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WHEN GOD CHASTENS!

BOTH THE DANGERS AND BLESSINGS OF GOD'S "CHILD-TRAINING" IN OUR LIVES!

FROM HEBREWS 12:12-17

Preacher Bagwel

"Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." Hebrews 12:12-17

 

LESSON 1, INTRODUCTION:

Hebrews chapter twelve is amazing.

Many Bible students have correctly associated it with the theme of "chastening." And our Heavenly Father does chasten His children when they err. He, as did our earthly fathers, whips His disobedient sons and daughters ... because He loves us!

By way of introduction, read these few critical verses. "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?"

Then we are told, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby"

And one of the strongest verses in the King James Bible, especially if a person says he or she is saved but is not living a Christian life ... and is consistently without God's chastening Hand of correction! "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

These things are, of course, all true.

But then the Holy Spirit leads the author of Hebrews, Paul many believe, to add a few words of caution.

It is possible when being chastised of the Lord to grow weary. Some even "faint" as we have just read! That's "ekluo" in Greek and means "to loosen" or let go! In other words, "to quit!" Literally, "untied!" Having come apart!

Others become nonchalant, a "couldn't-care-less attitude! That's what "despise" means. "Oligoreo" blends "oligos" meaning little or small or short and "ora" meaning concern or care.

And since such "whippings" from the Lord are so "grievous," caution must be exercised during these times. This adjective is spelled "lupe" and means painful or filled with sorrow!

Therefore, this whole "chastening" section is followed by some good advice to heed and a tragic example to avoid!

Just for today we shall read the whole Paragraph we are about to study: "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." Hebrews 12:12-17

Visit us again tomorrow and let's start the journey!

Words of wisdom from the Bible ... especially when one has been taken to God's "woodshed!"

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 12:

The New Testament Book of Hebrews, partly quoting the Prophet Isaiah, makes one of the Bible's most lovely statements about "encouragement."

"Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees," writes Paul.

Isaiah 35:3 has it like this. "Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees."

By analyzing these two statements, we can get an idea of what "lift up" means. It's a synonym to "strengthen" and "confirm." By the way, every verb in these two verses is in the imperative mood! These are commands.

In Greek "lift up" translates "anarthoo," which at its heart means "to make straight." The word "oros" means mountains, things which have been lifted up into the sky! The Hebrew parallel "strengthen," spelled "chazaq," means "to fasten upon" or "to seize" something, making it more stable of course. In our Bibles it is rendered as "repaired" 47 times! Likewise "confirm" is "amatzs" and here means "to make alert, to make courageous." In the King James Text it is "harden" and "fortify" several times. Both Old Testament verbs here are in the Piel stem, showing that great intensity and zeal are to be used in response to Isaiah's preaching!

Staying with Isaiah a second, "weak" (in Hebrew "rapheh") means "slack" and "feeble" (in Hebrew "kashal") means that which "totters or wavers or stumbles."

Hebrews has the hands "hanging down," in Greek "pariemi." This means "sent to one's side!" "Hiemi" is "to send" and "para" means "aside" or beside." These are hands that no longer fight or hug or cook or clean, but limply dangle without strength! This is a picture of discouragement or maybe even depression. Then the knees are "feeble," in Greek "paraluo," having come unloose ("luo" = to loosen) or no longer strong enough to support one's weight! See our word "paralysis" in "paralou," which explains the New Testament's twice using this term for "sick of the palsy!

Therefore, we Believers are to be in the business of encouragement! Helping one another and loving one another and exhorting one another and uplifting one another!

But why is that verse place here in Hebrews 12, right at the end of Paul's great sermon on "chastisement?"

Because when God "whips" us, or "child trains" us if you prefer, it is easy to be overcome with the shock and pain and grief involved! After all, Paul just said of God's chastening us, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous!"

But quickly he adds, if we do not get a case of "hanging down" hands or "feeble" knees, "Nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Hebrews 12:11

Let the scourging of the Lord "exercise" you ("gumnazo," our word "gym" or "gymnasium") instead of frustrating you!

But if you see a Brother or Sister in Christ who is surprised by one of God's whippings and discouraged or tired and weak and ready to fall ... help him or her!

Do exactly what today's verse commands: "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees."

Just a little later Paul says, "But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 13:3 expresses about the same idea as today's Verse.

When God has you in "boot camp" do your best not to have dangling hands and shaking knees. You can help no one that way! But if, in spite of all your efforts, discouragement hits, the Bible knows the solution!

Someone you know weak and tottering and about to fail?

Help them!

Arm yourself with today's verbs, pray for the Holy Spirit's strength and wisdom, and go "do good!"

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, VERSE 13:

Paul, in Hebrews 13, is certainly picturing someone disoriented. Or at least they are so weak they can't even walk, or for that matter hold their hands in place.

They have apparently reacted wrongly to a "whipping!" By that it is meant a whipping from the Lord, like a Father gives his wayward son!

The Holy Spirit prefaced this discussion, Hebrews 12:12-17, with these words: "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Hebrews 12:6 uses a strong verb, "scourgeth," from the Greek "masso," that means "to chew up!" Then "to flog!" Then the very next verse teaches us to "endure" God's chastening, using "hupomeno," meaning "to stay or remain under" a heavy load ... without grumbling or fainting too! "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons ...."

By today's verse, Hebrews 12:13, we have: "And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed," still talking about the right reaction to God's chastening.

Yesterday the implication could have been drawn that this "help" we are to extend to the chastened or scourged saint was to be directed to someone else, a weak Brother for example!

Today it's plenty clear that Paul also has in mind we ourselves! "Make straight paths for YOUR feet!"

What grammar this verse presents!

Make translates "poieo" as an aorist verb in the imperative mood, expressing a command! "Lift up" back in verse 12 was also an imperative. "Poieo" means "to do or to make" something and is in the active voice.

"Straight" is "orthos," that which is "not crooked, erect, upright." The "orthopedic" doctor concerns his practice with "straight" bones, correcting breaks and other defects!

But "paths" is unusual. It's not the normal word for "road" or "way." Rather, "trochia" means "a rut" or "the track of a wheel!" In Greek "trecho" just means "to run."

One's "feet," in Greek "pous," is the basis for our word "podiatrist," the foot doctor! "Pod" is the stem of "pous."

"Lest" or "me" in Greek (pronounced "may") is a particle of "negation." It here is associated with the conjunction "hina," stating a purpose. God's goal in "whipping" us ... to make us walk straight!

"Lame" translates "cholos," maimed, deprived of a foot, halt or crippled.

The whole expression "turned out of the way" is based upon "ektrepo," that is "to twist or dislocate," erring erratically, out of control!

"Rather" or "mallon" means "more, to a greater degree!"

"Let be healed," the verb "iaomai" as a subjunctive mood and passive voice action word, means "cured or restored!" Made well by another!

And just in case you're thinking that Paul, or this writer for that matter, is making too much out of this "chastening" business ... let's quickly examine that word. "Paideia" is only used six times in the whole New Testament. It is rendered as "chastening" 3 times and "chastisement" 1 time yet also "instruction" 1 time and "nurture" once more. This helps us get a general idea of how the Holy Spirit views the word.

"Paideia" is based on a verb, "paideuo," which means "to train up a child!" Even "to educate!"

So how did we get "chasten" out of it?

In Bible days educating a child, bringing him up properly, involved some whippings! Never brutal or abusive mind you, but painful none the less! "The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly." Solomon said this in Proverbs 20:30.

All this word chain is from a root, "pais," meaning a boy or a girl or even a young slave in Paul's day. And here's how "chastening" is derived, "pais" is birthed from "paio," meaning "to hit!" Yet get this. It usually means "to hit" with this nuance, not repeatedly or furiously and not violently as "tupto" would have been!

Loving discipline!

Here's one reason why God whips us, "for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness," according to Paul in Hebrews 12:10.

Here's another "plus" for this chastening too, "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons." It's proof we are saved when God corrects us! This is Hebrews 12:7 again.

It's an indication that God loves and receives us also! "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Hebrews 12:6.

Don't get disoriented when God reaches for His "stick!"

He means for us to benefit from the chastenings that come our way!

Yes, "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed." Our verse today along with yesterday's text too, Hebrews 12:12-13

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 14:

It is obviously a case of presenting the positive before the negative!

Hebrews 12:14 is positive: "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

Then immediately Hebrews 12:15 is negative: "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled ...."

At other times the Bible reverses the order! For example, consider Romans 13:12. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light." And in both these locations, Hebrews and Romans, Paul is the human writer many believe, including me. Of course the Holy Spirit is the real Author of all Scripture!

Verse 14 is the reason, its stated goals for the Christian life, why discipline comes from the Lord in the first place! "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

Peace! 

Holiness!

Hebrews 12:10 says that God chastens us for our "profit!"

Hebrews 12:11 says that the Lord's spankings or whippings can "yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness" if we respond to them properly!

God never chastens carelessly or without reason!

Before we were "child-trained," a synonym for "chastened" in Greek, we obviously lacked "peace" or "holiness," maybe both.

The graph looks like this: No peace and holiness ... chastening comes ... then plenty of peace and holiness!

Today's verse applies some of the benefits of God's last "training session" in our lives! "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

The verb "follow" is "dioko" and means to relentlessly pursue. In at least 31 of its 44 Bible occurrences it is associated with "persecution," chasing someone to hurt them! But about 10 times it is used to indicate determined hunger, absolute desire! Plus, it is an imperative verb here, expressing a command from the Lord!

"Peace" is spelled "eirene." It has come into English as a name, the feminine "Irene." The stem here is likely "eiro," meaning "to join!" Two who were once at war, now living in harmony! That's peace if the reconciliation was reached honorably.

"With" translates "meta" and means "in the midst of" something or someone. "In the company of" or even "among" are valid meanings too.

"All men" are represented by "pas," an adjective acting like a pronoun. It means the "entire" or the "whole" group. It obviously is plural here. This could be teaching us to be at peace "among" all men, not letting them harass us ... or it could be saying "peace one with another." Both ideas are grammatically permissible.

"Holiness" is the word "hagiasmos," meaning that which is "set apart" unto the Lord. Pure and clean and thus sacred! Five times in the King James Bible this word is rendered "sanctification." It negatively hints at separation from sin, but then positively suggests being separated unto the Lord!

Then of holiness we are told, "without which no man shall see the Lord." The words "no man" are underwritten by "oudeis." In Greek "ou" means absolutely not! Then "heis" means "one!" Not one single person!

If a man or woman is saved ... he or she is holy! And will live like it too, the fruit of such being observable in their individual lives.

The verb "see" is "optanomai" and means to look long enough to really be considered "gazing" at something!

Then the name of God as "Lord" is used. "Kurios" means Master, Owner, Supreme One! In Paul's day the Roman Emperors were demanding to be called "Lord" also, expecting "worship" from their subjects! Paul, perhaps rubbing salt in the wounds, uses this great Name of Jesus again and again! Caesar is not Lord, he implies! Jesus is Lord!

Christian friend, if you have just completed one of God's "training courses," one of His "whippings," a true "chastening" session ... go out and hug some dear Brother in Christ then go home and get on your knees and repent of some sin! In other words, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

You do not want to go through that "grievous" spanking again!

Learn from it!

Amen!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 15:

Either these things will lead to God's chastening us ... or they may result from our improper response to God's chastening!

What things?

Those listed in Hebrews 12:15-16.

Things like bitterness.

Or fornication.

Or profanity?

Yes, the question mark is there for a reason! That word "profane" must be Biblically defined. It carries with it an amazing word picture!

"Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright." Hebrews 12:15-16

We simply must study this crucial passage one clause at a time.

For today, "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God ..."

The two opening words translate "episkopeo," which contains our English word "scope." To oversee! To examine closely! Add the prefix "epi" and you get "to intensely mark or consider" something. To scrutinize it.

The context suggests that if I am "whipped" of God, "chastened" because of some unconfessed or unforsaken sin in my life ... I must be careful. I must not wrongly respond to God's "reproof" that has come my way!

With that "scourging" from the Lord I also have been extended a big dose of Grace, God's Grace! Remember, such whippings tend to, among other things, humble us! And ... "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." So says both James 4:6 and 1st Peter 5:5.

Therefore I must be careful to absorb that Grace, enjoying it and using it to further serve and glorify God!

Not to do so will lead to anger and resentment toward the good Lord!

Not to do so will cause a man "to fail of the grace of God."

The verb "fail" is "hustereo" in Greek. It's from "husteros" which just means "later." That's from "huper," a preposition meaning "under." Thus to "fail" of God's Grace is to be "behind" in it! To be "underneath" the quota of Grace God has allotted you!

Remember Paul's "thorn in the flesh?"

God would not remove it, even after Paul prayed about that repeatedly.

This "thorn" was needed to keep Paul humble, so says 2nd Corinthians 12:7. To be "exalted above measure," Paul's own words, is to be proud!

The painful "thorn," whatever it was, kept Paul humble!

And the more humble Paul was ... the more of God's Grace he was given!

Thus, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." 2nd Corinthians 12:9

Paul eventually decided that the pain, even this severe "thorny" pain, was worth it! If it took such pain to so deeply humble the Apostle, so that God's sufficient Grace should be so copiously poured forth upon him, then let God's Will be done!

Paul concluded: "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." Here's 2nd Corinthians 12:9 again.

The noun "grace" is "charis" and means kindness or favor or beneficence. "God's unmerited favor" said the old Preachers for as long as I can remember!

But this is not just any grace in Hebrews 12:15. It's the Grace "of God." Anyone can act with grace. The man who stops on the highway and helps you change a flat tire is being gracious. But that might not be the Grace of God!

God's Grace is saving Grace first of all!

Or is it protecting Grace, first of all? Grace that cared for me and guarded me when I was a sinner, allowing me to live until God saved my lost soul!

Or was it drawing Grace that gently pulled me toward Jesus?

Whatever ... once I was born-again this Grace also became empowering Grace! I do what I do for the Lord, by the very Grace of God!

Again hear Paul, "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." See how God's Grace motivated and propelled Paul's labors! 1st Corinthians 15:10

Energizing Grace!

Christian, be careful!

In no way do you ever want to be lacking in God's Grace!

The Old Testament Priests used to pronounce this blessing upon their people time and time again: "The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." This beautiful benediction is full of Grace, Numbers 6:24-26

And Paul repeatedly passed on to the Churches and saints: "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." Grace and Peace, just like the Old Testament Men of God! Romans 1:7

Grace!

Love it!

Grace!

Live in it!

Grace!

That which only comes by the Presence and Person of our Lord Jesus Christ!

To the Corinthians, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." 2nd Corinthians 13:14

Do notice Whose Grace we mean!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, VERSE 15:

The word is "bitterness."

Paul likens it to a "root" in Hebrews 12:15.

"Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled," we are warned.

This particular noun is spelled "pikria." It means "bitterness" in this sense: acridity or acid-like, especially as in something poison! That which is sharp or pungent in nature. It is probably derived from the Greek "pegnumi," the stakes with which a tent is fixed into place!

There we have a word picture for "bitterness." Burning, biting, deadly, piercing, sharp!

Our word is used only three other times in the New Testament. In Acts 8:23 Peter rightly accuses Simon the sorcerer of being in the "gall of bitterness." Literally, the bile of bitterness! Then in Romans 3:14 Paul has the lost, sinners without Christ, speaking words of cursing and bitterness! Then later in Ephesians 4:31 we are commanded as Christians to put away from us all bitterness!

Now in Hebrews 12:15 if a man or woman does not respond properly to God's chastening Hand ... he will be in danger of allowing a root of bitterness to spring up in his heart!

The word "root" implies that this thing called bitterness can begin very small, but grow rapidly!

When something alive, a little plant, "springs" up ... it bursts into life! The verb is "phuo," meaning "to sprout, to swell up, to germinate" and even "to puff or to blow!" The little word "up" translates "ano," that is "upward" or "on the top." The whole verbal unit, "springing up," is cast as a present participle. The action is constant. Growth, once started, usually continues and even intensifies!

Our English word "bitterness" is built upon an ancient root, "bitam," meaning "to bite!" That seems to come from an even older stem meaning "to split!" How true etymology can be! Bitterness does bite! It also splits loved ones and families and Churches too!

But our verse concentrates on yet another danger of bitterness. "Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."

It will "trouble" a person! This verb has a history too! "Enochleo" blends "ochleo" meaning "to crowd, to mob, to throng, to choke" a person! It's derived from "echo," to hold or possess someone! The prefix "en" meanly internalizes the verb!

Bitterness will constrict and restrain and overtake a person, becoming addictive and incurable apart from the Grace of God!

Bitterness also "defiles," even in this Text a Believer in Christ! One who has taken offense when God chastened him!

The verb "defiled" is spelled "miaino" and has this idea: "to contaminate, to stain with filth, to taint, to sully!" This is a strong word!

However, let it quickly be added that both verbs, "enochleo" and "miaino" are subjunctives here! This says that the troubling and defiling are possibilities, but not certainties!

By means of the power of God, one can repent, turning from bitterness to Christ Jesus, the sweet Saviour of our souls!

Do not get bitter, dear Christian friend!

To do so is critically dangerous!

When trials come ... trust the Lord!

Do not faint!

Grow in Christ!

Don't get angry!

Don't carelessly blame others!

Don't let the sin of bitterness even get an opportunity to "sprout" in your life!

Here's the Holy Spirit's solution to the whole problem, preached by Paul. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

Bitterness just became sweetness!

Through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Amen!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, VERSE 16:

One sin often leads to another!

Look at the life of Lot. From the very minute that he "pitched his tent toward Sodom," life was spiritually downhill! Next thing you know, he's living in Sodom. Then he's sitting in the gates of the city, obviously a reference to his being an official there.

And David! One night at home, when he should have been with his army fighting a battle! A stroll on the rooftop, a glance that became a stare! You know the rest of that story.

Paul in one of his greatest sermons ever, Romans 1:18-32, illustrates this principle, the downward spiral of sin! In that Text ungratefulness eventually led to homosexuality!

Yes, one sin leads to another!

Now, in Hebrews 12:15-16 we have another example of this "chain" sinning. Three warnings are issued. "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright."

One, do not lag behind in the Grace of God.

Two, do not become bitter.

Three, stay morally pure.

Whoever thought that a theological issue, a so-called "religious thing," not properly responding to God's Grace, could have led to an emotional thing, a life of bitterness?

Or, much less, to a physical thing, the practice of immorality?

One sin leads to another.

Today we must examine these words, "Lest there be any fornicator."

Our hardest task is going to be the linkage the Contexts presents us. How can someone, a child of God, who has just been disciplined of the Lord, chastened or scourged even, end up in further sin?

Just using the words of the King James Bible, here's how. That person "despised" God's whippings! And "fainted" when the Lord rebuked him! Refusing to be "partakers of God's holiness," they slipped into even more sin!

No grace!

No kindness!

Then here, no faithfulness, even to one's wife!

The word "lest" is spelled "me" in Greek and pronounced "may." It means "not" and is usually used in situations where the negative response is expected. Immorality is NOT to be named among God's people!

"Any," which is just "tis" in Greek, implies not a single person! It could happen, but it brings into question that person's very salvation!

Then comes the third word in this warning, "fornicator." Familiarly spelled "porne" in Greek, this noun presents us such English words as pornography. What a history "porne" has! It's derived from "pernimi," meaning "to sell" something. A prostitute literally "sells" his or her body, in the dirty world of pornography that is. But even "pernimi" comes from the root word "perao," meaning "to pierce through" an item, to "traverse" it. This definition came to mean "traveling" from point A to point B. A traveling salesperson, just selling sexual favors here instead of vacuum cleaners or insurance.

Now a few very cautious Bible Teachers suggest to us that in Scripture sometimes "fornication" represents "idolatry," a people refusing to worship our true God and following after idols and such. This is true at times, especially in the Prophetical writings. But, technically, that's not what our Text has said!

Can a Christian be immoral?

Something in me wants to shout NO!

But what about David, King of Israel?

Or Solomon his son, who seemed to start so well in life?

We have here today an endless circle. Fornication will definitely bring on God's chastening! He will "skin you alive" if you're truly saved! That's one definition for "scourge" in Hebrews 12:6. But then again, rebelling at God's Hand of chastening can also lead to ... pride, bitterness and then finally, immorality too! Either way, "fornication" just can't be a part of a saint's lifestyle. Period.

Jesus knew that Peter would deny the Lord three times. He knew so in advance!

The Lord also knew Sodom would keep on sinning and sinning until the fire finally fell in judgment! He has foresight, omniscience really!

And here in Hebrews 12 the Holy Spirit knows that a strong-willed Believer who hates God's chastening in his life, refusing to be whipped by His Heavenly Father, will fall into even more serious sin!

What a sobering thought!

Oh, do remember this too. By Jesus' definition, fornication and adultery may not always involved the physical act itself! Our Lord's words: "I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matthew 5:28

In today's world of easily available cable movies and discount store videos and ubiquitous internet access, beware!

It would be best just to humbly take God's spankings whenever they come!

Like Mary the Virgin once said to the Lord: "Be it unto me according to Thy Word!" Luke 1:38

What a way to end a Bible Study on fornication!

By quoting a virgin!

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, VERSE 16:

The word is "profane."

It is used seven times in the New Testament, either as a noun or verb.

In Greek it's spelled "bebelos." This word contains "basis," a noun derived from "baino," meaning "to walk" or indicating one's "foot" area. The second half of "bebelos" is "belos," just a threshold! It pictures one standing in a doorway, right in the middle of it, half in and half out of the room!

The word has come to mean "that which is trodden under one's feet!" And since the Blood of the Lamb would have stained the threshold of every Jewish home on Passover night ... and since the threshold of the Tabernacle was just before the brazen altar, blood splattered as it could be ... to carelessly step on these sacred places was the equivalent of being irreverent! "Profane" should have best described the heathen, not God's people!

The man who stands on the threshold of God's House, completely refusing to reverence or even acknowledge Holy Things, is "profane." In Latin "fanum" means Temple and "pro" means "out in front of" something! Not going to Church! Taunting those who do!

Hebrews 13:16 uses "profane" this way: "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright."

The man who does not live for God, who challenges God's right to train and discipline His own children, a man who may have already developed some bitterness in his heart and lusted with his eyes to the point of committing fornication ... is also a "profane person!"

Believe it or not, some people, if God has not been as "good" to them as they expected ... get angry with the Almighty! They accuse God of things, things like not caring for them after all! They become harsh and unfaithful and retaliatory against the Lord! Their extreme bitterness often leads to moral failure too. And almost always, if not checked and confessed and forsaken, "profanity" follows! Irreverence and disrespect!

It's one thing to accidentally step on the threshold, it's another to do so purposely!

To be "profane" here indicates a brashness against God!

The goal of the growing Christian is this, to keep enough "fear of the Lord" in his heart to surely prohibit any venturing over the threshold, irreverently standing on it just for spite!

But let me show you another way "profane" can be used. It here pictures an unguarded entrance! Where are the Priests who are to keep God's House clean and holy?

Looks like, at least in our Hebrews 12 case, that no one cares about the gateway any more! The threshold, blood and all, is not defended! Casual passers-by are allowed to infiltrate the Holy Place, just barely mind you, but still infiltrating, breaking down once long-held prohibitions!

Folks, guard the Gate!

Don't you ever become irreverent, disrespecting God! Or worse yet, rebelling against Him!

Churches and Pastors need to be careful what they allow "inside" those precious gates!

To allow common cargo is indeed "profane!"

Let's stop now and tell the Lord we love Him!

Don't step on Holy Things!

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

P. S. --- Jude speaks about some who will sneak into our Churches in the last days, sensual men who are really enemies of the Word of God. "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." That verb "crept in unawares" suggests stealth. It is spelled "pareisduno" and blends three different words! "Duno" means "to sink down," implying a hidden, deceptive approach. "Eis" means "into," access to the very House of God! And "para" means right there alongside all the Brethren!

Did no one sense they were coming? Does no one care?

Is anyone allowed, reprobates and all, no repentance needed?

Worse yet, I am afraid that today they do not have to "sneak in unawares!" They are coming through the very front door! And spitting on the threshold as they enter!

Oh, how desperately we need some "doorkeepers!" The job of the "saphaph," in Hebrew that's "doorkeeper," is one who guards the entrance!

Halt, who goes there!

With the muskets loaded, guard the gates!

Look what Nehemiah did to this crowd of hypocrites: "And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves."

Now that's separation, brethren!

 

 

LESSON 9, VERSE 16:

Esau was his name.

Son of Isaac and Rebekah, brother of Jacob.

Actually Esau was the older Brother of Jacob, barely! Twins they were.

But Esau could not handle God's Will for his life.

God, in His Wisdom and Providence had declared to Rebekah, before the boys were even born: "Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." Genesis 25:23 tells us this. Notice the capitalized words. The older boy Esau would be a servant to the younger Jacob! That's a reversal of God's normal order and Esau just would not accept it!

Esau the firstborn was rugged by nature and quite an outdoorsman, skilled at hunting. In fact, he could cook whatever he killed. Isaac dearly loved Esau's venison meat. "And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob." Favoritism it appears!

When it became apparent that Jacob, the younger of the two,  would be the blessed son, and not simply by his scheming and plotting but by God's omniscient decree, Esau responded negatively!

Hebrews 12:15 tells us that Esau lacked the grace to handle this great disappointment. He became bitter and apparently even fell into immorality, fornication precisely. He furthermore became irreverent. Spiritual things no longer mattered to him, having sold his very birthright for a bowl of soup!

The name Esau means "hairy one."

Esau's reaction and rebellion against the Lord and His Plans are archetypical for you and me.

He serves as a warning to us all, a three-fold warning.

Do not get bitter, no matter what comes into your life!

Keep worshiping God, do not ever become irreverent or profane!

And thirdly, never sell your spiritual heritage. Value it highly!

Watch what Esau did: "Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright." Hebrews 12:16

The "birthright," in Greek "prototokia," means "first" (in Greek, "proto") "to be born" (in Greek, "tikto") in a family. This position of honor involved a double portion of the father's possessions and also included eventual headship over the whole family! It also in this case would have included the blessing of being in the "godly line" of special people who helped bring Jesus into the world!

But these things, great as they appear to you and me, meant nothing to Esau! He "sold" that birthright for nearly nothing! Actually this precise verb, "apodidomai," literally means "to give away!" The price was so cheap it was like handing the birthright over to Jacob with no charge whatsoever!

A "morsel of meat, " spelled "brosis" in Greek, means something like "a mouth-full" of food! The root verb behind "brosis" just means "to eat."

What's wrong when a person will sell so much for so little?

His values are all skewed!

Stay right with God!

Not to do so, to question His dealings in your life, is to court trouble.

It's best that we Believers in Jesus just say, "Thy Will be done, O Lord."

To do otherwise, to wrongly react to God's hand of training or even chastening as it comes our way is to risk sliding into some pretty terrible sins.

1. Like bitterness that will make us spiritually filthy!

2. Like irreverence, lack of awe at the things of God, especially His ways! It's like Abraham said to God on the eve of Sodom's cremation: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Genesis 18:25

3. Even like immorality, fornication for example. We know Esau was at least a polygamist according to Genesis 36:2-3.

4. And now add to the danger list another pitfall, a wrong list of priorities, a perverted values system! When you believe a bowl of bean soup is worth more than the Blessings of God, you're just about blind spiritually!

Indeed, it's a slippery slope!

And it starts when we are not humbled at God's Hand when He lovingly, albeit at times roughly, chastens us!

Listen to Solomon: "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life." Proverbs 6:23 just taught us that God chastens us regularly, based on His Word and Wisdom. Spiritual spankings are a "way of life" for the growing Christian!

Don't rebel when they come!

Listen to the Lord, Wisdom personified: "Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." Proverbs 1:23 teaches us that's it's worth the whipping just to get that generous dose of the Spirit and the knowledge He subsequently imparts!`

The foolish thing to do when God trains us: "They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof." Proverbs 1:30

"He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth." Proverbs 10:17 speaks for itself.

"Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish." And "brutish" here in Proverbs 12:1 means "stupid" or "foolish."

How about this one? "Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured." Proverbs 13:18

"A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent." Proverbs 15:5

"Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die." Proverbs 15:10

"The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise." Proverbs 15:31

"He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding."  Proverbs 15:32

"A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool." Proverbs 17:10

I've probably said too much today. Just heed God's reproofs when they come your way!

Not to do so is dangerous!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10, VERSE 17:

Repentance was something Esau could not find.

That's according to Hebrews 12:16. "For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."

The central thrust of this verse, as with thousands of other Bible verses, largely hinges on one key word. Here that word is most definitely "repentance."

For years I thought we were being given a blanket statement about Esau's spirituality. That maybe for the rest of his life he could never repent of his sins, sins of bitterness and irreverence and fornication.

Instead I am learning this particular verse teaches no such thing.

The noun "repentance" is spelled "metanoia" and means "a change of mind," one which ultimately leads to "a resultant change of behavior." In Greek "nous" is one's mind or intellect and "noeo" means "to think." The prefix "meta" can mean "afterward," implying a whole new direction of thinking!

For example, the adverb "afterward," used earlier in our verse, is spelled "metepeita," blending "meta" and "epi" and "eita." Meaning, "after that."

We are just being informed that when Esau returned from his Genesis 27 hunting trip, loaded with venison, and learned that brother Jacob had deceived his Father Isaac, stealing the blessing, Esau wept and begged for a blessing anyway!

But since only one blessing of this type could be given, poor Isaac had no choice but refuse Esau's request!

Here's the heart of the matter.

Esau blamed Jacob. He also could have blamed Rebekah, who was not innocent in this matter! He might even could have blamed Isaac for his lethargy. He certainly blamed God too!

But what's the use?

God's Will had already been declared. In this case, in this family, "the elder would serve the younger!" Jacob gets the firstborn rights!

So ... instead of submissively bowing to God's Plan, Esau grows angry, bitter really, and threatens murder!

He also apparently was so upset at God, he tossed any remaining shreds of reverence right out of his life!

And he married numerous wives, not godly ladies either, pursuing a life of sensuality!

That verb "rejected" means "to have taken the test ... and failed!" Not authentic! Disapproved! Repudiated!

Isaac was saddened, but had no recourse.

Here's the blessing Jacob received and Esau missed. "Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee." Genesis 27:28-29

Esau did not have this verse yet, but it applies "hand in glove." Proverbs 19:21 says: "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand."

Whatever God brings our way, whether it's called training or discipline or chastening or boot-camp or testing or promotion or any other pertinent word, accept it from the Hand of Grace, learn from it ... and worship the Lord through it all! As a result of your humility you will, to use Hebrews 12 terminology, assuredly know you're in the right family, a born-again "son" of God! Experience spiritual "profit" too! Better become a "partaker of God's Holiness!" And enjoy the "peaceable fruit of righteousness" too!

To rebel at God's plan for your life is to ask for trouble! Things like bitterness and profanity and moral laxity!

The choice is clear!

God makes no mistakes.

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

Let's end the Series with a second reading of our Text. It is that important. May the Spirit of God be our Teacher!

"Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears." Hebrews 12:12-17

 

There's just nothing like the Word of God!

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