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Jan 05: Gen 9, 10 | Psa 11-13 | Matt 7

Reading 1 - Gen 9:13

" I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth" (Gen 9:13).

The Hebrew "qesheth" signifies "bending". God's rainbow was natural, conspicuous, universal, unique, and beautiful. It spoke of a permanent union between heaven and earth (Eze 1:28; Rev 4:3; 10:1).

The rainbow was composed of seven colors, symbolizing a complete revelation of God's glory (Num 14:21). It referred to the covenants of promise, and of adoption into commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12) -- through baptism into Christ: Gal 3:27,29, as obedience of faith: Rom 16:26.

In this scene of Rev 10:1 it was related to the promises of the Kingdom, the avenging of the Holy (Dan 8:14), the righteous wars of the saints (Psa 149), and the land of Israel (Lev 26:42).

The order of its colors also possesses a spiritual significance:

  • Red, always on outside = flesh;

  • Orange = fire of trials;

  • Yellow = refined faith (1Pe 1:7);

  • Green = renewal, resurrection;

  • Blue = godliness, heavenliness;

  • Indigo = royalty in Kingdom;

  • Violet, more perfect = royalty after Kingdom.

Thus by stages God's plan to fill the earth with His glory is fulfilled, and the red of man and the blue of heaven become perfectly united -- "God all in all."

Reading 2 - Psa 11:3

"When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psa 11:3).

The foundations of God's world are used as a figure of His solid and sure purpose with Israel (Isa 51:13; cp also Heb 11:10). The LXX reads: "What thou didst establish (as perfect), they have thrown down." According to Paul, God's purpose with the saints also rests on a sure foundation, having the guarantee that "the Lord knoweth them that are his" (2Ti 2:19). So, no matter what men might do for the moment, God is ultimately in control, and His judgment will at the last right all wrongs. In this profound sense, the true "foundations" can never really be undermined or destroyed.

Reading 3 - Mat 7:1,2

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Mat 7:1,2).

The context is the "parable" of the mote and the beam (vv 3-5). The saying is found in the rabbinical writings, and is an example of the caustic Jewish humor. It is not difficult to make the transition here from the case of individuals to that of ecclesias or "fellowship" groups. "With what measure we mete and with what judgment we judge, we shall ourselves individually and communally be assessed" (CMPA, The Christadelphian 109:12). Who belongs to a "perfect" (or even "near-perfect") group? Are there not always problems nearer to home to occupy the industrious brother, without the necessity of seeking to remove a "mote" from an ecclesial "eye" half-way round the world? We should never judge those in other "fellowships" more severely than we would wish to be judged in the weakest link of our own "fellowship". And if such judgment would make us wince, then perhaps we should re-evaluate our situation!

"The wonderful thing about the Speaker [of Mat 7:1,2] is that he himself is so clear-eyed! There is neither beam nor mote there! He can judge without 'hypocrisy'. And he will. 'The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son' (Joh 5:22). Whosoever therefore usurps this function is guilty of 'contempt of court', 'the court above'! Hence an apostle says to his brethren in the midst of their carnal jealousies and strifes: 'With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you... but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes...' (1Co 4:3-5)... Do not behave as though you sought your brother's damnation rather than his salvation. 'He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends' (Pro 17:9). Do not do it; God hates it!" (CC Walker, The Christadelphian 61:266).

It must not be supposed that Mat 7 prohibits all ecclesial "judging". Obviously, there are times when ecclesias (through their arranging brothers, or by other means) are called upon to "judge". But in such cases it must be the clear pronouncement of Holy Scripture which provides the basis, and not a whim or passing fancy or even a tradition, well-intended though it be! And judgment must be approached very carefully and humbly, according to the spirit as well as the letter of Mat 18. Some good rules to observe in such cases:

  1. Do not impute to your brethren evil motives (Jam 4:11).

  2. Do not condemn your "weak brother" for what you may consider to be his "imperfect" service (Rom 14:1-13).

  3. Do not withhold forgiveness when the Bible teaches that God can offer it (Jam 2:13). Under no circumstances has our Father laid upon us the burden of being stricter than He has expressly said Himself to be!

  4. Do not anticipate Christ's judgment (1Co 4:5). Our brother is above all else "another man's servant" (Rom 14:4), not our own!

In all the above the emphasis is upon this: We must only with extreme care and reluctance undertake to pass any judgment. We must do so only when absolutely necessary, and not just to satisfy some whim or to elevate ourselves by casting others down. And we must never assume our own infallibility; the Holy Spirit power of "judging" (such as that employed by the apostle Peter upon Ananias and Sapphira) has long since ceased from among the ecclesias.

"It is certainly true that no man ought to speak of a brother's faults behind his back until he have spoken to himself alone, and afterwards with others. But even then, you must be quite sure that the fault is of a kind that would warrant you in withdrawing if he do not submit. If there is any doubt on this head, be silent, and leave the Lord to judge at his coming. We generally find men unwilling to leave things to the Lord. They act as though they had no faith in the Lord's coming, and as if Paul had never written: 'Judge nothing before the time, till the Lord come who will make manifest the counsels of the heart' (1Co 4:5) -- that is, the secret motives which no man can know, and which require to be known before a correct estimate of his action is possible... It would be wrong for us to judge in personal cases. It is possible to say what ought and what ought not to be done, as a matter of duty for all men; but when it comes to a question whether these are or are not done by particular men, we enter a forbidden field. We must not judge; we must not condemn. We must leave the Lord to do that at his coming. We can, of course, withdraw from a brother who walks disobediently and defends it; but even this we must not do till we have seen him a few times and given him every opportunity of justifying himself. If men were more busy judging THEMSELVES, which they are COMMANDED to do, they would not have so much propensity for judging others, which they are forbidden to do" (Robert Roberts, The Christadelphian 35:388,389).

"The scriptural command is, over and over: 'Judge not, that ye be not judged.' With our puny little limited minds, it is impossible for us to judge fairly, even if we should have all the facts. And we never have ALL the facts... We must never judge motives, or seek occasions of fault-finding, or believe and peddle hurtful rumors, or talk behind peoples' backs, or speak of sins -- either real or supposed -- TO ANYONE EXCEPT THE PERSON INVOLVED. In doing such, we condemn ourselves. The stern penalties of the law of Christ are very fearful against any of these fleshly abominations: 'As ye judge, so shall ye be judged' " (GV Growcott, The Berean 61:81).

"It is always wisdom to judge with mercy and kindness and compassion and fellow-feeling, wherever we must judge at all. When we indulge in the flesh-satisfying practice of judging and criticizing others, we are not only directly disobedient to this command -- we are also manifesting that we do not have the mind and spirit of Christ, and therefore are none of his" (GV Growcott, The Berean 57:51).

"However damning the evidence may be against our brother, if we pause and look into our own hearts, we shall go quietly away and leave him with his Lord. There are times when it becomes necessary to take action, but that action must not be taken because we have condemned our brother. It will be taken in the painful consciousness of our own unworthiness, and with a love which will plead intercession before the Throne of Grace. We shall wait with eagerness for the first signs of penitence so that we can joyfully restore the erring one to the fellowship of the saints" (Melva Purkis, A Life of Jesus 235).


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