258 – THIEVES AND ROBBERS III
In the first letter of the apostle John, we read, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). What is John trying to teach? He says that, whoever fears, he fears punishment, and because he fears it, he fails to do even what is necessary, and in this way, he will never reach perfection. Fear is proof of imperfection. In the spiritual life, if love is present, this love casts away fear. The text says: “perfect love”. If there is a kind of charity that is perfect, there are many that are not perfect.
Let us focus here on a kind of charity that is not perfect. The commandment of the law says to love God above all things, and our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:34-40; Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18).
We read in the Old Testament that Jehovah is the one who hurts: “But God will shoot at them. They will be suddenly struck down with an arrow” (Ps. 64:7). “But God will strike through the head of his enemies, the hairy scalp of such a one as still continues in his guiltiness” (Ps. 68:21). “Therefore Yahweh’s anger burns against his people, and he has stretched out his hand against them, and has struck them. The mountains tremble, and their dead bodies are as refuse in the midst of the streets” (Is. 5:25). It is written that Jehovah hurts, and also heals (Hos. 6:1; Job 5:8). It is also written that, if a servant of Jehovah helps the wicked, the one who helps him is guilty, that is why the Israelites were afraid to help someone that was hurt, or in misery, or someone plagued like Job, for they were sure that that one was under curse for some serious sin. We have an interesting case in the Bible. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was good, and he walked in the ways of David. And Jehovah confirmed the kingdom in his hand, and he had riches and glory (2 Chr. 17:1-6). Jehoshaphat, nevertheless, made a mistake. He married the daughter of Ahab, and it followed that he joined him in the war (2 Chr. 18:1-3). Jehovah sent a seer to rebuke Jehoshaphat, who said, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate Jehovah and so bring wrath on yourself from Jehovah? (2 Cor. 19:1-2). To Jehovah it does not matter if the person is good and faithful. If someone falls, they will pay for it. It does not matter if they have had a long time of good service, with plenty of sacrifices. The poor Moses humbly served Jehovah for forty years, enduring all kinds of pressures and tension. The pressure was so intense that Moses thought it was too heavy a burden, and asked to die (Num. 11:12-15).When forty years had passed, Jehovah did not take Moses’ faithfulness, into account and forbid him to go into the Promised Land (Deut. 34:1-5). When David took the ark of God to Jerusalem, Uzzah reached to the ark of God and took hold of it, because it had nearly fallen. Then the wrath of Jehovah burned against Uzzah, and hurt him there, for his imprudence, and Uzzah died right there by the ark (2 Sam. 6:1-7).
Let us go now to a parable that Jesus told to a lawyer, who had asked him, “‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? How do you read it?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ He said to him, ‘You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.’ But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ Jesus answered, ‘A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a certain priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, ‘Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers? He said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (Luke 10:25-37). Now, the priest ministered in the temple, and the Levite, served there. Both knew the Old Testament and the law of Jehovah well. To them, a hurt man was cursed of Jehovah. The Psalmist says:“Jehovah preserves all those who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy” (Ps. 145: 20). “Misfortune pursues sinners, but prosperity rewards the righteous” (Prov. 13:21). “Like a fluttering sparrow, like a darting swallow, so the undeserved curse doesn’t come to rest” (Prov. 26:2).
How would they help the hurt since he was cursed of Jehovah? They would pay with their lives such as Uzzah, or as the children of Aaron (2 Sam. 6:6-7; Lev. 10:1-2). Fear canceled love, and they went by and did nothing. The priest and the Levite were robbed in the most precious thing the human being has: LOVE. The priest and the Levite, who worshipped Jehovah, were robbed of love for keeping the law and for fear, and unbelievably, the Samaritan, who worshipped the oxen of Jeroboam, had love. This makes ones hairs stand on end. Jehovah forces men to keep the Sabbath. I met two brothers. One was an Adventist. Both worked with Photography. The unbeliever sold his camera to the other, the Adventist. After a year, he got a job that only that camera could make. It was Saturday. It was an urgent work. He called his brother and asked him to borrow the camera. His brother refused to give it, saying that it was not licit to work on a Saturday. Then the one said: But I am not a Christian, and the responsibility before God is mine. If I do not do the work, I will lose the costumer. The one who was keeping the law answered: If I lend this camera to you, I will be an accomplice; I am not going to break the law of my god. It is clear that the keeping of the law and of the Saturday cancels out love because of fear, and the one who fears is not perfect in love (1 John 4:18).
We will tell a horrible biblical story found in the Old Testament. “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job. That man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God, and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. His possessions also were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the children of the east. […] Now it happened on the day when God’s sons came to present themselves before Jehovah, that Satan also came among them. Jehovah said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, ‘From going back and forth in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.’ Jehovah said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant, Job? For there is none like him in the earth, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God, and turns away from evil.’ Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Haven’t you made a hedge around him, and around his house, and around all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will renounce you to your face’” (Job 1:1-3, 6-11). Satan’s plan was to rob Job, killing his ten children, destroying his flocks, and burning his property. This was the way into robbing Job inside, stealing his sincerity, his purity of feelings, and his righteousness. Jehovah could not agree with Satan. It was imperative to protect and guard his servant according to his own word. “For Jehovah loves justice, and doesn’t forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off” (Ps. 37:28).
Psalm 121 is a song exalting Jehovah’s faithfulness to keep his servants. But, contrary to his promises, he agreed with Satan. How can this be? The serious problem is that Satan told Jehovah, “Put forth Thy hand now and touch [him]”. And Jehovah gave him the permission, that is, took over the purpose of robbing him spiritually.
All his children were killed, the flocks destroyed, and the fields ruined by a fire, but Job said, “Jehovah gave and Jehovah has taken away. Blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). After this terrible test, Satan returns, for he knows that men are flesh, and flesh is corruption (1 Cor. 15:50). And for the second time Jehovah agrees with the satanic plan of destroying Job inside. Job’s wife, seeing him with leprosy, says to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Job did not fall, but Jehovah succeeded in robbing his wife.
by Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira