& CATTLE PRODS
13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Eccl 12:)
On the surface this would seem to be a reasonable venture. Not necessarily a profitable endeavor, but it had its merits, if it was handled correctly.
I am not one to jump into anything without much research and consideration. However, while I am able to see potential problems with what I have set my mind to do, I also have the ability to minimize and nullify those things that go contrary to my intent.
In other words: I am human.
It tears at my heart to see a dead possum or crow on the highway. A deer or a squirrel can bring me to tears. There would be no way I could ever butcher any of the animals I was about to raise; and to sell them for such a purpose I would not have been able to do.
Considering my attitude, what would have been the probable outcome of my little venture? Can you see any possibility of success?
Sheep, like many other animals, are producers. Jesus used sheep in many of His parables; and those who have chosen to follow Him He has compared to sheep. Wheat ("corn"), is another of God's creation Jesus used as an illustration as to how the Christian is to be.
When Jesus spoke of sheep, it was always in a gentle and loving way. We don't think of Jesus allowing anything to happen to sheep. Quite the contrary in fact. We see Him leaving the ninety and nine to chase after the one lost lamb.
The shepherd took very good care of his sheep. He, as it appears in Scripture, was expected to risk his own life for those in his charge. Isn't it wonderful? This caring shepherd watching over his flock for no other purpose than to provide them with lush grass to eat, and a warm, safe place to bed down under the stars at night.
Such a lovely picture.
What a joyous occasion it must have been for those sheep that were being so lovingly cared for all those months.
God did not request that these perfect sheep be unmercifully slaughtered: He demanded that they be slaughtered. Not just any sheep, but only the perfect and young sheep were acceptable for sacrifice.
Except one. This One was the perfect lamb that could have escaped being sacrificed: but chose to be the sacrifice for you and me. He took our place on the alter of sacrifice. He died in our place, just as the innocent lamb died in place of the one who sacrificed it in the temple.
Taking the life of another person is a dastardly act. Maybe it was murder that God did not allow to go unpunished. No, it wasn't murder. God provided Cities of Refuge for murders until they could stand trial.
Then perhaps it is stealing that is so terrible in God's eyes. No, God told the Jews that if they stole they were to repay the one they stole from four times what they had stolen.
Amazingly enough, the sin that was unforgivable in the days of Moses (and forever afterwards) was something that is not only commonplace today, but accepted and expected by society, and to some degree even by the churches.
We know sexual immorality was to be punished by death. In fact adultery is one of the sins the Pharisees used to try and trap Jesus, knowing that Jesus would never be able to accept that terrible sin as He had so many others presented to Him. Today this, as well as all other sexual sin is looked upon as normal and acceptable, and in many cases ( becoming ever more so) illegal to be spoken or preached against.
But sexual immorality is not the sin that required instant death as exemplified in the Books of Moses. No, nor, as shown above, is it murder or stealing.
What, then, is this dreadful act that causes God to be so strict and to require the death penalty without repentance?
Here are the Scriptures so you can read them for yourself:
Sassing and disobeying your parents? Why, there would be no need of a purging Tribulation if such a sin as that was punished today. There would be no one left alive for the Tribulation to fall upon.
For thousands of years God had been depicted as an angry Creator sitting on a cloud doing nothing more than trying to catch one of His creation missing a step so He could strike that person down with a lightening bolt. Is there evidence in the Bible to support such a view? Well, certainly those of Sodom and Gomorrah might feel that way. And those millions of people who were wiped out in the flood might tend to see God in such a light. Again we have the many, many times God decimated the Jews, His own people, His chosen, His elect, the ones He wrote such beautiful love letters to through David, Solomon and the Prophets. And how about that man who was stoned for picking up sticks? Or the little Jewish kid who was "aborted" by his family and his community at large? How do you think they look at God the Father?
And then we have the compromised view of God that says God is total love to those who go to church, and total hate toward those who fail to see the light through the same eyes as those beholden of their particular view. To these the wrath of God is real, but only to the "other guy," and does not effect them.
Yes, He is.
Pastors are considered shepherds of the flock. Some Pastors (all too many I'm afraid) think of their congregation as their sheep, and expect to feed off them. These do not recognize that they are hirelings, working for the Master and Owner of the sheep. At the same time, those sheep under the care of such shepherds do not know that they are being suppressed and hidden from the Shepherd they are supposedly a possession of.
There are, like in any other field, shepherds who are very selfish and domineering, only after what they can get from the flock and not concerned with the flock in any way whatsoever.
On the other extreme there are those shepherds totally concerned and dedicated to their flock. They would, as they are expected to do, surrender their lives for those intrusted to their care. They are well versed in the Scriptures, and they teach the Word, as they see it to be, to the best of their ability. Some of these dedicated souls are misguided or deluded, as was Nicodemus who, while knowing and believing the truth, chose to follow and submit to the mainstream of opinion rather than the One he knew to be the Messiah he purportedly sought.
The first category of shepherds and their followers are not looking for light. They are content in darkness. Shepherds and flocks such as these are not the subject of this study, just as they are not the target of any of the other studies on this website. In fact, should any of these stumble upon any of the pages I've written, I have no doubt they would click away posthaste. They are looking to be fed junk food and refined sugar, not solid meat or even milk of the Word.
In the eyes of the shepherd his main responsibility is to nurture the flock, and to grow them into mature, productive and acceptable "perfect" sheep fit for sacrifice to the Lord who owns the sheep. But in order to fulfill this mission, the shepherd must appease the board of elders who supposedly have the same end in mind, but who actually are more concerned with the expansion of the flock, the "sheep shed" (building fund) and the reputation of the sheep shed (denomination).
In most cases, the shepherd must present whatever meat of the Word he can pass to the flock, without spooking either the flock or the board, in the form of sugared milk toast. Solid meat, references to sin, or inducement to Spiritual growth is likely to chase away some members, which will most likely cause a sideways stare by the board of elders.
The shepherd's job, under the present view of the church, is to increase the size of the flock, and to make the flock, and the board of elders, feel comfortable where they are. Anything more than this and the shepherd will very likely lose his job.
The church is very much like the Army. Because the church is like an Army, I will use the Army as an example of how I see the running of the church.
Time dissipates enthusiasm. In the heat of excitement, the brain shuts off and the body acts like a chicken with her head on the chopping block. Given a few moments, other considerations filter into our consciousness and our enthusiasm mellows. Actions taken in the midst of enthusiasm are often regretted very soon after the emotions wane. Three institutions are crowded with people who have acted under such duress: the institutions of marriage, prison, and the poor house. Jesus said we must "count the cost" before coming to Him. He did not want His Church filled with people who have signed on in the heat of emotions.
The church also has such traveling recruiters, not unlike the Military. We call these recruiters of the church "Evangelists." Probably one of the best known of these is Billy Graham.
When Billy Graham, as well as other such recruiters, comes in to a town and sets up a tent (as they used to do), a soft word with many glorious promises are presented. The intent of the Evangelist is to bring people into the church. Billy Graham is not interested in getting thousands of people to follow him wherever he goes. He is not trying to draw people to himself, any more than is the Army Recruiter who comes to the school. His intent is to persuade his listeners to attend a church of their own choosing in the community in which they live.
Paul and Barnabas are good examples of just such an Evangelist. They brought people to their knees, and these kneeling people started local churches. We think of Paul as starting churches ("planting"). I don't see him as planting churches, but rather planting the seeds of the Holy Spirit into those who then plant and maintain the churches (the shepherds).
This is the church. Enter any church in this land, and you will see just such a setting: comfortable people sitting enjoying a song by a choir, a skit by some children, a tune by a local band, while sipping free coffee and munching on donuts and cheese cakes.
This is the door. This is the recruiting office. Here is where you are presented with pretty stories and promised a glorious future. As long as you remain in this, the recruiting office, life can be just as you had hoped it to be.
But is he a soldier? If you were in battle with the enemy closing in on you, would you want this "soldier" to be at your back defending your hindermost parts?
He is in the Army, he is called a soldier: but he is little more than an imposter at this point. He will make a good bench warmer, and maybe even a fairly decent typist: but as yet he hasn't a clue what it means to be a "soldier." Should he remain in the Army for 30 years in this state, he will have fulfilled all appearances of being a soldier, but he will have never even been close to being what a soldier is all about.
Roving preachers called "Circuit Riders" made their rounds throughout the west, preaching the Word. Church, as we understand the word today, was where the preacher was, not where the building was located.
[In my opinion, as I read the Word, "Church" should be where you are, if you are a Christian, even if you are in a room by yourself.]
In the past two hundred years or so we have seen what is called: "Great Awakenings." During these Awakenings the Holy Spirit is poured out on the land in what has been referred to as "Latter Rains." At these times a clamoring for the Word occurs, and miracles are manifest. In recent history we have witnessed what has come to be called the Azusa Street Miracles, and other such healers who are still with us such as Oral Roberts.
When it rains, it rains on everybody. As the wheat grows to maturity, so do the tares. While many great things came out of these Latter Rains, so did the false and the divisive. And when the rains stopped, those (many) who were part of the real, tried to continue the appearances of what they had, but with no substance. The Spirit had left them; and rather than move on to where the Spirit wanted to lead them (as it did with Paul, who had to change his direction and intent), they changed the Glory of God into an lie by making a show of their own glory.
Comes the Cattle Prod.
Not everyone is content to just sit in a pew and be told how wonderful they are for having made the choice to sign on with the church they are attending. Some feel a call to move on in the Lord, and they hear a voice other than the shepherd who stands behind the pulpit each Sunday.
Sheep follow a shepherd. That is, sheep follow a shepherd's dog who shepherds and leads the sheep. As long as the dog is obedient to the shepherd, and listens to the shepherd's voice, the flock is well cared for.
But should the shepherd's dog turn out to be a wolf....!?
Cattle, that is cows (in the Bible, sheep are referred to as "cattle") are not so obliging as are sheep. If a cow or a bull does not want to move, you are not going to move the beast. In order to make the cow move, you have to make her want to move. There are two ways this can be accomplished. The first is to offer food, and to have that food move toward where you want to place the cow. Other animals can be led the same way. In fact we have an expression: "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." I find that to be true of myself. [Have you ever noticed that churches attract people to church through luncheons, picnics, buffets and by offering coffee and donuts?]
The other way to get a cow to move is by the use of a long stick with a sharp point or an electric prod attached to the end called a "goad." One touch of this stick, and the cow wants to move, whether she wants to or not. The compliment (opposite) of this is equally true. In order to keep a cow, or any other animal where you want it, in other words penned in, an electric wire is placed around the area that makes the animal want to stay where you want it to, whether it wants to or not. As food is an attraction to humans as well as animals, so electric fences have an equally powerful effect. However, in the human realm, we refer to these electric fences as doctrines, rules and laws.
In the early days, cattle prods used to roam the country, often setting up tents and presenting something not too far afield of a circus. Since portable computers were a bit fragile for travel in covered wagons, and TV reception was poor on the farms of early America; these Spiritual circuses were a welcome treat. People would come from hundred of miles to witness a "Revival," bringing their family, and even their milking cows with them for the long stay.
Although revivals were entertaining, offering song and festivities; their major purpose was to stir the hearts of the people to repentance. It was not the Love of Jesus that was preached to the listeners, but fire and brimstone, intended to drive people to their knees in tears and repentance. The hope was that the conviction the convert experienced would carry farther than a mere New Years resolution, that faded as soon as the morning-after headache subsided.
Unlike the modern day Evangelist who's hope is to usher their converts into local churches, the olden-day Evangelist, called a Revivalist such as Charles Finney (and later, Billy Sunday) had no such hope, since most of his listeners were not near a church. The convert and their family were to be the church they must attend, with the father as the preacher, and the mother as the teacher. This is the way the early church of Paul's day was conducted, and it was also the daily activity of the Jew, as well as the tradition in the homes of America, even in my day. Church was a place where the churches congregated. They were an addition to the experience, and not the experience in and of itself as it is today.
In the Armed Forces a DI is the meanest, ugliest and most vile person you can meet. If it weren't for the fact that he was a DI in the Army, he would be doing life without the possibility of parole in San Quinton. Remember the handsome, well spoken fellow who talked you into joining the Army? You have seen the last of his sort. All those rosy pictures he painted, and the promises he made are but a faded memory. The man before you, this cattle prod, is going to turn you into a soldier, not the bench warmer you expected to become.
The DI is going to make you do everything you never, ever wanted to do. In fact, he is going to make you do, and become, everything you never dreamed possible by any human being, and to become something that is just the opposite of everything you ever wanted to be, or thought you could be. And, if for whatever reason you fail to become what is expected of you, you will be kicked out of the service and will no longer be a soldier. Along with this you will carry with you a mark for the rest of your life indicating you are a failure. Peter put it this way:
If I don't have it within myself to move me forward, I should hope someone is around to force me into such a direction. Will I like that person who takes it upon themself to make me do what I need to do instead of what I want to do? Of course not. In fact, I might very likely hate the person. But in the end, I will have an appreciation for what they have done, and will recognize the importance of what had been done.
I experienced this in my growing years under my parents; in the Army; and in prison. All these people had their own selfish reasons for doing what they did. And at the time, I felt abused and resentful of them for their abuse. But whatever their reason for their actions, I have come out the winner. I am a stronger person for having suffered. I am more understanding of the hurts and problems of others because of what I have experienced. I hated every step, and I am glad they are past. But if I had it to do over again, I would certainly do it, hopefully with gusto; and I would hope the people who beat on me would beat even harder, that I might be stronger (but hopefully not broken).
[I wonder where the Apostles and Jesus would have been had they accepted such an attitude as is taught today?]
I am called to write these studies for the web. Those who are called to read them may do so. Accept or reject what I write, it makes no difference to me. I am not called to be accepted. No one hires or fires me. I pay for my own website, I gain nothing one way or the other from the opinions of others. My effort is to listen to the One who has called me, and hopefully only write what has been given me through Him.
21Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
22So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. (Psalm 73:)
2Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity:
3Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: (Psalm 64:)
2Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.
3What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?
4Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.
5Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!
6My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.
7I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war. (Psalm 120:)
4And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.
5Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.
6Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. (Psalm 45:)
18A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
19Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint. (Prov 25:)
22Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: 23Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 24Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 26And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly: 27None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken: 28Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind: 29Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it. 30And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof. (Isa:5:)
8Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. 9And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. 10The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. 11The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. 12And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. (Eccl 12:)