| Call not thy brother a wolf!|
Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the days to come. Gather together and hear, O sons of Jacob; And listen to Israel your father. Genesis 49:1-2
He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. John 10:12-13
And when they had come to him, he [Paul] said to them, You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; Acts 20:18-29
A recent presentation by a man laid claim to the idea that a certain brother was a wolf. This claim was made with great emphasis albeit that it was made falsely. In seeking to understand this event it occurs to me that some brethren may not have a clear understanding as to what the scripture means when this word wolf is used. Historically most of the presentations I have either read or heard have laid emphasis on the negative aspect and have drawn upon the characteristics of an animal by that name. This is an interesting way of thinking as it does make for a good contrast between the shepherd of a flock and the wolf which seeks to devour the flock. Of course the correlation is a limited one, as with all physical metaphors. But just to press the metaphor one could for example say that scriptures speaks of certain men as dogs (Philippians 3:2 Revelation 22:15) and we know that the dog is a breed of the wolf. Even silly little dogs of no seeming ferocity are originally come from the wolf. Sometimes the physical characteristics of the wild wolf demonstrate a reality, but the real meaning of a wolf is considerably more than a few characteristics corresponding to a wild animal.
The positive aspect speaks about the true shepherd and has to do with the physical courage and determination of the shepherd to remain faithful and thereby resist the wolf which devours. This is seen in the passage from John chapter ten. It would be possible in this analogous context to speak about how the shepherd abides faithfully in the field at night knowing that a wolf may at any moment spring from the darkness and thereby necessitate an act of courage in deliberately putting himself in harms way for the sake of the flock. Were this the deeper meaning, that of courage instead of cowardice, as the mark of the true shepherd and that of springing from the darkness, of the wolf, I doubt that we would have understood much about the wolf at all. No doubt John chapter ten is making for a distinction between the hireling and the true shepherd, but even in this passage there is a fuller meaning to be had.
So what is a devouring wolf?
There is a very interesting passage of scripture which follows on from Genesis 49:1-2. This is Jacob prophecy concerning the future character and purpose of his 12 sons. Benjamin is described as follows. Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; In the morning he devours the prey, And in the evening he divides the spoil. (v27). This use of the word wolf is the first usage in Scripture and clearly could not have been very flattering to the ears of Benjamin. (For a fuller meaning of this read Judges chapter one through chapter twenty one).
When we look into the subsequent meaning and usage of this same word across the whole of the old testament there is one common element. The word itself is:
זְאֵב to be yellow
From an unused root:
חֶבֶר fellows or companions
From the root:
הִתְחַבְּרוּת, חָבַר, חָבַר unite, stand in agreement, practise sorcery
Taken as a whole this word wolf carries semantically a lot of meaning. This includes cowardice, deceit, sorcery, harm as well as to be like a brother. There are several other Hebrew words used in the OT which correspond to these same roots including the word demon. In other posts here on SI I have used this term wolf quoting or else referring to Acts 20:29 where Paul speaks of wolves coming into the flock after he was departed. I used this Scripture to describe or else explain the danger of systematic theology and its effect on the 2nd century church. If one can accept that the church, just as Israel, belongs to God and Christ and not to a man or men, then God sovereignty cannot be ignored when dealing with this difficult subject. Clearly God Himself is sovereign so we would have to ask how it can be that such men as can be called wolves are able to come into the flock in the first place.
The short answer has to do with how Israel, or else the Church itself behaves and conducts itself in any given day. In the second century several dozen known theologians were writing church doctrine and working out rules and beliefs for church life. Some or even many of these men may have been believers in their most fundamental hearts yet their subsequent teachings may also have given ground for an effect which was more harmful than their own teachings, of themselves, could have produced. Perhaps the deeper effect of their teachings was to facilitate and position other individuals who would be known at the time, but are now lost to history, coming into the flock and for reasons of personal gain, both ravaged the flock and caused misery and suffering, as well as loss, to many saints. The character of these individuals would not be suspected in a circumstance in which established doctrines were presented and accepted by individual churches. Such doctrines serve as a cover for these men. Yet the eventual effect would be clearly understood when it has had its full way with a fellowship of believers.
If you are of Judah will you recognise a Benjamin when he rises early like a wolf so that he can share the spoils in the evening? The relationship between Judah and Benjamin is one of the flesh. So outwardly a Benjamin becomes a source of trust. Inwardly however the wolf is ravenous regardless of his outward reality. Outwardly he provokes trust, but inwardly he intends to do harm. The wolf cannot be deceived by his own inward condition. He knows who he is. In the end he resorts to sorcery and witchcraft to seduce the brethren into agreeing with him, which is his sole ambition. It is so that he can lord it over the flock and thereby fulfil his greatest ambition which is to be like a god. In the end the infection is so great that the sheep becomes alarmed and he then devours them.
If this all sounds a little exaggerated then I would say that in small measures I have witnessed this process and its outworking and so know with certainty just how seductive and deceitful the wolf can be. He has no compassion, no love and no mind to serve anyone but himself. In short to call any man a wolf is a serious business indeed. To be such a person would necessitate a wilful and deliberate deception with a definite end in mind. It could not be carried out ignorantly. It would have to be wilful and deliberate. It amounts to weaving a cover by charm and sorcery so as to appear to Judah as though he were Benjamin. He would almost certainly claim a prophetic spirit as his portion and in that ability of the flesh, being a natural prophet and not a spiritual prophet, he would rise early and go about his business according to the flesh. The true believer on the other hand may stumble and fall many times and may even harm the flock on occasions, yet he will repent when it is shown him what he has done and he will turn away from foolishness and learn to be more faithful and humble in his dealings with his brethren.
No one should be so quick as to call a man a wolf. Moreover it is not possible for a believer to be a true wolf. Believers can be many things but no believer can be a wolf. The relationship of believers to one another is not an outward one it is an inward one and has to do with Christ Himself. We should stop quoting such scriptures as ye shall know them by their fruit to describe that which is not intended by such scriptures. The conduct of the sheep no matter how difficult it can be does not amount to being a wolf. The sheep do not dress as sheep, they are in fact sheep. Only a wolf can come in sheep clothing. The sheep do not need to dress up. They are clothed in Christ as are all the sheep. This does not mean that a believer cannot be false or deceived even in profound ways. It is possible for believers to be like a wolf due to pride and deception, but it is not possible for a true believer to be a devouring wolf. Such brethren can be like a wolf but they cannot be a wolf. A prophetic man can become like a wolf if he falls away from obedience because of besetting sin and rebellion. In the end he can be a destructive and harmful influence but he cannot become in spirit that which is contrary to the Spirit which gives life freely to all who ask by faith. Those believers who are in this class of disobedient servants prepare the way for those who are not able to serve, being devoid of life, whose end is the lake of fire. This itself is a fearful thing, yet it is does not amount to being a devouring wolf.
In all of this let the reader understand rejection is inevitable if we are serving the Lord. It is also necessary to reject that which we are unable to believe with a peaceable spirit of understanding. The few times I have witnessed such a man in action I have witnessed destruction and loss outwardly, permitted by God, in order to secure future gain inwardly for men. Nor has such a thing happened except where there was an explanation presented before hand which made for certain knowledge and understanding in the one who heard it. May the Lord have mercy on all of us who take the name of Christ and keep us from deception and inevitable rebellion arising from it.
As a matter of reality Matthew 10:16 and Luke 10:13 identify that the natural position of the wolf is in the world and not in the church at all. One might say that the world is full of wolves. One might also say that a few of these worldly men come into the church. It would take quiet an individual to do such a thing as to come from the world into the church with all the obvious and visible contradictions which that would entail. In contrast when the Lord sent the disciples into the world they are reminded to be as cunning as serpents and as harmless as doves. The world knows that we are Christ disciples when we love one another. In contrast the ravenous wolf is known by the way he devours the flock. False prophets and teachers may well be a reality and they may well be the cause of ill effects yet there principle effect is to prepare the way for ravenous wolves who on the back of their false teachings are given a way to hide amongst the sheep until the hour comes for them to be scattered.
In finality we would have to ask why all this is possible?
Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the evenings shall destroy them, a leopard shall watch against their cities; every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces; because their transgressions are many, and their backsliding are increased. How can I pardon thee? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they committed adultery, and assembled themselves in troops at the harlots houses. They were as fed horses roaming at large; every one neighed after his neighbour's wife. Shall I not visit for these things? saith Jehovah; and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her branches; for they are not Jehovahs. For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith Jehovah. They have denied Jehovah, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine: and the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them. Wherefore thus saith Jehovah, the God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them. Jeremiah 5:6-14.
May the Lord have mercy!
| 2013/1/15 20:56|
| Re: Call not thy brother a wolf!|
We should stop quoting such scriptures as ye shall know them by their fruit to describe that which is not intended by such scriptures.
So very true.
You know, since this thread isn't about any one topic opr about any one group of people, it's probably a good time as any to express something I've been carrying for a while.
As I look back on my tenure here, (well over 6 years) this pattern of calling one another various names has been a persistent one. I've seen the very best and noble among us labeled as Wolves, False Believers, Anti-Semites, Racists, Hypocrites, Pharisees, along with a long list of damning indictments and narritives.
Now I've only been a moderator for about a year. Before that, I would occasionally wonder what it is the moderators talk about in that locked "moderators" thread. Well, I'm going to share with you now the focus of all our conversations in there.
To put it plainly we are concerned about the culture or ethos of the place. The culture must always be one of respect...even when you or I don't feel like it. The reason for this is simple...if we are going to hear from everyone, and various conflicting viewpoints, we must at least agree to maintain a policy of respect, or the whole experiement is over. This is most true when someone else is showing you disrespect. "Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight."
Unity of is not mere unison or consensus. Submission is not simple conformity. Peace is not agreement or concord on various issues. "For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall." So our fellowship is not cultural, or musical, or ethnical...and certainly not political! (oh my achng back...)
Don't we know that what we expect to recieve spiritually from our brethren, can only be built spiritually with brethren. We are to be in communion with one another in the Holy Spirit, and this rarified air is only achieved through an emptied out prideless Love for Jesus Christ, His Gospel, and for those who have been added to God's household. This is what it means to be "of the same mind, and the same judgement." This is a higher comon platform then the tiny platform of my proprietary political, social, and theological views. "Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common."
I do not expect this pattern of tearing into one another to ever fully go away. Afterall, chaos is part of the open experimental nature of this place. However I do expect that those who have been here the longest, and who have witnessed the futile pattern of trying to dominate on one another, cease fire and endure being misunderstood. "So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding."
"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind...And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Well, that's my rant. Although I'm a quiet voice in the forum, I wanted you to know where I, and the moderators are always at. People frequently challenge the quality of our leadership in such an open source medium as this...and perhaps they are right to criticize leadership here. Afterall, the measure of our leadership is not how well we get people to serve us, but how well we inspire them to serve one another. By that score, we are very poor leaders indeed.
"Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you."
Blessings Sermon Index,
| 2013/1/16 0:14||Profile|
| Re: |
To put it plainly we are concerned about the culture or ethos of the place. The culture must always be one of respect...even when you or I don't feel like it. The reason for this is simple...if we are going to hear from everyone, and various confilcting viewpoints, we must at least agree to maintain a policy of respect, or the whole experiement is over. This is most true when someone else is showing you disrespect.
i have mainly been an occasional observer of this forum 4 about a yr. i can tell u that u hit the nail on the head w/ this statement. there is a lack of respect among the more prominent (dominant?) posters. there r 2 that come to mind who dont discuss, they dictate. its very condescending especially to sum1 new like me. no wonder there was a mass exodus a little while ago. i finally joined 2 post after a serious crisis of faith looking 4 spiritual help. becuz of the questions i asked and apparent trust-issues i displayed i felt very disrespected here. 1 dominent player here questioned if i was a believer becuz i dared to question god or the accepted status quo of faith. no1 asked my WHY I was struggling, I just felt condemned here BECUZ I was struggling. I hope that I am the only 1 who received that treatment here, but I dont think I am based on my own observations over time. if people had asked the 'why' question then perhaps they could have understood why and had some empathy. instead it seemed like a scramble to show off each 1's spiritual prowress.
lack of respect is a huge problem on sermonindex.
| 2013/1/16 9:39||Profile|
| Re: |
Time is the most precious element of human existence, we should spend it with our Brothers and Sisters here that we do appreciate and respect and enjoy their posts. Question, if there was a street fight going on near you, would you join in? or would you just walk away? Same here, if someone starts a thread, or posts something here that you don't respect, or feel they don't respect you, or could become heated if you join in, why would you go anywhere near that thread? We all have choices here, and there are many other threads to join in on, like the street fight example walk away. I like what Roy said here: "The first step to being deceived is to believe you are so close in your walking to God that you cannot be deceived." - Roy Daniel...Christian 101 is that we all must remember, GOD made us all "DIFFERENT", and none "PERFECT".
In my opinion, anyone here that continues to post in any thread that is going south, is no different than the ones that continue to post in it. Once you post in any thread, and voice you opinion, you have become a part of it and you should also accept part of the blame. If you are in a car with someone that commits a crime, you are just as guilty "in the laws eyes"as the person that committed the crime. My advise is, if anyone here continues to post in a thread were the animosity has become thicker than molasses, it degrades your creditability or worth. Sometimes it's hard not to voice your "opinion" but what we all must consider is our "opinion" worth the toll on our creditability it will take?
Ever notice our Mods getting involved in these heated debates? "other than issuing a warning" no you don't, and this is why they, in my opinion have the most creditability and integrity here. God made us all different, not everyone is always going to agree with you, no matter how religious or right you think you are, remember they think the same of themselves, so it's a lose/lose battle. Why would anyone want to continue in a debate, if it's a lose/lose debate, you have proved nothing, except maybe in your own mind. We are all guilty of "over" participating in debates here, not one is any better than the other if we continue to participate, so we might want to throw a little of that blame our way.
I like what skepticguy said: "I have mainly been an occasional observer" he is probably one of the wisest members here.
| 2013/1/16 11:02||Profile|
| A More excellent way to deal with the problem|
It is one thing to observe a problem, another thing to address it profitably.
The ten spies adequately observed the giants in the land, and their factual report of the problem so discouraged and disheartened the people who heard them that an entire generation died in the wilderness.
May the accuracy of our observations be matched, even surpassed by our willingness to "hope all things" and "endure all things" so that the love of the brethren will never fail.
Seeing the problem is far different than being part of the solution.
Alan and Dina Martin
| 2013/1/16 13:04||Profile|
| Re: A More excellent way to deal with the problem|
being able to admit that there is a problem is the first step to fixing the problem. most times in a body of believers when a problem is pointed out the blame generally comes back around to the person pointing out the problem. this is typical when there are those who r convinced they are right and every1 else is wrong.
| 2013/1/16 13:11||Profile|
| Re: |
Daniel admitted the problem with Israel with a "we", not a they. This is also how our Lord fixed OUR sin problem. The unity of the Spirit is a worthy endeavor, and it is preserved by the bond of peace.
We's are unifying words. Theys and thems are divisive.
Alan and Dina Martin
| 2013/1/16 13:19||Profile|
| Re: A More excellent way to deal with the problem|
makrothumia.....It is one thing to observe a problem, another thing to address it profitably.
Amen and Amen, can I get another AMEN!
| 2013/1/16 14:27||Profile|
| Re: Call not thy brother a wolf!|
Amen and Amen. Thank you dear brother and dear Lord for this post. May we walk with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus."
| 2013/1/16 14:57|
| Re: Call not thy brother a wolf!|
It is true that we should not call our brother a wolf but the reality is that many that claim to be our brothers are not.
We must becareful not to fall into the live and let live hyper sensitivity indoctrination that our culture is so adamantly promoting.
for instance, I attend a local fellowship that is unfortunately part of a wicked reprobate denomination, there are still some good fellowships that are a part of the denomination but the vocal side has been taken captive by wicked progressive reprobates. These progressives are continuely trying to distort and destroy the truth by playing on the unity card.
They are always promoting compromise, As I have vocaly pointed out to them in meetings, the Bible considers compromise with anything except the truth as comitting whoredom.
I have been very vocal and active in the necessity of our local fellowship in leaving the old whore, before her leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
For the most part our fellowship has been in agreement with me.
Finally, after several failed attempts I have been able to encourage our local fellowship to stop its funding of the old whore and her indoctrination seminaries.
but this has not come without any resistance, and this is why I have wrote all of this, so that I might give an example of some of this resistance.
It was said to me 'That even though we are in disagreement with these Liberals they are still our brothers in Christ, rather I liked it or not, Of which I unapologetically responded, that I personaly do not consider them as brothers in Christ, I find no evidence within scripture that I am to compromise nor that I am to consider as a brother those whom promote such venomous poision that are so contrary to the truth.
If there is anything that can throw us off track and historicaly and biblicly has, it is when men of God compromises with a false brother or false prophet or just a prophet or brother that is speaking lies
1 Kings ch 13 is an excellant example of this, the man of God was assured of What God had instructed him, his mind was made up his heart was set right, that no matter what he would not : 'eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place' The confusion came as it does with me (us) when an older prophet said 'I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying'--Just the opposit as what he thought he heard.
When such a case happens and indeed it happens in one way or another to all of us very often, In such a case confusion comes in because are we to be humble and except that maybe this older prophet is more in tune than what we are, maybe he has recieved a more recent revelation than what we had, Did God realy say? It may be that certain times we should cautiously consider others perspectives that we feel cut against the grain of our understanding of What we feel God has said, we do not want to be blind to our own deceit and imagination, But as far as 1 Kings 13 what the Man of God had believed he heard from God was correct the old prophet had just lied, by believing the Lie of the Old prophet, it cost the Man of God his life.
edit PS.I am not arguing with what has been written in the other post, I am just adding a balance for the purpose of thought and discussion
| 2013/1/16 16:42||Profile|