instead, Lord, would cause the blessing of the oil upon Aaron's head to come upon...

...this body of believers as well, and that love may be the keynote that folks will say about this body. Behold how they love one another. I pray, Lord, she would do this and keep us, Lord, in your care. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.

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