Heaping Coals Of Fire

Courtesy of 1.bp.blogspot.com

I recently read this passage on how to make amends with your enemy and thought it was quite interesting. It actually has a lot to do with the counterintuitive aspects of life. I will talk more about that in a later post. I believe this scripture is so easy to misunderstand because of taking it literally as it is. Let’s check it out:

Proverbs 25:21-22
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;

For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord will reward you.

Paul referenced this passage when encouraging the Romans to live a life that exemplifies peace and godliness. Starting from verse 17 we read:

Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone.

18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord.

20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his headRomans 12:17-20

Breaking Down Verse 20
God wanted His saints’ minds to be so far from revengeful thinking that He lays down one prior condition: Vengeance is Mine. This means that at the actual moment we harbour the thought of paying back the enemy for what they have done, we are first of all to remember that revenge is not our place. Revenge implies that we think of ourselves as more important than our enemies, I would go as far as including those who hurt us but are not necessarily (regarded by us as) our enemies. This is because the principle applies in that situation as well. The reason I say that revenge suggests we think of ourselves as more valuable is because we believe in that moment that being right (meaning justified) is more significant than maintaining our relationship, but Paul said, “I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance].” Romans 12:3

Chapter 12 of Romans begins with Paul asking us to give our bodies to the Lord as a living (and holy) sacrifice, and then goes on to discourage us from patterning ourselves after the ways of the world; an attitude that begins in and with the mind. Therefore in order to preserve the holiness of our bodies we are not to entertain any thoughts that desecrate that holiness, particularly to the extent of multiplying the damage dealt to us. That is what revenge is all about. You slap me, and I will crush you with a bat.

This word of encouragement from Paul, as well as Hezekiah (he wrote chapters 25 through 30 of Proverbs), may be difficult to apply but bears enormous importance. It is almost as if everything that happens to us and “our enemy” hinges on that split-second choice on whether or not to deal eye-for-an-eye, which has huge ramifications.

Taking this word of exhortation literally, means as you do good to those who do bad to you, the idea in that case is to shame and embarrass your enemy. I know some people think that when God says, “Vengeance is Mine, ” He is to bring His wrath all the more fiercely on your enemy so as to justify you (especially if that is the whole purpose behind you acting kindly towards him in the first place). That could not be further from the truth! Here is one extremely substantial reason why:

Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them. Proverbs 24:17-18

That is a consequence you do not want befalling you. The idea behind doing good to your enemy, even in a literal sense, giving him food when he’s hungry and drink when he’s thirsty (including any other necessity), is so that he feels so ashamed for what he has done that it leads him to repentance, loves the person he once hated and is careful not to both repeat the wrong he has done, and also not do any further wrong in the future.
Think about this statement:

“When he remembers the food and drink thou hast given him, thou shall burn him, as if thou puttest coals upon his head to burn him, and “he will take care of doing thee any ill. This matter will be hard unto him, as if thou heapest coals on his head to burn him, because of the greatness of his shame”, on account of the good that he shall receive from thee, for the evil which he hath rendered to thee.”

How amazing would life be on earth if we understood that so far should the saints be from meditating revenge upon their enemies, that they should do good unto them, as Christ directs, (Matthew 5:44 ) , by feeding them when hungry, and giving drink unto them when thirsty.

NB: The results from such an act of faith can possibly take a long time flourish. Patience is vital before, throughout and after the action has been implemented. It is the consequential process, one that tests the heart to see if diligence in seeking to please God, is the order of the day. Hebrews 11:6

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The Lord Rebuke You: Looking At Why The Lord Said This

Why did the Lord say this?

In 2009 Christmas our family was going through our church’s daily reading program and at the time we were reading Zechariah 3.  After my dad broke down the chapter for us he asked an interesting question: Why did God say, “The Lord rebuke you,” instead of I rebuke you”? Over the past few years I had been battling with this question. I have also been on and off with the research only because I forgot about it until now!

The clue he gave us was that it had something to do with Daniel. He said nothing more than that. I began to wonder what connection Daniel had with the problem Satan had with Joshua presenting himself as a priest to God in His presence. Looking more into the book of Daniel I noticed that he walked with God very closely and had an extremely strong faith! He had a special type of faith which could draw from God a power to understand His mysteries. Daniel shared the knowledge and the wisdom of God and also the mysteries of God’s doings. He walked very close to God. Daniel’s book is a difficult book to understand. Many of the present events and future events are there. Daniel is the John of the Old Testament. He would see a vision and be so overwhelmed by its impact as to fall down and become weak. When God’s mighty thoughts enter our mind, sometimes we become weak. But Daniel would not leave God.

Zechariah 3:2 in context

Earlier on I had asked about what Daniel had with Satan stopping Joshua entering the presence of God to minister as a priest.  Before getting into what I believe the reason is, first let us find out what this portion of the Scripture is all about. Here are verses 1-3

Then [the guiding angel] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before [a]the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at Joshua’s right hand to be his adversary and to accuse him.

 And the Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! Even the Lord, Who [now and habitually] chooses Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this [returned captive Joshua] a brand plucked out of the fire?

 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and was standing before the Angel [of the Lord].

Alright let’s break this down:

Verse 1
The guiding angel (most versions just say “he”)– The Lord represented to me in a vision

Standing– Ministering in his office

The Angel of the Lord (most versions just say “angel”)– Christ

Verse 2

The Lord — Christ, as a mediator, rather chooses to rebuke him in his father’s name, than in his own.

Is not this
 — Joshua.

Verse 3

With filthy garments — The emblem of a poor or sinful state.

The Angel (of the Lord) — Christ.

It seems as though the One mentioned as The Lord in verse 2 is actually the Father Who is being referenced by Jesus. He chose to be a mediator and rebuke Satan in His Father’s name as opposed  to His own. This makes perfect sense because it will clearly explain why the parallel passage in Jude has the same expression:

Jude 1:9

But when [even] the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, judicially argued (disputed) about the body of Moses, he dared not [presume to] bring an abusive condemnation against him, but [simply] said, The Lord rebuke you!

So the archangel Michael rebuked Satan in the name of the Father, the same way Jesus did it. Taking careful note of this suggests that directly rebuking the devil is not what we are supposed to do. Besides how many demons does he have chasing us every moment of every day! As far as our responsibility towards the devil is concerned, all we have to do is:

James 4:7

So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.

2 Corinthians 2:11

To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions.

1 Peter 5:8

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

1 Corinthians 10:13

For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.

Ephesians 6:12

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

 For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,

 [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)

Making The Connection

In my studies about the passage of Zechariah 3 I looked further into the specifics Daniel had with the scene taking place in the presence of God. Satan was just trying to make Joshua feel belittled for entering as a priest into God’s presence with filthy rags! That’s proof that you can come to Him just as you are:

Hebrews 4:16

 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

Thankfully Jesus was there to rebuke Satan in the name of the Father. When I observed the book of Daniel I noticed that Michael was one person that played a big role in Daniel’s life. I noticed here that Michael was the one my dad was referring to. Check out what I discovered in a commentary I read:

Yet Michael the archangel by whom is meant, not a created angel, but an eternal one, the Lord Jesus Christ; as appears from his name Michael, which signifies, “who is as God”: and who is as God, or like unto him, but the Son of God, who is equal with God? and from his character as the archangel, or Prince of angels, for Christ is the head of all principality and power; and from what is elsewhere said of Michael, as that he is the great Prince, and on the side of the people of God, and to have angels under him, and at his command, ( Daniel 10:21 ) ( 12:1 ) ( Revelation 12:7 ) .

That means there is a very close connection between Jesus and Michael. It is not to say that Michael had the same authority as Jesus but rather that they both held very high ranks. From the above statement you can see that a part of Michael was in Jesus and a part of Jesus was in Michael. In Jude Michael also stood as a mediator and rebuked Satan in the name of the Father. My guess is to respect rank since Jesus rebuked Satan in the same way.

5 ways to learn how to turn the other cheek

When I learned this, I had a greater appreciation for the kind of people Jesus wanted us to be! When we are seriously talking about being more like Him, it starts off by understanding His every and very instructions. One of the most seemingly controversial passages is Matthew 5:38-42:

You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.

39 But I say to you, Do not resist the evil man [who injures you]; but if anyone strikes you on the right jaw or cheek, turn to him the other one too.

40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your undershirt (tunic), let him have your coat also.

41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two [miles].

42 Give to him who keeps on begging from you, and do not turn away from him who would borrow [at interest] from you.

Understanding the character Jesus desires us to have:

1) Learn more of what the Scripture implies.
These passages talk about avoiding retribution and resistance. Our first step, therefore, is to find out how the original listeners understood Jesus’ terms. He spoke to them (literally) not to us. His words speak to (written to equally impact) us as much as it did them.

2) Seek God for vindication.
Turning the other cheek was used as a metaphor. A backhanded blow to the right cheek did not imply shattered teeth (tooth for tooth was a separate statement); it was an insult, the severest public affront to a person’s dignity (Lam 3:30- Let him give his cheek to the One Who smites him [even through His human agents]; let him be filled [full] with [men’s] reproach [in meekness]).  God’s prophets sometimes suffered such ill-treatment (1 Kings 22:24; Is 50:6). Yet though this was more an affront to honor, a challenge, than a physical injury. Let God defend you.

3) We are to give up our (human) rights.
The reason for this is so that we can be honoured by God. Proverbs 3:34 says, “Though He scoffs at the scoffers and scorns the scorners, yet He gives His undeserved favor to the low [in rank], the humble, and the afflicted. ” John the Baptist was humble (thought of himself less) when He said, “He must increase, but I must decrease. [He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so.] (John 3:30).
Through this we decrease chances of being dishonoured in God’s eyes by seeking human honour. Jesus not only warns us not to avenge our honor by retaliating but suggests that we indulge (accommodate, yield to, give way to) the offender further. By freely offering our other cheek, we show that those who are secure in their status before God do not value human honor. Indeed, in some sense we practice resistance by showing our contempt (disgust, hatred) for the value of our insulter’s (and perhaps the onlookers’) opinions!

4) Know you are different, by showing it.
Revenge is neither sweet nor cold. If you are insulted, try understanding the person from their point of view. Ask for the reason for the insult and after you get your answers-whether you are satisfied with them or not-go your way. Remember Proverbs 14:7 , “Go from the presence of a foolish and self-confident man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips.”

5) Your enemies reap what they sow!
Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who listens to counsel is wise.” Pride comes before a fall. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. The higher they are, the longer they fall.

Unjust weights and measures. What exactly are these?

I don’t know about you but when I read passages like these, I just get so confused. I recently finished all the 5 books of Moses, and noticed a connection between the Proverbs and those books when I read it! Despite that, it still left me confused. Check this out:

Leviticus 19:35-36You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity. 36 You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah (a dry measure), and a just hin (liquid measure); I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 25:13-16
“ You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. 16 For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the Lord your God. 

Proverbs 20:10
Differing weights and differing measures,
Both of them are abominable to the Lord

Proverbs 20:23
Differing weights are an abomination to the Lord,
And a false scale is not good

Micah 6:11
“Can I justify wicked scales
And a bag of deceptive weights?

Understanding it better
There are a few things to note about these passages:

1) An ephah was a dry measure having the capacity of about 3/5 of a bushel or about 22 liters. A hin was a liquid measure having the capacity of about 1 gallon or about 3.8 liters (Lev 19:36).

2) Stone and a stone, meaning the weights were made of stone, and some had two sets of stones, a light and a heavy. With the latter they bought their wares, by the former they sold them.

We still say, that such a commodity is worth so much per stone, a stone being of such a weight; now these were not to be different:

A great and a small; great weights, to buy with them, and small weights, to sell with them. In a sense, the weight of the stone would determine the price of the product. You could only buy with heavier stones and sell with lighter ones so that the difference in weight could accurately determine the price for that product.

Integrity in business
Thou shalt not have  divers weights. Weights were anciently made of stone and are frequently used still by Eastern shopkeepers and traders, who take them out of the bag and put them in the balance. The man who is not cheated by the trader and his bag of divers weights must be blessed with more acuteness than most of his fellows.

God blesses honesty. As long as there is no extortion, bribery, mischief, deceit or flattery, then your business will grow and you will prosper. Consider these passages:

Proverbs 16:11
Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;
All the weights in the bag are of his making.

Proverbs 11:1
The Lord detests dishonest scales,
but accurate weights find favor with him

So when we do business we must be honest and careful to conduct everything with purity of heart so that through that we can grow in our knowledge of the Lord. It all depends on who He is to us. To me, God is the chairman of the board, Jesus is CEO and the Holy Spirit is the chief counsel. The best way to do business God’s way is to involve Him in our business everyday!

Clarifying a confusing Old Testament passage

I asked a pastor about this Scripture, “Do not cook a young goat in it’s mothers milk” and the answer he gave me was not a satisfying one. He said that it was a cultural practice back in those days and how we are free from animal sacrificing today. actually thought it was one of those defensive answers that people use when they really don’t know what happened. Thankfully I happened to read a book that helped me out with this:

Deut 14:21 “Do not cook young goats in its mother’s milk”
Similar passage:

“Do not mate different kinds of animals”,
“Do not plant your fields with two kinds of seeds,”
“Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of materials” (Lev 19:19)

“These were designed to forbid the Israelites from engaging in the fertility cult practices of the Canaanites. The Canaanites believed in what is called sympathetic magic, the idea that symbolic actions can influence the gods and nature. They thought that boiling a goat kid in its mother’s milk would magically ensure the continuing fertility of the flock.

Mixing animal breeds, seeds or materials was thought to “marry” them so as magically to produce “offspring,” that is, agricultural bounty in the future. God could not bless His people if they practiced such nonsense!”

So there was a spiritual motive behind practicing such things. It really had nothing to do with cross-breeding, but basically worshiping nature and believing that it could provide for you. That’s exactly what God wanted to avoid with the Isrealites! The next time you read about cooking a young goat in it’s mother’s milk and the other things in Lev 19:19, remember why.

NB: The book that I got the info from is called, How to read the Bible for all its worthby Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart.

Related posts:
The value of observing the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth