Title: Judges 20. The second appendix: The Benjamite War; Coming to know Christ fully through complete devotion.
As he revealed in his letter to the Colossians, Paul and his fellow-preachers, having themselves received the peace which was made "though the blood of the cross," now fulfill their ministry by presenting that peace for acceptance to others, and they suffer for it.
In the fulfillment of the ministry to present the light of Christ to the world, we are exposed to suffering for Christ's sake, and these are considered the sufferings of Christ, and our share in them.
This is why we are called to suffer for His sake. It was all a part of the plan a billion years ago. Christ would bring salvation to the world through suffering. He would suffer on the cross because of us, because of our evil and our sin. When that was finished, He ascended to the right hand of God, and now the message would have to go forth throughout the world, inviting all men to be reconciled to God and find peace and salvation, but the same evil world would persecute the messengers. We are not being persecuted as saviors, but as messengers.
The messengers, the believers who gave their lives over to Him due to the rapturous love for Him, found that they loved their neighbor as themselves and they therefore offered the peace of Christ to them, even to their enemies. Because they are bringing Christ to them and are suffering, it is really Christ who is suffering.
Due to their natural thinking minds, the Jews of Christ's time supplemented the command to love your neighbor with the command to hate your enemy. Christ reveals the fallacy of this thinking.
MAT 5:43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.'
MAT 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you
MAT 5:45 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
MAT 5:46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?
MAT 5:47 "And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more [extraordinary] than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
MAT 5:48 "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
From Sermon on the Mount book concerning this passage:
"Love your neighbor" was certainly God's command in the law, but "hate your enemy" was not there. This was only implied by the Jews and popularly accepted. They concluded that if the first is true then so must be the second. Jesus doesn’t only instruct them to get rid of the made up second part, He takes the command to love your neighbor and includes your enemy, and as such He states that you are behaving like a son of the Father who is in heaven. This takes the focus off of us and puts it on the Father. How did the Father behave towards His enemy, which at one time, before their salvation, included all Christians? He loved them, and He loved them so much that He gave them His only begotten Son. If we love our enemies we are acting just like Him and we look like His sons.
That really is the whole purpose of Christianity; to make people look like His Son.
"What do you do extraordinary?" This is the extraordinary life of Christ. It is something learned and done. Remember how the Sermon on the Mount ends.
And why are we to be extraordinary? We are united to Him. How could we be anything else?
The Christian way is something that the disciples of Christ do. Satan is content that we only speak about it in church and that it remains there. It must be done in every part of our lives. It is a challenge upon our entire lives.
It must be righteousness that can be seen like a city on a hill, but not done for the purpose of being seen; the difference is obvious. We do not light a lamp and then cover it with a box so that it cannot be seen.
It is not a strict Puritanism, not some eccentric pattern of Christian living, but simple, unreflecting obedience to the will of Christ in joyous contentment.
Can unreflecting obedience be found in the believer who does not love Christ? And if we love Christ, we will love Him far above all others. We must, for He is just that. If we say we love Christ, and that we love our mother, father, wife, husband, child just as much, then we are making them equal with Christ, and this is not Him, and hence we would not love Him or know Him.
It would be simpler if all loves were the same, and all objects of love were the same, but Christianity is real, and so it is not simple.
Manmade or satanic religions are always much simpler. The simple religions are always the made up ones. We cannot simplify Christianity in order to make it palatable to the masses, for that is not Christianity. Devotion to Christ is a simple matter, but Christ Himself is not simple.
Christ must be fully known to all Christians. The Christian must be willing, and it won't always be easy or come easily to him. What if we had the power of miracles and could, with a wave of our hand, fix every problem and right every wrong, would we learn anything about Christ? He emptied Himself of the expression of His deity. He told us that He could have called down legions of angels from heaven into the Garden of Gethsemane, but He did not.
The believer must strive in faith to learn and apply; hear and do, and then he will come to know Him. We must also understand that the Holy Spirit is choosing the subject or the particular part of scripture we are currently studying. As long as I don't have a personal agenda, this will always be true.
It may seem that all of the work in knowing Him is on our side, but it is not. Learning and applying; hearing and doing are only manifestations of faith. We would not be able to do either if Christ does not first do something completely.
We must diligently learn and apply in order to come to know Christ fully, but we must remember that we can never do either unless Christ show Himself and empower us in His way.
In Psa 22, first we witness His complete work in saving us.
PSA 22:1 My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
PSA 22:2 O my God, I cry by day, but Thou dost not answer;
And by night, but I have no rest.
PSA 22:3 Yet Thou art holy,
O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
PSA 22:4 In Thee our fathers trusted;
They trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.
PSA 22:5 To Thee they cried out, and were delivered;
In Thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.
PSA 22:6 But I am a worm, and not a man,
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
PSA 22:7 All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,
PSA 22:8 "Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him."
In the second part of the Psalm we witness His complete work in revealing Himself to us.
PSA 22:22 I will tell of Thy name to my brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise Thee.
PSA 22:23 You who fear the Lord, praise Him;
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.
He will tell of the person of the Lord, but who will praise that name? How could they truly praise His name if they did not learn of all that was told? It is those who fear Him who will praise Him and stand in awe of Him.
PSA 22:24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Neither has He hidden His face from him;
But when he cried to Him for help, He heard.
PSA 22:25 From Thee comes my praise in the great assembly;
I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him.
What was Christ's vow to us, which will be paid to those who fear Him?
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you."
PSA 22:26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
Let your heart live forever!