Escaping the Offence Trap
The hunter bent the young sapling back on itself. He secured this with a simple trigger. The sapling would provide terrific force once triggered to operate the trap which would snare or kill the prey.
The sapling, the trapping engine, was known to the hunter as the ‘kampto.’ The trigger that operated the trap was called the ‘skandalon’. We get our modern-day term scandal from this word. The working of the trap was the ‘offence’ against the unfortunate who triggered it. The trapped creature was the one who had therefore been offended. Sometimes the trigger was also known as the stumbling block or stone depending on the snare’s design.
Satan and his followers would dearly like to trap us. Nimrod, who led the rebellion against God after the flood, was renowned as a mighty hunter of men (Genesis 10:8-11). Revelation’s beast is pictured as a hunter riding upon a white horse holding a bow from which an arrow had been shot (Revelation 6:2). It is not surprising that Satan’s followers are portrayed as hunters since Satan is likened to a roaring lion roaming about hunting and seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Traps need to be baited. Sadly in my lifetime, I have seen many who knew about the good news of Jesus ensnared by such traps. A godly Christian mother had raised a college lecturer, but as a teen, he chose the pleasures of sexual sin over the beauty of holiness that God offered. This confessed hedonist never escaped the snare. He found that the pleasures of sin were only for a season (Hebrews 11:25) and discovered the more he pursued pleasure the further it fled from him. I fear he is in Hell now never having escaped the trap.
Many today are snared by sexual sin. There is an increasing tendency to think that God can be followed on man’s terms. People pick and choose the Words that God speaks and claim to be earnest followers of Him. The holiness of God is not something we can violate and think we are saved.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s Kingdom.Galatians 5:19-21
Heaven is not for those who deliberately ignore the ways of God.
15 Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.Revelation 22:15
Those who reject Jesus are caught in a trap. The gospel of the cross is an offence to those who refuse to believe (Galatians 5:11). Jesus is described as a stone of offence that causes people who reject Him to stumble (1 Peter 2:8).
Some Jewish people professed faith in Christ but were tempted to go back to Judaism and compromise their faith in Christ. The writer to the Hebrews reminded them that it was a deadly thing to turn away from what they so clearly knew to be the truth. Compromise is a fatal trap to avoid, but those genuinely saved will not turn away from Christ.
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which will devour the adversaries. 28 A man who disregards Moses’ law dies without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think he will be judged worthy of who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance belongs to me. I will repay,” says the Lord. Again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.Hebrews 10:26-31
Jesus paid the Temple Tax with Peter. He did this to not offend people (Matthew 17:27). Jesus did not cause people to stumble unless there was an excellent reason. He also warned us that we are not to cause offence and hinder people from coming to Him. One of His sternest warnings is to those who trip up those young in the faith (Matthew 18:6).
Paul also warns against causing those weak in the faith to stumble. Paul would rather deny himself what is lawful and right than to confuse weaker believers (1 Corinthians 8:9). Therefore, let us avoid the traps laid by the enemies of God and let us not lay traps for others either.
Sheep are very vulnerable animals. They can quickly become trapped and the target of their enemies. The sheep remained safe by keeping near the shepherd. The shepherd had a staff (shepherds crook) and a club (rod). The staff stopped the sheep from wandering off the mountain paths and falling to their deaths. The club destroyed any wild animals that would suddenly spring out and attack the sheep.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.Psalm 23:4
We need not fear the traps of the enemy if we stay near Jesus, our Good Shepherd. We do this by obeying all that He says to us.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father who has given them to me is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand.John 10:27-29
- Can you think of other ways traps are laid for Christians?
- How is it possible for us to cause others to stumble?
- How in practice do we stay near the Shepherd?