B F & M – The Lord’s Day

In the Old Testament the people of Israel were to worship God, and rest on the seventh day of the week.  It is called the sabbath day.  It was on the seventh day that God ceased in His work of creating.

As Baptists we do not see the First day of the week as the sabbath, but as the day of remembering the resurrection of our Lord.  It is the beginning of a new week.  It represents a New Life, and particularly New Life in Jesus Christ.  We are living resurrected lives, no longer condemned under the law lives.

The following is our Statement of Faith:

“VIII. The Lord’s Day

The first day of the week is the Lord’s Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 12:1-12; 28:1ff.; Mark 2:27-28; 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-3,33-36; John 4:21-24; 20:1,19-28; Acts 20:7; Romans 14:5-10; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Colossians 2:16; 3:16; Revelation 1:10.”

Though this day is not the sabbath day of the Old Testament, nor one of the other sabbath days the Israelites were required to honor, we must still respect a day of rest.

The Lord’s Day has always been a day of rest in my family.  We have attended worship services on Sunday morning and evening.  It is a wonderful day for remembering the wonder of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is surely a sign of our departure from the Lord, that everything in the business world is doing business on this day.  One day there will be the Day of the Lord where there will be judgment and that day will not be pleasant.

-T.A.

The Scarlet Thread – The Rock

Moses stood in the “cleft of the rock”  (Exodus 33:22); and there is much of the Rock which followed the children of Israel through the wilderness on their 40 year journey.  The Rock is a very important part of the Old Testament history and of our LORD.

“Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” Deuteronomy 32:18 (KJV)

It was the Rock which Moses was commanded to strike which followed them:

“Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.”  Exodus 17:6

It was also the Rock which Moses struck when he was commanded to speak to it that was with them in the wilderness.  The Rock a source of survival, life, living, hope, sustenance.  The image of God’s presence and sovereign power.

“Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.  And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as He commanded him.  And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, ‘Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?’  And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.”  Numbers 20:8-11

So many times the children of Israel rebelled against the leadership of God and Moses.  So many times God in His grace and mercy reached down to Israel and supplied their every need in a dry and thirsty land.  Always, God is working to supply the needs of His children.

Those who know God through His Son Jesus are His children; and are children of this Rock.  This Rock is Christ Jesus who died on the cross in our stead.  He had no guilt, but suffered with our guilt, shame and sin on Him.  He became our sin.  He became unjust; the Just for the unjust.  His righteousness is imputed to you and I who trust and believe in Him; and all our unrighteousness was imputed to Him.  Which goes along with what the Psalmist wrote:

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.   Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”  Psalm 32:1-2

Jesus is our salvation, our strength, our defender; He is our sustenance;  by Him “all things consist” (Colossians 1:17).  Jesus is that Rock.  Hear what the apostle Paul says of the Rock –

“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.   But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”  1 Corinthians 10:1-5

Just as Moses said, “…thou art unmindful”.  So does Paul mention this; but the real picture is that “That Rock was Christ”.  It was Christ who was with them in the wilderness.  It was Christ who was with the Jew all through their journeys; in the wilderness; and throughout all their years of blessing; and He is their Rock even today when they look upon the One who was pierced for our sins.

That Rock is Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Scarlet Thread – Manna

When looking at the series of “The Scarlet Thread” my intention in doing this is to show Jesus Christ.  As we look at the manna – “What is it?” – is the actual meaning of the word.  We must remember Jesus’s words, “I am the Bread of Life.” (John 6:32-35).

Manna was a special bread provide miraculously by GOD for the children of Israel to gather each morning for each day.  It could only be gathered for six days, and enough could be gathered on the six day for the seventh day.  It was given in Exodus 16:14-15.  There is more scripture dealing with it in verses 16 -36.  For the verses we will look at in the book of Numbers I want us to remember Exodus 16:31,

“And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.”

Remembering the taste of it was as “Honey”, or “wafers made with honey”, so it had the taste of sweetness in it.

We read in Numbers 11:8,

“And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.”

Then, they go around murmuring that “There is nothing at all, beside this manna”.  Well!  Is it any wonder?  They have taken a perfect substance, made by the hand of God, miraculously provided, a daily provision; and they try to “Improve” it.

According to Jesus in John 6 He Himself is the Bread of Life.  It is not an overstatement for me to say that there is much people today trying to “Improve” on Jesus.  When people are bored with worship of Jesus preachers try to improve it by adding to the Word of God, adding entertainment to draw a crowd, adding worldly music with spiritual words, and that don’t always include the cross of Christ.  All just so they can have a crowd.  They lose their love for Jesus.

When we look at Jesus and think of Him, worship Him, adore Him; what more could we need?  What more could we want?  We are to desire to be like Him.  How can we be like Him.  He desired to do the Father’s will (Luke 2: 49; John 8:29).  We are to live for Him, just as the Scriptures proclaim; nothing of the flesh.

We are not called to draw a crowd.  We are called to be a witness.  We are called to bear the image of Christ.

The manna is the Bread of Heaven who is Christ.  Follow Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 013011

Daily Reading is Exodus 38 – 40

The book of Exodus is about a journey of a people from bondage to seeing the glory of God.  “From Deliverance to Glory” is the journey of all who come to faith in the Messiah of Israel, Jesus Christ Son of the Living God.

In the 38th chapter we find things coming to a conclusion as far as the tabernacle’s construction and set up is concerned.  The first on the list is the “altar of burnt offering”.  The place for the shedding of blood.  “Without the shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22b)  All the blood of bulls, goats, rams and lambs was only a foreshadowing of the One who would come and die for the sins of the world.

The “laver” is a basin for water; it is made of brass; as is the “altar of burnt offering” a figure of judgment.  The laver is made from the “looking glasses” or we would call them mirrors of the “assembly”.  Polished brass was the only mirror these people had.  A mirror is a way of judging one’s own physical appearance and doing something about it.  In James 1:22-25 we read…

“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.”

The laver was the place for the priests to cleanse their hands and feet for the ministry they performed daily.  As Christians we must stop daily at the word of God, to gaze intently into the mirror of God’s word to find the correction and instruction we need for the day; by which we may glorify our Lord.

“HOLINESS TO THE LORD” was to be engraved into a plate of pure gold and placed on the turban the priests (Aaron and his sons).  We find throughout all of Scriptures that God is holy.  The garments of the priests declared the Holiness of the Lord.  Here we have the priests declaring HOLINESS TO THE LORD.  Our lives are to declare it.

In chapter 40 the tabernacle is set with all furniture, articles, garments, stones and jewels, just as the LORD has commanded Moses.  Moses has received these instructions form the Designer of the heavenlies (Hebrews 8:4-5).

The book of Exodus ends with the people of Israel in bondage; they are freed by the LORD Himself; they are a sanctified people given instructions on the journey and directions how to live and how to worship.  Thus we could sum the book of Exodus with four short words; FROM DELIVERANCE TO GLORY

“Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.  For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”  Exodus 40:34-38 (KJV)

Keep on following the Scriptures.  Read Exodus 38- 40

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 012911

Today’s Bible Reading is for Exodus 35 – 37.  I pray that you are being blessed in your reading of Scripture.

In today’s reading you will read much concerning the calling, giving, preparations and getting reading to build the tabernacle in the wilderness.  The tabernacle was God’s way of demonstrating His presence among the tribes people of Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness for those; what ended up being many years.

The people gave very generously to the cause of the tabernacle.  There is hardly any way to put a dollar value on the tabernacle, except to say it was more precious than any artifact we could find today.  You might say it was priceless above anything else that is called priceless.

The offerings that were given were gold, silver, brass, special skins of goats, fine linen, acacia wood.  In chapter 36 we are told that the people gave over and above all that was needed and then asked to stop giving:

“…And they spake unto Moses, saying, ‘The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.’  And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, ‘Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.’ So the people were restrained from bringing.  For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.”  Exodus 36:5-7 (KJV)

The one of the best things to observe in this reading today is that the givers were willing hearted.  They desired to give; and give they did; until they were asked to stop giving.

No one is asked to give without a willing heart.  God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

No one is building a tabernacle today, but when you attend your local church tomorrow be sure you give generously in support of your church, its ministry and missions.

God loves you and is with you in the person of His Son Jesus Christ who loved you so much He gave us the willing hearted gift of His own life on the cross, was buried and rose again.  He eternally lives making intercession for us who have called on His name.

Now read Exodus 35 – 37.

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 012811

Our daily reading for today January 28, 2011 is Exodus 32 – 34.

There is much to learn from these chapters; and I will be brief.  It was the leadership of Aaron which led the children of Israel to form this “golden calf” after the pattern of Egyptian worship, not the pattern which God had already given them through Moses’s leadership and time spent with the LORD.

“And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.  And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.  And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.  And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.”  Exodus 32:3-6 (KJV)

This was probably the most grievous error and sin of Aaron.  He calls it worshipping the LORD (v. 5);  God calls it false worship, spiritual adultery, rebellion, sin.

The LORD God has prescribed the means of worship and we are to practice worship with God’s prescription; not our own.  Just putting the name of God on or in worship does not make it right worship.

Chapter 33 shows us that God has been greatly offended by Israel;

“And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.  And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.  For the LORD had said unto Moses, ‘Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.’  And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.”  Exodus 34:2-6

Moses then receives a fuller revelation of the LORD God.  In all of this Moses even has cried to the LORD, “If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence”.  Then God said, “…For thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name”.  God’s offense of previous actions has found grace.

In Chapter 34 we find that Moses has been an intercessor for Israel.  He has plead for grace for Israel, gone back onto Mount Sinai, and then returns with new tablets of the Ten Commandments.  Moses has plead for and received God’s grace and mercy for Israel.  God gives Moses instructions and sends him back to the people with God’s glory all over him.  So much glory the people cannot stand to look on his face, and Moses covers his face before the people, but uncovers his face to appear before the LORD.

We find in the New Testament that Moses is not covering his face to hide it but to keep the people from seeing the glory fade away (2 Corinthians 3:13-15).

May the veil be taken from our eyes to see clearly the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Remember to read Exodus 32 – 34

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 012711

Bible Reading for today is Exodus 29-31.

Today I will be commenting only on a couple of verses from chapter 29.

“And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.  And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.”  Exodus 29:45-46 (KJV)

When I read the Old Testament it is obvious to me that God is  full of grace and mercy.  It is evident in the way He deals with Israel.  He desires to dwell among His people, and He makes every way He can in His holiness and righteousness to make it possible.

What does it mean for God to “dwell among” His people.  It means very much for His people.  It means having access to the most powerful being in existence.  It means having a meaningful relationship and fellowship with that Being.  It means being a part of His family.  It means a place in eternity forever with Him.  Most of all is that He is glorified.

In the New Testament Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you… that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:3 & 4).  That was what the work of Jesus Christ accomplished.  The Old Testament picture is only a shadow of what Jesus was coming to do.

It is God’s desire, also, that the world know Him.  One phrase that is used over and over again in the Old Testament is “they shall know that I am the LORD…”  The prophet Ezekiel uses it over sixty times.  God has made a way through Jesus Christ to know Him.  There is no other way.

God desires it but will not force you.  He will be glorified in you.

Remember to read Exodus 29 – 31 today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 012611

Today’s Bible reading consists of Exodus 25 – 28…

Chapter 25 introduces us to the Divine design of the tabernacle in the wilderness by which God the LORD of hosts was to dwell among His people on their journeys through the wilderness to the promised land.  The first of the articles given is the “Ark of the covenant” made of wood, probably acacia wood and built into a box with God’s own dimensions and overlaid with pure gold.  The second piece is the “mercy seat” which is made of pure gold, no wood involved.

It is quite possible, since this is of heavenly design that we see the divinity and humanity of Christ in this design made of wood and gold.  The wood of course representing the human and gold the divine.

There is also given us the design of the “Table of shewbread” made of wood and gold in the dimensions given by God to Moses, and the “Candlestick” or “Menorah” as the Hebrews call it today.  All of these holy pieces were designed by holy God and were to be built just as God said.

Chapter 26 shows us the making of the inner part of the tabernacle “walls?” to be made of fine twined linen white, and using linen of blue, purple and scarlet thread woven in to make the special heavenly designs embroidered in to make it a beautiful sight to behold.

There is also the making of the veil which divided the “holy place and the most holy place”.  It was made of blue, purple and scarlet linen.  This is the veil which was divided in the temple in Jerusalem when Jesus Christ was crucified and died for the sins of the world; making a way for all who will believe to enter God’s own dwelling place.

Chapter 27 shows us the design of the altar of burnt offering.  To many this might seem a horrid place.  A place of great stench.  A bloody place.  And by our reckoning it was.  It tells us there must be; because God is holy, just and righteous; and we are unholy, unjust and unrighteous; there must of necessity be a way for us to have peace with God.  That is possible only through the shed blood of innocence.  The innocence of Jesus Christ is what we must see.

Chapter 28 we receive the design of the garments of the priests.  They were made of gold and blue, purple and scarlet linen.  There is much that could be written about the priestly garments, but I would need to do much more study on it.

One of the things that is great about being a Christian is that we have no need of the ark of the covenant, or any of the tabernacle to enter into the presence of God.  That is made possible through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Believe Him and live forever.

Today’s Bible reading is Exodus 25 – 28  read and enjoy.

-Tim A. Blankenship

My Observations 012511

On January 1 of this year I began once again reading through the Bible.  I will this year take my time and read it through with the same schedule that has been prepared for our church people and which I post on the back of our bulletin each Sunday.

There was an idea which entered my thinking this afternoon of providing a study; at least in part; that will spark new ideas in your mind and heart as well.  I can’t promise that this will go on each day, but I will endeavor for that to happen.  What will I do?  l will endeavor to give a short reading each day, and probably of the morning each day, of that days reading: for example,  today’s reading is Exodus 22 – 24; and that is what I will give you My Observations of…

Exodus 22 has much to do with responsibility for property.  Personal property as well as that property which belongs to someone else.  We could go back to the Ten Commandments on part of this to the eighth commandment which states, “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15); because the first four verses deal with stealing, and the punishment and restitution of such things.  I would dare say that if we followed the law of God’s word for these matters; even the ones following that there would be a lot less trouble with stealing; and problems with neighbor relationships.  If we would love our neighbor as we do ourselves wouldn’t we all get along much better.

There are moral issues dealt with in verses 16-31; and some of these deal with treatment of those who are materially poor.  The moral issues deal with a man leading a virgin into sexual sin, and the price he should pay; or not by the will of the father of the virgin.  There is also the issue of “sorcery”  which is the practice of the occult; including witchcraft, voodoo, fortune telling (palm reading, necromancy, astrology, etc.)  Some may want to say, “Well this is in the law.  Didn’t Jesus destroy the law with His death, burial and resurrection?”  and the answer to that is…  The law was not destroyed, but fulfilled in Christ.  The law is not nullified it is established to the full.  These verses also include things  such as beastiality.  These things by the law require death; by grace there is cleansing and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

Chapter 23 deals with justice in verses 1 – 9.  Far too many times when we are aligned with a group of people we will go along with that group; even when they are doing something unjust.  For the Christian we must have the mind of Christ and speak in those situations the truth that will glorify Him.  Joining with others who are unjust to ruin the life of one is definitely unjust.  Taking care of our neighbor’s possessions is the right thing to do as well (vv. 4-5).

There are also to be three feast which the people of Israel are to keep.  Later on it came to seven, and I believe now there are nine or so among the Hebrew people.  I might be wrong about that, because I haven’t searched that out.

In verses 20 – 33 God gives promise that He will be with His people, driving out their enemies and will give them the land He has promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Chapter 24 has Israel agreeing with God and His covenant with them saying, “All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.”  Moses goes up on the Mount Sinai to meet with God and receive “tablets of stone and the law and commandments… that you may teach them”.  To the people of Israel; as Moses was on the mount before the face of God; the glory of the LORD appeared as a “consuming fire”.  Can we not see and realize that when we get close to God we see Him in his glory.  He is a consuming fire to that which must be consumed (Hebrews 12:29).

The daily Bible reading for January 26 is Exodus 25 – 28.

Father add YOUR blessing to the study of YOUR holy word today.  Save those who may be lost through the blood of Jesus YOUR holy and righteous Son; convict of sin in  the heart of the condemned, and draw them to YOUR Son and YOUR love in Him.  A-men!

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Scarlet Thread – Passover

I continue now with the Scarlet Thread of redemption which runs through Scripture.  It is in fact pictures, types, of the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.  We previously looked at Cain and Abel.  Now we turn our attention to the book of Exodus and the Passover.

The Passover is first mentioned in Exodus 12.  The word “Passover” is not used until verse 11; it says,

“…And ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover”

It is called the LORD’S Passover because that night the LORD would be passing over Egypt in judgment, however for the children of Israel if they followed the LORD’S command, He said,

“When I see the blood, I will  pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:13)

The requirement for the house of Israel was to sacrifice a lamb.  Every home must offer the life of a lamb whose blood would be shed.  This could not be just any lamb.  The lamb must be without blemish, a male of the first year (v. 5), all be killed in the same evening (vv. 5-6).  With the blood of the lamb they were to take it with a “hyssop bunch” (v. 22) and dip it in the blood to strike it on the upper door post [lintel], and the two side posts of the door; and when the LORD saw the blood they were untouched by the “destroyer”.

”For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.”

Within the picture of the “Passover” we find the lamb representing, figuring, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29).  Jesus Christ Himself is the anti-type; He is the real thing of which all others are only the shadow, the figure.

You can know and rest assured that the price of the salvation of mankind has been fully paid for by the blood of the Lamb of God.  He did come to take away our sins.  He became our sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).  The blood of Jesus Christ was shed, then poured out on the doorposts of our lives.  If you look you can see the cross in the blood on the doorposts.  On the upper post was the blood splashed.  On the two side posts was the blood splashed.  Do you see the cross in the Old Testament?  Do you see Jesus There?  Most of all do you see Him living, having conquered sin, death, hell and the grave.  He ever lives making intercession for us.

That is the SCARLET THREAD OF REDEMPTION.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Presentation Of The King

The Presentation Of The King

Matthew 21:1-16

This study and message is from a study of the final days of our Lord’s life walking among mankind.  This is in fact the beginning of the final week of His life, before His crucifixion.  My intent is to do a study of the final week of Christ before the death on the cross.

This study will consist of about ten sermons, preached on Sunday morning and evening through the fourth of April, 2010.  It will cover chapters 21 through 23; chapters 26 through 28; and must keep in mind that this will not be an exhausted study – there will be much more to learn when my study is finished on this matter.  Of course, the final messages will deal with our Lord’s resurrection, and His appearances to His followers, and the Great Commission.

We see from other passages of Scripture that Jesus had a mind set for Jerusalem in those final days of His life.  He saw the goal in sight; and that goal was to do His Father’s will, and glorify His name; and to provide salvation and redemption for the people of the world.

For three years Jesus had avoided being forced to be the king (John 6:15), and forced into an early death (Luke 4:28-30).  Now, it is as though, He realizes that it is time to present Himself as the servant King who comes to die for His people.  More than a king He is the Lamb, and will die as the Passover Lamb for the sins of the people.

OUTLINE –

I.  THE KING’S REQUESTS (vv.1-5).
II.  THE PRESENTATION OF THE KING FOR PASSOVER (vv. 6-11).
III.  THE KING AND THE TEMPLE THIEVES (vv. 12-16).

THE KING’S REQUESTS (vv. 1-5).
The heart of Jesus from the time He was a boy was to do the will of His Father (Luke 2:49).  He has lived, believed and known that all things were in His Father’s hands; even the time of His sacrifice; and trusted Him to that purpose and goal.  It may not seem; to us; like much of a goal – to come to die – however, for Jesus that was His purpose for being on earth, and always to glorify the Father.

When Jesus and His disciples came to Bethphage, near the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples to a certain place where there were two donkeys tied.  They were to bring them to Jesus.  If the owners of these donkeys asked what they were doing, then they were to respond, “The Lord has need of them”, and the men would let them go.  When the disciples arrived at the designated spot, they found the donkeys just as Jesus had said, and sure enough the owners asked, “What are you doing loosing the colt?” (Mark 11:5).  This was an act of the sovereign mind and will of God; directing the affairs of His holy Son.

The requests was for the donkeys.  Though there was actually no asking necessary we are not told who owned the donkeys.  We do however know that God is the Owner of all things, thus, He directs their use and purpose for His glory.  The thing we must realize in this matter is that Jesus’s heart was to fulfull the word of God,

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,  Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass”  21:4-5 (KJV)  and this is a quote from

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”  Zechariah 9:9 (KJV)

THE PRESENTATION OF THE KING FOR PASSOVER (vv. 6-11).
This has been called the “Triumphal Entry”, “King’s coronation” and maybe other things as well.  Those are probably two of the most popular.  It is more like the “King’s Offering”, than one of triumph or coronation.

Traditionally, this day has been believed to have been on Sunday – Palm Sunday, the Sunday before we celebrate Easter.  It is, however, believed by some that this was on Monday and Jesus entered Jerusalem exactly four days before Passover.  Let’s consider that this was Monday 10th day Nisan [Abib] and Passover was on the 14th Nisan [Friday].  Whether it was Sunday or Monday there would still be the four days, and fulfillment of the requirements of the law according to Exodus 12:2-6.  Verse 6 there tells us;

“And ye shall keep it up [the lamb] until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”  Exodus 12:6 (KJV)

When the King came into Jerusalem through the East gate on that donkey colt, never been rode before; I just suspect that colt recognized His Master; and humbly submitted to His sovereign rein on him.  It appeared that the people who were present for His appearance were into the “coronation”.  There was much praising, celebrating; spreading their garments on the road, cutting off palm branches for the way.  The multitude who was praising Him was also shouting “Hosanna” which means “save now”; and was expecting a quick solution to their problems.  It is sad to think how fickle people are, and that many of these same ones who were at this moment ready to crown Him King would in a few short days be in the crown screaming, “Crucify Him. Crucify Him” when they are asked, “What shall I do with Jesus?”.

“Son of David” is a Messianic title and the Scripture Jesus gives reference to is from Psalm 8 verse 2.  Psalm two is in fact a messianic Psalm speaking of the Messiah who will come and save the world.

THE KING AND THE TEMPLE THIEVES (vv. 12-16).
Early in the ministry of Jesus He entered the court of the Gentiles and cleansed it lighting the fuses of hostility among the religious leaders.  His house was being violated; and in the last days of His ministry He finds that it needs done again.  He enters the court and in anger drives out the moneychangers, sellers of doves, and lambs for sacrifice, overthrew the tables.  Jesus calls this house “My house” (v. 13).  However in Matthew 23 Jesus says,

“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”  Matthew 23:38 (KJV)

The court of the Gentiles was a place for all nations (Mark 11:17) to gather and learn from Israel about the Lord God, and for prayer.  Now it was not anything more than a place of business for the greedy merchants taking advantage of the weary travelers who needed to buy their sacrifices for the Passover.  It is quite possible that the merchants even would condemn a perfectly healthy lamb in order to sell one of theirs to the owner of the condemned lamb.  Then, they would turn around and sell the formerly condemned lamb as a clean lamb to another weary traveler.  They had quite the scam going, and Jesus knew it.

Those who think it is alright to take advantage of other peoples situations for profit need only see the reaction of Jesus to these acts of thievery.  It is sad to admit and say, but some of this stuff goes on in “Christian” Book stores, and in some churches too.  It is too often seen on what calls itself “Christian television” with “Send in your offering, and you will be healed” statements.  Making extreme profit in the name of Jesus is still thievery, and Jesus is not pleased by it.

Still the religious leaders just don’t get it.  They question Jesus, as though to get Him to rebuke the people for crying out to Him.  Perfected praise in the mouths of “babes and sucklings”.  Now that is something we must consider.  The humble, dependent heart of the child is what the religious leaders of that day and our needs.

application –

i.  We must hear the King’s requests or commands, obey them and also have the heart for fulfilling the word of the Lord in our lives and the world.
ii.  Recognize that the King has presented Himself as a sacrifice for sin; trust Him, believe Him, yield to Him, and let Him rule and reign in your life.
iii.  The house of our King is holy; our body is the temple of the Lord (1 Corinthians 3:16-17); it is the “House of prayer”; keep it from becoming a den of thieves.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The LORD Fights For You

The pressures of the world are rushing ever near you.  You feel like you should not have made that good move that you did.  Things have changed, and right now it just does not seem like it was the right move to make.  Hold on.  Be strong.  Be strong in the Lord; or as Moses said, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD…”

“And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will show you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.  The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”  Exodus 14:13-14 (KJV).

The LORD had done many mighty, and marvelous things to bring the children of Israel to the edge of the Red Sea.  There had been a complete destruction of the economy of Egypt, and their demon gods put to destruction as well.  God the LORD  had been exalted.  Now they were in a tight situation.  The Sea was before them, the rocks at their backs and the Egyptian army, with chariots and mighty warriors were coming with great speed, and they would be arriving soon.

When you have followed God’s plan, and you have reached the edge of decision, and it seems as though there is no place to go.  That is the time to believe and trust the LORD God.  It is not a time to complain, or wonder why did I leave where I was, thinking everything was fine, comfortable, and certainly did not have this problem coming at me.

It is time to see the salvation of the LORD.  If He has led you out, then He will lead you through that barrier that is ahead of you.  Trust Him. Believe, and you will see the salvation of the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Salvation of the LORD

The pressures of the world are rushing ever near you.  You feel like you should not have made that good move that you did.  Things have changed, and right now it just does not seem like it was the right move to make.  Hold on.  Be strong.  Be strong in the Lord; or as Moses said, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD…”

“And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will show you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.  The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”  Exodus 14:13-14 (KJV).

The LORD had done many mighty, and marvelous things to bring the children of Israel to the edge of the Red Sea.  There had been a complete destruction of the economy of Egypt, and their demon gods put to destruction as well.  God the LORD  had been exalted.  Now they were in a tight situation.  The Sea was before them, the rocks at their backs and the Egyptian army, with chariots and mighty warriors were coming with great speed, and they would be arriving soon.

When you have followed God’s plan, and you have reached the edge of decision, and it seems as though there is no place to go.  That is the time to believe and trust the LORD God.  It is not a time to complain, or wonder why did I leave where I was, thinking everything was fine, comfortable, and certainly did not have this problem coming at me.

It is time to see the salvation of the LORD.  If He has led you out, then He will lead you through that barrier that is ahead of you.  Trust Him. Believe, and you will see the salvation of the LORD.

-Tim A. Blankenship

King Jesus And Taxes

What a crazy world we live in.  People being taxed to oblivion to pay for wants that someone else wants for us.  Sometimes, much of the time taxes just don’t seem fair, nor impartial.

Jesus Christ, Son of the living God is King, and Lord or all; yet He subjected Himself to the affairs of men; even the paying of taxes.  The taxes we look at in this study is a gift for the temple basically.  You will find the beginning of this tax in Exodus 30:13, and it tells us that every male above the age of twenty, once per year was to pay this to fund the upkeep of the tabernacle and the temple.

There are some practical things we can see in this lesson; but we must not miss the miracle which was performed either.

“And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?  He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.  Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.”  Matthew 17:24-27 (KJV)

First of all they were at headquarters, the place where they met most often, for recuperation, and be with family and friends – Capernaum.  Peter is questioned about the temple tax.  Then, Jesus questions Peter concerning the matter of taxes.  Who pays taxes sons or strangers?  Of course we must realize that the government Jesus is referring to is a monarchy, a rule by king, and the king nor his sons would be required to pay taxes.  After all they are the one’s receiving the tax.

Jesus illustrates that the children of the king are also free from taxes; but goes on to say, “Lest we should offend them, go…”  Jesus is the King of the temple, He owns the temple, He is Lord of the temple, therefore free from the taxes of the temple, and then He states, “Then are the children free.”  So as not to offend Jesus sends Peter on a fishing trip.

Here on this fishing trip is where the miracle takes place and a good lesson of faith, and practicality.  Peter was called to follow Jesus, and he left his nets [fishing] and followed Him.  Now when there is an immediate need Jesus sends Him back to do something he knows, but only for what he needs, and Jesus’s need as well.

The practical thing could be that Peter went fishing caught fish, sold them and then brought the money to pay the taxes for he and Jesus, but then we would miss the miracle.  If Peter would have done that he would have missed it.  How many times have we missed a miracle because we were doing what Jesus sent us to do, but we did more than what He said?

“Take up the fish that first cometh up.” was the word of Jesus to Peter, “and thou shalt find a piece of money”.  If Peter would have taken all the fish in the net, and sold them, he would have missed the miracle of Jesus’s supply.

We should be able to learn from this that there are jobs, careers, vocations, which are honorable, bring us great rewards, and when we do them with honor, and joy, helping others along the way, then we can be blessed.  Now it isn’t every fisherman who can go, catch a fish, open its mouth and find a coin, and it be the exact amount needed to pay taxes for two men.

Peter, for once, did what he was commanded to do.  In doing so he was blessed and unnecessary offense was avoided.

Let us go and do likewise.  Jesus is the King of kings.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Who We Are, and Our Blessings In Christ

Ephesians 1:1-5

Purpose of this study:

1. To discover the greatness of being in Christ;
2. To know the richness of His blessings;
3. To know and understand our purpose in Christ;
4. To better understand our calling.

The book of Ephesians was written by Paul the apostle while he was imprisoned in Rome.  Ephesians is known as one of the “prison epistles”, along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.

The city of Ephesus was the seat of “Diana” worship (Acts 19 note verse 28).  A goddess worshipped by a superstitious people and profited on by business men and silversmiths.  The preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ caused a great loss of income for these men and their businesses when some of the worshippers of Diana, turned from idolatry to the true God (Acts 19:23-41).  These men would have done almost anything to take away Paul’s and other Christian’s right or freedom to speak.

This church is the same church that would receive a letter from the Lord Jesus Christ a few years later.  It can be read in the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter two, beginning with verse one.

At the time of Paul’s writing, approximately 55 A.D., the church of Ephesus is strong in faith and longing to grow in the Spirit of Christ.  In this letter Paul teaches them two main truths:  1) Who they are [their position] in Christ (chapters 1-3); and  2) How they are to live [their practice] (chapters 4-6).

Knowing who we are in Jesus is still important for Christians.  By knowing our position in Him we are strengthened in faith, and greatly encouraged to live for Him.

If we are to be the Christians God calls us to be we must be discovering the greatness and riches of being in Christ, our calling, the richness of His blessings, and the purpose of our calling.

The term “In Christ” or its equivalent is mentioned at least 34 times in the bood of Ephesians.  Fifteen of those being in the first chapter alone.  So we learn already that it is important for  us to recognize, to know who we are in Jesus Christ.

CALLED OUT AND FAITHFUL (vv. 1-2).  “Set apart”, “called out” and faithful.  Consecrated unto the Lord is the meaning of the word “Saint”.  The Christian has been called out of sin, set apart for the glory of God to be different from the world philosophies, and doctrines.

The Christian understands the problem of sin, and the human heart, as best as can be understood, and that is by the understanding which God gives by His Spirit, His word, and the life of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:10-11 spells it out for us; “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God…”  We are called out of sin, unto faith in Jesus Christ; to live in the Spirit of Christ for the glory of the Father.

The “faithful” are the one’s who dedicated to the work and will of glorifying God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  We glorify Him with a life given to living holy, separated, lives of witness.  The words we speak, our work ethic, our family lives, our church service and our worship of God alone is a witness that other’s will see or won’t see.  Unwavering faith in God, and His Word, and holy desire for His will to be done is shown in faithfulness.  Faithful in belief.  Faithful in and to His Word.

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 (KJV)

THE RICHES OF HIS BLESSING (v. 3;  2:6).  These blessings are not in the material things of this world, although we are told that all things are under His feet.  The blessings of Christ are spiritual, however, they are not limited.  “Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…” Ephesians 1:3 (KJV).  I don’t know if we were meant to understand this whole all thing, but it sounds so full, awesome, and glorious.  Do we put enough emphasis on the spiritual things of Christ?  It doesn’t seem so in my life; and I really doubt it is in most Christian’s lives.

These spiritual blessings are in heavenly places; that is the place where Jesus is.  The blessings that Christian’s have in Christ Jesus cannot be attained through science, technology, knowledge, sorcery, witchcraft, incantations, rituals, liturgy, rites, religion, flagellation, wealth, or fame.  These blessings are all part of the grace given us who are in Christ Jesus through faith in Him by His death on the cross; His carrying our sins away; and the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead.  These are blessings of His grace.

In these spiritual blessings there is cleansing from sin, condemnation and guilt.  There is the personal relationship with holy God reserved only for those who have no sin debt.  We also have the gift of eternal life with Jesus Christ and the Father; and in complete fellowship with Him.

OUR ELECTION AND OUR LIFESTYLE (v. 4).  If a king were to choose you as their son or daughter would you not find it a great privilege, and honor?  If the king were known as a wealthy, and good, and honorable man I think most of us would be honored by the prospect.  This is not likely to happen, of course, so don’t set your sites too high for this; except when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the King of kings.  He will rule with honor, power, and goodness; and He is wealthy.  He has chosen us in Himself.  We are getting into a topic of great controversy, and that is dealing with “Election” and “Predestination”.  There are some “scholars” and preachers/teachers who try to avoid these doctrines.   They are, however, in the Word of God, and need to be dealt with.  I am not sure that I can aid in this or not, but since they are here, I will say this.  When it comes to “Election” we have the clear teaching from the Word that those who are in Christ have been chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.  It is great to know that God chose me, and that He knew me long before I was ever conceived in the womb of my mother.  That is so of all who will come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Dealing with this “Election” of God let us look further into Scripture – “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” Exodus 33:19 (KJV).  As our Creator, Savior, Redeemer, Advocate, Judge… He has every right to choose whomever He will, to call to Himself.  Someone may ask, “Doesn’t mankind have a ‘freewill’?”  To that I would readily agree.  The very fact that God placed the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the midst of the garden near the “Tree of Life” tells me that God gave them a choice, thus free will to choose to obey or disobey.  They chose the latter of the two, and sin, death, and misery came into the world.

So how do the teachings of Election, the Sovereignty of God, and man’s free will operate?  I don’t know that I have the answer to that, but these things I do know and believe; and that is that God says that He knew me before the foundation of the world and He chose me; He has enriched me with spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, and that according to His will, the free will of men, and  His Sovereignty somehow work together to fulfill His will and glory.

The greatness of this “Election” is that God chose me before I ever did anything good or bad.  His choosing me was not based on any merit of my own, but solely on the grace of God alone.  Since He chose me before doing anything good or bad, that only means that there is nothing I could do to be plucked from my Father’s hands:

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:28-29 (KJV)

This does not give license to sin.  This does give us freedom from sin to live for Jesus Christ.  Before we came to faith in Jesus Christ we were bound by sin.  In Christ we are free to live for Him, and Him alone. This election is a calling to holiness (2:10;  John 15:16).

OUR PLACEMENT IN THE HEAVENLIES (v. 5).  By the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross we are born into relationship with the Father (John 3:3;  1 Peter 1:23).  By that blood we are legally sons/children, however, there is something else that happens to those who come to faith in Jesus Christ.  We are placed into the position with Christ as legal heirs of all that is His.  That is the “Adoption”.

That is the predetermined plan of God.  That is the “predestinated” will of God.  In John 1:12 we are told this – “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them tht believe on His name.”  Some new translations place children where the KJV uses sons, and that seems to me to be a tragedy, for we miss the greater meaning.  With Christ as our Lord and Savior we are given the same rights as the Elder Son, who is Jesus.  In the Old Testament economy the elder son received a majority of the father’s estate, and was given the responsibility of caring for the parents when they became unable to care for themselves.

Now consider this; since we are born into the family shouldn’t we just receive a minority of the inheritance?  Jesus has paid the price of our sin, making it possible for us to be in God’s family in the first place; He is the One who deserves it all.  By grace He places us with Him as joint heirs (Romans 8:17) with Him.

There is an example of this given in the Law of Moses concerning inheritance, and the daughters of a man who had no sons, and would be left out of the inheritance except for the grace given.  Zelophehad (Numbers 27:1-7) had five daughters, and he would be left out of inheriting any of the promised land, leaving nothing for any sons who might come along later.  Thus, in a since, they are placed in the position of an elder son, inheriting the land that would have been their father’s.

There is such a wealth at the hands and feet of every believer in Jesus Christ.  It is a wealth that is not of this world, however it is accessible in this world; and through it and by it we can live in victory.  The enemy has been defeated.  Let us rejoice.

We are “Predestinated” to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and that is to live in glory.

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29 (KJV)

We have yet to “tap into” the wonderful resources that are ours in Christ Jesus.  If we were the people of God in Christ that He has called us to be, walking in the Spirit, walking in the power of His word, there is no attack of the enemy which could stop us, and no human force could stand in our way; and He would be seen and glorified in many hearts and lives.  What God calls “Complete” is complete.

-Tim A. Blankenship

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.

Spirit Bearing Witness

Romans 9:1-5

A burden is a heavy thing to bear.  As we begin reading this “parenthesis” in the letter of Romans we find Paul with a heavy heart.  What has grieved his heart?  What is this burden?  It is the weight of the state of anathema which is on his countrymen – brethren – the Israelites.

A question could be asked why are they in such a curse?  Due to their unbelief at the coming of Messiah.  Their crucifixion, and putting to death the One who was foretold by the prophets, and the Law.

Another question comes to my mind;  Am I, would I be willing to be accursed that another might be saved from that curse?  Let us keep in mind this is a nation of people who have received many a blessing from the One whom they crucified.  Those blessings are listed in verses four and five; and those are not exhaustive.

This “parenthesis” covers chapters nine through eleven.  The ninth chapter shows us how God has dealt with Israel in the past; up to and including the time of Jesus Christ.  The tenth chapter shows us how God is working with them in our current age – the Church age.  The eleventh chapter shows us God restoring Israel in His future work with them.

I was once asked, “Why is this a parenthetical statement?”  My answer is that Paul has through chapter eight been dealing with the sins of mankind (chapters 1-3); the wonderful work of the grace of God (chapters 4-8); and then in chapters 9-11 he begins dealing specifically with the nation of Israel.  Then in chapter twelve he begins dealing with the fruits of grace in the believer’s life.  I hope that explains it.

It seems to me that this parenthesis is used by the apostle to show quite clearly, that since God gave many unconditional promises to Israel, and His will to fulfill them; He gives His body – the Church – evidence that He doesn’t quit, or give up on His people.  I like that kind of assurance.  Israel is evidence of God’s fulfilling His Word.

OUTLINE –

I.  THE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD (v. 1).

II.  THE GRIEF, AND SORROW OF HEART FOR THE PEOPLE (vv. 2-3).

III.  THE BLESSINGS OF A CONDEMNED PEOPLE (v. 4).

IV.  THE ONE’S THROUGH WHOM CHRIST HAS COME INTO THE WORLD (v. 5).

THE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD (v. 1).  Paul seems to have been quite aware of the problems of relying on conscience alone to make right and godly choices.

The conscience of an individual can be shaped and molded to reflect one’s culture; and not necessarily what is right and wrong according to Scripture or Christ.  The conscience which is subject to the Spirit of God, and the Word of God will make Biblical, conscientious, godly decisions; and if they don’t the conscience will be burdened with guilt, until the transgression has been forgiven.

Paul’s conscience and the Spirit of God bore witness that he had a heavy burden for Israel concerning their curse.

The reason some people can make evil choices concerning right and wrong, or godly and ungodly decisions is because their conscience is not in tune with God or His Word.

Paul’s conscience was clear.  He was burdened for his nation of people.  They are his brethren “after the flesh” – meaning these are the people he was born into.  What the apostle is about to say is one of the most profound statements he will ever make.  This is the most Christlike statement anyone could make.  It is even more Christlike to show it, and Paul demonstrates it quite vividly in the book of Acts when he is willing to give his life to be sure the people of Jerusalem hear the message of their Messiah.

THE GRIEF, AND SORROW OF HEART FOR THE PEOPLE (vv. 2-3).  It is certain that from this statement that Paul knows of the curse on the nation due to their unbelief and rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.  This word [accursed] is the word “Anathema”, and it conveys to us the most horrible and vile of cursing.

The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note states,

“9:3 accursed. The Gr. word is anathema, which means ‘to devote to destruction in eternal hell’ (cf. 1 Cor.12:3; 16:22; Gal.1:8,9).  Although Paul understood the exchange he was suggesting was impossible (8:38,39; John 10:28), it was the sincere expression of his deep love for his fellow Jews (cf. Ex. 32:32).”

Paul knew that he himself was not spotless, holy, undefiled to be that sacrifice, and that the sacrifice had, indeed, already been given by Jesus Himself.  The only spotless Lamb to ever be offered for the sins of man, and complete the offering was the offering of the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36).

Could I love so deeply that I would be willing to take another’s  place in hell?  In the love of Christ I can.  Isn’t that the essence of the love of Jesus Christ?  To be willing to give one’s life that another might live.  As Isaac was led by his father up the mountain, he went faithfully.  When he arrived he allowed Abraham to bind him, and lay him on the altar.  He had given his life for his father, and seemingly without any explanation; just trusting the father (Genesis 22).  Three of King David’s chief men, went through enemy lines, hazarding their lives so their king could receive a drink of water from Bethlehem’s well –

“And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.  And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it.” 2 Samuel 23:16-17 (KJV)

–  Why not give one’s life for another?

Our lack of love is seen today in that we don’t tell others the gospel of Jesus because we are fearful we may not be accepted, we may not have time.  How much time does that one God gives us opportunity for witness have?.  We may not be popular.  We might even be attacked physically, or at the least verbally.  How is that for loving to give our lives?  I cannot say with Paul, “I would wish myself accursed…”  Even knowing that my “sacrifice” would be of no benefit.  I am unworthy and unable to save myself.  How can I save others, except through giving them the hope that is in Christ Jesus alone.

THE BLESSINGS OF A CONDEMNED PEOPLE (v. 4).  “Israelites” were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and these were children of the promise.  From the fall of Adam and Eve, yea, even from creation, and before in the heart of God there was the nation of God who would be the progenitor of the Savior of the world.  Many nations would come to God, believing Him, calling on His name, worshipping Him, and glorifying His name.

The blessings of Israel were God’s “adoption” of them to be His witness nation to a condemned world.  The Israelites were recipients of the covenants of God, the law of God through Moses, the service of God in the priesthood, the tabernacle furniture, and tools; the pictures and types of the future Messiah – the promises; and they were the one’s by whom came the Blessed One through the virgin Mary.

We must learn from the blessing of Israel as Gentiles who are believers in the Messiah Jesus Christ.  They became hard hearted due to their “security” of the temple, arrogance in having the law, the adoption, the covenants, and believing the blessings were of the flesh, and not of the Spirit of God.  We cannot follow their path to destruction in unbelief.

Followers of Jesus Christ are not to evilly think we have it made because we have earned the  place of forgiveness, love, peace, and grace of God.  We are not any different than any other individual upon this planet.  We have sinned.  We have transgressed the commandments, the laws of God, and He has given us forgiveness and grace through the finished work of His Son.

We are commanded to take this wonderful message of salvation to the world.  When we don’t do that we fail, and become similar to the nation of Israel.  Jesus Christ built, and continues to build His Church upon the confession that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God.  Every confession of faith in Christ adds another living stone to the building of His Church, and nothing can prevail against her.  However, should we become arrogant, disobedient as individual believers or even as a local church; He can, He has, and will raise up another local church or individual to take our place.  We do have His assurance that we are saved; “Yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).

That is not something we should or would look forward to.

THE ONE’S THROUGH WHOM CHRIST HAS COME INTO THE WORLD (v. 5).  Through the mercy of God Mary, a virgin was chosen to bear the Son of God and birth Him into the human race.  This was not an accident, a fluke of nature.  Virgin births, little lone virgin conceptions do not happen by accident.  They can only be planned by God, and that is what makes a miracle. The unnatural, impossible, and glorious happens by the hands of God.  It happened as the fulfillment of His promises to send, this King, this Savior, this Messiah, this Great Physician, this Great High Priest, this Prophet of prophets; this God-man; the incarnate Son of God.

This One was born into this nation who would reject Him, make a false judgment of Him, crucify Him, put Him to death, bury Him in a borrowed tomb, and three days later rise from the grave; conquering sin, hell, death, and the grave.

Paul, here in this fifth verse is affirming the sovereignty, and the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ – “…The eternally blessed God. Amen.” (v. 5).

The Christians of today, the Body of Christ, the Church is the means of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ into the world.  Let us be faithful with the message, the only message that will save and change the world; for the glory of our Lord and God.  I am to be the messenger of the gospel of Christ Jesus that God has called me to be.  I can do no better or worse than my love for Him.  The same is true of all who have been called in Christ Jesus, “saints” (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1).

O for a heart like Jesus who was willing to endure separation from the Father to become sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and to give His righteousness to us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  To have a heart like Paul we must know our Savior as Paul did.

O Lord our God; give us your heart, and a heart like your servant Paul; that souls who are lost might hear of YOUR wonderful grace and mercy displayed on the cross of Calvary.

-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

Celebrate The LORD

Celebrations seem to be reserved for weddings, graduations, promotions, and for whatever one desires to celebrate in our society.  There is one, or more celebrations we should never forget, though, and that is celebrating our LORD God, and the wonderful things and acts He has done for us.

The Hebrew people were given many days of celebration, with seven feast days, then a total of nine.  These begin from the Passover to end with Purim, and they each play a significant part in Judaism.  Celebrations they are, but even more they are worshipping the LORD God who delivered them, provides for them, and reminds them of His merciful, gracious, and awesome acts.

As Christians we can see the Messiah; our Lord Jesus; as He is pictured, typed, and shadowed by these celebrations.  We should celebrate and worship Him everyday of our lives.

In this message I want us to see the need for celebrating Jesus, and these pictures of our Lord in the Old Testament.  We are short on our celebrations and celebrating.  So, let’s celebrate Jesus and worship Him, and by our worship of Him we worship our GOD.

The portraits follow of our Lord Jesus Christ.

THE BLOOD OF THE PASSOVER LAMB IS A PICTURE OF THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS CHRIST ON THE CROSS (vv. 1–5; Exodus 12:1-14).  By the pronouncement of God’s Word from His messenger Moses the wrath of God was going to fall on the firstborn of every home.  No one was going to be left untouched.  It didn’t matter if one was of Israel or of Egypt.  The destiny of every family was  going to be determined by the actions of each household.  The day of the Passover was to be on the fourteenth day of Abib (Exodus 13:4) also called Nisan, and is from our later days of March through the early days of April.  So, the Passover by our calendar would fall around the 29th of March, though it does come on April 9th for 2009.  I don’t know what the  difference is which causes this variance.

It was necessary if the firstborn of the home was to live, or if they neglected to put the blood on their door; then their firstborn would die.  God had shown Himself faithful to carry out the previous 9 plagues; why should or would He be questioned not?  At least the children of Israel obeyed and the firstborn children of Israel were saved.

This shows us that all are guilty of sin and need the blood of a sacrifice.  For the Passover it was the blood of the lamb which provided propitiation for the believing home.  In this case the “angel of death” passed over that home.  The shed blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, is the only atonement available for the guilt and shame of mankind today.

Jesus said, “This is My blood… which is shed for you” (Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20; John 6:56).  These reference verses show the importance Jesus placed on His blood for those who believe in Him.  Jesus is the PASSOVER LAMB of God and when God the Father sees the blood of His Son Jesus He sees our sins cleansed, washed away, forgiven, and us forever in His presence.

THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD GIVES US THE PICTURE OF THE SINLESSNESS OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 6-8; Exodus 12:15-20).  This feast takes place the day following the Passover meal.  It takes place in the month Abib/Nisan as well.  It would be a 7 day feast, and no leaven was allowed in the bread, nor to be in any Hebrews home.

There are far too many who would place Jesus merely in the realm of humanity.  Yes!  He was and is human, but so much more than a man.  Many have no problem seeing Jesus as a prophet, a good teacher or even a good man; however if He was not the Son of God, Divine [God incarnate], and sinless; then He was a sham, a con-artist, and the worst deceiver who ever lived on earth.

While the idea of the “unleavened bread” implies a hasty departure for Israel from Egypt; we can also see the need for the believer’s hasty departure from sin, and sins bondage.  Sin is the master of all unredeemed people (Romans 6:16). Gender or age makes no difference.  All are guilty of sin before Holy God, and require the propitiatory act of the death of the sinless Jesus Christ to stand in the presence of the HOLY ONE.

The sinlessness of Jesus Christ qualifies Him to be our sin-bearer, our Redeemer, our Substitute, our Savior.  Paul the apostle wrote,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)

THE FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS GIVES US THE PICTURE OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 9-14).  This is the offering feast of the harvest of the firstfruits of the wheat and the barley, and took place following the seventh day of the FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD.

Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover, taking into account that the Jewish day began after the sun set.  The following day would have started the feast of unleavened bread and continued for a seven day period.  Jesus was laid in a borrowed tomb, definitely dead, prepared for burial, with the tomb sealed, and three days later arose bodily from the grave, early on that Sunday morning (Matthew 28:1-4).

We find “Firstfruits” mentioned in the New Testament by Paul the apostle writing to the church of Corinth;

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”

“But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”

1 Corinthians 15:20, 23 (KJV)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ bodily from the grave is the means of the Christians rejoicing.  Our God and Savior Jesus Christ conquered sin, death, hell and the grave and still lives, giving God the glory, and  giving to all who will believe eternal life.

Celebrate Jesus He died, was buried, arose bodily from the grave and is returning some day.

THE FEAST OF WEEKS [PENTECOST] IS THE PICTURE OF THE EVIDENCE OF THE LIVING LORD JESUS; HIS SPIRIT IN US (vv. 15-22).  The celebration was to be counted seven sabbaths from the offering of the first fruits, or 49 days. With celebration of day 50.

Forty days following the resurrection of Jesus, and His appearances to many, in one incident “above five hundred at one time” (1 Corinthians 15:6); Jesus ascended into heaven leaving this promise;

“For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” and,

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  Acts 1:5, 8 (KJV)

Ten days following Jesus’s ascension into the heavenlies the Spirit of God came on all in the upper room (Acts 2).  That is the total of 50 days.

This is something the Christian, filled with the Spirit of God and Christ, can celebrate every single day.  We have the very person of Jesus Christ within us.  He is the power of Christ, the presence of Christ, and glory of Christ in us.  He is our “Earnest payment” until Jesus returns (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:14).  This our guarantee that He is returning.

The Spirit of God in us is much more than a guarantee of His return though.  He is the power which changes the heart of a good man into the heart of a godly man.  He is the power that changes a pimp or a prostitute into a vessel which is clean, pure and brings glory to God.  He is the power who can change the child molester into an individual who has the heart of God for children.  He is the power who can change a murderer into someone who loves and cherishes all of life.  When the Spirit of God and Christ enters a man, woman, boy or girl the change that is made is noticed;

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4 (KJV)

Saul of Tarsus, who hated Jesus, His teachings, and all who followed Him became a disciple and an apostle of Jesus Christ when he met Jesus, and was changed by the Spirit of Jesus Christ in him (Acts 9:1-22).  Every one who comes to Jesus receives the Spirit of Jesus Christ (the Holy Spirit), baptized into His body (1 Corinthians  12:13), and is gifted and empowered to live for Him and His glory.

THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS IS THE PICTURE OF CHRIST REGATHERING THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL (vv. 23-25). The Feast of Trumpets took place annually during the month Tishri (September/October). The prophets from Isaiah through Malachi ring with promises of the regathering of Israel as a nation.  Jesus Himself made the promise of such;

“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Mattthew 24:31 (KJV)

There are many Old Testament promises which will yet be fulfilled; some I give you:

“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.” Isaiah 2:1-5 (KJV)

Isaiah 11:1-16

“Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east. So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house. And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me.” Ezekiel 43:1-6 (KJV)

“And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi. And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan. And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. At the west side four thousand and five hundred, with their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali. It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.” Ezekiel 48:31-35 (KJV)

“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 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 4:4-6 (KJV)

On this portion of Matthew (24:31) you may check this out. If you would like to check out my studies of the Olivet Discourse you may click on the link.

Romans chapters 9 – 11 give us more details of God’s promises being fulfilled to the people of Israel, and one day Jesus will regather them to Himself, and this time will be forever.

THE FEAST OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT GIVES US THE PICTURE OF JESUS’S SUBSTITUTIONARY DEATH ON THE CROSS (vv. 26-32).  The day of atonement took place during the month Tishri (September/October).

It was on the day of atonement that we hear of the “Scapegoat” (Leviticus  16).  There were two goats brought to the high priest.  By “lot” one was chosen as the LORD’s and the other lot for the scapegoat.  The LORD’s lot was sacrificed, the other was released, “…to go as a scapegoat into the wilderness.”  There is more sacrifice involved on this day of atonement, but within this scene of the “Scapegoat” we have a beautiful picture of the atoning work of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Jesus, as the sinless, perfect, spotless, blemishless, Lamb of God went to the cross our sacrifice for sin, without sin, became our sin – thus the goat image – bore the wrath of Holy God upon sin, died as the penalty for our sin (Romans 6:23), was buried – thus the image of the scapegoat – carrying our sins, shame, and guilt and condemnation away.  Then, He arose bodily from the grave leaving all that sin, shame, guilt and condemnation cast far, far away (Psalm 103:12).

There is only one payment for sin, and that is provided, and was provided by our God and Savior Jesus Christ, as he bled and died in obedience to His Father, and in His love for you and I He is our Substitute, our only atonement for sin.

THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES IS A PICTURE OF THE REST AND REUNION WE HAVE IN JESUS CHRIST (vv. 33-44).  This feast also took place in the month of Tishri (September/October) on the fifteenth day would be the beginning.  The first day was a Sabbath day, and the eighth day was a Sabbath day for them.  On the first day also they were to make booths (a temporary home) this was a reminder to them of the journey through the wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt.

It would seem that the whole month of Tishri is taken  with celebration and worship of the LORD.  The life of the Christian should be a time of celebration/worship of  our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our God.  God saw to it that the people would always have plenty of rest from their labors.  Six days a week they labored, then the sabbath day was a day of rest.  Then on the fourteenth day of the first month until the twentyfirst day they celebrated the Passover, Unleavened bread, and firstfruits; fifty days later they celebrated Pentecost, then in the seventh month of Tishri they celebrated Feast of Trumpets [Rosh Hashanah], Day of Atonement [Yom Kippur], and feast of Tabernacles [Booths of Ingathering].

Today the Hebrews celebrate two other occasions.  Feast of Dedication (John 10:22) [Hanukkah] during the month of December from the miracle of the Menorah in the temple during the of the Maccabees rebellion against Antiochus ephiphines.  The other began in the time of Esther, and is called Purim in the month Adar (February/March).  Purim is remembrance and thanks to God for His deliverance from Haman’s deceptive means to destroy the Jews.

In Jesus Christ our Lord and God we celebrate these every day.  He fulfilled all these.  He is the anti-type.  He is not the shadow of these things; He is the substance.  Jesus is also the Light, and the only means of salvation for the Jew and the Gentile.

Of His Rest and Reunion we read:

“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 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. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:11-16 (KJV)

Let’s Celebrate Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is It All About Bread???

The Pharisees and Sadducees were a constant heartache to our Lord. As they were supposed to be the religious leaders of Israel during this time they were filled with doubts, unbelief, jealousy, and condemnation of any and all; including our Lord; who were not “letter for letter” correct to their own understanding. Many of these men hated Jesus, very few loved Him.

After dealing with the Pharisees concerning signs (vv. 1-4) Jesus will deal with the disciples concerning their faith, give them warning concerning evil doctrine, and hypocrisy.

“And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Matthew 16:5-12 (KJV)

The disciples must have had their attention diverted by physical need concerning Jesus’s caveat concerning the “leaven of the Pharisees”. It had not been so long ago that they had witnessed the power of the Lord when He took 5 loaves of bread and two small fish, and fed a multitude of 5000 men, plus women and children (14:13-21), then later fed 4000 men, plus women and children with seven loaves a “a few little fishes” (15:32-38). They had forgotten to bring food with them, except for one loaf (Mark 8:14), and they assume that Jesus is speaking of bread.

He speaks of “Leaven”. Of course, leaven is used in bread. It is, however, used to puff up, fluff up, and stuff up. It gives baked goods a fuller appearance than they would have without it. It is my belief that every time there is mention of “leaven” in Scripture, it is as a symbol of hindrance, sin, or evil. Hindrance because when the children of Israel were leaving Egypt they were commanded to prepare bread without leaven (Exodus 12:15-20). They were going to be leaving Egypt very quickly, therefore no time could be taken to allow bread to rise, thus they would have been in rebellion to even have it in their homes. Leaven also represents false doctrine, and hypocrisy (clouds without rain in a time of drought).

There are many professing Christians in our day who do not believe we need to be concerned about doctrine; whether it be right or wrong; just believe something. Anything is okay as long as you sincerely believe something; even if it is that your dog is the reincarnation of Geronimo. Jesus, however, gives an earnest warning to His disciples to “Take heed and beware of the leaven [doctrine] of the Pharisees. It is also a warning of hypocrisy. There is glaring hypocrisy in the Pharisees; requiring things of the people they lead, and give themselves loopholes around their own laws. False doctrine, and hypocrisy seem to go together.

Jesus’s warning is for all Christians of all ages, because we fall into a gross pit of oozing manure when we fall into false teaching and hypocrisy. Very often a pit that is very hard to get out of, or be rescued from.

It is not all about bread. It is not all about physical needs; Jesus meets those needs daily. It is a warning of being sure the doctrine is right and they life is right with God. This means much of the responsibility for remaining correct in what we believe and how we live lays on our own shoulders, and the Spirit of God within us. We can do this by staying true to the Lord in the reading, study, and meditation upon His Word; spending time with Him in prayer – walking with Him daily; faithful attendance to our local church as often as the door is open; and to faithfully serve the Lord by loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves by giving of ourselves in serving others when possible, and sometimes when it gets in our way.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Stand Upon The Rock

“O, that will be glory for me, Glory for me, glory for me.  When by His grace I shall look on His face; that will be glory, be glory for me.”  So goes the words of the song “That Will Be Glory”.  This should be the hearts desire of every child of God; to see the glory of our God.

Peter, James and John witnessed the glory of Jesus when they were on the Mount and Jesus was transfigured before them (Matthew 17:1-11).  We will see the significance of this a little later in this message.

In Exodus 32 Moses had been up on the Mount getting the 10 Commandments on stone tablets,  by God, and the people took it on themselves, using Aaron, to build an idol called the golden calf, to worship.  The people had already heard the commandments (20:1-17),  ”Thou shalt have no other gods,’ and ‘Thou shalt not make any graven image”.   When he returned with the tablets of stone the people had rebelled against the LORD’s commandments and worshipped another god, and built a graven image to worship.

Moses breaks the tablets of stone; the whole law was shattered; ground the calf into powder, poured it into a stream, and made the rebellious ones drink the water (32:20).  Moses also called for those who were on the LORD’s side to come to me (32:26).

The heart of a shepherd/pastor is seen in Moses as he prays, “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Exodus 32:32 (KJV).  Moses spends time setting up a special place outside the camp which represented the place to meet God the “Tabernacle of the congregation” (33:7).  You will notice that everytime Moses went to the tabernacle the men stood at the door of their tents and watched as the “cloudy pillar descended on the door of the tabernacle”.  When they saw this “cloudy pillar” descended to the door “they worshipped (v. 10).

Moses, the man of God, longed for the  abiding presence of the LORD, and sought it diligently.  He prayed to see God in His glory, and that if God was not with him and the people that they would go no farther (vv. 13-15).

OUTLINE OF Exodus 33:21-23 –

I.  THERE IS A PLACE NEAR TO GOD TO WHICH WE ARE CALLED (v. 21).  This is a place that is provided by God.  It is God who provided the rock for Moses, on which to stand.

God desires for all those who know Him to come near to Him.  “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).  God has always provided a place for His people.  He provided a garden for Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:8).  He provided an ark for Noah and His family to escape a flood (Genesis 6-9).  The Lord Jesus Himself said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-3).

II.  WE ARE TO STAND ON THE ROCK, AND HIDE IN THE CLEFT WHICH GOD PROVIDES (vv. 21, 22).  The rock of course represents the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God.  “That Rock was Christ”, says Paul the apostle (1 Corinthians 10:4).  He even says that Rock followed them.

There is no surer foundation than the Rock which is Jesus Christ.  He is the Rock upon which His Church is built (Matthew 16:18), and there is no other foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11).

When we come to the place God has provided for us, He hides us in the cleft of the Rock.  God passed by Moses with His hand over Moses’s eyes protecting him from the glory that would have slain him.

III.  IN THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK; COVERED BY THE HAND OF GOD (v. 22).  Even though we may be in the place God has placed us we still need His  covering hand to protect us from His glory.  His hand is on display in the person of His Son.  Jesus said to Phillip, “He that has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Jesus Himself was the incarnation of God.  God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14), “(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (KJV).  Jesus came veiled in human flesh, and though a man never sinned, never transgressed the law of God or man, but was obedient to the Father in all points, even unto the cross.

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me; let me hide myself in Thee”.  Hidden from the glory of God that could and would consume us if not in that cleft of the Rock.

IV.  THE GLORY OF GOD FROM THE BACK (v. 23).  We are not given any description of the back of God by Moses.  Therefore we are left to believe that this was completely satisfactory to Moses.  He knew he had been in the presence of holiness, righteousness, and the awesome wonder of His glory.

One day we are promised that we shall behold the face of our Lord.  All will look on Him whom we have  pierced with thorns, nails, spears, and our sins.  When we appear before the throne of Jesus Christ He will see only the garments washed clean by His own blood, and the judgment received will be for our rewards, for good or bad we have done (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 4:12-15).

Where are you standing today?  I pray you stand on the Rock which is Christ, and that you are hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).  When your life is “Hid with Christ  in God” you are Standing On The Rock.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Beginning of Sorrows

In looking at the Olivet Discourse we see that the disciples are still without understanding concerning the death, burial and resurrection; and they are still looking for Him to set up an earthly kingdom at that present time. The thought of the temple being destroyed was beyond their thinking and curious minds. The temple; to the people of Israel represented a security, and the presence of God.

As I study this portion of Scripture a question comes to my mind. What of the ark of the covenant? Historians have told us that the ark of the covenant was hidden by Jeremiah in Egypt, or other such stories. In Jerusalem, in the time of Jesus, however, there is a temple, and there is a Holy of Holies within the temple. There is a “veil” which was torn during the crucifixion of Jesus (27:51). The ark of the covenant always represented the presence, power and glory of God. During the time of Jesus was the ark of the covenant behind the veil that was torn from the top to the bottom? Does it matter?

For the temple to be destroyed would be catastrophic for the Jewish people. In the hearts of most of the leaders of Israel, the presence, power, and glory of God seemed to be of little significance; after all, they had their temple, their sacrifices, feast days, Sabbaths, and special days.

“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:1-8 (KJV)

In verse one as we saw in the last study/message Jesus departs from the temple. Again, this is Matthew’s last mention of Jesus in the temple, and now he has Him departing from it. Even if the ark of the covenant is present behind the veil, the real glory of God has left. The ark of the covenant was only a shadow of the Lord Christ. Made of wood, representing man. Covered in gold representing the purity and deity of God; and within was the law of God – the Ten Commandments – given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai, Aaron’s rod that blossomed (Numbers 17:10), and a sample of the manna (Exodus 16:33). Many probably do not, nor will they want to see it; but this event of Jesus departing the temple is a very sad event; but one which speaks loudly of a coming judgment upon those who rejected Him.

Without God in the temple it was being left desolate (23:28), just as Jesus had said. Being left desolate the temple, then, would become subject to defilement, desecration, and destruction. Always evidence of God’s displeasure and departure.

In A.D. 70 the destruction of the temple was fulfilled. There was not one stone left upon another. These gleaming white marble stones were cut with precision, where each one fit perfectly as the building was being erected. The largest stone which was cut out measured 40 feet in length, by 12 feet wide, by 12 feet high, and weighed up to 100 tons. The East side of the temple was plated with gold, and as the morning sun rose it could be seen from many miles away. The temple had been forty years in the building and it was not completed at the time it was destroyed.

To see these massive stones, and hear the words of Jesus, it would be hard to imagine that that temple could be destroyed, and not one stone be left upon another. However when the temple fell, almost forty years later, it was just as Jesus said. Not one stone was left upon another.

A Study Bible note says,

24:2. not one stone shall be left here. These words were literally fulfilled in A.D. 70. Titus, the Roman general, built lare wooden scaffords around the walls of the temple buildings, piled them high with wood and other flammable items, and set them ablaze. The heat from the fires was so intense that the stones crumbled. The rubble was then sifted to retrieve the melted gold, and the remaining ruins were ‘thrown down’ into the Kidron Valley. See notes on 22:7; Luke 19:43.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, NKJV, p. 1438.

It goes to show, when God says something is going to happen; it will happen; and just as He has said.

We are all somewhat curious about the future. We have that curiosity and the only way we know the future, or at least a part of it is by God’s revelation. The disciples were curious, and so asked Jesus, “When will these things be?”, and this was after they were the one’s showing Jesus the temple (v. 2); probably because they were in awe of its beauty and size. I am somewhat amazed by the architecture of the old European variety. There is an old church building in France which was started in its construction in 1100 A.D., and was completed around 1500. It is a massive piece of art, and craftsmanship. It still stands today, but for how much longer only God really knows. It is much greater to be in awe of the One who has shaped and formed and built all things from nothing.

The disciples asked Jesus three questions. Question 1: “When shall these things be?”; Question 2: “What shall be the sign of thy coming?”; and Question 3: “…of the end of the world?” When the disciples, awed by the glory of the building, saw that Jesus was not; they asked Him, “When shall these things be?” With psychics giving people false hope for the future just to gain a few dollars, people still reading their horoscopes, and some flocking to seminars where they can learn how to build their own future by building on themselves; we need a clear word from God on the matter of what the future holds. As has been said, “I don’t know what the future holds; but I know who holds the future.” We can trust and know; when we know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior; that anything that is in our future is in the hands of the Almighty God, our Creator.

The only reason people go to psychics, palm readers, fortune tellers, necromancers (People who claim to communicate with the dead), and witches is to keep control of their lives themselves. I am forever grateful that the power of the control of my future is not in my hands, but the hands of my heavenly Father. Now, don’t misunderstand me. That does not mean that I can sit down and do nothing. As a responsible man, and Christian man; I still must be vigilant to tend to my regular business affairs, spiritual life, and see that my family grows in the Lord as well. I must be a responsible steward of all that God has blessed me with, and God help me, and forgive me where I haven’t been. God will reveal as much of the future that I need to know, as He wants me to know. He most likely will not tell me when I will die; when my wife, or my children will die; or the death of anyone else for that matter. He can, and He has before with others, but there is nothing that tells us He must do so.

The disciples equate the destruction of the temple with the end of the world [age]. A question we might ask is “Why would God destroy the Temple?” It was the center of worship for the Jews. To the Jew, it was the place where God dwelt. The place where they could meet God, and for some they thought to contain Him only in the temple for themselves, leaving them free to live as they pleased.

Why would God destroy the temple? To save Israel. God will destroy buildings, houses, lands, livestock, even lives to save a soul. Jesus did not tell His disciples when the temple would be destroyed. The destruction spoken of here would take place some years in the near future; it was; and there will be another one built, sometime yet in our future. Instead of telling the disciples “When” these things would come to pass, Jesus mentioned to them some signs of things which would happen before the return of the Lord.

Then in verse four Jesus begins answering the questions when He says, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” With the world experiencing the many forms of catastrophe which we all have seen it is no wonder there are those proposing things which are really “Get rich quick” schemes and scams. Even worse though are the spiritual charlatans who propose the many ways to God; than any way is good as long as you believe. Some give you a promise: “When you send in your offerings to me, then, God will multiply for you, your offering a hundred fold”. None of these false prophets warn of sin, death, and judgment; and certainly none of them call for repentance, and faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. There are many in the world out to deceive and to get what they want from anyone who will follow them.

Jesus’s words are, “Take heed that no man deceive you”. In this world there is only one hope and His name is Jesus Christ Son of the Living God; who died on the cross for the sins of the world, was buried carrying our sins away, and rose again as evidence that He is the God incarnate who created all that there is.

There are even some of them who say they are christs, and there are some who will tell you they have the christ spirit or something like that, but what they teach and say is contrary to the true Christ – there is only one – and His name is Jesus, Son of the Living God. The teaching of these male and female charismatic speakers are indeed fascinating, even captivating, but lies meant to lead you away from the truth. Even Oprah has her own gospel now, and it may include Jesus but not the Bible Jesus who died, was buried, and rose again. For if she really believed in Him she would not be promoting other ways to God. The kind of message she and others are proclaiming are leading many souls away from the truth of Jesus Christ right into the arms of Lucifer. Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:” Matthew 24:6-7 (KJV)

If we take a look around the world of 2008 we find wars going on in many nations. Oun own nation the USA is at war with two nations – Iraq and Afghanistan – and working toward another with Iran, due to Iran’s arrogance, and their hatred for Israel and the United States, and their threat that nuclear power would bring to the world. The president of Iran has vowed to destroy Israel. We need not fear that happening; it won’t; because God has promised otherwise, and we have seen His Almighty hand of deliverance before.

Jesus tells us in the verse above, “See that ye be not troubled…”. There is a war going on in our own nation. It is not a war with guns, bullets, and bombs; but a war of thoughts and ideas; a war of right versus wrong – what is right and what is wrong – even getting where wrong is considered right, and right is considered as wrong. Let me give you a for instance; in the minds of some citizens of the USA same sex marriage is a good thing for those who want to practice that perversion of a sexual relationship, and if you are silent and will support it by your silence saying on occasion, “I see nothing wrong with it”, then you are good. On the other hand if you oppose this perversion of a sexual relationship, and warn people that it is against the norm, or against God and right, then you are bad. According to a number of these same sex marriage advocates to be against their marriage or union and speak against it is “Hate speech”. That is only one instance of wrong being right, and right being wrong. There are others. You could call it a “Culture war”, but I think it better called a “Spiritual war”.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

His Kingdom Coming

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:44-52 (KJV).

We have looked at the beginning of the kingdom of heaven in verses 3 – 23; seen the opposition of the devil within the kingdom in verses 24 – 43; and lastly we will see the finished result of the kingdom in verses 44 – 50. The final thing we will see is the responsibility that those who are in the kingdom have with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

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

In the following parables we see three items; the first being “a hidden treasure”; the second is “a pearl of great price [great value]”, and finally; “a dragnet”. We have mystery, beauty, and “What?”.

For some time and some odd reason many have looked at the parable of the “treasure” and said this treasure is Jesus Christ, and when you find Him you sell all that you have, then take that and buy to obtain Jesus. That may be a great sentiment, but we do not purchase Jesus. He is not for sale. If there is any finding to be done when it comes to the salvation of lost mankind Jesus will do it. Then, just what is the meaning of this parable (v. 44)?

Remember the previous parables. In the parable of the “Wheat and the tares” the field is the world. In this world “a man” is God in the person of His Son, and the “treasure” is true Israel. Hear the words of the Old Testament here: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:” Exodus 19:5 (KJV); another one would be, “For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” Psalms 135:4 (KJV). When God called Israel to be His people and Nation He had a plan for them, and He still does. Warren Wiersbe says, “That nation was placed in the world to bring glory to God, but it failed. It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God. Jesus Christ gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation (John 11:51). On the cross, Jesus died for the whole world; but in a special way, He died for Israel (Isaiah 53:8). The nation suffered judgment and seeming destruction, but in God’s sight it is ‘hidden’ and will be revealed again in glory.” From the Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 47, VOL. 1.

God is the Creator of the world; the Son as the man purchased the world with His own blood redeeming Israel, and all who will receive Him. One day, and it may be sooner than we all think, there will be a manifestation of Jesus Christ in the hearts and souls of the people of the nation of Israel. It will take some time and trial for them to realize their need, and to realize that their Messiah has been here already, but it will come.

Pearls are made through the much tribulation of the oyster. I don’t know all the mechanics behind the making of the pearl, but what we have all heard is that it begins with a grain of sand being on the sensitive part of its body. It senses the irritation, and gives off a substance which surrounds the irritation easing its aggravation, and after several times of this it becomes a pearl; a piece of jewelry which women seem to love and desire.

In the parable of the “pearl of great price” (vv. 45-46), it has seen the similar interpretation as the above “treasure”, the “pearl” being Christ Jesus and those who give up all they have, and purchase the pearl have made a great bargain. Again, there may be great sentiment in this interpretation, but Jesus Christ and His salvation is not for sale, and salvation cost us nothing. Let’s see some Scripture on this matter:

” Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:” 1 Corinthians 10:32 (KJV).

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (KJV).

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” Ephesians 4:4-7 (KJV).

“The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Psalms 14:2-3 (KJV).

In this parable of the precious pearl the “Merchant man” is truly representing Jesus Christ. Jesus saw the Church as being a precious pearl, and gave up the splendors and glory of heaven to come and redeem fallen men to God. If you use the interpretation of the pearl representing Christ then, you have mankind searching for and finding God. That contradicts the rest of Scriptures. In Scripture we always have God seeking for men. He came in the garden seeking for Adam, and it wasn’t or even isn’t that He doesn’t know where we are; it is important that we know where we are in relation to Him. The Bible says, “that no man seeks God” (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:11). It was Jesus who said, “I came to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). The Merchant man is the one who is searching.

God seeks after men – He is in pursuit of the souls of men. Jesus left it all up that He might purchase with His own blood the “pearl of great price” the pearl is one of great value. Precious means that it is rare. There is no other like it on earth, or anywhere else for that matter. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 (KJV). The price He paid was not only in leaving the immediate presence of the Father, but becoming a lowly servant; taking on Himself the stench, the ugly, the weight, of our sins, and enduring the wrath of His own Father; then giving to us His righteousness

The pearl which the Merchant man seeks is the Church. The Church comes from the realms of mankind. The sea is most usually a picture of mankind. The oyster and the pearl are products of the sea. Read 1 Corinthians 10:32; Ephesians 2:11-13 and 4:4-7 again. The growth of the Church is unseen by the world, just as the pearl within the oyster. It is a unified product – just as the pearl is layered in its production, from beginning to end; so too is the Church.

Jesus once again goes to the sea, only in a bigger way. There are a lot of people who like and even love fishing. We look now at a peculiar catch. Keep in mind that we are to understand that the “kingdom of heaven” contains both the good and the bad [evil]; the true and the false. The good and true are the ones who are genuine believers. The bad and false are the ones in it for the wrong reasons – power, politics prestige; they are the hypocrites. The net is the kingdom and the fish represent people from all nations the Jew and the Gentile (Daniel 7:1-3; Revelation 13:1; 17:15).

The time of this judgment is at the end of the age, when God is going to make all things right. Evil will be judged and eventually put away. It will be a time when many will wonder, “What is going on?”, and “Why is this happening to me [us]? The Gentile believers will be separated from the unbelievers. It is not the end of the Church Age, but the end of the age of a “Mixed Multitude”. It will end the time of the tares infiltrating the wheat.

Jesus’s question as to the disciples understanding of the parables was pertinent. They needed to understand that the new thing He was teaching was coming from the old truths of the Old covenant. The new and the old never contradict but complement one another; or complete the other. The new may give fuller, and clearer understanding to the old. Scribes were given the task of writing the laws and preserving them; they, however, became preservers of man’s interpretations of God’s Word and laws, and in many ways fell away from the practice of these laws. The follower of Jesus needed to know and needs to know that there is a time for the study of the Word, and then, God gives us the time to proclaim the Word to those who need to hear.

The reference to the householder is that when he displays or shows the treasures of his house he shows the old and the new. The same is true with those who are followers of Jesus. I think this is Jesus telling us that the Old Testament is needed to be taught and preached as well as the New. Those who neglect the Old are prone to never have a good understanding of the New. Those who would teach only the Old, without the New, will never have a clear understanding of the Old.

“And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:53-58 (KJV)

After Jesus finished teaching these parables He went home to where He had grown up. A question that comes to my mind as I look at verse 54 concerning the phrase, “He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished…” is, “Does the statement mean that He taught them these parables, or is it just that He was teaching the people in the synagogue?? With verse 53 saying what it does, “When Jesus had finished these parables…”, and the and verse 54 adding, “…so that they were astonished…” it almost sounds as though it is speaking of the parables being taught by Jesus, to the people of his home town. It is clear that He “taught them in the synagogue” and in that reference is of the people. There is no doubt about His teaching the people in their synagogue. Therefore, that is probably the better understanding of it. Everything Jesus taught, wherever He was teaching was astonishing. The people of Nazareth did not understand where this young man, who grew up in their midst, could get such wisdom and understanding.

The people of Nazareth only saw Him as being the son of Joseph and Mary. Their eyes had been closed as to His true identity. After all as He was growing up He had brothers and sisters, James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, and sisters. These people were offended that He had such a wealth of knowledge of God, Scripture, and wisdom. He hadn’t really even been educated, at least not like the Pharisees, and Sadducees, the knowledgeable elite. It seems that thier offense went something like this, “Who does this guy think He is coming in our synagogue and teaching us?”

I am sure that Jesus’s heart was broken in their rejection of Him. He so desired that all would hear His voice and know Him, but He would not force any to follow. Jesus understood the attitude, and that it was their familiarity with Him growing up in their midst. Because of their rejection and rebellion against Him He could not, nor would not do “many mighty works there because of their unbelief”. Of course, this would be refering to the miracles He performed. It seems that the first miracle He did was in Cana of Galilee (John 2).

It is a sad commentary on a city, county, or country when they will acknowledge their war heroes, veterans, and sports stars, but they do not give any recognition to those who are given to the work of God. It just shows that the people “of the earth” have their hearts in another place.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jerusalem… The Throne of the LORD

Jerusalem… The Throne of the LORD

The LORD in the previous verses has spoken through the prophet to plead with Israel to return to Him. It will require them to put away their idolatry, to renew their hearts and their lives in Him. The LORD even says, “I am married to you.” (v.14). The promise is for them when they return. The problem is they have not yet returned to Him. They one day will; by God’s own promise and assurances.

“Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,’ says the LORD, ‘that they will say no more, ‘ The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.” Jeremiah 3:16-18 (NKJV).

If you will note this promise is conditional upon their return to Him, from their state of a backsliding heart. I have stated it before and will state it again here, though this is not my own: I think Charles H. Spurgeon has been credited with this statement, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully.” The southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel, since the reigns of Rehoboam and Jereboam, are the children of God, or the nation of God’s choosing. If you will read all of the Old Testament from the Exodus through the book of Malachi, you will find God’s hand of correction, and discipline on the two kingdoms. In them we have examples of what the Christian’s life should be like and God’s discipline upon us when we rebell and sin against Him.

The LORD’s words spoken through the prophet are spoken as an already completed thing. It is completed in the mind of God. When God says something is going to come to pass it is as good as done. You will notice that He says, “When you are mutltiplied and increased in the land…”. It is an already decided and an already accomplished event; it just needs worked out in the people’s hearts and lives. There would be coming a time when the people were going to be carried away to Babylon, and in 70 years they would return. In this return they would return as one nation once again, but this promise has much more prophetic influence than just that fulfillment. The children of the nation of Israel, are still missing the ark of the covenant; they are even looking forward to the return of the ark of the covenant.

Even when Cyrus king of Persia made proclamation for the “house of the LORD” to be built in Jerusalem, and after Nehemiah was given permission to go and rebuild the wall of the city of Jerusalem, the people were still in bondage to a foreign power. Even in the day of Jesus they were still under the powers of the Roman government. Since the Babyloninan captivity they have not really been free. In our day, though they are supposedly a free nation, they are still under the rule of Gentile governments. The United Nations and the United States of America are pretty much their ruling nations.

There will come a day when Messiah reigns in Jerusalem. That in the time and the day they will no longer be depending on the representative power and presence of the Lord, ie., the ark of the covenant; but they will have the real, full, and glorious power and presence of the LORD in person. He will be their king. How is it that some Christians want to take these promises and spiritualize them, and make them for the church? This promise has not happened yet. It has not been fulfilled. It is yet to be fulfilled; and to the letter. The amillennialist would have us believe that these events have already occured and the promise is fulfilled in the Church. The thing is, this prophecy had nothing, has nothing to do with the Church. It has to do with the people of Israel. It is dealing with a real people, in a real land, with a real city of Jerusalem; not a figurative one.

The children of Judah and Israel did come back from Babylon, after seventy years, just as Jeremiah had prophesied; but they have never had free rule of the land. It has been ruled by other nations for centuries. When, however, Jesus sits as king on “The Throne of the LORD”, then will all the nations be gathered into it. It won’t be so that they can rule, but so that they can worship the King. Jerusalem will be The Throne of the Lord.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Law Fulfilled (2)

THE LAW FULFILLED (II)

The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:29-31 (KJV).

In this article we will look at the “second” which Jesus speaks of, and has to do with the final six of the Ten Commandments.

The fifth commandment, which is the first commandment in our relationships with our fellowman is, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” Ex 20:12 (KJV). If you will notice this is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it (Eph. 6:2). The strength of a good society begins in the families of that society. If mothers and fathers are not respected, revered, honored, and obeyed, then that home will not be strong. If a complete society is full of dishonored parents, then that society will fall. Honoring our parents will bring respect for other people and strengthen other homes and societies. Remember, there is the promise of long life to those who “Honor your father and mother”.

The sixth commandment is, “Thou shalt not kill.” Ex 20:13 (KJV). That is the shortest one yet, but is greatly needed. One who “Love(s) thy neighbor as thyself” will not commit the act of murder. This is not a commandment against protecting one’s own life or possessions. It means, to commit no murder. The act of premeditated murder, where it is plotted and planned and even setting a “trap” to kill someone. That is the act that is forbidden here. Of course, the child of God would not desire to even take the life of anyone whether in an act against our own person, a family member or a neighbor.

This commandment does not take away the God-given right to government for sentencing and carrying out the sentence of death for a murderous or criminal offense which calls for the death penalty. Basically, this law holds the utmost respect for all human life. It should be applied to the SCNT, and abortion controversy. If we are to err let us err on the side of LIFE. SEE ALSO Matthew 5:21-22.

“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Ex 20:14 (KJV), is the seventh commandment, and it to has to do with our relationship with our fellowman. Adultery, of course, is speaking of what is called today as, “Having an affair”. One married individual with another married individual who are not married to one another, and it could be adultery also, if one is not married and the other is. Would you want your wife sleeping with another man, or with a woman? Would you want your husband sleeping with another woman, or a man? The act of adultery is actually the act of a thief as well (Proverbs 6:20-35). God desires that we hold sexuality in very high regard. It is cheapened when marriage is given to homosexuality, polygamy, and what ever else could follow. See what Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28.

“Thou shalt not steal.” Ex 20:15 (KJV). All of these commandments show that there is to be respect for individual rights given by Holy God. The right of parents to be honored and respected. The right to a life without fear of someone else taking it away. The right to have a good, solid, godly home where husband and wife trust one another, and there are no others, and this one the right to one’s own property. It also teaches to respect personal property. If you take something belonging to someone else, you have no respect for the rights of others. Others have worked hard to get what they have. They have earned the income which gave them the power to purchase that thing that you steal. You have no right to it. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. Would you want something that you have worked so hard for to be stolen from you? Of course not. Neither does your neighbor. Who is your neighbor? Anyone you meet or know, and those you do not know.

The next commandment has to do with how you speak of others – your neighbor. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” Ex 20:16 (KJV). How many times have the reputations of others been damaged, by knowingly false information, given by someone out to destroy them? You may think, “Well, I would never do that”. Really!!! Have you ever told a story you had heard on anyone, and it was nothing but gossip. Even if it is true, it is sometimes best to not pass on a story you have heard of someone. Not only can it destroy the person whom the story is about, but it could also come back on you. The question I have asked of the others carries over here as well. Would you like someone to tell a story on you? A person can be a “False witness” even in telling a true story, by the wrong intention of the heart. When Christ is in the heart, and reigns supremely these laws are written there with great desire to obey them for His honor and glory.

The final commandment is, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” Ex 20:17 (KJV). In the New Testament “Covetousness” is called idolatry (Col. 3:5). Basically, this could be called the capstone of all the commandments. It is certain that if your heart is on other things, it is certainly not on God alone, thus, breaking the first four commandments, and it is not right with your fellowman, because you want what she/he has. Jealousy, envy, whatever you want to call it is there, and you care nothing for your neighbor. This command has to do with being satisfied with your own. Look at these admonitions from God’s Word – “And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” Luke 3:14 (KJV). “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). “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Phil 4:11 (KJV). “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” 1 Tim 6:7-8 (KJV).

The Law of God written in our hearts just as God declared to the prophets. See Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26. Without Jesus death on the cross the Law condemns us, because we are powerless to obey these laws, but with Jesus as our Savior He abides in us thus fulfilling the law in our lives. Glory be to Jesus our Lord and Savior.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

The Coming of God

The Coming of God

I guess you could say we are to the final verse of the song of Habakkuk. He writes a song with question, and ends it with praise.

The prophet tells us:

“God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise.” Habakkuk 3:3 (NKJV).

Have you ever had anyone ask you, “Where did God come from?” You have the answer in the verse above. “God came from Teman.” That is quite the statement. Someone once said that “Teman, means ‘nowhere’”. From what I have seen in Strong’s Concordance, and other places I have not found that, but we still find a great message in this statement.

As God led the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage He also appears to them at Sinai and gives them the law of the Ten Commandments. In a place where they had felt deserted and abandoned. (You can see this in their many complaints, “We have no water”; “Why did you bring us out into this wilderness to die; we could have died with what we needed to live in Egypt.”). The people are given opportunity to hear God for themselves, and turn away, and request of Moses that he mediate for them (Exodus 20:18-21).

God appeared to them in a land which they did not expect the presence of God. His presence was an awesome presence. Habakkuk gives us the word “Selah” in this verse. My understanding of this word is that what you have just read or sang in this situation is worthy of repeating. So read it again. If you have a tune, sing it again. To sing it again is to really reflect on its power and purpose – stop and think about it, even, without singing it or reading it.

If you imagine this appearing at Sinai was really spectacular; just think of what the appearing of Jesus Christ in His glory will be. If the people of Israel trembled in the Exodus account of God’s presence what will this time be like? When He appears at His glorious appearing, the whole earth will tremble, and the people with it.

The following is the commentary from the LIBERTY BIBLE COMMENTARY:

3a. In reflecting upon the majesty of God and what He will do in the future, the prophet turns his eyes to what God has done in the past. Just as He manifested His majesty in the past, He will also manifest His majesty in the future; for God dwells in the eternal present. The prophet is not simply recalling the great deeds of the past, but is using them as sounding boards in order to project what God will do in the future. Teman was located in the extreme south of Edom and was probably its capital. Opposite Teman was Paran. The two were separated by the Valley of Ghor. In the background of the prophet’s thinking is the memory of the events surrounding Israel’s exodus from Egypt and their sojourn in Sinai. Just as God came and manifested Himself to the Israel of that day, God will come and manisfest Himself to the Israel of the prophet’s day. Just as God delivered Israel from the hands of the Egyptians after they had suffered under their cruelty, He will deliver the Israel of his day from the Chaldeans after they have suffered under their cruelty. God will deliver His people and will judge their foes.” p. 1769.

One thing that we need to be reminded through the words of the song of the prophet Habakkuk is that God has not and will not forsake the people known as Israel. He will deliver them from their blindness, and give them the peace only their Messiah Jesus can give. Where does God come from? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that He is coming at a time He will not be expected, in a very spectacular and glorious way. 

-by Tim A. Blankenship

Family and Housing

Last evening I watched the evening news on NBC with Bryan Williams.  One of the top news stories had to do with housing and foreclosures.  According to that report hundreds of families had to leave their homes due to foreclosure, and the houses were just left vacant.

This is the TWO FOR TUESDAY time and space I realize and what I am about to write has to do with marriage, family, and human decency. 

The homes which were being shown on NBC were not high cost homes, but were common homes which would provide shelter, for most families.  Some of these homes had been purchased by first time home buyers and had been thrilled to have a home of their own.  The excuse given for foreclosure was “The buyer over extended themselves”, and though that may be so to some extent; I blame the mortgage companies who lure the buyer in with low interest, then hit them with higher interest to suit themselves.

Many of those people who purchased their homes saved up for a down payment, and lost it all with the foreclosure of their home.  What does God have to say about these matters?  I think He has much to say:

“If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like the moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest.”  Exodus 22:25 (NKJV)

“If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.  Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you.  You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit.  I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.”  Leviticus 25:36-37  (NKJV).

Many will say, “That is to the nation of Israel”, and I wholeheartedly agree with that.  These principles are given to us to follow as well.  God cannot bless any nation who mistreats those less privileged than the wealthy.  Besides, to myself, this foreclosure thing especially in Cleveland, Ohio where this NBC story was located; is very foolish. 

While those homes are setting vacant, they are being vandalized, running to decay and destruction, while all the time the mortgage companies are still losing their money.  It seems to me, that it would make more financial sense to let the buyers keep their homes, and working out a financial resolution with them.  Let us say you cut their interest rates where they can afford it.  Let them pay just on the premium for as long as they need with no interest charges if they need that.  Work with them.  At least in doing these things you are getting some of the money back, a home is not going down in decay, and most likely will not be vandalized with someone living in the house.

In doing this you increase the marketable value of the community these homes are in, as well.

It just does not make sense to me to throw people from their homes, to only watch that house decay, and lose its value, and watch a community lose its worth.  Are these Financial institutions so full of pride they cannot see the value of letting the people keep their homes.  There would actually be more value in forgiving them their debt, than raising the interest on their mortage, and watching them lose it.

These houses are where marriages are made stronger, children are raised, and churches and communities are strengthened.  In my thinking on this the government needs to stay out of it.  To practice this should be the desire of the Mortgage Companies, not a law.  It would be a good and godly thing to do.

I used to not believe it was so, but have changed my mind in hearing the stories I hear of foreclosures on families, and their homes.  The saying, “The rich get richer; and the poor get poorer”.  Now I am seeing that the rich are getting richer on the backs of the poor.  God will not turn his eyes away forever.  One of the things that causes me to say that is that rather than being concerned for those who have lost their homes, or are in the process of losing their homes; our government is more concerned for the Financial Institutions who are foreclosing.  This will and does affect us all.

PROMISES AND PROPHECIES 4

PROPHECIES CONCERNING CONFLICT BETWEEN JEWS AND ARABS.

A. Genesis 27 – “And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.”

B. Ezekiel 35:1 – “Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it, 3 And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate. 4 I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD. 5 Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end: 6 Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee: sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee. 7 Thus will I make mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it him that passeth out and him that returneth. 8 And I will fill his mountains with his slain men: in thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in all thy rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword. 9 I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not return: and ye shall know that I am the LORD. 10 Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was there: 11 Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will even do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged thee. 12 And thou shalt know that I am the LORD, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume.” <

C. Exodus 15:1 – “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. 2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’ God, and I will exalt him. 3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. 4 Pharaoh’ chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. 5 The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. 6 Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. 7 And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. 8 And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. 9 The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. 10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters. 11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? 12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. 13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. 14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. 15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. 16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.”

D. Numbers 20:14 – “And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us: 15 How our fathers went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians vexed us, and our fathers: 16 And when we cried unto the LORD, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border: 17 Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king’ high way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders. 18 And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword. 19 And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing any thing else, go through on my feet. 20 And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand. 21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.”

E. Psalms 83:1 – “Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. 2 For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. 3 They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. 4 They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. 5 For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: 6 The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; 7 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; 8 Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah. 9Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: 10 Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth. 11 Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: 12 Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession. 13 O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. 14 As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire; 15 So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm. 16 Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD. 17 Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: 18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” NOTE VERSE 4.

F. Read Obadiah.

Edited for tags and categories only 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

THE PRIESTLY JUDGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WORSHIPPING THE ONE ON THE THRONE

WORSHIPPING THE ONE ON THE THRONE

Revelation 4:1-11

In this chapter we see the One who died for us is also our Creator and worthy of worship. He has opened the door of Heaven for man to worship him, as does the rest of creation, in that it is obedient to its Creator’s design, and we will always be in His presence.

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Revelation 4:1 (KJV).

After receiving the letters to the seven churches John sees a door “Opened in heaven”. If you will remember, the open door was set before the Philadelphia church. The church which had kept His word and had not denied His name.
The Laodicean church had closed their door and locked Jesus out.

The voice John hears sounded as a trumpet. It was a voice that called for attention. It was a voice he recognized. it was the voice of the Savior. This voice called, “Come up hither and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.”

In chapter one verse nineteen Jesus gave John the outline of the Revelation. Chapter one is the “Things which thou hast seen” [PAST]; chapters two through three, “The things wwhich are” [PRESENT]; and chapters four through 22:5, “The things which sall be hereafter” [FUTURE]. Keep in mind, that the Church is not mentioned again until chapter nineteen.

John being caught up in the Spirit (v. 2) is shown what is to come. Everything from this point on is future. It seems that John’s being called to “Come up hither” is to show him the events following the Church age.

“And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.”  Revelation 4:2 (KJV).

TAKE NOTE OF WHO IS ON THE THRONE. The throne is symbolic of sovereignty, authority, and power. All through the Revelation “Throne” is mentioned forty six times making it a key word. This is to assure us that although, a period of terrible tribulation is coming upon the earth, to let satan kill, maim and destroy, He (God) is still in control, and will continue to maintain control.

John was amazed to find himself before the very throne of God. That is the place where all God’s children will one day find themselves. The ungodly, evil will also find themselves before His throne of judgment, and will be cast into a lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).

“And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” Revelation 4:3 (KJV).

We can begin to have an understanding of the Revelation if we keep in mind the rest of Scripture – the Old Testament in particular. This book is penned down by a Jew and the symbolism used is Hebrew in nature. The words of John Walvoord,

“Significantly, the jasper and the sardine stone are the first and last of these twelve stones (cf. Exodus 28:17-21). The jasper represented Reuben, the first of the tribes, since Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob. The sardine stone represented Benjamin, the youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob. In other words the two stones represented the first and the last and therefore may be regarded as including all the other stones in between, that is, the whole of the covenanted people.’

‘Furthermore, the names Reuben and Benjamin have significance. The word ‘Reuben’ means ‘behold a son.’ The word Benjamin means ‘son of my right hand.’ In both cases these terms seem to have a double meaning: first, the fact that though Christ is the representative of Israel, He is also the Son of God. Like Reuben, Christ is the first begotten son. Second, like Benjamin, Christ is also the ‘son of my right hand’ in relation to God the Father. The person whom John sees on the throne looking like a jasper and sardine stone is, therefore God in relation to the nation of Israel.” From THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST pp. 104 & 105.

This must have been one of the most brilliant and colorful experiences John ever had. He saw a rainbow. This rainbow was complete, in that it was a complete circle “around the throne”. Its color was like an emerald. A very colorful place around the throne of God.

“And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.”  Revelation 4:4 (KJV).

These “Twenty four seats” and the “Elders” who sat upon the seats seem to represent the redeemed of the Lord. It would not be Israel, since they have not yet come as the nation to Christ, but the Church. Notice how they are clothed….
White represents righteousness and holiness. Some have supposed these twenty four to be angelic beings. However, there is no mention in Scripture of angels receiving rewards [crowns] or a group of angels “clothed in white raiment”. The “Crowns of gold” seem to be the crowns of reward, mentioned in Scripture for believers. The Crown of Life (James 1:12); the Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27); the Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20); the Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:50-8); and the Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:2-4).

It seems, then, that these “Elders” would represent the redeemed from the time before the cross and resurretion to the time of the closing of the Church age. The Church age ending with the rapture of the saints.

“And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”  Revelation 4:5 (KJV).

As a reminder to mankind God gives us ample proof that He is a wrathful God, judging sin and those who reject Him. For those of you who think that God is only love, does not judge, or find fault, you will probably make your own interpretation and deny all this truth given us in God’s Word. “For our God is a consuming fire” wrote the writer of Hebrews in chapter twelve verse twenty nine. He also wrote, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

The “lightnings”, “thunderings” and “voices” are warnings of wrath. A reminder that sin will be forever judged. Whether we like to admit it or not, our worship of God involves our confession, repentance of sin. There is no worshipping Him unless we repent.

Once again the fullness of the Spirit of God is revealed. It is by the power of God’s Holy Spirit that sin is revealed and we are led to repentance, and into the rightul worshp of God. He is the Light that exposes sin and evil, and reveals the way to God.

“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”  Revelation 4:6-7 (KJV).

Keep in mind the place, “Before the throne”, in God’s presence.
In these verses we have further evidence of the “Jewishness” of this Revelation. “A sea of glass” takes us back to the Old Testament. The Old Testament tabernacle and temple were designed in Heaven. “Sea of glass” is a reference to the “Bronze laver” (Exodus 35:16; 38:8; 40:7) of the wilderness tabernacle and the Jerusalem temple. The bronze laver was made from the “Looking glasses” of the women of Israel (Exodus 38:8). These looking glasses were of polished brass to make them reflect images similar to a mirror. It would not have been as clear as the mirrors we know now.

John’s focus is more upon the “Beasts”, possibly better understood as “Living ones”. Who are these “Living ones”? They are, possibly, angelic beings. They are representative of the attributes of God, in general. Let me quote John F. Walvoord,

“The fact that the creatures are full of eyes is taken as significant of the omniscience and omnipresence of God who sees all and knows all.’
‘In a similar way the four beasts as respectively a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle are considered different aspects of divine majesty. All of these are supreme in their respective categories. The lion is the king of beasts and represents majesty and omnipotence. The calf or ox, representing the most important of domestic animals, signifies patience and continuous labor. man is the greatest of all God’s creatures, especially in intelligence and rational power; whereas the eagle is greatest among birds and is symbolic of sovereignty and supremacy” THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST pp. 109 & 110.

Ezekiel, the Old Testament prophet had a similar vision. You can read that in Ezekiel 1:4-10.

“And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. 9 And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,”  Revelation 4:8-9 (KJV).

These “Living ones” are worshipping and announcing the holiness of God, and declaring His omnipresence in time.

A similar announcement of God’s holiness is declared by the seraphim in Isaiah 6:1-3. They [seraphim] are also indentified as having six wings, representing humility, service and mission.

These proclaim to God the glory and honor He so richly deserves. The One “Who lives for ever and ever.” When we worship God we are to do so in holiness, with humility, service and mission; knowing and showing that the God of all creation is worthy of all worship and praise.

“The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”  Revelation 4:10-11 (KJV).

Further evidence that the “Twenty four elders” are the redeemed, is that they “Cast their crowns before the throne” and worship.

These recognize the work of salvation God has done and give the crowns to the One who is truly deserving. These “Elders” represent priesthood. “There were twenty four courses of priests in the Old Testament (1 Chronicles 24:3-5, 18; also see Luke 1:5-9). God’s people are ‘Kings and priests’ (Revelation 1:6).” From BIBLE EXPOSITION Commentary pg. 582 by Warren Wiersbe.

If we will keep in mind that this book is Hebrew in its symbolism and trust the Holy Spirit we will not be led astray. Remember the time following the Church age is called, “…The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7).
The Holy One of Israel is worthy to receive all that He is worth. Too many times we people get the idea that this world and all that is in it is just about us. It is not. It is about God. All glory, honor, and power belong to the One who made all that is. We were made for His pleasure, His purpose, His desire, and He can do with us as He pleases. He is completely just and righteous, and we can trust Him to do what is good and right. We are to be WORSHIPPING THE ONE ON THE THRONE.

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

GIVER OF THE SPIRIT

GIVER OF THE SPIRIT

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. 6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 3:1-6 (KJV)

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

It appears that complacency is a problem. We get in a place where the temperature is just right, the seats are soft and comfortable, there is no trouble to speak of, and we fall asleep. Suddenly, we awake and we find ourselves plagued with problems, or we may not awake, because the enemy has crept in on us while we were unaware and kills us. If a friend does not wake us up, then, death is inevitable.
That friend of course is Jesus. In this Scripture text He reveals Himself through another one of His characteristics. He had to go away, in the ascension, before he Spirit came. Now the Spirit of God in all His fullness can dwell and habitat in the life of every believer.
Jesus’s message to Sardis is one to “WAKE UP!” to your true situation. There was still hope for Sardis, but it was by the resurrection power of the Spirit. They could have life and power with God in no other way.
Jesus is the “GIVER OF THE SPIRIT” who is the giver of life and power to live a clean, holy and endless life.

In verse 1 we have Jesus revealing Himself to the church of Sardis as the One who has the “Seven Spirits” – indicating the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and the “Seven Stars”. See chapter 1:4, 16.
The Holy Spirit is the source of life for the Church. Without the Spirit there is no life. We notice that Jesus reveals each part of His character as needed by each church. The church of Sardis certainly needed to see Jesus as “THE GIVER OF THE SPIRIT’. In chapter 4:5 we have “Seven burning lamps, which are the seven Spirits of God”. In chapter 5:6 we see “Seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God…”. We have a fullness of light, power, and spiritual enlightenment, which come from the Spirit of God.
The “Seven stars” are the pastors. Jesus places pastors in each of His local bodies as it pleases Him. If the pastor is the source of the church’s problem, then, Jesus will remove him and put in a replacement. It could be the people of Sardis was blaming their pastor. Accusing him of not doing his job, or the church’s lack of growth, its complacency, its dying or death. They could have been saying, “These sermons you have been preaching are irrelevant to our need. There is no threat from without. We are not near dying”. The pastor on the other hand may have just blended in, became one of the neighborhood. “When in Rome do as the Romans do”.
Sardis was a city on a hill. it was protected by cliffs. It was virtually impregnable. However, it was overthrown at least twice by enemies while the guards slept at their post; thinking, “We are impregnable, there is no danger”.
Jesus says that this church has a name of being alive – they still have a name over the door, they are still keeping their programs going, but there is little difference in the practice of the church and the practice of the city – “But you are dead”, says Jesus. It really does not matter what the people in the community say about the church. What really counts is what Jesus says.

In verse two, it would almost seem fitting to say, that, the phrase “Be watchful” could also read “WAKE UP!”.
Consider Paul’s writing to the Romans in chapter 13:11-14. It is time for the Church to “Wake up”. Revival is needed.
Sardis could very well represent the time of the “Reformation” if we were looking at that dispensationally. During the “Dark ages” the professing church had became villianous. Killing, enslaving and conquering of land was the work of a majority of the “church” in this time. The true Church had fallen asleep. The doctrine of the church was to earn your salvation or pay for it with money. You could even pay the “Priests” to pray some poor soul into Heaven. If you could do that, why not pay them to pray an enemy into hell. The church, then, used the name of Jesus, but few within it really knew Him.
Jesus saw the need and He called out brave, and bold men like Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox, John Calvin, William Tyndale, and others to raise a mighty voice, to put the Word of God back into the hands of the people. To preach the true gospel of grace. The people began to wake up. The Church began to identified more with Jesus now, and less with the world.
Jesus’s words sound as though there is still hope.
“Strengthen the things that remain” is probably a reference to the small minority who were loving the Lord Jesus. Everytime they tried to work for Jesus the majority would stop it. The works were not perfect or complete in His eyes. Those who loved Jesus were the only possessors of the Spirit. A complacent spirit grieves the Spirit of God. The Spirit keeps us alert and aware. When we pay no attention to Him we grieve Him, and our source of power and strength erodes until ‘rigor mortis’ sets in. The Spirit never leaves the individual true believer, but He does and will leave from empowering a local church.

The only hope (v. 3) for a church in such as the afore mentioned condition is to get back to the basics. “Remember” salvation by grace through faith, hold on to it as though your life depended on it (it does), and repent. Confess your deadness, your complacent spirit, your grieving of the Holy Spirit.
If there is no awakening Jesus warns, that He will come as a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:4). This would, of course, be only upon those who are not “Overcomers” as the next two verses deal with.
A living organism has … growth, repair, reproduction, and power. If these are missing in a local church that church is either dying or dead. The church needs revival. If the believers at Sardis did not obey God Jesus warned He would “Come as a thief”.

In verses 4 and 5 the judgment that awaited a majority of “church members” would be avoided by the “Overcomers”. The “Overcomer” is a saved – born again – individual who is constantly growing in his/her walk with Christ, and by God’s grace is always faithful.
White is a symbol of righteousness, purity, cleanliness. Jesus mentions only a few who “Have not defiled their garments”. Jesus says, “They are worthy”. They have been made worthy because of the Holy Spirit and the “GIVER OF THE SPIRIT” Jesus Christ. The only way of righteousness or being worthy is in His Spirit.
The “Book of Life” is mentioned several times in the Scriptures. Revelation 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; Exodus32:32; Psalm 69:28; Philippians 4:3 just to list a few. Some believe this implies one can be saved and lose it. That would be contrary to God’s grace. If we do nothing to deserve God’s grace, then, how can we presume that we can do something to get out of His grace? The “Book of Life” has had written in it the names of everyone who was ever conceived. When a person died apart from Christ his/her name is “Blotted out of the book of life”. When a person believes and confesses that Jesus is Lord, and believes that God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead, then God writes that person’s name in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27) and his/her name remains in the “Book of Life”.
Jesus says, that He will confess this individual’s name before the Father.
Some points to note about the BOOK OF LIFE:
1. Contains the names of all the living;
2. Revelation 13:8; 17:8 suggest that the names of saints are written in the book from the foundation of the world – before they have done anything good or bad;
3. Chosen in Christ before the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4; Matthew 25:34).
4. As unbelievers die their names are removed from the BOOK OF LIFE (Psalm 69:28).

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

In conclusion, the prophet said, “This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6). If the church is to be the Church it must operate in the presence of God. The Holy Spirit must be a continued welcome and wanted guest within the local church, and the total Body of Christ.
To “Grieve the Spirit” is to make Him an unwanted guest. Unwanted guests do not feel like staying very long, and begin to pull away any influence, and make themselves absent. God gives His people a commandment not to grieve the Spirit; “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit will never leave a born again person, but when we pay Him little or no attention; ignore His teaching, leadership, comfort, convictions, righteousness, and judgment we will certainly be without His powerful influence.
Why do churches die? Because they neglect Jesus and His gift that He has given. He is the GIVER OF THE SPIRIT.
Only those in the local church who heed the warnings of the Spirit and repent of their foolish deeds will overcome. Jesus’s promises to the “Overcomers” are for all those who are repentant.
The church must stop grieving the Holy Spirit; the church must depend on the Spirit, not the promises and promotions of the flesh and man; the church of the 21st century must wake up out of its comfort, and lethargy, and live for God. The church must experience revival.

Edited for tags, spelling corrections 03/26/10

THE CARETAKER OF THE LIGHT

THE CARETAKER OF THE LIGHT

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 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 tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Rev 2:1-7 (KJV).

The day in which we live needs the Church to be the Church, and not trying to be like the world. The sheep do not need to put on the wolves clothing. The true Church needs admonishment and encouragement to keep doing the good and the right, with the right motive of loving the One who is the Caretaker of the Light and the One who holds the “Messengers” in His hand.
This is the beginning letter to the seven churches. These are important letters to the Church of all ages, and especially, I feel for the Church of today.
In the study of the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians Paul commends them for their faith and teaches them who they are in Jesus Christ. They are a vibrant and faithful people, and growing in faith and knowledge of Jesus.
Jesus says that something is wrong with the church at Ephesus. They have abandoned their “First love”. If they do not repent their “Candlestick” – the light of His glory – “will be removed”. He gave the light. He can also remove it and give it to another.
He commends them, and encourages them to be overcomers to eat of the Tree of Life which can be seen in the “Lampstand” of the tabernacle in the wilderness, of Israel’s wanderings.

Beginning the letter to the church of Ephesus, our Lord reminds the church of who holds the seven stars and walks among the “seven golden lampstands”. Of course it is the One who is speaking. The One who is THE CARETAKER OF THE LIGHT.
We are looking at each “angel” as being the messenger, ie. pastor of each local congregation. It would not make sense for an “Angel of Heaven” come and deliver a letter from Jesus. Jesus used John to pen down the letters, John sent them to each of the churches, and the leader, ie. pastor read it to the congregation. That would be so exciting to have an actual letter from Jesus read to us. Wait a minute!!!! WE DO. WOW!!!
Ephesus was a port city. It was the greatest of these seven cities. It was the seat of “Artemis” worship, also known as “Diana” in Acts chapter 19. Paul preached the gospel here for about three years. He built this church and encouraged them in their faith through the letter of Ephesians. It is said that John was in Ephesus for about 30 years.
In this first verse Jesus gives greeting as He does to the others. He also identfies Himself as the One “That holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”. This is one of the descriptions given in chapter one. The very fact of His walking “In the midst” shows Jesus’ love for the local church, and that His people are to be found in the local church.
The seven golden candlesticks are an Old Testament picture given in Exodus 25:31-37. The priests were to keep the light in the tabernacle burning. There was no means for the natural light of the sun to enter, so there was need for the “Candlestick” or “Lampstand” for the priests to do the rest of their daily duties. Jesus being our Great High Priest keeps the flames buring the light shining in order that the world might see Him in His Church.

We now enter the “I know” portion of the letter. He is the “All-Knowing” One.
The people of Ephesus Church were a busy people. They were working and laboring to the point of exhaustion. For this devotion Jesus commends them. These were also a people who were sound in doctrine, they hatted evil, and they were a discerning people. They could tell the true from the false. The reason they were able to discern so well is, that , they had learned the truth so well.

Jesus commends them for their perseverance (v. 3) in continuing to deal with the false apostles, and persevering in faith despite the persecution they had faced.
By all appearances Ephesus was a good church. They were seving the Lord well. Not many churches today could be so commended.

It seems, according to verse four, however, that the church was laboring with the wrong motives. Jesus commends them for their work, but suddenly gives them condemning statements. It was only one thing. It was no small thing.
“Thou hast left thy first love” is one of the most tragic, and probably is the most tragic condemnation Jesus could lay on a church. It is the abandonment of the “first love” that causes all kinds of iniquities, and sin. It may have been that the church had been lured away from loving Jesus by the fulfillment received from performing their duties, or by the alurements of the city and their ways of worship.
The “First love” of every Believer is Jesus. If there is no time for Jesus, for hearing His words, sharing your hearts needs with Him, and practicing His ways, then, you have “Left” or “Abandoned” your “First love”.

This is the only one of the seven churches of which is warned of the removing of the “Candlestick”. Ephesus has no Christian witness to this day. Why? Because they had forsaken their love for Jesus. They were diligent in their work and task, but without a passion for Christ. I just recently heard a television preacher say, “Passion is more important than doctrine”. I do not agree with that. Passion without doctrine will end in emotionalism, an anything goes way of worship,and immorality; and doctrine without Passion will be legalistic and cold. So what is the answer? There is need and room for both, and a correct doctrine with the passion for Christ. It seems the church had good works, good doctrine, but no heart for Christ. The light of Christ has been removed.
Jesus’ condemning statement is followed by a statement of hope and warning (v. 5).
He says, “Remember”. Remember from where you have fallen. They had once been Gentiles without hope and Jesus redeemed them (Ephesians 2:11-13). It always helps to go back and remember what you were before Jesus saved you from the bondage of sin. If there has been no change, no difference then, it will do no good to ‘Remember’. You need a time where change begins. It can be now through faith in Jesus.
He then says, “Repent”. Begin to stir the coals. Put some fuel on them. Fan the flames. Ignite the flames of passion for Jesus that you once had. If there are no coals there, but only ashes…….., then what? Turn away from the pride of your work and your labors – love Jesus. We love Him least when we trust ourselves most; we love Him most when we trust Him most.
One of the first works of one with that “First love” mentality is telling others about His love; His death, burial and resurrection.
The warning is that He will judge quickly if there is no turning. The judgment would be removing the candlestick. The light of their witness, their testimony, as a body, would be gone. Today Ephesus is an archaeologist’s fantasy land. The church no longer exist, nor does the city. Ichabod has certainly been written on the church of Ephesus. “Ichabod” meaning THE GLORY IS DEPARTED.

Jesus commends them in verse six for their hating the “Deeds of the Nicolaitans”. There is some dispute over who these were. Some take the name to mean “Conquerors of the people” meaning this group was the beginning of the separation of “Clergy” and “Laity”. The placing of a “Priesthood” lording over the people. Others relate the name to a man whose name was Nicolaus who taught that once you were saved you could live in sin and return for forgiveness anytime. NOTE – I wrote “Live in sin” which is continual action. This belief is called “Antinomiansiam”. I personally see no conflict between these two understandings. The separation of the “Priesthood” from the people lends leniency to immoral living and takes away personal responsibility, for one’s self and others. Though God has set an order for His local church, there is no one person of more importance than another. The pastor is to be the leader, but is no more important than the janitor. Each have their God given duty, and each duty is important in God’s church. Jesus is Superior to all. The very fact that there is no description of these “Nicolaitans”, other than these views, seem to add credibility to this.

In the final verse of this important letter we find an exhortation to hear. It is an exhortation to each individual to hear. The individual is responsible for his/her love for Jesus. Responsible for discerning right from wrong. For repentance when sin is committed. Individuals make up the local church.
The Spirit speaks expressly to the church and the individuals to hear.
To the individual who overcomes he will eat the fruit of the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden to keep them from the Tree. There is a symbol of the Tree of Life in the “Lampstand” of Exodus 25:31-37. It is likened to an almond tree. Jesus is the Caretaker, the Priest. Jesus is the only means for man to partake of the Tree of Life. He is in the midst.

Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). In Ephesus there was a remnant who departed and went elsewhere. When the “Candlestick” is removed there is no more light, no more witness. As long as there is a remnant there is light and hope.
Maintaining and feeding your love and passion for Jesus assures you of eating from the Tree of Life.

Edited for tags by t.a. 03/15/10

THE GLORY OF HIS IMMUTABILITY

THE GLORY OF HIS IMMUTABILITY

Revelation 1:4-8
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 8 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.
In this article we see words of encouragement through the reminder that God is immutable – unchanging. The whole of the Revelation is for the encouragement of believers of all ages. To the Christians who are enduring trial, and persecutions in our day it is truly encouraging to know that God is unchanging, and is the true source of courage, hope, and ultimate fulfillment of His promises.
Is there anything in life which we can count on? Clothing fashions change from day to day. The economy flourishes or we suffer depression, or somewhere in between. People’s attitudes change, about situations and other people. Even the planet earth on which we live is unstable. Think of the hurricanes, tsunami’s, earthquakes – you get the picture.
We can trust in the immutability of God. He never changes. Since He never changes His laws are still the same, His expections of His people are still the same as they have always been, and His character is flawless, so He is fully trustworthy. We may not be able to trust kings and leaders of our state and community, and even of our churches, at times, but we can have the utmost confidence and trust in the One who never changes. The Lord Jesus Christ.
His grace has always been abundant. His peace one of the greatest of experiences. Apart from His unchangingness these would be flippant and He would be just as untrustworthy as the word of a liar.

According to verse 4 the Revelation is written “To the seven churches which are in Asia.” This does not mean that there were only seven churches in Asia. It is probably symbolic and representative of the total Church. Not only for John’s age, but for all ages to come. That is not to take away from the Revelation’s immediate message and intent.
John’s salutation is similar to that of the apostle Paul’s. Both of these men realized the importance of “Grace” and “Peace”. “Grace” being the ‘unmerited’ or ‘undeserved’ favor of God, and without which, we would all be eternally condemned. “Peace” being made clean before God, without guilt or condemnation. Grace is our standing or position before God. Peace is our experience with God.
“Which is,… which was, and which is to come” reveals to us the eternalness of God. These words are written again in verse eight, chapter 4; 11:17; and in 16:5. There could be no grace or peace if God is not eternal or unchanging [immutable]. If God changed with every generation, fad, or grievance of people He would be even less dependable than our fellowman.
It is because of His immutability that He is able to save us (Hebrews 7:24-25). In Exodus 3:14 God tells Moses to tell the people, “I Am hath sent me unto you”. This name means, “Self-Existent One”. If He is Self-Existent He needs nothing to sustain Him, therefore, He is unchanging. He is, He was, and He always will be God.
“Seven Spirits” has been a troubling statement to some. When we think of the number seven (7) in the symbolic way which John meant, we can only come to the conclusion of fulness, completion. The fulness of the Holy Spirit is certainly in the giving of this Revelation of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit before the throne. If He is before the throne, and He abides in us, then, where are we who are in Christ Jesus?

In verses five and six we find Jesus revealed as a Prophet [“Faithful witness”], Priest [“First begotten of the dead”], and King [“The prince of the kings of the earth”].
As the Prophet He called people to the Father by His words and by His life. The prophet is hated while he lives and calls people to righteousness, thus, Jesus was crucified. He became Priest by His death, burial and resurrection. He became Priest, “After the power of an endless life ” (Hebrews 7:16). “The first begotten of the dead” has more to do with His power and position than His being the first to rise from death. However, He was the first to have “…the power of an endless life”. By His death and resurrection He became our High Priest. This High Priest is truly a priest. He has been “Touched with the fellings of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15). A priest is one who approaches God on behalf of men and communicates to man on God’s behalf. Certainly, this is Jesus. He is King by His power over kings and Nations. He rules supremely. Here the word is “Prince”. The prince is one who will be king. but has not began his position of rule and authority. With Jesus this is by choice of His Father, until His set time.
This is the One who loved us, and loves us, washed us and loosed us from the slavery of sin by shedding His own blood. He gave His life. He took the condemnation that was mine and yours. By doing this for us He has made us “…a kingdom of priests unto God”, or “Kings and priests”. The Scriptures are full of doxologies unto God. Is it any wonder? When we truly begin to see God in His glory how can we be silent any longer. He is glory. He is worthy of blessing, power and dominion forever. SO BE IT.

Verse seven has Him coming in power and great glory. This event takes place chronologically in Revelation 19:11-21. This event follows the Rapture of the Church by at least seven years.
When Jesus comes for the Church no one will see Him. He is coming then as a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4). People will be snatched from their homes, cars, places of employment and chaos will prevail upon the earth.
In this verse “Every eye shall see Him” and they will mourn and weep over His appearance. They will even cry out to the rocks and hills to fall on them (6:16; Hosea 10:8). “They also which pierced him: “, then, would refer to the people who condemned Jesus to die. That, of course, being the Jewish nation, and they will believe in Him; “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Romans 11:26-27 (KJV).
John’s response to this may seem, to some anyway, to be cold and heartless, but he says “A-MEN” out of anticipation and exhilaration, and faith that the Lord Jesus will be ultimately victorious. So, it is more a cry of victory than of vengeance.

Finally in this study we get to verse eight. “Alpha and Omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It is interesting when you think of Jesus as the “Word of God”. Words are made of letters. If He is the First and Last, the Beginning [Genesis] and the end [The Revelation], then, He is also everything in between.
He is, He was, and He forever shall be. He is unchanging [Immutable]. Because of that He is our A to Z. From beginning to end the Immutable One. A-Men.

In conclusion, let me readdress the fact that He is unchanging. There is not much, if anything, in this world that does not change.
It should cause us to be bold and brave to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ knowing He never changes. He is “…The same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Because He is unchanging He is a worthy, Prophet, Priest, and King. Worship Him. He is revealing Himself to a changing world.

Edited for tags by t.a. 03/15/10