Do You Think That I Cannot Now Pray?

“Then said Jesus unto him, ‘Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.  Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?’” Matthew 26:52-54  (KJB)

These words of Jesus were spoken following the betrayal by Judas Iscariot, and Peter had taken his sword to defend his Lord Jesus Christ.  Peter was eager to defend him in the heat of the moment.

Do we hear Jesus’s words “Do you think that I cannot now pray…?”  Do we get it?  My thought is, “Why call for the angels?  Just speak a word and they all would fall away.”  But that would not fulfill the Scriptures either.

He was going to be crucified because that is why He came.  He came to be the Lamb without spot or blemish; to be the sin offering for the sins of the world.  In Jesus Christ, His life, His death, His burial, and His bodily resurrection He fulfilled the demands of the Law; the Scriptures; and the will of His Father.

He could have called 12 legions of angels… but He did not.  He loves you and me so much He gave.

His Kingdom Coming

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” 
Matthew 13:44-50 (KJB)

The finished result of the kingdom of heaven will be the final putting away of all that is evil and false. The complete redemption of all who are bought and claimed by the Redeemer. All the parables of Matthew 13 give us an outline, together, of the Church Age. First of all in the parable of the “Sower” we see individual’s responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secondly, in the parables of the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and the leaven; we see Satan’s opposition to the work of God in His kingdom, and his attacks upon it. Thirdly, we see the results of Judgment upon the “Treasure” [Israel], the Pearl [the Church], and the dragnet [Gentile nations]. This parable shows us that there is evil in the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom of Christ while He is not bodily present, and it will progress until He comes again.

I. In the parable of the “Wheat and the tares” the field is the world (v. 44).

* + In this world “a man” is God in the person of His Son, and the “treasure” is true Israel.
* + When God called Israel to be His people and Nation He had a plan for them, and He still does.

Warren Wiersbe says, “That nation was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation (John 11:51). On the cross, Jesus died for the whole world; but in a special way, He died for Israel (Isaiah 53:8). The nation suffered judgment and seeming destruction, but in God’s sight it is ‘hidden’ and will be revealed again in glory.” From the Bible Exposition Commentary by Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 47, VOL. 1.

II. Pearls are made through the much tribulation of the oyster (vv. 45-46).

* + I don’t know all the mechanics behind the making of the pearl, but what we have all heard is that it begins with a grain of sand being on the sensitive part of its body.
* + In the parable of the “pearl of great price” (vv. 45-46), it has seen the similar interpretation as the above “treasure”, the “pearl” being Christ Jesus and those who give up all they have, and purchase the pearl have made a great bargain.

” Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” 1 Corinthians 10:32 (KJV). “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (KJV). “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:4-7 (KJV). “The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalms 14:2-3 (KJV).

III. In this parable of the precious pearl the “Merchant man” is surely representing Jesus Christ (vv. 45-46).

* + Jesus saw the Church as being a precious pearl, and gave up the splendors and glory of heaven to come and redeem fallen men to God.
* + In Scripture we always have God seeking for men.
* It was Jesus who said, “I came to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10).
* + The pearl which the Merchant man seeks is the Church.
* + The growth of the Church is unseen by the world, just as the pearl within the oyster.

IV. Jesus once again goes to the sea, only in a bigger way (vv. 47-50).

* + Keep in mind that we are to understand that the “kingdom of heaven” contains both the good and the bad [evil]; the true and the false.
* + The good and true ae the ones who are genuine believers.
*  (Daniel 7:1-3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).
* + The time of this judgment is at the end of the age, when God is going to make all things right.
* It is not the end of the Church Age, but the end of the age of a “Mixed Multitude”.

-by Tim A. Blankenship
For further study and reading

The Kings Authority Over Evil

The King’s Authority Over Evil

Matthew 8:28-34

We have seen Jesus the King as He has dealt with physical ailments, sicknesses, diseases, and our infirmities. We have seen Him deal with the storm which came up at sea which could, itself, have been generated by supernatural means, through the demons we see in our text. It is only my supposition to think it was of supernatural means, and I think a good supposition due to the fear of the four fishermen who were on the boat of the previous verses. If it was not supernatural, then, it was one of the fiercest storms they had ever encountered.

JESUS IS MET BY TWO WHO ARE POSSESSED BY DEMONS (v. 28).

* Two people all the other people feared and would take long walks around where they dwelt.

* Two people who were in bondage; who actually were crying for help from within their souls.

THE FALLEN ANGELS KNOW WHO JESUS IS AND PLEAD WITH HIM FOR A REPRIEVE (vv. 29-31).

* These demons recognize their Creator who cast them out of heaven.

* They still despise Him, though they may show some humility to Him, recognizing His superiority over them.

MATTHEW’S GOSPEL RECORDS JESUS ONLY SPEAKING ONE WORD, AND THAT WORD IS “GO.” (v. 32).

* Jesus’s word “Go” to these fallen angels was to depart from the tormented souls of these individuals.

* The Christian is commissioned to “Go”, and tell, and deliver the lost from the torment of evil.

THE OWNER’S OF THE PORK STRONGLY URGE JESUS TO LEAVE (vv. 33-34).

* This whole event is about the deliverance of people who have been in bondage to evil.

* What is of more importance pigs and/or possessions or the lives of human beings?

-Tim A. Blankenship

Precious Faith

These sermon points are from the message Tim A. Blankenship preached on Sunday morning August 05, 2018.

The reason this one faith in God through Jesus Christ is the Precious Faith…

1 Peter 1-25

I.  It is Most Precious (vv. 1-5)

II.  More Precious than Gold (vv. 6-11).

III.  It was the desire of Prophets and Angels (vv. 10 & 12).

IV.  It is Precious to maintain Holiness; Keeping the Faith ((vv. 13-25).

A Resurrection/Easter Sunday Sermon

THE CALL OF THE RESURRECTION
Matthew 28:10

I do not know if anyone has ever thought of the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a call or not, but I definitely see a call here following the resurrection of Jesus. The angels have simply said, “He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (v. 6). The angel had said, “Go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you” (v. 7).

As the women were going to tell the disciples what the angels had said they met Jesus Himself. They probably would have about forgotten what the angel had said when they see Jesus. They bow at His feet and even held on to His feet, and worshipped Him (v. 9).

“Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me” Matthew 28:10

There are about four things I want us to notice from this verse of Scripture;

I. THERE IS A CALL TO HAVE ‘NO FEAR’;

II. THERE IS A CALL TO GO AND TELL THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS THAT HE IS RISEN;

III. THERE IS A CALL TO TELL THEM WHERE HE CAN BE SEEN – AS HE HAS SAID;

IV. THERE IS A CALL TO TELL THEM THAT HE IS TO BE SEEN.

THERE IS A CALL TO HAVE ‘NO FEAR’.

Many times as Jesus walked on the earth He spoke the words, “Be not afraid”, “Fear not”, etc. As the women see Him this is His opening statement to them. It just seems that the intent of Jesus is for those who know and love Him to walk with Him and be free of all fear.

There are many things in this world we could and do fear. Jesus tells us before He is crucified to “Be not afraid”, and He tells us following the crucifixion, all of this after He has faced the greatest challenge of His human existence. The darkness of the crucifixion was that time when the Father had turned His back on His Son, and judged Him with every pound, every sword of judgment He could meet out. He faced it without fear and with full confidence that the Father’s will was being done and the Father and Himself would be glorified forever.

THERE IS A CALL TO GO AND TELL THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS THAT HE IS RISEN.

The disciples were cringing in fear after the crucifixion of Jesus. They were most likely trembling, and wondering what are we going to do next. Whar are we going to do now? The hope of Jerusalem and of Israel is now dead. We thought Him to be the deliverer of Israel and Jerusalem, but He is dead. They had forgotten His promise to meet them in Galilee –

“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee” Matthew 26:31-32 (KJV).

Jesus spelled it out clearly. “After I am risen again” please note that, “I will go before you into Galilee”. Did they not pay attention? Did they just not hear? Maybe not according to Jesus’s words He uses to the churches of the Revelation – “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith…” Their minds were full of expectation for the deliverance of the kingdom of Israel from Rome, and the setting up of His earthly kingdom.

This part of the call is to all who will follow Jesus. If there is to be trust, obedience, and true following of Jesus there must also be an abiding trust and faith that Jesus not only died for our sins, but that He rose again; bodily from the grave. The grace where they laid Jesus is empty, like the angel gave invitation to “Come, see the place where the Lord lay,” That means He had lain there previously to this, but was GONE. His body not stolen. It never fell into a crack in the ground at the earthquake. He rose up from that place where His body lay; laid the burial cloths in a place by themselves, and came OUT; just as He said He would.

If we are going to proclaim the resurrection Gospel of Jesus Christ we better believe it ourselves. Believe it ourselves before we go trying to tell the lost world about it.

THERE IS A CALL TO TELL THEM WHERE HE CAN BE SEEN – JUST AS HE SAID.

One disciple [Thomas] had said,

“Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe” John 20:25 (KJV).

Thomas has a nick name that has been given him because of his doubting, and it is “Doubting Thomas”. We know that Jesus was seen by the disciples before they ever went to Galilee. At Galilee was where the most significant number of people witnessed Him alive some days later, and by “Over five hundred brethren at once”.

Jesus had told them that He would go before them unto Galilee. There was the place where they disciples would and could receive their public authenticity. It was not only proof of the resurrection of Jesus, but it would be the public endorsement by Jesus of the disciples/apostles.

The place Jesus can be seen today is by revelation of God’s Spirit through the Holy Word of God. Thomas would not believe except he saw for himself the resurrected Christ, and it was at the point when Thomas saw Him that Jesus said, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” John 20:29. It took the physical appearance of Jesus to Thomas for him to believe Jesus was alive. You and I do not have that privilege. We have God’s written Word and the Gospels. They tell us Jesus is alive. Paul the apostle tells us Jesus is alive. Peter, James, and John tell us that Jesus is alive. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is alive. Luke the physician tells us that Jesus is alive. The Holy Spirit of God reveals to you and I today that Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God is alive TODAY.

THE PLACE TO FIND THE LIVING CHRIST IS IN THE WORD AND REVELATION BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.

THERE IS A CALL TO TELL THEM THAT JESUS IS TO BE SEEN.

When we start talking about seeing Jesus maybe the news of Oral Roberts vision or dream of a 600 foot tall Jesus comes to our mind. I want to tell you He was not nearly that tall; so that is not who Roberts seen.

John saw Jesus as He was penning down the Revelation of Jesus Christ. He saw Him on the isle of Patmos as he was a prisoner there for preaching the resurrected Christ, even though he was told to be silent. Paul saw Jesus as he travelled on the road to Damascus to capture Christian men, women, boys and girls to drag them back to Jerusalem for trial and prison and/or death. Paul was knocked out of his saddle by the presence of the Lord Jesus.

It is the call from God that gives us the right and privilege to see our resurrected Jesus. Have you seen Jesus?

We must see Him as having lived a life without sin; being perfect and without spot or blemish. We must see Him as the healer as He healed the lame, raised the dead, made the blind to see, and gave the leper back their right to be among others. We must see Jesus as He is lifted up between heaven and hell upon the earth, while hanging on the cross as our sin. We must see Him as sin being judged by the righteous Father. We must see Him as finishing the tasl; the work; that the Father gave Him to do. That work being finished; we must see Him as coming forth out of that grave showing the victory He gained by His death on the cross.

Sin could not hold Him, cannot hold Him, and never will hold Him. The victory is won, and the resurrection is the evidentiary proof of that victory on the cross. He is alive.

Christ the Lord is risen today. INDEED, HE IS RISEN.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Abomination in the Earth

And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. Revelation 17:1-6 (KJV)

Bill Dudley, a Missouri Baptist Pastor, and Evangelist has written some notes on the Revelation. I am going to quote him here.

“In his book THE TWO BABYLONS, Alexander Hislop traces the development of Mystery Babylon through the centuries to the present time.
NIMROD was the founder of Babel (Gen. 10-11), and the kingdom of Babylon. His wife’s name was SEMIRAMIS. In Gen. 3:15 God had promised to deliver the race through the “seed of the woman”. Because of this promise, when NIMROD’S wife, SEMIRAMIS, gave birth to a son, she said he was miraculouly conceived by a sunbeam and she preseented him as the promised deliverer of the earth.

Continuing Dudley’s words… “The son’s name was TAMMUZ. When TAMMUZ was grown, so the story goes, a wild boar slew him; but after forty days of his mother’s weeping, he was raised from the dead. This ancient story of SEMIRAMIS and her son, TAMMUZ is the origin of the cult of mother/child worship that has spread throughout the whole world.

In ASSYRIA and NINEVEH she is called ISHTAR and her son was still known as TAMMUZ.

In PHOENICIA she was called ASTARTE or ASHTEROTH, and her son, still TAMMUZ.

In EGYPT she was called IRIS and her son is OSIRIS or HORUS.

In GREECE she was called APHRODITE, and her son was called EROS.

Among the ROMANS she was called VENUS, and her son was called CUPID.

As this mother/child worship spread through the earth, she was worshiped by the offering of a wafer (a little cake) to her as the queen of heaven. The worship always included forty days of Lent, of weeping over the destruction of TAMMUZ, before the feast of ISHTAR, at which time his resurrection was celebrated. The sign of TAMMUZ was an ISHTAR egg, a symbol of his restoration to life.

The Old Testament prophets rebuked the mother and child cult. In JEREMIAH 44:19-30 he rebukes the people for worshiping the queen of heaven and in EZEKIEL 8:5-18 the prophet sees the people, v. 14, observing the forty days of Lent during which they afflict themselves and weep for TAMMUZ, the child that was slain by the wild boar.

This ancient worship of the mother and child passed down from BABYLON to ASSYRIA, to PHOENICIA, to PERGAMOS, and finally, to ROME.
In ROME the Emperor was PONTIFEX MAXIMUS, the high priest of all the idolatrous systems of the Roman Empire. When there were no more Roman Emperors the title of high priest of the rites and mysteries of the cult of mother and child, the Babylonian mystery religion, was assumed by the BISHOP OF ROME.” pp. 55 & 56 of Bill Dudley’s notes.

In these verses, we have a description of religious Babylon.

In the book of the Revelation there are four women of four different visions who have a relationship with religion:

  1. In the letter to the church in Thyatira “Jezebel” was a false prophetess corrupting the church in the city of Thyatira (2:20);
  2. In 12:1-6 the mother of the man-child was the nation of Israel, the people of the Old Covenant;
  3. In our present chapter, Babylon is seen as a religious system centered in man rather than God – a woman riding the beast, and the beast being the government of man;
  4. And, in 21:9, the Bride of Christ represents the saints of the Church joined to Christ who redeemed them.

This false religious system is seen sitting “upon many waters”. NOTE: In most other cases water, in the Revelation, is to be taken literally, but here, the text itself gives it a symbolic meaning by its interpretation of verse 15.

This shows how false religion has covered the earth and influenced and condemned many to destruction.

Verse 2 has this “harlot” in an act of spiritual adultery. God has accused, and rightly so, Israel of being a harlot (Hosea). Spiritual adultery is the pretense of worshipping the one true God in ceremony, while at the same time honoring other gods in heart.  Other gods can be our own wishes and desires and over The one true God’s word, will, and way.

In this case, the “whore” has power in government. She has sold out every spiritual principle for political power (1 Kings 21:20). Our verses here describe her as riding a “scarlet colored beast”. This beast represents government, and by its color, an evil government – scarlet represents the devil.
This “great whore” is seen as full of wealth (v. 5). She is also seen as a “mystery”. A mystery only those to whom God gives the interpretation can understand. It is godly wisdom that causes understanding. She is proud to even call herself, “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATION IN THE EARTH” – Religious Babylon (Babel). There has always been an attempt to join all religions. The apostate religions of earth want the Church to join with them, to lay aside the truth of sin, Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, the second coming and be in unity with them. The apostate church accepts all beliefs.

In the minds of many who profess the label of Christianity, it is completely acceptable to join with those who defame, defraud, and blaspheme the name of Jesus Christ, and in the name of unity, peace, and humanity.  It is not.  There is solely one way of salvation, and that is through God’s grace displayed on Calvary’s cross, His burial, and resurrection.

The “Inhabitants of the earth” of verse 2, remember, are those whose hearts and minds are tied to the earth, material things, and not to God and godly things.  These want to live for themselves, and God has no part of life.

This “MOTHER OF HARLOTS” is guilty of shedding the blood of God’s saints. John is astonished. He knows about persecution, but it has come from the government. However, what he saw was the apostate church – professing to know Christ – in the end time, drunk on the blood of the saints of God.  Religion without faith in Christ is dead and will lead to eternal death.

When It Comes

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Revelation 14:6-13 (KJV)

There could be as many as seven angels mentioned from verse six through verse twenty. There are certainly six. Why six? Remember six is the number of man. Angels throughout Scripture and time have been servants and messengers to man as well as his protectors. For example see Genesis 18 and 2 Kings 6:8-23. If verse thirteen’s “Voice” is from an angel that would be the seventh, however, we cannot reasonably conclude the “Voice” to be angelic, but rather, possibly, the voice of the Spirit of God.

God is merciful. This is His closing act of mercy, lest there be some who will hear. The “Everlasting Gospel” is: 1) Fear God; 2) Give glory to Him; 3) The hour of judgment is come; 4) Worship your Creator.

This isn’t really an opportunity for those of earth to repent as it is assurance to those of God that He will have His way.

Babylon is practically a synonym for wickedness and all sorts of evil. Babylon, in our text can refer to three or four different earth agencies: 1) An actual city; 2) Political power and intrigue; 3) Economic power and banking; and/or 4) Religious power – one world religion.

We know from the study of history that the actual city of Babylon has already fallen, although, there were reports when Saddam Hussein was ruling Iraq, that he was rebuilding it. The other three we can be seen though, and greatly increasing; in the economic system of this present world. The Babylon of mankind’s politics will crumble to nothingness, the economy of the world banking conglomerates will crash, and the world’s religion will only add fuel to Hell’s fires. Just as surely as John sees it proclaimed, everything that man builds to exalt himself over God will crumble. It is as good as done. It is written – So it shall be. “Forever, O LORD, Thy Word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

This third angel spells out clearly the doom that the worshipers of the beast will face. Their doom is not of short duration. It is for ever and ever, everlasting.

The Bible mentions nothing of the soul’s annihilation, but it does of eternal souls. If the soul of man could be annihilated why does hell’s fires burn forever? Why doesn’t God put them out after the souls are all burned up?

We as Christians need to believe what God says in His Word about hell, just as surely as we believe about salvation and eternity in Heaven. Some say that in the Scriptures Jesus mentions hell more than He does Heaven. Hell is a place to miss, not to flee into. Every lost soul is living in condemnation on the road to hell, and some of them would repent and believe if only someone told them of Jesus.

When it comes right down to it, today, all those who reject Christ are worshipers of the beast. We can do nothing for those who reject Jesus, but we must tell them and let Jesus and the Holy Spirit do the saving.

The “Patience of the saints” is that they who trust Christ during this darkest hour will be delivered. Just as surely as the worshipers of the beast suffer forever and ever, they who “Follow the Lamb” (v. 4) shall enjoy eternal bliss. They are the ones who “Keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus”. The keeping of the commandments does not save, but they are saved to keep the commandments [to obey them] (Ephesians. 2:10).

Verse thirteen provides the second “Beatitude” of the Revelation. “Blessed” meaning happy. This encouraging word is to those who are in tribulation and their lives are in danger. To serve the Lord in the darkest hour of human history will cost the lives of many, but God would have us know that all they who go through the great tribulation, keeping the commandments by faith in Jesus, if they should “die in the Lord”, they are “Blessed”.
What benefits are there for them who “die in the Lord”?

  1. God’s promise of happiness;
  2. They rest from their trials and labor;
  3. Their works stand as a testimony of their faith.

These are true for all those who follow Jesus Christ in any day or age.  Trust Jesus today.

Cast Out of Heaven

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”  Revelation 12:7-12 (KJV)

When we read the book of Job in the Old Testament it appears that Satan has access to appear before God (Job1:6).

It seems that in the middle of the 7 years that Satan is cast out of Heaven, no longer having access to God. Because of this, he is allowed to wreak havoc on the earth – “cast out into the earth”. The last 3.5 years are catastrophic. In Colossians, we read…

“And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist…” Colossians 1:17

It is an encouraging thing for the Christian to know that God, through His Son Jesus, holds all things, all the elements under His control during the opening of the seals, the sounding of the trumpets, and the pouring out of the vials of wrath; Satan (the serpent) is deceiving minds and destroying mankind as never before.

“There was war in heaven”, John says. Michael [the fourth personality in this parenthetical scene], is representative of the great angelic host. These angels, ever faithful to God, stand firm to get the devil from before the throne of God.

In Scripture there are four references to the curtailing of Satan’s activities:

  1. Somewhere around the dawn of creation satan was cast out of his exalted position as an angel of God (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-15);
  2. Mid-way through the Great Tribulation Satan will be cast out from any access to God as accuser of believers (Revelation 12:10);
  3. At the beginning of the millennium he will be shut up in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3);
  4. At the end of the millennium, he will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).

We will see, that since Satan will be cast out from even appearing before God that he will indulge in an all-out attack on the seed of the woman – anti-semitic attacks against all of Israel. He has always hated God’s people, whether it be Israel or the Church. Being no more able to accuse he attacks in all his limited wrath. God protects Israel.  We can see a great attack against Israel today.  Our President of the United States of America has declared Jerusalem as the Capital City of Israel.  His declaration was that the U. S. of A. will have our Embassy there going along with God’s declaration that Jerusalem is the City of David.

The “Loud voice” is one of rejoicing. It is not said whose voice it is.

It could be God’s. It could be the twenty-four elders. It could be the angels. It might be all the voices of heaven blended together as one.

It will be a glorious day in heaven when Satan will be cast out from being “The accuser of the brethren”.

HOW IS THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE WON?

  1. By the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross;
  2. By the testimony of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God;
  3. By loving Jesus with our lives [“loved not their lives unto the death”] (Mark 8:34-35; 10:31).

At this time there will be rejoicing in heaven, but great “woe” to those “Inhabiters of the earth”. Those refusing God’s grace through Jesus Christ will suffer both the wrath of Satan and the wrath of God. Satan will go all out. He will even try to destroy those who are his to lead them into eternal torment with himself. He knows his time is short. Satan is already defeated.  His head has been crushed.  All he can do is steal, kill, and destroy and wreak havoc in the world.

O will you turn your soul, heart, mind, and strength over to the Lamb of God who died to deliver you from Satan and from sin’s bondage?  Call on Him. He will hear you and save you.

The Peril of the Unrepentant in the Face of Holy

“And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”  Revelation 9:13-21

The sixth trumpet sounds and John hears a voice from the “Golden Altar”. This altar is the same altar as in chapter 8:3-6. The horns of the altar are mentioned in the Old Testament. There are times when men fled to the altar and “Caught hold on the horns of the altar” (1 Kings 1:50-51; 2:28). It was a place for pleading. Evidently pleading for one’s life as other men sought them. From this place of former mercy proceeds a voice of woe. The second woe. The first has passed.

The voice heard tells the sixth angel to “Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates”. These four angels are not the same four of chapter 7:1. There is nothing said about the chapter 7 angels being bound.

Since these four are bound it would lead us to conclude that these are evil angels or otherwise known as demons (Jude 6).

Today there is demonic activity, but not as the like of which when God removes His restraints.

The release of the four evil angels comes at God’s appointed time. “Were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year” has nothing to do with duration, but with God’s timing. The dastardly work of the four is to kill one-third of all people on the earth. Remember, one-fourth part of mankind has already been killed at the opening of the fourth seal (6:7-8). This means more than one half of the world’s population will be killed by the time this “Woe” is carried out. The judgment of the flood will pale in the comparison of these judgments.

The released angels kill by means of a two hundred million man army. China boasts to have such an army, and it is to the East of Jerusalem and the Euphrates river.

This also could be another demonic attack upon mankind, but it could be this in the form of an actual army of men. And, of course, the way things are in the world today there are probably women in this army as well. It seems that the horses are the sources of destroying power, “Out of their mouths issued fire and smoke, and brimstone” (vv. 17b-18). This almost sounds like a nuclear war.
Where the demonic mass of verses 3-11 was only allowed to torment and not to kill this army, vast in number, is allowed to kill.

Have there ever been events such as these on the earth? We have never read of them in history. This is clearly prophetic and not historical.

There is further mention of the Euphrates in 16:12 in connection with the “Sixth vial of wrath”.

The move of this army could be a move during the middle of the tribulation when the “Peacemaker” breaks the treaty with Israel and then havoc rules.

Isn’t it amazing how people can continue in sin and rebellion against God when they can see His mighty and judging hand at work. Rather than turning to the true and living God during this time of His wrath upon wickedness they lift up their idols of stone, gold, silver, brass, and wood. They cry out to gods who are no gods, becoming like them (Psalm 115).

Morris Ashcraft in the Broadman Bible Commentary wrote, “One cannot overlook John’s conviction, though voiced as a lament, that idolatry has a hold on man so great that he will go on worshiping the works of his own hands even while the infinite power of the true God is displayed all about him” BROADMAN COMMENTARY vol. 12 pg. 297.

It is a sad day when men turn to things made of their own hands and imaginations rather than to the God who displayed His love and wrath on a cross of wood judging our sin on the account of His Son.

Every kind of evil is mentioned in these verses. John is lamenting. It is nothing but outright, willful rebellion against the God of Heaven. There is no reason for rejoicing here, other than the fact, that God will destroy and put away all sin. All of sin, darkness of evil, and evil will be brought to an end.  Amen.

Evil Unbound

“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”  Revelation 9:1-6 (KJV)

In this chapter, I will endeavor to show that after man has made a mockery of Satan, hell, sin, and death, God will unleash all the forces that had been seen as unreal and fictional, sources for jokes and humor. That man has trifled with evil at the expense of their eternal souls, and that the very evil they mocked and practiced will be judgment upon them.

We have come to the fifth trumpet, which is also the first “Woe” of chapter eight verse 13, “Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth…”. The word “Woe” is related to great calamity. Jesus Himself as He walked among men pronounced “Woe” on Chorazin and Bethsaida in Matthew 11:21.

The star mentioned is different from the stars previously mentioned in verse 12 of chapter eight. This star is a personality. The implication is that the star has fallen. “To him” shows this as a person. So, in this case, it is not a literal star. It can be likened to the “stars” of chapter 1 verse 20 and to 2:1.

This star is one who has fallen from Heaven. He will no longer be allowed to come into God’s presence to accuse “The brethren”.

Where the judgment of the first four trumpets dealt with things man can see, hear, touch, taste and/or smell, this fifth trumpet judgment appears to deal with the demon horde. We know the chief of demons to be Satan. To him is given a key to unleash the demon swarm, held captive, upon the earth.

Because these unbelievers have mocked the spiritual and believed no connection to life or living the unholy spiritual beings will be set free from their abode and attack those on the earth.
The smoke out of the pit goes up like out of a furnace. It will be like hell was unleashed upon lost mankind.

What came out of the “Abyss” is likened unto locusts. We cannot say these are literal locusts. God used a plague of locusts against Egypt (EXODUS 10:1-20), and in Deuteronomy 28:38, 42 we find that God used locusts as judgment against Israel in times of their unfaithfulness. We also see judgment upon Israel with locusts in Joel 2. These in Egypt and Israel were literal crop-eating locusts.
What makes these something other than literal locusts is their description. The first being, they have a scorpions tail [“…power, as the scorpions on the earth have power”]. The literal locust has no such tail.

These were also given a commandment. They could do no harm to the grass, nor any green thing, nor to any tree. They could do no harm to the people who had “The seal of God in their foreheads”. God knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19).

The genuine locust eats any green thing in its path and is a great cause of famine throughout the world. The locust here, though, attack and torment men. They are to torment, but not to kill. This is to go on for a period of five months, which, I have heard, is the lifespan of locusts.

The torment will be so great and fierce that men will seek to die, but “Death shall flee from them”. These could be some of the same ones who seek eternal life by searching for a “Fountain of Youth” use of “Cryogenics”, or even searching for the supposed “Holy grail”. Now they are seeking death and cannot find it.

“What the scriptures here convey is that in addition to the natural plagues of the first four trumpets, now wicked men are afflicted by torment of demons” JOHN WALVOORD The Revelation Of Jesus Christ pg. 161.

O, friend, this is not a time we must go through.  Through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we are delivered from this judgment.  Only through Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.  Call on Him and He will deliver you.

Worthy to Take the Book

And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever.”  Revelation 5:8-14 (KJV)

The Lamb is worthy of worship. Who does God say is to be worshipped? Only Himself. If God is allowing Jesus, the Lamb, to receive worship, what declaration does that make? Worshipping Him, you are worshipping the God of creation.

In Heaven God is collecting the prayers of the saints. They are collected as the odors of incense. They are a sweet smelling fragrance to Him. Our prayers are pleasing to our Father in Heaven, and He is pleased to hear and also answer them as it pleases and glorifies Him.

He is worshipped for four reasons (I got these reasons from Warren Wiersbe’s BE COMMENTARY, and the five hymns to be sung in our worship also).

1. Because of who He is – the crucified and resurrected One;
2. Because of where He is – in the midst of all creation (represented in the four living ones), and in the midst of God’s people (the elders);
3. Because of what He does – He opened the book no one else could open. He made it possible for singing:
a. The worship hymn – “Thou art worthy”;
b. The Gospel song – “Thou wast slain”;
c. The Missionary song – “Out of every kindred…and nation”;
d. The Devotional hymn – “A kingdom of priests”;
e. The Prophetic song – “We shall reign on the earth”.

It would be great if the music directors of our churches would all begin to follow this pattern for our worship of the Lord. My plan would be to open the worship service with THE WORSHIP HYMN. Something like Holy, Holy, Holy, or How Great Thou Art. The GOSPEL SONG could be something like, At Calvary, or The Old Rugged Cross. There are many to choose from. The MISSIONARY SONG could be used as the worship in tithes and offerings, using songs like Rescue the Perishing, or Set My Soul Afire. Good DEVOTIONAL HYMNs could be, Sweet Hour of Prayer, or When We Walk With The Lord. There are some good PROPHETIC SONGs which could be used such as, Face To Face With Christ My Savior, or There’s A Land That Is Fairer Than Day.

In verse eleven we find a numberless multitude of angels. “Ten thousand times ten thousand” equals 100 million, but then “Thousands of thousands” mean millions more. They probably reach into the billions plus. Notice, their praise was to the Savior “The Lamb that was slain”, not to a baby in a manger, not to a healer, not even to a King, but to a “Violently slain Lamb”. This resurrected Lamb is worthy to receive full honors from the Father and all His creation. Notice, “The Lamb that was slain” is past tense and assures us that He was dead but is alive. He is risen. He is risen indeed.

We come now to the fourth reason the Lamb is worthy of worship (See notes of verses eight through ten).

4. Because of what He has. He did not receive these things from people of earth. “Blessings, honor, glory, and power”, He receives them after He completes the task He came to do. I do not know about all who are reading this, but I do know that so many times worship services in our churches seem monotonous, mundane, sometimes even dreaded, and dead. It seems that the reason for that may just be the attitude of the worshiper’s heart. Our worship is about Jesus. If we will keep our focus on the crucified, and risen Lamb of God true worship will be the experience of every worshipper. Give Him “Blessing, honor, glory, and power”.

The same things are given to the Lamb and the Father. They are actually given to the Lamb by the Father. The ability to ascribe worth to the Lamb by the creation and God’s people are given by the Father.

We can say A-MEN in our worship – SO BE IT. In these songs of praise, we can come to a conclusion of how our worship on earth is done. Let’s worship Him. He is Jesus the Christ, Son of God, God the Son, and He is Worthy to take the Book.

Hold Fast, and Repent

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 3:1-6 (KJV)

In chapter 3:1-6 we will endeavor to show that Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to His Church, that local churches, because they are made up of a “Mixed multitude” (a term from the Exodus), often grieve His Spirit, what happens to the church when He is grieved, and the hope of life which only comes by His Spirit.

It appears that complacency is a problem. We get in a place where the temperature is just right, the seats are soft and comfortable, there is no trouble to speak of, and we fall asleep. Suddenly, we awake and we find ourselves plagued with problems, or we may not awake because the enemy has crept in on us while we were unaware and kills us. If a friend does not wake us up, then, death is inevitable.

That friend, of course, is Jesus. In this Scripture text, He reveals Himself through another one of His characteristics. He had to go away, in the ascension, before the Spirit came. Now the Spirit of God in all His fullness can dwell and habitat in the life of every believer.

Jesus’s message to Sardis is one to “WAKE UP!” to your true situation. There was still hope for Sardis, but it was by the resurrection power of the Spirit. They could have life and power with God in no other way.

Jesus is the One who gives the Spirit, who is the giver of life and power to live a clean, holy and endless life.

In verse 1 we have Jesus revealing Himself to the church of Sardis as the One who has the “Seven Spirits” – indicating the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and the “Seven Stars”. See chapter 1:4, 16.
The Holy Spirit is the source of life for the Church. Without the Spirit, there is no life. We notice that Jesus reveals each part of His character as needed by each church. The church of Sardis certainly needed to see Jesus as the One who gives the Holy Spirit. In chapter 4:5 we have “Seven burning lamps, which are the seven Spirits of God”. In chapter 5:6 we see “Seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God…”. We have a fullness of light, power, and spiritual enlightenment, which come from the Spirit of God.

The “Seven stars” are the pastors. Jesus places pastors in each of His local bodies as it pleases Him. If the pastor is the source of the church’s problem, then, Jesus will remove him and put in a replacement. It could be the people of Sardis was blaming their pastor. Accusing him of not doing his job, or the church’s lack of growth, its complacency, its dying or death. They could have been saying, “These sermons you have been preaching are irrelevant to our need. There is no threat from without. We are not near dying”. The pastor, on the other hand, may have just blended in, became one of the neighborhood. “When in Rome do as the Romans do”.

Sardis was a city on a hill. it was protected by cliffs. It was virtually impregnable. However, it was overthrown at least twice by enemies while the guards slept at their post; thinking, “We are impregnable, there is no danger”.

Jesus says that this church has a name of being alive – they still have a name over the door, they are still keeping their programs going, but there is little difference in the practice of the church and the practice of the city – “But you are dead”, says Jesus. It really does not matter what the people in the community say about the church. What really counts is what Jesus says.

In verse two, it would almost seem fitting to say, that, the phrase “Be watchful” could also read “WAKE UP!”.

Consider Paul’s writing to the Romans in chapter 13:11-14. It is time for the Church to “Wake up”. Revival is needed.

Sardis could very well represent the time of the “Reformation” if we were looking at that dispensationally. During the “Dark ages” the professing church had become villainous. Killing, enslaving and conquering of land was the work of a majority of the “church” of this time. The true Church had fallen asleep. The doctrine of the church was to earn your salvation or pay for it with money. You could even pay the “Priests” to pray some poor soul into Heaven. If you could do that, why not pay them to pray an enemy into hell. The church, then, used the name of Jesus, but few within it really knew Him.

Jesus saw the need and He called out brave, and bold men like Martin Luther, Ulrich, Zwingli, John Knox, John Calvin, William Tyndale, and others to raise a mighty voice, to put the Word of God back into the hands of the people. To preach the true gospel of grace. The people began to wake up. The Church began to identify more with Jesus now, and less with the world.

Jesus’s words sound as though there is still hope.

“Strengthen the things that remain” is probably a reference to the small minority who were loving the Lord Jesus. Every time they tried to work for Jesus, the majority would stop it. The works were not perfect or complete in His eyes. Those who loved Jesus were the only possessors of the Spirit. A complacent spirit grieves the Spirit of God. The Spirit keeps us alert and aware. When we pay no attention to Him we grieve Him, and our source of power and strength erodes until ‘rigor mortis’ sets in. The Spirit never leaves the individual true believer, but He does and will leave from empowering a local church.

The only hope (v. 3) for a church in such as the aforementioned condition, is to get back to the basics. “Remember” salvation by grace through faith, hold on to it as though your life depended on it (it does), and repent. Confess your deadness, your complacent spirit, your grieving of the Holy Spirit.

If there is no awakening Jesus warns, that He will come as a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:4). This would, of course, be only upon those who are not “Overcomers” as the next two verses deal with.  A living organism has … growth, repair, reproduction, and power. If these are missing in a local church that church is either dying or dead. The church needs revival. If the believers at Sardis did not obey God Jesus warned He would “Come as a thief”.

In verses 4 and 5 the judgment that awaited a majority of “church members” would be avoided by the “Overcomers”. The “Overcomer” is a saved – born again – individual who is constantly growing in his/her walk with Christ, and by God’s grace is always faithful.

White is a symbol of righteousness, purity, cleanliness. Jesus mentions only a few who “Have not defiled their garments”. Jesus says, “They are worthy”. They have been made worthy because of the Holy Spirit and the One who gives the Spirit, Jesus Christ. The only way of righteousness or being worthy is in His Spirit.

The “Book of Life” is mentioned several times in the Scriptures. Revelation 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; Exodus32:32; Psalm 69:28; Philippians 4:3 just to list a few. Some believe this implies one can be saved and lose it. That would be contrary to God’s grace. If we do nothing to deserve God’s grace, then, how can we presume that we can do something to get out of His grace? The “Book of Life” has had written in it the names of everyone who was ever conceived. When a person died apart from Christ his/her name is “Blotted out of the book of life”. When a person believes and confesses that Jesus is Lord, and believes that God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead, then God writes that person’s name in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27) and his/her name remains in the “Book of Life”.

Jesus says, that He will confess this individual’s name before the Father.

Some points to note about the BOOK OF LIFE:
1. Contains the names of all the living;
2. Revelation 13:8; 17:8 suggest that the names of saints are written in the book from the foundation of the world – before they have done anything good or bad;
3. Chosen in Christ before the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 25:34).
4. As unbelievers die their names are removed from the BOOK OF LIFE (Psalm 69:28).

Once again, to the church of Sardis, the message of Jesus is commanding His people’s hearing (v. 6). It is an invitation to hear the Holy Spirit speak to the heart of the true believer of Jesus. It seems especially appropriate in this letter because Jesus is showing Himself as the One who gives the Spirit. Hear His words. Hear Him and believe and do them.

In conclusion, the prophet said, “This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6). If the church is to be the Church it must operate in the presence of God. The Holy Spirit must be a continued welcome and wanted guest within the local church, and the total Body of Christ.

To “Grieve the Spirit” is to make Him an unwanted guest. Unwanted guests do not feel like staying very long and begin to pull away any influence and make themselves absent. God gives His people a commandment not to grieve the Spirit; “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit will never leave a born again person, but when we pay Him little or no attention; ignore His teaching, leadership, comfort, convictions, righteousness, and judgment we will certainly be without His powerful influence.

Why do churches die? Because they neglect Jesus and His gift that He has given. That is the person of the Holy Spirit, which is Christ within us.  And to think that there are some who profess to know Christ as Savior and believe that they now have the “Liberty” to live as they please.  The Spirit of Christ in you leads you to live the life that He pleases.

Only those in the local church who heed the warnings of the Spirit and repent of their foolish deeds will overcome. Jesus’s promises to the “Overcomers” are for all those who are repentant.
The church must stop grieving the Holy Spirit; the church must depend on the Spirit, not the promises and promotions of the flesh and man; the church of the 21st century must wake up out of its comfort, and lethargy, and live for God. The church must experience revival.  Every believer must Hold Fast to the words of Jesus and to Him, and Repent of all our sins; disobedience, rebellion, and unbelief.

Who is Jesus Christ?

“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 1:7-9 (KJV)

It does matter how we see Jesus.  If you see Jesus as a good teacher, a prophet, or a good man, and deny His teachings – such as – “My Father and I are One” (John 10:30). Then how do you believe He was a good teacher, a prophet, or a good man?  If He lied about the things He teaches of Himself, then He was a liar.  “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).  If Jesus is the Son of God as He said then He is Divine and is Incarnate God.

There is one thing that identifies the fellowship of Christ from other so called fellowships.  The love that has Jesus Christ as its basis, its standard, and foundation.

Some teachers and teachings declare that Jesus was only a spirit being – similar to the angels that appear as men.  If that was true then there was no actual body that died on the cross, and no resurrection.  The Scriptures say, “… He took not on Him the nature of angels: but He took on Him the seed of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16).  He became flesh.  To deny Jesus became flesh [God Incarnate] is to deny the truth.

Those who teach a different Jesus are deceivers, even antichrists.  Paul writes, “…Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).  The fact must be stressed over and over again that false teaching is harmful and deadly to the individual Christian, and to the whole body of Christ [the Church] if it is allowed in our churches and lives.

There are many religions that profess to be “Christian”.  If they deny that Jesus Christ is God in flesh they are a deceiver and liars.  If they declare His deity, yet claim that it is something all mankind can attain as well (that is deity, and that we can all become gods), then that robs the glory that belongs only to Jesus, and that is reserved solely for Him; and those who teach such are “antichrist” deceivers.

“The doctrine of Christ” (v. 9) is the pure Bible doctrine [teaching] that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, God become flesh (John 1:1, 14), and God the Son.  Anyone or any group denying this doctrine, or equating Godhood to any other is a liar and antichrist.  He or they are not of God.  They are not to be accepted in the fellowship of Christ or His Church.

In the following verses of 2 John 1:10-11 the apostle John warns followers of Jesus Christ not even to allow the teachers of the antichrist doctrine into their homes; neither to tell them “Goodbye”.  To tell them “Goodbye” is to tell them “Godspeed” or “God bless you”.

It really does make a difference what you believe about Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.

Are We Seeing Things???

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; ‘When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.’  Verily I say unto you, ‘This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.”  Matthew 24:29-35 (KJV)

Jesus says in the above quotation, along with other things;  “…When ye shall see all these things…”  Thus I pose the question, “Are we seeing things?”  Christian our hope is not in this world.  It is in knowing Jesus Christ and being known by Him.  Trust not in politics or politicians; nor in government.

Jesus is coming soon.

-T.A.

Elijah, and the Hand of the LORD

The prophet of fire had been told by the word of the LORD that he would send rain on the earth (1 Kings 18:1), that he was to go and show himself unto Ahab.  The greatest trial of Elijah’s life had been won, the prophets of Baal defeated, and even sentenced to death, and the sentence carried out; and the rain had come, just as the LORD and the prophet had said.

“And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.”  1 Kings 18:46 (KJV)

It seems to be abundantly clear by all that has came to pass, with the challenge of fire, the death of the false prophets of Baal, and the rain; that the hand of the LORD is upon Elijah.  Evidently Elijah was a very fast runner.  With Ahab in a chariot, and Elijah on foot; Elijah seems to have out run the king to the entrance of Jezreel.

We begin seeing something about Elijah that shows us that Elijah was only a man who had human flaws, just like the rest of us.  He had his moments of doubt, of fear, and feeling as though he stood alone against the mobs of Ahab and Jezebel.

Elijah coming off the greatest victory of his life; at least up to this point; faces the threats of Jezebel.  Upon hearing what Elijah had done,

“Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.” 19:2

Elijah, the man, the prophet who had the “hand of the LORD” upon him, then, runs for his life.  Not only that he begins requesting that he might die (19:4); instead of taking his life the LORD sent and angel to care for his needs; feeding him a baked cake of figs, raisins, or something else, and giving him water to drink.  My, how the prophet was being ministered unto by the LORD through an angel.  It is proof that the LORD is not finished with Elijah.  The hand of the LORD is still on him.  The angel prepared the cake and the cruse of water.

My  the power of the angel’s food, the LORD’S food.  For Elijah went forty day and forty nights in the strength of that food (19:8).  I find it fascinating that often after great victories, comes great let downs.  Fears, doubts, and just not knowing what lies ahead, can bring temporary defeat.  This was a time of renewing for Elijah.  He was hearing from the LORD.

God took him to a place where he would learn about the greatness of the LORD and His Word, again.

The hand of the LORD is on all those who put their trust in Him.  Your trust is in Him through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; His death, burial and bodily resurrection.  Believe Him, trust Him, and God’s hand will be on you for blessing and eternity.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Searching in the Fire

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” 1 Peter 1:10-12

The prophets of the Old Testament had spoken and written of this great salvation. Isaiah the eighth century B.C. prophet foretold both the first coming of Jesus in the fifty third chapter of his writings (Isaiah 7:14; 53), and the second coming of Jesus in glory (Isaiah 11). That salvation which was previously mentioned (v. 9) is the salvation which Jesus is working in us, and will complete at His appearing.

By inspiration of the Holy Spirit we see that the prophets inquired and searched diligently into the matter of this glorious salvation. The salvation that was paid for with the blood from the body of God who had become human, that He might die. Did the prophet Isaiah realize he was writing of the death of God become flesh as he penned down Isaiah 53? I have a strange notion that he had a suspicion of it, and this is one of the areas which the prophets searched and inquired.

Some more questions I can think of concerning the search of the apostles: Did they see the types, the shadows, the pictures of their Messiah in the writings of Moses? Did they see Him in the sacrifice God made to clothe Adam and Eve? Did they see Him in the fire that guarded the gate to Eden after the fall? Did they see Him in the genealogy of Seth? What about in the Ark? What about as Abraham went to Moriah to offer Isaac as a burnt offering to God? In the sacrifices of the law of Moses? The sabbaths, and/or the Sabbath? I personally believe many of them did, especially since we are told that they “searched diligently”. A diligent search of Scripture will show us these things.

It seems by looking at verse eleven that they were wondering when these events were going to take place and whom they would be for. We know the answer to this today. He came at the appointed time, to His own people, but was rejected by His own. The person who came was the Messiah/Savior/Lord/God/King to sit on the throne of David for ever and ever.

The prophets wrote of His coming, His suffering and His glory. It is because He came and suffered for us that we have the strength, and power to stand strong and suffer for His name’s sake when we have opportuntity. That is right ‘Opportunity’ is the word I used. If the early church people counted it a joy to suffer for His name (Acts 5:41). The suffering Jesus suffered for us is what He came to do. It was His very purpose in coming. To make it clearer; God sent His Son Jesus to become a man, in order to take on Himself all the sins of mankind, lay His life down as a sacrifice for our sins, be judged by the Father Himself, and the Father pouring all His wrath out on His Son, thus judging sin and putting the judgment away forever, never to be done again; the burial of Jesus takes that sin away never to be seen again, and the bodily resurrection is the seal of approval of the putting away of sin, and God’s seal of approval for the work of His Son. By the resurrection of Jesus we have the assurance of eternal life with Him, when we trust the work He accomplished on the cross.

Now, why shouldn’t we count it an opportunity to suffer for the name of Jesus? Not that I am going to go out looking for someone to kick me around, or boot me out a door. The suffering will be there when the time calls for it. When we do suffer for the name of Jesus we will rejoice that we were counted worthy to do so.

We see a second group that is mentioned in this text. That of “Angels”. It must surprise them that God could love us so much; but then again, maybe it doesn’t surprise them, but amazes them. You know “Amazing Grace”. I am not going to get into a long thing concerning angels, but I will say that they do exist. I mean the Bible says so. Angels came and ministered to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane when He had prayed. He mentions that He could call legions of angels to aid Him, yet, He doesn’t.

The prophets realized that Jesus was not coming in their time, but for another time, and that their writings was going to be used to minister to others. The disciples, apostles, the early church, you and me; and all who know Christ Jesus.

The prophets were successful in their search. The Holy Spirit gave them assurance of the completion of it. How else could Isaiah have peace when he is told that the people he is going to preach to will hear but not obey? The Spirit of God confirmed the message. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of Jesus’s coming (Ephesians 1:13-14). He is the power of wisdom. He is the means of knowledge and understanding. He is the means to a holy lifestyle. He is the one who points us to Christ.

Let us; like the prophets of old continue to give diligent search to know this man named Jesus who is the Christ of God, the Son of God, and who died to save us from sin, and to clothe us in the righteousness of God. Because of Jesus God has declared us Just, by his own righteousness.

-T.A.

You Can Believe All That He Teaches

“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: 29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. 30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. 31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”  Mark 13:24-37 (KJV)

BELIEVE EVERYTHING HE TEACHES

The Word of God clearly tells us that there will be a time when all chaos will break lose in the heavens; the sun, nor moon will give their light; the stars will “fall”; the heavenly bodies will all be “shaken”.  The Bible tells us, “…By Him all things consist”  that is “are held together” (Col. 1:17).  At the time shortly before Jesus returns to reign on earth, and after the Antichrist has wreaked havoc on the earth is when these things will take place.  God’s hand removed possibly to show who was really in control of things.  This will be a very chaotic, frightening, and deadly time for residents of planet earth.  People of earth have always wanted a world without God, and at this time they get what they want.  LOOK OUT.

When these things come about then, know that Christ will come with “Power and great glory”, and set up His kingdom on earth.  Jesus will send out the angels to gather the “elect” which is most likely all those who were saved during the seven years of tribulation, the 144,000 Jewish witnesses, etc., and call them to serve in His kingdom.  These will come from all over the earth.  There will be a resurrection of the dead who died for their testimony for Christ, and their bodies and spirits will be united once again.

Look at the signs.  The parable of the “Fig tree” is that you can know when it is time for the figs.  We can know when the time of Jesus’s second coming is near.  We cannot set dates or a time, we do not know, but the signs give us a clue that it is near.

This generation of people will not pass away until all these things are done.  What generation?  The generation who witnesses these events taking place.  How long is a generation?  It varies, depending on who you ask.  It can be 40 years, or 70 years, even 100 years.  That is three thoughts.  It is most important for us to not be carried away by the years, but to think of the event and the signs which we all can see.

In verse 31 we have the assurance of the immutability, and eternalness of God’s Word.  All of heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s Word will stand forever.  That is how we can know that these events which we are looking at will truly come to pass.  God is Truth.  His Word is Truth.  His Son Jesus is Truth in flesh.  We can put our trust in Him.

No one knows the day or the hour.  Not even Jesus as He walked among us in the flesh knew when He would come again.  Now, however, back on His throne, and in His glory He knows the exact day and hour.  As He was here on earth He was God incarnate, but limited His omniscience according to the Father’s discretion.  Now He has been given all things.

It has been given to God’s people, for our day and time, to be diligent, awake and alert to the goings on around us.  Jesus has ascended into the heavens, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and we are waiting His return, but that has responsibilities we are to practice, and live.  Take heed to God’s Word, His guidance, direction.  Watch and pray, for we do not know when He will come again.  The Master of the House is returning.  WATCH.

-Tim A. Blankenship

He Goes Before You…

“…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” Mark 16:7

Have you ever done something wrong, and you felt ashamed about it?  I really believe the answer to that question is, that all of us have.  We feel there is no way of recovering that friendship that was lost.  There is no way of restoring the personal credibility which was thrown away because of a word that was spoken; or words that were spoken.  There is no way they will ever trust me again.

You know?  Those thoughts are all lies.  Especially when it comes to the Lord Jesus.  You see Jesus had warned the disciples that they would flee from Him (Mark 14:27-28), but Peter had said, “If I should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in any wise.” (Mark 14:29, 31).

When it had happened; just as Jesus had said (Mark 14:66-72), Peter went and, “he wept” (v. 72).  He was grieved for his denying  His Savior.  He probably felt as though there was no going back, there was no hope.  However, when Jesus has risen from the grave, the angel says, “Go… tell His disciples and Peter…”.  Jesus was still including Peter in the group.  He will with you and I as well.

Isn’t it wonderful and marvelous to know that even when we have fallen, Jesus is there to pick us up and set us back in His way.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Coming In His Kingdom

Jesus speaking to his disciples has told them the cost of discipleship in the previous verses.  He has told them of giving His life though they do not yet fully realize the extent of His sacrifice, and in the verses we look at now we see that He promises that some with Him will see Him “coming in His kingdom”.

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:27-28 (KJV)

Jesus speaks of coming in His the glory of His father with angels, “rewarding every man according to his works”.  This is an endtimes event which is yet to happen, and of which many followers of Jesus are expecting,  longing for, and will be with Him forever, by way of His cross.

Jesus is in no way telling us that our works will get us into His good pleasures and grace.  When He comes again to judge the world, and every  man according to his works, grace will be past, this will be judgment.  When Jesus comes back to earth it will be as the conquering, reigning King of which Israel has been looking and watching for.

Jesus’s word for the disciples concerning those who will “Not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom” is a way of preparing them for what is about to happen in six days (17:1).  Don’t you know that this word from Jesus left them wondering.  Wondering, “What is Jesus speaking of?”; “Who, which of us will be the one’s who witness this “coming in His kingdom?”

The second coming of Jesus is drawing ever near.  It is nearer today than it was yesterday.  If we are to be like Jesus we must take up our cross; laying down our lives for His glory; and be witnesses for Him.

His kingdom is here.  He is coming in His glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Guard Against Filthy Dreamers

“Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.” Jude 8 (NKJV).

We must look backwards in the text to see the meaning of the “Likewise”. The apostates who lived in unbelief, rebellion, and immoral conduct were also “filthy” (KJV) dreamers. They had no regard for the Word of God. They reject all authority, and spoke evil of those who had leadership.

In rejecting leadership this most likely means that of God’s Word, His leaders, and spoke evil of angels as well – the angels of God especially; probably assigning themselves power over angels. Giving dreams, and visions as much authority as the Word of God. Any messenger of God would have been evil spoken of.

The ones of whom Jude writes were probably saying they had a message from God, when all along their message was opposed to God.

Hear what Peter said of this very act:

“…Especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries…“ 2 Peter 2:10 (NKJV).

These that speak evil of dignitaries are those who have no love for Jesus, nor much care for truth. They are given to whatever makes them feel fulfilled. “If it feels good that must be the right thing”. Could this also be dealing with those who have authority over us in government positions? “They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries…

With spirituality on the rise we as Christians must continue to guard our hearts and minds against the teachings of many who profess to know Christ, but do not, and teach in a manner which cries for the temporal fulfillment of the here and now; with not desire for the eternal, and living for Christ Jesus now.

Beware of those who pretend to know Christ, but deny the cross of Christ, deny His deity, deny His resurrection, and His coming again. These also will deny the full, completed revelation of the written Word of God. The truth of Jesus Christ is that He died on the cross for our sins, and the victory was won on the cross, He was buried carrying our sins away, and He arose from that grave bodily to show forth the victory over sin, death, hell and the grave.

Trust in the power and the authority of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Immorality, Judgment and Mercy

“…As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Jude 7 (NKJV).

Since verse five Jude has written of the perils of apostasy, and named things of the commission of apostasy. Unbelief – the unbelief of those who were delivered from Egypt, but would not believe God’s provision, power, mercy and grace. The rebellion of the angels who left their God appointed estate for their own reward. Then, Jude writes of the cities of the plain who were destroyed with fire and brimstone because of their immorality, their gross immorality.

The sin of each of these groups are similar in that they departed from God. Their judgments will also be similar.

One of the clearest signs of a society which has departed from God is the approval of that society for immoral conduct. Not many in leadership positions within politics wants to expose immorality for what it is. It is a sign of that societies departure from God. Sexual immorality within a society is God’s judgment on that society for turning from Him. We are in grave danger of not seeing the hand of God’s judgment in the USA. It is judgment when society gives approval to greed, lust, and stealing from the poor. When God’s people turn a deaf ear to God, His prophets/preachers, and His Word; then, God will allow our own sins to judge us (Jeremiah 2:19).

As Christians in a society where sexual immorality is running rampant, approval of homosexuality is abounding, we must stand on the power of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus our Lord and Savior, and the Word of God. Let’s not back away from the truth of God’s Word. Trusting the Lord during debaucherous times, relying on His Spirit within us, and the authority of His Word to instruct us, correct us, and rebuke us; we stand as examples of Jesus Christ, His love and grace. Adultery, premarital sex relationships, and homosexual activities are all under the category of unbelief, rebellion, and immorality equaling apostasy. As Christians, followers of Jesus Christ; we are to have no part in it.

 

God does not desire that any perish (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9), and the God of the New Testament is as loving in the Old Testament. Hear the prophet Ezekiel,

“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” Ezekiel 18:23 (KJV); and

“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” Ezekiel 18:32 (KJV).

Jesus Christ took the wrath and judgment of God that belonged to you and me. He died on the cross, was buried taking our sin, guilt and shame away, then He bodily arose from the grave, and through Him we have fellowship with our Father/God. Let us love with the love of Jesus Christ. The love of Jesus means revealing sin where it stands opposed to all that is unholy, and unrighteous, and giving our lives for the purpose of seeing the lost and condemned in sin come to a saving faith of Him who died and rose again. Also, giving hope through the power of Jesus Christ. Power to deliver. Power to change. Power to become the sons of God.

Turn from immorality to Jesus Christ today, and live.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Magnificent Surrender

PURPOSE:  Since becoming a Christian is the most important thing to happen in one’s life there are many similarities to our lives with Mary, the mother of Jesus; We received a special call, and appearance from our God; We have been given a message to share with all people;  We must be obedient to God if we are to be counted faithful; We have a right worship of God and His Son Jesus; and we worship with expectation of His soon coming and with patience we wait for Him.

OUTLINE FOR Luke 1:26-56:

I.  A MAGNIFICENT APPEARANCE (vv. 26-28).

II.  A MAGNIFICENT MESSAGE OF HOPE FOR ALL PEOPLE (vv. 29-37).

III.  A MAGNIFICENT OBEDIENCE (v. 38).

IV.  A MAGNIFICENT WORSHIP (vv. 39-55).

V.  A MAGNIFICENT PATIENCE (v. 56).

There are probably many things in life which we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell that we could call “Magnificent”.  However, when it comes to the eternal things truly only one thing, and person can be called “Magnificent”, and that is the appearance, message, obedience, worship, and patience of our Lord Jesus.  He is truly MAGNIFICENT!

A MAGNIFICENT APPEARANCE (vv. 26-28). In the sixth month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy the angel Gabriel appears in Nazareth to a young virgin girl by the name of Mary.  When we have no reason to doubt the Word of God we must believe that when God says she was a virgin, then she was indeed a virgin.

Gabriel is the one who had appeared to Elisabeth some months before, and now appears to Mary with the news that she will have a child.  How must have Mary felt at the appearance of Gabriel?  Shocked, unbelieving?  Now remember this was a period of time when visions, spiritual experiences with angels was a rare thing.  God had not spoken through prophet or angel for 400 years.  How would Christians of today [2008] react if our Bibles were taken away, and there was no more revelation from God for so many years?  I dare say that that would be a test that would certainly separate the confessors from the possessors.  It seems to be the case in Jerusalem and Israel during the days of Zachariah, Elisabeth, and Mary as well.

With the appearance of the angel comes words of encouragement, words to be remembered by all.  “Thou art highly favored”, “Blessed art thou among women”, and “the Lord is with thee” are words we can trust and believe and rest in.

It is God who sent Gabriel to Mary.  He has a specific message for Mary, and that is that she will have a Son; not just any son of man; but He will be the Son of God, and Son of man.  We will get to Mary’s question in the next point.  Let me stress this at this point;  Mary was not an “Unwed mother”.  Note the instructions to Gabriel, “To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph…”  Espousal was more than an engagement; at least as we know engagement here in the USA; it was a binding covenant made earlier, and could only be broken by a writing of divorce.  There had, however, been no consummation of the marriage by sexual intercourse.

Truly this appearace by Gabriel to Mary was a Magnificent Appearance.

A MAGNIFICENT MESSAGE OF HOPE FOR ALL PEOPLE (vv. 29-37).  Troubled as most of us would be the angel gives her words of comfort, and tells her she has been favored by God.  It has been decreed by God through Gabriel that Mary is “Full of grace”, which means she is a receiver of grace, not a dispensor of grace.  This same term is used in Ephesians 1:6 “he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (KJV); and is reference to all who are in Christ Jesus.  Anyone who would use this to give Mary co-redeemtrix rights is Biblically incorrect.

This is the first, and last miracle virgin conception of God.  Let me give you the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY definition of the word “MIRACLE”:

“1. An extraordinary event manifesting a supernatural work of God; 2. An unusual event, thing or accomplishment: WONDER, MARVEL…“

Now, my definition of miracle is a little different than that:

A miracle is an act of God where He breaks through the laws of what is natural, to accomplish a greater purpose for His glory.

God transcends the laws of nature that He has made, and can at any time, any place, and with or without anyone or anything perform what we would call “Miracle”.  With Mary God would perform a first.  “The virgin will conceive, have a son…” Isaiah 7:14 (HCSB) were the words of God through the prophet Isaiah to king Ahaz.  Though the prophecy had a lesser fulfillment in Isaiah’s day, it was fully fulfilled in Mary’s conception of Jesus Christ.  Though Isaiah would not know of whom God was speaking , futuristically, the LORD had one specific young woman for this task, ie. the task of giving birth to the Messiah,  and her name was Mary.

With the medical technology we have today I really don’t understand why anyone would have a problem believing in a virgin’s conceiving a child.  Though today’s virgin conceiving would be by “arificial insemination” or “invitro fertilization” it is still possible, yet the seed implanted would still be a human father, and not God.  God also placed His seed in the womb of Mary without any means other than His Word.

The angel telling her she will have a Son, and also tells her His name.  In the prophecy of Isaiah he calls Him “Immanuel” meaning “God with us”, and here “Jesus” means “The Lord is salvation”.  Both names are for our Lord Jesus, and they fit Him.  He would be the means of grace and mercy and salvation to all nations.

Notice these great things that are given to Jesus:

1.  He will be called the Son of the Highest;
2.  He will receive the throne of David;
3.  He will reign over the house of Jacob;
4.  His kingdom will have no end.

Mary, knowing that she was a virgin; asked Gabriel, “How can this be since I have not been with a man?”  The answer to this came by the angel basically letting Mary know that this was a “God thing”.  It did not require a man, but God had chosen her to be the vessel to bear His Son, give birth to His Son, and to teach Him godly living, and faith.

One thing which we must note right now is that God chose godly, expectant, faithful people to bear two of the most influential people ever born to man.  We are told of Zachariah’s and Elisabeth’s “Righteousness”.  We are also told that Mary was “full of grace” before God (Ephesians 1:6).  The only righteousness that is worthwhile for us is God’s righteousness, and He gives that to us by GRACE.

News of Elisabeth’s pregnancy, and the approaching birth of her promised son was told to Mary.  This may have helped confirm the angel’s message to her.  It does confirm to Mary and all who will believe that there is nothing impossible with God.

A MAGNIFICENT OBEDIENCE (v. 38).  Too many people fight, kick, and murmur and complain about the will of God.  Then, when it is all over think, “Well!  Why didn’t He call me and use me?”  Is there any young lady, who is a virgin, be willing to do what Mary did?  There are too many young people and adults who are too self-centered; who are looking out for themselves, and care nothing for living for God, and faith.

After the angel Gabriel tells Mary of her “Highly favored” situation with God Mary’s response is one of obedience.  This is not evidence of her placement into a divine position as co-redeemtrix with Christ, or of her supposed immaculate conception.  It is simply her willingness to be a tool for God’s purpose and His glory.  It is nothing more than what any of us can do; and that is being a willing, obedient vessel for God’s glory.

We – Christians – are in fact doing just that when Christ becomes our Lord and Savior.  The Seed of God is given to us, resurrecting our dead spirit, and empowering us with the Spirit of God.  Consider John’s [the apostle] letter, writing;

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His Seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:9 (KJV)

The above verse, of course, addresses the practicing of sin in a habitual fashion, and as a way of life.  The part I am dealing with is the “His Seed…” portion.  It is God’s Seed that cannot sin.  It is God’s Seed that gives the Christian life, and the heart to hate evil, and all sin.

It is just as much A MAGNIFICENT OBEDIENCE when any child of God hears the voice of God, and is moved to obey in faith believing all that God has said to do.

A MAGNIFICENT WORSHIP (vv. 39-55).  Mary, now, having conceived in her womb the Son of God journeys to the home of Zachariah and Elisabeth and stays for three months.  Mary probably stayed until the birth of John Baptist; because we are told, taking verse 24 and 26, that it was six months that Elisabeth was with child, Mary stayed three months (v. 56), so surely she stayed until the baby John was born; and could very well have been there when Zachariah’s tongue was loosed (v. 64).

Upon Mary’s arrival to the house of Elisabeth John leaps in his mother’s womb, and Elisabeth is filled with the Spirit.  Songs of praise and adoration break out from both women.

“Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”

The words are those of Elisabeth.  She recognized the one who was carrying the Son of God within her, by the voice of His mother’s greeting.  Elisabeth was giving blessing to Mary because she had been the willing, chosen vessel by God to carry the Son of God in her womb.  Elisabeth’s initial thought was of her unworthiness to be in the presence of the mother of her Lord.

How could Elisabeth even know that Mary was bearing a child, little lone, that she was bearing a son, and not just any son, but the very Son of God?  The work of the Spirit of God.  The “Fruit of thy womb” of course was Jesus, and He is blessed, and He blesses all who come to Him.  Elisabeth even recognizes that Mary has given the utmost of her life to our Lord, surrendered to Him, and is blessed because of who He is; and because of this God is about to fulfill His will in and through her.

Now take a look at Mary’s song:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
because He has looked with favor
on the humble condition of His slave.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed,
because the Mighty One
has done great things for me,
and His name is holy.
His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has done a mighty deed with His arm;
He has scattered the proud
because of the thoughts of their hearts;
He has toppled the mighty from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
He has satisfied the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
mindful of His mercy,
just as He spoke to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his descendants forever.
Luke 1:46-55 (HCSB)

Note that Mary does not congratulate herself, but gives glory to our Lord; to the greatness of the Lord.  She rejoices in the fact that she has “found favor” with Him; and she refers to “God my Savior”, recognizing her need for God as Savior alone.  With Elisabeth’s and Mary’s praise we have much to practice in praise, worship and adoration.

A MAGNIFICENT PATIENCE (v. 56).  Wouldn’t it have been fascinating to be in that house those three months?  Both the mother of John the Baptist, and the mother of Jesus the Christ going about household duties, chores, and since Elisabeth is the elder one, and having a baby probably needing some assistance from Mary.

For three months Mary is learning from her cousin the things that only women can learn from one another; what an elderly woman can teach to a younger; and they probably spent much time in worship of the MIGHTY ONE of Israel.  For three months Elisabeth draws ever nearer to the day when she will give birth to John, Mary begins showing signs of pregnancy, and grows more and more expectant for her nearing day.

All mothers have, and show patience for that awaited day when the labor pains begin (though not looking forward to the pain, but the outcome), and they begin the birthing process.  Expectancy, excitement, rejoicing are great words to use to express the heart  of that mother when her child is born; but can you imagine the joy that was in the heart of Elisabeth as John is born, knowing that he will be the first prophet since Malachi, around 430 B.C.; and that he will be the herald for the Messiah who is to be born only six short months later.  They are seeing the evidence of God’s message returning to His people who have been in darkness for so long; and this is without the Ark of the covenant.

“Patience is a virtue”, someone has said.  Much is said of patience by the apostle Paul.  As Mary needed and displayed patience while with Elisabeth the Christian today needs to be patient in living for Jesus Christ.  The heart of the Christian is looking for the appearing, the coming of Jesus once again.  Have you ever heard someone who professed to being a Christian say, “I don’t want Jesus to come back today!”?  My question to that would be “Why not?”  What is more important than the coming of Jesus?  That is the heart of the truly born again believer.

I can almost guarantee that the most important thought in Mary’s life; when she received the announcement that she was going to carry and give birth to the Son of God; was not “What is Joseph, and my parents, and others going to say?”  Her thought was most likely, “In nine months the Messiah will be born, and for these nine months God has given grace, to me, to bear His Son.”  Nine months to display patience.  Nine months to plan, prepare, and proclaim the coming of the Lord.

We do not know the day or the time of our Lord’s coming for His Church.  We have been given an indefinite time to plan, prepare, and proclaim the coming of the Lord.  We too can display A MAGNIFICENT PATIENCE.  A Patience that is found only through the faith and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Reserved For Darkness

“And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;” Jude 6 (NKJV).

Apostasy is a horrible thing. It even affected the very first beings which God has made, and that is the angels. There was one angel who was evidently more beautiful to look upon than all the others, and that was the one named Lucifer. Read Ezekiel 28:11-19. He eventually got too full of himself, and led others to follow him in rebellion in heaven, and it has been said that one third of the angels followed him. Read Revelation 12:7-12.

Isaiah the prophet mentions Lucifer; “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12ff). Five times following, he shows his rebellious heart, and says he will take the throne of God, he says, “I will be like the Most High”. If there was ever a case for “I” trouble he had it.

The angels of heaven had a home in the presence of eternal God, their Creator. One led one third to be cast out, and are awaiting the judgment of God. Lucifer, ie., the devil knows that he has but a short time, and in this day is working to condemn the souls of men, women, boys and girls to eternal torment. Let us never begin to take the devil too lightly. He does not care, nor does he have an inkling or concern for our problems. He is a thief, robber, murderer, and does not desire to do anything but to “steal, kill, and destroy” you. He knows his destination is the Lake of Fire, and he and his minions are out to snare, trap, and lead you there with them.

The proper, God made domain for the angels was in the presence of the LORD. God’s proper domain for you and I is to be eternally in the presence of God. Let us never think, though, that just because we were the ones made in the “Image of God” that that destiny is secure. It is only secure in the shed blood of Jesus Christ; shed on the cross for our sins. When we have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then and only then, is that destination secured. He holds us in His strong hands, and will never let us go. Praise Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Searching In The Fire

“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” 1 Peter 1:10-12

The prophets of the Old Testament had spoken and written of this great salvation. Isaiah the eighth century B.C. prophet foretold both the first coming of Jesus in the fifty third chapter of his writings (Isaiah 7:14; 53), and the second coming of Jesus in glory (Isaiah 11). That salvation which was previously mentioned (v. 9) is the salvation which Jesus is working in us, and will complete at His appearing.

By inspiration of the Holy Spirit we see that the prophets inquired and searched diligently into the matter of this glorious salvation. The salvation that was paid for with the blood from the body of God who had become human, that He might die. Did the prophet Isaiah realize he was writing of the death of God become flesh as he penned down Isaiah 53? I have a strange notion that he had a suspicion of it, and this is one of the areas which the prophets searched and inquired.

Some more questions I can think of concerning the search of the apostles: Did they see the types, the shadows, the pictures of their Messiah in the writings of Moses? Did they see Him in the sacrifice God made to clothe Adam and Eve? Did they see Him in the fire that guarded the gate to Eden after the fall? Did they see Him in the genealogy of Seth? What about in the Ark? What about as Abraham went to Moriah to offer Isaac as a burnt offering to God? In the sacrifices of the law of Moses? The sabbaths, and/or the Sabbath? I personally believe many of them did, especially since we are told that they “searched diligently”. A diligent search of Scripture will show us these things.

It seems by looking at verse eleven that they were wondering when these events were going to take place and whom they would be for. We know the answer to this today. He came at the appointed time, to His own people, but was rejected by His own. The person who came was the Messiah/Savior/Lord/God/King to sit on the throne of David for ever and ever.

The prophets wrote of His coming, His suffering and His glory. It is because He came and suffered for us that we have the strength, and power to stand strong and suffer for His name’s sake when we have opportunity. That is right ‘Opportunity’ is the word I used. If the early church people counted it a joy to suffer for His name (Acts 5:41). The suffering Jesus suffered for us is what He came to do. It was His very purpose in coming. To make it clearer; God sent His Son Jesus to become a man, in order to take on Himself all the sins of mankind, lay His life down as a sacrifice for our sins, be judged by the Father Himself, and the Father pouring all His wrath out on His Son, thus judging sin and putting the judgment away forever, never to be done again; the burial of Jesus takes that sin away never to be seen again, and the bodily resurrection is the seal of approval of the putting away of sin, and God’s seal of approval for the work of His Son. By the resurrection of Jesus we have the assurance of eternal life with Him, when we trust the work He accomplished on the cross.

Now, why shouldn’t we count it an opportunity to suffer for the name of Jesus? Not that I am going to go out looking for someone to kick me around, or boot me out a door. The suffering will be there when the time calls for it. When we do suffer for the name of Jesus we will rejoice that we were counted worthy to do so.

We see a second group that is mentioned in this text. That of “Angels”. It must surprise them that God could love us so much; but then again, maybe it doesn’t surprise them, but amazes them. You know “Amazing Grace”. I am not going to get into a long thing concerning angels, but I will say that they do exist. I mean the Bible says so. Angels came and ministered to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane when He had prayed. He mentions that He could call legions of angels to aid Him, yet, He doesn’t.

The prophets realized that Jesus was not coming in their time, but for another time, and that their writings were going to be used to minister to others. The disciples, apostles, the early church, you and me; and all who know Christ Jesus.

The prophets were successful in their search. The Holy Spirit gave them assurance of the completion of it. How else could Isaiah have peace when he is told that the people he is going to preach to will hear but not obey? The Spirit of God confirmed the message. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of Jesus’s coming (Ephesians 1:13-14). He is the power of wisdom. He is the means of knowledge and understanding. He is the means to a holy lifestyle. He is the one who points us to Christ.

Let us; like the prophets of old continue to give diligent search to know this man named Jesus who is the Christ of God, the Son of God, and who died to save us from sin, and to clothe us in the righteousness of God. Because of Jesus God has declared us Just, by his own righteousness.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Abraham, Prophet and Priest

Abraham, Prophet and Priest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Lot’s Drunkenness

Lot’s Inebriation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Being a Servant

Being a Servant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Tim A. Blankenship

Abraham, Friend of God

Abraham, Friend of God

Abraham has been called the Friend of God (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). Reading this story of Abraham leaves no doubt that his friendship with God was real. God came visiting him on the day we see before us in Scripture.

“And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,” Genesis 18:1-2 (KJV).

This is the fifth time, in Abraham’s journey of faith, which the LORD has appeared to him, since he came into the land of Canaan. There is a reason for God’s appearing to Abraham, and that is the “Friendship”. Would that we would be called the “Friend of God”? Can we? Indeed. And even more.

How does a friend respond to another friend, especially if that friend be the LORD? One thing about friends is they are welcome at any time. Most times out of courtesy they let the other know they are coming, and the one expecting the friends coming gets things ready. It seems that the LORD came unexpectedly, but Abraham was more than willing to receive his guests. This was his dearest friend and confidant. When it comes to an appearance of the LORD, one must always be ready, because we do not know when He will come. We ought always be expecting Him to show up.

Abraham had no trouble identifying his friend. There were three who had come, but Abraham quickly identified the one who was the LORD. The other two were angels who had came with him, but Abraham treated them to a feast as well; as we will see later. How would a friend feel if we forgot what they looked like and completely missed them in among other people? They would most likely be offended, and feel as though you had betrayed them, or maybe not betrayed but no longer close. The LORD appearing here was certainly the preincarnate Christ Jesus. You notice that Abraham worshipped the LORD as He came near him.

When the LORD comes to us will we, would we recognize Him? There is a day coming when He will be coming back to receive His bride to Himself, and take us to His home. All those who know His voice will arise from the grave, awaken from their sleep, look up, and rise to meet Him in the clouds.

“And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:” 18:3 (KJV).

When Abraham has the LORD at his home he desires that He stay. It is also the heart of those who have met the crucified, buried, and risen Lord Jesus Christ. Once you meet Him, and know Him you will desire for Him to stay and not leave. You find peace, fulfillment, joy, love, patience, gentleness, self-control in His presence. You have peace with God in His presence, power and glory. How is it that Abraham would have such a fellowship with God? Remember chapter 15 and verse six, “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness”. It was not his works by which he had this fellowship/friendship; but rather the grace of God; and it is the same for all people in our day.

Having favor in God’s sight is a wonderful, marvelous thing. We do nothing to earn it. If it is earned it is not grace. If it is grace it is not earned, but freely given, that God might be glorified. By this grace we desire for Him to stay. He stays with every believer through the person of the Holy Spirit, which the LORD gives every believer as an earnest payment until Jesus returns.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

THE JUDGMENT OF THE SON OF MAN

THE JUDGMENT OF THE SON OF MAN

Revelation 14:1-20

By the promises of God’s Word, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, shall bring an end to sin and He will reign on the earth, and in the hearts of men.

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. 14:1-5 (KJV).

To begin with I want to point out the seven divisions within chapter fourteen;
1. One hundred and forty four thousand sealed ones on Mount Zion (vv. 1-5);
2. God’s closing testimony to earth: “The everlasting Gospel” (vv. 6-7);
3. The angelic announcement of Babylon’s fall (v. 8);
4. The doom of the worshippers of the beast (vv. 9-11);
5. The second beatitude of the Revelation deals with those who die in the Lord (vv. 12-14): ALSO SEE “THE HAPPY DEAD” WHICH WILL FOLLOW THIS STUDY;
6. The harvest of the earth is reaped (vv. 14-16);
7. The fulness of God’s wrath and vengeance poured out (vv. 17-20).

In these verses we find that the sealed 144,000 Hebrew witnesses have been protected throughout the final half of the seventieth week of Daniel. We see them standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb at His coming, at the end of the tribulation period. NOTE: Some very well known Bible teachers place this scene in Heaven.

These 144,000 are the same as those mentioned in chapter seven. These will aid Christ [not that He would need any] in setting up His millenial reign on earth.

The NIV, NAS, and the Amplified Bible read “…having His name and the name of His Father written in their foreheads” (v. 1). This does not imply it is a different group, but it does clarify and give more detail of whose seal it is – the Father’s and the Son’s.

There is music in Heaven. God surrounds Himself with heavenly sounds ringing out praises to Him. The 144,000 were given a “New song” no one else could sing. A song of deliverance and praise to God. In chapter 5:9 the “Living creatures”, and the twenty four elders sing a “New song”. There are several times in the Bibles hymnal [Psalms] where the Psalmist mentions singing a “New song” (Psalms 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1). It is a given fact that man is to praise the Lord in “New song”. The idea of a “New song” requires a changed heart and life. Certainly these remnant of Israel are changed.

Just as God led Israel out of Egypt and protected them in the wilderness for forty years He also protects and provides for this remnant, even to keeping them alive for their appointed position on earth. Only the redeemed can sin a “New song”, and theirs is one only they can sing. They could be singing the Song of Moses (EX. 15) from a whole new perspective.

These are pure before God. They have not committed immoral acts against God. They are free from spiritual and physical fornication and adultery. They follow the Lamb. They are pure, even as He is pure (v. 5). That is what it means to follow the Lamb. O, that the Church today would “Follow the Lamb”. These are “Redeemed from among men” clarifies verse three “Were redeemed from the earth”. They did not indulge in the harlotries of idolatry and worship of the beast. They stood as an open testimony to God’s goodness, grace and power to save.

“…First fruits…” to some may cause confusion by causing them to think this is referring to all the redeemed. It could be referring to their position in the earthly kingdom of Christ. It could also tie in with Revelaiton 20:5 where it reads, “This is the first resurrection”. Where the time of the resurrection of all who are in Christ is ended. The “First” implying a second resurrection which will follow.

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. vv. 6-7 (KJV).

There could be as many as seven angels mentioned from verse six through verse twenty. There are certainly six. Why six? Remember six is the number of man. Angels throughout Scripture and time have been servants and messengers to man as well as his protectors. For example see Genesis 18 and 2 Kings 6:8-23. If verse thirteen’s “Voice” is from an angel that would be the seventh, however, we cannot reasonably conclude the “Voice” to be angelic, but rather the voice of the Spirit of God.

God is merciful. This is His closing act of mercy, lest there be some who will hear. The “Everlasting Gospel” is: 1) Fear God; 2) Give glory to Him; 3) The hour of judgment is come; 4) Worship your Creator.
This isn’t really an opportunity for those of earth to repent as it is assurance to those of God that He will have His way.

And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. v. 8 (KJV).

Babylon is practically a synonym for wickedness and all sorts of evil. Babylon, in our text can refer to three or four different earth agencies: 1) An actual city; 2) Political power and intrigue; 3) Economic power and banking; and/or 4) Religious power – one world religion.

We know from the study of history that the actual city of Babylon has already fallen, although, there were reports when Saddam Hussein was ruling Iraq, that he was rebuilding it. The other three we can see though, and greatly increasing. The Babylon of mankind’s politics will crumble to nothingness, the economy of the world banking conglomerates will crash, and the world’s religion will only add fuel to Hell’s fires. Just as surely as John sees it proclaimed, everything that man builds to exalt himself over God will crumble. It is as good as done. It is written – So it shall be. “Forever, O LORD, Thy Word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. vv. 9-11 (KJV).

This third angel spells out clearly the doom that the worshippers of the beast will face. Their doom is not of short duration. It is for ever and ever, everlasting.

The Bible mentions nothing of the soul’s annihilation, but it does of eternal souls. If the soul of man could be annihilated why does hell’s fires burn forever? Why doesn’t God put them out after the souls are all burned up?
We as Christians need to believe what God says in His Word about hell, just as surely as we believe about salvation and eternity in Heaven. Some say that in the Scriptures Jesus mentions hell more than He does Heaven. Hell is a place to miss, not to flee into. Every lost soul is living in condemnation on the road to hell, and some of them would repent and believe if only someone told them of Jesus.

When it comes right down to it all those who reject Christ are worshippers of the beast. We can do nothing for those who reject Jesus, but we must tell them and let Jesus and the Holy Spirit do the saving.

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. vv. 12-13 (KJV).

The “Patience of the saints” is that they who trust Christ during this darkest hour will be delivered. Just as surely as the worshippers of the beast suffer forever and ever, they who “Follow the Lamb” (v. 4) shall enjoy eternal bliss. They are the ones who “Keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus”. The keeping of the commandments does not save, but they are saved to keep the commandments [to obey them] (Eph. 2:10).

Verse thirteen provides the second “Beatitude” of the Revelation. “Blessed” meaning happy. This encouraging word is to those who are in tribulation and their lives are in danger. To serve the Lord in the darkest hour of human history will cost the lives of many, but God would have us know that all they who go through the great tribulation, keeping the commandments by faith in Jesus, if they should “die in the Lord”, they are “Blessed”.
What benefits are there for them who “die in the Lord”?

1. God’s promise of happiness;
2. They rest from their trials and labor;
3. Their works stand as a testimony of their faith.

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. vv. 14-16 (KJV).

If you were to read Acts 1:9-11 you would find how Jesus ascended up from this earth; “A cloud received Him out of their sight”. Verse eleven ends by saying, “…This same Jesus… shall so come in like manner…”

The “Sickle” – In verse 14 Jesus holds judgment in His hands. This verse refers to Him as “Like unto the Son of Man” – this was a title Jesus used to refer to Himself. The “Golden crown” on His head should leave no doubt in our minds that this is Jesus.

In verse 15 we have the fourth angel. He comes out of the temple (heavenly) and speaks unto the “Son of man” the judge of men. He is worthy to judge men.
The ripe harvest has to do with overripeness – drying, rotting, decaying fruit. The time of judgment upon the wickedness of the world.

When Jesus comes for the Church He will come “With a shout, the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” (1 Thes. 4:16), not with a sickle.
Here Jesus comes with a sickle of judgment and wrath upon the tares of the field [world] (Matthew 13:40-43).

And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 19 And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. vv. 17-20 (KJV).

In verse 17 we find the fifth angel and in verse 18 the sixth angel of chapter fourteen.
These verses certainly deal with the fulness of God’s wrath. The men of earth are likened to overripe grapes cast into a winepress under the feet of the husbandman [owner]. This event is given in fuller detail in 19:11-21.

Be saved by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, or your blood will be on Him in judgment and wrath. Get ready to meet Jesus as Savior, or you will certainly meet at THE JUDGMENT OF THE SON OF MAN.

THE PRIESTLY JUDGE

THE PRIESTLY JUDGE
Revelation 8:1-13
The One who created all things, also still holds these things in His hand, to show forth wrath upon the “Inhabiters of the earth”; and the Priest who judges sin.
In the national life of Israel trumpets played an important role, and had three important uses: 1) For calling the people together (NUM. 10:1-8); 2) For announcing war (NUM. 10:9); and 3) For announcing special times (NUM. 10:10).

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. Revelation 8:1 (KJV).
The final seal is opened. Notice the response of Heaven. Silence. This could be caused by awe, because now the book is opened and the glories and power of God is revealed. All that was concealed is now revealed to all of Heaven for the first time.
Not a whisper, nary a sigh, but only silence. Sometimes the greatest reverence is given God by our silence. The Psalmist even wrote, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).
It is not told us why there is silence for one half hour, but it does have to do with the seventh seal and the book [scroll]. There could be more than one reason, but I do believe the above reason is a biblical one. Other than that we just do not know.

2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. 3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. 6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. 8:2-6 (KJV).
It seems that the seven seals and the seven trumpets are interrelated. The seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet introduces the seven vials of wrath. These cannot be separated, then, because they all fit together. Each series of judgments seem to lead to a more severe wrath.
The seven angels are not named and it is not necessary to do so. They are given one trumpet each.
There is “another angel”, an eighth mentioned who seems to be a priestly angel. Some have equated this angel to being like the appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ – referred to in the Old Testament as the “Angel of the LORD”. It is not clear who this angel is. Jesus is the High Priest who atoned for our sin, and He is the One who will judge the world. Whoever he is he is fulfilling the work and ministry of a priest – unlike the work of any angel.
He stands at the brazen altar of judgment and sacrifice, with a golden censer [cup or bowl] for the incense which was given him. The incense is offered with the prayers of the saints [your prayers and mine, as well as the saints of the tribulation]. The incense is a symbol of prayer and worship.
In the Old Testament the high priest would kill the sacrifice at the brazen altar, collect the blood, and God received the offering by fire. The priest would take the golden bowl and take fire from the altar [which was never to go out LEV. 6:12-13, and it was lit by God LEV. 9:23-24], and enter the holy place with the blood, and with the fire, take the incense from the golden altar which was located outside the Holy of Holies [the presence of God], and he would enter the presence of God veiled in the smoke of the incense, pouring out the blood of the sacrifice at the throne of God – the presence of God. This made atonement for the people’s sins for one year.
Notice after the prayers and incense is offered to God the eighth angel takes fire in the golden censer, from the brazen altar of judgment, and casts it upon the earth.
Our prayers for deliverance; the prayers of the tribulation saints for deliverance and retribution, and for the glory of God to come will be done in God’s time. The “Imprecatory Psalms” (Psalms 7; 26; 35; 52; 55; and 58 are examples); these are not cries from selfish people, but cries for God to vindicate them according to His Word and grace.
It is amazing that God seems to store our prayers as a sweet fragrance to Him and will carry out their request in His time and according to His divine will. Have you grown weary and tired of prayer? Keep praying from a yielded and repentant, and broken heart. He hears you.
After fire is taken from the altar and cast to the earth it causes great upheaval. Voices, thunderings, lightnings and an earthquake. It seems clear that the censer used for offering up worship and prayer is now used to hurl judgment and vengeance upon the earth.
Nothing is said of how the seven angels “Prepared themselves”. It could be a simple thing as raising the trumpets.

The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up 8:7 (KJV).
The first four trumpets and their judgments are released in chapter eight. There are two more in chapter nine and the last one is in chapter eleven, beginning at verse fifteen.
If you will notice the seals were opened in the same way of separateness. The four horsemen are separate from the final three, and the seventh follows a short interlude. The same is true of the trumpets and the vials.
“All three of these series of sevens…are framed exactly alike. They are divided into four and three. Then the last three which are always separated and apart from the first four and divided are divided into two and one. Between the two and one (between the sixth and seventh), there is always an interlude. Between the sixth and seventh seals, the seventh chapter …. is an interlude. In the turmpets series chapters 10 – 11:14 form the interlude. Between the sixth and seventh bowls Revelation 16:13-16, is the interlude. The briefest interlude is between the sixth and seventh bowls of the wrath of God. The longest interlude by far is the one between the sixth and seventh trumpet.” BILL DUDLEY Notes page 31.
There is no reason for us to try and see these judgments in any other way than their literal sense. To look at them in another sense other than the literal sense makes nonsense.
The first trumpet could be parallel with Exodus 9:18-26. Each trumpet judgment seems to have some parallel with the Egyptian Exodus, and the plagues. If we are to take the plagues of Egypt literally, then we must take this hail, fire and blood literal as well.
One third part of the trees. According to some “trees” refers to fruit trees. This being the case “One third” of the fruit trees being destroyed would wreak havoc on the world, but it does not stop there. All green grass is burnt up, as well. This may include grain crops and this would drastically hurt meat and milk production causing further economic harm. The economy, of course, would be the least of their worries.

And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. 8:8-9 (KJV).
The second trumpet sounds and what appears as a “great mountain burning…” is “cast into the sea”.
A great large object falling from the heavens falls into the oceans turning one third of the seas into blood, killing one third of ocean life and destroying one third of all ships on the ocean waters. Again this is to be taken literally. If God was able to send plagues upon Egypt, and He was, He is able also to send these judgments upon a Christ-hating world.

And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. 8:10-11 (KJV).
The third trumpet seems to bring about the poisoning of the fresh waters of earth. It would seem that this “star” breaks in pieces upon entering the earth’s atmosphere and the pieces fall into individual sources of fresh water poisoning one third of the streams.
This “star” is directed by the hands of God to judge evil. It seems many will get thirsty and drink these waters and die.

And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. 13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound! 8:12-13 (KJV).
The fourth angel sounds the trumpet and the sun and moon is smitten, and also the stars. One third of the sun, the moon and stars are darkened. How this is done we are not told, only that it is done. Since evil men love darkness and not light they should enjoy this time.
These first four trumpets destroy much of what men often takes for granite in creation. We often do not think to be thankful for the trees, the grass, the oceans, streams of water, and the celestial creation. Many just think it will always be there. It does not matter how we live; grass and water will always be. While some may think the problem is ecological it is not. The real problem is a spiritual one. When wicked men of earth refuse God’s ways the ecology of earth suffers. God will even strike the stars and satellites of the heavens to show evil men that it is He who controls the universe.
The word “angel” in verse 13 is said to actually be “Eagle”. If that be so it could refer back to one of the four “Living beings” of chapter four. Verse seven of that chapter mentions the “fourth beast was like a flying eagle”. This “Eagle” is crying out , “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabiters of earth”. The three “woes” correspond with the following three trumpets.
The word “Inhabiters” is dealing with the lovers of this world, solely those who are of the earth. Those who are believers [followers of Christ] during this time; their habitation is in Heaven.
The woes seem to indicate that the judgments following will be far worse than anyone has ever seen, or has ever been through.
Be sure you know Jesus, NOW! Let us also be thankful for the fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and milk God has blessed us with so abundantly. For the water we drink, and for the heavenly creation praise the name of our Lord and Creator. Jesus is THE PRIESTLY JUDGE who will put an end to sin and make all things right in His sight.

Edited for tags, and some spelling corrections by t.a. 03/25/10

WORSHIPPING THE ONE TO WHOM JUDGMENT BELONGS

WORSHIPPING THE ONE TO WHOM JUDGMENT BELONGS

In this chapter we will be reminded of God’s warnings of coming judgment, that the wars, famines, diseases, death, cataclysmic upheavals of earth, and such that happen now are only small in comparison to what will happen when the Lion/Lamb takes the Book and looses the seals. Havoc, such as no one has ever seen will plague the earth, and it is done by the “…One To Whom Judgment Belongs”.

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. Revelation 5:1-4 (KJV).

In this chapter John is still in Heaven. The twenty four elders and the four living ones are gathered around the throne.

Chapter five is a continuation of chapter four. Whereas, the focus of chapter four was upon the One who was on the throne [God the Father], the focus shifts to the Lamb.
There is a book in the Father’s right hand – the side on which Jesus sits. This book is sealed. It has been sealed from the foundation of the world. It is the declaration of ownership – the “title-deed” to all the earth, and creation. It is the revelation to a Christ denying, God hating world that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is the “title-deed” to all that God promised Jesu before He went to the cross.
It appears in verse two that it had to be a man who would be worthy of opening the book, “and loose the seals”, but none was found. The “Loud voice” of the “Strong angel” (a prominent angel) – probably Gabriel – implies urgency, an immediate need. This reminds me of the message to Ezekiel, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” Ezek 22:30 (KJV).

What would happen if no one was found to open the book? This is why John wept:
1. All Old Testament prophecies of the Christ earthly reign would be voided;
2. Creation would remain under the curse of the fall;
3. The kingdom would never be restored to Israel;
4. The Bible would not be true.

No mere man is worthy to open the book the Father holds in His right hand. We are sinners, unrighteous and unholy before a righteous and holy God. Notice, that none were found who were even able “to look thereon” (v. 3).
In these verses we also see that there is no man worthy to carry out the judgment of the following chapters. God has said throughout all of Scripture, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the LORD” (Deuteronomy 32:35; Nahum 1:2; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). No judgment that is done for holiness or righteousness sake, can be done by sinful man. It belongs solely to Holy God. “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.” Psalms 94:1 (KJV).

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. 6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. 7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. Revelation 5:5-7 (KJV)

John’s weeping invokes one of the elders to say, “Weep not”. There is One who is worthy. The appointed One, the anointed One. “The Lion of the tribe of Judah” – “Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Gen 49:9-10 (KJV). The lion; a symbol of royalty, of power and supremacy, “Hath prevailed to open the book”. “The root of David”, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:” Isaiah 11:1 (KJV). As deity He is the Root from which David came. As man, David is the root of His [Jesus’s] human genealogy, “Hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”

The “Seven seals” begin to open in chapter six; the last seal is opened in 8:1 with the beginning of the “Seven trumpets”.

Because of His position as God-man He has authority and power to open the book. He is worthy because:
1. He is a near kinsman – He is the “Nearer Kinsman” – the God-Man;
2. He was a willing sacrifice for sin – willing to pay the price for our redemption (John 10:18);
3. He was able to pay the price.

When John turned to see the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”, instead he saw a Lamb. Where was the Lamb: He was in “The midst of the throne and of the four beasts and in the midst of the elders”. This is the position our Lord desires.

The Lord Jesus is referred to as “the Lamb” at least twenty eight times in the Revelation. “Lamb” identifies Him as the sacrifice [God’s chosen sacrifice] for man’s sin. In verse six of our text He is mentioned as being resurrected from death; “…a Lamb as it had been slain”. This Lamb “Stood”. Dead lambs do not stand. “Had been slain” is in the past tense showing a dead lamb now living. There can be no doubt about who this is. It is Jesus the crucified, pierced, and resurrected One.

The “Seven horns” represent His perfect power. The “Seven eyes” His perfect sight to see all the affairs, thoughts and deeds of man. The “Seven Spirits” His perfect presence (John 16:7). These are all in the person of Jesus Christ, the Lamb. Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence are the theological terms used for the figures.

When the Lamb takes the book it will be the beginning of the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of 7:13-14 and Psalm 2:8 as well as others. See Matthew 11:27 and 28:18. It is given to the Lamb of God to loose the seals of judgment upon the God rejecting, God hating world.

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. Revelation 5:8-10 (KJV).

The Lamb is worthy of worship. Who does God say is to be worshipped? Only Himself. If God is allowing Jesus, the Lamb, to receive worship, what declaration does that make? Worshipping Him, you are worshipping the God of creation.

In Heaven God is collecting the prayers of the saints. They are collected as the odors of incense. They are a sweet smelling fragrance to Him. Our prayers are pleasing to our Father in Heaven, and He is pleased to hear and also answer them as it pleases and glorifies Him.

He is worshipped for four reasons (I got these reasons from Warren Wiersbe’s BE COMMENTARY, and the five hymns to be sung in our worship also).
1. Because of who He is – the crucified and resurrected One;
2. Because of where He is – in the midst of all creation (represented in the four living ones), and in the midst of God’s people (the elders);
3. Because of what He does – He opened the book no one else could open. He made it possible for singing:
a. The worship hymn – “Thou art worthy”;
b. The Gospel song – “Thou wast slain”;
c. The Missionary song – “Out of every kindred…and nation”;
d. The Devotional hymn – “A kingdom of priests”;
e. The Prophetic song – “We shall reign on the earth”.

It would be great if the music directors of our churches would all begin to follow this pattern for our worship of the Lord. My plan would be to open the worship service with THE WORSHIP HYMN. Something like, Holy, Holy, Holy, or How Great Thou Art. The GOSPEL SONG could be something like, At Calvary, or The Old Rugged Cross. There are many to choose from. The MISSIONARY SONG could be used as the worship in tithes and offerings, using songs like Rescue the Perishing, or Set My Soul Afire. Good DEVOTIONAL HYMNs could be, Sweet Hour of Prayer, or When We Walk With The Lord. There are some good PROPHETIC SONGs which could be used such as, Face To Face With Christ My Savior, or There’s A Land That Is Fairer Than Day.

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Revelation 5:11-12 (KJV).

In verse eleven we find a numberless multitude of angels. “Ten thousand times ten thousand” equals 100 million, but then “Thousands of thousands” mean millions more. They probably reach into the billions plus. Notice, their praise was to the Savior “The Lamb that was slain”, not to a baby in a manger, not to a healer, not even to a King, but to a “Violently slain Lamb”. This resurrected Lamb is worthy to receive full honors fromt he Father and all His creation. Notice, “The Lamb that was slain” is past tense and assures us that He was dead but is alive. He is risen. He is risen indeed.

And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. Revelation 5:13-14 (KJV).

We come now to the fourth reason the Lamb is worthy of worship (See notes of verses eight through ten).

4. Because of what He has. He did not receive these things from people of earth. “Blessings, honor, glory, and power”, He receives them after He completes the task He came to do. I do not know about all who are reading this, but I do know that so many times worship services in our churches seem monotonous, mundane, sometimes even dreaded, and dead. It seems that the reason for that may just be the atttitude of the worshippers heart. Our worship is about Jesus. If we will keep our focus on the crucified, and risen Lamb of God true worship will be the experience of every worshipper. Give Him “Blessing, honor, glory, and power”.

The same things are given to the Lamb and the Father. They are actually given to the Lamb by the Father. The ability to ascribe worth to the Lamb by the creation and God’s people is given by the Father.

We can say A-MEN in our worship – SO BE IT. In these songs of praise we can come to a conclusion of how our worship on earth is done. Let’s worship Him. Let us be WORSHIPPING THE ONE TO WHOM JUDGMENT BELONGS.

THE SOVEREIGN KING

THE SOVEREIGN KING

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 3:14-22 (KJV)

In closing the letters to the seven churches we come to the final church of Laodicea. This was a wealthy city, and thus, believed themselves to be in need of nothing. This attitude had gotten into the church, thus the need for the letter. In this letter we will see the sovereignty of Jesus Christ and His power in working with spiritual fervor, or the lack of it, and His immediate position to those who say they have no need.

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;”
Jesus reveals Himself as “The Amen”, which means “So be it”. What ever Jesus has said, or is about to say will deffinitely come to pass. He is the God of truth. He is truth, fixed and sure.

Jesus is the One who has, possesses and owns everything. “The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1).

Again Jesus is presenting a characteristic of Himself which the church needs. As Sovereign He owns and possesses all things.

He reveals Himself as the very source of all creation. “…The beginning of the creation of God…” declares in fact that He is the Creator, not a created being (John 1:3; Col ossians 1:16). He is the source of the needs the Laodicean people did not realize they had. Paul was familiar with Laodicea. The epistle of Colossians was sent to Laodicea for them to hear and read concerning the deity of Jesus, and other matters.

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

In these verses we see what Jesus has to say to the congregation of Laodicea. It is not pleasant or good. He mentions no good works, no good doctrine, there is absolutely no commendation, but condemnation, with a call to “Repent” and “…Open the door…” as the only hope.

This is a church which only acted as a thermometer. It only registered the temperature around it. It was no more than a stagnant water or a dead body. Its environment was all it registered. A thermostat is used for raising or lowering the temperature. Every child of God should be like a thermostat.
When we look through Scripture we find that there are three spiritual temperatures;
1. The burning heart. This heart yearns for the Word of God and loves to hear the exposition of God’s Word. You find an example of this heart in Luke 24:32.
2. The cold heart. This heart is just not interested in spiritual things. It finds greater pleasure in the world than in God’s words. An example of this heart is found in Matthew 24:12.
3. The lukewarm heart. This is the heart who is comfortable and complacent. It is the worst condition of the three. This individual or church will not be committed to do anything much. May or may not be a regular worshipper. We find this example in our text (v. 15). You never know where this type of people or church stands on any issue or debate.

The John MacArthur Study Bible note on verse 16 states,

“Nearby Hierapolis was famous for its hot springs, and Colosse for its cold, refreshing mountain stream. But Laodicea had dirty, tepid water that flowed for miles through an underground aqueduct. Visitors, unaccustomed to it, immediately spat it out. The church at Laodicea was neither cold, openly rejecting Christ, nor hot, filled with spiritual zeal. Instead, its members were lukewarm, hypocrites professing to know Christ, but not truly belonging to Him (cf. Matt.7:21ff).”

Jesus says of this church, “You make me sick”. They are willing to sacrifice truth for peace.

If they would have been hot Jesus would have commended them. If they would have been cold, He would have rebuked them and heated them up. As they were lukewarm, they did not even realize they had a need. Everything was going their way. They had money, notoriety, rich jewels. They had everything other people in the city had – including the presence of the absence of Jesus. They did not even know Jesus was not there.

When things are going good, and we get comfortable, let us make certain Jesus is present no matter what the cost may be. If we are comfortable we must be careful not to grow complacent to the needs we may have as well as the needs of those around us. The greatest need the world around us has is that they see Jesus Christ in those who are His – for the church to be the Church – and not living as the world.

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

The church needed to be made aware of their comfortable complacency. Because of the material riches they had been blessed with they had drifted into lukewarmness and had become a negative testimony for Christ.
Lukewarmness happens when blessings are many and the worship of Jesus slacks off. Pride and self-satisfaction is the ruin of many individuals and churches.

The city was one of vast wealth and the church has been a recipient as well. They had “Need of nothing” and were blind to their real need. They were able to handle things themselves. Their blindness kept them from seeing their nakedness, and poverty. Spiritual blindness leads to spiritual bankruptcy.
These people were clothed in the richest of garments materially, yet without the righteous garment of Jesus, they had nothing of God. They were clothed in “Fig leaves” before the eyes of God.

Blindness is sometimes caused by poor diet – malnutrition. Warren Wiersbe said, “Diet has bearing on the condition of one’s eyes, in a spiritual sense as well as a physical one.” They had feasted heavily on material things and were fat and lazy. They had neglected the Word and worship of God in Christ and were blind as a bat without sonar, in Spirit. Poor, miserable, blind and naked.
They needed cleansing. They needed to stand for Jesus to show the world the difference one’s life has in Christ. This would lead to persecution, for the Scripture says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

They needed to be clothed in the white and righteous garments of Jesus. In Jesus they would have true riches; “Gold tried in the fire” or persecution and trials of faith in Him. God, raiment, and sight that is for eternity, rather than that which the moth and rust eat away, corupts and fails.

Laodicea was known for an eye ointment for helping sight problems. This ointment could not help them see Jesus, their true need, however. Jesus offers the ointment of the Holy Spirit who gives sight to the spiritually blind.
Jesus’s words in verse 19 are directed to a small remnant within this church who are in Christ. They have sadly backsliden, yet Jesus warns them to repent. His chastening hand brings His children out of the lie of self-satisfaction into a satisfying fellowship with Himself.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
The saddest statement of these letters, and possibly in all of scripture is the proximity of Jesus in relation to this church.
1. He is near, but not in;
2. He is knocking at the door; the one’s inside unaware of His absence;
3. He is asking to come in.

This was more a social club than a church. If the One who instituted the Church is not in the church, then, it is not the Church. It does not matter how loud a group yells they are a church. What does matter is, where Jesus is in relation to them. Likewise, it matters not how loud the individual declares He is a christian, it does, however, matter the proximity of Jesus in relation to that individual.

For those who will open the door and let Him in there is great fellowship and feasting in His presence and glory.

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

The promise to the “Overcomer” is an eternal one. To sit with Jesus on His throne (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6). He has called us to be overcomers, placed in us His Spirit who seals us to that great day. Why do we want to persist in our own way, knowing that the riches of Jesus are ours through overcoming faith in Him?

Now is the time to hear. Hear the Spirit as He directs you to Jesus. Hear Him as He rebukes you of your sin and your backsliden condition.

Many individuals and churches are in the Laodicean condition. We need not stay there. If the Laodicean church did not repent they were judged. If the Church today does not repent of its comfortable complacency judgment will come on all who do not overcome.

In conclusion, this is the only church that had no commendation said of it. It was soundly rebuked for its lukewarmness. It was a “church” which made Jesus sick. Jesus was not even present in the church. He was outside, asking to come in, but they were not listening.

Let none of us who are in the Body of Christ get to the place where we do not even notice the absence of Jesus. What do we have if Jesus is not present in our gatherings as a local congregation? We have a social gathering, and some Christians who need repentance. What do we have if an individual does not have the presence of Jesus? A lost individual, or a backsliden Christian. Jesus is Lord. He establishes His Church. It is Jesus who decides who will sit with Him on His throne. He is THE SOVEREIGN KING.

Edited and tagged by t.a. 03/29/10