Troubler of the Land

Are there any people or any one person who is the problem when a country, or land is troubled, and plagued by drought, famine, hunger, poverty, or disasters?  Do these things just kind of happen?  I think there are a lot of things we need to consider.  One is, does that nation or people group call themselves a people of God? Do they claim to live by the laws of God?  In the case of which we look at today the answer to those last two  questions is “Yes!”

Let us hear from God’s word…

“And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.”  1 Kings 18:17-20 (KJV)

Because of the godlessness of Ahab and Jezebel, and their leading the northern kingdom of Israel into rebellion against the LORD God, Elijah had prayed for a period of no rain.  It was a 3.5 year period without rain.

That poses the question; “Who is really a troubler of a land or country?”  The answer to that question with a Biblical answer is the one or one’s who depart from God’s law and His word.

Elijah was accused by the king of being the troubler, but Elijah turned that back around telling the king, “…You and your father’s house have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and have followed Baalim”.  They departed from the living God, to follow a fake God, who had no power, no life, nothing to give, but destruction.

Who troubled Israel?  The one’s who departed from the word and law of God.  Who troubles our land?  The one’s who have departed from the word of God, and the law of God fulfilled in His Son Jesus Christ.

Let us return to the LORD our God with all our  heart.

The LORD Has Done that Which He Spoke

“And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king’s sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning. And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, Ye be righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him: but who slew all these? Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spake concerning the house of Ahab: for the LORD hath done that which He spake by His servant Elijah.” 2 Kings 10:8-10 (KJV)

The purpose of Scripture is to glorify the LORD God. Through Scripture we see God’s working through the people He chooses, and loves, and through those who hate Him too.

Through Jehu the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah the prophet was fulfilled just as the prophet had spoken (1 Kings 21:17-29). God will never leave undone any word that He has ever spoken. He shall bring it to pass.

The self-righteous among us will declare that this judgment is horrible. How can a god like this be a god of love? If God does not judge evil, how could He be a God of love? Would be a more viable question in my thinking.

Some of the self-righteous thinking people may even think, “The god of the Old Testament is different from the god of the New Testament.” Not so. Look how God dealt with sin in the New Testament. He gave His own and only Son to die for our sins; and He is the One who slew Him. “God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” “Smitten of God and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:5-6). And Jesus Himself as He was dying for our sins cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me.” (Matthew 27:46)

Who are we; finite beings; that we should or could question, or accuse the Infinite GOD?

GOD will fulfill every word. Not one word will fall to the earth, or return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11).

For Sale: One Soul

“And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.” 1 Kings 21:20 (KJV)

The confrontation of Ahab by God’s prophet Elijah was following one of the most horrendous acts of murder and treachery in history and Scripture. With the direct scheming, plotting, and lies of Jezebel; to which Ahab was complicit; to murder, and rob citizen Naboth the Jezreelite, of his vineyard.

Note that Ahab considers Elijah an enemy. That in itself speaks volumes of Ahab’s heart. King David; even following his heinous acts of deceit and the murder of Uriah; welcomed the prophet Nathan into his courts (2 Samuel 12:1-14). Anyone who speaks the word of God should be our friend.

How does one begin to sell themselves? The selling of oneself to evil or good is up to that individual. To sell oneself to evil begins with the lust of the eye; the lust of the flesh; and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). Jesus Himself was tempted in these three things; from which all sin comes; when He went into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11)

All it takes to sell yourself to evil is to see God and His word as antiquated, and without merit in the world; or personal life and living. To see God as a liar; or even non-existent; and to make your own deities.

Hear the words of Jesus,

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36-37

Sell yourself rather to the Lord Jesus Christ. He has paid for you with His own life.  Call upon His name, trusting in His death, burial and resurrection, and He will deliver you from your sin and condemnation.

Stand for Righteousness

“And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” 1 Kings 17:1 (KJV)

The Nation was under the rule of a godless king, who was ruled by a demonic, and godless woman. God would show Himself strong and reveal Himself; but who would be the man who would stand before this godlessness?

How would the man of God stand? Upon what would he stand? First of all he would confront the king. Secondly he would stand upon the word of God; and take the message of God to this ruthless, evil ruler.

Christian there is no other thing for us to stand upon with a sure and strong foundation than the commandments, the statutes, the law, the judgments, the precepts, the testimonies, and the way of God. When we begin to rob the power of the word of God, by putting it below technology, science, finance, homes or family; then we have a major problem. Society weakens, culture worsens, and evil flourishes.

Stand of the word of God; begin by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ who bled and died for your sins; and was raised again bodily from the grave. He is returning to earth one day to put away sin forever.

Elijah, Elisha and Jesus

“Ye will surely say unto Me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal thyself. Whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Thy country.'”  And He said, “Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.  But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.  And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.”  ~Jesus (Luke 4:23-27)

The Least in the Kingdom of Heaven is Greater than John

“What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.  But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.  For this is he, of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.’  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.  For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.  And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.  He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”  ~Jesus (Matthew 11:7-15)

Words for Christian Living 053013

“I say then, hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, ‘Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.’ But what saith the answer of God unto him? ‘I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’  Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”  Romans 11:1-6 (KJV)

I find great comfort and encouragement in knowing that the Lord always has a remnant of people who believe His Word, and live by His faith.  It is a comfort to know that He is always working in us by His grace, and is not dependent upon our works.  Even when we fail; God never fails.

The Christian can never enjoy sin and rebellion against God or His word; but when confronted and convicted by the Spirit of God, and the Word of God will turn from their sin, and experience a renewed walk with the Father.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Who Jesus says He Is

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”  Revelation 1:8 (KJV)

In Matthew 16 Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I am?”  The disciples gave many various answers, including Elijah, or one of the prophets,  then Jesus asked them, “Who do you say that I am?”  Peter jumped in with, “You are the Christ, Son of the living God.”  Jesus told him, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father which is in Heaven.”  He was applauding Peter for his answer, for it was the correct one.

Some say that Jesus never said that He is the Son of God.  He has, He did, and He is.

Yet, He is much more than the Son of God.  He too is eternal; from Alpha [Beginning] and Omega [Ending].  That is not the beginning and/or ending of God, but of all that He has made.  Who did Jesus say that He is?

Alpha and Omega.  See Jesus for who He says he is; for who the Father says He is; for who His works say that He is.  He is the Incarnate God; crucified, buried, and bodily resurrected, and returning King.  He is the Saviour and King of the universe.

-T.A.

YAH is God

I have become fascinated with the prophet of Elijah in the past few years, and maybe so in the past few months.  He is known as the prophet of fire, and the reason for that title becomes apparent as you read the Scriptural accounts of his ministry and life.

The name Elijah means, “My God is Jehovah [YHWH]” or “YAH is God”,  and thus the title of this post.  I want to spend some time looking more into the life of Elijah who seems to just appear on the scene in the days of the rule of Ahab and Jezebel over Israel; the Northern kingdom.

“And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, ‘As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.'”  1 Kings 17:1 (KJV)

The above verse is the first mention of Elijah in the Bible, but certainly not the last.  According to my check, Elijah’s name is mentioned at least 108 more times through the New Testament with thirty in the New Testament.  Being a “Tishbite” and since it seems that no one knows the location of a city by this name, then maybe the Strong’s application may be of service to us,

“tishbı̂y  tish-bee’  Patrial from an unused name meaning recourse; a Tishbite or inhabitant of Tishbeh (in Gilead): – Tishbite.”

Notice the word “recourse”, and that could apply more to the person’s; the prophet in this case; interest and heart.  Recourse meaning,

“1: a turning to someone or something for assistance or protection: Resort  2: a source of aid.”  MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY

So could this not mean for us that Elijah was from Gilead, and had a burden for the children of Israel to turn to the One whom they were refusing for the protection and aid they really needed?  I think it is a great possibility.  The  prophet was a man who had a heart for God and for the Northern kingdom to turn to God.

Elijah told the king Ahab that there would be no rain, or dew until he called on the LORD God to give it.  We know from the epistle of James that was three and one half years without dew or rain (James 5:17).  Oh, how the people of God today need a heart like Elijah who will spend time with the LORD, know His heart, preach His Word, even to the kings of the earth; and tell them what God is about to do.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 87 – The Power of a Godly Life

The title of this reveals some inadequacy in my own life.  I do not believe that I exhibit the power of Christ in my life as I ought.  I fall short.  I read the Bible and for today particularly James’s and Peter’s Epistles; and I hear their calls to faith that works, and godliness.

My reading was James 4-5, and First and Second Peter.

James writes,

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”  James 4:1-4 (KJV)

We Christians, especially today, and probably in every age do not realize the power we have with God in prayer.  Maybe I should say, at least I do not.  Part of the problem with the Corinthian church was jealousy over spiritual gifts.  Can you imagine us fighting over who is more spiritual?  The answer is “None”.  I was reading a book by E. M. Bounds, and a chapter about “Prayerless Praying”.  The following is a sentence from that chapter –

“Prayerless praying lacks the essential element of true praying; it is not based on desire, and it is devoid of earnestness and faith.”

When Brother Bounds mentions “Desire” in that sentence he is not meaning worldly, fleshly desire but rather the desire God gives (Psalam 37:3-4).  Our praying is more like rubbing a bottle for a genie, and getting three wishes; and that comes to nothing.

Notice James mentions also, the power of the prayer of the Old Testament prophet Elijah –

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.   And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”  5:16b-18

I look at Elijah, then I take a look at myself.  I have something greater than Elijah, yet not the faith or the power.  Sometimes it seems my prayers have an opposite affect than what I ask; at least from my point of view.  Why did Elijah have so much authority and power in his praying?  I believe it must have been because he was jealous to glorify the LORD of hosts.  He was outraged by Israel’s departure from God; and he was willing to risk his life to restore her back to God; even approaching the king Ahab, and Jezebel.

Now look at what Peter says of holiness –

“But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:15-16

Peter mentions our being “Born again” (1 Peter 1:23), and that it is not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible.  That it is “by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever”, that we are born again.  Born from above, born of God are similar phrases and trues given us throughout the Bible.

Peter gives men instruction concerning their wives,

“…Ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”  1 Peter 3:7

A husband can be so out of fellowship with his wife, his fellowship with God is broken and his prayers hindered.  Peter has given previous instruction to the wives, to slaves (2:18 – 3:6).  They have their responsibilities in Christ as well.  Let no Christian think they can be holy unto God, if they are not following the direction of the Spirit of God and His Word.

The apostle Peter mentions Paul in 2 Peter 3:15, and this is what he says,

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”  2 Peter 3:15-16 (KJV)

There had been some contention between the apostles Paul and Peter; yet in Christian love Peter acknowledges that the writings of Paul are part of holy Scripture, and need to be heard (See Galations 2:11-14ff).  Peter desires that the Christian “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (v. 18).  That is my desire for all Christians as well; even myself.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 69 – Discourse Unto Death

Christians the world wide celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ yesterday.  We often fail to remember that Jesus was more than a martyr though.  He was more than a man dying for a cause.  He was the Man sent to fulfill all the law and the prophets.  He was the God/Man sent and set to fulfill the Scriptures.

There is many a time in Matthew’s account of the life of Jesus where we read something like, “That the Scriptures might be fulfilled”, even up to His death on the cross and His resurrection.

Matthew records several discourses which Jesus spoke.  The first one was the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7).  The second was in chapter 13 and was short messages dealing with the kingdom.  One had to do with Him sending forth His disciples with the message of the kingdom (chapter 18).  The final one is called the Olivet Discourse, and deals with the last days, and His return following His death.

My reading this morning took me from Matthew 15 through 28.  Today’s reading took me a little more than an hour, and I struggled with the length, and time spent;  however, I was blessed in reading the Scriptures; especially since they were spoken by my Saviour and Lord.

In chapter 17 of Matthew we have an event that is also recorded in Mark 9 and Luke 9; and that is the event of Jesus’s  Transfiguration.  It is a meeting that takes place between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  We read,

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light.  And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him.  Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.’  While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.’  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.  And Jesus came and touched them, and said, ‘Arise, and be not afraid.’  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” Matthew 17:1-8 (KJV)

In the appearance of Moses we have the representative of the Law.  In the appearance of Elijah we have the representative of the Prophets.  Jesus Himself is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, thus the voice out of the cloud which spoke was that of the Father, declaring that His Son holds all authority of the Law and the Prophets.  He says,  “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.”

At this transfiguration the three disciples; Peter, James and John saw Jesus in His glorified state.  This event of itself, then with the testimony of His Father gives the disciples assurance, that this truly is the God/Man, Son of God and King of kings.  They would need to learn to trust that now was not the time for His reign, but the time of His sacrifice.

With these several discourses of Jesus He went to the cross,  presenting Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the people; laying His own life down on the cross, forsaken by the Father, buried in a borrowed tomb, rising again victoriously from that grave.  After His resurrection He gives another short discourse,

“All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”  Matthew 28:18-20

The life of Jesus the King of kings was to give His life.  In His life we have many teachings on how to live, have faith, trust, and pray.  He did not come at this time to rule, but to serve us and to die for our sins.  He did, and He rose again.  He is coming again.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 23 – Of Kings and Prophets

In the reading today we begin the reading of a king of Judah by the name of Asa (1 Kings 15), and it is said of him, “Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father” (15:11).  We are also told previous to Asa of Abijam whose “heart was not perfect with the LORD his God as the heart of David his father” (v. 3).

Asa is Abijam’s son, and Asa walks with God.

In reading 1 Kings 15 – 22 we continue to see this phrase of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, “And he did evil in the sight of the LORD…” or something similar.  We are told of two kings at least for Judah who were walking with God like David, who is the standard, for the walk of kings.

If kings are to do their kingdoms well; it would do them good to walk with God.  Those who do not walk with God will lead their people to destruction.  I would dare say the economic and moral collapse of a nation is due to the lack of godly, spiritual leadership in that nation.  Including the United States of America.

Thank God for prophets of God who will stand for the truth, no matter what.  In chapter 17 we are introduced to Elijah, often called the “prophet of fire”.  When we are introduced to Elijah we have him saying to one of the most wicked kings to ever live – Ahab –

“And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, ‘As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”  1 Kings 17:1 (KJV)

Wicked kings need a prophet of God who will get in their face and call their sin and rebellion against God what it is.  Elijah did just that, and God proves that Elijah is His prophet by answering Elijah’s prayers, sending drought, with no morning or evening dew, or rain.  We learn later that this drought lasted for 3.5 years.

One thing we need to realize is that when this prophet pronounced this drought upon the Northern kingdom, it was a drought that affected the evil as well as the righteous, even Elijah.  That is why we see Elijah being sustained by God through ravens providing meat and bread a the “brook Cherith”  (17:5).

Elijah was a man of fire and faith.  He believes God; acts for the glory of God; and challenges the false prophets of the wicked queen Jezebel on Mount Carmel.  He does something unheard of.  The prophets of Baal had been known to put fine under their altars and deceive people into thinking that Baal was actually lighting the fires on their altars; but Elijah says, “Put no fire under” (18:23), and he himself “put no fire under” the altar, but both he and the prophets of Baal would be totally dependent upon the one who would answer by fire.  Elijah upon the GOD of creation and glory.  The false prophets upon the foolish hopes of false teachings.

Could it be that the reason there is no one challenging the prophets of finance, health, technology, science, is because we have not any who are really confident in the power of God as Elijah was?  Why not?  Do we not have the power of Jesus Christ.  I am only saying that our financial problems are related to spiritual bankruptcy, our health decay is spiritually related; the only reason for our technological growth is given us by creative thinking that was originally given to man by God; and true knowledge [science] comes from God.  The rest is bunk and leads to spiritual decay and death.

When Christian churches across our land are lighting the fires of the altar with entertainment rather than preaching the word of God; it is of little wonder why we are so spiritually bankrupt.  Those who are dependent upon drawing a crowd; and not preaching the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ are similar to the prophets of Baal who put fire under the altars.

The answer to the sins and all ills in the world is Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Spurgeon – Go Again Seven Times

The following is the evening devotion by Charles H. Spurgeon from Morning and Evening for September 28.

1 Kings 18:43
Go again seven times.

Success is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when His people are earnest in a matter which concerns His glory. The prophet on the top of Carmel continued to wrestle with God, and never for a moment gave way to a fear that he should be non-suited in Jehovah’s courts. Six times the servant returned, but on each occasion no word was spoken but “Go again.” We must not dream of unbelief, but hold to our faith even to seventy times seven. Faith sends expectant hope to look from Carmel’s brow, and if nothing is beheld, she sends again and again. So far from being crushed by repeated disappointment, faith is animated to plead more fervently with her God. She is humbled, but not abashed: her groans are deeper, and her sighings more vehement, but she never relaxes her hold or stays her hand. It would be more agreeable to flesh and blood to have a speedy answer, but believing souls have learned to be submissive, and to find it good to wait for as well as upon the Lord. Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so lead to contrition and spiritual reformation: deadly blows are thus struck at our corruption, and the chambers of imagery are cleansed. The great danger is lest men should faint, and miss the blessing. Reader, do not fall into that sin, but continue in prayer and watching. At last the little cloud was seen, the sure forerunner of torrents of rain, and even so with you, the token for good shall surely be given, and you shall rise as a prevailing prince to enjoy the mercy you have sought. Elijah was a man of like passions with us: his power with God did not lie in his own merits. If his believing prayer availed so much, why not yours? Plead the precious blood with unceasing importunity, and it shall be with you according to your desire.

Let’s avail in prayer.

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Quiet from the Fear of Evil

The following is from Morning and Evening a daily devotional by Charles H. Spurgeon.  I found this very encouraging and thought it might be for someone else as well.

Morning …

Proverbs 1:33
Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Divine love is rendered conspicuous when it  shines in the midst of judgments. Fair is that lone star which smiles through the rifts of the thunder clouds; bright is the oasis which blooms in the wilderness of sand; so fair and so bright is love in the midst of wrath. When the Israelites provoked the Most High by their continued idolatry, He punished them by withholding both dew and rain, so that their land was visited by a sore famine; but while He did this, He took care that His own chosen ones should be secure. If all other brooks are dry, yet shall there be one reserved for Elijah; and when that fails, God shall still preserve for him a place of sustenance; nay, not only so, the Lord had not simply one “Elijah,” but He had a remnant according to the election of grace, who were hidden by fifties in a cave, and though the whole land was subject to famine, yet these fifties in the cave were fed, and fed from Ahab’s table too by His faithful, God-fearing steward, Obadiah. Let us from this draw the inference, that come what may, God’s people are safe. Let convulsions shake the solid earth, let the skies themselves be rent in twain, yet amid the wreck of worlds the believer shall be as secure as in the calmest hour of rest. If God cannot save His people under heaven, He will save them in heaven. If the world becomes too hot to hold them, then heaven shall be the place of their reception and their safety. Be ye then confident, when ye hear of wars, and rumours of wars. Let no agitation distress you, but be quiet from fear of evil. Whatsoever cometh upon the earth, you, beneath the broad wings of Jehovah, shall be secure. Stay yourself upon His promise; rest in His faithfulness, and bid defiance to the blackest future, for there is nothing in it direful for you. Your sole concern should be to show forth to the world the blessedness of hearkening to the voice of wisdom.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus Helped; Scripture Fulfilled

“And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.
22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. 23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. 24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. 25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. 26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. 28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. 29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. 36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.”  Mark 15:21-36 (KJV)

After Jesus had been beaten with the “Cat o nine tails”, and stricken by the hands of His mockers and accusers Jesus would have been very weak physically.  As they took Jesus on “The way of suffering” called “Via Delorosa” He may have stumbled from the weakness and they compelled one Simon from Cyrene to carry the cross, or help Him carry it.  This wooden cross would have been heavy to bear even for a man who had not lost much blood, as Jesus had.  This Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.  This Rufus is probably the Rufus mentioned in the book of Romans, “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

(Rom 16:13)”.  It is quite possible that because of this experience the man Simon and his two sons, Alexander and Rufus, became followers of Jesus.  Simon was a help to Jesus and Jesus was certainly a help to Simon and his family.

They offered Jesus a “Wine mixed with myrrh to drink”, but He refused it.  It was a drink that would have dulled His senses, and numbed His pain.  Jesus’ choice of love was to endure the pain with all His senses about Him, and to suffer the full pain and retribution of sin, as His Father judged the sin of the world.  Refusing the drink, He would still be able to communicate with His Father, and not sin.

The third “Help” does not seem much like help for Jesus.  They actually were helping themselves to the garments which Jesus wore.  It would take an awfully cold, calloused heart to set at the foot of a cross and gamble for the garments of a condemned man, be he innocent or guilty.  Here these men were playing a game at the feet of an innocent, sinless, guiltless man, and seemingly with no remorse, or shame.  My, how there is varied instance of people’s responses to the death of Jesus.  Some are cold and callous, some are weeping, some are running away, some are just political, and some bow and call Him, Lord.

The time would have been 9 a.m. when the crucifixion took place.  Pilate had a placcard written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, “The King of the Jews”.  John writes, “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (John 19:19).
According to John’s Gospel the “chief priests of the Jews” did not like the words, they believed it should say, that He said, “I am king of the Jews”.  Pilate stood his ground and said, “What I have written I have written.”
One of the things Jesus was sure of, and committed to was the “Fulfillment of Scripture”.  Here we have another fulfillment of the Scriptures. “He was numbered with the transgressors” –

“Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.   Isaiah 53:12 (KJV)”.

There were three men hung on the tree that day- two thieves and the One who gives life to all who trust in Him.  There is a song with the chorus that says, “The one on the left, he was a sinner, the one on the right was too, but the man in the middle He was the Savior, and He died just to save me and you.”  We know from Scripture that one of these theives put his trust in Jesus (Luke 23:39-43).

The people who passed by the cross where Jesus was spoke in blasphemous, defaming, reviling words.  They mocked His precious words in which He spoke of rising from the dead – “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it once again”.  They commented about “Save Thyself and come down from the cross…”  How could Jesus pay the sin debt of the world if He came down from the cross.   On the cross, Jesus was doing the greatest work He came to do.  He came to minister and give His life a ransom for many (10:45).   His greatest work was to glorify the Father, and He did that by completing the task which was given Him.  To die on the cross was the glory of the heavenly Father, and made it possible that wicked, sinful, blemished, spotted man might be reconciled to Him.  If they had known what they were asking they would not have asked.  Knowing what I know of this today, my question would be, “How could You do that for me?”

Likewise the “chief priests” were demanding that if He was indeed the Son of God, “Save yourself” and “…that we may see and believe”.  They had seen the mighty works which He had done.  They still would not believe, and because of that, and because they would not believe their scriptures, they would not believe though He arose from the dead.

There was a period of darkness over the land.  My personal belief is that this darkness was more than just a local phenomonen.  It was worldwide.  The main and maybe only reason I believe that is, that, the reason Jesus died was for the sins of the world, thus the whole world would, most likely, have gone into this great darkness.  It was a spiritual darkness unlike anything the world had ever seen.  It was a total darkness.  It lasted for three hours while Jesus suffered the wrath and judgment of the Father for sin – our sin.  It was the darkest and most dreaded day of Jesus’ life.  “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me” was His cry after the judgment had been made.  The Father had turned His back on His Son, because He had been made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21).

Some who were standing there thought Jesus was calling for Elijah to come and rescue Him from the cross.  One ran to get a sponge full of vinegar which Jesus now receives (John 19:30).  His work was finished.  There was no more for Him to do for the atonement of sin.  I am so thankful that He was not calling for Elijah to come and remove Him from the cross, though I know He would have used other means.  He could have called thousands of angels to come to His aid.  He could have spoken a word, and it would have all been over.  He could have called to the Father, “I cannot bear it”, but He bore it for you and for me.  If He had not bourne it for us we would be forever doomed to eternal torment.

-Tim A. Blankenship

…Which Thou Hast Given Me…

We continue looking at our Lord’s Prayer as He was nearing the day of giving Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

“I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word.”  John 17:6 (KJV).

The very thing that Jesus came to do was to reveal the Father unto men.  Of course, the men of whom Jesus is speaking are those who were following Him that we know as the disciples.

Jesus had told Phillip, “If ye have seen Me, ye have seen the Father” (14:9).  Everything which Jesus did He did to glorify His Father, and do the works which the Father had sent Him to do.  He had called these men to follow Him, and He recognized that the Father had given them to Him.  When the men looked at Jesus they were seeing the works of the God of all creation.  They had been extremely blessed by seeing first hand  His power over the elements.

Only God could cause the storms at sea to cease.  Jesus had merely spoken, “Peace; be still”, and all was calm – immediately.  Three of them had seen Him speaking; and in His glory ; with Moses and Elijah on the mountain.  It is a personal longing desire that I have to see my Jesus face to face and behold Him in His glory.

Jesus prays, “…and they have kept Thy word”.  They have taken the things which Jesus has said, held them in their hearts, and they would one day, by the presence and power of the Spirit come forth in written words for all to read, and hear.

Let’s be thankful today, for those men who were faithful to follow the Lord Jesus.  No!  They were not perfect.  They were people just like you and myself.  They stumbled and fell, but my oh,  my; to have Jesus pray so for us.  This prayer is for all who will follow Him.

God bless you.  Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me; bless His holy name.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Voice Of God

Sometimes the VOICE OF GOD is seemingly difficult to hear; other times not so difficult to hear.  Some just flat out refuse to hear God speak at all.  That is partly because they refuse to believe in Him, thus, not believe Him.

The first place God has given us to hear Him, and know Him is His creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1).  The second place (and I am not putting these in any order of importance) is His written Word.  The third place is His Son Jesus Christ.  Then there are the circumstances and situations of life; and the words of wisdom from others – friend, foe, relatives or neighbors or work associates.

The written word of God is the place to put all into check to see if what we hear is from God.  If it does not agree with God’s written Word, then it is not God speaking.

Maybe a couple was dating, talking of marriage, then the relationship goes sour, and one of the couple determines that God is not answering their prayer, because He does not bring them back together.  Maybe that is God rescuing that individual from a life of misery.  I know from personal experience that planning a marriage is not a sure guarantee of a good relationship.  I am thankful to the Lord for destroying a relationship that I was refusing, as a young man, to hear Him.  He worked and gave me a wife who loves and cherishes me; the love between us is stronger now than before.

Listening to God as things “go south” is as important as listening to Him when things are going great.

Hear the Psalmist in the 29th Psalm:

“The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters.  The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.  The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.  He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.  The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.  The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.  The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.”  Psalm 29:3-9 (KJV)

God is not silent.  He may not be speaking loudly.  It may just be in a whisper as with Elijah and the “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-14).  If you are born again through Jesus Christ you can and do hear His voice.  If you aren’t hearing then you need to hear Him concerning His Son Jesus, and be saved.

-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

Mark Chapter Eight

Mark 8:1-38

From J. C. Ryle, for verses 1 – 13, “Let us observe in this passage how great is the kindness and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  “Let us observe, in the second place, from this passage, that with Christ nothing is impossible.”  “Let us observe, in the last place, how much sorrow unbelief occasions to our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.” Mark 8:1-9 (KJV)

There are some who want us to believe that the feeding of the “five thousand” and the feeding of the “four thousand” are actually the same feeding “Miracle”.  If they were they would not be mentioned back to back with one another.  Mark 6:34-43 contains the miracle of the feeding of the “five thousand”, and then Matthew 14:15-21 does as well.  Then, we have the feeding of the “four thousand” here in chapter 8 of Mark with the feeding of the “four thousand” also mentioned in Matthew 15:32-38.  The questions of the legitimacy of Scriptures only come from those who do not want to believe it.  I am not talking of “honest” questions which are for information and not for placing doubt.

We see that Jesus had “Compassion” on the people who were following.  His heart was moved with sympathy and called for them to be fed.  The question came up again, “How are we going to feed them?”  “How many loaves have we?” was the question Jesus asked.  Their answer was “seven”.

As I sit and study this passage I find myself wondering why these disciples were wondering how these people were going to be fed.  Then, I stop to think about how many times I have seen the wonder of the power of God in Christ and I wonder no more at the “doubts” of the disciples.  It is “hardness of heart”.  Why is it we can witness the power of God and His intervention in our lives one day, and then, just a few days later we are in doubt again and wondering, “Where is God in all of this?”

We must note  that in Matthew’s Gospel of this account he writes in verse 38, “Now those who ate were 4,000 men, besides women and children.  Matt 15:38 (HCSB)”.  Seeing how there were four thousand men it would be quite reasonalble to assume there could have been 12,000 – 15,000 or more there to eat of the bread and fish of the Creator.  That would only be a wife and one child for every man who was present.

The compassion of Jesus is wonderful, and it is sure that nothing is impossible for Him.

“And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. 11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.”  Mark 8:10-12 (KJV)

The unbelieving will not believe even though they see a sign.  If they will not believe “Moses and the Prophets” they will not believe though one has risen from the dead.  Jesus made a similar statement in Luke 16:31.

Jesus had done many mighty works and the Pharisees were witnesses to many of them.  Their problem was jealousy.  Jesus had a following and they did not.  Jesus was doing mighty works, and they could not.  Jesus lived a life without fault, and they did not.  Jesus lived a life without sin, and they did not.  Jesus was the Son of God, and they were the children of Satan.

In Matthew 12:38-40 Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matt 12:39-40 (KJV)”.  When these religious leaders were not even believing the Scriptures (Moses and the Prophets), why would they believe even though they had the Son of God standing before them doing miracles.  They “Could not see the forest for the trees”.  As we saw in the last chapter (chapter 7) they added their tradition to their laws, thus, in effect cancelling out the Scriptures – at least for themselves.  Because of that the Word of God had no effect on their lives, and it would not have any effect on others as they looked at the Pharisees.  The sign of the prophet Jonah was that he had been three days and nights in the “Fish’s belly”, and Jesus would be three days and nights in the “Heart of the earth”.

Jesus rose from the grave after three days, and rather than believe it they tried to make it into a lie, by telling lies, and bribing officials to tell lies.  They were blind, so they could not see.  They were deaf, so they could not hear.

Seeing miracles does not give faith.  They may assure it, but faith comes by hearing the word of the Lord (Rom. 10:17).  Faith stands when there is no miracle.  Faith grows without a miracle, and by the word of the Lord.

“And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. 14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. 15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. 16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. 17 And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? 19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. 20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. 21 And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?”  Mark 8:13-21 (KJV)

(SEE Matthew 16:12).

As we saw in the last chapter the Pharisees made themselves “loopholes” in order to escape the clear teachings of the law.  Only the religious leaders knew these “loopholes”, thus the people knew nothing of them.

The “Leaders” had a Sabbath law of a “Sabbath days journey”.  By this they limited the distance a person could travel on the Sabbath.  They exempted themselves by interpreting that law to mean from your property, so they could take a chair, stool, saddle, sandal, piece of clothing out a normal “Sabbath days journey”, then take another piece of personal property another “Sabbath days journey”, and place another item, and could go on and on.  These actions were, thus, a form of “False doctrine” and “False living”.  They were condemning themselves by their very lies and the lives they lived.

J. C. Ryle on verses 14-21,  1)

“Let us notice the solemn warning which our Lord gives to His disciples at the beginning of this passage.”  2) “Let us notice the dull understanding of the disciples, when our Lord gave the warning of this passage.”

 

“And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. 26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”  Mark 8:22-26 (KJV)

J. C. Ryle gives us four thoughts concerning these verses,

1) “it is well to remember, in reading passages of this kind, that the Lord is not tied to the use of any one means.”;   2) “One thing in the passage demands our special observation. That thing is the gradual nature of the cure which our Lord performed on this blind man. He did not deliver him from his blindness at once, but by degrees.”;   3) “Let us see then in this gradual restoration to sight, a vivid illustration of the manner in which the Spirit frequently works in the conversion of souls. We are all naturally blind and ignorant in the matters which concern our souls. Conversion is an illumination, a change from darkness to light, from blindness to seeing the kingdom of God.”;   4) “Finally, let us see in the gradual cure of this blind man, a striking picture of the present position of Christ’s believing people in the world, compared with that which is to come. We see in part and know in part in the present dispensation. We are like those that travel by night. We know not the meaning of much that is passing around us.”

 

“And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? 28 And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. 29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. 30 And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. 31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”  Mark 8:27-33 (KJV)

Things J. C. Ryle writes that we as Christians need to observe,

1) “Let us observe the variety of opinions about Christ, which prevailed among the Jews. Some said that He was John the Baptist–some Elijah–and others one of the prophets. In short every kind of opinion appears to have been current, excepting that one which was true.”;   2) “Let us observe the good confession of faith which the apostle Peter witnessed.”;   3) “Let us observe the full declaration which our Lord makes of His own coming death and resurrection. We read that “He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”;   4) “Finally, let us observe in this passage the strange mixture of grace and infirmity which may be found in the heart of a true Christian. We see that very Peter who had just witnessed so noble a confession, presuming to rebuke his Master because He spoke of suffering and dying.”

 

“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”  Mark 8:34-38 (KJV)

J. C. Ryle’s commentary on these verses,

1) “We learn, for one thing, from these verses, the absolute necessity of self-denial, if we would be Christ’s disciples, and be saved. What says our Lord? “Whoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”;   2) “Let us often ask ourselves whether our Christianity costs us anything? Does it entail any sacrifice? Has it the true stamp of heaven? Does it carry with it any cross? If not, we may well tremble and be afraid. We have everything to learn. A religion which costs nothing, is worth nothing. It will do us no good in the life that now is. It will lead to no salvation in the life to come.”;   3) “We learn, for another thing, from these verses, the unspeakable value of the soul. What says our Lord? “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” These words were meant to stir us up to exertion and self-denial. They ought to ring in our ears like a trumpet, every morning when we rise from our beds, and every night when we lie down. May they be deeply engraved in our memories, and never effaced by the devil and the world!”;   4)  “We learn, in the last place, from these verses, the great danger of being ashamed of Christ. What says our Lord? “Whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.'”

 

-Tim A. Blankenship quoting much from J.C. Ryle

Descending The Mount

A few hours had been spent on the “Mount of Transfiguration” – the name for which the place has been called – and now they were descending.  Having taken place with the glory of Jesus being revealed to Peter, James and John; and they seeing Moses and Elijah with Jesus in His glory.

When Moses and Elijah depart; in verse 8; we have the words: “…they saw no man, save Jesus only”.  That implies clearly that the law and the prophets declare, reveal, and glorify the Lord Jesus.  It goes along with what the apostle John wrote in the Revelation 19:10 “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  The law and the prophets cannot make man righteous before God; only Jesus can.

Now, we come to the descent from the mount of Jesus with His disciples:

“And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.  And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.  But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.  Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.”  Matthew 17:9-13 (KJV)

What the three disciples had witnessed was not to be told until the resurrection of Jesus had taken place.  It is almost certain that these three did not yet understand what He was even talking about – Resurrection – “Yeah!  Sure!”  Their thoughts were still on the idea of Jesus being their reigning King in a few days; and not crucifixion.  God forbid that their King hang on a tree.

They are probably thinking of the prophet’s writing,

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”  Malachi 4:5-6 (KJV)

Their thinking is needing to be set in order.  They are thinking of a different day than what is going to happen.  “The great and dreadful day of the LORD…” is when the Lord comes and pours His wrath out on an unbelieving and godless world.  At this time God is going to pour His wrath out upon His Son for the atonement of the sins of mankind.

The disciples had partially discerned rightly concerning the prophecy of Scripture; however, it was not until Jesus gave the word, that they realized that John the Baptist was a fulfillment of the prophecy, but unrecognized by the religious leaders, and “royalty”, and they put John to death.  John the Baptist came in the Spirit and power of Elijah.  There is no idea of “reincarnation” given here.  John the Baptist is John the Baptist, not reincarnated Elijah.

John Baptist came having the same type ministry of Elijah.  A bold and fiery message of repentance; calling the people of God to prepare their hearts for the coming of the LORD.

Jesus also informed the three that the “Son of man” would suffer by the hands of those same people.

It would do the disciples of Jesus Christ in the world of 2009 to hear the message of God’s servants; preachers who preach the inerrant, infallible, literal, and living word of God;  Sunday School teachers who present the word without favor or fear; Deacons who honor the word of God with their lives in witness, work and service.  We dishonor our Lord when we fail to listen to God through His servants who proclaim the Word and “diminish not a word” of it.

Do we really understand the impact of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the word proclaimed and taught without “shunning to declare the whole counsel of God”?  Are we prepared, willing and able to give our lives for the preaching of the Word of God to a world who hates God?  It is time to think about this and ponder it in our prayer life; and all of life.

When we are descending  our “Mount” of joy, encouragement, let not forget that it is Jesus who remains with us.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The King’s Glory Before The Cross

 

Just six days before Jesus spoke unto His disciples of some seeing Him coming in His kingdom before they died (16:28). If someone chooses to believe that the Bible contradicts itself, they could assume that there is a contradiction between Luke’s account and of this account by Matthew, and Mark’s account. Matthew and Mark both declare six days, but Luke says eight days. If we would consider that Matthew and Mark are probably not counting the day of Peter’s confession and the day of transfiguration, and that Luke does we have no contradiction; just a difference of accounting for the days.

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” Matthew 17:1-8 (KJV)

Peter, James, and his brother John were the “…some standing here, which shall not taste of death till…” whom Jesus speaks of in 16:28. Matthew’s intent seems to be to direct this story to this point to bring the last words of Jesus in chapter 16 into account with this event in Jesus’s and the disciples lives. The three of them and Jesus went to a mountain without the other disciples, and were about to witness the most glorious event of their lives.

Matthew was not at the event, so this has been told him by those who were present; and recounted by the Spirit of the Lord as well. This is a trustworthy accounting. There were three witnesses to the event; and that is one more than necessary for something to be certifiably true; and the fourth witness would have been Jesus, and a fifth for recounting later was the Holy Spirit. Peter is referring to this event when he writes;

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” 2 Peter 1:16-18 (KJV)

Jesus “was transfigured before them…”; often called His transfiguration, and the place as the “Mount of Transfiguration”. What is meant by “Transfiguration”? It comes from the Greek word – “metamorphoo”, and a word, with which many people today are somewhat familiar is “metamorphosis” comes from that word. The word “Metamorphosis” means “a change of physical form, structure, or substance, esp. by supernatural means;…” THE MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY. The Greek word “metamorphoo” means – “to transform (literally, or figuratively): change, transfigure, transform.” STRONGS (e-Sword edition).

What these blessed and trusted disciples witnessed, therefore, was a pre-death and pre-resurrection appearance of the resurrected glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. This fulfilled Jesus’s words in 16:28, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” They witnessed Jesus in His glory. This was the glory which He had with the Father, before He became flesh, and the glory He would have with the Father after his physical death, and His bodily/physical resurrection.

There were two men speaking with Jesus. One was Moses, and one was Elijah. It appears that the disciples identified them without Jesus telling them who they were. They had never seen the physical Moses of Elijah, yet they recognize them. The Law and the Prophets is represented here, along with the one is the Law Giver. Moses represents the Law, and Elijah the Prophets. These men are unique in this appearance. Moses died and his body was buried by God (Deuteronomy 34:5-8); and Elijah never died, but was carried away in a whirlwind chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:9-12); and they were speaking to the One who would die, yet rise again from the grave in His own power.

The following are notes from The Scofield Study Bible –

The transfiguration scene contains, in miniature, all the elements of the future kingdom in manifestation:

(1) the Lord, not in humiliation, but in glory. (Matthew 17:2).

(2) Moses, glorified, representative of the redeemed who have passed through death into the kingdom. (Matthew 13:43); (Luke 9:30-31).

(3) Elijah, glorified, representative of the redeemed who have entered the kingdom by translation. (1 Cor 15:50-53); (1 Thes. 4:14-17).

(4) Peter, James, and John, not glorified, representatives (for the moment) of Israel in the flesh in the future kingdom (Ezekiel 37:21-27).

(5) The multitude at the foot of the mountain (Matthew 17:2); representative of the nations who are to be brought into the kingdom after it is established over Israel (Isaiah 11:10-12); etc.

It also seems that Peter, James and John were sleepy and had fallen asleep, and were awakened; according to Luke’s account of the event. Jesus had brought the three up to the mountain to witness His glory, and the appearance of Moses and Elijah, and they were about to sleep through it. It sounds kind of like many today. Asleep when we should be awake, and awake when we should be sleeping; and we miss those God-opportunities. Upon witnessing the appearances Peter; the one who always opens his mouth; spoke saying what seems to be the obvious thing for the human race, in the event of something wonderfully unique; powerfully spiritual; and maybe historical: “…Let us make here three tabernacles…”. Let us do something really spiritual to mark this event. Humanity has built shrines and monuments for everything; and in the end move toward worship of it.

Peter is quickly rebuked by a voice from heaven, “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” It wasn’t that they were not to hear the written words of Moses and Elijah; after all they were inspired by God Himself; it was that monuments or “tabernacles” are of the flesh and will perish. The Word of God, written and Living will never perish.

When you hear the words of Moses; the Law, the songs he wrote, etc; and you hear the words of Elijah and the prophets; you hear the words of Jesus. When you hear the words of Jesus and do them, you are hearing the word of the Law and the prophets. Remember Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:29 (KJV)

Upon hearing the voice of the Father from heaven they were struck with fear, and fell face down on the ground. That is a great response for all who will fear God. Jesus then came and touched them, and when they looked up the only One they saw was the One whom they had seen glorified before their eyes, and speaking with Moses and Elijah. The Law and the prophets is the Word of God, still worthy of hearing, doing, and bringing to light the light of Christ in a dark world.

In a time when we are pressured to do what we know is Biblically wrong we have Scripture as a sure footing to stand on for the encouragement of making that right decision. In order to make Biblical/Scriptural decisions you must know the Bible, and be filled with the Spirit of God, or you will fall.

How can we know that Jesus is coming in His glory? By the evidence that He revealed His glory previous to His death, burial, and bodily resurrection. His bodily resurrection was witnessed  by His disciples and over 500 brethren (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

In verse 8 of chapter 17 Matthew we have one of the Bible’s “Be not afraid(s)”. I just imagine that at that moment those three men needed that “Fear not” from the lips of our Savior. They are always good to hear.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Put No Fire Under…

It is amazing the numbers of people who fall for that which is sensational. Sensational is exciting, enthusiastic, and life changing, at least for that moment.

We have Christians wanting to add something to a worship service by yelling, screaming meaningless thoughts and words, and doing deeds that belong in the zoo. Then, we hear the attenders/spectators say, “Wow! Now that was a great worship service”. Was it, or was it a fire that was encouraged by a motivator of men to actions which can come solely from excitement which are not necessarily godly, or even Christian?

When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal, he charged them, “But put no fire under…” (1 Kings 18:23-24). It seems that the prophets of Baal, in order to entice more followers to Baal, had the tendency to put fire under their sacrifices in order to give the appearance of something miraculous. Elijah’s challenge suddenly became a real challenge. “And the God who answers by fire, He is God.” (1 Kings 18:24).

There were two priests, sons of Aaron who offered strange fire; “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.” Leviticus 10:1-2. As the writer of Hebrews writes, “Our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29.

It is sad to think that what we have in a lot of churches that is seen as an exciting, fiery worship is something instead that is motivated by fleshly emotions, and human feelings, that get no one in touch with God. All the ranting and raving of the prophets of Baal got them nothing but bloody, sore, and tired aching muscles; and finally death.

Beware of false fire. Let us who are Christian leaders be sure to let the true fire of God fall at the Holy Spirit’s direction, and not according to our own desires and the flesh.

-Tim A. Blankenship