God’s Ten Commandments versus Jesus’ Two Commandments

What are the differences? How can the “supposed” Son of God change the commands of God? Or, did He change them??? Let us look into this, it has always been on my mind and have not researched or even sought an answer…

ten-commandments

So, it is agreed, for the sake of this discussion that God did give to Moses, His servant, the Ten Commandments for Israel to adhere to and follow all the days of their lives and they were first given in Exodus 20:1-17 NKJV.

greatestcommandment

And Jesus came along and gave us the Greatest Commandment in Matthew 22:36-40 NKJV, which is derived from Deuteronomy 6:1-3 NKJV.

Consider, for a moment or two, that there was a reason that Jesus simplified that which was already simple. How so, you might ask? Well, let’s take a good look:  The Jews were reminded that the Lord God lead them out of Egypt and the land of bondage.And the Sabbath was/is on a Saturday.

It is my contention that the Ten Commandments were, specifically geared toward the Jewish people, the very chosen people of God, Himself! Whereas, the modified Greatest Commandment was aimed toward the Jews but moreso in preparation for the Gentiles to adopted into the family of God.

As Christians, or sons and daughters who are adopted into the family of God (adoptive Jews, so to say) we were not lead from Egypt, we celebrate the Lord’s day on Sunday as it was the day upon which Jesus rose from the dead. Also, under the laws work was very specifically defined, such as walking beyond straight from one’s home to the synagogue was considered labor and other things as such. Jesus called out the Sanhedrin and Pharisees on such hypocrisies.

The Lord gave the Jews the land of milk and honey, i.e. Israel. While all of this world is the Lord’s, and everything therein…the land we live on was not given to us as the land (nation of Israel) was given to the Jews. While we can debate upon this matter, to a certain extent, we have not had to battle to maintain our land in our possessions as the Jewish people continue to do.

As I do think it a moot point that Jesus made the Lord simplified the Commandments which we are to live by, in that you either love God or you do not. Can we agree on that point, at least?

Let’s look at the Greatest Commandment which Jesus simplified for us:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”~Matthew 22:36-40 NKJV

  • First of all, Jesus stated that “You shall love the Lord“, which makes these two commands individualistic and personal. Meaning they are demanded of each and every one of us who follow the Christ. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. We are to do so by choice, not by force
    • We are to love Him “with all our heart“, which means we are to be sincere in our love toward God. After all, God can see our hearts and therefore love is the first and great thing that we should devote to him.
    • We are to love Him “with all our soul“, which means the soul must be engaged for him, and all things carried out toward and for Him and for His glory.
    • We are to love Him “with all our mind“, which means God gave us a mind with which to think things out and to reason with. That said, we must glorify God with our power of thought and reason. We must use our minds to learn all we can of God and to pass that on towards others; thereby, to mentor and disciple others.
    • To love God as the One True and Only God and Creator of all, is the greatest test of all. After all, do you truly believe such a thing? And do you truly show your love toward God? Only you can answer such a question and you know that God can see your heart.
    • You love the Lord God when you honor Him, when you hold Him in the highest esteem because you know & believe that He created you and placed the breath of life in your nostrils. You honor God when you place nothing else before yourself in order to worship or love as your creator.
    • If you honor God daily, is there a necessity to have a special day? Good question, and each of us will have an opinion on such a subject. However, it cannot hurt to honor God on Sundays, despite your honoring Him everyday. Every day which you wake and rise with the breath of life in you…is, after all, a day of the Lord…is it not??

Some people make each concept (heart, soul, & mind) to denote one and the same thing, to love him with all our powers; others differentiate each term; the heart, soul, and mind, are the will, affections, and understanding. Our love of God must be a sincere love, and not in word and tongue only, as theirs is who say they love him, but their hearts are not with him. In my opinion, the Lord Jesus inferred that each term should be understood on their own merit(s) and as the sum of their merit(s), together. It is always wise to look at them from every angle possible, as God did grant us a mind to reason with.

  • Secondly, Jesus commanded us to …love your neighbor as yourself.” Sound familiar? It ought to, that pesky Golden Rule that we were taught as children. To love one’s neighbor as one’s self we need to follow last five of the ten commandments:
    • Honoring our parents, while not our neighbors but they are those over us who are commanded to rear us up in the word of God and teach us all His ways. We are instructed to hold those in high regard who are our elders.
    • Murder, adultery, stealing, false witnessing, and coveting – these each affect those around us, our neighbors, friends, etc. We would not appreciate any of these things happening to us; therefore, we are not to treat others so heinously! Our civil society is based upon these things; in fact, our laws are based upon these things. You honor and glorify God when you love your neighbor as yourself.

Is one set of commandments any better than the other? No, I don’t think so. But the commandments from Jesus were the true cumulative effect of all the Old Testament Laws and words of the prophets brought together in one paragraph.

I hope you found this interesting and helpful. My prayer is that we all can affect change in society through our changes toward how we treat our neighbors. Godspeed to you all!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy, PhD, DD

 

Why We Must Remember the Lord Our God

remember God

And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.~Deuteronomy 8:2 NKJV

Deuteronomy 8 is rather profound in it’s teaching. It was from this chapter of the Old Testament that Jesus replied to the first of the three temptations of the evil one during His time in the desert. Do you remember?

…man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. ~Deuteronomy 8:3 NKJV

Remember what Jesus told the tempting spirit? Read Matthew 4:3-4!

We must know the accomplishments of God and all that He has done in order for us to honor and revere Him. We should be teaching our children these things. But as people move along in life and work harder, more overtime, more children, the spouse gets a job, etc. Man tends to forget the God that Created him. Why? Because man becomes too busy to live, survive, pay bills, pay his taxes, etc. We as the species of man are trained through commercials to spend more than we take in, get loans for those important purchases, such as cars & houses. Why is this? I suspect and believe that in order to kick God out of our lives the government needs to take God’s place. This is done by increasing your burden. How can a government do such a thing? They do so through the increase in taxes, through mandating healthcare, backing corporations which will push their products or the government can push their products through the Commerce Department, and other methods as such.

We have been brought up to have what we want NOW! Cost be damned! Have now, bratspay later, mentality for all. By promoting such a thing throughout our society, money, jobs, positions, etc. become our gods and idols of worship. Children are being taught to desire things NOW. Just recently, I was speaking with someone about an 8 or 9 year old child with a smartphone…call me old fashioned, but kids don’t need them! Children are getting away with murder, comparatively speaking to when I was growing up. Throw a tantrum, your butt was beat red. Not in an abusive way, but a corrective way. Unfortunately, children advocates, teachers and the courts have been taking people to task on this subject. Again, unfortunately, it has gotten to such a point where if you look at your child cross-eyed you could be on the receiving end of litigation.

Teacher Allegedly Banned Students From Wearing Crosses in a Tampa Florida school. Why? Because she noted that they were “gang symbols” and of course it went against her LGBT agenda which she promoted. Sadly, our teachers should only be teaching our children, not indoctrinating them! It is not their place to instill such ideologies in their minds, but rather challenge them to think, critically.

 Another problem in the parenting issue, is the fact that families don’t break bread anymore…you know dine together. “How was your day, today?” And other conversation events. Kids hardly have time for food anymore, because they are so into their computer reality games with 3D visual effects. We as parents have dropped the ball!

We should be praying together, talking together, being more open, teaching our children in the matters of importance. Lets face it…school is not the end all be all of life. They are not preparing our children for the life to come. We have a part in this. We must teach them of the greatness of our God and Creator. We must show them and teach them the morals taught to us through the Bible. Aid them to apply these new found notions. As they grow older, grant them a little leeway with decision making skills.

teach kids to follow

We as parents are our children’s first sight of how God deals with us. YEAH, read that again! As parents, we have a very heavy burden placed squarely upon our shoulders. Our children learn their morals from us, they develop many tasks, which they will carry on into their parenting lives. By how we teach and act toward our kids, we are possessed with the potential of teaching even our children’s children’s children. (Yes, you figured it out…our great-grand-children!) Our children must learn to take a stance against much of this newly founded “trans-” lifestyle choices. You know, such as: Transgender…Transracial…Transabled… Guess what comes next?

We as parents are charged with developing the moral fiber of our children, teachers are to and can help…but they are not to hinder. God passed on to us the mandates that we are to teach our children in all aspects of the Laws of God, the Word of God, the Greatness of God, the Morals that God desires us to follow and stand up for. We have permitted the government to take so many obligations from our shoulders and place these mandates on to the school officials. That is wrong.

We as parents should take back the schools and the local and federal government. NOW HEAR ME & DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME! We must do so through the ballot box. We MUST vote each and every voting cycle…like it or not, apathy is what cause a low number of registered voters from showing up at the polls. By following the laws, by forcing a change in the bad laws, and if needs be fire some people. One of my greatest pet peeves is the fact that bad teachers remain on a payroll, just like many bad politicians remain in office. This country was founded upon our rights and liberties…which, through apathy of the American people, have been widdled away at and are dwindling away daily!

There is a US Supreme Court case which states:

…the first official act of this nation declared the foundation of government in these words:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident***.”  While such declaration of principles may not have the force of organic law, or be made the basis of judicial decision as to the limits of right and duty, and while in all cases reference must be had to the organic law of the nation for such limits, yet the latter is but the body and the letter of which the former is the thought and the spirit, and it is always safe to read the letter of the constitution in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.”  – US Supreme Court, majority opinion; Gulf, Colorado & Sante Fe Railroad Co. v Ellis, 165 U.S. 150, 159-160 (1897)

Think about that for a moment! Our US Supreme Court Justices have been taking away our rights and liberties through a mis-reading and mis-construing the US Constitution and thereby eroding our country and its meaning through opinion and law, not by use of the amending process provided for by the US Constitution itself. But by God’s grace and by realigning ourselves with God and by voting for those who are Godly (which is a tough one, because they all act as godly people until they take office…) We, as a nation…ONE TRUE NATION, need to turn toward God and need to do more praying. But even Israel had failed God time and again, and God forgave them and brought them through some great trials and tribulations.

I hope you enjoyed this little rant on just a few of the reasons we need to remember the Lord our God…if it makes you feel any better…I enjoyed the rant!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy, PhD, DD

 

 

Understanding Balaam’s Error

balaams error

Now this is a tough one, to say the least; as there are differing opinions as to what Balaam’s error actually was. It is quite the dilemma in my mind as well, but let us delve into this to see if we cannot come to an understanding of his problem and what he had done wrong in God’s eyes.

Now, I will not insert the full biblical reference, but rather will start off with Numbers 22 and you can refer back to it in the bible. Let’s see if we cannot weave in and out of this menagerie of problems.

Let us face it, we as the species of man have a tendency, perhaps even the habit, of using God’s gifts blessed in our care for our own, meaningless, and even selfish reasons and purposes. We tend to misuse the numerous gifts (the breath of life, our life in general, our work, our abilities to sing, organize, wisely & thriftily spend the resource of money in our care, and many many other known and unknown gifts – but we use them for selfish and meaningless reasons and purposes. That being said, let us move along with Balaam and his dilemma…

As we start out in Numbers 22 we see that Balak son of Zippor saw what Israel had done to his neighbors, the Amorites. Fear set in his mind, and as always in every society when the unknown occurs fear is promoted and preached among the people. This is the only way politicians can get anything done in their own societies.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country. ~Hermann Goring

This seems to be the way that not just the politicians, but also numerous small groups who desire to play the victim while all the time creating the havoc around them. People, mankind , in general, does not do any homework and believes the majority of what he hears in the news or from others. Instead of what they should be doing and that is the use of the brain and God given wisdom which he had received at birth and throughout his maturing years. But we no longer teach our children HOW to think, but rather what to think and to jump on the bandwagon. There was a book published back in 1928: PROPAGANDA By EDWARD L. BERNAYS who was the German Propaganda Minister for Adolf Hitler. Moving on…

Now, Balaam had a great reputation of knowing who was blessed and who was cursed. If he blessed them, they indeed were blessed; if he cursed them, they were indeed cursed. And the bible indeed indicates, in Numbers 22:12 where it states: “you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” And God warned him not to go with the leaders sent by Balak to bring Balaam to curse the Israelites. You just cannot get any clearer than that where God stated to him: “You shall not go with them” ~Numbers 22:12. One of the first errors of Balaam was he told the leaders: “Go back to your own country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.” ~Numbers 22:13. Which is interpreted to mean in today’s vernacular: “Well, I really, really, really want to go with you, but my Father won’t let me.” Which is an enticement for the other party to help entice you even further into sin. Instead, Balaam should have stated precisely what God stated to him. (1)

Another error accomplished by Balaam was that of falling into a form of greed. Balak sent other leaders, more numerous and more distinguished than the first group. But they offered riches and wealth. And by going was giving into such weakness of man…greed. It indicated to others, or could be inferred by others, that maybe God will change His mind if I go with them and see what Balak sees. (1)

I will reward you handsomely” ~Numbers 22:17 NKJV

Balak sent an offer to Balaam. And by Balaam’s answer, as mentioned, it could be inferred other ways. Meaning, perhaps, that God might just change His mind concerning this invading people and Balaam could obtain some extra money on the side.

Now, I do not know about you but I always had problems discerning the error(s) with respect to the avenging Angel, the donkey, and Balaam. On the cursory view of the matter, everything appeared to be on the up and up, with respect to the mandate of God which is spelled out in verse 20.  And as you read the passage, it still is not spelled out for us. However, we must go by inference with respect to the problem(s) at hand. He is associating and even working with those who are against God’s chosen people. For example, there are those of us (knowingly or unknowingly) who associate with or work with those companies or charities that are blatantly anti-Israel. (3) If we are truly men and women of God we will/would always align with God’s people. We do such things in order to garner support, favor, and acceptability with the secular society. In so doing we are cursing Israel and going against God. We are reminded in the Book of Genesis:

I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” ~Genesis 12:3 NKJV

Matthew Henry’s Commentary spells out quite a bit, in which, the Israelite people’s presence is so that they (Moabites) might come to know the righteousness of the Lord (MHC reference, Micah 6:5 KJV). Balak sent a diplomatic dispatch, of sorts, to Balaam in order to get the Israelites cursed, but you cannot curse that which God has blessed…can you?

God fulfilled His  promise to Israel by showing His displeasure with Balaam by having His angel stand in the way of Balaam, who was protected by his donkey shich he beat three times. It was at that point the Angel was revealed to him. (Numbers 22:21-34 NKJV, (4), MHC ref) We are intended to, and obligated to, follow God’s word, demands of us, requirements, etc. because if we do not we are in sin against God Himself and we will thus separate ourselves from Him!

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” ~ Isaiah 59:2 NKJV

We have a tendency to be blinded by our thoughts or our desires that we are unable to see the dangers ahead of us. God will give us some warning signs and some of us will notice and change our direction. Unfortunately, if you are like me you tend to be a bit thick in the head, stubborn, or just oblivious to what is happening and blame it all on Murphy’s Law, until such time as you notice it was God all along trying to get your attention.

murphys-law

Eventually, we all show our true colors in any given situation, that is a fact! For example, when you claim a friendship with someone and say you are there for them, excepting only those times when they truly need you…you know, stuff like that! But getting back to Balaam, when he told the second set of ambassadors to remain the night. The reason this was wrong, as with many of us, is that we tend to think God will change His mind for our benefit, because it is something we desire to do. There is no need to check with God a second time for anything, as His word is final and is the Law. We need to face something…God’s word is final. (2)

I am truly hoping that I ave not confused any of you, and that I was able to aid in your understanding of Balaam. It is quite difficult, at best. I needed to do some extra biblical reading on the subject, myself.

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy, PhD, DD

 

References:

(1) The Error of Balaam

(2) Balaam the prophet of error

(3) Balaam’s Error

(4) Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Balaam

 

 

Our Present Culture of Abomination

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time I punish them, They shall be cast down,” says the Lord. ~Jeremiah 6:15 NKJV

abomination

As we slowly change, as an individual or as a society, we become more brazen in our acts against God. It is second nature to us, after all look closely at the Book of Genesis and the occurrences within it of man taking advantage of his neighbor & brother. Look closely at our mates taking advantage of our naivete. Look ever-so closely at our brothers not gaining their way an become so enraged at the fact that things tend to come easy to us, in some respects. The jealousy and envious behaviors build up to a spitefulness, anger, or even to a point of murderous rage. Regardless of how harmless any person sees either themselves or others we each have this capacity of disgust, hate, envy, and anger. Consider what is noted of us in the Book of Genesis after the flood waters subsided:

the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth ~Genesis 8:21 NKJV

This verse highlights the promise of God not to destroy man again with flood waters, but also noted an observational fact about what is, in my opinion, both based upon the gift of choice and foolhardy decisions. The gift of choice. It is through this one aspect, combined with anger, joy, love, rage, jealousy, and envy that we could be the most benevolent of creatures on the face of this earth or the opposite extreme where we are the most vile abominations in the sight of God Himself! We choose these paths, due to the mixing of emotions instead of thought and wisdom. Truly a very sad bookmark in the history of man.

Each and every man, woman, and child has the earmarks of this deep, within their very being. It is inherent to our make-up and innate to our very essence, being, and nature. I was recently pondering over my childhood and some things that occurred. I was not a very good kid, within the scheme of things…overall, perhaps, but in the context of certain things…NO! I was that kid, or person, that Paul spoke of Romans 3:10. In fact, I was the very antithesis of such a statement! Sad to admit, but quite true.

Well, enough blathering about such things…it is not all about me. But the point I am making hers is this: Every individual, and inherently each and every society, first walks sin-separatesaway from God because he/she does not think He is paying attention. When that happens, man becomes more brazen and bold in his separation from God by turning toward hedonism and further on with the belief that, “if there is not God then all things are permissible.” We spoke on that briefly in my post Woe To You… (January 23, 2017). As man becomes more and more at ease with his new self and his new immoral habits, life just goes downhill from there. Why? you might ask…well, look at it this way: As we each take on a new habit (good or bad), it slowly or quickly expands in its nature and scope. Man has a nature of indulgence and sinfulness. The further we separate ourselves from God, He becomes a distant memory…almost a joke in some instances. While God wants us to follow Him, naturally and by choice, but man just wants to be set loose — much like a child in a candy or toy store! At some point in time God will place feelers in your path, perhaps signs or warnings, maybe even a neon sign. These, as with the Ninevites, God is sending you a message to come back or else, because judgement is pending against you.

You have two choices at this point: Ignore the message(s) and warning(s) from God OR Pay attention to the sign(s) and warning(s) of God and REPENT and change your ways! In the book of Jonah it is shown that God is a loving and forgiving God, and if YOU sincerely repent of your actions within your heart, God will turn aside from His judgement and never-to-lateremember your sin no more. In fact, as time progressed you will be blessed abundantly! But again, this is the decision you must make while at the crossroads in your life and in your walk with God. The fact that it is never too late is proven in Jonah, because so long as you have breath and you are able to stand and pray and praise…it is never too late! It becomes too late only after you have drawn your final breath! Both Sodom and Gomorrah learned that God would have no more of their sinfulness. Upon the execution of God’s Judgement on both Sodom and Gomorrah…it was now too late for them to repent. In the Book of Jonah, the Ninevites listened to Jonah’s warning from God and they paid attention! And they REPENTED of their actions and deeds! And they turned to God, shunning their evil ways. Historically, their repentance and return to God and His ways lasted about 100+ years, where Nineveh was finally conquered and destroyed. But that is another topic, perhaps for another blog post.

Just remember this…

i-am-one

We each, individually, can do nothing significant…but we can do something! And through groups of like minded individuals we can change whole societies, just by taking that lone step to stand up to our society and dare to challenge it to be something different that what it presently is or is becoming. Regardless of what topic you take where people wanted change to occur they stood up. Even if they were alone! It is irrelevant if you agree with their message, but it is incumbent upon us to change our societies for the better and for the glory of God!

…make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age…~Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV

We are challenged to make changes through the missions we participate or lead, through our ministries, through our daily lives just by carrying on casual conversations. This is the Great Commission that was conferred upon us by Jesus…that His Father’s will be followed and shown to all in our daily lives. The only way we can change the present turn of events within our society is by forcing society to recognize that God IS watching and judgement IS pending. If your fellow man does not pay attention then you are safe. If you do not warn your fellow man, he will die for his own sins but you are liable for his blood because you and I are obligated to warn our neighbors, brothers, and fellow man.

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. ~Ezekiel 3:17-20 NKJV

Take the warning of God’s Word…it is there for all to see, but not everyone reads, sees, or understands it!

May God Richly Bless You My Beloved!

MK Murphy, PhD, DD

just think about it…

God-is-Love

I was listening to an interview with Dr. Scott M. Sullivan the other day and he and the interviewer brought up an interesting point:

“…if God stopped thinking of you, stopped loving you, you would cease to exist…” (refer to: The Importance of St. Thomas Aquinas)

Just consider that for a moment.

jesus-crucifixion

The Son of the Most High was hung on a cross for our sins! Would you like you, in a good way if you were hung on a cross the same as Jesus was for the failure or sins of others?  Especially, being hung on a cross the way the professional Roman Soldiers did so? Remembering that they were professional and proficient at their jobs in the business of torturing and killing people! And they were especially good at doing so to those who were deigned enemies of the state!

When you think about it all, by simply looking in the mirror, you have seen the face of at least one person who placed Jesus on the cross! You have seen at least one who shouted, “CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!” You know someone intimately who cost someone their life! Someone who was innocent of everything they were accused of.

Do you know what it is like to be crucified? READ THIS, and you will see ; perhaps even understand the concept a bit better! The article was written about 1986 by Mayo Clinic Doctors, who reviewed the data and biblical account and made their professional determination based upon the facts as they were made known through research. ON THE PHYSICAL DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST is a bit technical, but is very informative and very blatant on the brutalities against Jesus or any other person who was the recipient of crucifixion as a judgement.

plan-of-salvationSo, just consider this for a moment, if anyone had any reason at all to not like you and not think about you, or any other member of the human race, it would be Jesus! And yet, God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus loves each and every one of us. God wants us to choose Him and follow Him and to obey Him! Considering all that we have done to Jesus, is it all that bad to choose life and salvation?

Salvation

This was a short one, but pointed & specific! I just ask you to think about it.

May God Richly Bless You All!

MK Murphy, PhD, DD

 

When You Can’t Feel God by J.D. Greear

Jesus, Continued…

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. – Matthew 4:1-2

If the LORD is with us… where are all His wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us? – Judges 6:13 

By His Spirit, God is alive and active in His church. Nevertheless, if you think that walking with Jesus means an endless series of miracles, burning bushes, still, small voices, warm fuzzies, and sensations of peace that pass all understanding, then you are going to be disappointed.

Many of the greatest (and most honest) saints have confessed that they had to walk through many valleys with no sense of God’s presence, sometimes nearly going deaf from the heavenly silence.

C. S. Lewis wrote that during one of the most painful times of his life, he cried out to God and got… a door slammed in [my] face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.

He confessed that this heavenly silence made him doubt whether there was even a God at all:

There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once… Why is God so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?

Somehow, these honest words seldom make it into anyone’s list of favorite C. S. Lewis quotes.

Have you ever felt this way?

I once told a group of interns at our church that if they ever had days when they couldn’t feel God’s closeness, experiencing regular waves of His pleasure and mercy wash over their souls, that was proof they weren’t really saved. You should have seen the looks on their faces. I realized they hadn’t gotten what I thought to be a rather obvious joke.

If that were true, none of us could be sure of our salvation!

Every believer has times in which they feel as though God is distant. Or absent altogether.

Many Christians assume that silence from Heaven means something has gone wrong, that the inability to “feel” God’s Spirit means God has turned His face away. But this is not what God’s Word tells us. His apparent silence is, in fact, an important part of how He works in our lives and grows us up into the men and women of faith He wants us to be.

An Ancient, Recurring Story

The greatest saints in the Bible often felt the absence of God. No less than the prophet Isaiah himself cried out in despair, “God where are your dramatic, awe-inspiring works of God in my day?” He had heard of “times past” when God would “rend the heavens and come down,” when people “quaked in God’s presence.” But where was that God now, Isaiah asked? He cries out in dismay,

You have hidden your face from us. – Isaiah 64:1-7

The psalmist Asaph says plainly, “We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be” (Psalm 74:9). And Gideon, right before God used him to destroy an entire Midianite army with only three hundred men, said to an angelic messenger, “If the Lord is really with us… where are all His wonderful deeds like the ones our fathers recounted to us?” (Judges 6:13, my paraphrase)

The experience of feeling like God is absent or silent, you see, is anything but new. So why does God leave us feeling that way sometimes? And what are we to do during those times?

White Space

When God calls someone to follow Him, He frequently sends them through times in the “wilderness.” Right after God first put into Moses a vision to see Israel led out of slavery, He exiled him into the wilderness for forty years to herd sheep. Only after a long, silent, four decades, did God finally appear to him in the burning bush with the command to go. Can you imagine what kind of despairing, “God, where are you?” conversations Moses must have had with God during those forty silent years?

Or consider the story of David. After being anointed as future king of Israel by Samuel, what was David’s next move? Did he…

… go straight to the palace to try on robes?

… immediately confront Goliath?

… get billed as one of the “sexiest men alive” in Israelites Today magazine?

None of the above. First Samuel 16 tells us he went straight back to the pasture to tend the sheep. When David encounters Goliath, he’s in between sheep-care and crackers-and-cheese runs for his brothers (1 Samuel 17:15). Samuel had anointed David as king in 1 Samuel 16:13. This means David went from being named “future king” and “man after God’s own heart” by the most famous prophet alive to “field hand shoveling sheep dung” and “Cheeze-It boy” for his big brothers.

Right after the conclusion of the last verse in the story of David’s anointing (1 Samuel 16:13), my Bible has a white space, and the author moves on to something else happening at a different place in Israel. In that white space is where David went back to the pasture. The space between the call of God and the fulfillment of the dream. Nothing is written there, for David or for us, and I’m sure it felt terribly confusing for David.

Are you in a white space right now?

White spaces are typically the hardest parts of life to endure: The white space of silence; the white space of singleness; the white space of sickness; the white space of finishing out a prison sentence; the white space of unfulfilled promises and unmet expectations.

How many times must Joseph — sold by his brothers into slavery, falsely accused of adultery with his master’s wife, overlooked for parole by the magistrates — have called out to God, “Where are you?”

After Jesus called Paul to be his apostle on the Damascus Road, Paul wandered in the desert for three years and suffered obscurity for another fourteen (Galatians 1:17-19; Galatians 2:1). Paul endured seventeen years in the background before he was appointed by the Church as a missionary (Acts 13:2)!

After Mary became pregnant with the Messiah, God waited for several months to tell her fiancé, Joseph, about the miraculous conception. Why did God wait? During that delay, Joseph (naturally) assumed she had cheated on him (I mean, what else could you assume?). This means that for several months, Mary had to go through the humiliation of pregnancy alone with everyone, even her beloved fiancé, assuming she was a cheater. God chose to do it that way. Why? Why did He wait so long to tell Joseph? Why the “white space”?

Why does God sometimes leave us feeling alone, deserted, humiliated, abandoned — like we are in darkness, like He doesn’t care — as though He’s abandoned us altogether? Why is the only sound we hear at those times the echo of a door slammed in our faces?

I don’t know the full answer, but I know that part of it has to do with the fact that He wants us to walk by faith, not by sight; and walking by faith means sometimes pressing on when we can’t feel or see Him.

God sanctifies us by humbling us.

He works His salvation out in us by taking us through the valley of the cross, which often means feeling alone and abandoned. This may be why God didn’t tell Joseph His plans for Mary at first; He wanted Mary to feel the shame of the cross. Moses had to endure the wilderness of isolation. Paul had to learn to suffer (Acts 9:15; 2 Corinthians 11:24-27).

In reality, we most certainly are not alone during these dark times, but walking by faith means believing that we are not alone even when we can’t feel the warmth of God’s presence.

Another reason God often leads us through dark, silent valleys is that He wants to purify our hearts. Why do we want to be close to God? Is it because of what He gives us, or is it simply because we want Him?

What is more valuable to us: God or His blessings?

Sometimes God withholds everything from us except His promises in order to make us ask ourselves, “Is this — His promise — enough for me?”

You can never know that Jesus is all that you need, you see, until He’s all that you have.

So let me ask you a very important question, one that the survival of your faith depends on. Can you walk by faith in God’s promises alone, even when you can’t see or feel anything? Can you delay gratification, even the gratification of “feeling” the Spirit?

Watch the Video for Jesus, Continued…

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Excerpted with permission from Jesus, Continued… by J.D. Greear, copyright Zondervan 2014.