Ivan Foster is a recently retired minister in the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. Until November 2009 he was minister of Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church. He continues to preach and write as the Lord gives opportunity. Website:
Ivan has written 259 articles so far, you can find them below.
“And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead,” Luke 10:30.
We noted at the close of our last study that the lawyer the man was determined to yet get one over on the Saviour. “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” Verse 29. He was most anxious to show his friends that he still had the better of the Saviour in this discussion!
1. Oh how man sacrifice their souls on the altar of public esteem! I mean by that, that there many people who put impressing their friends well before the “well done of God”!! “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God,” John 12:42-43.
I think that he realised that he had been ‘wrong-footed’ by the Saviour and he now attempted to hide the confusion he was in. But he only digs the hole deeper for himself for the Saviour’s answer is one of glorious gospel truth!
Man cannot ‘outsmart’ God! Young people, learn that well.
2. The story the Saviour tells was an actual occurrence. This really took place. “A certain man.” Perhaps some listening knew of the incident!
3. It pictures for us mankind’s journey downward. It is a downard road! Jerusalem is a picture of where men dwelt before he sinned. “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King,” Psa 48:2.
Jericho is the city which pictures the destination of sinful man! “Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho,” Joshua 6:26.
It was a city under God’s judgment. That is where sinful man is travelling to! “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them,” Gal 3:10. Men do not like being told that!
1. The Lord Jesus is here responding to the questions of a lawyer. He is a man considered to be an expert in the Law of God, the Mosaic Law.
The use of the word “certain” indicates the authenticity, the “factualness” of this record!
2. The man was there to test the Saviour. That is what the word “tempt” means. He asks a very vital question. It goes to the very heart of true religion and raises the matter that all men should consider. “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Verse 25.
This man was not sincere or genuine but was there to try and trip the Saviour up.
3. Note the word “stood”. He had doubtless been sitting listening to the Saviour preach. But he was not benefitted by the Saviour’s words. His heart was hostile to the Saviour. That is how it is with almost all hearers!
4. Please note the Saviour’s response. “He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?” Verse 26.
The Saviour treated him according to what he claimed to be – an expert in the Law. ‘What then does the Law, of which you are a teacher, say?’ The Word of God was ever the Saviour’s authority and rule!
5. The Lord does not go along with the insincere questions of men! He did not dismiss the man but turned his own question upon himself. You cannot ‘fool’ with God! The Lord Jesus knew all about this man. He was aware of the trap he was seeking to set. He, in turn, sets a trap for the man.
6. The man gives a very good answer. “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself,” verse 27. He did indeed know what the Law of God taught!
7. The Saviour in turn gives a gracious and wise response. “And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live,” verse 28.
Doubtless, the Saviour’s response frustrated the plan of the man to entrap the Saviour. He was left with an answer which he himself had provided. He could not fault the Saviour. Oh how wise is the Lord!
“Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff,” Joshua 7:11.
Preached in Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church, At the morning service, 7th January 2018,
By Rev Ivan Foster (Retired)
Before the Lord informed Joshua of the presence of sin amongst the people of Israel, that sin had announced itself. The presence of sin was manifested by the terrible fruits which follow it!
1. Pride and carelessness. “And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few,” verse 3.
2. Failure to consult the Lord. The plan to attack Ai was not the Lord’s plan!
3. Cowardice and retreat. “So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai, . . . . Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you,” verses 4, 12.
4. Complaining and accusing God. “And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!” verse 7.
These things betrayed the presence of sin before the Lord revealed it to Joshua. Joshua and Israel should have recognised immediately the cause of their trouble. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren,” James 1:14-16.
It was but a repeat of events in the garden of Eden. So it ever will be!!
I. SIN IS EVER THE PROBLEM.
Sin robs us of God’s blessing and power and is ever the cause of distress, decline and spiritual death amongst God’s people. Nothing else is to blame! Many things are blamed for the trouble, even the Lord, but it is always sin!
1. Cain’s trouble. “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door,” Gen 4:6-7.
2. Peter’s Trouble. “Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” Matt 26:74-75.
3. Ananias and Sapphira’s trouble. Acts 7:1-11.
4. Ephesian Church’s trouble. Rev 2:4-5.
II. THE SIN SEEMED A SMALL MATTER.
1. Its occurrence went virtually unnoticed. The whole nation had been searched by the Lord before the culprit was found. I do not say none had seen Achan steal but I suggest that any who did, did not think it could possible the “sin” that had so offended God!
2. The items stolen were not of vast monetary value. “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it,” Joshua 7:21. He didn’t profit by his theft. He could never wear the garment and he could hardly spend the money without betraying his theft. Hence he hid it.
There is no profit in sin!
3. He apparently harmed none! And yet he brought down God’s wrath upon the nation and cost the lives of “about thirty and six men,” Joshua 7:5.
4. He stole from the Lord in direct defiance of His command, yielding to carnal desires. Joshua 6:18-19. He “coveted them,” Joshua 7:21. Sin is a robbing of God and will ever put us in conflict with Him!
III. SMALL AS IT MAY HAVE APPEARED, HIS ACTIONS HAD DIRE CONSEQUENCES.
1. For the enemies of Israel. The events at Ai gave them the impression that Israel and its religion and her God were fakes! So does sin amongst God’s people! “So they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape,” Joshua 8:22.
Your sin amongst God’s people will create the impression among the ungodly that there is nothing to be feared in the words of God.
2. For Israel. The loss of life, 7:5. The utter consternation and fear, 7:6. The trauma of the trial, 7:13-15.
3. For Achan. He brought judgment on himself and his family as well as trouble upon Israel, 7:24-26. His name is a byword!
IV. WE SEE THAT SIN MUST BE ADDRESSED IF WE ARE TO ENJOY AGAIN THE BLESSING OF GOD.
1. Great searchings of heart took place. 7:13.
2. Unhesitating obedience to God’s commands. 7:14-15. Neither family loyalties or compassion of heart was to hinder God’s justice. 7:15.
3. A full confession by the guilty. “And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, ” Joshua 7:20.
4. A heightened fear of the Lord in the nation. 7:14-15. Here is seen the fear of the Lord amongst the people. They carried out the sentence against Achan and his family. Many baulk at disciplining of sin but it is the evidence of a fear of the Lord. Deut 13:6-11.
“The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month,” Jeremiah 1:1-3.
Part two of the message begun in Kilskeery FPC on Lord’s Day evening, 7th Jan, 2018.
Preached at the Monday evening prayer meeting, 8th Jan 2018, By Rev Ivan Foster (Retired)
1. The message he was given to preach was God’s protest! “For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my voice,” 11:7. God is a “PROTESTER”! So must we be!
2. His witness was stoutly resisted by the nation at large. Jer 7:23-25; 25:4; 35:15.
3. He suffered for his faithfulness. Jer 32:1-3. 33:1.
4. He remained tender in his love for Judah. 2 Chron 35:25. His tears are legendary and his book of Lamentations illustrates that.
5. But he was preserved. He was not taken captive.
III. JEREMIAH’S MINISTRY FORESHADOWED THE LAST DAYS AND THE RETURN OF CHRIST.
Jeremiah, in the midst of all the darkness and discouragement was caused to see and speak often of the return of Christ and the glorious days which would follow for Israel. 2600 years ago he was, as it were, shouting out “Behold the Bridegroom cometh.” See Jer 3:14-18. This was virtually Jeremiah’s first sermon!
1. So that we might learn that the coming again of Christ is ever the hope of the people of God. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” Titus 2:13.
2. His witness foreshadows the witness called for in these last days. A crying out against the sins of the age and a bold declaring of the hope of Christ’s return.
3. He was joined in his stand by the great Daniel. Daniel benefitted from Jeremiah’s prophecy. “In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem,” Dan 9:2.
“The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month,” Jer 1:1-3.
Part 1, preached by Rev Ivan Foster in Kilskeery Free Presbyterian Church, at the evening service, 7th January, 2018
(Part 2 will, DV, be preached at the prayer meeting on Monday 8th January and mounted on this site)
I have always had an affiliation with and affection for Jeremiah! I think that what these verses say of him gives us all, in these increasingly dark days, a reason to closely study his life and words and learn from them.
You see, Jeremiah saw spiritual conditions in Judah declining from days of stirring and blessing to days of utter apostasy and the coming of the Lord in judgment.
Of Josiah’s reign we read: 2 Chron 34:1-7. These events would have taken place progressively during the first 18 years of his reign. Jeremiah began preaching in the middle of these events, Jer 1:2; 2 Chron 34:3.
Despite the actions of Josiah, much sin remained in the land of Judah and the hearts of the majority remained wicked. Judah complied with Josiah feignedly, in a deceitful manner, Jer 3:10.
When Josiah was 26, the 18th year of his reign, there was a very significant event. 2 Chron 34:14-21. A good people may live in ignorance of the Word of God and the judgments drawing ever nearer!
As a result of the broken-hearted prayer of Josiah, the coming judgment was stayed until after his death, verses 27-28.
Despite the reforms instigated by good Josiah, the nation was not really of the same spirit as that good man and the remnant gathered around him and Jeremiah. “And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD,” 3:10.
Shallowness and mere pretence marked the religion of the majority in that day which saw many wonderful reforms. These reforms were most impressive. One of these reforms involved the restoration of the Passover feast to something like its original purpose. “And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this passover kept,” 2 Chron 35:18-19.
And yet, some 25 years or so later, the first carrying away of Judean captives began with the destruction of the city and temple following in 587BC.
From days of blessing to utter desolation there was a period of some 40-45 years! Does this not speak to us as we see the apostasy deepening?
I. JEREMIAH PROVIDES US WITH A PATTERN TO LIVE BY IN THESE DAYS.
1. He faithfully proclaimed the word of God. 2 Chron 36:21-22.
2. He did so amidst great opposition. Jer 1:17-19.
3. He encountered despair and dejection. “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name,” 20:9.
4. However, he was sustained by the Lord. “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay,” Jeremiah 20:9.