The LORD, My Portion

“Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.

The Portion of Jacob is not like them: for He is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of His inheritance: The LORD of Hosts is His name.” Jeremiah 10:14-16 (KJB)

The prophet lived among many people of Judah who were in pretense worshiping the LORD God, and yet they worshiped demons in the form of idolatry the other days of the week.

Some of these people may have even been the idol makers, and sold them for a profit.  After all it is only business. Right?  Wrong.  It is forbidden by God Himself to make or to set up idols.

You may be thinking, “Well people do not worship idols today”.  Really? Some of them roll around on four wheels.  We call them automobiles.  They are only a tool to serve us.  What about those things you see attached to peoples hands and ears, called “Cell phones” are they not worshiped? Some worship their children and grandchildren.  Anything can be an idol.

I have heard it said, “Man makes god in his own image”.  You know kind of a slur on God’s word where He tells us “Let Us make man in our image”.  The gods the race of Adam makes are things created by our own hands, by our own minds. These gods are weak. They can be burned. They can be destroyed. They can die.

The LORD, my Portion is not weak, but Mighty; Almighty, as a matter of fact.  The LORD, my Portion can not be burned; He cannot be destroyed; and He cannot die. He is the One who made all things; the seen and the unseen; every planet, every star, every molecule that is in the Universe. He bows to no one.

He did come to earth as a Man, the God Man Jesus Christ, and gave His life to redeem Adam’s fallen race unto Himself.

The Old Fox

“The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, ‘Get Thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill Thee.  And He said unto them,

‘Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third I shall be perfected.’” Luke 13:31-32  (KJB)

It seems to me from the history which Jesus has had with these Pharisees, that they are only, themselves doing the real tempter’s work (that is the devil’s); trying to get Jesus out of Jerusalem before He was to die, and run from the work He came to do.

Jesus’s response was to respond without evil intent but to really assure His tempter’s help that He was aware of Herod’s  and of their feeble attempts.

Jesus was going to continue His work of healing and ministry right on up to the time of His death on the cross.  He would continue to heal, to cast out demons; and when He died on the third day He would be  perfected – He would rise from the grave in His glory.

That is the response every man and woman of God should do.  Let us continue being faithful to God’s will and glory until our  time of death, then He will raise us up with perfect bodies.

Come to  Jesus.  He died for you.  He carried away the guilt and condemnation of your sin in His burial. He arose from the grave conquering death and the grave, and He will raise you up alive too.

The Authority of the Kingdom of God

“But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.  But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.” Luke 10:10-12 (KJB)

“And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast out? Therefore shall they be your judges.  But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.” Luke 11:19-20

Leaving with you today the words of Matthew Henry from the commentary named for his work…

““Say to them, not with rage, or scorn, or resentment, but with compassion to their poor perishing souls, and a holy dread of the ruin which they are bringing upon themselves, Even the dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you, Luk_10:11. From them do not receive any kindnesses at all, be not beholden to them. It cost that prophet of the Lord dear who accepted a meal’s meat with a prophet in Bethel, 1Ki_13:21, 1Ki_13:22. Tell them that you will not carry with you the dust of their city; let them take it to themselves, for dust they are.” It shall be a witness for Christ’s messengers that they had been there according to their Master’s order; tender and refusal were a discharge of their trust. But it shall be a witness against the recusants that they would not give Christ’s messengers any entertainment, no, not so much as water to wash their feet with, but they were forced to wipe off the dust. “But tell them plainly, and bid them be sure of it, The kingdom of God is come nigh to you. Here is a fair offer made you; if you have not the benefit of it, it is your own fault. The gospel is brought to your doors; if you shut your doors against it, your blood is upon your own head. Now that the kingdom of God is come nigh to you, if you will not come up to it, and come into it, your sin will be inexcusable, and your condemnation intolerable.”” MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY on Luke 10:11

“That, in opposing the conviction of this miracle, they were enemies to themselves, stood in their own light, and put a bar in their own door, for they thrust from them the kingdom of God (Luk_11:20): “If I with the finger of God cast out devils, as you may assure yourselves I do, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you, the kingdom of the Messiah offers itself and all its advantages to you, and, if you receive it not, it is at your peril.” In Matthew it is by the Spirit of God, here by the finger of God; the Spirit is the arm of the Lord, Isa_53:1. His greatest and most mighty works were wrought by his Spirit; but, if the Spirit in this work is said to be the finger of the Lord, it perhaps may intimate how easily Christ did and could conquer Satan, even with the finger of God, the exerting of the divine power in a less and lower degree than in many other instances. He needed not make bare his everlasting arm; that roaring lion, when he pleases, is crushed, like a moth, with a touch of a finger. Perhaps here is an allusion to the acknowledgment of Pharaoh’s magicians, when they were run aground (Exo_8:19): This is the finger of God. “Now if the kingdom of God be herein come to you, and you be found by those cavils and blasphemies fighting against it, it will come upon you as a victorious force which you cannot stand before.”” MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY on Luke 11:20

The Disciple and The Lord

“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.  It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household!
Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.”
Matthew 10:24-26 (KJB)

Jesus had been giving His disciples instruction, encouragement, and warnings of what they could expect as they went out to preach and teach the gospel of the kingdom.  There would be good things happen.  There would be disappointing events and acts that would be done; and evil words said of them.

Jesus Himself had been accused of casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons.  Could the disciples expect anything else?  Of course not.

Christian we are living in a world that is growing more and more hostile to Christ, the cross, and any who would live the life of the teachings of Jesus, to be like Him.

Let us not be discouraged by the situation.  Let us rejoice.  It is the work of God as He works in His people separating the true follower of Jesus Christ from those who only wear the name Christian.

From the Matthew Henry Commentary…

They must expect, in the midst of these sufferings, to be branded with the most odious and ignominious names and characters that could be. Persecutors would be ashamed in this world, if they did not first dress up those in bear-skins whom they thus bait, and represent them in such colours as may serve to justify such cruelties. The blackest of all the ill characters they give them is here stated; they call them Beelzebub, the name of the prince of the devils, Mat_10:25. They represent them as ringleaders of the interest of the kingdom of darkness, and since every one thinks he hates the devil, thus they endeavour to make them odious to all mankind. See, and be amazed to see, how this world is imposed upon: [1.] Satan’s sworn enemies are represented as his friends; the apostles, who pulled down the devil’s kingdom, were called devils. Thus men laid to their charge, not only things which they knew not, but things which they abhorred, and were directly contrary to, and the reverse of. [2.] Satan’s sworn servants would be thought to be his enemies, and they never more effectually do his work, than when they pretend to be fighting against him. Many times they who themselves are nearest akin to the devil, are most apt to father others upon him; and those that paint him on others’ clothes have him reigning in their own hearts. It is well there is a day coming, when (as it follows here, Mat_10:26) that which is hid will be brought to light. (On verse 25)

We who are in Christ Jesus are being called evil things.  Let us continue to stand on the old time gospel of Jesus Christ, take up the cross and follow Him; wherever that may lead us.

Reminding the Brethren

“Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
If you put the brethren in remembrance of these things, you shall be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, which you have attained.  But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself unto godliness.  For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.  These things command and teach.  Let no man despise your youth; but you be an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.  Meditate upon these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your profiting may appear to all.  Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you.” 1 Timothy 4:1-16  (KJB)

REFERENCES: 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 14; Daniel 11:35; John 16:13; Matthew 7:15; Romans 14:14, 20; 1 Corinthians 4:11; 8:8; 10:25; Ephesians 4:19; 5:23; Psalm 26:6; Acts 6:6

The Power of God in Christ Jesus; Yet Unwanted

“And when He was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, ‘What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?’
And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought Him, saying, ‘If Thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.’ And He said unto them, ‘Go.’ And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw Him, they besought Him that He would depart out of their coasts.” Matthew 8:28-34 (KJB)

“The demon spirit seems still to tenant the lives of human beings. To what else can we attribute the paroxysms of passion, the awful cruelties and inhumanities of men? There is only one devil, but many demons; only one prince of the power of darkness, but many emissaries. Take heed, lest you open the door of your nature to the spirit of evil and he possess you. Watch and pray, and trust the keeping of your soul to the hands of Christ. He is stronger than the strong man.
Notice that the demon is set upon destruction. If he may not destroy the souls of men, he will destroy swine. This is the mark of evil. It is always destructive; whereas the Spirit of God is constructive and builds up from the ruins of Satan’s work a new heaven and a new earth, both in the soul and in the universe.
All the city besought Jesus to depart, because men count their gains more valuable than His presence. The same spirit rules in the commercial world of today. Let us beware. What shall it profit to gain the world, if we lose our souls?” From F. B. Meyer’s Through the Bible Day by Day on Mat. 8:28-34

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

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.

The Fight in Spiritual Warfare

 “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.” Daniel 10:1-9 (KJV)

 Daniel 10:1-21

 There are wars in our world today. That is no profound statement I realize that, but it is none the less true. We grieve over the wars that have been fought  in Iraq, what is going on in Syria, and many other places; and the young soldiers who are dying, civilians dying, women and children included in that. No war is pleasant. It is not really pleasant to even speak of. Sometimes, as bad as it is, wars are necessary to stand against what is evil. I do not think any one in their right mind would say that, “The attack of September 11, 2001 was not an attack from evil“.

Ever since the beginning of man; Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden we have come under attack from evil. The world is still under the domain of the chief of all evil and that is the devil. He still has his demons working and influencing the leaders of the world, but all his work and efforts will be to no avail. The devil and his demons are a defeated foe. They were defeated on the cross where Jesus died and conquered evil there. Proof of that is in that He rose from the dead.

There is a warfare which we as Christians are fighting today. Some will say, “You said that Jesus had conquered evil, why are we still fighting a war against it?” Jesus did conquer evil, and that is part of the glory of the matter. We need to remember that we are not fighting for victory, we are fighting from the victory. “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world.”

Paul the apostle told us…

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” Eph. 6:10-12 (KJV).

Paul also tells us that…

“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” 2 Cor. 10:4 (KJV).

Daniel was finding out about spiritual warfare.

AS WE LOOK AT THE TIME THAT DANIEL HAD THIS EXPERIENCE (v. 1). It was approximately two years after Cyrus had made the decree that the captives of Jerusalem could return to their homeland. In the book of Ezra 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” Ezra 1:1-3 (KJV).

This event takes place a few years following the events of chapter 9, because we see at the beginning of chapter nine that it took place during the first year of Darius of the Medes.

It could be that Daniel may have written the document that gave the Israelites permission to return to Jerusalem. Remember Daniel was in the court of the king, so this may have been his responsibility.

THE PROBABLE CAUSE OF DANIEL’S MOURNING (vv. 2-3). It is not told us what it was that caused Daniel to mourn, specifically. We do know that it had been approximately two years since the decree had gone out for the people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.

News had most likely came back to Daniel of the trying circumstances of the 50,000 Hebrews who returned to the land. There were other Hebrews who had never left who were mocking those who had returned, and were hindering the work of the temple. There was a spiritual battle raging in Jerusalem.

Daniel’s heart was greatly burdened. He was so burdened – maybe for a couple of reasons; First, he may have been burdened for the people’s circumstances in Jerusalem – the work had been hindered and stopped (Ezra 4:1-6). Secondly, Daniel was probably burdened to better understand the prophecies he had received. It is quite possible the battle in Jerusalem over the building of the temple is the scene of the battle between the angelic being (vv. 13 & 20). It seems to relate to an ongoing battle (v. 13b “…I remained there with the kings of Persia”, said the angel. Daniel, in fact, had spent 21 days in mourning and fasting, because of his sorrow, and desire to get God’s direction and will. The prayer was heard on the first day, but due to the spiritual battle Daniel endured in prayer and fasting until he received answer.

Fasting seems to have been an almost forgotten practice. Private fasting, where there is no self aggrandizement, is a practice that Christians need to begin practicing in order to be overcomers in the life of faith.

Let us never forget to pray for our nation’s leaders. It could very well be that there are evil spirits directing the hearts of evil men and hindering the works of godly men. In fact the Bible is clear about that. Let us always beware to never pray to angels nor worship them – they are servants of God and servants to us as well. We are to worship and pray to God alone.

DANIEL’S PERSONAL ENCOUNTER WITH THE LORD (vv. 4-9). The appearance of this “…Certain man” seems to be almost identical to the description given of Jesus in the Revelation…

“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;  And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.  And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:“ Rev 1:12-17 (KJV).

It is because of this that many, including myself see this ‘certain man’ as a Christ phony – a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus Christ. It would be similar to His appearance in the fiery furnace with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. This revelation took place while Daniel was walking by the river Hiddekel. Sometimes when one becomes burdened a walk in a place of quietness brings the best encounters with God. What an encounter it was. This is the first time Daniel has a personal visit from our Lord, at least that is recorded.

Even though they did not see the One whom Daniel saw, the men with Daniel fled and hid, because they realized something was going on and it was too great for them to stay around (vv. 7-8). The vision was so awe-inspiring Daniel had no strength. He heard His voice. Being so weakened and overcome by His presence Daniel went into a deep sleep. We should in no way consider this “deep sleep” as bad on Daniel’s part. From the excitement he may have blacked out and lost consciousness. Sometimes it is when our minds are resting in the Lord we are renewed, refreshed, and revived. NOTE, Daniel’s position “…My face toward the ground.” Most likely this “deep sleep” was probably the same type “deep sleep” God put on Adam when He created Eve”. So it was a God induced sleep.

DANIEL IS TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL (vv. 10-21). It does not say it clearly but most likely the hand that touched Daniel was the hand of Gabriel the angel who had spoken to him previously (8:16; 9:20-23).

NOTICE: The words this angel speaks to Daniel; “…A man greatly beloved” is spoken twice in this chapter (vv. 11 & 19) and one other time in the previous chapter (9:23). He says, “Fear not” twice (vv. 12, 19). “Peace be unto thee”, and “Be strong, be strong”. A double admonition.

Why Daniel prayed for twenty one days – the Spiritual Warfare. The angel was hindered by the “prince of Persia”. This could not have been a mere man which the angel of God was battling. It had to have been a “demon angel” appointed by satan over the kingdom of Persia. If Daniel had quit praying this ‘prince of Persia’ could have won the battle. Let us never cease praying for God’s will to be accomplished in His people and in the governments of men. Because of Daniel’s unceasing, fervent prayer the angel came with an answer. Delayed prayers are FAITH TESTING and FAITH BUILDING prayers. Daniel was touched three times by the angel (vv. 10, 16, and 18).

There are some who believe that this whole encounter was with the pre-incarnate Christ. It cannot be – because Jesus would not need the help of Michael. Jesus could, but speak the word, “Be gone” and that demon would flee. There is no doubt in my mind that from verses ten through verse 21 the one who touched Daniel was an angel, and most likely Gabriel, who had spoken to him previously.

The angel came to give Daniel understanding of what the “latter days” held for the Hebrews, and Gentile nations.

The angel speaks of returning to battle the ‘prince of Persia’. He tells Daniel that the ‘prince of Greece’ is on the way. It almost seems the angel encourages Daniel to keep praying. PLEASE REREAD EPHESIANS 6:10-18.

The powers of darkness are at work in the world, its governments, plotting, scheming, deceiving, seeking to steal, to kill, and to destroy all that is godly, holy and righteous.  Let us as the Church of Jesus Christ keep praying too. Let’s pray for forgiveness of our own sin, confess them and repent. Let’s pray for those who are lost. Jesus is coming soon.

MARANATHA.

The Kingdom’s of Men and Bible Prophecy (2)

 “And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the Pleasant Land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:9-14 (KJV)

Please read Daniel 8:9-27

In the first installment we looked at Daniel, Cyrus and Alexander – the first of three of the personages of Daniel 8.  In this final installment we look at Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Antichrist who will come during the final week of Jeremiah’s prophecy.

ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES (vv. 9-14). One ‘great leader’ comes from out of the four heads. Antiochus (Epiphanes being a name he gave himself who ruled from 175 B.C. to 165 B.C.. Known as a very cruel tyrant. He called himself ‘Epiphanes’ because he believed himself to be god. Epiphanes means, “Manifestation of Light”.

The cruelty of Antiochus was he would not allow worship to any god but to himself – not even the Jews could escape giving him worship. He prohibited the Jews from honoring the Sabbath, practicing circumcision, and from obeying the Levitical dietary laws. Any Jew found with a copy of the Mosaic law would be slaughtered.

Antiochus helps us to better understand the text of Daniel’s prophecy. He attacked the Jews in their ‘Pleasant land’. He stopped their religious practices. He declared himself to be god. He desolated the temple by offering a pig on an altar of Zeus – THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION. He foreshadows the fearsome, last Gentile leader of the earth [Antichrist].

Judas Maccabeus and his followers defeated Antiochus in 165 B.C.. Because of Antiochus’s words and actions he was afflicted with a dreadful disease which ate away at his body, causing him to have a stench he himself could not tolerate. The cleansing of the temple took place as it was predicted. The twenty three hundred days is most likely numbered from the time Antiochus replaced the legitimate priest of the temple until the temple was cleansed. With the cleansing of the holy place began the “Feasts of Lights” what is known today as “Hanukkah”, and takes place around the time we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Antiochus is most definitely an antichrist of his time. He was not the Antichrist. The evil one to come will make Antiochus (Make Believe Epiphanes) look like a Sunday School teacher.

THE ANTICHRIST (vv. 23-27). What Daniel learns and writes for us to read in these verses relates to the end times when Antichrist will oppose God and His people. The “king of fierce countenance” is the Antichrist, not Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus does parallel those of Antichrist;

Both begin modestly, but increase in power and influence;

Both blaspheme God;

Both persecute the Jewish people;

Both claim godhood and place images in the temple;

Both impose their own religion upon people;

Both are opposed by a believing remnant that knows God;

Both are energized by the devil and are great deceivers;

Both appear successful and seem invincible;

Both are finally defeated by the coming of a redeemer – Judas Maccabeus defeated Antiochus; and Jesus will defeat the Antichrist.

This beast; disguised as a man; will be so vile, and evil that he will try to defeat Jesus Christ as He descends to earth with His saints, but notice what the prophet says in verse 25, “And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand”. This beast will promote evil, witchcraft, demonism, and will demand that the world worship him.

As Jesus descends upon the earth this devil incarnate will raise his hand against the one who created hands, and no hand of man will defeat this beast. How will he be defeated? By the Word going forth from the mouth of our Savior, and this is what the apostle John sees, and describes for us, “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” Revelation 19:15 (KJV). If you will remember when Jesus was beginning His ministry, being led by the Spirit into the wilderness He was tempted by the devil. How did Jesus defeat the devil? By the Word of the Lord (See Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13).

This “Prince of princes” (v. 25) is none other than Jesus Christ – also known as King of kings, Lord of lords, and God of gods. The Antichrist will oppose Jesus. He [the Antichrist] will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire. The fire which burns forever and forever.

These prophecies are given to show us that “…The LORD is God”, and there is no other.  He knows the beginning from the end.  He alone is Alpha and Omega, and there is no other. When you familiarize yourself with Scripture you will begin to see and realize that Jesus Christ is seen from before creation to the final sentence of the Revelation.  Do you know Him?  To you, who is Jesus Christ?

Prophecy is, also, to equip God’s people to live for the Lord as a vibrant witness for Him. To warn many that do not know of the soon coming of Jesus in judgment upon a wicked world. To call God’s people to repentance and the lost to faith in Jesus Christ.

The Tormented

There are many tormented people in the world today. Some seem to be intelligent individuals, educated, wealthy, or maybe middle class, or poor who are tormented by their lives, and living.

These folks do things that are beyond themselves, that cause harm to family, friends, neighbors; even to themselves that a otherwise sane individual would not do. We send them to doctors who specialize in this sort of thing, yet these people are still tormented.

Jesus dealt with these people, and spoke to them, and in our case today delivers this man from his torment:

“And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him.” Mark 1:23-27 (KJV)

This man was demon possessed. Controlled by another being. He needed peace, and only Jesus could give it. Tormented souls need Jesus the Christ to set them free, and give them peace. Peace with God (Romans 5:1).

Are you a tormented soul? Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Call on His name, and He will save you.

Demons of Worship

“They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: but were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.” Psalm 106:34-38 (KJV)

Some human intellect of years ago made the statement: “Man creates god in his own image.” Basically turning the Biblical teaching of “God created man in His image”. That human intellect may have upset some Christian folks, but think about that for a moment.

Is it not possible that men and women do create god in their own image? Some believe in a god who is all loving, but there is no wrath about him/her; he/she hates nothing, but loves everything, and everybody. Then there are some people who believe god believes everything they believe, and they base their belief system around that. There are some who may believe that god is a god of pleasure; and he/she is all about them being happy and fulfilled; and they have the right to go about achieving their pleasure any way they choose.

Congratulations! If you fit into any one of those molds you have made a god in your own image. Oh, there could be many more; as many more as there are people on the earth.

The Ten Commandments and the Bible tells us of only one God, His name is YaHWeH [Jehovah], and He has a Son whose name is Jesus. To worship any other is to worship idols.

The children of Israel were to purge the Promised Land of all the heathen nations, and their gods, lest they fall into the worship practices of those people, and worship demons in the process. Even the apostle Paul recognizes this in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 10:20-21).

The Psalms later points out to us that people become like what we worship (115:4-8; 135:15-18). For instance in this Psalm even it is said,

“They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.” (Psalm 106:19-20)

You can go on believing in false gods if you choose and you will become like what you worship. You can also choose to believe the God of the Bible. He made you in His image and likeness, and He desires to make you like Himself. He is holy, righteous, and undefiled. We become like Him through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

You can continue worshipping demons, or you can worship the One who created all things.

The Worship of Demons

“And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz. For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel. And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers.” 2 Chronicles 28:22-25 (KJV)

Ahaz was an evil king of Judah. He was in distress, and against the only, and Holy God of Judah and Israel; and the world for that matter. He had sacrificed his sons to fire according to the ways of those who had been driven out of Canaan (28:3). He had no heart for the LORD.

You may wonder why this is titled “Worshipping Demons”. It is because of what he apostle Paul says,

“What say I then? That the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” 1 Corinthians 10:19-22

The worship of any “god” other than Jehovah through His Son Jesus Christ, and His atoning blood is demon worship.

If that offends you, then repent of your sins and turn to the One who died for your sins, was buried and rose again, and He will forgive your sins and give you eternal life in the presence of holy GOD.

Warning of Eternal Damnation

“And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth He out devils.’  And He called them unto Him, and said unto them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.  No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.  Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:’ because they said, ‘He hath an unclean spirit.'”  Mark 3:22-30

Resurrection – Unbelief and Hardness of Heart; Mark 16:9-14

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils. 10 And she went and told them that had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that He was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12 After that He appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
14 Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.”  Mark 16:9-14 (KJV)

By the testimony of verse 9 the resurrected Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.  Who is this Mary?  She is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke,

“And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils” (Luke 8:2).

This Mary had been terribly bound, and was probably involved in great evil.  The Lord Jesus had freed her and cast the demons from her.  By His great glory He appeared to her first and gave her  the privilege of telling the sceptical disciples of the resurrection.  When she came to the disciples and told them they did not believe her report.

According to verse 10 the disciples were in mourning and were weeping.  They were quite sorrowful over the death of Jesus.  Why, O why, would they not believe Mary?  Would not her countenance be aglow with joy?  Would not her words have been filled with excitement?  Saying,  “Our Lord’s grave is empty, He is alive.  I have seen Him.  He has spoken to me.”  I think I would have at least been curious.  This would have, of course, been after Mary has been to the tomb, found it empty, went to Peter and John, they run to see it empty, and then return, as John writes,

” Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.”  (John 20:10).

They were not even curious enough to begin a search, they “…went away again to themselves”.

After appearing to Mary Magdalene Jesus appears to two who are walking together.  Luke tells us is was to Emmaeus.  Luke gives us more details of this appearance by Jesus.  These two did not recognize Him.  He shared with them the words of the Prophets concerning Himself, and only when He had broken bread at their table did they recognize Him.   When He first appeared to Mary, she did not recognize Him.  She thought Him to be the gardner.  Maybe due to the sadness, mourning, and tears His identity was covered to them, and maybe due to spiritual influence from Him.  They had been blind to the words Jesus had spoken concerning His rising from the dead, and now they were blind to its reality.  Only by the power of God did they know Him.  Only by the “Drawing” of the Father, and His will can anyone know Him.  These two told the disciples that Jesus was risen, and still they do not believe.  By this time Peter and John had probably already seen Jesus alive due to the words of Luke in chapter 24 verse 34,

“Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.”

When they came to those who had not yet seen Jesus alive the remainder would not believe.  We sometimes jump all over Thomas because he would not believe unless he witnessed the resurrected Jesus personally, but all of the disciples had the same attitude.  Blessed are those who have believed though they have not seen.

Why did Jesus rebuke them for their unbelief?  He had spoken to them many times of His death and resurrection, but they had not heard.  They had had a wrong attitude toward Him.  He was their source of deliverance from captivity of Rome.  He was their hope for amounting to something in “His kingdom”.  Judas was not the only one following Him for the wrong reason(s).  They found it hard to believe that their “Messiah” would even die.  If He was not going to die there was no need for a resurrection.  So in their mind all the problems of the Hebrews were over; then He died.

Jesus rebuked them, because they had not believed His Word.  “Destroy this temple, and in three day I will raise it again”.  You can imagine that now that He has appeared to all of the disciples, they now believe.  Would I have been any different?  Knowing what I know of myself, and having grown up in Missouri [the Show-Me State], I doubt it.  Knowing what I now know, by the testimony of so many witnesses and the testimony of God’s Word, Yes I believe He is risen.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Deuteronomy – 022511

Reading from Deuteronomy 14 – 16.

We will focus on chapter 16 and verses 18-22.

Fair judgment seems to be quite fickle among the courts of human governments.  Even in the USA, it seems sometimes that the ones who have the money for a good lawyer can get off from even serious crimes, while those who don’t have the time or money to pay a good attorney can be found guilty, even of a crime they did not commit.  That is not how God desires His people to conduct themselves.

“Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment.  Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.  That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.   Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee.  Neither shalt thou set thee up any image; which the LORD thy God hateth.”  Deuteronomy 16:18-22 (KJV)

I will never cease to be amazed at the number of Christians, even preachers who spend time preaching, who labor to make the Word of God relevant and/or applicable to the times we live in.  The more we labor at it the less relevant and applicable it may become.  It is already relevant and applicable.

In lands/countries where they have dictators ruling masses of people; it is most often unjustly.  We have heard the horror stories of Hitler, and more recently Saddam Hussein of Iraq.  Even more recently the now “former” President of Egypt Mubarrak, evidently took billions of dollars that were meant for the aid of the Egyptian people; and has even been allowed to leave the country with it.  The people are probably more happy to have him gone than they are concerned about the billions.

Every Christian should be concerned about just judges in judgment.  Murderers go free because they have powerful, high price attorneys who know how to manipulate courts, judges, juries and they whole legal system of the USA.

The text above tells us the cities of the Promised Land are to have judges at the city gates [“Gates” implies one’s with authority in a city].  These judges were to make just rulings.  They were not to determine a case by the money or material offering one might give or offer the judge, but by the evidence in the case; and each case on its own merit.  They were not to pervert judgment.

There is much perverted judgment today.  In some cases men and women are tried because of accusations by children that they were molested by this adult; when in fact they were not; but this adult, which is their mother or father merely disciplined them; taking the keys of the child’s car, preventing them from going out; or of some nature as that.  “If you will only plead guilty they are told, then, you will get a lighter sentence.”  they are told.  Some actually follow through with the “lighter sentence”, and it ruins their lives.  Perverted justice.  For sure.  It is especially perverted when a judge receives a payment from a former spouse or lawyer to bring a certain verdict.

A perverted system that allows drunk drivers to walk free after killing innocent individuals is going to come under the judgment of holy God.  It happens more times than you or I would like to think.  You can probably think of other injustices that happen in our USA.

The second  part of our text has to do with “trees” near the altar of God.  God was cutting off the practice of worshipping of idols near the place where He is worshipped.  The LORD hates the worship of idols; which is the worship of demons (1 Corinthians 10:19-21).  Therefore the follower of Jesus Christ is not to worship anything except the LORD God of hosts.

Remember to read Deuteronomy 14 – 16 today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – Servant Of Freedom Seekers

Mark 5:1-43

“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.  And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,  Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:  Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.  But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,  And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.  For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.  And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.  And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.  Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.  And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.  And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.  And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.  And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.  And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.  And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.”  Mark 5:1-17 (KJV)

SEEKING FOR FREEDOM FROM A DEMONIC POWER AND PRESENCE. (Mark 5:1-17). If you look at the state of this man he is in a miserable condition.  If you want to know what Satan can do for you just take a look at this man and you will see.  He will leave you naked, hungry, poor, desolate, isolated, cold, deserted, lonely, and hopeless.  Is that the kind of life you want?  Is that the kind of life you want for a family member?   Is that the kind of life you want for a neighbor?  I would think not.

We live in a period of time where even some Christians are doubtful of demonic existence.  If we are to believe God and His Word, then we have no contrary opinion on the matter.  We believe it or we do not believe God or His Word.  There are some who want to equate this to what could be called “epilepsy”, “lunacy”, or “frenzy”.  How does one who does not believe in demonic influence explain “broken chains” and “cords”, and that no one could control him.
You will notice that the demon who is speaking to Jesus knows who Jesus is.   He calls Jesus, “Son of the most high God”.  It seems to me that it is the man who comes out, and seeking Jesus.  It was not just “coincidence” which brought Jesus to this side of the Sea of Galilee.   Jesus said in chapter 4, “Let us go to the other side”, and there was this man waiting there to be freed from this terrible bondage.

It seems this place is made up of Gentiles, because no Jewish people would be raising swine, and they have very little concern that a man has been freed from the bondage of a demon, and he is now in his “right mind”.  They were more concerned with the 2000 pigs that perished than they were for the man.  If we are not careful we can get so worldly minded we are of no heavenly good.  Jesus cares for the man, not material possessions.

J. C. Ryle points out these things about the situation:

‘The possession of a man’s body by the devil, was a real and true thing in the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry.

What an awfully cruel, powerful, and malicious being Satan is.

How complete is our Lord’s power and authority over the devil.”

As born again people – born from above and into the kingdom of God – we have no need to fear demons, hell or the devil.  He is a mighty foe, and he does seek to steal, kill and destroy anything of God’s he can get his hands on.  The apostle John tells us, “Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4).

“And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.  Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.  And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”  Mark 5:18-20 (KJV)

A FREED PEOPLE SEEK TO TELL OTHERS HOW TO BE FREE. (Mark 5:18-20). This man who had been possessed by a “Legion” of demons is now free and He desires to go with Jesus as He is leaving.  Jesus knows the best position for one to be in.  He tells the man to go to his home, and to tell his family and friends “how great things the Lord has done for you”.

It would only take a moment.  He had been enslaved by demons and many tried to control him with chains, and various types of bonds, but none would do.  Finally, he meets Jesus and is freed by the mere words of Jesus.  I cannot begin to think I could know how this man felt to have a clear mind, to be free from the invisible chains which drove him to such “insanity”, and “gross behavior”.  In any case it is similar to the freedom we all experience when we first trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  We were bound by chains of sin and darkness, and condemned to an eternity without Christ to the fires of Hell, and when we met Jesus He set us free, and gave us eternal life in  His presence.

We have much to tell our friends and family.  Let us do it with such excitement and enthusiasm as our friend in the tombs did.  We have been freed by Jesus, just as the man in the tombs was, let us be as free to share our testimony with our friends and loved ones.  They need to know.

“And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea.  And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,  And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.  And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.  And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,  And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,  When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.  For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.  And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?  And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?  And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.  But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.  And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.”  Mark 5:21-34 (KJV)

A WOMAN SEEKS FOR FREEDOM FROM HER TWELVE YEAR PHYSICAL AFFLICTION. (Mark 5:21-34).  It so happens that Jesus and His disciples have gone back to the West side of the Sea of Galilee now and there is a multitude waiting for them there.  Jairus, a “ruler of the synagogue” has approached Jesus concerning his “deathly ill” daughter.  As Jesus is walking through the crowd there is a woman who has been ill for twelve years with an “issue of blood”.  She has spent much of her money for “Physicians” to try and find out what is wrong with her, but to no avail.  She sees her only hope as being Jesus as he is in the crowd.  Her faith says, “If I may but touch the hem of His garment I will be healed”.

When she touches Jesus’ garment she “felt in her body that she was healed of that plague”.  Only thing Jesus realized there had been some  “Power” go out from Himself, and He turned to see who had “touched Him”.  Was He angry? No!  It seems to me that He was very much impressed with this woman of “Faith”.  Jesus asked, “Who touched my clothes?”  Well!  My goodness many said and we would do the same.  Lord, You are in a crowd of people, of course someone touched You.  It was a purposeful touch, not a accidental touch one might get while walking in a crowd of people.  It would be like being in a large mall and you have someone come up and purposefully grab your shirttail or coattail and you turn to see who it is and it is a friend.  I doubt the touch was as vigorous as that, but it would have a little similarity to it.

Can you imagine being afflicted with a plague such as this woman has endured for twelve years.  Can you imagine her desperation to find a cure, healing, help in any fashion.  This could not have been good for her health.  It is really kind of a marvel that she has not died.

Jesus commends her for her “Faith”.  “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. Mark 5:34 (KJV)”.  Then, Jesus goes on with the man [Jairus] who came for Him concerning His daughter.

Do we have the faith of this woman.  Willing to risk it all knowing that Jesus is our only hope for healing,  health, life and eternal life.  Put your faith in Jesus, He will see you through it all.

“While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?  As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.  And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.  And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.  And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.  And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.  And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.  And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.  And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.”  Mark 5:35-43 (KJV)

THE DAUGHTER DIES, BUT DO NOT BE AFRAID – JESUS RAISES HER TO LIFE AGAIN. (Mark 5:35-43).  Certainly, as we look at this event, of this “ruler of the synagogue” and his daughter we can learn at least two things.  First of all sin, illness, disease, death, and sorrow does not play favorites with age, and secondly, they do not play favorites with religious or political stature.  This child was twelve years of age.  The same period of time as that of the woman who was healed of her affliction.  It is bound to happen to any of us.  Death, disease, sickness, and plague hits us all, and it is to us all that the Scripture says,

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”  Hebrews 9:27 (KJV)

The only sad part about this event is that this young lady of twelve years would one day die again, and this time it was without Jesus raising her again.  It is sure that one day we will die, and our age or social stature will have no way of prevention in it.

It is evident that this “ruler” had respect for Jesus.  Note the words of his servant, “Why troublest thou the Master any further?”   This “Ruler” had evidently been teaching about Jesus or this man knew who Jesus was too.  It is amazing what people will do to find healing – even in our day.  People who have the means have been known to look the world over for a cure for cancer, or any other long, drawn out illness.  What if you do not have the “Means”?  What do you do then?  You can find rest, peace, security in Jesus.

The life of this young lady is not over yet, as long as Jesus can see her.  The real faith is seen in the girls father.  Despite the possibility of suffering ridicule from his peers in the “Ministry” he seeks out Jesus.  He risks his religious reputation to find Jesus to heal his daughter.

What is the life of a lost loved one worth?  That is a question we must ask ourselves and ask it every day.

The girl had died, but Jesus says to Jairus, “Be not afraid, only believe”.   Jesus is laughed to scorn by those who are there to “Mourn” the death of the child.  They are most likely paid mourners who have come for this purpose of mourning the dead for the family.  Jesus says that she is only asleep.  Cannot be a funeral if she is only asleep.  Jesus “Puts them all out”, and then He takes those who will believe with Him.  He “Put them all out” sounds as though He used a little force to do it.  “Get out!  Get out!”  Can you see it?  And people are always saying Jesus was always without anger.  Not so.  He is angry with the wicked, and everyday according to the Psalmist (Psalm 7:11).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – Powerful Servant

“And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.  And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.  And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.  And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?  And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.  No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.  Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:  But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:  Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.”  Mark 3:20-30 (KJV)

The profane religious rulers and leaders were accusing Jesus of using the power of the devil to cast out demons.  Jesus tells them that Satan will not cast himself out of any place.  That would be self defeating.  It is ridiculous for these men to accuse Jesus this way.  In doing so they condemn themselves because they have rejected the only means of salvation.

The Holy Spirit is the means by which people are convicted of sin, their lostness, their condemnation, and by which they may know the path to eternal life.  The path to eternal life is shown by the Spirit to be Jesus Christ.  To equate the works of the Spirit of God to the devil is to reject God.  All that awaits those who reject the ministry of the Holy Spirit is eternal judgment.

The “Lake of fire”, as it is called in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, is the place where all those who have called the work of the Spirit of the devil will spend all eternity.  You see; God created man an eternal being.  An eternal soul is given to every individual upon conception in the mother’s womb.  By that is meant  the future, not eternal in the past; for we did not preexist as Christ has.

Just as surely as there is a Heaven there is a Hell.  God is just, holy and righteous, and He will not allow the unholy in His presence.  All that reject the work of the Holy Spirit; the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are bound for an eternity of judgment.  There will be no relief from the fires of Hell.  Jesus Himself described it as the place where “…The worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”  He mentions this several times in the ninth chapter of Mark.  It has been said that Jesus said more about Hell than He did of Heaven.

There is one thing for certain.  No one needs go to the place of fiery judgment.  Jesus paid the price for all sin.  He already endured the judgment for our sin.

“There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.  And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.  And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?   And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!  For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”  Mark 3:31-35 (KJV)

In verse 21 it tells us that Jesus’ friends came for Him saying, “He is beside Himself”.  With friends like that who needs enemies.  Right?  Well now we see that His family – mother, brothers, sisters – are standing outside the group wanting to get to Him.  When they tell Jesus they are “seeking” for Him He just tells them what is more important, and that is those who will believe in Him.

Those who do the will of God are His brethren.  Are you His brother, sister, mother, father?  At this point in Jesus’ life it appears that His “family” – apparently even Mary – is not sure of who He is.

This is what John recorded that Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:29 (KJV)”.  If you want to please God and have eternal life with Jesus Christ call upon the name of Jesus and be saved, then you will be a part of His brethren.  Do it today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Contending With The Devil

“Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” Jude 9 (NKJV).

The writer – Jude – has been dealing with the actions of apostates who are against the work of Jesus Christ, His cross, burial and bodily resurrection. Those who speak against any dignitaries, and now he even includes demons.

There are those in Christian circles who are teaching of speaking directly to the devil. God’s Word never tells us to deal directly with the devil or his legions of demons. In the name of Jesus we rebuke them. Michael the archangel, never spoke directly to the devil, but said only, “The Lord rebuke you”. We have no greater power than that.

There was a battle that raged between Michael and the devil over the body of Moses. Moses was buried by God, in a place unknown to any man. God was most likely protecting the body of Moses from becoming an object of worship, which would have been the reason for the devil’s procuring of the body, if he would have been permitted to have it. The devil has a way of using things that are material to gain a following for himself.

There is no doubt that the devil and his demons attack the people of God. The devil loves the endeavor of trying to rob us of our joy, peace, and love in Christ Jesus. He will afflict us, condemn us, attack us with various problems; and yet the child of God through faith in Jesus Christ will be held up by the power of the cross of Christ. Remember, we are to speak to the Father through the Son. We are to only rebuke the devil in the name of Jesus our Lord.

No Christian has any right using offensive words against the devil or his demons. The Lord in His intervening power will defeat them. As a matter of fact they are already defeated. We are not fighting for the victory, because the victory was won on the cross, and proven by the resurrection. We are, in fact fighting from victory, till that day we see our Savior face to face. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Trust in Him and never be afraid or ashamed.

We have authority to name the devil only the names which God has called him. To curse and revile him is not of God for us. That is our Lord’s work. The devil has a place to which he will be going for all eternity, and it won’t be heaven before the throne of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Israel’s Backsliding

Israel’s Backsliding

God is loving, merciful and gracious. He has been with the northern kingdom of Israel, and with the southern kingdom of Judah. In His love, and His pursuit of His people, the rebellion, coldness, disobedience, and rebellion continue.

It is a shame that those who call themselves the people of God cannot see that they have departed from Him. They are a backsliden people. Hear the words of the prophet from God:

“The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: ‘Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.” Jeremiah 3:6-7 (NKJV).

The sin of Israel was their turning away from their worship of God alone, and they had started developing patterns consistent with pagan worshippers of false gods, even including their worship to false gods in their supposed worship to God. God has given very careful guidance in the true worship of Him. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”, and that means the worship of God, YHWH [YaHWeH] alone. To include others is to destroy true worship of the one true God.

They in effect have worshipped demons, rather than God;

“They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot…” Leviticus 17:7 (NKJV).

Paul writing to the Corinthians says,

“Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.” 1 Corinthians 10:18-20 (NKJV).

Worship directed to a Jesus who is not God is a false worship. Worship directed to anyone or anything that is not God is false worship.

Israel has sinned in their worship. It appears that there is more and more people who call themselves Christian who are also sinning in their worship. Their rebellion, disobedience, and adultery toward God must be repented of, seeking God’s forgiveness.

God has said to Israel, “Return to Me”. His call to the Church is the same; “Return to Me”. Be backsliding no more and return to God, and the holy and right worship through the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Devil Against Himself???

Accusation – The Devil Against Himself

“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.” Matthew 12:25-27 (KJV)

What the Pharisees would have us believe is that the works of Jesus was the works of the devil. The works the Lord performed were works against the devil and all evil. Satan working against himself would be self-destructive. That is what is called civil war. Warring against oneself.

The devil can do things in counterfeit, but he never copies for good. A counterfeit is for the purpose of deceit, leading away from the true and the good. The devil himself is called as, “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Someone once asked me, “Can Satan heal?” My answer, “He can give the appearance of healing.” The woman who asked me this did not like my answer, and her and her husband never returned to our church. They had been going to so called “medical spiritist” and things like this. Those are tools of the devil, and it is connected to voodoo, and witchcraft. “Can Satan heal?” My answer to that question is still the same. He gives the appearance of healing, a counterfeit. The devil counterfeits to try and destroy the work of Christ with deceptive workers and their lies as well.

Satan will not do anything to destroy himself, or his legions of demons. Most of the counterfeit work he does is to call attention to himself. Like Jesus says, “If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself…”, and a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. The counterfeit work of the devil is to deceive, and attempt to destroy the works of God, even the child of God. Satan hates God and anyone who believes/trust in Him, and lives for Him.

The accusation the Pharisees bring is basically self defeating. If Jesus is casting out demons by Satan’s power, then, by whom are the Jewish exorcists casting them out? There is an example of Jewish exorcists casting out, or attempting to cast out demons, in Acts 19:13-17. “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.” Acts 19:13-17 (KJV). We never see Jesus, His disciples, or apostles, using means of “exorcism” of demons. Everytime Jesus cast out demons He simply commanded them to leave. His disciples, and apostles much the same. There is no ritual or form for casting our demons. It is by the power of Christ Jesus and His Word they must leave. The gospel of Jesus Christ – the death of Jesus on the cross, His burial, and the resurrection is the power to rid a soul of demons. Where Jesus is in residence, the devil or his demons cannot remain.

Because these religious leaders were accusing Jesus of Satanic power they themselves would be judged by their own exorcists for their accusations. The house of the devil will one day be destroyed, and it will be by the hand of the One who does not deceive, counterfeit, or lie; but is just, honest and true.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Works

The King’s Works

 

“Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” Matthew 12:22-24 (KJV)

The man could not see, nor could he speak. It is highly probable that this man could not hear as well. Scripture tells us he was “Possessed with a devil [demon]”. Now we live in a sophistcated society which tries to deny the spiritual in many ways. There are people who see “ghosts”, who see “spirits” and all kinds of certain phenomena, but the thought of demons seems to elude people. Many refuse to see evil as it is often seen.

Whether this man who was brought to Jesus and possessed by the demon had been made mute and blind by the demon is not seen. At any rate when Jesus heals the one possessed he is no longer possessed. He had been shunned because of his condition. Unable, because of strict religious ceremonial laws to attend worship at the temple. Jesus simply heals the man.

Due to Jesus doing this miracle many began to see Him as “the son of David”. This title is a Biblical title for the Messiah. The long awaited promised son of David who would come and deliver God’s people from their sins.

Upon hearing the people saying, “Is this the son of David?” the Pharisees react without grace, without mercy, and begin condemning Jesus. They are blind to the works which Jesus has done and is doing. His works are evidence of who He is. Old Testament Scriptures tell of the Messiah/King doing mighty deeds. The question arose partly from doubt because of Jesus’s position in life – “Acquainted with grief” (Isaiah53:3), and the Pharisees and all religious leaders had no confidence that their Messiah could be suffering or be acquainted with grief. They missed the parts where God speaks of the Suffering Savior, by appointing those verses to themselves, rather than to He who was to come. They saw only one coming of the Messiah, and appointed these miracles of Jesus to acts of the devil. Thus they put themselves in the precarious situation of eternal condemnation. They would take the triumphant Scriptures and appoint them only to the coming of a ruling conquering King, thereby, missing the point of the coming suffering servant, dying for the sins of the world.

In rejecting His works they rejected their king. By rejecting Jesus and His works they condemn themselves by giving Satan the glory for these marvelous works (v. 27). They were more concerned with preserving their traditional laws, and especially their own interpretation of the laws, than they were with meeting the needs of the people. When the preservation of traditional interpretation of the law becomes more important than the saving of a soul, that is when we open ourselves to judgment, and being rejected by our Lord. We must always stand on the truth of the gospel, and stand for it. Without the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, ie., the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; we have no salvation.

These religious leaders were blinded by jealousy, rage, and just an out and out blindness for the truth, in order that Jesus might fulfill the very word of God, and glorify the Father, and provide salvation to a lost world.

When we appoint the works of God and His Son Jesus Christ as works of Satan we put ourselves in the spot of condemnation. No true child of God – follower of Jesus Christ – is going to be condemned; so no true child of God is going to equate the works of Christ to that of the devil. It is sad that people who seem to know the Scriptures will often twist them, or distort them to come to their own interpretation, and in their interpretation miss the whole picture of the Scriptures. The picture is of Jesus; the person is Jesus. John the Revelator wrote by the Spirit, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10b).

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Kings Authority Over Evil

The Kings Authority Over Evil

“And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.  And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?  And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.  So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.  And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.  And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.” Matthew 8:28-34 (KJV)

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.

In this passage of Scripture we see our King dealing with the hordes of hell. There are many who see demons in every ailment or problem which befalls mankind. Some call liquor, “Demon alcohol” or something equivalent. Not to long ago there was a celebrity “preaching” couple and the husband had beaten the wife, and he said, “The devil made me do it”. We must admit there is evil in the world, and demons are probably a motivating factor behind a lot of it, but they only inhabit bodies of human beings who have opened their lives to them. That is probably the case with these two men.

It is my fear that there are many people today who are demon possessed and receiving psychological or psychiatric counselling that will not do them a bit of good. They may calm down, put on an apparent new behavior, but still be under the control of demons. We see a progression of Jesus’s power in this chapter. Ailments, sicknesses, diseases, infirmities, storms, then, the spiritual realm.

All power has been given unto Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith. All power means over everything in, on, and under the earth, and all that is in heaven.

There are some who have supposed a couple of problems with this passage. The first one being the location. Matthew calls the land Gergesenes, and Mark, and Luke calls it the country of the Gadarenes. The following is the writing of John Gill,

into the country of Gergesenes, the same with the Girgashites, Gen_15:21 whom Joshua drove out of the land of Canaan; and who, as a Jewish writer (l) says, left their country to the Israelites, and went to a country, which is called to this day, גורגיסטאן, “Gurgestan”, of which these people were some remains: both in Mar_5:1 it is called “the country of the Gadarenes”; and so the Syriac and Persic versions read it here; which is easily reconciled by observing, not that Gergesa and Gadara were one and the same city, called by different names; but that these two cities were near each other, in the same country, which was sometimes denominated from the one, and sometimes from the other. Origen (m) has a remarkable passage, showing the different situations of Gadara and Gergesa; and that the latter cannot be Gerasa in Arabia; and also the signification of the name, for the sake of which, I shall transcribe it.

“Gerasa (says he) is a city of Arabia, having neither sea nor lake near it; wherefore the evangelists, who well knew the countries about Judea, would never have said so manifest an untruth: and as to what we find in some few copies, “into the country of the Gadarenes”, it must be said, that Gadara indeed was a city of Judea, about which were many famous baths; but there was no lake, or sea in it, adjacent with precipices; but Gergesa, from whence were the Gergasenes, is an ancient city about the lake; now called Tiberias; about which is a precipice adjacent to the lake, from whence is shown, that the swine were cast down by the devils. Gergesa is interpreted, παροικιαεκβεβληκοτων, “the habitation of those that cast out”; being called so perhaps prophetically, for what the inhabitants of those places did to the Saviour, beseeching him to depart out of their coasts.”” From the e-Sword version.

The second problem some see is in Matthew’s version we have two people. The gospels of both Mark and Luke mention only one. There is a good reason for this and one is that one of these demon possessed people was more fierce and vile than the other, and He is the one to whom Jesus Spoke. According to Matthew Henry’s Commentary, “And some think, these two were man and wife, because the Evangelists speak but of one” p. 112, VOL. V.

Remember the storm that arose at sea? Could it have been brought about by the “prince of the power of the air” trying to prevent the Prince of peace from getting ashore to give peace to these two tormented souls? We do need to remember even if this is so the devil has no power or authority except that which God allows. Even then, it is to display His glory.

As soon as Jesus is ashore the two possessed by the demons approach Jesus fully recognizing Him (v. 29). The other writers of this event tell us these two; at least one of them anyway; were uncontrollable; “chains had been plucked asunder… fetters broken in pieces…” (Mark 5:4). Luke confirms that these dwelt among the tombs (Luke 8:27). They are quickly identified as being closely associated with the buried dead – “coming out of the tombs”. The demons upon seeing Him are humbled before Him. People who came around this area always went around the area, for fear of these two demon possessed individuals. Matthew even calls them “exceeding fierce”. The English Standard Version says, “so fierce that no one could pass that way”. It was a dangerous matter to go by these tombs with these two there. One’s life could be in jeopardy by doing so.

To describe demon possession goes beyond human thought. An individual who is possessed by a demon or demons; as in this case; is under the control of a supernatural entity or entities. When the person speaks under the influence of the demon, the voice may be rough, angry, coarse, loud, arrogant, hateful, hollow. The physical strength of this individual would far exceed normalcy for a human being. The eyes would be distant, bloodshot, empty, cold, and hateful. Sometimes demon possession may be from the use of drugs. It always comes about because the person has opened their heart and mind to a power greater than themselves, except to God.

These demons are really nothing more than fallen angels. They are angelic beings who joined Lucifer in the rebellion of heaven, and were cast out. All the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had to do to cast the evil one from heaven was speak the Word, and it was done. We can see that rebellion in Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:13-19. Being the eternal beings that they are, ie., eternal from the time of their creation; they would recognize their Creator. They came to meet the Master, their Ruler and Judge, with humility. These are all condemned for all time and all eternity. They are bound to the fires of eternal judgment (Jude 6). They are concerned that the Lord may be come to judge them before their time has come, and to cast them into the eternal fires.

There is probably a tone of resentment in their question, “What have we to do with Thee…? Though they had been thrown out of heaven, though they may have shown some humility in recognizing Him, they still despise Him.

The only possible reason for the swine being mentioned in this story is probably that the people who were breeding hogs were Jewish. Thus, they were doing so illegally against the Mosaic Law. THE LIBERTY COMMENTARY states:

“This is Jesus’ only recorded miracle that was destructive in nature. The fact that Jesus granted the demons’ request was because of His concern for the man. The spiritual principle in this incident is that those who are deliberately disobedient (as was the case of the pig-breeders) deprive themselves of devine protection and place themselves at the mercy of the forces of evil. Certainly, losing the herd of pigs, which was unlawful in the first place, was insignificant when compared to the man’s gaining his spiritual health.” p. 1906.

Jesus had only to speak one word. That word was “Go.” He granted their request. It was only a delay in judgment. Their judgment would yet come some time in the future. The time unknown to them. We are told in Matthew of “an herd of many swine”, however Mark’s gospel tells us “(they were about two thousand)”. In the economy of that day this would have been great economic loss for these Jewish “pig-breeders”. The fact that these pigs are even mentioned, and that Jesus used them for deliverance of the couple, should show us that these swine were the herd of Jewish people. These swine ran down this steep place into the Sea of Galilee and all drowned. What happened to the demons? Only God knows the answer to that.

Jesus had just delivered two individuals – human beings – from bondage of supernatural spirit beings. The pork was now of no use to anyone. They were all drowned. The Jewish owners were now free from their disobedient living; if only they would follow the Savior. Instead, they are angry over the loss of their living. They are completely unconcerned with the two being set free from Satan’s bondage. The pig herders having seen what happened to the herd ran to tell the owners. They even told them of the deliverance of the two demon possessed people.

The whole city came out to meet Jesus. There was much curiosity. Rather than bowing before Him and giving Him glory and praise they ask Him to leave. Rather than inviting Him home with them; they do not want Him around. They are more consumed with the wealth they lost, and what other things that might be discarded should He come to their town.

The story here is of the deliverance of two people. There is no need for ritual in delivering people from the bondage of the devil. Only the need for Jesus. We give people Jesus when we proclaim the gospel. When an individual is given the gospel and believes no demon can stay around. They must flee when Jesus comes in and possesses the individual. Evil and God cannot possess the same vessel. When Jesus is present do you want Him to stay?

Being A Disciple of Jesus

Being A Disciple of Jesus

Matthew 8:18-23

Disciple making is the business of the local church. It is the call of God for every Christian to be a faithful, follower of Jesus, and to make disciples of Jesus Christ. The Great Commission says just that, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” and that word “teach” is for making disciples. Disciples are made by teaching them. The disciplemaking of Christ is teaching people to follow Him.

Let no one think that following Jesus is a life of ease, comfort, popularity, or praise. Jesus gives us ample warning of the trials and tribulations that come into the Christian disciple’s life in the following portion of Scripture we see some of those things which come, or are part of the Christian disciple’s life. I am saying “Christian disciple” because there are “Disciples” of other causes, of religions, and men; and need to differentiate between the follower of Jesus Christ and the riff raff of the world.

“Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” Matthew 8:18-22 (KJV).

One of the things we can see about Jesus and His ministry is that He had no desire for popularity. His sole desire was to be pleasing to the Father and fulfill His will and Word. The reason we can know this is because when many had already been to Him for healing of their sicknesses and diseases, and deliverance from demons He called to His disciples to “depart to the other side”.

On the other side was a place of rest. It was a place where Gentiles dominated the lands. That is evident because of the herd of swine mentioned in verse 30. No law abiding Jew would be raising pork. The reason for Jesus’s departure to the other side was partially rest, and to get away from the crowds. There are many false teachers who love the crowds, at least love their accolades and praises. They also love the huge offerings a large crowd can provide them for their lush homes, fancy cars and clothing. You will never hear a false teacher revealing the sins of the people’s hearts and lives. The crowds will not come to hear the truth.

Every where Jesus went His presence drew a crowd. He saw people hurting, and ministered health to them, and that is why many sought Him out; and when He started preaching on the hard things, they departed (John 6:1-59ff.). “Will you also go away?” Jesus asked His disciples.

A scribe breaks ranks with the other scribes and does seek Jesus out asking to be His disciple; at least he is looking into the possibility. This scribe must have been fairly well off. Jesus knows all men’s hearts, and surely this man’s heart was set on his security in having a home, a secure place to live, sleep, eat, entertain, and to be comfortable. This scribe soon learned that the life of a disciple was a life of sacrifice. Jesus said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head”, as saying if you are going to follow me you can have no ties to this world that will keep you from doing My will. It is a life with no house, no comforts, no securities. In Matthew 10:16 we read, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16; saying to us that all we have is what Jesus and the Father gives us. Sheep have no protection except the Shepherd. Sheep have no sustenance except by the wisdom of the Shepherd. Sheep have no shelter, but by the Shepherd.

Jesus also said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 10:39. The scribe evidently did not approve of the cost of being a follower of Jesus. We never hear of this man again. We are not even given his name, just, “A certain scribe” as though he were only a parable; an illustration so as not to pattern one’s life in the same fashion. What is the cost of discipleship? Let’s hear what Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 16:24-25.

There was another disciple who came to Jesus seeming to be willing to follow Jesus. We see that he was wanting, though, to wait for a more convenient time. He says, “Let me first bury my father”, but his father was not dead. What he was asking was for the ability to wait until dear old Dad was gone, and then, he would inherit the inheritance. He was still tied to his family; basically the family inheritance. He is evidently the elder son of the family who was the one whose responsibility it was to care for the father’s estate.

When the call comes to follow Jesus, that is the time to go, and follow Jesus. Family, and/or family inheritance is no excuse for putting it off. Are we being told to neglect our wives, children, elderly parents, etc.? Definitely not. Jesus is telling us that following Him is of the highest priority. We can be faithful disciples of Jesus, and as a matter of fact are the most faithful; when we disciple our families into Christ, as well as others. The disciple’s seeing to it that his/her family follows Jesus is the disciple’s greatest achievement. If we were to win the world and lose our own children what have we achieved?

I know of faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have served as pastors, loved and cherished their children, and those children depart from the faith. I mean to place no guilt on any faithful follower of Jesus, only to stress that we must begin at our homes.

As disciples of Jesus we must value the eternal over the temporal – that which is only temporary. The first man [the scribe] must have decided that the cost was too high. He could not give up the life of comfort and ease that he had been living. He had a nice home, a place to lay his head, and it was his. He could not part with the security of a walled home, and the protection he thought he had in it. The second man, giving him the benefit of the doubt, shows that he has concern for his family. It would be more beneficial for him to follow Jesus, for in following Jesus his whole family could and might also come to Jesus.

Remember Jesus’s words, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 16:24-25 (KJV). The life of the follower of Jesus is a crucified life as Paul the apostle described it, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” Gal 2:20 (KJV).

He Took Our Infirmities

He Took Our Infirmities

Matthew 8:1-17

We begin now to see the accounts of Jesus’s healing ministry. He is showing Himself as the Prophet, Priest, and King, though the message of Matthew rest upon His being King of kings.

We see in Jesus that He is unafraid of touching the sick, even lepers, for in this passage He does exactly that. He touches the leper. Jesus touches the “Unclean leper”, because He sees a man who is healed. We have a Roman Centurion coming to Jesus seeking for healing of his servant who is sick of “Palsy”, and “grievously tormented” and the Centurion is a Gentile. The third individual who is healed is a woman, Peter’s mother-in-law. We see Jesus touching and healing three of the “outcasts” of society of that day.

In these miraculous healings we see Jesus taking the infirmities upon Himself. He was touching the untouchable according to ceremonial laws. Even before the cross He is taking our sin upon Himself. Of the evening following the healing of the three individuals there are many brought to Him for the casting out of demons (these are all first mention for Matthew’s Gospel) with only “His Word”, and healed all that were sick.

 

Jesus operates His ministry without any racial prejudice, without any fear of contracting disease, and shows no favoritism toward the gender of any individual.

“When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” 8:1-4 (KJV).

According to Old Testament Law when an individual was afflicted by lepersy they were pronounced “Unclean”. They even had to wear a protective cover over their mouth when in public and cry out “Unclean, unclean” (Leviticus 13:44-46). Lepers were “outcasts” the Jewish society. It played no cultural or societal favorites, nor according to gender or race. They were forbidden to mingle with the healthy people. There is one disease, which socially is similar to leprosy in today’s society; and that is AIDS.

According to Warren Wiersbe “Leprosy is an illustration of sin”. It is deeper than the skin (Lev. 13:3), it spreads (Lev. 13:8), it defiles and isolates (Lev. 13:45-46), it is worthy only of fire (Lev. 13:52, 57). AIDS has similar likenesses as a disease. It seems that there is no direct known cause for leprosy, while AIDS has come upon us as an affliction, mainly upon the sexually immoral. It still passes on – spreads – through blood into “Innocent” victims. None are left untouched by sin.

This leprous man came to Jesus. This of itself broke the law of the leper. We are told that the leper “Worshipped Him”, and in worshipping Him he is recognizing His deity, and His sovereignty. This man has been greatly humbled, and is submissive to the sovereignty and power of Jesus, as he says, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean”. He is willing to accept the will of Jesus, and he is not demanding, but humbly asking. Jesus heals this leper, and gives him commandment to go and obey the law of Moses concerning the matter of the law of the lepers. This was in order to fulfill the law. Lepers were rarely if ever healed. There is really only one Biblical account of any Jewish individual being healed in the Old Testament, and that was Mirriam (Numbers 12:10. Read chapter 12 Numbers to see why she became leprous). In my thinking it would almost seem that by Jesus sending the healed leper to the religious leaders He is making a statement, and they will be approving the healing, in that they recognize the healing. This would give them no excuse not to believe Jesus is genuinely their Messiah. By keeping the law and sending a healed leper for ‘cleansing’ He stifles their hypocrisy, and shows it as death.

“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” 8:5-13 (KJV)

A Roman soldier shows a great faith, and in behalf of a servant of his household, who is suffering from a palsy with great pain and suffering. The Gentiles were hated and despised by Jewish culture; as were slaves. Here we have a Gentile praying for his slave. The Centurion is commended by Jesus, for his faith. Jesus warns of willful ignorance and eternal judgment upon those who have seen, written, interpreted, and yet have no faith. He, as Messiah, was in the midst of His people doing His mighty works, yet they did not believe (John 10:37-38). He warns them, that just because they are physical descendants of Abraham, does not make them his spiritual descendants.

The very hour Jesus spoke healing the slave/servant was healed. In this instance it was according to this man’s faith. This is usually not the standard, but it can apply.

The “children of the kingdom” mentioned here are the children of Israel who have refused to believe the message and that He is the Messiah. The only place for all who will not believe Jesus is to “be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. “That many shall come” are evidently the Gentile masses who would come and believe Jesus and His Word that He speaks. “East and West” is from around the globe.

We know that due to this man’s faith his servant was healed that same hour. The man understands the principle of authority, and trust the authority which he sees in Jesus. His recognition is one that shows the deity of Jesus; because who but deity has authority over sickness and disease? There is none but God.

“And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.” 8:14-15 (KJV).

The final individual who is mentioned is a woman in bed with a sickness, and this woman is Peter’s Mother-in-law. A common prayer for Jewish males in Jesus’s day was, “I thank Thee that I was not born a slave, a Gentile, or a woman”. Of course, no one would desire to get leprosy. Women held no honored position in Jewish society.

Peter’s Mother-in-law is very sick, and she must have been really ill, because she is in bed. People of that era did not stop working just because they felt a little ill, with an upset stomach or something like that: they kept to their work. She seems to have been sick, even possibly to the point of death.

Jesus touched her hand in a special way, a special touch, a healing touch. She was a Jewish woman. Jesus may have been stating by this touch, “I have not forsaken my people. They are sick, but in Me there is healing”. By healing the Gentile’s slave, and the leper He showed an open door to sinners and Gentiles of every land. Israel in her illness will be touched again by her Messiah. The woman, being healed, arose and served Jesus and the disciples. It was an immediate healing.

“When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” 8:16-17 (KJV).

By all these healings it seems that Jesus is making a point to say to one and to all, “I am the King of all people”. We find it stated in these verses a quotation of Isaiah the prophet from Isaiah 53:4, “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted”.

Here we find Matthew’s first mention of Jesus delivering people from demon possession. It is called “Possessed with devils”, and He did it by His Word. He did not use a method of any ritual. He did not even use any prayer. He simply spoke the Word. When we are confronted by demons and demonic activity it has been given to us to speak His Word to the people. Where His Word is heard, accepted, and believed demons must flee.

Jesus may have been heckled by the demons as He was suffering on the cross, but it was not for long. He crushed the head of the devil at that same cross, and the evidence of it is the resurrection. The stone is rolled away, the tomb is empty, and Jesus is alive forever more.