His Holy Spirit

Isaiah 63:9-10

In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

10 But they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit: therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them.

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The Angel of His Presence

A couple of things in these two verses gave me pause. I had to stop and ponder on “In all their affliction He was afflicted.”

If you are a parent, or have a close relationship with any child, you know that when that child is sick, feverish, just miserably uncomfortable, that you don’t get much sleep either. You want to just wave the illness away with your Magic Mommy Wand. And that’s just for a minor illness. When a child has a serious illness, you suffer every moment of it with him. That’s how God felt when His people, His children, turned their backs on Him and ended up in terrible trouble. He felt every moment of their trial, and His heart ached for their reconciliation with Him. Time after time.

“And they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit.” A couple of things that are significant here. First, God was vexed. Here are some synonyms for vex: 
annoy, irritate, infuriate, anger, incense, inflame, enrage, irk, chagrin, exasperate, madden, pique, provoke, nettle, disturb, upset, perturb, discompose, put out; 

Their disobedience was not just a passing thing. It was a burden to the heart of God.

Second, it vexed His Holy Spirit. This is important because it indicates that the Holy Spirit was present with God right from the beginning. Some believe that the Holy Spirit showed up for the first time on the Day of Pentecost, but that is not the truth .He was there when Jesus was baptized at the beginning of His ministry. He has always been present as part of the Trinity.

And, as part of the Trinity, He could be vexed at the disobedience of God’s people.

Finally, “He fought against them.” I never really considered the absolute clarity of this verse. When His people had become so full of sin, self, idolatry, and the things of the world, He was no longer going to protect them from being conquered and captured. In fact, He fought against them.

I don’t ever want to vex my God to the point that He will no longer protect me, fight for me. In fact, I don’t want to vex Him at all, because I love Him.

We need to look carefully at our lives, into our hearts, into our motives. Every time Israel fell to an enemy, it was not a sudden thing. It was a slow decline into sin, idolatry, immorality; of identifying themselves with the nations around them, and becoming more like them, and less like God.

Tares Among the Wheat

Matthew 13:24-25. “Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was spruing up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.”

Tares are weeds that look just like wheat except they have a black grain that appears on them. There is a LOT of interesting information online about tares.  If I spent as much time as I’d like to studying out all the details about these simple parables, I’d never get much else accomplished!

We learned earlier that the parable of the sower represented the church at Ephesus, the apostolic age, and the beginning with its failure–leaving the first love.

The second parabe of the evil seed represents the church in Smyrna, meaning  bitterness.  The enemy is revealed here, and it is clear that the enemy was stealthy in his activities.

I’ve written before about my experiences in gardening. One learns very quickly that the weeds seem to look exactly like whatever plant they are choking out. I think it is impossible for us to be too careful in examining those who come among us claiming to be sowing good seed.  If they are legitimately doing God’s work, then they will not be offended when asked why they are doing something in a certain way, or teaching a Bible passage in a particular manner.  It is the humble shepherds in our churches who do not react in anger when someone in the congregation raises a question, especially when that individual is doing so with a pure heart and a good motive.  It’s not usually too hard to identify those who are simply sowing seeds of discord with the purpose of dividing the flock.

I have nothing but respect for any leader, whether it is a pastor, teacher, deacon, or lay leader,  who responds with humility and sincerity  when he is questioned.  We are all susceptible to error, and we should never assume that because we’re in leadership  no one should ever approach us to correct us.

Well, I’ve rambled a bit tonight.  Next time we’ll see what happens when the man’s servants asked him if they should go and uproot the tares.  It’s a fascinating parable for all of us in our churches today as we strive to teach and preach the Bible, and only the Bible.

Admonish Him as a Brother

II Thess. 3:14-15. “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

In this repetition of his earlier command in verse 6, Paul clarifies that the removal of fellowship is for two purposes:  One, that the disorderly person may feel shame for his behavior; two, that he be treated not as an enemy, but loved back into fellowship as a brother. There is no unwarranted harshness or cruelty being taught here, but rather that people be made to experience the natural consequence of their sinful behavior. The goal is restoration and change in the person’s life. 

Because this topic had already been addressed in I Thess. 4:11 and 5:14, Paul is urging a stronger reaction if the behavior continues.  Keep in mind that disorderly included two parts: The refusal to work, yet demanding to be supported; and the stirring up of trouble by being busybodies.  A church can be destroyed by such behavior.  It was time for a strong stance to be taken. 

The disobedient person is to be noted. We aren’t told exactly what this involves, just that there is to be a congregational observation  of whoever disobeys in this matter. Then, they were to have no company with him.  The literal sense of this clause is “not to be mixing yourselves up with him.”  In other words, avoid him; don’t get involved with his  gossip; don’t associate yourselves with him as a close and acceptable friend. 

The goal of this disassociation was not to excommunicate the person, but to help him realize two things; One, the seriousness of his sin; two, the importance of the fellowship of other believers. If the person were truly born again, he would soon feel the lack of connection and it would, ideally, bring him to a place of repentance and restoration. 

He was to be treated not as an enemy, but as a brother. Restoration is always offered.  I believe it is very important here to note that the restoration could come only with sincere repentance, which includes confession and seeking of forgiveness and, importantly, a changed walk.  It’s one thing to say, “I’m sorry,”  It’s quite another to say, “Please forgive me,” and then to turn around and walk the other way from one’s sin. To confess is to agree with God that one’s behavior is sinful; to repent is to turn away from the sin and walk in a different direction.  All of this has to happen if restoration is to be complete.