Category Archives: Old Testament

An Unlikely Solution For Spies And Double Agents

ISIS prop ex picISIS has a problem. They are convinced that they have spies among them. And as the coalition’s air strikes become more accurate and more successful, ISIS leaders are growing wildly paranoid. In the last several weeks they have implemented a Stalinesque solution to ferret out the spies – torture and kill anyone suspicious. Now, while this policy might eventually find spies, in the mean time, the shooting, beheading, and dumping their own soldiers in vats of acid, has hurt morale a bit!

The threat of spies is not a new challenge. Several examples of spies and double agents are even in The Bible: Joseph’s brothers were accused of spying (Genesis 42:9); Moses and Joshua used spies (Numbers 13, 21; Joshua 2, 6, 22); David & Saul (1 Samuel 26; 2 Samuel 10); and Delilah was a double agent (Judges 16). And throughout history, when spies are caught, they have been treated harshly.

Even Jesus had to deal with spies. In Luke 20, we read that spies had infiltrated Jesus’ disciples, and Jesus knew it. But rather than ferreting them out or having them harmed, Jesus did, as He always does, something very unexpected. He taught them!

In Luke 20:20, the Scribes & Chief Priests sent spies “who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor.” The spies asked if they should pay taxes or not. If Jesus responded, “pay taxes” He would upset the people, and if He said, “don’t pay,” He would upset the government…a no win situation.

But Jesus told them to render to Caesar that which was Caesar’s and to God that which was God’s (25). And because of His answer, they were unable to catch Him in anything wrong. In fact, they “were amazed,” and they “became silent” (26).

Wow! Jesus didn’t kill anyone or order the torture of anyone. He simply chose to answer their questions. And they were amazed. No one ever treated spies with such open access! “Come and see for yourself” was Jesus’ motto.

Jesus didn’t even try to stop a double agent who sold him out for 30 pieces of silver. Even though He knew that, when He was betrayed, it would mean pain and death. He knew that the reward in the next world is far greater than just avoiding pain in this one.

Share the Word openly, because there is nothing to hide! Many who come to spy will be amazed and silenced in their criticism. Others may want to harm us, but ultimately, no one can stand against us. No spies, soldiers, governments, or enemies, foreign or domestic, will be victorious if we follow Jesus’ example.

Mind your Matzoh and your Mitzvot

Someone once asked me how to find balance between the law and love of others. Perhaps we can take a lesson from Matzoh and Mitzvah. Matzoh is unleavened bread – that stuff we eat every Sunday in the Lord’s Supper. Mitzvot are good deeds or commandments.

Every Passover, practicing Jews search their houses to ensure they have removed all yeast (leaven). This law is explained in Exodus 12 & 13 when Israel is given the legal aspects of the Passover. “Minding your Matzoh” means, keep the unclean or evil thing from your house. This is what Jesus was doing when he cleansed the Temple of the money changers during Passover. While Israelites were removing yeast from their houses at Passover, Jesus showed them that he would remove the unclean, evil thing from his Father’s house.

According to the traditional Jewish interpretation of scripture, there are 613 Mitzvot or commandments. If you follow or teach others to follow a commandment, it is said you have done a Mitzvah, a good deed. So you might help someone cross the street today, and that would be a Mitzvah, a good deed. Certainly, Jesus taught that we must do good deeds (Luke 6:9).

Finding balance between the two can be difficult. If we do nothing but mind the law, we may lack love toward others. Similarly, if we do nothing other than good deeds, we may lack adherence to the law. It is an effort to follow laws and help our fellow-man.

For the Christian, balance includes doing good deeds and following laws, but if we don’t have God in our hearts, then we’re just people-helpers and rule-followers. Unfortunately, for many people, following God’s Laws and helping others would be a step up. Nevertheless, it doesn’t get us any closer to heaven or salvation. We cannot work our way into heaven. The only way to heaven is through Christ. Once we have the mind of Christ, the Spirit of God in our hearts, then and only then, can we be about our Father’s business of minding matzoh and mitzvah – law and good deeds.

Flash Mobs

Have you ever seen a “flash mob?” While, flash mobs are not exactly new, they are becoming a part of our every day society. Typically, they are harmless – a way a new generation can do something odd or nonconformist while not hurting anyone. People are using texting, mass e-mail, and various web sites to gather at a particular time and place to “spontaneously” dance or stand still or lie down for a few minutes and then continue as if nothing had happened. Those who are not “in” on the gag are often surprised, amused, or merely pass by, ignoring the activity. Until recently society was, at most, slightly inconvenienced by ‘flash mobs.’ A more sinister application has arisen though – “flash robs.”

“Flash robs” are when people gather together in order to barge into a theater or a stadium without paying for tickets or to enter a store simultaneously and shoplift and leave. Cases of ‘flash robs’ are popping up all over the country and are confounding law enforcement. When asked about how they are dealing with the problem, law enforcement officers have simply said that they don’t know how and don’t have the manpower to deal with this kind of crime.

In the days of Moses, there was something akin to a ‘flash rob,’ but with a very different ending. Beginning in the 16th chapter of Numbers, we learn that there were individuals in the camp who were tired of following the rules laid out by Moses. They didn’t want to follow the system anymore. They didn’t want to submit to God’s law. In fact, they wanted to steal the leadership from Moses. And so the message went out that they would meet and confront Moses. A rebellion of Korah and 250 leaders showed up and demanded that Moses and Aaron give the leadership of the Israelites to them. God told the people to remove themselves from Korah and his ‘flash mob’ and the earth swallowed them up.

God was not confounded. He didn’t worry about how to handle the situation. He wasn’t concerned about whether He had the manpower or wisdom to deal with Korah’s ‘flash mob.’ And the same is true today. God has a plan for us and has given us the road map. It says we are supposed to be kind to each other and love each other and treat others better than ourselves. We are to respect people and their property. And if we walk in the light as He is in the light, there is a wonderful inheritance laid up in heaven for us. And for those who refuse to submit to His ways…well, there is a plan there too. God’s preference is that we would follow His path and that none would perish. Are you in the practice of submitting to or rebelling against God’s will?