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Dear Partner,

I have been teaching a series titled "Lessons From The Manna" lately. One of those teachings listed the ten times that Israel tempted God in the wilderness. I went into some detail about Israel's rebellion while Moses was away from the camp receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. I described how the people began to engage in immorality and how they made a golden calf to worship as their "god." They even gave this golden idol credit as being the "god" who delivered them out of Egypt.

Exo 32:6-8   And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

What an insult to the one, true, living God who delivered them from Egypt. Moses was so angry with them after those events he ground the golden calf into powder, threw the dust in the river and made the people drink it.

After I concluded the lesson a believer came up and asked me a question I had never thought of before. He asked, "Did the manna appear again the following morning after that incident with the golden calf?" I had never thought of that question before. I went back and read the chapters again concerning that episode, and all the other times of Israel's rebellion in the wilderness. What I found was no matter how many times Israel rebelled against the Lord in the wilderness, He never once withheld the manna from them. No innocent children ever went to bed hungry due to a lack of manna.

What mercy. What grace. How loving is this heavenly Father who is so gentle, kind, and forgiving even when we do things that insult Him? Jesus (The Living Manna) said it this way,

Mat 5:44-48   But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

When Jesus first spoke the words, "Love your enemies," He was introducing a new teaching that is found nowhere in the Old Testament. Jesus was introducing this teaching at that moment in history because only those who are born again by the Spirit of God have the capacity to do it. It requires God's own nature, not the fallen nature of man, to love your enemies. Through His death, burial, and resurrection Jesus was about to make the new birth possible for those who would repent and believe the gospel. Hear what the apostle Paul wrote about how much God loved us while we were yet His enemies:

Rom 5:7-11   For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, WHEN WE WERE ENEMIES, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

The sin nature we were all born with made us contrary to God's nature. At our core, we were the enemies of righteousness and holiness before we were born again. While we were in that state, still sinners, the enemies of God we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son!

When Jesus says, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," He is saying allow God's nature within you to mature, to blossom and to bear fruit. God is love! He loved us while we were yet sinners, still hostile to Him and His ways. Yet He loved us anyway and extended mercy to us in the form of the most precious gift He had; His own Son, Jesus Christ. God's nature is in us, perhaps in seed form, but it is within us if we have been born again. We must die to "self" and allow His nature to come to maturity in us.

Whenever we have trouble loving "our" enemies it is because we are seeing things from an earthly point of view instead of thinking with eternity in mind. If we can just remember that God loves that "enemy" of ours, that He is extending mercy to him (or her) in the same way He extended mercy to us while were still in rebellion, it helps us to co-labor with God as mature sons and daughters who understand what this life is all about to seek and to save that which is lost!

Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!

Your friend and co-laborer,

Gary Carpenter

 

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