Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ten Lepers - Part two

....continuing with part two on the story of ten lepers as found in Luke 17: 11-19. Part one is here.

As stated earlier, we cannot make the leap that every disease is a punishment by God, but I would also not take the stance that a disease is not ordained by God. We need to find a balance between these two passages:

2 Cor. 12: 7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

we see some type of "thorn" in Paul's flesh, whether it was a disease or weakness or ailment, it seems to have been ordained by God to show God's strength through Paul's weakness. But that needs to be balanced against this:

Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

Taken in context, this verse from Amos is just one small part of God's promise that he would punish the nation of Israel for their iniquities.

So when others suffer through some disease or tragedy, the only thing we can always be sure of is that God has his purposes in it.

Verse 12 "And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:"

Note that they stood "far off" as they were commanded in the law of Moses. Leviticus 13: 45-46 "And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be." A leper was to live away from the rest of the people, and to cry "unclean" to keep others away so the disease would not be spread

These lepers had some knowledge of the law, whether they understood its purpose or not.
Today all men have some knowledge of God and his law, whether they understand it's purpose or not. Romans 1: 18-20 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"

Today many have some knowledge of the law of Moses, though they may not grasp much of it or understand it's purpose. Some gain this knowledge through "religion" where they are taught things such as the ten commandments. Some obtain this knowledge through our legal system which is largely based on the second table of the law.

For instance, laws that put a child under authority of parents are based on God's law which states honour thy father and mother. Laws against murder come from thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal gives us our laws against theft and robbery. Likewise slander and libel laws can be traced back to thou shalt not bear false witness.

But did these lepers from our text really understand why they were to keep their distance; why they were to cover their mouth? Probably not.

What about today? Do men understand why we were given the ten commandments? Certainly many of the Jews of Paul's day believed the law was a measuring stick that they could measure up to, and that they would be judged on a scale with their good deeds in one balance and their sins in the other, and if need be, their circumcision or keeping the feast days thrown in to tilt the scales. Not much has changed since. The same could be said of many Christian denominations today; they just substitute their baptism in place of circumcision, but they are still trusting in their own right acts of measuring up to the law.

They still can't hear Isaiah when he says all of our righteousness are as filthy rags, or they would see their true condition. Sin on one side of the scales and filthy rags on the other! But that is not how it works. Those filthy rags belong on the same side of the scale as the sin. The only thing that tilts the scale in favor of forgiveness and eternal life is the blood of Jesus, and that blood alone! So what is the purpose of the law for us? Galatians 3:24 tells us "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."

Verse 13 "And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us."

All 10 of these lepers acknowledged Jesus and called him "Jesus, Master". Jesus means "Jehovah saves." Master means an appointee over, a commander or a teacher. When I put them together I get something like this: "the one appointed by Jehovah to be both commander and Saviour." Do you suppose these ten lepers understand all that was in the name Jesus? Did they recognize him as Lord and Savior?

How many today truly recognize all that is meant by Lord and Savior? Did these ten lepers all understand the title Master in the same way? Or, were they simply calling him teacher?
Do you realize that nearly every false religion in the world honors Jesus as a teacher?
Muslims call Jesus a prophet even though they deny his teachings. In order to call Jesus a prophet and not call him a liar, they have to edit the bible down to the point where only texts they agree with remain. But isn't that the same thing liberal "so called" Christian denominations do today?

I'll wrap this up with part three within the next couple of days.

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