"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Friday, February 4, 2011

Raising The Standard: Cautiousness Is Remembering That Greed Crouches At The Door Of Every Heart

"And he said unto them, take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." ~ Luke 12:13
From The Pages Of Scripture:
The Scriptures clearly warn that a person should be cautious when eating a meal at the table of a rich man. Ironically, the one who penned the words of this caution was the son of a prosperous ruler who sponsored such a dinner. Because an unsuspecting guest failed to exercise cautiousness, and recognize the warning signals of greed, he forfeited his life. His experience lives on as a vivid illustration of the fact that no heart is immune to the subtleties of greed. A banquet was once prepared by a ruler who had fallen into the bondage of greed. By failing to detect the warning signals of that greed, his unsuspecting guest left the feast carrying his own death warrant. Who was this guest? Uriah the Hittite.
How Is The Need To Be Cautious About Greed Illustrated In Scripture?
Somewhat confused, the courageous captain pondered his unusual orders. According to the urgent message, officially stamped with the royal seal, he was to withdraw from the battle front and immediately report to the king. After arriving at the palace, he received a royal welcome and praise for his valor in battle. In return for his faithful service and loyalty, the king insisted that he enjoy a well deserved leave with his wife. Momentarily tempted by the pleasant thoughts of his home, he quickly concluded how inappropriate it would be to remain at home while his men suffered the hardships of war. The king was an experienced warrior and surely would understand the polite refusal of his gracious offer. The next evening the king sponsored a lavish banquet to honor the presence of the devoted officer. The courageous captain was ceremoniously escorted to a place of prominence at the king's table. His considerate host showered him with attention and encouraged him to eat and drink to his heart's content. Once again the captain failed to properly evaluate the unusual amount of regal recognition. The following morning, the king instructed the anxious soldier to return to the battle and deliver an important communication to his general. Thus, with his own death warrant, he began his final journey back to the battlefield. A few days later, the faithful captain was ordered to lead his men to the front of the battle. His squadron fought valiantly and soon approached the gates of the city. High above the battlefield, an enemy archer took careful aim and fatally pierced the captain's heart. The general quickly dispatched a messenger to inform the greedy king that his instructions had been faithfully fulfilled. Years later the king's son penned these words. "Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye... Eat and drink, saith he to the; but his heart is not with thee" (Proverbs 23:6-7). These words could have very well referred to King David and the fateful meal that spring evening. Solomon observed what captain Uriah had failed to realize. The sinful nature of man necessitates a constant caution to the signs of greed. [From 2 Samuel 11]
Why Would A Hittite Serve In The Army Of Jehovah?
Nothing in the Hittite culture would encourage its sons or daughters to worship the true God of Israel. Esau's Hittite wives were a source of grief to his parents. (See Genesis 27:46) In the time of Moses and Joshua, the Hittites had become so perverse that the Lord wanted them completely removed form the face of the earth. (See Deuteronomy 7:1-5; Judges 3:5-7) The culture was spiritually blind, having rejected the light previously given to them. Uriah was one of those outstanding Gentiles in the Old Testament who recognized the God of Israel as the only true God. Along with Rahab of Jericho and Ruth of Moab, Uriah the Hittite was one of the first fruits of the promise given to Abraham, "... and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that one of Israel's purposes was to be "...a light to the Gentiles that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth" (Isaiah 49:6). Uriah saw the light and received it. His Hebrew name Uriah means literally, "Jehovah is my light".
Why Did Uriah Not Go Home To His Wife?
Uriah was not just a common soldier --- he was one of "The Thirty". Military service was his life, and he knew the importance of remaining available for duty. As the commanding officer of other soldiers, it was vital for him to be ready at a moment's notice. The situation at Rabbah, where civilian forces supplemented the professional forces, gave Uriah an even greater responsibility. How could he, a captain and a professional, spend an evening at home when the entire army was at war? Uriah was also aware of some specific laws concerning military caps. Because the Lord Himself was fighting in behalf of Israel, He had established laws to remind min of His presence. Spending the evening with Bathsheba would have made him ritually unclean and ineligible for service until the following evening. (See Deuteronomy 23:9-14; Leviticus 15:16; 1 Samuel 21:5) As a cautious and vigilant soldier, Uriah sacrificed his own personal pleasure in order to be available to his commanding officer during a time of war.
Was Uriah's Sacrifice In Vain?
The life and death of Uriah did further the spiritual safety and welfare of his country. After Uriah's death, David married Bathsheba. He thought he had concealed his sin; but the Lord who alone knew all had happened, sent the prophet Nathan to rebuke David. Nathan likened the faithful Uriah to a poor man who owned one beloved lamb. He likened David to a cruel, rich man who butchered the poor man's lamb to feed a mere stranger. When David reflected on Uriah's life and character, his conscience was stricken and he came to his senses. He cried out to the Lord for forgiveness and begged for restoration. David's intimate prayer for cleansing is recorded in Psalm 51. Uriah lost his life but not his good name, a most valuable possession which no one can ever take away (See Proverbs 22:1). He is even mentioned in connection with the listing of Christ's ancestors, along with the two other Gentiles in the geneology - Rahab and Ruth (See Matthew 1:5-6).
Illustrated In The World Of Nature:
The 135 species of octopus that belong to the shellfish family vary greatly in size and habitat. Some octopods never grow any larger than a few inches. Other species grow to be more than twenty-five feet from arm tip to arm tip. All octopods have eight arms radiating from a central body. Each arm is lined with two rows of suckers which can grip tightly to almost any surface. The common octopus lives on the bottom of shallow coastal oceans, but other species live in the ocean depths. Octopods sleep most of the day in small caves or under ledges and hunt at night.
How Is The Insatiable Appetite Of Greed Illustrated In The World Of Nature?
It was a baffling mystery. How could a sixteen inch long octopus escape from a tightly locked retaining tank? The janitor watched through the glass as the slippery escape artist skimmed along the sandy bottom of its tank. He remembered the excitement that the strange looking creature had caused when it first arrived at the metropolitan aquarium. He recalled the children's beaming faces as they anxiously pressed their noses against the fogged over glass to get the first look at the new resident. After what seemed like an endless wait, one of the marine biologists deposited the slimy mass of squirming tentacles into the display tank. Once inside its new glass home, the octopus began to flex its powerful tentacles. The boys and girls giggled with delight as they stood on tiptoe and carefully followed every movement of the amazing animal. That night, under the cover of darkness, the octopus pulled itself up over the ledge of its tank and slid into the adjacent tank filled with a rare species of lobster. Dozens of tiny suction cups soon began to pull one of the unsuspecting victims toward the octopus' venomous beak. Even before paralyzing its helpless prey, the slimy intruder had already begun to enjoy its meal through the tiny taste buds located along the rims of its tentacles. The next morning the janitor decided to check on the octopus. "After all, he is a new tenant," he whispered to himself in an attempt to justify his boyish curiosity. As he entered the saltwater display area, he suddenly realized that the octopus was gone! Hurrying off to notify the curator, he caught a glimpse of a vague form out of the corner of his eye. There was the octopus, greedily hovering over three dead lobsters. Greatly disturbed by the loss of their valuable specimens, aquarium officials decided to place the octopus in a smaller, metal retaining cage. The stainless steal cage was designed to allow the oxygen rich water to flow freely through the enclosure. With the eight legged poacher securely locked away, the janitor confidently went home for the evening. Early the next morning, he rose and hurried off to work. He could not believe his eyes! The octopus had escaped again. To make matters worse he noticed another dead lobster partially concealed in the corner of the tank. After carefully checking every hinge and seam, the frustrated curator coaxed the octopus back in to its cell and firmly locked the lid. That night the mystery was solved. Determined to unravel the underwater puzzle, the janitor decided to spend the night in the aquarium. In the shadows of a dimly lit exit sign the amateur detective witnessed an amazing escape. Slowly, the octopus threaded itself through one of the half-inch holes in the metal cage. Like a greedy man, the octopus had taken advantage of even the smallest opportunity to satisfy its insatiable appetite.
The Octopus In Scripture
The unusual ability of the octopus to thread itself through a small opening to satisfy its own appetite bears a striking resemblance to evil men who can slip into families and capture the affections of immature or guilt ridden young women.
"For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts" ~ 2 Timothy 3:6
The octopus is one of the "creeping" things of the sea listed in Psalm 104:25.
"So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts." (Psalm 104:25)
Some of the strongest warnings in the Levitical law were against "creeping things".
"Whatsoever goeth upon the belly... or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination" ~ Leviticus 11:42
Creeping things are consistently associated with that which is evil. (See Ezekiel 8:10, Acts 10:12) The quiet stealth of the octopus is therefore a picture of how wicked men creep into churches for evil purposes.
"For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness..." ~ Jude 4
The life sapping tentacles of the octopus are also a picture of the entanglements of life which Christians are to avoid. (See 2 Timothy 2:4)

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