Anthony Martlew, Dip. Th.
"For we are
strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are
as a shadow, and there is none abiding." - (I Chronicles 29:15)
T H IS is a key text for those who search for the meaningof life. Many thinkers devote their lives to finding the answer, but sadly they search in the wrong places. The word sojourners in the text gives us an important clue. It is from the Hebrew toshab, a dweller (as distinguished from a native citizen), temporary inmate, lodger, alien, foreigner, stranger. By deduction it must follow that if mankind is only abiding on the earth on a temporary basis, there must be another place, or
sphere to which he will ultimately go. Our Lord confirmed this in John 14:2-3;
"In my Fathers house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also."
There is a further sense in which Christians should view both of these texts. For a deeper understanding of them, it is a useful exercise to study those around us, those with whom we rub shoulders on a daily basis. What is so evident is that they are at home in this earthly realm. The pleasures and attractions of this modern way of life suit them admirably. They have no wish to seek a better home. Some may pay lip service to Christianity, but in point of fact, they want the best of both worlds. The Christianity bit is their insurance policy for when they die. In the meantime, they are more than happy to accept all the benefits that this world has to offer. Paul had a word about such people;
"Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof from such turn away." - (2 Timothy 3:5)
The majority of people have little comprehension of the spiritual realm. Their ideas of what follows this life are, in some cases, bizarre. There was an occasion when Jesus gave His disciples instructions to depart to another place, and one of them asked leave to attend his fathers funeral;
"But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead" - (Matthew 8:22)
The implications of this remark are staggering. In just nine words, our Lord declared the very heart of the Gospel. John, in his first epistle, chapter 5 and verse 12, clarified the matter, leaving no possible doubt;
hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
These texts make a watertight case that the teaching of Christ is the only way to eternal life. Political correctness dictates that we should consider the merits of Islam, in fact any faith (other than Christianity!) of our choosing. We hear the cry "all religions lead to God. Indeed, they do not!
Since the catastrophic events which commenced on 11th September last year, nearly every nation has been affected in some measure. The churches have pontificated about love and forgiveness, but the key word which would allow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to deal with the world crises has not been heard. That word is repent. It is a word unknown by the people at large, and even if the meaning were to be made known to them, they would fail to see the relevance. People are not repentant because they do not feel repentant, neither do they see the need for repentance. they fail to understand that their lives are not in order. I have never done anyone any harm is the oft-repeated cry. They have no concept of the standards that God demands.
Sometimes we feel frustrated in our efforts to bring people to the Lord. We have to admit, reluctantly, that, with very few exceptions, they do not want to know
The opening text in this study provides us with a valuable clue as to why Christians are viewed by most people as rather odd. Whilst we understand the temporary nature of this earthly realm, and that we are merely passing through, the unrepentant prefer to place their bets upon what they can see around them. However, we have come to understand that we are living in a foreign country. The Lord has granted us a vision of a far better place.
But as it is written,
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." - (I Corinthians 2:9)
By faith we look forward to a new beginning, and this helps us to bear the trials and tribulations of life. We are in the world, but we are not of the world.
Why is it necessary to understand that, as Christians, we are not in our natural habitat? Because, by doing so, we have a deeper understanding of Gods Great Plan. If we are at home or at ease with the world and its ways, we will certainly not feel at home when Christ has set up His Kingdom at His second advent.
A final thought: we Christians are living in a foreign land, but since the terrible events in the USA last September, perhaps it would be nearer the truth to say that we are domiciled in enemy territory!
Christianity is under attack, both at home and abroad. Our statute books contain laws which contravene the laws of the Creator. For example, it is illegal to publicly proclaim Gods wrath against sodomy. Indeed, we are surrounded by the enemy, an enemy which goes under many guises. Let our watchword, or rather, our watch text, be Ephesians 6. That great chapter warns us of constant Satanic activity.
The chapter informs us what we must do in order to be protected. Notice especially, that the instructions contain not only the armour to keep evil at bay, but also what is essential in order to win any battle, namely the weapon of attack.
take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word
of God" (Ephesians 6:17)
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