When Men Rob God
“Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof” (Job 24:2).
In ancient times, boundaries between properties were marked by a pile of stones or a post in the ground. An unscrupulous property owner could add to his property by simply moving the landmark a few feet each year. Usually no one noticed the moving of the landmark because it was so small and seemingly insignificant. However, over a long span of time an unscrupulous property owner could add to his boundaries a significant amount of land.
The same was true of flocks of sheep. A shepherd expects to lose a few sheep every now and then. Wolves, lions, and bears occasionally steal a sheep from the flock. There are also unscrupulous shepherds who steal sheep from another’s flock. Such a person will expect the other shepherd to think the sheep was taken by an animal. The larger a man’s flock, the easier it was to pilfer a few sheep at a time from him. The words “violently take away” in Job 24:2 are translated from the Hebrew word gazal (gaw-zal'), which basically means to pluck off.
The words “and the feed” in Job 24:2 are translated from the Hebrew word ra`ah (raw-aw'). The intent here is that these pilferers also carry off the shepherd of the flock that they steal from, because they actually destroy him as they destroy his flock. There is nothing more despicable then to see a false teacher steal sheep from another’s flock through false doctrine.
In both of these cases, God is admonishing those who think they can get by with pilfering. God is admonishing those that think they can make small changes for their own personal gain without anyone noticing. God is telling these individuals that they are deceiving themselves. God is saying that HE NOTICES!
Anyone with the most basic understanding of biblical truth understands that God’s principles and precepts are unchangeable constants. God’s principles and precepts are unchangeable constants because God is an unchangeable constant Himself.
“5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. 6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:5-6).
Certainly Job 24:2 is a simple verse of simple truths. However, there is a complexity in the undercurrent of these truths. To take another’s blessing is to rob that man of what God has given him as a stewardship. We own nothing in and of ourselves. All our possessions are God’s and we are but stewards of those blessings. Therefore, to rob one man of his blessing is to actually steal from God. Such activity is a very silly venture when one considers that thievery is only successful when one can escape without anyone knowing what you did. Malachi (3:8) asks the question, “Will a man rob God?” How does a person go about sneaking one by God? How does someone pull a fast one on God? Can God be deceived? All these questions are obviously rhetorical. An omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God cannot be robbed, deceived, or overcome. He is God.
Nevertheless, there are people who do not believe in God. There are many others who do not understand that God is immanent in His attributes. Therefore, they think they can rob, deceive, and overcome the weak and escape without consequences. They will not escape. This is a sobering fact when we deceive ourselves into thinking we can get by with disobedience. We will all stand before the ultimate Judge one day.
“But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost” (Job 11:20).
God, Who knows and sees all things, will testify against the sinner. Secondly, the very sins we commit will bare testimony to God against the sinner’s innocence.
“Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God” (Psalm 50:7).
“12 For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; 13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. 15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment” (Isaiah 59:12-15).
These are sobering facts. How can a believer continue in sinful practices if he understands and believes these simple truths? Certainly he must understand he will never get by with his sin.
There are certain men who claim to be fundamental Baptists who are making small incremental changes in their doctrinal positions. They do not want anyone to notice. They certainly do not want anyone to point out these incremental changes. The fact is that they are guilty of what Job 24:2 warns about. They are truth pilferers. There are many different levels of truth pilferers. There are the New Evangelicals who have been pilfering truth for seventy years or more. There are the Young Fundamentalists who have been pilfering truth for the last fifteen years or more. Today we have the Gospel Centrists who are also pilfering truth.
Interestingly all these generations of truth pilferers focus on one doctrine of Scripture – SEPARATION. Why is this doctrine so singularly important? This doctrine is important because apart from the practice of biblical separation, every Christian is rendered useless to God. God cannot use a believer-priest defiled by heterodoxy, or heteropraxy. This simple truth is exemplified in God’s confrontation of the Aaronic priesthood through the prophet Haggai.
“10 In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. 13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. 14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean” (Haggai 2:10-14).
These few verses of Scripture exemplify the all-encompassing outcome of failure, to any degree, in the doctrine of separation. The point is simple. No one can have fellowship with God if he is in fellowship with any person that holding to false doctrine (heterodoxy) or living contrary to biblical norms (heteropraxy). This truth is simply stated in I John 1:5-7.
“5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:5-7).
Do not be loyal to old friends and sacrifice your loyalty to Christ. Do not align yourself with truth pilferers. Expose them! Confront them! “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (II Corinthians 6:17). When pilferers are allowed to continue in the Church of Jesus Christ, we are all party to making God’s House a “den of thieves.”