Title: Ruth: 1:20-21; The doctrine of bitterness, part 19 - dealing with failure, Esau vs. Peter.
"To give truth to him who loves it not, is to only give him more multiplied reasons for misinterpretation." [George MacDonald]
We are dealing with bitterness that results from personal failure. Peter failed greatly at Caiaphas' palace while the first trials of Christ were going on.
He is trapped inside the courtyard of the palace, and we have noted his first and second denials. We note that Peter proclaimed to have the courage to be a martyr for Christ, but he lacked moral courage. We conjecture that Peter likely would have done some heroic thing as long as it was a grand public stage, but alone around the fire, standing only with servants and a few soldiers, he has no appetite for even saying that he knew Jesus personally.
Satan knows our weakness. He also knows how to make us uncomfortable in order to weaken our resolve.
Now we turn to the third denial.
MAT 26:73 And a little later [by Luke's account, an hour later] the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; for the way you talk gives you away."
MAT 26:74 Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know the man!" And immediately a cock crowed.
While Peter is denying the Lord, the Lord is inside the palace, just a few feet away, on the other side of a stone wall, in front of the high priest, surrounded by a contingent of the Sanhedrin, and openly stating that He is the Son of God to which He receives hundreds of insults, blows to His body and face, and hard tugs on His beard.
This is what Peter is yet to understand and what every Christian should understand.
The insults, taunts, and blows which fell upon that lonely Sufferer, not defenseless, but not defending, not vanquished , but not contending, not helpless, but majestic in voluntary self-submission for the highest purpose of love - have not only exhibited the curse of humanity, but also removed it by letting it descend on Him, the Perfect Man, the Christ, the Son of God.
It is for this reason that we are forgiven and it is for this reason that when Satan works to fill our hearts with guilt and condemnation that we can tell him to go pound sand, which is a phrase my mother used to use. Peter is yet to understand this, but he will, and we must.
MAT 26:75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, "Before a cock crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.
Failure can cause us to weep bitterly if we do not rely upon the grace of God for forgiveness.
1CO 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
1CO 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
1CO 15:5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
He appeared to Peter first, meaning that Peter was alone, too ashamed to be with the others, and Jesus restored him in grace. How beautiful and tender and the same is true of everyone of us. Our sins and iniquities He remembers no more.
PSA 32:1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
PSA 32:2 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
PSA 32:3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
PSA 32:4 For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.
PSA 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to Thee,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord";
And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.
The good news is that the New Covenant has been instituted to the church by the blood of Christ. All believers are washed clean. There remains no more sacrifice, not blood, not guilt or bitterness or penance.
One third of Mark and Matthew are devoted to the cross. One quarter of Luke and half of John are devoted to the cross. The problem with man is sin. This is rarely acknowledged in popular media. Yet this is true of all men, you, and me.
JER 17:9 "The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
JER 17:10 "I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.
JER 17:11 "As a partridge that hatches eggs which it has not laid,
So is he who makes a fortune, but unjustly;
In the midst of his days it will forsake him,
And in the end he will be a fool."
The good news is that Jesus has made forgiveness and redemption possible.
"Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained. In other words, if it ever were to be possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existence by means of some drug or other medical mumbo jumbo … the result would not be to make life delectable, but to make it too banal or trivial to be endurable. This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ." [Malcolm Muggeridge]
HEB 8:12 "For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more."
HEB 8:13 When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
The animal sacrifices served as a constant reminder of sin, and they would not end until the true sacrifice was accomplished.
HEB 10:1 For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near.
HEB 10:2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?
HEB 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.
HEB 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Christ came to do His will.
HEB 10:11 And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
HEB 10:12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,
HEB 10:13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.
HEB 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
HEB 10:15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
HEB 10:16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, And upon their mind I will write them,"
He then says,
HEB 10:17 "And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more."
HEB 10:18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
We would love not to fail, but that is not reality. When we fail we do not hide it from God or blame others. We have been forgiven of all sin, and through faith in His sacrifice, we feel His forgiveness.
Next we move to look upon a life that has times filled with intense suffering. Intense suffering is legitimately described as bitter existence, but the inward man that trusts the Lord is not bitter.
Not being bitter in during a bitter existence.
I'm not saying he's got a big smile on his face while his life has turned quite bitter. It would be that he is content in trusting the Lord and anticipates that day when the Lord will deliver him from the suffering.
The herbs for the Passover feast are described as bitter. This reveals that a time of great suffering can be overcome by the Lamb of God.
EXO 12:1 Now the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
EXO 12:2 "This month [Aviv, later to be known as Nisan] shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.
EXO 12:3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household.
EXO 12:4 'Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.
EXO 12:5 'Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
EXO 12:6 'And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.
EXO 12:7 'Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
EXO 12:8 'And they shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
Our English translation states that the bitter herbs are to be eaten "with" the lamb, which makes it sound like an aside, but the Hebrew al means upon or over, and so it does not indicate an accompaniment to the meat, but as a basis for the meal.
The use of the Hebrew al (with) shows us that the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs were to be a prominent part of the meal and so have profound signification.
When we cook with herbs they are an aside or accompaniment to enhance flavor, but not so with the Passover.
The bitter herbs were to call to mind the bitterness of life experienced by Israel in Egypt (EXO 1:14), and this bitterness was to be overpowered by the sweet flesh of the lamb. This applies to a time of life in which suffering is intense enough that bitterness would almost seem allowable, but the sacrifice of Christ allows us to find sweetness in our souls, despite the situation.
Every Passover, the Jews were to be reminded of the bitterness of life in Egypt (all life in slavery) and how that taste is overcome by the sweetness of the roasted lamb (Jesus setting us free).
So, for a person to say that they can't overcome their bitterness is a lie. It might be hard to overcome it, but the cross of Christ overcomes the hardest situations in life. God always has a solution in His word.
EXO 1:13 And the Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously;
EXO 1:14 and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.
What are we to do when life turns to some form of oppression, in which the normal person would grow very bitter? It is likely that this will not be constant throughout a person's life, but God allows it. It is one thing to read about it happening to others, but when it comes to your doorstep, it is an entirely different matter.
We must deal with imposed suffering somehow, and there are many ways, and then there is God's way - the grace of God given through the death of Christ.
The Corinthians were reported as actually celebrating the sin of a man bedding his father's wife as a great manifestation of the grace of God.
1CO 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?
1CO 5:7 Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.
1CO 5:8 Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.