Get Out of Babylon

Get Out of Babylon

 

There were several Jews who had chosen to remain in the places of their captivity. They had grown comfortable, even complacent, and apathetic. They had made homes for themselves, but were going to be coming under judgment if they did not get out of “Babylon”. God was about to pour out, to rain down His judgment on the nation(s) that had so badly treated His people.

The following verses speak of the then captive people of “Babylon”, but even looks further into the future of the nation of Israel. It is future even of today’s world and time.

Hear the word of the Lord:

“Up, up! Flee from the land of the north,’ says the LORD: ‘for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven,’ says the LORD. ‘Up, Zion! Escape you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.’ For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations, which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.’” Zechariah 2:6-9 (NKJV).

There is surely more here in these verses than just a warning to the people in Babylon of Zechariah’s day to flee their current captors. The phrase, “I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven…” seem to imply they are all over the world. Babylon would have been most of the known world of that time. They were, or had been the dominant world power, but that was about to quickly subside. It had already fallen to the Persians, and would soon fall to the Greeks, and then be conquered by the Romans. God’s people were to be back in their homeland before Babylon fell.

The glory of the LORD would be seen in the fall of Babylon. Israel is the “apple of God’s eye”, and to touch His people outside of God’s hand of approval was to bring judgment on themselves. The glory of the LORD was not, or had not been seen in their captivity, but He was about to free them all, send them home, and secure His glory before the eyes of the people of Babylon and the watching world.

In procuring the glory of the LORD, the Babylonians became a spoil to the ones who had formerly been their servants. Remember when Israel left Egypt. The people gave them gold, silver, jewels, and precious gems. They were given much bounty. The same is true as they came out of Babylon.

If we will look at the present state of Jewish people we would see that many are currently in the land of Israel, and almost under duress by the nations of the world. There are also many of the Jewish people who are still all over the world. Many live here in the United States of America, many in Russia, Canada, and other parts of the world. They are “spread abroad like the four winds of heaven…”, but there will come a day, and probably very soon, when God will call them all to return to their promised land. They will receive spoils from those they have served, and then the world will know that the “LORD is God”; or as the prophet Ezekiel says it, “Then they will know that I am the LORD”; written some sixty plus times in Ezekiel’s prophecy.

There is a word from the LORD in these verses for today’s Christian as well. At a time when there seems to be a spirit of mingling with the sins of the world, an evil of co-habitating with wickedness whether it be in couples living together before marriage, or just going along to get along this is an evil that has come into the Christian family, and we do not hear the Word of the LORD, which the apostle Paul has spoken, “Come out from among them, and be separate,,’ saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17). The false teachers are telling us we have to be like the world to win the lost of the world; but that is a lie from hell. Here we are told clearly, specifically to “Come out from among them…”. Hear the Word of the Lord, and “Get Out of Babylon”.

My what a mighty and powerful God we serve. His Word is coming to pass. Will you join Him in it, ie., in His work; or will you bow out? As for me and my house we will join Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Healing for Backsliding

Healing for Backsliding

 In the previous writing we find a promise of God given to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel, and that promise is that they would both return to the land as one. Even in their backslidden condition they were to hear these words, and the prophet was to continue to proclaim their need of repentance, cleansing and healing for their backslidden condition.

How or why does one need healing from a backslidden condition. First of all backslidden as the prophet Jeremiah wants us to understand is referring to the people of God. Backslidden is a departure from a place or person you are supposed to be near; which in our case the person is God whom they have left. To backslide is almost always a slow deliberate departure. Slow because it begins with something that seems so small to begin with. “I am staying home from worship services this morning because I am so tired. I was up half the night enjoying family and friends”. Then, come Wednesday night and Bible Study time, “I am not going to Bible Study and prayer meeting this evening because it has been a long week already, and I can’t be getting home too late.” Or, how about this, “Just one peek at that site online won’t hurt. After all, I do need to be knowledgeable about what’s going on.” Just one little step in the wrong direction leads to a slippery slope which slides you further and further away from God, His Word, and the gentle whispers of His Spirit.

“But I said: ‘How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’ And I said: ‘You shall call Me, ‘My Father,’ and not turn away from Me.’ Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD. A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God. ‘Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.’ ‘Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God. Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel. For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth– Their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.” Jeremiah 3:19-25 (NKJV).

God sent forth His Son Jesus Christ to redeem the house of Israel. If you doubt that hear what Jesus has said, “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:6; “But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24; and it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was striken.” Isaiah 53:8. Even the high priest at the trial said, “…You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John 11:49-50, and the verse following says, “Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (vv.51-52).

It is because of their backsliding that God has scattered them across this world; has hidden them in the world; and called the Gentile nations to believe in the work of the Son of God on the cross.

Did God not see them those many years ago, even before Jesus became man, and give them these exceeding, precious promises? Of course He did. Our God is sovereign, and in control of every situation. He did not cause Israel or Judah to backslide, but in their backslidden condition the will of God was done, is being done, and will continue to be done. Every sinful act of a human being is known by the LORD of hosts, and not one of them will be held against anyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation. Yet every sin which finds no repentance in the heart of the child of God, will be used to work in the sinning heart, mind and soul, to irritate, sting, and stick until that sinning heart finds rest in Christ Jesus.

When I pray for a lost person to be saved here is what I pray: Father, in Your mercy, love and grace touch the heart of this individual (Using their name here). Open their eyes to see their lost condition; that they are condemned by their sin, and for them there is no hope apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Make them miserable in their sin, until they look upon Jesus Christ who gave His life’s blood so that we might be saved, that He was buried carrying all sin away with its guilt, and that He arose from the grave and is everliving interceding for us all. Save him/her (name) O, LORD, for Your own honor, power and glory. Amen.

Jeremiah admits the sins of the people for the nation in verses 22b through 25. How can God bring them back to the land which has been left desolate and barren? When they can come to the place they will call God “My Father”, and will not turn away from Him. Marriage is meant to be a illustration of God’s intimate relationship with His people, and of Jesus Christ and His relationship with the Church. God uses the idea of marriage to speak of spiritual adultery, of which Israel and Judah were guilty. The whole book of the prophet Hosea is concerning the relationship between that prophet and his wife. Gomer, if not previous to their marriage, then after marriage, became a temple prostitute. God used this to make a very good, and strong point to the nation. In the prophet’s love for his wife, and continually pursuing her; we see God’s wonderful, marvelous love for Israel, and ultimately for the Church.

There are not many men in this current time who would pursue a wife who has deliberately chosen to lie around with other men, profaning and making a mockery out of her marriage, and of her vows to God and her husband. But this was the love which God has shown those who are His. Just as Hosea paid to redeem his wife from the fringes of the debauchery of prostitution, so the LORD our God has paid for our redemption from sin. O, how the heart of Jeremiah must have grieved for the people. Can we see and feel the heart of the prophet as he proclaims the message of Healing for the people’s backslidden condition?. They will not listen to the Word of God.

The tragedy of our day is very similar to those of Jeremiah’s. While some of the so called experts are telling us to tone down our Biblical expository sermons, if not completely stop preaching altogether; no one is wanting to hear the Word of God. We are being told by those experts tune the message to the ears of the hearers. God’s Word still proclaims, “Preach the word. Be instant in season and out of season” 2 Timothy 4:2. Jeremiah didn’t have the ear of the people, as far as it leading them to repentance, but he did wind up in the dungeon. Does the preacher today preach what the people want to hear, or does he preach the very Word of God, what God wants us all to hear. If I ever walk into a church to worship the Lord and all I receive from that “Preacher” is a 10 – 15 minute sermonette, and never mentions the cross of Jesus, never mentions the burial and resurrection of Jesus, or His coming again; that is one church I will never enter again. If I were ever to become a part of a church which adopted such a mentality, and if after much prayer and work could not convince leadership to go back to God’s method, then I would leave it as quickly as I could. People need to repent, quit living in sin, and come out unto the Word and way of God our Savior.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

The Power of the Parables

The Power of the Parables

 

“The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables…” Matthew 13:1-3 (KJV).

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Matthew 13:10-17 (KJV).

“All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”Matthew 13:34-35 (KJV).

In the first three verses of this chapter we see Jesus beginning to teach a multitude in parables. People like stories. Many of us had stories read to us by our parents or guardians, and we loved hearing them. The love for hearing stories is most likely why the popularity of television and movies is so high. We have all heard the story of Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, many stories of King Arthur and his knights of the round table, and Camelot. Many citizens of the United States have heard the American Tall Tales, concerning men like Davy Crockett, Sam Patch, Paul Bunyan, and Pecos Bill, and then there is also John Henry the steel drivin’ man. These are all stories that do not just tell a story, but capture your imagination, and cause you to dream and dream big.

Jesus told His stories with a different purpose, and they were powerful stories that were life changing; if you had the heart to hear them. Someone once defined a parable as “A earthly story with a heavenly meaning”, and I don’t think that is far wrong. These are stories of things most people were familiar with, and so should understand. It seems however, that the religious leaders, being hard of heart, were so set in their ways, and their spiritual understanding that they had no heart for understanding simplicity. There are seven or eight parables in this chapter. That depends on if you consider verses 51-52 a parable or not. It seems to me to be a parable, and may be the hardest to understand of the others.

The power of the parable is to hide the truth from the hard of heart (v. 11). A simple and some would call avoiding answer. The longer answer is that spiritual things are meant for the spiritual. The unspiritual or natural man cannot know the things of God, and Jesus is speaking of the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). The things of God are revealed by the Spirit of God otherwise known as the Holy Spirit. The natural man, unspiritual individual, has no heart for the things of God. The scribes and Pharisees though having a knowledge of God, the Scriptures, and rituals had no heart for God or knowing and doing His will. All they had was merely pretense and hypocrisy.

The things of God are revealed to those who are willing to receive them. Those who are drawn to God’s Son by God’s grace. The hardened heart has little or no understanding of grace, and knows only law and its condemnation. Jesus has warned of casting our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). To continue giving the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God whose heart only grows harder with each word is a waste, and we should leave such individuals to God. When we have presented the truth of the gospel to them we have done what is required of us. I heard someone say, “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, until all have heard it at least once”.

The power of the parable is to teach and grow those who do or will understand (v. 12). In the parable is the power for understanding the simplest of things. Those who are familiar with agriculture, and those to whom Jesus spoke would have been, understood about the soils, the seeds, and the sower. Many of these listeners had probably seen or been involved in the farming process, and knew exactly the picture that was given. Jesus was, however, giving more than an agricultural story; He was applying an area of life to the spirit of men. In this those who would understand would be receiving more than those who just saw or see it as just a story. In the study of these eight parables it is clear to me that they are all related to one basic lesson. I will not reveal that fully now, but will as we go along. One thing I think that should be obvious to us all is that it is related to the “Kingdom of heaven”.

What about these parables? Whoever has understanding will receive more understanding and grow in their knowledge of Christ Jesus, put on the things of Christ, and put away the things of the flesh and evil. This will be dependent upon the Christian’s obedience to what they have already received. If the Christian has heard the Word of the Lord, understanding what has been said, but will not obey, let not that Christian believe that they will receive anything further from the Lord, concerning His will. For example – If you ask God’s will concerning something of a moral issue, you have Scriptural evidence that it is wrong, and you go ahead and commit the sin, want to continue in that sin, though you know it to be sin; until you repent, agreeing with God and His Word that it is sin, you will not be given understanding on much else. Disobedience will bring you loss.

If someone shuns the desire of God they lose even the possibility of knowing Him. They lose any sense of morality through their conscience that they may have had. They lose their ability to think reasonably – think of the plight of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter four, and that is God being merciful. They lose their lives to sins bondage. ” Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:” Romans 1:21-26 (KJV).

Abundance of understanding will be given to those who hear these parables, and not only understand the story, but its heart and spirit. These parables are positive in their meaning, however, they all have a negative aspect to them.

The power of the parable is to fulfill the Word of God spoken by the prophets (vv. 13-15). When we look at the writings of the Old Testament prophets we see that the people of God would not hear and heed the message the messenger brought them. They might listen, and probably did hear, but they usually did not like what they heard, and they would stone, imprison in a dungeon, or a waterless cistern, and sometimes killed the messenger/prophet; almost always shunned by the people. Isaiah the prophet was told when he was called and had surrendered to the call, “Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” Isaiah 6:9-13 (KJV). The people would not listen to Isaiah. How long was he to continue to preach without anyone repenting and changing their lives? The basic answer here is “Until the people are gone, and you are gone.” How many preachers do we know who would want a ministry with no converts, no believers repenting, and no changed lives; and God forbid; no baptisms?

There are people who have physical eyes, but cannot see the God of creation in His creation. They, also, can not see Him in His works and/or Word. They are blinded by their own way. They really do not want to see God or His work. It would take too much away from them and their good deeds. They will see the darkness as light. They have ears, but do not hear. The Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ can be clearly presented and all they hear is an argument against their lives. Those type of people rejected the words of the prophets in their days. They had ears, but could not hear. They only loved the sounds of their own voices, their own hearts; wicked though they were. When people are satisfied with their own spirituality they will believe almost anything but the truth. They believe they will succeed and make it to heaven by their good works and deeds, and they have none. The truth of Christ, His cross – death, His burial, and resurrection, ascension and promise of His return will be the very Truth which judges them on judgment day. Jesus will be their Judge, rather than their Savior – What of His mercy then?

The power of the parable is to reveal what the prophets desired to see. In some ways I would have loved to spoken with Elijah, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. I will one day be able to sit down with them in God’s Kingdom. As I read the prophets today I can hear their hearts, there are times I can almost feel their pain because they see a people, who are supposed to be God’s people who will not bow before their God, except in pretense and hypocrisy. You can hear and feel the heart of Jeremiah as he says, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” Jeremiah 9:1. The prophets desired to see the people of God quit their idolatry, their gross rebellion, their pretense and hypocrisy. God has always been a jealous God. Jealous meaning that He is the only one worthy of worship, and that He deserves our complete, total, and whole admiration. The prophets foretold of One who would come to redeem the world, restore Israel to her land, and bring the Gentiles into the promise. They longed to see the “Promised One”. They are now in His presence rejoicing in His glory. We can yet hear their words as we read them. They have been kept and preserved that we may hear and know the one true God, His Son Jesus Christ; hear Him and believe and live forever.

The prophets had a longing heart to see the fulfillment of the Word they had penned down. Jesus Christ Himself is the fulfillment of the prophets messages. The apostle John wrote, “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 (KJV). The main focus of that verse which I wanted to point out is that “…for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” All of the prophetic Word is concerning Jesus. Of Jesus, after His bodily resurrection, it is said, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27 (KJV). If one wants or desires to understand these and all the parables of Jesus one first needs to know Jesus.

Let’s look at a contrast of hearts:

1. The dull of hearing rebel against the preacher; The Illumined ones hear and support the preacher.

2. The dull of hearing pull away from service and regular worship to the Lord, worship their own way; The Illumined ones desire to be active in solely the worship of the Lord, and with other believers.

3. The dull of hearing increase in hypocrisy by their ritual and tradition; The Illumined ones despise hypocrisy, especially in themselves, and yearn for genuineness.

4. The dull of hearing have a lack of spiritual understanding, often thinking they are the really spiritual, but what spirit are they of; The Illumined ones are enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus Christ.

5. The dull of hearing rationalizes personal sin; The Illumined ones hate personal sin and judge it by the Spirit of God andHisi Word.

6. The dull of hearing lose any understanding they may have when they refuse the truth: The Illumined ones increase in spiritual understanding.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Inhabited Without Walls

Inhabited Without Walls

 

There is much conflict in and around the city of Jerusalem. There is political conflict between, Hebrews, Catholics, and Muslims over who the city belongs to. My answer to that is not diplomatic, or politically correct, but it is Biblically correct. It belongs to the Hebrews.

It was given to them by God Himself in the book of Genesis 15. God even set their boundaries. “To your descendents I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates–” (NKJV). That should leave absolutely no question. It belongs to the Jewish people, though the time of that fulfillment is yet sometime in the future. They will have peace in Jerusalem, and that peace and protection will be from Almighty God.

Hear the words of the prophet of God:

“And there was an angel who talked with me, going out; and another angel was coming out to meet him, who said to him, ‘Run, speak to this young man, saying: ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. For I,’ says the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’” Zechariah 2:3-5 (NKJV).

The future for Israel is not so dismal. They will one day experience peace from the Almighty hand of God. This is the Word of the LORD.

Nothing like this has ever been seen in the history of Jerusalem, at least since Solomon, and remember this is going to come from a “greater…than Solomon…”. However, there is coming a false peace for the City by the lies, promises, and covenant with the man who is the chief agent of the serpent – the master of lies and deception.

A similar picture is given in the final verse as that of the children of Israel journeying through the wilderness. As they were travelling through the treacherous desert the Lord was protecting them, and guiding them. He says, “I will be a wall of fire all around her…”. In the Exodus He was a pillar of fire by night. It was this same pillar of fire which stood between the Israelites and the massive Egyptian army, protecting them from danger of death at the hands of the soldiers (See Exodus 14:19-24).

There may be some who will say, “This is a prophecy which has already happened”. Nothing of such a magnitude as this has ever transpired. The Jewish people will come to their land from every nation. The City of Jerusalem will be enlarged beyond the old walls. In fact there will be no human built walls. No walls of stone. No walls of concrete. No walls made of barbed wire or any kind of wire.

People have gotten angry with the Israeli government for erecting fences, or walls. In the day of God’s peace there will be no walls, except the “Wall of fire” which is God [YHWH] surrounding her, protecting her, and her people from harm. Anyone who would dare lift even a single finger against Jerusalem will face the fire of the Almighty.’

The most glorious thing about this City at this time yet to come will be the presence of the glory of the LORD in the midst of her [Jerusalem]. God Himself will be the glory of Jerusalem. That means that Jesus Christ will be their Lord, Savior, and King. For there is no glory for Jerusalem apart from Jesus Christ.

The prophet Isaiah wrote by the Spirit of God:

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.” Isaiah 58:8 (NKJV).

The message of Isaiah was for them to repent, and get right with God. When they get right with God; and at God’s time, not man’s, then, and only then, will the glory of the LORD be their rear guard.

Those who are in Christ Jesus today have Him as the “rear guard”. We are safe and secure in His arms.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Jerusalem… The Throne of the LORD

Jerusalem… The Throne of the LORD

The LORD in the previous verses has spoken through the prophet to plead with Israel to return to Him. It will require them to put away their idolatry, to renew their hearts and their lives in Him. The LORD even says, “I am married to you.” (v.14). The promise is for them when they return. The problem is they have not yet returned to Him. They one day will; by God’s own promise and assurances.

“Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,’ says the LORD, ‘that they will say no more, ‘ The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.” Jeremiah 3:16-18 (NKJV).

If you will note this promise is conditional upon their return to Him, from their state of a backsliding heart. I have stated it before and will state it again here, though this is not my own: I think Charles H. Spurgeon has been credited with this statement, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully.” The southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel, since the reigns of Rehoboam and Jereboam, are the children of God, or the nation of God’s choosing. If you will read all of the Old Testament from the Exodus through the book of Malachi, you will find God’s hand of correction, and discipline on the two kingdoms. In them we have examples of what the Christian’s life should be like and God’s discipline upon us when we rebell and sin against Him.

The LORD’s words spoken through the prophet are spoken as an already completed thing. It is completed in the mind of God. When God says something is going to come to pass it is as good as done. You will notice that He says, “When you are mutltiplied and increased in the land…”. It is an already decided and an already accomplished event; it just needs worked out in the people’s hearts and lives. There would be coming a time when the people were going to be carried away to Babylon, and in 70 years they would return. In this return they would return as one nation once again, but this promise has much more prophetic influence than just that fulfillment. The children of the nation of Israel, are still missing the ark of the covenant; they are even looking forward to the return of the ark of the covenant.

Even when Cyrus king of Persia made proclamation for the “house of the LORD” to be built in Jerusalem, and after Nehemiah was given permission to go and rebuild the wall of the city of Jerusalem, the people were still in bondage to a foreign power. Even in the day of Jesus they were still under the powers of the Roman government. Since the Babyloninan captivity they have not really been free. In our day, though they are supposedly a free nation, they are still under the rule of Gentile governments. The United Nations and the United States of America are pretty much their ruling nations.

There will come a day when Messiah reigns in Jerusalem. That in the time and the day they will no longer be depending on the representative power and presence of the Lord, ie., the ark of the covenant; but they will have the real, full, and glorious power and presence of the LORD in person. He will be their king. How is it that some Christians want to take these promises and spiritualize them, and make them for the church? This promise has not happened yet. It has not been fulfilled. It is yet to be fulfilled; and to the letter. The amillennialist would have us believe that these events have already occured and the promise is fulfilled in the Church. The thing is, this prophecy had nothing, has nothing to do with the Church. It has to do with the people of Israel. It is dealing with a real people, in a real land, with a real city of Jerusalem; not a figurative one.

The children of Judah and Israel did come back from Babylon, after seventy years, just as Jeremiah had prophesied; but they have never had free rule of the land. It has been ruled by other nations for centuries. When, however, Jesus sits as king on “The Throne of the LORD”, then will all the nations be gathered into it. It won’t be so that they can rule, but so that they can worship the King. Jerusalem will be The Throne of the Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

God’s Commendation of Temperance

God’s Commendation of Temperance

In the past two articles on this series dealing with beverage alcohol we have looked at some negative role models concerning alcoholic beverage. In this article I turn to a positive action by a whole family, and God’s commendation for thier refusal to drink.

This family is the family called Rechabites found in Jeremiah 35. This whole chapter deals with this family and makes the point of asking Judah why they do not obey God’s words, as Jonadab’s family has followed his commandments concerning wine and not abiding in one place.

The end of this chapter reads:

“And Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts and done according to all that he commanded you, therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever’” Jeremiah 35:18-19 (NKJV).

Yes, I know that part of this commendation is on their also following Jonadab’s commandment to be nomadic in their living. There is yet that commendation for refraining from the usage of wine or alcoholic beverage. The point I want to make here is that God is commending them.

When one begins to drink beverage alcohol he/she is placing themselves in the place of temptation. Who will be there to keep them from getting drunk? Who will be there to let them know when too much is too much?

Yes, I also know in reading this chapter in Jeremiah’s prophecy that God is stressing the point of obedience to Him. If men can obey their father like the Rechabites have why is it that the people of Judah cannot obey the commandments of the LORD?

Some will see this as a very weak argument. Maybe it is, but you get the point. If there is no word of commendation for the drinking of beverage alcohol, and there is commendation for temperance concerning beverage alcohol, by God Himself, then, which is the best Biblical alternative?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Abraham, Prophet and Priest

Abraham, Prophet and Priest

The LORD had come to visit Abraham and Sarah and to reassure them of the fulfillment of the promise, and that promise was a son. It seems quite likely that Sarah’s faith was improved, strengthened by the appearance of the LORD.

When the LORD’s visit had come to an end they began to journey away from Abraham’s camp, and Abraham went with them for a distance. When the LORD comes and puts in a personal visit with you, shares the promise, and renews it who wouldn’t want to go on with Him? As they go walking the LORD contemplates sharing with Abraham something further that He is about to do. He shares it with Abraham. From this part of God’s visit we learn much about intercessory prayer.

“And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” Genesis 18:16-19 (KJV).

It would not be wrong to call Abraham a prophet. I am not sure there is anywhere in Scripture which calls him “Prophet”, but we know that he walked with God, even though there is no specific verse which tells us that. He is doing it right here in verse 16. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3 (KJV). We also have the Lord revealing secret things to Abraham which would place him in the category of a prophet. “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (KJV). Is the LORD not here revealing a very secret thing to His friend Abraham? We must answer in the affirmative. According to the word of the LORD spoken above, He is giving to the descendants of Abraham and his children, that, “they shall keep the way of the LORD…” They are being given the oracles of God at this point. It is being given, and was given to them to do justice and judgment, and they were the people whom God used to born the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, into this world.

Prophets for the most part are messengers of God; warning God’s people, and in a lot of cases even the heathen of the coming wrath of God. In Abraham’s case he is not given the opportunity of being a prophet with a message to warn people, but he is given a message to pray for the people. It is especially a message to pray for Lot and his family, because they are living in the cities which are about to be destroyed.

We see in these the LORD’s confidence in Abraham being faithful to become what God has told him that he will become. God even says here (v.19), “I know him”. What a endowment of praise and encouragement that is to hear the LORD say of His friend, “I know him”. If the LORD knew Abraham, we have an assurance that He can know us too. Does the LORD know you? There is coming a day of judgment which we read of from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Himself, and He says, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity” That is not the words I desire to hear from His lips. That is not the desire I have to hear from His lips for any of my friends, family or any of those who might be seen as my enemies. I do not desire to hear that from His lips for debtors or creditors. The best and sweetest phrase I want to hear on that day is, “Enter into thy reward, thou good and faithful servant”. And, that for all who will hear and follow Jesus.

“And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.” Genesis 18:20-22 (KJV).

It was the LORD who had came to Abraham, visited with him, ate with him, and had wonderful fellowship with him. He has now sovereignly determined to reveal to Abraham what He is about to do. It is in verse 20 that the LORD speaks, and reveals to him what He is planning to do. We can know from the testimony of Scripture that God already knows the spiritual and moral condition of Sodom and Gomorrah.

It is indeed, a very merciful thing for God to come down and appear to men. Three “men” had come and appeared to Abraham, and one he recognized as the LORD. The other two were inevitably angels. The LORD has remained behind to speak with Abraham, and reveal to him what He is about to do in the cities where Lot; his nephew and family are living.

By what we have in these three verses it seems that there is a “cry” from evil. Does evil have a voice, a cry? It must. According to Strong’s

H2201 = za‛aq ze‛a^qa^hzah’-ak, zeh-aw-kaw’ (Feminine): from H2199; a shriek or outcry: – cry (-ing).”

 

No one rejoices when evil rules a land, a city, a home, or a family. And the person who is practicing evil, has no form of joy or peace. It is their way of ‘Thumbing their nose’ at God, His Word, His Son, and His people. There is a cry from evil. Even evil hearts sooner or later will cry for justice, and they shall have it. Surely we can hear the cries of evil in our Country of the USA. Surely the scent of the blood shed in homes, cities, States, and our Nation is a putrid scent to all decent, law abiding people. Or, are we so, “law abiding”, that we don’t smell the scent, because we think we are a nation which has been built solely on man made laws? That is a stench in the nostrils of Holy God.

We as the people of God ought never forget that evil is “grievous” in the sight and sound of almighty God. With him there is no little immorality. It is all vile in His sight, and it cannot dwell in His presence. Apart from the grace of God no fallen man can dwell in His presence, unless, the price of sin, ie., the sin-debt has been paid in full. God owes no accountability to the devil. He is not accountable to the devil. God’s Word is not answerable to the devil. The sin-debt is owed to God; He is the One who is the offended party.

When evil people are in authority people mourn. In the Proverbs we find the wisdom of Solomon saying, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 (KJV). And we also find more wisdom from this wisest of men, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Prov 29:2 (KJV). The cry of wickedness was horrific to the ears of holy God. The cry of wickedness is still horrific in the ears of God. They should be horrific to the ears of every child of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The True Kin

The True Kin of Jesus

“While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Matthew 12:46-50 (KJV)

Was the family of Jesus, ie., His mother, sisters, and brothers; important to Him? I would say they were, but there are some who might read these verses and reach the ill conceived conclusion that Jesus had no love for them at all.

What Jesus was doing was what His Father had planned, designed for Him to do. He was teaching, and preaching the message of the Word of God. His message was one of repentance. At this point in the ministry of Jesus the earthly brothers and sisters of Jesus were not His followers. They had in truth accused Him of being out of His mind (Mark 3:21). It could be possible that even Mary, His mother, was not yet a follower. Now, that may raise a few eye brows, and cause some to become angry, but Mary was only human, with some of the same sins, and unbelief which we all possess. If she was a follower of Him at this point why was she there interrupting His work and ministry?

Jesus was calling people into His kingdom. He was preaching the Word of God. It is as though to rebuke His family and the one who would tell Him that His family was outside looking in; that He says to them, “Who is My mother? and who are My brethren? And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples, and said, ‘Behold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.” These last few words alone seem to say that Mary was not a follower of Jesus at this point. She was standing with her other children, but not with her Son of God.

In Mary we can see the need of those who view Him, watch Him, etc. for standing with Him, and not with those who think Him a fool; or having lost His mind. The true kin of Jesus are those who hear the Word of God, and do it. Where are you standing today?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Taking a Measure

This week’s being the celebration of Israel’s 60th Anniversary, as a recognized nation among the United Nations, this is a fitting reminder of God’s hand on the nation that will one day rise up as the one, to whom all nations will go.  God’s richest blessings on Israel, and may they hear and receive their Messiah Jesus.

Taking a Measure

In the book of Daniel the false king Belshazzar saw “handwriting on the wall”. It was interpreted by Daniel as meaning, “You have been weighed in the balances and found lacking”. Belshazzar had blasphemed the LORD God by desecrating the articles of the LORD’s Jerusalem temple.

Some could look at this measuring line and possibly see a means of judgment, but when you look at the context of the message it is not of judgment, but a word of future glory for the city.

Hear the Word of the Lord through Zechariah the prophet:

“Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand. So I said, ‘Where are you going?’ And he said to me, ‘To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.’” Zechariah 2:1-2 (NKJV).

According to some this man, the surveyor, could be the Angel of the LORD, which in most scholar’s understanding means, that this “Angel of the LORD” is a manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ (pre-incarnate). The measuring is evidence of the Lord’s heart for the city of Jerusalem and the people of the city.

Just ask any builder; any responsible, accurate, careful builder will take measurements before they begin the actual building process. It would be quite foolish to measure as this gives us the picture, without an intent and purpose for building. It is sure evidence that God’s plan; and it is plan A, for He has no plan B; is to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, its temple, and recall His people – the Hebrews to this glorious place. It will see a glory even greater than that of Solomon; because a greater than Solomon is here (Matthew 12:42).

The city and the temple which God has designed for the reign of His Son will be the most glorious of cities and temples. Nothing will compare to it.

Who is the man with the measuring line? It would appear to be the pre-incarnate Christ giving hope, guidance, and assurance to the prophet and his people. We are not given the dimensions, but we can know that it will be practically immeasurable.

Surely this must be a word telling us of the restoration and rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Dehorned

Dehorned

Anyone who has watched the Professional Bull Riders riding bulls will understand the power of the horns on those bulls. They can cause terrible damage to a cowboy, even kill him. There have been a few cowboys and a few of the “Bullfighters” (were called Rodeo clowns) who have been gored by those bulls and their horns.

On many farms which have raised horned cattle, there has been the annual roundup for de-lousing, vaccination, castration of bull calves, and dehorning of the calves as well. I can remember a couple of different dehorning tools used. There was one pair which was really large and could dehorn a larger animal, then, there was a smaller set used for smaller animals. Either one used was usually a bloody mess, and had to be done just right, in order to keep the horns from growing back.

I mention these things to illustrate the power of the horn. Most of the time when we see the horn mentioned it is a symbol of power, and refers to a king or kingdom. There is a reference in Scripture even to “The horns of the altar” (Leviticus 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34; 1 Kings 1:50-51; 2:28; Psalm 118:27; Jeremiah 17:1; Amos 3:14) , which of course would be speaking of grasping hold of God.

In the prophet Zechariah’s vision he sees four horns:

“Then I raised my eyes and I looked, and there were four horns. And I said to the angel who talked with me, ‘What are these?’ So he answered me, ‘These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.’ Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. And I said, ‘What are these coming to do?’ So he said, ‘These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one could lift up his head; but the craftsmen are coming to terrify them, to cast out the horns of the nations that lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.’” Zechariah 1:18-21 (NKJV).

As you can see there are four horns, thus representing four nations, and the nations to which Daniel the prophet refers to in Daniel 7 which are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, and all of them were the enemy of Israel, and oppressed them. These kingdoms were Gentile nations, and God used each of them to judge Israel, Judah and Jerusalem. However, they were often treated with disdain, hatred, and as though they were unworthy of life. Because of the way these nations treated them while they had them in captivity they [these nations] would be judged harshly by God.

The four nations were used to judge Israel, they were taken from their homeland, and they were gone for 70 years of judgment.

There are also “Four Craftsmen” whose work it is to cast out the horns. These “Craftsmen” are probably likened to the stone masons, metal workers and carpenters. Each one has a hammer. The hammer of the stone mason is used to chip away at the stone in order to form the object desired or just simply remove a large formerly immovable stone. The hammer of the metal worker is used to beat and form the metal to form objects. The hammer of the woodworker is used for building things of wood. The craftsmen are used to drive each of these horns into oblivion. In the writings of the prophet Jeremiah he uses the picture of a hammer, “Is not my word like a fire’ says the LORD, ‘and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29). It is for the purpose, that each nation might know, that there is a God in heaven who oversees and directs the affairs of men.

When there is arrogance in the hearts of God’s children He will send oppressors to humble us before Him. It is better that we humble ourselves before Him never forgetting that it is God, and God alone who has blessed us, saved us, and by Him He will be glorified through us.

One thing by these verses we can be sure of and that is this. God will not allow nations to mistreat His people, except that He will destroy them when they do. God works in His people’s lives to accomplish His purposes, His will and His own glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Married to a Backslider

Married To A Backslider

 

There has been many a father and mother who pleaded and pleaded with their children to return home, after they have ran away from home. Some children, after reaching the mid to late teen years, begin feeling they can run their lives without someone “telling me what to do”, and so they run away. It is sometimes by the deceptive words of a “friend” or an older individual persuades them to do so. These are heart breaking for every loving parent.

Questions like; “Where did I go wrong?”, “What could we have done different?”, “Why is this happening now?”, and feelings of being a failure with your family hit hard. Since I have never experienced the sorrow of a runaway child, I really don’t know all the questions asked, or the pain that it causes. I have known a family or two where the runaway scenario has happened.

You could call their leaving home, “Backsliding”. That is what has happened in the life of the divided nations of Israel and Judah. Israel left home and began worshipping golden calves in Dan and Bethel, set up by their first king Jereboam. The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY defines “Backslide” as “To lapse morally or in religious practice”. That, in my opinion, is a gross understatement.

Before we go on let’s hear the Word of the LORD from the prophet Jeremiah:

“Return, O backsliding children,’ says the LORD; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:14-15 (NKJV).

What does God mean by “Backsliding”? It is the act of treachery, turning away from God, His Word, and sliding on a slippery slope to one’s lowest point. God is not pleased when His people turn their backs on Him and then, offer Him sacrifices which do not come from a heart of devotion and praise. Sacrifices offered with a backslidden heart are a stench in heaven and the nostrils of God.

Why people say that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament is beyond me. The means of salvation is by grace through faith. The Old Testament people were saved looking forward to the cross of Christ; shown in all the blood sacrifices offered with a clean motive, and the people from the cross forward are saved by looking back to the cross of Christ by faith.

This word from God through his prophet Jeremiah is given to His backslidden people. It is not to the heathen, unredeemed, but to the people of Israel and Judah. This says to us that God’s people do go astray. We do get out of the will of God, but God will spare no grace to pursue us, pleading with us to get us back into our personal walk with Him; in more complete agreement with Him; at peace with Him. The backslidden child of God is not at peace with God. The backslider is not even at peace with himself/herself. They want their own way, and they are going to have their way. Even if that way leads to the “pigpen”. Remember the Prodigal son of Luke 15:11-32. The father’s love seen for a rebellious son who had wanted to do things his way returns to the loving father, after realizing his own desperate plight. The writer of Proverbs says of the backslider, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.” Proverbs 14:14 (NKJV).

It doesn’t matter what the child of God has done you have a loving Father who is pleading for you to return to His fellowship and enjoy the peace, comfort, love and joy that is found only in the presence and power of God. Don’t take this wrongly. This is not an invitation to do evil and wrong. We have been freed from such arrogance, and pride. Because we drag the carcass (Isaiah 5:18 ) of the flesh around with us, we have not laid it down yet, it is still a battle we face everyday.

For too long the nations had had shepherds who were “devouring their sheep”, and not teaching them the truth, or leading them in the true ways of God. They were self seeking. Read Jeremiah 23:1-2ff. The responsibility of the shepherd of people is an awesome responsibility. Those who preach, teach, and minister the word of God, are especially on notice to take great care in what they say, teach and preach. It seems quite clear that the priest, and other shepherds of Israel had gravely failed to lead in the way of God and His righteousness, grace and justification.

God now says to Israel and Judah, “I will give you shepherds according to My heart…” These will not be after the heart of man, but the heart of God. The true shepherd of God needs to know the heart of God. We learn that through His Word, prayer, and service for His glory.

The Christian of our day (2008 ) is living in times of great opportunity. Let us be devoted, committed, and crucified with Christ; being so will not allow us to backslide away from where God desires us to be, and that is with Him. Let us walk in His Spirit, His Word, and do things using His methods. Whether some want to admit it or not there are some methods that are being used to “Reach people for Christ” which are not after God’s heart. You know them. They give more glory to the program, the actors, the performers, the stunts, the numbers of people who are drawn to these events, and even to the numbers of “decisions”, than they do to the Lord for whom they are presumably there.

O, backsliding children God pleads for your return, “Return, O backsliding children…”

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Lot’s Drunkenness

Lot’s Inebriation

In this study of beverage alcohol and its usage I have given you one example of its bad usage; and now I give you another. As I stated in an earlier post, there is more evidence against the usage of beverage alcohol than there is commending the use of it in the Scriptures.

The nephew of Abraham [Lot], and his family have been delivered from the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, as God has rained down judgment upon a vile and wicked people. The only thing that has saved Lot and his family is the wonder grace of Almighty God. Lot’s wife never made it, because she turned and looked back toward the city despising the warning of the angels not to do so. She has turned into a pillar of salt.

Now the daughters of Lot conspire together to sleep with their father, because they possibly believe that there are no men left, and that they will never bear children unless they do this vile deed. Their conspiracy is to get their father drunk on wine, the elder daughter sleeping with her father the first night, and the younger the second night. Read Genesis 19:32-38.

“Lot departed from Zoar and lived in the mountains along with his two daughters, because he was afraid to live in Zoar. Instead, he and his two daughters lived in a cave. Then the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man in the land to sleep with us [as is] the custom of all the land. Come, let’s get our father to drink wine so that we can sleep with him and preserve our father’s line.” So they got their father to drink wine that night, and the firstborn came and slept with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she got up. The next day the firstborn said to the younger, “Look, I slept with my father last night. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight so you can go sleep with him and we can preserve our father’s line.” That night they again got their father to drink wine, and the younger went and slept with him; he did not know when she lay down or when she got up. So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The firstborn gave birth to a son and named him Moab. He is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger also gave birth to a son, and she named him Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites of today.” Genesis 19:30-38 (HCSB)

This man Lot would have never agreed to sleep with his daughters if his mind would have been clear to make the judgment. It was not. Lot was surely grieving for his wife, and the alcohol in the wine was surely having a numbing effect on his hurt and pain he was feeling, but that is still no excuse for his drunkenness. This act by Lot, or these acts by Lot and his daughters were acts against God and mankind. How? The sons that were born to Lot became trouble for the people of Abraham; a throne in their sides. One drunken act, or two in this case resulted in the moral failure of a nation –

“While Israel was staying in Acacia Grove, the people began to have sexual relations with the women of Moab. The women invited them to the sacrifices for their gods, and the people ate and bowed in worship to their gods. So Israel aligned itself with Baal of Peor, and the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the Lord so that His burning anger may turn away from Israel.” So Moses told Israel’s judges, “Kill each of the men who aligned themselves with Baal of Peor.” An Israelite man came bringing a Midianite woman to his relatives in the sight of Moses and the whole Israelite community while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw [this] , he got up from the assembly, took a spear in his hand, followed the Israelite man into the tent, and drove it through both the Israelite man and the woman—through her belly. Then the plague on the Israelites was stopped, but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.” Numbers 25:1-9 (HCSB)

You might take that drink thinking, “Oh, one drink is not going to hurt me, or anyone else.” You may be in control as you take that drink, but somewhere, you surrender your will to the will of the drink. Then, the power of the spirits take over. At what point does this happen? Does anyone know? If they believe they know, are they sure? I don’t know, and I really don’t think anyone does, except the Almighty. Do you want to surrender your mind, your body to the control of a substance which will ruin your life, your family life, and the lives of others who know and don’t know you? When you don’t know where drunkenness takes place, why even take that first sip or drink, if that might be even the slightest possibility of drunkenness?

Christians, we are to be sober in our thinking. That is, we are to have a clear mind and able always to make clear decisions. I don’t know about the rest of you reading this, but I have a hard enough time making clear and godly decisions without drinking any alcoholic beverage. I sure do not need any help from alcoholic beverage to numb my thinking.

We are to always be “sober” as Christians. In the epistle of First Peter is written, “Be sober” (1 Peter 1:13; 5:8), and I know this is speaking of a spiritual mind, but can we be sober spiritually if we are not sober physically? Not in my thinking. Every drunk I have ever spoken with knows all there is to know about God, Jesus, salvation, and living, but none of these are having an influence or changing affect in their lives.

Can any Christian honestly say that even one drink of wine at a meal has absolutely no influence in their thinking, and thinking soberly, clearly, and godly thoughts? It seems to me, that even one drink can influence one’s thought processes in the negative, not the positive. If so, then, would that not be sin against God?

In this I am an advocate for Christians to have a clear and sober mind. Think on Christ Jesus. We do not need the mind numbing affects of beverage alcohol. Remember what happened to Lot.

As a fallen race we have problems enough; and as being redeemed through faith in Jesus Christ what place has alcoholic beverage for those who have the New Wine in Him? It seems to me that the Christian who chooses to drink the wines of men, has so little faith in the one who desires to fill us with Himself. With Jesus we will have clear and sober minds, clean hearts, and good deeds.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is Anything Too Hard for the LORD???

Is Any Thing Too Hard For The LORD???

 

“And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.” Genesis 18:9-15 (KJV).

The three guests had been served, had received the meal, and had eaten. We are not told this by the text itself, but it seems to be quite clear that the reason these had come, was to bring this important, encouraging message to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was 75 years of age when they departed Haran, and Sarah would have been 65, yet they had believed the promise of a son. It seems though, that that promise had been given solely to Abraham, and Sarah went along believing Abraham, and this was the first time she had heard it from the mouth of the LORD. If it is true that this is the first time she has heard the promise from the LORD Himself, then, we can better see why she suggested Abraham take Hagar as wife, and they had Ishmael. It might give us better understanding of why she laughed when she heard the words, “Sarah thy wife shall have a son”.

At the time of this visit Abraham was 99 years of age and Sarah was 89. Now, if the preceding scenario is correct, and Sarah had not heard the promise from the LORD Himself, then she has now. The laughter can be understood from this perspective, though it may not have been appreciated by our LORD. Her laughter may have been done in stark surprise at what she had just heard coming from the mouth of this special Stranger.

Then, she heard the words, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?”, and she believed that the previous words were the word of the LORD. Sarah is not the only one who laughs at the immediate promises of God. We have heard the promises for years from the mouth and lips of others. We have heard them from the mouths of our pastors, our Sunday School and Bible Study teachers; and we have heard them as we read the Scriptures for ourselves, but they just seem distant at times, and not really applicable to us. Then, at a time of our need; at a time when we are discouraged, thinking that God doesn’t care, feeling like God has just forsaken us, and left us to fend for ourselves; one or two of those promises just leap off the page at us; then we kind of laugh, not really meaning to, but we do until it sinks in, then we know God has spoken; we are no longer laughing, but praising. There is a different form of laughter. A laugh of joy, of praise, and of worship.

Why Sarah denied that she laughed is not clear. It may be that she was not that well acquainted with the LORD, and was afraid that He might judge her harshly. The LORD understands our humanity better than we do. He despises unbelief, but what Sarah had was not unbelief, but a lapsed judgment, maybe even a shortage of knowledge, concerning the way of the LORD. Abraham would have probably taught her and led her in their worship of the LORD. She had heard of the promise over and over from Abraham, but now she hears it from the mouth and lips of this Stranger, whom we know to be the LORD in person.

We learn from this that each individual Christian needs to know and worship God on their own, and with others. What we learn in our private times, our “Quiet Times” with the LORD we can share when we are in public with other believers. The wife cannot depend on the faith of her husband to save her. The husband cannot depend on the faith of his wife to save him. The child born into the home with Christian parents cannot be saved by the faith of their parents, then grow up and say, “I am a Christian, because my Mom and Dad were Christians”. If you were born in a garage, does that mean you are a car? Maybe an even more pertinent question would be, If you were born in a hospital does that make you a doctor or nurse? The answer to those questions, of course, is NO!

Did Sarah have faith and believe the LORD? Most definitely. We find in the book of Hebrews these inspiring words, “Through faith Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.” 11:11 (KJV). In her fear, and denial of her laughter, there seems to be faith that God would do just what He said. The LORD leaves her saying, “Nay; but thou didst laugh”, letting her know that He knew her heart, and her thoughts. He does know our heart and our thoughts, and He knows the heart and thoughts of unbelivers as well. “IS ANY THING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD?”

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

The Problem with Self-Reformation

The Problems of Self-Reformation

“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:43-45 (KJV).

There is not much talk of “Demon possession” in our modern or “Post-modern” era. We are too sophisticated for demons. We have psychiatry, and psychology to handle the things that tend to control us. We can’t have anything spiritual enter the picture. Then, we wonder, “Why can’t this problem be solved?” or “Why can’t George overcome his alcoholism?” or “Why can’t Cheryl quit smoking those cigarettes?”, or something we consider worse, “Why can’t Harold over come His sexual abuse of children?” According to the experts this final one is never overcome. My answer to that is NOT BY PHYCHIATRY, PSYCHOLOGY, OR SELF REFORMATION.

The idea of “self-reformation” is nothing new. Mankind has, since the fall of man in the garden, tried to reform and change himself/herself. The religious leaders of Jesus’s day were depending on their own merit and abilities to have self-restraint, and self-reform. They may have kept themselves from the physical act of some sins, but the sin was still quite active in their own minds and hearts. If the sin issue is not dealt with in the heart and mind it will still be a problem in the life of the one who desires to change. The only way to deal with it in the heart and mind is through faith in Jesus Christ; and receiving a new heart, a transformed mind (Romans 12:1-2). The end result of self-reformation is like what Jesus mentions in our text. You might sweep and clean out the place, but if you don’t fill it with the Spirit of Christ it is still empty and you will end up worse than you were before.

One of the fruits of the Spirit of God is “Temperance” or “Self-control” (Galations 5:22-23). This fruit is by the Holy Spirit, and He gives through His power the mind and heart to say no to cigarettes, liquor, overeating – gluttony, sexual immorality (which would include sexual abuse of children), etc.. These things can have a way of bindiing us all. They need not control us. By the power of the Spirit we turn them away, by seeing what this does to Christ, by seeing what these things do to the Body of Christ, and the harm they will do to our own. The Christian who is under the dominion of any of these things is not walking in the Spirit of Christ. You, however, cannot get control in your own strength.

We can see so many people involved in so much religious activity, ceremony, ritual, rules, regulations, etc. and their lives are in miserable shape before God. They have the appearance of happiness, but they are still far from God. Self-reformation is truly the downfall of our own age. If you listen to Oprah, and many gurus which she follows; the answer for us is positive thinking, lifting up yourself, visualizing a better you, or a better future. Our only true hope is found in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you want to be a real “positive thinker” think like Jesus, and through Him seek to do only those things that please the Father.

When we achieve through our own abilities, or when we think we have, we have a tendency of pride, prideful rebellion against God. Pride is a destructive path more destructive than the most horrid of sins. Sin will be the judge of those who enjoy their sin (Jeremiah 2:19). Your own sins will judge you. The wicked generation who seeks not the things of God through His Son Jesus is in the direction of God’s eternal judgment.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jealous for Jerusalem

JEALOUS FOR JERUSALEM

“And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words. So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.” Zechariah 1:13-17 (KJV)

While there are numerous people who are telling us that the days of Israel, the days of Jerusalem being blessed by God are over; the Word of God declares their greatest days are just ahead. How close that may be we do not know. We do believe they are approaching quickly.

With a little consideration I have come to the conclusion that verse 12 belongs with these five verses. “Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which Thou hast had indignation these three score and ten years.” In every case where the phrase where “angel of the LORD” is used in Old Testament Scriptures it is a reference to a Christophany, or pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. We will look at this a little more in depth in the commentary following.

Providing that “angel of the LORD” is indeed a Christophany it would fit into the description of the ministry of Jesus Christ following His resurrection and ascension into Heaven. In verse 12 of our text He is pleading with the Father for mercy upon Jerusalem, and the other cities of Judah. Certainly this is fitting with the intercession which we are told of in Hebrews 7:25 – “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” The “three score and ten years” were the years of judgment that they had spent in captivity in Babylon and the land was left desolate. He is our advocate with the Father as I wrote of earlier.

The LORD of hosts who happens to be the Father spoke with “good words” unto the Son, and they were also “comfortable words”. The intercession of the Son always persuades the Father, and He promises good for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah. Just what did the LORD of hosts say? We are told that in verses 14 – 17. It should be noted that even in the Old Testament the people of God – Jerusalem and the cities – had an advocate with the Father; who plead for mercy for them. It also should be noted that we get our message through the Lord Jesus. Apart from the cross of Jesus we have no message.

The LORD of hosts has said, “I am jealous for Jerusalem and Zion…”. That explains the reason for the seventy years previously mentioned. When His people forsake Him He will set about to judge their departure, their hypocrisies, their sins. He always judges with the full intent of bringing them back into His grace and fellowship. We are also told that He is “displeased” with the ease of the pagan heathen who have conquered, devoured and taken into captivity His people. He was displeased with the behavior of Judah, Jerusalem, and the cities. Do you not suppose that though we have the names of the cities named He is referring to the occupants of those cities? Cities are made up of people. When Abraham was asking mercy for the “cities of the plain” (Genesis 13:12; 18:23-33), was he not pleading for mercy for the people; especially of Lot? I believe that to be so. The Lord does acknowledge that the heathen who are at the east were His aid for the affliction of His people.

God always desires His people to be at peace with Him, and as long as we are He protects us, keeps us, holds us, even will keep us healthy; but when we turn from Him and begin worshipping other things; those walls of protection, provision, and power come tumbling down. When those walls are down the enemy comes in, devours and captures us, and for God this is as an affliction to lure us into returning to Him. There are times, as well when God Himself will allow His people to be tested, as in the case of Job, in order to strengthen our faith, and in the end He will bless us. Am I saying what some of Job’s friends said concerning Job. They accused him of being unrighteous, therefore he was being judged by God, and all he had to do was repent. My summation of this kind of situation is the one who is going through these trials will know. They will know whether this is judgment for a sin or sins they have committed or if it is a trial from God. The latter one may not be realized until the trial is over, and maybe not until eternity with Jesus. None of us have the right, nor the authority to tell another individual Christian, “What you are experiencing is the judgment of God for sin in your life”, especially if we do not know of any sin in their life that may be the cause of the judgment. When we have known a fellow Christian’s life; when we have seen them live faithfully for the Lord, and they begin to experience hardships, sicknesses, financial ruin and collapse our summation of the matter should be that this is a test of God, and we should let them know that we will be there to help them in any way we possibly can; and that we will be praying for them. We do need to remember that as with the people of Judah so with Christians of today; God will do whatever it takes to make us holy.

God says, “I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: My house shall be built in it, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem”. Jerusalem is the city of God. It is the place where mercy and grace has been displayed to the world, by the death of God’s own Son, for our sins. The MacArthur Study Bible note for verses 16 and 17 state, “Not only would the temple be rebuilt which at that time had only foundations (cf. Hag. 2:18), but the city itself would again expand due to the prosperity (cf.Is.40:9,10). The wall was completed 75 years later. God would again comfort Jerusalem (cf.Is.40:1,2; 51:3, 12), and would again choose it as the place of His earthly throne (cf. Ps. 132:13). This will be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom of Messiah (cf. Rev. 20). Given the fact tht the returning Jews lost sight of their priorities (cf. Hag. 1:1-12), this message reaffirmed God’s plan. It should be noted that the millennial kingdom will provide the presence of God in Jerusalem (Ezek. 48:35), a glorious temple (Ezek.40-48), a rebuilt Jerusalem (Jer. 31:38-40), the nations punished (Matt. 25:31-46), the prosperity of Judah’s cities (Is. 60:4-9) the blessedness of the people (Zech. 9:17), and the comfort of Zion (Is.14:1).” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, NKJV, p.1340.

According to Scripture it is apparent that God will not fail in His promises and dealings with His Old Testament people. He will bring them to Christ Jesus their Messiah. “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins'” Romans 11:25-27 (NKJV).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Baptisms Are Down???

The following article was written by Ben Straten, and it seems at a time when many “Baptists” are more concerned with numbers than they are souls salvations this article is quite meaningful.  When “Baptists” seem more concerned with going along to get along, receiving alien emersions, and doing what comes natural to the world in the drinking of the liquor, and supporting the industry of drunkenness; we need to stop and pay attention.

Why the Decline in Southern Baptist Baptisms?

 

Recently it was reported in the news that the number of Southern Baptist baptisms had declined for the third straight year. In 2007 Southern Baptist churches baptized 345,941 people. This is considerably lower then 1972 when Southern Baptist churches baptized 445,725 people, the most in their history. So the question is why the great change in the number of Southern Baptist baptisms since 1972. Some are saying that we are not as evangelistic or as committed as we were back in 1972.

While there is some truth to this answer, there is another reason that is totally ignored in the blogs and denominational papers. Back in 1972 the vast majority of Southern Baptist churches rejected alien immersions. (that is non-Baptist baptisms) Thirty-five years ago when someone wanted to join a typical Southern Baptist church from a Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Disciples of Christ, etc. church they had to be “rebaptized” in order to join the church. Yet since 1972 hundreds of Southern Baptist churches have given up this practice. Today many Southern Baptist churches that thirty-five years ago would have rebaptized these non-Baptists who wanted to join their church, will now receive them by “statement”. That is one of the biggest reasons why the number of Southern Baptist baptisms is so much lower in 2007 than it was in 1972

Let’s continue being the Southern Baptists which we should be.  Be saved and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

-T.A.

Noah The Farmer; The Vineyard and the Wine

Noah The Farmer; The Vineyard, and His Wine

Anyone who would approach the study of beverage alcohol from a Biblical perspective, and would say that alcoholic beverage is not even referred to would be naive at the least and deceptive at the most. I am not going to approach it from either perspective. There is alcoholic wine in the Bible, and it was abused by godly people. Was it ever used properly? That may be an answer we will get to sometime later in these studies, conclusions, or essays.

The title suggest something to us of Noah. Noah of the ark, who built the ark designed by God. Noah; who found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Noah; who “walked with God”. Noah; who was used by God to save humankind from destruction.

In this post and future ones I make it no secret, my agenda is to try and persuade Christians against the use of beverage alcohol. This first post gives us a Bible example of the folly of drinking alcohol.

Hear the example of Noah from God’s Word:

“And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent.” Genesis 9:20 (NKJV).

Let me say here that there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with grapes and grape juice. Vineyards produce grapes, and with some effort from men, they will produce grape juice; and then, with some aging the juice will ferment and become alcoholic naturally with its sugars.

Drunkenness is clearly rebuked, and condemned by Scripture. Noah sinned by his drunkenness. Did he know that this fruit of the vine had become alcoholic, and lead to becoming drunk? Quite possibly. We learn from Noah, that even the best of juices need to be drank in moderation. Even water should be drank in moderation. The reason I bring that up is; just a several months ago, in 2007, a woman in the State of California, entered a contest seeing who could drink the most water the quickest, she won, and she died. The autopsy said she died of “Water intoxication”. Even with this though there was no harm that came to others.

In Noah’s case harm did come to others. He brought shame on His family. He brought a curse upon his grandson, and his heirs. Noah brought shame to himself.

“And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.” Genesis 9:21-23 (NKJV).

Surely you can see by Noah’s drunkenness, that if you never take up the habit of drinking the wine [any beverage alcohol] you will never get drunk. You will not bring this embarrassment into your family. You will not get in a car and harm other people on the highways, and roads of our land. You will not bring shame to your name, at least in this fashion.

There are many physicians which tell us that there are medicinal qualities in wine, and more in certain kinds of wine. One of my own doctors, after he had told me that my good cholesterol number was too low, and I asked him how to improve it told me, “Drinking a little wine would be one place to start”. For me that was completely out of the picture. I have heard the studies, which have told us that the pure fruit of the vine is just as good for those benefits, and I enjoy my daily glass of red grape juice. Grapejuice does have all the medicinal qualities that wine does. There is scientific evidence which proves it. And the juice does it without alcohol. There are no health qualities in beverage alcohol. That is no excuse for drinking, and taking the chance of getting drunk. The only medicinal use I could think of for alcohol is for cuts and bruises, and maybe for dulling of the senses when a minor surgery or something would be done without any other anesthetic available.

Look what happened to Noah; sure he had every right to enjoy the fruits of his labor. He evidently had purposely made the wine; then he proceeded to drink the wine and very much over did himself, and became drunkened by the alcohol, then he did something he would not in his normal state of mind done. He uncovered himself openly in his tent. The thing about the drinking of anything alcoholic is that you never know how much it will take to cause you to lose your moral decision making process. How can a Christian in a society which is driven by alcohol stand in their church, or any Christian setting and argue and defend the drinking of beverage alcohol? I say “society which is driven by alcohol” because when a news channel for two years in a row on “Derby Day” gives a recipe on the making of a “mint Julip” or something like that – which is a purly strong alcoholic drink – and they live as though it is just a dream drinking the beverages; it is surely a society driven by alcohol. Many of the commercials on television and in Newspapers, and magazines are from the alcohol industry.

Noah did not have the pressure of society to cause him to drink to drunkenness; and preachers today scream legalism when other preachers, teachers or myself tell us it is a matter of calling to righteous and holy living and protecting the name of Christ. The more the preachers speak of silence from the Scriptures concerning beverage alcohol, the more the numbers of alcoholics and drunks will increase. Whether we want to accept it or not, our silence is our approval. Your people, old and the young especially, are waiting to hear from you. Give them the facts, give them the pictures, give them the warnings from God’s Word, and trust God to work. If you are God’s man in the pulpit you have that responsibility. If you don’t you may start finding your people’s moral compasses failing; or even your own.

I pray this will make you think before you drink. You may not be able to think afterwards.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Being a Servant

Being a Servant

“Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.” Genesis 18:4-8 (KJV)

Abraham’s desire for the LORD to stay gives him opportunity to be a servant, and he got his whole house involved in the service. He took care of getting it all together himself. There are some things in the service of the Lord we must do ourselves. He fetched the calf himself, yet had a young man dress it for him. He went to Sarah and asked her to prepare the grain for the bread. There is an important application needed here and that is that no one can serve the Lord for us. We must serve Him ourselves.

Another thing we learn from this episode of Scripture is that husbands must lead their wives in serving the Lord. It is important that the whole household worship the Lord God. The home is friendlier, and much more blessed by such a family atmosphere. There is praise and appreciation of each member, and especially that of the presence of the Lord Himself.

There is a quote from the Matthew Henry Commentary which says, “Hearty friendship will stoop to any thing but sin. Christ Himself has taught us to wash one another’s feet, in humble love.”

These angels and the LORD accepted the servanthood and fellowship of Abraham. There is a scene presented here which one day all believers gathered around the throne of God will be able to sit at the Lord’s feet, wash His feet, kiss His feet, and worship Him to our heart’s content. The Lord was well pleased with Abraham’s worship and service. They received the meat and the bread and they did eat. God accepts the humble service of those who look for His presence.

Reading of this event should remind us of Hebrews 13:2, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Have you ever saw an individual in your church, your business, or at work who just seemed to always move toward helping others. It didn’t matter if they were strangers or the person with what some would call the “Least important,” or “Less noticed position” there was; they would move to help that person. That is because in most cases the one who does that has the gift of serving. These people serve without requiring anything or expecting anything in return. In most cases they would just as soon not even be recognized for doing it. In a lot of cases they will do good things when no one is watching, so as not to be noticed and recognized. That was the heart of our Savior, and that was the heart of Abraham.

Let’s look at every stranger, and those we know as being the presence of God. When we do that we will begin to treat one another differently. Am I faithful to practice servanthood all times? NO!!! But I do know that God is still working on me. I know that all of us do not have the gift of service, so we need to work at it a little bit harder. I am learning. Not having the gift is no excuse for not serving others. Some have entertained/served angels without being aware of it.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Greater King

A Greater King

“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” Matthew 12:42 (KJV).

We have already gave mention to this verse in the commentary on the preceding verses. It is the third mention of a “greater than”. Jesus is the One who is greater than the temple (v. 6) = the greatest Priest. He is the One who is greater than Jonah (v. 41) = the greatest Prophet. Now we see that He is the One who is greater than Solomon.

What is the significance of Solomon? He was the third king of the nation of Israel. He was the wisest man who ever lived other than the One of whom we speak in this study. He was the wealthiest of all the kings of Israel, and was a king of peace. Under Solomon’s reign was Israel’s greatest days. There was peace all around. When Jesus reigns from His throne in Jerusalem He will then be, and already is, the wisest of all men. His kingdom will be wealthier than it has ever been, He is already the wealthiest of all kings. It will be Israel’s greatest days. There will be peace in every nation. He is in fact the King of kings.

The Queen of Sheba had heard many things concerning Solomon, was on her own search for wisdom so went to Solomon to find out for herself. Here is what the Word of God tells us; “The queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, so she came to test Solomon with difficult questions at Jerusalem with a very large retinue, with camels bearing spices, gold in abundance, and precious stones. She came to Solomon and spoke with him about everything that was on her mind. So Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too difficult for Solomon to explain to her. When the queen of Sheba observed Solomon’s wisdom, the palace he had built, the food at his table, his servants’ residence, his attendants’ service and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and the burnt offerings he offered at the Lord’s temple, it took her breath away. She said to the king, ‘The report I heard in my own country about your words and about your wisdom is true. But I didn’t believe their reports until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, I was not even told half of your great wisdom! You far exceed the report I heard. How happy are your men. How happy are these servants of yours, who always stand in your presence hearing your wisdom. May the Lord your God be praised! He delighted in you and put you on his throne as king for the Lord your God. Because Your God loved Israel enough to establish them forever, He has set you over them as king to carry out justice and righteousness.’ Then she gave the king four and a half tons of gold, a great quantity of spices, and precious stones. There never were such spices as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. In addition, Hiram’s servants and Solomon’s servants who brought gold from Ophir also brought algum wood and precious stones. The king made the algum wood into walkways for the Lord’s temple and for the king’s palace and into harps and lyres for the singers. Never before had anything like them been seen in the land of Judah. King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba her every desire, whatever she asked—far more than she had brought the king. Then she, along with her servants, returned to her own country.” 2 Chronicles 9:1-12 (HCSB) This is the testimony of one who witnessed the greatness and wisdom of Solomon. There are millions more who have experienced and will experience the greatness and wisdom of Jesus Christ.

Wisdom and understanding for ruling the people was what Solomon petitioned the Lord for in his prayer, and because to this the Lord granted to Him not only the greatest wisdom and understanding, but also power and wealth. There are many scholars and others who seem to think that the queen of Sheba and Solomon had sexual relations. There is really no evidence of such from Scripture, or that she took YaHWeH as her personal God. She only recognized God as the national God of Israel (1 Kings 10:1-10)

The scribes and Pharisees whom Jesus is addressing certainly have none of Solomon’s wisdom and understanding. It is almost certain that had the Lord Jesus been appearing before Solomon he would have known who stood there in his presence. Though the queen of Sheba may not have truly believed in God, her belief was that Solomon’s God had given him great wisdom and riches, and by what she had seen and witnessed stands as a judgment against the generation which condemned and rejected and continues to reject Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ the greatest Priest; the greatest Prophet; and the greatest King. He is the fulfillment of all Scripture – Prophet, Priest, and King.

God had used Solomon to get the attention of a foreign queen and she saw the greatness of God. The generation to whom Jesus spoke had One greater than Solomon, and they were rejecting Him. In our generation of 2008 Jesus Christ still lives, His message of grace through faith is still proclaimed; and there are those on the foolish side who desire to change it; keep out the cross, to never discuss the sinfulness of mankind; but instead make claims of the greatness of mankind, and our achievements, our technology, our wisdom. The people of Nineveh to who Noah preached, and the queen of Sheba still speak against the wisdom of this age, and declare to us Jesus Christ is Lord. Hear Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Man and the Horses

THE MAN AND THE HORSES

“Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Sebat, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white. Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be. And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth. And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest. Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?” Zechariah 1:7-12 (KJV)

It seems that my view of these horses and the man among the myrtles is going to be a bit contrary to those who I would give the greater credit for their many more years of learning than myself. However, here is what I am seeing in Zechariah’s vision. An angel is speaking to the prophet, thus Zechariah calls him, “my lord”, as opposed to the “LORD” of verse seven and the following verses where Jehovah/YaHWeH is represented in the text. It does not seem clear to me that the Angel of the LORD is the one who has been riding on the “Red horse”.

It seems more clear that the rider on the “Red horse” is being held at bay by the man standing in the myrtles. Zechariah’s question as to ‘What are these?’, and the angel who was with him means to give him understanding. The man standing among the myrtles, does not seem to be on horseback, as do the others, and gives the answer, “These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth”. The walking ‘to and fro through the earth’ seems to me to be a clue as to their identity. This same phrase is used in the book of Job 1:7 and Job 2:2 where this is used speaking of the devil and the “sons of God”. There are similar horses mentioned in Revelation 6:1-8, and it has been said by some that the white horse rider of the Revelation is Christ, if He is seen as having already come the second time, or that He is visible only in His Church and that the Church will be victorious on the earth.

The myrtle tree is a lowly tree, and grows in the lowlands; the valleys, and hollows of the country. They could represent the lowliness of the nation of Israel. Here is the study note for “among the myrtle trees in the hollow. Myrtle trees wer associated with booth-making at the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev.23:33-44; Neh. 8:15) and with messianic blessing (cf. Is. 41:19; 55:13), and thereby possibly speak of restoration and blessing. Their location in the hollow has been thought to refer to a low place where such shrubs would flourish. Because of the lowliness (these shrubs would never exceed 8:ft. in height)commonness, fragrance (from white blossoms), and abundance in flourishing places, it is best to see these as representing Israel, God’s people. They are the lowly and yet enriched people. Their lowliness in thehollow could also refer to Israel’s current humiliation.” MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, p.1340.

In the vision the prophet would be seeing that the devil had been a disciplining tool of God during the seventy years of judgment upon Judah. The red horse would be a symbol of blood shed; much blood has been shed during the battles and dispersion of the Hebrew people. The angel of the LORD is probably the Lord Jesus as a theophany – preincarnate manifestation. He is the One standing among the “myrtle trees”, but I do not notice Him on any of the horses.

These horseman could have been walking “to and fro throughout the earth” for the purpose of destruction of the Hebrews who had all been taken captive with the exception of a small remnant which Jeremiah followed into Egypt. With the rest of the earth at rest the angel of the LORD pleads with the LORD of hosts for mercy on all Judah, and mercy on Jerusalem since there has been seventy years of judgment.

It is not the horsemen who plead mercy. It is the angel of the LORD who pleads for mercy for all Judah and the city of Jerusalem. “…We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” 1 John 2:1; and “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV), and while He pleads with His Father He holds the demon legions at bay. The Lord Jesus is the reason for mercy upon the whole world, and for grace for all who will call upon His name. It is because of the mercy of God that His wrath has not fallen on us all.

Jesus Christ is returning one day on a white horse, and that is according to the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter 19:11-16; and at that point and time will deal with those who “dwell upon the earth”, ie., those whose hearts are on material things, have refused the Lord, His Word and His messengers, and believe that humanity has the answer for all that ills the earth. He will rule with a rod of iron, and there will be no wars, and the earth will have plenty after His restoration.

It is by the cross of Jesus that He entered that spiritual darkness, experiences the wrath of the Father, pays our sin debt, and defeats the devil and his demons. In which He also pleads mercy for His brethren who have endured seventy years of judgment starting in Babylon then on to Ahasuerus, and to Cyrus who gave the first authorization for the rebuilding of the temple.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Returning Repentance

Returning Repentance

With the revelation of the pretensious treachery of Judah God again extends mercy to the northern kingdom of Israel. Though they had departed from God and since the departure from the southern kingdom, had never really had much worship and care for God they were not pretentious in their behavior. You will not find one righteous king among the people of Israel. Jereboam, the first king of Israel, it is said of Him, “Jereboam did not turn from his evil way…” (1 Kings 13:33). And, that is of all the kings of Israel.

One clear thing that we can see from this invitation from God through the prophet Jeremiah is that God hates pretention, hypocrisy, and He extends mercy to all.

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and have not obeyed My voice,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:11-13 (NKJV).

It is amazing to me the number of people who have told me, and some I have heard of from others who do not believe that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same. Right here is clear evidence of it. God is merciful, gracious, and loving in the Old Testament. He has always longed for His backsliding people to return to Him.

The northern kingdom got off in a backsliding agenda. Their first king, Jereboam set up two idols for them to worship, and keep the people from returning to Jerusalem. He set up a golden calf in Dan, and one at Bethel. None of the following kings had a heart for God and hated His prophets. They sacrificed their children in the fire. Worshipped many false gods, and were perverse in their behavior. Now God pleads with them to repent.

My, how God’s heart grieves for His people. He calls for repentance. Though it is not immediately seen God will accomplish His Word, and His people will return to Him. Hosea, the prophet had a wife who turned from him to pagan, idolatrous, prostitution, and worship of pleasure rather than the God of glory. Hosea pursues his wife, and this is the picture of God pursuing His nation of people to bring them back to Himself.

This was accomplished. The people who came back from the captivity of Babylon were a mixed people. People of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms returned together, and they have been one nation since that time. They were one nation in the time of Jesus. They will be one nation through all time.

When God calls for His people to repent He is calling for us to turn from going the wrong direction, ie., away from Him, and turn around and go with Him. No matter what we have done; no matter how evil and vile; no matter our guilt, or our associations; God’s call to return is still powerful and valid. If you have gotten out of His will; if you are still in your sins; if your life is in a real mess; and if your worship has grown cold; then His call to return to Him is for you. He asks only that you acknowledge your iniquity – that you had turned from Him to sin. He is merciful, will hear your cry, and will receive you back to a walk with Him. Coming to God is made possible through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His receiving the judgment of sin that was ours; by His burial, in that our sins were carried away; and it was sealed by the resurrection from the dead as evidence that all of God’s Word is true. Trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

We have all sinned. We all fall short of His glory, and yet He calls us to Himself. Repentance is Returning to God. Returning to God is Repentance.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The LORD is In His Temple

The Fifth Promise

“But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20

We have looked at the previous four promises from chapter 1:3; 2:3, 4, 14, and the final one now in 2:20. These are wonderful promises. It is especially wonderful that the final promise is one which gives us assurance that the LORD is in His temple. There is assurance in that, because, that tells us that He is still in control.

From the MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE we read, “2:20 holy temple. A reference to heaven, from where the Lord rules (Ps. 11:4) and answers the prayers of those who seek Him (1 Kings 8:28-30: Ps. 73:17).” p. 1321.

It seems that there is something here very personal for the follower of Christ as well. Since the Father who is in His holy temple sent His Son, and His Son died on the cross for our sins, and He rose again; He then sent His Spirit to dwell within all those who are His. “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Romans 8:9a (NKJV). Jesus Christ is in you who know Him and are known by Him. The LORD will not leave His temple.

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV).

When all the earth comes to realize that God is the Supreme Ruler all will be silent before Him. The Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10. In the New Testament we read, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10-11 (NKJV).

The worship of idols always requires much noise, adulation, because they have nothing to offer. Thus much false fire. The God who made the heavens, the earth and all things in it and on it cries for our silence. Let Him be glorified by His own glory. On Habakkuk 2:20 the CRISWELL STUDY BIBLE states: “2:20 “But” signifies a striking contrast with the nothingness of idols. Jehovah the invisible God is occupying His holy temple, ready to intervene omnipotently for the deliverance and protection of His people and the destruction of their enemies. He inspires solemn adoration and profound silence (cf. Ps.68:5; Zeph. 1:7; Zech. 2:13)” p. 1047 KJV.

Only false gods [idols] require much hoopla, and noise. Our God, Father of Jesus is the light of His own glory. Rest in Him who is in His temple.

-by Tim A. Blankenship