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God's Covert Operations

“In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. Isaiah 4:2-6 (KJV)

In terms of human behavior, “overt” is simply BLATANT and “out in the open” - where “covert” is HIDDEN and done discreetly or secretly. Overt behavior is any bodily action that persons can directly and sensorially observe. Some examples of overt behavior include walking, dancing, running, using body language such as hand gestures and facial expressions.  “Covert behavior is any mental, social, or physical action or practice that is not immediately observable. Some examples of covert behavior include deception and lying, systemic discriminatory practices against certain social groups, and political candidates omitting important information to make their case seem strong. (Quora)

In terms of military operations, a covert operation is a military operation intended to conceal the identity of (or allow plausible denial by) the sponsor and intended to create a political effect which can have implications in the military, intelligence or law enforcement arenas—affecting either the internal population of a country or individuals … (Wikipedia)

Operation Paperclip was a secret program of the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) largely carried out by Special Agents of Army CIC, in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians, such as Wernher von Braun and his V-2 rocket team, were taken from Germany to America for U.S. government employment, primarily between 1945 and 1959. Many were former members, and some were former leaders, of the Nazi Party.[1][2]  The primary purpose for Operation Paperclip was U.S. military advantage in the Soviet–American Cold War, and the Space Race. The Soviet Union was more aggressive in forcibly recruiting more than 2,200 German specialists—a total of more than 6,000 people including family members—with Operation Osoaviakhim during one night on October 22, 1946.[3] (Wikipedia)

God’s Covert Operations or Blessings in Disguise

It is my strong conviction and contention that serving God incurs benefits and blessings that seem to have little or no direct relationship to your service.  In other words, God’s people are far more blessed that they think they are!  We literally have no idea what all God protects us from, what the sources of our blessings really are, or the benefits that redound to us and our families by adherence to God’s Word.  

When we “wander off the reservation,” or we cast aside restraints that seem to be useless vestiges of the past, or we reinterpret spiritual principles and doctrines to conform to modern, progressive thought, we expose ourselves to dangers that God never willed or wanted for us.  Our problem is that rebellion against authority is deeply ingrained in the human spirit, and when we grow carnal or cold, that tendency charges to the forefront with a vengeance.  

 “Selfies have become a matter of life and death — and no, that’s not just an exaggerated pronouncement from your Instagram-obsessed teen.  In recent weeks alone, selfies have been credited with saving at least one Michigander, and blamed for killing a 32-year-old woman who fell to her death while visiting Pictured Rocks in the Upper Peninsula as she took photos near a 200-foot cliff. 

“New research identified 259 other deaths worldwide in the past six years related to selfies, of which more than a million are taken a day.  “Everybody is trying to be somebody on the Internet,” said Norman Irvin, a 28-year-old Detroiter who regularly posts selfies on his various Facebook accounts. “You take a picture of yourself, your crew, and hope you get a few likes. The more dangerous the selfie, the more likes you get.”  As a result, he said, people try to do extra getting a pic next to a Tiger or bungee jumping off a bridge.  His riskiest selfie ever: A snap while on a Cedar Point roller coaster.” Detroit Free Press, 10/3/2018. 

These people temporarily suspended the blessing of common sense.  Their desire for something novel or dangerous made them think they were immune to the laws of gravity or the nature of wild animals.  In the same way, people cavalierly dismiss the warnings of Scripture to give in to carnal or sinful impulses.  Slavish obedience seems oppressive; in reality, it protects, preserves and strengthens our lives.

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. Hebrews 11:24-26 (KJV)

God often reveals His PURPOSE BUT conceals His methods.

And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.  Exodus 15:26 (KJV)

Prevention of disease was God’s purpose, but one of His methods was the simple act of washing. 

Washing.  (Mark 7:1-9). The Jews, like other Orientals, used their fingers when taking food, and therefore washed their hands before doing so, for the sake of cleanliness. Here the reference is to the ablutions prescribed by tradition, according to which “the disciples ought to have gone down to the side of the lake, washed their hands thoroughly, ‘rubbing the fist of one hand in the hollow of the other, then placed the ten finger-tips together, holding the hands up, so that any surplus water might flow down to the elbow, and thence to the ground.’” To neglect to do this had come to be regarded as a great sin, a sin equal to the breach of any of the ten commandments. Moses had commanded washings oft, but always for some definite cause; but the Jews multiplied the legal observance till they formed a large body of precepts.  Illustrated Bible Dictionary: And Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature.

Remember, this was long before microbes and bacteria were discovered by scientific research.  People thought that disease came from miasma, or a noxious form of bad air, an offensive smell or night air.  But God knew what the real source was, so he commanded that the people wash often.  Had they substituted God’s word with their human wisdom and human experience, they would never have troubled themselves with inconvenient, laborious and time-consuming washing. The fact that it became a meaningless ritual by the Pharisees does not diminish the original benefit of God’s command.

Many other Hebrew laws extended benefits to the people that were hard to trace back to the source.  They had the ten commandments, plus dietary laws, clothing laws, planting laws, harvesting laws, animal husbandry laws, sexual behavior laws, cleanliness laws, laws concerning the care of the dead, infectious disease laws, laws governing human waste, and a host of other laws, rules, commandments and statutes.  Although they may not have understood it at the time, every one of those laws constructed a barrier to something disastrous or damaging to the lives of individuals and of society in general.

The Covert Blessings in the New Testament

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 (KJV)

  1. Fornication ()
  2. Idolatry (Athletes, rock stars, entertainers)
  3. Effeminacy (Gender dysphoria, all matters related to LGBTQ issues)
  4. Thievery (Abolition of personal property rights)
  5. Covetous (Disappearance of loyalty, faithfulness, respect of others)
  6. Alcoholism (Dozens of physical and psychological problems)
  7. Reviling (Public shaming, twitter feuds, selective hatred, scorning)
  8. Extortion (Bribery, threatening, blackmail, force)  

Paul continues to expound on this subject.  12  All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. He probably refers to dietary laws, meaning that he is not condemned before God to eat certain meats, but he doesn’t feel they are beneficial for him.  He definitely preaches against substance abuse or addictions. 

The Apostle elaborates on the sin of fornication.  Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.  And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.  Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 

All of these prohibitions contain a hidden blessing.  While the world looks at them as restrictions on normal human behavior (and therefore justifiable), God tells us that to indulge in these acts hurts us, but to avoid them translates into blessing and preservation. 

The blessings of a holiness lifestyle

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 20:7 (KJV) 

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:13-16 (KJV) 

And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. Revelation 22:10-12 (NKJV)

  1. Alcohol
  2. Tobacco
  3. Substance abuse
  4. Self abuse
  5. Immodest dress
  6. Worldliness
  7. Hair
  8. Language
  9. Media
  10. Conflict, violence
  11. Disobedience

Prohibitions against these behaviors (and more) seem to some as legalistic, oppressive, or even silly.  But if you remove the restraints of each standard and follow them out to their logical conclusion, they end in heartache and disaster.  Rather than offensive restrictions, we must look at them as God-given protections acting as preventative measures against harm to the body and soul. 

Final Illustration

A few weeks ago, I had a company come out to my house to trim several branches from the trees that had threatened the house and hindered mowing the grass.  They ran the branches through a chipper and did a great job cleaning up the yard from all the debris.  Two days later, a storm moved through with lightening and high winds.  The next morning, I look out and saw many branches in the yard, evidently blown down by the wind.  It made no sense.  I just had all the excess branches lopped off.  The ones that remained should have been secure.  What happened?  The branches that the tree guys took down were shielding the other branches against the storm.  When they were taken away, it exposed the trees to winds that they had always been protected from.  The law of unintended consequences was in full display. 

Likewise, when you lop off some prohibition, some restraint, some seemingly silly doctrine, you eliminate the protection that they provided for the individual, the family, the church and the community.  When we use the human logic of “what good is this?” or “that seems so silly,” and disobey a scriptural command—even if we don’t fully understand why it’s there—we expose our lives to dangers that we never saw coming. 

“To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the LORD, And my just claim is passed over by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:25-28 (NKJV)

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