Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically today’s passage is found in the fifth and sixth chapters of this New Testament book. “It is reported commonly that there is fonication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the TGEntiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:1-8).
“I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a raider, or a drunkard, or an extortioners; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away Gerome among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).
“Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, not covetous, nor drunkards, nor revivers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:1-11).
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).
When you come to the fifth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will find something incredibly unique within the epistle. Upon approaching the fifth chapter you will find the apostle Paul continuing to address reports which he heard concerning this congregation and the saints which worshipped together in the midst. It is absolutely impossible to read the words presented in this passage of Scripture and not be absolutely gripped and captivated by what is contained within it. Within this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul addressing and dealing with sin in the church—and not merely dealing with sin in the church but dealing with immorality in the church. What’s more is that within this chapter you will find the apostle Paul dealing exclusively with the reality of sexual immorality, fornication and adultery among the saints and the brethren. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the fifth chapter you will find the apostle Paul describe how it was reported that there was fornication among them—and not merely fornication but such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous truth that is centered upon the words which are present here for not only did the apostle Paul write how there was a report of fornication present among them but it was such fornication that wasn’t even reported of among the Gentiles. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely astounding and remarkable that truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the apostle Paul receiving report concerning the fornication and sexual immorality that was present among the church and how that fornication was such that wasn’t even committed among the Gentiles.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am absolutely gripped and captivated with the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the words and language the apostle Paul used. When writing unto the Corinthian saints the apostle Paul called and drew their attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the Corinthian saints who not only had fornication present among them but they also did not weep nor did they mourn over it. As you continue reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul writing of the fornication which was present among them—a fornication which was not so much as named among the Gentiles—and how they were puffed up and have not mourned that he who performed this deed might be taken away from among them. FORNICATION AND A CHURCH THAT DOES NOT WEEP! FORNICATION AND A CHURCH THAT DOES NOT WEEP! In all reality there is something truly captivating about the words and language the apostle Paul used in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Paul called their attention—not only to the fact that there was sexual immorality and fornication committed among them in their midst but they also seemed to care very little about it. The words the apostle Paul presented in this passage of Scripture called and drew our attention to the undeniable truth that these saints not only seemed to permit fornication among them in their midst but they also seemed to deliberately and intentionally do nothing about it nor were impacted and affected by it. There seems to be every indication when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture that the Corinthian saints did not seem to be bothered at all by the iniquity, transgression and immorality that was present among them.
In all reality I can’t help but read the words found in this passage of Scripture and be reminded of a story found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the first three chapters of the Old Testament book of First Samuel you will find the account of Eli the high priest and his two sons Hophni and Phineas. What you will find within this passage of Scripture is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for what we find is sexual misconduct and sexual immorality being committed in the sanctuary of the Lord by those who were ordained and appointed to be priests in the sacred and holy house of the LORD. I am convinced that in order to truly understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we must needs consider the words and language that is found within the first three chapters of this Old Testament book for it brings us face to face with the tremendous reality of sin, immorality, iniquity and rebellion against the living God in the sanctuary of the LORD and the high priest who deliberately and intentionally chose to do nothing about it. It is written and recorded in this passage of Scripture that Eli the high priest knew of the gross wickedness his sons were committing within the sanctuary and against the children of Israel and he chose to wink at instead of deliberately and internationally dealing with it. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it serves as a foundation for what we find and read in the fifth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints—and not only the fifth chapter but also that which is found in the third and sixth chapters. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this Old Testament book concerning the immorality, the fornication, and the wickedness that was present among the priests of the Lord in the very sanctuary of the living God:
“Now the sons of Elia were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a flesh hook of three teeth in his hand; and he struck it into the pan, or keettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:12-17).
“Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? For I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’s people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them. And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men” (1 Samuel 2:22-26).
“And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be. My priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? And did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chief east of all the offerings of Israel my people? Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, Hophni and Phineas; in one day they shall die both of them. And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread” (1 Samuel 2:27-36).
“And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim that he could not see; and ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; that the LORD called Samuel: and he answered Here am am I” (1 Samuel 3:1-4).
“And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down; and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth. And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. IN that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Elihu’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. And Samuel lay until the morning, and I opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision. Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I. And he said, What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee. And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good” (1 Samuel 3:8-18).
There is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with gross iniquity and immorality present in the midst of the sanctuary of the living God. You cannot read the words presented in the second and third chapters of this Old Testament book and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely astounding truth surrounding Eli and his two sons Hophni and Phineas who were ordained and appointed as priests of the LORD in Shiloh. The more you read the words which are found within these two chapters the more you can and will be brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the gross immorality and iniquity which was present in the sanctuary and house of the LORD. What’s more is that it’s not only a matter of gross immorality and iniquity that was being committed in the sanctuary of the house of the LORD but it was blatant and not even sin that hidden or concealed. It’s one thing to commit sin, fornication, immorality and iniquity behind closed doors where no one else is present and where no one else sees. There is something altogether different about sin and iniquity that is committed in the open—particularly and especially in the house of the LORD. With this being said I find it necessary to say that I am in no way condoning sin being committed in the secret place and behind closed doors. I am in no way saying that sin being committed absent the eyes and ears of others is somehow justified and/or excusable in the sight of the living God. What I am, however, suggesting is that there is something absolutely gross and disgusting about sin that is neither hidden nor concealed and is committed in the open before the eyes and ears of others.
The more I read the words which are found in these two chapters the more I am brought face to face with three distinct truths centered upon the sins of Eli and his two sons Hophni and Phineas. The first reality concerning their iniquity and immorality was that they were the priests of the LORD and as such they should have been held to a higher standard of holiness and righteousness among the children of Israel. As the priests of the LORD they should have taught and trained the people in the Law of the LORD and yet instead of this they deliberately and intentionally chose to continue in and carry our their iniquity and immorality. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the fact that these weren’t common people among the children of Israel but those who were chosen, ordained and appointed as priests of the LORD to minister in His house. Moreover these were priests who were ordained and appointed to minister before the altar of the LORD and minister with the sacrifices of the LORD which the children of Israel brought unto the LORD’s house which was at Shiloh. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay attention to this for that which is present within these chapters is something which warrants strong consideration within our hearts and minds as the sin, the iniquity, the wickedness, the immorality, the unrighteousness and wickedness was committed—not by the common people of Israel but by the priests of the LORD who themselves should have kept themselves pure, and holy and righteous in the sight of the LORD. As the priests of the LORD they knew better and should have walked in holiness and righteousness in the sight of the living God rather than giving themselves over to iniquity and immorality.
The second thing which warrants consideration when we think about the immorality and iniquity that was being committed by Eli and his two sons is that not only was it committed by the priests of the LORD but it was committed in the house of the LORD. As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will discover the incredible truth that Eli and his two sons were indeed completely and utterly immoral and did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. Much like what you read in the Old Testament books of First and Second Kings as well as in the book of Second Chronicles concerning the kings of Israel and Judah you will find that these men did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. What’s more is that not only did they do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD but they committed such wickedness and unrighteousness in the house of the LORD. The iniquity and immorality that was committed by them wasn’t committed in the houses of Israel nor in the streets of the cities of the nation of Israel. The iniquity and immorality committed by Eli and his two sons was committed in the very sanctuary and house of the LORD. I am immediately reminded of the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the fifth chapter of his first epistle written unto the saints which were scattered and suffering as he wrote of judgment beginning in the house of the Lord. What we find here in this passage of Scripture is an incredibly wonderful and powerful truth surrounding these priests—the high priest and his two sons—committing immorality and iniquity in the house of the LORD. What’s more is the sin and iniquity that was committed by Eli and his two sons was blatant within the house of the LORD and was done in a place that was to be revered as holy and sacred in the eyes of the living and eternal God.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within these two chapters and I can’t help but see another principle and truth that is contained within these chapters. That particular truth is centered around the fact that Eli the high priest knew and was aware of the sin and iniquity which his sons were committing against the LORD and yet he chose to wink and glance over it. Rather than deal with and confront the iniquity which was committed by his two sons he chose to wink at and glance over it. Instead of choosing to deal with and confront it he chose to casually treat it and in all reality chose to ignore it. Oh there was indeed a mention of Eli the high priest seemingly engaged in confront the iniquity and immorality of his sons, however, according to that which is found in these two passages of Scripture we are brought face to face with a high priest who deliberately and intentionally chose not to deal with and confront the iniquity and immorality which his two sons committed against the LORD in His holy sanctuary and in His sight. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding Eli and his two sons for it brings us face to face with a high priest who knew and was aware of the iniquity and transgression which his sons were committing against the LORD in His house and yet he chose to allow his irons to continue and carry out with their iniquity and their immorality. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the high priest who chose not to deal with the iniquity and immorality which his two sons committed in the house of the LORD.
With this in mind I have to admit that I am reminded of the words which are found in the first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah as well as the words which are found in the first and second chapters of the Old Testament prophetic book of Malachi. Within each of these passages of Scripture we find powerful language concerning the sanctuary and house of the LORD—and not only concerning the sanctuary and house of the LORD but also concerning the sacrifices and offerings as well as the priests of the LORD. I am absolutely convinced that if you want to truly understand that which is found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel—and not only that which is found in the Old Testament book of First Samuel but that which is found in the fifth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints there is a great need to consider the words which are found in these passages of Scripture:
“Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: Yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.l Wash you, make you clean: pout away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, land let us reason together, saith the LORD; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye b e willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 1:10-20).
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD> Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD are these. For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless,a nd the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever” (Jeremiah 7:1-7).
“Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn in sense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD. But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, ad I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither list up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession fo me: for I will not hear thee. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. Do they provoke me to anger? Saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the conclusion of their own faces? Therefore thus saith the LORD God; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched” (Jeremiah 7:8-20).
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices; But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. Since the day that your fathers camped forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee. But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth” (Jeremiah 7:21-28).
“A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: If then I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear? Saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Saith the LORD of hosts. And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? Saith the Lord of hosts. Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? Neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! And ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? Saith the LORD. But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrifieth unto the LORD a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen” (Malachi 1:6-14).
“And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it. And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should eek the law at his mouth: For he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law” (Malachi 2:1-9).
Returning now to the fifth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints I find it absolutely necessary to draw your attention to the fact that not only was fornication present in the midst of the saints of God within the church but the apostle Paul writes how rather than mourn and weep over it they seemed to be puffed up. As you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture you will find that it wasn’t merely that immorality and fornication was present in the midst of the church among the brethren but the church and the brethren seemed to be unmoved by what was taking place among them. There was one from among their own number who was committing fornication against the living and eternal God and yet rather than choosing to deal with and correct the iniquity and immorality they chose rather to wink at it. Oh there is a great danger that is found when we as the people of God are aware of immorality and iniquity—whether in the heart and life of another within the church or even within our own heart and life—and we choose to ignore and wink at it. We play a dangerous game with the living God when rather than choosing to deal with sin—rather than being moved with weeping and mourning over the iniquity and offense against God—we allow our hearts to become hardened in the sight of the living God. In all reality I would dare say that the only thing that would cause one to be consciously aware of sin—whether in their own life or in the life of another—and not weep and mourn over it is a callous and hard heart. There is absolutely no denying or disputing this particular truth for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful reality surrounding those who choose not to weep nor mourn over their iniquity, their transgression and their offense in the sight of the living God.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the tremendous tragedy that is presented by the apostle Paul for when writing unto the Corinthian saints he described how they were puffed up knowing that there was fornication and immorality present among them. The apostle Paul was well aware of the iniquity and immorality that was present in the midst of the Corinthian congregation and as a direct result of this he felt compelled to write and mention this within the epistle. It was reported unto the apostle Paul that there was indeed iniquity and immorality which was committed against the LORD and yet rather than choosing to deal with and address it the Corinthian saints chose to allow it to continue among them. Pause for a moment and consider how absolutely tragic this truly is that a church and congregation would be aware of iniquity and fornication present among them in their midst and rather than deal with and confront it they choose instead to allow it to continue unchecked. Oh there is a great danger facing that church and that congregation that is well aware of sin and iniquity present among them in their midst and rather than weep and mourn over it they are puffed up over it. The Corinthian congregation was undoubtedly well aware of the iniquity and fornication present among them and they were apparently unmoved by that which was taking place among them. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that we as the saints of God have indeed been called to be those who weep between the porch and the altar. We are those who have been called to be such who when becoming aware of sin are so moved with grief, sorrow and a sense of the holiness of God that we cannot do anything but deal with the sin and drive it out from among us in our midst. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the Ol Testament prophetic book of Joel as well as the words which are found in the twenty-second and twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Kings:
“Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God. Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: Wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God. Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people. Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: but I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a lan barren an desolate, with his face toward the East Sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things” (Joel 2:21-20).
“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty and one years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jeddah, the daughter of Adrian of Bobcats. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left. And it came to pass in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, that the king sent Shahanna the son of Azalliah, the son of Meshullam, the scribe, to the house of the LORD, saying, Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may sum the silver which is brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the door have gathered of the people: and let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD; and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the LORD, to repair the breaches of the house, unto carpenters, and builders, and masons, and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully” (2 Kings 22:1-7).
“And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And HIlkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it, And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD. And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s saying, Go ye, inquire of the LORD for rme, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. So Hilkiah t he priest, and Ahikam, and Achor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her. And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not quenched. But to the king of Judah which sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the vil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again” (2 Kings 22:8-20).
“And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the LORD. And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant. And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el. And he p it down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron,a nd stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon t eh graves of the children of the people. And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove. And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-Sheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Josiah the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city. Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren. And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinton, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the changer of Nathan-melech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, did the king beat down, and b rake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king for Israel had builder for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of oAmmon, did the king devil. And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men” (2 Kings 23:1-14).
“Moreover the altar that was at Bethe-el and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed these words. Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, w high came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el. And he said, let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria. And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made it provoke the LORD to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el. And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem” (2 Kings 23:15-20).
“And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant. Surely there was no Holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this passover was Holden to the LORD in Jerusalem. Moreover the works with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD. And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:21-25).
Consider now if you will the following words which are found in the third and sixth chapters of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the second epistle written unto the same Corinthian saints:
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The LORD knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:16-23).
“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:15-20).
“O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darknessA? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:11-18).
There is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for within them we are brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding our bodies and their being known as the temple of God—and not only the temple of God but also the temple of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul made it perfectly clear that we are the temple of God and that there is absolutely no room nor is there any place for fornication in the midst of it. This is what made the actions of Josiah king of Judah so incredibly powerful when you truly take the time to read them for not only did he cleanse the land of Israel and Judah but he began in and with the house of the LORD. Josiah heard the words of the LORD from the Law of Moses and his heart was pricked and moved within him—so much so that he rent his clothes and undoubtedly wept in the presence of those who were present. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to this as it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of one man who held the highest position in the land who started off doing that which was right in the sight of the Lord. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for all of Josiah’s actions began first with his own walk with the LORD as a man who did that which was right in the sight of the LORD. Josiah was first a man who did what was right in the sight of the LORD and the discover of the Law of the LORD in the temple would come AFTER we read of his being a man after his father David. It was said of David that he was a man after God’s own heart and time and time again within the Old Testament we find and read of the kings who sat upon the throne of David in the midst of Jerusalem either doing that which was right in the eyes of the LORD after their father David or doing that which was evil not after their father David.
I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Second Kings and Josiah’s response to hearing the words written in the book of the Law of Moses. Josiah’s heart was tender before the LORD and he not only rent his clothes but he also mourned and trembled in the presence of the LORD. As a direct result of this he would not only call the people into covenant with the LORD but would also begin cleansing the land to honor the LORD. Josiah was determined to usher in a period of holiness and righteousness so long as he sat upon the throne and as a direct result of this the southern kingdom of Judah would experience peace in the midst of the land. The prophetess Huldah declared that because his heart was tender in the sight of the LORD the LORD would not bring the calamity upon the land during his days and he would rest in peace together with his fathers. In all reality Josiah was more of an Intercessor than we would like to think or give him credit for. Not only was he an intercessor in the sense that he rent his clothes and mourned before the LORD but he was also an intercessor in that he moved throughout the land bringing about cleansing wherever he went. Not only this but so long as Josiah sat upon the throne the southern kingdom of Judah would experience peace and rest. This is important for us to understand for it was righteousness and the holiness of the king that would facilitate the peace and rest the nation as a whole would experience. We must needs recognize and understand this for not only does righteousness exalt a nation but I would also declare the righteousness preserves and upholds a nation as well. We must needs grasp and understand this within our hearts and lives for when we look at the condition of our own nation the only hope for its future is righteousness, is purity, is truth, is holiness and is obedience to the Word, the commands, the Law and the statutes of the living God.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the absolutely wonderful reality that Josiah’s response to the Law of the LORD was what would bring about peace and rest in the land and I would dare say that during the years of his reign there would be the witness of the Law of the LORD, there would be the prophetic voice of Jeremiah and there would be the intercession of the king who sat upon the throne. So long as Josiah sat upon the throne the nation would indeed experience peace and rest and there would be no enemy or adversary that would come against the land. Although destruction and devastation was decreed for, against and upon the land it would not come upon it during the days of Josiah king of Judah. There is a great need for us as the people of God to understand this for the only hope for this nation is a national return to the living God—to His Word, to prayer, to Christian community, to fellowship and to worship of the true and living God. What would make this all the more powerful is if there was one sitting in the Oval Office who feared the LORD and who trembled at and before His Word. It is true that righteousness exalts a nation and that we as the nation of the United States of America need a righteous leader—and not only a righteous leader but righteous leaders ruling and governing our nation. There is absolutely no disputing the fact that we are living in a nation that is in utter chaos and turmoil. We are a nation that is on the brink of a civil war and are a nation that is divided against itself. I continue to believe that never has there been a better time for this nation to be assaulted, assailed and attacked than now because of all the infighting and chaos that is present within our own streets. I continue to believe that this nation has become a laughingstock of the nations of the world and that world leaders are not only laughing at us but might also be planning on exploiting the weakness of our government.
With all of this being said I am convinced that we as the saints of God and as the disciples of Christ must needs be those who are willing to stand upon the Word of God and stand upon our convictions and beliefs. There is absolutely no room for compromise and there is absolutely no room to back down, to shut up and to give up in the days and generation in which we are living. We as the people of God must needs be those who stand up for righteousness, holiness and truth within this nation and we must be willing to confront and stand against sin, against wickedness, against evil, against darkness and against corruption. There is absolutely no room or place during these times for Christians who aren’t willing to stand up for truth and there is no room for men and women who will allow themselves to be influenced by those who would seek to silence them. We are indeed living during dark and dangerous times and there is a great need for light to shine in the darkness as darkness needs to be expelled. We as the people of God must needs love those who are walking in sin, hate the sin and invite them into the truth that is found in the person of Jesus Christ and in the divine Word of God. There is a great need for us as the saints of God to recognize that we have indeed been called to stand in the gap and to make up the hedge that this nation might not be destroyed. We must not overcome evil with evil but must overcome evil with good. We must needs bless those who curse us, pray for those who persecute us and love our enemies as we would our neighbors and ourselves.