Know Your Bible

VOL. 12                                                                                                                          February 10, 2013                                                                                                                            NO. 2



There is an old saying of unknown origin that speaks a truth that is often observed in life: “Blood is thicker than water.” The meaning of this adage is often understood that family relationships are stronger than anything else. But I recently read one man’s contention that the meaning has actually been lost over time, proposing that the original meaning was closer to “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” Whether or not that argument is true of the old adage, I cannot say; but I know that is the way we should consider it.

In the New Testament, Jesus once said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:34-38). In essence, Jesus is saying, “Your relationship with Me must be stronger than your relationship with your earthly family.”

The reality of what Jesus taught was that it would be a cause for division among families more than it would be a cause for uniting. Especially for the Jews of the first century, it would literally be the cause for contentions, division, and much distress among families that had faithfully followed the Law of Moses for generations. Those Jews who accepted that Jesus was the Messiah and who then followed His teachings were ostracized by their families and were often excluded from all family gatherings and essentially counted as nonexistent; a familiar statement still spoken by Jewish parents whose children convert to Christ is, “You are dead to me!”

For the Jews of the first century, the decision to leave behind centuries of tradition was not an easy one and a decision that was rarely taken lightly. They had to know that not only would their families cut off all communication, but many of their fellow Jews with whom they had worked, traveled, and worshiped would now have nothing to do with them and they would be avoided because they were now considered unclean and/or out of favor with God.

Today, in this country, the same reactions are often seen among families where the traditional beliefs are abandoned by a member of the family who chooses them to follow the pure and simple faith of the New Testament. When such individuals study the Bible and find out that what they have been taught by their parents and what they have believed and practiced all their lives does not agree with what is written in God’s word, and when they honestly choose to change and begin following only what the Bible teaches, they are sometimes met with great hostility and the same exclusions, bitterness, and despair that the Jewish families felt and practiced when their family members converted to Christ!

Such reactions and responses should not be surprising to anyone who knows what Jesus said about setting our priorities, but we should be encouraged to know we aren’t alone should we be the one who makes such a choice; many men and women before us have chosen God over family. While we would all like to think that what our parents have taught us and what our forefathers believed and practiced was what God commanded, more often that is not the case and choosing God over family will always be a possibility we may have to face. If we are faced with such a choice, we must not let earthly relations stand in the way of our salvation!

It would be supremely thoughtless and demonstrating a lack of compassion to say or think that such choices are ever easy, but they are choices that sometimes must be made. We must see that even this difficult choice is a matter of doing what God says over what our family says and/or does. Let us never forget, too, that it will be the words of Jesus by which we will be judged in the end (John 12:47, 48), and the opinions and practices of our families will not be the standard by which anyone will be judged. If that were true, the Jews would never have converted to Christ!

God has always demanded that His people put Him above family. Under the Old Law, God commanded, “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear” (Deut. 21:18-21). As harsh as that may sound, stop and think about the consequences of the inequity that would exist if anyone was permitted to ‘overlook’ the sin and rebellion of someone merely because it was a family member, while they had to exercise discipline and exact punishment on those who were not! The justice and righteousness of God demands that we treat all others equally, and even if it is a family member who is guilty of sin, there can be no ‘overlooking’ the sin or unequal treatment.

Consider also the example of Eli when he treated his ungodly sons with favor more than he did God. Hophni and Phinehas did not follow the teachings of the Lord regarding the offerings brought to the tabernacle (1st Sam. 2:12-17) and their behavior angered the Lord. Furthermore, they were having sexual relations with the women who came to the tabernacle [to serve or offer sacrifices], profaning their service and dishonoring God just about every way possible (1st Sam. 2:22).

Though Eli made a half-hearted attempt to chastise them (1st Sam. 2:23-25), they did not heed him and they continued in their ungodliness. Eventually, God had enough of their despicable behavior and sent a man to Eli to tell him that his lineage would end and He would raise up a faithful priest after him because Eli had honored his sons more than God (1st Sam. 2:27-36). In this case, because Eli put his sons above God, he lost out on the blessings of God and his household would suffer, in the end.

Many people today, when faced with the reality that the denominations they are a part of and the creeds they follow are not of God and, in fact, contrary to God, must make the decision to continue following what they have now discovered is error, or to follow what they now understand as the real truth. They must make the choice to please God and Christ or to please their family members. They must make the choice to stick with their family and what they have believed and practiced in the past, or to stand with Christ and God and be no longer considered a part of the family or even counted as dead by them.

I hope and pray you never have to make such a choice, but please consider it seriously and understand that pleasing your family now is not worth losing your soul. Take the time to find out for yourself what God’s word teaches and what God demands of you to be saved and to live a life pleasing to Him. If you are faced with this decision someday, choose wisely. Eternity is awaiting.

---Steven Harper 

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Trends . . .

Planned Parenthood Federation of America's latest annual report for 2011-2012 says that its affiliated clinics performed 333,964 abortions in fiscal 2011. That works out to an average of one abortion every 94 seconds. Over two years, Planned Parenthood says, it has aborted 663,409. The 2011-2012 report states that Planned Parenthood received $542.4 million in “government health services grants and reimbursements.”

- via, 1/7/13

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