Vengeance and God

As I read the Psalms this morning; particularly Psalms 91 – 95; the 94th Psalm and verse 1 was of special interest.  Now let me say off the start that there is no one I can think of that I want harm or God’s vengeance or mine to come on.  I do not believe the Psalmist had any one individual in mind either.  However, there is evil in the world, and most of the time evil comes through people.

One of the greatest evils of our time in the United States of America is abortion; the murder of the unborn human child.  However, we do not want to continue evil by doing evil in taking the lives of those who are in the eyes of the Supreme Court of our country, and “law of the land”.  Vengeance is in our Lord’s hands.  It is not mine or ours.

“O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew Thyself.” Psalm 94:1 (KJV)

The act of retribution upon evil is God’s.  We as citizens of our nation have the power and authority to try and overthrow the ruling of the SC, and write new laws, but not to take life.

Reading the above verse makes me think of a couple of others,

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ saith the Lord.”  Romans 12:19, (Deuteronomy 32:35).

The other one being to finish up the sentence of the Psalmist, “Shew Thyself”,

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a (KJV)

Vengeance is the Lord’s.  It is sweeter when we leave it in God’s hands; and the justice done is so much more redeeming when we leave it with Him.

For any evil, there is forgiveness when one comes to the cross of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Deuteronomy – 030211

If you are following my Bible Reading plan today’s reading is Deuteronomy 29 – 31.  I pray you are learning and growing in our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord is giving Moses some final instructions before he dies.  Moses will not be allowed to cross into the Promised Land which He is giving to the people of Israel, due to his sin of striking the rock, rather than speaking to it (Numbers 20).

The verses I want us to observe from today are,

“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?’  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?’  But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”  Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (KJV)

The LORD has just given them promise that He will make them plenteous in the works of their hands, the “fruit of their body”, and fruit of the land, if they shall hear and do and keep His commandments (30:9-10).  Then, the LORD proceeds to tell Moses that the command is not hidden, nor far away.

So many people want to blame God for sin in the world.  Sin is due to the transgression of the human heart against God.  We are all born with that transgression.  To those who want to argue against that think of this:  Do we need to teach children to lie if they are going to lie?  NO!  Every child will practice the deceit of lying without being taught to do so.  They will even steal to get what they want.  The reason for that is because there is evil in every human heart.  Children must be taught to be truthful and honest, and it does not happen easily.  There are many adults who must learn these truths.  There is only one child who ever lived who was truthful and honest, faithful and true until His death; and that was Jesus Christ; because He was the Son of God, had the heart and blood of God; and God cannot lie.

Since the word, the commandments, are not hidden, neither are they far away the children of Israel are without excuse concerning any disobedience.  They have heard God speak.  They have heard His commandments.  Yet, we will see as they enter into the Land of Promise they still struggled with obedience.

Christians struggle with obedience today, due to the sinful flesh.  We hear God’s Word, but do not obey.  We see God’s work in our own hearts and lives yet fail Him.  It is sad to say, however, those who profess to know Jesus Christ, and can disobey/sin against Him without regret or remorse and repentance have never experienced the saving faith possible only through the blood of Christ.

For the Christian we have the Spirit of God; the Holy Spirit; living within us.  We are empowered to live the life of Christ within us (Read Romans 8:1-15).  He is our Comforter, Guide, Counselor, and Corrector and points us to our Lord and Savior.

James wrote,

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”  James 1:22-25

Let’s be sure to hear God’s Word, hide it in our hearts; that we might do it, and live a Biblical, Christian life.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Deuteronomy – 030111

Today’s Bible Reading is from Deuteronomy 26 – 28.

In Deuteronomy we find, as you remember, that Israel is nearing the day they will enter the Promised Land.  The Lord is giving them final instructions for their entrance into this new land.  There are laws, commandments, ordinances, statutes, judgments, etc. which they are to follow.

There is many a time I have heard someone; even professing Christians; say something like this, “If it looks good, taste good, feels good, then it is a sin.”  Now, that is being cynical or sarcastic to say the least; if not downright disrespectful to God and His clear teachings on sin.  If God calls something sin it is sin.  Every time God forbids something it is due to His care and caring for us.

The following are the verses that we will look at today,

“This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.  Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in His ways, and to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and to hearken unto His voice: and the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, as He hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all His commandments; and to make thee high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as He hath spoken.”  Deuteronomy 26:16-19 (KJV)

The best  place for the people of God to be is in close communion with our LORD.  When He sets boundaries, gives us commandments, judgments, statutes, ordinances, laws it is for our well being and protection.  It is never to deprive us of life or its pleasures.  He has made us to experience pleasures, however, they must always be within the parameters He has given.

One of the things we can learn today from the laws and commands the LORD gave to Israel is that they failed to keep and obey them.  We are no more perfect than they.  We have sinned.  God is full of grace and mercy.  There are several times through out the Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy that the children of Israel say, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do”.  Well they failed to do it.

We must realize, as a Christian, we are empowered by the Spirit of God within us to overcome sin, and disobedience to God; however, we still live in a body of flesh and bone that is still encumbered by the dead corpse of sin.

The reason we are to obey God and keep His commandments is because of His love for us; and our love for Him.  We praise Him, we honor Him when we love Him and keep His commandments.  If we labor to keep the laws to gain His favor, however, we will fail miserably.

In the New Testament we hear this,

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:4-10

Only through the grace of God in Christ Jesus can we be saved, delivered from the condemnation of sin and death, and given eternal life.

Read Deuteronomy 26 – 28

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Observations From Deuteronomy – 022811

Reading today from Deuteronomy chapters 23 – 25.

In the reading today we find many different laws.  Some dealing with those who cannot enter the congregation; and matters of holiness concerning possessing of material things which are considered unclean.  We also find laws concerning divorce and remarriage of women.  Matters of usury [interest] from members of the tribes, and family are include; and laws of gleaning crops.  Laws concerning payment of hired servants are to be made at the end of the day, because of the poor and their great need.  Laws concerning  judgment that is to be fair and just for the stranger, orphan and widow.  There is also the law of levirate marriage where a brother was to take his belated brothers wife, if that brother had gone childless, and raise up a child in that brother’s name.

I want us to look at one verse,

“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”  Deuteronomy 24:16 (KJV)

Most people in the world of today would agree with this law.  Why should the parents of a disobedient, rebellious, murdering, raping child be “put to death” for them?  There are many parents who would lie for their murderous, child; and even go to prison for them; and possibly even die for them.  God says that each one is guilty for his/her own sin.  There are not many children who would be willing to die for a parent.

Truth be told this is just and right for all people.

This is further stated in the book of Ezekiel,

“Behold, all souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”  v. 20

For some reason there are many cruel, and unreasoning people who believe God is only out to get; out to punish; out to be a vicious and cruel lord over all who are against Him; however, if we continue in Ezekiel we read this,

“Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?”  Ezekiel 18:23
“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”  v. 32

The LORD does not delight in the death of the wicked, but that they might turn to Him and live.  He has made it all possible through the death of His Son Jesus Christ; His burial and resurrection.  The Just for the unjust.

God’s wonderful gift of grace.

Read Deuteronomy 23 – 25 for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Deuteronomy – 022711

Reading today from Deuteronomy 20 – 22.

The people of the day in which we live often think of hanging as a rope around the neck.  That is my thinking as well, however, I do know that Scripture speaks of hanging on a tree in a much different light.

We are told in the following verses of hanging,

“And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”  Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (KJV)

As I read these verses the first thought I had was of the death of Jesus Christ.

In this Old Testament law when a man was judged worthy of death by hanging on a tree it was because of some grievous sin he had committed against God and man.  If he were hanged he was “accursed of God”.

Jesus Christ had done no evil to GOD or man.  His life was without sin.  He had no blemish or mark on His life, yet He was found guilty by guilty men who were jealous of His power, and influence with people; and there were many  who called out for Him

The text above says, “If a man have committed a sin worthy of death…”  All those who accused Jesus, plucking the hair from His face, beating His face, whipping His back and finding Him “guilty” of blasphemy were the ones guilty of sin against GOD and man.  They were the ones worthy of death and hanging on a tree.

The Accused never spoke a word for His defense.  Heaven never said a word for His defense.  However, when He died the earth groaned and shook with great intensity.  While He was hanging there all the earth turned black as dark night in the middle of the day.

What do other Scriptures say?

“Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.   All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of My people was He stricken.   And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.”  Isaiah 53:4-10

“The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.  Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.  But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.  And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.  For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”  John 19:31-37

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree’: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  Galations 3:13

The salvation provided to us by God is truly gracious.  We can do nothing to earn God’s favor.  He has done it all; even to the point of having Jesus His holy and righteous Son become our curse; that He might redeem us from the curse of sin.

Believe God today, and be saved.

Please read Deuteronomy 20 – 22.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Deuteronomy – 022611

Reading today from Deuteronomy 17 – 19.

People of our world today are searching for answers.  They want answers concerning their future.  Who will be my spouse?  How will this investment I am about to make turn out?  Will it make me wealthy, or will it leave  me in bankruptcy?  We all have this inkling to know what tomorrow holds.  Some turn to horoscopes, also known as astrology, reading of signs, and forms of witchcraft and sorcery.

God forbids His people to have part in these things.  The LORD even tells us that He is driving out the Canaanites because of this very thing.  Their abominations/evil practices.

Yet, there are professing Christians who dabble in these “dark arts”.  They say things like, “What does it hurt?” or “I just do it for fun” or “It doesn’t affect my fellowship with God or other Christians”.  In this study today we will make some observations which will show  us that even the early church shows us that these were evil things, and are not for the dabbling of those who love Jesus Christ.  Today we look at…

“When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.  There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.  Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.  For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.”  Deuteronomy 18:9-14 (KJV)

There are nine practices which are named in the above text.  The first of which is the offering of one’s child in the fire.  The Canaanite worship had involved the worship of  at least three deities which were Baal, Moloch, and Ashtoroth.  I am not going to get into their worship practices because they are vile, immoral and not worthy of any recognition.  All we need to see is that first one listed involved the offering of children to the fires, and this was to Moloch.  It is amazing how we can make laws or gods convenient for out beliefs.  I heard it said, “Man makes god after his own image”; and there is a small element of truth to that.

Those who worship false deities have made these gods to suit their own hearts.  They fashion the gods to find their pleasure, comfort, and convenience.  Isn’t it amazing that in the Canaanite forms of worship they had a god like Baal who offered them all the sexual immorality in worshipping this deity and that of Ashtoreth; and children were born as a result of all this immoral conduct; then, they didn’t want the children and offered them to Moloch.  How convenient.

The GOD of heaven; who created all things created mankind in His own image.  That image has fallen into sin and no longer glorifies Him.  He called out the people we know as Jews or Hebrews, and through them has sent a Savior into this world as an offering for our sins.

The MacArthur Study Bible notes for these verses tells us,

18:9-12 the abominations of those nations. Moses gave a strict injunction not to copy, imitate, or do what the polytheistic Canaanites did.  Nine detestable practices of the Canaanites were delineated in vv. 10, 11, namely: 1) sacrificing children in the fire; 2) witchcraft, seeking to determine the will of the gods by examining and interpreting omens; 3) soothsaying, attempting to control the future through power given by evil spirits; 4) interpreting omens, telling the future based on signs; 5) sorcery, inducing magical effects by drugs or some other sort of potion; 6) conjuring spells binding other people by magical muttering; 7) being a medium, one who supposedly communicates with the dead, but actually communicates with demons; 8 ) being a spiritist, one who has an intimate acquaintance with the demonic, spiritual world; and 9) calling up the dead, investigating and seeking information from the dead.  These evil practices were the reason the Lord was going to drive the Canaanites out of the land.”

From page 276 NKJV edition.

Christians, listen to the Lord here.  It was forbidden by God for the Israelites to take part in this evil.  It was at least part of the reason God drove the Canaanites from the land, and gave it to Israel.  If Israel participated in the evil they then would be chastised, sent into captivity, and suffer much until they returned to the Lord.

There is a portion of Scripture in the book of Acts which tells us what some new believers in Christ did with books concerning sorcery and such;

“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.  And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.  Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.  So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”  Acts 19:17-20

I am not advocating the burning of books.  I am, however, asking Christians to forsake these dark arts; and trust only in the LORD.  He alone knows our tomorrow.  It does make a difference what you believe.  Your beliefs will have a part affecting your morality and life.  I am advocating for a fire of passion for our Christ, our Lord and Savior.  One of the verse of Deuteronomy says, “Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God”.  Jesus even said,

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  Matthew 5:48

The only way of “perfection” with God is through the cross of Jesus Christ.  He is perfect and by His death, burial and resurrection we are made perfect before the LORD God.  Obedience is not optional.

Please read Deuteronomy 17 – 19

-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

Observations From Deuteronomy – 022411

Reading for today Deuteronomy 11 – 13.

It is shocking sometimes how quickly God’s people can be led astray.  Led away from the true worship of God unto the worship of the man made, or earthly creatures.  Some years ago I read some articles in Midnight Call magazine concerning finances in the last days.  He named three gods or idols which citizens of the USA worship;  MOFI, GLOBO, AND SCITE.  To give you an understanding of what these are they are related to Money/Finance; Global Organization and union; and Science and technology. I personally think we could add another idol to that; and that is our children.  Have you ever seen a parent who believed their child could do no wrong?  Every ounce of time goes into children.  We hear about our children’s health, our children’s education, our children’s well being, and we ought to be for those things; but they are carried to an extreme; at least in my opinion.

There is a domonic move which has been present since the beginning of mankind to keep mankind from God.  There are teachers, preachers, dreamers and prophets who are demon inspired who direct hearts of men and women; boys and girls away from truth and God unto lies, deception and destruction.  Now who in their right mind is going to go plunging into destruction?  It is not done in the light.  Satan and his legions use deception; deception is one of those cases where a “fridge” is sold to an Eskimo living at the North Pole.  Or, ocean front property in Arizona is sold to some poor soul.  That is the line of work Satan and his minions are in; and he has people in that line of work to lead people away from God and His Son Jesus.

Hear what God says in His Word;

“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them’; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him.  And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.”  Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (KJV)

There might come into our midst some great worker of miracles who with those wonders call people to worship some being from outer space.  He/She claims they have found the answer that will change there lives, because they have found that “we are all gods” or some silly thing like that.

There is a growing tendency within our own nation [USA] that “If it works, then it must be good and right”.  NOT!  If it works it could be from the devil if it falls short of our LORD’s expectations and calling.

Since the United States of America is now a multi-cultural society being made of of many ethnic groups and religions and such; then we are being told to guard our speech.  We are being told we can no longer refer to Christianity as the only way to heaven and God; that there are really many ways to God.  There are many roads to the Post Office, but the one that gets you there is the one that leads to the front door.  The front door to heaven is the cross of Jesus Christ.  Jesus even tell us, Himself, that He is the door.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.  All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.  The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  John 10:7-10

It doesn’t matter what you dream, or what wonders you may do; or that preacher, prophet, dreamer, or teacher made do; if they lead you away from God and His Word, they are a deceptive leader to your death, and destruction.  The Old Testament law calls for their death; most likely by stoning.

Hear God through His Word, and by His Spirit.  Fear Him.  Keep His commandments.  Turn away from every false way.  Jesus is the way to life and eternal life.  Hear Him and live.

Read Deuteronomy 11 – 13

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Deuteronomy – 022311

Reading today from chapters 7 – 10 of Deuteronomy.

Why did the LORD choose Israel as a people?  Were they at all strong, numerous, or for what reason would He choose such a people?

Why  has He chosen me?  Is it because I am some wonderful personality, wonderful to look at, wise or obedient?  My answer to those questions are “none of those things”.  Why would the holy God of Heaven choose anyone of the human race? I think those are some wonderful questions, and they are invited by the Scriptures.

“The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations; and repayeth them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hateth Him, He will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.”  Deuteronomy 7:7-11 (KJV)

These verses tell us that GOD did not set His love upon them because they were more numerous; because they were but few.  The answer He gives us through Moses and Deuteronomy is “…Because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers…” meaning of course Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Doesn’t this beg another question?  How can a holy God love that which is unholy? and another, Just whom does God love?  We are told in the New Testament,

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

In my opinion John 3:16 answers those two very important questions.  God came down to man in the Person of His Son, lived without sin, and gave Himself as a sacrifice for our atonement.  “Our sin” atonement because we were sinful, worthy of death, unholy, unrighteous, unjust.  When Jesus came He became our sin, took the wrath of God for us on the cross of calvary, had the Father turn His back on Him, the darkest day in the life of our Savior.  It did not end there, however, Jesus carried our sins away in His burial, and rose bodily from the grave on the third day.  It doesn’t end there.  Jesus; when that sinner turns to Jesus as His Lord and Savior; gives to us His righteousness.  Now, isn’t that the greatest love you ever heard about?  YEAH!  It is.  You cannot deny it.  Or deny it all you will and it still doesn’t negate that truth.

There is a second reason we are told God chose Israel.  “Because He wold keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers…”  I will never cease to be amazed that our GOD is a covenant keeping GOD.  He is love.  He is trustworthy and faithful.  If God says it, you can be 100 percent sure that God will keep every word He has spoken.  When He has said, “I have called you, and redeemed you unto Myself” You can be assured you are His for all time and eternity.

Jesus said again,

“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35

You can be assured today that because God loved Israel, He still loves Israel, and He loves you too.  He loves us all so very much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for the sins of the world.  That includes me and you.  Call on the name of Jesus today and be saved.

Please read Deuteronomy 7 – 10 for today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Deuteronomy – 022211

Reading Deuteronomy 4 – 6.

In reading these chapters it seems quite apparent to me that GOD desires to speak with and to His people.  The people of God should count it an awesome and glorious thing that GOD would desire to speak with a people who are sinful.

In chapter four GOD gives us decree not to “add unto” or “diminish aught from it” (4:2)speaking of His commands – His word.  It is holy, separate, set apart, different, peculiar.  That is the way His people are as well.

When Israel heard the voice of God speaking from the darkness of the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, they were so overwhelmed that they were fearful.  They had heard God speak once, but if they heard Him again they might die.

“And ye said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.  Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die.”  5:24-25

GOD has called on His people to hear His voice.  He is holy.  We are unholy.  The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews wrote,

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:31

The best place to be is in the hands of the living God.  We can only be in His hands of grace through the shed blood of the Lamb of God, His holy Son Jesus Christ.  When we are in His hands; no man, no peril, no sword, no trial or fire, no spiritual entity can snatch us from His hands (John 10:29;  Romans 8:37-39), that comes by hearing His voice.

Adam and Eve having sinned against God in the garden of Eden, heard the voice of GOD walking in the garden, hid themselves; and GOD called unto Adam, “Where art thou?”.  GOD knew Adam’s whereabouts, but Adam didn’t.  He was afraid of the voice of God.  When you are fearful of the voice of GOD it is due to a lack of fellowship with GOD.

To the credit of the Israelites they did promise to do what ever the LORD commanded them, through the leadership of Moses (5:27).

The voice of the LORD is personified in the Person of Jesus Christ.  We can come into the throne of God and petition Him, worship Him, be silent before Him (Hebrews 4:16); because of the precious blood of Jesus that was shed on Calvary’s cross.

Hear the voice of God today.  He is calling you to come to Him through His Son.  There is no other way.

Please read Deuteronomy 4 – 6.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Observations From Deuteronomy – 022111

Reading Deuteronomy 1 – 3.

As I was reading this morning I noticed that the phrase “Fear not” or something similar was used at least four times.

Chapter 1 verse 21 says,

“Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.”  (1:21)

Fear is a thing that greatly handicaps many of us.  When we allow fear to have a hold in our lives it will rule, and cause us to live in defeat.  That is not something that is needed by God’s people; neither is it necessary.  When we consider all that Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross we have much to be bold, brave and courageous for and about.

Another one says,

“Then I said unto you, ‘Dread not, neither be afraid of them.'” (1:29)

The word “dread” above means to fear with trembling, affrighted, afraid, or terrified; and the other “fear” or “afraid” could be a form of reverence.  Certainly we need neither fear of the enemy of God when we have God’s promise of victory. His victory.

Chapter 3 has two more verses with the phrase,

“And the LORD said unto me, ‘Fear him not: for I will deliver him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand; and thou shalt do unto him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon.'” (3:2)

Deuteronomy is a reminder to the children of Israel of God’s mighty power and acts for the forty years they have wandered in the wilderness (1:1-3).  The Bible is not only a historical account of all that God has done for His people down through the history of mankind; but it is also a living word from God which gives life, encouragement, and strength for the journey through God’s Spirit.  The person of Jesus Christ is the central being of the Scriptures.

When we know Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior by believing He came, lived a sinless life, and died for our sins, was buried carrying our sins away, and rose bodily from the grave; then we can live in Him without fear.  When there is fear in our heart it is a sign that we are not right with Him.

The final verse for today;

“Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God He shall fight for you.” (3:22)

We, as God’s people are assured that the battle is the LORD’s.  How can we fear, when we have God with us.  Moses was assuring Israel and her people that just as the LORD had led them through the wilderness, and fought the battles; then He would even do so in the Promised Land which they were about to enter.

Child of God neither fear, nor be afraid, nor dread what lies ahead.  Trust the LORD.

Remember to read Deuteronomy 1 – 3.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Daniel 1:8-16

GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU
1 Peter 5:7

When You Purposely Stand For Him

Daniel 1:8-16

Purpose – To see by faith, that God cares for His people when we must take a purposeful stand to forward His name and His faith.

OUTLINE –
I.  DANIEL TOOK A PURPOSEFUL STAND NOT TO EAT OF THE KING’S PROVISIONS (v. 8).
II.  DANIEL IS REMINDED OF THE POSSIBLE COST OF TAKING THIS STAND – ESPECIALLY FOR HIS FRIEND (vv. 9-10).
III.  DANIEL IS NOT STANDING ALONE – HANANIAH, MISHAEL, AND AZARIAH ARE STANDING WITH HIM (vv. 10-13).
IV.  GOD BLESSES THEIR FAITH AND THEIR STAND (vv. 14-16).

We must all consider the fact, as Christians, that we are strangers in a foreign land.  Some may not like, nor appreciate that statement, but if our citizenship is in heaven, and with God, then, we are indeed strangers in this land.  It matters not what nation we live in; we are strangers in a foreign land.  We are even “captives”, yet ambassadors in this foreign land, until the Lord returns to call us home to be with Him.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were ambassadors of God in Babylon.  It seems, that they were about the only godly witness there.  That is not so however.  There was Ezekiel the prophet; and Esther and Mordecai [evidently cousins] (Esther 2:5-7).  These were captives in Babylon, and there could have been many more.  We have the four teenage boys taking a stand which was probably unheard of.  It is a very encourageing thing to see teenagers take a stand for their godly convictions; not in rebellion, but in obedience to God.

I.  THERE ARE TIMES AND SOME THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THIS WORLD THAT CALL US TO PURPOSELY STAND FOR GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (v. 8 ).
In Daniel’s and his friend’s world it doesn’t seem that there were too many who were seeing a problem with eating the “king’s meat”.  There were other youth who evidently took and enjoyed the lush, and rich foods they were not accustomed to.  These young men had been brought up in the Hebrew culture with strict meat restrictions; this mean certain bleeding principles which would drain the dead animal of all its blood.  They were not to eat blood (Leviticus 17:10-16) .  They were not to eat meat that had been offered to idols. Read Leviticus 11.  To receive this meat was the same for them as recognizing the idols as deities.

You can notice that Daniel did not reject this food by a callous, and stubborn refusal; disrespectful of his caregiver.  As Daniel had a plan in taking a stand there are also ways Christians can take a stand and not be offensive.  We can stand with our lives everyday.  Let the light of Jesus Christ shine forth from our lives by developing friendships (as much as is possible) with the people you are around.  As Daniel had developed a good relationship with the melzar [the steward].  (Rather than being a proper name “melzar” is probably a title such as servant or steward; one appointed by the chief eunuch to care for the Hebrew youths.)

II.  IT IS GOD WHO BRINGS HIS PEOPLE INTO GOOD FAVOR WITH OTHERS, AND WE SHOULD BE LIVING TO GIVE THEM CAUSE TO SUPPORT OUR STAND (vv. 9-10).
Matthew Henry has written of verses eight and nine, “Whoever are in favour, it is God that has brought them into favour; and it is by Him that they find good understanding.  Herein was again verified that word (Ps. cvi. 46), ‘He made them to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.’  Let young ones know that the way to be acceptable is to be tractable and dutiful” MATTHEW HENRY’S COMMENTARY Vol IV. pg 1019.  “When a man’s ways please the LORD He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7).

If we are going to stand and we live in a condition where what we do may harm another it seems that we better have their permission before we proceed.  Daniel and his friends not only had permission, but he provided their veggies for this ten day period.  Of course, we need to be in good terms with them for God to direct their paths too.  That is not to say that should Daniel have been refused in this matter that he shouldn’t have did something, but he did what was necessary and God gave him close communion with a man in charge who was, himself, willing to take the risk along side Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

There are times to stand when no one will help you.  No one will stand beside you.  You may have plenty that will say, “I am [We are} behind you all the way.”  Those who stand behind you can “stab you in the back”.  That may sound suspicious, un-nerving, un-trusting, and/or negative.  It is, however, the truth.  In most cases, those who will walk beside you, can be trusted.

You will notice that there is an early reference to all Daniel’s friends with him in verse ten, “…why should he see your faces”.  So Daniel had at least Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah standing with him in this faith experience.

III.  LIKE THE CONVICTIONS OF DANIEL AND HIS FRIENDS TRUE CONVICTIONS CANNOT BE LAID ASIDE (vv. 10-13).
Daniel had the convictions that should they eat the “king’s meat” they would be sinning against God, thus he, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah chose to refrain from eating the king’s dainties.

Matthew Henry write again, “Perhaps it was not in itself  unlawful for them to eat of the king’s meat or to drink of his wine.  But, 1.  They wer scrupulous concerning the meat, lest it should be sinful.”  MATTHEW HENRY COMMENTARY  Vol. IV pg. 1020.  They were wise to seek to be kept from even the temptation of the food.  “How far can you go until it is sin?”  is a question often asked.  The answer to that is “If you have to ask that you have probably already sinned”.

What many people call convictions are often on preferences.  A conviction is something you will die for, and maybe even another’s life.  A preference is nothing to die for.  Let me give you an idea of what a preference is.  I prefer to drive Ford trucks and cars, but I wouldn’t fight you over it.  I could drive a Chevrolet, Buick, Toyota, etc., if I had no other choice.  My conviction is that God’s Word, the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, God breathed word of God; and that is something I will give my life for and that my Savior Jesus Christ is the God/Man, incarnate Son of God, died on the cross for my sins and the sins of the world, that Jesus is the only way to God and to heaven, and Jesus is coming back one day to call his children home to be with Himself.  Those are my convictions, some of them, and I will hold them until I draw my last breath;  with the power and strength of God.

It is great knowing that we have family, friends, other relatives, and neighbors world wide who hold these convictions and have found that “Hill on which to die”, and land in which to live.  As it is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).

IV.  GOD PROVES OUR FAITH WHEN WE ARE FAITHFUL (vv. 14-16).
Remember Daniel and his friends were in a three year program (v. 5) for training and the food regimen.  All Daniel was asking for was a ten day trial period to prove that the vegetables, etc., was better for them in their appearance and probably their minds too.  Maybe there is something we could learn from following such a diet; but is anyone among us interested?

The faith they express in God is astounding, and God honors and proves their faith.  Faith is not something we boast of; it is what we live, how we speak, where we go, what we do, and how we live.  Faith is not just believing God when things are going good, but keeping on believing Him even when He doesn’t seem to hear.

It seems that the utmost goal of Daniel’s heart was that God be glorified in the king of Babylon, and the people of Babylon.  His heart was set on obedience to the word of the LORD; and even if the cost was his life.  God came through for Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; proving that their obedience was blessed by the God of Israel and all that is.  “And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.”  Daniel 1:15 (KJV)

The LORD honored Enoch’s faith, by translating him; He honored Joseph’s faith by making him a ruler in Egypt; He honored Moses’ faith by leading the children of Israel out of Egypt; and many more in the Old Testament.  The LORD honored Peter’s faith when he walked on the water with the LORD;  He honored John’s faith by giving him the letters of the revelation and the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  God will honor the faith of all who will give their all to the Lord Jesus Christ.

APPLICATION –
i.  Take a purposeful stand for God and all that is godly and righteous in the world, even if no one else does.
ii.  Take a purposeful stand and trust the LORD for the good favor of others.
iii.  Take a purposeful stand all the time on your convictions; and stand when they are being attacked as well.
iv.  When we take that purposeful stand trust that the LORD will reward the faith of the faithful – I suppose that is what Paul; inspired by God; meant when he wrote, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Mark Chapter Nine

Mark 9:1-50

“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. 2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. 11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.”  Mark 9:1-13 (KJV)

THE GLORY OF JESUS IS SEEN BY A FEW WHILE JESUS SPEAKS TO ELIJAH AND MOSES ABOUT HIS DEATH (Luke 9:31).

In verse 1 Jesus is most likely speaking of those who would see His “Transfiguration” which is about to happen, and it happened only before the three disciples – Peter, James, and John.  In Luke’s account of this glory the three disciples had fallen asleep.  There are times to sleep and times to fight going to sleep, and this seems like it was one of those times to fight sleep.  They almost missed it.

The two to whom Jesus was speaking were considered dead and gone.  Moses died and Elijah had just “gone” by the power of a “chariot of fire”.  Moses represents the “Law” of God, and Elijah represents the “Prophets” of God.  It is important for us to catch the message which the “Voice from Heaven” speaks.  “This is my beloved Son: hear Him.”  Those words tell us that the most important thing we can hear is Jesus.  The “Law” and the “Prophets” speak of Jesus.  John the apostle wrote in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (REV. 19:10).

According to Luke 9:31 Jesus was speaking to Moses and Elijah of His coming death.  No other of the gospel writers mention this.  It tells us clearly that was the direction Jesus was headed – to Jerusalem to die, and make atonement for the sin of mankind.

In Matthew and Luke the text tells us it was “Moses and Elijah”.  Mark is the only one who writes “Elijah and Moses”.  It is important for us to remember the history of these two men.  Moses died and was buried by God, and no one knew where he was buried (DEUT. 34:5-6); and Elijah never died.  He was carried to Heaven by a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11), and Elisha, his pupil in the prophetic ministry, received a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit.  There is quite a picture given here to us.  That is that at the future coming of Jesus Christ in His glory all that know Jesus, the living and the dead, will be raised to share in that eternal glory with Him.

“And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. 16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23  Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”  Mark 9:14-29 (KJV)

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO THEM THAT BELIEVE.

It is apparent by our text that the young man of whom it is speaking was afflicted by an “evil spirit”.  He has been afflicted for several years, even from early childhood.  We can see from this that children are not exempt from evil or even the devil or his demons.  Children can be susceptible to Satan from a very early age, but then, all are born into sin, and none are without sin.

This boy had often been thrown into the fire, and into the waters.  This demon hated this boy, and that is something we all need to remember that the devil and his hordes hates mankind, and will do whatever it takes to destroy the human race.

Notice, Jesus’ rebuke of the “Faithless generation”.  He is probably referring to “scribes” who are there in argument with the disciples, accusing and excusing their own actions and accusing the disciples of not having power to help this boy.

When Jesus calls for the boy and they bring him to Him the boys goes into a “fit”; falling on the ground and foaming at the mouth.  You will notice the father is not only asking Jesus to help his son, but also himself; he says, “Have compassion on us, and help us.”  The father later says, “I believe; help thou mine unbelief”.  This father new to whom to bring his son, but he had not witnessed the power of Jesus before, but he was about to.  He had the faith to bring his son to Jesus, and that was a good starting point.

There are many psychologists who probably would reckon this boy to have epilepsy, or some neurological disorder, but not demon possessed.  Notice though why it must be demon possession;  1) this personality recognized Jesus because he did not want to come before him, thus causing the boy to throw himself on the ground and foam at the mouth;  2) Jesus spoke to the spirit and commanded him to come out, and to stay out;  3) the spirit cried out through the boy and wreaked havoc on him one last time, evidently fighting for his “territory” but could not fight against his creator and win.

Note Jesus’ final words on this matter, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. Mark 9:29 (KJV)”.  The matter of this boy’s well being hinged on the battle of two worlds, and who was to overcome.  There is a spiritual warfare we must wage everyday.  It is not an easy fight.  We must commit ourselves to prayer, and at times we must give ourselves to it diligently even to the point of forsaking our food and nourishment for the day or a period of time.  We cannot win spiritual battles if we are weak in the Spirit of God.  That was the problem with the disciples, and why they could not help this man or his son.  It is a battle we wage to keep the souls of men from eternal torment.  We must pray for them to have opened eyes to see the death of Christ on the cross, his resurrection; and that they will have an open heart to receive the glorious salvation of God through Jesus Christ.

It is an imperative  that we remember the words of Jesus, “All things are possible to him/[her] that believeth”.  It is not just believing in the event as history, but in the person of Jesus Himself.

“And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. 38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part.”  Mark 9:30-40 (KJV)

A GRASPING FOR POWER BRINGS A REBUKE FROM JESUS, AND AN ANSWER TO THEIR PROBLEM.

Jesus is teaching a valuable lesson in these verses about service and “Greatness” or power and position.  He says He is going to die and then He will be glorified by resurrection.  He will die for our sins, and then by resurrection be given all that was His from the beginning.  By His death Jesus was serving the human race by providing our eternal salvation.

There are many people today looking for a longevity to life; they look for power and prestige, and position; but they look to themselves, when all that is needed is to bow at the feet of Jesus and call Him Lord, and wash the feet of our fellow man by service.  What great privilege it is to serve the Lord and bless our fellow man.

Jesus does enlist a small child as an illustration of humility and service.  A child will subject themselves to an older person, and most of the time trust in their care.  We are to come to Christ as little children, and we are to always receive our fellow man as if they were “little children”.  In receiving the “child” we receive Jesus and the One who sent Him.  And that is the Father.

When we see others working in the name of the Lord do we grow jealous, protective of our own work, or do we say, “Great!  Someone else is working in His vineyard.”  The latter should be our attitude and we should be an encouragement to all who are serving the Lord, and living for His glory.  This is not to be a blanket statement that approves of all who claim to be working in the name of Jesus, but to those who are Biblically sound, and those who are truly in Christ Jesus.

“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”  Mark 9:41-50 (KJV)

THE HORRENDOUS, ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES OF SIN.

What is the price of sin?  “Sin will take you farther than you want to go; slowly but wholly taking control;  sin will leave you longer than you want to stay;  sin will cost you far more than you can ever pay.”  ANON.  It is something that Jesus took quite serious.  He took it so seriously that He went all the way to the cross and died, taking all our sin on Himself, paying the price that was mine and yours to pay.

How seriously does Jesus take sin?  Let us look at these verses.  Do not offend a “little one” for it would be better that a millstone were tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea.  “If your hand offends you, cut it off”;  “If your eye offends you pluck it out”.  It seems to me like Jesus takes sin quite seriously.  He was willing to pay the price for our sin that we might have eternal life in His eternal presence.  Jesus is not advocating the torture, or destruction of our bodies, but He is showing us the degradation of sin and its costliness and the price we should pay.  Simply cutting off a hand will not keep you from sinning.  Plucking out an eye will not keep you from the sin of lusting.   We saw in chapter seven that it is in the heart of man where we must deal with sin.  How much are you willing to pay to rid your life of sin?  Jesus was willing to give His life.

Jesus uses here the illustration of Gehenna – the garbage, trash, waste dump of the city of Jerusalem – that burned continually and the fire was never out.  There is an eternal fire that burns, where no desires are ever met, and there is nothing but pain, sorrow, hatred, vileness, hostility, and war.  Is that the place you want to be?  Is that the place where you want your friends and neighbors to spend eternity?  It is the place Jesus described as “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:46 (KJV)”.  He mentions this twice.  Is there a Heaven?  If Jesus said He was preparing a place for us, and that He was coming to take us to that place; then, yes there is a Heaven.  Is there a place called Hell?  Jesus mentions more about Hell than He does about Heaven.  He spent a whole story of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus to tell us of the reality of Hell.  He describes it as a place of flames, torment, and a place you would not want to be.  This is in Luke chapter sixteen.

Hell is the place we all deserve to be.  We do not deserve Heaven, but because of the gift of Jesus’ death on the cross and by the power of His resurrection we can go to Heaven for all eternity, but not without Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

In the beginning of this chapter we see Jesus in His glory and speaking with Elijah and Moses.  In between this picture of the glory of Jesus and this warning of Hell we find a child being tormented by a demon, disciples arguing about who is the greatest will be the greatest among them, and one disciple wondering about a man who is doing the work of Jesus who is not a part of their group.  These are the things that happen between Heaven and Hell.  As a matter of fact when Jesus died on the cross His head was toward Heaven and His feet were toward Hell, and His arms were outstretched to the world in invitation to come to Him.

What a Servant.  What a Savior.  For His arms are still outstretched to all so we may come to Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Discipleship – The Pursuit Of Godliness

Hebrews 12:14-17

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”  Hebrews 12:14-17 (KJV)

OUTLINE –
I.  A PURSUIT OF PEACE AND HOLINESS (v. 14).
II.  TAKING OVERSIGHT OVER ONE’S LIFE IN MATTERS OF GRACE (v15).
III.  BE AWARE – BE WARNED OF THE “ROOT OF BITTERNESS” WHICH IS PUFFED UP TROUBLING YOU (v. 15). Deut. 29:18
IV.  THE EXAMPLE OF ESAU/EDOM DESIRING GOD’S BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 16).
V.  THE TRAGEDY OF BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 17).

In previous verses of Hebrews 12 we are told not “to despise the chastening of the Lord”.  The chastening of the Lord could be called His discipline, correction, or discipling.  After reading something I believe was Charles H. Spurgeon saying, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”, that has been in my mind from the day I read it.  I believe it to be a true saying.  Though you will not find those words spoken or written that way in Scripture; it does seem that the principle of that is spoken of in the verses we look at today, and those few preceding them.

A brother in Christ has called it “God’s Discipleship” when he is making us holy, and pursuing peace.  One great achievment or failure to succeed in the Christian life would be to fail at sin.  Now, wouldn’t that be a great achievement as a child of God?

People are pursuing all sorts of things.  Success in employment, success on the job, a bank account with money left over after the bills are paid, health, personal recognition, popularity, prestige, power… you get the idea.  Godliness is not so much sought after, even by those who profess to be Christians.

A PURSUIT OF PEACE AND HOLINESS (v. 14).  Peace is a topic of much talk, and use of many words; however it doesn’t seem real close in the realm of the political world, and at times the religious world.  One thing I think I know and that is those who know the Prince of peace – Jesus Christ are at peace with God, and one another.  It is the “peace that passes all understanding” which “Keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 KJV).

“G1515
εἰρήνη
eirēnē
i-rah’-nay
Probably from a primary verb εἴρω eirō (to join); peace (literally or figuratively); by implication prosperity: – one, peace, quietness, rest, + set     at one again.” From e-Sword Strongs

Being at peace with God, “at one” with God, “walking with God”, in agreement with Him (Amos 3:3) is the greatest and best thing that has ever happened to mankind.  Anyone who has not made peace with God will not be at peace with anyone else.  That tells us much about ourselves. Doesn’t it?  “Turning the other cheek” can only come from an individual at peace with God.  Loving the unlovable comes from a heart at peace with Jehovah.  Those who are truly merciful, and have obtained mercy have the peace of God.

It is because one has been “Justified by faith” that one can “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).  This peace will also lead us into holiness; and the penman of the Hebrews Letter tells us “without which no one shall see the Lord”.  The word “Holy” is given this meaning in Strongs

“G38
ἁγιασμός
hagiasmos
hag-ee-as-mos’
From G37; properly purification, that is, (the state) purity; concretely (by Hebraism) a purifier: – holiness, sanctification.”
From e-Sword Strongs

Peace and holiness are God’s to give.  They come from the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ; paying the price for our sins Himself, taking their guilt, condemnation, and power away; rising to life victorious over them, declaring Himself to be whom He said He was and is; the Great I am.

TAKING OVERSIGHT OVER ONE’S LIFE IN MATTERS OF GRACE (v. 15). We are living in a day very much in need of personal oversight.  Many not wanting to take personal responsibility for their actions, behavior, words, or otherwise.  Those who are Christian need very much to be leaders in this matter.  Taking the oversight in matters of grace.  Lest we be the cause, or a catalyst of others falling.

The duty of the Christian; leader, teacher, person in the pew; is to be on watch, guarding one’s own heart and life, and the lives of others.  Part of “shepherding” is to keep the younger from straying, and going over the edge endangering their lives and/or the lives of others.

If we see any of the brethren straying we can, should, and will guide them back to the straight and narrow path that is the right one.  The path is not without effort, nor pain, but it is a path with destination and that destination is into the presence of God for all eternity.

“G1983
ἐπισκοπέω
episkopeō
ep-ee-skop-eh’-o
From G1909 and G4648; to oversee; by implication to beware: – look diligently, take the oversight.”  e-Sword

BE AWARE – BE WARNED OF THE “ROOT OF BITTERNESS” WHICH IS PUFFED UP TROUBLING YOU (v. 15).  Moses wrote by the Spirit of God on this same matter when he penned, “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood…”  Deuteronomy 29:18 (KJV)

I grew up around trees.  We have had trees all around us.  Oak trees (of various kinds), cedar trees, maple trees, apple trees, peach trees, Walnut trees, Hickory trees, Ash and elm trees, and if I could name them all I probably would.  The thing I want to illustrate here is the root system.  In many cases these trees have more of what cannot be seen under the ground, supporting through the feeding, providing foundation, and strength against strong winds; than that which can be seen above ground.  What the writer of Hebrews and Moses of Deuteronomy is warning about is that which cannot be seen if in bitterness is very destructive.

This “root of bitterness” is a poison which can suddenly come to the surface and ruin you.  If the root of a tree gets something poisonous it will kill the tree.  This bitterness, this bane can lead to all kinds of immorality and evil in one’s life.  Evidently that is what the writer is saying concerning Esau.

“All it takes for a grudge to grow is for the one who is holding it to keep nursing it.”  I am not sure that this is a correct quotation, or who said it, but it is still the truth.  Bitterness is the root of evil, and for evil grudges to grow they must be nursed.  Feeding, coddling, cherishing those bitter feelings.  Saying things like, “I can never forgive that person”.  Anyone who has ever said that was mistaken, and/or have never been forgiven.

This “bitter root” nursed, and cherished by its holder will one day have this poisonous root spring, explode onto the scene, and it will not be a pleasant scene for the holder of that grude.  As long as that grudge is nursed, cherished, coddled like one’s baby there will be no relief from guilt, sin, shame, or anger, and destruction.

THE EXAMPLE OF ESAU/EDOM DESIRING GOD’S BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 16).  Esau, the first born son of Isaac was a man with a bitter root, and he never let it die.  It was passed on to his children (Genesis 36:8, 19).  How do we know this?  Because of Edom.  Edom  hated the children of Israel (Numbers 20:17-21).  Where did this innate bitterness, anger, envy, and hatred come from?  There is one conclusion to that; and that is from their father; Esau.

Esau had not only given up his birthright for a “bowl of beans”, but he had evidently been a very immoral rascal.  Giving himself to various immoral activities with the women of foreign tribes whom his people had been forbidden to have relations with.  John Gill wrote this concerning Esau,

“Heb 12:16 – Lest there be any fornicator or profane person,…. The first of these is guilty of a sin against the second table of the law, as well as against his own body; and which is opposed to the holiness the apostle had before exhorted to; such who are guilty of it, are not to be continued in the communion of the church; and it is a sin, which, lived in not repented of, excludes from the kingdom of heaven: the latter is one who is a transgressor of the first table of the law; who is an idolater, a swearer, a despiser of public worship and ordinances, and who behaves irreverently in divine service, and mocks at the future state, as Esau; to whom both these characters seem to belong: and this agrees with what the Jews say concerning him: they have a tradition (w), that he committed five transgressions on the day he came out of the field weary.

“He committed idolatry: he shed innocent blood; and lay with a virgin betrothed; and denied the life of the world to come (or a future state); and despised his birthright.”

It is elsewhere (x) a little differently expressed.

“Esau, the wicked, committed five transgressions on that day: he lay with a virgin betrothed; and killed a person; and denied the resurrection of the dead; and denied the root, or foundation, (i.e. that there is a God,) and despised his birthright; and besides, he desired his father’s death, and sought to slay his brother.”

It is common for them to say of him, that he was an ungodly man; and particularly, that he was a murderer, a robber, ונואף, “and an adulterer” ”
The (w) being (“Targum Jon. ben Uzziel in Gen. xxv. 29.”), and the (x) being (Shemot Rabba, sect. I. fol. 89. 3. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 16. 2.). From e-Sword Commentary by John Gill.

THE TRAGEDY OF BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 17).  Esau lived on in immoral conduct.  He had sought forgiveness from his father Isaac for his selling of the birthright, and with tears, but to no avail (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).  His “repentance” was not a real repentance which would get forgiveness, but only sorry he got caught with his “hands in the cookie jar, and still wanted the cookie”.  He wanted the blessing of God without wanting God.  That is typical of many who profess Jesus as Savior today and probably in any era of time since the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  As long as things go well; as long as the blessings pour in; as long as there is good health; as long as there is wealth at their disposal; and no sorrow, then all is well with the “faith”.

Because of the sin of Edom, Edom has no place in the future (Ezekiel 32:29;  Joel 3:19).  That is not the desire of God’s heart to have His children pass along the envy, hatred, bitterness, and anger to our children and/or to the rest of the world that is already perishing.

SUMMARY –

i.  The pursuit of peace and holiness is the pursuit of all Christians, and one obtained only through faith in Christ the Lord.

ii.  Those in pursuit of peace and holiness will take oversight of their behavior, words, actions; and feed themselves daily in the word of God, prayer, and holy life pursuits.

iii.  The ones in pursuit of peace and godliness will be aware of the root of bitterness, guard against bitterness, and its poisonous, disastrous, death which it brings with it where ever it springs up.

iv.  Peace and holiness leads to peace and life; and makes for peace with all people (Proverbs 16:17).

-Tim A. Blankenship

This is the my study notes for the message for Sunday morning September 13, 2009

The Early Church and the Testimony of Scripture

Acts 7:1-60

Stephen, a spirit filled deacon, a servant of the early church, and serving tables; had stood up and preached the message of Jesus Christ, and was being called a “blasphemer”.  In Acts 6:8-15 we see the beginning of chapter seven and Stephen’s sermon of the testimony of Scripture and the history of the Jewish people.

The charge of “blasphemy” is a serious charge, especially in Israel, during these early days.  In some countries it is still a serious charge and often paid with the death of the accused or guilty.  Blasphemy is the calling someone God who would be human, or using the name of God to proclaim a message that was not of God.  In Stephen’s case all he had apparently done was quote the words Moses had written concerning the Prophet who was coming, and proclaimed Jesus as the Prophet, and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the true gospel of Jesus is preached it reveals Him in His true character, ie., God-man.  How could a man stop storms, walk on water, raise the dead?  No mere man would willingly go to a cross of death in the place of a sinful world; Jesus did.  No mere man has ever been raised to life in His own power; Jesus has.  To these Jewish leaders Stephen was a blasphemer, because He had proclaimed Jesus as deity – the God-man.  Thus, they sought to put Stephen on trial.

In verse eleven of chapter six we find them bringing in false witnesses against him.  Sound familiar?

THE TESTIMONY OF ABRAHAM AND THE PATRIARCHS (vv. 1-8).  Stephen, filled with the Spirit of God confronts them with their own Scriptures and history.

The history of Abraham is one of the nation of Israel.  Without Abraham there would be no Israel.  Abraham is the man whom God chose to use to birth the nation.  He was a man of faith, and his faith grew.

Called out of Ur of the Chaldeans he left the life he knew to go to a land he had never seen, and did not go where he was going.  All he knew was that he had met God, and God told him to “Get”, and he got going.

Stephen is not answering to the charge of blasphemy; he just gets into the Scriptures proclaiming to them, what they probably do not want to hear.  He gives it to them anyway.  Some preacher I once heard made this statement after telling about being caught in a mob, “When you have an angry crowd, and they are trying to do you bad; then preach”, at least something along that line.  I would not say that is what Stephen is doing, but even if he is, it does not negate the message.

The land was promised to Abraham and he never so much as received one acre of it; with the exception of a tomb for Sarah, and himself (Genesis 23).  Yet, he still believed, trusted the Lord and is an example of great faith to all followers of Jesus Christ today.

Isaac was/is the promised son of Abraham’s faith.  Isaac also received the promise of the land, and of being a great nation; as did his son Jacob as well.

The message of Abraham is faith.  The history of Abraham is faith.  He left all to go where he knew not where.  He faced famine in that land almost immediately upon arriving, yet even though he left the land, he returned and is called the “friend of God”.  The ultimate test of his faith was when God called on him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, and in that he was faithful.

THE TESTIMONY OF THE PATRIARCH’S ENVY, JOSEPH, AND EGYPT (vv. 9-16).  When we find that Abraham was counted righteous by God, according to Scripture, we also find that God gave Abraham a bit of prophetic knowledge.  In Genesis 15 we read,

“And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”  Genesis 15:13-14 (KJV)

In verse 6 of Genesis fifteen we find these words,

“And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

He was not counted or reckoned “righteous” because of his good works, or for anything he had done, but because God had spoke and he acted on it believing God.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, the first born son of Rachel; Jacob’s beloved wife; was a dreamer of dreams.  These dreams were not brought on by eating too much pizza, or from some dose of crazy weed, but they were from God.  As a dreamer of God dreams he also had an understanding of dreams.  Because of some of his dreams the other brothers got jealous of him.  According to his dreams the brothers and the whole family would one day bow at his feet.

Joseph may not have realized the significance of his dreams.  The significance was that what he was dreaming was going to be the fulfillment of God’s promise/prophecy to Abraham in bringing a nation out of Egypt.  The significance was that God was working through the evil conduct of his brothers.  You may flinch at that thought, but God is sovereign over all things, and so don’t think for a minute that evil thwarts the will of God; in fact He uses it to accomplish His purposes and will.  That in no way means He approves it, causes it, or empowers it; it only means that man has a freewill, and God uses man’s freewill to accomplish His own.

The Psalmist wrote of Joseph:

“He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” Psalm 105:17-19 (KJV)

Verse 19 in particular is the one we need to see.  “Until the time that his word came the word of the LORD tried him.”  From the time Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, into Egypt, to Potiphar, then to prison, then freed; there was probably a total of about twenty years.  Do you think Joseph had ever dreamed that he would go through all these trials?  I really doubt it.  Joseph, however, remained ever faithful.  There appears to be no doubts, no complaints, no anger toward God, no heart of vengeance against his brothers (though some may want to disagree with that when he comes face to face with his brothers).  All the time Joseph was waiting for the word of the LORD to come to pass.  Oh, how the Christian today needs that type of faith; that “waiting faith”; that faith that waits on God, and His time and place.

THE TESTIMONY OF MOSES, THE RED SEA, AND THE WILDERNESS (vv. 17-36).  The time between the last verse of Genesis and the birth of Moses, recorded in Exodus 2 is near to 400 years; nearing the promise and prophecy of God to Abraham in Genesis 15.

The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have grown to quite a large number in those 400 years.  They have become so numerous that the Pharoah who rules at the time of Moses’s birth is a tyrant toward Israel, has no memory of Joseph, and doesn’t care for the people at all; but fears their numbers.  This tyrant Pharoah orders the death of all baby boys born to the Hebrews.  The mother and father of Moses hid him for a period of three months, and then finally put him in a “ark of bulrushes” placed it in the Nile River, along the shore, and floating down near the place where the princess of Egypt bathed; was found and adopted by her.  Only the sovereign LORD could work something like that out.

The Hebrew people were enslaved, and treated like livestock or worse.  They were not allowed to worship God; and maybe only a few really knew about YHWH [YaHWeH].  We know that they did have homes to live in, though what condition we are not aware.

Moses was taken out of the water of the Nile and named Moses by the daughter of Pharoah.  “Drawn out” is the meaning of his name and it is a perfect fit for him.  We see him all his life being “drawn out”.  He was “drawn out” of the water.  He was “drawn out” to his own people.  He was “drawn out” to the desert/wilderness.  He was “drawn out” to serve Jethro for forty years.

For forty years Moses was in Egypt learning the ways of Egypt.  For forty years he was in the desert with Jethro learning the ways of the desert/wilderness.  After delivering the children of Israel from Egypt he spent forty more years in the wilderness preparing  them for life in the Promised Land.

We complain if we must wait a minute or two at a traffic light.  Lord help us.  How we need to learn to wait, and trust the LORD with His word, His church and His people.  Moses had to learn the lesson of waiting on God.  He supposed that when he killed the Egyptian that the people would know that he was God’s deliverer, but it was not the time, and Moses had to leave Egypt to be prepared.

A THOUGHT:  Joseph, by God’s providence, was in Egypt to prepare Egypt for the world famine, and to prepare Israel to become a nation.  Moses fled from Egypt to be prepared to return to Egypt, and deliver the people from the world.

In the wilderness the new nation saw the mighty hand of God the LORD.  When they did not see a way God made a way across the Red Sea.  The LORD delivered them from their enemies by causing the Sea to collapse in upon the soldiers of Egypt, killing them all.  The Almighty provided them water, meat to eat and He provided them with bread from heaven – “Manna” meaning “What is it?”

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION, REBELLION, AND CAPTIVITIES (vv. 37-50).  Moses testified of One who would come, a Prophet, the Prophet of prophets.  Stephen reminds his listeners, persecutors of the prophecy of Moses and his teachings.  Hear the words of the prophet Moses concerning the Prophet;

“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken…” Deuteronomy 18:15 (KJV).

While Moses was in the wilderness with the people we find them many times rejecting his leadership, such as while he went up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord.  They built a golden calf to worship in the place of God.  Our impatience is somewhat astonishing.  God says something and we do the opposite.

We Christians have been accused by some who refer to themselves as atheist or agnostic of being “makers of our own god”, and they mean that of the world religions as well.  With the latter I would agree.  The God of Creation who created all that is is not a god of man’s own making, however.  No man has ever imagined a god who is Almighty, All-Knowing, All-Present, All-Powerful, and Immutable.  No man has ever invented a god who condemns sin and wickedness, and provides a means of fellowship, relationship, justification, sanctification, and  being glorified together with him in an eternal home.  No man has ever created a god that would send his only son to die for the sins of the world.  The God of Christianity is the Creator of the universe, and all that is in it; and He loved us so much He did send His Son to die on a cross for our sins, was buried, and He rose again bodily from the grave and was witnessed by over 500 eyewitnesses.

All the gods of man’s creation allow them to behave and act any way they choose.  The god’s of men cause the immorality of all the world.  The god’s of men’s own making is what causes wars and strife.  Every individual without Jesus Christ is their own god; and will one day crumble, fall at the feet of Jesus, and be cast from His presence into eternal fire.

The “golden calf” for those people of Israel was a reminder of their lives back in Egypt.  They had been freed from its bondage, yet they still cling to it, even to the point of desiring to return and continue as slaves.  Even the gods people worship today, the images, are images which puts no guilt on them, or would make them question their actions.  The world hates any guilt, or shame.  That is one of the things, however, which is needed in the world; ie., guilt and shame. It can be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and turn them toward the only One who can cleanse them and forgive all their sin.

When people turn to Wall Street, Dow, or other stocks and bonds, etc. for their security; then they have turned their back on God.  Christian we may be in a financial crisis in this nation [USA], however, there is a greater crisis that many do not even realize.  That crisis is a Spiritual crisis.  With greed ruling the day through the lies of satan; there is a genuine spiritual need for God.  Whether it is believed or not; there is only one way to God and heaven, and that is the way He has provided; and that way is by way of the cross of Jesus Christ, his burial and resurrection.

Oh, how we need to understand the fulness, power, vastness, and glory of our God.  The nation of Israel is still in rejection of their God, His Son and their future foretold by God.

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION OF JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT (vv. 51-54).  These men to whom Stephen was speaking were just as the prophets which foretold the coming of the Prophet, the Messiah, their Deliverer.  “Stiffnecked and uncircumcised heart” shows a rebellious attitude and an unclean heart of these people.

All Stephen did was proclaim to them the truth of their own history, confront them with Jesus, their betrayal of him, and how they had “murdered him” (v. 52).

THE TESTIMONY OF STEPHEN A PERSECUTED, MARTYRED SOUL FOR JESUS CHRIST (vv. 55-60).  When the angry men heard the message delivered by faithful Stephen they proceeded to kill him.

The Word of God works as a sword, a “twoedged sword”.  In the book of Hebrews we read,

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)

In other words; that means God will make things uncomfortable  for you until He gets you where He desires you to be; if you are His own.  When you are God’s He will not allow you to remain in sinful behavior.

These men hated Stephen and his words that he spoke, then, they proceeded to kill him.

The deacon never sought to strike back.  His last words before his dying breath was, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”, and then he “fell asleep”.  The stones which were hurled at Stephen, hitting his body, were stones of identity.  It is not without merit to mention that in the Revelation is mentioned a stone,

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:17

Stephen had his stones, and they were stones of blessing because as he was dying he looked into heaven and could see glory;

“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

O, for the passion of our people like Stephen had.  For a fire to burn in our hearts for people who are bound in religion, but hate Jesus Christ, and refuse His death, burial and resurrection, by continually trying to earn their way to God’s presence and favor.  Preaching to the religious may not get you any popular vote, but you will see God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are the study notes for a sermon preached on October 05, 2008.

When You Go To Battle

It could be said, that you and I have either been in a battle, will be in a battle, are presently in a battle, or are just getting through a battle.

There are many times in Scriptures when God says, “Be not afraid…” or something equivalent to that phrase, like, “Fear not”.  These are meant as words of comfort, encouragement, and trust in the Lord.

One of those verses is found in the twentieth chapter of Deuteronomy and in the first verse.  “When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them; for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”  Now isn’t that a wonderful verse of encouragement and hope.

As you read this you may think, “Well, I am not in battle.”  Maybe you are thinking of a physical battle where blood is being shed, and that is not exactly what I mean.  As Christians we face an enemy every day, and that enemy is also the enemy of God.  He hates God, and hates God’s people and will attack the God of creation through His people.

Everyday we enter a battle.  The word here is “Be not afraid of them”.  The “Them” of course being the enemy.  The reason we need not be afraid is because the LORD our God is with us, and He is the one who delivered us from our Egypt – the world of sin and its condemnation.

Do not fear; trust the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Our Love For Jehovah

OUTLINE for Deuteronomy 5:6-21;

I.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART (vv. 6-7).
II.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (vv. 8-10).
III.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND (v. 11).
IV.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (vv. 12-15)

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART (vv. 6-7).  God [YHWH or YaHWeH] is the One and only One who delivered Israel from Egypt.  Delivered from the house of bondage He calls His delivered people to trust only in Him.

To LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART is to love only Him.  When a man is  in love with a woman, he grows more in love with her with each passing day.  The same is true with knowing and loving God.  In the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy we are told, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart…” (v. 5); and in Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus is quoted saying the same thing (Matthew 22:37;  Mark 12:30;  Luke 10:27).

When God speaks here He is not authorizing us to put Him at the top of the list of gods to worship.  His heart’s command is to worship Him alone, and there is no other.  Would a man tell his wife “As long as you have me at the top of the list, you may see all the other men you want”?  No man in his right mind, and with any moral character would say that.

The heart is the seat of who we are.  The heart of the one who worships God alone will have his/her heart filled with God.

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (vv. 8-10).  Mankind is the only one of God’s creation which is made in His image and after His likeness.  We are told that when God had made Adam, “…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7 (KJV).

When we LOVE GOD WITH ALL OUR SOUL we are loving Him from who we really are.  He breathed into our nostrils the breath of life, and that is not said of any other creature of creation, but mankind.

When we worship and love gods of our own making we denigrate ourselves.  Even when we worship self through selfishness, atheism, agnosticism, or in science, technology, or any other means of self worth garbage; we do not lower God we lower ourselves.

It is certain, at least in my mind, that everything which God has made obeys the ordinances and laws of God set down for each of them with the exception of one; and that one is man.  The one made in His image has sinned, rebelled, and seeks other things as their god.  The worship of other gods is demon worship;

“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).

Man is the only part of God’s creation of which God has said is made in His image and after His likeness. Remember, everytime you look at another human being you are looking at the image of God. Though this image is darkened by sin; there is light for thier soul. To murder the unborn in the womb is to murder the image of God. To curse another human being is to curse the image of God. To lie about another is to lie about the image of God.

The greatest, purest, and clearest Image of God was the One who walked on earth as God’s Son.  His name is Jesus.  He said, “If you have seen Me,  you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND (v. 11).  It is certain, at least to me, that many people of our society need a renewed mind. I know that Jesus also said that, “…From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh…” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45), but is it not the mind that gives the mouth the ability to speak. And, we do often “Speak our mind”. We say things like, “…I will give them a piece of my mind…”, and usually when we cannot afford to give them any.

God’s name is often used, even by professing Christians who use His name without thought. It has been said that the Hebrew scribes, when writing the Scriptures would change “pens” to write the name of God. It was so special that the name of God is not even clearly revealed in the original languages. In the Hebrew language all we know of the name God is YHWH. That name has been transliterated to Jehovah or YaHWeH. The best name we have for God is J-E-S-U-S. And, how often we hear His name used vainly.

The heart that is abundant with the things of God and Jesus His Son will speak from that abundance. An abundant heart will have a clear, thinking mind. The abundant heart will speak things which will glorify the Father and the whole God-head. When your heart and soul are filled with God, are you going to speak vainly of God? No way.

There are those who use God’s name in vain by cursing and swearing. What about those who speak God’s name, seemingly in a reverent manner on Sunday at church, but the rest of the week live like the world in the way they speak? It seems to me to be the height of hypocrisy. Not just a hypocritical act but the act of a Hypocrite.

There is nothing that turns off a someone away from God quicker than someone who professes Christianity on Sunday, but imbibes in the world the rest of the week. This is a taking of God’s name in vain as well. God help us to guard our minds, by always speaking reverently of God. “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” (Psalm 111:9).

What about those who do all the churchy, traditional things, but overlook doing right toward their neighbor?

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” (Isaiah 29:13).

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9).

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” (Luke 6:46-48).

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (vv. 12-15).  This is the fourth and final commandment having to do with our relationship with God. It is important to have this relationship. We are born into this world with that relationship in deadness. There is no spiritual heart for God. The law is pure evidence that this is so. There is no human being who has obeyed the law of God completely, except the Son of God Himself – Jesus Christ.

In the first place the Sabbath was initiated by God after the sixth day of creation when His work was finished.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” (Genesis 2:1-3).

In creation God established a work cycle for mankind. Contrary to some beliefs work is not a part of the curse. Laziness is a sin and is a part of the curse. God made it where every hard working person would have a day of rest and worship. It is still necessary to have a day to rest and to worship the Lord our God. It is a shame on our society in which people work seven days a week and never give God a thought. The only god some people worship is the “Greenback” which can do absolutely nothing for peace or joy.

For Israel it was a day for renewing their strength after six days of laboring, and for worshipping God. The Christian is not bound by this commandment. We find our strength and rest in Him. He is in fact our rest and strength. That does not mean that we are to forsake the day of worship. It does mean that our worship is to be everyday, and when we join with our brothers and sisters on Sundays to lift up the name of our Lord and Savior, and God.

The Christian and the Sabbath is shown us in Hebrews 4:1-11. There we are told,

“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief…”.

Because Jesus fulfilled this and all the law by His complete and perfect obedience to God, His Father, we are privileged and honored to join together on the first day of the week to do so, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7). “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:5-6). The reason we worship on Sunday is because of the fulfillment and completion of the law in Christ Jesus and His resurrection on Sunday morning. The Christian’s rest is in Jesus Christ, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28). Jesus said this before He died and was buried and rose again. That means it was so in the beginning as well.

Our strength is God’s.  He gives every breath we breath.  He gives every beat of our heart.  He gives us every step we take.  Our sole allegiance ought to be to Him and to Him alone.

Loving God We Love Our Neighbor

OUTLINE vv. 16-21

I.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR BEGINS AT HOME (v. 16).
II.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS LOVING AND RESPECTING HUMAN LIFE (v. 17).
III.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS CHERISHING THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE (v. 18).
IV.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR RESPECTS PRIVATE OWNERSHIP (v. 19).
V.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE BEAR WITNESS OF THE TRUTH (v. 20).
VI.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE DESIRE THEM TO BE BLESSED (v. 21).

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR BEGINS AT HOME (v. 16).  Without our mothers and fathers we would not be present in the world.  That should be a good thing for us.  It is a sad thing that many a child grows up never knowing their dad, and sometimes their mom.  One of the most dreadful things is that some of those who do grow up with both parents is the disrespect many have toward them.

Usually, when a child does not honor and respect their parents, they have less respect, if any respect, for law enforcement, and for any in places of authority; thus getting themselves into a multitude of troubles.  God intended children to have their parents.  Mom’s and Dad’s; you are not ordained by God to be a friend to your child; you are called, ordained to be a parent, giving them guidance, correction, love, care, providing for them as they are growing and learning.  Friendship with your son(s) or daughter(s) will come when they are grown, then, you will have a friendship which you will cherish.

This is the only commandment of the ten with a promise.  One reason for the Babylonian exile was Israel’s disrespect for parents;

“In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow”. (Ezekiel 22:7);

“Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee. Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the LORD have spoken it, and will do it. And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee. And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 22:13-16).

Could it be that many of the problems of the society within the United States is much related to the disrespect of children toward parents, many authority figures, and God Himself?  That may have started with adults having a disrespect for human life.  Which would have began with a turning away from God.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS LOVING AND RESPECTING HUMAN LIFE (v. 17).  This sixth commandment is given to protect life, human life.  We are to cherish, and respect all human life.  The human baby in the womb of his/her mother, or even the embryo in the glass dish, or frozen in storage.  The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER Pocket Dictionary defines “embryo: a living being in the earliest stages of development–”,  and we have “Scientist” who want to cut up and destroy human embryoes for the purpose of “life saving” stem cell research.  These are not “Scientist”; they are butchers.

Let me get one thing straight.  This commandment is a commandment against cold-blooded murder.  Willful, pre-meditated, planned taking of a human life.  It is not commandment against protecting one’s own life.  It is not commandment against the execution of a murderer.  The execution of a murderer is surely the surest form of respect for human life.  Capital punishment of the murderer shows all that every human being is equal before God.  When we allow a convicted murderer to live; we count her/his life more precious than the one they killed.  When we put to death the one who killed maliciously; we  show not only respect for human life, but also show the respect that is due God’s commandments.

Here is some Scripture to reconcile the sixth commandment with capital punishment –

“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’ brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Gen. 9:5-6).

“And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.” (EX. 21:15).

“And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.” (EX. 21:18-19).

Then a New Testament passage,

” Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:1-7).

All human life is precious.  Our neighbor’s life and all in his/her household are precious in the sight of our Lord.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS CHERISHING THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE (v. 18).  This commandment, the seventh, is a decree of respect and honor for the marriage of every man and woman.  Marriage is not a right it is an institution of God.  It is decreed by God that “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24), and this definitely means a man and a woman.

The First Institution God Ordained. This first institution is MARRIAGE. This blessed institution is falling by the wayside in our modern society. Our government penalizes married couples by charging them more  taxes in some cases. Elderly couples can receive more Social Security benefits by living together without marrying. This, in essence, is government, our government of the United States; rewarding immoral behavior.

Young couples are living together more and more without marriage. They want to “Test drive” the relationship, similar to test driving a car they want to purchase. This is a relationship not a piece of property. If you test drive a car and buy it there will come a day in a few years, at the most, where you will get rid of that car. If you “Test drive” that relationship, that is what most likely will happen to the relationship too. Why? Because there is need for commitment, and where there is no commitment, there is no power or permanance to the relationship. Either party in the relationship can leave at any time. It is with sadness that I must admit, there are many who enter marriage with this attitude as well. If you are not prepared to spend a lifetime with someone do not marry, but do not make a sham of marriage by living in rebellion to God’s law by cohabitating. There is little to no respect for the institution for marriage, and it seems due to the fact of no respect for God and that which is holy, righteous and good.

Marriage is more than, “Just a sheet of paper…”. It is in fact the bringing together of two – one man and one woman – before God and they two become “One flesh” (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31). It is in fact a life-time commitment with binding vows that promise one another, and God, that whether “…rich or poor, in sickness or in health, loving no other, until death do we part.” That is more than a sheet of paper; it is a “binding contract” with God, and has serious repercussions if the bond is broken any way other than by death.

THERE IS FORGIVENESS (John 8:1-11). In the Bible the penalty for adultery is death. The Scripture given previously to the last sentence shows this was what was in the heart and mind of this woman’s accusers. Quick to pick up the stones of accusation, slow to mercy, slow to forgiveness. With this woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus gives her forgiveness.

Notice Jesus’s words, “…Go, and sin no more”. It was not just a blanket forgiveness without responsibility. She had been forgiven, and now her life would reflect the cleansing and forgiveness she had received. Muse on these questions for awhile. Where was the man who was caught in the act with her? What did Jesus write in the dirt on the ground? Why didn’t they throw the stones?

The only one who could have stoned her forgave her instead. THERE IS FORGIVENESS FOR THE SIN OF ADULTERY. There is forgiveness for all sin, when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR RESPECTS PRIVATE OWNERSHIP (v. 19).  For some reason there are many  who think society owes them something so they take what they want, when they want it, and often at great cost to someone else.  Some people who work in some business think they have a right to take a little something which belongs to their boss.  It could be “just a box of paper clips”, or only showing one’s self busy when the boss is watching.  It is theft.  It is stealing.

* Of the first seven commandments; death is the penalty for the violation.
* This eighth commandment does not call for the death penalty – it calls, rather for restitution (Ex. 22:1; Luke 19:5-10).
* There is one exception, that is if they “Kidnap” – steal a human being (Ex. 21:16). This called for the death penalty.

If we love God and one another we will not desire what another has, and take and steal. We will practice what Paul taught the Ephesians, rather, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28). There will be no need for gambling, stealing from those who are more needy – doing it legally. When one loves their neighbor there is also a love for God and for being a faithful steward of God’s resources He has put in our trust. Also there will be the need to see that all debts are paid in full, especially the debt to our neighbors that could be the redemption of their souls.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE BEAR WITNESS OF THE TRUTH (v. 20).  This commandment is a decree against lying against your neighbor.  Bearing false witness to condemn, to elevate one’s self, to unjustly bolster one’s self image over another, or to bring condemnation before a court.

The Truth is precious, and we should be truthful with our neighbors, with our families, and most of all with God.  When we love God and our neighbors the truth will be precious to us.

The law of God says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” What exactly does this involve. Is it for the individual who is witnessing in court? Yes! Is it for the individual who is witnessing to a neighbor? Yes! You are witnessing as you share a word of gossip. You are witnessing as you defame the character of someone you do not care for. Is this a good witness? No! This is as true in politics. When one candidate charges the other with things they have heard, but are not proven. When one charges the other with something they know is not true.

J. Vernon McGee writes,

“Did you know that there are more words for breaking this commandment than all the other commandments put together?….some of them – lying, mendacity, prevarication, slander, backbiting, defamation, detraction, belittling, censoriousness, gossip, depreciation, derogation, rumor, vilification, aspersion, forgery, mudslinging, falsehood, guile, hypocrisy, insinuation, innuendo, railing, whispering, talebearing, libel, fib, fable, equivocation, disparagement, fabrication, aberation, deceit, trump up, forswear.” (From LOVE, LIBERATION, & THE LAW by J. Vernon McGee pg. 150).

That is a terribly long list of bad words, which are words in action to destroy another.  Should we not consider that when we are guilty of that it is almost certain that it will not be long and they will come back to get us.

Just a few Scriptures will bear out for us the lies destination.

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” Prov 19:5 (KJV).

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.” Prov 19:9 (KJV)

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.” Psalms 101:5 (KJV)

Now look in the New Testament,

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” Rev 21:27 (KJV)

“For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Rev 22:15 (KJV)

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matt 12:36 (KJV)

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE DESIRE THEM TO BE BLESSED (v. 21).  When we have real desire for others [our neighbors] to be blessed we will not have the audacity to desire, lust for, covet the property which belongs to them; or the persons which are in their love and care.

Though this commandment is the final of the ten, it could be the KEY COMMANDMENT.  Think about this; if we disobey this commandment we can very easily and are breaking every one of the other nine.

James tells us, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10 (KJV). Get that, “Guilty of all”. Now that can be said of all the others too, but here, I hope you can see why it is important to realize that covetousness is a seed of evil, that breeds evil, and leads to the decay of the whole law in the hearts of people.

According to the book of Colossians it is Idolatry to covet. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” Col 3:5 (KJV). Even the book of Ephesians backs this up by saying, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Eph 5:5 (KJV). Note that Paul has written there, “Nor covetous man, who is an idolater…” O, the sad thing is there are many, many, too many people who live for the grasping and holding on of things, or people, or positions, or power; do I need to go on. I think you get the point.

The following verses are the words of Jesus:

”Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15 (KJV).

Again Jesus says,

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: ) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matt 6:31-34 (KJV).

Now if this is not a word for those who covet things and such, I am mistaken about the whole issue,

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matt 6:21 (KJV).

If your heart is on the things of the world, that is your treasure. However, if your heart is on the Lord and His righteousness and glory, that is your treasure. If you are going to covet; covet the godly things, that will glorify the Savior.

When our treasure is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, then we have these laws written in our hearts, and our desire is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  No one I know of wants any of these negative acts conducted against them.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Error Of Balaam

Numbers 31:16

There are some in the work of the ministry for the ministry of keeping, or getting into others wallets, billfolds, and purses.  Maybe it should be called the taking of others wallets, billfolds, and purses.  This is not a new thing.  The man who is called by God to proclaim the message of God’s word can find himself in many temptations.  One of the strongest is that of obtaining all the wealth of this world he can.

That tends to be the problem with Balaam.

The Bible says;

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 1:11 (KJV)

There are two other men named in this verse; Cain of Genesis 4, and Korah [Core] from Numbers 16.  Cain killed his brother; Korah verbally attacked and led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron.  What is the “error of Balaam”?  Greed for reward.  And that is not only gold, silver, precious stones; but it can be power, prestige, position, performance, and/or profit.

Let’s look at Balaam, and his life, his acts – both good and bad, and his demise.

I.  KNOWN TO BE A PROPHET; HE IS REQUESTED TO CURSE THOSE WHOM GOD HAS BLESSED (Numbers 22:6-14).

II.  SEEN TO BE AN ANXIOUS PROPHET TO CURSE WHOM GOD HAS BLESSED (vv. 15-21).

III.  GOES TO BALAK, BECAUSE HE CANNOT SEE (vv. 22-35).

IV.  BALAAM EVIDENTLY HAS THE RIGHT WORDS; BUT NOT THE RIGHT HEART (23:7-12, 18-24).

V.  BALAAM’S EYES ARE OPENED TO THE TRUTH OF ISRAEL (24:2-9, 15).

VI.  BALAAM PROPHESIES OF ISRAEL AND THEIR FUTURE BLESSING (vv. 15-24).

VII.  BALAK BRINGS A CURSE UPON THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL (chapter 25).

VIII.  WHAT BALAAM DID TO AID IN THE CURSE UPON THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL (Numbers 31:16)

NO ONE CAN CURSE THOSE WHOM GOD HAS BLESSED (Numbers 22:6-14).  God has previously told, and promised, “I will bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you” (Genesis 12:3).  What Balak was requesting was a curse on himself, but then, they were already cursed by their own fear, hatred, and rejection of God’s people.

Balaam seems to be a sorcerer that was well known among the people of the land of Moab.  His sorcery is spoken of,

“And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.” (Numbers 24:1)

He dealt with “enchantments”, “ritual”, or “performance”, and this is probably the very first time God has intervened in his greedy pursuits; and because it was going to relate to His people.  It can only be but by the mercy and grace of God that He intervened.  This could have been nothing more than God showing them, ie., Balaam, Balak, and the Moabites the power of the One True God of Israel.

The thought of Balaam’s face being set toward the wilderness is that he may find a way to curse them.  He at least desires that he may find a cause for God to judge them.  In other words he is not interested in doing the will of YHWH; he is interested in lining his pockets from the wealth of Moab, and their king.

TOO ANXIOUS, FROM GREED FOR WEALTH, LEADS TO THE ATTEMPTED CURSING OF WHAT GOD HAS BLESSED (22:15-21).  Remember Esau, and Jacobs stew (Genesis 25:29-34)?  Esau had gone to hunt or something; may have been gone for a day and without any game on returning.  He is hungry, tired, and the scent of Jacob’s stew makes his mouth water.  At what price will Esau feed his stomach?  At what price will Balaam feed his greed?  At what price will a pastor sell out his calling, ministry, family, or church?  At what price will the Christian man sell his faith and home for that woman at work who pays him more attention than his wife at home?  At what price will that Christian woman sell her faith, her children, her husband, for that more lavish lifestyle?

Is our faith something we can sell?  Some seem to think they can.  When Balaam set out on the journey which was fanned by the flames of greed and fear; the voice he heard louder than any other was the jingle of the gold and silver coins in their purses, the position, power, prestige and profit he could receive if he would just “curse” these people wandering in the wilderness.

He did the right thing in turning down Balak the first time.  He heard the word of the LORD there.  Then, the servants of Balak returned with a better offer, and if he would have been the man of God he should have been; his answer would have been an immediate, NO!

When God has given a clear answer in the negative; especially in this type of situation; there is no need to seek God’s advice again.  He is simply wanting God’s approval to go with the men (Numbers 22:1-21).  God in his patience with Balaam gives him a clear message which he disobeys (vv. 20-21).  Balaam is one of those who merely use God for his own means.  He is a sorcerer (he uses enchantments (24:1)), and he is also known for using all other kinds of sorcery, thus seeking the guidance of the devil as well.  He is a man, a prophet, with a divided heart, and no loyalty to God, holiness, righteousness, or justice.

What price did Esau pay?  He paid the sum of his birthright.  What price will Balaam pay?  That will become apparent by the end of the message.

WHEN THE DUMB CAN SEE AND SPEAK THE LORD MAY COME AND OPEN BLIND EYES THAT THEY MIGHT SEE (vv. 22-35).  Balaam, being anxious to sin against the will of God, and to get him his wealth arises early the next morning saddles his donkey, and gets himself ready to go.  Did Balaam not hear what God had said?  Hear God’s words to Balaam:

“If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.” 22:20 (KJV)

The text tells us nothing of the men coming to him;  he just rises up and gets ready to go.  His mind, his heart is not on God but wealth.

Why is it that we can get out of the will of God, then blame God for not working in our lives?  “I can’t see God doing anything anymore”; someone might say.  “What have you done to shun God or His Word?” would be my first question.  Have you gone your own way?  It could be that God may have some “donkey” to speak to you so as to spare your life.  And He might for me when I am in a similar situation.

Here are some signs of the blindness of Balaam:

1. It is quite clear that the first approach was from enemies of God’s people;
2. Their payment method of divination, shows us that he was viewed by the haters of Israel as connected with sorcery;
3. He listened to them and their payment a second time without reservation;
4. When God tried to stop him, or at least to get his attention, he could not see it.

When it got right down to the truth it was his lowly donkey who saw the “angel of the LORD” standing in the way, which would have killed him had it not been for the donkey.  Balaam could not see the hand of the Lord ready to slay him; he only thought it to be his donkey.

THOSE WHO SAY THE RIGHT THINGS; BUT DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT HEART (vv. 23:7-12, 18-24).  Can a  prophet or preacher say the right words without being in right relationship with God?  Is it possible for the preacher or prophet to know the Gospel of  Jesus Christ without knowing the Jesus Christ of the Gospel?  It is certain that Balaam knew the right words to say, and evidently God was giving him those words to say.  So the answer to those questions must be; YES!

That can go for the Sunday School Teacher, the Deacon, the Elder, the church Treasurer, or the pastor to the man and woman in the pew.  There are many professors in our churches who are not possessors of the person of Jesus Christ, ie.,  His Spirit within.  They know the right words to say in a personal word testimony, but their life bears no fruit.

Balaam’s life bore no fruit of righteousness.  Even John the apostle writing to the church of Pergamum,

“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Revelation 2:14 (KJV)

This plot between Moab, and the Midianites prove too that it doesn’t matter who is in your family line.  Moab is the eldest of the incestual sons of Lot [Nephew of Abraham] (Genesis 19:36-38).  The Midianites come from Abraham as well; through the wife named Keturah (Genesis 25:1-5); whom Abraham married following Sarah’s death.  Moab gets the Midianites to join them in trying to overthrow Israel.  It is not the bloodline that counts; it is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses all our sin.

WITH EYES WIDE OPEN; YET CONTINUE TO DENY THE TRUTH FOR SAKE OF LUST (vv. 24:2-9, 15).  It is the confession of Balaam himself that says his eyes were opened.  It is the LORD who opened his eyes (v. 4) to see Israel for who they were.  Yet, this man, who divines, who deceives, who has the revelation from the only true and wise God of the identity, work, and uniqueness of this nation, still hungers, craves, lusts for power, prestige, position, and profit.

Jesus said;

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 (KJV)

and the “things” He speaks of is not wealth, riches, power, prestige, position or profit.

There are many who say they know Christ, but have a greater heart for making wealth than they care to know the One who makes wealth.  All things are in His hands, and no one can take them away from Him.  We are, as Christians, “seated with Christ in heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20; 2:6).  The thing is the soul that is with Jesus does not have their hearts on the things of the earth.  Those who do fit into the same category with the “earth dwellers” of the Revelation.

Many of these know the truth of the Gospel, may profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; but they bear no fruit for Christ, thus are eternally lost.  These fit into the same type relationship with Balaam.

THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL, AND THEIR BLESSINGS (vv. 24:15-24). God has opened the eyes of Balaam.  Remember he couldn’t even see the “angel of the LORD” that would have killed him, but his donkey saved his life; thus the LORD was merciful to this false prophet.

His eyes have been opened to the blessing of God upon the nation of people called Israel.  This term [“eyes open”] is used by the prophet himself in a parable he speaks; and uses it at least three times (vv. 4 third parable, 15, and 16 fourth parable).

In this “parable” is a prophecy of the Lord Jesus; “there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel…” (v. 17).  Moab and Edom had been sources of conflict with Israel; even though related; and the coming King would and will deal with them according to His power and might.

The prophecies of Balaam are promises of Israel, and Balaam never fully realizes the truth of what he has spoken.  The mere mention of his name throughout Scriptures seem to indicate that he was false in his life, and that is one of the keys to the recognition of the man of God.

1. The man of God is true to God;
2. The man of God is faithful to God and His Word;
3. The man of God lines his life with the Word of God;
4. The man of God speaks and the Word of God comes to pass.

There are two examples of these in the five books of Moses (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:20-22).  Both of these examples speak of turning the hearts of God’s people to other gods (which are not gods at all), and the worship of demons (1 Corinthians 10:19-20).

The God of Israel is the Holy One; He is the only One;  He is the righteous One; beside Him there is no other.  He is known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; working in the flesh of His Son.  One day all of Israel will turn from their unbelief; and see their God through their Messiah.  The King of kings is coming to rule on His throne in Jerusalem.

AN EVIL THAT CAN BRING GOD’S CHASTISEMENT UPON HIS CHILDREN AND THE ANSWER (Chapter 25).  When God’s people sin it causes grief in the heart of God.  Yet, as the loving, forgiving God and Father that He is He desires to bring them back to Himself.  I have said it many times, and believe it to be a quote from Charles H. Spurgeon, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”.  His children, His people are those who believe Him and His Son Jesus Christ; and live their lives for Him and His glory.

Since Balaam could not curse the people of Israel; he did one of the worse things that a pretender, hypocrite can do; cause evil to come into the heart of God’s people.  There are those in 2009 who believe that just because they are descendants of Abraham they are God’s children; even John the Baptist and Jesus has something to say about that:

“And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Matthew 3:9 (KJV) [words of John Baptist.]

“I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.” John 8:38-40 (KJV)

Notice those words of Jesus; “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.  Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; Galations 3:6; James 2:23).

The only righteousness of God available is that righteousness which comes through the shed blood of Jesus on Calvary’s cross.

Though the death of Jesus Christ has paid the price for our sins we still sin; but as a child of God we have the power, and ability through Jesus Christ not to sin.  When we sin God is not pleased, but He does want us to know that we have and Advocate with the Father (1 John 1:9 – 2:1).

The deception of Balaam brought evil into Israel, and a plague destroyed many of the people, and Phineas acted jealously for God, and stopped the plague.  Some of the people of Israel had fell to the lust of other gods which involved prostitution, and it is the worship of demons.  In this plague 24,000 people died.  God will not, and does not allow His children to sin successfully.  There may be times that it seems; at least in our eyes; that He is letting some things slip by.  If you profess to be a child of God and can sin without guilt, shame, or fear of God’s judgment; you are not His child.

We are not to live in fear, but in peace and love and contentment with God.  You cannot have that if there is sin in your life.  Deal with it.  Paul said, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).  Deal with sin quickly.  “Keep short accounts”.

THE HEART OF BALAAM WHICH WORKS RUIN (Numbers 31:16).  Now, we come to the opening Scripture verse.

“Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.”

We see the trespass which Moses mentions in chapter 25, the wrath and judgment of God; the plague upon Israel taking the lives of 24,000 people; and some dying due to God’s commandment to slay all the guilty.

Though the heart of Balaam was with the Moabites and the Midianites; and for the wealth and perks that went along with it; there is in the midst of this immorality, and debauchery; many people who are grieved by the sins taking place in the camp of God.  These are found at the “…door of the tabernacle of the congregation”, and weeping because of this great sin against God and the people of God.

As the people of God we are to seek to bring good and blessing into people’s lives; not ruin, and harm.  We are to be springs of living water – cool and fresh; refreshing the weary soul.  We are to be hotsprings for healing, renewing and strength.  We are to be especially so to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

If we do things to cause a brother to sin; or to stumble and fall; then we fall into the category of the error of Balaam.  If we do or say something that causes us to look good while harming another; then that is the error of Balaam.  You may think, “I am not doing or saying it for pay?”  Oh!  You’re not?  You have taken away something that belonged to another.  You are in the “Error of Balaam”.  The heart of Balaam was to work ruin in the people of Israel.

Let’s always to seek to lift up our Lord Jesus Christ, glorify His name; and we will not be tearing others down to build up ourselves.  Nor, will we be leading others into sin.  Balaam died at the hands of Israel, along with the kings of Midian (Numbers 31:8).  Though the child of God cannot sin successfully; neither will God overlook those who treat His children poorly.

-Tim A. Blankenship

PROMISES AND PROPHECIES 10 & 11

These are the final references to prophecies, in this series, having to do with Israel in Scripture, God’s promises and prophecies concerning them, the land, and their return to God.

As I stated at the beginning of this series they were put together by my Brother in Christ (Dr. Wayne Stephens) who had been to Israel, and loved the Word of God, and the Promises and Prophecies concerning these events.

Brother Wayne went home to be with the Lord on January 6th of 2006.  My contribution to these articles has been only adding the reference verse to the address of the verse, and publishing them on the pages of FIRE AND HAMMER.

VERSES REFERRING TO PLACES WE [Bro. Wayne Stephens and wife Sylvia] VISITED.

A. Ashkelon: 1 Kings 19:3 – “And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.” (KJV).

2 Kings 12:1 – “In the seventh year of Jehu Jehoash began to reign; and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba.” (KJV).

Jeremiah 47:7 – “How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it.” (KJV).

B. Bethany: Matthew 17; Matthew 21:1 – “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.” (KJV).

C. Capernaum: Matthew 4:18 – “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.” (KJV).

John 6:16 – “And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,” (KJV).

Also see Mark 1:21; 5:41; 11:23

D. Caves of Machpelah: Genesis 25:7-10; 49:28 – 50:14. NOTE: Tombs of the patriarchs and matriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Sarah, Rebeccah and Leah.

E. Caesarea: Acts 8:26-40.

F. Field of Ruth and Field of Shepherds Luke 1:8.

G. Jericho called city of Palm trees. Deuteronomy 34:3; Joshua 2:6; 2 Kings 2:15.

H. Joppa: Joshua 19:46; Acts 9:36; John 1:1-3; Acts 10.

I. Jordon River: Joshua 1 – 3; 3:3-4; Matthew 3:5; Deuteronomy 12:31.

J. Megiddo: 2 Kings 9:15; 1 Kings 10:26; 2 Chronicles 38:20; Revelation 16:16. NOTE: The ruins of Megiddo include the gate and wall, stables, “Manger”, palace where ivory fragments were found; water tunnel and Canaanite temple.

K. Mount of Beatitudes (Horns of Hattin) Matthew 5 – 7.

L. Mount Gerizin (Blessing) and Mount Ebal (Curse): Deuteronomy 12:29.

M. Mount Tabor: Judges 4:5; Hosea 5:1.

N. Nazareth: Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 2:23; Luke 2:51.

O. Pool of Siloam: 2 Kings 25:4; 2 Chronicles 32:4-30; John 9:1-11. Zedekiah and his men escaped through here to Jericho.

P. Rachel’s Tomb: Jeremiah 31:15 (Weeping).

Q. Sea of Galilee: Matthew 4:13; Luke 8:22-25.

R. Shechem: John 4; Genesis 33:18.

S. Valley of Elah: 1 Samuel 17:2.

T. Valley of Gahena: Matthew 27:5-8.

U. Wilderness of Judea: Matthew 4:1-2; Luke 3:2-4.

XI. PRAY FOR JERUSALEM.

A. Psalm 122:1 – “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. 2 Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. 3 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: 4 Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD. 5 For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.

and prays for peace 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. 7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. 8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. 9 Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.” (KJV).

Psalm 125:2 – “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.” (KJV).

B. Isaiah 66:10 – “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: 11 That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. 12 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.” (KJV).

Amos 9:14 – “And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.” (KJV).

Edited for tags and categories by t.a. 03/12/10

PROMISES AND PROPHECIES 5 & 6

V. PROPHECIES CONCERNING REBUILDING THE TABERNACLE.

A. Amos 9:11 – “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: 12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. 13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.”

B. Acts 15:13 – “And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”

VI. PROPHECIES CONCERNING THE BEAUTY AND WEALTH OF THE LAND.

A. Land will blossom as a rose. Isaiah 35:1 – “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”

B. As the Garden of Eden. Ezekiel 36:34 – “And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. 35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.”

C. Fruit. READ Isaiah 27 —– NOTE $80,000,000 exported in oranges alone in 1970. Israel returns to the Lord.

1. Ezekiel 36:8 – “But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come. 9 For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown: 10 And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded: 11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 12 Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men.”

D. Wealth of the Dead Sea. Isaiah 60:5 – “Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.”

1. NOTE: The estimated wealth of the Dead Sea at the time of writing (estimated time was in early 1980’s) was $1,270,000,000,000 in chemicals only. Possesses four times the entire wealth of the United States.

E. Forestry: Isaiah 41:19 – “I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together: 20 That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.”

1. Ezekiel 36:8 – “But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come. 9 For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown: 10 And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded: 11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.”

2. There are now over 150,000 acres of natural forests, plus shrines such as the forests of 6,000,000 trees for the Jews killed by Hitler.

F. Haifa Harbor: The finest port of the East Mediterranean. Deuteronomy 33:19 – “They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand.”

1. “Such abundance of the seas…” NOTE: a desalinization plant at Eilat daily supplies 220,000 gallons of water at a cost of less than a dollar per 1000 gallons. This is the “Abundance of the sea…” as surely as the wealth of imports at Haifa Harbor. NOTE the latter part of Deut. 33:19, “Treasures hidden in the sand”. This could refer to oil. Approximately 40 wells were producing at the end of 1967; supplying about 200,000 tons per year, and being piped to the Aebulon city of Haifa.

G. Fresh Water. Isaiah 41:18 – “I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”

H. Richness of Land – NOTE: “Sweet grapes for juice.” Amos 9:13 – “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.”

Edited for tags and categories by t.a. 03/12/10

PROMISES AND PROPHECIES 2

II. PROPHECIES PREDICTING FINAL RETURN OF THE JEWS TO PALESTINE.

A. Deuteronomy 4:27-30 – “And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’ hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;”

B. Isaiah 11:11-12 – “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

C. Jeremiah 24:6 – “For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up”.

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS

D. Jeremiah 32:37-41 – “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: 39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. 41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.”

E. Ezekiel 37:21-28 – “And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: 23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’ children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.”

F. These verses say, “I will gather you in my anger”.

1. Ezekiel 22:17-19 – “And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 18 Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. 19 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem.”

2. Ezekiel 36:24-28 – “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”

3. Ezekiel 39:25-29 – “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; 26 After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid. 27 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; 28 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. 29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”

Edited by T.A. 03/12/10

THE UNLEASHING OF EVIL

THE UNLEASHING OF DARKNESS – EVIL

Revelation 9:1-21

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

And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. vv. 1-2 (KJV).
We have come to the fifth trumpet, which is also the first “Woe” of chapter eight verse 13, “Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth…”. The word “Woe” is related to great calamity. Jesus Himeslf as He walked among men pronounced “Woe” on Chorazin and Bethsaida in Matthew 11:21.
The star mentioned is different from the stars previously mentioned in verse 12 of chapter eight. This star is a personality. The implication is that the star has fallen. “To him” shows this as a person. So in this case it is not a literal star. It can be likened to the “stars” of chapter 1 verse 20 and to 2:1.
This star is one who has fallen from Heaven. He will no longer be allowed to come into God’s presence to accuse “The brethren”.
Where the judgment of the first four trumpets dealt with things man can see, hear, touch, taste and/or smell, this fifth trumpet judgment appears to deal with the demon horde. We know the chief of demons to be Satan. To him is given a key to unleash the demon swarm, held captive, upon the earth.
Because these unbelievers have mocked the spiritual and believed no connection to life or living the unholy spritual beings will be set free from their abode and attack those on the earth.
The smoke out of the pit goes up like out of a furnace. It will be like hell was unleashed upon lost mankind.

And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. 5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. 6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. vv. 3-6 (KJV)
What came out of the “Abyss” is likened unto locusts. We cannot say these are literal locusts. God used a plague of locusts against Egypt (EXODUS 10:1-20), and in Deuteronomy 28:38, 42 we find that God used locusts as judgment against Israel in times of their unfaithfulness. We also see judgment upon Israel with locusts in Joel 2. These in Egypt and Israel were literal crop eating locusts.
What makes these something other than literal locusts is their description. The first being, they have a scorpions tail [“…power, as the scorpions on the earth have power”]. The literal locust has no such tail.
These were also given a commandment. They could do no harm to the grass, nor any green thing, nor to any tree. They could do no harm to the people who had “The seal of God in their foreheads”. God knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19).
The genuine locust eats any green thing in its path and is a great cause of famine throughout the world. The locust here, though, attack and torment men. They are to torment, but not to kill. This is to go on for a period of five months, which is the life span of locusts.
The torment will be so great and fierce that men will seek to die, but “Death shall flee from them”. These could be some of the same ones who seek eternal life by searching for a “Fountain of Youth” use of “Cryogenics”, or even searching for the supposed “Holy grail”. Now they are seeking death and cannot find it.
“What the scriptures here convey is that in addition to the natural plagues of the first four trumpets, now wicked men are afflicted by torment of demons” JOHN WALVOORD The Revelation Of Jesus Christ pg. 161.

And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. 8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 9 And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. 10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. 11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. 12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter. vv. 7-12 (KJV).
Now we are given a more complete description of these locusts creatures.
This description causes me to see this as a demon mass. When this “Woe” takes place on the earth it may be possible that wicked men will not even see their tormentors.
John’s description of them is horrendous. Sometimes demons can manifest themselves as beautiful beings, but when we see them in the light of God’s Word and eternity they are the most hideous and deceitful of beings.
As also stated in verses 5 and 10 they are only given a period of five months in which to inflict their agony. There is no reason to try and make something more of the months than is indicated. It is probably a literal five month period. “Five months is the ordinary time in the year during which locusts commit their ravages” (HENRY ALFORD as copied from The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John Walvoord pg. 161).
These demon creatures have a king of sorts. This is probably the one to whom “Was given the key of the bottomless pit” or the other name is “Abyss”. A demon while speaking to Jesus mentioned this place (Luke 8:31).
The name of this king is given in Hebrew and Greek. “Abaddon” is the Hebrew, and “Apollyon” the Greek. Both names mean “Destroyer” and satan is known as the destroyer. SEE John 10:10. So the one who was given the key to the pit and the king of the demon realm is probably one and the same, satan, the destroyer.
Verse 12 announces the end of the first woe. The enemy of all mankind is given a free hand with some limitations that clearly show us that the God of Heaven and all creation is in complete control. Remember “Woe” is great calamity, and what a calamity it will be when the demons of hell are unleashed on a God-hating people.
There are some people who have trouble believing a loving God could allow such to take place. It is because of His love, mixed with His holiness and righteousness that this does happen. In His love He has chosen a people by His grace. In His holiness and righteousness He judges the unrepentant to declare and manifest that there is a holy race of people. All redeemed through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ shed on the cross for the atonement of man’s sins.

And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 15 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. vv. 13-15 (KJV).
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 of them 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.

And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. 17 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. 18 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. 19 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. vv. 16-19(KJV).
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 awere only allowed to torment and not to kill this army, vast in number, is allowed to kill.
Has 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.

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: 21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. vv. 20-21 (KJV).
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. With THE UNLEASHING OF DARKNESS -EVIL will be its end. Amen.

Edited for tags by t.a. 03/24/10

JESUS IS OUR PROVIDENCE

JESUS IS OUR PROVIDENCE
Revelation 7:1-17

For some there will be a problem in this chapter. We see two distinct groups of saints. A number of one hundred and forty four thousand is given for the first group and , “…A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues…” (v. 9) of the other group. Of the latter group it is said that they, “…stood before the throne, and before the Lamb…”. These seem to be martyrs who died for their faith during the early part of the tribulation.
One thing we can be assured of, is that, no matter what happens on earth, God always has a remnant of people who are faithful to His cause.
It almost seems that chapter seven gives us a break from the words of judgment, and shows us His grace and the destination for all who have faith in Christ Jesus. Chapters fourteen and twenty one, seem to have like purpose. There are going to be some who read this now, “There were no divisions by chapters and verses in the original writings.” That I would agree with, but does it not seem very directed that every seven chapters (and some in between) provides a “rest spot”?

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. Revelation 7:1-3 (KJV).
“In contrast to chapter 6 which seems to give the chronological sequence of major events of the great tribulation, chapter 7 does not advance the narrative, but directs attention to two major groups of saints in the tribulation” JOHN F. WALVOORD.
Some have tried to use verse 1 as proof as the Bible’s lack of scientific accuracy, implying that “Four corners” would mean the earth is square. It is only speaking of the four points of the compass – North, East, West, and South. There you have the “Four corners” of a somewhat round earth. The winds of the earth are mysterious. Who controls the wind? Is it merely cool and hot, or is there a divine hand in it? All of creation is in God’s hand. Wind can aid the sailor at sea, and it can help a car get better gas mileage or worse, depending on the direction you are travelling. I am not sure what the significance of the angels “holding the four winds of the earth” is. Unless, it might be to give a reprieve from judgment for a few moments. A time to stop, think, contemplate, all that is happening, and is about to happen. It is for sure to give time to seal the 144,000 messengers of God, and postpone judgment until they are sealed.
These verses give us clear evidence that the control of the wind is in the hand of God. SEE Matthew 24:31. It could almost seem that satanic forces are trying to use the wind to hinder the placing of the seal of protection upon the people of God.
This break, actually a parenthesis, in the judgments give us reason to contemplate the purposes of God. The purpose of the judgments is for sin to have its way and run its course to its end while God redeems a chosen people from sins bondage. Oliver B. Greene says this of chapter 7, “Chapter 7 of Revelation is parenthetical. In this chapter we look away from the breaking of the seven seals, in order that the Spirit might enlighten us concerning the sealing of a chosen group of evangelists to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the teeming millions who never heard the Gospel of the Grace of God. After the Rapture, these 144,000 will do what the Church should have done during the Dispensation of Grace. God has never been without a witness on the earth, and He never will be” From “The Revelation” commentary by Oliver B. Greene pp. 223 & 224.
These 144,000 messengers are to be sealed with the seal, “in their foreheads”. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is sealed by the Holy Spirit “Until the day of redemption” (Ephesians1:13-14; 4:30). These messengers are untouchable until God’s work for them is finished.

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. Revelation 7:4-8 (KJV).
In these verses we find that God names a specific group of people and a specific number of them. This is referring specifically to the nation of Israel. Some would like to spiritualize this and come to the conclusion that these and the “Numberless multitude” mentioned later represents all redeemed people of all the ages. There is nothing said about these being the Church, however. If we keep in mind that the Scriptures deal with three distinct people groups we will not spiritualize the text. The three groups are the Hebrews, the Gentile, and the Church of Jesus Christ.
It is quite evident that both groups mentioned here are groups who will be in the “great tribulation”. This group of Hebrews who number 144,000 are identified by their tribes. It seems two tribes are omitted and two added in their place. The two tribes omitted are Dan and Ephraim. In the book of Hosea “Ephraim” is another name given for the Northern Kingdom, and Dan was located within that kingdom. Jereboam set up two golden calves; one in Bethel and the other in Dan. Ephraim never had a godly king who trusted the Lord God. This could be the reason, at least, a partial reason for their apparent absence. SEE Deuteronomy 29:18-21.
Most likely, there is no Hebrew living who knows to which tribe they belong. Some would ask, “If that is the case, how will they be brought together for this purpose?” That is a good question. The answer is rather simple. Although, the genealogical records have been lost, God knows the genealogy of every living being. He will bring it to pass.
Who are these 12,000 times 12 tribes which equal 144,000 Hebrew men? “Watchtower” people say they are. Seventh Day Adventists say they are. Mormons say they are. Herbert W. Armstrong used to say that the people of the Worldwide Church of God was. They are all wrong. None of them are, unless there is a Hebrew male among them who will not leave in the rapture, and they are appointed and called by God as such. These are people chosen from the nation of Israel whom Jesus refers as the “Elect” in Matthew 24 -25. In “The Olivet Discourse” of Matthew 24 and 25, it could be, that, Jesus is speaking of the “Time of Jacob’s trouble” we know as the “great tribulation”. The “Elect” He mentions is possibly the 144,000 and possibly others who will believe at that time.
What is this seal in these messenger’s foreheads? These 144,000 are sealed with the name of God “In their forehead” (14:1).
There would appear to be a problem with this interpretation. The Holy Spirit removed with the Church at the rapture seems to be invalid if people are going to be saved during the tribulation. Keep this in mind. People were saved before the coming of the Holy Spirit taking up residence in the Church. People will be saved in the same way after the removal of the presence Spirit in the Church. Even in the time of great sorrow God has a people, the 144,000, who will preach the gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of the kingdom is the Kingdom of Jesus’s rule and reign on earth. It is the long awaited and promised kingdom of David.
We end up with confusion when we spiritualize Scripture and try to make the Church Israel. Romans 9 – 11 deals specifically with the nation, the people called Jews, and Paul writes there that , “…all Israel shall be saved” (Romans 11:26). Verses 4-8 are the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise.

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. Revelation 7:9-10 (KJV).
It seems that the ministry of the 144,000 is quite effective.
Matthew 24:14 says this gospel must be preached to all nations before the end comes. There seems to be a distinction between the gospel of grace and the gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of grace has to do with the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and second coming of Jesus Christ. The gospel of the kingdom has to do with Jesus coming [His second coming] to set up the earthly kingdom of David.
These mentioned in verses 9 and 10 are converts of the witnesses, and who give their lives for the faith. These are some of the same ones mentioned in 6:9-11. They are “the great multitude” too numerous to even count. They stand “before the throne” and “before the Lamb”. The “white robes” show they are clothed in righteousness, and the “palms in their hands” symbolize their victory. Notice, they worship before the throne.

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. Revelation 7:11-12 (KJV).
If we keep in mind that chapter seven is not in chronological order we can see a complete ascription of praise around the throne. As a matter of fact this scene could be placed at the end of the book when the redeemed of all the ages are gathered around the throne worshipping God and the Lamb.
We have “all the angels” and, the “twenty four elders” – representing the believers of the Old Testament and the Church. We also see, once again the “Living ones”, and the martyrs of the faith during the tribulation. They ascribe to God perfect praise. There is a sevenfold ascription of praise as in chapter 5.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:13-14 (KJV).
One of the “elders” asks John, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes?” John’s answer is one of wisdom, “Sir, you know”.
The elder then tells us clearly who these are that are mentioned in verse 9. They “came out of great tribulation”. The Church down through the centuries has endured tribulation, but not like that which is called “great tribulation”. And it will not experience it. It would serve absolutely no purpose.
Notice, that it is also very clear how these became redeemed people. “And made them white in the blood of the Lamb”. It is still by the blood of the Lamb – the Lord Jesus Christ – that folks are saved in the “great tribulation” not by “works of righteousness”.

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:15-17 (KJV).
There is eternal bliss for those who die a martyr’s death for faith in Jesus Christ.
1. Serving Him continually;
2. He shall dwell among them;
3. No more hunger;
4. No more thirst;
5. No more suffering from the elements;
6. He shall feed them – “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”;
7. He shall lead them to “Living fountains of waters”;
8. He shall wipe away all tears.
It is very clear how one is to enjoy this eternal bliss”. By placing faith in the blood atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of all mankind.
JESUS IS OUR PROVIDENCE

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

WORSHIPPING THE ONE TO WHOM JUDGMENT BELONGS

WORSHIPPING THE ONE TO WHOM JUDGMENT BELONGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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