Earth:Theatre of God's Universe - Section 9
GOD’S PEOPLE COMPROMISE WITH THE WORLD
As humans, we are constantly influenced by the things around us. The "world" is around us. Israel was like that, too! [Ezekiel 11:12] Before the Israelites moved into Canaan, the land was full of people who worshipped sun gods, and combined sexual acts into their worship. Some pagan parents even killed their children when they sacrificed babies to idols (with fire in them). The people with these beliefs lived around Israel’s new borders. The people of God were warned to be different and to be faithful to God. Israel was to have nothing to do with the pagan religions or ways.
But, the worldliness around Israel crept in. God raised "Judges" to help encourage the people of Israel to be faithful. Later Israel wanted a "King" like the nations around them. "A King" was not God’s first plan, but He let Israel have one. When Israel got a good king, the nation was led toward God. When God's special people had a king who wanted to be like the world around, Israel usually left God.
One king, Solomon, was the wisest man who ever lived. Why? When he was young, God talked to him in a dream. Solomon was given the choice of what he would like. So, Solomon asked God for "wisdom". This king's fame spread far and near. The Queen of Sheba came to see for herself. The Queen was amazed, and history tells us that she took back to Africa some of the principles of service to God. What an example of what could have happened to Israel. If only Israel had truly followed God, and given God the glory. God wanted to have a nation of missionaries to the world. God wanted His special people to tell the world about His love. God also wanted Israel to live out that love so the world could see God's love in action!
But, Solomon began to glory in his own wisdom. Solomon was very smart. This king became extremely rich. Solomon got many wives and had almost everything his heart could want. Then Solomon woke up. He saw his foolishness. You can read what he wrote when he came back to God in his book of "Ecclesiastes" in the Bible.
God sent special messengers, His prophets, to warn and teach the people. In Ahab’s time, the great prophet Elijah [1 Kings 18:21] challenged the people to repent. Elijah called the people to come and watch a test on a mountain top. The true God would miraculously burn the sacrifice provided. The priests of Baal called to their god for hours. Nothing happened. When Elijah offered a simple prayer of faith, God burned up not only the sacrifice, but the stones and the water poured over the sacrifice. God was trying to call His people back to serving Him. God loved Israel too much to simply let them go!
God warned the nation, that unless they turned from their evil ways, He would allow other nations to come in and take Israel captive. The Northern Kingdom fell first, and was taken captive. The Southern kingdom lasted longer, but the king of Babylon came and took them captive.
Daniel was one of the captives taken off to the huge city of Babylon. Here God used Daniel to bring special messages to the greatest King then living. The king had a dream of a large "image" that was destroyed with a huge stone. But, the King could not remember the dream, and threatened his "wise men" with death if the wise men did not tell him what he dreamed.
Daniel and his three special friends prayed. [Daniel 2:18,19] God told Daniel all about the dream that He had given King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel then explained the meaning of the large image made of gold, silver, brass, iron and clay. The image was really God’s outline of the major kingdoms of the world between Daniel’s time and Jesus Second Coming. The large stone, cut out without hands, that destroyed the image in the dream, was really Jesus coming. Jesus would set up a kingdom that no man would destroy.
God gave Daniel great power and influence in Babylon. Even great king Nebuchadnezzar became a follower of God. God also gave Daniel many important visions that outlined details of church history to come. Daniel’s book was to be sealed till the "time of the end".
Today is now the "time of the end". Daniel's book is opened. Daniel, and the last book of the New Testament, Revelation, tell us much about what has happened in church history. These two books also outline many details of events still to happen. The study of these two books is exiting. When we see prophecy fulfilled before our eyes, faith is built! These books warn us about many things the Devil is now doing, and will do. The Devil will try and deceive God’s final people on the earth. The Bible calls the final people a "Remnant".
Later, God called his people out of the city of Babylon. God worked out events so the Jewish people could return to live in their homeland. Israel determined never again to become like the pagans in worshipping idols.
But the Devil had two new traps for them. If Satan could not get them using the old methods of adultery and idolatry, he would now get them to slowly change their doctrines and beliefs. The ideas of the great Greek philosophers were very powerful. Slowly many of the Jews began to compromise (change) their beliefs. Some began to believe the Greek idea that people don't really die, but continue to continue to live after death. God's people had never believed this before.
There was another trap that was in the heart of paganism – trying to save yourself by your own good works, or "legalism". This time the Israelites were so determined to keep God’s Ten Commandments that they went too far. They made trying to keep the Commandments into a form of "legalism". This is what Jesus warned against. Jesus tried to get them to see that the heart of the Law, the center of Christianity, is love. [Matthew 22:37-39] Love to God must be what motivates us to obey and follow God. We then keep God’s laws, not to earn or buy our way to Heaven, but because we love God. The power to obey comes when God through the Holy Spirit, lives His life through us.
Go to the Next Section: God Comes in Human Form.
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