God Looked Down From Heaven Upon The Children of Men

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread? They have not called upon God.
There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.
Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.”  Psalm 53:1-6  (KJB)

The Weapons Of Our Warfare

“Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: but I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” 2 Corinthians 10:1-6 (KJB)

When No One Else Does…

“Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7 (KJB)

Micah saw many who professed the name of the LORD who were not faithful to the LORD in His word.  They were afflicted yet turned to other sources of help. Micah says,

“Therefore I will look unto the LORD…” The Lord GOD is my help. He is my Salvation. I will wait – I will trust in Him, even if no one else does.  God will hear me.

 

Therefore I will look unto the Lord — as if no one else were before mine eyes. We must not only “look unto the Lord,” but also “wait for Him.” Having no hope from man (Mic_7:5, Mic_7:6), Micah speaks in the name of Israel, who herein, taught by chastisement (Mic_7:4) to feel her sin (Mic_7:9), casts herself on the Lord as her only hope,” in patient waiting (Lam_3:26). She did so under the Babylonian captivity; she shall do so again hereafter when the spirit of grace shall be poured on her (Zec_12:10-13).” Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary

“Things had come to an awful pass in the favored city. Oppression, bribery, and bloodshed, were everywhere in the ascendant. Men wrought evil with both hands. Husbands could not trust their wives. At such a time there is no refuge for God’s children save in God, Mic_7:7-13.” THROUGH THE BIBLE DAY BY DAY by F. B. Meyer on Micah 7:7-13

Your only hope and help for salvation is through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Call on His name today. He will hear you, save you and change your life for His glory.

Know the LORD

“And they shall know that I am the LORD, that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.” Ezekiel 6:10 (KJB)

The phrase “…Shall know that I am the LORD” is used three other times in this chapter (vv. 6, 13, 14), and it is used at least 59 other times throughout the prophecy of Ezekiel. In chapter 6 it is directed toward the nation of Israel, and they are being reminded of why they are in captivity.

God will have His people know that He is the LORD.  That should be a reminder to all people of all days, times, ages, that GOD will do whatever it takes to make His people holy; because He is holy.

In many of the other 59 times the phrase is used it is toward the nations around them.  The LORD desires that people of all lands know that He is the LORD.

To know that He is the LORD is to know Him personally.  Know Him as our Creator, the All Powerful, All Knowing, All Present, and Immutable [Unchanging]  God; also to know Him as Redeemer, Savior, Lord, and King. To know Him is to see Him revealed in the person of His Son Jesus Christ who took all of our sin upon Himself upon the cross, bled and died, was buried, and He rose from death, conquering death, hell, and the grave; and He forever lives as our Mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5).

Turn to Jesus Christ from sin, and know that the LORD, He is the LORD.

The Good Discipline of the LORD

“Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

‘Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for good. For I will set Mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull down; and I will plant them, and not pluck up. And I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart.’” Jeremiah 24:4-7 (KJB)

Many people in the United States of America have and are seeing the word discipline as antiquated, outdated, and unnecessary. They might use it as a word for exercise, or disciplining themselves for a good workout, but to be disciplined by another?  Just forget it.

When it comes to the LORD God, our Creator, our Savior, our Lord He will discipline those who are His.  Often times that discipline is not pleasant. Such as we read about in Jeremiah’s prophecy. Judah was going into captivity due to the overwhelming, blatant sin against God.  Many of the “Good people” were going into the Babylonian captivity too.

Christian keep Hebrews 12:5-8 in mind, “If you are without discipline from God, you are not His”.

I will leave you with commentary from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown…

v. 5  “acknowledgeregard with favor, like as thou lookest on the good figs favorably.

for their good — Their removal to Babylon saved them from the calamities which befell the rest of the nation and led them to repentance there: so God bettered their condition (2Ki_25:27-30). Daniel and Ezekiel were among these captives.

v. 6  “(Jer_12:15).

not pull … down … not pluck … up — only partially fulfilled in the restoration from Babylon; antitypically and fully to be fulfilled hereafter (Jer_32:41; Jer_33:7).

 

v. 7 “(Jer_30:22; Jer_31:33; Jer_32:38). Their conversion from idolatry to the one true God, through the chastening effect of the Babylonish captivity, is here expressed in language which, in its fullness, applies to the more complete conversion hereafter of the Jews, “with their whole heart” (Jer_29:13), through the painful discipline of their present dispersion. The source of their conversion is here stated to be God’s prevenient grace.

for they shall return — Repentance, though not the cause of pardon, is its invariable accompaniment: it is the effect of God’s giving a heart to know Him.

From the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary for verses 5 – 7.

You become God’s through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Holy Son of God.

Hard Hearted and Hard Headed

I must admit; I have been accused of being “Hard headed”.  I may have even been accused a few times of being “Hard hearted”, and at times I would probably agree that I can be both.  But I do pray that never toward God and His Word.

I have personal Christian convictions; not preferences which I will stand on til death if I must.  If that is hard headed, then so be it.  I can also be hard hearted; at least seemingly to others; in my actions and words toward people. I really do not intend to be.  If I am not hard at times I will weep, and seem weak.  I have said these things to point you toward some verses in Ezekiel, and God’s word to him concerning his message to the captives in Babylon.  Hear the word of the LORD…

‘And He said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with My words unto them. For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee. But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto Me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. Moreover He said unto me, Son of man, all My words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.”  Ezekiel 3:4-11 (KJV)

I have meant in no way to put myself along side this man of God, the prophet Ezekiel.  Ezekiel was a captive in Babylon along with the others of Judah.  He was a prophet in captivity with his people, and was to preach to them; to call them back to God while being held by the enemy.  His purpose was to call them to repentance and to GOD.

The Lord GOD was telling him that this was a hard hearted, hard headed people, and He was going to make the prophet so as well; only to stand against the ungodliness of the people.  In the people they were refusing to hear the word of God, even after seeing the word of the LORD fulfilled by their city being overthrown, their king taken captive, his sons killed before his eyes, and them dragged against their will to Babylon.  Now, Ezekiel was to prepare them for the years ahead.  Captives in a foreign land; and they were not going to listen to God “But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto Me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.”

When Christians are captive in an evil society we must hear the word of God over the words of men.  When we refuse to hear the words of judgment, and only listen to the words of promise we refuse it all.  The words of judgment are also words of promise.  If God said it; it will come to pass.

Let us; those of us who call ourselves “Christian” or “Born again” be hard hearted toward those who reject the word of God; and be hard headed for the word of God, loving God more than we do things or people.  If we care more for what people say or think of us, than we do God; then we are loving people more than we love God, and His Son Jesus.  Do you love Jesus Christ and His word more than you do the thoughts of humankind?

You better change your heart and mind.

DANIEL, HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AND AZARIAH

Sharing these studies in Daniel. Pray they will be a blessing to you.

Broken Pieces

DANIEL AND FRIENDS

Daniel 1:1 – 2

Isaiah the prophet had prophesied over one hundred years before of the impending doom of the country of Israel, the captivity of the people, and the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah the prophet warned of the imminent capture of the city of Jerusalem, and capture of the people. The kings would not repent, nor would the people call for repentance.

It is most probable that at the time of captivity around 605 B.C. that Daniel and His friends – Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were only in their teenage years. Maybe as young as fifteen years. We learn much from them in the very first chapter. They were strong in their faith and convictions and what was holy, pure, and right for the children of God.

Just recently we did a study of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. That is truly an unveiling of the…

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Prophets Speak – Christmas Day One Hundred Thirty and Four

“And I will set My throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes,’ saith the LORD. ‘But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam,’ saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 49:38-39 (KJV)

Elam, Moab, and Ammon are nations promised to return from captivity.  Some, along with Egypt are promised to share in the same blessings as Israel.  These have been God’s pronouncements against the nations which tormented and persecuted Israel – God’s mission people from their calling.

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to have the mind of Missions, in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with every lost soul God brings into my life and path; if not by word; by the life that I live, and the joy and praise to God from my heart, tongue and mouth.

Egypt and You

The nation of Egypt was at one time a world ruler. In the days before the captivity of Israel in Egypt, and during their captivity there the nation was a world ruler; even believed to have been the ruler of the known world at that time.

What is God’s purpose for Egypt? The answer to that is found in the final portion of our verses for today:

“Yet thus saith the Lord GOD; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered: and I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom. It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations. And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them: but they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 29:13-16 (KJV)

“But they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” Yes! This phrase is one of the most prominent throughout the prophecy of Ezekiel; at least 63 times. It is said of other nations; including Israel. It is said of individuals. The LORD God wants you to know that He is the LORD. One day you will. I only pray that it will not be too late for salvation.

God’s word to Egypt was that they too would go into captivity, that they would one day return to their land, but they would never be a world ruling power again. They went from a world ruling nation; basically to a world ruled nation. God still has great plans for Egypt.

No matter how far you have fallen; there is still hope for you. No matter how much evil may be in your life; Jesus Christ died for you; took your sins, your evil upon Himself, and bled and died so that you might be saved from your sin, guilt, condemnation and death. Know that He is the LORD today.

When You are God’s, He will not Leave You Undisciplined

Much of the Scripture we will look at today have to do with the judgment upon Egypt. Judah was or had been depending on Egypt for their deliverance, and fight against Babylon; but they were in grave error and sin for doing so. Judah’s help was in God. Because of their trust in Egypt God gives Judah the following words…

“But fear not thou, O My servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel: for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid. Fear thou not, O Jacob My servant, saith the LORD: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished.” Jeremiah 46:27-28 (KJV)

Egypt would fall. Judah would be in captivity for seventy years; but God reminds the one’s who are in Egypt now; against His word; that He will not utterly destroy them.

He also will not leave them altogether unpunished; for God disciplines those who are His.

Note the LORD is still referring to Jacob as “My servant” and “Israel”. Jacob means “heel holder” or “supplanter” or “deceiver”. Israel means “God prevails”, and though Jacob was a trickster, always getting things done his way; God still loved him. Even when Jacob wrestled with God at Bethel (Genesis 32:24-32), and named him Israel God knew he was not perfect nor sinless.

The child of God, in Christ Jesus, will always have chastisement for sin in his/her life. We must be grateful for that; for without it we are not a child of God (Hebrews 12:8). We can rest assured that what God has began through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; He also will complete, and bring to His desired end (Philippians 1:6).

God’s Truth, and Preachers of Lies

“Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, Send to all them of the captivity, saying, Thus saith the LORD concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite; Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied unto you, and I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lie: therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite, and his seed: he shall not have a man to dwell among this people; neither shall he behold the good that I will do for My people, saith the LORD; because he hath taught rebellion against the LORD.” Jeremiah 29:30-32 (KJV)

Through the prophet Jeremiah God had spoken to the false prophet Hananiah (chapter 28), and he had died just as Jeremiah had said. Now there is another; one named Shemaiah who was one of the captives in Babylon writing from Babylon telling the people not to listen to Jeremiah. In telling them that, he was telling them “Do not listen to the word of the LORD”.

Now, I can somewhat understand why some of these people did not want to believe Jeremiah as prophet of God. They were bound to the temple, they were patriotic toward their nation. They had a hard time believing that the temple was going to fall, and that the nation was going into captivity. I can get that. Yet, who are they to love, and adore? Who is the One to whom they owe allegiance, and obedience? There is only one answer to those questions; and that is the LORD God.

Shemaiah was probably one of those who were adulterers, and dreamers of lies. He was for sure one that would not accept the prophecy of the 70 years in Babylon. Probably like Hananiah said, it would only be two years.

How was an individual supposed to discern the truth between the two, the true and the false? Which ever prophecy came to pass just as it had been spoken; that was the word of God, and was the truth. Jeremiah’s words were proven true. Hananiah died that same year; as foretold. Shemaiah missed out on the blessings of God for His people.

O my friend do not deny the power of the word of God. Believe Him through His Living Word; the Lord Jesus Christ who fulfilled all the word of God; and was obedient to the Father all the way to the cross, dying for our sins, being buried, and bodily arose from the grave. One day He is returning for His people, and will make things right in this world. Believe Him today, and live eternally with Him. Otherwise you are perishing.

The Light is Shining

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2 (KJV)

The nation having departed from the Word of the LORD, His law, and His prophets is in darkness. A darkness covers the land. A darkness of sin, of captivity, of departing from the Living God, to dead idols, to shame, to sin, and its captivity.

The verse is one of the promised Messiah who would come as Light to this nation in darkness; and its people dwelling in the “shadow of death”.

When Jesus came into Israel, born as a man; a baby in a manger; the Light truly did shine; and there was hope for the land, the people. Jesus Christ was and is the fulfillment of this prophecy of Isaiah. This verse is given in detail in Matthew 4:15-16, and following this verse Jesus says,

“Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (v. 17)

It is time for repentance, in our day. A time for turning away from sin to Christ Jesus and life in the light. When we are in darkness the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ shines brighter. It shines brighter as those who are His will stand, and be strong in the LORD, and the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10ff).

The ultimate fulfillment of this verse will be when Jesus the Messiah will come again, and set all things right, and reign as King of all kings.

The Light of the Messiah; the Christ is shining brightly in this dark world. Paul the apostle of Christ said,

“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound…” Romans 5:20

Because of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Light (John 8:12; 9:5).  The Light is Shining brightly.

The Archers Arrow of Accuracy

“And the sons of Ulam were mighty men of valour, archers, and had many sons, and sons’ sons, an hundred and fifty. All these are of the sons of Benjamin.” 1 Chronicles 8:40 (KJV)

The names of this genealogy are of the lineage of Benjamin. This genealogy from chapter one through ten is of the returning remnant from the Babylonian captivity; that they might remember who goes where, and proof of ownership of any land in the land of Promise.

It is noted by the above verse that the “sons of Ulam were mighty men of valor, archers…” What is valor? It can be defined as bravery in the face of seeming defeat; it is courage when it seems that defeat is inevitable. That is what Christians need in the world today.

Christian men, especially need to step up and stand in the face of the enemy; whatever that enemy may be; whoever that enemy may be; and we know the enemy of us all is the devil himself. He hates Christ Jesus, he hates Christians who love Jesus more than life itself. Christian men and women need to stand in this day.

Ulam’s sons must have been excellent archers, being recognized for it in Scriptures. May God Jehovah direct every word to accomplish that which He pleases in the hearts of men and women.

Captivity

“When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.” Psalm 126:1-2 (KJV)

The verses from Psalms whether written following the Egyptian captivity and the people’s deliverance, or the Babylonian captivity is of little importance.  Zion had been taken captive, and you yourself may be in captivity as I write.

I am a captive.  I will let you know in a moment what I am a captive of.  The people of Zion, Israel, if you will were captive for 70 years in Babylon, and when their deliverance came just as God had said, then, they were rejoicing.  “We were like them that dream” the Psalmist says.

It seemed almost unbelievable.  Are you a captive today.  Does sin hold you captive?  Are you doing things you know to be wrong, and then feel guilt following the act? Maybe no guilt, but you know it is wrong?  You are a captive to your own sins.  It rules you.  It controls you.

There is freedom from sin.  Sin is a horrible master.

I told you moments ago that I am captive.  What am I captive to?  To love, mercy and grace of God shown to me through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Through Him I am free from sins bondage, sins weight, drudgery, guilt, condemnation, and fear.  I am captive to the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Son of God, and God the Son.  He set me free.  My mouth is filled with laughter, and my tongue with singing unto Him.

The LORD has done great things for all those who are captive to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Favorable

“LORD, Thou hast been favourable unto Thy land: Thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.” Psalm 85:1 (KJV)

Another Psalm for the sons of Korah.

This Psalm is written in the past tense.  YaHWeH has shown favor to His land.  The Promised Land, the land of Canaan is the LORD’S.  This shows that God is not through with the people of Jacob.  He brings them back from their trials, their captivity.

The LORD is gracious unto His land and His people who will rest in Him; find peace, comfort, and joy in Him.

The LORD has sent redemption for His land and people through the cross of Jesus Christ is only holy and blessed Son.  Through His Son He shows His favor to the world.

The Redeeming Love of God – Hosea 9:1 – 10:15

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Hosea 9:1 – 10:15

Herschel Ford has told a story of a man who committed suicide.  He was rising higher and higher in a hot-air balloon.  He took a knife and began to cut the three ropes holding the gondola to the fabric of the air-ship.  A crowd below was watching.  They shouted warning after warning. “Don’t cut it”, until he came to the third, and still they were shouting, “Don’t cut it”.  He did not listen, and fell to his death.

When people persist in cutting off the strands that keep them in the way of God we commit spiritual suicide.  Cutting the cords of God’s love ends in destruction.  God continues to warn His people, giving us ample opportunity to turn from our sin and walk in His paths.  This period of grace does not last forever.  He does and will cut it off, and bring evil to an end.

“Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor.  The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her. They shall not dwell in the LORD’S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria. They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto Him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD. What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD? For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles.
The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God. They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore He will remember their iniquity, He will visit their sins.”  Hosea 9:1-9 (KJV)

How blind the children of the LORD tend to be when the LORD’S judgment and justice has come upon us.  When the Bible speaks of judgment it often puts it in the present tense – as being here.  Now!

There was no reason for joy in Israel due to the fact they had left God to walk in the harlotries of other nations.  The “other people” were rejoicing in their idol worship – the licentious sexual behavior of Ashtoreth.  God’s people were never called on to worship anything but God.  To do so was “Whoredom” and wickedness in God’s sight.

The very idea of them actually worshipping Baal was proof of their unfaithfulness to God.

There are seven features of God’s judgment upon Israel listed in verses two through six:

  1. God would attack the heart of fertility worship by taking away the bountiful harvest (v. 2);
  2. He would remove them from His land (v. 3);
  3. He would place them in Assyria in Egyptian-like captivity (v. 3);
  4. God would bring an end to their wicked worship (v. 4);
  5. God would cut them off from their appointed feast days (vv. 5-6a);
  6. They would die in captivity (v. 6);
  7. God would desolate Israel’s fertility idols and shrines (v. 6).

In verse six “Memphis” is a place in Egypt where the dead are buried.  They would die.

“What will ye do?” Hosea asked.  How one responds to God’s warning determines one’s eternal destiny.

There is a story told of two brothers who lived in a sheep herding area of Europe.  These two brothers were caught stealing sheep. The sentence the community gave them in judgment was that they be branded on their foreheads with the letters S T and understood to mean “Sheep Thieves”.  These young men in later years met Jesus as their Saviour and their lives were radically changed.  They became a credit to their community; giving help to people in need; aiding struggling city coffers when they possibly could.  All the time bearing the marks on their foreheads “ST”.  As the years went by one day a young boy with his mother saw these two godly men with “ST”  branded on their foreheads; “What does that “ST” mean?”  The mother answered her son and said, “I don’t know; but I suppose it means Saint.”  There is hope and change for all who will believe God, trust His Saviour and His Word.

The people of Israel were guilty of rejecting God’s prophet, and accepting the foolish jibberish of the paid off cult and court prophets.  Calling God’s man a fool.  Hosea remained faithful to God, because he was certain of God’s calling and confident of God’s message.  The sin and iniquity of the people  causes  them to hate the message of God and His messenger.

“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.
As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer. Give them, O LORD: what wilt Thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of Mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters. Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb. My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto Him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.” Hosea 9:10-17

From the preceding verses we find Israel in persistent rebellion, and judgment will sweep them away.

In verse 10 Israel is likened to a fruitful vine found in the wilderness- and what a magnificent find that would be to a weary and thirsty traveler.  They are also likened to a first ripened fig – the best.  Made this way by God in His bountiful grace they have chosen to leave this condition in God to serve idols, and destroy their land, their homes, their kingdom, and their relationship with God,  who placed them in His glorious position.

They bring shame and their glory flies away as a bird.  Their children shall die.  The wombs of the women will be fruitless, those who do conceive will never hold a live child in their arms (v. 14).  The greatest tragedy of sin is found in verse 12 “…Woe also to them when I depart from them!”  For God to depart, to hold back His mercy and grace is catastrophic to His people.  They get what they deserve.  The blessings they had before was God’s mercy on display.

Verse 15 makes a bold statement of God’s hatred for sin and evil.  Israel had given themselves to evil, were bound to evil, and could not get free.  The “Wickedness of Gilgal” is a reference to Saul’s rebellion in 1 Samuel 13.  King Saul determined to not wait for Samuel, and to offer sacrifice himself.  In this he showed much pride, impatience, and rebellion toward the laws of God.  He also tried to sacrifice to justify his disobedience (1 Samuel 15), which is also seen of Israel in Hosea’s day.

God would cast them out to be strangers and foreigners in other countries.  God loves His people so much He will not allow us to live in unrepented sin.

“Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images. Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: He shall break down their altars, He shall spoil their images. For now they shall say, ‘We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us?’ They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field. The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it. It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel. As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water. The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, ‘Cover us;’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us.’
O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them. It is in My desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows. And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.”  Hosea 10:1-11

Now, God says, that, they are an “Empty vine”.  This is a drastic contrast to what we found in verse 10 of chapter 9.

Israel had a heart condition.  No electrocardiogram would be able to detect the problem.  Nevertheless, they had a bad heart.  Their heart was divided.  God cannot use divided hearts.  This compares with the “Double-minded man” of James 1:8 – unstable and unfit for service to God.

The people of Israel had two institutions which were highly esteemed by them; their kings (politics, military, and  democracy for us), and their religion.  Their kings were unjust and greedy, and their religion was empty and separated them from God, because they were more concerned with ritual sacrifice and offerings rather than a personal relationship with God.

Kings make promises, but do not fulfill them (v. 4).  The graven images which they have worshipped will lose  their glory – no one will be able to protect them.  Who needs a god that needs protection anyway?  God is having their idols carried away shows the futility of trusting in them (Isaiah 46:1-5).

“Aven”, mentioned in 10:8 means deception.  It has been a place of deception because the people were deceived by their own desires and they strayed from God’s paths.  God says, that, He will destroy their sin.  The power of sin has been ultimately destroyed by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, and overcoming sins power by His resurrection from the dead.  All who refuse God’s way suffers eternal judgment.

Instead of crying out to God for mercy they cry out for the rocks and mountains, “Fall on us” (v. 8; Revelation 6:16).

Because of their stubborn and rebellious hearts they would be as a heifer yoked to hard labor whereas, before their labor had been light and blessed.

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till He come and rain righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children. So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.”  Hosea 10:12-15 (KJV)

The “Fallow ground” of verse twelve is land that had previously been plowed, but now left unused.  God’s Word and His Spirit is the plow that is needed to break up the soil of a hard heart (See Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23).  Hard hearts cannot yield crops of righteousness and mercy.

It is a prominent theme in Hosea that the children of Israel will reap exactly what they have sown.  It is a law of God’s created order to reap what we have sown – and that, no matter the timeline, culture or society which we may live.

Hosea gives us three steps to heal the land:

  1. Break up your fallow ground (v. 12);
  2. Put God’s Word in your heart – “sow with a view of righteousness” (NAS v. 12);
  3. “Reap in accordance with kindness (NAS) referring to the breaking of their hard hearts through repentance and sowing the seed of God’s Word in their lives.

God gives Israel every opportunity to repent.  It is God’s desire then to cleanse them, and make them a vessel of His grace.  Judgment would come.

“Hosea 9 – 10 reinforces the basic lesson that persistent sin eventually leads to destruction.”  Traylor.  This is also true for people of the 21st century as well.  God’s people (Christians) need to open their eyes and know that the Lord, though He has provided a way into His presence, still calls for His people to repent.

We need to keep this thought in mind; “God loves us the way we are; but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.”  He will do whatever it takes to make us holy.

There is only hope for all through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross of calvary – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; Son of the Living God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

God’s Word Today 081812

Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; ‘Behold, I have sworn by My great name, saith the LORD, that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, ‘The Lord GOD liveth.’  ‘Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.  Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, Mine, or theirs.  And this shall be a sign unto you,’ saith the LORD, ‘that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that My words shall surely stand against you for evil.’  Thus saith the LORD; ‘Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.” Jeremiah 44:26-30 (KJV)

-T.A.

God’s Word Today 081512

And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying, ‘Thus saith the LORD; ‘If ye can break My covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also My covenant be broken with David My servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, My ministers.  As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David My servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.’  Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, ‘Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, ‘The two families which the LORD hath chosen, He hath even cast them off? Thus they have despised My people, that they should be no more a nation before them.’  Thus saith the LORD; ‘If My covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David My servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.”  Jeremiah 33:19-26 (KJV)

-T.A.

God’s Word Today 081312

For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; “Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.  For they prophesy falsely unto you in My name: I have not sent them,” saith the LORD.  For thus saith the LORD, “That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ saith the LORD, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you.  And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.  And I will be found of you,’ saith the LORD: ‘and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you,’ saith the LORD; ‘and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”  Jeremiah 29:8-14 (KJV)

-T.A.

Day 60 – Knowing the LORD God

Reading the prophecy of Ezekiel can lead a person to only one good conclusion, and that is that GOD wants people to know Him.  Some of the reading sounds harsh, deadly, and judgmental; however we are speaking of our Creator; and who are we to question how He works.  Can the clay say to the potter, “You don’t know what you are doing”.  Not at all.  The God of creation has one thing in mind, and that is the glory of His name; and He will accomplish what He has started to do – that the people of the earth know Him.

My reading this morning was Ezekiel 24 – 37.  I have mentioned it in passing, but today I will spend some time with the phrase, “…Know that I am the LORD”.  In looking at this phrase and its use in Ezekiel we find it at least 24 times in today’s reading.  I will only give you a few of those references.

First in today’s reading I read these words being spoken to Israel of Ezekiel’s service,

“Thus Ezekiel is unto you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do: and when this cometh, ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 24:24 (KJV)

Ezekiel’s wife had died.  He was not to weep or mourn publicly because of her death.  By this Ezekiel was a sign for Israel and their captivity; no time for grief and mourning over the dead.  The second time in my reading this morning is in verse 27,

“In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.” 24:27

Previously, Ezekiel had been unable to speak, but now the LORD was going to open his mouth, and he would speak, and by this the people would know that Jehovah/YHWH is the LORD.  Remember the LORD is proper and just, Righteous, and holy and can do how He pleases to bring people to the one conclusion the human race needs to know; and that is that He is the LORD.

“And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am the LORD.”  25:11

The LORD of hosts speaks these words through Ezekiel and to other people; not just to Israel.  He desires the nations to know Him.  He desires Moab to know that He is the LORD.  One day at the final day of judgment the world will know that He is the LORD.  That however does not mean, that all will be with Him in His glory.

To the land of Tyre [Tyrus] God says,

“And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.  It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations.  And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I am the LORD.”  26:4-6

Many an arrogant nation have exalted themselves over what GOD had for them.  Many of these nations will be removed from the earth, their lands left desolate; and never restored.  It is to the king of Tyrus that we find him to be filled with the evil of Satan himself (28:12-15).

The Nile River is a very important river in Egypt.  However the nation’s leader had exalted himself to the point of being Egypt’s god, claiming to have made the river himself and it being his river.  To this arrogance the Lord says, through the prophet,

“And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it.”  29:9

God is especially grieved when His people; the one’s He has chosen to be His light, and the glory of His name; when we turn our backs on Him to other gods [idols made by the minds and hands of men in their own images].  This was the guilt of Judah and Israel. God says to Israel again,

“For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate, that none shall pass through.   Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.”  33:28-29

God will not leave His people without judgment.  In fact He will judge His people first and foremost.  The arrogance of Israel was so bad, so gross they had been secure in the temple, also made by the hands of men; in thinking and saying, “God will never destroy this nation, or this temple.  It is the Temple of  the LORD”.  They found out differently.  God is more involved and careful that we might know Him, than He is in our security, survival or success.

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; ‘I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.  As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD.”  36:37-38

God will not leave His people without hope.  In their captivity He continually reminds them of their return to the land.  It will of course be after the land has been restored its sabbaths lost by the years of neglect of sabbaths by her  people.  A final promise I want to leave with you is that,

“And David My servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them.  And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and My servant David shall be their prince for ever.”  37:24-25

“David My servant” is none other than the King of kings, born in Bethlehem, died on a cross in Jerusalem, buried, and bodily raised from the dead; justifying all who will believe in Him.  The world will know that Jesus Chirst is LORD.  Bow now; or bow later.  It is your choice.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 30 – Inspirational and Encourageing

Today marks the thirtieth day for the journey through the Bible in ninety days.  I have been thoroughly blessed, inspired, and encouraged.  I have also learned things I did not know, helping me to realize even more that “The more I know; the more I realize I do not know.”  I am now one third of the way through this journey and looking forward to the next 6o days.

I was greatly inspired and encouraged by reading through Ezra and the first four chapters of Nehemiah this morning; thus, the title for today’s post.

In yesterday’s reading, finishing 2 Chronicles we were left with Judah going into Babylonian captivity, Jerusalem being destroyed, the walls broken down, the temple destroyed, and all the vessels, gold, silver, bronze, taken to the storehouses of Babylon; just as the prophet Jeremiah warned and foretold.  The prophet Isaiah had warned of this destruction, and captivity at least one hundred years before it happened.

Some may ask, “Why do you put so much stock in the Bible?”  and my answer to that is, “Because, when God speaks, it comes to pass; just like He says it.”  There is not one word God speaks that has been diminished, is being diminished, or will be diminished.  That is why I was so inspired and encouraged by Ezra and the first four chapters of Nehemiah.

Someone has said, and I believe it was written by Charles H. Spurgeon; “God will not allow His children to sin successfully.”  Reading the Bible sure helps us see that.  God pulls no punches.  We can see clearly that God deals with sin.  We see also that He is gracious, and slow to anger and wrath.  He is also merciful in not giving us what we truly deserve.

According to Jeremiah’s prophecy the nation of Israel would be in Babylonian captivity for seventy years.  At the time of Ezra that seventy years has been fulfilled, and we read –

“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, ‘Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (He is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.  And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place helpa him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”  Ezra 1:1-4 (KJV)

Now here is a catcher for you.  The prophet Isaiah names the king that will do this probably 150 years or more before Cyrus is born.  How can this be?  The prophet, being inspired by God; God who knows all things; who knows the past, present and the future, and knows your name; and knew you before you were born; told the prophet what was going to happen, and to write it down.  Isaiah did –

“That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, ‘Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.’ Isaiah 44:28

‘Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.  For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me.”  Isaiah 45:1-4 (KJV)

In Ezra God has  put it in the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia to fulfill His word of promise to Israel/Judah and have the temple in Jerusalem rebuilt, even to providing the precious metals and all necessary costs at Persia’s expense.

God’s purpose in the captivity was to drive Israel from her sins, and to give rest to the land for the sabbath years the people had avoided to observe (2 Chronicles 36:21), and to restore their faith in Him.  In reading Ezra we read of much opposition from people of the area, even putting the work of the temple to a standstill until the king finds that it had been ordered by Cyrus years before, then the work is continued with the approval of Persia.  Haggai, and Zechariah were two prophets  who prophesied during this time, and encouraged the people to continue building without the approval of the king of Persia, until they did receive it (chapters 5 – 6).

Ezra went to encourage and lead in the temple’s rebuilding and to teach the word and law of the LORD –

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.”  Ezra 7:10

There are some things I read in Ezra about their divorcing the foreign wives and sending them away that poses some problems. However, the problem was their sins and disobedience to the word of God, not God’s causing.  How seriously should God’s people take the matter  of holiness?  Very seriously.

Nehemiah had a burden for the building of the walls of Jerusalem.  He is sent by the king to go and rebuild the city.  He surveys the city walls, the city (chapter 2:12-20), then he challenges the people and they comply joyously with his requests.  Now see what God has wrought in the Old Testament with Judah.

Now, think of what God can do with you if you would surrender yourself to the way of Salvation which is found only through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ and His death on the cross, His burial where all our sin, guilt and condemnation was carried away as far as East is from West, and then He arose bodily from the grave; and is today seated by the Father’s right hand as our Great High Priest.  There is no one but Him who can deliver you from your sin.

Inspirational and Encourageing?  To me it definitely is.

– Tim A. Blankenship

The Favorable Land

I believe that God has put His hand on the United States of America, and has raised her up for the glory of Himself in and through the nations of the world.  He has blessed the U. S. of A.  However, we are not that “favorable land”.  Do not think me a traitor; the land the Psalmist speaks of is the land of Jacob.  It is the land that has upon it the “City of David” – Jerusalem.  It is the land where are Lord and Savior was foretold of and where He was born, raised, grew, died on the cross, was buried and rose again.  It is the land to which He will one day return and rule the world from.

The Psalmist wrote so long ago of this land,

“LORD, Thou hast been favourable unto Thy land: Thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob.”  Psalm 85:1 (KJV)

Of this Psalm it is said that it is “A Psalm for the sons of Korah”, and is mentioned in other Psalms as well.

There is some disagreement over the time and author of this song.  Some believe it was David writing of the captivity by the Philistines; and yet others think it is another singer writing of the Babylonian captivity.  I myself tend to go along with those who hold with the Davidic writing.

However, no matter the time of the writing of this wonderful song; it is a song for all ages, and all saints of God.  When a child of God has strayed from the presence of the Lord in their lives we can know that He is faithful to restore us.

He is faithful to bring us back to our first estate, fill us with Himself, His presence, His power, His glory.

We are in “captivity” when we have allowed our sin to separate us from the presence and the power of God.  Our prayer ought always to be sinned and strayed,  “Forgive our sin.  Restore us to our place with You LORD.  Bring back the captivity of Your people.”

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Nail in His Holy Place

A Nail in His Holy Place

Ezra 9:5-15 (v. 8 )

1.  Verses 5-15 is a prayer of Ezra for the people who have been in captivity, having disobeyed God in the matter of holiness, and sanctity (9:1-2).
2.  Ezra was grieved by the disobedience of Israel, and even at this time in Jerusalem there were things which needed to be corrected (v. 3).
3.  Those who were trembling because of the disobedience joined Ezra in the mourning, and prayer to GOD of Israel (v. 4).
4.  It was at the time of the evening sacrifice, and Ezra fell on his knees, and spread out his hands to GOD (v. 5).

I.  THERE IS SHAME FOR THE BEHAVIOR, AND DISOBEDIENCE OF GOD’S PEOPLE (vv. 6-7; 2 Cor. 6:17-18).

II.  GRACE AND SECURITY ARE GIVEN TO THE REMNANT OF GOD’S PEOPLE – THE NAIL [PEG[ IN HIS HOLY PLACE (v. 8).

III.  GOD’S PEOPLE GRIEVE OVER FORSAKING THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD (vv. 9-14).

IV.  BECAUSE OF SIN NO ONE CAN STAND BEFORE THE RIGHTEOUS GOD (v. 15)

Summary –

i.  Christians of our day need to be ashamed of our own sin;
ii.  We rest assured in the security of the Nail of Jesus Christ who holds us in His hand from which no one can snatch us out of the Father’s hand;
iii.  The reason for the lack of holiness, sanctification in the church is not related to the sins of a lost world;
iv.  It is related, and the sole responsibility of the Christian who refuses to grieve over their own sin.
v.  Remember it is the Nail of His holy place which keeps us in grace – and the Nail has a name; His name is JESUS (Isaiah 22:21-25)

-T.A.

This message was preached at Carr Lane Baptist Church Sunday July 17, 2011 – Morning sermon.

Mark Twelve – Thirteen through Seventeen

“And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. 16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. 17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.”  Mark 12:13-17 (KJV)

THEY TRY TO TRICK JESUS CONCERNING TAXES.

“Shall we pay taxes to Caesar or not?”  That is a question many still ask this day and time.

Is it lawful, is it right, is it godly to pay taxes?  Jesus said, “Render to Caesar, the things which are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s”.  What kind of society did Jesus live in?  Roman rule was the law.  Did Jesus protest taxes because the Romans were unjust, wicked, and boisterous?  No!  He said, “Pay your taxes”.

Jesus asked for a “penny”, and He looked at the image on the penny.  He asserted that since Caesar’s image was on the penny then it needed to be given to Caesar.  Whose image is on man?  God’s.  Therefore, give to God what is God’s.  That means yourself.

Jeremiah the prophet told the people how they were to live as captives in Babylon, and under Babylonian captivity.

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; 5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.”  Jeremiah 29:4-7 (KJV)

Also consider Romans chapter 13:1-7

Whether we as Christians want to admit it or not; like it or not; makes little difference if we are subjects of our Lord.  We submit to Him, and the laws of our captive land.  We are “captives” of a sort in this world until our redemption in Jesus Christ is completed at His coming.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Lord Of Joy

There is a need in our world for real joy.  Not joy which is temporary, and because of an increase of wealth, or peace of man; but rather the “peace of God which passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:67).  The world is plagued with sorrow upon sorrow.  Earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, cyclones, sicknesses, disease, hatred, financial collapse.  We do not need to hear much more about it do we?   There is only One who can give us this real, abiding  joy, and He is the one who is the Light that we read about in the previous two verses of this prophet.  The One who brings the light to the “people who walked in darkness”.

“Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.  For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.  For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.”  Isaiah 9:3-5 (KJV)

The  prophecy of  Isaiah was written in the eighth century B.C. so this was approximately 150 years or so before the Babylonian captivity of which Jeremiah writes, and Ezekiel.  Jeremiah was written around the time of the captivity, it covers the time shortly before captivity, and the beginning of the captivity.  Ezekiel the prophet himself was one of the captives writting from Babylon.  The reason I mention those things is because Isaiah is giving a prophetic statement in the above verses.  He warns so often of a captivity that is coming upon Judah and Israel, but then, he gives hope by telling of the return of the captives, and wonderful blessings far beyond a believer’s expectations.

A big portion of this chapter is given to hope.  Verses one through seven are the verses of hope.  In our present verses we see that the prophet is recognizing the fulfillment of God’s Word toward Abraham, His covenant He made with him and with Isaac and Jacob.  “You have multiplied the nation”, is the LORD’s confirmation of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the promise to the nation of Isaiah’s time of its fulfillment.  He has promised that their descendants will be multiplied as numerous as the “sands of the seashore” (Genesis 22:17).

With them comes the joy that has been missing.  Joy of seeing the promises of God fulfilled, and it does have a way of inspiring our hearts and lifting us above our life situation, no matter what burden has been placed on our shoulders.  There will be rejoicing in the cities, the provinces, the homes, and all the land will be rejoicing, and the prophet likens it to soldiers who have won a victory and taken much spoil.

There will come a day, a future day from Isaiah, when God will free Israel from Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and any other nations which have carried them away, and oppressed her.  As in the days of Gideon when he was used by God to deliver them from the burden of Midian, so to will there be a breaking of the yoke again;

“And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.  And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.”  Judges 7:22-23 (KJV)

Reminding us of the mighty power of God to deliver from our enemies.  Though the enemy of the Christian is not any human being, the threat of the enemy is still real.  Our enemy is the devil, the enemy of Jesus Christ and His Father.  Our enemy is to be fought with the Word of God and prayer.  We ought to never lift our hands or physical weapons aganst a fellow human being except to save life; whether if be our own, our family, or a neighbors.  Then, only when we have no other  choice.  There is freedom to the follower of Jesus Christ.  Freedom from sin and its bondage, and freedom from death; and a life to live for all eternity in the presence of Jesus Christ.

There will come a day in the life of the nation of Israel when soldiers of the earth will stand against them, and God will defeat their enemies.  Their carcases will be devoured by the vultures, and the weapons of the enemies warfare will be burned in fires.  What a joyous victory our Lord will have.  What a great victory the world will experience as the earth will experience the renewing of the One who came bringing this light to the world nations, and  to the nation called Israel.

True peace and joy can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins, His burial carrying our sins and their condemnation and guilt far, far away: never to be laid on us again; and believing that God has raised His Son from the dead.  Jesus also said, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” John 14:3b.

-Tim A. Blankenship