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And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.
And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.
And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.
He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.
And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. (Genesis 10:6~10)
Ham had four sons: They were Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan. The land where the descendents of Canaan lived was called Canaan. Today I would like to talk about Nimrod, who was a descendent of Ham.
To Enter the Level of True Spiritual Life
Most people think, “I should live a good spiritual life, but I am not good at keeping the law. I cannot pray well. I don’t have faith. I don’t know the Bible well. I constantly commit sins.”
But in reality, people fail in spiritual life because they do so well. What do most people say when they begin spiritual life? They say, “If I go to church, do not commit sin, and live as a good person, I will live my spiritual life well,” and they try hard to live according to the words of the Bible. But as they try to do this, they are unable to live a true spiritual life.
This is the manner in which they begin their spiritual lives, but in order to reach the next level in spiritual life, they must then realize that spiritual life cannot be done that way. If you were successful in business, would you be able to give that business up and go work under someone else? You would only do that when your own business fails. Who would do such a thing when their own businesses are doing well? In spiritual life, if you could keep from sinning, do good, and live pleasing God as the Bible says, why would you need Jesus? We receive the grace of Jesus because we cannot do it through our efforts and labor. Therefore, the reason your spiritual life does not work out is not because of your inabilities, but because you do too well.
Anyone who is trying zealously to live a spiritual life at one point says, “Why do I continue to sin when I am trying to do good?” and reaches his limit. Then he must say, “I cannot do any good!” and give up on himself in order to begin a true spiritual life.
In regard to Noah, people think, “Noah must have been good. He must have lived honestly. He must have lived without sinning, according to the Word of God. That is why he was saved.” But that was not true. As I said in the last sermon, we can see that Noah was not a person of high class. He got drunk and took his clothes off. A person with class would not do such a thing, even if he were drunk. Genesis chapter 6, verse 8 says, And Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. How Could Noah receive grace if he had not sinned? Rather, the people who did not enter the ark thought, “How can God destroy me when I have lived such a truthful life?” They did not enter the ark because they had the heart to believe in themselves.
Spiritual life is believing in the Word of God more than your own thoughts and experiences when you stand before a certain problem. It is putting forth the Word of God rather than your own perspectives. Then, who prefers to believe in the Word of God? Is it easier for a person who has lived honestly without sinning to believe in the Word of God? It is easer for such a person to believe in himself rather than God. People who cannot do good, people who cannot live honestly no matter how hard they try, such people can give up on themselves and reach the faith to believe in God.
Why Did You Make a Person Like Me a Pastor?
We find Nimrod in Genesis chapter 10. Of the sons of Ham, Cush had Nimrod. And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. (Genesis 10:8) Nimrod was a mighty person. He was an outstanding man.
I had a friend named Chungnam Jeon when I was young. He was tall, good looking, and very good with people. Everybody liked this friend of mine. I was ugly, short, and did not have a good personality, so not many people liked me. Once, a friend broke something that belonged to me and I was yelling at him. Chungnam then came to me and said, “Hey, Ock Soo, don’t fret over such a thing, he’s a friend of yours. Here, you can have mine.” That was how big-hearted he was. I was so ashamed. I wanted to be better at something than Chungnam when we were in school, but I was not better than him at anything.
I lost contact with him as time passed. I later received salvation and became a pastor. One day, while praying, I thought, “God, why did you save me and make me a pastor? I am so unfit to be a pastor. God, if you had saved Chungnam Jeon and made him a pastor, he would be in such favor with the congregation. But why did you save a person like me?”
Because Chungnam was such a better person than me, I often thought that he would have been much better at ministering than I, had he become a pastor.
I once went to my hometown and heard news about Chungnam.
“Have you heard about Chungnam?”
“He got married, and I heard she is a very pretty woman. She’s from Busan City and I heard that she almost competed in the Miss Korea pageant.”
“Oh, really? Well, he was tall and good looking. It is only fitting that he marry such a woman.”
Then a few years later, when I again went to my hometown, I heard more news about Chungnam.
“Ock Soo, have you heard about Chungnam?”
“I heard he committed suicide.”
“Oh my . . . !”
I could not understand it. I could not understand why a big-hearted, brilliant friend like him would commit suicide.
Afterwards, as I continued to serve the Lord, I came to know why God would make me – someone who is short, ugly, and ill-charactered; a pastor. If I were smart, I would bring out my eloquence, traits, and character, and minister relying on myself. Once in a while, as I look at the list of the pastors in our mission, I deeply feel that there is no one as pitiful as I because I am no better than anyone else. I have a bad personality; I have a heart unfit for a pastor; and I cannot believe in myself. In front of God, I feel myself saying, “God, why did you save me? I am too lacking to be a pastor.”
Even now, when the congregation of the church I minister at calls me, “Pastor!” I often think, “Are you a pastor?” I must pray before God and rely on God because I have many blemishes and faults. That is why none of the things that happen at our church are because of me. They are all accomplished through the Lord. This is the reason God always works through the people who have nothing – the weak and the powerless.
Satan’s Chosen People
However, Satan wants to establish and use able people. It says that Nimrod was a “mighty one in the earth.” He excelled, had class, was aggressive, was wise, etc. Such people can do well without relying on God. However, such people do not know their lacking aspects. They are confident in everything and do not know about their wickedness or weaknesses.
Nimrod, a person who excelled and was so brilliant that he was admired and followed by others, was the person chosen by Satan.
He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.
A mighty hunter in the Bible represents people who hunt for the souls of man. There are many pastors who are like Nimrod today. They are good, benevolent, and speak well about the Bible. Their congregations say, “Our pastor is excellent. He’s great. He’s spiritual,” and they keep their congregations from looking to God; only to the pastor. They capture the people’s heart so that they cannot have a relationship with God. Such a person is Nimrod.
Who Can Have an Easy Spiritual Life?
You say, “I sinned again! I wanted to be good, but what is wrong with me? I’d better not sin from now on!” and resolve your minds, yet you sin again. This is the foundation of a true spiritual life. People who do not know this try to do well on their own in order to live spiritual life, but people who do that cannot rely on God.
I seek the grace of God because I am weak.
“God, I cannot fast, read the Bible, nor preach the gospel well although I am a pastor. I am short in many ways. Lead my heart to read the Bible. Lead me to pray. Lead me to discover your precious will inside of the Word.”
Rather than thinking, “I should do this and I should do that,” I know that I cannot do anything unless God does it for me.
All people try and labor to keep the Ten Commandments well and live according to the Word when they begin their spiritual lives. In the beginning, this is enjoyable, and it seems that they will succeed if they do this. But not long afterwards, they discover that things do not go as they had planned, and they see themselves sinning. After repenting, they say, “This time, I can do well!” but they fail again even though they are determined and labor much to live properly. As they repeat this many times, they say, “Everyone else is doing fine, why can’t I do it? Has God thrown me away?” and feel remorseful toward themselves. They must enter the process of giving up on themselves. Then they can have the true faith to believe in God. The story of the prodigal son returning, the story of the beggar, Lazarus, entering paradise are all storylines about this.
The rich man who went to hell in this story of Lazarus never broke his heart and lived as he wanted. The Bible has written about this in such an interesting way. We can see that the rich man only exerted his own thoughts in hell.
“Father Abraham, send Lazarus to me that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.”
“No, that cannot be.”
“Then send Lazarus to my father’s house that he may testify to my five brothers.”
“They have Moses and the prophets. They will hear it from them.”
“Not so. They will repent if a man comes from the dead.”
We can see that, even in hell, the rich man did not break his heart.
Our hearts cannot be broken through trying to break it ourselves. You must discover, before God, how truly pitiful and lacking a human you are. Then you can naturally break your heart. On the other hand, if you believe that you can do good and that you can do well, you will not break your heart, but go forward believing in yourself. When you cannot give up on yourself, you may call Jesus your Lord, but you will only follow Him when He fits your perceptions, thoughts, and methods. But people who distrust themselves, throw their thoughts away and accept the Word of God when their thoughts differ from it.
Ultimately, who can live spiritual life easily? Is a person who prays well, reads the Bible well, does not sin, and lives kindly and sincerely in a better position to live spiritual life? Or is a person who cannot pray well, who cannot keep the law, and who only sins better off? Because spiritual life is relying on God, it is extremely difficult for people who do well to rely on God. It is extremely difficult for a rich person to act like a beggar. Because there is no good in us, spiritual life is not going to heaven as a result of our good deeds, but we must go to heaven by being strengthened through Jesus. Your will must be denied and thrown away in order to receive the grace of Jesus.
Who, at the time of Jesus, came before Him and received grace? A person like Nicodemus could not receive grace even though he came before Jesus. The Samaritan woman, the man with the infirmity for 38 years, and the blind men had conversations with Jesus and received grace. However, Nicodemus, the scribes, and the Pharisees did not receive grace. Because they had done well themselves, they always thought, “Those sinners! Those publicans! Those filthy people!” and believed in themselves while condemning others. None of them received grace while the sinful people like the woman taken in adultery, the Samaritan woman, and Zaccheus the publican all received grace.
You Must Go the Path of Seeking Grace
Because Nimrod was good and was a mighty hunter who excelled in every way, he could not receive the grace of God. He was held by Satan because he believed in himself. Like the words, And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel . . . in the land of Shinar, (Genesis 10:10) he became the founder of the Tower of Babel.
Once again, spiritual life is not you keeping the law well and living according to the words in the Bible. It is the opposite of that. Jesus was crucified for those who sin and commit wickedness. He was not crucified for people who did not sin.
There are two paths for us coming before God. The first is to keep the laws perfectly without sinning, and coming to God through your good deeds. The other is saying, “God, have compassion on me and save me!” and seeking grace because you are evil, filthy, and can only go to hell. God wants us to take the latter path.
Receiving the grace of God to go to heaven is true spiritual life. However, Satan deceives us to have us come before God with what we have done well and to make us labor and toil. People labor to not commit sin. People labor to keep the law and to do good. People labor to please God, but such people can never please Him. As I have said earlier, when people repeatedly sin, commit evil, and reach their limit, they realize, “I cannot do it! I am such a filthy, dirty human being!” and come to deny themselves. Then God begins to help them.
Nimrod could not break his heart and unite it with God’s because he was smart and a great person recognized by others. As a result, he became a servant of Satan to be used in building the Tower of Babel to lead many people to go against God.
Then or now, if it is you who are at work, it is a problem because that is believing in yourself. If you would rather become a person who cannot live by the words of the Bible, who sins, and cannot do anything, you can say, “I cannot do it,” before God. You can give up on yourself, and leave everything to God. From then on, God begins to work powerfully inside of you.
Become an Unable Person
Loving folks, have you ever tried to do well, and tried to reach heaven through keeping the law? Have you ever felt disappointed, pained, or saddened because you were unable to do so? That is the place from which faith develops. There has to be failure in spiritual life. You must give up, saying, “I cannot do it!” in order to leave yourself to God. If you can do well, why would you leave yourself to God?
Nimrod was used by Satan because he excelled and was great. On the other hand, during Jesus’ time, the people who sinned and who were evil, dirty, pitiful, and people who could only be destroyed, received grace and were saved.
I hope that you will not do well before God, but become a dirty sinner who cannot do anything in order to receive the grace of God, the forgiveness of sin, and the blessings of God. That is the way the Lord is leading you. You will be fatigued and exhausted if you try to do it by yourself. But if you give up and Jesus works, spiritual life is very easy.