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Twisting and Turning

Category: Theology
Read Time: 23 mins
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Twisting And Turning

Some time ago I read the most horrific little research that you can find.
Two researchers linked crime rates to heaven OR hell. Research published by the Public Library of Science.
Believing that you are on a “highway to hell” could impact whether or not you commit a crime.

A study published in the scientific journal PLoS One by the University of Oregon’s Azim Shariff and the University of Kansas’s Mijke Rhemtulla.
It finds that people who believe in hell are less likely to commit a crime while people who believe in heaven more likely are to get in trouble with the law.
The two professors collected data for belief in hell, heaven, and God from the World and European Values Surveys that were conducted between 1981 and 2007 with 143,197 participants based in 67 countries.
They compared the data to the mean standardized crime rate in those countries based on homicides, robberies, rapes, kidnappings, assaults, thefts, auto thefts, drug crimes, burglaries, and human trafficking.

“[R]ates of belief in heaven and hell had significant, unique, and opposing effects on crime rates,” Shariff and Rhemtulla found in the study.
“Belief in hell predicted lower crime rates … whereas belief in heaven predicted higher crime rates.”

 Then suddenly a couple of statements are made.

A recent social psychological experiment found that Christian participants who believe in a forgiving God gave themselves more money for the study.
“Participants in the punishing God and both human conditions overpaid themselves less than 50 cents more than what they deserved for their anagrams and did not statistically differ from the neutral condition, those who wrote about a forgiving God overpaid themselves significantly more-nearly two dollars,” the study found.
Shariff and Rhemtulla believe that the study raises “important questions about the potential impact of religious beliefs on global crime.”
What anagrams are they talking about, what money and payment are they talking about?
What do you mean by a recent social psychological experiment, is this the same study, or something different?

In the study mentioned earlier, we throw up a very important question; Which Christians only believe in Heaven, or only believe in Hell?

What Christian do you talk about, I know, that a Christian believes in heaven and hell, there is no or.

  • A Christian Believes in the sixth commandment, Do NOT murder
  • A Christian Believes in the seventh commandment, Do NOT commit adultery
  • A Christian Believes in the eighth commandment, Do NOT steal
  • A Christian Believes in the ninth commandment, Do NOT lie
  • A Christian Believes in the tenth commandment, Do NOT covet

oh, and while we are at it, A Christian does also Believe in the first five commandments;

  1. Do not have other gods before me
  2. Do not make any graven images to bow too, or to serve
  3. Do not use the name of the Lord your God in vain
  4. Remember to keep the Sabbath day Holy

And let's not forget number 5

  1. Honor your elders.

So, my dear researchers, I do not know out of what hole you've crawled, but you've not talked to any Christians.
Christians are the followers of Jesus Christ, the Son of God YhWh, and who are filled by His Holy Spirit.
They do everything they can to improve their relationship with their God by following His laws and Christ's example.
They do everything they can to improve their role in their personal lives, their family, their jobs, their church, their society, being a role model for the young and honorable and respected person to their peers.
The eyes of a Christian are set on the price, of eternal life in heaven, helping to find others their way to this wonderful place instead of the destination called hell.

My dear friends, I know where this kind of trash research is coming from and I know its goal.
It was given media attention by CBS in Seattle Washington, one of the most liberal states in our nation and the focus on this is clear, it is creating a view that makes a Christian look ludicrous and in the perspective of the tolerance and politically correct crowd, makes Christians look greedy, backward and stupid.
I have some news for you CBS, Seattle Washington, and PloS. We know your agenda, we know that Christianity will be ridiculed and frowned upon, and we know that the world agenda will not have any place for our high morals and standards.

But we also know that while you might be successful for a little, your scheme will fail.
How do we know, because we read the book, we know how the story ends, and for us, how it starts.
I do however thank you for another confirmation of the truth of God's word.
Oh yeah, let me give you another thing to love about when you read the book, WE ARE THE BRIDE OF CHRIST.

The world my beloved friends, is making the same mistakes again, and again, there is no lesson learned from history, and when a small group opens up their mouths and they are loud, then it must be true.
In the past, I have told you a little about Hezekiah and how he was saved from Moloch.
I see Moloch as a king of the underworld, Moloch the name comes from Melech which is the Hebrew name for King.
Hezekiah's brother was burned up in the fire of Moloch, and as you can imagine God and His prophets spoke harsh words against this.
Hezekiah was 25 years old when his reign as king started and he started to restore the commandments of God in his kingdom.
Hezekiah reigned for 29 years, he became very very ill in the 14th year of his reign.
God restored his health and gave him another 15 years of life.
Hezekiah's son Manasseh inherited the throne at age 12, so we know that it took Hezekiah and Hephzibah at least 2 more years to get pregnant.

Why is all this important, why am I sharing all of this with you?
The reason is that irritating little piece of research, and what we learn from it.
What we learn from it, is that we still haven't learn a thing, after all these years people keep on repeating the same mistakes and history, and with that God's word is time after time discarded.
So let's go far back in time and travel to the kingdom of King Hezekiah.

2 Chronicles 29:30-36 (TLV)

30 Moreover, King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to sing praises to Adonai with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness and bowed down and worshiped.
31 Then Hezekiah responded and said, You have now consecrated yourselves to Adonai. Come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the House of Adonai. The congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, and all whose hearts were willing brought burnt offerings.
32 The number of the burnt offerings that the congregation brought was 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 lambs all of these as a burnt offering to Adonai.
33 The animals consecrated as sacrifices were 600 bulls and 3,000 sheep.
34 The kohanim, however, were too few to flay all the burnt offerings, so their kinsmen, the Levites, helped them until the work was completed, and until other kohanim had consecrated themselves. For the Levites had been more conscientious to consecrate themselves than the kohanim.
35 There were also a great many burnt offerings, along with the fat of the peace offerings and the drink offering at every burnt offering. Thus the avodah of the House of Adonai was reestablished.
36 Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced because of what God had enabled the people to accomplish, because it happened so suddenly.

Hezekiah restored the worship of God YhWh and he restored the Holy days like Passover/Pascha and the day of atonement/Yom Kippur.
But then he fell into the same trap as we have seen happening time and time again.
The Evangelists keep on saying it, do not trust upon your own understanding.
Times are going bad; “Woe is me, God, what is happening to me, help me”
Times are going great, I don't need God, I can go to the temple next week, and I can go to church next week.
Oh, I will pray for my food tomorrow, I can skip it today, just do not have the time, I still need to do this, I still need to do that.
The result is that people are placing themselves, their status, their property, or their worldly possessions above God, they have created themselves a graven image.
What happened to Hezekiah is that God removed His blessing from him and he fell seriously ill.
Hezekiah had become very loved and very powerful, and then scripture tells us.

2 Chronicles 32:23-26 (TLV)

23 Many brought offerings to Adonai in Jerusalem and valuable gifts to King Hezekiah of Judah. From then on he was highly regarded in the eyes of all the nations.

Hezekiahs Pride and Humility
24 In those days Hezekiah became deathly ill, but he prayed to Adonai who responded to him and gave him a sign.
25 But Hezekiah did not respond according to the favor done to him. His heart became haughty, so wrath came upon him and upon Judah and Jerusalem.26 Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride in his heart both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that the wrath of Adonai did not fall upon them in the days of Hezekiah.

After Hezekiah had become so wealthy he had trouble staying thankful to God for all he had.
He became prideful in what he had. God stayed the hand of the adversary from his life and Judah because they humbled themselves before God.
They realized their error and repented.
Hezekiah's transgression is also mentioned in Isaiah

Isaiah 38:9-19 (TLV)

9 A writing of King Hezekiah of Judah, after his illness, when he recovered from his illness:
10 I said: In the prime of my life, I am to enter the gates of Sheol. I am deprived of the rest of my years.
11 I said: I will not see Adonai, Adonai, in the land of the living. I will look on humanity no longer among the inhabitants of the world.
12 Like a shepherds tent, my dwelling is pulled up and carried away from me. Like a weaver I rolled up my life. He cuts me off from the loom. From day until night You make my end.
13 I stilled my soul till morning. Like a lion, He will break all my bones. From day till night You make my end.
14 Like a swallow or a crane, I whisper, I moan like a dove. My eyes are weary, looking upward. Adonai, I am oppressed, be my security!
15 What should I say? For He has spoken to me He Himself has done it! I will wander about all my years because of the bitterness of my soul.
16 Adonai, by such things men live, and my spirit has life in them too. Restore me to health, and let me live!
17 Behold, it was for my own shalom that I had great bitterness. You have loved my soul out of the Pit of destruction! For You have flung all my sins behind Your back.
18 For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You. Those who go down to the Pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living they praise You as I do today. A father makes Your faithfulness known to his children.

God delivers him from death and covers Hezekiah's sins.
Then, what a wonderful statement, the grave cannot praise God, and death cannot celebrate God.
When we are in the grave we cannot praise God, when we are dead how can we celebrate His greatness?
Those who have died can no longer learn of the truths of God's Word.
It is the living, the living shall praise God and it is the fathers that shall make known the truth to his children.
Then after about two years, Hephzibah comes with a child.
Hezekiah as a king was in great need of an heir and being without a child, being barren was seen as a curse or punishment from God.
We know that Hephzibah was an Ashira worshipper and that she also fell back to that kind of worship.
But all of that is for another time.

There is something else going on, something else that is wonderful.
As many of you know, names have meanings, at least in the Hebrew language, and the names in our language are derived from those names.
The word Hephzibah is found in two places in the Bible.
The first place is in 2 Kings 21 where we learn this name as the name of Hezikiah's wife and in Isaiah 62 verse 4.
It is not uncommon for husbands and wives to have pet names for each other.

Terms of endearment.

Words that are very exclusive and private.
Terms that would be inappropriate for anyone else to use.
So also does God, for us His bride, the church.
He has a word that expresses the tenderness of His love for us.
It is "Hephzibah," which means, "My delight is in her." The love that God has for His bride, the church, gives Him delight.
When you read in the Bible in the book of the Song of Solomon, you read of God's love and His delight for His church in terms that almost make us blush.
Just like your children, perhaps, when they see Mom and Dad hug and "be silly," and a smile comes over their face when they see the tenderness of that love, so also God has a tender and wonderful love for His people.
He calls us "Hephzibah, my delight is in her."
At Mother day we talked about respect, honor, righteousness, and godly love.
At Father day we talked about truth, setting and being an example, and follow God, giving our life for our bride.
Today we see God and His love for His bride, I bride that follows, does not forsake, and repents from her sin. And yes we are talking about God and the Church, Jesus and His Bride.

Isaiah 62:2-7 (TLV)

2 Nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You will be called by a new name, which Adonais mouth will bestow.
3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of Adonai, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will you be termed Forsaken, no longer your land termed Desolate. Instead you will be called, My Delight is in Her and your land, Married. For Adonai delights in you, and your land will be married.
5 For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you. As a bridegroom rejoices over a bride, so your God will rejoice over you.
6 On your walls, Jerusalem, I have set watchmen. All day and all night, they will never hold their peace. You who remind Adonai, take no rest for yourselves,7 And give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

God loves us so much, that He gave His son for us.
He loves us so much that He has given us a perfect plan for our salvation, our joy/happiness, and our physical, social, and mental prosperity.
In Isaiah 42: 2 – 4 it reads

Isaiah 43:2-4 (TLV)

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, or through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flame burn you.
3 For I am Adonai your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I have given Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4 Since you are precious in My eyes, honored, because I love you, I will give a man in exchange for you, and other peoples for your life.

God intends that we be blessed.
God intends that we know that we are His delight, that we enjoy His love and grace and faithfulness.
This is also the truth that must be reflected in a Christian's marriage.
Also the Christian man and the Christian wife, before the face of God, are to say concerning each other, My delight is in her/him.
Do you experience that blessing?
That your love for each other causes a delight to be in your heart, a joy?
If not, why not?
Is yours a happy marriage?
Or have you secretly, at times, given up and resigned yourself to a life of disappointment in each other and perhaps said that to yourself and maybe even verbally to each other?
Have you concluded, "Well, I can't change her/him"?
Do you find yourself living with resentment, frustration, distance, and the inability to communicate?
Do you feel trapped in your marriage?

God intends that the marriages of His children be a means in His hand to teach us and to convey to our hearts something of the truth that God takes pleasure in us - that He loves us, not only, but that He delights in us and is speeding the days when we shall be with Him in the fullness of joy, in the fullness of His joy.

That is the blessing, of a godly marriage.
The blessings coveted by so many today, are the microwave blessings of what this person does to me in the thrill of a moment - these are not the blessings that God has in store for a Christian marriage.
No, the blessings of God in a Christian marriage are deep.
They are abiding.
And, therefore, they are slow-working.
They are forged blessings.

God blesses you, as a child of God, in your marriage. He blesses you more than you realize.
God has blessed you more than you even know.
The blessing of God is to be found in a marriage, in a godly marriage.
But then to experience those blessings there are several things which we must follow.
The first is obedience.
A principle of the Scriptures is that obedience is the way that God is pleased to show us His favor.
Our obedience to His Word and commandments are not the condition of merit.
We do not earn God's blessing by our obedience.
Jesus Christ earns our blessing, alone on the cross.
But our obedience is the response of thanks to God.
To obey is the way whereby we thank Him and also the way whereby God is pleased to have us experience His blessings.
In the old covenant, Moses would remind the people of God in the book of Deuteronomy time after time in forceful words that the commands of God which were set before them must be obeyed in their life in Canaan. Then, in that way, God would shower the heavens' blessings upon them.

There is an important truth here.
The blessing of God is to be found in the way of humble obedience.
The important truth is this: happiness never comes by seeking it.
But happiness is always the by-product of obedience.
Happiness is the fruit of obedience.
Obey and you will be happy.
But seek your own happiness, seek your own emotions, and you will not be happy.

Obey your God.
That means do not look at the other person in your marriage and talk this way: I will if you will.
Do not make your obedience to God in marriage conditioned on the actions of the other.
Have you ever said, "Well, I could be more loving, dear, if you…"?
Have you ever said, "Well, I could submit to you and I would be a whole lot more pleasant around this house if you…"?

Oh, no.

The blessing of God is to be found in the way of obedience.
And the commands of God are so very clear!
Husbands love your wives.
What is the command of God?
Love your wife.
How?

As Christ loved the church: sacrificially, exclusively.
He loved the church.
He gave His life for the church.
He emptied Himself.

To what extent are you to love your wife?
In everything.
That command is very clear.

Now do that!
Obey God without any conditions.

Do that!
Love your wife.

And the command of God for wives?
That is very clear, too.

Wives, submit to your husbands.
What?
Submit.
How?
As unto the Lord, as the church submits to Christ.
To what extent?
In everything.

Obey that.
Not only if you feel like it first.
Not conditioned, first of all, on the worthiness of your husband or wife because you think they are worthy to love or because you think he is worthy to be submitted unto.

They are not worthy.
There is not one husband, not one wife, who is worthy in himself or herself.
You must obey God even if there is no guarantee that the other person is going to change at all.

Obey God.
Trust and obey, for there is no other way; to be happy in Jesus is to trust and obey!

The world just doesn't seem to get it right, and then we come forth with another flake research, we bent the questions, the numbers, the results and we can say, you see how right we are.
We don't need God, the proof is in the numbers.

God calls His bride to Him, to come closer to Him, to be ready for the parade into the marriage banquet hall.
Can you hear the call of my bride, Hepzebah, (my delight is in you) the lamps are full.
Our hearts are full, with the Holy Spirit. Ready to shine His light.

Revelation 19:7-9 (TLV)

7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready,
8 She was given fine linen to wear, bright and clean! For the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the kedoshim.
9 Then the angel tells me, Write: How fortunate are those who have been invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb! He also tells me, These are the true words of God. 

AMEN

Sermon Notes by Pastor Christiaan J. de Ruiter are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Note: The content provided here represents the foundational notes for a sermon or teaching, and should not be misconstrued as a complete transcript or a fully articulated sermon.

It is our profound belief that the Holy Spirit operates through the preacher, guiding and inspiring the delivery to resonate with the needs and convictions of the congregation.

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Pastor Chris

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