Kingsley Stone - Port Elizabeth, South Africa Convention - 2018

John 3:14-15, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the widerness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have Eternal Life."

So God uses symbolism  but there’s often some interesting contrasts.  So I’ll talk about 5 contrasts regarding:

mystery, trees, lions, serpents, and leaven

 

So in II Thessalonians, Paul writes about the mystery of iniquity, which is already at work. The mystery that is hidden to many and in fact some glory in it.  Then we have the mystery of Christ, the mystery of God, the mystery of faith, the mystery of the Gospel and that’s all wrapped up in Christ.  That was hidden from the beginning – kept secret.  Now and again, God had the joy of entrusting a glimpse to the prophets of old.  Over 365 references to Christ in the Old Testament – just a glimpse, that mystery of Godliness which has been revealed to us through this Gospel. 

When is it going to be evident to everyone?  You go to II Samuel 6 from verse 1 -  that was a time when David moved the Ark and it was moved on a wagon, a new wagon an impressive event.  There were 30,000 people present, there was wonderful music.  This new cart and they would had gone over hill and vale but when they came to the threshing floor, it stumbled and that man, Uzza, put out his hand and God slew him – AT THE THRESHING FLOOR! THE PLACE OF JUDGEMENT! Their error was revealed and one day for everyone, it’s going to be evident what was the mystery of Godliness – what was the mystery of iniquity, a separation of the wheat and the tares.  

Also Revelations 1:7, the Lord shall return and every eye shall see Him. They will see Him for what He was, even those who pierced Him.  Very clear, the Revelation of the One who was kept as the mystery of God from the beginning of time. 

Then these two trees, we heard so helpfully from Peter this afternoon about that tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and then there is also the Tree of Life in direct contrast. I don’t know how close they stood to each other in the garden but there is always the temptation to partake of  that tree and what was that fruit? The fruit of disobedience, basking in the sunlight of enlightenment but cast also in the shadow of deception.  It just seems so enticing but there were terrible consequences.  There was a brother a number of years ago, 18 years ago, and he told us about that portion – Good and Evil and he said, "We may have a definition, you will have a definition, I’ll have a definition - and what is it? it’s different for each one of us and it’s different how we use things."  He used the example of the Internet – and he said, "It can be very useful but can also be very dangerous."  He said, "Your notes, very nice, take notes, but remember, if you just use your notes, to prepare for a Sunday morning meeting, that’s not right." 

There was a girl who asked an older brother, "How long must my dress be?" He looked at her.  He said, “You will know, Joanne, you will know when you feel covered."  Some will say, "We can go to a place, a disco, dance there."  David danced – a brother said, “If you can go to a place like that and dance before God, you do it.”  So this thing of good and evil is so subtle but we are glad that there is the contrast, this tree of Life, which offers so much.

 Then there’s the two lions, I Peter, 5:8, "Be sober. be vigilant because your adversary walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."  That is the one but there is also another lion.  This lion is a parallel of what David experienced the danger to the sheep and David went against it,  killed it.  When is the lion most effective?  The lion is most effective at night or in the dark and it’s still how our adversary of ours is still most effective - in the night of sin, in the darkness of evil.  In the light, they are often not so successful.  If we seek to walk in the light, it will be a protection against that evil one.  What does it focus on?  It feeds on the flesh, so the more carnal we are, the more likely for attack. but this other lion, is so different.  Five years ago, in Tanzania, there was a lioness who had her cubs killed and she adopted a leopard cub.  Totally contrary to nature, one, is the enemy of the feeding that’s available but she adopted it.   A year ago, there was a lioness in Namibia that adopted a little antelope – just so feeble, but something in their maternal instinct, that overpowered the natural killer instinct, and that’s this lion, Revelation 5:5, the lion of the Tribe of Judah.  The Lion that we can have – so contrary.  The other lion feeds on the flesh, but this lion, what did He say to the woman at the well? "My meat is to do the Will of My Father." This lion’s diet is so contrary to that by nature and lions are so very territorial. The old enemy lion, came to the other lion after he was baptised and he offered Him all the Kingdoms of the world. “I’ll give you the whole world as your territory – what you’ve got now is just a few followers, " but that Lion declined because He knew one day, all the world will be His territory and He will be the focus of Eternity,  willing to deny Himself then because He’s going to be the eventual Overcomer.  

 

Then, this of the serpent.  We were hearing there in Genesis 3 of that serpent, the most subtle of all the animals.  If you go to Revelation12:9, there it is talking about as well, as the old serpent, today, even older,  even more experienced – that’s the subtle serpent that we have to deal with. What happened, why did this passage, why was it referred to?  You go back to Numbers 21, God’s people were on a journey and they were becoming weary with the journey,  tired of the lack of food, lack of drink and the manna.  Jack quoted those words, “tired of this light bread,” just so weary and God was disappointed and He sent fiery serpents amongst them and then when they cried out to Moses.  A remedy was given to Moses and a copper serpent was made and put up on a pole and that was the antidote - those that were bitten could look to that brass serpent and there was healing.  Hidden away, Deuteronomy 21:23, “Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree and this One, the Lord Jesus, willing to be as that copper serpent or brass serpent (Afrikaans talks about copper).  Brass serpent, lifted up, cursed on that tree, willing for the curse as the antidote of sin for us, as we look to Him, He can take away the consequences of sin and death."  The two contrasts.

 

Then there’s the contrast of leaven.  The old and many other wrong leavens but then also the good leaven.  If you look in Luke 8:2, the background of Mary Magdalene.  It says there that she had infirmities, evil spirits and seven devils – what a woman and we could picture all these wrong spirits, this wrong leaven that was in her life, could have been a little of the old leaven, the leaven of the law, a little bit there in her life and the leaven of the Pharisees, saying and not doing, someone, who you just couldn’t believe a word that she said, and the leaven of the Saducees of unbelief, like we were hearing so helpfully about Jonah.  She could have said, “I don’t believe that story, I don’t believe you go through the Red Sea, that unbelief.  Could have had the leaven of worldliness in all it’s corruption, the leaven of Herod."  As it says in I Corinthians 5, the Leaven of Malice, the evil intent against others, the leaven of wickedness, that’s 6 and what else can we add to the 7, the leaven of the Anti Christ or the spirit of the Anti Christ.  Terrible to see it. 


There was a couple from South Africa, who moved over to America and I met them on my trip last year but the woman has been corrupted with the spirit of the AntiChrist.  Terrible to see and witness.  This woman, Mary Magdalene, what a character! You wonder how she met the Lord Jesus.  How she even had time but there must have been something in Him – His gracious words, His kindly look, His loving touch.  The words of authority, we heard this afternoon.  Something about Him, that moved her to listen and a spirit came in that began to work and all of those evil spirits were worked out.  Her life was one that was filled with love for the Master - completely.  She was the one entrusted with the Resurrection message.  What a change!  What a working of the Spirit. 


It tells us there in Amos 3 :12, about the Shepherd, the Lion has come, Shepherd can say two legs and a portion of an ear, just a part of an ear and that’s still what this marvellous shepherd, Christ can do.  If He can just reach and teach our ear with a word or two, He can change our walk, He can save us from that cruel lion.  We can become part of His flock.  A wonderful privilege that is offered through this Gospel.  Could be there are some that could have been exercised in considering this matter.


I appreciated what our Brother Kobus said at Pretoria 3, “It would be good if there are some who feel God has touched them and speak to one of the workers whom they know and maybe tomorrow, you could be given a a chance to testify and at that afternoon meeting, there were at least 7 who made their start. " (An invitation was then extended to those, to speak to a worker and they may be given an opportunity to tell us of their experience.)