What the Bible says about
Cares of the World
(From Forerunner Commentary)
Lot's wife did not merely look back—she dragged her heels from Sodom to Zoar, dawdling and wasting time. By conducting herself in this way, she gave unmistakable evidence that her heart did not believe what the angel had said to her—God would not really destroy all of their possessions. So she reluctantly left Sodom because she loved the world, not having the faith.
This has two direct applications to our lives. In Luke 17:32, Jesus said, "Remember Lot's wife." He says that she sought to save her life but lost it. The first lesson is that when the time comes to flee, flee! Do not look back. This is corroborated by Matthew 24:17 and Mark 13:15, in Jesus' Olivet prophecy. He said, “Let him who is on the housetop not come down.” Jesus meant, “Get out of the city. Flee. Do not look back. Do not get any of your possessions. Leave!”
This is not to minimize the gut-wrenching choices that this requires of us. Scripture implies that when this occurs, our family might be spread all over the city, county, state, nation, or globe. Will we have the faith to leave the city, not just without our material possessions, but without our children? Are we going to trust God that He will protect them and get them out, too? Though this is not easy, the word of our Lord says, “Remember Lot's wife.”
The second lesson is that saving one's life also pertains to one's way of life and manner of living. It includes one's hopes, dreams, aspirations, traditions, attitudes, and relationships. All of these have come from this world, which forms and makes us what we are, often in opposition to God (Romans 8:7). This is why John warns in I John 2:15 to “love not the world.” The world is cosmos, a system apart from God, being organized and regulated upon false principles and false values. It has made us what we are before God calls us, requiring our repentance and conversion.
Like science, conversion tells us there cannot be a vacuum in life. When we are swept clean by God's forgiveness and His Holy Spirit, something must be done to keep it clean, holy, and separated from the world. No man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), and therefore, loyalty cannot be given with neutrality. It will either be God or the world.
The way to God was open to Lot's wife because of her husband's conversion (I Corinthians 7:13-14). The problem was that she failed to take advantage of all the privileges that were given to her. She dropped the ball. The lesson is to whom much is given, much is required.
We must remember Lot's wife, for never has so much opportunity been given to really know God through His Word than has been given to the end-time church. Yet, when Christ asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). The question requires each of us to answer individually. Will He find faith in us?
He will find faith if we take seriously His admonition to remember Lot's wife, who was totally unprepared because she had no faith. We need to be working diligently to build our faith in God by yielding to Him in loyalty in every opportunity life presents.
Remember Lot's wife.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Four)
The thorny ground represents those who are consumed by the cares and anxieties of this physical life and the deceitful enticements of wealth. The constant pressures of ordinary life—providing for our needs, education, employment, social duties, etc.—can be distracting, causing us to ignore God and Christian growth.
The desire for wealth magnifies this distraction (I Timothy 6:7-11). Wealth is enticing but never yields the expected rewards; it promises to make us happy but, when gained, does not. Further, in pursuing wealth, we are tempted to be dishonest, cheat, oppress, and take advantage of others.
Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Sower
The thorny ground symbolizes those who become consumed by the anxieties of this physical life and the deceitful enticement of wealth. The constant pressures of everyday life?providing sustenance, maintaining employment, seeking education, performing social duties, etc.?can be distracting, causing Christians to ignore God and spiritual growth.
The desire for wealth magnifies this distraction. It is enticing but yields the expected rewards: It promises to make us happy, but when gained, leaves us spiritually empty (I Timothy 6:7-10). The temptation and pursuit of wealth produces bad fruit: dishonesty, stealing, oppression of the poor, and taking advantage of others.
The good ground corresponds to those whose hearts and minds are softened by God's calling and receive it genuinely. They are a rich and fine soil?a mind that submits itself to the full influence of God's truth (Acts 22:14; Ephesians 4:1-6). The called of God not only accept His Word?the message of Jesus Christ?as rich soil accepts a seed for growth, they also bear much fruit (John 15:5, 8).
Martin G. Collins
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Two): The Parable of the Sower
In Matthew 13:22-23, the only difference between the seed sown among weeds and the seed sown on good soil is in the action of the hearer. Both heard the Word, but only one acts on what he hears. Think about this. The seed sown on good soil could easily be overcome and choked out by weeds if action were to become inaction. What if spiritual laziness sets in?
What would happen if, say, a man has a vegetable garden and next to this garden is a small patch of kudzu? He cannot spray it with a herbicide because of the danger of it drifting onto his plants. What should he do? He must go out every day to monitor the situation and take whatever action is appropriate. Perhaps he needs to cut the kudzu back, or maybe it will be okay for another day.
The point is that the gardener must stir himself to be diligent. What happens if he tries to manage the kudzu from his bed or from the easy chair in front of his television? In a few weeks, he would go out to pick some red, ripe, juicy tomatoes and find that, not only does he not have any tomatoes, but he does not even have a garden!
The biblical term for someone who is spiritually inactive, or even asleep, is Laodicean! What Revelation 3:14-18 describes as a Laodicean is nothing more than a Christian choked by weeds. The Laodicean knows that kudzu is out there, but his attitude is lethargic. "I'll get to it later," he says. "My favorite show is coming on!" The Laodicean says in verse 17, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing." What did Christ say the weeds were? The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the pleasures of this life!
Every day we have to "hoe" our spiritual garden. Prayer and Bible study we all understand about—we know how necessary they are to Christian growth. But we need to go even further and fight, root out, the weeds. Is that television show, novel, movie, or sportscast an entanglement? Are we spending too much time trying to "make it" or "get ahead" or "keep up with the Joneses"? Do we allow ourselves to become easily sidetracked by "little things"? While sleeping late instead of getting up early to pray, is kudzu creeping over our fruit?
Ask yourself, "Am I asleep?" If you know you are not asleep, ask, "Am I coasting?" You may find that you have allowed other pursuits to crowd out higher, spiritual priorities. If so, you need to wade into your overgrown garden and begin pulling out weeds by the fistful.
Here we see a picture of seed being sown in a field that is plowed but not weeded. This represents a person hearing God's Word, but then that Word is allowed to be pushed out by the cares with which he is involved.
All of us during our time in God's church have known of some who have left the church. One man decided it was more important not to pay his taxes and to fight that crusade than it was to stay in God's church. So he left, and his pursuit actually smothered him. Jesus says that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches "choke." The Greek word for choke means "to smother." When a person is smothered, oxygen begins to leave the brain, and soon one cannot function or even think.
We live in the "end of the age." At this tumultuous time, we have the accompanying pressures - and the "escapes" from those pressures - all around! This world is designed by Satan. This end time is designed to produce brain failure where God is concerned!
We had an old man in the Garden Grove church, a fine man. Every time someone would leave the church, he would ask, "Why did so-and-so leave the church?" The minister, for a while, thought that he was simply being nosy. But the old man replied, "No, I just wanted to find out why they left so I will not make the same mistake."
A very good friend, a "brother" with whom I had "sweet counsel" together for many a year, transferred back East to work in a large mine. He was promoted and continued to advance in the company. Soon thereafter, the company became more important than the church - and he left it!
Two great mental assassins prowl around in our day. The first is being heavily in debt. Sometimes that just happens and one cannot help it. The second is the entertainment industry. One causes constant worry of how one will pay the bills, and the other leads one to wrong thoughts, actions, and principles because these are constantly offered to us as entertainment.
Commentator Adam Clarke writes:
Man is anxious over worldly cares with the delusive hopes and promises of riches. This causes man to abandon the great concerns of the soul and seek in their place what he shall eat, what he shall drink, and wherewithal he shall be clothed. It is the dreadful stupidity of man thus to barter spiritual for temporal good - a heavenly inheritance for an empty portion.
This, of course, should make us think of Matthew 6:33 - "Seek first the Kingdom of God." If there is ever a Bible passage that directs us to keep our lives simple, this is it!
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Don't Take God for Granted
The cares of this world can make the growing, the producing of spiritual fruit, almost impossible. So, what will we lack if we fail to follow Jesus' advice? Love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faithfulness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), and if we attempt to straddle the fence, we will be unfruitful.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian and the World (Part Eight)
In addition to a wake of vultures being a symbol of God's judgment of shame, a gathering of vultures also indicates a diseased spiritual condition. In Revelation 18:2, Babylon the Great is described as being “a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird.”
Vultures are undoubtedly at the top of the list of unclean and hated birds! End-time Babylon is the focal point of demonic spirits, which are likened to unclean birds. Both of them prey on the sick and the injured, and they gather where death is.
Even so, our greatest threat is not the Tribulation at the end! As bad as it will be, far worse is being spiritually unprepared when Christ returns and being judged as unworthy to enter the Kingdom. This is what the Parable of the Ten Virgins and the Parable of the Wedding Feast describe. This is the substance of the warnings about Christ's return being like a thief in the night—coming when He is completely unexpected. This is why He warns us against neglecting so great a salvation and against being led astray by the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the pleasures of life. Jesus warns us to keep us on the path of life, so that we do not fall to the birds of prey that stalk the spiritually dying.
We are given the charge to come out of Babylon, so we do not share in her sins or in her judgment (Revelation 18:4). If we have a discerning heart, we should have a good idea of what will attract the vultures, as it will be giving off the smell of spiritual death. God gives us that discerning heart, so we can make good choices.
Do we really believe the scriptures about the swiftness of Christ's return? It is easy to look at world events and compare them to our understanding of prophecy; we know that things are bad and getting worse—but the end still seems to be just over the horizon. Because it is not here yet, it is easy to conclude, even subconsciously, that there is no need to become serious just yet.
However, this conclusion is filled with assumptions. One is that our understanding of end-time events is correct! A second assumption is that, even if we do have correct understanding, we will never lose it through deception. A third is that our faith will remain constant until the end. A fourth is that, when we do decide to get serious, that we will have ample time to build character, take on the image of God, and complete our sanctification. A fifth is that our Creator will go along with our agenda of pushing Him off until the last minute.
These are a lot of assumptions! If we are misjudging these things, we may hear those terrible words, “I never knew you; depart from Me” (Matthew 7:23)!
If we are delaying the time to start seeking God, the vultures may be eyeing us as ones who may not spiritually survive what lies ahead. Perhaps all of us have seen this happen to people we care about. If we are spiritually sick or injured, there is no time like the present to seek our Healer and Protector to beat off the hated birds!
In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the foolish ones thought they had more time. They were probably aware that their reserves of oil were not as full as they could be, but they may have assumed that they could always attend to that later. They did not count on falling asleep. They did not count on life happening, that something would prohibit them from taking care of preparations they had put off.
A lesson we can draw is that, if we are not putting everything we have into our calling right now, how much time is left does not matter. If that is the case, we may find ourselves, like the foolish virgins, suddenly awake and realizing we cannot get ready in time. What we claimed we wanted will have slipped through our grasp, one day at a time.
Judgment is coming on the world, but it is on the house of God right now (I Peter 4:17). A gathering of eagles—a wake of vultures—is a symbol of God's judgment on those who stubbornly resist coming into alignment with Him. Vultures will literally gather for those who rebel against God in the final battle (Revelation 19:17-21), and they are metaphorically already circling those who cannot tear themselves away from Babylon—those who are on such good terms with the world that they are giving off the scent of spiritual death.
The multitude of warnings and prophecies means that it is a possibility for us, because it is a certainty for some. Yet, with all that God makes available, there is no good reason for that judgment to fall on us.
David C. Grabbe
Where the Eagles Are Gathered
In these verses, Jesus describes people involved in normal activities of life: eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. None of these activities are evil—in fact, they are necessary. He implies, however, that in focusing upon the everyday activities of their lives, they miss the signs, the evidence, which prove the imminence of Christ's return. The sad result is that they do not become aware until it is too late.
Laodiceanism is not a matter of laziness, but of spiritual indifference caused by giving attention to the wrong things. A Laodicean commits a subtle form of idolatry, paying undue attention to self-centered interests rather than the interests of our Lord. Setting aside those responsibilities to which he has been called, he favors activities and interests that Jesus simply describes as eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage. He has chosen carnal priorities over spiritual ones.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism
In analyzing the Parable of the Great Supper (Luke 14:15-24), we must consider the two parables that precede it: the Parables of the Ambitious Guest (verses 7-11) and the Feast (verses 12-14). Although all three are spoken at the same time in the same house, Jesus describes three different occasions: a wedding, a feast, and a great supper. It is evident that His entire conversation contains a single, main theme.
First, Jesus tells the Parable of the Ambitious Guest, which isabout a wedding and the right and wrong ways of inviting people. He adds to what He had said about the Pharisees loving the best seats in the synagogue (Luke 11:43), making it clear that humility comes before true exaltation. Those not seeking promotion are to have the important places in social life. Those who exalt themselves will be abased, and the humble will be exalted (James 4:10; I Peter 5:6).
Then, Jesus tells the Parable of the Feast, giving his host a lesson on whom to invite to a meal. The key to the parable is, "Lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid." If the host invited only his rich friends, of course, he would expect them to offer him like hospitality, but when people act on this basis, they derail true hospitality. Godly hospitality occurs when one serves others while expecting nothing in return (I Peter 4:9).
The Parable of the Great Supper is Jesus' response to a fellow dinner guest exclaiming, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" All three parables deal with the general theme of hospitality, but the last adds humility and self-examination.
Jesus pictures God's choice in the kind of guests He desires at His table. The parable shows a progression of urgency as time grows short. The first invitation is conveyed to the Israelites simply as "come." The second, "bring in," is directed at the spiritually poor, injured, crippled, and blind, symbolizing the Gentiles without previous access to the truth. The third, "compel," affects an even lower class of people representing the spiritual fringes of this world.
None of the three invitees has any desire to fellowship, expressing the same willing captivation by the cares of this world. Many fail to realize that the invitation is from God the Father to His children, and failure to respond constitutes willful disobedience. None who so decidedly reject the offer of the Kingdom will be saved (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31). It is dangerous to reject the truth of God. The invitation is full and free, but when people turn willfully away from it, God leaves them to their chosen way of destruction. How important it is to cherish God's offer of the blessings of His way of life and eternal life in His Kingdom and to examine our own dedication.
Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Great Supper
This is the most insignificant excuse of all, yet such excuses are used frequently. It is amazing that people allow themselves to be excluded from the Kingdom of God with such weak reasons. The man's abrupt, brusque, and impolite excuse is empty of substance and void of thought. He represents those whose domestic cares and responsibilities control so much of their time and interest that they neglect their relationship with God.
Balanced and right marriage and family relationships never keep us from a right relationship with God. Quite the contrary, they enhance and promote it. Nevertheless, Jesus intends to teach us that the love of relatives and friends often distracts our affections from God, preventing us from accepting the blessings that He wants to bestow on us (Luke 14:26-28; 18:29-30; I Corinthians 7:29-33). For instance, some excuse themselves from appearing before God on the Sabbath to worship Him because another family member cannot or does not want to attend.
Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Great Supper
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