Justice and Mercy in the Old Testament: Part 2

Scripture: Ezekiel 47:9, Isaiah 61:1-11, Matthew 5:16
Date: 07/23/2016 
Lesson: 4
"Light, water - both of these are images used to talk about what God can do through us to help others. How can we become better conduits for ministering to those in need?"
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Good morning, friends, welcome again to Sabbath school study hour. A very warm welcome to those joining us, our online members, and also those participating in our study across the country and around the world. We'd also like to welcome the members here of the Granite Bay church - we're so glad that you joined us - and also those visiting. We have some visitors who are out of state and some not too far away that are part of our study time together, so a very warm welcome to you. We've been studying through our lesson quarterly dealing with the subject of the role of the church in the community.

Today we find ourselves on lesson #4 entitled justice and mercy in the old testament, part 2. So for those of you who are participating online, if you don't have a copy of the lesson then go to the Amazing Facts website - amazingfacts.org - and you can download today's lesson - lesson #4 and you can study along with us. Well, before we get to our study, I would like to let you know about a free offer that we have, a book written by joe crews entitled riches of his grace. And for those who are participating in our study in North America, to receive our free offer call our resource phone number. The number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #152.

Again, that number is -788-3966 - offer #152 - riches of his grace. Well, before we get to our study I'd like to invite our song leaders to come and they'll lead us in a song of praise. Good morning, church family. We're going to sing #545 - Savior, like a shepherd - lead us. Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need thy tenderest care; in thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use thy folds prepare.

Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, thou hast bought us, thine we are. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, thou hast bought us thine we are. We are thine; do thou befriend us, be the guardian of our way; keep thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, hear, o hear us, when we pray! Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, hear, o hear us, when we pray! Thou has promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be; thou has mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse, and power to free. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, we will early turn to thee; blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, we will early turn to thee.

I want to welcome those who are watching. We know we have people who are just channel surfing and run into the Sabbath school study hour and then we have folks scattered around the world that are regular viewers and some who are actually online members. And here at Granite Bay we're thankful we can provide a service, because there are people around the globe who can tune in and study with us through either the internet or through satellite and there's no local church that they can attend for some reason, and we've developed a mechanism where you can be an online member of the Granite Bay church family and we want to welcome you as well. Lesson #4 today, justice and mercy in the old testament, part 2. And we have a memory verse - and the memory verse, in your lesson, it comes from the new international version, it's Ezekiel 47:9 if you'd like to say that with me - Ezekiel 47:9 - are you ready? "Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows.

There will be large Numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes that salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live." You know, I used to sing this song - before I was a Seventh-day Adventist I worshiped with an evangelical charismatic group and I think you sing it in the adventist church. It's not in your hymnal. 'I've got a river of life flowing out of me, makes the lame to walk and the blind to see, opens prison doors and sets the captives free. You know that song? Oh yeah, you sang - it's like summer camp, I guess, they sing that song. But I like that.

When you're a Christian, it's like it says there in John chapter 4 - Jesus said, 'you will have' - to the woman at the well - 'an artesian source of water that will spring out of you - that will overflow.' And when Jesus revealed to that woman he was the Messiah, the first thing she had to do was go tell someone else, and the whole town there in samaria, came out to Jesus and accepted him as the Messiah. Where the water flows it will live. That's our memory verse. Now the first place that the lesson takes us - we go from this - this water of life to a breath of life. And we're going to talk about dead bones so, hopefully, you'll find that interesting.

Some of you know this famous passage in Ezekiel 37 - why don't you turn there? The lesson is going to have us consider this - Ezekiel 37 - and we're going to be reading the first few verses. The valley of dry bones - there's a song about this too. "The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones." Now you might be wondering, 'why would he, in vision, be taken and shown a valley full of - obviously they're not live bones, they're dead bones. Just to give you an example, this is one verse from 1 Chronicles 18:12 - many Bible battles in the old testament, and if you read in 1 Chronicles 18:12 it says, "moreover abishai The Son of zerulah" - this is the brother of asahel and joab - David had three nephews that were mighty men. Abishai became David's, sort of, right-hand man - mighty warrior.

He led his troops and they fought against the edomites and he "killed eighteen thousand edomites in the valley of salt." Down there not far from the dead sea they've got the valley of salt. What do you think happened when they had a big battle like that and a whole army was decimated? Did they have red cross volunteers that quickly came down and kind of packed up the bodies and put them in bags and brought them off for proper burials? It was not uncommon in Bible times - they often fought in the valleys. You remember when David went down to the valley against Goliath? They'd stand on opposing mountains and they'd taunt each other and they'd finally engage in the valley and sometimes there'd be these massive slaughters and after a battle, especially if your army was fighting in a foreign land and if they were decimated, you could have thousands of corpses out there and nobody there to tend them. You remember what David said to Goliath and Goliath said to David? He said, 'I'm going to give your body to the birds of the air.' You know, even Revelation talks about this feast of the birds where all the slain of the Lord are laying there and all the birds come - and I know that's not very pretty. Sometimes when we're riding around out in the hills, if you see a circle of vultures it often means - you know, they can smell carrion for miles and you might find a dead dear, you might find a dead bear or something like that, and they would pick - pick it clean until you had bones.

And so when it talks about a valley of bones, it's sort of giving the picture of a lost battle - an army defeated. Now this is not really talking about a battle, it's talking about God's people that look like their situation is hopeless, okay? So they all understood these terms. They - if you lived back then you might hike around and find a valley of bones - and it talked about an old battle. "And he caused me to pass by them all around." He's having to pass by and through all these dead bones - "and there were very many in the open valley, and indeed, they were very dry." Now, when they're dry, that means there's no life left and they've been there for awhile - it's looking hopeless - "and he said to me, 'son of man'" - here's all these bleached bones - "'can these bones live?' And so I answered, 'oh Lord, God, you know.'" Can you tell me somewhere else where it says that in the Bible? 'Lord, you know.' God asks a question and the prophet answers and says, 'Lord, you know.' Last week when we talked about the ,000 and the angel says to John, 'who are these arrayed in white robes?' And John says, 'you know.' Now, Ezekiel could have said, 'of course these bones can't live.' But is that what he says? He didn't - you don't want to underestimate God and if the Lord can make an ax head swim and if he could bring that nation up out of Egypt, and if Elisha could resurrect and Elijah could resurrect a dead body - so when God says, 'can these bones live?' You know the story where a man was being buried and while they were having the funeral, moabite raiders came through the country there in northern Israel, and the men realized, 'look, we'd better get back to our homes. We can't finish this burial.

' And they said, 'what do we do with the body?' They said, 'well, here's the grave of Elisha, let's take the lid off and toss him down in there.' And they moved the lid and they dropped this body down in on the bones of Elisha - and what happened when this body hit the bones of Elisha? It came back to life. Elisha was a prophet that had twice the Holy Spirit of Elijah. Elijah resurrected a boy while he was alive; Elisha resurrected a boy while he was alive, but Elisha had a double portion of the Spirit - Elisha resurrected a boy when he was dead. You name another prophet that could perform a miracle after his death, like that. Well, Jesus rose himself, didn't he? And so he said, "can these bones live?" He said, "'you know.

' Again he said to me, prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'oh dry bones'" - now, would you feel funny doing that? I know how it feels. Sometimes I preach in some places and you wonder if you're talking to a room of - hopefully not today. Not today, no - not this group. He said - but, I mean, has a preacher ever been given a tougher assignment? 'Preach to a valley of bones.' But if God tells you to preach, preach, right? Don't ever underestimate the power of the word. "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'oh dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.

Thus says the Lord God to these bones" - I can just see Elisha, you know, he's walking around among these bones and he's preaching and there he's looking at these skulls and you can see right through the eye sockets out the ears, you know, and he's thinking, 'boy, it's just going in one ear and out the other, literally.' (Laughter) that's a tough assignment for a pastor. "Preach to these bones, thus says the Lord to these bones, 'surely, I will cause breath to enter into you and you will live. I will put sinew on you and bring flesh upon you and cover you with skin and put breath in you.'" - He's actually preaching and it's decomposition in reverse - "'and I'll put breath in you and you will live and then you will know that I am the Lord.' And so I prophesied as I was commanded and as I prophesied, there was a noise and suddenly a rattling and the bones came together." You know, the power of the word is something. You start preaching and you hear rattling. You don't think you're getting anywhere, you don't think what you're saying is sinking in, but when you're dealing with the Word of God, there's inherent power in the Word of God and you might be surprised if things start to rattle.

Amen. And hearts start to stir and people who were dead in trespasses and sins begin to come back to life again. "And bone came together with bone." You know that song - old spiritual - knee bone connected to the hip bone - I probably got them wrong, but 'dem bones, dem bones' you know? It's about Ezekiel's sermon. "And indeed there was a rattling and the bones came together, bone to bone." The bones got matched with the right body - you know, because after all the animals drag them around and the birds pick through them. The bones aren't connected with the right spots anymore.

In the resurrection is God going to know how to piece people back together again? It's fun, when you hear people first hear - come to an evangelistic meeting and you start talking about the state of the dead and the resurrection and the second coming, people begin to think, 'what about all those people that were sort of buried in mass graves and, you know, they - is God going to be able to sort all that out? What about those people that were buried at sea? And, you know, we hate to think about stuff like this but, you know, after the fish and the stuff started to pick through them and the currents redeposit them and how's the Lord going to find all the parts to perform a resurrection? And then people say - and this is a common question - I'm serious. Ask Pastor Ross - 'if I'm cremated, will that prevent me from being resurrected? Because, you know, I've heard about people being cremated and then they take their ashes and they throw them out at sea and they're just - pieces of them scattered all over the planet. How will God ever find the parts and put them back together again? As though it's going to be a problem for God. Is the Lord going to make you out of the old parts, or is he going to make a new creature? A new creature. So don't worry about that.

God can speak it back into existence. It's not going to be a problem for him. "Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them." Now they're all in place, they've been reassembled - they've got the skin, they've got the organs - what was adam like when God made him before God breathed into him? He was a perfect man, but he was dead. There was no life. God made him, but until he breathed into him, it was a corpse.

So he said, "prophesy to the breath,'" - first he prophesied to the bones, now he says, "prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'thus says the Lord God: 'come from the four winds, o breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.''' So I prophesied as he commanded me and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army." Through the proclamation of the word, there is life. And one of the ways that the church is to be a light in the community is by spreading this life. You know, when pentecost happened - we were reading in our devotional a book last night - two of the most powerful forces of nature are fire and wind. And right now we've got a large fire in the foothills up here that's been actually threatening the homes of several of our members and the last I heard - we've been praying for these individuals, as well as others and, so far, God has preserved all of their homes - that I know of - and we're very thankful for that. But the combination of the fire with the hot wind - we've had days that are a hundred degrees - it's a powerful force.

And at pentecost, what happened? At pentecost they had been praying and you had the combination of a mighty wind and tongues of fire - two of the most powerful forces of nature came upon the disciples for the proclamation of the word. And was there life when they preached? Thousands were saved as they preached the word. And this is what God wants the church to do. We are in the world - we are a community - and one of our principle missions is to proclaim the word of Jesus. Why? Why do we do that? John 6:63 - now someone's going to read for me in just a moment Timothy 6:18 - okay, you'll have that sam? But if you look in John 6:63 Jesus said, "it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.

The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." Now, is a person converted by reading through the encyclopedia? Or if I should stand up in front of the congregation and just start going through the dictionary - it's a lot of words - interesting words - deep words - long words - will that convert anybody? Or if I should read just poetry - it might be moving but what kind of words are they that actually bring conversion and change hearts? What kind of words will take a skeleton and make it a living creature all put back together standing on its feet? When Jesus said 'Lazarus come forth' he took someone that was already decomposing and re- animated him in perfect health. And it's the Word of God that gives life, amen? "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." So why does God give - what is the result that the Lord wants to have when a church is raised up - an army? I should probably back up and just give you the more precise explanation of what's happening here in Ezekiel 37. When does Ezekiel preach? When does he - when does he get that vision? What's going on with Israel when he has that vision? Where were the Israelites? The children of Israel and judah - Israelites had been carried off by the assyrians, judah by the Babylonians - it looked like they were dead as a nation. It looked like there was no hope and God said, 'I will bring you back to this place again and raise you up and make you an exceeding great army.' And so God was basically - it was a promise to Israel, for one thing, that they would be brought back as a nation, which God kept that promise. But beyond that, it's a message to the church that through the proclamation of the word, that he brings us to life and we are soldiers for the Lord.

We are to go fight his battles and we are to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. And what are these fruits of the Spirit? Look in Ephesians 2 - why does God bring us to life? Ephesians 2:10, "for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." And so, you know, our lesson today is talking about justice and mercy in the old testament - we are to be doing works of justice and mercy. I'll read to you Titus 2, verses 6 and 7 and 14, "likewise, exhorting the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works...who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for himself his own special people, zealous for good works." Now, when you, in the Christian church today, talk about works, does that conjure up good feelings or do some people resent that? Why do some people resent the idea that the church is supposed to do good works? What is bad about good works? Is it - well, you could boast - the danger of good works is that a person might think you're saved by them. But there is nothing wrong with Christians doing good works. What's the alternative to good works? Bad works.

Bad works? Is that what we're supposed to do? Of course not. And so, while it is true we are not saved by good works, we are saved for good works. Didn't we just read that? Matter of fact, Jesus said you can tell whether or not a person is saved by what? Their profession or their - you'll know them by their - fruits. Fruits. Jesus says, in Matthew 7:16 - go ahead, read in 1 Timothy 6:18.

"Let them do good that they may be rich in good works: ready to give, willing to serve." And so the church in the community is supposed to be doing things to minister. And I said this last week and it may come up in a future lesson, but you can't improve on that parable Jesus gives where he says, 'in the great judgment day I will say to those on my right hand, 'well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.' - Matthew chapter 25:31 - 'for I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was naked and you clothed me.

I was sick and you visited me. I was a stranger and you took me in.' - And I think I left one out. Prison. 'I was in prison' - thank you - 'and you came to me' - there's six things that are mentioned there. These are all good works.

Now they're not doing it to be saved, because when Jesus says this they said, 'Lord, when did we see you and do these things?' He said, 'in as much as you've done it to the least of these, you did it to me.' The redeemed care about the least of these and they're doing good things for them. And so, this is one of the ways that the church is effective in the community. Alright, we're going to jump from Ezekiel 36 - I'm sorry, 37 - to Ezekiel 47 - one of the last chapters in the book - and here he's got another prophecy and Ezekiel's prophecy - Ezekiel, of course was a priest and he is in Babylon when he's having his visions, and he's talking about what the work of the church should be. Now, God intended for the children of Israel to be a nation of Kings and priests. The Bible says you are a royal priesthood.

We are all supposed to be involved in ministry in some capacity and using the gifts that God has given us so the Lord might let his blessing come out of us. God originally placed the children of Israel in their own land, in a place of - it's a bridge of continents. It was strategically - the promised land is a very strategic piece of real estate. Does a day go by when you don't hear something about the middle east in the news? Isn't it interesting that Israel is, you know, like this - it's this little country - California is much bigger than Israel, but it's in the news every day, practically. It's a very strategic place.

So he put them in their own land so that people passing through, they could witness to them and they would be there at a place of visibility to share the light with the nations around them. When they disobeyed, God said, 'okay, we're going to do it differently. If you're not going to have the heathen come to you, I am going to place you in the heathen land and let you be a witness there. God's original plan was queen of sheba. Solomon - glorious kingdom - Godly kingdom - other nations came to them to learn of their God.

But, if you're not going to do it that way, we're going to do shadrach, meshach, and abednego.' Do you realize that on the plain of dura, when everyone bowed down except shadrach, meshach, and abednego and God saved them from the fiery furnace? the Lord did, through those three Hebrews that were brave, what he had been trying to do through the nation. Because of their faithfulness and, later, Daniel in the lion's den, the King of persia and the King of Babylon make an international proclamation about jehovah. So they were being witnesses in a foreign land. He said, 'look, if you're not going to let me use you to be my witnesses by people coming to you, then I am going to put you where you're surrounded by pagans and you'll witness there. It'll be tough because you'll be - you won't have your own God, you'll be surrounded by pagan Gods, but I'll have you witness there.

' And so, Ezekiel, then he's talking about how wherever we go, we're to be a river of positive influence. Go to Ezekiel 47, verse 1 and it says, "then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east," - this comes up in the lesson later - "for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side. And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees.

Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed. He said to me, 'son of man, have you seen this?' Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river. When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other." I want to pause there before I get to the trees. Have you ever gone and crossed a river? First of all, let me just say this: when I was a baby Christian, I'd read in the Bible about the Jordan river.

I'd never been to the middle east. You only hear about it and the Jordan river seems like, you know, you've heard of the amazon and the Missouri and the Mississippi and the Nile and the yangtze and these big rivers of the world - the danube - and it's the Jordan - biblical - epic river - John the baptist baptized there - river - parted - children of Israel went across the Jordan river. And I was so disappointed when I went to Israel and I saw the jordon river. We've got a creek in covelo as big as the Jordan river. You know, I've always thought it was interesting what people call lakes and what people call ponds.

And we were visiting some friends and they talked about a lake and I thought, 'that's not a lake, I can throw a rock across it. That's a pond.' And the great lakes, which are seas, are called lakes. And you go to the sea of Galilee and you can see across it - it's a lake. We've got lake tahoe and the sea of Galilee - it's not that big. But - and then you see, you know, you go to the great lakes and you can't even see across it.

It's just interesting. And some people call - the Jordan river is called 'the river' - it's just a long creek because it goes a long ways, but summertime you can wade across it. But have you ever been to a river where you go a thousand - he talks about this here - you go out, what is it - a thousand cubits? - It came up to my ankles - a thousand cubits - that's 18 inches - how long is that? One thousand cubits - that's like one thousand eight hundred feet. Is that right? And you go that far out into a river - that crosses the Jordan right there, and he's only got water up to his ankles. Then he goes out another one thousand eight hundred feet and it's up to his knees.

He goes out another one thousand eight hundred feet - are you beginning to get an idea that this river flowing out from under the temple must be a big river? And then he goes out another - and finally - and he doesn't say how much farther til you get to the other side and it's going like this on one side and then you get where it's finally that deep - where it flows and you have to swim, then you figure it goes the same distance on the other side. Does that make sense? Usually rivers, you know, they've got similar banks. This is talking about the river that flows from the throne of God that irrigates the world in the second coming and then it tells you that the tree of life is on either side of it. That's a big tree. It's a big river.

It's a big tree. The river - the longest river - I think the jury is in - the longest river in the world is the Nile. Amazon keeps arguing saying, 'no, it's us.' But the experts say the Nile is a little longer, but the amazon, by far, puts more water out into the ocean, as far as volume, than the other four largest rivers combined. The amazon is a watershed for an enormous amount of area, but the river that irrigates the world from the throne of God is bigger than all of that. I mean, and it's clean.

And it's life-giving water because it says wherever it goes, things live. That where - you get down here to verse 6 - "he said to me, 'son of man, have you seen this?' Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river. When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: 'this water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea." What sea is he talking about? Water coming from the temple - the throne - in Jerusalem, would go down into the kidron valley, it would intersect with the Jordan and run out into the dead sea. Now how much is alive in the dead sea? Trick question.

Nothing. And it says that this water flows toward the eastern region and when it reaches the seas, it's waters are healed. The waters of the dead sea coming back to life was a great miracle for the children of Israel because there was nothing there. When you - when you had a lake and you realize the dead sea - it's water level is going down right now, they say. It's going down like 18 inches a year.

It's really dropping fast and there's a crisis because the main source of water for the dead sea is the Jordan river and the Jordan river is just being sucked up by irrigation from Israel and palestine before it's even getting there now and they're going to need some very, very wet years to ever bring it back to where it used to be, but by the time of Jesus - they know from the communities that are built on the outskirts - the water - the dead sea, it was much bigger and they always wished, if it wasn't contaminated with salt - think of all the fish and the life you'd be able to get out of that sea - all of the resources and all of the trees you could irrigate, and all the crops you could grow, except the water was bad. Next you go - let's go to the next section. It talks about Elisha healing waters. Someone's going to read for me in a minute, Genesis 18:32, okay? How many of you remember the story that when Elisha was approached by some of his sons of the prophets that were living near Jericho and they said, 'Elisha, master, we can't do anything here because it's a great location - there's palm trees - but the water from this spring - a great spring - but it stinks.' I was reading some very tragic stories about people that were crossing Nevada during the gold rush. All these pilgrims that were coming - the wagon trains - and some of them wrote in their diary - you know, everyone's dying of thirst - and the donner party, for one thing, had a very hard time before they ever got stuck at donner pass because they tried to develop a new trail across Nevada and everyone was so thirsty and they came to this water and it could not be drunk - an abundant spring but it was undrinkable.

The waters were sulphur waters - it was bitter. Maybe you could drink it but it was really bad and they called it poisoned. And so here they come to Elisha - they say, 'the city is pleasant as my Lord sees, but the water is bad and the ground is barren. You can't grow anything out of it because the water is so bad.' And Elisha said, 'bring me a new bowl and put salt in it.' So they brought him this new vessel, he put - they put salt in it - and he went out to the source - the spring of water - and he cast the salt in there and he said, 'thus says the Lord: 'I have healed the water. From there there shall be no more death or barrenness.

' So the water remains healed to this day, according to the word of Elisha, which he spoke.' Now do you know, if you go to Jericho today - I've been there. I was there with bonnie and ed many years ago when the heritage singers went and we went to the spring of Elisha and you could go right to where you see this water running out of the ground - out of this rock spring - and they say, 'this is the same spring that dates back over 500 years before Christ. And it was once undrinkable and Elisha performed a miracle and they said, 'reach down.' And you could reach down right then and scoop it up and drink it and it's sweet water. And he performed this miracle and it irrigates, to a great extent, the city of Jericho to this very day. So the Bible says - Matthew 5:13 - "you are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

" Now they estimate there's about 14,000 different uses for salt - sodium chloride. The word salt appears 45 times in the Bible. It's used for preserving. It was used for seasoning. 'Is there any flavor in the white of an egg?' Job asks.

And so, salt was needed for life. They would import salt. Matter of fact, there was one time when rome was ruling the world that the value of salt was almost equal to the value of gold and soldiers were paid in salt. You ever hear someone say, 'he's not worth his salt'? That's because they used to pay soldiers in salt and they'd say he wasn't worth what you pay him. Where do you get the word 'salary'? What does saline mean? A salary was when a person was paid in salt it meant your payday, right? And so how would you feel if you opened your envelope and salt came out instead of your paycheck? It's pretty common today.

But it meant life back then. And so when he put this salt in there and Jesus, of course used that same illustration. Read for us, please Genesis 18:32. "...'Suppose ten should be found there?' And he said, 'I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.'" You remember when God said, 'I'm going to destroy sodom because it's such a wicked city'? And Abraham began to intercede - he said, 'oh Lord, shall all the - shall the Lord of all the earth not do what is right?' And he said, 'if there are fifty righteous in this city will you still destroy it for fifty?' And God said, 'no, if there's fifty people that are still being an influence for good - even though they're wicked, there's hope.' And he said, 'what about forty-five?' 'I won't destroy it for forty-five.' 'How about forty?' 'I won't destroy it for forty.' 'What about thirty' and he said, 'I won't destroy it.' And you think God would say, 'Abraham, leave me alone.' But God enjoyed Abraham interceding because Abraham had a heart to see people saved. Do you know, Abraham had once risked his life to save the people of sodom? Isn't that right? And he said, 'how about twenty?' 'How about ten?' God said, 'if there are ten there I will spare the whole city.

If there's ten people there that are being salt and light, there's hope for the city.' The fact that God destroyed sodom and gomorrah, what does that mean? There weren't ten. How many were there? Half of one. (Laughter) lot, who was sort of compromising, and his daughters - you keep reading and you find out they weren't that converted. It does call lot a righteous man in - I think it's in 2 Peter - 'that righteous man vexed his soul day after day.' So God not only wants us to be salt, Matthew 5:16, he says, "let your" - what so shine? Light. "Let your light so shine before men that the may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.

The church is to be salt in our community. Are you making a difference in your community for good? Do you help your neighbors? We've got a pretty good relationship in our neighborhood. All around us our neighbors will frequently say, 'can you help with this?' Or 'can you help with that?' And you want to show them you care - that you love. I did an amazing fact this week on the radio program. If you weren't listening then I'll share it with you again.

There's a couple of interesting villages in the world today, one of them is known as rjukon, norway - rjukon, norway and the other one is viganella, italy. They're situated in deep valleys where, in the winter, because the sun goes down on its arc, no sunshine hits the valley all winter long and they're in the shadows and sometimes, like in norway, in particular, it's bad because their days get really short in the winter. I've been in sweden in the summer and the sun never went down. I'd hate to be there in the winter when it never comes up. But when it does come up, it's only up for a few hours.

So once someone got an idea; they put these enormous mirrors - I think they put like six - -square-foot mirrors that track the sun and reflect the sun from a mountaintop down into the valley where the town is. And they - it's controlled by a computer, it's all solar powered, and so in the wintertime the people were always kind of depressed there in the dark all winter long. Now, at a certain time each day, the sun appears on top of this mountain. It looks like it stays in the same place because these mirrors are tracking the sun so the sun doesn't move kind of weird. But all these people gather on these benches in the town and they've got this little sunbeam in the center of the town - and they all kind of - 'ha! A little sun!' - They'll stand there and they'll talk to each other and they sunbathe.

It's freezing cold, but at least they get a little sunshine. And those mirrors are reflecting the sun. It's kind of clever. Better than moving the town - move the light. Well, you and I are in a dark world.

We don't have any light of our own, but Christians are to be reflecting the light - like the moon reflects the light of the sun in our communities. The church: a source of life - we're back in Ezekiel 47 again. And I really love this - this was our memory verse, "and it shall be that everything lives that moves. Wherever the river goes will live. There will be a great multitude of fish because the waters go there for they will be healed and everything will live wherever the river goes.

We, as the church in our community, are to be a river of life and collectively we should be having an influence for good in our community so that people say, 'you know, I've got a Christian neighbor and I don't have to worry about them making loud noises at night, screaming and yelling and drinking and fighting. And I don't see the' - any of you ever have any neighbors the police car always seemed to be at the front door? Not now, when my neighbor's watching, you know? One of my neighbors told me, he said, 'doug, I was driving across the country and I caught your radio program and I notice you were talking about the neighbors.' I said good things. You've got to watch it, you never know who's listening. But I had another neighbor, years ago, and it seemed like once or twice a month the police car was there because of family feuds and there was a drinking problem. Hopefully that's not your witness in the community.

We want to be a blessing of light in our communities that things live. It says in Ezekiel 47:10, "it shall be that fishermen will stand by it from en gedi to en eglaim; they will be a place for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many." - 'The great sea' meaning the sea of Galilee or the - even the mediterranean, but it says there'll be an abundance of fish and you can net them. Right now, the salt sea was so bad that, I understand, the emperor vespian, one time, he heard that the water was so salty that people wouldn't sink, they would float. And he tied up a prisoner and he threw him in to see if it was true.

And he floated - fortunately for the prisoner. Now I've never been to the dead sea. I didn't go out and swim in it at the time, but for the Israelites, when they said, 'there'll be life in the dead sea? From that water?' That was a pretty dramatic transition for them - "along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.

" Now does that sound familiar? Someone's going to read for me in a minute, Jeremiah 17 - you have that steve? Okay. I'm going to read Revelation 22, verses 1 and 2, "and he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the Tree of Life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month." - Now, you notice when we read Ezekiel - fruit every month, from the sanctuary, it'll - the fruit will be for food, and it says, "the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." In Ezekiel it says, 'and their leaves were for medicine.' If you want to understand Revelation, look at the old testament. Revelation is a collage of old testament prophecies that all kind of come together and make sense. Go ahead, read for us please Jeremiah 17:7 and 8.

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit." This is how a Christian should be. We are rooted in the living water and we're bearing the fruits of the Spirit in our community. And, while everyone around us is dry, they're wondering, 'how come your leaves are green when everyone else is dry?' Because where I'm rooted. Christians are rooted in the Lord.

And you'll notice that sometimes trials that come to people and communities - someone one time said, 'a Christian that has a Bible that is falling apart is usually a person who can keep it together. If your Bible is falling apart and you're a Christian, that means that you'll be able to keep it together when the trials come. Falling apart means you really study the word if you're rooted in the word, amen? Alright, jubilee promises - I've just got a couple of minutes here - and it says in Isaiah 61:1 through 3, "the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," - now these are wonderful promises - it goes on to say, "and the day of vengeance of our God;" - there's a judgment coming - "to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the Spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified." Ties in with our other metaphor - what was the first sermon Jesus gave when he stood up in nazareth? He says in Luke 18, 'the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he's anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he's sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed' - when Jesus got done he said, 'verily I say unto you, today this prophecy is fulfilled in your ears.' What is the ministry of a Christian? Same thing, a Christian follows Christ. Christ said, 'as The Father sent me, so send I you.' We are to preach the Gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives through the Gospel - set free from sin, recovery of sight to the blind' - open their eyes with understanding, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. And so this is the Christian ministry.

We are to have this kind of influence in the world. And then finally, it says in Micah - this is our last section - the church: a change agent. He gives that great passage in Micah chapter 6 - start with verse 6, "with what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? What do we do? How do we please the Lord? And here's the conclusion: "he has shown you, o man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? What was that verse in Deuteronomy - you told me this morning - in Deuteronomy 20 - ten, twelve, thirteen. Deuteronomy 10:12 and 13 - Jeremiah is actually quoting Moses when he says this about seeking after the Lord. And we have our last verse, which is Ecclesiastes 12:13 and .

I wanted to save Solomon's verse for last because Solomon sort of sums it all up. What is the work of the church in the world? Okay, I think we're ready for that. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep his commandments for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment including every secret thing, whether good or evil. To fear God, to love the Lord and keep his commandments means doing the work of Jesus in the world - loving the Lord with all your heart and loving your neighbor.

This is the conclusion of the whole matter, that we might be - the Bible says it's more blessed to give than to receive - that we might be a blessing. We are out of time for our lesson, but before we conclude I want to just remind our friends we do have a free offer. It's called riches of his grace. And call 866-788-3966 - we'll send this to you for free. I think you can even read it online at amazingfacts.

org. If you do call in, ask for offer #152 and we'll send that to you. God bless you, friends. I look forward to studying His Word again next week. Today's smart phones are a virtual universe of information that fits in the palm of your hand.

It's a good thing we have opposable thumbs! With it you can buy your groceries, take care of your exercise regime, watch a video, listen to music, you can surf the international world-wide web, which may not always be a good thing. And, you know, there is more computer processing technology and power in a little smart phone today than was used by nasa to put a man on the moon. And I almost forgot, you can also use these to make a phone call, but who does that anymore? Today communication is not in complete sentences. It's all about short message servicing or sms texting. That's right, there are about 2.

5 billion people in the world today that are communicating with their fellow humans in short bytes called texting. That's more data that is being used than those who are surfing the web or even playing video games. And, friends, nowhere is this more true than right here in the Philippines. Even though the Philippines has about 100 million people, they are responsible for the largest number of text messages of anywhere in the world. They're the twelfth-largest country, but they send 400 million text messages every day.

Wow, that's a lot of finger fatigue. Even though the greatest number of texters is here in the Philippines, the record for the fastest texter in the world is from brazil. A young man by the name of marcel fernandes filho - he was able to text 25 very complicated words in a little more than 18 seconds. Wow, it takes me longer than that to just say 'I love you' to my wife and press send. All thumbs.

One of the neat things about texting is you can text just about anywhere. If you're surrounded with people and you want to send a personal message, you text. You're in a crowded subway or an airport, you can text. If you're surrounded by noise or nosey people, you can text - just don't text while you're driving. That's what's so wonderful, friends, you can always text God a message of prayer from your heart.

When you're wondering 'what school do I go to?' 'What job do I take?' 'Who am I supposed to date that may be a future life partner?' Your prayers don't have to be long. The shortest prayer in the Bible is three words - when Peter prayed, 'Lord save me.' And Jesus answered his prayer. It doesn't matter how fast you can text when you're talking to God, he'll know what you're asking for and hear your prayer before you have a chance to say 'amen' and press the send button. In fact, friends, you'll bring joy to God when you send him regular messages from your heart to his. So why don't you talk to him right now? Amazing Facts, changed lives.

I was heading south on interstate 5. This commercial came on kfbk radio about a Revelation seminar by Amazing Facts. I began - my chest began to tighten up. I began sweating profusely. I had difficulty in breathing.

There was this big rest area and, at this time, I pulled into there - I thought, 'well, maybe I'm having a heart attack.' I got out of my truck, walked into the men's restroom there and put cold water on my face. And then finally things subsided. A week later, again, I heard this Amazing Facts commercial come on the radio and, in fact, the meetings were going to start that very night. And, again, immediately, I had these same symptoms. I thought, you know, this isn't my heart.

I have to go to that meeting. And, as I was going down to Sacramento I decided to park and go inside. Well, I got in and walked into the furthermost rear seat they had in the pew there. And this particular evangelist, his name was kim kjear. It was like taking one layer off at a time - of an onion - he laid it out so perfectly that we could all understand it.

And I was really motivated. I couldn't believe it. Well, I finished. I didn't miss a meeting. In fact, on the fifth night they had an altar call and my knees stood right up and I walked forward and I gave my heart to Jesus Christ.

I've learned, throughout this whole thing, that when you - when you leave the devil's territory he gets pretty active in causing a lot of problems. Well, I had the evangelist come out and they had prayer with me about my business. I would find a sick business and make it well and then Market it. I finally ended up with a business that I really enjoyed that was one that was building equestrian centers and they said to me, 'steve, you know, if you're going to really keep the Sabbath you've got to shut your doors on the Sabbath.' Well, I did. And so I sold the business to my brother.

It took me 22 years to build that business and he lost it in 33 months. My son, who was my business partner, I'd been giving him ten percent of the business every year. He thought I'd just fallen off the bridge. My son didn't talk to me for five and a half years. And then a few other things happen.

I had an ex-employee living in my guest house. He kind of watched after our place and he said, 'steve, there's an allied moving van backed up to your front door in your home.' I said, 'you're kidding!' I said, 'what do you mean?' He said, 'they're moving everything out of your house into this truck and your wife is out there supervising them.' And when I went home and opened the front door, my voice echoed in that house. There wasn't any furniture left anywhere. There was one bed left in the house. I knew my wife was upset because of my coming to this church, but I had no idea that she would move out like this.

That was a total shock to me. It was some there - I locked myself in the bedroom and I began reading the Bible. I spent about a half a year just every night getting home and I would study. It allowed me to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Well, to make a long story short, I met crystal and she was a Godly woman.

That was the Lord's doing, not mine, and he was just there to let me know that 'I'm with you all the way. Even though you're going to have some trials and you're going to have some hardships, I want you to know that I'll be with you because, no matter what I do now, he is my leader. He's the leader of my marriage. He's the leader of everything in my life today. That one meeting with the Amazing Facts seminar changed my entire life.

And to this day I'm still on fire for God. I'm still witnessing to my neighbors. My name is Steve Johnson and it's because of you that amazing facts has changed my life. Can't get enough Amazing Facts Bible study? You don't have to wait until next week to enjoy more truth-filled programming, visit the Amazing Facts media library at 'aftv.org'. At 'aftv.org' you can enjoy video and audio presentations as well as printed material all free of charge, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, right from your computer or mobile device. Visit 'aftv.org'.

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