The King/Good Shepherd Feeds His Flock

“And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.” Matthew 14:14-21 (KJV)

Because of the works and miracles which Jesus had done there was a great multitude of people who had followed Him (v. 13). This was a large group of people. The men were the only ones counted, but considering there would have been wives and children, and if only a wife and one child per man that would be 15,000 people whom Jesus fed on this great day.

 

We see in verse fourteen that many of them followed who had family members who were sick, and many of the men themselves were probably ill as well. Jesus was a compassionate man, the one who was fully man and fully God. His heart burned with compassion for the people. When they brought their sick to Him “He healed their sick”. There was no fanfare, no showmanship, no calling for the sick to even come down an aisle, they came to Jesus, He touched them, and they were healed. He simply spoke the Word to demons and they would flee.

At the approaching of evening, and thus, the time for Supper; the disciples became a little anxious; wondering how they would feed so many. Their thoughts were, “Let’s send them on their way home. We don’t have enough for all these people to eat.” When Jesus said, “They need not depart; give them to eat.” the disciples said to Him, “We have here but five loaves, and two fishes”, and these came from a little boys lunch which he had brought along with him (John 6:9). I don’t think this “lad” could have ever imagined that so little food coming from his home could ever feed so many, nor did the disciples, even when Andrew had discovered the boy, they said, “What is this among so many”.

Needless to say Jesus said, “Bring them to Me”, ie., the five loaves and the two fish. Jesus the Good Shepherd, the King of Israel, knew what He would do. Let me say here that there are people who do not believe that Jesus actually did miracles, by maybe magic tricks. There is one theory I have heard that Jesus had prearranged this event by having baskets of food already stored in caves near the site, and when evening came He prayed over the five loaves and two fish, and POOOF!!! there appeared all this food. That is not what the Scripture text even implies. They took the loaves and the fish, and began dividing it among the people; breaking the bread, and the fish, and as they were giving it out it continued multiplying. The God of creation; who created all things from nothing can surely multiply what has been given to share with others. As the LORD Himself has asked Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14).

At this point in the ministry of Jesus the disciples had seen Jesus do many mighty things. You would think that they would know what Jesus was about to do. They are, however, doubtful and not believing. We could jump on them about their lack of faith, but what about me? What about Christians of our day? The greatest work that Jesus came to do was done on the cross for our sins — His dying, carrying our sins away in His burial, then His resurrection. The miracles, the signs He gave were only evidence the Son of God was here. His death, burial and resurrection is His greatest accomplishment. Why then, are we so surprised about a miracle? The greatest miracle is the saving of a soul. Yet I hear Christians say, “We don’t see miracles today because we don’t have faith.” Oh, we don’t. Then how are you saved? Are you saved? That statement makes a mockery out of His death, burial and resurrection and the faith of every saint of God.

When Jesus had taken the bread and the fish He commanded them to sit down on the grass. Now I am going to take particular interest in this command. That Matthew records that Jesus commanded that they sit down on the grass has great significance. First of all we see him as the Shepherd (Mark 6:34) of David’s 23rd Psalm. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Here Jesus is at the time of their hungering, and He is getting ready to provide for their sustenance. He has provided healing, renewing and strength; and He gave them much teaching as well (Mark 6:34). See the next phrase of the Psalm – “He makes me to lie down in green pastures” Mark’s gospel even records that Jesus said, “green grass”. The grass, of course, was not for the people to eat; as it would be for sheep; but for their comfort while being taught, and for receiving their nourishment for the evening.

One of the things this shows of the multitudes of people is that they were spiritually starving. There spiritual leaders had deserted them as far as good Scriptural teaching was concerned, and they would not only receive this from Jesus, but they would have their physical needs met as well. How are pastors of churches doing today? If we are giving them good, Biblical, Spirit led, and taught messages then, they should be filled and overflowing with the Spirit of God. It is up to the preacher to see that he is delivering the message of the Word of God to the people. It is, however, up to the people to listen, hear, and practice what the Lord is teaching them through their pastor and preacher.

When Jesus had seated the people, He took the bread and the fish, looked to the Father in Heaven and blessed the food; then, he broke the bread and the fish; probably into a portion for each disciple; and then the passed the food around, and it multiplied. Bread and fish was running over the area. The stomachs of the people were filled, and their was a large portion of food remaining over; much more than what they had began with. They all ate; at least 15,000 people; and they were all filled. Not one person was going to go back home, leaving hungry.

There were 12 baskets full of food left over. That could mean that each of the twelve disciples took home a basket of food. God supplies the needs of His workers; caring for the needs of the people. When we have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives we have plenty to share with our family, our neighors, relatives, and even those who might see us as their enemies. “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38 (KJV). There is an abundant supply; however, access to it may be only for a short time.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Cleansed – Clothed in Rich Robes

In the previous verses (3:1-2), Joshua the high priest, and Satan stood beside him, before the angel of the LORD, who is most likely our Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan’s position beside Joshua is the position of accusation. Joshua represents the nation of God’s people. The devil, Satan, is not only the accuser of Israel, but the accuser of the brethren of Jesus Christ – the Church (Revelation 12;10). he was even the accuser of Jesus Christ. He is accusing Jesus in Matthew 4 when he says, “If you are the son of God…”, saying it twice within the event of Christ’s temptation, then, the third temptation questions His loyalty by bidding his worship for himself..

The accusations of the devil may be, and are true of Joshua and of Israel – the one he represents. The “filthy garment” definitely show us that to be true as a picture. The nation has defiled itself and made herself vile and filthy.

“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘ See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” Zechariah 3:3-4 (NKJV)

Joshua the high priest standing before the LORD must have felt the shame of the garments, and the accusations of the devil, but the LORD does not condemn him; He gives him a clean garment (v. 5). We first notice that word is given to those who were with the Angel, “Take away the filthy garments…”.

These filthy garments were probably the typical high priestly garments worn by them to conduct their priestly duties. These were filthy, and in this can be seen a likeness to Isaiah’s words, “…and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6). The nation was full of righteousness; the problem was it had nothing to do with the righteousness of God; only self-righteousness. They were filthy due to the pretense and hypocrisy of their attempts at worship and involving their worship to foreign gods; they were idolatrous, backslidden, and this included the prophets, the priests and the people (Isaiah 24:2; Jeremiah 5:30-31); and the prophet Hosea said, “And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings” (Hosea 4:9).

God was not pleased with the priesthood of Israel, nor of the nations as a whole. That is the reasons for their continued captivities, and their recent returning to their promised land. They are still under judgment for their rejection of their Messiah Jesus.

That judgment will be changed, as this filthy garment is taken away and discarded, their iniquities will pass from them, and a new garment is given them. “Take away the filthy garments…” sounds similar to the call of Paul the apostles “Put off…” in Colossians 3:8; “Put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth…” and “Lie not to one another seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9).

Though the “Take away…” is done by God and is seen as grace and mercy and a total work of God, and probably is a great picture of salvation, deliverance, and the “iniquity” passing from them is purely a work of God; the “change of raiment” (KJV), is a clear act of justification. When there has been the change of life through faith in Jesus Christ; an exchange of our filthy garments for His clean garments – rich robes; we are then given the power and presence of the Spirit within to put off those vile things that interfere with our Christian walk. The old is taken away before the new is applied.

The grace of God is clearly seen in the Old Testament as in the New. There is a picture, type, shadow, a “Scarlet thread of redemption” seen all the way through to the cross of Jesus Christ. From Genesis 1 through Revelation 22 we see Jesus the Christ. Our sins and the accuser is by our side condemning us, but the grace and blood of Christ takes it all away, and He clothes us in His righteousness. Blessed be the name of the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Accuser Sent Away

“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.” Genesis 21:9-21 (KJV)

Hear the words of the apostle Paul concerning this event:

“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” Galations 4:22-30 (KJV).

Abraham and Sarah had gathered the whole family to celebrate the weaning of Isaac. It was at this celebration that the heart and attitude of Ishmael is seen for what it is. He had the belief that he would be the promised son, the heir of all that was Abraham’s; that is what is implied by this story. The child named laughter relating to at least three different forms of laughter; 1) Sarah’s laugh of unbelief or frustration; 2) Abraham’s laugh of “I can’t wait”; and 3) Ishmael’s laughter of mockery, and a fourth would be and is certainly the meaning “laughter of joy” which was the expression of both Abraham and Sarah at the fulfillment of the promise.

The mother’s heart of Sarah could not endure the mockery; which was most likely inspired by Hagar, and done by Ishmael; and realized they both would need to leave – Hagar and son Ishmael. Ishmael would have been at least sixteen years of age at this point in his life, and here he is as a sixteen year old mocking at least a two year old boy. The age of Ishmael can be determined by seeing the age of Abraham at the time of the boy’s birth [Ishmael’s] which was 86 (Genesis 16:16) then Abraham’s age at the time of Isaac’s birth (21:5) 100, then if Isaac was two years of age at the time of his weaning that would make Ishmael 16. Once before Sarah had became angry with Hagar, mostly from jealousy, because Hagar was expecting by Sarah’s husband (Genesis 16:5-16), Sarah had probably flogged her, or beat her, threatening her, and Hagar fled; and at that time the LORD appeared to her, told her to return, and submit to Sarah as her head; and God promised to make from the son [Ishmael] a nation. At no time had Hagar been given the promise of receiving the inheritance of Abraham, nor would her son. She had received a promise from the LORD, which is seen in verses 10 – 12 of chapter 16.

There is no doubt that Ishmael is an adversary. He is, however, an evidence that we reap what we sow. Because of a lack of patience, of failing to wait on the LORD’s time and place, Sarah convinced Abraham to go against the promise, by supposedly hurrying it along. One thing we all can learn is that God’s promise is not averted, or aborted because of our sinful, impatient behavior. Thus, Hagar becomes a symbol of the condemnation, and bondage of the law. Hagar as a bond woman gives birth contrary to the promise, and according to the understood law the first born was to be heir to the inheritance of the father. The son of promise [Isaac] was God’s heir to the promises of God. We are not being wise when we try to help God fulfill His promises through weak, fleshly, human efforts and means. Only the flesh can be glorified in such case; and not the LORD.

Is Paul the apostle telling us that the Law [Ten Commandments] is of the flesh? God gave them to Moses. Does that answer the question? If any man or woman, boy or girl could keep the law, fulfilling the will of the LORD for their lives, then they would have much to boast of; however, the law condemns us in the flesh, because none can keep it to the letter; only Jesus could, and did.

Isaac is a portrait of the Christ; who is Jesus; and that is seen as he is a son of promise. Jesus is the anti-type, because He is the fulfillment of the portrait. A picture, or portrait is not the real thing, but only an image of the real thing. If you have a picture of your child, or grandchild and the live child standing beside you which would you choose, if you had to make a choice between the two? You would choose the real, living child standing beside you. The picture is good for when they are away to remind us of their being, and person, their love and warmth.

Hagar is part of the “allegory” which gives bondage, because she was a bond woman put in the place of promise; but that was not to be. Sarah is part of the “allegory” which represents Jerusalem and the promise; “Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband” Isaiah 54:1 as quoted in Galations by Paul.

Abraham is instructed to listen to his wife; “Listen to her voice”. This casting out is a God thing though may not be understood, by Hagar, Ishmael, or their descendants; and many others. Remember this: God is just in doing whatever He chooses concerning His people and His creation; to accomplish and bring about His purposes and will.

We must note that Abraham did not just send Hagar and Ishmael out without food and water leaving them at the mercy of the elements. He gave her freedom, and she could go where she pleased; her life was at the mercy of the LORD. That is far better than being at the mercy men.

Hagar finds herself without water and fearful for her son. She thinks Ishmael is going to die of thirst. This is a trial of faith for Hagar. Doesn’t she remember the promise of before, when Sarah has ran her away, because of her impudence, and disobedience? The LORD appears to her again, and reminds her; “fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.” (vv. 17-18). The LORD had not forsaken her, but was going to fulfill His promise to her. God never breaks His Word. Even when we sin He still keeps His promises.

We know; and all too well how this promise has been fulfilled. The descendants of Ishmael still hate and persecute the children of the promise. Ishmael the accuser, the one who hates the promised child of Abraham. Paul’s words of this matter,

“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” Romans 9:3-8 (KJV)

They are the children of Abraham, but according to flesh. Isaac is the child of promise, and all who will believe by faith, in the Living Promise of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Bad Link – Removed

It is said and has been proven to be true that “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”.  I don’t think that had any thing to do with “Links” at websites, but maybe it did.

I clicked on one of the links in the side bar of Fire and Hammer and discovered that it took me to a site that is not fit for human viewing.  To put it clearly it was a pornography site.  Anyway, I want to apologize if you clicked on “Along the Mississippi” and it took you where you had no intention of going.  it has been deleted from this blog and the others where I had it listed.

Please let me know if you find any link in my blogs which is not decent for reading or viewing.  It shouldn’t be allowed on the internet.

Thanks for your help and forgiveness.

T.A.

A Dry Wind

“At that time it will be said to this people and to Jerusalem, ‘ A dry wind of the desolate heights blows in the wilderness toward the daughter of My people–Not to fan or to cleanse– A wind too strong for these will come for Me; Now I will also speak judgment against them. Behold, he shall come up like clouds, and his chariots like a whirlwind. His horses are swifter than eagles. Woe to us, for we are plundered!” Jeremiah 4:11-13 (NKJV).

The prophet continues to warn of coming judgment if there is no true repentance. The heart of God is grieved, and the heart of the prophet grieves as well. He does not speak these words with glee as a child rejoices in a new gift, or a teen rejoices in receiving a new car; or an adult male who has just gotten married and is going on the honeymoon. The prophet is practically in a begging mode, as to say please repent before the judgment comes.

Jeremiah is known as the “‘Weeping prophet”, because of verses like chapter nine verse one. We will look at that later, but we can tell this man’s heart is broken for his people. It does grieve the man or woman of God when they see judgment coming on the people and the people don’t see, or want to see it, and they refuse to repent.

The judgment that was coming was like a dry desert storm, a sand storm, coming relentlessly, and anything that got in its way would be devastated; and it was coming toward the people of God, “My people…” (v. 11). This storm that was coming was not to provide a refreshing breeze to blow away chaff from wheat, nor for cleansing. This was for judgment. In this storm, with this storm would be such strong winds that it is too strong to stand against, because it is for the name of the LORD; “These will come for Me;” and it is the voice of God who is proclaiming judgment, because of their hardened and cold hearts toward Him.

The one Jeremiah refers to as coming “…up like clouds…” is Nebuchadnezzar, and his military might, coming with great speed, and power. It almost seems that Nebuchadnezzar and his force was almost right outside the city, and if not they were coming with great speed and would be to Jerusalem very soon. When the watchman sounds the warning, there is little time for repentance; it is time, however for repentance. The prophet describes the horses of the king of Babylon as being “swifter than eagles”. The description of the coming is almost as though it had already taken place, yet it is a future event, but not to distant future.. Notice the prophet’s words, “Woe to us, for we are plundered.” They have waited too long to repent to avert the judgment. It is, however, never too late to repnt and receive the cleansing, forgiveness and favor of God.

We live in a world, especially the United States of America, where no one ever sees the judgment of God. Some frown on the thought that AIDS could be the judgment of God upon our nation, and the world because of the “innocent who suffer from it”. Babies, the spouse who was infected due to an unfaithful spouse, a bad blood transfusion all considered to be the “innocent ones”. I wonder how many babies, and innocent spouses died in the flood? God is righteous and just, and He can judge however He chooses, and still be righteous and just in doing so. I am angered by what is happening in the State of California, however, with the allowance of marriages between same sex couples, I find that to be God’s judgment, and that there have been hundreds of fires started the week following the States verdict, were started by lightning, as a warning to repent. Not only that but there have also been a few earthquakes. God is not judging??? What about the floods in the midwest, and the thousands of acres of farmland that is under water??? What about the tornadoes that have touched, destroye, and devastated many lives, homes, cities, and States??? A Dry Wind dries things out, and makes them right for burning. At the time of this writing (June 25, ’08 ) there is a real “dry storm” brewing on the coast of California, and they need some wet rain. Lord, “In wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:2.

God is calling for the repentance of His Church, His people; and for His people to be faithful in proclaiming His Word. If you are a Christian, you are a watchman. That requires faithful attention to the calls for repentance and judgments of God. If God’s people are blind to them, we can never expect the unrighteous to repent. God’s judgment is coming, it is already here, and it is real. God is patiently awaiting, but for how much longer.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Moral Providence

The Lord willing this will be my final quotation from the Peter Marshall/David Manuel books. I pray you have found them inspiring, and uplifting as well as helping inspire a patriotic heart for God and our nation.

“The biggest difference between the self-styled prophets of the New Israel and those of the original chosen people was that the Old Testament prophets invariably included an if: If God’s people repent, humble themselves, and obey Him, then will He forgive them and bless their land. But if they do not obey His commandments, then will His judgment come upon them. Very few nineteenth-century visionaries speaking of America’s Manifest Destiny mentioned the negative alternative. Lyman Beecher, however, was one:’

‘If this nation is, in the providence of God, destined to lead the way in the moral and political emancipation of the world, it is time she understood her high calling, and were harnessed for the work. For mighty causes, like floods and distant mountains, are rushing with accumulating power to their consummation of good or evil, and soon our character and destiny will be stereotyped forever.” From “FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA” p. 371 paperback

There is great need for this realization today. If, it is not too late to turn around.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Laughter Comes

“And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.” Genesis 21:1-8 (KJV)

It seems that the original promise had only been given to Abraham, yet it is reasonable, profitable, and Biblical to believe that Sarah was the woman through whom a “great nation” was to come (Genesis 12:1-3ff.). Abraham is assured of this promise many times, and I am sure he gives assurances to Sarah concerning this promise, that God has promised them a son, or children. Sarah knew of the promise when she presented the Hagar idea (Genesis 16:1-3ff), and Abraham followed her insistent pleading. In the seventeenth chapter God renews the promise to Abraham, and for the first time mentions the name of Sarai; changing the names from Abram to Abraham, and Sarai to Sarah. Yet, only Abraham hears the voice of the LORD.

It is not until the eighteenth chapter that we have the LORD, in person, speaking directly to Abraham. and Sarah nearby hearing the promise “I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:10a). It is at this point that she laughs. Is it a laugh of unbelief, or a laugh of frustration with the thought, “Yeah, right, like a ninty year old woman could have a baby”? It could be a little bit of both, yet knowing well God’s promise has not yet been fulfilled.

The first verse of our text tells us “And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said…” Remember what the LORD has said, “Sarah thy wife shall have a son“. Oh, how precious to have a visit from the LORD. Mary, the mother of Jesus, could tell us much about that. The birth of Isaac and the birth of Jesus are both precious miracle births. The first due to the age of the woman, and the second due to the fact that she was a virgin. Some would allow and argue that all human births are miracles, but I would beg to differ. These were also miracle conceptions, because God alone determined the person who would be born. I could agree with all conceptions being a miracle of God. There are a couple more miracle births mentioned in Scripture; the birth of Samson, though we are not told of her age we are told that she was barren (Judges 13:2-3), this birth is a miracle because God said it, brought it to pass and named the boy; another is the birth of John the Baptist to elderly parents who had been barren, similar to Abraham and Sarah (Luke 1:5-25). You could add one more and that being the birth of Samuel in 1 Samuel 1:1-2:11. Samuel came as a result of believing prayer on the part of his mother.

The conception of Jesus in the womb of His mother was different from them all. His mother was a virgin at the time of conception, and remained a virgin until after Jesus was born; “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” Matthew 1:24-25 (KJV). The Father of Jesus is the God of Creation. That is not true of Isaac, Samson, Samuel, or John the Baptist. No one can say they have God as their Father, except Jesus Christ alone.

In the conception of Isaac God came to Sarah and opened her womb, caused the seed of Abraham to fertilize the egg of Sarah, and designed the male baby, that would grow to become a man of faith. There is a promise here to all people who believe God; that promise being that He will fulfill His Word, and His promises. There should be no doubts about that.

Laughter was the name of the son who was born to them. The happy, joyous couple must have danced with joy upon knowing she was pregnant, and then, they were filled with joy, excitement waiting for that son to be born. Laughter and joy fills mothers and fathers of every era of time and parents of different ages too. As I write this I am in the fifty fourth Summer of my life, and I could not begin to imagine having children at that age. Our children are all in homes of their own, with children, with the exception of our youngest and his wife. The grand children are a joy. I would not want to think of having to diaper, feed and clothe, and care for everyday, a newborn baby of our own. There are couples who are waiting till they are older to have children, then, are having more difficulty conceiving. When they do conceive, they are really joyous about it, and may God bless them.

How Sarah’s heart must have yearned those nine months to hold, and suckle that baby boy, as she was waiting for his birth. The anticipation, the waiting, the excitement, and the exuberance that must have flooded her soul, and that of Abraham’s too. The Church has been given the promise of the return of our Lord and Savior; but where, oh where, is the anticipation, the waiting, the excitement and the exuberance in the Church for His return? It is hardly even mentioned in the pulpits of today. It is given rather to being spiritual, not real, but having to do with a person’s salvation, or their death. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28 (KJV). If you will notice, the promise of Hebrews 9:28 is for them that “Look for Him”, and that means far more than just looking toward the sky. Abraham and Sarah were looking for Isaac – their laughter, their joy, their anticipation, excitement, and exuberance; and even before that final nine months when the promise was nearing fulfillment. The hearts of many professing believers are growing cold toward the aspects of the return of Christ.

It seems that if Abraham could speak to us today, he would say, “Hold on, keep believing, keep trusting; God’s Word will come to pass. He will not fail.” Abraham carried through with the covenant of circumcision as God had spoken concerning his household (Genesis 17:2). The weaning age of children in the day of Abraham has been stated to be from age two all the way to ages of eleven and twelve; which eleven and twelve seems to be rediculous; and as late as the age of seven, though possible seems a bit stretchy as well. Abraham called for celebration when the boy reached the age of weaning and was weaned, ie., from his mother’s breast milk, and onto solid foods. This causes me to think of Peter’s statement, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Peter 2:1-3 (KJV).

Laughter comes when the promise is fulfilled, and we are standing in the presence of the Lord of all creation, who is the Lord of our salvation.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Beheading a Prophet

“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.” Matthew 14:1-13 (KJV)

The third sermon given by Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew has just been delivered by our Master. After the parables of chapter 13 Jesus returns to His home town, and they will not receive Him for who He is. They are too familiar with Him as a child who grew up in the area. This does not mean that He was known as an “honery or mean and vicious, rude or trouble maker child”, but that they are familiar with the family, and that they saw nothing special about Him in His youth and childhood. Part of this may have been due to their own blindness, because after all Mary was a mother before the wedding celebration.

The fame of Jesus had grown though. Herod had heard of Him. This is not Herod the Great who is responsible for killing the male children 2 years and under after the birth of Jesus. This is Herod the Tetrarch.

Mat 14:1 – At that time Herod the tetrarch,…. Not Herod the Great, in whose reign Christ was born, and who slew the infants of Bethlehem, but his son; this was, as the Jewish chronologer rightly observes, ‘Herod Antipater, whom they call טיתרקי, “the tetrarch”; the son of Herod the First, and brother of Archelaus, and the third king of the family of Herod.’” From John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, e-Sword edition.

Herod has already put John the Baptist to death, and then, we are given more of the details of the matter. He supposed that Jesus was John risen from the dead. He sure wasn’t with the news of the day, or that would not have even crossed his mind. Herod is most likely overcome with guilt for his murderous action of beheading the prophet. John had directly proclaimed to Herod that to take his brother Philip’s wife was an act of adultery; and because of this had him imprisoned. He was fearful to have him put to death, because he feared the people; they thought John was a prophet, which he was.

What he would not do because of fear of a crowd he was able to do through the lust of his heart. The power of the lust of the heart fueled and fed by the dance of the daughter of the wife he had gotten by adultery, which the prophet had warned him of was also bringing on guilt. As it should.

The terror and reproach of conscience, which Herod, like other daring offenders, could not shake off, are proofs and warnings of a future judgment, and of future misery to them. But there may be the terror of convictions, where there is not the truth of conversion. When men pretend to favour the gospel, yet live in evil, we must not favour their self-delusion, but must deliver our consciences as John did. The world may call this rudeness and blind zeal. False professors, or timid Christians, may censure it as want of civility; but the most powerful enemies can go no further than the Lord sees good to permit. Herod feared that the putting of John to death might raise a rebellion among the people, which it did not; but he never feared it might stir up his own conscience against him, which it did. Men fear being hanged for what they do not fear being damned for. And times of carnal mirth and jollity are convenient times for carrying on bad designs against God’s people. Herod would profusely reward a worthless dance, while imprisonment and death were the recompence of the man of God who sought the salvation of his soul. But there was real malice to John beneath his consent, or else Herod would have found ways to get clear of his promise. When the under shepherds are smitten, the sheep need not be scattered while they have the Great Shepherd to go to. And it is better to be drawn to Christ by want and loss, than not to come to him at all.

—Matthew Henry Concise

Parties, especially those which are known for having liquor, drugs, and dance will be parties where the debaucherous activities go unbridled, and due to mind altering “spirits” will end in the changing and/or ending of lives. You can almost be certain that this party was laden with an unlimited supply of liquor; either wine or strong drink [hard liquor]. The party which Herod orchestrated would end in the ending of the prophet’s physical life, and a life ridden with guilt and fear for Herod, and maybe for all those who had a hand in the death of the man who warned them of their sin. This adulterous wife of Herod knew the heart of her “husband”; that is was filled and fueled by unbridled lust. She too hated John the Baptist. She hated the prophet for his message of adultery against them both. She wanted him dead and would get it by any means possible; even to the lusty use of her own teenage daughter. (There is nothing which tells us the age of her daughter, but still being under the care of her mother one would assume that she is still at home and at least in her teen years.)

John the Baptist had become outraged by the flagrant sin of a leader of the nation of Israel. There was first of all a very incestuous problem within the family with girls marrying their father’s brother, etc. This was the case with Herodias. Philip was her uncle – her father’s brother – and that being the case Herod Tetrarch would have also been her uncle. This thing was being done openly and no one was challenging it or crying out against it; but John did, and was imprisoned and later lost his life because of it.

Where is the courage for our day Christian pastor, preacher of the Gospel? There are people in many of our churches who are committing the act of adultery by unlimited divorce, and remarriage. For no legitimate reason they leave one to go to another. Where are the cries of adultery. One pastor I know and who was my pastor for a while, about six years, once said, and I am not sure this is verbatim, “I was reading this about John the Baptist, realized he lost his head for calling it adultery, therefore I have no business performing marriages of people who have been divorced”. As far as I know he has stuck to that, and I have taken that as my stand as well. Not too long ago I was having a conversation with an older pastor concerning divorce and remarriage. I told him my stand and that I had held to that since near the beginning of my preaching. He told me, “If one of your daughters or sons get a divorce and want to remarry, and they come to you to do the ceremony, you will change your thinking.” I told him “No I won’t, because my kids have more respect for me than to ask, and even if they did my answer would be NO!” My oldest son told me, “I would be too ashamed to come and ask.” When you take stands like that you will lose favor with family, relatives, and friends. Whom are we called to please, God or man, God or family when it comes to morality, and right and wrong? It grieves my heart to tell them that I cannot, or will not, but it is a conviction that I have and will continue to hold. It grieves me even more that someone who knows me, and my conviction would bother to ask.

The Baptist chose God and His Word, even at the expense of imprisonment and his life. We, if we are to be the people of God can choose no lesser way.

The news of the death of the prophet got to Jesus, and it grieved His heart, and He went away to a deserted place for Himself and the disciples. This departure seems to come after the disciples had spent several days out preaching the gospel of the kingdom; by reading this in its context, and following, Mark 6:30-31, and Luke 9:1-10 the departure to a “deserted place” was a different time than for the beheading. Remember John the Baptist was the one who came before Jesus to prepare the way. Are we preparing the way for Christ’s return as He has called us to do so? He is coming back. What condition will the hearts and lives of those to whom we have preached be in? What is the condition of our own heart and life toward God?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Deluded, Deceived and Destroyed

“Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Surely you have greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem,’ saying, ‘You shall have peace,’ whereas the sword reaches to the heart.” Jeremiah 4:10 (NKJV).

Like the majority of the people Jeremiah wanted peace. He was probably hoping for peace, even heard the false prophets, and thought how wonderful that would be for God to protect them from the coming invasion of the “Lion and company”. God will allow us to believe in lies of deception if we prefer that over the truth. Nevertheless, it is still inevitable that evil will come, and there will be no peace. God does not deceive, nor does He approve of lies and deception, but when He sees the heart of people given to lies, then He will use the deception and lies to carry out His divine will.

Peace is not possible when there is no peace with God. The lies of the false prophets of things getting better. No judgment is going to come on us. We are in a time of extraordinary blessing, not of judgment. There is a great and enormous wealth coming to the Church. Lies, lies, lies. In my heart and mind I long for those things to come to pass, but by the condition of the hearts of the people of God; they are in fact lies and deception.

A man, woman or a nation who believes they are at peace with God while living in immorality, and debauchery are deceived and lying to themselves. A man, woman or a nation that is given to the tolerance of alcoholism, drunkenness, and profiting from it is not at peace with God, and if they think so are deceiving and lying to themselves. Any business man, bank president, loan company manager, or national leader who believes they are at peace with God, while taking advantage of the poor, with housing foreclosures, and higher interest rates than the privileged, are deceiving and lying to themselves.

Jeremiah was really horrified by the judgment he knew God was sending on Jerusalem. He could not keep silent. The prophet of God must speak the truth of the Word of God. What the feelings and the heart wants is not sufficient. Hope without promise is no hope. Hope based on feelings, or personal desire is merely wishful thinking.

4:10 deceived. Like Habakkuk (1:12-17), Jeremiah was horrified at these words of judgment, contrasting the prevailing hope of peace. God is sometimes described as if doing a thing He merely permits, such as allowing false prophets who delude themselves to also deceive a sinful people into thinking peace would follow (cf. 6:14; 8:11; 1Kin. 22:21-24). God sees how people insist on their delusions, and lets it happen.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note, p. 1068 NKJV.

O, how deceived people can be and often are today. A man in Florida says he heals in the name of Jesus Christ, but kicks an old man in the head, because, “that is what God told” him to do. And, people ask is this of God? Why do we need to ask? The mere fact that people will believe such only shows what is said above to be true. People will believe what they want to believe, even when it is a lie.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Summer of 1812

At a time when some of the States of the Union were considering secession this Nation was being attacked all around. It is usually so even in 2007. When any nation is divided she will fall. Here are the words from, “FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA” by Peter Marshall and David Manuel;

“In the South, while the question of slavery no longer had a place in the front-page news, it had hardly died away. Southerners needed only to look to the Northwest and Indian Territories, where most of the immigrants were settling, see the sort of states that would be formed from them — most of them admitted with constitutions banning slavery. How long would it be before they were overwhelmed, in Senate and House? Right now, one of their own, indeed their champion, was imposing his will on the North — how long before the shoe was on the other foot? Jefferson’s embargo was hurting them, too; countless bales of cotton remained piled on the docks and levees, with no place to send them. Something had to be done…’

‘By the grace of God, literally, the republic stayed together. The nation stumbled on, with Jefferson’s protege, James Madison, now at the helm. But the situation was not improving. On the Continent, Napoleon appeared to be invincible. The Austrians fell to him, and the Spaniards, and the Italians, and now he was turning towards Russia; it appeared he was about to add the Bear to his list of conquests. The greater his success, the greater the threat he posed to the island race to his west. And the greater measures Britain took to protect herself. Now any American ship found on the high seas was likely to be taken and her crew impressed. As A. L. Burt put it:”

“The independence of the United States was being frittered away. The country was losing its self-respect, the most precious possession a nation can have, as it failed to command the respect of the belligerents. More and more the feebleness of the American government’s policy had been teaching these embattled giants of the Old World that they could trample with impugnity upon American rights, American interests, and American feelings.”

Marshall and Manuel take up the narrative again, “Finally, by the Summer of 1812, there had been too many ignominies, too many outrages; it was reported that more than 6,000 American citizens had been kidnapped and forced to serve in the Royal Navy, which had to replace some 2,500 deserters a year and simply refused to curtail impressment. If America was to retain any semblance of honor, she had no further alternative but to fight. Crying ‘Free Trade and Sailor’s Rights’, the War Hawks in Congress won the vote for war seventy-nine to forty-nine, and on June 18, President Madison proclaimed that a state of war existed between Great Britain and the United States. The American cause was summed up by the commander of Western Tennessee Militia:”

“We are going to fight for the re-establishment of our national character, misunderstood and villified at home and abroad; for the protection of our maritime citizens, impressed on board British ships of war and compelled to fight the battles of our enemies against ourselves; to vindicate our right to a free trade, and open the market for the production of our soil, now perishing on our hands because the ‘mistress of the ocean’ forbids us to carry them to any foreign nation. ANDREW JACKSON”

There are times we must fight. One of them is when we have been attacked. Definitely we have been attacked again. From the book FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA pp. 131 & 132 paperback

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Inaugural Address – George Washington

On April 30, 1789 our first President was inaugurated into the office of the presidency of the USA.

Peter Marshall and David Manuel write, “He reached New York in time to be inaugurated on April 30, 1789. Stepping out onto the outdoor balcony of Federal Hall, in full view of the assembled multitude, he requested that a Bible be brought. Having placed his right hand on the open book, he took the oath of office. And then, embarrassed at the thunderous ovation which followed, the pealing church bells, and the roaring of the artillery, the new President went inside to deliver his inaugural address to Congress.’

‘Speaking with a gravity which verged on sadness, his voice deep and tremulous, he went further than he had ever gone before in stressing the role of God in the birth of the nation:” From THE LIGHT AND THE GLORY p. 349.

“It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplication to that Almighty Being, who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States… No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency… We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.”

From THE LIGHT AND THE GLORY paperback. My, how the leaders of our nation, and the people of our nation need to wake up and get back to the foundation of these truths.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Crucial Moment in History

A Crucial Moment in History

In the year 1787 there was very serious debate of the Constitutional Convention. It was not being accomplished, and it seemed all was to no avail.

Peter Marshall and David Manuel write, “At this crucial moment, when there was not a man present who had any real hope of finding and effective solution, it was Ben Franklin who rose to speak. This elder statesman, who was also one of the most prominent physicists of his age, quietly said:”

“In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence of our favor… And have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?’

‘I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: ‘That God governs in the affairs of man.’ And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?’

‘We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest.’

‘I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business.” From THE LIGHT AND THE GLORY by Peter Marshall, Jr. and David Manuel, pp. 342 & 343 paperback.

O how we need again, to hear the words of this man in the history of our nation. If we are not dependent upon God, our Providence, for the leadership of this nation we will become the laughing stock of the world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

President of Harvard College

For the next few days I will be posting quotes from the books written by Peter Marshall, and David Manuel on the history of our Nation. The first is from “The Light and the Glory”, and is a quote from a sermon preached by the Reverend Samuel Langdon on May 31, 1775, following the taking of Fort Ticonderoga.

“We have rebelled against God. We have lost the true spirit of Christianity, though we retain the outward profession and form of it. We have neglected and set light by the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy commands and institutions. The worship of many is but mere compliment to the Deity, while their hearts are far from Him. By many the Gospel is corrupted into a superficial system of moral philosophy, little better than ancient Platonism.

‘Wherefore is all this evil upon us? Is it not because we have forsaken the Lord? Can we say we are innocent of crimes against God? No, surely it becomes us to humble ourselves under His mighty hand, that He may exalt us in due time… My brethren, let us repent and implore the divine mercy. Let us amend our ways and our doings, reform everything that has been provoking the Most High, and thus endeavor to obtain the gracious interpositions of providence for our deliverance…

‘If God be for us, who can be against us? The enemy has reproached us for calling on His name and professing our trust in Him. They have made a mock of our solemn fasts and every appearance of serious Christianity in the land… May our land be purged from all its sins! Then the Lord will be our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble, and we will have no reason to be afraid, though thousands of enemies set themselves against us round about.

‘May the Lord hear us in this day of trouble… we will rejoice in His salvation, and in the name of our God, we will set up our banners…” From THE LIGHT AND THE GLORY pp. 277 & 278.

Can we see that this is a message that is pertinent for our day?

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Former President

Here we are in the week of the year when we celebrate the beginning of our great Nation (USA).  I am blessed to have been born in such a nation.  I would not desire to live anywhere else in the world.  There are some people who speak words that makes me think they despise being an American, a citizen of the United States of America.  One of them is a former President of our nation.

This Friday let’s celebrate our freedom which we have, and remember that true freedom comes from God, and sometimes we must fight to keep some of the freedoms of humanity that we hold dear.  Thank God for our men and women who are sacrificing their time, and lives for us.

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 Many of the people who are patriots of our nation have no clue of the danger that is lurking at our doors. Terrorism is not the real threat to us, it is only a symptom. Illegal immigration is not the real threat to our nation. In writing this I certainly do not mean to sound so negative, or opposed to our nation, but I am really trying to defend us, and get us headed in the right direction.

The real threat to our nation is the idolatry pervading our land. The idolatry of technology, medicine, money/finance, recreation, comfort, convenience, even the idolizing of our children. Globalization is also an idol of many. The people involved in this seems to thing if we could just have one world peace, one world economy, one world religion, then all would be well. That is a farce.

When we have a former President of our Country saying that our nation is evil for its support of Israel then, we have problems, and I for one am glad to call him a “Former President”. The man no longer has a heart for our Country. It seems more that he has his heart set on being a world leader, than a man of God, I once thought him to be. I have never thought Jimmy Carter to have been a good President, but I did see him as a good Christian, he seemed to care for the poor, and our nation, but not any longer. He would give us all over to the hands of Satan.

The following is a quote printed from Baptist Press concerning Jimmy Carter’s comments at a human rights conference in Dublin, Ireland on June 19, 2007;

“The United States and European Union should recognize the terrorist organization Hamas as a legitimate component of the Palestinian government, former President Jimmy Carter said at a human rights conference in Dublin, Ireland, June 19.Hamas, he said, had won free and fair elections in 2006, making the United States’ refusal to aid the Palestinian faction and recognize its right to govern a “criminal” act.Carter said he believes both Western governments and Israel are favoring the rival Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which now only governs the West Bank. Fatah also governed the Gaza Strip until Hamas fighters violently overthrew the party there earlier in June. Hamas, which executed members of the rival party in the street after its victory, had prevailed over the Fatah-controlled security forces in Gaza because of its fighters’ “superior skill and discipline,” Carter said.”

It is despicable, at least to myself, to hear a former leader of the United States of America say such traitorous things. It certainly shows he has no idea of God’s promises to the Nation of Israel. The trouble makers in the Middle East is not Israel, but the Palestinians. Their own proclaimed goal is the extinction of Israel. When will this former leader open his eyes and see the truth? Maybe he has a personal agenda in this. If he thinks he is a “Peacemaker” as in Jesus’s words, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9), he had better rethink that thought. It does not fit with the agenda.

People crying, “Peace, peace”, and there is no peace.

-Tim A. Blankenship