This Week's Focus Passage

‘But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked.’

Focus Passage: Deuteronomy 32:15

.‘But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked.’

To embrace the context would involve the entirety of Deuteronomy, chapter 32, and verses 15 through 18. In these we gain more of the whole picture:

But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: Thou art waxed fat, thou art grown thick, thou art become sleek; Then he forsook God who made him, And lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. They moved him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, which were no God, To gods that they knew not, to new gods that came up of late, Which your fathers dreaded not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, And hast forgotten God that gave thee birth.

Jeshurun is a term found only in these two poetic chapters of Deuteronomy, 32 and 33, along with one usage in the prophecy of Isaiah, namely 44:2 where the reference is not only to Israel, but to them as the chosen of God. This is well expressed in the 9th verse of our chapter, ‘For Jehovah’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. Indeed, Jeshurun may be considered equally synonymous with Jacob. These are they over whom Jehovah fluttered, v. 11, whom He bare on His pinions—Pinions: the outer rear edge (perhaps the most sensitive) of the wing of a bird. These are the visible people of God’s choice. ‘But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked.’ It is one of the sad traits of fallen, sinful man that we easily and readily are lifted up; yea, we will quickly lift ourselves up if given the opportunity. This is the basic definition of pride as seen in the one who was a Liar from the beginning. We read of him, in Isaiah 14:14, that said, ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. This is that Adamic tendency that responded to the temptation of Satan, ‘ye shall be as God.’ Thus, as we are all, ‘estranged from the womb: and ‘go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies,’ so all wax fat and kick if not restrained by the grace of God.

Israel was a chosen vessel, that is, a chosen nation to be separated unto God. But they waxed fat and kicked. There were individual examples of this nature in the history of the covenant people. Samson is a striking example—no pun intended—of one chosen and lifted up by God who became puffed up with himself, and lifted himself up, but God brought him down. We remember his sad history. His mother was specifically told that he would be a Nazarite unto God from the womb. He was appointed by God for great things. He was to be a judge, a deliverer of the people of God from the Philistines. But he was to keep himself unto God in his life and by his behavior. However, he began to be proud of his God-given strength and forgot the God who gave it to him, even as Jeshurun forsook God that made them. Samson waxed fat and kicked. And God brought him down. If those that belong unto Him lift themselves up, He will always bring them down, because He loves them, and it is for their good to be brought to themselves and brought thus to Him.

Another who lifted himself up was Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. In spite of having been granted a prophetic vision that was interpreted by Daniel for him as a warning with the exhortation to ‘break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor,’ nonetheless, this king hearkened not and was brought low until he knew that Jehovah’s ‘dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation…he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.’ It is rather conspicuous that man, by nature, is prone to presume upon physical and empirical manifestations as some sort of evidence that his behavior and actions ae acceptable in their own right. This is that pragmatism that encompasses mankind with few, if any, exceptions. The ‘might makes right’ syndrome; the ‘waxed fat is where it’s at.’ Historically, this has manifested in the visible church; the concept that great swelling numbers provide some certainty that the methods employed are right and true.

This is not intended as a diatribe against any particular body or branch of the visible church. The burden upon church leaders across the board has been felt for many years; the idea of failure being intrinsically related to numbers. There have been faithful ministers of the Word that have left the ministry based upon perceived failure due to the lack of conversions under their preaching, because of a dwindling of the numbers in the church’s membership. It has been presumed by themselves and perhaps others in their assembly that the fault lay at their door. This is, of course, wrong on two counts. It is wrong for them to assign blame for lack of conversions and it is equally wrong—even more so—for any to take credit for conversions. This is the work of God the Holy Spirit and Him alone; the preaching of the gospel is the ordained method but ‘salvation is of Jehovah.’ And when this pragmatism has been embraced; when the methods of men have been given the credit for the new birth, the truth is ‘kicked out’ by degrees. ‘Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked.’

When the Madison Avenue approach displaces the Scriptural approach the church has left its first love. When polls and statistics have become more important than love and truth, the church—any church—is on the high road to apostasy. There is a fine doctrinal history of the Southern Baptist Convention by Thomas Nettles, professor of historical theology at the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, that demonstrates very well how that as the convention increased in size and influence, so the adherence to the old doctrinal standards decreased. It is quite difficult to avoid the conclusion that numerical superiority came in proportionately to doctrinal inferiority. We do not single out the SBC. Well would it be if we could. But sadly this is the plight of the vast majority of churches claiming the name of Christ in our land. Among Baptists, Presbyterians, and others, man-centeredness has displaced God-centeredness. Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked God out.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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