A Vineyard of Red Wine

The title above comes from verse two of Isaiah 27.  It is a far cry from the verses of chapter five of the prophet.  A vineyard in chaos, worthy of destruction, and to grow without care and protection from its owner.

“In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.” Isaiah 27:2 (KJV)

I know nothing of the flavor of “red wine”, but I have drank the sweet flavorful juice of the red grape, and it is fabulous.  That is what the LORD and the prophet Isaiah is telling us.  No more will Israel be judged, but, rather she will be fruitful, flavorful, and sweet.  She will blossom as a rose and her enemies will be put away.

The LORD says, “I will keep it night and day” (v. 3).  Then to leave no doubt of whom He is speaking He says,

“He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.”  Isaiah 27:6

Through the many years Israel has departed from the LORD and through those many years God has chastised them, and continues to chastise them.  God is working in the nation to bring them to the place where they will love Him, and He will prosper them greatly; just as He has promised for all these years.  Not one word of God will fall, or fail.

“Hath He smitten him, as He smote those that smote him? or is He slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by Him?  In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.   By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.”  Isaiah 27:7-9

The LORD will not have mercy on those who had or have no mercy on the people of Israel.  He will show them no favor (v. 11).  There will be no grace [favor of God] toward those who have rejected Him and His people.  When will this come to pass.  I don’t know.  I believe it will be soon; and by that I don’t mean tomorrow or even next year; but within the years of God’s own timing.

In that time all God’s people of Israel will gather to worship their Messiah around the throne in Jerusalem;

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.”  Isaiah 27:12-13

One of the things that Christians and unbelievers can learn from this is that God will carry through with His promises.  Not one word shall fall to the ground.  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).  Rest assured Christian.  Repent and believe unbeliever.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Samuel – The Ark of God is Taken

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The new Nation of Israel was a moral mess.  Its spiritual leadership was the main culprit.  They believed God to be in a box which they had carried through the wilderness for many years until they arrived at the Promised Land.

You know as long as you have God in a box you can live however you choose; believe whatever you choose; ask “God” whatever you choose.  He must answer to you.  Right?  That assumption is entirely WRONG.  It is not only a lie of evil and Satan; it is absolutely wrong.

“And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.  And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.”  1 Samuel 4:10-11 (KJV)

In the text above Israel has been at war with the Philistines, and is losing the war; they send for the box; the one they have “God” in; believing that if the box (the ark of the covenant) is in their midst, then they cannot help but win the battle and the war.

This is a case of much assumption.  Yes! the ark is holy, and it does signify the presence, power and glory of God.  It is not, however, a rabbits foot, a magic wand, a wishing well, or an object of worship.

The question could be and should be asked, “Why did God allow the ark of the covenant to be taken, and Israel to be defeated?”  There are many answers.  I will give two.

  1. The spiritual leadership of Israel was in default.  Hophni and Phineas were being unjust in their dealings with the people and especially the women (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22), and Eli their father did nothing about it; but tolerated their wicked behavior.
  2. It would greatly appear they had the wrong view of God.  They believed Him to be in their “box”, and that by having the “box” with them they could ask anything, do anything, and have any victory they desired.  This proved to be fatally, and unmistakably wrong.  The evidence is in the fact that the ark of God was taken, Hophni and Phineas, are dead, and Eli even dies upon hearing the news of the arks being taken (4:18).  Ichabod is also born in the defeat.

There is and can be only victory when the children of God are obedient to our Master, and live doing His will.  That was the heart and will of Jesus (John 5:19, 30).

God is not at our disposal to ask a petition of Him; no matter how we live our lives; or just in the time of trouble and trials.  Those who know Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ know Him to be faithful, however, we also know that we too are to be faithful as His slaves.  He is to be trusted, believed, obeyed; and even when we feel – and let me emphasize “FEEL” – He is not near, or does not hear.

No Christian has power over God.  No individual has power over God.  When we think we rule; GOD will overrule.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Acts – 042711

There has not been much posted here on Acts, but I do want to end with one observation as we look at verses 22 – 24 of chapter 28;

“But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.  And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.  And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.”  Acts 27:22-24 (KJV)

Paul the apostle is in Rome about to be tried for the charges his own people have brought against him.  He has been charged with saying things against them, and supposedly against their God; in blasphemy.  Rather than speaking against their God he has spoken plainly, using the Old Testament scriptures they adhered to and proclaiming Jesus Christ their Messiah.

The word “sect” was used, most likely, as a derogatory term meaning that the teaching of Christianity was heretical and was worthy of judgment.  Paul took time with those who came to him expounding the Word of God, and preaching the kingdom of God, persuading some to believe and follow Jesus Christ.

We have the testimony here that “some believed”, and “some believed not” and that is pretty much how things are in our time; as every other time since Paul.

If you will believe the gospel of Jesus Christ then, you will have the assurance of eternity with Him.  If you reject Jesus and His gospel, then you will die and eternal death.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Stone Rolled Away – Mark 16:1-8

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, ‘Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?’ 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, ‘Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: He is risen; He is not here: behold the place where they laid Him. 7 But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you.’ 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.”  Mark 16:1-8 (KJV)

Three ladies, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome come to the tomb where Jesus was laid.  Remember, they had witnessed where Joseph of Arimethea had buried Him (15:47).  There is no mistaken.  They went to the right tomb.  It was very early in the morning, the day after the Sabbath [Saturday], and so it was early Sunday morning the “First day of the week”.

These ladies had a very committed love, respect and awe for Jesus.  They, too had forgotten His words of resurrection.  The eleven apostles had forgotten and were discouraged, doubting, disabled, and in hiding.  For three days now, since the crucifixion, they had been without Jesus.

The “First day of the week” these three women have bought spices to anoint the body of Jesus.  The “First day of the week” they came to the tomb where they had witnessed Joseph lay His body.  They came with a question.  “How will we roll the stone from the door?  Will the guards roll it away for us?”  The stone had not only been rolled over the door, but it had also been sealed with the Roman seal (Matthew 27:66), so it is highly unlikely that Roman guards would have touched it.

Upon arrival at the tomb, they found the stone had already been rolled away, and that they could enter freely.  Upon entering the tomb, they see a “Young man” sitting there in the empty tomb.  They are “affrighted” which means, “G1568 ἐκθαμβέω  ekthambeō  ek-tham-beh’-o  From G1569; to astonish utterly: – affright, greatly (sore) amaze.”  This word means more than afraid, but rather, also “Amazed – utterly amazed”.   This was an angel, who Mark describes as a “Young man”.  He was probably youthful in appearance, but in reality he was an angel – a messenger of God.  His message to the ladies was for them to go and tell the disciples ‘and Peter’ that He had risen.

There is a particular message here for Peter.  Though, Peter was a disciple of Jesus he had denied the Lord during the trial, and was most likely feeling that the Lord would have nothing further to do with him.  This would have been an encouraging word for Peter, to let him know the Lord Jesus had not forgotten him, and that there was a place for him.  It is also an encouraging word for all Christians who, at one time or another have failed to be the Christians that we should be, that God is not finished with us and that, He still has a place for us.

When the ladies had heard the messengers words they left quickly with fear and trembling, and it says they told no one of what they had seen and heard.  Of course they went and told the disciples.

On this Resurrection weekend, remembering the day our Lord was raised from death; let’s commit anew to sharing with all whom God gives us opportunity that Jesus is risen; He is risen indeed.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Acts – 041811

Just one short observation.

“When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, ‘Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’  And He said unto them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’  And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.'”  Acts 1:6-11 (KJV)

The remaining disciples of Jesus, following His resurrection have gone with Him to the Mount of Olives.  He is about to be “taken up” from them; and in their sight.  They ask Him, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”  His answer was, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons,which the Father hath put in His own power.”

They asked about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.  Jesus did not say that it would not happen, but that they would not know the time or the season it would happen.  In the mean time Jesus has given them and us power to be witnesses in our homes, our communities, States, and the nations of the world to tell them of the glories of Jesus Christ.

When will Israel be restored?  We don’t know.  God knows.  Let’s believe Him, and not the opinions and philosophies of men.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Body of Jesus – Mark 15:37-47

“And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. 38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. 39 And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. 40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; 41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.
42 And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. 45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.”  Mark 15:37-47 (KJV)

Jesus had finished the gruelling, cruel, task of bearing the sins of the world.  Jesus spoke seven times from the cross one of which was, “It is finished”, which is recorded by John in chapter 19 verse 30.

Mark records something that is not recorded in the other Gospels, and that is the remark of the centurion in verse 39, “Truly this man was the Son of God”.  Matthew, Mark and Luke mention the “Veil of the temple was rent” with Luke’s version leaving off that it was torn from top to bottom.

The “Veil” separated the “Holy place” from the “Holy of Holies”.  The “veil” allowed only limited access, and that was only once per year on the day of Atonement by the high priest, and with the blood of a spotless sacrifice.  The significance of the torn veil is that now the way has been made for all people to come into the presence of Holy God.  Remember Jesus’ words, “I am the way…”.  He parted the veil and “The Way” has been made.  We can all now, “…Come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16).  The special significance of the veil being torn from “top to bottom” is that it was done by God, not by man, showing that the only way to God is not by the works of flesh and law, but only by God’s grace.

The centurion was so amazed by the strength, power and authority of the voice of Jesus at His last words from the cross it made a lasting impression on him.  Being a “centurion” he would have been in charge of 100 men, and according to the Gospel of Matthew chapter 27 verse 54,

“Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those     things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.   Matt 27:54 (KJV)”.

John MacArthur writes of this in the Study Bible,

those with him. These were probably     men under his charge.  Mark 15:39 says the centurion was the one who uttered  the     words of confession, but he evidently spoke for his men as well.  Their ‘fear’ speaks of an     awareness of their sin, and the word ‘truly’ suggests a certainty and conviction that     bespeaks genuine faith.  These men represent an answer to Jesus’ prayer in Luke 23:34.”

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”.  (Luke 23:34).

It is not improbable nor unlikely that this man and those with him are with Jesus in heaven.

At His death there were also several women who were there.  Some of them are named here – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the less, and of Joses, and Salome, and others.  My how the work of women has improved since the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  The New Testament tells us nothing of any wicked women or wicked deeds compared to that of the Old Testament.  Here we see the women had less fear for themselves than the men did, and they were closer to Jesus in His death than many of the disciples were.

At His death there was a man we do not know much about.  He was one who “Waited for the kingdom of God…” and went and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus.  He must have been a silent follower before or became one at His death.  Anyway he has the bold courage to appear before Pilate and asks for the body.  Joseph of Arimathaea is the man.  After Pilate had affirmed that Jesus was dead he gave Joseph the body.  Joseph, then, took the body of Jesus and prepared it with the proper perfumes, wrapped His body in “Fine linen”, and “…Laid Him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulcher”.  Matthew writes, “And laid it in his own new tomb,…” (Matthew 27:60).

The final verse of our text tells us that Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.  They would not leave until they knew where Jesus would be buried.  Jesus had no personal means of paying for a burial.  He knew that would be taken care of by His Father.

So!  Who was really on trial here? Who should have been crucified? Yet, He hung, He bled, He was accursed and died in our stead. It seems to me that what we see here in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus is the wicked, vile, sinful nature of mankind.  That was what sent Jesus to the trial and to the crucifixion.  It was His love that kept Him stedfast, and faithful to the finish.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Judges – 041111

The book of Judges is about the grace of God toward Israel.  They have come into the Promised Land which was given them by GOD, with instructions and laws to follow and to be obedient.  As long as they obey God’s commandments they will be prosperous and own the land, but they begin to practice worshipping other god’s; the gods of the surrounding people, whom they are supposed to drive out and destroy.  This is part of their disobedience.

GOD is longsuffering and merciful.  We find these words in chapter six,

“And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD because of the Midianites, that the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, ‘Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land; and I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed My voice.'”  Judges 6:7-10 (KJV)

One thing we can observe in Judges and throughout the whole of the Old Testament is that God sends His prophets before He sends judgment.  The prophet Amos spoke by the leadership of God’s Spirit saying,

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”  Amos 3:7

We can rest assured that before God does anything He sends His preachers to warn and instruct of what is going to come.  For Israel in that day it was “fear not the gods of the Amorites…” but they did not obey.  The people had cried out to the LORD, and He sent a prophet.

Not only that the LORD Himself came down as we read in verses 11-23.

The Lord Himself has came down, in the person of His only Son, given His life on the cross, was raised from death, hell and the grave; and by Him we have eternal life.

Believe Him and live.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus Helped; Scripture Fulfilled

“And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.
22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. 23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. 24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. 25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. 26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. 28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. 29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. 36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.”  Mark 15:21-36 (KJV)

After Jesus had been beaten with the “Cat o nine tails”, and stricken by the hands of His mockers and accusers Jesus would have been very weak physically.  As they took Jesus on “The way of suffering” called “Via Delorosa” He may have stumbled from the weakness and they compelled one Simon from Cyrene to carry the cross, or help Him carry it.  This wooden cross would have been heavy to bear even for a man who had not lost much blood, as Jesus had.  This Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.  This Rufus is probably the Rufus mentioned in the book of Romans, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

(Rom 16:13)”.  It is quite possible that because of this experience the man Simon and his two sons, Alexander and Rufus, became followers of Jesus.  Simon was a help to Jesus and Jesus was certainly a help to Simon and his family.

They offered Jesus a “Wine mixed with myrrh to drink”, but He refused it.  It was a drink that would have dulled His senses, and numbed His pain.  Jesus’ choice of love was to endure the pain with all His senses about Him, and to suffer the full pain and retribution of sin, as His Father judged the sin of the world.  Refusing the drink, He would still be able to communicate with His Father, and not sin.

The third “Help” does not seem much like help for Jesus.  They actually were helping themselves to the garments which Jesus wore.  It would take an awfully cold, calloused heart to set at the foot of a cross and gamble for the garments of a condemned man, be he innocent or guilty.  Here these men were playing a game at the feet of an innocent, sinless, guiltless man, and seemingly with no remorse, or shame.  My, how there is varied instance of people’s responses to the death of Jesus.  Some are cold and callous, some are weeping, some are running away, some are just political, and some bow and call Him, Lord.

The time would have been 9 a.m. when the crucifixion took place.  Pilate had a placcard written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, “The King of the Jews”.  John writes, “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (John 19:19).
According to John’s Gospel the “chief priests of the Jews” did not like the words, they believed it should say, that He said, “I am king of the Jews”.  Pilate stood his ground and said, “What I have written I have written.”
One of the things Jesus was sure of, and committed to was the “Fulfillment of Scripture”.  Here we have another fulfillment of the Scriptures. “He was numbered with the transgressors” –

“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.   Isaiah 53:12 (KJV)”.

There were three men hung on the tree that day- two thieves and the One who gives life to all who trust in Him.  There is a song with the chorus that says, “The one on the left, he was a sinner, the one on the right was too, but the man in the middle He was the Savior, and He died just to save me and you.”  We know from Scripture that one of these theives put his trust in Jesus (Luke 23:39-43).

The people who passed by the cross where Jesus was spoke in blasphemous, defaming, reviling words.  They mocked His precious words in which He spoke of rising from the dead – “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it once again”.  They commented about “Save Thyself and come down from the cross…”  How could Jesus pay the sin debt of the world if He came down from the cross.   On the cross, Jesus was doing the greatest work He came to do.  He came to minister and give His life a ransom for many (10:45).   His greatest work was to glorify the Father, and He did that by completing the task which was given Him.  To die on the cross was the glory of the heavenly Father, and made it possible that wicked, sinful, blemished, spotted man might be reconciled to Him.  If they had known what they were asking they would not have asked.  Knowing what I know of this today, my question would be, “How could You do that for me?”

Likewise the “chief priests” were demanding that if He was indeed the Son of God, “Save yourself” and “…that we may see and believe”.  They had seen the mighty works which He had done.  They still would not believe, and because of that, and because they would not believe their scriptures, they would not believe though He arose from the dead.

There was a period of darkness over the land.  My personal belief is that this darkness was more than just a local phenomonen.  It was worldwide.  The main and maybe only reason I believe that is, that, the reason Jesus died was for the sins of the world, thus the whole world would, most likely, have gone into this great darkness.  It was a spiritual darkness unlike anything the world had ever seen.  It was a total darkness.  It lasted for three hours while Jesus suffered the wrath and judgment of the Father for sin – our sin.  It was the darkest and most dreaded day of Jesus’ life.  “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me” was His cry after the judgment had been made.  The Father had turned His back on His Son, because He had been made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21).

Some who were standing there thought Jesus was calling for Elijah to come and rescue Him from the cross.  One ran to get a sponge full of vinegar which Jesus now receives (John 19:30).  His work was finished.  There was no more for Him to do for the atonement of sin.  I am so thankful that He was not calling for Elijah to come and remove Him from the cross, though I know He would have used other means.  He could have called thousands of angels to come to His aid.  He could have spoken a word, and it would have all been over.  He could have called to the Father, “I cannot bear it”, but He bore it for you and for me.  If He had not bourne it for us we would be forever doomed to eternal torment.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Joshua – 040311

Joshua can be seen as a christ like figure of the Old Testament.  Oshea son of Nun had his name changed to Joshua (Numbers 12:8, 16).  From “deliverer” to “Jehovah saves”.

Joshua, following the crossing of the Jordan River on dry ground, spending seven days marching around the city of Jericho – one time around for 6 days, and seven times around on the 7th day – and conquering the city has an encounter with the Lord Himself.

“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a Man over against him with His sword drawn in His hand: and Joshua went unto Him, and said unto Him, ‘Art Thou for us, or for our adversaries?’  And He said, ‘Nay; but as Captain of the host of the LORD am I now come.’  And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him, ‘What saith my Lord unto His servant?  And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, ‘Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.’ And Joshua did so.”  Joshua 5:13-15 (KJV)

How can we know that this Man which Joshua encountered was God and not an angel?  One of the clearest things which stands out is that Joshua bowed in worship, and was not corrected.  Every time we find in Scripture a man bowing in worship to an angel we find the angel correcting the man (Revelation 22:8-9).  This Man did not correct Joshua.  Another is that when Joshua asked, “What saith my Lord unto His servant?” the Hebrew word for  “Lord” is “Adon” which is a name for our God.

Joshua has an amazing encounter with the Lord of hosts, Captain, Commander of the hosts of the LORD.  This should give us great cause for rejoicing.  Knowing that our Lord is leading the army of Heaven as we battle our adversary each and every day.  Our adversary is the devil, not our fellow man.

Follow Jesus.  Believe Him.  Trust Him and you will live with Him forever.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From John – 040111

Looking at the final three chapters of John we see much about our Lord and Savior and His first coming.  He has come to the final day of His life as man among men.  It is not a pleasant day for Him, nor would it be for you or me.  He stands before Pilate, the governor of Jerusalem and Israel.

He is being tried for blasphemy against GOD.  Those who claimed to know the word of God know not the Word of GOD.  If they would have known Him they would not have Him on trial; rather they would be worshipping Him who alone is worthy of all human worship, and that of all creation.

In chapter nineteen Jesus says to Pilate,

“Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin.”  John 19:11 (KJV)

The one who delivered Jesus to Pilate was Judas, and He is the betrayer.  Pilate may have thought that his power and authority came from Rome, but Rome and all governments of men receive their authority from GOD who gives it, and places men in positions as it pleases Him.  Jesus, of course, knows this because He is the Creator of all that is (John 1:1-3;  Colossians 1:16).

We see that Pilate seeks to release Jesus (19:12), the religious leaders and the mob will not hear of it, and want Jesus crucified.  Pilate even refers to Jesus as king, saying “Shall I crucify your King?”  The religious leaders response was, “We have no king but Caesar.”  In saying this they betrayed and denied not only Jesus but the very heart of Scripture, and its promises to the Jews.

The Scriptures were fulfilled in the death of Jesus.  The Scriptures tell us that not a bone would be broken (Exodus 12:46;  Numbers 9:12) when they found Him to have already died.  Upon the declaration of His death Joseph of Arimathaea comes and request the body of Jesus for burial in his own prepared tomb.  We find that tomb in a garden.  It was in a garden where man first sinned.  It was in a garden where Jesus prayed.  It was in a garden where Jesus was buried.  It will be in a garden where we will see the Tree of Life one day.

Upon the death of Jesus His followers are weeping, sorrowful, and confused; not knowing what to do.  They go to the tomb on Sunday morning, and find it empty with the stone rolled away (20:1-2).  Mary sees Him, and thinks Him the gardener until He calls her by name, “Mary” (20:16), then she calls Him “Master”

Jesus appears to the disciples and speaks, “Peace be unto you.”  He shows them His hands and His side revealing that it is truly the risen Lord.  Thomas doubts when he hears the Lord is risen; however, when he sees Jesus he says, “My Lord and my God.”

Thomas believes because he has seen the resurrected Jesus.  Jesus gives a wonderful blessing to those who believe though they have not seen Him, when He declares,

“Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”  John 20:29

Since that day, there is only one recorded account of one seeing the resurrected Christ, and that was Paul the apostle, who was Saul the persecutor at the time of the revelation of Christ to Him.  No one who believes in Christ today has seen the physical, bodily raised person of Christ.  Not seeing we have believed, therefore Jesus says that we are blessed.

Peter is asked three times, by Jesus, “Do you love Me?”  each time in a different sense.  It could be that Jesus is confirming his faith, because he had denied Jesus three times.  Peter is given responsibility for shepherding the sheep of Christ which is a responsibility given to every Christian who will love Jesus and grow in Him.

When we recognize Jesus for who He is, and not what others say He is or what others prefer Him to be, then we too will say “Jesus is the Christ; Son of the Living God”.

-Tim A. Blankenship