“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, ‘Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.'” Acts 15:6-11 (KJB)
Why Will You Die???
“Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal. When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways.” Ezekiel 33:10-20 (KJV)
O how we need to get this straight. Salvation by grace continues to work in us following our regeneration or justification in Christ and God. How the churches today need regenerated people sitting in the pews, in our places of employment, our recreation, working out their salvation with fear and trembling.
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world…” Philippians 2:12-15 (KJV)
It is God in us who does the work of grace. It is God in us by His grace that enables us to do the work that brings honor and glory to His name and it is His grace that brings us on to the final glory of Jesus Christ in us. It is the grace of God through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that causes us, enabling us to do those works, and gives us the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5-8).
Paul the apostle makes it clear in these verses that “…It is God which worketh in you to will and to do of His good pleasure.” That we are to do those works as blameless and harmless sons of God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation – culture and world we live in – shining as lights in a dark world.
Let us remember it is God who works in us. Let us work it out with fear and trembling, that others see Him in us.
…God; not you or me.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 (KJV)
Do we forget or is it simply ignorance? Do we forget that God saves us because of His great love, not that He owes us something, or that we are worthy of His salvation? I hear the phrase sometimes, “God owes everyone a chance for salvation?” Remember this, God owes us nothing. When a soul is saved it is by God’s grace alone.
Something we need to remember too is that there is a threefold work in salvation; the first is past, the second is present, and the third is future. The theological terms are Justification, second Sanctification, and the third is glorification. All a work of God’s wonderful, marvelous grace. We do nothing to deserve it and can do nothing to earn it. When a man, woman, boy or girl is justified by God through the cross of Christ that individual is eternally saved, and the work of God will continue in and through that person throughout their lifetime (sanctification), and when their body dies they will be glorified.
God is rich in mercy. So rich in fact, that He raises us to life, and justifies us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; then through that same death, burial and resurrection He sanctifies us unto Himself as we daily walk through this world and that is His workmanship in us. One day we have the eternal promise of being with Him through all eternity.
Why is He doing this? “That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us…” It is About God.
What do I want for Christmas today?
I want that person, man or woman, boy or girl that is on that slippery slope of sin and death and hell, to have their eyes of the heart, mind and soul opened to see their desperation, and doom; to know and understand there is no escape from that slippery slope except through the cross of Jesus Christ, and cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and deliverance from an eternity of torment and darkness.
“To Me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” Deuteronomy 32:35 (KJV)
“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:12-13
What do I want for Christmas today?
I want the family of my friend who passed away last Sunday to be comforted, encouraged and strengthened today as we go to his graveside service, and as God’s word is spoken, the gospel of Christ is proclaimed, and hearts and lives to be changed.
Last night at the visitation, hundreds of friends, and neighbors came in to honor Doyle, and to comfort and encourage the family.
“Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.” Isaiah 30:18 (NKJV)
What do I want for Christmas?
I want to trust in the LORD, and to daily wait patiently upon Him, because in His mercy and grace He tarries, He waits for me, and for all who trust, who wait upon Him.
To “Wait on the LORD” does not mean we sit idly by on some mountain top doing nothing; but that we keep on trusting Him, living our daily lives under the direction, and guidance and filling and power of His Spirit.
What do I want for Christmas?
On this LORD’S Day I want the Word of God to come into my heart, my soul, my mind with the power of the Spirit of God; to do the work God has sent it with His Spirit to perform in me and the people who will hear it; and I want us to see what God can do when His redeemed people hear, and yield to His Word and His way and His will.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16 (KJV)
What do I want for Christmas?
I want to better understand Freedom; especially the liberty Christians have in Jesus Christ; and I want all to understand that Freedom/Liberty is not free from responsibility.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV)
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galations 5:1
What do I want for Christmas?
I want the faith of Jesus Christ in me strong enough to stand with Him and for Him no matter what the circumstances of life may be; to stand with Him and for Him in comfort shows that He is my treasure in life; to stand with Him and for Him in trials and tribulations shows that He is my strength, and way of life and living.
You who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 97:10 (NKJV)
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
What do I want for Christmas?
Whenever I am prosperous, or whenever I am afflicted, and mourning, and without the material blessings of God; that I will always be before the “face of God”. That all those who are called Christian might always be aware that we are always “before the face of God”.
Many times, even as King David, when we are blessed we forget God; and it can be so when we are grieving too.
Now in my prosperity I said, “I shall never be moved.” LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled.” Psalm 30:6-7 (NKJV)
What do I want for Christmas?
At Christmas time; from about mid November through December 25th each year we suddenly begin to be generous in our heart toward others. Christian, that is the way we ought to be 365 days of every year, except when it is leap year; such as 2016; then it is 366 days of the year.
What do I want for Christmas? I want there to be peace in Jerusalem; and when there is peace, genuine peace in Jerusalem, there will be peace in the Middle East, and the rest of the world.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.” Psalm 122:6 (KJV)
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” Romans 5:1
There is a lack of patience in me. There is a lack of patience in me toward other people at times; especially when I am driving down the highway; or in the city. I must often correct my mind and thinking as I am driving. Many times; probably all the time; that correction comes from God’s Spirit in me.
In the 49 plus years that I have been born again I can see that God has grown me, and improved my patience and understanding for others, and probably less for myself. Where am I going with the “Patience” thing? I am going to tell you about a man who had waited for many years for the coming of Messiah; the first coming.
It is written,
“And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom of the law, then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel. And Joseph and His mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him.” Luke 2:25-33 (KJV)
Simeon had been promised by God that he would not die until he had seen the Christ [Messiah] of Israel, and Saviour of the world.
Now, here was a man who was patient; waiting for the coming of Christ. I am fairly certain he must have occasionally thought that it was not going to happen; but he keeps holding on to God’s promise.
You see faith is not the absence of doubt; it is believing in spite of the doubt. The enemy will continuously throw detours, roadblocks, and lies at you; but you just keep believing. You must keep believing and trusting God, and His Word. God has never failed, and He never will.
As Christians in 2015, and beyond, we believe that God has promised that His Son Jesus is returning soon; and Jesus has said Himself, “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself…” (John 14:3); so either we patiently await His coming, or we quit believing, and in doing; and so we end up saying, that God is a liar. He is faithful, and will bring to pass every word He has spoken.
Let us patiently wait. Wait and occupy until He comes (Luke 19:13). He is coming. Get ready by calling on His name, believing that He died for your sins, was buried, and He bodily rose from the grave; and He is alive today.
“Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant. And I will establish My covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 16:60-63 (KJV)
The covenant God had given to Israel was through Abraham. Though the nation had been judged, was being judged, and would be judged some more God would not forget His covenant with Abraham.
The following is quoted from the Jeremiah Study Bible notes for the above verses:
As fierce and catastrophic as the coming judgment would be, God reiterates His commitment to Jerusalem to one day restore her, give her a new heart that would follow after God, and bring her once more to regional pre-eminence. We see here both God’s commitment to keep the covenant He had made with Abraham to give his descendants the Promised Land forever, and also His lavish grace in restoring Sodom and Samaria to Jerusalem as daughters, not sisters. God would provide atonement for Israel’s sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ His Son.
May all Christians rest in the peace of knowing that God is a Covenant keeping God. What He has said will not fail to come to pass. Not one word will return to Him void. Jesus Christ is coming again. Not to die, but to reign on the earth.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD: at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him, even all the congregation. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: and he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.” Numbers 27:18-23 (KJV)
The verses preceding these tell us of Moses being commanded by God to go onto Mount Abarim from which he would look over into the Promised Land, and see the destination of the children of Israel. Moses would die there, because he had rebelled against the LORD and struck the rock rather than speaking to it (Numbers 20:7-11).
We can see in the reading of the books of the Law that the Law is unable to deliver. It teaches, it convicts, it provides not salvation, except in perfection of keeping it; which no one is able to do. So the Law condemns, and leaves with no hope. The apostle Paul says of the Law,
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” Galations 3:24-25
Moses represents the Law, because he is the Lawgiver. Joshua represents the salvation of the LORD which is by grace. Joshua would lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus which means “Jehovah is salvation”.
Jesus Christ is our Victor, not the Law.
“O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:1 (KJV)
This Psalm has 26 verses, all of which end with the phrase “His mercy endureth for ever”. How long does the mercy of the LORD endure? For ever.
The Psalmist writes “O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good”, and if that was all there was and is of GOD, He would still be worthy of our thanks.
However, we are told that He is merciful. It is one of the most wonderful things to know that the GOD who created all things; the GOD whom we have offended with our sins; the GOD who is holy, just and righteous is also merciful.
When is He merciful? Every moment, every day, every week, every month, and every year. There is not one second which passes that He is not merciful; and that mercy endures for ever.
He has provided a way for you into His grace, and that is by way of the cross of Jesus Christ; upon Whom He showed no mercy in judging my sins and yours. The Way is Christ Jesus.
In the previous writing we find a promise of God given to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel, and that promise is that they would both return to the land as one. Even in their backsliden condition they were to hear these words, and the prophet was to continue to proclaim their need of repentance, cleansing and healing for their backsliden condition.
How or why does one need healing from a backsliden condition. First of all backsliden as the prophet Jeremiah wants us to understand is referring to the people of God. Backsliden is a departure from a place or person you are supposed to be near; which in our case the person is God whom they have left. To backslide is almost always a slow deliberate departure. Slow because it begins with something that seems so small to begin with. “I am staying home from worship services this morning because I am so tired. I was up half the night enjoying family and friends”. Then, come Wednesday night and Bible Study time, “I am not going to Bible Study and prayer meeting this evening because it has been a long week already, and I can’t be getting home too late.” Or, how about this, “Just one peek at that site online won’t hurt. Afterall, I do need to be knowledgable about what’s going on.” Just one little step in the wrong direction leads to a slippery slope which slides you further and further away from God, His Word, and the gentle whispers of His Spirit.
“But I said: ‘How can I put you among the children and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful heritage of the hosts of nations?’ And I said: ‘You shall call Me, ‘My Father,’ and not turn away from Me.’ Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD. A voice was heard on the desolate heights, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel. For they have perverted their way; they have forgotten the LORD their God. ‘Return, you backsliding children, and I will hearl your backslidings.’ ‘Indeed we do come to You, for You are the LORD our God. Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; Truly, in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel. For shame has devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth– Their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. We lie down in our shame, and our reproach covers us. For we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God.” Jeremiah 3:19-25 (NKJV).
God sent forth His Son Jesus Christ to redeem the house of Israel. If you doubt that hear what Jesus has said, “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:6; “But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24; and it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah, “He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was striken.” Isaiah 53:8. Even the high priest at the trial said, “…You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” John 11:49-50, and the verse following says, “Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together inone the children of God who were scattered abroad.” (vv.51-52).
It is because of their backsliding that God has scattered them across this world; has hidden them in the world; and called the Gentile nations to believe in the work of the Son of God on the cross.
Did God not see them those many years ago, even before Jesus became man, and give them these exceeding, precious promises? Of course He did. Our God is sovereign, and in control of every situation. He did not cause Israel or Judah to backslide, but in their backsliden condition the will of God was done, is being done, and will continue to be done. Every sinful act of a human being is known by the LORD of hosts, and not one of them will be held agains anyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation. Yet every sin which finds no repentance in the heart of the child of God, will be used to work in the sinning heart, mind and soul, to irritate, sting, and and stick until that sinning heart finds rest in Christ Jesus.
When I pray for a lost person to be saved here is what I pray: Father, in Your mercy, love and grace touch the heart of this individual (Using their name here). Open their eyes to see their lost condition; that they are condemned by their sin, and for them there is no hope apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Make them miserable in their sin, until they look upon Jesus Christ who gave His life’s blood so that we might be saved, that He was buried carrying all sin away with its guilt, and that He arose from the grave and is everliving interceeding for us all. Save him/her (name) O, LORD, for Your own honor, power and glory. Amen.
Jeremiah admits the sins of the people for the nation in verses 22b through 25. How can God bring them back to the land which has been left desolate and barren? When they can come to the place they will call God “My Father”, and will not turn away from Him. Marriage is meant to be a illustration of God’s intimate relationship with His people, and of Jesus Christ and His relationship with the Church. God uses the idea of marriage to speak of spiritual adultery, of which Israel
and Judah were guilty. The whole book of the prophet Hosea is concerning the relationship between that prophet and his wife. Gomer, if not previous to their marriage, then after marriage, became a temple prostitute. God used this to make a very good, and strong point to the nation. In the prophet’s love for his wife, and continually pursuing her; we see God’s wonderful, marvelous love for Israel, and ultimately for the Church.
There are not many men in this current time who would pursue a wife who has deliberately chosen to lie around with other men, profaning and making a mockery out of her marriage, and of her vows to God and her husband. But this was the love which God has shown those who are His. Just as Hosea paid to redeem his wife from the fringes of the debauchery of prostitution, so the LORD our God has paid for our redemption from sin. O, how the heart of Jeremiah must have grieved for the people. Can we see and feel the heart of the prophet as he proclaims the message of Healing for the people’s backsliden condition?. They will not listen to the Word of God.
The tragedy of our day is very similar to those of Jeremiah’s. While some of the so called experts are telling us to tone down our Biblical expository sermons, if not completely stop preaching altogther; no one is wanting to hear the Word of God. We are being told by those experts tune the message to the ears of the hearers. God’s Word still proclaims, “Preach the word. Be instant in season and out of season” 2 Timothy 4:2. Jeremiah didn’t have the ear of the people, as far as it leading them to repentance, but he did wind up in the dungeon. Does the preacher today preach what the people want to hear, or does he preach the very Word of God, what God wants us all to hear. If I ever walk into a church to worship the Lord and all I receive from that “Preacher” is a 10 – 15 minute sermonette, and never mentions the cross of Jesus, never mentions the burial and resurrection of Jesus, or His coming again; that is one church I will never enter again. If I were ever to become a part of a church which adopted such a mentality, and if after much prayer and work could not convince leadership to go back to God’s method, then I would leave it as quickly as I could. People need to repent, quit living in sin, and come out unto the Word and way of God our Savior.
-by Tim A. Blankenship
The LORD in the previous verses has spoken through the prophet to plead with Israel to return to Him. It will require them to put away their idolatry, to renew their hearts and their lives in Him. The LORD even says, “I am married to you.” (v.14). The promise is for them when they return. The problem is they have not yet returned to Him. They one day will; by God’s own promise and assurances.
“Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,’ says the LORD, ‘that they will say no more, ‘ The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.” Jeremiah 3:16-18 (NKJV).
If you will note this promise is conditional upon their return to Him, from their state of a backsliding heart. I have stated it before and will state it again here, though this is not my own: I think Charles H. Spurgeon has been credited with this statement, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully.” The southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel, since the reigns of Rehoboam and Jereboam, are the children of God, or the nation of God’s choosing. If you will read all of the Old Testament from the Exodus through the book of Malachi, you will find God’s hand of correction, and discipline on the two kingdoms. In them we have examples of what the Christian’s life should be like and God’s discipline upon us when we rebell and sin against Him.
The LORD’s words spoken through the prophet are spoken as an already completed thing. It is completed in the mind of God. When God says something is going to come to pass it is as good as done. You will notice that He says, “When you are mutltiplied and increased in the land…”. It is an already decided and an already accomplished event; it just needs worked out in the people’s hearts and lives. There would be coming a time when the people were going to be carried away to Babylon, and in 70 years they would return. It this return they would return as one nation once again, but this promise has much more prophetic influence that just that fulfillment. The children of the nation of Israel, are still missing the ark of the covenant; they are even looking forward to the return of the ark of the covenant.
Even when Cyrus king of Persia made proclamation for the “house of the LORD” to be built in Jerusalem, and after Nehemiah was given permission to go and rebuild the wall of the city of Jerusalem, the people were still in bondage to a foreign power. Even in the day of Jesus they were still under the powers of the Roman government. Since the Babyloninan captivity they have not really been free. In our day, though they are supposedly a free nation, they are still under the rule of Gentile governments. The United Nations and the United States of America are pretty much their ruling nations.
There will come a day when Messiah reigns in Jerusalem. That it the time and the day they will no longer be depending on the representative power and presence of the Lord, ie., the ark of the covenant; but they will have the real, full, and glorious power and presence of the LORD in person. He will be their king. How is it that some Christians want to take these promises and spiritualize them, and make them for the church? This promise has not happened yet. It has not been fulfilled. It is yet to be fulfilled and to the letter. The amillennialist would have us believe that these events have already occured and the promise is fulfilled in the Church. The thing is this prophecy had nothing, has nothing to do with the Church. It has to do with the people of Israel. It is dealing with a real people, in a real land, with a real city of Jerusalem; not a figurative one.
The children of Judah and Israel did come back from Babylon, after seventy years, just as Jeremiah had prophesied; but they have never had free rule of the land. It has been ruled by other nations for centuries. When, however, Jesus sits as king on “The Throne of the LORD, then will all the nations be gathered into it. It won’t be so that they can rule, but so that they can worship the King. Jerusalem will be The Throne of the Lord.
-by Tim A. Blankenship
With the revelation of the pretensious treachery of Judah God again extends mercy to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Though they had departed from God and since the departure from the Southern Kingdom, had never really had much worship and care for God they were not pretentious in their behavior. You will not find one righteous king among the people of Israel. Jereboam, the first king of Israel, it is said of Him, “Jereboam did not turn from his evil way…” (1 Kings 13:33). And, that is of all the kings of Israel.
One clear thing that we can see from this invitation from God through the prophet Jeremiah is that God hates pretention, hypocrisy, and He extends mercy to all.
“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and have not obeyed My voice,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:11-13 (NKJV).
It is amazing to me the number of people who have told me, and some I have heard of from others who do not believe that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same. Right here is clear evidence of it. God is merciful, gracious, and loving in the New Testament. He has always longed for His backsliding people to return to Him.
The Northern Kingdom got off in a backsliding agenda. their first king, Jereboam set up two idols for them to worship, and keep the people from returning to Jerusalem. He set up a golden calf in Dan, and at Bethel. None of the following kings had a heart for God and hated His prophets. They sacrificed their children in the fire. Worshipped many false gods, and were perverse in their behavior. Now God pleads with them to repent.
My, how God’s heart grieves for His people. He calls for repentance. Though it is not immediately seen God will accomplish His Word, and His people will return to Him. Hosea, the prophet had a wife who turned from him to pagan, idolatrous, prostitution, and worship of pleasure rather than the God of glory. Hosea pursues his wife, and this is the picture of God pursuing His nation of people to bring them back to Himself.
This was accomplished. The people who came back from the captivity of Babylon were a mixed people. People of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms returned together, and they have been one nation since that time. They were one nation in the time of Jesus. They will be one nation through all time.
When God calls for His people to repent He is calling for us to turn from going the wrong direction, ie., away from Him, and turn around and go with Him. No matter what we have done; no matter how evil and vile; no matter our guilt, or our associations; God’s call to return is still powerful and valid. If you have gotten out of His will; if you are still in your sins; if your life is in a real mess; and if your worship has grown cold; then His call to return to Him is for you. He asks only that you acknowledge your iniquity – that you had turned from Him to sin. He is merciful, will hear your cry, and will receive you back to a walk with Him.
We have all sinned. We all fall short of His glory, and yet He calls us to Himself. Repentance is Returning to God. Returning to God is Repentance.
-by Tim A. Blankenship
There are far too many times I have heard of people, even Christians, saying; “The God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament”, or they say; “People of the Old Testament were saved differently than the people of the New Testament time.” My usual response to that is; “That just isn’t so”.
In reading in the book of Genesis we find that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD”. He did not earn his salvation it was by grace (Genesis 6:8). We find again in Genesis, “And he [Abram, ie., Abraham] believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). That same phrase is used to assure us that Abraham was not saved by works but by grace in Romans 4:1-4.
In looking in the book of Jeremiah the prophet proclaims the love or our God and Savior:
“They say, ‘if a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man’s, may he return to her again?’ Would not tht land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with many lovers; ‘Yet return to Me,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 3:1 (NKJV).
The prophet likens the people of Israel and Judah to a wife who has committed many adulteries, and abominations against her Husband who is God. According to law, Deuteronomy 24:1-04, it was an unclean act for a man to have his previously divorced, remarried, divorced and to take her back to himself. It was considered a defilement of the promised land. God, though, seeing the uncleanness of His people calls them to repent and return to Him. Despite the fact of their many acts of treachery, adultery and spiritual adultery, their murder of small children and elderly people; God says, “I still love you. Return to Me.’
That is the grace of God displayed in the Old Testament. Saved and restored by God’s amazing and wonderful love and grace.